Chapter Nine--The Reality of the Dream

Outside Wesfleet Warehouse, 11:49 p.m.

"Alexander?" Buffy called out quietly. "Alexander?" she repeated as she swept down the deserted alley, her gaze returning to the abandoned warehouse they were heading towards.

"Alexander?" called out Xander alongside her with less enthusiasm, and he too found his gaze drawn towards the dilapidated building.

"Come 'ere, kitty, come 'ere, kitty, kitty, kitty cat," Buffy made an approximation of a cat meow as she bent slightly trying to see the wayward kitten.

"Buffy, do that again," Xander murmured softly.

"Hmm?" she looked over at him.

"That meow, it kinda turned me on," his mouth curved into a leering grin, but the puppy-dog gaze of his eyes softened the salacious smile.

"Meow," she whined loudly, and he grimaced.

"Not like that," he complained. She sent him a smile and then turned her attention back to finding her new kitten. "Come here, Alexander. I got milk at home. Lots of milk."

"Hey!" Xander called out, "look, I think I saw it run inside the warehouse." Buffy frowned slightly. "I did," he said to her look. "Really."

"Okay," she shrugged, "let's check it out."


Wesfleet Warehouse, 11:55 p.m.

Despite the abandoned state of the building, the door was open and sure enough the kitten was standing just in front of an open entrance, meowing pitifully. Buffy and Xander hurried to the kitten, who froze and hissed, its tail straight up in the air. The pair stopped and then Buffy carefully took another step closer, and immediately the kitten turned around and ran straight through the entry.

"I guess we follow?" Xander asked. Buffy turned to him and nodded quietly. They walked to the open doorway and peered in. It was an empty room, deserted and big. Dust and cobwebs filled the entire space; dirt and trash littered the floor and lurked in the corners. Light, made a lovely, dusky shade by the filth covering the glass, filtered in through the high windows and splayed across the floor. Diffused beams of golden rays lay upon the six steps that led into the giant room.

Carefully, wary of loose boards, Buffy stepped upon the top stair, her eyes roving about the empty space. Behind her, Xander was quiet, his eyes marking the same path that hers did.

"It's the dream," Xander whispered.

"Yes," she offered just as quietly, the kitten all but forgotten. "Yes," she repeated and slipped down the remaining stairs. As she stepped onto the floor, the dust jumped and danced about her and she found herself spinning slowly in place. "Xander," she called out in a low voice, "do you hear it?"

He took the steps himself and walked to her, moving around her turning form carefully. His eyes lay locked on her and his head was cocked the slightest to the side, catching the faint tune she was humming. "Do you hear it?" she repeated excitedly.

"I hear you," he offered solemnly. Immediately she stopped humming. "Listen, "she commanded. "Xander, listen."

He listened.

And he listened, all the while his gaze was frozen on her gently dancing form, now gliding slightly, beginning the steps to a waltz. Then faintly he heard it, as she lifted the hem of an imaginary dress -- the swaying tune of a melody. And once he heard it, it grew louder and he found himself moving to the rhythm as well; reaching for Buffy, pulling her into his arms.

She came into them as one born for this dance.

A clock somewhere struck the first of its dozen chimes and around them, the light grew brighter. The music played louder and a dancing couple swept by them, above them, transparent in the glowing light. Gowned in late 18th century dress, her skirt of ivory swirled around her, sighing lovingly against his cream breeches. A second couple -- the woman clad in a medieval gown of forest green with long fiery sleeves, the man in dark tights and a red vest -- floated past the first couple, smiles wreathed across their faces.

The clock struck a second time and two chandeliers lit above the dancing couples and the music grew.

Buffy and Xander held gazes, the connection flowing between them stronger than anything either had ever felt in their short lives. And around and around the room they swept, dancing to a melody that had been written a millennium ago, but one for which they knew every step, every move.

The clock struck a third time and brocade hangings -- depicting knights and the holy wars, God and the holy trinity, slayers dispatching vampires through the centuries, fields and streams and kings and jesters -- appeared upon the walls, filling the room with vibrancy and color. A third couple came running down the steps. A young girl, perhaps younger than Buffy -- fifteen or sixteen -- with chestnut ringlets and a cherubic face, giggled behind a lacy fan and held out her hand to her young lover. Smiling broadly, he took her into his arms and they joined the swirling couples.

