Rating: R - Mainly for language
Disclaimer: I do not own any of the characters. I receive no profits from this. It is just for fun.
Archiving: Please ask.
Feedback: Constructive Criticism desired.
Summary: Things go differently after “I, Robot – You, Jane”.
Xander and Buffy are sitting on the edge of the fountain in the school courtyard with a sad Willow.
Xander says, “We gonna go to the Bronze tonight? We three?”
Buffy chimes in, “It'll be fun!”
“Yeah, Willow, fun? Remember fun? That thing where you smile?” asks Xander with his own smile on his face.
“Oh, I'm sorry guys. I'm just thinking about...” bemoans Willow.
“Malcolm?” supplies Buffy.
“Malcolm, Moloch... whatever he's called. The one boy that's really liked me, and he's a demon robot. What does that say about me?” says Willow, sighing.
“It doesn't say anything about you,” Buffy replies quickly.
“I mean, I thought I was really falling...” Willow tries to continue her funk.
Buffy quickly interrupts, and says, “Hey, did you forget? The one guy I've had the hots for since I've moved here turned out to be a vampire.”
Xander speaks up as well with a goofy smile on his face, “Right, and the teacher I had a crush on? Giant praying mantis?”
Willow smiles sheepishly and says, “That's true.”
Xander quips, “Yeah, that's life on the Hellmouth.”
Buffy tries to put things into perspective by saying, “Let's face it: none of us are ever gonna have a happy, normal relationship.”
Xander says cheerfully, “We're doomed!”
Willow agrees a bit chipperly, “Yeah!”
As they all laugh, the truth of their conversation dawns on each of them slowly and their laughter quickly becomes nervous and stops. Worry shows on their faces.
That evening, Buffy is doing a quick sweep of the cemeteries on her way to the Bronze. Angel is with her, though he won’t be joining her and her friends at the club.
They have dealt with three fledges and so far Buffy hasn’t damaged her clubbing outfit. But Angel has noticed that she isn’t very talkative, either, and she went directly for the heart on the two she dusted instead of fighting and bantering first. He wants to ask, ‘What’s up?’ but holds back.
Finally, as they exit the last cemetery before arriving at the Bronze, Buffy stops and turns towards Angel.
“Angel,” she says tentatively. “We need to talk.”
He can tell by her tone that it’s something important, so he says, “Sure. What do you want to talk about?”
“Us,” she replies.
Several seconds of silence pass while he waits for her to continue.
Just as he’s about to prompt her, she states, “Xander and I were trying to cheer up Willow this afternoon after the Malcolm debacle and while we were at it, some things were said that got me thinking about what it is I want in a relationship.”
Again there is a prolonged silence. This time he remains silent even though he is dying to know what she is trying to say, while dreading it at the same time.
“I’m The Slayer,” she finally continues, her voice full of sadness. “I’m not going to get the House; the White Picket Fence; or the 2.3 children. I know that. *That* is my reality.”
The pause this time is brief compared to the others.
“However, I can’t let go of that dream,” she says, looking at him, her face miserable but resolved as well. “And I can’t - ”
“You can’t have that with me,” he finishes for her, his voice filled with regret.
“No,” she says somberly. “I can’t. If I want to continue a romantic relationship with you, then I’ll have to give up on that dream and lose a very big reason to continue doing this thankless and dangerous job. And that will just shorten whatever time I have left.”
“I understand,” says Angel morosely.
“If - if you could stay around and help out, I’d appreciate it,” she says, not looking at him. “I’ll understand if you don’t want to, but I do feel safer when you patrol with me. And since I’m going to try and build a stronger relationship with Xander - ”
Angel barely suppresses a growl at the boy’s name as he vamps out briefly.
Buffy, still not looking at him, doesn’t notice as she finishes her sentence, - and Willow, having you near to help keep them safe would be a great help. I want them to be a personal, tangible legacy of my efforts to protect mankind from the things-that-go-bump-in-the-night. They will be the faces of all the faceless people that I have and can save.”
She now looks at him with his human face now again showing and asks, “Will you stick around?”
“If that’s what you want, then of course, I’ll stay around,” he says straight faced, though he feels a part of him dying inside.
“Thanks,” she replies, fighting the urge to hug him because she knows it would only cause them both pain.
They spend the rest of the walk to the Bronze in silence.
They don’t even say good-bye when they part ways, with her going inside and him stalking off to find something to kill.
Preferably, many somethings.
Buffy searches the interior of the club for her friends and finally spots them at a table against the wall opposite the bar. Willow has spotted her about the same time and raises a full glass filled with dark liquid to indicate they’ve already ordered her drink.
As she makes her way over to their table, she’s actually a bit relieved for the delay this causes to her plans as she is very apprehensive about it anyway.
“Hi guys,” she greets them cheerfully. “Been here long?”
“Hi, Buffy,” pipes up Willow with her broad smile. “Only about 10 minutes.”
“Hey, Buff,” says Xander. “Anything noteworthy happen on the way over?”
“Nah. Just three fledges who are now dust in the wind, thanks to Angel and yours truly,” she says before taking a sip of her drink.
Then she says, “Let’s dance.”
Willow says, “Go on, Xander. I’ll hold the table.”
Before Xander can say or do anything, Buffy says, “No, I mean the three of us. Let’s dance.”
Her two friends look at her as though she’s crazy and she rolls her eyes and says, “It’s not like it’s a waltz or anything. We can all dance together.”
“She’s right, Will,” says Xander, though he’s a bit disappointed at not getting some alone time with Buffy. “Most of the time, you can’t tell who’s dancing with who, anyway.”
