Title: "The Long Journey Home"
One-Shot

Written by: Shawn

Summary: Following their last brutal apocalypse, Buffy and Xander reflect on the past and all that's happened to them while journeying towards their future.

Rating: M for sensuality

Category: Drama/Romance

Ship: Buffy/Xander

Timeline/Spoilers: The BTVS Series Finale aired 5/20/2003. Everything in the BTVS series is canon until the end of the series. This story picks up three and a half years later.

Email: JW and Mutant Enemy own everything.


Nobody gets to live life backward. Look ahead, that is where your future lies. -- Ann Landers

In the game of life it's a good idea to have a few early losses, which relieves you of the pressure of trying to maintain an undefeated season. -- Bill Baughan

Love the moment. Flowers grow out of dark moments. Therefore, each moment is vital. It affects the whole. Life is a succession of such moments and to live each, is to succeed. -- Corita Kent


42 Beaumont Road City

A beautiful Victorian two-story, three bedroom brick home

Tuesday, December 26, 2006 8:30 AM London, England

While waking to the familiar scent of his short dark hair as she half-cuddled him from behind, Buffy's slowly woke from a pleasant slumber no worse for wear. The aftermath of yesterdays horrific war left as little physical damage on her as any of the others had that she's fought in over the years. For this girl, she wore her blood-soaked scars all on the inside. Her pain manifested in her soul, strangling her spirit at times, but never overcoming her.

A Slayers will was simply unstoppable. Especially this one.

Comfortably toasty under a thick comforter, Buffy rested against Xander's back, protectively draped over his shirtless larger form as he slept the sleep of the dead. A darker thought of course considering how close to fact that statement was, though she's made peace with her less than fairy tale-like views on life. As long as he was alive, safe, and near her she had all that she needed. Being a deep sleeper didn't bother her in the least. In fact, it gave her time to reminisce while watching over him.

Their lives were about to change forever.

Yawning quietly against the back of his neck, Buffy gently prodded his legs apart, sliding hers along his, curling around him more under the covers. The steady, calming rise and fall of his chest while feeling him take his every breath, this sustained her. This gave her peace of mind and hope for the future. Not that she couldn't have one on her own, but the one with him was going to be so much more satisfying.

Buffy allowed the warm rays of the new day cascading through their parted bedroom curtains to soothe her. She unconsciously found herself pondering her strange, incredible journey through life thus far. The discovery of her powers as a teenager, her parents divorce, learning of her destiny, and the move to Sunnydale where she met the best friends of her life were just the beginning of so many unforgettable events.

As the dark night called out to the Slayer within her, a primal roar grew in her belly until she became the warrior she was born to become.

Things were never perfect. Often times they were the exact opposite. Death stalked her for years and no matter how hard or fast she ran, she could never escape it. At times she exuded courage and intelligence as equally as stupidity and arrogance. She made more than her fair share of mistakes and had long ago accepted that. So did everyone else around her, which helped in its own way. She had a father that couldn't have cared less about her. So much less that when her mother died he didn't even bother to make the trip to the funeral to be with her and Dawn. And when she died he didn't make it to that one either, using the excuse of grief in the shadow of his own shame. Thankfully Dawn had Giles, Xander, Willow, Anya, Tara and even Spike to look after her.

As images of her high school days played in her minds eye, Buffy considered her heartaches while holding the man who healed it. Her young heart loved Angel first, even if she wasn't quite sure what love was at the time. She wanted what she wanted and though it was true it was ultimately futile. Tainted forever by Mrs. Calender's death and many others no matter who was truly at fault, a part of her would always carry a dear fondness for Angel. She learned so much about herself, love, men, and her heart no matter the bitter pain or sadness she suffered. He suffered as well.

Just another chapter in the book of her life.

She's turned the page on it. The pen's still writing...

While lying in bed with the man she intended to spend the rest of her life, Buffy recalled her misguided, mutually damaging affair with Spike, the distance it created between her and her friends, and how finally at the end they were able to put it all back together again. With a decimated city behind them the Scoobies stuffed inside an old bus and toured America like some sort of weird traveling rock band seeking out the newly called Slayers. Six months of greasy spoon diners, small roadside hotels, gas station bathrooms, constant practical jokes, and a bus full of edgy teenage girls culminated in so much fun she wondered if she had ever laughed so hard in her entire life. Evil seemed to had taken a break of sorts post the Sunnydale Hellmouth's destruction.

