The Back End of a Yellow Crayon
"Xander, run!" Larry cried. And then Larry and Oz did exactly that—they ran for their lives as a vampire jumped out of the van that had just blocked their path. Xander couldn't though. He stood and stared at the vampire who wore his best friend's face.
"Willow," he whispered. She smiled, and if he ignored the dark makeup and the leather and the way too amply cleavage, he could see the girl he'd known and loved like a sister for most of his life. She'd been there when Jesse had died. She'd been there during their only triumph against the Master when her holy water canon had led to massive numbers of vampires turning to soggy dust. Unfortunately, that had also led the Master to be way too interested in her. Way too.
"I'm sorry," Xander said. He chewed his lip as it occurred to him that Willow had neatly positioned herself between him and the only path of escape now that a van was blocking the far end of the alley. Yep, if he wasn't stupid, he would have run with Oz and Larry. He was stupid. Instead he'd stood and stared as not-Willow stalked closer. Swallowing, he clutched his stake and watched.
"For what?" she asked curiously. It took Xander a second to figure out that she was answering him. Usually vampires were more with the grrr and biting than conversation.
"I shouldn't have let you get killed," Xander said. He knew this wasn't Willow, but looking into her wide eyes, it was hard to remember that.
She slowly smiled, but not like Willow had ever smiled at him before. This was a sly smile, a sexual smile, and Xander was actually a little weirded out by that. "You did try. If you hadn't been knocked unconscious, you would have died before letting the Master take me."
Xander nodded. He really would have.
"But now I'm the Master's favorite. I'm working on a little project for him, and he's offered me a little reward in return." She pursed her lips and looked at Xander from under her eyelashes. It was a way sexier look than his Willow knew how to use.
"I'll stake you," Xander said, holding his wooden weapon a little higher. Willow's head came up and she studied him for a second.
"Would you really? Remember, I was there after you accidentally staked Jesse. I remembered the look of horror on your face, the way you stared at his dust. I remember how much you hated yourself for killing your best friend. Would you really do that again?" She had slid closer, not quite close enough for Xander to strike, but his heart was definitely doing double time. This close, she looked like Willow all dressed up for Halloween, or at least what a dressed up Willow might look like if she didn't always go as a ghost. "Would you kill a friend?"
"It wasn't Jesse. It was a monster in his body, like a Jesse suit." Xander pressed back into the cold brick building, the tiny rough edges pressing into his back.
"That is a lie told to us by Giles. You staked Jesse."
Xander could feel his eyes warm with a desire to cry, but he wouldn't. He wouldn't give this not-Willow the pleasure of making him cry because his Willow never would have said something like that. It hurt too much.
She cocked her head to the side. "Oh, Xander. You looked in his eyes. You already knew that, but you like to pretend it isn't true. Just like you look at me and you know I'm Willow. I'm the girl who cried when I broke that yellow crayon. I read books to you after you broke your arm. I trusted you with my life... whoops. Although really, that's not your fault. You would have died for me. That's why I came back for you, Xander."
"You came back?" Xander could hear his own voice go squeaky. "For me? Hey, feel free to not come back or not even come at all, and that came out wrong, but even so, feel free to leave."
"Xander, I'm still Willow, and when you're turned, you'll still be Xander, and we can be together." For a half second, she had that same earnest expression that he had seen on her face so many times, like when she'd tried to explain how the letter x could be a number.
"You aren't Willow. My Willow doesn't kill and hurt people," Xander insisted.
She laughed. It wasn't a mean laugh or a sexy laugh, but an old-fashioned Willow laugh. "We started the Cordelia Chase hate club. When she was saying mean stuff about us, do you really think I wouldn't have killed her if I could? And your father? I wanted to kill him lots. I'm still Willow, and you always knew that I had my dark side. I'm different because I'm stronger because I don't have to be afraid, but this is the Willow you've loved your whole life. The Master says I can take my reward by making my first vampire, and do you know why I chose you?"
Xander shook his head.
"Because I am Willow. Because I know that my best friend's greatest fear is being left behind, and I wouldn't ever leave him behind. Because you know me and I want someone with me who knows me. You do know me, don't you Xander?" Willow had inched dangerously close, and Xander teetered between striking out with his stake and making a last, desperate attempt to run for the far end of the alley. Both seemed pretty stupid right now.
"I'm all alone, Xander. All the Master's other favorites are old. I want a friend with me." She definitely had the Willow-pout down. Xander studied her, watching her watch him.
"You want me? You know, I'm probably stringy, and you'll get cavities from the sugary blood. Besides, you always said you'd never eat a Twinkie, and I've eaten lots, and you are what you eat, so if you eat me, that's like eating a Twinkie."
She smiled, and she looked so much like Willow that Xander's heart hurt. "I do want you. You're the only one who really knows me. Xander, I am still Willow. I have more than just Willow in here because the demon does need to feed, but most of me is just Willow. You're my best friend, can't you see that?" With one more step, Willow was definitely in attack range. She could bite him, he could stake her—there were lots of attack possibilities, but they just stood and stared at each other.
"You don't want to be alone," Xander said slowly. "All those vampires and you're alone." Willow smiled at him, like he'd finally gotten x to equal the right number.
"And you don't want to be left behind."
Xander thought of all the times her parents had left for some conference or vacation or just left. She'd been shuttled from disinterested relative to disinterested babysitter until they came home all smiles and presents. During one particularly mean game of truth or dare with him and Jesse and Willow, Xander had taken off his underwear and Willow had admitted that she was always afraid that her parents would just disappear one day and never come home for her. "You're afraid of being alone," Xander said softly.
The demon flashed to the front all malevolent yellow eyes and fangs and ridges. Oh yeah, this was way more familiar territory. Vamps snarled, and Xander peed himself. However, Willow's vampiric features fell away as quickly as they appeared. She reached out and gently cupped his cheek with a cool hand. "I am. And you're the only one in the world who would have known that because you know me."
Willow shifted so that they were face to face. She brought her other hand up and now she was holding Xander's face in her hands, which left Xander's hands curiously free for staking. Considering she was standing inches from him and not moving, even he should be able to hit the heart. "Xander, please." She tilted her head to the side, and pressed forward, ignoring the stake. Xander's legs trembled. He'd played this game with Jesse, and someone had pushed Jesse from behind, had impaled him on Xander's stake, had forced Xander to see his friend turn to dust in front of him. "I love you," she said, her voice pleading with him.
Xander dropped the stake, hearing it clatter against the concrete. Slowly, Willow smiled. The smile started sweet and widened and then shifted as the vampire's features came forward. "Just the two of us, together forever," she promised him.
Xander closed his eyes and let his head tilt slightly. The bite hurt way more than he expected, but Willow's hands holding him tightly made up for that as he slid into the darkness. She loved him. That's all that mattered.