by Maggie C.
Disclaimer: Buffy: The Vampire Slayer and all the characters in this story do not belong to me, they belong to Joss Whedon and Co. Only the story's mine.
Setting: Late Season 6.
Author's Notes: Much thanks to my betas. This is just a short piece from Jonathan's POV.
Back in grade school, I used to be best friends with Willow, Xander, and Jesse. Willow sort of adopted me into the gang in second grade. Jesse and Xander weren't too thrilled at first, but I grew on them. They liked me; they didn't just put up with me for Willow's sake. They were my friends, and I could count on them, no matter what.
I didn't realize how important that was, though. In 6th grade, I stopped being their friend. I was stupid. Some of the popular kids wanted me to hang out with them. The only catch was that I had to stop hanging out with Willow, Xander, and Jesse. I jumped at the chance to be "popular" and dropped my friends without a second thought. I was an idiot. The popular kids only wanted me around to do their homework. After a year, they dropped me.
I couldn't go back to Willow, Jesse, and Xander after that. I had betrayed them. They wouldn't forgive me for what I'd done. They couldn't. I really regretted doing that to them. Not just because I'd lost three good friends, but because I hurt them. I always wished I could go back and change that.
Little did I know I'd have the chance.
It was stupid. It was really, really stupid. I knew about vengeance demons, I knew they granted wishes, and I was still stupid enough to make a wish to one.
Although I didn't realize I was talking to one. And I was pretty worked up, having just been betrayed by Warren and Andrew, not to mention actually being in *jail*. I think that alone is enough of an excuse. Besides, it's not as if it was a bad wish. In a lot of ways, things are better now.
But I'm getting ahead of myself. I made a wish. I was sitting in jail, and my cellmate got me talking. I started ranting about Warren and Andrew, how stupid I was to get involved with them and how I had thought that they were actually my friends. That's how I got around to my wish, you know. After realizing that I once again had picked "friends" who only wanted to use me, I remembered the last time I really *knew* that my friends were my friends. I told him about Willow, Jesse, and Xander, and how I had screwed things up with them.
And then... I said it. "I wish I had never stopped being friends with them."
You know the clichéd flash of light and big whoosh of air you always get on TV when the universe changes? It doesn't happen that way in real life. One minute, I was sitting in my cell ranting to my vengeance demon cellmate, and the next minute, I was in the Magic Box, standing behind the cash register.
I panicked. All I could think of that I had somehow gotten out of jail and was now robbing the Magic Box. Since Xander, Willow, Tara, and Giles were all right there, I was sure I was going to be killed. I sort of... yelped and jumped away from the cash register.
Giles looked up at me. "What's wrong, Jonathan? Do the receipts not balance?"
"Jon, are you okay?" Willow asked.
It was at that point that I started babbling. "Look, I'm really sorry, I don't know what's going on, I was in jail, and now I'm here, and I don't know why I'm robbing you guys but I swear I didn't mean to and if you just won't kill me I'll leave and go back to jail and I won't bother any of you ever again."
They just stared at me. I finally noticed that they looked concerned, not angry.
"Uh, Jon, what are you talking about?" Xander asked. "You were never in jail, and we're definitely not going to kill you."
"But Buffy put me in jail," I said. My brain still hadn't caught up with the situation.
"Jon, Buffy wouldn't put you in jail," Willow said. "She's your friend."
"Yeah, Jon," Xander said. "Since tenth grade, when she moved here. Remember?"
"Oh," I said. My brain finally caught up, and I realized what had happened. I had made a wish to a vengeance demon, and I had altered reality. After my big realization, I did what came naturally to people who find themselves in these kinds of situations. I fainted.
When I woke up, I was on a couch in the back room. Willow was hovering over me, and Xander was a few steps away. I somehow managed to convince them that I was fine and that my meltdown before was a product of not eating right and lack of sleep. I'm surprised they bought such a weak story, but they did. Xander said something about me needing to handle stress better, and Willow gave me a short lecture about eating right, and then they let it go.
We went back out to the main part of the shop where I faced another round of questions. They were all concerned about me, which felt really weird and really nice at the same time.
I sat down in the corner and was just listening and watching everyone, trying to piece together what was different, trying to decide what to do about my wish. I had just started to relax a little when Buffy walked in. I was worried she'd somehow know what I did and beat me up. But she just went over to Xander and kissed him. She *kissed* him! I was in complete shock. I mean, I knew Xander was in love with her in high school - even *I* picked up on that - but they were actually together here? My reaction caught everyone's attention, and I had to stumble through another explanation.
Still, that wasn't nearly as bad as when Anya walked in a few minutes later and kissed *me*. That nearly made me faint again. I remained conscious but was too stunned to speak - even when directly questioned by Anya, who was pretty concerned by my reaction. Xander and Willow explained about my meltdown earlier, and Anya decided to take me home. I was in no condition to argue, so I let her take me back to the apartment we apparently shared. That little revelation was enough to render me speechless for another five minutes.
