Title: All My Life's A Circle
Author: Lint
Part: 1/1
Email: CrashDarby@aol.com
Pairing: Buffy/Xander angst.
Disclaimer: All Buffy folk belong to Joss, Mutant Enemy, and The WB.
Rating: PG
Summary: Real love is timeless.
Author's Notes: For everyone on the BX List.

***

New England, 1793.

"Get these barrels into the hold!" Captain Alexander Hartwell shouted at his crew from his spot on the dock. A gruff, bearded man named Jack obliged from the deck of the ship tugging at the rope the barrels were harnessed with and pulled them aboard. The port was full of men just like Jack waiting for their next voyage out to sea. Alexander had gathered his crew of twenty of the bravest, strongest, loyal men he could find some weeks back. They now made themselves busy loading the "Bouncing Soul," the name of his ship. She was a good vessel. Tough and agile. It had made it through practically everything the sea had thrown at her. Every route he had taken it came through unscathed. Though, this journey… Something didn't feel right. But him being the headstrong man he was, shrugged off the doubt. He assumed it was cold feet about his upcoming marriage. He had always heard it was bad luck to leave a bride to be waiting on land while a sailor was off in the endless ocean blue. Still, him being headstrong he just ignored it. No matter how much he knew the feeling in the back of his neck warned him not to go…he was Alexander Hartwell. One of the finest Captains to ever grace a port, he would not let a simple feeling threaten to disrupt his reputation. He had always delivered his cargo. Always.

"Do you have to leave?" his darling bride to be said walking up next to him. He looked at her draped in a simple white silk dress. What a wonderful fabric it was. It cost him a pretty penny in the trade market, the material coming all the way from the land of China. But seeing her almost shine in it was worth any price. "I do not wish for you to go."

"Darling," he said wrapping a comforting arm around her shoulder and looking back at his ship. "You know I must. I am a sailor, this is what I was born to do."

"I know this," she said leaning her head onto his arm. "Just this last journey and we can be married."

"Aye," he said. "We'll have the rest of our lives my beautiful one. I will be back, I swear it."

He turned to face her then, brushing a golden strand of hair behind her ear. He felt as if he was the luckiest man alive just to be standing next to her, loving her. It was the most amazing thing to him to be able to love her. It was even more amazing to have her love in return. Her eyes were wide, and her lips were in a slight pout. He leaned closer to her inviting mouth and pressed his lips to hers. She returned his kiss with valor and again he found that warning buzzing on his neck. It felt as if it would be the last time they were ever together. Her tears could almost ensure that feeling.

"I beg you do not to go," she pleaded quietly. "I beg you not to go."

He wanted nothing more than to stay here in her arms forever. But he knew he had a duty to fulfill. His sense of honor was everything to him. It was one of the things that made her love him.

"I will return to you Lady Summers," he promised letting her go and walking toward the ramp leading to the ship.

"Be safe Xander," she said subtle tears welling in her eyes. "I will be waiting."

He smiled at the nickname she had given him. He allowed only her to call him that.

"Straighten the mast!" he shouted once he'd reached the deck. "Let's get these sails up!"

His crew scrambled to obey his order and he took one last look at his ladylove waving from the dock. He and Barbara Summers would be married the day he returned. He was sure of it. More sure that he's ever been of anything in his life. Whatever curse that seemed to be floating around paled in comparison.

Three days later.

Not one man the ship saw the storm coming. It was something straight out of legend. A white squall. Dark clouds above spewed their angry wrath onto earth. Winds blew so swiftly the sails looked like mere rags on a line. Massive waves crashed onto the deck rocking the ship harshly and sweeping a few men along with the chilly current.

"Turn to port!" the Captain shouted. "We'll ride along with the next one!"

"She won't turn Captain!" the helmsman shouted back. " I heard a crack a moment ago. I think the rudders gone!"

"Blast it!" AleXander Hartwell cursed to himself.

