Author: She's a Star PM
Post-Chosen. Xander is falling apart; Willow isn't sure she can blame him.Rated: Fiction T - English - Drama/Romance - Willow R. & Xander H. - Words: 2,526 - Reviews: 27 - Favs: 24 - Published: 04-11-04 - id: 1814731
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
by She's a Star
Disclaimer:Not mine. Joss's. I wouldn't torture them nearly as much as he does, but I'm not nearly as brilliant either.
Author's Note:Wow. This is . . . really, really weird. I was just sitting around, suffering the pitfalls of writer's block and having many a staring contest with empty MS Works documents, when I suddenly started writing this. And . . . it's a bit odd. And my season 7 knowledge is not vast. At all. Not even close. And no, I have no idea how she'd manage to save a pair of socks when Sunnydale got all crater-y with it. And this could all very well be subconsciously sprung from my dislike of Kennedy and the W/X shipper that did not die after season three. So blame it on my subconscious if it's awful. Yeah.
She misses her bed. Which is really kinda stupid, because they lost lots of other things, things that leave holes in everything and make it so nothing will be all right again. Xander doesn't talk much anymore, and she really misses his stupid comments. For some reason, she's remembering things a lot more now, things that she hasn't thought about in years, stupid little stuff. Like the summer after sophomore year, when Ms. Calendar moved to a new apartment and she and Xander and Giles went over and helped her pack up everything, and she and Xander were carrying a box of books out and she tripped and scraped her hand. And Xander had felt all bad, 'cause he'd kinda stepped forward too fast and was sort of the reason she'd fallen in the first place, if you wanted to get technical, and he'd taken her hand in his and looked at it and asked her, in that stupid, over-exaggerated Xander way that he had, if she wanted him to kiss it. And then he had, and he'd kinda looked up at her afterwards and she'd decided never to wash her hand again. (But then later she spilled her Kool Aid and was forced to come to the conclusion that no washing equaled ick factor.) And in that moment she'd been so truly happy, with the sun beating down on her back, wearing cut-off shorts and a pink T-shirt with Snoopy on it, feeling pretty and truly believing that maybemaybemaybe something would happen, that Xander would pick her over Buffy.
And now she's lying awake in a stuffy old hotel room, staring at the wall. The wallpaper is all flowery, and peeling, and it annoys her, for some reason. Which is kind of stupid, but things don't make much sense these days and she figures that she might as well just go along with it. She always kinda thought that saving the world and defeating the First would be better than this, somehow.
Kennedy sighs next to her, but doesn't wake up. Willow's glad, kinda, but she's not sure quite why. She thinks that maybe it's because now there is no more Bronze, and no more Espresso Pump, and no more Buffy's house and no more cemetary (No more Tara, no more flowers on occasional Sundays, wow, goodbye is final, it's really over, but she doesn't like to think that), and she needs to be with someone who's always been there, for the talks in the library and the drama with Angel and making fun of Giles about sword-fighting when there's no one around and asking out Ms. Calendar. And there's another one who's always gone, kaplooey, and the white headstone isn't even there. Nothing. She wonders if Giles feels like goodbye was taken from him, too.
She gets out of bed, quietly, disentangling Kennedy's arm from her waist and the scratchy sheets from her legs. She's wearing purple shorts and a tanktop with a frog on it that Kennedy got her awhile ago. Willow guesses she never told her about the frog fear thing. There's a pair of socks with little black and white kitties on them hidden in the bottom of her backpack that she never wears; they seem delicate, somehow, and it's kind of stupid to cling to a pair of socks, but what else is she supposed to do?
And here she goes, a walk down memory lane again--
"Ooh, a present?"
"Oh, it's not anything much -- you know, just . . . something small, and i-it reminded me of you."
"Socks! Miss Kitty socks!"
"You like them?"
"They're so cute! Because . . . with the little Miss Kittys, and all. What's the occasion?"
"Happy Willow day?"
"Works for me."
She remembers it so well, Tara standing in the doorway with her hair draping in her eyes, a little. Willow stares at the awful wallpaper and can almost see herself walking over, brushing a lock of gold hair away, saying "I love you." Just because she did, and it was the first time she'd ever said it easily like that, and she understands why Xander doesn't talk anymore, just sits in his room and stares at the TV without really watching it. She knows he's not paying attention because yesterday she stepped in and Green Acres was on, and he was just staring. He hates Green Acres, and it feels like something she's just always known, and she's not sure how she's supposed to comfort him. But she is supposed to. She has to, because when her life fell apart and she made herself into something black and distant and evil, he held her, and let her cry for as long as she needed to, until black turned back into red.
She doesn't like the feel of the carpet on her feet, but doesn't bother to dig her slippers out of the dresser. Kennedy might wake up. So instead, she stares down at her feet as she sneaks out of the room and into the hall. Her toenails are light green and chipping, and she supposes she should repaint them tomorrow.
She stops in front of Xander's door, room number 112, and she can hear the TV from inside - she thinks he might be watching Scooby Doo.
Tentatively, she knocks on the door.
"Yeah?" There's a spark of something missing in his voice, and she doesn't like it. She feels like crying for a second, but knows that she has to be the grown-up here.
"Xander, it's me," she whispers to the door. "Can I come in?"
There's a long pause, and she wonders why it suddenly requires so much thought. She remembers it again, him kissing her hand in the sunshine, back when things were so easy and still managed to seem so hard.
