Feedback: Please be gentle.
Distribution: Gimme credit and a link.
Spoilers: Up to Help, but it starts after Same Time, Same Place.
Disclaimer: The characters depicted herein belong to the almighty Joss. I'm just borrowing them for a while.
Summary: Love on the Hellmouth is never as easy as it seems.
Author's Note: What can I say? I like love triangles.
"Hey, Xander!" Buffy waved cheerfully. She held up the Wendy's bag and smiled.
Okay, girl, she thought to herself, this is it. Today, you will ask him out.
She didn't know why it took her this long to realize it, but Xander was the only guy who was always there for her when she needed him. He brought her back from the dead. Twice. He was there when evil Angel left a message for her with Teresa. He was there when Sunday's gang had robbed her of everything... even her will to go on.
If there was one constant in her Slaying life, one person in her life as a Slayer who stayed with her through thick and thin, it was Xander.
"Hiya, Buff," Xander grinned. Pointing at the bag, he asked, "For moi?"
"Of course. Biggie-sized Spicy Chicken Sandwich combo with Sprite and no tomatoes? Who else would it be for, my dear Prince Charming?"
He cocked an eyebrow, "'Prince Charming'?"
"You brought me back from a deadly sleep with a kiss. What else would I call you?"
"I don't think CPR qualifies as a magic kiss, Buff," he said. He fell silent as he tore into the chicken sandwich with great gusto.
She bit her lip, trying to build up the courage to ask him out, while a part of her berated herself for being such a coward. This was Xander, after all, a guy who had been holding a torch for her for years.
So, while she waited, she watched him... and noticed something that made her heart ache. With a frown, she asked, "What's wrong, Xander?"
He snapped out of his reverie and smiled, but the smile didn't reach his sorrow-filled eyes, "Nothing, Buff."
"No," she shook her head, "you have Something Face. C'mon, you can tell me."
"'Something Face'?" he cocked an eyebrow.
She rolled her eyes, "Oh, come on, Xander. Can't I use Willow-isms too?" As soon as she saw the expression that crossed her face when she said that, she knew. But she had to make sure. "It's Willow, isn't it?"
Slowly, reluctantly, he nodded and said three words that caused Buffy's world to crumble around her.
"I love her."
"You mean you... love love her?"
He nodded, "Always have, always will. I didn't realize it until it was too late. When Angel tried to send the world to hell, she was in that coma, and all I could think of was how I couldn't go on without her." He looked up and smiled bitterly, "That's when I said it, and she woke up, just like Sleeping Beauty. I told her I loved her, and she woke up... and she called for Oz."
"Oh, Xander..." she murmured sympathetically.
With a sigh, he slumped his shoulders, "She loved me, Buffy, so much... and I let her go. It's like I let a little piece of heaven slip through my fingers. It hurts... because I won't be able to taste her lips again, because I'll never make love to her, but most of all... because I only have myself to blame for it."
Buffy bit her lip and pulled Xander into a comforting hug. At that moment, she knew exactly what he meant, how it felt.
Because he was her little piece of heaven, and she had just realized he had slipped through her fingers.
"Love poems?" Xander asked, his curiousity piqued.
Willow waved it off blithely, "I'm over you, sweetie."
"Yeah, I guess you are," he murmured sadly.
The redhead looked up, "What was that?"
He shook his head, "Uh, nothing. Nothing."
She gave him a strange look and went back to her first love -- the computer -- while Buffy shot him a sympathetic look. He smiled weakly back at her.
Buffy scowled and said, "I'm gonna go make some coffee. Xander? Some help please?"
"Huh? Oh, sure, Buff."
Buffy whirled on Xander and backed him up against the wall.
"All right, Xander, we've gotta do something about this."
He blinked at the Slayer, "A-about what?"
"This! You! And the moping over Willow!" she hissed quietly. "It's driving me nuts seeing you mooning over her!" Especially when you should be mooning over me, she thought somewhat petulantly.
"I'm trying, but I've been in love with her for, like, three fourths of my life. What do you suggest?"