Their reprieve was short lived.

The Watchers Council was well over three hundred years old and as such they amassed far more than a massive archive of arcane books and a vault full of mystical artifacts. Upon arriving in London it took three whole months for Willow, Giles, and Andrew to uncover no less than 3.4 billion dollars the Council had stashed away in various hidden accounts. The true rebuilding process began in earnest. They discovered six surviving Watchers and purchased a massive estate in a secluded area to serve as the new home of the Watchers Council.

That first year was dedicated to the rebuilding stage as there was little time for sightseeing or anything personal. An alliance with the Witches Coven was born, as well as the need for non-Slayer undercover Council operatives who could keep a quiet watch over hot spots all over the world. Several retired CIA and British Secret Service agents were recruited to train men and women to fight the forces of evil most had only read about in books or saw in horror movies. They had no idea about what awaited them. No idea that the evil would return tenfold, becoming crueler and more violent than ever. The war began anew as the battlefield took on a global appeal instead of being localized to the site of a Hellmouth. Only this time the Watchers Council had the foresight of how the war would be raged in this new day and age. They were prepared with teams of Slayers, Witches, and highly-trained agents ready to be dispatched anywhere at anytime.

The only thing even more insane than all of that, Buffy smiled fondly to herself, was when she fell in love with Xander a year ago. Of course that craziness could be doubled considering six months ago she married him.

Soon it would be tripled...

Blinking against his pillow, Xander stretched himself awake. The sexy feel of his long legs sliding along her smooth, soft ones started his day off far better than his night ended. He felt Buffy's tender touch ghosting over his aching shoulder, and then down his side before trailing over his bruised ribs. Try as he did to hold it in, he winced painfully, causing her to quickly pull away.

Buffy whispered a little "Sorry," and then brushed her lips over a knife scar on his right shoulder. That particular badge of honor saved her sisters life once upon a time. She never failed to acknowledge it. "You shouldn't of slept on your stomach last night. But you never listen to me."

"Its that tricky little male gene that believes a man can deal with any pain and is always right."

"I need to slay that gene."

"Like you slayed that squirrel in our backyard?"

"I never slayed that squirrel. I scared him into relocating. And I used a stick. It wasn't sharp or pointy at all." She felt her husband chuckle, and then slowly turn over so that he was on his back. Strain crossed his face as she knew he'd be sore for days following yesterday's terrible battle. He hated pain killers but he'd have to get over that if he wanted to be comfortable until he healed. She'd force him to take them if she had too. "You okay?"

Reaching for her slender waist, Xander hooked his arm around her until she gently fell against his right side, her head tucked beneath his chin, his hand resting firm on her hip. Nearly two and a half years of top notch training from the new Council operatives commanders whipped a slightly out of shape guy into a strong, capable man. One who's served as one of the Council's top agents this past year. "I'm good as can be considering I fell thirteen feet onto a cracked concrete slab. I don't ever suggest anyone get body slammed on a demonic alter. Why can't they be cushioned? Can't Blood God's be resurrected on plush or something? And who tries to end the world on Christmas day? Big Bads just doesn't make sense anymore."

Silence reigned from the Slayer. As much as Buffy enjoyed their early morning banter, never when it dealt with him getting hurt. He didn't appreciate when she did it either. When her eyes found his she found an apologetic man who understood.

"Sorry."

She started to say something and then let it go, biting her tongue. They told everyone of their need to leave this lifestyle three months ago. Last night they came so close to losing their lives that she's still wired from it. If she would have lost him the day before they retired... The mere thought broke something fragile inside her. "I respect what you do and everything you've done, but I can't keep living my life wondering if you're going to die at work. And I know you hate it too."

"That's why last night was our very last end of the world, bad guy coming back from the dead apocalypse. Although saving the world in a month other than May feels odd, I'm glad its over" Xander noted wearing a small grin she didn't quite share. She's not afraid of anything in the world except losing the happiness they've built together. Happiness that's eluded her for so many years in her personal life. He's both humbled and awed by that fact as he's in the same boat. "After what happened with Dawn a year ago we knew our time was coming to walk away. Well today is the day. We survived our last fight."

"Faith didn't," Buffy hated to admit as she thought of her sister-Slayer who fought till the bitter end last night. Dying on Christmas day of all days. "Neither did Robin or the twenty Slayers going home in pine boxes in the next forty-eight hours."

