AN: Set in Empty Places.

PLEASE READ: This is written in a stream-of-consciousness style, so basically it's following Willows exact thought process. She's not talking to Xander but she is thinking towards him. It's kind of jumpy and all over the place in parts and that's on purpose. Also, this isn't Buffy-bashing even if it seems a little like it towards the end. Willow wasn't exactly feeling warm and fuzzy towards her in this episode. I'm really nervous about this one, so please, please take the time review?

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I can't figure out where it went so wrong. It started as all fun and games, and playing the heroes on top of the world, but here we are seven years later and I'm a witch with power that's nearly out of my control and your missing an eye. What sort of decisions did we make that brought us here anyway? How did we get in so far over our heads without even noticing? We were supposed to have a future, all of us, and now we might not even make it to tomorrow and we're still just kids, and God this isn't fair! It was supposed to be you and me Xander. You and me against the world forever. And now we're only twenty-two and we've lost so much. Why didn't anyone stop us? Why didn't anyone tell us that if we followed Buffy out into the night we'd be changing our lives forever? Why didn't we have the presence of mind to sit down and actually think? I used to be so good at that. I never did anything without careful planning, without weighing all the options, so how come I never weighed those options? Were we really that naïve? Did we really think that nothing would ever hurt us, that we would be safe because we were with the Slayer? After what we'd already seen? After Jesse? How could we be so stupid? Did we think that it was game? God, I don't even remember anymore. We weren't supposed to be here. I could be anywhere. Any college in the United States. Some in Europe. I could be at Oxford having scones right now. And you. I don't know where you'd be. But it wouldn't be here. We were always meant to get out of Sunnydale. That was always the plan. Graduate. Get out. Grow up. Simple enough. But here we are. Still in Sunnydale. Where we've buried our dead, where we constantly fight for our lives, where we win the battles but lose almost everything else.

Where we're needed. Because if we don't fight who does? I remember when that felt like such an important thing. We saved the world. Let's party. We thought we barely won. We thought that because Buffy drowned and we had to beat back the gaping mouth of hell we were damaged. We didn't know what damage was. We all made it out. We went to a party. We had no idea that that would be one of the easy ones. But Buffy died. And she went a little crazy. And we knew it was bad but we fixed it with a hammer and some smiles. We thought it was worth it. We saved the world over and over and every time we thought it was worth it. Drusilla killed Kendra and almost killed me and it was worth it, Buffy killed Angel and it was worth it. The mouth of hell almost swallowed us all and it was worth it. Buffy put Faith in a coma and it was worth it, we led half our student body to death and it was worth it, we blew up the high school and it was worth it. She jumped in the hell mouth, it was worth it, we took on the government, it was worth it, we nearly got killed in our dreams and it was worth it! We fought and bled and changed and loved and hurt and grew and died and lived and killed and it was all worth it!

But somewhere along the way things shifted. The cost started to equal the outcome, and then outweigh it, and we all got so tired. Tired of fighting and tired of hurting, and just so damn tired of the burden we all carried. Carry. Every damn day we carry it. Joyce died. And Buffy died. And Tara-Tara died. I went evil. Anya went evil. You saved us both but at what cost? And now we're all just drowning here, trying to keep our heads above water, and I haven't seen my mom in months, and I'm not going to get a college diploma, and the woman I love is dead and she's never coming back, and you'll never have depth perception again. How did I go from having an entire future spread out before me to this? Living in the headquarters for the war against evil with innocent girls everywhere, and a hostage, and an honest to god vampire in the basement. Then there's you. How did you go from having an open road, an entire life in front of you four years ago, and now? Now you have an ex-demon ex-fiancé who you're still madly in love with, sleeping on a couch so you're closer to the action when the world comes apart, and a terrifying preacher-man stuck his thumb in your eye. And, of course, there's Buffy. I guess she's still part of this friendship even if she's not really acting like it right now. But she never really had a future has she? A short life was always her destiny even if we liked to pretend it wasn't true. She's not like us. She's never had a choice. Sure she made plans with us, laughed with us, discusses a shared future. But at the end of the day this was always going to be her reality. A short and brutal life, full of battles and pain. She had a destiny, spelled out before she was born. She thinks her life is so complicated because she has the weight of the world, and she can't stop falling in love with vampires. Boo-hoo. It comes with the package.

You know I don't really feel that way though. Right? I'm just tired and sad and she led people to their deaths last night, and we helped her. And it's so much easier to blame it on her because she's supposed to be the leader.

I know what you'd say if you were awake right now. You'd tell me that we have to fight. We have to because we know it's right. And it is. Right. Most people blunder through life not knowing what's out there. But we know. And we have a purpose. And that's important. It's important that we protect ourselves and the world from unseen danger. I like doing it, and I know you do too, but sometimes? Sometimes I Think I should have gone to England, and you should have hit the open road and never come back. But we made our choices so here we are. There's a big fight coming soon and we all know it. We all might die and we all know it. And just because we've always won before, we might not win now and at least some of us know it. But I think we'll win. I think we'll win and The First will finally leave us alone for good, but I can't help wondering what we'll give for that to happen. Because I've seen enough by now to know how it goes. We'll save the world from certain doom, but we'll lose ourselves. You and me and Buffy and Dawn and Giles and Anya and Spike? We're out of chances, on our ninth lives, and even if every one of us manages to survive we won't be undamaged. Because this is Sunnydale and no one here ever gets a happy ending.