The surprise as it turned out was on Kylie. She should have been suspicious when Bill called to tell her he would be coming to town the day before the wedding. He'd given her a good line about Claire not wanting him to see her the day of the wedding and all.
So, when the knock on her door came, she was expecting it to be Bill and they'd grab dinner and he'd go to a hotel to spend the night.
Instead, it was Xander standing on the other side of her door.
"What are you doing here?"
"Well, if you want me to go back home…"
"Don't be silly," she said, grabbing onto his sleeve and tugging him into her room. "I was expecting Bill."
"Yeah, about that."
"It was going to be you all along?"
"Promise not to get mad?"
"Mad about you being here? Why would I?"
"Well, because after you called me about getting Claire's mom here for the wedding, I called Bill."
"Why?" she said with a frown.
"See, now you're starting to get mad."
"No, just confused. Why would you do that?"
"I didn't know if it was safe. I mean, Claire's been there for how long and no one's come to visit her. And then all of the sudden her mom shows up out of the blue? I wasn't sure, you know, Bill would want attention drawn to her like that."
"Well, it'd be one guest."
"Out of a guest list comprised of Wheelsy townsfolk, Kylie," he said, tucking some hair behind her ear as he reached to hug her. "She'd stand out and I had to be sure."
"I hadn't thought."
"Well, it seems Bill had thought on that already."
"That surprises you?"
"Well, no, I mean, what'd he do? Offer to fly her here or something?"
"No, one better."
"That hunting trip they're taking isn't one."
"He's surprising her with a cruise."
"Oh my God, Xander," she said, pushing on his chest a little to put space between them. "He can't do that. She'll have her suitcase packed for the woods and cold not a cruise and warmth."
"He's told her by now, so she knows just doesn't know her mom and brother are going to be there, too."
"Oh," she said.
"So, Bill figured that maybe Willow wouldn't mind getting me here."
"He figured that?"
"Well, I may have mentioned I thought it was a shame Claire's maid of honor didn't have a dance partner."
"As if there's a dozen of us."
"Still, seems a waste to spoil you getting all dressed up. And you said I danced all right at your prom."
“Is Bill really coming to town tonight?”
“Yes, so that we have a way of getting to Wheelsy tomorrow.”
“We were supposed to have dinner.”
“Yup, dinner but then after that I think he’s going to cut us loose.”
“Does it sound bad to say I’m kind of glad?”
“Not at all,” he said. “I was kind of hoping there’d be some way around having to have dinner with him, but it’s his wedding that brought me here so I guess I shouldn’t look gift horses in the mouth.”
“Definitely not,” she said.
“So, this is it,” he said, taking in her room.
“Yeah,” she said, feeling a little self-conscious having him here. So much from their summer together in England was plastered all over the walls she hoped it didn’t bother him for some reason.
“I like it,” he said after a few minutes. Not that it took him that long to see everything she was sure.
“Want to show me around?”
“Sure,” she said.
“You don’t sound too enthused about that option.”
“No, I am. I’m just still kind of surprised.”
“Well, it’s up to you. Bill should be here in a couple of hours so I’m all yours until he comes to take us to dinner.” His eyes widened a little and she wondered what he was thinking. “And I just realized something.”
“What?” she asked perplexed.
“You’re surprised by my being here, but I’m not and I haven’t quite demonstrated how good it is to see you.”
“Yeah,” he said, taking her into his arms. He lowered his mouth to hers and she whimpered softly at how intense the kiss was so quickly. Her arms slid around his neck, drawing him even deeper into it because she didn’t want it to stop. Ever.
He must have been thinking the same as her because he inched her back against her bed, sliding his coat off and letting it fall to the floor before settling them there.
Hands and arms became busy exploring. It hadn’t been that long since they’d seen one another, but sex was still new to her. He seemed to understand that, because he let her touch and explore. His shirt came off in the process, which she didn’t mind at all. She loved his chest, breaking the kiss to kiss his collarbone.