Xander shifted ever so much to talk to her. "I miss Faith as much as you do. I miss her like crazy and always will. I liked Wood well enough too and of course I respect and honor everyone who lost their lives fighting this war. But we all signed up for this good and sober. We all knew the risks. No one was forced to join. They died saving the world and that's something to be proud of. Their sacrifice saved million of people. Yeah, it stinks for us cause we knew Faith and how hard she worked to put her life back together. But this is the hand we've been dealt."

Whenever something bad happened they gave that speech to the other. Both knew it well, rehearsed for years, battle tested and memorized. Buffy sighed against his shoulder, her fingers tracing over his bare chest. "Is it that easy for you?"

Xander tried to sound like everything as alright, when it was anything but. "No, its not easy at all. I'm a man. We hide pain and sadness. Its what we do. But deep down I'm crying. Its just that as sad as I am for losing Faith I'm so happy you, Giles, Willow, Andrew, Angel, and the other Slayers, Witches, and agents who fought their hearts out are still alive."

"I'm just happy you're alive," Buffy enjoyed saying. Xander squeezed her tight in his arms and then winced again. She ignored it as he needed space when he dealt with pain. He hated being babied about anything. "I think we're doing the right thing by honoring Faith's request."

"Yeah, she wasn't one for funerals and didn't want one for herself. Just a toast to the self-proclaimed baddest bitch who ever lived and that we never forget her."

"We won't. Not now and not ever." Buffy snuggled warm into his side as they enjoyed a few moments of pleasant silence and peace. This was the first day of the rest of their lives and as scary as walking away from the familiar was no matter how crazy that familiar was, felt exciting and new. Ever since Dawn left the Council to attend college in New York the Slayer hated not being close to her sister. That was all about to end as they would now be living an hour away from each other in the same state.

The sheer fact that Dawn was alive at all after what happened to her was reason enough to celebrate.

"I can't believe its not up there," Xander grinned while pointing at the ceiling. He heard Buffy laugh and then felt her shake her head next to him.

"I still can't believe you talked me into letting you put a disco ball above our bed."

"It added style and class to an otherwise style-less, class-less home."

"Thank you for complimenting my decorative skills. How about I go redecorate a grizzly bears forest cave next? Or maybe I can spruce up a birds nest?"

"You know what I mean, honey," he amended what said while she pretended to be offended. "Having a disco ball above the bed means its a party going on every night."

Buffy rolled her eyes. "That was such a guy thing to say. I'm sure its a 'Man Law'."

"The disco ball made the hot loving going on in here that much hotter. Especially when we sweated and the lights reflected off of us."

"It made Dawn laugh so hard when she saw it that she almost fell down. Willow has a picture of it on her cellphone wallpaper."

"It was so cool, Buff. And it'll be above our new bed in New York before the day is out."

Sparing a glance over Xander's body to the wall, Buffy remembered they had already removed the clock. Lying back down beside her husband, she took a long look around their nearly empty bedroom. Everything except the bed was already packed and on its way to the States. Only a couple of travel bags were left to take as they were catching a private plane at 11:00 AM. She sighed, "I'm going to miss this house. It was home. It was our homey. I liked our homey."

Xander felt the same sentiment. The first real home either of them owned and paid for themselves made it all the more special. It wasn't the biggest or the most lavish, but it was perfect in its simplicity. "Me too, sweetheart."

"Remember the day we moved in and the nosy Johnson's next door saw me carrying this bed up the stairs?" Buffy said. They cracked up over that memory. "I can't believe old lady Harriet started spreading rumors I was on steroids."

"It's a good thing no one believed her."

"I think her double bifocal glasses aided in people taking what she said with a grain of salt."

"Glaucoma was our ally that day." Xander settled in comfortably under the comforter while nestled close to his wife. The crazy past year of his life saw a greet deal of tragedy, but a wealth of joy the likes of which he's never enjoyed before. A year ago he had no clue when he jokingly suggested Buffy couldn't get a normal human date anymore during her thirteen month Armageddon-like dating drought that she'd throw caution to the wind and ask him out. He had no use for pity, but didn't really see it that way as she just wanted someone to go out with and have fun. She wasn't looking for anything major to happen between them and she explained that early on.

Her reasoning, if it hadn't happened already it probably never would. He didn't care so much as he hadn't had time for dating either. Thus began a series of friendly-dates.

