TITLE: Where Do I Fit In Your Life? (5/?)

AUTHOR: Wicked Raygun

E-MAIL: wicked_raygun@hotmail.com

SUMMARY: Is it worth the risk to tell someone how you feel, when they might not feel the same way?

RATING: TV-14. No worse then what's on the show

SPOILERS: Up to "The Gift" and then it goes on its merry way into an alternate universe. I started this puppy LONG before season 6 started and although I did use a few possible spoilers they're no biggies.

DISCLAIMOR: I refuse to believe this is necessary. Does anyone here actually believe I own this stuff in any way? Well. To the folks who do own a piece of the Buffster and/or her friends and enemies, I mean you no harm. I'm simply borrowing your toys to put on a little puppet show. I promise to bring them all back in near-mint condition. Even Spike.

FEEDBACK: Everyone needs a little love. It makes the world go round and writers post faster.

AUTHOR'S NOTES: I'd like to take this time to thank everyone who's given me feedback throughout this endeavor. It means a lot to me and I thank you all from my heart. It makes me feel special. So without further ado. Thanks to (In no particular order): C-Man, Ozmandayus, Danii, Tim Creecy, Jarrod Harmier, Xandman2000, Kenneth Carter, Stone Cold, Chorlton, Darkdyer, Jennifer L. Hallmark, Michael aka Mutant, Socrates, Jason W. Thompson, Wayne, Bob Regent, Brooke H., Lynne, Zauriel Angelus, Jai L, Varthan, Calen, Top Quark, Lisa, Red, Faith, Bolo, Jane, Furious George, Kris, and last but not least Seth5095.

Also a special mention to Krisseth2000, who seems to really, really like this story. Thank you for the feedback.

If I have missed anyone please e-mail me off list. I tried to track down everyone I could, but I may have missed some people. The search at the BX_Fanfic archive isn't the greatest out there.

This chapter was beta-read by C-Man. Thanks, bud. You came through for me in a pinch.

By the way, for anybody who needs a refresher or is coming into this new you can find the rest of this story at fanfiction.net, located here:


Well, usually, you can, anyway. Fanfiction.net has been ticking me off as of late and I would seriously like a more reliable place to point to for folks who are coming into this new. So if anybody has any ideas or suggestions, I'm all ears.

Anyways, onto the show.

********** Part Five **********

"If you ask me, it's just plain inconsiderate," Xander said, as he hefted a shovel full of dirt onto a growing pile behind him.

"What is, Xand?" Buffy asked as she wiped some of the accumulated sweat from her brow.

"Well," he elaborated while placing his foot onto his shovel, allowing his weight to push it even further into the earth, "We go through all that trouble to kill what should have been a relatively easy demon, remind me, by the way, to cancel Willow's birthday present, and the sucker doesn't even bother to just, you know, poof." He then hefted another shovel full of dirt behind him.

"Ah, yes, burial detail: not one of the more attractive parts of what we do. Oh, and I don't think Willow researched the wrong demon." Buffy brought her shovel back down to begin digging also.

"Excuse me?" he said, his voice laden in sarcasm. "If I recall correctly, Nike Boy here wasn't supposed to be able to affect slayers with their power voice thingy. I happen to consider catatonia pretty affecting."

"Yes well, Willow didn't account for him to having of these," she said smugly as she brought into view an odd looking necklace with what looked to be a green Chinese dragon on it.

"Aw, come on, Buff, what makes you think that thing had anything to do with it?"

"Well, look at it. It's so pretty. Demons don't tend to make with the bold fashion statements. He probably used it to put the extra special whammy on us."

"So because it's pretty and on the corpse of a demon it must be magical?"

"Well, yeah."

"Works for me. Although, I think my share of the whammy was less wham and more bam."

Buffy stopped digging then, concern in her voice as she said, "Xand, seriously, if your head still hurts, then maybe you should stop. I can take care of this. There's no need to act all macho."

Xander looked at her, his expression sincere. "What would that say about me, if I just let you do this alone? Especially after what I did to your hand." Buffy was silently thankful for not having been completely facing Xander as a sad, shy smile graced her face. "Besides," he continued more lightheartedly, " as the saying goes, a friend will help you move, but a really good friend will help you move a body."

