Title: What She Needed
Author: LoveThatXander
Disclaimer: I own nothing, all belongs to Joss and UPN (but one day, I will own Xander and keep him as my pet. Heh heh heh)
Spoilers: This is post Afterlife so everything leading up to it.
Summary: The Gang casts a spell on Buffy to find out what she needs to be happy and the answer puts Xander in a position he could only dream of.
Rating: PG-13 (mild sexual encounter)
Pairing: Most definitely Buffy/Xander. One day, Joss will come to his senses and make it happen.
Feedback: This is my second Buffy fanfic and I'd really appreciate your comments.
Archiving: Sure, just let me know about it.
Dedication: This one's for Ozmandayus, Jaybird and the others who kindly gave me constructive criticism on my first fanfic. Much appreciated, guys!

'Well, just another exciting Friday night at the Magic Box', Xander stated sarcastically.

No one in the room heard his comment, making it even more ironic. He had said it loudly in an attempt to inject instant enthusiasm into the group, hoping it would somehow jumpstart a party atmosphere or rouse his friends into going bar-hopping. Then again, you couldn't hop for very long when there was only the Bronze to hop to. He felt restless knowing that, just beyond the front door, there was a town waiting to be painted red with loud music blaring for people who were dancing the night away. And here *he* was, sitting in what could be mistaken for a stuffy library while there was a whole world out there begging to be discovered. Oh, who was he kidding? He would settle for a couple of rented B-movies with the Scoobies.

He glanced at the others. Dawn was fiddling around with strange artefacts, Giles was completely engrossed in a book and Willow and Tara were making silent 'googly eyes' at each other. He sighed.

'Yup, T.G.I.F.', he unhappily mumbled to himself, feeling very lonely. He found it particularly hard to watch the two lovers interact since Anya had left him only three weeks ago. He closed his eyes and replayed what he had dubbed 'The Last Fight' once again in his mind. By now, he had reduced the lengthy argument into convenient, easily accessible, high-quality sound bites.

--'I'm tired of keeping our engagement a secret!'
--'Well, I'm sorry but the timing's still not right!'

--'You're stalling again!'
--'Stop pressuring me, ok?'

--'The Xander I fell in love with hasn't been around in a long time!'
--'But I'm right here!'

--'Who is she? Who are you in love with?'
--'There's no one else!'

--'Goodbye Xander'

What was wrong with him?
He had built up the courage to ask her to marry him. She had said yes. Check.
He bought her a ring. She loved it. Check.
They faced the end of the world. They helped prevent it and they both survived. Check.
She wanted to officially announce their engagement and actually wear the ring. Houston, we have a problem!

When Buffy died, it just didn't seem like the right time for an engagement party. Even minus the party, how could their lives go on when Buffy's couldn't. And then, she came back. And his entire focus shifted from mourning her to making everything better for her. Anya was right. The Xander she fell in love with doesn't live here anymore. He's moved on and he hasn't left a forwarding address. Putting down his thick, dusty book on the counter, Giles interrupted Xander's agonizing thoughts.

'Yes...yes I think it should do', he muttered to himself. Xander, Willow and Tara stared at him with questionning looks. He was silent for another few minutes, while he cleaned his glasses, a faraway look on his face.

'Hey G-Man. I can't wait for you to become un-silent again. What's up?', Xander asked in Xander-speak.

'Oh sorry', Giles replied realizing a group of people was waiting for him to finish his thought. 'I've debated this for the past week and...I think it's time to cast another spell on Buffy'.

They were all stunned, including Dawn whose attention was now completely focused on the middle-aged man she had come to see as a father-figure. It was Willow who spoke first.

'Giles...she's already been through so much. Are you sure about this? I mean, she's been back for four months now and she's still not herself.'

'She never smiles or laughs', Tara added gently.

'That's precisely what I'd like to restore', responded Giles, putting his now spotless glasses back in place.

'Well...is it a big, heavy-duty, poofy kind of spell or just a tiny harmless one', asked the redhead, concern written all over her features.

'Somewhere in the middle, I suspect', he replied with a faint smile. He made his way to the round table next to Xander and the others joined them. 'It's a discovery spell created by the demon Sokampy. It's fairly simple to cast and we have everything we need to cast it. Or do we...ah yes, we just received a crate of those. Oh but who's missing?' He quickly counted heads. 'The right people are here...except perharps for Angel but we should soon know if it matters.'