“I missed you,” he whispered hoarsely as she kissed his chest.
“Me, too,” she whispered, working his pants.
“Kylie,” he groaned.
“We don’t have to. I mean,” he stopped when she slid her hand inside his jeans. “Oh God,” he said then and she gave a soft giggle.
He started returning the favor, his hands mirroring hers as she worked him so he was hard in her hand. He switched them so she was on top of him, straddling him once he’d slid her jeans off. She ducked her head a little as he looked at her, watching as his hands touched her body.
“So beautiful,” he said.
“Thank you,” she said softly, leaning in for a kiss as she slid herself over him.
“What’s it like,” she asked afterward when she was lying on top of him.
“What’s what like?”
“Oh. Well, it’s kind of hard to describe. It’s definitely weird. Kind of like your spinning around or being sucked into a vortex or something. Not that I know what that feels like, but it’s how I imagine it’d feel. It’s very cool, though.”
“It sounds like it would be.”
“It’s not an exact science either. I mean, Willow got me to your campus but not to your dorm. Sometimes she can be more exact than others, not sure why that is. If it’s a matter of focus or other things at work I couldn’t tell you. I’m not sure she could either.”
“Hmm. You have the coolest friends.”
“You have one who can’t be injured or die and can heal someone with their blood. I’d say you have cool friends, too.”
“That’s just one.”
“Still pretty cool.”
“Yeah, she is.”
“Excited for the weekend?”
“Yes! I’m so excited for them.”
“Good.” He kissed her, lingering a minute. “I was very excited at the prospect of seeing you if you couldn’t tell.”
“I hadn’t noticed.”
“Is that right?”
“Nope. Must not have been very direct about letting me know.”
“I’ll try better next time.”
She gave a soft laugh.
“So, was that a no on the showing me around campus thing? Or now that you’ve seduced me and had your wicked way with me are you ready to do what normal couples do?”
“Normal couples don’t have sex?”
“Oh sure, put like that, of course they do, but I figured, you know, tonight after dinner and stuff. I certainly wasn’t thinking right away like some guy who can’t control himself.”
“I don’t know. It’s been a while and that’s not what I came here for. I like Claire and Bill, they’re special to you, and I love you so I wanted to be here for you.”
“You’re so sweet.”
Her fingertips skimmed along the string of his patch and he flinched instinctively. He didn’t mind her touching it, but she knew he was self-conscious about it. She’d seen him without it a few times, but he was always asleep. As soon as he woke up the patch was the first thing he reached for. She wondered if he did that when she wasn’t with him.
“It’s okay to be some guy who can’t control himself.”
“Well, you know, I think I displayed how much control I am able to have by keeping my hands to myself the weekend of your prom, but don’t get me wrong. You’re definitely loss of control worthy.”
“You are, babe, you are.”
“You are, too.”
“Why, thank you.”
“In that case, I’ll show you around later.”
“Yeah, it’s not that exciting anyway.”
“Well, sure it is, you’re here. It’s your home, temporary as it may be, it’s you. You chose to come here, so I want to see.”
“Okay,” she said. “But I want more of this for now. And then maybe a shower before dinner.”
“This,” he said, sliding on top of her. “Is definitely something I can give you more of.”
She was very grateful for her own room and private bath now. Xander had given her even more of this in the shower. As tiny as it was, they still managed and Kylie knew she’d never look at a shower the same way again.
Bill showed up not too long after they’d gotten dressed again. He had to know as Xander’s hair was still wet, but he didn’t say a word.
“So, why are you here and not out for a bachelor party?” Kylie asked at dinner.
“Well, had that last weekend while Claire had hers.”
“Claire had a bachelorette party?”
“Yeah. They went to Myrtle Beach.”
“Oh my God! How fun.”
“Yeah, she said something similar.”