Buffy stopped her digging and started laughing. She felt her heart warm when Xander flashed her a quick grin as he lifted himself up to throw more dirt behind him. As her laughter started to die down she paused to think about what he had said. "Boy, how scary is it that that saying actually applies to our lives?"

"I prefer not to think about it." He turned to her and said in a very serious tone, "Never doubt the power of denial; especially, here."

"Yeah, no kidding. If this town's so oblivious, why are we doing this again?"

"Because during the day this place is a public park where little kids play, and we'd like to avoid traumatizing them until they hit puberty."

Buffy paused again. "I forget about those things sometimes," she said, the humor gone from her voice.

"Yeah," Xander said, sensing the mood, "I know what you mean." He placed his hands on top of the shovel and leaned on it. "I never came to this park before slaying. There was another one closer to my house where me, Wills, and Jess, spent most of our time. It's hard to think about kids playing here, after the things we've seen." His tone was reflective, with a hint of buried pain.

Buffy knew which park he had spoken of. She had, after all, spent time there searching for vampires and other assorted demons. A shiver traveled down her spine as she imagined a younger Xander and Willow playing in a place where she killed monsters. Most people associated parks with a nostalgia and longing for the simpler times where fun and mischief were the orders of the day. But not her. No, unlike most people, she saw jungle gyms and slides and the first thought that came to her mind was how to take strategic advantage of them.

She sighed, mourning a normality of youth that had been denied her. But this time, she knew not to dwell on it. Truly, her worst enemy was self pity. There were others out there with much less happiness to remember when they reflect upon their youth then her.

Others like Xander, perhaps?


"Yeah?" She turned to see him staring at her with worry in his eyes. It occurred to her that she had been quiet for a while, and his concern made her smile warmly.

"Tell me about your family."

Xander flinched; only slightly, and, perhaps, had she not been paying attention she wouldn't have noticed it. But it was there. And the way his hand gripped the shovel he was holding even tighter then he had before hurt her.

"Well, uh, why. Uh, what made you ask that?" The hitch in his voice signaled to Buffy that he was uncomfortable talking about this subject. That, of course, only made her resolve to assure that he did all the greater.

"You never talk about them. Why?"

"I-I'm sure I've mentioned them," he said defensively. He bent over to start shoveling again, his erratic and ungraceful movements a far cry from the practiced ease that she saw him use earlier.

"Xander, you don't have to tell me about them. I just wish you would."

"Buffy, there's nothing to talk about. I just. don't get along with them," he said with his face down, feigning concentration on his digging.

Buffy stepped forward, her hand coming up to cup his cheek in her palm. He looked up at her.

When he saw the concern in her eyes a part of him felt weak. "Buffy, please don't."

"Don't what?"

"Look at me like that," he said quietly. Xander noticed that what he had said hurt her, and quickly supplied an explanation. "What I meant was," he started off slowly, "don't look at me like I'm some sort of charity case. I don't like people's pity."

"So there is something to pity?" she tried to pry from him.

"Buffy, please. drop it." There was a tone of finality to his tone, as well as desperation. He obviously hadn't meant to get as emotional as he had.

She decided that she could respect that. for now.

"Alright, Xander, I can see this is making you uncomfortable, but can you, at least, promise me that some day you will?"

After a pause, Xander nodded. And then, to his surprise, she hugged him. It wasn't long before he responded by doing the same.

"Wasn't I mad at you or something?" Xander joked.

"I think I remember some unpleasantness," she said with a smile.



"Let's bury this sucker and get some pizza."


It was a while before they broke away from each other to do that.


Removing the silver dagger from the demon's torso was more of an experience than the chore it seemed it would be. After a long tug, along with some wiggling and twisting, the weapon came free, but not alone. It was accompanied by an unnecessary, in Xander's opinion, amount of bluish-green fluid. Apparently he had knocked loosed an artery. After the gushing had stopped he was thoroughly covered in the stuff from his waist on up.

And there was dripping.

That was more than an enough to put a person off. Of course, Buffy's raucous laughter hadn't helped his mood much either.

Then he had to survive Buffy's driving, since the goo made grasping things firmly, such as steering wheels, nearly impossible; and, although, Buffy had greatly improved since her nearly legendary days of driving mayhem back in high school, every bump and tire skid put a strain on his heart. He was, in fact, quite sure that it had actually stopped back at that sharp curve on Rosary Drive leading to the Pizza Barn.