'Ok, am I the only one at a complete loss here?', Xander asked the others. 'Cause I fall into that group of people who are fond of coherent speech-patterns'.

'I'm right there with you', Dawn admitted, frowning. 'What does this scampi spell do?', she questionned.

'Simply put, it's a way to find out exactly what Buffy needs to achieve complete happiness. For 24 hours, she lives life the way she would lead it if she had everything necessary to be perfectly...happy. The world doesn't change in any way, only her perception of it is altered. It will be crucial that we follow her lead or else the illusion will be broken and the spell will end'. Giles waited for them to absorb what he had just said.

'But what if in her ideal world, she isn't the Slayer...or my sister?'. They all looked at the young girl with affection and Giles put a protective hand on her small shoulder.

'I shouldn't worry about you being left out. Besides, those are things that we cannot and *should not* change. The point is to see if there is anything that we can do to give her every chance at happiness. I believe she needs our help to cope with...her return to normal life'.

A shy cough interrupted his explanation.

'Huh, there's something...I don't understand', Tara said, her cheeks flushing as she spoke. 'You said that the spell was created by the demon Sokampy. He's...um...really not nice', she said, knowing it was an understatement. 'How can we be sure it won't...hurt Buffy in some way?'

'The spell in itself isn't harmful; it's what Sokampy did with the information it provided that was evil. Once he found out what a person needed to be happy, he would make sure his victim went without it for eternity', he explained.

'What a total loser!', Dawn supplied, making a face which clearly supported her comment. Giles smiled at the idea of a teenage girl 'dissing' - he believed that was the expression he'd heard - such a hainous creature.

The front door opened and Buffy slowly came in, hands in pockets, wearing her now typical black clothes and blank expression.

'Buffy!', they called out in cheerful, high-pitched unison. She could have sworn she just walked into a bar somewhere in Boston.

She stopped at the top of the steps and scanned the room, wondering if she should stay or go. She groaned inwardly at the frozen smiles which revealed far too many teeth, but she noticed that Xander was simply looking at her with that soft expression which had always been reserved for her.

'Buffy...please join us', Giles chimed, putting on the biggest, uncharacteristic smile he could muster.

As she approached the table, they became exasperatingly chipper and animated. She knew she should appreciate the way they overcompensated for...everything, but she craved honesty and truthfulness. Xander stood up.

'Here Buff', he motionned towards his chair, 'it's all warmed up for you'.

She glanced at the several other available chairs around the table. Xander had always been sollicitous and chivalrous...but even *he* was overdoing it. She quietly sat down.

'Thanks', she said flatly. Since her return from the safe, warm place, her voice always seemed out of sync with her actions. Always a little late. Always lagging behind. She knew she had just killed whatever positive mood had been filling the room. They were all so quiet now. Buffy realized she had become the quintessential party pooper and she wondered if she would beat Angel for the 'Brooding Trophy' this year.

'Buffy, we've figured out a way to help you with a spell', Dawn blurted out in her eagerness to help.

Giles winced. He had planned to slowly introduce the topic but the young girl had just eliminated any chance at subtlety. Buffy frowned and gently looked at the red-headed witch.

'Look Willow, I appreciate your...efforts but the last thing I need is another life-altering spell, ok?'.

At the hurt look in her friend's face, Buffy managed a week smile to soften the harshness behind her words.

'It wasn't my idea Buffy, but I think it makes a lot of sense', she replied.

Giles cut in and brought the Slayer up to speed. She listened carefully but was hesitant.

'If you ask me...', all eyes turned on Tara and she smiled nervously, 'which you didn't...I don't think you have anything to lose...and everything to gain by giving it a try.'

Buffy sighed. Now was a time for courage and she knew it.

'Ok', she simply stated. 'What do you need me to do?'.

Giles sprung into action. 'Just stay exactly where you are and try to relax. Willow, Tara, take the book and assemble all the ingredients and items. Dawn, lock up the store and turn off the main lights. Xander, light those candles and arrange them so that I'm able to read the incantation.'

