TITLE: Loving Willow

AUTHOR: Jaina

RATING: G

DISTRIBUTION: I'd be thrilled to death if you wanted to post or archive this somewhere, but please ask me permission first.

SUMMARY: That would be telling. It's a vignette, that's all worth noting.

DISCLAIMER: Joss knows all, sees all, owns all. I do none of the above.

AUTHOR'S NOTES: Dru and flunkies did some damage in Becoming II (spoilers, by the by) but some of it healed. What if it didn't?

I peek into Willow's room. "Hey, baby, it's me," I say. "I brought you these." I lay the flowers down beside her so she can smell them. "Roses again," I say. "I hope you're not getting tired of them. Remember that time you told me that you love roses not because they're pretty, but because they smell so nice? I guess I sort of think of that every time I buy them." I reach out and tuck a strand of her hair behind her ear. "If I tell you something, promise you won't think I'm silly? After that I wondered if your name should be Rose, because you're just like one. You're so beautiful, Will; the most beautiful woman I know. But none of that really matters. You're so beautiful on the *inside*-it's that beauty that made me fall for you. Corny, I know, but true."

She doesn't say anything, but I know she's glad I'm here. I always will be. Every morning without fail-I'm here. She needs me here.

"No songs today, Will," I say, sitting down in the chair beside her. "I broke a string at our gig last night. Devon threw a fit, but we only had a couple of songs left so I faked it through. Devon still blew up. You really should see him when he gets mad. His face gets all red and blotchy. It's very peculiar. Sometimes I wonder if it was anything to do with the Hellmouth, but Giles doesn't think so. I'm not convinced, though." I smile wistfully at her. "I really wish I could play for you today. The other day I was thinking of you-well, I'm always thinking of you-and I wrote a song for you. It just came to me. You'll love it, Willow, at least I hope you will. I don't want to tell you the words before you hear it, but it's about how I feel about you. It was hard to put into words. Everything I feel for you is so-it's like my feelings are bigger than my heart, bigger than me, just because they're about you. Anyway, I'm sorry I didn't tell you about the song earlier, but I wanted to wait until I finished. I promise to play it for you as soon as I get a new string."

Hey, I got a letter from Buffy. She…sends her love, and some new pictures of UCLA. The campus is really pretty, Will. I was thinking we could go visit it when you get better, maybe go there. I'm sure Buffy would love it, even if she'd be ahead of us. We'd have an in with the upper class, anyway. Can you imagine our freshman year? We'd probably be the oldest ones there. I don't have a problem with it if you don't, though. Good thing Giles forced me to get my GED. Back to Buffy. She says her GPA is relatively healthy, but her chem grade was on life support for a while until Giles flew in to help her out. Quite the tutor, isn't he? She promised to visit on her next break." For a moment I'm quiet, remembering what else Buffy said. Things I don't want to hear. That's the nice thing about letters, though. They're much easier to ignore than a person actually standing in front of you. I'm not mad at her, though. Buffy's not here, so she doesn't understand what I do every day. She doesn't get to walk into this room every day and feel the joy that comes from looking at Willow. It's okay that she's gone, too. When she left Sunnydale it wasn't because she was a coward. Buffy's real brave. She stuck it out for an entire summer afterwards and even a few months of weekend visits before she stopped coming. We all know how hard it was for her to stay here at all after she killed Angel, so nobody said anything. I know she cares, and so does Willow. That's good enough for me. I wish Xander would come more, though. He was dealing with it better than Buffy, but he followed her to LA because she needed someone to look out for her. Just like Willow needs me to look after her. Still, the letter was pretty disturbing. I could tell Buffy was trying hard, but even a reluctant suggestion that we try letting her go was too hard to take. It's not going to happen. I hope Buffy gets that. Anyway, Willow's still listening, and she'll know if something's wrong so I keep talking. "Buffy's trying to get Xander to come, too, if he can get off of work. He doesn't get much time off. Too much crime in the angel city, I guess. The LAPD has at least one more good cop than Sunnydale ever did. Isn't it funny how Xander ended up doing what we always thought Buffy might? Being a cop is one way to protect Buffy, I suppose, and it lets him be near her. Plus I think he gets a happy from protecting the innocent, not that he'd ever admit it. He's too busy being the grim, serious guy."

Did I tell you that I think they might be falling in love? They spent so much time together after…and now with them alone together in the big city…I don't know, but I think something might be happening. The problem is that Xander's too busy trying to take care of Buffy that I'm not sure he spends a whole lot of time actually looking at her. There's also the whole ghost of boyfriends past thing. I don't think Buffy's ever really gotten over the whole Acathla mess. She had to patch things up with her mom and hang with you, and it didn't really leave much time to grieve. If she doesn't get over the past, she'll probably never try it with Xander, but I still think they could be happy if they worked at it."

I glance at the clock. "Geez, it's almost time for me to go. I'm sorry, sweetie. I wish they'd let me stay longer, but you know the rules. I'll be back tomorrow. We've still got a couple minutes, though." I'm quiet for a minute before going on. "I just want you to remember that none of this is your fault, Willow. Buffy and Xander are doing fine, and I love being here every day. Don't ever feel bad about making any of us sad. You take as long as you need to. I'll be right here whenever you're ready. This may seem kind of out of the blue, but it's been on my mind lately. We had a family dinner at my house last week, you know, one of those things where the whole clan gets together and trades stories of children and recipes. My Uncle Greg and Aunt Karen where there, and they were worried about me. They want me to do something more than be in a band, and if I'm sticking with that they want to know why we don't move out to New York or LA or some place where we can get noticed. They're upset that, and this is a direct quote, that I'm `frittering away my time in a hospital room.' Do you even know what frittering really means? Anyway, they asked me what was happening in my life. What was so great that I planned on spending the next three years like I've spent the last?"

Loving Willow."

I mean, loving you. `Loving Willow' is what I told them. I didn't even think about it before I answered, it just popped out. And it's true- loving you is what I want to do. Every day when I walk in here I remember how you used to look at me, the way you'd smile, the way you'd cry, the way you-" my voice catches and I wipe a tear from my cheek. "I just wish I could see all those things again. Baby, you know I'd give anything if you'd just look at me and say those things back. I miss your voice, Will. I miss…" I falter. "Well, you know all the things I miss. You know me. And I'm not mad, Will, so don't feel bad because you can't answer me right this second. I promise to be here every day until you can." I stand up and kiss her forehead. "I've got to go now. I'll see you later, hopefully with guitar in hand."

I love you."

I step out into the hallway and Nora Phillips, Willow's principal nurse, greets me. "Hello, dear. It's good to see you here. I know she likes hearing your voice."

I smile. "Yeah. I kinda like talking to her."

"She hears you, you know."

I nod. "I know."

She checks her watch. "Well, I've got to get back on rounds," she says. "You'll be back tomorrow?"

"Always," I say, and turn to go. I walk down the hall of Sunnydale Hospital's long-term care unit for those in comas. Already I'm counting the minutes until I can come back again. Some might consider it a burden, but these visits are the highlight of my day. I can't help it. I can't help loving her. It's what I do.

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Just in case it wasn't clear by now, this is an alternate universe where Willow never came out of the coma she was in Becoming II. I'm bad. Send feedback might make me better next time. ;)

Lair of the Moose: http://members.tripod.com/~treasurebox/index.html ~you have her face and her eyes, but you are not here...~Tori Amos, Bells For Her "Be perverted quietly."