He watched silently the weather wage war his ship. The buzzing at his neck grew so fierce he had to scratch at it vigorously. Some how, some way he knew he would not survive this. He just knew. More water splashed across the bow and he heard the hull groan from the surge of the ocean. The boat rocked at such an angle if it were to tilt anymore surely it would capsize. The terrified screams of his crew were not enough to shake him back too logical thought. He was already gone. It was just a matter of time. Lightning flashed overhead, causing the black sky to turn white for the briefest second, as thunder roared shortly after. In that moment Xander saw the cause of demise in the form of a huge forty-foot swell coming along the sides. His body jerked with the force of the sea ramming his ship with an immeasurable force. He fell quickly to his knees; the cries of his crew all but silent as the waves snapped the main mast like a twig. The "Bouncing Soul" teetered at a deadly angle before another huge wave struck the ship before it could level out. The ship finally lost its buoyancy and lurched onto it's side quickly being swallowed by the sea.

Xander struggled with the undertow brought on by his sinking ship, but the cold forced his bones to freeze quickly and the fight was worn out of him. His vision blurred as the salt water began to fill his lungs. His final thought was of his Lady Summers waiting for him back on that dock. Something kept him from being swept by misery in the final seconds of his life however, for he knew he would have the chance to see that beautiful face again. He smiled, letting his final thought of her bring him peace.

***

Tumbleweed, Arizona 1852.

"Alexander Harper I will not let you do this!" Betsy Harper shouted at her husband. He didn't reply and just looked at her sadly buckling his holster around his waist and pinning his tin star on his brown leather vest.

"Did you hear me?" she asked her voice rising with her sense of dread. Her fingers fiddled with a silver dish before she threw it on the ground causing them both to jump.

"I heard you," he said calmly taking her shaking hands in his own. "But it's something I have to do Betsy. I'm the law around here and I've been called out. Now I know Finn's a quick shot but it's just something I can't back down from. If I do everyone will call me yellow and I just can't have that. You can't be a Sheriff and be considered a coward. Something like that will just follow around for the rest of your days. Is that what you want?"

"Oh I don't care what anyone else thinks as long as your alive for them to think it," she replied. "It's just, I don't know Alex. I feel as if something right awful is going to happen to you. I…I can't…"

"Ssh," he said softly placing a finger on her lips. "It's a fifty-fifty draw I know. But I reckon the odds are in my favor."

He quirked his eyebrows causing her to laugh weakly. She sighed and pulled her blonde hair from her shoulders and set it atop her head keeping it in place with several bobby pins. She walked up to him and stared deeply into his chocolate brown eyes. She felts the tears build, as she feared the outcome of the showdown.

"You always did look so handsome wearing that star," she said meekly tapping it with her finger.

He gave an impish grin and pulled her into a kiss, knowing that if he didn't make it through today, they would be together someday soon. He was sure of it.

"I have to go," he said pulling out his pocket watch and giving it a glance. "Finn said high noon."

"I can't watch," she said. "I know I should be there for you but I…"

"I understand."

"You come back to me you hear?" she threatened lightly.

"Yes ma'am," he said tipping his hat.

Once she heard the screen door slam her tears flowed freely as she collapsed onto the floor.


The sun beat down from its position directly in the center of the sky as the whole town was gathered around the dirt street and they gawked on at the two gun fighters. Jonathan Finn stood at his designated plot at one end of the street while Sheriff Harper occupied the other end. Finn had always been a showman and a bragger, and just a few minutes ago he was doing exactly that. Riling up the townspeople with declarations of his sure-fire victory. But now as the seconds ticked closer to noon he was suddenly all business. He was crouched slightly; hat tipped back so as not to block his vision. His fingers shifted eagerly near his holster just waiting for the chance to grab the butt of the revolver. His eyes were cold and hard and they bore down on the sheriff. He wanted him dead. It was just a matter of time.