The clock struck a fourth time and another man and woman swept by, diaphanous as a cloud, the frissions of their bond joining the other couples on the dance floor. The clock struck a fifth time and the floor beneath their feet was covered with the thickness of scarlet carpeting and the dust motes floated airily, catching the light of the chandeliers, becoming prisms of rainbows.

The clock struck a sixth time and Buffy gripped Xander's hand tighter, the sudden long white gloves making her hold weaker. He smiled down at her and loosened his grip to brush a stray strand of her hair back -- her hair now piled atop her head, curls and waves of gold creating a halo for her radiant face.

He turned and turned her in his arms and she floated away, their connection in the merest hold of their fingers, and in a whirl she spun back into his arms, her gown of pristine white flowing gently about her, brushing softly, sensuously against his swaying form. She smoothed her hand over his arm, her fingers fluttering up and down the smooth whisper of his black tuxedo.

The clock struck a seventh time and Xander gently raised her other arm and pressed a soft kiss upon the back of her white clad hand. The clock struck eight. Releasing his grip, he curved both arms around her waist and pulled her closer to him, while she laid confident hands upon the white front of his shirt, her fingertips playing with the black bow-tie.

The clock struck a ninth time and on either side of the room, stood a man and a woman -- a sorrow deeper than eternity upon their faces. Their arms were stretched out to one another, but there was no connection between them and where the others had glowed, these two were shrouded in shadows. In contrast, a sixth couple sauntered right by Buffy and Xander, the same golden, glowing luminescence that encased the first four couples lighting their figures.

A shower of sparks flew from the chandelier and rained softly down upon the dancers, the fiery shoots blossoming into flowers as they touched the ground and Buffy and Xander were dancing on rose petals. A fragrant blossom floated up and rested within her golden hair.

The clock struck a tenth time and a seventh duo -- a shimmering radiance brighter than any dancing thus far, surrounded them -- appeared before Buffy and Xander and they bowed before joining the others. The clock struck an eleventh time and the Sunnydale Slayer and her faithful Slayerette laughed aloud as the rose petals gave a little push and then they were dancing on air. The billowing fold of her white gown spun joyously about them, laughter still glowing upon their faces.

The clock struck twelve and Xander bent down slightly, his lips pressing ever so softly and gently upon Buffy's lips and down to the floor they sank. The couples -- the only Slayers who had ever found their Eroseans -- dancing slowly about them became fainter and fainter until they disappeared. The chandeliers' glow dimmed and the only light bathing the room was from the street lamps and the moon.

The brocade hangings were gone. The red carpet, covered with rose petals, was gone. Buffy's arms moved up around Xander's neck, her fingers -- now naked and bare -- ruffling his dark hair. Her lips opened beneath his as he pulled her tighter to him and a soft, whispered cry of "Buffy" escaped his lips.

The music still playing softly, grew dimmer and dimmer as their kiss held on. Buffy rose on her tiptoes, pressing herself as closely against him as she could. And all around them, a shimmering outline of gold shivered over their forms.

And the music still played.

At last, they pulled apart and their eyes met. Connection was made and fully realized. Slayer and her Erosean were one. A smile, full and joyous lit both of their faces and Xander pulled her into his arms one more time, embracing her with all of the exuberance of his youth and love for her.

And the music played on in their hearts, if no longer in the silence of the room.


Sunnydale Cemetery, 12:15 a.m.

Alexander stepped docilely beside Buffy and Xander as they walked through the cemetery for one last patrol. The kitten meowed quietly to remind them of his presence. So lost in each other, it was a reminder they needed. Buffy stopped and knelt down, scratching between the kitten's ears. Xander looked down at her indulgently.

"If it wasn't for you, we might not have been in the right place. Yes, yes, you cute little thing."

Alexander meowed in response. Buffy looked up at Xander, "do you realize that? It wasn't for your namesake here, none of that would've happened."

He smiled, "I guess it was meant to be."

