Xander stared at the phone for a moment. Giles had transferred the call to his cell phone without calling Xander first. So he assumed for a few minutes that it was a joke because Giles never transferred calls from the LA gang to anyone. He took the calls and dismissed them without telling Buffy about them.
Xander agreed with Giles that it was in Buffy's best interest to leave both vampires in the past. He had not been too thrilled when he heard she had started shacking up with The Immortal. Giles had assured him it was temporary, but Xander had really hoped Buffy would start dating the living again. He had liked Riley and wished Buffy had gotten to that field in time.
If Buffy had gotten to the field on time Spike would have been dust long ago, Xander believed that. If Buffy did not get around to doing it, Riley would have. He realized that Spike came in handy in defeating The First, but if Spike had been dusted Angel would have worn the amulet. And there would be two more dead vampires in the world instead of two of them walking around with souls.
Spike was running around Los Angeles now, playing hero with Buffy's other blood sucking ex. Xander still had a hard time getting the image of Spike and Anya out of his mind, but finding out about Spike and Buffy had been a slap in the face. And now it seemed the blood suckers got the edge on Xander again. Spike was one of the last to see Cordelia alive.
He had no idea who Fred was. He recalled Willow telling him about her. She was a brainiac like Willow was so of course they would hit it off. Maybe it was Fred calling that had gotten her call put through. Xander would never know.
Over seven years of knowing Buffy, knowing the dangers that awaited them in Sunnydale and beyond had not prepared Xander for this phone call. Nothing could have. He could still hear her voice, her laugh, see her eyes the night of Prom when the unspoken acknowledgement of what he had done passed between them.
She was gone. He was not foolish enough to believe they ever stood a chance of reconciling, though he had often wondered what she would think of the new, improved Alexander Harris. He didn't have super powers, wasn't a souled vampire or a powerful witch, or part demon yet he had still managed to save the world. And lose an eye, he mused, placing a hand over the patch he still wore.
She was dead. The one woman who had always seemed larger than life to Xander, gone. Drifted off while in a coma, which didn't seem worthy of her and all she had done. He remembered hearing about her visions and found it funny, until he had heard of the side effects those visions could have caused. But Cordelia Chase did not cave in or become weak even faced with such adversity.
He pulled the shoebox of stuff he had left Sunnydale with. He knew when they were about to battle The First there probably wouldn't be much left, but he had wanted to take a few things with him. The locket was one of them. He wasn't sure why he held onto it. It did not hold fond memories for him. But it was the only thing he had that reminded him of her, their time together. A time he would never forget.
A knock came to his door and he answered it still holding the locket. Willow offered him a hug, no questions asked and he accepted it. A tear fell from his eye accompanied by a loud sob. Willow seemed to understand what he needed and offered him comfort.
Without words she led him to the couch and he sat. She left for a minute, Xander barely noticed. When she returned she had two bottles of beer. She took the locket from Xander's hand, clutched it in the palm of her hand and shed tears of her own. Xander knew it couldn't be easy for Willow to remember that time of their lives either. They had both inadvertently caused Cordelia pain.
Willow popped open the bottle of beer and tapped the neck against his bottle and took a drink. Xander followed suit numbly, not aware of what he was doing. Willow shifted on the couch, sitting back, remaining silent. It was exactly what Xander needed and he appreciated her presence. There were no words suitable for the situation, nothing that needed to be said aloud anyway.
He wished he knew how it happened. And why? Had they been done with her? If so, why would they cast her aside like garbage? Things he could ponder for the rest of his life he supposed. He'd never get answers. If there was anything he'd learned over the years of battling evil things were not always fair and things did not always happen with reasons that anyone was supposed to understand. It was a hard lesson to learn.
Willow placed her hand on Xander's thigh, he slid his hand over hers, clasping it. Their fingers intertwined. It wasn't a romantic gesture, there was no spark between them any longer, but Willow was the most tangible connection to his past that he had. Not even Buffy could provide him with memories like Willow could.
"In case I haven't said it before, Willow. I love you. I just needed to say that."
"I love you, too, Xander."
That said, he felt better. It didn't let him off the hook, but it was nice to know he wasn't alone.