But they had fun.

Lots of fun, and laughing, and the acute understanding of what each of them saw on a daily basis. They were already comfortable around each other, trusted each other, and knew each others quirks. When they began spending a lot of alone time together an intimacy developed that had never been there before. Probably because the Sunnydale-Buffy and the Sunnydale-Xander no longer existed. In some ways it felt like they were truly getting to know each other for the very first time.

A lot changed in three and a half years.

Six months ago in the back of a small, quaint book store while Buffy was desperately trying to reach a shelf to high for her Xander absently tossed out the idea that they should get married so that he would be honor bound to reach high places for her for the rest of her life. She graced him with the dearest smile he had ever received and instead of the quip he knew was at the tip of her witty tongue, she simply said they should do it.

Logical or not, for reasons all their own they had fallen in love and forty-eight hours later they were married with eight people in attendance. Since not much in their lives could be considered normal it made perfectly good sense that their courtship continued the trend.

Closing his eyes, Xander remembered the white rose Buffy wore in her hair that day and how amazingly beautiful she looked as he held her hand now, enjoying the woman he loves. "Thank you."

She squeezed his hand, a bit surprised. "For what?"

"Marrying me. Especially after I ran from my last wedding," he managed to find amusing for some strange reason. "I know a lot of girls wouldn't take a shot on a guy like that."

"Oh trust me, the doors were magically locked and I had a GPS tracer sewn into your jacket pocket. You weren't going anywhere."

Xander sarcastically added, "I just can feel the trust in the room."

"You ran from the last one, but you were not going to run out on me. I had snipers on the rooftops."

"What?"

"They were only going to shoot you in the leg with tranquilizer darts." Her husbands wide-eyed stare was captivating. "What?"

"Trained gunmen were going to fire at my lower extremities?"

"It would have only been a tranquilizer. It would have barely felt like two Tequila shots." Leaning up, she kissed him softly, lingering a moment more over his lips just to taste him.

"Did Willow know about this?"

"She suggested it." Buffy quickly added, "You can never tell her I told you that, k? She just felt you needed to not run this time. And for the record she didn't think you would."

"But you still had snipers on the roof!"

"Better to be safe than sorry."

His beautiful, quirky, incredibly dangerous, hot wife... Oh well, it all worked out. Turning his body over wasn't a pleasant experience, but he needed to know the time so he reached for his cell phone on the night stand. "Its 9:30 AM. We gotta get a move on."

Frowning because she didn't want to vacate the cozy comfort of their bed, Buffy knew they had to get their day started. Its just so soon after the hell of last night. Nonetheless, she extracted herself from his arms and then helped him up and out of bed. "Lets grab a quick shower and then hit the road. Us retired folk have a plane to catch."

"Us retired folk? Should I grab my cane and arthritis medicine?"

"Viagra?"

"Never!"

"Good. Now get those legs moving."

Xander followed her across the bedroom towards the two suitcases laid against the far wall. He grabbed enough clothes for the day, his toothbrush, mouthwash, and a comb before following Buffy into the master bathroom.

"You only need twenty percent of the counter space available. I have designated that corner for your stuff." Buffy politely pointed to the little section her husband could place his stuff on, and then laid out her makeup, hair products, lotions, and a brush.

"You know, honey," Xander began as he piled his meager things in the space provided. "I let you get away with plenty, but once we reach the new home we have to work out a fifty/fifty space sharing program."

"We'll talk about it."

"That's Buffy-speak for 'he'll forget about it long before we ever talk about it and when he remembers it'll be so many months later he'll make me promise to talk about it all over again only to repeat the process'."

"In addition to being an amazing lover I never knew you possessed psychic abilities," she teased while undressing. "What other skills have you been hiding all this time?"

Shoving his cotton pajama pants off, he followed his wife into the double-sized shower stall. She already had a warm spray going. "I have the comic book hero like ability to convey patience to short women," he quipped which earned him the finger as a reply. "I also seem to be well liked by kids. Although I'm not always sure if its because I give off the cool role-model vibe or because they think I am just a bigger version of them."

Xander watched his wife pour some of her beloved shower gel in the palm of her small hand while wearing an expression so cute he couldn't quite understand it. She seemed very pleased and a bit mischievous. "What are you smiling about?"

"Nothing," she tossed playfully over her shoulder, facing her faucet's steaming spray while he faced his own. The grandest luxury their home possessed was their oversized shower stall and jacuzzi. "I want to go ice skating."