He rolled up his shirt sleeves and began clearing the table of its useless clutter. Within a few minutes, they were ready. Giles read from the book in a monotonous voice, while the two witches meditated so as to help the process along. Xander and Dawn nervously stared at them and Buffy sat still, eyes closed, her face still expressionless.

'By all that is true and pure
Let her needs and wants be fulfilled
Let her soul be cleansed of fear and pain
Let her discovery begin
Let her eyes see happiness
Let her heart feel happiness
Let her face show happiness'

It went on for a while longer and at crucial moments, Giles would wave a pungeant bundle of smoking herbs, which made Dawn's eyes water. The ceremony ended in a rather anti-climactic way and they all waited. Buffy opened her eyes and waited with them.

'Did it work? I mean, should she have become all glowy or something?', inquired Dawn.

'No, not necessarily', responded Giles. 'Buffy do you feel anything different?'

She thought for a moment, frowning. 'No, I guess not'.

They were all visibly disapointed. She slowly began smiling in appreciation of their caring and support. 'Guys, you're the best', she said quietly.

'Well, at least we tried', Giles muttered to himself, his shoulders slumping in defeat.

While he carefully closed the book, Willow cleared the table, Tara put out the candles, Xander exhaled loudly in frustration and Dawn turned the main lights back on. Buffy watched them, a peaceful look now lighting up her face.

'Perhaps we should call it a night', Giles suggested. Nodding heads and weary eyes approved.

'I agree. I think it's been a long day', answered Buffy. 'Thanks anyway, guys'. She took Xander's hand and added 'Come on Xand, let's go home'.

A surprised Xander looked down at the beautiful blonde's small hand in his own bigger one. All eyes simultaneously exchanged meaningful glances and silently confirmed to each other that the spell had indeed been successful. Giles, looking like a nervous stage-mother, anxiously gestured at Xander to smile and go along with it. Xander forced an awkward smile and became increasingly nervous.

'Xand? Are you ok, Baby?', Buffy inquired, concerned.

He slowly broke out into a sincere, goofy smile.

'That's much better', she said, winking at him.

He thought he was going to melt...or wake up because the whole situation seemed too good to be true. She started to lead him toward the front door.

'Dawn are you coming?', she asked.

'Uh yeah. Definitely!', she responded, relieved to still be included in her big sister's ideal reality.

'G'night guys. Sleep tight, don't let the creepy crawleys bite!, Buffy shot back, waving energetically.

As soon as the three had stepped outside, two of the remaining three yelled out high pitched screams of victory. Tara quietly watched Willow and Giles jumping up and down, desperately trying not to laugh.

On the walk to Buffy's house, Xander's mind was reeling. Thankfully, she was doing most of the talking. It was all he could do to respond 'Huh huh' or 'Yeah' once in a while. It felt like someone had put a spell on *him* and he was in awe of her cheerful voice and her laugh. He hadn't heard her laugh in so long...it was intoxicating. Dawn was walking on Xander's other side and he noticed that she looked content and seemed to be enjoying taking in full breaths of air as if she had been unable to do so for a while.

He wondered how far the situation would take him. Maybe Buffy would say goodnight and send him home. Maybe that would be for the best, he considered. After all, the last thing he wanted to do was take advantage of her while she was under a spell. That's the kind of thing Spike would do. Xander's face suddenly contorted into an evil grin when he thought about how Spike, Riley and Deadboy would be jealous of little ol' him. He certainly felt like the luckiest guy in the world. Never in his wildest dreams had he thought that Buffy needed him, Alexander Harris, to be completely happy. But the problem was that he didn't want to overstep any tricky boundaries. He decided that if things got complicated, he would call Giles for advice on how to procede.

They finally reached her block. The moment of truth. He stopped a few feet short of her front porch and waited for his next instructions. She stared at him.

'Xand, what are you doing?

'Umm, I don't know, what *am* I doing?', he shot back awkwardly.

As she gave him a knowing look, she handed the keys to Dawn and they suddenly became a twosome. She got dangerously close to him and put her hands on his chest. She flashed him an even more dangerous smile and he thought his knees were going to buckle.

