Title: The Prom Revisited Author: Bastard Snow Rating: PG

Disclaimer: I don't own crap, so don't claim that I do. Don't sue me either, I'm poor.

Summary: What if Anya hadn't asked Xander to prom? What might have happened instead?

Pairings: Lots of friendship stuff in this one, with bits of B/A and one- sided B/X tossed in for good measure.

Author's note: This popped into my head at about 10 am today, and wouldn't shut up until I wrote it.

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Outside Sunnydale High School, Alexander Harris, Xander to his friends, was walking up the steps, with the knowledge that he would, for once, be on time to class. Behind him, Anya, a recently human girl, was following, intent upon asking him a very important question. Directly in front of her, however, she saw a young woman in tears smack her boyfriend and run away. Anya paused, thought better of her question, and proceeded to her class, asking Xander nothing.

* * * * *

"So, dateless, huh?" Oz asked, as the group sat around a picnic table at lunch. "It's a valid choice."

"Choice is kind of a broad term for my situation," Xander said. "I was considering going with the sock puppet o' love, but intuition tells me that will draw more looks than it's worth." Xander held up his right hand and spoke in a silly, high pitched voice. "I love you, Xander. I'll never leave you."

"Well, I'm sure you'll have a good time anyway. So what if you're going alone? It's better than going with the wrong person," Willow said.

Xander held up his hand again. "I can't believe you're standing me up! I deserve to go to the prom."

Buffy laughed. "Well, at least we've all got our plans set. Some of us. . . okay me, are going with demons, but I think it's a valid lifestyle choice. More importantly, I have the kick dress."

"Ooh, the pink one?" Willow asked.

Buffy smiled. "Angel's gonna lose it. But not his soul. He's gonna lose it. His it."

"Ahh, dateless in Sunnydale," Xander said. "How I remember thee. How I loathe thee."

"You'll be all right," Buffy said, patting him on the knee. "I'm sure any time now the girl of your dreams is going to come along and you'll sweep her off her feet. And watch, I bet they won't even be insect feet."

* * * * *

That night, Angel and Buffy talked. Or rather, Angel talked, Buffy had her heart broken, and neither was happy. As Willow commiserated with Buffy the next day, Xander found out that Cordelia was now poor, and had to work to be able to afford her dress. They were then promptly attacked.

* * * * *

"Right there," said Xander. "See, it's like he just realized he forgot to put money in the meter or something."

"You know the part that totally weirded me out? That thing had good taste. I mean, he chucks Xander and went right for the formal wear," said Cordelia

"That's right," Xander said. "He left behind his copy of Monsters Wear Daily."

"I'm serious," she said. "Look at the outfit that Xander's wearing. Now look at the kid that the monster went after. Very smooth lines, 'til he was shredded."

"I don't want to see it again," Buffy said.

"Buffy, I know it's horrible, but if you're going to hunt this creature, you should study it," said Giles.

"Think I got it," Buffy said.

"She's right," Willow said. "I mean, you've seen one big hairy bringer of death, you've seen 'em all."

"If I'm not mistaken, this is a hellhound," Wesley added.

"Yes," Giles confirmed. "It's particularly vicious. It's sort of a demon foot soldier bred during the Machash Wars. Trained solely to kill. They feed off the brains of their foes."

"Look!" said Cordelia. "Right there, zoom in on that."

"It's a videotape," said Xander.

"So?" she asked. "They do it on television all the time."

"Not with a regular VCR they don't," he replied.

"Perhaps we could stay on the topic for once," Wesley said, turning to Cordelia. "What were you doing this afternoon?"

"What? Um, I was..."

"Burning a hole in daddy's wallet, as usual," Xander said, covering for his ex-girlfriend. "I just bumped into her during my tuxedo hunt."

"What's that?" Oz asked, speaking up for the first time. "Pause it."

"Guys!" Xander said. "It's just a normal VCR. It doesn't... Oh wait, uh, it can do pause."

The picture froze to show a young man outside April Fools holding a some sort of device and watching the beast intently.

"Hello, hellhound raiser," Xander said.