"When was the last time you did it?"

"At least ten years ago. I was never very good at it, but it was fun and I miss fun. I want to get reacquainted with fun. I want to know how fun's wife and kids are doing. I want to shake fun's hand and say its a pleasure to see you again. Here's my phone number. Stay in touch."

"What the lady wants she shall have. We'll find a rink tonight and go tomorrow."

"Yay."

Throughly into his shower now, Xander could never stay focused on his own body for long when Buffy's was dripping wet just behind him. He looked over his shoulder just to pay homage to the hot droplets cascading down her spine, tapering off her gorgeous backside. His eyes slowly drank her in, flowing back up her slender form until they rested upon the four-inch scar that began just below her right ear and curved over the column of her throat. A Satanic priest tried to slit her throat with an enchanted blade eight months ago. One that nearly killed her and was so empowered with dark forces it left a scar on even a Slayer's skin.

Xander recalled finding her unconscious body in the woods and running as fast as he could with her in his arms to his car. He had never seen so much blood before and was drenched all over the front of his clothes by the time they reached Maven Hall, the Watcher's Council secret hospital.

Buffy saved a dozen lives that night while almost losing her own. It was a night he'd never forget. And one he never wanted to live through again.

She could feel whenever he was watching over her and knew the difference without even staring into his eyes if they were admiring her sexually or protectively or if he was recalling something that deeply affected him. The scar over her throat was usually the culprit. It was the closest she'd come to dying since actually dying years ago. She let him be until he turned back around to his own shower, and then she checked in on him.

The knife scar over his badly bruised shoulder came in defense of her sister's life, who had been stabbed six times by a Raken Beast. Dawn found her niche at the Watcher's Council in tracking creatures as well as identifying their history and how to kill them quickly. She wasn't part of the attack personnel though she was an integral part of the team. And after a ninth child was found murdered she took it personally that she had to find the thing that was wrecking such horrific havoc.

Despite the Watcher's Council's claims otherwise Dawn knew it wasn't a human that was doing the killing, but struggled in discovering what it was exactly and why it was targeting children. When she was finally able to track the killer to an abandoned building by herself, she prepared to call in back-up when the creature revealed it had its latest victim already. She couldn't allow the child to die, so she attacked the monster herself. The result, she would have been killed if it weren't for Xander had followed her fearing for her safety. The child and Dawn were saved that night, though Buffy's sister laid in a coma for days afterwards with severe internal injuries. Xander suffered a multiple bruises, concussion, a separated shoulder, and a stab wound so deep in his shoulder he will feel the effects of it for the rest of his life.

Her beloved, courageous husband.

Overwhelmed for a brief moment with pride for her Xander, Buffy shifted back towards her shower to finish up only to feel a very aroused man close the distance behind her, his arms circling her small waist, pulling her back to his chest.

"You are the sexiest woman on earth," Xander whispered in her ear while nipping the lobe, and then running his mouth along her neck. "I can't resist you and you know it. Standing their dripping wet... God, you turn me on."

Buffy had no time to react when he gently spun her around and covered her lips with his own, sealing them hot, smothering her mouth with hungry, wet kissing that saw his arms clutch her tight to his chest. Whimpering, she gave in as always, her body reacting to the hard erection throbbing between them. Her tongue was being suckled in his mouth so deliciously her right leg curled around his left. Her nipples drew tight, ghosting his broad chest, drowning in the passion he devouring her with.

She swore if he weren't in pain right here and now she'd fuck him so good... but his sharp intake of breath and wincing around their kiss told a different story,. He wanted her... always and that was beautiful, but he needed to recover first. Shower stall fun required healthy people at best and was far from the most comfortable sex two people could engage in to begin with. "Sweetheart, as soon as you're well," she failed to finish but grasped his hard erection, stroking it slowly, "I'm going to make love to you any way you want for as long as you want."

The man in him wanted to take her now, but the pain was just killing him and he needed to sit down before he fell down. "If you don't move your hand right now I won't be responsible for my actions. And those actions could include me passing out in a very uncool sort of way."

"Exactly." He was smiling, so that was a plus. Buffy relinquished what belonged to her after a final, evil squeeze and then exited the shower. She grabbed a towel for herself and threw him the other one. "We got a plane to catch, honey. And some things to talk about on the way to the airport."