Sheriff Alexander Harper or Xander as he was sometimes called looked around at the town he vowed to protect. He could not lose this fight. Too many depended on him, too many believed in him for him to fail. The heat of the sun caused him to perspire along his brow and he wiped it quickly away with his handkerchief. A mere droplet of sweat would not be his downfall. The clock perched atop city hall read 11:58. Soon.

"You know the rules!" Finn shouted. "When that clock strikes twelve we draw!"

"Just shut yer trap Finn!" Xander retaliated. "I know how this goes!"

A mild breeze blew dirt up from the street and guided some tumbleweeds along the horizon. The seconds seemed to stretch on forever. He could almost hear the clock tick in the distance the people had grown so quiet. The two opponents continued to face-off, each itching to get this over with when Finn did something Xander should have anticipated. He cheated. The silver gleam from the outlaw's gun flashed in a millisecond of cold fury, and Sheriff Xander soon found himself on his back in the dirt and clutching his chest. He heard the entire town gasp as he felt his life spill from the wound. His tried to shout out but nothing came from his throat. And when he attempted to move his body felt as if it were on fire. Footsteps echoed in his ears and he felt small hands pressing down on the bullet wound.

"No," she cried. "Please, please no…"

"Betsy?" he gasped. "What are you doing…"

He hacked into a deep cough as he felt his lungs fill with blood.

"Don't leave me," she whispered smoothing out his hair. "You can't leave me."

He grew weaker in each passing second but kept his eyes focused on his crying wife. His right grasped hers as firmly as he could. He may be dying, but knew that somehow, somewhere they would be together again.

"We…will be together," he rasped.

"Forever?" she asked leaning down and pressing her forehead against his.

"And ever," he confirmed in something short of a whisper. "Love you Bets."

"I love you Xander."

She collapsed on top of him letting her sorrow engulf her as the citizens of Tumbleweed kept a respectable distance, circled around the fallen sheriff. He smiled as his eyes closed and the world slipped away. He was surrounded in light and found comfort in the knowledge that he would live again another day. He would find her and they would be together as promised. "Until then," was his last thought. "Until then."

***

Chicago 1926.

Special agent Alex Harrison sat at his usual booth in Joe's Diner on Fifth Avenue. His fingers nervously played with the small velvet box on top the table. The ring inside fueling his nerves. Beverly was supposed to meet him ten minutes ago and he began to wonder what was taking her so long. He was already jumping out of his skin about the raid that was scheduled later in the night. It was going to be dangerous to say the least about raiding one of Capone's safe holds, and he knew he had to ask her to marry him before he risked his life. He wanted to be sure he had something to come back to. She was everything he'd ever wanted in a woman. She made it abundantly clear it was the same for her about him. He'd always been too scared to ask no matter how much he knew she loved him.

Joe clinked around with a few dishes behind the counter grabbing Alex's attention. Joe looked at him and smiled.

"Finally got the gall to ask your chick to marry ya eh Harrison?" Joe asked noting the small box sitting in front of his best customer's face.

"Yeah Joe, there does come a time in every man's life where he actually gets the courage to do such a thing."

"You're a lucky guy Alex, I know alotta men that would kill to be in your shoes."

"You ain't one of them right Joe?"

Alex laughed when Joe remained silent. He looked back out the window and saw her walking down the sidewalk and toward the diner. He vaulted from the booth feeling like he couldn't possibly wait another second.

"Wish me luck pal," Alex called to Joe over his shoulder as he ran out the door.

"Good luck," Joe shouted back waving his towel.

He was on the sidewalk in seconds and there she was a mere fifty feet away. When she saw him she waved and had a huge smile waiting for him. He loved that smile, and the way her blonde hair cut short, as was the fashion these days seemed to glow against the contrast of the mink wrapped around her shoulders. He could still remember when he had given it to her. It was the day he first said he'd loved her. He waited at the edge of the sidewalk for her to cross the street his gaze never wavering from her. Both of them never heard the truck speeding down the road and he only had time to scream her name when the lights shined down on her. She froze, her eyes wide with fear as she looked to Alex. There was no way it could stop in time, and she couldn't have possibly gotten out of the way.