"All right, weekend after we save Cassie's life, you and I are going to hit the town, maybe do some Bronzing. Maybe you'll meet someone you like." And maybe I can get you to like me again.
His face twisted into a wry half-smile, "Sounds like a plan."
Buffy looked up as the door swung open. "Xander? What are you doing here?"
He grinned, "I do believe we have a date for tonight."
She wrinkled her nose and smiled, trying to hide the fact that her heart was pounding at what he'd said. "'Date'?" she asked. "What do you mean?" She frowned, "And what're you hiding behind your back?"
"Aw, shucks," he said. "I believe it was your idea that the two of us hit the town this weekend. As for what's behind my back..." he pulled his hand out and revealed a single yellow rose, "...a gift. Yellow, for friendship."
Buffy felt her face heat up as she accepted the rose with as much grace as she could muster. She whispered quietly, her voice cracking slightly, "Thank you. You... have no idea how much this means to me."
"Look, I know you feel like you failed Cassie," Xander reassured her, "but you didn't. She might be dead, but so's that demon that probably would've mauled a lot more innocent people if you hadn't killed it. It was just... her time to go."
"I know," Buffy said. "Believe me, I know, but it doesn't make it any easier."
"C'mon, Buff, let's go rock the town. You and I have a date with the Bronze, so let's get going, huh?"
Buffy smiled weakly at him, "Sure. Let's go."
Buffy grinned as Xander's arms flailed around her. No matter how hard he tried to fix it, Xander's dancing always looked more like an epileptic fit than anything any human would actually want to do.
She had decided to go with the flow and tried to mimic Xander's rather uniquely spastic dancing style, but so far, she hadn't had much success.
"Whoo!" Xander suddenly grabbed her arms and swung her around, and before she realized what was going on, they were back at their table.
Buffy sighed in exhaustion, and Xander grinned at her. "Yes! A gen-you-wine Buffy smile. Been waiting to see one of those again."
She flushed and looked away, embarrassed.
For the next few minutes, they both sat there, listening to the music and catching their breath. The music slowed and drifted into a familiar tune, an Elvis classic, Always On My Mind.
The lyrics struck a chord in Buffy, and she suddenly stood and extended a hand to Xander, "May I have this dance?"
He looked up, surprised, "Uh, sure, Buff." He hesitantly took her hand and led her back to the dance floor. She settled easily into his arms and rested her head on his shoulder as they danced.
It wasn't real. He still didn't think of her like that. He was probably thinking about Willow even as he danced with her.
But for now, at least, she could pretend.
The song was just coming to an end when the vampires interrupted. One of them, a burly vampire who appeared to be the leader of the gang, stood on the stage and bellowed, "Behold! The time of prophecy is at hand! Tonight is the Bloodfeast, and our master, Dhorrgak the Unholy, shall rise and rule over the cowering masses!" He leaned down to bite the neck of the band's lead singer...
"I don't think so."
...and stumbled back from Buffy's kick. Steadying himself, the big vampire smiled, baring his fangs, "Slayer. Your presence was also foretold. Kill her! Bleed her! Tonight, our master will dine on the blood of a Slay-urk!"
"You talk too much," Buffy told the pile of vampire dust.
Most of the vampires charged toward her. The rest fell on the panicked crowd, literally thirsting for blood. Buffy saw Xander pulling out a stake and tried to keep an eye on him, but all too soon, she was buried in the battle, unable to spare any attention to Xander except a fleeting and silent prayer that he be all right.
The battle only took a couple of minutes, but as with all battles, it seemed to take much, much longer. There were a LOT of vampires.
When the battle was finally over, Buffy leaned on her knees to catch her breath and took that opportunity to look around. Xander was bleeding from a cut on his forehead, and there looked to be quite a few casualties.
"Xander, are you...?"
"I'm fine," he said, wiping the blood away with the back of his sleeve. "Just a flesh wound. I'm a little more concerned about him." He pointed, and Buffy turned.
The floor had broken open, and a demon was, well, levitating out of the hole. The demon looked mean, covered in spikes and bony armor plates, and it had a pair of curved horns sprouting from its head. In fact...