'You are such a kooky guy. But do you know what 'slays' me about you, Xand?' He shook his head, his breathing becoming uneven. 'This sexy body of yours'. He closed his eyes and swallowed hard. The last time he'd been this turned on by her, she had maliciously danced against him and spoken very suggestively to make Angel jealous. He opened his eyes again, and although he searched, he couldn't find a hint of insincerity in her lovely face.

Something violently grabbed him and knocked him down. Stunned, he looked up and saw a female vampire fast approaching his neck, hissing. Buffy sprung into action and tore the agressor away from him. They fought for a few minutes but the creature's moves were no match for the Slayer's abilities. Soon, Buffy had her on the ground; she snapped off a branch from a nearby tree and pinned the monster down. She leaned in close to her and said between clenched teeth: 'Get your own boyfriend. This one's mine'. A second later, it was a pile of dust.

He was in shock; not from the physical violence he had suffered seconds ago but from the words she had just spoken. In Buffy's ideal world, *he* was her *boyfriend*. He could not have a clearer confirmation of her sincerity, he thought. She got to her feet, dusted off her outfit and released her partially undone ponytail to allow her hair to flow down on her shoulders. Xander couldn't help expressing what he felt.

'You're so beautiful, Buffy'.

His comment earned him a glowing smile and a peck on the mouth.

'Let's go in before her girlfriends show up and try to steal you from me, too.'

Two hours later

They had eaten dinner like a real family, just the three of them. They had stuffed their faces and laughed about it. The dishes had been cleaned, everything had been put away, Dawn was in bed sleeping and Buffy was taking a shower. Xander took the opportunity to call the Watcher.

'Giles. I can't talk for too long. She's saying I'm her boyfriend. What am I supposed to do if she wants to um...you know...share her happiness with me.'

'I...don't know what to tell you. If you don't follow her lead, it will break the illusion and end the spell'.

'Yeah, I seem to remember you telling me something about that earlier tonight', he replied sarcastically. 'Come on Oh Wise One, don't you have something wise to tell me? I'm desperate here! I don't want to take advantage of her, you know. Doesn't seem...right'

'Uh, well, I suppose you...'

The steady noise of running water suddenly stopped.

'Oops, gotta go'.

He hung up and sat on her bed. Realizing it may be rather suggestive to be sitting on that particular piece of furniture, he bolted across the room and sat on the window sill. Fortunately, the cool air helped calm him down. The bathroom door opened, allowing steam to escape, and Buffy walked into her room wearing nothing but a large peach-coloured towel. She closed the bedroom door behind her and winked at him. His eyes were hungrily roaming her body and she was aware of it. She seductively walked to her closet and took out a sexy number. He quickly figured out that she was about to change right in front of him and he forced himself to examine the tree outside her window. He didn't know how much more of this torture he could take. His thoughts were interrupted by the sight of her head beside his, wet hair still clinging to it, studying the street outside, trying to locate what was capturing his interest. After a few moments, she turned to face him.

'More vamps?', she asked, concerned.

'No. Just wondering how the heck I came to deserve you', he replied, sincere.

Her worried look disolved into a loving grin and his heart stopped beating for a brief moment. He internally chided himself. He was supposed to follow her lead, not help the fantasy along! Her hand reached out and stroked his neck where he was quickly developping a bruise from where the creature had pushed him with brutal force.

'Quite the contrary. I don't know how you put with me and my Slayer baggage', her face lost its happiness and she sighed heavily. 'You know, Xand...I'll understand when you decide to leave. I'll be happy to have you as long as you can take it. And there won't be any hard feelings when you decide you've had enough'. Her face now displayed the same blank expression she had worn since she was revived four long months ago.

Xander gently but firmly put his hands on her shoulders and brought her nearer. 'Buffy, you have no idea...you can't begin to know how much...'. Unable to put into words what he felt, he brought her lips to his and kissed her passionately. After a few intense seconds, they broke apart and gasped for air. He found his voice again, this time with a clearer idea of what he needed to say.

'I'll never leave you Buffy. Ever. They couldn't drag me away from you if they tried', he said in a hoarse whisper.

