Disclaimer: I own neither BtVS nor The Shining.

Once a King

Xander listened to the council bickering and came to a decision, it was time to move on. He'd done his part and more to keep the world spinning, it was time for him to find his own place in life. Yes, half a year on the council did what five years in the wilds of Africa hadn't, it'd convinced him to leave.

He'd never realized how thin he'd spread himself trying to do everything, until he'd stepped back from it. He'd done a decent enough job running around, putting out fires, and trying to support the fledgling council, but several of the jobs he'd taken on, not only needed, but deserved to be the full focus of someone's attention. If anyone on the council noticed his absence, they attributed it to him working on a problem they'd assigned him and simply noted how much smoother things had been lately. It was nearly four months after he'd last attended a council meeting that they realized he was gone.

"Is everyone in attendance?" Giles asked, looking around the table.

"Harris is still ducking meetings," Woods noted. "I'll just send him a memo on what we've decided later."

"It's not like he's needed," Kennedy said, bristling as she always did every time Xander's name came up. "Remember last week when Buffy mentioned how much better the armory was at repairing, prepping, and cleaning weapons?"

"Yeah?" Buffy asked.

"Turns out the reason it works so well is because Xander is no longer involved," she said smugly.

Giles sighed and cleaned his glasses. "Xander is no longer involved, because he tracked down a qualified armorer to concentrate on the task. Even with a pair of assistants, it's a fourteen hour per day job, and Xander was right to turn it over to someone who could devote all their time and efforts to it."

"Which would free up a big chunk of his time and explain why our emergency response teams have improved," Willow offered.

"I thought Buffy handled the emergency response teams," Faith said.

Buffy shook her head. "I have a lot on my plate, so I asked Xander to cover it for me."

"So Xander was covering the armory and emergency response teams?" Willow asked.

"Until he found someone more qualified and hired them to run the armory," Giles agreed. "Oh, and he also put Sharon Landry in charge of the emergency response teams."

"Sharon Landry?" Woods asked.

"Former fire fighter and ambulance driver from Northern Ireland," Giles explained. "She's in her mid-fifties and a bit old, even for a slayer, to be on the front lines, but has had a lot of experience as you can well imagine."

"So what does he do then?" Kennedy demanded, looking for some reason to complain about him.

"I assigned him to check the integrity and security of all our offices and safe houses," Woods admitted.

"That would be a continual duty, as once you finish the rounds, it's time to start over again," Giles pointed out.

"He had experience and time," Woods defended himself.

"Sure, he was only responsible for emergencies and weapons," Willow said sarcastically.

"He sub-contracted that to a very reputable firm that also handles spraying for vermin and landscaping for us as well," Giles said as he checked his notes.

"So he did that in addition to weapons and emergencies?" Willow asked.

"I pawned off settling the new slayers in on him," Faith added.

"He was in charge of the kitchens until he got Andrew involved," Buffy recalled.

"Building maintenance and slayer repair," Willow added, as new slayers tended to break a lot of things until they adjusted to their enhanced strength.

"Phones," Kennedy added. "We needed someone to hire receptionists and take messages."

"I had him handling the personnel files, when I didn't have him out on purchasing expeditions," Giles said truthfully.

"I handle the personnel files now," Willow said. "Xander said you wanted the best person working on it, so he gave it to me, along with two secretaries who handle the day-to-day details."

"And he asked me to lend my shopping expertise," Buffy offered. "I have a clothes and shoe allowance, based on how well I do."

"I was wondering how we came in a quarter under budget when normally we run things in the red," Giles admitted.

"Easy peasy," Buffy said smugly. "I was born to shop."

"So Xander had, what? Half a dozen full time jobs here?" Willow asked.

"Before finding who could best do them," Giles agreed.

"So what does he do now?" Kennedy asked, wondering where he was, and telling herself it was just to make sure he wasn't sponging off the Council.

"Let me check his file," Willow said, pulling out her laptop and logging on to the system. It only took her a minute to find and access his file.

Seeing Willow pale, Buffy exploded, "What's wrong?!"

"He-he doesn't work here anymore," Willow said quietly. "He has an insane list of job assignments starting out, but they are slowly pared down until three months ago, when he unloaded the last three. He left three months ago and we never noticed!"

"Then who's doing all the job orders I slip in his mailbox?" Woods asked.

Willow hit a few keys. "We have a four man crew assigned to handle all X-jobs on a 24 hour rotating basis."

"I - I just thought he was busy," Buffy said, turning wide eyes to Giles. "It's only lately we haven't been swamped with work."

"It's been three months, so obviously he's not needed," Kennedy said, forcing a smile.

"Because he set it up that way," Giles said softly.

"Where is he now?" Buffy asked.

"I don't know," Willow admitted. "But I'll find out," she swore. But despite her best efforts, another two years passed before she even got a hint of where he was.

Always a King

"I don't see why we had to get her," Kennedy complained as they entered the small town police station.

"Because Buffy isn't the most diplomatic person in the world," Willow replied. "Hence this situation."

The police station was small: a couple of desks, a front counter, and a handful of cells. From the looks of things, if their single prisoner wanted to use the restroom, they had to let her out of her cell to do so.

"How may I service you?" the blond haired officer asked with a slight leer as he leaned on the counter.

"I'm gay," Willow said, quickly shooting him down.

"Sure you are," he replied with a smirk.

"What, people can't be gay now?" Kennedy demanded, ready to fight any small town bigotry she encountered.

