Title: You Started It
A/N: I'm doing a little reorganizing of this episode to fit my evil plans. Just go with it, and we can all be in my imagination together. It might get a little crowded in there, so everyone keep your elbows tucked in.
Disclaimer: I am not Joss Whedon, although we have a similar skin tone. I don't own Buffy the Vampire Slayer, or her friends, or her old bike, or a pencil she once chewed, etc. Only borrowing. No offense intended. Please don't sue. Suing would be mean, and you don't want to be mean, do ya? I knew you didn't. I knew you were a nice person, Mr. Whedon, sir. And Mr. Whedon's lawyers, sirs and madams, all very sweet in your own way, and, may I say, very attractive? Yes, you, Mr. Lawyer, you stunning piece of lawyer meat. Mmm…yummy. No, of course I'm not just saying that! I totally meant it! How could you doubt my sincerity? Oh, you…saw that, huh? Well, I'll have you know that I keep my fingers crossed behind my back all the time. Yes, I do too! Because it keeps my chest out. Yuh huh! Oh, now, you don't have to be all—oh, fine then. But just don't sue me, okay? Thank you. No, don't worry about…okay, whatever. Hey, do you validate parking?
They say talk is cheap, but I've gotta say, if anyone could further devalue a flailing currency, it's me. Yeah, I play it off as much-needed comic relief, but the plain truth is that when it comes to wordsmithing, I'm just…well, not so smithy.
When I try to be serious—which is an uber-rare occurrence—the words don't come out like I want them to. I end up straying wildly off topic whenever I get too close to difficult terrain, saying the wrong thing, faltering, which leads me right back to my comfy old comedy routine, and the important words get left unsaid. Again.
I think it's also clear that I am the reigning king of bad timing. Shockingly, nobody's ever campaigned against me for that honor, nor has my claim of superior timing-stumblage been called into question. It's widely known that if there is a right thing to say, I won't say it, but if there's a wrong thing—or a wrong time—I'm all over that. It's not that I'm completely oblivious to the wrongness of my words and the timing therein. Nope, I've got the killer combo: the knowledge that, at any given time, I'm about 2 seconds from sticking my foot in my mouth, and…the total inability to stop myself from doing it.
The politically-correct version is that I'm impetuous. Passionate, even! But I can't even sell that one to myself, much less try to convince anyone else. So I acknowledge my faults, and appreciate my friends to the Nth degree for putting up with them—with me—and for not hitting me too often. God knows they've got no shortage of weapons they could use on me, but so far, still intact. At least physically.
Yep, this is where I get heartfelt, and as we've just reviewed, that never works out favorably for me. Or for the recipient of my heartfeltedness.
But, see, this time, even though I know I'm not going to be well-received, even though I know I should stop—and I think I could if I really, really tried—even though I know how bad this is going to turn out, I have to just go ahead and do it. Because an opportunity like this doesn't come along very often. Oh, hell, who am I trying to kid? Opportunities come along all the damn time, but I just don't take them. Or I didn't take them…until now.
Before I know it, I'm telling her. I'm spilling my guts, reliving every special event we've shared and every mundane day she made less mundane just by being there, by walking next to me, giggling at something stupid I said, passing me notes in Bio about Mr. Sanderson's unfortunate—but humorous—lisp. It's all laid out between us: the milestones and the minutia, the times I made her laugh and the times she tried to hide her tears. And the times she didn't.
And all I can do is keep going—grasping at straws, grasping at a connection I so nearly let go—because I'm scared to death. Of what she's thinking, of what she's feeling, of seeing her frown and shake her head, or maybe turn away. But, somehow, I'm more afraid to stop than I am to keep digging myself in deeper. Maybe I don't want to find out how she's going to react, so I just keep going: I just keep kissing her.
Suddenly, I don't have to wonder how she's going to react, because she's…reacting all over me. I feel her hands in my hair and her chest pressing against mine, and soon I feel her giggle while kissing me, which, okay, kinda weird, but not too surprising considering it's us here—us—and I'd be on the verge of laughter, too, if it didn't feel so good. But, see, now the silent laughter thing is getting me smiling, and I have to give up and pull back to look at her face. Which is…beautiful, and flushed, and there are a few tears, and, damn, I wish I could verbalize everything I'm feeling. Or even some of it. Heck, I'd settle for a couple of words.
She leans into me, resting her temple against my cheek, and huffs out a little breath. This time it's not laughter, but a breath riding on a surprised-but-contented smile and swirling reassurance around my neck. It's like a drug, that breath, and I'm tempted to breathe it in and hold it until it gets into my blood, into every cell, until we're beyond physical—we're chemical. I'm tempted to lean against her forever and forget about speech altogether.
But she hasn't forgotten. She reaches behind her and produces her dry-erase board. She writes, "Why now, when we can't talk?"
I smile, wipe my hand across her words, and replace them with my own: "You started it."
She looks shocked, and mouths, "I did not! You—"
I shake my head sagely and add, "Tonsillectomy, '88."
A smile breaks out on her face, even though I'm pretty sure she was going for righteous indignation, and I know she's remembering that hospital visit: how she made her mom leave her alone in my room so she could "heal" me, how she put her small hands on mine, leaned over, and kissed me so briefly I barely felt it. But, barely or not, I had felt it, and just as I'd screwed up my face and started to yell at her, she'd clapped her hand over my mouth and said, "You can't say a thing, Xander. I am healing you, and it won't work if you talk, and besides, you're not s'posed to."
And even though I hadn't felt a difference, when she'd asked me softly, "Is it working?" I'd nodded and held her hand a little tighter.
As we're smiling at each other and the memory, a whoosh goes through the room, and I can feel my voice return like a tiny hiccup. Her eyes widen and I see her thoughts come to the surface as she flips through them, deciding what to say first, now that she has her speech.
"Xander, what was—I-I mean, super nice and all, but why…" She's blushing—thank you, God, for redheads—and she gives me a help-me look and I'm struck dumb again. Well, dumber, anyway. I put my hand up to her face and thread it back through her hair before pulling her into my arms.
"Willow," I say into her hair.
"Mm hmm?" she answers, and I know she's expecting an explanation, but I don't know if I have one.
"I just…I wanted to say—but I couldn't, which was probably for the best, because I…can never say anything right, especially to you, and there's so much—oh, screw it."
I turn my head to kiss her hair, her neck, her cheek. To my surprise, she turns slightly, and her mouth meets mine halfway, colliding with me like she's been waiting hours for this kiss instead of just a few minutes. Then again, it's been a year, and even then it wasn't like this.
Just as suddenly as we fell together, we break apart, and I'm not entirely sure why—whether I pushed her away or she pushed me, or we both just needed to breathe—but I'm afraid that one of us is going to have to say something here. I'm wracking my brain and the wheels are turning, but I think the hamsters are on cruise control because I'm not getting a thing. But then, maybe I don't have to.
"Xander?" she says, a bit out of breath—and I'm enough of a cad to be proud of my part in that.
She quirks an eyebrow at me. "You've got quite a way with words."
And for that, the lady gets a kiss.
A/N #2: I say "ish" because even though I intended this to be a little piece of stand-alone fluff, I may add another chapter or two later on, because I have a couple more little ideas that I don't want to necessarily put in their own fics. I think that season 4 after Oz left was a good opportunity for some W/X 'shipping, because even though Xander was with Anya, it was still sorta new, and, in my head, I could easily just send her out for a pack of smokes. Anyway, if I do write any more S4 pieces, they'll be offshoots from this encounter, so I'll probably just make them additional chapters in this fic. Unless I change my mind, which is altogether possible.