Title: The Show Must Go On
Spoilers: None really, post "Buffy" and "Angel" finales.
Summary: What the world sees of Xander isn't all there is. (Story is a songfic, a warning for those so disinclined)
Disclaimer: I don't own any of this, all that is to the ME and people. Song belongs to Queen.
A/N: I guess this is what a few people have described as a character piece, so that's what I'll say. My beta Mark said it was postable, but then he's a Bastard (Snow that is) so here it is. Hope you all like it.
Lyrics were removed as per FanFictionSUCKnet's NEW policy. May they roast among the levels of hell they call home.
This is not the path Xander Harris expected to be on when he was a kid and imagining his future. This wasn't even what he expected years ago, when he was first introduced to the world of demons. His hometown, his family, his fiancée... the places he grew up and sought comfort in, were all gone now. Everything was gone. Yet he remained, his pseudo-family of friends remained. Inside though, something was lost. An emptiness now hung around his heart.
No one could see it; no one had looked close enough since Sunnydale's destruction to see what had truly become of Xander. He thought someone might when he returned from Africa, but no one had bothered.
He filled out his role well. While the others were working hard to find or train the numerous new Slayers, he stayed back and kept their new home livable. Keeping the school from falling apart and the Slayers from losing themselves in their new calling.
His role was a dual role. Equal parts handyman and counselor. The main focus of his job was taking care of the new Slayers. Listening to them, well-timed jokes to break a mood, letting them know they could make it. That they weren't alone. He was the pillar in the school, he keeping all of the young ladies sane.
He smiled to one of the new girls and she thanked him with a hug and ran off to be with her new friends. The moment she was out of the room and he was alone, the smile fell off his face. No gradual dimming to a smile so many knew, it simply disappeared. In place of the smile was a face that looked as though it would never have reason to smile.
His place in the household was set, even if his original friends didn't know it. But of everyone in the house, no one had thought to look behind the smile. To look into his eye to see if the smile shone there as well, like it used to.
He hadn't seen much of his friends since he returned. Giles, Robin and Faith were there when he returned with a new group of Slayers. Giles left soon after though, still having Watcher duties to attend to in England. Robin and Faith now ran the new school for Slayers. Dawn was in Rome with Buffy, and Xander was happy to note, Andrew as well. Willow and Kennedy were still on a beach somewhere south of the equator.
He felt empty inside and there was no one who could comfort him as he comforted others. He was alone in a school full of people he'd either known for barely a year, or... with a person who had never been close to him at all. It was a hollow life, he knew. He was living now, just to help the Slayers. And no one knew what was going on.
Each morning he can be found at a window somewhere in the school, watching the sunrise. With a deep breath he looks at the new day dawning and wonders to himself if today would be the day. By the time he has released the breath, his shoulders have slumped, he knows that today would not be the day.
It's a new day, just was it was the day before. The routine holds true and he continues. He wonders during the moments that his smile falters if this is all that his life is now.
The banister fixed and a homesick girl comforted. A bookshelf installed in a room and a sympathetic ear lent. A floorboard repaired and a playful smile and joke to cheer up a girl who is missing her sister's birthday.
He moves through the house with a smile for all to see, a surface reflection of what they all need to see. Inside he looks forward to the next sunrise. Maybe that dawn will herald the day he could be selfish. To be truly selfish.
To be able to just leave. To let it all fall behind. Turn his back on all that he's known and fought for. One day, to be selfish enough to let it all fall away. To let himself fly.
In moments alone, he imagines that day. Would he just disappear? Maybe he'd leave a note, a note for each of his friends. If he just disappeared, too many questions would remain for them. No, he always decided a note would be left when he remembers how many friends disappeared when he was younger. How Jesse's parents felt when he seemingly just disappeared.
His reflections always stop short. Torn inside as he is between the desire to leave it all and the knowledge he can't. He becomes the boyish fool he was, the jester with a heart who can solve your problems, or at the very least, let you know you aren't alone. He's become a large teddy bear to the girls. Something of a comfort, but without anything of worth inside.
He holds their hands, wipes their tears, tells them jokes, smiles and keeps them sane. He loves them all, his girls as they are. They are why he's still here. Sometimes he hopes that by healing and helping them, he'll somehow heal himself. It hasn't happened yet, but then, he isn't leaving any time soon.
How much simpler it would be if they didn't need him. The irony is not lost on him, how after feeling so useless and unwanted before, he is not needed by so many. But he's the only one they can talk to for now. No matter that inside he is lost and unrecognizable to himself. He has put aside his own feelings once more for others.
With another deep breath, after another sunrise and the knowledge that today isn't the day, he plasters a grin to his face. He lights it up to a smile when he sees someone else. They smile back and feel and look more at ease than they had. Life continues, life goes on for everyone in the house but Xander. For him, it's just a show.