Title: "What Happens When It's Over?"
Author: Mala
E-mail: malisita@yahoo.com
Rating/Classification: PG, Xander POV, angst. fic-essay-rant.
Disclaimer: Grrr. Aargh.
Summary: Pretty simple really...what happens when it's over?
Dedication:To Saffron, for asking the question in the first place and for always being my twinkie.

"This is too much. I mean, yesterday my life was like,
'Oh, oh, pop quiz.' Today its 'rain of toads'."
Xander Harris, "The Harvest".

What happens when it's over? What happens when the screen goes black? When the credits begin to roll for the last time?

Does she just stop *being*?

Do the rest of us, too, fade into the celluloid graveyard...rot in our film canisters while fans try keep us alive at conventions where they dress like us and speak conversational Sunnydale and thanks the syndication gods?

I'm the most real of us all. That's what I keep hearing. That I mirror the average Joe. The average Joss. You'd think that means my mediocrity will always exist somewhere.

You'd think.

But there are some fantasies that even the best builder can't make 3 dimensional. I can't put together enough flesh, enough bone, enough soul and breath, to make any of us anymore than we are.

A Slayer.

My best friend.

And *me*.

That's how it began. Out on the steps in front of Sunnydale High five years ago. And I don't think Wills and I would go back and change it. Even the bad things. The *very* bad things.

Because we still have the G-man.

And we still have Cordy...even if she's not here.

And Oz...even if he's not here either.

And we also have Dawn and Tara and Anya. New additions to our lives.

Not to mention those who are never really gone, who always manage to pop up when they're needed...or not needed...Angel, Spike, Harmony, Drusilla, Riley, Wesley, Faith...

There are, of course, the ones we've lost, too. Jesse. Jenny. Joyce. All the 'J's in our lives seem to end up retiring to the film canisters too early.

But overall, there are so many names that can still be spoken. Friends and enemies. Humans and demons. So many people. All linked by one.

Does she just stop *being*?

Do we?

Or do we all march on...? Do our lives go on without people watching? Is that even possible?

If you'd asked me, five years ago, what was possible and what wasn't...I would've told you that vampires and giant praying mantises and Inca Mummy Girls didn't exist. That there's no such thing as a Hellmouth or a First Evil or a Watcher's Council. That your best friend can't become a witch and fall in love with a nice lesbian. That you can't fall in love with a woman who used to be a man-hating vengeance demon.

I would've told you that meeting one drop-dead gorgeous teenage girl on the steps of your high school can't change your whole life.

But I know better know.

And I know too many things that are beyond explanation...things that I've had to see with my own two eyes. Things I've been *made* to see.

My friends got me through it. We got each other through it. We grew up together, leaning and learning and loving. We've lost, we've gained. We've killed, we've healed. And we've *lived*.

You can't tell me I haven't lived...because I feel it.

I feel it on Anya's lips when I kiss her to stop her from telling everyone I purr after we have sex. I see it in the way that Willow and Tara touch foreheads and whisper cutesy things to each other. I hear it in the way Giles tells me to stop bogarting his oddly intriguing yet scary British person foods. (Bangers and mash? What IS that really?)

What happens when it's over?

I'd like to think I'll still be here when you aren't. When you've all watched the screen go black. When the credits are rolling.

And I'd like to think that she'll be here, too.

Because, after so many years in the spotlight, I'm a little afraid of the dark.

And I can't imagine walking through it without Buffy the Vampire Slayer at my side, telling me there's nothing to be afraid of.


February 22, 2001.

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