THE END: PROLOGUE
The world keeps closing in
It has before
It will again
A voice beyond the wind
Says we must go
Beyond the end
Beyond the end
~~Jimmy Buffett "Beyond The End"
(What used to be)Sunnydale, California, 2003
The vampire stood at the lip of the crater that had once been a town known as Sunnydale. He heard his companions behind him, knew they were trying to be quiet, trying to give him time to deal with what he was seeing. He also knew without a shadow of a doubt that one of them wouldn't be able to hold the silence. It was mere seconds later when his knowledge was confirmed and he heard the sound of a lighter flicking and smoke being dragged into lungs as dead as his. He smiled, unseen by his companions, when he heard the impatient voice.
"It's a big hole."
"Well it is!"
The sandy-haired vampire turned from the smoking rubble to face the others. "No Xander, he's right. It's a bloody big hole...and that's all it is. But..I had to see it, feel it, for myself." His hand went up in a reflexive gesture, reaching for glasses that had been unnecessary for years.
Xander looked at the two vampires, a question on his lips he wished he didn't have to ask. A deep breath and he finally just blurted it out. "The Hellmouth?" He watched his companions cock their heads in a gesture so alike he knew he could never point it out for fear of retribution on both sides. Both sets of eyes took on a far away look and then Spike spoke.
"It's sealed. Permanently." He glanced at Giles, who nodded his head in agreement. "Yes, he's quite right. Sunnydale is no more, and the Hellmouth here is sealed to the point that no one will ever be able to open it again."
Xander looked out over the disaster area that was once his home. "What do we do now?"
Spike snorted. "Salt the ground and shout hoo-bloody-rah over our shoulders as we leave." He stuck his smoldering cigarette in his mouth and talked around it as he patted his duster down presumably for his flask since he didn't need the lighter he was usually searching for. "There's even fucking less here now that there was before, and I say it looks better than it ever has. So let's put the bloody past in the past where it belongs and..." He looked over at Giles and threw his hands up in a gesture of total disgust. "Fine, at least lets get checked into a hotel in the next town over before the two of you go waltzing through your memories." He put an arm around both Xander and Giles waists and steered them back towards their car. "I'm going to need lots of booze and some good porn on the telly to get through the next few hours with you two."
Xander hugged his vampires to him as he walked. Even after five years that phrase rang strangely in his mind. 'his vampires' Who'dve thunk it. Alexander LaVelle Harris, former hater of all things vampiric, former Slayer lackey and gofer, the plaything of two vampires. Or they were his playthings, or they were all...no, not playing. They had all walked a long hard road to get where they were and whatever they were they were certainly not playthings. He had a hotel room to get to before he could sink into memories though, and one final question to ask.
"Where do you think they went?"
Giles answered his hug with a squeeze of his own, making sure to caress Spike's arm where it lay low along Xander's back. "Well, I hear there's a Hellmouth in Cleveland..."
Beyond The End: Chapter One