Officer P. Johnson, according to his badge, chuckled. "Masters and Johnson proved there was no such thing as black and white when it came to sex, it's all shades of grey."

An identical officer, whose badge also read P. Johnson, looked up from the crossword he was doing. "Just tell him you're in a committed relationship. It's one of the few things he'll accept."

"I'm not that bad."

"Yes, you are," his twin disagreed.

"We're here to pick up Buffy Summers," Willow said, trying to get things back on track.

Buffy waved from her cell, leaning against the bars.

"You'll have to wait 'til the sheriff gets back from lunch," the officer at the counter said. "Shouldn't be more than a half hour. How will we pass the time?" He waggled his eyebrows.

"She's in a committed relationship with me," Kennedy said, grabbing Willow's hand.

The officer actually pouted.

"Can we see Buffy?" Willow requested.

"She's just right there," he said, frowning in confusion.

"I mean, can we talk to her?" Willow asked.

"Sure," Johnson agreed, flinging up a section of counter so they could enter.

"Just don't attack me," the other Johnson warned as they entered.

"Why would we - you're a doppelganger!" Willow accused.

Kennedy moved in front of her and Buffy yelled out, "Don't!"

"Why?" Willow asked as Kennedy froze, seeing both officers were ready to draw their weapons.

"Because he's the best undercover officer I have," came a feminine voice from the front entrance.

Willow turned and saw a tall brunette with a tan that said she spent most of her time outdoors and the casual predatory stance that all but screamed what she was. "You're a slayer!" Willow accused.

"I'm also the sheriff," the woman added.

"And why do you, a slayer, have a doppelganger and his victim on your police force?" Willow demanded. "And... how?"

"Because Xeroc is a prude," Johnson said.

"I was summoned by one of his exes," the demon admitted. "However, if I killed him I would be forced to receive a plethora of personal quirks I just don't agree with."

"Zorro is a complete horndog and Xeroc is a prude," the sheriff summed up.

"I read the situation wrong," Buffy admitted, "so I got arrested for assaulting an officer."

"Oh," Willow relaxed and Kennedy put down her fists.

"How did you end up as sheriff, miss?" Willow asked curiously.

"Sharon Colbert," the sheriff offered. "Call me Colbert, or ma'am while I'm on duty."

"She beheaded the last sheriff in the middle of a debate as they both ran for the office," Johnson explained. "It was awesome! Right in the middle of an argument over how to handle gang violence, she cut off his head."

"It was a Teslocil," Colbert added.

"Teslocil?" Kennedy asked.

"Very hard to kill unless you get them angry and they feed off negative emotions," Willow explained. "Wouldn't the stored energy have shot out of his neck like lightning?" she asked.

Johnson laughed so hard he had to sit down and his demonic doppelganger grinned. "Right in the middle of town hall," the demon agreed.

"What did you do?" Kennedy asked, wondering how she could cover that up.

"What could I do?" the sheriff shrugged.

"She said, 'There can be only one' and asked if there were any other challengers," Johnson said. "They elected her sheriff on the spot and she's been stuck here ever since."

"Two years is hardly forever," Colbert replied. "But Xander-"

"Xander?!" Buffy and Willow squealed.

"You know Xander?" Colbert asked curiously.

"We've been looking for him," Willow agreed. "He quit the council and vanished a couple of years ago."

"He helped me when I was starting out, showed me the ropes," the sheriff said with a smile and a fond look in her eyes.

"I doubt he was that helpful," Kennedy muttered.

Colbert ignored her. "Getting elected sheriff gave me some roots here, so I settled down while Xander moved on to help other slayers."

"Why didn't you contact the Council?" Buffy asked.

"Why would I?" Colbert asked. "I'm doing fine, and if I need help I'll just call the Sisters."

"The Sisters?" Willow asked.

"You thought I was the only slayer in the US?" Colbert asked.

"Well, no," Buffy said, "but I thought the local slayers would at least mention you to us for recruitment."

"Most of our slayers are on the coasts," Willow admitted. "We have a few scattered slayers in the Midwest, but they are few and far between."

"None of the Sisters are Council slayers, as far as I know," Colbert said while unlocking Buffy's cell.

"How many slayers do you know?" Willow asked.

"I've met about a dozen, half through work and half through the Sisters," Colbert said thoughtfully. "Being a sheriff has allowed me to locate and help a few newbies."

"And you didn't refer them to the Council," Buffy guessed.

"Nope," Colbert agreed. "I held off on filing any charges against you, Miss Summers, because you're a sister slayer and misunderstandings occur. I'm going to release you to Miss Rosenberg, but please try to verify that who you are attacking is a valid target first, next time; and I'd suggest checking with the local sister who's territory you're in before doing any hunting."

"It was instinctive," Buffy admitted. "See, feel, attack. How do I contact the local sisters to avoid that in the future?"

"There is a website 'sisterslayers dot com', which should handle all your questions," she assured her.

"And where can I find Xander?" Willow asked as the sheriff walked them out.

"Winter isn't far off," Colbert noted. "He'll probably be heading north. We never see him during the winter. Check with the Sisters and they can probably give you his cell number."

"The way you were talking, I'm surprised you don't have it," Kennedy said.

"My boyfriend gets jealous enough without me having The First Knight on speed dial," she said with a smirk. "Have a nice day."

The three stared at the closed door.

"Willow -" Buffy began.

"I need my laptop," Willow agreed.

"Is he building his own council?" Kennedy demanded.

Typing by: Ordieth!

AN: Opps, I accidentally created an American Midwest based council.