the pearl

Day Of The Dead

Xander slowly bent down, sitting on the grass tiredly. "Hey everyone," he said softly. "I...uh...well here..." He set the marigolds down on the grass next to the tombstones. "I should've gotten a lot more, but, you know, this's hard to get marigolds on this particular day..." He paused for a second, thinking. "My grandmother...she was always doing this...every year, you know? She'd tell me, 'Nino, you gotta respect the dead...especially gotta sit up with them...'" He smiled sadly. "She wouldn't let me until I was was after Dan died..." He looked towards Willow's grave. "Remember Dan, Will? The rest of you don't, you weren't really around, but Dan was my older brother...he...he, uh, was too fond of crystal meth... It took twenty cops to bring him down..."

He pulled a blade of grass from the ground and twirled it around his fingers. "Mom hated the fact that I was going out with Grandma. Didn't want to be reminded that her mom'd she put it? 'A loud-mouthed wetback bitch.' And let's not even get into the whole Dan thing... But, God, I was so excited, you know? Staying up all the cemetery..."

He closed his eyes for a second. "She died later that year. She shouldn't've gone out, but she happy that one of her grandsons wanted to..." He looked up at the sky. "I...uh...well, then there were vampires...and that was a reason to not be out in the cemetery all night with a bunch of candles and marigolds, so you know, the tradition sort of stopped with the Harris family..." He looked back down at the graves. "Well, until today... And since, you know, they said that when you guys...did what you did...the Hellmouth closed up and the vampires left, I thought that it'd be safe..." He reached out with his hand and touched the ground. "I'm just sorry it took me 25 years to come here..."

He chuckled. "God, 25 years...I mean, I'm 48! I'm older than you, Giles!" He pointed to his hair. "Look! See? Grey hair!" He ran his fingers through it. "At least it's all still here...and I can pretend I look distinguished or something."

He looked up at the sky. "Huh..getting dark..." He lit the few candles he brought along. "There wasn't much in the way of choices for candles, I'm afraid, but hey, St. George. He fought a dragon, you fought demons... Oh, I have some more stuff..." He pulled out a few candy bars. "See? Food. Because if you're all going to come back tonight, you need food, right?" He sighed. "I'm babbling. I'm sorry, I just...I'm trying to distract myself..." He looked down at the graves. "I...I should have been there. With all of you. I wish I had been. Maybe...maybe I could've saved you...maybe I would've died along with you...I don't know..." He sighed. "I just wish I had been there."

He laid on the grass, spread out across his friends' graves. "You guys were my heroes...not just Buffy, but all of you, Willow, Giles, Oz... I mean, you knew what the danger was, and you still went into it bravely." He closed his eyes, a tear streaking down the side of his face. "You didn't run like a coward..."

"Xander?" a soft voice said above him.

Xander sat up suddenly, his heart racing. "What the —?" he said, getting to his feet. He looked towards the voice and slumped. "Jesus...Angel..." He straightened up. "Haven't you learned anything in the past thirty years? Don't sneak up on people like that!"

Angel walked towards him, still the imposing figure in black. "It is you, Xander, right?"

Xander looked down at himself. "I don't look that different, do I?" He shook his head. "Wait...why are you here?"

Angel looked at the graves, the candles flickering in the slight breeze, and held out a bouquet of marigolds.

"Oh..." Xander sat back down and gestured to an empty space of grass next to him.

Angel sat down, smoothing his trenchcoat out under him. "I...I heard what you were saying earlier..."

Xander straightened, frowning. "Yeah?" he said, his voice clipped.

"'re not a coward," Angel said, his voice soft.

Xander smiled bitterly. "Yeah, well, in case you haven't noticed...I'm here..." He pointed to the grass. "And they're all down there..."

"You're a survivor, Xander," Angel said, looking at the graves. "You're the one who has to stay alive, to tell the story..." He looked at the cemetery. "To stay up one night a year and remember."

Xander looked at Angel, searching for the words. "Are you...are you going to stay the night?"

Angel nodded. "If you want me to."

Xander smiled softly. "I'd like that."

This Angel/Buffy the Vampire Slayer story was written by Kate Bolin. If you liked it, there's plenty more at And you can feedback her at