"Didn't I kill you last night?" Buffy asked, confused.
The demon's eyes snapped open, and he blinked at her with very human eyes. "What? Oh! No, no, no," the demon said conversationally. "That was my brother, Avilas. I'm Dhorrgak, nothing like Avilas. He was never really too bright, always 'crush, kill, destroy,' no subtlety whatsoever. Of course, that's better than what Skip did."
Buffy just blinked in disbelief, "'Skip'?" What kind of a demon name is 'Skip'?
Dhorrgak nodded sadly, "Yes. My youngest brother was always a bit of a rebel do-gooder. He turned his back on everything our family stood for, broke dear Mother's pulmonary arch." At Buffy's continued look of confusion, he explained, "He's working for the Powers That Be now. A liaison with that Champion in L.A., whatsizname, the ensouled vampire."
The Slayer's eyes went wide, "You mean Angel?"
"Yes!" the demon snapped his fingers. "That's it! Angel! His son, too."
"No, Angel's son."
"Deadboy has a son?" Xander gaped.
"Yes, yes. Kid's called the Destroyer, or so I understand. Supposed to be a downright nasty fellow, that one." He paused, then asked politely, "Are we going to fight now, or should I just go ahead and begin my reign of terror?"
They staggered out of the Bronze, Buffy leaning heavily on Xander, her arm around his shoulders.
"Angel has a son," Buffy muttered, still in shock over that revelation.
"Yeah," Xander nodded. "And... how is that possible, anyway? I mean, hello? Vampire."
"I know what you mean," Buffy nodded. She winced, regretting the motion, "Damn it! I'm gonna be sore for days. Dork Guy hits a lot harder than his brother."
"Maybe I and my magic fingers can help?" Xander suggested.
"WHAT!" Buffy screeched, not believing her ears... which were turning red, thanks to the image that crossed her mind's eye.
He blinked at her, then grinned, "Wellll... sounds like someone's having some naughty Xander thoughts." His expression sobered, but there was still the twinkle of amusement in his eyes, "I know, I know. Not really. But gimme some credit, Buff. Just because I'm a guy doesn't mean I'malways thinking about sex. I meant a massage."
She blushed, "Ah, yeah. That'd be great, Xand."
Willow looked up as they entered the Summers home, "Where were you guys?"
"Yeah," Dawn demanded. "We've been trying to find you all night. We found some prophecy about something called the Bloodfeast that's supposed to happen tonight and free a demon named..."
"Dhorrgak the Unholy?" Xander guessed.
Dawn stumbled to a halt, "Yeah, how did you...?"
"We stopped the Bloodfeast and killed the Dork Guy," Buffy said. "Now, if you'll excuse us, Xander promised me a massage for this poor abused body of mine, and I don't want to wait a moment longer. Come on, Prince Charming."
"Lead on, my lady," he replied with a mock bow.
Willow pouted as she watched them go off into Buffy's room.
Dawn sighed and pouted too. "Well, there goes one night of mega-cool research down the drain," the Key complained as she began closing down her computer.
Xander knocked on the Summers door and was surprised when Willow opened the door. "Hey, Wills. What's up? The Summers girls ready to go?"
The redhead shook her head. "No, not yet. Come on in," she said, stepping aside.
"So, how are you, Wills?"
"I'm... okay," she said hesitantly. "It-it still hurts, sometimes, but I'm dealing. Actually... I think, maybe... it's time I started moving on."
He looked up and said nonchalantly, "Really? Anyone in particular catch your eye?"
She paused, then said, "Actually, yeah."
"Someone I know?" he asked, a painful twinge of hope in his voice.
"Maybe," she said playfully. "If things work out, you'll be the first to know. I promise." She poked him in the chest, smiling broadly.
He smiled back. Whoever this girl was had to be someone really special to bring that kind of Willow smile to the surface. Whoever it was, she was one very lucky girl... assuming she swung that way. For Willow's sake, he hoped she did.
"Well, good luck on that," he said, trying to ignore the ache in his heart.
"All right, Xander, what's wrong?"
