The hand that breaks the fall

A deep, throbbing pain was the first thing that Xander noticed as he started to wake: his skull felt like it was several sizes too small for his brain. He tried to move his head to the side, but that only made things worse, almost knocking him out.

There was movement next to Xander, and an arm draped across his exposed chest, blond hair filling one corner of his still blurred vision. Xander was suddenly aware of a warm, naked and unmistakable female body pressed up against his side.

Slowly at first, memories of the previous 48 hours started to surface.

He could remember getting the call that put him on a plane from Cairo to LA when the Watchers Council got word of what Fang-boy was planning and the expected reproductions. He remembered meeting up with the others at LAX, the first time they'd all been together for a year. The journey into LA and the Hyperion had been made in silence, everyone checking and double checking their weapons and equipment.

Willow had made their presence felt by taking down the dragon with a well-aimed spell. The following battle had been short and brutal, with casualties on both sides, but they had won, for a given value of winning.

Xander could remember directing the bus they'd commandeered to Sacred Heart Hospital, a place he remembered from the infrequent emails his cousin Todd sent him. The fact that he would be inflicting 'The Todd' on his friends had weighed heavily on his mind, but they needed to get to a hospital.

Ten seconds after arriving at Sacred Heart, knew he'd made a mistake: the hospital had been a scene of utter pandemonium even before they arrived, and it showed no sign of letting up hours later. Faith had apparently been recognized by one of the senior doctors, who started chasing her down the corridor. The Todd, true to form, had hit on every one of the Slayers, before apparently charming Illyria.

Xander, having been only slightly hurt during the battle, was tended to by a beautiful young blond doctor. She seemed amazingly perky, despite the chaos that surrounded her, and she reminded Xander of Cordelia in some ways: both had a Valley-Girl exterior that hid who they were inside.

The doctor had introduced herself as Elliot, answering Xander's inquisitive glance by explaining that her parents had wanted a boy. The two of them had hit it off, talking about nothing of any importance while she stitched up a cut on his arm.

After that things became blurred; but Xander was sure that he invited Elliot out for a drink when her shifted ended, and she apparently accepted. He felt it was therefore safe to assume that they were in her apartment. But the flashing glow coming through the nearby window caught his one remaining eye, and he squinted to see what it was. The unmistakable sight of the Las Vegas Strip greeted him.

Ok, he thought to himself, you ended up in a Las Vegas hotel room, no big deal. You're both consenting adults...

Elliot shifted slightly, her hand coming into view: a simple gold band around her ring finger sent off alarm bells in Xander's brain.

Oh great! He mentally kicked himself; You went and hooked up with a married woman! You have officially turned into your father... He went to rub his head, and saw the identical gold ring around his own finger and stopped dead in his tracks, not even daring to breath. Could I really have gotten that drunk? Wasn't there a law about how sober you had to be if you wanted to get married? No, there has to be a more rational explanation: there is no way in hell I just woke up in Vegas, married to a woman I hardly know...

He looked round for more evidence to support this hypothesis, and saw a manila envelop in the bed side table, and grabbed it like a drowning man reaching for a life-preserver.

The first thing that he pulled out was a Polaroid photo of Elliot standing next to him outside a building with a glare neon sign identifying it as "The best little church and casino in Las Vegas!". The next was a very official looking document with the seal of the state of Nevada at the top: a marriage licence signed by Alexander Harris and Elliot Reid.

He was married to a near total stranger.


The End

And in case anyone asks, the title is from a line in the song "I'm No Superman" by Laslo Bane, the Scrubs them tune.