Author: Mburns31 <mburns31[at]>

Rating: PG-13

Timeline: Season 3, 'Revelations'

Distribution: Just ask

Feedback: I'd love it

Summary: What if a certain scene in 'Revelations' had gone a little differently? What might have happened?


Disclaimer: Buffy the Vampire Slayer and all its characters belong to Mutant Enemy productions. Not me.

Chapter 1

Kissing Willow was so many different things at once.

And Xander loved all of them.

Except for the guilt, of course. But that was easy to ignore; it was, at least for the time being, pushed to the back of his mind by everything else he was feeling.

Her fingers, on his neck and in his hair, stroking him with feather-light caresses.

His arms, around her, holding her to him tightly, almost desperately.

Her lips, soft as silk, pressed against his.

Her body, rubbing against him in the most delicious ways as she squirmed slightly in his embrace.

His heart, pounding in his chest so hard he thought it must be audible.

What he did not love, however, was the voice that suddenly intruded on their time together.

"Willow, Xander..."

The world that had been good enough to disappear just moments earlier suddenly reasserted itself rather rudely.

As one, they broke their kiss, looked up at the source of the voice and saw Giles staring down at them, an unreadable expression on his face.

"You can stop your... studying," he continued, his mouth curling slightly with apparent distaste as he spoke that last word. "I've got what I need."

Willow and Xander quickly scrambled to their feet, nearly knocking over the bookcase they had been leaning against in the process. Xander knew that the look of shock and fear on Willow's face had to be mirrored on his own. They had been caught. All the guilt that he'd pushed away earlier suddenly came crashing back with a vengeance, hitting him like a physical blow.

After a moment, Willow spoke, panic in her voice. "Giles, we..."

The Watcher cut her off. "It's none of my business," he said curtly, a slight edge of disappointment creeping into his voice. He continued quickly, before either of them had a chance to respond. "I've found the probable location of the Glove of Myhnegon. It's housed in the Von Hauptman family crypt." He turned and exited the stacks, walking briskly away from them and down into the main area of the library.

Xander and Willow followed meekly behind him. "That's, uh..." Xander began, struggling to keep his voice level. "That's that big one over at the Restfield Cemetery. I should, uh, go check it out."

Giles whirled around and slammed the book he held in his hand shut, the sharp crack causing Willow and Xander to flinch in surprise.

"So you can alleviate your guilt by going out and getting yourself killed?" He glared at Xander, who withered under his gaze. The Watcher paused momentarily before continuing in a softer tone. "No, I think it best if I go - you clearly have other things on your mind."

Giles set the book down on the counter before heading over to the weapons cabinet. As he busied himself selecting his armaments, Willow and Xander made their way to the table. Willow slowly sank into one of the large wooden chairs, looking as if she wanted it to swallow her whole, and after a moment, Xander took a seat next to her. He felt... numb.

Presently, Giles emerged from the locker with crossbow in hand and a small sword tucked under his arm. He strode towards the double doors, but stopped when he was halfway there, pausing for a moment before turning around and approaching the table where they sat.

"Willow, Xander..." They looked up at him glumly, and his expression softened. He looked at each of them in turn and took a deep breath before continuing.

"For the past two years, you have both repeatedly risked your lives fighting alongside Buffy, for no other reason than because she is your friend, and it is the right thing to do. I believe you both to be very good people, and nothing I have seen tonight has changed my opinion of you. She is very lucky to have you in her life.

"However..." He paused briefly, looking them over, gauging their reactions. "There are other people in your lives, as well. People who, I believe, matter to you a great deal." Even though he didn't name any names, Xander knew full well who he was talking about.

Oz. And Coredila. Shame and guilt overcame him as he thought about them.

"I won't say anything about what I saw tonight. But for their sakes - and your own - you need to sort out whatever it is between you."

Xander nodded dully in response to Giles' words. He was right - what he and Willow were doing was wrong, and they both knew it.

But knowing that didn't make it any easier to stop.