After a few minutes searching Oz identified the young man as Tucker Wells, a former Sunnydale High student.

"How's it going over there, Buff?" Xander asked, seeing his friend sitting silently on the library stairs.

"Fine," she said, emotionlessly.

"Well, I just wanted to say that your impersonation of an inanimate object is really coming along."

"Thanks," she said, her voice still devoid of any feeling.

Xander looked over her, concern in his eyes.

"Ooooh!" Willow shouted. "I got into Tucker's e-mail account. Listen to this message Tucker sent to this kid David Metz at school last week. The Sunnydale High lemmings have no idea what awaits them. Their big night will be their last night."

"So," Giles said, connecting the dots, "we have a threat against the students on their big night, a hellhound trained to attack people in formal wear..."

"Oh, are we all catching up now?" Cordelia asked.

"Tucker is planning to attack the prom tonight," Giles said.

"Once again, the Hellmouth puts the special in special occasion," Oz said wryly.

"Why do I even buy tickets for these things, I ask you?" said Xander.

"Wonder if I can take my dress back?" Willow said.

Buffy perked up upon hearing this. "Don't you dare," she said.

"But, Tucker is going to. . ."

"No!" said Buffy. "You guys are going to have a prom. The kind of prom that everyone should have. I'm going to give you all a nice, fun, normal evening if I have to kill every single person on the face of the earth to do it."

Silence reigned in the library. Until, of course, Xander spoke up.

"Yay?"

* * * * *

After handing out assignments to the Scoobies, during which time Xander snuck back to April Fools, dipping farther into his road trip fund than he wanted to. Buffy went to the butcher shop to track down any animal brains being sold. While there, she saw Angel, and they had less-than-happy words. Later that night, at home, moping, Xander showed up.

"Hey," she said, answering the door in her pajamas, holding a cup of hot chocolate.

"Hey. Uh, can I come in?"

Buffy looked at him, and stepped back without inviting him in.

"Right, dumb question."

"What's up?" she asked, going to sit in the living room.

"I uh. . . I talked to Willow. She. . . she told me about Angel," he said, following her.

Buffy looked down at the floor.

"And, uh," Xander continued, "I wanted to say that I'm sorry. I know, he and I never got along. . . ever. . . but, I am sorry."

"Thank you," she said. An awkward pause ensued. "Was that all?"

"No. No, it wasn't. Buff, you and me are good friends, right?"

"Last I checked, yeah."

Xander sighed. "Well, then. . . let me do something for you. Let me take you to the prom tomorrow."

"Xander," she said, shaking her head. "I - "

"No," he interrupted. "I know, friends. Nothing. . . date-like in the works here. I just. . . you deserve one good, normal night, Buff. More than anybody. And I know I'm not your first choice, or probably even second or third, but I want you to have one night where you can look back and say. . . it was nice. Not great, or perfect, or fantastic, but nice. A normal high school kid, doing a normal high school thing."

Buffy looked down into her mug.

"You know," he said. "Assuming we can stop these hell-hounds from mucking the whole thing up."

Buffy smiled at him.

"Come on, Buff," he said. "You can write it off as charity for the needy. Maybe get a tax break."

She laughed, bringing a smile to his face. "Okay," she said. "If we stop this thing with Tucker, I will go with you to the prom."

Xander smiled, and stood. "You won't regret it, Buff. I promise."

"I know," she said, standing and walking him to the door. Before leaving, Xander turned and gave her a hug.

"I really am sorry."

She smiled weakly at him, and waved goodbye. Buffy went to sleep that night, crying, her heart still in pieces. But. . . the pain was maybe slightly less than it could have been.

* * * * *

The next day, Cordelia stopped at the dress shop, to pick up her paycheck. . . too small to pay off the dress.

"Hey!" a salesgirl said to her. "Don't forget your dress. Aren't you wearing it tonight?"

"As much as I hate to admit it," Cordelia said. "I haven't finished paying for it yet."

"Well, somebody did."

Cordelia rushed over. "What? Who?" She looked at the receipt.