From the relief on her face, he knew he had just spoken the exact words she needed to hear. He also realized that her fear of ultimately losing him was the reason why Buffy couldn't bring herself to be with him when he confessed to her, a few years ago, that he wanted more than her friendship. He finally understood why she had always pushed him away and gone to others who either didn't matter as much to her or wouldn't die as easily as he would. And since her return from death, her feeling of hopelesness had definitely intensified; he and the gang just hadn't known why.

'Xander, make love to me', she asked as desire overtook her.

Suddenly, years of pent up pain, confusion and frustration lifted from his shoulders. He surrounded her with his arms and guided her to the bed. They both sat next to each other on the edge and stared pasionnately into each other's eyes. He reached out and played with her hair. She closed her eyes and leaned into his touch. He could see goosebumps spreading on her arms and he was amazed that he could have such an effect on Buffy Summers, the object of his affection. He leaned in and kissed her. Her eyes still closed, she was surprised by the sudden contact of his soft lips on hers. She leaned back slowly and pulled her willing partner with her. They quickly became more demanding of each other, emitting moaning and gasping noises. She tugged Xander's shirt out of his pants and ripped it open, buttons flying in all directions. He responded by pulling her cotton negligée down to her waist, revealing her bare breasts. Up to that moment, he had felt increasingly turned on with every passing second, but he suddenly found himself struggling to keep from climaxing right then and there. He grabbed one breast with his hand and tended to the other with his mouth. Buffy instantly arched her back.

'Oh God, Xander penetrate me', she pleaded.

He once again had to concentrate in order to keep control over his throbbing member, which had a mind of its own.

'Buffy, just give me a few seconds...I'm so close...but I want our first time to last', he managed to explain.

She frowned, visibly confused. 'Our first time? Xand, what are you talking about?' A naughty look gradually appeared on her face. 'Oh I get it. Is this role-play? Are we supposed to be virgins?'

Omygod. Reality suddenly came crashing down on him. Buffy was under a spell and he was doing exactly what he had wanted to avoid: he was taking advantage of her. With every ounce of willpower he could muster, he gently tore himself from her grasp and sat back on the farthest edge of the bed. He sighed heavily, rubbed his eyes with his hands and began mumbling something about baseball and Aunt Bertha in a bathing suit. Buffy sat up in bed and awkwardly adjusted her negligée to cover her chest.

'What's the matter? Did I do something wrong?', she asked, already missing the weight of his body on hers.

He focused his complete attention on the sexy girl in front of him. 'Oh no. Believe me, you've done everything right', he replied, subconsciously licking his lips.

'Then, I don't understand...'

'Buffy, do you trust me?'

'Of course. With my life', she answered, wondering what he was getting at.

'Do you remember what we did at the Magic Box tonight?'

'Well...sure. It *was* just a few hours ago. Xander...'

'What did we do?'

She now had a slightly exasperated look on her face. 'We just hung out, didn't we?'

'Do you remember Giles performing a spell?', he asked, knowing he was treading in dangerous waters.

'Is this a trick question? Yes, Giles performed a spell !'. She was now visibly irritated. 'Although I forget exactly what it was for, so it couldn't really have been that important, could it?'

'Ok. Buffy, I'm going to have to ask you to trust me and by tomorrow night, you'll thank me for it.'

Her frustration was now replaced by curiosity and concern. They were both silent as Xander considered his next step and Buffy braced herself for bad news. She slowly reached for his hand and interlaced her fingers with his.

'Xand...just tell me. I trust you. You know I'd do anything for you'.

'My God, I love you, Buffy', he said, gently shaking his head.

She smiled at the unexpected comment. 'That's the first time you've ever said that'.

'Well, I'm an idiot for not saying it before'.

They looked at each other longingly and he realised that if he did not deal with the situation right away, he would find himself taking advantage of her again. And he knew that he wouldn't be able to pull himself away from her a second time.

'We can't make love tonight' he blurted out. There. He said it. She frowned again, struggling to understand. She looked at the bulge in his pants, an obvious sign that he wasn't having any 'male' problems.

'But why?'

'See, that's the part where you have to trust me', he replied, melting under her sexy, pouty gaze.

'Don't you want me?'

'Oh my God, do you really have to ask?, he whimpered, bringing her hand up to his mouth and kissing it.


'You'll understand everything tomorrow night, I promise. It's just one night', he offered, knowing it sounded as much like a lifetime to her as it did to him.

