Authors Notes: This was never done in the show, but I thought it might be fun to see what might have happened during the course of the evening. It took me quite a while to write because I kept getting some kind of writers block, but I’m hoping it turned out okay. It’s not brilliant, I’m aware of that, but if it makes at least one person smile (apart from me) I’ll be happy.
A SPRING FLING?
The front of the Bronze was a sight to behold as Cordelia’s car pulled into the parking lot. The posters which had been littering the majority of the school halls, bulletin boards and classrooms for the last few months covered the door, and the doormen looked less than amused at having to supervise another one of these high school events. A banner covered most of the top section of the usually blank building, with the words ‘SUNNYDALE HIGH SPRING FLING, 1997’, adorning its grubby white background. The various graphics and drawings, which the students had contributed, that surrounded the words were mostly undecipherable, some of them obscene-looking and some which were just plain terrible.
Cordelia’s tires screeched loudly as she swerved to miss another car which was leaving the lot, and she honked her horn madly to show her annoyance. “Jeez,” she said as she parked haphazardly across two spaces, “you’d think that having a brain cell or two may actually be a prerequisite for taking that damn driving test.” She grumbled as she checked her hair in the mirror.
“You’d think so…” Xander said quietly to himself as he took off the seatbelt he had been wearing in the front of the car. He felt Willow’s arm whip around the side of the seat next to the door, and tap him lightly on the arm as a warning. He turned around to face her, grin in place, and there she was with the resolve face. “What?” he asked in mock confusion.
“You know,” she told him as she narrowed her eyes and got out of the car by passenger door.
Xander joined her, pretending that he hadn’t seen the holding-hands by Buffy and Angel. They had been trying to conceal their hands with a coat, but that had only added to his suspicions.
“You shouldn’t say bad stuff about Cordelia,” Willow told him in a hushed tone. “Not after what just happened. She might tell everyone about Buffy and the…you know…”
“I didn’t say anything bad about her,” he said defensively. There was the look again. The look that she had been giving him since four years of age whenever she knew he was lying to her. “Well, not to her face.”
“You just can’t help yourself…” she mumbled quietly as Cordelia got out of the car.
Cordelia waited for a few moments, using the time efficiently enough to straighten her outfit and brush away any traces of Master-dust. She eventually let out a huge breath in frustration as she tapped on her back passenger window, startling Angel and Buffy out of their meaningful gazing into each others eyes. “Are you gonna get out of my car or do I have to call the dog-catchers to separate the two of you?”
“Sorry, Cordy,” Buffy said as she got out of the car, red-faced and still holding Angel’s hand.
“Yeah, well, make the most of it,” she told her coldly. “You won’t be getting the chance to make googly-eyes at your boyfriend in my car again.”
Giles’ Citroen rounded the corner of the lot slowly, and parked impeccably in the spot two over from Cordelia.
“I’m telling you, Rupert,” Jenny said as she got out of the car. “This isn’t a grown man’s car. One of these days you are going to have to buy a real one.”
“Yes, thank you,” he said as pleasantly as he could manage. “Thank you for your fascinating views on my driving habits.”
She grinned mischievously as she fell into step with him, catching up with the others.
“Everyone alright?” he asked as he looked around the small, assembled group.
“Yeah, we’re all good,” Buffy told him. “Shouldn’t we be?”
“Well, it’s just…after Cordelia’s fantastical driving display--”
“What about my driving?” Cordelia snapped.
“Oh, um…nothing…” he said feebly.
“Look, whatever. Can we just get inside? It is not doing my reputation any good being seen with you guys.”
“Good idea,” Xander said. “They’re playing my song.”
“Which one?” Willow asked.
“I don’t know,” he replied as he threw an arm around her shoulders. “It has music in it, that’s all that matters.”
“You call this music?” Giles said aloud. “I remember…”
“Don’t say it,” Jenny told him with a roll of her eyes.
“I don’t know,” she told him with an amused grin. “You were going to mention some old-timer band, like the Bay City Rollers, that hardly any of us have ever heard of and embarrass yourself.”
“I’ll have you know that the Bay City Rollers were one of the best bands of their generation.”
“Come on,” she said as she linked her arm with his and pulled him to the door. “Whatever you say, technophobe.”
