I don't own Buffy the Vampire Slayer or A Christmas Carol. They are owned by Joss Whedon and Charles Dickens respectively.
A/N: I've tried to be fair to all parties, but it may occasionally seem like I am bashing Buffy, Willow, Giles, Spike or Angel. I personally think I was pretty fair, but I felt I should warn people in advance, just in case. This contains spoilers for all seasons save Season 7...
~~A Ghost of a ChanceEthan’s Costume Shop
October 30th 1997
Xander felt himself becoming more and more desperate. Some little urchin had snatched up the last military-type weapon. There was not a single pistol, rifle, grenade or anti-personnel mine that might convincingly be considered military. This left Xander in a rather messy situation. His army costume, as pathetic as it was, would be all the more pathetic without a weapon.
“What do you mean there’s no scythe? How can you have a grim reaper costume with no scythe?” Ethan was furious. He had been so looking forward to seeing what Death itself could do to cause chaos, but the Neanderthal who sent the costume just sent the robe. No scythe, no timepiece, nothing to indicate this was death!!
Ethan spun about, barely restraining. “Good grief, lad. Don’t do that.”
Xander just smirked. “Actually sir, I heard your problem and I’d be willing to take that costume off your hands, assuming that two bucks will cover the robe alone…”
Ethan looked at Xander consideringly. Perhaps the boy had the remaining fixings at home and wasn’t looking for more? Ethan decided and carefully infused extra magic into the robe, hoping the extra magic would help the prop overcome the lack of its constituent props. “It’s a deal, my lad.”
As Xander left the costume shop his grin redoubled. “Still the king…”
**1630 Revello Drive
October 31st 1997
“Hey Mrs. S!”
Mrs. Joyce Summers looked up to find Xander dressed all in black, most prominently an intimidating black over-robe, that hid many of his features. It was an interesting costume, but she was not sure who he was…
At that moment, Buffy arrived. “God, Xander, that Death costume’s a little ratty, isn’t it? No scythe, no timepiece, nothing to indicate you are Death and not something else.”
Joyce felt embarrassed on her daughter’s behalf. That comment had been crass and over the line. To remind the poor lad that he wasn’t as well off as… well… any of his friends…
Xander shrugged. “You make it sound like I am dressed as Death, Buff. I’m not.”
Buffy scoffed loudly. “Dark cloak and skeletal hands, Xander? Who else would it be?”
Xander grinned. “It’s a secret…”
Buffy rolled her eyes. “Sure, Xand. You just keep telling yourself that.”
**Sunnydale High School
November 1st 1997
“Well, I might just pass French class now…”
Giles rolled his eyes at Buffy’s proclamation. “Quite. Now does anybody know what happened to young Xander. I don’t believe I was told what he went as last night…”
Willow shivered at the memory of Xander literally fading before her eyes. “He disappeared. He was just gone by the time I reached him.”
Giles felt a deep sadness wash over him. “And his costume.”
Willow shrugged despondently. “Buffy thinks it was Death, but Xander said it wasn’t.”
Giles shook his head. “I suppose we should all keep a lookout and hope he turns up.”
**1357 Crawford Street
December 24th 1997
Angel lay quietly in the blacked out bedroom, attempting to get some sleep. Between the incidents with the Order of Taraka and with Ted the robot, everybody was on edge. And the fact that the heart of the Scooby Gang had been torn out that Halloween had shocked them to the core. Angel had never realised, until Xander was gone, what a vital role the lad had played. He kept them laughing when the lights went out. Kept them fighting when all else was despair. After all, if the ordinary guy could still stand up and be counted, then surely the super-powered could do the same? No longer. Xander had been M.I.A. for almost two months now and it was pretty much accepted that Xander was dead.
It took Angel many hours to get to sleep that day. When he did, he was shocked by what his dreams showed him. He was in a graveyard and he had originally expected to be reliving the horrors of reality in his dreams. Instead he saw a lonely looking human figure, sitting on a grave marker. Unable to restrain himself, Angel felt himself drawn to the sitting figure, moving steadily forward.