"Sure," he finally says, and she pushes the door open. He's sitting on the bed, still wearing jeans and a flannel shirt. The eye patch still startles her a little sometimes. She wishes bad things didn't have to happen to good people.
"Hey," she says quietly, smiling because she knows she has to, and climbs onto the bed next to him. "You're up late."
"Yeah," he says, and doesn't even bother to smile back.
"So," she says, feeling a little like she's drowning without knowing quite why. "Bonding with the Scooby Gang, huh? I mean . . . the cartoony one," she throws in awkwardly after a moment.
"What can I say? I've got a thing for redheads who wear purple," he replies blandly, then glances at her.
"Well, paws off, buddy," she says, trying to joke with him. He's kind of making it difficult. "You don't want Kennedy on your case. What with the whole Slayer thing."
"Huh?" he says, then sees the shorts and picks up on what she's saying. "Oh. Right. I'll keep that in mind."
He shifts away from her a little and looks back at the TV.
"Xander," she says, placing her hand on his arm, "stop it."
"Stop what?" he asks blankly.
"I know it hurts," she replies, and tries to swallow the lump forming in her throat. "I've been there. I'm still there, in some ways. But . . ."
"Hey," Xander says, and his voice is still monotone, but there's an undercurrent of something vicious, "I'd say that my way of dealing with loss is a little more practical than yours. But if I wake up tomorrow and decide I want to destroy the world, you have my full permission to try to stop me with mushy childhood stories about eating paste."
And she kinda feels like he slapped her.
"God, Will, I'm sorry," he says after a moment, and looks at her. "But . . . it's hard."
"I know," she replies. 'Cause boy, does she ever.
He puts his other hand on top of hers. "I just . . ." He sighs. "I need to be alone, okay? I need some time to deal."
"Fair enough," she agrees. She pauses. "Alone where?"
"I'm thinkin' Africa," he says, and smiles wryly at her.
"Ooh," she says, smiling, "with the lions."
"And tigers and bears, oh my," he throws in.
They smile at each other for a minute, and she thinks that maybe this will be okay. Not good, exactly, but okay. Better.
Xander lifts his hand off of hers and reaches for the remote, shutting the TV off. "Okay," he says. "I think I'm gonna call it a night."
"Okay," she says, and stands up as he unbuttons his shirt. She glances around; the wallpaper isn't peeling in here, and the design isn't as tacky. Still flowers, but decidedly less grandma - muumuu - print - worthy.
Going into supportive-best-friend mode, she reaches down to touch his shoulder. "I love you, 'kay? And I want you to know that I'm always . . ."
He pulls off his shirt just as her fingers reach his shoulder, and she winds up touching bare skin. Which shouldn't be a big deal, because he's Xander, and because she hasn't thought about a guy like that in general for years. Except for that one time, with Dawn's boyfriend with the jacket and everything, but, hi, exception.
And suddenly her fingers seem all clammy, and she's hoping that her heart didn't just flutter. Because this is Xander, who she gave up on when she was sixteen - and then again when she was seventeen - and Kennedy is in the next room over sleeping and--
"Always, y'know . . . here," she says, tripping over her words, "for you. Because you're my best friend. And--"
Xander takes her hand, and she thinks she might faint. Or maybe throw up. God, she's such an idiot. Practically a lifetime of friendship down the drain because she touched him a second too late and started thinking crazy stupid things clearly induced by the bad wallpaper that made people into loonies and now Xander will be afraid of her for the rest of their lives and--
"If I kiss you, it'll screw a lot of stuff up, huh?" he says, looking down at her hand.
She nods, and then feels stupid, because he can't see her. But she's not sure if she can talk right now and saying the word 'yes' seems like asking a whole lot and could this be any more completely weird?
But then he tips her chin upward and kisses her, just barely, his mouth brushing hers for hardly a second. And whoa, super-flashback, and they're sitting on the floor in the library and she knows that there's Kennedy just the way that she knew there was Oz, but it can't quite seem wrong because he's Xander and he knows her like no one else ever will and somehow because of that he knows just how to kiss her too, and even though it ruins everything part of it is perfect.
And so she leans in and kisses him, and as she does she remembers Oz and Tara and thinks of Kennedy in the room just next door, and this is what she needs right now. This is what they both need.
They pull apart, and Xander laughs weakly. "Clothes fluke?"
Willow giggles, and it seems sharp and unnatural in her ears. Guilty, and part of her knows that Kennedy is going to hear it and come over and find them sitting with only a few inches between them, and Xander kinda lacking a shirt.
"I guess you could always blame it on your redheads-who-wear-purple fetish," she suggests.
He grins crookedly, and then squeezes her hand a little. "Will," and his voice is serious all of a sudden, "I love you."
And she's known that since she was eight, but all of a sudden it seems to mean more. She's not sure that she wants to read it like that. Not sure if she can.
So instead she just nods, and kisses him again, and as she leans back onto the bed, the pillowcase cool and smooth against her back, she thinks that maybe they all just need to forget. He gently pulls down the strap of her tanktop and kisses her shoulder, and there's moonlight spilling through the window, and summer air that doesn't quite reach her mouth, but it's okay 'cause kissing him makes her forget how stale this room tastes.
And then he kisses her hand, and everything falls into place in a way it hasn't done for so long. And summer-after-tenth-grade Willow stirs somewhere inside of her and vows never to wash her hand again, and even though it's dark already it almost seems like there might be sunlight.
His mouth finds hers again, and she knows that the consequences can belong to the morning, 'cause there's really no place for them at night.