At least while Buffy was ordering he had the opportunity to clean his hands and face in the bathroom. But he did not envy the poor soul who would have to clean that stuff off the floor and sink. Minimum wage simply wasn't enough money for crises like that.

So one large supreme pizza later, they were back on the road and heading for his apartment, Buffy's driving distracting him from fantasies about soap and shower heads.

But what really drove him to the brink of insanity was the fact that his left shoe began to squish and slurp with each step when they reached his building. It wasn't enough that as it dried, the blood was becoming crunchy and developing a weird odor. No, some of it had to drip into his shoe and slosh. It was a long walk up the stairs, especially with Buffy constantly snickering and making comments about him looking like a Ghostbuster.

Of course his threatening to bear-hug her shut her up. The threat had worked so well, in fact, that he silently chastised himself for not making it earlier.

When they reached the door to his apartment he waited as patiently as he could for Buffy to open his door. Of course, Buffy had to be a brat again and feign trouble opening it. So far today he had spent the majority of his work day in an unthinking stupor, found himself caught in the middle of a high school love triangle, had an uncomfortable yet important conversation with Buffy, followed by nearly getting killed and then on top of that, he looked and felt like a Smurf threw up on him. It had been an eventful day and he was tired, hungry and willing to commit murder for a shower.

Xander was about to say something snotty to her when she winked and smiled at him. Suddenly his anger just didn't have a foothold anymore, and all he could do was smile back and admit to himself that were the positions reversed he would doubtless do the same to her.

He also made a mental note to plot his revenge. After all, he had a reputation to protect.

Buffy, for her part, was thoroughly enjoying Xander's misfortune. It was a welcome distraction from the butterflies in her stomach. Plus she couldn't get over the fact of how adorable his indignation looked on him. She even found his muttering to be cute. A sure sign that she had been hit hard by his charms.

After opening the door, she allowed Xander to walk in first and hit the lights. He then cursed as he realized that his light switch now had a hand- sized dollop of blue goo. She failed in trying to stifle her laughter, a few mumbled giggles escaping from her lips. When Xander turned around looking upset with her, she burst out laughing, finally unable to control it any longer. Buffy smiled half-apologetically and smirked when he started away mumbling and shaking his head.

Giving her a welcome view of his lower backside.

"I'm gonna take a shower okay, Buff," he announced as he started removing his shirt. Her eyes went wide and she tried to not notice his newly exposed upper body. As he was turning to face her, she attempted to look as if she wasn't the least bit affected by his near nakedness.

"Buff?" he asked. "Is something wrong?"

"Huh?" Then she realized that she hadn't actually responded to his previous statement, having been preoccupied with trying to not look like a pervert. "Uh, no. Nothing at all. I'm completely fine."

"Okay." The word left his mouth in a long drawl, peppered with a hint of curiosity and amusement. "In that case, why don't you."

Buffy had no earthly clue what it was he was saying because as he spoke he started undoing his black leather belt. That sent the part of her brain she wasn't proud of into super hyper-activity. When he had finished talking she nodded and walked toward the counter, hoping he had said something about leaving the pizza there.

When she heard the shower turn on in Xander's bathroom, she mumbled quietly to herself, "Things just got complicated."

Buffy was suddenly craving a drink. Hoping that he wouldn't mind, she took a beer from his fridge and started sipping from it, as visions of a naked, showering Xander played havoc on her mind. She wasn't a big drinker. In fact, she rarely ever indulged herself that way. Her supernatural experience with alcohol was not one she enjoyed reminiscing about but it had taught her to drink in moderation.

She was starting to wonder whether or not she should tell him her feelings this night. What she had hoped would be a relatively easy patrol had turned into a night of revelations and near-death mishaps. She had seen her mother that night. Granted, it was supposed to be a mere manifestation of her own memories of her. but Buffy had to believe that it was more than that. And in any case it was much more real than any dream; she could even remember her mother's scent when they hugged.

It had been an emotional night. It had, in fact, been an emotional day, and Buffy was reluctant to press her luck so much so soon. But on the other hand, she had vowed to herself that she would tell Xander her feelings, and she had to admit that since the fight with the charm demon, she felt more courageous about doing that than she ever had, since admitting to herself that she wanted more from her friend.