Xander began drying off while nodding, but noticed Buffy sort of checking herself out in the bathroom mirror. Not her face so much as she stood a few feet away, but her whole body while drying off. "Honey, you look incredible."

She blushed because of his sweet compliment as much as his misunderstanding why she was so interested in her how body looked... and would look in the near future. "Thank you, but relax. I'm not having a bout of insecurity. I got what I got and I'm cool with it."

"I'm in love with it."

"You better be," she laughed while slipping on her underwear and bra, then the rest of her clothes. He finished dressing and then they brushed their teeth and took care a few other activities until at last her makeup and hair were all that remained. "Do you think Willow will ever leave the Witch's Coven?"

Leaning against the wall, Xander shrugged. "I'm not sure really. I think she loves her new position as one of the head mistresses of their academy. I think she feels a responsibility to teach restraint and understanding when it comes to magic. That's some residual guilt from her walk on the dark side a few years ago."

"I just wish she was coming with us," Buffy explained. "I want her to be happy and safe. Mostly happy and safe with us. Or near us. The general vicinity, you know?"

"Wills may miss all of us so much that one day she might walk away. But what she does at the Coven isn't the same as what we do at the Watcher's Council. She's not being sent into harms way night after night."

"I'm going to miss her so much."

"Me too, but its not like we won't talk as often as possible, send emails, and visit when we can."

Buffy smiled, "Are you going to cry when you say goodbye to her?"

"I'm going to try not too as it will kill my manhood rating, which is at an all-time high. But I'm expecting some water works action." Buffy walked over and gave him a big hug, kissed his cheek, then went back to brushing her hair. "I'm all done, honey. Want me to start loading the car?"

"Yeah, take these," she handed him the rest of her stuff. "I'll be out in ten minutes."

Nodding, Xander exited the bathroom. A quick walk to her suitcase and she was all packed. He grabbed his stuff and hers before taking to the stairs and then out the front door of their house towards his SUV. Once their bags were in the trunk he shut it and then leaned his back to it while breathing in the cool morning air.

Yesterday was Christmas yet he wasn't in any spirit to celebrate. The research that went into stopping last nights Apocalypse took up the last two weeks. So much time that they didn't even buy a tree or any gifts. There was no office party with eggnog overdose or anyone sitting their naked butt on a copy machine. It just wasn't the same with Dawn not around anyway, though he missed the spirit this time of year was known for.

Faith's death only darkened his mood even more. He was going to miss her as much as anyone he'd ever lost in his life. Even Joyce, Tara, and Anya. And while he wasn't deeply religious at all he did hope they were all together somewhere gossiping and eating ice cream. Yeah, that was a nice picture in his head. He decided to keep it.

Minutes later Buffy appeared out of the house while buttoning up her jacket. With her lovely blond hair pulled back in a ponytail, she locked the front door and then took a couple steps toward the porch before pausing at the top step. She felt sad leaving this place behind as it was their first home as husband and wife. It held some of the best, most special memories of their entire lives. And while they were looking forward to making new memories this home would always be dear to them.

"Say the word and we'll stay?"

Exhaling a deep breath of air, Buffy felt tears wet her eyes. She shook her head. "No, we need to leave. Its just..." Ascending the porch stairs in two short strides, Xander took her in his arms, holding her close, his chin resting atop her head. "Giles and Willow are here and we're leaving them behind. Its like we're leaving part of us behind."

"We're doing what's right for us by leaving. Just the same way they are doing what's right for them by staying."

She knows that, hard as it is to accept at times. Dealing with death is easy for her. She's faced it head on. But dealing with losing her loved ones had never been easy. Would never be easy. "Remember when you carried me over the threshold and you almost tripped and broke my neck?"

"Ah, the humorous moments of our early post-wedding days. Yes, lets relive how I almost killed you while carrying you into the house."

"Oh hush," Buffy laughed, taking his hand as they descended the porch, took a long last look at their old home, and then climbed inside the SUV. She checked her watch. "Our flight leaves in thirty five minutes."

"Then we best get a move on, little lady," Xander echoed in his best rendition of a western accent. He started the car and pulled them out of the drive-way and onto the street. From the corner of his eye he could read his wife's serious mood. She seemed a bit tense, which he expected. But for some strange reason he thought there was more going on with her than she was letting on. Sooner or later she'd confess as that was her way, but he was damn curious.