Willow gets up and follows them both to the dance floor, where they spend the next three songs. When the fourth song starts, they head back to their table to rest, though Buffy doesn’t need it as much as Xander and Willow.
They talk some about trivial things for a bit.
When Buffy’s soda is gone, she asks, “Xander, could you get me another drink?”
“Sure, Buff,” he replies happily, then heads for the bar.
Once he’s some distance away, Buffy turns to Willow and says, “Willow, I have something I need to tell you before Xander gets back, so please listen and save any questions until I finish. OK?”
“Ok,” responds Willow curiously.
“Well, the talk we had earlier at school, where Xander and I were trying to cheer you up about Moloch and we sorta ended up depressing ourselves got me to thinking,” starts Buffy. “There’s a way we cannot be doomed as far as relationships go. It’ll be a bit unorthodox, but then with you guys involved in my Calling, our lives are already unorthodox.”
Willow continues to listen though she’s not sure where her friend is going.
“You still have a thing for Xander, right?” asks Buffy.
“Yeah,” says Willow a bit hesitantly.
“And he’s still oblivious to that due to him being male and fixated on someone else, who is me, despite my not encouraging him and being involved with someone else, right?”
Willow just nods at this.
Buffy pauses and bites her lip before continuing, “Well - I broke up with Angel tonight.”
“Why would you do that?” interjects Willow.
“Because I don’t cheat,” says Buffy. “And so I can therefore be free to date Xander - ”
Willow pales at Buffy’s statement.
- and you,” Buffy concludes a bit shyly.
Now Willow is even more stunned.
“But you just said you don’t cheat,” Willow finally protested.
“It won’t be cheating if you both know about it and we always go on dates together.”
“But that’s crazy!”
“Will, my life is crazy,” says Buffy, an earnest expression on her face. “Dating you two would be about the most normal thing I could do. Besides, it would give you a chance to really let Xander finally see the hottie you keep hiding from him, because he’ll know he’s really on a date and not just a get-together of the Scoobies. Believe me, knowing you’re on a date changes a guy’s view of a girl.”
“But he’s likely to just focus more on you,” replies Willow a bit plaintively.
“WE won’t let him,” says Buffy. “He’ll be told that he has to give equal time and attention to both of us. He may find it a bit awkward until he wises up and sees you as an attractive girl that any guy in his right mind would want to be with, but he will finally see you that way.”
“Will, I have no intention of taking Xander away from you, but I’m hoping you’ll share him with me,” says Buffy, reaching across the table and taking Willow’s hands in hers. “I won’t do anything unless you agree. That’s why I’m talking to you alone. You don’t have to give me an answer right now, though it would be kinda neat to see the look on Xander’s face when we tell him he’s dating two girls at once.”
“I’m positive that type of thing is among his top fantasies.”
“If I say ‘no’, are you going to get back with Angel?” asks Willow.
“No,” says Buffy softly and sadly, shaking her head. “Having him help with the Slayage is about all he can do for me. I realized that I need to be with someone who can be a part of my normal life. That’s where I want you guys to come in. It’ll make it easier than having to weed through a bunch of Owen’s till I can find someone. Besides, I really like you and Xander already and you’ve stuck by me even though my Calling has put you in danger several times. What are the odds of finding someone else in this town like that is there?”
Willow didn’t have a chance to reply as Xander finally returned with Buffy’s drink.
“So, what mischief have you two vixens been up to while I braved the perils of the local watering hole?” he asks jovially.
“Oh, just plotting the downfall of patriarchal civilization,” says Willow.
“Should I be worried?” he asks.
“Since ‘patriarchal’ in this case refers to male domination over females you might be somewhat concerned,” replies Willow with a grin.
“Hey,” he says. “I don’t mind being dominated by females.”
Buffy and a red-faced Willow try to hold back giggles, and fail, as Xander’s brain finally catches up with his mouth.
“I mean - What I meant to say is - That is - ”
“Oh, just shoot me already,” he finally says and bangs his head on the table.
“There, there, Xander,” says Buffy as she pats him on his head that is still on the table. “We won’t tell the other guys that you surrendered before the battle even started. We’ll keep it our little secret.”
“Of course, now that you’re one-of-the-girls, you’ll have to reveal secrets that only males know so we can succeed in our conquest,” says Willow.
“So much for being the Protector of MANkind,” he quips from his hunched over position.
“Well, now you can be the Protector of Womankind,” says Willow since Buffy hadn’t made the connection to Xander’s statement.
“Besides, we treat our cooperative prisoners very well,” Willow continues. “Let’s all dance.”
Xander sits up and hears the song that is being played.
“But it’s a slow dance,” he says.
“So?” replies Willow as she holds out a hand to both Buffy and Xander.
Buffy smiles as she takes Willow’s hand and extends her other one to Xander.
Xander gapes for a bit but finally takes each girl’s hand and follows them to the dance floor.
Buffy positions herself on his left and Willow on his right. They put arms around each others’ waists and their free hand on Xander’s shoulders. Xander puts a hand on each of their hips. While not pressed to each other, they are still intimately close.
They mostly sway lazily to the music as too much movement is a bit difficult to coordinate.
Others in the club stare quizzically at the trio. Many of the males, and a couple of females, show both puzzlement and jealousy in their gazes.
At a table near the pool tables, Cordelia Chase immediately notices and tries to determine what effect this new dynamic will have on the social standings at school, and most especially, on how it might affect her position as 'Queen C.'
In a darker corner of the club, a hand grips the wooden railing so hard that it groans.
The trio on the dance floor are oblivious to all of this as they focus on their own little world.