Instead of the usual outdated clothes, Angel found himself blinded by a familiar display of clashing colours that could only be worn by one person. “Xander.”
“Took you long enough to get here, Deadboy. We don’t have all day you know. You dead types don’t exactly ‘sleep’ like the dead.”
“What the hell is going on, Harris?”
Xander grinned irritatingly. Damn it, but Harris was the Grand Master of being a pain in his… Never-mind. “It’s quite simple, Captain Forehead. Welcome to Christmas 1998!” Xander smiled brightly, waving his arms around expressively as if he were showing Angel some great party.
Angel shrugged, looking around uninterestedly. “Looks like any other graveyard in Sunnydale. I expect they still look the same on Christmas as any other day.”
Xander’s face turned grim. “Yeah well, this one is special.” And with that Xander held up a lantern to the marker he’d been sitting on.
Joyce E. Summers
Mother to Us All
And the next one…
Dawn M. Summers
The Key to Our Hearts
And the next one…
Kendra I. Young
She Saved the World
And the last one…
Lover, Teacher, Friend
Angel shuddered with shocked emotion. “How can this be? This is impossible, Xander. We couldn’t have let all this happen. I don’t believe you.”
Xander shrugged as if it didn’t matter. Maybe it didn’t. “Most of these deaths can be traced to you, Deadboy. Not Kendra’s, so much. She died confronting the Judge. I’m not entirely clear on how she did that, but she stopped him. It was poor planning on the part of the Scoobies that allowed the Judge to be reassembled, not anything you did. No, your true crime lay in having sex with Buffy during that whole incident.”
Angel stiffened. “You came into my dreams to criticise my love-life? Of come on, Harris, even you can’t be that petty. I got the girl, you didn’t. Get over it.”
Xander finally let loose a howling laugh that chilled Angel’s soul to freezing. “You’re the one that needs to get over yourself, Deadboy. I am beyond carnal desire, these days. No, your crime in having sex with Buffy was because you were so busy sulking in the past century or so that you didn’t bother to research your curse.”
Angel stiffened further at the implication. “What does that have to do with anything?”
Xander shook his head in exasperation. “Everything. What are the fundamentals of any curse, Deadboy?”
“Ummmm… They’re generally bad…”
Xander rolled his eyes in disgust. “Come on, Deadboy, you can do better then that. What happens with almost every curse eventually in fairy tales. The Frog Prince, Sleeping Beauty, Snow White… What happened?”
Suddenly Angel smiled broadly and stated with certainty. “The curses were all broken!” And then suddenly his pride turned to horror as he realised the implications in this particular fairy tale. “Oh no…”
Xander laughed loudly, shouting up to the sky. “You see? He can be taught! I told you so. Now, Deadboy, let us explore this curse a bit. What was its purpose?”
Angel thought for a moment. “To gain vengeance.”
Xander smiled. “Precisely. And how does one gain vengeance?”
“By making the subject of the curse miserable.”
“And so, what is the last thing that they want to happen for their subject of vengeance?”
“Happiness… Happiness that might be experienced when sleeping with a woman who loves you, especially when that woman is looking past both your nature and her own to do so…”
Xander nodded. “I’m sorry Angel, but you know that you have got to stop this before it goes too far. In the alternate future Buffy didn’t have the heart to stake Angelus because his face was yours. Angelus killed Jenny, along with many others you don’t know. It was only after Buffy had discovered the bodies of Joyce and Dawn after Angelus tortured them to death that she gained the resolve to stop Angelus. It was only barely in time and it broke Buffy to do it.”
Angel felt blood tears dripping down his cheeks. “What must I do?”
Xander’s face was implacable. “You already know, Angel. There is nothing more I can do for you now. Be happy… but not too happy…”
January 16th 1998
“No. The ship is a bad idea. It’s too exposed.” Angel grinned in a maniacally Xander-ish fashion. He’d been thinking about this for weeks now and researching quietly on the side. “I’ve already got the solution to this one.”
