Notes: Written for the whichwillow ficathon with the prompt 'What if Willow had been the one turned by Darla in Welcome to the Hellmouth?' This was beta read by itches. Thank you muchly. This isn't set in the Wishverse.

Xander didn't know how long he could hide behind the flimsy wooden crates that lined the cement wall. She had to smell his fear, sweat, and grief over the stale scent of the abandoned factory. He folded himself up as small as he could with his chin on his knees and arms wrapped around his shins. Flickering light from a broken streetlamp streamed through the large boarded up windows behind him. It gave him enough light to look through a crack between two crates into the wider, dingy chamber. He knew she was close. Willow hadn't herded him to the old factory for milkshakes and Doublemeat burgers.

July 1998. - 10 months, 2 semesters, 1 near apocalypse after Willow died.

Xander walked in circles around the old campfire, nodding and making significant sounding contemplative noises as he looked at the ground, before throwing his hands up in the air. "I am not, in anyway, a tracker of anything." Wandering around the site, he shook his head. If Willow had been here, she was long gone and hadn't left an obvious trace or a clue to where she was at the moment. He felt silly bringing a mini-slay kit for a glorified hike. Chilly wind blew his hair back. A crack in the distance, like a good sized stick breaking, made his eyes dart up to look at the sky before scanning the trees. Nothing moved and the sun was still high in the sky to his relief. Xander began his walk back to his mom's car; she was going to kill him for borrowing it.

The campsite was farther away from the road than Xander had anticipated when he headed out earlier. The trees were clustered close and thickly spread in every direction with a few thin paths leading into the gloom of the forest. It was still two hours from sunset, but his path was shadowed from the tall trees. He felt like he was being watched. Stalked. Tracked. He checked behind himself quickly before looking forward

Willow. Standing in the middle of the path, she waved and smiled before blowing him a kiss.

Xander bolted onto a path to his right, dodging rocks, logs, and holes in his way. Branches hit him in the face. Thistles scratched at his clothes. He turned left back towards the road, barreling through the overgrown path. He was glad that his flight instinct worked on autopilot because the thought 'oh, shit' was on repeat in his mind.

"You still mad, Xander? It was just a nibble." She laughed from somewhere in the trees.

Xander had no idea where he was or where he was going in the dark forest. The birds had stopped their chirping and his own panting was the only sound to be heard besides the pounding of his heart.

A flash of red hair up ahead made him pull back and turn again.

Giles had warned him about trying to patrol when Buffy was still on summer vacation. Xander hadn't listened as usual. No, he was a badass, he reflected, he thought could strut like Blade into the demon haunts, coming back unharmed with his brass balls clinking together as he swaggered, because he was friend of the Slayer and took some self-defense classes. He had overheard at the Fish Tank that Willow had scared and eaten some campers in the nearby forest a few days ago and he wanted to check it out. He was only doing recon, he rationalized to himself earlier, but maybe this was exactly what he wanted. Just like Buffy said, he mused darkly. He wanted to come face to face with Willow on a suicide mission. It had a certain grim symmetry to it. He had let her die so she had come back to kill him. Putting his stake into his pocket and pulling out a thin bottle of holy water, Xander knew that he would take her down with him. It had been Willow's last request.

Xander would never forget Willow's screams echoing out of the mausoleum that night. He had pumped his legs faster as he sprinted behind Buffy, hoping that they would make it in time, across the cemetery. He had tripped over a flat tombstone, falling on his face and scratching his arms, but he jumped up, cursing his clumsiness, to continue running. Xander had made it to the door of the mausoleum in time to see Willow be thrown over a fem vamp's shoulder. Willow had reached for him and screamed for help before she disappeared into the darkness of the tomb. Her wide eyes had been luminous with fear as she beat her fists against the hell bitch's back. Afterward, he would agonize over those moments lost and torture himself with what-ifs.

He never saw her alive again.

December 1997 – 3 months after he tripped and let his friend die.

"I'm glad you stopped running." Willow said from the darkness.

"Well, it's hard when a brick wall is n your way." Xander retorted as he pressed himself closer to the smoke blackened corner and cursed himself for going to the Bronze that night. He was going to die in its oil-spattered back alley between a dumpster and a grimy wall. The band had sucked too. Hadn't he seen and heard enough about the things that go bump in the dark in Sunnydale to know better about wandering by himself? Now Willow was one of those creatures. They thought she had been killed, but it was so much worse. Sweet, gentle Willow was one of the evil undead. This was a possibility he had never wanted to consider. Despite his instincts screaming at him to move his ass, if he hadn't seen her demonic face, he would have gone towards her. "But, hey, maybe I'm already laying the foundation for a slick get-a-away."