Giles turned to go. As he reached the doors out of the library, he turned and called back, "If you see Buffy, please tell her where I've gone." With that, he exited the room, the doors slowly swinging closed behind him.

They sat for several long moments that felt like hours, neither of them able to look the other in the eye. The silence between them seemed solid enough to touch.

Finally, Xander couldn't take it anymore. "Giles was right, Will," he said quietly. "We have to talk."

Willow sighed. "What is there to talk about, Xander?" she asked, sadness and a little anger in her voice. "What we're doing is wrong, and we have to stop."

"Do you really think it's that simple?" he retorted, a little more harshly than he intended.

"Of course it's that simple!" Willow faced him now, her anger getting the better of her for a moment. "I have a boyfriend, you have a girlfriend, and we're betraying them! We can't keep doing this," she moaned, slumping in on herself.

"Then why haven't we stopped already?" Xander demanded.

"What?" Willow replied, turning to look at him again, confusion now mixed with the sadness on her face.

"Why haven't we stopped? Why do we keep doing this?" Unable to sit still anymore, Xander leapt up from his chair and began pacing back and forth in front of Willow. "The first time - okay, fine, it was a fluke. But Will, that was two and a half weeks ago. What about all the times since then? We've known how Cordelia and Oz would feel about this from the get-go. But still, time and time again..." He trailed off helplessly, looking down at the floor.

Willow looked up at him then, and when he met her eyes, the sorrow in them broke his heart. "Why, Xander?" she said, tears trickling down her face. "Why did you have to wait until we were both seeing other people to notice me? Do you have any idea how happy I would have been if our... fluke... had happened this time last year?"

"God, Will, I'm sorry..." Xander didn't know what to say. He felt horrible - what kind of person was he, to put her through this?

"Oz is a great guy, Xander," Willow insisted. "He's been so good for me... I can't keep doing this to him. He doesn't deserve this."

"I know," Xander replied glumly. "Neither does Cordelia. I know you still don't like her that much, Will, but.... She's caring, and she has a good heart. There's a lot to like about her.

"But still," he continued after a moment, "whenever I'm with Cordelia, no matter what we're doing, all I can think about is the next time I can be alone with you."

"Xander, we have to stop," Willow declared forcefully. "We have to just, put this out of our minds."

"I can't!" Xander protested, unable to keep the frustration out of his voice.

"Why not? Xander, this is something..."

It was too much. All the feelings Xander had been trying to keep in check finally boiled over.

"Because I love you!" he shouted, his voice echoing through the empty library.

The words hung in the air between them. At first Xander couldn't believe he'd said them out loud, but after a few long moments, it finally sunk in. What had he done?

He'd spoken without thinking, that's what he'd done. And now he'd hurt Willow with his thoughtlessness. Again. As if all the times he'd done that in the past weren't enough. He slumped down in a chair at the head of the table, suddenly feeling very tired.

For her part, Willow simply sat in front of him, unmoving, her expression speaking of pure shock and confusion.

Finally she broke the silence. "Xander, you... love me?" She spoke slowly, carefully, as if unsure how the words would feel in her mouth.

Xander saw no point in trying to deny what he had said. Taking a deep breath, he began, "I do, Will. Look, I'm sorry. I know I just screwed things up between us even more than they already were..."

"How long?" she interrupted him.

Xander blinked in confusion. "What?"

"How long have you... felt this way about me?" Willow asked, her voice soft, only slightly above a whisper.

"Since last spring," he admitted. "That was when I realized it, anyway."

"How did it happen?" Willow asked. Xander watched her intently, searching for signs of the hurt he knew she must be feeling. But she didn't look or sound hurt - just confused. "I mean, what made you realize?"

"It was after Drusilla and her goons attacked us in the library," Xander explained, fighting down the sudden bout of nervousness he felt at telling her this. "After you got hurt. Will, I've faced vampires, demons, even the end of the world... But looking at you in that hospital bed, thinking I might lose you... I've never been so scared in my life."