* * * * *

"Zeroes all around, Buff," Xander said, disappointedly.

"Sorry," said Willow.

"Make not with the long faces," Buffy said. "I got the address. Now the prom starts in a little while. I want you guys to go on and I'll catch up with you as soon as I put a lid on this jerk."

"What?" Xander said. "No way."

"We can't just leave you, Buff," Willow said.

Giles stepped up. "Buffy, they're right. You need. . ."

"To see taillights. Hit the door. I have everything under control."

"Buffy," Oz said. "It makes sense to. . ."

"Have. A nice. Time," she said.

Oz and Willow rushed off, leaving Xander and Giles. Giles went off to his office for a minute, to check one last note from his research.

"I thought I said go," Buffy said.

"You did," said Xander. "But. . . I figured, if you're gonna be fighting, and I'm taking you in a non-date-like capacity, that you might want some help."

"Sweet, but no," she said. "You are going to go, and you are going to enjoy yourself, and as soon as I take care of this problem, I will join you there."

"Are you sure?" he asked. "Because I could - "

"Go."

Xander smiled at her. "I'll see you later."

Giles came back from his office, to find Buffy loading weapons into a bag.

"I don't have to tell you that you're being rather rash," he said. "Finding an address hardly adds up to case closed."

"Look, it's done," she said. "You want to go after them and tell them that they can't go? That all of their planning and dreaming was for nothing? That they can't spend tonight with their honeys of all nights?"

"Well, Xander, at least, could -"

"Giles," she said, warningly.

He sighed and leaned against the book cage door. "Angel's not taking you, is he?"

"Angel's leaving me. He's leaving town."

"Oh, Buffy, I'm sorry. I don't really know what to say. Um, I understand that this sort of thing requires ice cream of some kind?"

"Ice cream will come," she said. "First, I want to take out psycho boy."

"You sure?"

"The great thing about being a Slayer, kicking ass is comfort food."

* * * * *

Giles and Wesley stood by a table, munching on some hors-d'oeuvres

"Well, I must say, this is all rather odd to me," said Wesley.

"Oh yes," said Giles. "At an all-male preparatory they didn't go in for this sort of thing."

"No, of course not. Unless you count the nights you made the lower classmen get up as girls and watched them ..." Wesley trailed off, catching Giles' look. "Dip is tasty, isn't it?"

Wesley looked about and saw Cordelia entering the gym, and was reduced to a coughing fit.

"Sauce is hot," he said, keeping his eyes on Cordelia. "Very hot."

Willow and Oz walked in together.

"We got in," Willow said. "Maybe we should dance before we get besieged, bedeviled or beheaded or something."

"It's not gonna happen," Oz said.

"You're not even a little nervous?" she asked.

"You think Buffy is going to let us down?"

Willow pondered that for a moment. "You want to share some punch?"

As they moved over to the food table, Xander approached Cordelia.

"Hey," he said. "How are you?"

Cordelia smiled at him. "I'm good. . . better, I think, than I could have been."

Xander smiled. "It looks good on you."

"Well, duh!" she said.

"Here alone?" he asked.

"Generally, although I think I have a possible suitor in the wings."

Xander smiled subtly at this.

"What about you?" she asked.

"Oh, my prom-partner has yet to show up," he said.

"Ditched?" Cordy asked, unable to keep the slightest bit of hope out of her voice.

"No, thank you. She's currently out slaying some Hell-hounds."

"You came with Buffy?" Cordelia asked, disbelievingly.

"Yeah, well, somebody had to," he said, suddenly inspecting his feet. "Angel kind of broke up with her, and I sorta figured she needs one semi- normal night, where she can look back and say 'I was a kid, once.'"

Cordelia smiled softly at him. "Ever the white knight," she said.

Xander looked up at her, then chuckled. "You're the second person to call me that," he said.

"Yeah, well," she said. "Certain nasty rumors to the contrary, and experience aside, you're not such a bad guy, Xander Harris."

Xander frowned. "I am sorry about that, Cor."

"Don't," she said. "Maybe, at some point, but for now, still. . . don't."