January 16th 1998
Angel smiled as he held up a clay jar that held the remains of the Judge’s arm. Without being fully reassembled, the Judge was useless. Why hide an arm when you can simply have it cremated. Fire wasn’t forged, it was a forge. He smiled at the inscription that he’d had placed on the jar. ‘Judged Guilty’.
Buffy had been so happy that he wouldn’t have to leave her on her birthday, or ever as she’d put it. He only hoped she’d understand when he broke up with her. It was for the best. He remembered Edith Hoskins before she’d become Drusilla. ‘Lead us not into temptation, and deliver us from evil…’
**22 Walker’s Line
January 20th 1998
“You had us worried there, Janna. The curse was ready to give way. I presume that Angelus still suffers…?”
Jenny nodded to her elder. “Yes, Uncle Enyos. He suffers more then ever before. He felt the need to break up with the slayer for some reason. My plan failed, but it seems we have succeeded despite it.”
“I am glad to hear that, Janna. Be more vigilant in the future.”
**347 Main Street
December 24th 1998
Rupert Giles sighed as he attempted to get some sleep. Since the incident with Gwendolyn Post and Spike’s kidnapping of Willow, Sunnydale had been rather quiet. Frankly, the quiet was making Giles rather nervous. This was rather enhanced by the fact that Buffy’s birthday was coming up. It made Giles feel like Sunnydale was saving up the weird for Buffy’s birthday present.
Finally Giles managed to quell his nervousness sufficiently to drift off. Almost instantly he found himself in an isolation ward, with Faith lying unresponsively in a hospital bed. “My Lord.”
“Beautiful isn’t she? Like an angel… What a waste.”
Giles spun about to see Xander casually leaning against the wall. “Xander? What are you doing here?”
Xander smiled softly at Giles. “I’ve missed you, G-man. As for why I’m here, I’m here to show you this.” Xander spread his arms grandly. “This is Christmas of 1999.”
Giles gave a start of shock before turning back to Faith. “How did this happen? A demon? A dark mage? A vampire?”
Xander smiled. “You’re a very smart man, Giles, but this can’t be traced to any of those. The direct cause of Faith’s coma is Buffy…”
“What? No, that’s impossible. Buffy would never…”
Xander held up a hand for silence. “I said Buffy was the direct cause. She’s not really responsible for this. This incident can be traced to our beloved Mayor and Deputy Mayor, Gwendolyn Post, Wesley Wyndham-Pryce, you and Faith herself.”
Giles shook his head, trying to clear it. “What are you talking about, lad? That doesn’t make any sense.”
Xander nodded. “Yes it does, you just don’t see how they fit together. You and Faith are probably the most responsible. Faith is responsible because she doesn’t like to reveal much of herself. You, on the other hand, are responsible to her as her Watcher and have failed to execute your duties in any sort of competent manner.”
Xander’s tone put Giles’ back up. “I am Buffy’s Watcher, Xander. Faith’s Watcher is supposed to…”
Xander grinned. “Just noticed, haven’t we? Faith doesn’t have a Watcher. Linda Miller was dead before Faith got to Sunnydale, so it’s plain to see that Linda hasn’t been able to do for her. Gwendolyn Post was a fraud, only concerned with using Faith to get what she wanted so that’s another down the drain. If not you, then who G-man? You have a duty to your slayers, both of them, and you are sorely neglecting Faith.”
“Nonsense, Xander, I treat her exactly as I treat Buffy.”
Xander’s grin became vicious. “Dammit Giles, that’s the whole problem. You’re treating her like she’s like Buffy. Don’t you get it? Most Watchers aren’t as lucky as you are. Buffy has a mom to take care of her schooling, her finances, her living conditions and so forth. Most slayers, including Faith, don’t have that luxury. Are you beginning to get the idea yet, Giles?”
Giles’ face turned sad as he began to see how much he had failed Faith. “What do I need to do, Xander?”
