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Summary: Buffy and Willow finally get something they said they've wanted for years. Even if it isn’t quite the way they ever imagined it would happen.

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
BtVS/AtS Non-Crossover > DramaGreywizardFR1334,80245713,62928 Aug 1310 Dec 14Yes

Chapter One

Disclaimer: They all belong to Joss and ME. Yeah, I know that sucks, but I've learned to live with it.

Category: Buffy non-crossover, darkfic.

Time Frame: Follows Season Sux episode eleven, 'Gone,' and then diverges significantly from canon.

Spoilers: None intended, but if you don’t know what happened up to this point, why are you reading this story?

Character Bashing: No bashing, but the Scoobies will be speaking harshly to each other, just like real people would do in analogous situations.

Feedback: Of course! Like Tenhawk says, it's the coin of the realm!

Archiving: Talk to me first, please.

Author’s Note 1: Many thanks to Bill Haden and Theo (Starway_Man) for beta-ing this story.

Author’s Note 2: As usual, “word” indicates speech, :: word :: indicates mental communication and { word } indicates a character's thoughts.

Author's Note 3: This is a fairly short one, more of a ficlet or a scene than a short story, but it's something my muse wanted written. So, who am I to deny to her?


Summers residence

Late evening
December 10, 2001

"Oh, good, you're both here. I kinda need to tell you guys something."

Buffy Summers looked up from where she was slumped in a depressed blob on the living room couch, and Willow Rosenberg looked up from her own equally dejected position on the adjacent armchair to see a serious and unsmiling Xander Harris standing in the front doorway.

"So what is it now, Xander?" Buffy asked, a resigned and long-suffering expression on her face as she looked up at him. "Is this year's apocalypse happening earlier than scheduled?

"'Cause they usually don't happen until May," she noted parenthetically. Which was really annoying, because the damn things always got in the way of seeing the season finale’s of her favorite TV shows.

"But one coming right now would be exactly the sort of thing I need to make this year just *perfect*!" the Slayer declared with an angry scowl

"Actually, Buff, that’s usually sort of, y’know, a biennial thing. Examples being the Judge, and Acathla – or those Sisterhood of Jehovah demons attempting to open the Hellmouth, a-and the Mayor trying to destroy the world a few months later," Willow mused absently, not looking at either of her friends.

"Oh. Yeah. Darn," Buffy shrugged. Then she turned back to Harris and said, "Well?"

"Sorry to disappoint, Buffy," Xander replied in an equally acerbic tone of voice, "but what I've got to tell you just concerns me and Ahn. As far as I know, the traditional upcoming apocalypse is still scheduled for late spring."

"So, if it's not apocalypse-related, then what is it you want to tell us, Xander?" Willow asked, wearily lifting her head from its earlier position on her knees, an expression of minimal interest on her face.

"Well, first off, the wedding’s been postponed," Harris stated, the expression on his face not shifting in the slightest as he made that announcement.

The reactions from both women was immediate, he noted, although not at all unexpected, Harris additionally noted to himself.

"Really?!" Buffy asked, straightening up slightly and looking at him with interest. "Why?"

Willow's face seemed to brighten up a bit as she asked, "Yeah, what happened? Did Anya decide she wanted more time to think about getting married to you?"

"No. She definitely still wants to get married," Xander shook his head in denial of the witch's question. "We're just pushing it back for a few months because of the move."

"Move? What move?" Buffy asked, a confused look quickly replacing the previous one on her face.

"Yeah, Xander, what move?" Willow echoed Buffy's question.

"Ahn and I are moving to San Diego," was the response the pair received.

"My bosses have been wanting me to take over the company’s satellite office there for a while, now," Xander expanded, "and I figured that, all things considered, now was the best time to accept."

"But you can't just leave!" and "Why would you want to do something like that?" were the responses Xander received from Buffy and Willow respectively, accompanied by shocked and hurt expressions.

"I *can* leave Sunnydale if I want to, ya know; I’m not exactly in prison or anything. And as far as why we decided to move goes, well – Anya hates thinking that I’ll eventually get killed here on the Hellmouth, and I figured that since neither of you want anything to do with me anymore, there's no reason for me to stay any longer," Harris said with a shrug.

"We'll be around until the end of next week, so that Ahn can finish up all the paperwork involving the Magic Box, and then we're outta here," Xander added, as he turned and headed back towards the front door.

"Hey, wait a minute!" Buffy exclaimed as she pushed herself up of the couch.

"What do you mean, you're leaving because we don't want you around?" she demanded as she grabbed hold of Xander's shoulder to stop him from leaving and positioned herself between him and the door.

"Yeah, Xander, that's ridiculous!" Willow loudly declared as she, too, got up out of her chair and went to stand in front of him alongside Buffy. "We both want you around!"

"Oh, really?" Xander replied, frowning and glaring down at both women and a clear edge in his voice when he spoke to them.

"Well, I'm sorry, but I'm not interested in hanging around in town here any more, just so you two can have someone around for you to crap on and feel so much better about yourselves, whenever something's bothering you," Harris replied, as he knocked Buffy's hand off his shoulder and started stepping around her.

"Hey, wait a minute! We don't do that!" Buffy half-yelled angrily, clearly affronted by Harris' accusations. "I've *never* done that!"

"And neither have I!" Willow declared, obviously just as insulted by Xander's explanation as Buffy was.