She smiled and it was like a knife to the gut. It was the same old Willow smile. She raised her hand and snapped her fingers. The floodlight attached to the club's back door frame exploded, raining glass shards down, before plunging the alley into darkness.

"Oh God, you're a witch too?" Xander asked.

"Always was. Just needed the Master and Darla to bring it out in me." Willow twirled a stand of her long red hair around her finger with a grin. "I'm still in training, but I'm causing destruction at college-age levels."

"Doesn't matter. We'll stop you and your bloodsucking buddies in the end." He said, raising his chin, hoping he looked brave.

"Why fight this? You keep hanging out with Buffy and some vampire is going to get a piece of you some day. Why not me?" She stepped closer to him, black vinyl dress squeaking quietly, petite frame seeming to fill the alley. Kohl lined her eyes. Her voice was calm and even with a dry sardonic air."I could make it so good for you, Xander."

"I can't make the same promise." Buffy said from the mouth of the alley, stake in hand, a closed expression on her face.

"Ah, come on, Buffy, I'm just teasing." Willow said, jokingly, in such an Willow-y way that made Xander's heart hurt. "Don't have a cow." She lunged at Xander, grabbing him, pining him to her as a human shield, and spinning him to face the Slayer. Her thin, icy hand gripped his neck and she tapped her sharp fingernails on his skin. Her voice was colder and definitely more vamperic when she continued. "You're going to give me a lot more space or I'm going suck him down like a Capri Sun, Slayer."

"I'll kill you before you finish." Buffy vowed, her knuckles were white as she gripped her stake.

"Xander would still be dead." Willow nuzzled the side of his face ignoring his cringing. "Another friend lost and its not like you have a surplus." She took a step back, dragging Xander with her, towards the dumpster. "Maybe this is why slayers, traditionally, don't have friends."

"Don't you hurt him!" Buffy yelled, inching closer.

"But, its fun." Willow dug her nails into the soft flesh of his neck until he bleed, licking it. "And he tastes yummy."

There was still apart of him that couldn't believe that his best friend was gone even when he was confronted with her evil twin time and time again. In his mind, she was still the sweetest girl in school who always let him have a bite of her cookie at lunch and never made a crack about his family. Willow was his shoulder to cry on. She wore cotton dresses of Mom-approved lengths with knee socks and cardigans. Her favorite shows were on PBS. She trick or treated for UNICEF every year. How could she be a vampire? You'd think that her Willowness would cancel out the evil. Even when she had had him by the neck, there was a small bit of him that hoped that it was all just a bad joke.

"Xander," Willow called out. "Alexander LaVelle Harris." The crackle of breaking glass echoed through the factory. Then again and again. It was getting closer.

Xander flattened himself against the wall before looking up at the wide boarded up windows only a few feet above his head in horror. He scooted to his left as quietly as possible.

"Still running?" Willow yelled from far away. "I'm on your trail and Buffy isn't here to save you."

He blinked away tears at the truth in her words and focused on staying silent.

"I couldn't catch you when I was alive, but I will in death." Willow's voice sounded closer. "I was so in love with you when I was human. Its sad, really, that I pined over you for so long in the shadows when I could have just reached out and grabbed you for a kiss." She laughed. "Oh, come on, I can't keep a straight face about this anymore. Just come out from behind the crates, Xander."

He couldn't stop from gasping, but he didn't wet himself which he still counted as a win. He pulled his large crucifix out from under his shirt. Rising on shaking legs, Xander crept out from his rubbish shelter. "So, you're going to try kill me again, huh?"

May 1998 – 9 months after Willow was assumed dead, but was really a undead witch learning blood magic at the foot of the Master.

"I'm going to kill you, Xander. Don't worry, you won't be alone for long," Willow said before licking his neck, her strong arms keeping his back pressed against her."The Master will kill Buffy soon enough. He wants her to know that he can get to her at any time -at her home, at the Bronze, in Dr. Gregory's biology class."

They were in the library after Buffy and Giles had gone on patrol, leaving him there to research the Aurelius Clan. He hadn't heard them coming or saw them until too late. A strong hand had hauled him out of his chair and pushed him into Willow's arms.

"How does that make you feel? Scared?" Willow asked, lips brushing against his ear.

