"You remember, you fail math, you flunk out of school, you end up being the guy at the pizza place that sweeps the floor and says, 'Hey, kids, where's the cool parties this weekend?' We've been through this."
I remember that day like it was yesterday, not four apocalypses and 10 years ago. Forget the Hyena possession, it was Willow trying so hard to help me figure out math that sticks with me. I didn't want to get it then, still don't want to get it, but if she'd said that one day I'd need math to figure out where exactly to aim a blast cannon so it would do the most damage on a demon stronghold in the years following the end of the world as we knew it? I might have listened. But I didn't. I did learn how to aim that damn cannon though. That and several dozen other assorted weapons. You don't have much choice when you're fighting for your life and the lives of the few remaining humans on this mudball.
You get used to it after awhile though. Living hand to mouth. Wondering when the next demon strike is going to be. Which friend you're going to bury next. Not that I have many of those left. Who'd have thought that out of the Scoobies, Xander Harris the Zeppo would be the last one standing? Hell, who'd have thought some idiot would have put me in charge of the American Resistance Movement? All these people looking to me to make the decisions. To tell them how to defeat this demon, kill that demon. Looking to me to help them survive another day. So here I am. General Alexander Harris, freedom fighter.
The world has definitely gone to Hell in a hand basket.
And the ones who fucked it up? The bright-eyed idiots in Washington who thought trying to capture and tame demons into their own private army? They left us here to rot. Turns out there was a secret government program in Colorado that had some sort of gate to other worlds across the galaxy. So when the shit hit the fan all the Washington bigwigs high-tailed it off planet. They weren't even going to tell anyone except that it leaked somehow. Got out into the news. Everyone who could turned up on their doorstep trying to get to safety. Some got thru, others didn't before the demons showed up there. It was a wholesale slaughter before the base self-destructed leaving a big crater in the ground where a mountain had been.
Which still left the rest of us facing hell on earth. We did what we could. Joined forces again with Deadboy. Got some reinforcements from the Watcher's Council before planes stopped flying. It helped, but it wasn't enough.
Giles was the first to go. Took a poisoned claw to the chest while protecting Willow and another witch named Tara.
Wesley and Gunn, a guy who'd just started working for Angel, went next. They were running a transport vehicle filled with much needed supplies when they hit an ambush. There wasn't much left of them by the time we got there.
Buffy was next. She tried. But even Slayers get tired, even Slayers need to eat. She wouldn't though. Just kept going out there and fighting until she didn't come back.
Deadboy followed soon after her. Guilt, love, grief, whatever it was it killed him in the end when he just gave up. Could have killed him myself for that. He was one of our best warriors and he just gave up.
Cordelia is gone. The visions finally killed her. She went to sleep and just never woke up. I'm grateful at least that her death was peaceful, unlike the months of pain leading up to it. She had such a beautiful smile on her face when we found her. It made me feel better knowing she'd gone to a better place.
Willow and Tara are still here technically. If you consider being vegetables still here. Magical coma. They might wake up one day but I'm not counting on it.
I think Oz is still around somewhere fighting the good fight. Not sure. It's been three years since I've seen him.
Leaving me, Joyce Summers who is mother to us all and probably one of *the* most protected people on the planet, some of the remnants of our old armed forces and scores of young adults, some barely into their teens, to fight the demons that have overrun our world.
"Oi! What about me?"
Xander snorted, turning from his journal to look at his lover. "What about you, Bleachboy?"
Spike pulled a strand of hair in front of his face, studied it for a moment then looked to Xander. "Do you see bleach? 'Cause it's been close to nine years since I've seen bleach."
He rolled his eyes but smiled. "Yeah, yeah. Call me a creature of habit. I was getting to you."
"Yeah, yeah," Spike mimicked. "Well, get on with it already. I want a bloody shag before the damn meeting."
"You always want a bloody shag," Xander replied grinning and turned back to his journal.
Wonder of wonders, Spike is on our side. Sure, he helped Buffy stop Angelus from setting Acathla free. Still he is a demon, a vampire. Plus he was one of the first that the Initiative got their hands on. Chipped him and all. He claims he doesn't want to lose all his Happy Meals on legs. I think the time he spent with us changed him. Or more accurately brought out the humanity that had never really left him when he was Turned. The chip is gone now, long gone and still he fights on our side. He fights by my side. I admit I didn't love him when our relationship started. It was about being close to someone. It was about comfort. Later it became about love.
It's a luxury these days. Love belongs to the Before. Before the Initiative. Before the Demon Wars. Before the end of the world.
We live in the After. Because life goes on. At least for a little while.