"Huh?" he looked up, blinking at her curiously. Buffy had taken to visiting the work site at lunch every day to chat with Xander, and he really appreciated it. "What do you mean, what's wrong?"
"Exactly that. Xander, you've been acting weird and mega-depresso again all week."
He sighed. "It's..." he hesitated. "It's Willow."
"Again?" she asked, raising an eyebrow. "I thought we got you over that?"
"Hey, like I said, I've been in love with her for three fourths of my life. It'll take more than a couple of nights on the town and a good fight with vampires and a monster demon to 'get me over it.'"
"I'm sorry, Xander," Buffy said sympathetically, "but... you have to move on."
"I know. I know. It's just..." he paused, then said quietly, "...she's found someone else."
Her eyes widened, "Who? And how come...?"
"Because she hasn't made her move yet. Buffy, she told me she's in love with someone new, and all I could do was stand there and wish her luck."
"You just... stood there? And didn't tell her? You sound like she did six years ago."
"I wanted to, Buff! I really did, but... when she told me... I... I haven't seen a Willow smile like that since... since Tara..." he choked off, unable to finish. He shook his head, "I couldn't do that to her, Buff. Whoever it is she's in love with, she makes her happy. I hurt her when we got caught Fluking... I'm not going to do that to her again."
"So she didn't tell you who it is?" Buffy asked quizzically.
"No, she didn't," Xander shook his head. "She said it might be someone I know and promised I'd be the first to know if it worked out."
Buffy stared at him, "Did you ever consider the possibility you would be the first to know because it could be you?"
He blinked at her, then shook his head again, "No, Buff. She's gay, remember?"
"Oh, so, what? The Fluke and Oz were just phases? She nearly became a vengeance demon for someone she wasn't really in love with? Her 'kinda gay' vamp-self was just jerking you around when she groped you?"
Wincing, he said, "Buffy, I just... I don't want to get my hopes up, not again."
She looked at him carefully, "'Again'?"
"Yeah, again," he said. "After the Fluke, I had hoped... God, I really thought..." he trailed off. "It wasn't like that time in the hospital. She knew how I felt... and she still left me."
Buffy wordlessly pulled him into a hug and rocked him quietly.
"Buffy, what's going on between you and Xander?" Willow asked from the kitchen counter where she was watching the popcorn pop in the microwave. Dawn was over at a friend's house, and they were preparing for a truly Scooby night. Xander was going to be coming over with the movies.
"Huh?" she looked up. "Me and Xander?" So, this was it. Willow really did love him. And Buffy was going to lose him. Despite how she felt about him, she couldn't get between them if this was going to make him happy. "Nothing, really. We're just... working on our friendship. Seeing if I can get Willow rights," she said, managing a smile.
The redhead smiled at her and sat down across from her. "Okay, Buffy," she said hesitantly, "um, I want you to close your eyes. I-I want to do something, a-and I don't want you to freak out."
Buffy blinked. Where was Willow going with this? She shrugged, "Okay." She closed her eyes.
And felt warm lips pressing against her own. Her eyes flew open, and she pulled back in shock, staring at Willow in disbelief, "You... you kissed me!"
"Yeah. She did."
Both women turned toward the voice. Xander stood in the doorway, his eyes lifeless.
Buffy gasped, "Oh, no. Xander."
As if that had been his cue, he suddenly turned and fled.
"What's wrong with Xander?"
The Slayer whirled on her, "God! You're as blind as he ever was! He's in love with you!"
Willow stared for a moment, "He's WHAT!" She tried to get her mind around that, failed, and sputtered, "Try that again. Xander is in love with me?"
"Yes!" Buffy bit out. "How many times does he have to tell you that? First when I sent Angel to hell, then when you were about to blow up the world, and you still don't get it?" She sighed, closing her eyes, "Look, I'm gonna go talk to him." She turned and left.
Willow stared after her and muttered, "When she sent Angel to hell...?" As the realization dawned on her, she paled and shook her head in denial, "No. No, i-it can't be. Th-that was Oz."
This part was revised in order to conform to the new ruling on song lyrics in fanfiction at A copy of the original will still be available by request at my Yahoo group.