Title: Baggage
Author: Lint
Email: CrashDarby@aol.com
Summary: Xander has a difficult time dealing with death.
Rating: Light R
Disclaimer: All BtVS stuff belongs to Joss Whedon, and UPN too I guess.
Authors Notes: Here's hoping this makes sense to other people.


The unfamiliar tile creaked underneath his foot as he entered the bathroom. Glancing quickly behind him to see the girl bathed in blue light from the TV on the bed undisturbed by the noise. He closed the door and flicked the light on. His eyes squinted, adjusting to the light. Towels were strewn all over the floor, and the shower curtain looked like it was hanging on by a thread. Soap scum crept up the sides of the tub and the scent of mildew wafted from it. He felt his nostrils flare from the odor. What's her name didn't keep a clean bathroom. He stepped toward the sink carefully avoiding the towels, knowing that they weren't clean and most likely soggy as well. He turned the water on and nearly groaned when it came out brown. He had to wait a few minutes for it to turn clear. Cupping his hands he splashed a little water on his face and looked into the mirror. He jumped when Buffy's reflection appeared behind him.

"What are we doing here?" She asked.

"Nothing," he replied in a whisper.

She looked at him standing there in only his boxers, then scanned the small bathroom.

"Doesn't look like nothing."

"Well it is," he said looking back into the mirror and splashing more water on his face. He stared at her standing behind him. A few minutes passed before she spoke again.

"You can't keep doing this you know."

"Why not?"

"It's not exactly helping..."

"You being here is not exactly helping me either," he shot out.

She flinched at the harshness of his tone and sighed.

"Do you want me to go?"

He stared at her for a minute before running a hand through his hair.


She nodded and saw a cockroach crawling along the bathtub. She looked up to him wondering if he'd notice. He didn't.

"Oh yuck," she commented. "Where exactly did you find this one?"

Seeing the cockroach crawling around he stepped back onto a soggy towel, making a squish sound under his weight.

"Damn it," he muttered.

He looked back to the girl standing a foot away from him.

"That crappy bar along the docks," he replied.

"You were looking for someone at that hole?" She asked, her nose turning up.

"I figured I'd have more of a shot with anyone who hung out there," he stated simply.

"You really need some confidence," she said.

"Yeah, well that's not likely to happen."

A light tapping on the door caused him to spin toward it, nearly losing his balance. Buffy's eyebrow quirked at him and chewed on her lip to fight a grin.

"You almost done in there?" A soft voice asked on the other side.

"Yeah," he replied looking to Buffy. She shrugged and waved her hand dismissively at the door. He carefully tiptoed back across the floor and opened the door. The petite gal with the short curly hair smiled sleepily up at him. He couldn't quite remember her name at the moment. He hoped he would by the time she was done and he said his good-bye.

"All yours," he said and she slipped by him.

"Who were you talking to?" She asked.

He looked in the bathroom once more seeing that Buffy was gone. Of course she was.

"No one."

He scoured the floor for his pants and shirt, finding them half-hidden under the bed. He pulled them on quickly and sat on the edge of the bed tying his boots. She came out of the bathroom then, noticing he was dressed and most likely about to leave.

"Leaving so soon sailor?" She asked with a laugh.

"Got to work early tomorrow," he answered lamely. He wasn't good at the leaving part of these little one-night stands of his. He always felt awkward about leaving in the middle of the night, though he knew he'd feel ten times more awkward leaving in the morning with empty promises that he would call.

"Ah, the old 'got to work early' line," she said. "A classic."

He smiled bashfully at her before rising from the bed.

"Don't worry cutie," she said warmly. "I know the rules of the game. We had fun, and now it's time to go."

She stood on tiptoe to kiss him, wrapping her arms around his neck. He returned the kiss, keeping his eyes open to see Buffy standing in the corner with her arms folded and her eyes rolling.

"Good night sailor," she said taking her arms from his neck.

"Good night," he replied.

Once the door to the apartment was closed behind him, Buffy reappeared.

"You don't even remember her name do you?" She asked.

He sighed and walked toward the stairwell. She let him get a few feet in front of her before she followed. She didn't want to be right beside him if he was in a mood.

"If you want me to go I will," she said.

"I told you I didn't," he replied.

"Seems like it," she said softly.

He stopped and turned to face her standing there with her arms wrapped around herself not looking at him.

