Road Trip - Epilogue
Xander landed hard on the grassy ground, his fall broken solely by the lumpy cargo bag which had somehow wound up under his back. Groaning, the teenager rolled off what he was lying upon and spent the next minute or so resting on his side to recover the breath mostly smashed out of his lungs, blearily gazing all the while at very close range the nearest bunch of straggly grass only inches away. There was the occasional whoosh!
of cars passing close by, the air felt dry and warm, and from how everything was lit up, it was late afternoon.
*Huh*? Xander mentally blinked. They’d been about to hit the water just a second ago! Him and Marilyn had been chased all the way to Key West, arriving there at sunset and forced to drive right into the Gulf of Mexico to escape their pursuer--
Jerking upright to sit on the ground, Xander gazed down a very familiar road where he was presently occupying by his reckoning the left-hand unpaved section of this wide street. Off in the distance, there were farms, forest land, university fields, and other undeveloped areas leading to the coastal hills which US Route 101 skirted before beginning its northwards course to Canada alongside the Pacific Ocean. Xander had seen this exact spot so many times before that he knew exactly what was behind him now…
Closing his eyes for a moment, Xander braced himself. Then, he got to his feet, and slowly turned around, only then reopening his eyes once more.
Sure enough, there was a big road sign standing there on its two posts and proudly proclaiming to anyone about to enter the small California city ahead: WELCOME TO SUNNYDALE
Xander then frantically looked all around, twisting his head back and forth and even spinning in a complete circle. Except, no matter where he searched in his vicinity, there wasn’t the slightest suggestion of the presence of a pure-white 1959 Cadillac Eldorado. Not even a single tread mark on the ground.
Continuing his increasingly futile seeking, Xander eventually became aware of how his every clothes pocket was stuffed full to their brims. Yanking these items out from there soon produced a double handful of souvenirs from his recent road trip, both of the mundane and genuinely weird kind from every part of the country.
Numbly returning these mementoes to his pockets, Xander then noticed around his waist something there he didn’t recognize nor had he even the merest memory of acquiring it anytime in the past. After a few unsuccessful contortions of his head and upper body to see it properly, Xander gave up and unbuckled the belt he was wearing, next slipping the leather strip out of his pants loops. Holding up the belt horizontally in front of his face, Xander gaped at a metal fastener which had by some means altered in the last five minutes. Before then, there’d been a simple steel frame with an attached prong for the row of holes punched into the other tongue end.
Now, there was a silver oval shield with a worked image of the words CADILLAC 1959 ELDORADO, the car company logo, and below that…an absolutely perfect representation of Marilyn with her top down.
The fingers of Xander’s right hand moved to trace the icon of someone he’d come to love very much, and this teenager staggered at the sudden message flooding into his mind.
It was from nobody else but Marilyn…and she was saying goodbye.
She didn’t want to leave Xander, but there’d been no choice. Marilyn had sworn to safeguard him from everything and everybody who might do him harm, and when it became necessary to use all the power she possessed to make this so, it’d been done willingly. The green flash they’d experienced at Key West wasn’t just an ordinary incident of nature as others not in the know about the supernatural might think. Under the right conditions, it could be used for transportation purposes between other realities or more prosaically to elsewhere in the world.
However, as in all magic, there would be a price to those using this ranging from minor to severe, and Marilyn had taken every bit of the cost of it for herself. Their time together was now at an end, and Marilyn was required to return to her former existence before she’d gone journeying with Xander. It didn’t mean she was dead or anything of the kind, the message hastily reassured a suddenly-worried young man. Just that while she would always keep him lovingly in her thoughts, they would have to stay apart, him in his life and she in her own. For how long or even if it’d be permanent, nobody knew, but Marilyn felt otherwise.
*Be well, Alexander, protector of your friends and family. Think of me as often as I shall think of you. Until we meet again, my companion, which surely will happen one day.*
With that, the message ended and the belt buckle became virtually no more than it was before. From where he was standing there with tears brimming in his eyes, Xander sensed a last faint presence touch his fingertips and then vanish altogether.
The Sunnydale native never knew how long he stood there, unconscious of his surroundings. At length, he finally put his belt back on, snuffling all the while, and then Xander wiped at his eyes with the palms of both hands. Incuriously glancing down at the cargo bag on the ground which’d remained there throughout everything, Xander smiled sadly towards the cowboy hat leaning against the far end of the bag. Squatting on his haunches, the teenager picked up and put on his head this Stetson. Seeing how he was here, might as well as see what the hell was inside the bag anyway which kicked up all the fuss back in Florida.
Unzipping the bag, Xander yanked apart the heavy casing and contemplated the contents consisting of numerous stacks of banded currency. At a guess, there was something close to half a million dollars there, and it didn‘t belong to anybody right now except a formerly dead-broke high school graduate.
“Well,” Xander mentioned to nobody in particular, “Looks like I won’t have any trouble paying for college.”