“No, I am not,” he said, though Kylie knew he was in a way. “She can’t get drunk, so I don’t have to worry about her having done something questionable.”
“Then what’s wrong?”
“Nothing. I just wish I could have gone along with your idea and gotten her mom or some of her friends here. I feel bad for her that the only people with her were people I know.”
“Well, she likes them and they like her. I know Janine does now even if she didn’t at first.”
“Wait, someone didn’t like Claire?” Xander asked. “What’s not to like? She’s as nice a person as there can be.”
“A lot of women didn’t like her at first,” Kylie said. “Once Starla left town, the single gals all thought they had a chance with the Sheriff.”
“Ah, I see, then along came the mysterious outsider and swept him off his feet.”
“I swept her off her feet, I’ll have you know.”
“You did not. If I hadn’t suggested inviting her over to have pizza with us you never would have gone out with her.”
“Yeah, okay, I needed a little push, but I knew what to do with a good thing once I had her in my grasp.”
“Good things are definitely grasp-worthy,” Xander said.
“Exactly! I just, you know, she’s a little younger than I am, and not from Wheelsy so I didn’t know what her deal was. The infestation wasn’t too far in the past. I was still healing from being impaled by that thing,” Bill said, rubbing the spot.
Kylie knew the spot well. She’d had to help him for about a week after change the bandage. He’d ordered her to keep a gun by her side at all times, afraid he hadn’t escaped being infected after all. Kylie’d known he hadn’t been, but she did as he asked because it made him feel better and he seemed to need that at the time.
Starla had left town without much of a goodbye or any explanation. Kylie didn’t see Mrs. Grant as the type to change Bill’s bandages anyway. It was pretty gross there for the first couple of days. Oozing puss and bordering on infection.
“I tell you, Xander, you find someone who can see past your imperfections, it’s a great thing.”
“You’re not imperfect,” Kylie said.
“I just meant. Well, someone like Claire especially, you know. She has no blemishes, scars. I’ve got myself a few and she doesn’t shy away from that. Saved my life, too.”
“I know,” Kylie said.
“Even if she did it more for you than herself.”
“She did not!”
“At the time, I’d say it was pretty close to fifty-fifty her not wanting to see you lose me.”
“I think you’re underestimating how much she felt then, but I’ll give you that I probably played a part in it.”
“What’s Claire doing tonight anyway?” Xander asked.
“You know, I have no idea. Janine and Mother are with her I’m sure, I think Janine’s staying there.”
“I should be there,” Kylie said, feeling guilty.
“You had no way of getting there, honey, she knows that,” Bill said. “And it’s not like Janine can’t sit with her just as well.”
“I know, but I’m her maid of honor.”
“Who isn’t in town right now, she gets it. You’ll be there tomorrow.”
“Who’s taking care of Lucky?”
“Mother,” Bill said.
“Yeah, took her a while to warm up to him, but she likes him now.”
“He is a little intimidating looking,” Xander said. “I mean, to someone like me who’s never had a pet. He looks like a big dog.”
“Right,” Bill said. “You never had a pet?”
“Uh no,” Xander said. “My parents had enough to worry about taking care of me let alone being responsible for pets.”
“Oh, right, sorry,” Bill said.
“It’s all right,” Xander said.
Bill dropped them off at her dorm after dinner. Kylie was amazed at how calm Bill seemed about getting married tomorrow. Maybe that’s just how someone was who knew what they wanted. He’d certainly waited long enough. She was glad, though, that he hadn’t run off and married the first girl after Starla had married Mr. Grant. It made him … better for some reason because a marriage like that wouldn’t have worked.
Having Xander in her room was so weird. Her bed wasn’t exactly great for two people to sleep on, but they made it work just fine.
The wedding went perfectly. The weather was great and no one got too drunk or did anything to ruin the day. Xander and Kylie drove Claire's car back with them so when Bill and Claire came back they'd have a way back to Wheelsy. They'd hired a limo for the ride into town tonight. Kylie and Mrs. Pardy knew where they were staying, but no one else did.
