Secret Slasha – The Buffy the Vampire Slayer & Angel Slash Fanfiction Secret Santa Project
Secret Slasha – The Buffy the Vampire Slayer & Angel Slash Fanfiction Secret Santa Project

By LindaMarie
For Kay Tee

Xander waited until after the burial to leave. He helped clean up after Glory, and he took care of Dawn as best he could, but when he saw he wasn't needed so much, he left. Dawn loaned him the keys to Mrs. Summers' car--after all, who was there to drive it any more?

He took the river road, and remembered playing at the beach with Buffy only months before. Anya was far back in his mind, not because they were fighting right now, but because Buffy was first. Anya complained that he acted like Buffy came first, but it was a fact that she did. He wouldn't have even met An if it hadn't been for her.

His whole body ached.

Xander drove, and he played a well-worn tape too loud, feeling the thrum of the notes flow up through his hands from the steering wheel. He'd said Patsy Cline was the music of pain, and he'd meant it, and right now on this road he knew she was singing every word for him.

Or for Buffy. Or both.

Xander knew where he was going right from the start, but he went slowly, because he wasn't often alone with his thoughts nowadays. Sometimes he wasn't even sure who he was. Nothing was simple; it hadn't been for a while, and it certainly wasn't beginning to be now.

Sometimes, he just needed time to sort things out. And he was, although he wished there was no need.


The drive was longer than he'd expected. Xander had never actually made it himself, but when his eighth-grade class had gone to Disneyland, the trip hadn't seemed long at all.

Thinking about pre-Buffy seemed very strange, especially now. It seemed that she had always been there, looking out for him, letting him watch her and love her in all the ways a "just friend" could. She was gone now, gone forever, and Xander felt truly vulnerable and alone, as he hadn't for, well, years.

When Xander finally pulled up in front of the Hyperion--the new address--he almost collapsed against the steering wheel. He barely found the strength to drag himself out of the car and to the front door. He didn't even glance to see if the parking place was legal or not--who cared? He'd lived through the end of the world, and lost what seemed like all that mattered, so what did it matter if they towed his car? Even if it wasn't really his car to begin with?

The door opened, quietly, under his hand, and he walked in to a room full of silent people. Willow had already gone home, of course. He was still surprised she made the trip at all.

Everyone was staring at him now, and he was so tired, so weary, not just from the drive but from everything. He couldn't even make out their faces. Xander blinked once, very slow, and when he opened his eyes there was an arm reaching for him. Cordelia.

"Heya, Xander..." She looked so different. Still beautiful, but different.

"Hey, Cor." He tried to bring himself to smile.

She didn't say anything, and he didn't know what to say, so instead they found themselves just holding on to one another. It wasn't a hug; it was like--like--like in the movies when they rescue the guy with a helicopter, and the rescue man lowered down on a rope just grabs and keeps his arms tight. It was like that.

It was like they were both drowning, and this was the only thing that could hold them up.

Eventually, they parted, and Xander shuffled his feet. "Yeah. Hi."

Things were so awkward between them now, not at all like before. He missed before. Buffy had been before, and and Librarian Giles, and everything else that seemed good and pure to him now. But tonight, before seemed like just a dream.

Cordelia smiled like she was out of habit. "Angel's upstairs. He said he wanted to see you. I told him you called."

"I...I guess I should go up there then, huh?" Xander shoved his hands in his pockets and tried to look casual and okay. It probably wasn't working very well.

"Yeah. Yeah. I guess you should. Um. Go left at the top of the stairs. Third door on the right."


He walked, and ignored everyone else, even Wesley. Unlike...some people...Xander had time to do other things later.

The door to he room was open, so he went right in. Angel was alone in a chair by the window, staring out, turned away from the door. Xander hoped he wasn't crying. "...Angel?"

Angel jumped in his chair, but turned quickly. "Xander. I..."

"It's okay. You don't need to talk. I know what you mean." He sat down on the edge of the bed. "I'm sorry I couldn't save her."

"Me too." Angel looked exactly the same, of course. That was kind of a comfort, like a link to better times. Xander wondered whether Angel meant that he was sorry Xander couldn't save her, or that he couldn't. Not that it mattered much either way. There was no going back now.

He looked down at his hands in his lap. "I kind of felt like I had to come. It was just...too hard being there. And I figured you might need to talk to someone who was, you know, with her. Then."

Xander stayed looking down, but he could see in his peripheral vision that Angel was moving closer. He felt the bedsprings sag under the new weight as the vampire sat next to him. "Thank you," was all Angel said. When the silence stretched on, Xander started to speak, if only to fill the void.

"I wish I were in high school again, and none of this had ever happened. Willow and I do reseach in the library, and I guard Oz a couple nights a month, and Buffy's mom makes me cookies on my birthday. Everything's okay, even though--not. But we're all there together, and even though I never liked you very much, I think it was better for her when you were there. She had someone else to lean on. Something to look forward to."

Xander watched Angel's fists clench deperately. "I only wanted the best for her. I just wanted her to be safe." His voice crakced on the last word, and he stopped, swallowed, then continued. "I guess we weren't the best of friends back then, were we, Xander?"

And Xander looked up, now, and met Angel's eyes. "Nope. Buffy was always trying to get us to lay off each other, but we didn't listen."

"I didn't want things to happen that way. Sometimes I felt like all of you were a part of me. You were the first mortals that came anywhere near being my friends in...well, a long time. Sometimes I felt you were all connected to Buffy so close that if I loved her, I must love you. Know what I mean? At all?"

Deep breath. "I...guess."

"Do you?" Angel's face was closer now. "Buffy used to watch out for her friends. Comfort them. She's not here any more. Maybe I should..."

"I don't know what you're getting at."

"Here." Angel's hands were on his cheeks, gentle, lifting his face and before he knew it their lips were meeting. He thought about pulling away, but got distracted by thinking about how soft this kiss was, and how he hadn't felt safe like this since she died, and how now that she was gone he might never feel it again. He reached up, clasping Angel's shoulders, and held on.

This was a different kind of drowning.