This is one of my "rescued stories" from the Pit of Voles.
It was written in January 2003 long before I joined El-Jay and is definitely one of my earliest Buffy fics. You can tell because I don't have Buffy's voice quite right in this one. This was actually prompted by a "desperately need Buffy-verse fluff" challenge. Since the challenge came from a B/X shipper list, well...guess the parameters.
I wrote this as a one-sided conversation where you only hear Buffy's half. You have to imagine Xander's responses. At the time I liked it, if only because I had fun trying my hand at something different. Since it was released into the wild, it's been so thoroughly Jossed that it's insane.
One thing people might notice is that Anya is the only death mentioned. That's because Anya was fingered in spoilers as the "big Scooby death" very early on in S7. In fact, she was the first death to be spoiled. Spike's (temporary) death, if a recall, wasn't spoiled until much later in the season, and when it was it was long after this story was written. Also another thing that was spoiled fairly early on was Buffy sharing the power with the Potentials, although the how and why was still pretty unclear. As a result, the fact that there are more than two Slayers is mentioned in a round-about way.
Despite the thorough Jossing, I still hold on to it in my archives because it's a very, very different story than the kind I tend to write.
Title: Two Words
Author: Lizbeth Marcs (liz_marcs)
Genre: Heavily AU; future fic
Characters: Buffy, Xander
Pairing: Hints at future B/X
Warnings: Heavy AU (story was originally written mid-S7)
Summary: Buffy's one-sided chat with Xander early one morning.
AU Elements: Angel never brought the mystical amulet to Sunnydale. That means Spike survived the battle against the First Evil, and Sunnydale didn’t become a hole in the ground.
Disclaimer: Buffy Summers and Xander Harris and all associated characters and organizations are the property of FOX and Mutant Enemy. Any mention of real life events and real people is not meant to imply that the people or incidents in question as they are used in the story have any relationship to reality. All original characters and the plot are mine. No payment was asked for or received in the writing of this story and no profit was earned. No copyright infringement on FOX, or Mutant Enemy is intended.
Author’s Note: For your information, five bold stars ( ***** ) indicates a pause or a moment of silence in a conversation.
By Lizbeth Marcs
Hey! Surprised to see you up so early. I thought dawn was primetime sleeping for you.
Oh? You never miss it? Since when…
Oh. Yeah. I can see where you’d never want to miss another sunrise again, even if it meant dragging your sorry ass out of bed after a few hours’ sleep.
Me? I am so not projecting. Well, okay, maybe a little. Pour me some of that coffee?
MmMmMmMmM, good stuff. Where’d you learn to make coffee like this?
No. You’re kidding, right? She wouldn’t…Oh, she didn’t! HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! Yah, I can see why you’d never let Anya make coffee again.
*giggle* *snort* Sorry. Attack of the… *giggle* …but that was really funny.
Hey, nice to see you actually smile. It’s been so long since I’ve seen you smile like that.
Yeah, well, I guess it’s been awhile for me, too.
Where you going?
On the patio?
Why, yes, I’d love to watch the sunrise with you. I’m awake. I’ve got coffee. I’m clothed in your sweats — which make me look like Revenge of the Miniature Mummy by the way — so no neighbors getting a peep show. I’m good.
Ooooh, holding the door open for me and bowing. Nice touch, Harris.
You know, I never really noticed that you had quite the view from your apartment. Hey! I think I can see my house from here.
It’s that one. See?
No, I’m pretty sure that’s my house. You tell by the damage to the front lawn.
That’s the last time I taunt, ‘If you’re so tough, come say that to my face’ to something that’s 10-feet high with 3-foot-long claws. Slight tactical miscalculation on my part.
*giggle* Sorry. How many times did you fix that window in the past year? Ten, twelve times?
Thirteen times. Ouch. You know, Xan, you should really let me pay you someth—
No, I won’t forget it.
Okay, fine. You won’t take money. How about I make you dinner?
Stop it! I’m not trying to poison you! Hah-hah. Very funny.
Well, I’m not going to ‘forget about it.’ I really want to do something to show my appreciation. So, what do you want?
That’s it? That’s all? C’mon. The glass alone for that damn window is worth more than a ‘pizza-and-video’ night with me, Dawn, Willow, and whoever else is still living in my house, especially since I know you’ll wind up paying for everything.
Well, all right, if that’s your price, that’s your price. You drive a hard bargain, Mr. Harris.
Sorry. Xander. I won’t call you Mr. Harris again, even in fun.
Wow. That really bothered you, didn’t it?
Letting it drop now.
What do you mean it’d be quieter if I stopped talking? *snigger* Jerk.
What do you mean, ‘ow?’ I didn’t smack your shoulder that hard. *giggle*
Oh? If you’re so bruised, then why are you laughing? Gotchya. Can’t put one over on the ol’ Bufferino here. No, sir.
Thanks for letting me crash in your spare room, by the way. I really didn’t feel like dealing with all the Slayer-bees complaining that I wake them up because I make too much noise when I come in from patrol.
