Epilogue: Best of Both Worlds
He wasn't thinking about cyborg demons. He wasn't thinking about hellgods, trollgods, or incarnations of pure evil. He wasn't thinking about immortal sorcerers that ran towns, and he wasn't thinking about demonic invaders from other dimensions. His mind never once thought about angry nerds or proto-vampires. Not even the hideous grinning face of the priest was able to gain purchase in his mind. And at last, when he closed his eyes - his two, whole eyes - he did not see the dead or dying forms of Buffy and Faith.
What he was thinking of was that he probably really did die. He had to have died, because heaven could be no sweeter than this. To his right sat Buffy, her arms wrapped around his right arm, hugging him for protection while she buried her face into his shoulder at the slimy monster on the screen. To his left was Faith, who had, ten minutes ago, tentatively slipped her fingers between his, and was holding his hand almost shyly as she grinned up at the screen.
"Don't go in there, stupid!" Faith yelled at the screen, as the spunky and obviously padded heroine creaked open the door to investigate the strange noise. Faith started laughing when the girl screamed and tried to run from the slime monster. "What did I tell her? Stupid bitch."
"Is it over?" Buffy whimpered next to him. It was funny to think that if Buffy happened across the cheesy movie slime monster in a cemetery somewhere, she would slay it without skipping a beat. Yet seeing it in a darkened movie theater had her cringing with fear.
Not that he was complaining. Frightened Buffy was a Buffy that was pressing up against him, and that was oh-so good.
He was Xander Harris. Sometimes that meant he was the Zeppo, an under-achieving do-gooder. Sometimes it meant he was Protector Harris, an over-achieving world leader. Sometimes it meant he was Teacher, who passed on years of knowledge and wisdom to others, so that the world might be better served. Sometimes he was Daddy, who cared for no one as much as his baby girl, who was more confident now than ever that he would one day see his daughter again.
Because now he was Xander. The man who loved two women. Two women who, miraculously, seemed to be trying to find out if they loved him too. Two women who, beyond-miraculously, seemed to love each other too. It was beyond his wildest dreams. The only word he could think of to describe it was... Anti-Hellmouthy.
He smiled at that, realizing he'd just come up with his perfect explanation of what these girls meant to him. Faith and Buffy were his anti-Hellmouths. They were the overwhelming force of beauty, good, and light that had shaped his entire life. No two people, with the possible exception of Jessie, had such an effect on him. They were the loves of his life, and he'd been beyond lucky to get a chance to be with them again.
Yes, it was only their first "date." Buffy had asked him a few days ago, and he'd of course said yes so fast he thought it might have scared her off. Apparently it didn't, because two days later, after a night on Oz-duty, Buffy and Faith asked if - holy crap - if Faith could come along too. As a date. A three-way date. A menage-a-totally-un-fucking-believable
So here he was, Alexander Lavelle Harris, sitting with the two loves of his life. Of his lives. It just didn't seem possible. It was just too good. In fact, the only dark thought able to pierce the fog of his joy was that this would all somehow turn out to be unreal.
He was determined to enjoy every second of it, if that were the case. They felt real. They smelled real. Buffy and Faith, alive and with him. Wanting to be with him!
Part of him knew he didn't deserve such a thing, even as he could hear Faith's angry voice yelling at him for putting himself down. He wondered if this Faith would ever do something like that. Would she wind up being the same person? Would both of them wind up as the same people? Would Faith someday yell at him whenever he was down on himself?
He couldn't wait to find out, even as he savored every moment he spent with them. His future and their was unclear, save for one simple truth. He would spend it with them, and it would be amazing. Because to spend his future with Buffy and Faith couldn't be anything but amazing.
"Look out!" Faith yelled.
"Shut up!" someone hissed. Faith held up her free hand, middle finger extended. There were slight grumblings in the theater, but no one pressed the matter further. Faith turned her head and grinned at Xander, who rolled his eyes at her as he squeezed her hand.
"You're gonna get us kicked out," he whispered.
"Good," she said, leaning next to him and speaking in a low voice. "Cause I promised B the first time I'd kiss you would be in the light, so she could see it."
Xander blinked. "W-What?"
Faith grinned at him, and nodded her head to Buffy. "I won the toss. Me first, then her. And if you're really lucky?"
"Yeah?" Xander squeaked.
"Afterwards, you can watch me kiss her too."
