Connecting the Dots
A/N: I'm not in the habit of posting twenty-minute one-shots for the world to see, but I'm sorta feeling the need today. Sitting through the s6 finale always means I need some happytimes. Let's say this takes place around the time Retreat would be taking place, if I didn't hate season 8 with a fiery passion. Don't think too hard about continuity with my stuff, please and thank you!
"Oh, you mean the big pineapple."
Willow couldn't see very well by the light of one weak campfire, but she was pretty sure the expression Oz was shooting her involved one raised eyebrow. She had to bite back a snicker.
"Tara," she explained. "We were star gazing once. I was listing off all my favorites, but she liked making up new ones better. Big pineapple. Little pile o'crackers. Silly stuff."
Oz tilted his head at the sky. "I can see it."
"Right? Big pineapple totally makes sense."
The Tibetan sky was different from what Willow was used to. Bigger, yeah, and brighter, but the constellations were all wrong and jumbled. It would take some getting used to. A few feet away, Buffy shifted in her sleep; she never really slept well anymore. They were perfectly safe, of course. No need to even keep watch, really – not with Willow's wards surrounding them. But it was the Slayer's job to never feel safe. Willow understood.
"You know," Willow mused, "when this week began, the list of stuff I thought I'd be doing? Didn't include this conversation. At all."
A soft snort let her know that Oz, too, saw the absurdity of it.
"Sorry to crash into your life," she murmured, more softly. Her voice seemed small. "With all our..."
"Righting of wrongs?"
"Yeah. I guess so." Well if he was going to put it like that. "Though I think running for our lives would technically be more accurate."
Willow smiled. She was glad someone could stay so calm. "You would have liked her."
"Yeah." She was speaking without thinking, as she was still sometimes prone. "I think that was one of my big regrets. That you two didn't know each other, not really."
"Probably for the best, with my attempt to kill her and all," Oz very sensibly pointed out.
Willow waved it off. As attempted murders went, Oz's was on the pitiful side. "It's like, there were these two incredible people in my life that just gave and gave, made me right and real and whole, and they just missed each other by inches. But then," she continued, thinking aloud, "maybe that's the only way it could be. Maybe two people like that can never be around at the same time, or the world implodes or something."
"It's always world implosion with you." The grass rustled as Oz turned his head to see her better. "What are the others?"
Oh. Huh. Willow had to think that question over carefully. There were the obvious ones, like trying to destroy the world, but regrets were slippery, insidious things. They were complicated and, more often than not, mostly pointless. She liked to pretend she'd stopped counting them years ago, but does anyone ever really?
"Miss Calender," she whispered at last. Her answer surprised them both. "She didn't have to die. Giles loved her. There was no need for her to die."
Oz didn't respond.
"I regret Anya. The day Xander left her, I regret that. I regret Spike and Angel and all the hell Buffy went through. I regret not loving every single second of my life, letting it slip by, you know? I never knew how good I had it. Sometimes I regret the first day of kindergarten, when it all began. Sometimes I regret that I'm still alive." Tears were stinging her eyes and threatening to roll into the grass. Willow hadn't cried in a very long time. "I regret not trying harder to help you. All the time we lost."
"Would you do anything different?" Oz asked.
Willow's lip trembled. Minutes passed.
"No," she told him. "No. I couldn't. It's exactly what it's supposed to be. And sometimes I regret that, too."
Oz's hand reached over and took hers. Their fingers tangled, and Willow clutched at him like a lifeline. The stars above them spun in patterns Willow couldn't trace, couldn't make sense of, and the tears came and came. There was lupus. Below it, pile o'crackers. The fire behind them crackled as it died. None of it added up. It hurt. It still hurt. It would always hurt.
"Do you know what I regret?" Oz asked.
Willow didn't trust herself to speak.
With no warning whatsoever, Willow erupted into laughter. She had to slap a hand over her mouth to keep from waking the rest of their camp. Glancing over, she could see that Oz was smiling – the real smile, the rare smile, the one that lit up the entire northern hemisphere. She closed her eyes to ride out the gigglefit. The tears kept coming, but screw it. Screw it! Willow didn't care. Of course it hurt. She just didn't care anymore.
"Hey," Oz was saying, "look."
Still snickering, Willow's eyes followed his gesture to the southernmost part of the sky.
"That cluster of stars kinda looks like a witch, doesn't it?"
"With blue eyes and brown hair?" Willow asked hopefully.
"Hey, don't get all Mufasa on me."
Willow smiled, tilting her head. "I can see it."