In the end, she opted for a compromise. She and Xander would talk about the important things they had planned on talking about, and if her feelings came up.

She sighed and took another sip of her beer, which was now a little warm. Xander appeared from around the corner of the hall and she lowered her bottle slowly to look at him. He was barefoot and wearing a gray t-shirt with black sweat pants. His hair was damp and a bead of water cascaded down the side of his neck to a place hidden by his shirt.

"Hi," she said.

He looked at her and then the unopened pizza box with a small frown. "Hey. Uh, I thought I said you could go ahead and start without me."

Momentary panic gripped her but she shook it off quickly with a small half- lie. "Well, I just sort of wanted to get a drink first. Hope that's okay with you."

His eyebrow rose. "Well, yeah. I said you could help yourself, remember?"

"Must've slipped my mind," she said sheepishly.

"Oh, I get it." He walked over to the pizza box, and opened it, speaking the whole time, his voice more confident and less suspicious. "Distracted, huh?"

She hoped he didn't hear her gulp.

"I know exactly how you feel," he continued. "I've been wondering what exactly we're supposed to talk about tonight too. I mean, it just suddenly seems so." He struggled for a moment trying to find a word to exactly fit the situation, but finding none just gave up that line of thought. "Well, the bottom line is I'm worried about you."

Buffy put the beer down, giving Xander her full, focused attention. She kept eye-contact with him, hoping to see some motive behind his worry that extended beyond friendship. Something she had thought lost to her a long time ago.

"You've been better lately, but when you first. came back you were so distant. Not just from me, but from everyone. Dawn was worried about you. Willow was worried about you. Heck, I'm sure Bry would have been worried if he knew you before."

Buffy's head bowed and looked thoughtful for a minute before she looked up again, a decision having been made. "Xander," she asked slowly, "do you ever wonder about. the after-life."

Sensing where this might be going he answered truthfully and seriously. "Sometimes. After someone we know dies. Yeah, it definitely takes center stage of my thinking. But at other times, not so much."

She nodded. "Are you religious?"

"No, not really. I mean my folks were Episcopalian but weren't what you'd call practicing. Actually, the only times I ever went to a religious service were a few times with Willow and her folks to temple. So, technically, I might be Jewish."

"Do you believe in heaven?"

His mouth dropped at the implication. The only reason he had helped Willow was because she had convinced him that Buffy might be in hell. The thought that they might have torn her away from heaven terrified him. Figuring he owed Buffy his honesty, he tried to answer her question.

"Well, I- I like to hope that there's a better place after this. But. I don't know, I just try not to think about it too much."

"Yeah, I never really gave it much thought myself until after I sent Angel to hell. And even then. After Mom died was when I really started to wonder about it. I just needed to believe that someone as good as her would go someplace beautiful."

There was a long silence.

Xander broke it.

"Is that- Is that where you were? In heaven?"

She shook her head. "I don't know. I don't actually remember anything about where I went. But sometimes I'll get this empty feeling. Like. Like something's missing. And I don't know what it is, I just know that. it was something wonderful that's not there anymore. A part of me that I can't have anymore." She went around the counter craving his presence. "It's like when you're outside and it's bright, really, really bright and you go back inside and everything just looks so."

"Dark," he finished for her.

She nodded and a tear fell from her eye. "It was really hard to deal with in the beginning. I kept waking up, sweating and shaking from dreams about nothing. I mean, literally, nothing. No images just. And it. hurt."

Buffy stood there in front of him, more frightened then Xander could ever remember seeing her be. The need to comfort her washed over him like a wave breaking on the shore. He moved toward her and embraced her. As he spoke, he softly stroked her back, showing her love and comfort. "You could have come to me. I would've helped you. I would've done. something."

She just held him.


In life there comes a time when there is simply nothing else a person can do. It happens everyday and is as inevitable as the end of life itself. There is no changing it. Eventually, no matter how much one's honor, or misery, or sense of duty fights against it, there comes a time to stop. No more tears to shed; no more secrets to keep; no more battles to fight. The long, foreboding tunnel has been passed and light once again shines through.

Important things come in cycles. Homes will burn; bridges will collapse; buildings will topple. Then comes sorrow and condemnation. And then, in the moments afterward there is an awkward and enlightening acknowledgement of that time's completion. It is a moment of peace and reflection that humanity does not entertain as often as it should.