"Yeah, that would be it in a nutshell," Xander said with a crack in his voice. The wet spot on his neck was chilly in the air conditioned room. His eyes felt hot as he kept back tears of fear and he thought of Buffy smiling in the sunshine. He hoped he saw her again. Hell, he hoped he saw Snyder again.

"Really, Willow? This one?" Darla asked standing in front of them arms crossed, examining him. Her ancient eyes looked Xander up and down in a manner than belied her school girl uniform. She looked as if she was about to open his jaws to peer at his teeth."You could do better."

"Hey," Willlow and Xander exclaimed at the same time.

"I mean, she's right, Willow." Xander said, nodding frantically. "I'm a small fish, toss me back in the creek and find John Cusack. You always loved him."

She ran her fingers up and down his jugular. "That would be zany fun, but you have sentimental value. I could just drain you though and leave you for the Slayer and the hot librarian to find if you're going to be a spoil sport."

"Ugh, Giles, hot?" Xander said reflectively before her other words penetrated his head. A cold sweat popped out of his skin. He shook his head before screaming as white pain erupted from his neck.

Willow sunk her fangs into his neck with a growl, gripping him tight, and shaking him like a playful cat.

"Remember darling, they turn a tad sour after their hearts stop. You'll have to learn how to control yourself and your feeding. I know you're excited and eager, but you're making a mess," Darla said with a laugh. "More of him will end up on the floor than in your mouth."

The edges of his vision were blurring as the cold vampire walked closer to him. The pain was intense and radiated from his shoulder in a crushing throb that went to the crown of his head down to his toes. He didn't even feel Willow let go of him to toss him aside. He rolled to the book cage and landed on his back. Gasping, he trembled as the life drained from him, but he pressed his hand to his wound. His eyes were half closed, but he could see Willow.

Blood dribbled from her chin to her cleavage, darkening the crimson satin of her cocktail dress, her demon face was wild and her eyes rolling as she reached for the blond. The two vampires clashed in a brutal kiss before Willow pulled away with her human visage in place. She ran a thumb across her chest to coat it in blood before raising it to the other woman's lips. "Mmmm, nummy." Willow looked him in the eyes. "Should I finish him?"

"No, its better that he tells the tale and passes along the Master's message. If he survives long enough for them to find him." Darla licked her childe's thumb clean. "You missed the jugular so he has a least fifteen minutes." She took Willow by the hand and led her from the library.

Xander struggled to stay conscious and keep pressure on his neck. Sparks flashed in front of his eyes. So, this is what dying felt like, he thought, as the minutes went by in a glossy blur. The library swam and spun in his vision.

Willow, rosy and human, appeared, with the saddest expression on her face, kneeling beside him. She cupped his cheek with her palm but he felt nothing. He knew she must be a hallucination, but he enjoyed it. He was hoping to see her anyway."You're not real." He said with a smile.

"Aren't I?" Willow's lips turned upward into a smile of perfect despair. Her form was fading."You need to stay alive, Xander. One of us has too!"

"I'll be with you though." Xander coughed.

"I'm fine. I'm dandy and dead. Its my body that is the problem." Willow leaned over and kissed him on the mouth. "I'm so sorry. So so sorry. Please live, Xander, please live. I want to see you on the other side in seventy years after a long and happy life. Hold on."

His eyes fluttered open and closed as nausea and blood loss overcame him. "I'll try."

"I love you and I always did." Willow seemed to dissolve before his eyes, but leaned closer to his ear and whispered. "Please stake me. Please."

"I will." Xander choked and coughed. Blinking, he mustered up his strength and yelled for help, but it came out a croak.

"Dear god. Call 911, Buffy!" Xander heard Giles and his hurried footsteps before the familiar bespectacled face came into his dimming sight.

"Willow." He gasped out before darkness enveloped him.

Willow smiled. "You are surprisingly difficult to kill." She slinked closer. It was odd watching Willow move with such self-confidence and grace. She was wearing a frilly dark purple dress that showed more of her legs than she ever did in life."Makes you fun, I guess."

Xander raised the holy water. "Its always fun until someone gets hurt." He wished his cross was bigger.

"It doesn't have to hurt." She whispered, walking towards him at an angle, before rushing at him and knocking the holy water from his grip with the back of her hand. The bottle broke against a wall. Willow stepped back. "You know what I'm after."

He had barely saw her move. Xander shook his head, holding the cross in front of him, before he said, "I can't let that happen."