"Oh, really, Buffy?" Harris immediately responded, his lips suddenly peeling back in a vicious smile as he stared down at the Slayer from his greater height, the obvious rage in his eyes making the blonde gulp unconsciously.

"You’ve never done that? Really? Are you seriously gonna stand there and tell me you weren't fucking Spike when I stopped by his crypt looking for you yesterday?" Xander demanded, the shark's smile on his face shifting to a look of barely contained rage. "And that you couldn't be bothered to stop fucking him, or even fucking with him, while I was standing there talking to him?

"Do you honestly think that that's any kind of appropriate behavior, if you have even the least bit of respect for the person interrupting you?" he demanded with a furious scowl.

As Buffy involuntarily took a step back at the brunet's display of anger, she noted from the corner of her eye that Xander’s hands had also curled into white-knuckled fists – an obvious indication of the fury he was currently working to contain. Xander didn’t really get angry often, but when he did it was something to behold.

"Uhm, I was just – I, uh, I mean," Buffy stammered with a combination of embarrassment and extreme humiliation at the realization that Xander had been aware of both her presence and her actions at Spike's crypt.

"Oh, come *on*, Buffy!" Xander looked like he couldn’t believe she’d just asked that. "Who in their right mind would have believed Spike’s half-baked explanation about ‘naked push-ups’ in bed? Believe it or not, I’ve had sex a lot more often than you have, and I *know* whenever somebody’s doing the dance with no pants! Sure, it’s mostly because Anya and I have taped ourselves more than once, but-"

"Eww, that’s disgusting!" Buffy interrupted, looking sick.

"Not half as disgusting as you fucking that soulless *thing*," Xander fired back, complete contempt in his tone. "All I can say is, thank God your mother never lived to see this. What the *hell* were you thinking, anyway? I mean, sex with Spike? What, you couldn’t just put a dildo in the fridge for a while and then pretend it was Angel, or whatever?"

{ Why, you-! } Not being able to think of anything else she could do, Buffy angrily went on the offensive, like any Slayer would have done. She straightened her back, grasped the tattered threads of what remained of her dignity and tried to brazen things out.

"What I choose to do, and who I choose to do it with, is none of your business, Xander," Buffy said coldly, trying to ignore the brilliant flush she could feel illuminating her cheeks.

"Yeah, you're completely right about that, Buff," Xander concurred, surprising her with his instant agreement.

"But that doesn't mean I have to hang around here and deal with your fucking Spike, just so you can prevent yourself from committing suicide, or whatever. I *don’t* have to watch you cope by fucking the undead asshole who was trying to kill us all, barely two years ago," he said way too calmly.

"Although I suppose I shouldn’t really be all that surprised that you'd do something like that," Harris went on, as though musing to himself, and Buffy felt as though she'd just been slapped in the face when she heard that comment.

"After all, I still remember perfectly how you treated me pretty much the same way in the Bronze, back at the beginning of junior year, when you basically used me like a stripper's pole – just so you could make Deadboy jealous," Xander said to Buffy. This time, though, his words made her feel like she'd just been punched in the stomach, as he reminded her of that particular act of vicious and petty cruelty that she'd managed to make herself forget over the past four years.

"Although granted, back then, you at least kept your clothes on," he added offhandedly, and Buffy felt a tsunami of shame rush though her at the contempt and scorn her former friend’s words held.

Turning away from the now-speechless and dumbstruck Slayer, Xander now focused his attention on his so-called 'life-long childhood friend.'

"And as far as you're concerned, Will, while you've never actually come out and said it, you've made it pretty damn clear, time and again, that you don't think that anything I have to say – about magic, or pretty much anything else – is worth paying attention to," Harris said, looking the witch straight in the eye and letting her see the strength of his belief in the words he was saying.

"Actually, nowadays, you never want to waste time discussing anything with *any* of us," Xander said, his tone implacable in its intensity and candor. "More often than not, you just go ahead and do whatever it is you want to do, regardless of what I might say – or Tara, or Buffy, or Dawn, or anyone else.

"But ya see, the problem with that scenario is that it's the rest of us who end up having to deal with the consequences, whenever you magically screw things up," Harris continued speaking, ignoring the tears gathering in the redhead's eyes as she listened to him. "Last week, Dawn getting a broken arm because of your ‘problem’ was just the latest demonstration of what I'm talking about.

"And, frankly, I'm tired of having to be the one who has to pick up the pieces and put things back together, afterwards.

"And given the various occasions when this house has gotten attacked by demons or whatever, I mean that in the literal sense of the phrase," he added.

Staring at the two women who had, at one time years previously, been his best friends, Xander Harris took a deep breath, which he then let out in a long, exhausted sigh as he stared at the floor.

"Maybe it’s partly my own fault for assuming it’d always be like it was, back in high school. God knows Cordy warned me about that before she hit the road way back when, even though I refused to listen to her. But either way, I’m tired of being treated with contempt and disrespect – when I'm not being completely ignored, because I'm just the 'normal guy' of the group – by the two people I used to care about the most," Xander said, not noticing the two short, shocked intakes of breath from his listeners upon hearing his final words.

"I hope things work out for both of you without me," he said, barely glancing at the two women who were staring at him, paralyzed by the devastating shock of the words they'd just heard, before lightly shoving Buffy aside from her position in front of the door. "By the way, Dawn knows she always has an open invitation to come and stay with us.

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