Xander had stayed the rest of the weekend with her. Willow evidently got her coordinates, or whatever it was she used, down better this go around because she managed to teleport closer to Kylie's dorm building.
"Now you two kids understand as much as I'm a huge proponent of love I can't be at your beck and call whenever you get an itch to see one another."
"Thank you, Willow," Kylie said. She hadn't seen much of Willow when she'd been in London so she wasn't as comfortable with her as some of the other women she'd met. Xander loved her, though, and clearly Willow felt the same. Kylie had tried to be jealous of that except it was so obvious it was a friendly kind of love that it was hard for her to be mad about it. Whatever it was that had made them kiss one another in high school wasn't there anymore. It maybe helped that Willow was a lesbian.
"You're welcome. I'm glad we could work something out. I hope you'll tell me about Claire's honeymoon because I admit I was totally on board with bringing her mom here as a surprise. I understand why I couldn't, but she's going to be thrilled beyond anything that Bill did that for her."
"I know. I can't wait to hear about it too. I'm not sure how long it's been since she's seen her mom so I know it'll mean a lot."
"So," Xander said as Willow left Kylie's room.
"Yeah," Kylie said.
"Hey," he said, kissing her. "We'll make this work somehow. IMs aren't great, but it's better than nothing."
"I love you, Kylie."
"I love you, too."
"And I'm glad you haven't met anyone else."
She laughed at that. He had no idea how ridiculous an idea that even was.
"I know when I said that when you left, I'm sure it sounded like I wanted you to."
"No, I got it after I thought about it."
"Good. We'll figure out the next time we can see each other. I don't count this as a visit to you really, so technically I think it's me who has to come to you next."
"Yeah, but you came to Wheelsy like four times."
"Only once was exclusively to see you, though."
"I said exclusively," he said, hugging her tight. "We'll figure it out. Maybe Christmas, let me see what I can work out."
He opened the door, letting Willow back in.
"Bye, Kylie, it's nice to see you again."
"You, too," she said.
And then she was alone again. At least she had Claire's car for a while so she could go to the mall or whatever if she wanted to over the next ten days.
"So, how was the wedding?" Buffy asked.
"It was nice. Pretty short and to the point. Not real small. I think the whole town showed up at one point or another."
"The beauty of small towns, I guess. Everyone knows everyone and they can't stay out of anyone else's business."
"It was actually kind of nice."
"Yeah," he said. "They've been through so much. Not just Kylie and Bill, but the whole town. I guess there've been a couple babies born since the infestation, but I think their wedding was the first time they'd all gotten together like that."
"I see, makes sense," Buffy said.
"What's that look for?" Xander asked.
"You're thinking about leaving, aren't you?"
Xander shrugged. "I don't know."
"Xander, it's all right, I mean, I wouldn't blame you. I don't think anyone here would for taking the chance to get out and running with it."
"What if I didn't have to get out completely?"
"What do you mean?"
"Well, you're pretty stuck here as it should be. You need the most space because you have the most slayers. You and Giles, you need to be here where everything is based. You could have anyone do my job, though, really."
"Xander, that's not true."
"Come on. Willow was the brains behind the computer system. I'm not doing anything but watching things, passing them onto you. There's nothing saying there couldn't be another one set up somewhere else with someone else for me to pass things onto."
"Let me guess, in South Carolina?"
"It's not like there's not an abundance of property available in Wheelsy now. There's a slew of it because so many died."
"I'm listening," she said, taking a seat on the chair next to his.
"There are at least two connected with the Strutemyer's that are standing vacant. They were large properties because where Kylie's folks lived they had livestock."
"We could do on a smaller scale what we have here. Buy up the houses; add a secret room or a small basement for the control room. We could get some animals so they don't wonder. Kylie knows how to take care of them and could teach me and others what to do."
"Xander, she's in school."