She returned his smile and stood up, "yeah." She moved around the side of a gravestone and leaned against it, looking up into the night sky. "It's a beautiful night." Xander nodded and stood on the opposite side of the gravestone, resting his hands on the stone.

"Buffy, I love you," he whispered solemnly and her smile softened, a radiance filling her face. "I love you, Alexander Harris."

"No doubts?" he asked softly, "you sure?"

Her smile widened, "oh yeah," and she reached down, curling her fingers about his. She leaned forward and looked up at him. "You make me smile just because you're you. Your voice sends shivers through me. I dream of you. And when I dream of you, I feel like I've never felt before. I feel soft and wonderful and tingly all over. It's how I feel right now." She looked into his eyes and sighed. "You make me feel like a girl . . . and not just a Slayer who happens to be a girl. I like being a girl."

"Good," he murmured, "I like you as a girl."

"And when you say my name," she laughed lightly, continuing, "I feel warm all over," she paused, "Alexander, say my name."

"Buffy," he whispered softly.

She smiled, "yeah, like that."

He looked down at her and shared her smile as he slowly lowered his head, his mouth hovering over hers for a heavy moment, his breath whispering over her lips. "Buffy," he said once again and then his tongue came out, softly licking her bottom lip. She moaned quietly and her hands tightened about his. he captured her top lip between his mouth, sucking lightly and then withdrawing. Reaching out his arms, he wrapped them about her waist, pulling her closer to him as his lips descended once more, suckling her bottom lip.

Alexander jumped up onto the ledge of the gravestone, meowing, and tried to squirm between them, and laughing, the two broke apart. Buffy beamed up at Xander, "I'm so happy. This Erosean thing sure is something. I can't remember feeling this free and happy."

"You mean, my scintillating good looks, dizzying intellect and sharp humor -- not to mention my sharp dressing -- are not the reason for my sudden ability to score?" He laughed in mock

indignation. She laughed again, "you call that scoring? It was one kiss, Xander."

"Yeah," he conceded, "but it was a pretty hot kiss."

Buffy found her lips curving into another smile, she couldn't seem to stop. "Yeah, it was." She looked down at the kitten and then gave him a sideways glance, full of speculation, "Xander?"

"Hmm?" he replied absently as he stroked the tiny kitten's purring, vibrating body.

"Have you ever scored?" There was a glint in her eyes and Xander suddenly found himself forgetting about the cat -- and everything else on the planet for that matter. The feline jumped down and sauntered away, its tail perpendicular at such shabby treatment. Neither Slayer nor Erosean noticed.

"Xander?" she repeated softly, "have you?"

"What?" he murmured, the word fading as he bent down for another kiss. She didn't protest, and this time her arms wound about his neck. He pulled her close to him and then they pulled away as their bodies met the barrier of the gravestone. Their eyes met and in unison they looked down and then back up at each other.

"You know, this is actually kind of sick," Xander remarked idly, but he was smiling.

"What? That were kissing in a cemetery?" Buffy asked as she untangled her arms from him and stepped around the gravestone. "Sorry to say, Xand, but been there, done that."

He smiled, "oh, I've done it, too." She shot him a surprised look, "actually I was thinking of the specifics of actually kissing with a gravestone between us."

She cocked her head to the side, "true," she conceded and then turned to face him completely, "Xander, you never answered my question?"

"You asked me a question?" he said, genuinely confused.

She merely smiled, "Have you ever scored? You know, done the deed?" Her lips curved with an enticing smile. He didn't answer, "you brought it up, Xander," she reminded him.

"I did not!" he denied immediately.

"You thought you scored with one kiss, so I was wondering if that was your definition of 'scoring?'" she offered mildly, her fingers tracing the green and blue pattern on his shirt.

"Ah," he hedged, "well . . ." he looked away and gave a deep sigh, "no, technically I haven't done the deed." He met her gaze, "are you happy?"

She grinned, "mmm, so you're all mine?" she asked, a heavy hint of flirtation in her voice.

He affected a bad New York accent, "you talkin' to me?! You talkin' to me?!" She laughed lightly again and her eyes were shining.

"You see anyone else around here?" He shook his head and then leaned down, capturing another kiss from the girl of his dreams.