This is called acceptance.

What's done is done. It is past. Over. Time to sweep away the ashes, survey the wreckage, and pick up the shattered pieces.

Life will carry on, in its relatively innocent and seemingly mundane way, until tragedy decides to rear its head again.

Buffy had shared a secret fear to Xander that night. One that had plagued her and made her unconsciously bitter. The emotions, long repressed, came into the light and over-whelmed her. Then Xander held her. Pain turned into comfort. Comfort into security. Security into longing.

They broke the embrace, acknowledged the hurdle for what it was, rekindled their mutual respect and appreciation, and accepted the moment.

Then they let it pass. They laughed, breaking the serious moment with light- hearted banter. Buffy took the pizza, Xander opened a bottle of cheap wine, and they sat in the middle of his carpeted floor, at complete ease with one another.

That was hours ago. What pizza was left over from the initial feeding had gone cold only to be reheated when their hunger returned.

"I gotta say that this has been a lot more fun, then I though it would be," Xander said as he reached for the last slice.

"Are you saying I'm usually boring," Buffy said around a mouthful of pizza.

Xander laughed. "Oh, God no," he said lightly. "Of the many things that you are, boring is not one of them. Never was and never going to be."

She swallowed her food. "Okay, then what am I?"

He grinned. "Oh, no, no, no. I'm not going down that easy. I've been around you womenfolk long enough to know a trap when I see one. Whatever I say you'll find a way to twist it around so you can get upset and hit me on the arm."

"Are you saying I'm over-reactive?" She then hit him on the arm, a smug look of satisfaction on her face.

Xander just smiled as he feigned a pained grunt, and rubbed his arm. "Actually, I was thinking more like abusive."


"Look who's talking?"

"And what is that supposed to mean?" she asked in a humorously over- dignified voice.

"Nothing." His smile betrayed his innocent demeanor. "I was alluding to nothing."

She smiled back at him.

Although the evening had not turned into the type of soul-baring event she had planned it to be, Buffy really couldn't find a way to be disappointed. After revealing her terrifying theory as to where she was before being resurrected, she had spent a long, wonderful and comforting moment in Xander's arms.

And then she knew the truth in her heart. What she felt for him went beyond a selfish desire to not feel alone; beyond mere curiosity; beyond the normal flittering pangs of fear that accompanied a typical crush. It was a genuine longing to know that man. His secrets, his fears, his passions, all that was Xander, she craved. To her, he was a tangible answer to the immortal question: Why?

Why risk?

Why fight?

Why love?

Just. Why?

She had a purpose now: to learn as much about him as she possibly could. There was no longer any fear about what she would find. Whatever his feelings were regarding her, he would stand by her as a friend. She knew that and loved him all the more for it.

There was no denying it to herself anymore. She was in love with him.

"Well, okay what have we talked about so far?" Buffy asked, feeling warm next to him on the floor, an open pizza box sitting merely a foot away from them, and a cup, not a glass, of wine in her hand.

"Oh, God," Xander moaned, theatrically, "I lost count two slices ago."

"And yet you can keep track of how much pizza you've eaten." She took a sip of the inexpensive wine, or as Xander had called it, 'the expensive grape juice.'

"A man never forgets the important things. Which reminds me, strange blonde- woman, what is your name again? It's been on the tip of my tongue all night."

She never spit out her wine; an "Mmph," noise escaped her lips, and with great self-control, she remembered to swallow first. "Ass!" Her tone wasn't upset, just amused.

"Okay, okay, fine. A man would have to be mentally unbalanced to forget anything about you, especially, your lovely name. Better?"

"Much," she said amused.

"Like anyone could forget your name was 'Bunny,' anyway."

The banter had been volleying back and fourth like that all night, and Buffy was loving every minute of it.

"Do you just want me to hurt you?"

"Given the amount of alcohol I've ingested, I refuse to answer that question."

The grin that followed gave her the impression that he knew something she didn't and given the general mischievous yet light-hearted atmosphere of the evening that couldn't lead to any good for her. Possible revenge for the fun she had at his expense earlier in the evening. Not that she was going to give him the satisfaction of thinking that he had unnerved her.

Buffy just wasn't put together that way.

