Alexander Lavelle Summers. He liked the sound of it. Buffy certainly couldn't be saddled with the Harris name. Summers-Harris did not work. Harris-Summers? Could be abbreviated to "Hummers". Which Buffy gave with gusto and pride, but not something you wanted to advertise. When you got down to it, he was hers. A Summers man to the end.
Xander sat in the back of the restaurant watching the guests hardy their party. It was oh dark thirty and the Slayers were still going strong. Mere mortals had bowed out hours ago. The Finns had had to catch a flight to Gitmo after getting a warning order from the Pentagon. Giles and Olivia had gone back to their hotel in Merida. Little Jenny had become fussy by sundown. Willow snoozed in a corner, red hair spilling over Kennedy's lap. Dawn was with the African Slayers learning whole new languages. By the bar, Uncle Rory iced down his wrist after the unfortunate Slapping of Faith's Ass incident. He'd probably get back full function in a month. The rest of the young women on the dance floor circled about Buffy and Faith in a full-on dance-off. The competition had become heated enough that a swimming pool full of red Jell-O loomed in the near future.
He sensed rather than saw the man grab the seat on his right. There was no mistaking that outfit. Only one guy on Earth wore Hawaiian shirts more radioactive than those that had lurked in the depths of Xander's closets. Huh. So he had finally made it. Xander thought he might be too busy to show up. Plucking one from his shirt pocket, he handed over one of Rory's cigars and a wooden match. Uncle Rory's stogies were usually classified as chemical weapons. All rolled by hand on the thighs of the fattest Tijuana hookers. His guest seemed to relish the smoke. The cigar illuminated a face only a mother could love. If said mother had been a pug trapped in a car crusher.
"Thought you'd be out there with her, kid," he said, tipping down a beaten feodora.
"I like the quiet," Xander said, sipping from a shot glass of mescal. He chased it Mexican-style with a little dashed habenero. "Glad you could make it, Kosh."
"Loved that series," Whistler said. "But Wolfram and Hart got to the network after all."
"Fifth season had to be from infernal influence." Xander waved a billow of toxic smoke away. "I couldn't have done it without you, Whistler. Half the girls would have been lost before I got to them."
"I didn't do much," Whistler answered. He poured his own neat shot of the fiery liquor. "A word here and there. You did all the legwork."
"You're good with the kind words in the right place," Xander said, single eye narrowed. "'You're beat, kid. There's this little place down Mexico way called Progreso.' You also have a chat with the baggage handlers at Narita? Another big bad headed our way, you need all the Avengers assembled?"
"Kid, you have any idea what applecarts you've turned over?" Whistler tipped back in his chair. "Forget about destroying the Hellmouth and shutting out the First Evil from this dimension for at least a century. Once word about Anyanka's sacrifice got out, half of the vengeance demons quit over her example. Most of the apocalypse cults are keeping their heads down so you people don't land on their heads. Quietest it's been in millenia."
"Well, we are kinda awesome," Xander said. "So? Just here for the nuptial bliss?"
"Balance, kid." Whistler munched down on a left-over taco. "Damn, this is why I stick up for your species. These, Coney dogs, and mini-golf courses. Anyway, everyone thinks the Balance is the big things. Light and Dark, Good and Evil, Order and Chaos. But as above, so below. Balance is in the little things, too."
"Me, balance her?" Xander smirked. "I can admit I'm finally of the cool. But, c'mon, I'm just a guy trying to crawl with the champions. There are days when I'm glad they made me jockstrap boy."
"That girl," Whistler said, burning cigar thrusting at the blonde Slayer dancing on the bar, "is leading the biggest alliance against the Old Ones ever seen. So much power and potential even the Powers are hunkering down waiting to see which way the chips will fall. So, some of us think it's important that she has someone around to make her look to her left, every so often."
"That's a pretty huge job you handed me," Xander said. He finished off his shot.
"Those shoulders look big enough for it." Whistler puffed away. "So, what are you going to do?"
"Well, I've decided," Xander said as he rose, "to go down there, drag my hot wife off the bar, find a broom closet, and bang her like a drum. If the Powers need us, leave a message after the tone."
Whistler's cracked laugh was lost to the beat of the music.
++++ "I must down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky,
And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by,
And the wheel's kick and the wind's song and the white sail's shaking,
And a grey mist on the sea's face, and a grey dawn breaking."