“You already know that G-man. Be her Watcher. Regardless of Buffy’s reaction or Willow’s reaction or even the new Watcher’s reaction… do not abandon her. She’s had too much of that in her life. By the time Wesley gets here it will be far too little and far too late. He’ll arrive just in time for her to kill a man.”
“Faith kills a human being.” Giles was aghast.
“It’s an accident, G-man. The moron walked into things while Buffy and Faith were in full flow against some vamps. Buffy tossed the guy to Faith and didn’t realise until about a second before Faith had already staked the idiot. Faith tried to conceal things and all hell quickly broke loose. Faith wound out working for the Mayor until Buffy finally took her down.”
Giles nodded wearily. “Anything else?”
“Find a way to stop the Cruciamentum, Giles. If you don’t you will lose the trust of both slayers.”
“All right Xander. I think I understand.”
Xander smiled and walked over before placing a kiss on Faith’s sleeping forehead. “Sleep well, beautiful.” Then he turned back to Giles. “Be well… Rupert. And watch over them for me…”
**Happy Trails Motel
December 25th 1998
Faith woke up to a loud knocking at her door. Dragging on her underwear, she slunk to the door and opened it without releasing the chain. “Yeah.”
It was Giles. “Faith, may I come in a moment. I have some things to discuss with you.”
Faith smirked. “Sure, G.” With a flick of her wrist she released the chain, allowing Giles into her motel room.
Giles immediately turned beet red and spun around so that he was facing the door. “Good lord, Faith. I could have waited while you got dressed.”
Faith shrugged, figuring her fun was over. Giles was so easy. She began picking through her clothes while they talked, Giles’ back to her. “What did you need, G? Something new that I need ta kill?”
“Actually Faith, I came here to ask you to move out of this place. I have a spare room and…”
“Can’t afford nothing better then this, G, and I don’t know that I want to pay the ‘rent’ at your apartment.”
Giles shivered at the tone Faith used to say rent. Xander had been right. This was a very sticky mess and much of it was of his own making. “There will be no rent asked for, Faith. No rent of ‘any’ kind. I’d like to think that you can trust me, but if you can’t I’d be happy to provide you with a lock for your door and a weapon that you can keep with you at night.”
Faith turned to Giles, mildly stunned at the ready concessions. “Why are you doing all this for me? What’s your angle?”
Giles sighed. “I had a dream last night, about an old friend of mine. You wouldn’t know him. He’s gone now. In the dream he pointed out how neglectful I have been of you as your Watcher. I could give you a dozen excuses, all of them perfectly legitimate, but in all honesty the reason I didn’t do this before was because I was too focused on my own slayer to see to your needs. I would like to remedy that, if I may?”
Faith stared at his back a moment, pulling on her last item of clothing. “Turn around, G.” After Giles obeyed, Faith stared deep into his eyes. “You really mean it?”
“Yes, Faith, I do.”
“And you’ll really get me a lock for my door if I want one.”
Instead of answering, Giles pulled a shopping bag out from behind him, with two brightly wrapped gifts in them.
Faith took them uncertainly before unwrapping the two items. She and Linda had never had a Christmas together. After some work she revealed a good quality door handle with a lock assemble on it. And then, in the other, she found a beautifully ornate knife. The weapon, while beautiful, also appeared to be very functional.
Giles watched as the slayer’s eyes brimmed with tears. “You need never have fear whilst you live in my home, Faith. I am your Watcher, regardless of whatever the Council decides. Merry Christmas.”
January 13th 1999
“I’m sorry Quentin, but the Cruciamentum is a very bad idea.”
Quentin Travers was livid. “It is tradition.”
Winston Giles nodded agreeably. “Indeed it is, and a good one, for when the slayers have been properly trained by the Council since childhood. Kendra would have been an ideal candidate for it, for example. The problem before us is that both Ms. Summers and Ms. Lehane come from very abnormal backgrounds for slayers. The Cruciamentum would seem like a gross breach of trust on our parts to them and would likely incite open rebellion on their parts.”
“Then they should be killed outright, to ensure that the slayers are properly under Council control.”
“Bollocks, Quentin. As long as we retain their trust, they are under our control. Therefore, as long as we waive the Cruciamentum in these two cases we will be just fine.”
Quentin grumbled fiercely. “How did you get involved in this anyway, Winston?”
Winston gave the Head of the Council a thin smile. “My son contacted me, begging for my assistance in this matter. That alone should tell you how serious Rupert is about this, Quentin. I didn’t think anything short of the end of the world could convince Rupert to ask me for a favour.”
Quentin nodded, conceding the point. He need Winston’s support. As long as these two were exceptions rather then the rule, he could live with it. “All right, Winston. Tell your son there will be no Cruciamentum.”
**A Dark Alley
February 9th 1999
Faith and Buffy were in full flow, battling it out with numerous vampires.
Allan Finch smiled. This was his chance to talk with the slayers and tell them about the mayor. As he started forward he was halted when a vice-like hand gripped his shoulders. He turned back around to see a hard-bitten man with glasses and a leather jacket glaring fiercely at him.
“You do realise, sir, that only an idiot walks into a melee like that without the express intention of killing or being killed. I should think you might consider a different choice…”
Finch gulped as he realised what could have happened had he gone to meet them then. Apparently his nervousness about betraying the mayor had almost gotten him killed. “You the Watcher?”
The man in the glasses nodded.
“Then have I got some information for you…”
**1630 Revello Drive
December 24th 1999
Joyce Summers had been asleep for a mere few minutes when she found herself in a graveyard, deep in the depths of the night. “Where am I?”
“Don’t you recognise it, Mrs. S? It’s the Restfield Cemetary on Howser Street.”
Joyce spun about to find Xander there, sitting astride a headstone. “Xander? What are you doing here?”
Xander smiled. “I’m here to show you something very important, Mrs. S. Tell me, do you know what today is?”
“December 24th 1999, why?”
Xander smiled benignly. “Out there, you are right. In here, though, it’s December 25th 2000.”
Joyce shrugged. “Okay, what’s your point?”
Xander pointed over to a group of sobbing people in the distance. “Your answers are over there, Mrs. S.”
Quickly Joyce rushed over to the group, quickly picking out her daughters clutching at each other while Willow and Tara did the same. Giles stood off to the side with Faith and Jenny, none showing much but still visibly saddened by whatever had happened. “Where am I?”
Xander was somehow at her side again as he replied. “I suppose you could say that you’re the guest of honour, Mrs. S.”
Joyce spun, horrified, and stared at the headstone that all of them were facing…
Joyce E. Summers
Mother to Us All
After staring in fascinated horror at the marker, Joyce turned back to Xander. “How did this happen? A demon, an accident? What?”
Xander’s face was very sad. “Worse, I think. A brain aneurysm. It was preventable, but they got to you too late. Of course, if you were to get yourself checked out now, you might just survive.”
“Why are you telling me this?”
“Because it was preventable. Because it will break the hearts of both your daughters. Because that inscription is true of me too and I don’t want you to die. Take your pick, Mrs. S.”
Tears flowed down Joyce’s cheeks in response to Xander’s confession. “I always wanted you to be my son, you know. I wish that Buffy had been able to see that…”
“It wasn’t meant to be. I accept that. She loved Angel. Still does, I think.”
“He broke her heart, you know. I don’t think I’ll ever forgive him for that.”
Xander shook his head. “Don’t blame Angel. I told him he had to dump Buffy. If he hadn’t then his curse would have broken and a lot more people then Buffy would have suffered for it.”
Joyce sighed, resigned to the truth in Xander’s voice. “Will I ever see you again?”
Xander shrugged. “I don’t know. As Master Yoda says ‘Always in motion is the future’.”
“Joyce snickered at Xander’s terrible imitation. “I’ll miss you, son…”
“I’ll miss you too, Mom.”
**Sunnydale Memorial Hospital
December 27th 1999
Dr. Reilly opened the door to find Joyce Summers on the other side. “Joyce, I didn’t expect you to be here today. You aren’t scheduled for an examination for some time.”