A few miles on, walking with the rezipped cargo bag strapped over one shoulder, Xander was going through Sunnydale’s outermost suburb and he realized he had no real idea of where to stay tonight. Glancing at the sun on its way to meet the western horizon, he estimated it was about dinnertime. In a few more hours, that specific word would apply to those vamp bastards stalking around in the Hellmouth’s darkness, so it’d be quite prudent to find someplace to be inside then.
Go home? Like he really thought of it as that.
Besides, even drunker than usual, his dad Tony could literally smell cash money to swipe from a mile away. No way in the Boca del Infierno would Xander show up there with a bag crammed with untraceable bills.
Hmmm. Wils mentioned she was gonna spend the summer with her parents gone the whole time at the Buffster’s. Sure, that’d work! Mrs. S wouldn’t mind doing him a favor, letting Xander crash on her downstairs couch for the night even if he showed up so unexpectedly. After that, he’d find his own place. It’s not like Xander couldn’t afford it now, being rich and all.
Brightening at these thoughts, Xander increased his strides, eager to get to the familiar El Casa del Summers residence.
Several hours later, Dawn Summers was sitting at her bedroom desk, brushing her hair after dinner. In a few minutes, she’d go down and have dessert with Mom, Buffy, and Willow, if her greedy sister hadn’t already eaten all the ice cream in the house. Idly glancing out the front window, Dawn saw someone hiking down the Revello Street sidewalk. It was a guy in a cowboy hat and carrying a big fabric bag on one shoulder--
Abruptly freezing in shock, Dawn gawked at recognizing him, even as far away as an entire block. It was Xander, and he was back! Nobody knew that but her! This hadn’t been mentioned by anyone at the dinner table tonight!
Tossing away her hairbrush onto the bed and springing up from the desk chair, Dawn rushed at her clothes drawer. In a blur of action, six different tees and tops were tried on, each after the other, helped along by Dawn discarding her bra after the first rejected shirt. Standing in front of the full length room mirror after making her choice, Dawn nibbled at her lips to increase their redness and made a mental note not to take any too-deep breaths lest her supremely tight top ripped at the seams. Spinning in a half-circle to check her butt in the mirror, Dawn beamed at how cute her shorty-shorts looked with the rhinestone lining. Thank god, she’d shaved her legs this morning even though they really didn’t need this, and had done it without a single razor nick.
The entire house shook when Dawn thundered down the stairs in her bare feet, bringing out the three other females there from the kitchen where they’d been in the middle of setting out bowls, spoons, and the chocolately goodness. Buffy, Joyce, and Willow all watched in mutual astonishment at the young girl unheedingly zipping past them towards the front door. None of them knew why Dawn was acting like this. She certainly wouldn’t behave that way when the youngest Summers daughter started high school next fall, assuming the new one got built in time to replace the older educational facilities taken out by the same accidental gas explosion causing multiple deaths such as Sunnydale’s mayor and a good many other people.
Grinning at how he’d surprise everyone there with just a single ring of the doorbell, Xander’s smile congealed on his face as the front door slammed open, and a Dawn-missile soared right at him.
Knocked over backwards to lie flat there on the pathway from the sidewalk, Xander found himself being rapidly kissed by the nubile feminine form sprawled atop his own body. In between smooches all over his face from top to bottom and side to side but not bypassing the lips, a dazed Xander heard an ecstatic chant, “Thank you, thank you, thank you! I just love
the diamond you gave me! Here, I put it in a pendant like Mom suggested!”
Blinking at where an outthrust piece of jewelry dangling from Dawn’s neck was held right in front of his eyes, Xander’s gaze couldn’t help looking past at where the pair of barely-contained mammary glands were pressing against his own chest.
At that point, Dawn suddenly squirmed, announcing, “What’s poking me?” She next lifted her body clear and looked further down, before exclaiming, “Oooo, that’s new!”
Wiggling backwards, Dawn closely examined the silver belt buckle with its really cool car that she wouldn’t mind taking a ride in someday. Especially with her future husband, natch. Dawn next ran her fingers all over the buckle, tracing it out, with this little minx knowing exactly what she was doing to Xander.
The trio now outside on the porch observed in shared disbelief everything there: how Dawn was apparently molesting Xander, how red Xander’s face was getting, and how…
Clearing her throat, Joyce asked as firmly as she felt it necessary to attract the attention of the young man she was currently having mixed feelings about, “Xander, just why is there a lot of money in my front yard?”
Even Dawn looked up at where Xander had turned his head to stare at the cargo bag resting upon the ground a yard away their prone bodies. Sent flying when Dawn brought him down, the bag had come open and a few stacks of bills tumbled out into a small pile by the bag. Even more cash was to be seen inside the bag.
Bringing his gaze back at the waiting older woman and the two other girls, Xander smiled weakly at Mrs. Summers. “Funny story about that. Actually, I’ve got a lot of ’em. How’s this sound? Dawn gets off me, I pick up the loot, we go inside, and I tell you everything
about my road trip.”
Author’s Note: Thanks for all the reviews and recommendations! Here’s one last link, specifically what Xander’s new belt buckle looks like: