Companion piece to Yeah and set a few weeks later.
This is my entry for the Africander Ficathon. The stories are due today so check out the master list for other fics if you're interested. People signed up by country and there are some fabulous writers on board for this so I expect good things.
Fandom: Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Character: Xander (with implied slash)
Beta: Thanks to silvertedy for feedback on my original stuff and helping me polish this.
Notes: I feel like this should be longer. There's a lot of stuff here that's glossed over and it's intentional, but I hope it doesn't annoy people.
A Million Miles from Everything
You think that six months after the destruction of Sunnydale is too soon to be traipsing across Africa looking for Slayers and explaining what they are and packing them off to England. And youíre soon proven right. It is too soon. But you also know thereíll never be enough time. Two years later is still too soon.
Youíre not going to forget that you lost the last woman youíll ever love. Youíre not going to forget that your peripheral vision isnít what it used to be. Youíre not going to forget that as much as you didnít always like or understand them, your parents are gone. Your home is gone. Your friends are scattered. The one person youíve finally let in again canít come with you. You can't forget any of that.
And then you find yourself standing on the side of a road in Uganda waiting to get on a bus thatís already too full. But you get on that bus because it beats the hell out of walking anymore because you canít convince the Council to get you a car. They seem to believe that your missing eye is a liability. That you're going to bust up the car on some back road, probably just before you become demon meat, so what exactly is the sense of investing in a car for you? Your excellent marksmanship with the crossbow and throwing knives has yet to convince them otherwise. So you get on the bus and you smile at the little boy who gives you his seat. Kigali is still a few hours away and youíre happy to not have to stand, even if it means the little boy probably gave you his seat because he thinks youíre an old man.
Day 37 - Bye-bye Uganda.
After walking for two hours I finally managed to flag down a bus. No surprise that it was only two more miles to the Rwandan border where everyone was forced to get off. I really need to talk to Giles again about getting a car -- walking, hitching, and public transit arenít doing it for me.
At least Willowís spell still seems to be working. The border guards didnít question any of the stuff I was carrying (stakes and knives included). They barely glanced at my passport before they waved me through. Just like everywhere else. Had to walk another hour before I lucked onto another bus. Should get to Kigali soon. A hot shower and a bed sound really good right now. Maybe check my e-mail.
The hotel is a relief, especially after some of the places youíve slept in over the last month. More than one place was not much safer than sleeping outside. But the Hotel des Milles Collines is nice. Really nice -- a four-star establishment with a pool and tennis courts, a business center and conference facilities. There's a hot shower, a soft bed, satellite television -- even if itís only 6 channels -- and Internet access. Just plug in the laptop and open your e-mail to find your next assignment waiting, even though you leave it until morning. Thereís a message from someone far more interesting than Giles. You smile as you read it and adjust your pants, then log onto AIM. You silently thank Willow for showing you how to delete all this stuff from the Council's computer. Something tells you they wouldn't approve of all the cybersex -- the act itself or the partner.
Day 38 - Kigali, Rwanda
Called Giles this morning, begged for a car again. Guilt tripped him with the whole ďlived on the Hellmouth, closed the Hellmouth, lost an eye for the causeĒ schpiel. He sighed, but said heíd see what he could do. 30 minutes later the concierge informed me that my new Land Rover is in valet parking. You can get a lot of mileage out of a lost eye when you finally get to talk to the man in charge.
Anyway, he said to check my e-mail. All the details of the job were there. Apparently thereís a girl around here who may or may not be a Slayer. Or rather, thereís a Slayer here. And thereís a girl whoís killing demons and humans. And the Council thinks it might be the same girl. I called Giles back and said that if they want me bringing in some rogue Slayer, they need to send me a little more help. If sheís killing humans, I donít think sheís just going to hop in the Rover with me and drive on over to the airport for a free trip to London. Giles said to just check it out and get back to him. If itís the same girl, heíll see what he can do. After all, she wouldn't be the first of her kind.
Day 38 - 8p.m.
Found the Slayer Willow'd sensed here in Kigali. Turns out she's four years old. That means she's not my problem. Of course, it also means she's probably not the one doing all the killing. And that is my problem. So now I get to patrol. Oh, joy. At least I don't have to walk.
You ever think you've slipped into an alternate universe when you weren't looking? It's like suddenly you've got one eye, and your hairís long, and you're roaming around Africa for months, and apparently you're the most attractive piece of meat on the market, which seems odd because you look in the mirror and see a scruffy white guy who's tired and missing an eye. You're pretty sure the girls never oohed and aahed over guys who looked like you.
But here you are sitting in a bar and some guy -- a hot guy -- is smiling at you and chatting about Victoria Falls and Kilamanjaro and the Kalahari and you're just nodding your head because you've been in Africa for more than a year but haven't really had a chance to enjoy any of the good stuff because you've been tracking down 4-year-old Slayers living in poverty and hunting demons and praying that no one notices the wooden stakes, crossbow, or 12-inch Rambo knife you carry around.
But yeah, this hot guy is smiling and shooting the shit, and when he gets up to leave he slides a napkin over to you with a room number on it and blushes and looks away and says, "If you get bored later..." and it's the best offer you've had since the last hotel and it seems to happen everywhere you go these days. And you wonder what it is about you that's inviting all the attention.
But it doesn't matter, because you're looking at him and thinking of someone else so you go back to your room alone and stare out the window at the dark and up at the stars that you can actually see here because there's no light pollution. Or air pollution. Just quiet and darkness and a voice in your head saying no obligations. You pull that napkin out of your pocket and think about it for a beat. But then you drop the napkin in the trash and boot up the computer instead. Send Giles an e-mail because you're here on business and the sooner you're done the sooner you can go home and not have to think about how the last time you got laid you wondered if it'd be the last time ever because you thought you might get buried under the Hellmouth and never love again. And you think maybe you did die, because it's been two year since the last time. But you didn't. You survived. And you've fallen in love again. And he's waiting for you in London, reminding you over cyberspace that he's very much willing to help you end that two-year dry spell. And you want that.
So you grab your keys and head out on patrol for the non-Slayer so you can go home and get laid. It's time for you to be happy again.
Day 39 -- Kigali airport
Well, I found her. And judging by the yellow eyes and the fangs I saw just before she jumped me -- and the way she crumbled to dust -- I'd say not a Slayer. Probably killing other demons to protect her territory. Not exactly an endless buffet out here. Anyway, this job is done. And, of course, as soon as I get a car Giles agrees to give me leave of absence, so I'm going home. Home. Funny to call it that when I'm going somewhere I've never been before. Home, where someone promises that heís waiting for me. Someone I haven't seen in ages. Someone I've been having a crazy Internet romance with for months. I think I might even be ready to be having sex rather than typing it.
The plane lands at Heathrow and suddenly your anxiety goes from the good kind to the bad. What if this isn't what you thought? What if youíve misunderstood? But you pull yourself together and make it through baggage and customs and silently thank Willow once again. You step out into International Arrivals and your breath is taken away by the eager mouth suddenly pressed against yours. Hands on your neck and back. Tongue teasing your lips open. You tense for a moment, wondering if everyone is looking. Then you relax for the first time in a very, very long time, because you're finally alive. Really, truly alive.