Joyce bit her lip slightly, trying to work up the courage to bring up her problem. “I have reason to believe that I might have a brain tumor. A relative says that my family is very susceptible and I feel it is in my best interests to get checked out.”
Dr. Reilly laughed. “Your relative is full of crap, Joyce. There’s no way you can know that sort of thing this far in advance without an extensive examination…”
“And that’s why I’m here. I want to get examined to make sure.”
“Doctor! I am getting this examination. If it proves to be a false alarm then so be it but I am not going to do nothing only to find out later that I’m going to die and leave my daughters alone. I can’t do that and I won’t…”
Finally Dr. Reilly appeared to understand how serious she was. “All right, Joyce. I’ll set things up for you as quickly as possible.”
“Thank you, Brian…”
**1630 Revello Drive
December 24th 2000
Buffy hit the bed, crying herself to sleep over Riley leaving her. It was fifteen minutes into her dream before she stopped crying long enough to note that she was lying on the grass next to Spike’s crypt with Xander leaning against the crypt, watching her. “Xander, is that really you?”
Xander smiled softly at her. “Yes, Buff, it’s really me.”
Almost on autopilot, Buffy slammed into him hard, clutching desperately to to her best male friend. “Riley left me. Everyone leaves me.”
Xander held her gently. “I know he left Buffy, but not everyone leaves you. Joyce is still there, and Dawn and Willow and Tara and the G-man. They’re all there for you. Heck, you know damn well that even Angel would be there for you if you asked him to. He and Cordy have been doing great works out in Cleveland, but he’d come back for you.”
Buffy shook her head. “He doesn’t love me anymore. Neither does Riley.”
“Yes he does, Buffy. Angel loved you enough to let you go. He knows now that if he ever has a single moment of perfect happiness that he will lose his soul and Angelus will rise again. He left because he loved you too much and knew that his love for you would undo you both. As for Riley, I think part of the problem you’ve had was that you have never truly gotten over Angel, Buff. You could never truly give yourself over to a new relationship because you can’t give up the old one. Why else would you let Spike live?”
Buffy backed away. “What?”
“Oh come on, Buffy, why is Spike still alive?”
“He’s helpless. With that chip in his head he can’t hurt humans.”
“That’s crap, Buff, and you know it. He’s still capable of plenty of harm. He betrayed you to ADAM, didn’t he? And what would happen if his chip was to ever malfunction, hmmm?”
“I need him…”
“Because Glory is out there and Spike is helping me protect Dawn."
"You have Willow and Tara to help you with that. You have Faith and Giles to help you with that. You don’t need Spike, heck if his chip bites the bullet you could find yourself fighting off Spike and Glory. Worse still, just ‘cause Spike can’t betray you by attacking you doesn’t mean he can’t give Glory information.”
Buffy shook her head in silent denial.
“Be honest with yourself Buffy. Spike is becoming your way of having Angel back.”
“What? He is not!!”
Xander smiled sadly. “If you truly believe that, then why don’t you go into his crypt and see what you can see.”
Buffy glared long and hard at Xander before taking a walk down and seeing, to her horror, herself having violent sex with Spike.
She arrived back at the door of the crypt to find Xander was still there. “What the hell was that?”
Xander sighed. “That’s December 25th 2001, Buff. That’s your future if things continue as they are. You are in an ever-expanding cycle of self-destruction, Buffy. If you continue down this path you’ll be dead by June, resurrected by September and in that abusive self-destructive relationship.”
“What can I do?” Buffy had tears in her eyes, unable to imagine sinking so low as to sleep with an unsouled vampire.
Xander merely offered a sympathetic half-smile. “The time has come to move on, Buff. You need to understand that my dislike of your relationship with Angel was not just jealousy. There is a fundamental truth to this. Soul or not, at the end of the day he’s still a vampire. A vampire is not alive, it’s just an animated corpse or, in the case of Angel, an animated corpse dragging a tortured soul along for the ride.
“It’s time to stop locking your relationships in the dark, Buffy. Let in the light.”
Buffy nodded, trying to understand what Xander was trying to say.