“Hey, Cordy,” Xander asked as he and Willow headed inside, “I know your license plate says ‘Queen C’ and you really do behave like a regular, spoilt princess and stuff, but did you really have to drive your car through the school doors? It wouldn’t have killed you to open them, you know.”
“Ha, ha, Harris,” she said with a scowl as she marched to the door, allowing herself first entry.
Once everyone was through the doors, they looked on at the club full of teenagers.
Giles looked uncomfortably at Jenny. “Are our nightmares coming true again?” he whispered.
Jenny looked confused, and disregarded the comment, choosing to smile at him instead as she shook her head.
Willow felt Xander’s arm drop from her shoulders and grimaced slightly, knowing it was because they were in public. When they were alone, he was all touchy-feely, but not kissy-gropey, she thought to herself. But when they were around other people, it sometimes felt like he was ashamed to be seen with her.
Xander looked down at his attire of a simple sweater and pants and looked around the group. “Okay, does anyone else feel under-dressed?” He part-yelled to the others above the music.
The others copied his earlier movements and checked their own outfits, with no replies.
“Nope,” Cordelia said confidently. “See, this is why I always make the effort to look my best.” She said pointedly at Buffy, as she always did when making reference to her clothes.
Buffy looked down at her dress. “But I did…”
“You never know what’s going to happen,” she interrupted.
“Cordelia, I did make an effort,” she said almost feebly.
“Yeah, you made an effort to go off and die in that dress.”
“On me it might look halfway decent. You know, the next time you all feel like taking on a bunch of undead monsters, count me out.”
“A little louder, Cordelia,” Xander seethed as one or two people turned to look at them. “I don’t think someone in China heard you.”
“Whatever. I need a drink.”
Xander watched as she flounced off to the bar. “Anyone remember what I said about the vile air? Well, I take it all back. She’s worse. More like rancid, dirty toilet water air that’s been trapped in a confined space for a few days, and when you open the door--”
“Xander!” Willow said as she tapped him again.
“I suppose we can’t rag on her too much,” Buffy said with a shrug. “I mean, she did help out, after all.”
“Yes,” Giles said with a scowl. “She helped put a very nice hole in the school building where the doors used to be.”
“Wow, do you know how funny that’s not?” Cordelia said as she breezed past with her soda. “Enough of the car jokes already. I didn’t hear Willow and Miss Calendar complaining when I saved their butts. There was other damage, you know.”
“All of which will be blamed, in some part, on me, considering the damage is restricted to the immediate areas in and around my library. Snyder’s going to be after blood.”
“Preferably mine,” Buffy added with a sigh.
“He’s not the only one…” Xander said with a pointed look at Angel.
“He can’t think all of that stuff is down to you,” Angel told her sympathetically.
“You don’t know him,” Buffy told him. “He thinks I’m involved in everything.”
“Well…I suppose if you look at it from that point of view…”
“I’m leaving,” Cordelia announced.
“But you just got here,” Willow said nicely.
“Not the Bronze,” Cordelia said bitingly. “You morons. I’m going before you bring me down any further. People might actually think I’m hanging out with you guys…ew!”
She headed off in the direction of Harmony and her band of clingees, waving to them as she went.
“Okay,” Jenny said suddenly. “So are we gonna stand around talking about school all night or are we actually gonna have some fun?”
Willow watched as Jenny led Giles off to the bar, and Giles looking more uncomfortable she had ever seen him before. She remembered Buffy telling her that the first night she had been to the Bronze, Giles had also been there, ready and waiting to convince her not to give up on her ‘sacred duty’, and she smiled a little, happy at the thought he was having some fun. She wished she could do the same. When she had seen Xander the day before and told him she wasn’t going to be a Buffy stand-in, she had felt somewhat empowered that she had actually stood up for something. But now…now it was an entirely different matter. Things felt weird between them, somehow. She turned to leave, but an arm stopped her.
“Where do you think you’re going?” Buffy asked, her brow raised in suspicion.
“Oh,” Willow said, trying to come up with an excuse. “I wasn’t feeling too well. I thought I might call it an early night.”