"Xander," Willow threw her hands up in the air. "Don't you understand what I'm offering you? I can take you away from your parents, make you stronger than your dad ever was. Do what you want. Be who you want." She folded her arms across her chest. "Immortality. Didn't you always want to be badass? I can make it happen." She ran her hands down her waist with a smirk. "Dying strips away the fluff."

"I don't like the price that comes with it."

She rolled her eyes. "Oh, you get over it."

"No, I won't." He continued quietly, "you didn't."

"Fuck, Xander, don't you see that you will die horribly when the Master takes over?" Willow stepped closer to him, flinching from the close proximity to the cross. "I don't want you to fall into the hands of his minions."

"Aren't I already?" He gestured to their gloomy surroundings.

Willow gasped and put her hands on her hips. "First off, I was sired by the favorite childe of the Master so I am not a minion. Thank you very much." She shook her head. "You think I'm a monster, but from what I've seen of other vampires and their humans, this has been a pleasant courtship."

"Oh, yeah, because being bitten, drained, and left for dead was pleasant." He said, pointing to the red healing scar on his throat.

"I didn't kill your parents and leave their head on stakes for you to find, did I?" She threw her hands up in the air in exasperation.

"Thank you for your self-restraint." Xander rolled his eyes, shaking his head.
"You're a relic of chival--." He grunted as she slammed into him and knocked the air out of him. Falling to the ground with a thud, he sputtered trying to breathe.

Willow straddled his hips and ripped the cross off his neck before tossing it aside. "Ow, ow, ow, ow!" She blew on her singed fingers before patting his chest. "This is much better."

Xander winced at the cut on the back of his neck where the chain dug into him before it broke. He sucked in a deep breath

Willow's cold thighs trapped him like a vise. Arranging her lacy skirt, she smiled at him. Her smile widened as she reached into his pocket and pulled out his stake.

His stomach sunk as she looked at it with a raised eyebrow.

She twirled it between her fingers before breaking it in half. Letting the pieces drop, she leaned forward, pale cleavage spilling from her top, to nuzzle his cheek with her own. "See, isn't it nice when you give in?"

"Willow, I don't want to die..." He whispered, eyes focused on the longest bit of wood left from his stake.

"Don't worry." She kissed his forehead. "I'll take care of you just like I always have."

March 1989 – 8 years before they knew that their town was literally built on the mouth of hell and that they could be dragged into it.

It was raining hard and his mom was more than thirty minutes late to pick him up. Xander shivered under the tree with his hands in his pockets. The rain had soaked through his ratty Batman hoodie, but he didn't want to go sit with the other kids under the bus stop veranda. Percy was there. He would only make fun of Xander's free school lunches again. Xander was just happy that Percy and his friends hadn't stolen his jello cup that day in the Cafeteria like usual. It was hard being seven.

"Xander!" Willow yelled as she ran up to him in a yellow raincoat and matching boots with a bright pink umbrella in her hand. "Hi! What'cha doing?"

"Hey," he said as he brushed the rain off his face. "I'm waiting for my mom, but I think she forgot about me. I already missed my bus too."

Willow frowned, her big eyes filled with sadness for him, before a smile bloomed on her face. "Why don't you come to my house? Its down the street and I have fruit snacks." She reached out her hand.

Xander smiled and took it. "Thanks."

She lifted the umbrella higher so he could get under it. "What do you want to play when we get there?"

Xander swung their arms between them. "The Three Musketeers! We can sword fight."

"Sure," she chirped. "But there is only two of us." Willow furrowed her brow concentrating. "We need another kid."

"Well, I figure that we're each one and three-fourths a musketeer in spirit."

"Xander." Willow giggled. "You weren't paying attention in math today, were you?We'd be one and a half Musketeers."

"I was close." He shrugged. "See, that's why you're my best friend."

Willow smiled, big and bright, and squeezed his hand. "You're my best friend too."

Xander stared at the halves of his stake and inched his hand closer to it. "You're my best friend, Will."

Willow's face shifted and she kissed his jugular while holding his shoulders down. "Always." Her fangs pierced his skin before she licked the wound and began to suck.

He gasped and arched up, trying to shake her off, while grabbing for the stake bits. He felt the life draining from him. Willow had been right. There was no pain, only a strange floating feeling, as he grew weaker and weaker. His arm felt like a limp noodle, but he raised the stick, hoping it was long enough to pierce her heart. He had promised her. Dark splotches marred his vision, but he could almost see two kids, holding hands, walking in the rain. "I love you."