An Open Space
by Beth C.

They never talk about him anymore.

They had gone from pledging an eternity of friendship to never talking about him.

He realized how far away he truly was when Anya asked who Jesse was and why they had to go to his parents' house for dinner. His own fiancee didn't know about someone who Xander secretly told in second grade that he liked more then even Willow. He had once been a gangly teen sitting beside him in lunch, and he had become a pile of dust covering the floor of the Bronze.

Willow never visited the grave anymore, and Buffy never bothered learning about the person who's spot she filled. But Xander didn't forget.

While the potentials debate who is the cuter super hero, Tobey Maguire or Ben Affleck, and Willow and Buffy figure out what to do next; Xander plays his new favorite game. He helps Jesse finds a place in old memories just like Dawn had. Jesse in a tux, dancing like a spaz at the prom. Jesse in an ROTC uniform helping them break into the near by military base. Jesse standing beside him at the wedding, helping him make the hardest choice of his life.

Sometimes in the middle of imagining his bachelor party where Jesse inserts a dollar in a stripper's g-string with his teeth, he'll see Andrew smiling at him. When Andrew smiles, he thinks of Jesse. He had never even thought of having a male friend in years. But Andrew reads comic books, likes sci-fi movies, and reminds him of Jesse before he could grow facial hair.

But he isn't really like Jesse. He says things that Jesse would never of even thought of saying, cries more then Jesse would ever admit to, and is okay being a nerd as long as he has friends around him who like him.

With Andrew around he doesn't need to insert someone into memories or wonder about what had been. Xander learned the first time around to appreciate everyone because they can be taken away so quickly.

Andrew is the first and only boy he's kissed since Jesse. But he clasps his arms tightly around Andrew, unlike his nervous hands he didn't know what to do with when he kissed Jesse.

He's not going to let another person go, and he's not going to stake another friend. Inserting people into memories isn't as nice as making real memories, and with every smile he sees from Andrew, he knows there are many memories to come.

"Hey Xander, want to go watch Enterprise in the living room while the potentials go patrolling?" Andrew asks grinning.

It's nice just having someone around who understands why Star Trek can make apocalypse worries disappear.

"I'd love to," Xander smiles back.


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