“You’re not going anywhere,” Buffy told her as she pulled her from the men – well, one man and a vampire – who were busy glaring at each other. “What’s going on here, Will? You’re usually up for a good night of Bronzing.”
“I know, but…” Willow struggled to find the words for what she was feeling. “Never mind,” she said quietly. “I’m fine.”
Buffy looked at her, “Are you sure?”
“Buff, go and have a great night with Angel. I mean, you died and all, I think you deserve it more than most.”
“I don’t know,” Buffy said nervously as she looked at Angel. “I was horrible to him.”
“Yeah, well, he loves you. He’ll forgive you. Go and have fun.”
“What about you?”
“What about me? I’ll have a drink, watch everyone dancing, wishing my life was everything it’s not, and then I’ll go home. Same old, same old.”
“I’m kidding, Buffy. I’m fine.”
“I’m sure Xander will keep you company.” Buffy said as she headed back over to Angel.
“Yeah, when he’s been rejected by every other female in here…” she mumbled to herself.
She watched from a distance as Buffy and Angel headed for the dance floor, and made her way to a free table with a sofa at either side by the stair case. She plopped down on the cushions with a sigh, and watched Cordelia and her friends. She looked down at her clothes and sat up straight in her seat, pushing her chest out like they did. She looked down again and almost laughed at herself. “Pathetic…”
“Will!” Xander yelled as he got closer. “How do you feel about getting down on the dance floor with me?”
Willow’s eyebrows raised but her expression remained the same.
Xander’s eyes widened when he thought about the implications of how he had worded that question. “Oh, I didn’t mean…I meant dancing. Do you want to dance with me?” he mentally kicked himself as he grinned at her.
Willow shook her head. “No, I don’t think so.” She told him as she tried to get comfortable in her seat.
“Why not? We always dance at the Bronze. It’s our thing.” He said as he indicated to the dance floor and did a little dance on the spot. “Come on…” he coaxed.
“It’s not ‘our’ thing, Xander,” she told him, a bitterness creeping in her voice. “It’s your thing.”
“Okay,” he said with a shrug, the bitterness undetected, and sat down beside her on the sofa.
Willow turned to look at him. “What are you doing?”
“I’m sitting down if that’s okay,” he watched her expression. “It is okay, right?” he suddenly felt nervous, and he didn’t know why, but that expression was making him feel like the lowest of the low.
“I guess,” she said slowly. “But why? I mean, there are lots of pretty girls in here tonight.”
“I don’t wanna be here with some dumb girl,” he told her.
Willow glared at him in a way that only she could.
Jeez, what is it with me tonight? He asked himself. “I mean, I don’t wanna be here with any other girl. I mean, the world almost ended tonight. Who else would I wanna be with after that?”
Her face softened as she turned to face him fully, her depression quickly fading. “Really? You’re not just saying that?”
“Hey, come on,” he joked. “I may be a joker, but I’m not a liar. You know I can’t lie to you.”
“Okay,” she conceded with a smile. “Um, you want a drink?”
Xander gazed into the crowd forming on the dance floor, noticing that most of the sophomore year was doing their own thing to the music. He realized that what had happened tonight could have spelt the end for all of them, and he suddenly felt a panic rising in his chest because of it, making his breathing shallow and erratic. He closed his eyes and tried to think of something to calm himself, something that made him happy. He allowed his head to loll back onto the back rest and remembered…being six years old and being at the playground with Willow…eight years old, being at Willow’s birthday party when she let him blow out her candles with her…the eighth grade cotillion and seeing Willow in her new dress…at eleven, at the park with Willow…at fifteen, watching a movie in his room with Willow, her head on his chest because she had fallen asleep and thinking about what it would be like to kiss her… His eyes shot open and he sat forward, a different kind of panic hitting him now. Where the hell did that come from? He looked quickly at the bar to see her talking to someone from one of her classes, holding two mugs in her hands. She was smiling…then laughing, and he smiled without realizing it. He moved over on the sofa and got a better look at the dance floor, catching a quick glimpse of Buffy with Angel. They weren’t so much dancing, as just moving slowly opposite one another, neither of them in time with the music. He looked away, deep in thought for a moment, and then looked back. He studied Buffy and Angel, watching as they got closer and he saw her smile, and he laughed as he realized his suspicions were being confirmed.
