On the First Day of Kindergarten
This little story takes us back to the first day of kindergarten, and we have a quick look at where all of our characters were…and hear the story of how Willow broke the yellow crayon.
Anything in this type is a quote from Kenneth Grahame's The Wind in the Willows.
"Is this the master plan? You're going to stop me by telling me you love me?"
"Well, I was gonna walk you off a cliff and hand you an anvil, but that seemed kinda cartoony."
"Still making jokes…"
"I'm not joking. I know you're in pain. I can't imagine the pain you're in. I know you're about to do something apocalyptically evil and stupid and hey, still want to hang. You're Willow."
"Don't call me th-"
"First day of kindergarten-
16 years earlier
Buffy Summers scampered off to her first day of kindergarten with the brightest smile on her face.
Joyce Summers watched nervously from the gate as her tiny daughter seamlessly blended in with the shiny little girls from LA. These were the kind of girls that were in diaper ads before they could support their own head, who now modelled for catalogues and delivered obnoxiously cute dialogue in Burger King commercials. And Buffy belonged completely.
Hank Summers was already at his desk in his office. His twenty-two year old secretary straddled his lap.
Dawn Summers was somewhere seemingly undefined…nothing more, yet, than a glowing ball of energy.
Rupert Giles was having his afternoon tea at the Watcher's Academy, still trying to strike up the nerve to open the spell book in front of him. He felt a hot tingle when his fingertips grazed the cover, warnings of an addiction long forgotten.
Wesley Wyndham-Pryce walked through iron gates into London Boys Preparatory School, head boy and ready to tackle the first day of his Senior Year. Of course, the badge on his puffed out chest allowed him a heady sense of authority. 'Twas to be a good year.
Angel lay slumped and unmoving in the shadow of a large factory in downtown Boston. He'd been desperately hungry the night before, and had unwittingly not moved to shelter before the sun came up. He sighed heavily as he consigned himself to another day hiding from the light.
Kendra Young, despite the early hour, was forcing her small limbs to propel her forward as she did her eleventh lap of her Watcher's pool.
Faith Lehane crouched at the window, squinting into the smoggy sunlight. She had resigned herself to another year cooped up in the apartment with her mother. Just one more year…then she, like all of her friends walking past the window, would get to escape too. Even if it was just to kindergarten.
Daniel Osbourne strolled into his first day in the first grade with a calm sense of purpose. He was, after all, rather excited. His mother's latest trip as a band groupie meant she'd come back from overseas with a very cool Hard Rock Café t-shirt for him – and she'd allowed him to wear it for his first day of school.
Tara Maclay sank gratefully into her chair, letting her sheath of blonde hair hide her face. The thing about a tiny first-grade classroom in small-town Alabama, was that it was easy to disappear.
Spike lay in a luxuriously soft hotel bed, smirking egotistically at the panting, orgasmically sated Drusilla cradled in his arms.
Anyanka felt the familiar rush and tug as another woman called upon her. Business sure was rolling in… she wasn't quite done washing the blood off her hands from the last call.
Winifred Burkle was late again. Which probably wasn't the best way to start her first day of fifth grade. But it didn't really matter. Her sophomore level physics textbook that she was trying to stuff into her bag usually stopped the teachers from complaining too much.
Charles Gunn had decided he didn't really feel like starting second grade today anyway. It was probably easier to just stay in bed…except. His sister was crying. Maybe that meant he should get up.
Emily Primrose snuck in through her bedroom window at the first light of dawn, stashing her stake beneath her box spring and stripping off her bloodied clothes. Stupid demon blood, it was damn near impossible to wash out. Her mom was gonna be so pissed.
But Mole stood still a moment, held in thought. As one wakened suddenly from a beautiful dream, who struggles to recall it, but can recapture nothing but a dim sense of the beauty in it, the beauty! Till that, too, fades away in its turn, and the dreamer bitterly accepts the hard, cold waking and all its penalties.
Cordelia Chase stepped out of her daddy's car, carefully sidestepping a puddle.
"I love you sweetie, have a wonderful first day at kindergarten," he said, straightening her pink coat.
"I love you too daddy!" She smiled, pressing a kiss to his cheek.
Cordelia Chase was one of those girls that, even at the age of five, could be described as nothing other than pretty. She had big, dark, brown eyes and long wavy hair that bounced as she walked. But most distinctive was her wide, charming smile. See, in all five years she'd been alive, the little girl from the biggest house in Sunnydale had never once got anything but exactly what she wanted. And a lot of that was down to her precious grin. And Cordy Chase wanted nothing but the best. Her mother had already warned her about making friends with the 'wrong sorts of people'. And Cordy didn't need to be told twice. Cordelia flounced through the playground, smiling at everyone she passed. She reached the entrance to Sunnydale Elementary school and walked through to the little side passage. In there was a rainbow-wall of named cubbies. Hers was the third one along, and painted a lurid pink – perfectly matching her coat, hair-ribbons, backpack and patent shoes. Humming softly, she hung her things up, and was about to leave when a small, grinning, blur of red nearly knocked her over.