"Yeah. That's why I said she could teach us."
"Are you listening to yourself? I mean, have you really thought this through. You're talking about becoming a farmer, Xander. And I have to say it again. She's in school."
"Yeah, I know that, Buffy. You're not telling me anything I don't know, but it'd be better than me being here not being able to see her. What Willow did was great, but it just drove home the point that I need to make a decision."
"Well, sure, that's her home. I don't have one. I'm here because you're being generous, Buffy, don't think I don’t know that. Seeing all of those people together having a good time made me want one. God, Buffy, I never had a normal life even before you came to Sunnydale. Willow was the only friend I ever brought home because I was too embarrassed. I have a chance at it with someone who knows my secrets and still loves me. Kylie loves Bill and Claire, I can't expect her to pick up and leave them. They're the only family she has. She may not go back to Wheelsy, but she's not going to go far so it would still be a reasonable place for us to make camp."
"And you don't think the people of Wheelsy are going to wonder where all these new people came from?"
"I doubt it. I mean, we're not talking hundreds of slayers. We're talking a few, a watcher and a smaller squadron. I'm sure Willow can use her computer skills to come up with some non-covert sounding reason for The Council to be there."
"Have you talked to her?"
"Well, no, I figured I'd better approach the boss lady first. No sense getting her hopes up, or getting mine dashed by her saying no, if you were against it."
"How much property are we talking here?"
"Just Kylie's is a lot, but like I said there's two or three other houses that are vacant adjacent to hers."
"And you want to farm?"
"A man's got to do something with his life. What's wrong with working the land? Let's face it, Buff, I'm pretty limited with my handicap. I'm good with my hands, that's all I have. This is just another way of using them."
"Uh, you're talking beef cattle and stuff, right? Not crops? You realize that's a twenty-four hour a day gig, right? I mean, there's no vacations and stuff."
"Yes, I know, and you're right I'd have to find out from Kylie what would work. Maybe there's something other than livestock I could do so I'm not tied down, but if not I'm not afraid of hard work."
"I know you're not, but I think you should talk to her first because what you're talking about is a plan for a future that she may not want. She was ready to leave Wheelsy and she may not want to stay in the family business."
"I know. I'm going to go there over Christmas. I'll probably be gone for a couple of weeks."
"You deserve it. You don't have to ask permission or act as though I'm going to get upset. Let me know what she says and then we can work on it from there. We could bring Robin in to do what you do if we have to. There are others."
"Like Spike," Xander said.
"Yeah, like Spike. I know Giles is trying to work him in somewhere. He being a watcher doesn't work so well given he's so combustible."
She set a hand on his thigh, patting him there lightly. She grabbed his hand then, lacing her fingers through hers. It was a friendly gesture and kind of a huge deal for Buffy. She wasn't a huge touchy-feely person. He couldn't really blame her, he supposed, she probably thought the people she cared enough about to touch ended up getting hurt. They all went into it willingly, though. There wasn't anyone here today who didn't know what they were getting themselves into.
"I'm glad that this, us, The Council, me - is so important to you, but honestly if she says yes to the possibility of this life with you I want you as far away from this as you can get."
"You're not walking away; you're not abandoning me or the mission. You're getting out. I asked you to with Dawn and you didn't. I'm not asking you to this time, I'm just telling you what I want and how I feel about all of this. I want someone to get out and we all knew it wasn't going to be me or Willow. So, if she says yes, or God, even if she says she needs to think about it, Xander, get out. Find a place in South Carolina and stay there until you sweep her off her feet and make her say yes. I know you'd be there if we needed you. I imagine Kylie, Bill and Claire would be there to help, too. I want one of us to get married, have babies, have grandbabies, and have a good life that they can look back on and know there was more to life than this." She stood then, gesturing to the command center. "So, please," she said, giving him a kiss on the cheek. "Get out."
Story ©Susan Falk/APCKRFAN/PhantomRoses.com