Willow watched Xander as she said goodbye to the girl from her math class. When she had first walked in, she had felt like a black cloud was covering her, bit by bit. And then Xander…he had the ability to make anything bad go away. She watched him as her earlier smile turned into disappointment…he also has the ability to make it come back again, she thought to herself. Okay, she had been gone for longer than she had anticipated, but it didn’t take long for his obsession with a certain vampire slayer to come between their friendship again. She let out a deep sigh as she waked over to their table quickly, putting the drinks down as loud as possible, to try and jolt him back to reality and out of whatever dream world he was fantasizing about. When he did nothing, she shook her head in frustration and turned on her heels.
“Hey!” Xander called after her. “Where are you going?”
Willow turned back, trying to hide her disappointment. “Oh, home.”
“How come?” he asked, trying not to sound as hurt as he felt. “I thought we were gonna do the talking thing?”
“I thought you were busy.”
“I’m never too busy for you,” he told her softly.
“Xander, I told you yesterday that I wasn’t gonna be here, at the dance, with you, while you were wishing you were with her. I’m not a substitute.”
“What?” he asked, genuinely confused. “You think I’m…?”
“Actually, no,” he said with a smile. “Sit down with me?”
“I don’t know…”
“Come on,” he coaxed. “You just bought the drinks. If you go now you’ll be throwing money away…”
“Okay, fine,” she said eventually as she sat down at the opposite end of the sofa with her arms crossed. “But only because I want my hot chocolate.”
She reached forward and took a sip of her drink. “So, what were you thinking about?”
He had been so busy watching her, that when she spoke it startled him. “I wasn’t thinking about anything!” he said quickly.
“I mean when I came over. You were thinking about something, I saw you. You were doing that thing with your eyes, where you nearly close them when you’re concentrating really hard.”
Xander smiled. “I didn’t know I did that.”
“You’ve always done it,” she told him. “That’s how I know when you’re faking the whole studying thing.”
“Okay, I’m weird.”
“No, you’re not,” she told him as she turned to face him, pulling her legs onto the sofa and folding them under her. “When you’re worried or stressed, your hands run through your hair, and it sticks up in funny little wisps.”
“That’s funny coming from you, Miss I-Stick-My-Tongue-Out-When-I’m-Concentrating.”
“Oh, I don’t do that.”
“Yeah, you do,” he told her with an amused grin. “Not much. Just the tiniest tip of your tongue out of the corner of your mouth, and sometimes you can barely see it because your hair falls down over your cheek, but I know it’s there.”
Willow thought for a minute. “No wonder the corners of my mouth are always sore.” She took another drink and looked at him nervously. “So, what about Buffy? What does she do?”
“What do you mean?”
“Well, you said you’ve noticed that about me…what about her?”
Xander thought for a minute. “I honestly don’t know any.”
“Oh, so she’s perfect, huh?”
“No,” he told her. “It’s just that I’ve never really taken the time to watch her…not like I have you.”
“You watch me?”
“Will, we’ve been friends for what, twelve years or so now? I know everything about you. I have hundreds of those quirks in my brain.”
“Hundreds?” she asked, completely distraught at having so many flaws.
“Well, not literally – I don’t think. I’m just saying that I think about you.”
“So how many do you have?” she asked, still distraught and completely missing the compliment.
“Willow, drop it,” he said with a reassuring hand on her arm. “You’re perfect the way that you are. I wouldn’t have you any other way.”
Willow blushed when she saw his sincerity, and she looked down nervously at her hands.
“You know…” he said slowly, as if unsure whether he should continue, “I heard about what happened to Kevin and the others…”
Willow looked at him, tears in her eyes at the memory of what she had seen.
“I know that you and Cordy were the ones who found them,” he reached over and took one of her hands, and that breathless feeling came back again. “And I know you, Willow, but you couldn’t have saved them.”
“But I didn’t even try…” she said quietly, a tear rolling down her cheek. “I just stood there…I felt like I couldn’t move.”
“Will, they were killed by vampires, okay? There is nothing that anyone could have done, not even you. And don’t feel guilty, either.”