The sound of glass shattering deafened him as he saw the truck run her down. Her body flew across the hood and roof before finally hitting the ground with a sickening thud. Alex ran up to her limp body and cradled her head in his lap.

"Help!" he shouted to anyone who was around. "Somebody help!"

He was crying uncontrollably as she moaned in pain. Her lovely golden hair now stained red, as was her broken, battered body. He knew she wasn't going to make it.

"Alex…" she mumbled weakly.

"Don't talk baby," he cried. "You have to save your strength okay?"

"Alex…" she said again a little more urgently.

"Yeah Bev?"

"I would have said yes."

"What?" he asked. "How did you know?"

She laughed lightly, almost fragile.

"You never were good at keeping things from me," she said. "I found it in the breadbox."

He smiled despite the desolate situation. She was right. He could never hide anything from her. He could never be anything without her. But now he would be without her. And the biggest heartbreaker of all, she would have said yes. Oh god she would have said yes.

"Don't be sad," she said quietly. "We'll be together again."

He kissed he damp forehead and took out the box with the ring. Carefully lifting her hand, he removed the ring from the box and slipped it on her finger.

"It's beautiful," she sighed.

He could feel her getting colder in his arms and he hunched over to get one last look at her lovely face.

"Don't go," he begged.

"I'll see you soon," she said. "I promise."

"Next time huh?"

"Next time," she agreed nodded slightly. "I'll always love you Alex."

"Me too Bev, me too."

She smiled softly before closing her eyes for the last time letting death claim her. Alex remained hunched over her now still; broken body letting his tears wash away the blood. He would wait forever to be with her again.

***

Sunnydale, 2000.

The slayer landed two vicious kicks to the vamp's side before delivering an uppercut sending it staggering back. She followed up with two more kicks and a punch to the abdomen. It snarled and lunged forward. Buffy sidestepped and grabbed the flying vamp by its collar using the momentum the throw it into a headstone a few feet away. The vamp was dazed when it tried to climb back onto its feet but Buffy was already there with stake in hand. Dusted.

"Any other takers?" she asked to no one in particular. "Guess not."

She slipped the stake into her waistband and continued to stroll amongst the headstones of the 'Shady Oaks' cemetery. It had been a slow week. That was only the third vamp she'd dusted in as many days. While she would have greatly accepted the decline in undead activity, past occurrences usually stated that slow would sure mean big in the near future. Still, there didn't seem to be a threat of anything else tonight.

"You can come out now Xand," Buffy said to monument she was sure she'd seen him duck behind.

"It's gone huh? Just a nice little job for the ol' duster buster to take care of?" he replied catching in step with her.

"Vacuum city," she replied.

"You know I'm kind of glad it came along," he said gesturing at the empty cemetery. "I was beginning to run out of inane things to ramble on about."

"Somehow I don't think that's possible."

"When you're right, you're right. So now what? We get in a few more miles excerci…"

A big burly hand wrapping around his throat and lifting him from his feet cut off Xander's sentence. Buffy reacted quickly with a roundhouse to the vamp's kidney. The kick had little effect as it just flared its fangs at her and backhanded her to the ground.

Xander struggled under the grip of the hand now crushing his windpipe. His vision began to blur with the lack of oxygen and suddenly it seems as if his life were flashing before his eyes. However it wasn't his life exactly, but it was. Every sensation seemed so eerily accurate, every breath and every function of what he saw he knew he'd experienced. He saw a sea captain bidding farewell to his bride to be from the deck of a giant sailboat. The girl looked remarkably like Buffy. He could feel the happiness knowing that when he came back they would be married. They never were though. He could now see a raging storm from the eyes of the captain. He could see the waves tearing the ship apart. He could see the man dying; he could practically feel the saltwater choking him. Then the background changed. He was now in the old west standing in a scene right out of a Clint Eastwood movie. He felt the gun at his side and the townspeople surround them. He heard a clock tick somewhere in the distance and suddenly a silver flash of light. Then he was on his back, the life pouring from his chest. He saw the golden hair of another girl who looked remarkably like Buffy leaning over him. She was crying and pressing her hands on his wound but it was too late. They both knew it, but he felt himself amazingly calm. He knew he would see her again.

