Disclaimer: I own nothing. All Buffy the Vampire Slayer characters and whatever television characters presented in these chapters are the property of their original owners.
“Do you think we should be worried?” appealed Buffy to her friend Willow as they sat in their usual booth at the closest Starbucks to the Cleveland Slayers House. It was several years after the Sunnydale collapse, and after spending time abroad, both women were now living in this Ohio city in order to keep an eye upon the Hellmouth there.
Giving the blonde a rather amused look, the witch replied, “You can be worried, if you want. I’ll just enjoy his funny stories about his dates. Besides, it’s probably just a phase, like the demon girlfriends back in Sunnydale.”
“This is different!” insisted Buffy. She went on at Willow’s quizzical glance, “Even with all the instances when Xan nearly got eaten or sacrificed by those monsters in your hometown, he’s now certain to get into much bigger trouble every time he goes on a date with an older woman, like he‘s been doing for the last couple of months!”
Rolling her eyes, Willow snarked, “Look who’s talking.” She began counting on her fingers. “Angel, Spike, the Immortal, Riley, Parker -- have you ever
had a relationship with anybody your age or younger?”
Buffy glowered at her snickering pal, before huffily responding, “There was, um, uh, let’s see… Oh, right! Owen, during my first year at Sunnydale High! That was around the time we were going up against the Master, remember?”
“I think so,” Willow reflected, just before a very sardonic gleam appeared in her eyes. She continued in a somewhat deadpan manner, “Didn’t he ask for a second date afterwards but you turned him down, just because he nearly got killed in a Slayer fight and found it really exciting?”
Mentally feeling a tiny twinge of regret over the whole years-ago episode, Buffy grumped, “Yeah, so what’s your point?”
Leaning back in their booth, Willow shrugged, “So, it’s Xander’s and nobody else’s business over who he dates, ever since he got back from Africa. He’s gone through so much in his life already, that maybe he just doesn’t have all that much in common with women his age. Now that he’s traveling around the country as the New Council’s troubleshooter, Xan’s got the opportunity to meet lots of cougars, and as long as he feels okay with it and his dates have a good time, what does it hurt?”
Despite her friend’s good advice, Buffy simply looked down at her half-empty latte, and this Slayer then allowed a truly uncomfortable expression to cross her face. Observing this, Willow asked in exasperation, “What’s wrong now?
Continuing to examine her coffee mug without meeting the witch’s eye, Buffy mumbled, “It just makes me feel a little squicky, that’s all, because I keep wondering if it started back in Sunnydale, with Mom.”
“What?!” yelped Willow, staring in shock at her companion.
Before the redhead could say anything more, the other young woman glancing up now hurriedly assured Willow, “No, no! I’m not saying anything bad happened, ever! If only because Mom would’ve never allowed it. But, you know Xan hung around our house as much as he could, and he flat out adored her.”
Willow’s face softened, as she interjected gently, “We all did, Buffy.”
Giving her friend a sad smile, the blonde nodded in thanks, before continuing. “What I’m trying to say is, I can’t help wondering if that’s part of what Xan’s looking for in his dates. It makes a kinda uncomfortable sense to me, so that I don’t know how to deal with it. I want him to be happy, but I don’t want him hurt, either.”
Willow reached across the coffee shop table to pat Buffy’s hand several times in sympathy, to then respond, “That’s exactly the way I feel, too. But, all we can do is support him, and hope things work out for the best someday. In the meantime, I’ll pass on to you what he’s told me about some of his dates. Don’t forget, we’re talking about Xander Harris here, which means there’s always the prospect of some sort of hilarious trouble happening to him during this!”
“Like what?” inquired a curious Buffy, her mood quickly becoming lighter at seeing Willow’s sudden evil smirk.
” the witch happily cackled, as the heads of both women in the Starbucks booth came together for some prime gossip…