"I'm sorry," he said. "It's just that... It's a little weird when you show up and I'm still at their house."

"You'd like it if I just waited outside the door like a loyal little puppy?"

"No. That's not it."

"Then what?"

He stared at her, trying to get the tornado of thoughts spinning inside his head into some form of order. She tapped her foot waiting. He couldn't come up with anything that'd make any sense.

"I don't know."

"Well, let me know if you do. Because I'm dying to know why you still keep me around even though it always seems like you're never happy to see me."

"Of course I'm happy to see you. It's just..."

"I'm a figment of your imagination."

"You're real."

"I'm only as real as you think I am Xander."

She walked right up to him and stuck her hand through his chest.

"See? I don't exist."

"You do to me," he said turning his head away.

He walked down the stairs and out to the parking lot behind the building. He looked behind him to see that she was gone again. He wasn't surprised. He got into his car and took one last look up to the window he thought was his latest in a long line of one night stands. He felt bad for not remembering her name.


The intoxicating smell of coffee wafting from his kitchen woke him from his scrambled position on his bed. Yawning, he wiped the sleep out of his eyes and rose slowly. He expected Buffy to appear in front of him, telling him to get his lazy bones out of bed. He should have known better to think she would be when there was someone else here.

"Willow?" He questioned stepping out into the living room and seeing his redheaded friend leaning against his kitchen counter waiting for the coffee to finish brewing.

"Rough night?" She asked noticing the rings under his eyes, and the disheveled state of his hair.

"No rougher than most," he replied.

Willow looked at him with a more scrutinizing eye. She knew he didn't spend the whole night at home like he told he would. She frowned at him. He practically radiated cheap sex.

"So who was she?" She asked.

He looked at her with a glint of surprise in his eye, before looking at his feet.

"Who was who?" He said quietly.

"The girl, who caused those rings under your eyes," she said putting on her resolve face. "And that little...souvenir."

Xander looked down at his chest to see a little purple bruise the size of a silver dollar. He felt the blush spread into his cheeks and couldn't look at her.

"How long are you going to keep doing this Xander?" She asked. "I mean...look at you. You look..."

"I know I don't look like I used to Wills, but cut me some slack. It's my life."

"This isn't still about Anya is it? I mean, she left a two months ago. You told me you were over it."

"I am over it," he stated, looking past her shoulder to see Buffy once more. Leaning against his fridge. Willow looked over her shoulder trying to see what Xander was looking at. All she saw was the fridge.

"Then why..."

"I have my reasons Willow," he said quietly still looking at Buffy's presence. The slayer's eyebrows were raised in curiosity. She wanted to know his reasons as well.

"You don't blame yourself for Buffy still do you?"

Buffy's eyes looking questioningly into Xander's at the redhead's comment.

"You can't blame yourself for her death Xander. You know there's nothing you could have done don't you? You have all this baggage weighing you down..."

"Baggage?" Buffy said stepping next to her friend. "You think I'm just baggage?"

Xander tried to ignore Buffy's offended exclamation, and turned away from her and Willow.

"I know what it's like. I've blamed myself too. But... We can't keep blaming ourselves Xander. She's gone. I admit I may still not be over it in some ways but I'm moving on. I loved her too, but I'm trying to deal with it. It's what I have to do. It's what you need to do."

"I'm just some 'thing' to be dealt with now?" Buffy said yelling into Willows ear. She looked over to Xander. "I'm starting to take this personally you know."

Xander kept his eyes on the floor, trying to keep Buffy and Willow's words from affecting him.

"Don't blame yourself for her death Xander. You need to rid yourself of whatever guilt you have and... And... Just let it go. You have to let it go before you can be free and move on... Anya left because of..."

"Anya left because she wanted to," Xander interrupted.

"Okay, yeah maybe she did. But she still wasn't happy about...

"Could you drop this please?"

"Xander, we're young. Too young to let something as horrible as her death haunt us for the rest of our lives."

"How can you say that," Buffy whispered.

"I'm not saying this stuff to be mean. You understand don't you?"

"Sort of."

"I'm worried about you. I do know how much longer I can watch you after a morning of doing who knows what with girls whose names you can't remember. Can't you see what you're doing to yourself?"

He didn't look at her or at Buffy still standing so close to Willow.