Buffy rammed into the vampire from behind. It's hand loosened just enough to where Xander with his last breath was able to knock himself out of the vice-like grip. He hit the ground and gasped for air while trying to crawl away. He heard the sound of Buffy fighting with vamp while his eyes remained closed in concentration with the effort of trying to get his body to move. Suddenly Buffy was thrown on top of him and his head struck the ground hard. The slayer's head hit the tombstone he was trying to hide behind with a vicious crack as she lay still for a few seconds. Enough time for the vamp to grab him again and lift him so they were face to face.

"Suppertime boy," it snarled before lowering his fangs to Xander's neck. He tried to fight but the vamp was too strong and he was still dazed from the lack of air. He felt the sharp prick of the fangs tearing into his jugular and another scene flashed before him.

He was in a diner in some kind of suit nervously tapping a tiny black box. He was nervous about something, though didn't know what. Then he was running outside and coming to a halt at a crosswalk. Yet another girl that looked like Buffy smiled and waved at him. He felt himself play with the box inside his pocket as he waiting for the girl to cross the street. But she never made it across. He was now holding her battered, broken body in his arms slipping a ring onto her finger.

"Don't be sad," she'd said. "We'll be together again."


Xander didn't know what it all meant. Visions of past lives about a doomed romance with girls who all looked like Buffy. He wasn't going to get the chance to understand either, the vamp was draining him quickly and he felt his body getting heavy as his heart beat weaker. It would all be over soon.

He must have blacked out for a second because the next thing he knew he was lying on the ground with Buffy's arms wrapped tightly around him. He could feel her tears spilling onto his forehead. It was then he knew. He knew that all those visions of strange lives were actually his. He and Buffy's lives. Little points in time where their love was strong but the circumstances were just not able to have that love co-exist in the universe. Looks like the roller coaster ride of their romance was not meant to be in this time period either. He knew that before though. She had seen him as nothing but a friend all the time he's known her. But now as he felt the spark of life inside his body burn out, he thought that maybe it was too soon for them this time around. That maybe later in life she would have realized that he was the one who possessed her heart. Because he knew that she had always possessed his. He wouldn't find out now, but it was okay. In his heart he knew they would be together again. After all, it appeared as if they were soulmates. Or something close to that. The visions, the sensations, all of it he knew to be true. It had to be it's what was helping his acceptance this death. He would live again, and definitely he would have Buffy again.

He felt so weak; it took a great effort for him to speak.

"Don't cry Buff," he said reaching an arm up to her.

"Xander don't move," she said in-between tears. "You're going to be okay, just don't move."

He chuckled softly, weakly. Each second took great effort to cling to in order to get one last look at her. But he did, he looked deeply into those beautiful eyes of hers and felt himself at peace. They would be together again.

"You won't die," she said petting his hair. "You can't die."

His hand moved slowly to grasp hers and felt it radiating from her. He was right. She did love him; it was just to soon for her to realize it this time. He smiled.

"I love you Buffy," he said. "Always have, always will."

She cried a little harder when she couldn't say it in return, not in the way he wanted her to. It was all right for Xander not hear it in actual words, he could feel it through her tears and the way she gripped so tightly on his hand.

"It's okay," he gasped. His breath was becoming slower as his pulse was almost non-existent. "You can say it later."

He felt her lips on his forehead and he used all his strength to give her hand one last squeeze that he would be all right. He felt himself slip away to a place where they would always be together. He just had to wait there for her to return.

"Don't go," she mumbled feeling his body still and his skin grow cold.

"I'll see you," he promised. "The next time around."