Okay, you got me. My real motivation is because I didn’t want to fight any of them for first crack at the bathroom. My sister takes forever in there. I mean, how much time can one girl spend on her hair?
I was not like that when I was her age.
Sheesh. This could go on all morning. Was not.
Heh. Give it up. I’m so not letting you have the last word.
You’re like a seven-year-old. You know that?
What? Oh, well, now that big badness is at bay I guess everyone’s trying to figure out what to do next. I mean, I don’t think any of us thought we’d get out of this year alive, so I don’t think anybody made any long-range plans.
Well, let’s just say I didn’t open an IRA.
You kept contributing to your 401(k)? And putting money in your savings account? Anya trained you well.
Yeah, I miss Anya, too. I should’ve told her that I appreciated all her help before…
I guess we both owed Anya a lot of things that got left unsaid.
Regret? No. I don’t regret not properly saying ‘thank you.’ Doesn’t mean I was right not to say it. I should’ve said it. I just…well…I just didn’t.
Hmmm? Regrets? I try not to have them. One thing this year has taught me is that life’s too short and too precious to have them.
No. I don’t…well…actually, I do have one.
No, I’m not telling you.
Xander! I said no.
Fine. One hint: it’s not Spike.
Not for the reasons you think.
Well, it’s kind of hard to explain…
Okay, well, I don’t regret Spike because I learned a lot about myself because of him. I think the most important thing I learned was that I could turn into something that I really didn’t like. I learned what I didn’t want to be. Doesn’t mean that I don’t feel something for him, doesn’t mean that I’m not sorry about how it all turned out. But I’m not sorry that I got involved with Spike now that it’s all said and done.
Because maybe some things are just better left unsaid. I think this is one of them.
Because then it just might make it real.
No, I can’t explain it any more than that.
I know Willow’s going back to finish up her last semester. Who knew Willow’d be on the five-year plan for her bachelor’s? Kennedy is sticking around. I think she and Willow are more serious than they want us believe.
You mean the rest of the sistah-hood of the cross and stake? They’re all going home. Giles is struggling to find some of the few surviving Watchers and ex-Watchers to get them out of hiding.
Yeah, with the exception of Giles and Wes, they’re a pretty useless bunch. But these girls do need people willing to train them, just in case.
Wait…Giles asked…Xander! That’s wonderful! What did you say?
What do you mean you’d ‘think about it’?
I think you’d make a damn fine Watcher for Amanda. Plus, bonus, she’s the local Sunnydale girl, so you don’t even have to move.
*pfffft* So what if you don’t have the snobby true-blue English bloodline?
Will you stop it?
Xander! Okay, so maybe you don’t have book smarts like Giles, but you can really think on your feet. I mean, you and Faith pulled that plan out of your collective asses in the final battle against the First. If it weren’t for that little maneuver the two of you pulled off we would’ve been all looking at the Hellmouth from the wrong side.
See, now you’re comparing yourself to Slayers and vampires. You are a decent fighter. Hell, in a bar fight between you and a human twice you’re size, you’d probably wipe the floor with your opponent. Besides, Giles isn’t all that hot at fighting, either. He was practically racking up frequent-flyer miles in the emergency room at one point.
Look, Xander, I know from Watchers and yeah, maybe they were smart, but they really lacked heart. A new Watchers Council could use a little more heart and that, my friend, you’ve got in spades.
Fine. Think about this: you’re alive despite living 23 years on the Hellmouth and facing off against the First-freakin’-Evil itself. How many Watchers can say that?
So, will you think about it?
What did Willow say when you told her?
Oh. Giles asked her, too.
No. She didn’t say anything. Maybe she’s mulling it over?
She already said yes? How do you know?
Giles told you yesterday after he asked you about becoming a Watcher. I see.
No, I’m not hurt. Surprised she didn’t say anything, but not hurt.
Okay, maybe a little hurt.
Hmmm, what? Faith? Last I saw, she was throwing darts at a map. I think she might be heading for Toronto since they’ve got a huge vampire population there. Since she’s kinda on the lam, you know, for escaping prison and all, getting out of the country might be a good move.
Spike’s heading off to L.A. Angel’s promised to help him with the whole soul issue.
*snicker* You’re right. They probably will kill each other before the end of next year.
You would not sell tickets.
No! I would not buy tickets.
Okay, maybe I would like to see it, but I want comp tickets, buster. My money’s on Angel, KO in the third round.
Spike would sooooo not win.
Oh, wait. You’re right. Spike does fight dirty. Maybe I should change my bet.
Why Belgium? Why NOT Belgium?
Enough with the Belgium, already!
My mouth does not runneth over, Mr. Motormouth.
Who am I calling—
Yes, you ARE a Motormouth.
Don’t ever change.
Close your mouth, Xander. You’ll swallow a fly if you leave it hanging open like that.
What’s with the good mood? It’s called ‘a decent night’s sleep for the first time in months.’
Seriously? I guess I’m relieved that we can still talk like this. I mean, when was the last time we talked? I mean, really talked?
Yeah. I can’t remember, either. One more thing to be sorry about.
No, it’s not my regret.
