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Summary: Buffy hesitates.
AN – Thoughts \\I am thinking.//
AN – Mental communication *Who are you?*
He arrived to a darkened apartment and at first hesitated to enter lest they were sleeping. Then he thought better of it due to the fact that they wouldn’t see him anyway and if they were sleeping it would make things easier for him to find out things. So he slipped through the door, finding it odd that he seemed to use doors and windows instead of just going through walls even though they were all the same from his perspective.
He noticed Giles leaving the kitchen area and heading up stairs. He decided to wait until he was certain Giles had gone to bed before he did what he came to do. While he waited for that, he searched for Willow.
He found her in the smaller of the two bedrooms. She was curled up under the covers, already asleep. He noticed that her pillow was damp.
\\She cried herself to sleep,// he thought sadly.
The only thing that stopped him from immediately locating Giles and taking him over so he could come tell Willow that Buffy was still alive was what Whistler had told him about how she’d been acting since his death. That was why he was there taking the risk he was. He had to know for certain the Balance Demon had been telling him the truth. And the only way to do that was to get it directly from Willow. Or rather her memories.
He felt dirty for even contemplating what he was going to do but Aura’s safety depended on whether Willow could be trusted with the truth so she could continue to help with fighting the Darkside of Sunnydale. He was responsible for Aura now and as much as it would hurt to cut Willow out, if it needed to be done he’d do it.
Whistler had only shown him what happened the day he died and nothing about the week or so before Whistler brought him back to Sunnydale. He needed more information because it looked to him like Willow was being sympathetic to Buffy in helping her to clean up and all. He needed to know what happened during the time period that Whistler had dismissed as being none of his concern.
Now, Whistler had said that if he delved deeper than surface memories that there was a possibility they would remember what he did while possessing them. Xander reasoned that if he took over a sleeping person and didn’t do anything physical with their body that there would be less chance of them remembering anything even if he did a deeper probe. And if they did remember something they would pass it off as some vague dream.
Xander left Willow’s room and entered Giles’. The Watcher looked even older than Xander remembered now that he had a closer view of the man’s face.
\\This whole thing must be aging him twice as fast as normal,// thought Xander. \\Dealing with Buffy having to leave town and keeping it from Willow while trying to comfort her over a death that didn’t really happen. In addition to one that did.//
Convinced that Giles truly was asleep and not likely to check in on Willow anytime soon, Xander returned to her bedroom.
\\Better get this over with before I chicken out,// he thought as he entered the sleeping form of his childhood friend.
The lighting wasn’t so bright like it had been upon entering Aura’s body. Nor was Willow’s avatar up and active like Aura’s had been both times. Which is exactly what he’d hoped for.
The Willow avatar was curled up in a bed just like Willow herself was in the real world.
He wasn’t picking up on Willow’s thoughts though. Not that he’d expected to since it wasn’t until his and Aura’s avatars touched and merged that he’d been privy to Aura’s thoughts.
He moved stealthily over to the bed, not really knowing if it was needed or not, but not wanting to chance Willow ‘waking up’.
Once beside the bed he lightly touched her head with his hand. Then he concentrated on her thoughts without trying to avoid a full merge that might alert her to his presence.
At first nothing but slowly he became aware of something pulling at his hand. Instead of fighting it, he went with the feeling and let his hand slowly pass into her head. As he did, he began to pick up fragments of thoughts not his own.
*. . . y’s gone. Jesse’s gone. Xander’s gone. Buffy’s gone. Jesse’s gone. Xander’s gone. Buffy’s gone. Jesse’s gone. Xan . . . .*
Xander pushed a little deeper, saddened by Willow’s repeated surface thoughts. He also concentrated on Buffy to try and find only the thoughts that he was interested in and avoid ones that he might be embarrassed to hear. He just hoped the ones he did hear would at most only be embarrassing.
At first he was both happy and sad in that Willow was feeling remorse over blaming Buffy for his death. That she felt remorse was good but the blaming meant that Whistler was right about how Willow felt.
He was about to back out of Willow’s mind when another group of her thoughts became known to him. To say that they shocked him would be an understatement. His Willow, whom he thought of as a sister, had decidedly un-sisterly thoughts about him.
This revelation brought up his own memory of how the Hyena controlled him had insulted her using her feelings towards him to set her up for the scathing barb he’d said to her. He had forgotten that incident in his focus on what was done to Buffy. Somehow the Hyena Spirit using his body had deduced her feelings when he hadn’t. Thinking on it more he remembered smelling her arousal, slight though it was, when she saw him. His mind had then correlated other clues from her body language to draw that conclusion, but had dismissed her as being too timid and weak for him to be interested in. Thus the put down.
Recovering from the shock of that discovery, he focused now on the thoughts related to Buffy that had accompanied that revelation. The fact that Buffy had been giving her advice on how to get him to notice that Willow wanted more than just friendship with him. Starting with that first night at the Bronze where instead of waiting for him to arrive and ‘seizing the day’, she’d ran a test with a guy who turned out to be a vampire.
Her thoughts even told him why she’d done her test. She didn’t trust Buffy. At least not when it came to him. Willow had already noticed his attraction to the new girl and even though Willow was flattered that Buffy voluntarily decided to associate with her instead of Cordelia, she was afraid that Buffy was just trying to have her make a fool of herself with him so she would then be able to swoop in and grab him for herself without appearing to be a boyfriend stealer.
Other thoughts about Buffy over the few weeks before the trip to the zoo, showed that Willow liked Buffy but was still feared that his persistence with pursuing her would eventually wear the blonde down and she’d stop pretending to be Willow’s friend by taking him away from her.
He could tell that these were deep unconscious thoughts that Willow probably was not fully aware of but that she had them at all bothered him. That his own oblivious actions of asking Willow how to impress Buffy had hurt her as well was another thing he could have gone without knowing.
Finally getting over the shock of what he’d learned, he willed himself to separate from Willow. Her avatar was still curled up on the bed as he’d first seen her. He did not linger and next found himself hovering over the real Willow.
\\Bye, Wils,// he thought sadly and then departed the apartment through the ceiling.
Had he stayed, he’d have heard a sobbing voice say plaintively, “Xander?”
With the dream fragments slipping away, Willow curled up tighter under the blankets and cried herself to sleep once more as the feeling of having lost her best friend and love again overwhelmed her. She didn’t even feel her fingernails cutting into her palms as her clenched fists covered her face.