"My friend, the masochist." She gave him a far too wide smile that she used from time to time when slaying. It generally tended to spark fear in the average vampire, and the few times she'd used it on him, in Xander as well.

"My friend, the Woman-with-pizza-sauce-on-her-face."

Buffy immediately started to check her face but stopped, when Xander just started chuckling loudly. Game, set and match to Xander, she thought. She felt a little sheepish, but vowed to get him back immediately, thus continuing the strange game they had been playing for the better part of a night. But before she could begin her verbal counterstrike, Xander had stopped laughing suddenly and was suddenly looking over her to the sliding- door window.

"What?" she said as she turned around seeing what was behind her. And she saw it.

The morning's first rays were just peaking over the horizon of suburban homes in the distance that made up the majority of Sunnydale's residential areas, stretching to hit the far points of the surface of the earth and all the while bouncing off the clouds in the sky creating a dazzling mixture of bright purple, dark red and vibrant orange. Everything that stood against this solar event on the ground cast immensely large shadows that seemed to stretch as far as the light, creating a beautiful and striking contrast between the two opposing entities.

Buffy had seen sunrises before, but this one was special because she was sharing it with Xander. Not only that, but she was sharing it with him after having reached the mature decision that she was in love with him.

That makes all the difference in the world.

"Were we talking here that long?" Xander's awed question remained unanswered. Buffy was simply speechless for the moment.

She was enjoying her view of the sunrise when it was obscured by Xander who walked past her and toward the terrace window. The sunlight directly in front of him made all detail on him impossible to discern. His silhouette seemed large and imposing in the trick of light and shadow, but his slow, deliberate movements towards the sunrise showed a subtle grace to his body that she had never appreciated before now.

Buffy stood up, and waited there reverently watching his enchanted fascination with the light from behind him, wondering what thoughts were going through his mind at that moment. She watched as Xander stepped out onto the terrace, the sunlight greeting him with its warm rays, and once again illuminating his features for her. He held up his hand to his eyes and turned his head, seemingly humbled by the beauty of it all. But only for a moment did he stay that way. His arm lowered; his head faced the light.

There was a moment where he just took it all in, oblivious to anything else. Then he turned toward her and frowned.

"What are you doing in the dark, Buffy?" His lips turned upward slightly. "Come on. Embrace the day." He raised his hand toward her, palm up, his finger loose, beckoning her to join him.

Everything about the scene before her humbled her, and she hesitated.

Only for a moment.

She stepped forward and took his hand in her own, and waited as he gentlemanly pulled her out onto the terrace and into the light with him.

Xander smiled at her then, allowing her hand to slip from his softly, went back to looking at the sunrise. "Beautiful, isn't it? It's been a while since I watched one of these." He moved to the railing and placed his hands on it to support his weight as he leaned forward a little.

"One of the most beautiful things I've ever seen," she whispered, not looking at the sunrise.

"Why are you so quiet?" He looked at her, concern evident in his eyes.

"I'm just taking it all in," her voice returned to it's normal volume yet still sounding awed.

He nodded then smiled, which then turned into chuckling and then halting laughter.

"What?" she asked, amused.

"You really do have pizza sauce on your face."

Her smile disappeared as she started checking the wrong side of her face. Xander chuckled once before moving his hand up to catch the offending substance with his thumb on her cheek just to the side of the corner of her mouth.

Buffy stared into his eyes and her smile returned.


Across Sunnydale, Bry looked on at the same sunrise from his window, with a mixture of awe and sadness. He turned away and finished tightening the tie around his neck. After making his bed, which he did extra slowly, finding an odd comfort in the daily ritual, he left his room and made his way downstairs, where his mother was waiting for him.

She took one look at him, and with no element of flattery but no small amount of awe to her voice, she told him, "You look so grown up."

Bry smiled a little before walking to her. "Come on, Mom. Let's go see Danny." He offered his arm to her and she accepted it.


Well ladies and gentlemen, that's all for part five. Thanks for supporting this story. I really appreciate any and all feedback. They give me warm tingly feelings.

Part six will come out. Well, soon I hope.

Ray Rivera, aka Wicked Raygun

--To have faith in your own path, there is no need to prove that another's is wrong.--

Paulo Coelho, author of "Manual del Querrero de la Luz" Translated from Spanish by Raynaldo Rivera