Xander nodded, and backed up a little. "I'll um, let you get to your 'suitor' then."

Cordelia sent him a slight, lingering smile before walking away towards the food table.

Wesley watched her the entire way.

* * * * *

Sometime later, Buffy entered the gym. She caught Giles' eye, and they exchanged nods and smiles.

"Buffy, you look awesome!" Willow said as she and Oz approached.

"So do you," said Buffy.

"Everything cool?" Oz asked.

"Coolest. Devil dogs are history. How's the prom?"

"Strangely affecting," Oz said. "I got all teared up when they played 'We Are Family.'"

"Everything is perfect," Willow said.

"Well maybe not perfect," said Xander, sliding up next to Buffy, "but it's a whole heck of a lot better than it could be. Good evening, miss, may I say you look simply ravishing tonight."

Buffy chuckled. "It's a start, anyway."

Xander bowed to Oz and Willow, then to Buffy, to whom he extended his arm in an overly-exaggerated gesture. "Would madam care to dance?" he asked.

"Madam would be happy to," she replied.

The couple and the not-couple headed out to the dance floor.

* * * * *

The entire audience stood around watching the stage. Xander, standing next to Giles, was miming anticipation.

"And the award for Sunnydale High's Class Clown for 1999 goes to Jack Mayhew!"

The winner, presumably the same Jack Mayhew, put a balloon hat on his head and ran up to the stage acting silly.

"Please!" Xander said. "Anybody can be a prop clown! You know, none of the people who vote for these things are funny."

"Yes, you were robbed, I'm certain," Giles said, dryly.

Xander turned around to find Buffy, and saw her at the punch bowl.

"We have one more award to give out," said Jonathan, stepping up to the microphone. "Is Buffy Summers here? Did she um. . ."

The entire crowd turned to look at Buffy, who herself looked nervous at the attention.

"This is actually a new category," Jonathan said. "First time ever. I guess there were a lot of write-in ballots, and, um, the prom committee asked me to read this." He cleared his throat. "'We're not good friends. Most of us never found the time to get to know you, but that doesn't mean we haven't noticed you. We don't talk about it much, but it's no secret that Sunnydale High isn't really like other high schools. A lot of weird stuff happens here."

"Zombies!" "Hyena people!" "Snyder!" came shouts from the crowd, eliciting laughter.

"But, whenever there was a problem or something creepy happened, you seemed to show up and stop it," Jonathan continued. "Most of the people here have been saved by you, or helped by you at one time or another. We're proud to say that the Class of '99 has the lowest mortality rate of any graduating class in Sunnydale history." The crowd erupted into applause. "And we know at least part of that is because of you. So the senior class, offers its thanks, and gives you, uh, this." He walked to the side of the stage and was handed a multicolored, glittering, miniature umbrella with a small metal plaque attached to the shaft.

"It's from all of us," Jonathan said. "And it has written here, 'Buffy Summers, Class Protector.'"

The entire crowd broke into raucous applause and cleared the way as Buffy walked to the stage and accepted her award, a grateful, if mildly embarrassed, smile on her face.

* * * * *

Giles stood in the back of the gym, watching the students dance as Wesley approached him.

"Mr. Giles," Wesley said. "I'd like your opinion. While the last thing I want to do is muddle bad behavior in front of impressionable youth, I wonder if asking Miss Chase to dance would..."

"For God's sake, man, she's eighteen. And you have the emotional maturity of a blueberry scone. Just have at it, would you, and stop fluttering about." Giles walked away.

"Right, then," Wesley said. "Thanks for that."

Giles, quickly joined by Xander, walked up to Buffy.

"You did good work tonight, Buffy," Giles said.

"And I got a little toy surprise," she replied, eliciting a smile from Xander.

"I had no idea that children en masse could be gracious," said Giles.

"Every now and then people surprise you," she said.

Giles smiled at her, and she leaned up to give him a kiss on the cheek, then turned to her escort for the night.

"Whaddaya say, Xan? One last dance before the night is over?"