"S-sorry!" the girl stammered, picking up Cordelia's things and handing them back to her. Cordy frowned, not sure whether she was more mad at being knocked over or the fact that the thing that knocked her over was dressed so badly. She was cute, Cordelia supposed, but weird. She had long, straight red hair down to her waist and eyes even bigger and more orb-like than Cordelia's, though this girl's were a piercing green. Her pale skin rather clashed with her odd outfit, a green checkered skirt, a pink button-up shirt and a bright yellow sweater adorned with a sun. In her arms, she clutched a pile of exercise books, a pack of felt-tip pens and what Cordelia was pretty sure was a full-length novel. This girl probably classified as 'the wrong sort of people' – which seemed a shame. After all, she seemed nice enough. But her mother had already said they couldn't be friends.
"You read?" Cordelia frowned, staring at her book.
"I-it's The Wind in the Willows. My mom thought I might like to read it… 'cause my name's Willow," she said, turning back to her cubby and hanging her bag up.
That whole sentence pretty much cemented in Cordelia's head what she'd immediately assumed about the girl – she was kind of a nerd. And she wasn't supposed to be friends with nerds.
"Great," the brunette said, and she walked away, heading out of the cubby room. Before she could get to the door though, another figure nearly bowled her over.
"Okay, so not pushing is apparently a thing we don't learn until class," she muttered, staring at the boy. He was better dressed than Willow, but not by much. Probably not the 'right sort of people' either. He stopped, looking her up and down, before nervously turning to the bank of cubbies.
"Oh no," he said softly.
"What's wrong?" The girl named Willow came over to him, her big eyes wide with concern.
"Uh, our names…they're written on our cubby right?"
"Yep," Willow nodded.
He hunched his shoulders slightly, looking nervous. Cordelia grinned, realising what was happening. She was so not leaving now. Hey, in her book if you weren't friends with someone, then you had to be, well….the opposite of friends. "I-I can't read," he whispered.
"Oh." Willow said. "Oh!" She quickly tried to tuck her book behind her back, but he saw it. She blushed, giving up and placing it in her cubby. "W-well, I can read," obviously, she thought, glancing back at the thick novel, "just tell me your name."
"Xander, uh, Alexander. Harris."
Cordelia smirked as she watched Willow walk up the bank of cubbies.
"Tucker Wells…Willow Rosenberg – oh, that's me…Warren Mears…Amy Madison…Jonathan Levinson…" she muttered a few more names, continuing up the aisle, "Harmony Kendall…Alexander Harris!"
"That's me, Alexander of the Harris kind," he smiled nervously at Willow, who giggled back.
Cordelia beamed. This was too good to be true, she had a double helping of nerd already, and she'd only been here ten minutes. She was about to head into the playground to find 'the right kind of people' when another person walked through the door. This girl was her height, with long braided blonde hair and a…WOW.
"Is that pink faux bunny fur?" Cordelia breathed, stroking the jacket.
The girl smiled proudly. "My daddy brought it back from Paris."
"It's so pretty!" Cordelia gushed. "And are your shoes real leather?"
"From Tokyo," the girl confirmed.
"Woah, I don't even know where that is."
"Me neither," the blonde admitted, "but daddy says it's very expressive there."
"Uh, do you mean expensive?"
"Wow, well, my name's Cordelia chase. Who are you?"
"Harmony Kendall," the blonde smiled. Now she was 'the right kind of people'. Cordelia leaned in, grinning devilishly at Harmony.
"See that boy there?" She gestured to Xander, "he can't even read his own name!"
Harmony laughed, rolling her eyes at Xander. Cordelia, gave him a smug grin, hooking her arm through Harmony's faux-bunny covered arm and tugging her out to the playground.
Secrets had an immense attraction to him, because he never could keep one, and he enjoyed the sort of unhallowed thrill he experienced when he went and told another animal, after having faithfully promised not to.
"What's wrong?" Willow inquired, picking up her things so they could go outside.
"My dad said he'd be really mad if I didn't make at least five friends today, and it's already been…like…a while and I don't have any."
"That's not true," Willow replied, handing him a piece of her fruit rollup. "You only have four friends left to make."
"Well, your dad said you had to make five, but you've already made one. Me. So, only four now."
"I still don't get it," he said sadly.
"Well, you had to make this many friends," she held up five fingers, "but I'm your friend now, which means you have one friend already," she folded down one finger, "so only four friends left to make."
"Oh!" He grinned, taking more of her rollup, "math. I don't understand that. But I'm glad you're my friend."
"I'm glad you're my friend too, Xander," she said with a smile.
