The One Who Does Magic
Summary: Set directly after the series finale, Willow comforts Xander with unexpected side effects.
Disclaimer and legal blather: I own a '95 Chevy Blazer (red), an Irish Setter (also red), and various furnishings and sundries. I own no part of the concept or execution of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, nor any characters therein. If I did, I believe I would upgrade to, say, a 2003 Blazer.
"I need to be with Xander."
"What?" Kennedy sat up in bed, watching her girlfriend pull on her clothes distractedly. "It's 3:30 in the morning. He's asleep."
"He just lost Anya. He's not sleeping." She leaned down to kiss Kennedy on the forehead. "I know what that's like. I have to see if he needs me."
Kennedy had never felt like the younger one, like the one who waited alone in bed, the type who'd be kissed on the forehead. She preferred being the aggressor. She knew, though, when it was time to fight, and when it was not. She slumped down in the motel bed as the door closed and wondered how long Willow would be gone. It felt just now like she'd never been there at all.
She walked into the room, mentally chiding him for having left the door unlocked. Thieves and murderers were the least of their concerns now, though. People didn't scare them. People didn't often live long enough to scare them.
He was not asleep and not awake. Willow knew the state well. This should have been their victory lap. Instead, it was a consortium of survivors. She took off her shoes and got into bed. She touched his face, held his hand.
"It used to be us against the world, Will." He clung to her, trying to pull a past version of himself out through her skin, trying to learn how to be Xander after all this.
"Then Buffy came and we found out the world needed us."
"Then the world tried to eat us."
"It's always nice to be wanted." She felt him chuckle and knew he was still in there somewhere, that he would make it back. "If you want to talk about Anya, I'm here. I'm here if you don't, too."
"I know, Will. I'm proud of her, you know."
"Me too. And of you, Xander." She rubbed his back, shared his breath. Against the world, they had fought as warriors. Against each other, they were still human, wondering if that was a good thing to be.
"Willow?" His breath was shaky. He was asking permission to fall apart.
"It's okay. It's gonna be okay, Xan." She threaded her fingers through his hair again and again. Willow, the one who does magic, willed the hands that had helped save the world to do magic again, here, on a smaller but no less important scale. Xander, the one who sees, saw his world encapsulated in a girl with red hair, as it had always been.
"So, a year?" He was tired and euphoric and grieving. This was surviving, day one.
"I think so, yeah. We need it." She wasn't used to being strong, but she was learning. She loved and hated it.
"It'll seem like forever." It'll be like losing my other eye, he thought.
"It's already been forever. I want you to know your strength. I need to know mine. It's the right thing."
"It feels like it. Sort of. In a taking-vitamins-and-eating-your-veggies kind of way." He reached out and touched her hair. He'd seen it change color. He'd seen all her colors.
"No matter what happens, it'll always be you and me against the world." She leaned into his hand, grabbed it away, couldn't let go.
"For the sake of appearances, we have to learn how to get along with it. Play nice." Maybe it doesn't always open up and bite.
"Let some of the other people in."
"There are other people? Now you're talkin' crazy."
"Maybe." But there were other people, and some of them were okay.
A beautiful girl leaned against the rail with a bag slung over her shoulder, thinking she had already lost, hoping she was wrong. Getting used to being the one who waits. "Xander. Are you gonna be okay?"
"Yeah. Thanks, Kennedy. Take care of my girl."
"You know it, Captain."
She might be okay. She might be worthy. He reached out and hugged them both, pulling them together, willing them apart. He felt Willow kiss his neck. He felt Kennedy beg him to leave. He let them go.
"Love you, Will."
"Love you, Xander. I'll see you."
"Be seein' you."
It was too hard, as it should be. The girl who broke crayons and the boy who had mended her drifted apart, didn't look back. They had no plans, but that they would set out away from each other. They would be separate, and then they would see.
To be continued...