"I going to miss Giles so much. I've gotten used to seeing him every day again. No one rubs their glasses as good as he does."

"Yeah, the G-Man is irreplaceable. And part of me wishes he was leaving too. But another part of me..."

"Knows that without him the Watcher's Council could turn back into what it was. Those girls deserve better than that. He's the best man for the job by far. Its just..."

"He's your father."

"Yeah," Buffy confessed the truth of what her former Watcher meant to her. "I know he'll be fine though. He's got a great team around him. People we know and trust. I'm just going to miss him."

"Me too."

They drove in silence for a few miles.

Xander laughed to himself, "You know what's funny?"

"What?"

"I don't have a clue what I want to do with the rest of my life," he admitted out of the blue while turning a corner. "I mean I have some basic ideas and all, but for the last three years I've ate, slept, and bled this life working for the Watcher's Council. Its almost like I've forgotten what I wanted out of life outside of this one."

"I know how you feel," Buffy agreed. "I think only after we've been around normal people and lived a normal life for a little while will it come to us. I'm so out of touch with the world outside ours that getting back into it won't be easy. Of course for us what ever is?"

"Giles gift will certainly aid in us taking some time to get our bearings again," Xander spoke of the four hundred thousand dollars the head of the Watcher's Council gave them upon hearing of their retirement. He saw Buffy slowly turn to him, smiling all of a sudden. "I figure we're gonna buy a lot of pizza rolls, HD TV's, an even bigger disco ball..."

"Baby clothes."

"... a cool pool table, a Slurpee machine for our kitchen, twenty pair of new shoes for you..."

"A baby crib."

"... Gears of War for my 360, a new computer with all the fancy stuff on it, and one of those..." As if his brain suddenly put on the mental-breaks, Xander began slowly processing what Buffy had been saying while he rambled on. He came to one earth-shattering conclusion. "Oh my God! Dawn's pregnant?!!"

Patience in dealing with the Y chromosome was a trait women learned early on was the key to getting along with them without killing them. Buffy understood that all to well. "No, Xander. Dawn isn't pregnant. I am." She stared to him, loving the awestruck look on his face as he pulled over to the shoulder of the highway without blinking one time. He did appear to be breathing. That was a good sign. "I was saving this for your Christmas present, but then the whole resurrection of a Blood God and the end of the world and blah, blah, blah. But yes, I am carrying our child as we speak. And its a boy."

Xander tried to speak.

He barely managed to breath.

He was going to be a father.

Buffy was going to be a mother.

They were going to be parents.

If he wasn't already sitting down he'd probably fall down.

After taking a deep breath, a sweet sensation of euphoria so grand and pure swept over him that he actually howled at the top of his lungs before leaning over the gear shift to capture his wife's smiling lips in a kiss that meant forever. He cupped her face, never mind the cars whizzing by honking their horns. He just kissed her for as long as he could. He didn't even feel the pain of his ribs in this uncomfortable position. "How long have you known we were going to have an heir to my empire?"

"Your empire? You mean your Xbox 360 games collection and your Spiderman comics?"

"Work with me here!"

"Three weeks," she laughed in his face. "I'm almost only two and a half months along," she was so happy to finally share with him. Keeping it a secret hadn't been easy, but she just knew there wasn't a better Christmas present for him than this one. "So you're happy?"

"I'm outta my mind happy. I'm over the moon happy. I'm gonna need a drink happy," he laughed before kissing her again, and then starting the car back on the road. He drove slowly... so slowly Buffy yelled at him, but still he drove slowly.

"I love you."

"Buffy, I love you more than anything, anywhere, at any time ever."

"Now can you drive a little bit faster?"

"No. Sorry. Precious cargo on board."

He was just being sweet so she let it go. And thirty minutes later they reached the airport and then the private airfield behind it that the Watcher's Council uses. Waiting beside the private plane were Giles, Willow, Andrew and a couple more friends Buffy and Xander had made over the years. All smiles wearing dear smiles and and holding what looked like gifts in their hands. Her tears began to fall as soon she'd be saying goodbye.

Reaching between them to take her hand, Xander kissed it as they made their way around to park, their eyes never leaving their friends as the plane that would take them away symbolized the new journey their lives were about to undertake. "This is it."

"Yep. Sure is."

"You ready?"

"Are you with me?"

"Always," Xander replied as they exited the car.

"Then let's go."


The End

No Sequel