“But I do,” she told him. “I’m here, enjoying myself – well, almost enjoying myself – and they’re gone. I know I didn’t know them that well or anything, but…with everything that goes on around here, I sometimes feel like there’s more I could do because I know what really goes on, you know? I just wish sometimes that things could be the way they were when we were younger.”
“I know what you mean,” he told her. “But it hasn’t all been bad, has it?”
“I guess not. I mean, then we wouldn’t have met Buffy, would we?”
“That’s true,” he looked around as a slow ballad came on, and he stood up, extending a hand out to her. “Dance with me?”
“Come on,” he said as he grabbed her hand and pulled her up. “This is our school dance. This is the normal kind of stuff we should be doing when we get the chance to. Besides, you haven’t given me the chance to step on your feet for ages.”
“But this is a slow song,” she told him, confused.
“Yeah, I have ears,” he told her as he began to lead her through the crowd towards the dance floor, still holding her hand.
“B-But we don’t dance to slow songs…”
“Maybe it’s time we did,” he said as he led her to an empty spot in the middle of the dance floor, and slowly turned to face her.
There was something in the way that he was looking at her that hade her shrink under his gaze, and she looked around nervously as he pulled her to him in a tight embrace, wrapping his arms around her waist. “Xander,” she said as she saw some of the couples around her watching. “Someone’s gonna see…”
“See what? See me dancing with you?”
“And that would bother me how?”
“So you’re not ashamed to be seen with me?”
“Why would I be?”
Willow looked at him and gave in, still looking around her for any signs of ridicule, and nervously brought her arms up around him. She nervously tried to figure out where they should go, and placed her hands on his shoulders, keeping a distance between them as they began to sway to the music.
Xander kept his eyes on her all the time, watching with quiet amusement as she silently tried to figure him out, and he loved that he had this effect on her.
Willow’s hands slid slowly around his neck, eventually meeting each other and she held on tighter to him, her heart beating so fast she felt it would burst out of her chest.
Xander smiled as he finally felt her arms relax, and he caught Buffy’s eye over Willow’s red hair. He watched as she said something to Angel, and the vampire turned to see them, smiling to Buffy. He gave a small wave to them as discreetly as he could, and saw Buffy’s smile turn into a look saying ‘thank god you’ve seen the light’, and change again into ‘hurt her and I’ll kill you’. Xander held her to him for a few minutes more, her head rested on his shoulder, and slowly pulled back to look at her. He used a hand to brush the hair from her face, and slowly leaned in towards her.
Wake up! A voice inside of Willow’s head screamed to her. Wakeupwakeupwakeup! This is a dream! So then why would I want to wake up? Another voice asked. She quickly came back to reality and realized this clearly wasn’t a dream when she felt his breath on her cheek. She shuddered in a way that she had never even thought she would, as she realized her dreams were coming true.
As Xander’s lips brushed hers, something came alive inside of him, and any thought he’d had previously of fright or embarrassment of being rejected quickly dissipated. He closed his eyes momentarily, only to open them again, wanting to see her react to him. He watched as his lips remained on hers, wanting her to give him some kind of signal that this was the right thing. His breath caught in his chest when she finally moved her lips, returning his kiss. The look on her face was somewhere between happiness and sheer terror, and he knew exactly how she felt. He allowed his tongue to dart out a little, separating her lips for him, and he marveled when he tasted the sugar-sweet hot chocolate still on her lips. His eyes fluttered closed as he felt her tongue meld into his, and that’s the moment he lost any sense of time and place, only knowing that what he was feeling what was he’d been yearning for all this time.
Cordelia, who had been watching from the wings with Harmony and the others, turned to her friends. “Thank god those two finally got it together,” she said in an uncharacteristically nice voice.
Harmony looked at her blankly.
“Well, you know, at least if they’re together it means the rest of the world has been spared.”
Harmony smiled and nodded, her expression still blank.
Willow came to out of her reverie when she realized that the music had long since stopped, and they were now still in the middle of their embrace among a the majority of their class, who now busily dancing to the rock tune that was now playing. She suddenly pulled back, breaking their contact.
Xander’s eyes remained closed for a moment, still trying to take in how perfect they were together, until they opened slowly.