Xander smiled and began to walk away before he halted suddenly. “There’s just one more thing. When the time comes, remember this. The first slayer was wrong, Buffy. Death is not your gift. Love is. Live for me, Buff…”
**1630 Revello Drive
December 25th 2000
Spike strolled casually into the Summers residence, grinning as he passed the slayer. “Hello, pet.”
Spike spun about to see a stake penetrating his chest. “Why…?” But his question was stalled by his dusting.
Buffy grinned slightly. “Merry Christmas, Xand. That one was for you, as much as it was for me.”
June 12th 2001
Buffy stood on the platform and remembered what the first slayer said. “Death is your gift.” But then, as if by magic, she remembered what Xander had said. “Death is not your gift. Love is. Live for me, Buff…” With that in mind, Buffy slit her hand and dripped her blood, Dawn’s blood, into the portal, causing it to disengage.
Buffy smirked. “And to think, I considered throwing myself through it…” With that, she swept up her wounded sister into her arms. “Come on, Dawn. Let’s go home…
**1630 Revello Drive
December 24th 2001
Willow was whirling like a dervish in her sleep when she found herself floating in space on a piece of barren rock. “Wha… what is going on?”
Willow spun about, unable to believe her eyes. “Xander where have you been, we haven’t seen you in years, I’ve been so worried, you’ve got a lot of explaining to do, well aren’t you going to say anything?”
Xander grinned impishly. “Love you too, Wills.”
Willow looked around at the barren airless space around them. “What’s all this?”
Xander shrugged. “This is Christmas, 2002. Not a pretty sight, is it.”
Willow’s jaw dropped open. “That’s impossible. You’re telling me the world ended. Why would you do that to me?”
Xander shrugged. “You’re the smart one, Wills. What do you think happened?”
Willow looked around. “Well, telling me like this is kind of sadistic, and you don’t hate me now, do you?”
Xander laughed aloud. “I could never hate my Willow. I love crayon breaky Willow and I love scary, veiny Willow.”
“Scary, veiny Willow?” She didn’t want to ask, but felt she had to.
“That’s how you were when the world ended.”
Willow shuddered convulsively. “This is my fault, somehow, isn’t it? I’m responsible for this, somehow.”
Xander nodded sadly. “Yes, Wills, you are. You weren’t the trigger, but you were the gun and the bullet that did in the world.”
“Grief, grief and a terrible magic addiction that, if I’m not mistaken has already got off the ground floor. You just recently nearly got Dawn killed, right?”
Willow blushed beet red. “Yes,” her voice was so timid that she made Tara look outgoing.
Xander sighed. “You need help, Wills, big-time help. Talk to G-man and Jenny, they can get you some real help.”
Willow nodded despondently. “Okay, Xander. I’ll do it.” With that, she turned to walk away.
“Oh and Willow. Try to get Tara to go with you. Tell her that you need her back to help you through this. Tell her that you love her and that you’re sorry and that you will never, ever use a memory spell like that again. Okay...?”
Willow nodded. “Okay, Xander.”
**1630 Revello Drive
December 25th 2002
The Summers house was jumping with Christmas activity. Joyce and her boyfriend, Brian, were making Christmas dinner and trying to keep Buffy from butchering the potatoes. Rupert and Jenny Giles were talking quietly in a corner, smiling quietly at the assembled Scoobies around them. Tara and Willow were back together and snuggled together on the couch, occasionally giggling as Dawn and Faith teased each other like sisters. Meanwhile Jonathan Levinson, having broken away from the Trio before Warren and Andrew had gone too far and been arrested, was currently dating Buffy. The poor lad had gotten the shovel speech from Giles a mere few days earlier and was acting a touch skittish as a result.
As the Scooby Gang sat down at the long dining room table, Joyce rose her glass for a toast. “To family and the friends that have become family, past, present and future.”
Meanwhile, beyond anyone’s sight, a lone ghost watched the party with a smile. “I love you all. Don’t forget me. Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good fight…”
I just can't help myself... ;)