'But considering we usually have sex two or three times a day, this is going to be so hard'.

Xander's brain could only register what she had just said in small fragments. Sex. With Buffy. Two or three times. A day. He briefly wondered if he was having another wet dream. Buffy resigned herself to accepting his strange request to abstain from sex *for no apparent reason* for one night. She sighed.

'Will you at least sleep beside me tonight?', she asked, hopeful.

He considered whether it would be acceptable to do so and made his decision. 'Well ok. But we both have to be dressed' he quickly added.

'Hey, I want you at least stripped down to your t-shirt and boxers or else you can just go home', she negotiated, a smile tugging at the corners of her mouth.

'Deal', he replied, his eyes dancing.

He stripped down as requested and they slipped under the covers, automatically assuming the spoon position as if they had done it countless times before. He tenderly kissed the back of her neck and they slowly drifted into a peaceful slumber.

The following evening

Sitting at the round table, the Gang patiently waited for Sunnydale's newest couple to arrive.

'I wish they would hurry up. The 24 hours will be up in...', Giles consulted his watch, 'just under 5 minutes'.

'I wonder what they've been doing', Willow said, relishing the situation. 'Cause I'm gonna want all the *dirty details*!' She suddenly remembered Dawn, standing a few feet away. 'Oh, not that there's any dirt involved...in fact it's so not dirty, it's the complete opposite of dirty...it's clean...clean as a whistle...'

Tara gently rested her hand over her girlfriend's and the red-head instantly calmed down but still shot guilty glances at the teen. As if on cue to end the awkward moment, the front door opened and Buffy and Xander walked in, hand in hand and smiling.

'Hello all', Buffy cheerfully greeted them.

'Hi guys', Willow replied, ecstatic to see them still holding hands.

'What did you guys do today?', Dawn asked enthusiastically, beating Willow to the punch.

'Well, it's such a beautiful, sunny day that we went to the beach', Buffy answered, content. She looked hungrily at Xander. 'This one turned a few heads prancing around in his swimming trunks, let me tell you'.

When they reached the table, they remained standing and the others got a perfect view of a blushing Xander who was smiling sheepishly.

Willow's eyes grew even wider with excitement. 'So you guys had a good time?'

'Another perfect Saturday with my guy. What more can I ask for?', Buffy stated, surprising Xander and everyone by kissing him full on the lips.

He remained still, hands on his sides, waiting for the sweet torture to end, but as the seconds passed, and he saw that she was not going to relent, he brought his arms around her and responded passionately. Giles nervously looked at his watch and saw that time was running out. Willow noticed that their passion was contagious as Tara was exhaling and fanning herself with a magazine while staring at the couple in front of them.

Suddenly, Buffy's eyes shot open and, while they kept kissing, she seemed momentarily confused. His eyes still closed, Xander was lost in the moment, and was oblivious to her hesitation. Deciding that kissing him felt far too good to stop, she closed her eyes again and enjoyed the moment. They gradually slowed down the pace and he gently leaned back his head to look at her.

'That was nice', she simply said, returning his loving stare.

Something in the way she had said it made Xander realise that Buffy was no longer under the spell. There was a nuance, barely dectectable, but he knew her so well that he instantly picked up on it. He smiled, happy that she hadn't pushed him away.

'Buffy, do you remember the past 24 hours?', Giles quickly asked.

'Yes', she distractedly responded, still looking straight into Xander's eyes. 'You are...', she searched for words. 'You are a true gentleman, Xander'. She rested her head on his chest and surrounded his waist with her arms.

His eyes grew wide. He was suddenly frantic, afraid their relationship would revert to friendship. He couldn't handle losing her love and devotion. Not after getting a glimpse of what they could be together. His fears were calmed when she smoothed his worried face with her hand. She lead him to the training room and closed the door, leaving their stunned friends behind them. They sat on the couch and she left a trail of soft kisses from his ear down his neck.

'Xander, I *need* you in my life. That much is clear now. I can't run away from it anymore', she admitted.

'I'm here for you. Always have been. Always will be, Buffy. And I *so* want to be your boyfriend'.

She couldn't help but smile seductively. 'Then finish was we started last night'.

And he did.