Heh. Maybe I should rephrase that. I didn’t think you had a list.
Well, I do have a list of ‘if Buffy could change things, what would she change?’ I suppose that regret of mine just happens to sit at number one with a bullet. Probably because I know it’s one thing I’ll never be able to change, no matter how much I want to.
No, it has nothing to do with being the Slayer, well, a Slayer.
Wow. Look at how the morning light makes everything seem so green. Why didn’t I ever notice that before?
How did I know you’d say, ‘Everything that ever came out of my mouth?' C’mon. I’m being serious here.
Yeah, I guess that regret of mine is weighing heavy on my mind.
You know the funny thing? The really funny thing? I didn’t even realize I had this regret until recently, y’know? I think I realized it last night. That’s when it hit me like, whack, right upside the head.
I dunno. I guess I’m doing what everyone else is doing, you know, trying to figure out where I go from here.
So, I’m coming home from patrol last night and I get to thinking about fate, destiny, and all that other stuff that seems to attract itself to Slayers. Well, here I am, poster child for ADD that I am, and suddenly I start flashing on everything that happened since I got the Call. Anyway, I’m going through my mental photo album and then I come across this one scene, this one little scene, and I just stop right there. I keep replaying this scene over and over in my head. Then I get to thinking how your whole life can change in a heartbeat because of something that’s said or something that’s left unsaid.
Two words, Xan. Two stupid words. I would trade almost everything to take them back.
Well, I just kept hearing myself say these two words in my head. I mean it was turning into some kinda mantra thing. Next thing you know, I’m sobbing and I start running over here, except I don’t want you to see me crying because it’s not your fault and you’d think I was hurt or Dawn was hurt or Willow was hurt or that something was wrong and you’d panic and…and…and…
No, I’m not going to start crying again. *sniff* I’m good.
No. Really. I’ll be fine.
Yeah, I know you didn’t realize I was upset last night. Sorry about lying about getting vamp dust in my eyes. I didn’t want to talk about it and I knew you’d let me crash no questions asked.
But I need to tell someone, Xan. I have to because I just can’t let it go.
I’m scared. I’m honest-to-god scared.
The thing is I said something that I don’t think I’ll ever be able to take back. I said something to someone and it really hurt this person, maybe more than I realized.
I don’t know if I can apologize. I mean, it happened so long ago and so much has happened since then that I don’t think it’s even possible now. I just don’t see how it could change anything.
Then again, I’m afraid it might change everything. See what I mean?
No, you really don’t. Do you?
I’m trying to explain, but I just don’t know if I can.
See, I don’t regret the intent behind what I said, because at the time I said it I meant it and it was true. I mean, I don’t regret saying it, but I regret how I said it. Crazy, hunh?
I think I’m looking at this with 20/20 hindsight because somewhere along the line, what I said became not true. I just don’t know when or how it happened, but it did. The thing is if I told this person that it was not true and that I changed my mind, this person would never believe me in a million years. They’d have no reason to believe me. See what I’m getting at?
Please, don’t say anything. This is hard enough for me as it is.
Now this is important. Don’t interrupt. If you interrupt, I’m never gonna be able to finish this and I want to finish this. I need to finish this and you’re the only person I can tell.
See, when I was younger, someone asked me to go on a kinda, sorta date with them. Problem was, I didn’t feel the same way about them. I liked them okay, but I just didn’t feel that ‘special something’ complete with butterflies in the stomach, pitter-pat of my heart, and smile on my face just because that person might be thinking about me somewhere out there.
What can I say? I was stupid.
Well, maybe not stupid. You feel how you feel, right? You can’t blame someone for not loving you back. I liked this person, maybe even loved them as a friend, but I didn’t love them in that way.
No, it’s not Scott Hope. Didn’t you hear? He’s gay now.
Shush. I’ll never get through this if you don’t let me finish. Where was I?
Oh, yeah. So, I turned this person down the best way I could, which if you want me to tell the truth, really wasn’t all that great.
Two words, Xander. Think about that. Two lousy little words.
No, they didn’t take it well.
See, the thing is, I thought I had found my one, true, and forever soulmate. I loved Angel with everything that I had. Don’t get me wrong, I still love Angel and part of me will always love Angel, but if you ask me if I feel ‘that way’ about him now? No.
You look shocked. You shouldn’t be, you know. Time, distance, Connor, pretty much proved once and for all that it’s over. Things change.
Things always change.
Sometimes they just change in ways you don’t expect. Like how one day you don’t feel ‘that way’ about someone and then someday, someway, somehow you do.
You still don’t see what I’m trying to tell you, do you? See, I was right. You don’t believe me.
Wow. I didn’t think it was possible for anyone to look that confused.
Thing is, I changed my mind about that conversation, about my feelings, about this person. Weird how that happens, hunh? Weird how you can only realize it in a flash while you’re walking home alone at night.
Do you want to know my one great regret? The one thing I know I’ll never be able to change? The one thing I’m hoping to change?
Do you really want to know?
I want to take back two words, Xander.
The two words I said when you asked me to dance.
Just. Two. Words.