When I finally started talking again, Anya figured out what had happened in about two minutes flat. It was actually a relief. I told her the whole story, and then she quizzed me about what was different. She was mostly upset that we weren't together in my reality. That was really weird. I just couldn't believe she was upset over me. Her reaction to learning that Xander had left her at the altar in the other reality surprised me, too. I had expected her to be furious with him, but she wasn't mad at him at all.
"I should have known better than to agree to marry him," she said. "He's in love with Buffy. He always has been."
"I don't know..."
"Trust me," Anya said. "He's in love with her. I don't care how different the realities are, he's in love with her." She smiled. "Besides, you're the only one for me."
That nearly sent me off into a panic again. "I... uh, yeah, how did that happen, again?"
She started explaining. She had hooked up with Xander a few months after graduation, and they had a relationship. Anya said that calling it a relationship was a stretch, since mostly all they did was get together and have sex. After about five months, they decided to break up. Anya assured me it was a mutual decision, but I'm not so sure. What guy would willingly give up a relationship like that? Anyway, they broke up and Anya started pursuing me. We've been together for almost two years now, and she moved in just three months ago.
Apparently, she finds me very attractive. This universe is weird.
She must have noticed the look on my face, because she sighed. "You don't remember a thing about us, do you?"
Anya shook her head. "Don't worry. The memories will come, soon."
"Your memories will be adjusted to this reality," she said. "It'll take a few weeks."
"So, I won't even remember the other reality?"
"Just vaguely," she said. "You don't want to go back there, do you?"
"Well, no," I said. "I was in jail. But I've changed everyone's lives. Don't I have to change it back?"
"Why should you? Things are better here. You're not in jail, Xander hasn't been an idiot"--okay, so maybe she was a little mad at Xander--"Buffy hasn't slept with Spike... Willow did still get addicted to magic, but she's better, now."
"Can you tell me more of what happened?" I asked. I needed more data. Things did seem better, but how could I just decide that for everyone?
Anya continued her story. She told me about Dawn, Glory, and a lot of stuff that I didn't even know about in my reality. I certainly couldn't tell if any of it was different. Buffy and Xander had started dating a year ago. Buffy had just broken up with her boyfriend, and Xander was single. According to Anya, they sort of stumbled upon the realization that they wanted to date each other. Anya says they were the last ones to figure it out. Everyone else knew way before they did.
Their first few months as a couple were not happy, and that was putting it mildly. Buffy's mom died, Spike started stalking Buffy - that, I knew, happened in both universes. Warren had told us about the Buffy-bot he built for Spike. Then, during the battle with Glory, Buffy died. That surprised me. I knew she had died, since Warren, Andrew, and I had been spying on them all, but I didn't know she had been dead for three whole months.
Xander did not handle Buffy's death well. That was really putting it mildly. He was a wreck after Buffy died. Anya said he didn't even talk for a week straight. Apparently, we got him to move in with Dawn to take care of her. We thought it would help him deal with everything. Anya says it did help, but not much. He and Dawn depressed each other as much as they helped each other. Having the Buffy-bot at the house wasn't helping them, either. After about a month, Willow and Tara decided to move in, too.
Xander hadn't been in on the whole "raise Buffy from the dead" plan. He wasn't too thrilled that we had gone ahead and done that without telling him, especially when he learned that Buffy had been in heaven. Things weren't right for a while after that. Buffy was distant from everyone, especially Xander. Xander was mad at us for not telling him, and he was upset that he couldn't help Buffy. Willow was spiraling deeper and deeper into dark magic, and Giles took off for England, leaving the shop to me and Anya.
Spike was dead. His obsession with Buffy hadn't gone away, and he had been tormenting her, trying to manipulate her into sleeping with him. She always refused. One night, he apparently got tired of waiting and tried to rape her. I knew from the spying that Spike's chip didn't work on Buffy anymore, but I didn't know why. That was something I had been wondering about, so I took a minute and asked Anya about it. She explained that it was one of the aftereffects of the spell they did to bring Buffy back. I was a little curious about what exactly the spell did to Buffy, but I decided to wait and ask about that later. Anya went on with her story. It seems that Xander walked in on Spike trying to rape Buffy, and within a few minutes, Spike was dead. Anya said that neither of them will talk about what exactly happened - they won't even say which one of them staked Spike.
That was when things got back on track. After that night, Buffy and Xander worked things out. Then they got me and we all ganged up on Willow, who got her magic problem straightened out.
Giles came back after only a few months in England. Apparently, he missed us, although he still hasn't admitted that yet. Anya and Willow are working on getting him to 'fess up.
Warren and Andrew were still trying to take over Sunnydale, but they were even more of a joke without me. Strangely, that made me feel pretty good. I was an idiot for helping them, but at least I was a useful idiot.
Anya left me with a lot to think about. Thankfully, she didn't push me much relationship-wise. She said she'd wait until I got my memories back.