Xander smiled at her. "The song says Save the Last Dance For Me," he said, then chuckled and took the umbrella from her. "I think we'll over look that rule just this once."

Xander looked pointedly behind her. Following his eyes, Buffy turned and saw Angel at the door, wearing a tuxedo. She turned back, but Xander was already walking off to talk to Giles.

"I never thought you'd come," she said, when she reached Angel.

"It's a big night," he said. "I didn't want to miss it. It's just tonight. It doesn't mean that I. . ."

"I know," she said. "I mean, I understand."

"Dance with me?"

Buffy rested her head against his chest as he held her close. She savored the feeling of his arms around her for what she thought might be the last time.

"I didn't know you had a tux," she said.

"I didn't," Angel replied. "It magically appeared at the mansion this evening, with a little post-it that said 'Don't be an ass.'"

Buffy laughed into his chest, then fell silent, enjoying the moment.

"It's a good thing you did here, Xander," Giles said, watching Buffy and Angel dance.

"That's me," he said. "King of doing good things for others."

Giles looked at him seriously. "I mean it. You showed a great maturity and respect for her feelings tonight."

Xander shrugged. "She deserved a great night more than anybody. She deserved to be with the man she loves, even if I don't like him."

"And you felt that her being with the man she loved was more important than you being with the woman you do?"

Xander looked at him. "I don't know what you're talking about," he said.

"I may wear glasses, Xander, but I am not blind."

Xander looked over at Buffy and Angel dancing. "I just wanted her to be happy," he said. "I need some air."

Xander handed Giles Buffy's umbrella, stood up and walked out of the gym.

* * * * *

"Hey guy," Willow said, approaching Xander's sitting form from behind. He was on the front steps of the high school.

"Heya, Will," he said.

"So. Prom, huh?"

"Prom indeed," he said. "Where's Oz?"

"He's over by the gym, waiting for me."

"You should go be with him," he said, not yet having looked up.

"I will be," she said. "I just. . . I wanted to say thank you. We haven't been as close. . . since the whole. . . us, thing, but you took care of Buffy tonight, and she needed that. You made it special for her."

Xander snorted. "I was just a stand-in," he said. "It wasn't me she wanted to be here with."

"No," Willow said, crouching down next to him. "It wasn't. But, that doesn't mean she didn't enjoy herself. She had a good time, and you were a big part of that."

"Maybe," he said.

"We've had our difficulties, and our disagreements," Willow said. "But you're a good man, Xander. Don't ever think different." She leaned in and gave him a peck on the cheek. "And no matter what, I love you. You know that, right?"

Xander looked up at her, eyes slightly wet despite his attempts at stoicism. "I know, Willow," he said, pulling her into a hug. "I love you, too."

Willow stood up. "She was looking for you, by the way. Giles covered for you, I think he said something about you choking on an hors-d'oeuvre, but she'll be expecting you back."

"I'll be there," he said. "I just need a minute."

Willow started walking, then paused and turned back. "She knows you'll be there, Xander," she said. "If there's one thing she knows she can count on, it's that you'll be there." Willow turned and walked back towards the gym.

Xander swiped at his traitorous eyes with his sleeve, then took a few deep breaths to calm himself. He grabbed onto the stair railing and stood, then turned and walked back to the gym, putting on his best 'I'm happy' face and went to find Buffy.

"There you are," she said when she saw him walking up. "I was wondering what happened to you."

"I got distracted," he said, offering his arm to her. "After my near-death shrimp thingy experience, and a short clean up trip to the bathroom, I found myself entranced by that weird cheerleading statue."

"That statue is weird," Buffy said, looping her arm through his and making sure to keep her umbrella safe in her other arm. "I have on occasion felt the strong desire to slay it."

Xander smiled at her. "Well, I don't think it's a distinct threat to anybody at the moment, but if it ever breaks out of that glass case, I'm 100% behind the slayage idea. So, overall, how was your evening?"

Buffy thought for a moment. "It was nice," she said.

Xander nodded.

Buffy smiled at him, and they turned and walked out of the gym, bantering their way down the hall, out of the school, and into the night.

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The End