The Sun Also Sets (Over Sunnydale)
by Twinkledru J.

The ground was dry, and it stayed dry, for no one cried much over Anya -- except for Andrew, who curled up at the back of the bus and sobbed and then sniffled and finally fell asleep, so there were no tears to water the ground.

It just seemed a little hinky, crying a whole lot for her. She would've thought it was silly and pointless, would've said it was stupid and silly and pointless, although she also would've made it no secret that she was pleased they all missed her so much. But then she would've asked why they couldn't have just bought her lots of shiny things while she was alive to show her how much they cared, and Xander would've gotten embarassed, and it would have been a whole big thing.

Things were still shimmery about the edges, and Willow felt like she was moving too slowly, and the whole thing was wholly phantasmagoric, and she and Xander walked off for a bit without fully realizing that they were doing it together.

They stared into the crater, the crater that was the town that was their fountainhead and their fear. She put her head against his shoulder, and he put his arm around her waist, and he gave one manly sniff and she had a feeling she would cry when she finally fell, but until then...

"It's gone," she said simply, and realized that for the first time in her life the dark wasn't writhing under her feet.

"Yeah," Xander answered.

They stayed like that for a long time, looking across the ruins of the place where they had been forever.

Xander coughed then, tightly, and sniffed manfully again, and then coughed once more. "I need something to drink," he said vaguely.

"Yeah," Willow answered. "Hang on."

"Will, you don't need to -- "

But she had already summoned two glasses, big plastic ones like they used to drink Kool-Ade from when they were little and breaking stuff a lot. Xander stared at them for a few seconds, and then, when she pulled hers out of the air (cold in the hellish -- no not hellish never hellish again -- heat and the condensation felt like smears of bright turquoise against her skin), he reached slowly for the other and drank, and stopped, probably remembering, and drank again.

He raised his good eyebrow at her over the edge of his cup. She sat down on the ground, cross-legged (did they still say Indian-style?), and beamed up at him.

"You've got fruit punch mustache, Will," Xander said, smiling, and sat down next to her.

She swiped vaguely at her upper lip, and drank some more of her punch, and leaned her head on his shoulder. He kissed her hair, and at last just leaned his head in turn on hers.

"That was really amazing."

"It felt neat."

He gave a small sigh-chuckle, and kissed the top of her head again.

"I love you, Willow," he finally said.

"I love you, Xander," she answered.

"We could've really... "

"'We could have had such a damned good time together,'" Willow finished for him.

His words were soft as snowflakes, and she could feel his smile against her hair. "What's that from?"

"Hemingway," she said. "'The Sun Also Rises'. But we could've."

"Yeah," Xander agreed noncommitally. "I hated that book."

Willow laughed. "You never even read it! You just read the Cliff's Notes and got me to help you cram for the test."

"Well, it was hard work BS-ing my way through the essays on it!" Xander drank some more of his punch, and then settled his head back against Willow's. "You probably just hated him, and I was picking up your vibes, because you weren't all controlly with the mojo."

Willow rolled her eyes.

The sun set behind them, and they finished their punch as darkness spread out, and they saw night near home. The stars above the dry ground were brighter than she had ever seen them.


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