"Look Willow," he said looking up at Buffy's semi-hurt expression at her friend's words. "I appreciate you coming here and making the coffee and all. But I have to go to work soon... so could you leave? Please? I have to get ready."

Willow looked at him solemnly before nodding silently and walking out of the kitchen and toward the door.

"You'll think about what I said?" She called back.

"Not likely," he muttered to himself.

Buffy wandered out of the kitchen and over to couch where she sat down at stared at the floor. After getting himself a cup of coffee he followed her out to the living room and sat right next to her.

"You don't really blame yourself for me do you?" She asked.

He was silent.

"Do you?"


"Don't lie to me."

"I'm not..."

"Is that why you go out and screw all those women? Because you want to slowly let your guilt build and build until you can't take it anymore?"

"You're getting way too Freud on me Buff."

"I'm only here because of you Xander. All this is ticking away inside your head. Maybe you should listen."

"I go out and do the things I do because I want to. You know me. Only out to have good time and get laid right?"

"That's such bullshit Xander," Buffy spat. "Why can't you admit to yourself that you want to feel guilty? That you need those encounters of yours to keep it fresh inside your mind."

"That's not why I do it."

"Then what the hell is it? Why do you keep bringing me back like this? Why do you torture yourself?"

"I can't tell you."

"Like hell you can't!" She shouted.

"I don't need this right now," he groaned.

"Oh no," she said menacingly. "I'm not going anywhere until you tell my why. Why do you fuck all those girls and never see them again Xander? Why do you thrive on how low it makes you feel?"

"I pretend they're you!" He screamed. "I don't remember they're names because they don't matter! I can't let you go because I still love you okay? Are you happy now? It that what you wanted to fucking hear?"

He was standing over her with his hands in his hair, his breathing heavy. Buffy's eyes bore into his and the truth of his words.

"Xander...?" Willow questioned meekly from the door. "Who... who are you talking to?"

Xander's eyes shot toward the door, then back to the now empty couch. He fell to his knees, his head resting on the spot where his image of Buffy sat. Willow ran over to him and put her arms around his waist as soon as she heard the sobbing start.


"You always come here," Buffy said quietly as she appeared next to him.

He nodded silently, not looking over to her. He kept his eyes focused on the simple letters engraved into stone.

"Buffy Anne Summers."

"I didn't expect anything fancy;" she said nodding at the tombstone. "But this is a little on the dull side."

He chuckled softly.

"Dawn picked it out. I don't think she really knew how to pick out a tombstone. I mean, you were the one that chose your mom's..."

He let the rest of his sentence drift off.

"I don't want you to go," he said.

"I'll stay as long as you want."

"I've uh...decided not to be such a uh... Casanova anymore."

"That's good."

"I didn't make you feel weird about that did I? I mean...pretending they were you and all."

"It made sense actually."

"Did it?"

"Well, it makes me being here a whole lot more logical."

"I can't let go."

She moved to sit next to him, draping her arm across his shoulder. He leaned into her, allowing the smallest of smiles to grace his lips.

"You're going to have to let go one of these days Xander."

"One day," he said moving his arm upward and running his fingers along the letters of her name once more. He turned to look at her. "But not today."

She smiled at him. They sat in silence for awhile, a cool breeze blew from the west causing the trees to sway against the night sky. She felt the need to warn him of vampires, but somehow knew he wouldn't be bothered tonight.

"Xander?" She asked breaking their comfortable silence.


"Do you still want to dance with me?"

He looked to her and smiled.

"Of course."

He rose from the ground and extended his hand to her.

"M'lady," he said.

"Good sir," she replied.

He placed his hand on her hip and clasped her hand in his. Her head rested gently on his shoulder and they spun in slow easy circles around the grass. He let himself relax for the first time in months. The guilt he'd let build inside for so long seeming to finally want to wash away. He finally got his dance. This was his forgiveness.

"I still don't want to let go," he said.

"You're going to have to," she replied.

"One day," he promised.

"But not today," she finished.

He twirled her with his left arm before pulling her back into his hold. They spun gently, never wanting to let go. He felt her head lift toward him. Her arms wrap around his neck. He closed his eyes as he felt her lips on his.

When he opened them she was gone; his arms in the air locked in a hold on nothing. Still he danced.


He knew she'd be back.

He couldn't ever let her go.