Willow glanced nervously around her, her hands trying to smooth down her hair where his hands had been, and struggled to regain her normal breathing pattern. “I…” she began nervously as she looked at him.
“What’s wrong?” he asked, genuinely confused.
She watched his eyes. There was something there had that seemed so familiar, yet so different. She realized when she had seen his eyes like that. …The hyena possession…she thought instantly. Tears came to her eyes as she began to slowly back away from him. “Oh god…” she whispered as she covered her mouth with her hand.
“Willow…” he began as he started towards her, an instant feeling of guilt setting in his stomach as he realized he had hurt her. He watched as she turned and ran, heading straight for the doors. “Willow…?” he asked quietly.
“What the hell did you do?” a distinctly familiar authoritive slayer voice asked from behind.
Xander didn’t turn. He knew from the sound of her voice that she had her hands on her hips, waiting for an explanation.
“Xander, what happened?” Buffy asked again, this time moving so she was in front of him.
“I…I don’t know,” he said as he watched the direction she had ran off in. “One minute everything was perfect, and then…she just ran off.” He put his head down quickly, his hands running through his hair in frustration. “I better go find her.” He said as he started towards the door.
“No,” Buffy said as she moved again, standing in front of him. “I’ll go. You’ve done enough damage.”
Xander watched Buffy head to the door, when something snapped inside of him. He rushed after her, catching her outside the doors in the parking. “Buff, it’s okay. I’ve got it.”
“No,” she told him again in a stern voice. “What is wrong with you, Xander? She’d waited her whole life for that moment, and you go and wreck it for her. What did you do, crack some dumb joke?”
“No,” he protested seriously, and in a way she had never seen before. “I didn’t say anything, okay? I didn’t screw this up, Buffy. I know it. There’s something going on inside of Willow’s head that’s making her think there’s something wrong going on here. You say that she’s waited her whole life for this? Well, so have I, only I wasn’t smart enough to realize it until tonight. You can do what you like, but I’m going after her.” He turned and began to run in the direction of Willow’s house.
Buffy smiled as she watched him leave. “That’s all I needed to hear…” she said quietly.
Willow was sure that her loud snivels could be heard by most of her neighbors as she quickly walked down the street towards her house. She was out of breath from running and mentally exhausted, as she reached into her pockets for her keys. She took them out with shaking hands, trying to find the right key with tear-stained eyes while trying to remain on the move. She hadn’t really thought through the plan as she bolted from the Bronze. All she knew was that she had to get home. She’d be safe there. She’d be somewhere he wasn’t. But he is there, a voice inside of her said. He’s everywhere. She angrily brushed away yet more tears as she continued to struggle with the bunch of keys. “Come on…” she urged herself. She heard the footsteps running behind her, and she knew it was him. She quickened her pace as much as she could.
“Willow,” he said as he finally caught up her, “what’s going on here?”
“You’re possessed again!” she yelled at him angrily, continuing her pace.
“I’m what?” he asked incredulously, trying to keep in step with her.
“Possessed!” she told him again.
“No, you don’t. Don’t say my name like that…like it means something.”
“It does mean something,” he told her.
“Yeah, sure,” she said as she crossed the street to her house.
“What makes you think that I’m possessed?”
“Because, I saw you when that hyena thing happened. It was like you could only think about one thing. The animal inside of you. And you didn’t care about anything else. It was in your eyes.”
He followed her as she headed down the concrete path to her front door, marching furiously. “So what does that have to do with now?”
She span around so fast it made him stumble back a little. “Xander, when I looked at you tonight after…”
“After we kissed,” he said for her. “You can say it, you know. It’s not like it’s just going to magically be erased from existence by not mentioning it.”
“Okay, after we kissed…I saw something in your eyes. It was like something had completely taken you over, and I can’t take you hurting me like that again.” She felt the tear drops form in her eyes again, and she turned back to her front door. She put the key to the lock, and turned.
“Then I admit it,” he said quietly, “I’m possessed.” He took a few steps towards her. “I mean, I’m not possessed by an animal or anything, but what you said about something taking me over completely? You were right. Something has.”
Willow remained at the door, her hand still on the key in the lock as she tried to hold back. “Why are you telling me--?”