Buffy's clear voice filtered down the companionway into the cabin. It was a poem her grandfather Roger used to sing sea-chantey style. Hunched over the saloon table, Xander listened to her sing while he worked out the course. They had passed through the Yucatan Channel after several days tacking against the wind and currents along the peninsula. Finally the trades were with them. Cancun to starboard, Isla Mujeres to port. Down the coast to Ambergris Caye and exploring Chetumal Bay, with snorkeling the coral reefs off Belize next on the menu. He noted down the wind and weather in the leather-bound log book. "I must down to the seas again, for the call of the running tide
Is a wild call and a clear call that may not be denied;
And all I ask is a windy day with the white clouds flying,
And the flung spray and the blown spume, and the sea-gulls crying."
He cooked up a quick meal of canned stew on the tiny alcohol-fueled range in the galley. No fridge--most of their meals were freeze-dried or canned. Although the Xander Fishing Drought did not count when you had a Slayer with a spear-gun and epic lung capacity. Fresh fish every day. Her distaste of the gutting didn't extend to adding ceviche to their diet. Taking two plates, Xander carried them into the cockpit. Buffy sat by the helm keeping station with a hand on the wheel and the other on the sheets. A jib had been raised on the bowsprit along with the gaff-rigged mainsail for the night transit. The Heart sailed on the due-east wind on a beam reach south.
"Madame," he announced in his best fake maitre d' accent, "ratatouille a la Campbell's."
"Merci," she said as she took her plate. "Gotta love the fine dining."
"You should taste my gazelle steak," Xander said.
"You hunt?" Buffy's fork paused halfway to her mouth. "You kill Bambi?"
"Again, this is the woman who slays big scary demons," Xander said. "Circle of life, Buff. Bush meat's important when the nearest supermarket is a thousand miles away in Jo'Burg."
"But, doe, a deer!" Buffy stabbed with her fork for emphasis. "Gazelles are cute! With the little Nike swooshes."
"They're nature's Big Macs on hooves." Xander grinned. "Fine. Just pretend the luscious medium rare goodness coming out of the camp kitchen came from a replicator."
"I thus live in happy ignorance." Buffy scooped up a forkful of stew. "Think we can make it to Africa in this?"
"Oh, hell no!" Xander shook his head. "Going west means heading down to the Roaring Forties. Slocum went through Sunnydale-level hell in those waters. Clipper route is dangerous. We could get through the Panama Canal easy, but across the Pacific in this? Even you're not that good yet."
"I guess we can moor the boat in Costa Rica or Panama," Buffy said.
"Or deck cargo," Xander said, taking over the helm while his wife ate. "Kennedy's family owns a shipping line along with, well, practically everything else. Stick it on deck, kick back in a passenger cabin, and let others do the work."
"That would be of the good." Buffy savoured a hunk of meat and veg. "I am eating for two now."
"Yeah." Xander blinked. "What?"
"Anya's smiling down from heaven. A bunny died." Buffy took out a small object from her denim cut-offs. "Blue. Baby Smurf."
"When?" Xander demanded.
"Broom closet," Buffy said, teeth flashing white in the moonlight. "Remember, Mr. 'Oh, So You Ran Out Of Pills and I Don't Have A Condom, What Are The Odds?' Had a feeling, checked three days running. Talk about a surprise birthday gift."
"Kid. We're having a kid." Xander jumped up. He waved his braided captain's hat in a wild flourish. "I'm having a kid! My sperm is mighty!"
"Sit down!" Buffy yanked him down beside her. "Boom, head, ouch much?"
"A baby." Xander's smile became a rictus. "We're having a kid. With me and my dad as the role model and oh God--"
Buffy rattled a pair of handcuffs.
"No, I'm good," Xander said. He scraped a huge portion of stew into his mouth. "Umf. Ungh. Brief moment of complete panic. Back to calm. Um--"
"Jesse if it's a boy, like we agreed." Buffy hugged him. "Tara if it's a girl."
"Heh." Xander grinned. "Flip you for calling Dawn with the news she's an aunt now."
"Hold the phone away from your ear if you win," Buffy said. "That ultrasonic squeal of hers, I swear has stunned bats."
Heedless of swinging booms and cracked heads, Xander exploded into the wildest Snoopy Dance ever. "I must down to the seas again, to the vagrant gypsy life,
To the gull's way and the whale's way where the wind's like a whetted knife;
And all I ask is a merry yarn from a laughing fellow-rover
And quiet sleep and a sweet dream when the long trick's over."