Anya's amazing. I still have trouble believing that she could care about me. Love me, even. That was a major point in this reality's favor, let me tell you. But changing everyone's lives still felt wrong. I felt like I should tell them what had happened and then help them try to get things back the way they were. Even if that meant I was back in jail. I wasn't sure, though, so I watched them. I watched all of them, as often as I could, and I finally realized something. They were all happy. Every single one of them was really happy. That wasn't the case in my universe.
Things *were* better here, and I didn't want to take that away from them. I didn't want to take it away from me, either, because in this reality I had Anya and no way did I want to lose her.
So about a week after I had made my wish, I decided. I wasn't going to try to take it back. When I told Anya, she was thrilled. Really, really thrilled. So thrilled, in fact, that she forgot her promise not to push me regarding our relationship. She, uh, sorta jumped me, and we ended up... making love. I tried to get her to stop at first, since I still didn't remember her and I certainly didn't remember having sex with her. That lasted through about 30 seconds of her kissing me.
I'm not going to say anything else about it, except: Wow. At least on my end. I'm not sure she really enjoyed it, although she claimed that she did. She said it reminded her of our first time. I was sure she was lying, and I wondered again how a woman like Anya could possibly love me.
I really wanted my memories back. I was starting to get little snippets, here and there, but nothing that made a whole lot of sense. Still, it wasn't that bad, though, because for the first time in forever, I felt like I belonged. I had Anya and my friends... I saw them almost every day, and we were always doing stuff together. Fun stuff, not just demon-killing stuff.
Of course, it wasn't going to last. Just when I was really settling in, just when I finally thought I'd have a perfect life, it happened. I think the Hellmouth noticed I was happy and decided to do something about it. Why else would I be lying on the ground with a bullet wound in my chest while paramedics try to keep me alive? I suppose it's ironic, though. Even in a completely different universe, Warren still ruins my life.
It was stupid. I was out in Buffy's backyard with Xander. We were discussing our girlfriends, who had gone shopping with Willow, Tara, and Dawn. We were supposed to meet them for lunch, but they were running late. So we were just sitting there, talking, and Warren walked into the backyard, in broad daylight, and pulled out a gun. A gun!
We both dove for cover, but I wasn't fast enough. The bullet hit me, and damn did it hurt. I fell to the ground and sort of lost track of everything for a while. Warren either ran off or Xander overpowered him, I'm not sure which.
Then Xander was hovering over me. "Oh, shit, Jon," he said. "Crap. Hold on, I gotta call an ambulance."
An ambulance was not going to help me. I wanted to tell him not to bother, but he was gone before I could say anything. He was back before long, though, and he pressed on the wound. I winced in pain. "Just hold on, Jon, they'll be here soon," he said.
"Doesn't matter," I said. "Too late."
"It's not too late!" Xander said. "Just hold on, damn it."
He was panicking, and I realized he was really going to miss me when I died. That was a nice thought. Before, no one would have cared if I had died. I felt bad, though. I didn't want to die and leave them all. Especially not Anya.
"Tell Anya--" I started.
"Tell her yourself," Xander interrupted.
I glared at him. I had to make him listen. I knew I didn't have much time and I had to let her know. "Tell Anya I'm sorry," I said. "Tell her I don't regret it."
"Look, you'll tell her yourself, just-"
"Xander, this is important," I said, clutching at his hand. "You have to tell her. Tell her I'm glad I made the wish."
"What? What wish?" He was completely confused. I didn't blame him, but I didn't have time to explain. Anya would fill him in later.
"Tell her I love her," I said. "I love all you guys." It was starting to get fuzzier, and I knew I didn't have much time left. I was really pissed. I didn't want to die, but I knew I was going to.
"Oh, crap, Jon, don't do this," Xander said. I guess he noticed I was fading, too. "Come on, man, please."
"Sorry," I said. "Can't help it."
"Yes, you can," Xander said fiercely. Man, he really never gives up. "You are not going to die." I didn't have the strength to keep arguing with him, so I just ignored him. The paramedics finally arrived and pushed Xander away.
The paramedics are trying their best, but it's not going to help. I know I won't be saved. I'm not pissed off anymore, just resigned. Being pissed off about dying isn't going to change it. The only thing that I'm mad about is that I still don't have all my memories back. If I'm going to die, why can't I at least remember the life I wished myself into? It was a good life, and I want all I can get of it. But I'm not going to get my wish granted this time.
It's starting not to hurt so much anymore. I think the paramedics know there's nothing they can do, but Xander's still yelling at me to hold on. I hope he doesn't blame himself for what happened. I hope they can keep Anya from killing Warren. I hope she finds someone that makes her happy. I hope they're all happy.
I hope I don't end up in hell for the stuff I did in the other universe. I hope the little bit of good I've done in my life is enough to get me to wherever Buffy was. Everything's going black now. I think I'm going to find out.