Buffy squealed and clutched his arm more tightly as the monster appeared on screen. Faith grinned and rolled her eyes at Buffy's antics.
Xander stared forward, unable to believe his current situation. How was it that he could have full knowledge of the future, have decades upon decades of training, experience, wisdom and ability, and yet still these two girls could have him so completely flustered?
Because he was Xander, that was why. A Xander who wasn't constantly in awe of Buffy and Faith was no Xander at all.
As he sat there, trapped in the exquisite cage that was Faith and Buffy, Xander thought over all that was different, and how much was the same.
Jenny Calendar was still alive, and if Xander was reading the signs right, he suspected that her moving into Giles's house would really be just a formal announcement at this point. Xander was pretty sure she'd hadn't slept in her own house for at least a month now.
Giles was far happier, with a renewed vigor for the fight. His training of the others and his relationship with Jenny had him in much better spirits than Xander could ever recall.
Buffy's mom was aware of Buffy's slaying, and all without having a massive blow-up. She was supportive, perhaps slightly over-protective, and, Xander suspected, a great asset to Buffy these days. Having her mother aware of the struggles of her life helped her to cope so much easier. And since Jonathon had used his healing staff on her, everyone was in high hopes that Joyce would never have the aneurysm that killed her in his own time. Time would tell.
Jonathon and Kendra couldn't even be spoken about outside of the same sentence anymore. The two were inseparable, and the effects of their relationship were beneficial to both of them. There was no way Xander could see Jonathon getting lured in or used by Warren this time around, particularly not since Kendra would kick both of their asses if he ever tried.
And while Xander hadn't been able to keep Oz from getting bitten (his cousin! Damn! He should have remembered), it seemed that his claws might offer him some degree of control over his werewolf transformation. By the end of the third night of the full moon, Oz had held his human form for almost four hours straight. Perhaps, in time, he would have full conscious control over the transformation at all times.
Which led him to Willow. His beautiful, vibrant, wonderful Willow. How had he lived through the years with the cold, distant Willow of the future? It was as if she'd died, but without Xander ever truly mourning her loss. Whenever he spent time with Willow now, a part of him was always singing. She was Willow again, and was in fact more Willow than she'd ever been before. She was his best friend. She was his sister.
Already Willow seemed far wiser than she'd been the first time. He'd known since the day she refused to have a weapon made that things would be different with Willow this time. Her dedication to careful control over her magic, and her acknowledgement that her magic was powerful enough on its own was truly impressive. He tried to imagine sometimes just what Willow would be like in the future, this time. With the level of control she was exhibiting with both her magic and her emotions, he could see Willow surpassing even what she'd been in his own time.
Not surpassing in terms of power. Perhaps Willow would be more powerful this time than she had been in his time. Maybe she wouldn't be. It didn't matter. What he saw her surpassing was the level of caring, warmth, and empathy that his Willow had exhibited for years. This time around, Willow would be the most
human of them all, not the least human. It was the kind of thing that could make you grin all day long.
Grinning reminded him of Cordelia. It surprised him how much he cherished the time he got to spend with his pupil. He'd forgotten just how much of a challenge it was, dealing with Cordelia. She'd died so young the first time, and he'd rarely ever seen her after high school anyway. Now though, he knew his Student would be in his life for years and years to come. That bond was the kind that lasted for life. Cordelia was the perfect person to pass his knowledge onto. He could think of no better student.
Not all was well with Cordy, but he knew it would be. She'd found out via her truth-detection ability that her father had been secretly using her accounts as part of his schemes against the IRS. Apparently, Daddy Chase had no problem with using his daughter as a scapegoat if he ever got caught. Cordelia had cleaned out her accounts the day she'd found out, setting up her own private bank account under her own name, and Xander was currently helping her to become legally emancipated from her parents. It was a rough situation, but he knew Cordelia would get through it. She had her family to fall back on. She had the Scoobies.
His family. Xander looked to his left, at Faith, and his right, at Buffy. The family he'd built. Maybe he'd get a chance to build it again. Maybe this was the beginning of the reuniting of his family. Someday, maybe he'd be sitting just like this, with Faith on one side and Buffy on the other, with his little baby girl held securely in his arms.
And if the Hellmouth didn't like it?
Well he'd just have to destroy the Hellmouth, wouldn't he?
Cause he was Xander Harris. And that was just the kind of thing he did.END