'Happily Ever After' Is For Fairytales
The end, in more ways than one.~~~~~
Xander groaned, frowned, and opened his eyes. And promptly decided something was very wrong. The mere fact he was opening his eyes
was the first clue there; he hadn’t had two eyes for … decades. In fact, he’d had only one eye for some two-thirds of his life, now, and there had been no indication that would ever change; his socket had been too badly scarred by the time a working prosthetic was available. He stood up and looked around; wherever he was was certainly pretty, he’d give it that.
Xander rolled his shoulders and set about working out what else was different. He rolled up his left sleeve and began to feel his forearm, trying to find the spot where his prosthetic hand had been joined to his body. Prosthetics had come a very long way in his lifetime, and when he’d lost his hand, they’d been able to replace it with an incredibly lifelike bionic limb; the only way anyone could tell it was artificial was the hard ring just under the skin where the prosthetic was attached to the flesh. No matter how he pressed, however, he couldn’t find the link.
He looked around, and took in the clean air and peaceful setting, and contrasted it with his last memories: a violent battle, at night, against a mixed group of demons and black magic users. On the apocalyptic scale, it didn’t actually rate too highly, but it had been a dark and nasty business, and had to be dealt with.
He was beginning to add things up: Onward and upward, then.
Xander chose a direction, and set off. He walked for what felt like hours, yet didn’t feel at all tired. In fact he didn’t feel any of his sixty-eight years, no joints nagging at him, no worn muscles twinging to remind him of their presence. Yes, he was certain of what had happened, now, but he was still unsure about quite where he was. He had his hopes, but was wary of jinxing himself.
Finally, he rounded a tree to find someone sitting on a picnic blanket, looking out over a tumbling stream. He recognised well-loved and well-missed shoulders, and quickened his pace, grinning.
“You took your time,” Giles smiled up at him.
Xander dropped down onto the blanket, and raised a hand to caress that beloved face. “Sorry I couldn’t get here any quicker; you know how work is.”
Giles caught Xander’s hand, and pressed a kiss into his palm. “I honestly didn’t want you here any sooner than necessary. But I knew when you arrived, and I’ve been waiting rather impatiently ever since,” he grinned.
Xander grinned, and leaned forward to kiss Giles; their first kiss in twenty-two years. “I missed you so much,” Xander whispered, and if tears seeped out of his eyes, he was sure no one would mind. He sat back. “So I’m dead?”
“You’re dead,” Giles nodded. “Welcome to your rest.”
Xander looked down to where their fingers were interlocked. “And the others?”
Giles smiled. “They’re all here, somewhere or other. We shall go see them soon enough, but I rather wanted to welcome you home, first.”
Xander grinned. “Yeah. I think we have time, now.”
Giles laughed, and pulled Xander into a hard embrace. “Yes. Time is something we have, now.”