Here today, up and off to somewhere else tomorrow! Travel, change, interest, excitement! The whole world before you, and a horizon that's always changing!
The instant the first bell rang, Willow tugged Xander into the classroom. She couldn't be late for her first day. No way. She ran to the desk labelled with her name and placed her books in the neatest possible stack. Then she laid out her felt-tips in rainbow order. Everyone else was starting to forward in now too, all moving toward their desks. Willow glanced backwards and her smile faltered when she saw the lost and forlorn look in Xander's eyes. Willow glanced around quickly, and found his desk behind hers. She quickly gestured to it and he smiled gratefully, dumping his books in a messy pile and sinking into the seat. Willow leaned backward,
"See," she pointed to his name, "A-L-E-X-A-N-D-E-R H-A-R-R-I-S, it's how you spell your name."
"I only know how to spell one name," he said sadly. "And it's because there are heaps and heaps of bottles and cannisters in our house with that name on it. Never got taught to read anything."
"What name?" Willow inquired.
"Someone called Jack Daniels."
Willow quieted, turning back to the front. She knew that word, it was on a bottle of amber liquid on her father's mantelpiece. He'd told her that having lots of bottles like that was bad, because lots of alcohol was bad. And the Jack Daniels bottles were alcohol. And Xander's house had lots of them. But he didn't seem bad.
All this he saw, for one moment breathless and intense, vivid on the morning sky; and still, as he looked, he lived; and still, as he lived, he wondered.
Later, during recess, Willow sat down with Xander under a tree.
"Can you count?" she asked him.
"Yeah. And the alphabet, I can do that too. My aunt taught me at her house during the Summer."
"But you read that," Xander murmured, awed, stroking the cover of her book.
She nodded, blushing.
"Can you read some to me?" He asked.
She smiled, picking the book up and opening it to her favourite part, "And beyond the Wild Wood again?' he asked, 'Where it's all blue and dim and one sees what may be hills or perhaps they mayn't and something like the smoke of towns or is it only cloud drift.'
'Beyond the Wild Wood comes the Wild World,' said the Rat. 'And that's something that doesn't matter either to you or me.'"
Home! That was what they meant, those caressing appeals, Those soft touches wafted through the air, those invisible little hands pulling and tugging, all one way.
"I'm glad we're friends," Xander said with a smiling, reaching past Willow for the crayons. They'd been asked to draw their favourite thing in the world, and Xander had spent the best part of the last ten minutes completely undecided on what to draw.
"I'm glad we're friends too," Willow said shyly.
"What are you drawing?" he asked, passing her the crayons.
"Well, I have a lot of favourite things on the Earth…so I'm drawing the Earth," Willow smiled, showing him her picture. He laughed.
"You're really smart," he complimented, grinning at the blush that crept up her freckled cheeks. "But you know something?"
"What?" she asked.
"You can't have all this green on the Earth without a sun."
"You're right!" she gasped, "I'm so stupid!"
"You're really not," he chuckled, passing her the yellow crayon.
"What did you draw?" she asked, beginning to colour a big yellow sun onto her page.
"Oh my GOSH!" Cordelia laughed, looking over at Xander's picture. "That's so lame," she rolled her eyes, hiding the slight pang of jealousy she felt looking at his picture.
Flushing, he held it out to Willow. "There's not much I like in the world…but you're, uh, one of them…"
Willow gasped, gazing at the image. It was a crude stick-figure, but she was wearing a green skirt, and had red hair and the brightest of yellow sweaters. She looked up gratefully into Xander's eyes, and realised that she in fact liked them very much… They were soft and brown, and reminded her of chocolate and fresh cookies and teddy bears…everything warm and good. She couldn't break away from his gaze as she leaned heavily on the desk.
Xander looked into the biggest, greenest eyes he'd ever seen and wished he could never leave. This was so much nicer than home. She was definitely his favourite thing in the world.
Their reverie was broken by a loud snap, and the both gasped. Willow had leaned down with her hand on the yellow crayon, and snapped it clean in two.
It was all down, down, down, gradually-ruin and levelling and disappearance. Then it was all up, up, up, gradually, as seeds grew to saplings, and saplings to forest trees, and bramble and fern came creeping in to help.
-you cried 'cause you broke the yellow crayon and you were too afraid to tell anyone. You've come pretty far, ending the world, not a terrific notion but the thing is, yeah. I love you. I loved crayon-breaky Willow and I love scary veiny Willow. So if I'm going out, it's here. You wanna kill the world you start with me. I've earned that."
"You think I won't?"
"It doesn't matter. I'll still love you."
Then suddenly the Mole felt a great Awe fall upon him, an awe that turned his muscles to water, bowed his head, and rooted his feet to the ground. It was no panic terror - indeed he felt wonderfully at peace and happy - but it was an awe that smote and held him and, without seeing, he knew it could only mean that some august presence was very, very near.
Reviews please? Did you guys like this?