“You,” he told her, interrupting her. “I’m possessed by you, Willow.” He waited for some kind of response. “Everything that you just said…that describes exactly how I feel about you. I looked at you tonight…and I realized that you’re not just my best friend. You’re everything to me. And I’m sorry that it took me so long to realize it, and I’m sorry that I had to put you through all that stuff with Buffy, but I saw you tonight. I really saw you. I saw you for the brilliant, sweet, caring, beautiful girl that you are. So, yeah, I’ve been taken over. By my feelings for you.”
Willow’s hand dropped from the key in the lock, and hung at her side. She tried to comprehend what he was saying to her, and her mind thought up a million different scenarios where she’d end up getting hurt by him. She heard him take in a deep breath, followed by the shuffle of his feet as they began to walk away. “Xander…” she said quietly. She heard him stop, and she turned to look at him. As she had with him, he was facing away from her, his body slumped in rejection. “Don’t go,” she told him gently as she took a few steps towards him. She realized this was probably one of the biggest moments she would have in her life, and it took everything in her not to run away again. She told herself that she was tired of being the girl who was always the friend, always the shoulder to cry on, and now she was getting her chance to prove that. After this moment, nothing would ever be the same again between them, and as much as she was afraid of that, she rationalized that maybe things would be better. Or maybe they wouldn’t. No one could foretell what the future held for them, and it was time she did what she felt was right, no matter how terrifying the consequences. As she reached him, she touched his back gently with one hand.
Xander turned to look at her, his heart melting when he saw her tear-soaked face for the first time, and he wrapped his arms around her as tight as he could. “You’re shaking…” he whispered into her hair.
“It’s a pretty powerful thing when all your dreams come true in one night,” she told him.
“Yeah, but it’s a lot better than our nightmares coming true.”
She laughed as the hug broke, and she was faced with his possessed eyes again. She looked into them again, and realized what she should have seen in the Bronze. It was love in his eyes. Love for her.
Xander brought his hands to her face, holding it as he wiped away the stray tears with his thumbs. “Okay, later, hit me for making you cry.”
“What about now?”
“Now this…” he leant forward and captured her lips in a soft kiss, feeling the world fall away. “I love you…” he told her as the kiss broke and he held her again.
“I know,” she told him. “And I would tell you that I love you too, but I have to know something…” she took a breath. “Me and you…is this just a Spring Fling?”
“No,” he told her gently. “This is the way things are meant to be.” She smiled at him in the way that only she could, and he swung an arm around her. “So, are we heading inside to devour the contents of your fridge or are we gonna stand out here all night so your neighbors can play peeping-toms?” He said as he indicated to the twitching curtains from the woman next door.
“Food it is,” she said as they started down the path back to the open front door.
“Oh, and by the way, I liked that whole Spring Fling pun,” he told her. “You were dying to use that one, weren’t you?”
“Well,” she began, “I figured if I’m going to be the girlfriend of the wise-cracking king of puns, I should learn to hold my own.”
“Good thinking,” he told her as they headed inside. “Only, don’t get too good at it. I know you. Everything you do you excel at.”
“I don’t think you have anything to worry about there. I think that’s something you’re always going to be better at,” she told him as she closed the door behind them. “By the way…I love you.”
“Good,” he told her with a gentle smile. “Now can we eat?”
“Yes, boss,” she told him as she rolled her eyes.
Xander watched her walk through to the kitchen, muttering about something or other, and he smiled to himself. For the first time in his life, he was happy. It had taken him a while to figure out, but he knew what his role was in life now. To make her happy. The thought of all of those wasted years disheartened him, but he realized that even if he had only just woken up to how he felt about her, at least he had. He could have gone through the rest of his life without ever knowing how good it felt to hold Willow in his arms, feel her lips on his, and know how much she loved him. He had heard Giles talking about alternate universes, and knew that in some alternate universe somewhere, there was another Xander Harris who never would know how he felt at this moment, and he pitied him. He had always known that his parents weren’t the paternal type, but that had never mattered when she was in his life. She was everything that he could ever need, and he wondered how he would cope if she wasn’t in his life. The only answer he could come up with to that was to never find out. And he didn’t.