"It was you," Willow breathed, something akin to wonder in her voice.

"Willow..." Xander began, but he never got a chance to finish.

"It was you!" Willow exclaimed, and the smile the appeared on her face seemed to light up the room. "When I woke up, in the hospital, it was you, you told me you loved me..." She stopped suddenly, and her look of happiness slowly faded, replaced by one of horror.

"Oh God," she whispered, "and I called out for Oz... Xander, I'm so sorry, that must've..."

"It's okay," he said quickly, burying his pain at the memory. "I mean, I deserved it, right?" He gave a short, humorless laugh. "After all the times I went on and on about Buffy when you had a crush on me, after you had to watch me chase girl after girl when you wanted to be with me yourself... I was overdue for a taste of karma."

Willow leaned forward in her chair, fixing him with a serious gaze. "Don't say that, Xander," she told him earnestly. "Whatever you may have done in the past, you don't deserve to be hurt like that."

"But, Will, I..."

"Don't." She stared at him unflinchingly, and after a few moments looking into her Resolve Face, Xander finally nodded. He still thought she was letting him off too easy, but he could tell that nothing was going to change her mind about this.

At his gesture, she relaxed a little. "So how come you never told me it was you in the hospital? Why did you let me think it was Oz?"

"Because he's the one you want. He's the one you should be with. I wasn't about to screw that up for you."

"I see," Willow stated flatly. "So now you know better than I do who I should be with?"

"Willow, no," Xander replied hastily. "That's not what I was trying to say. But it's obvious that you're better off with him. He never hurts you, and that's all I seem to be able to do. And you've been happy with him!"

"Yes," Willow replied, her voice softening again. "I've been happy with Oz, and everything I said about him earlier is true. But, Xander... I don't love Oz."

She took a deep breath. "I love you."

Xander sat, dumbstruck by her admission. All his feelings - pain, guilt, shame, and now, finally, hope - warred within him. He tried to speak several times, but no words came.

"Willow?" he finally managed to croak out, but could get no further.

"Yes," she confessed softly. "I love you too, Xander."

"But... In the hospital... You called for Oz," Xander stammered, still not quite able to believe what he'd heard.

"Xander, I called for him because I thought it was him. If I'd known that it was you... But I didn't. I didn't think it could be."

"What do you mean?" Xander asked hesitantly.

"I just... I didn't think it could ever happen," Willow sighed. "For years I told myself there was no way you could love me. I came up with all these reasons - I was too skinny, I was too weird, I had strange-colored hair. I told myself that for so long I started to believe it."

"Willow, no." Xander leaned forward and reached out tentatively, taking her hands in his, feeling relieved when she didn't try to pull away from him. "You're... the most amazing person I've ever known. You're smart, and kind, and beautiful..."

His mood darkened again, and he pulled away from her. "I'm the one who doesn't deserve *you*. I'm hurtful, I'm insensitive.... You can do so much better than me."

"You can be those things," Willow acknowledged. "But, Xander.... There are so many good things about you. You're brave, and caring, and there's nothing you wouldn't do for your friends." She captured his eyes with her own, fixing him with a serious gaze. "You're not perfect, Xander. Neither am I. No one is. I know you have flaws. I still love you."

"I love you too, Willow." Xander's heart still leapt when he said those words. "There is no part of you that I don't love. I love quirky, mousy little Willow, and I love strong, confident, fighting-the-forces-of-darkness Willow."

The smile that appeared on Willow's face as he spoke warmed Xander's heart more than he could say. She stood and pulled him up from his chair, embracing him tightly. He returned the favor, wrapping his arms around her, holding her close, too overcome by emotion to speak.

They stood that way for several long moments, Xander still scarcely believing that this amazing girl in his arms loved him the way he loved her. It was the most incredible feeling... and it was one he wanted to hold onto forever.

Finally, they separated, Xander finding and clasping Willow's hand in his own as they pulled apart.

"So what happens now?" Willow asked the question with trepidation, even though Xander could see in her eyes that she already knew the answer.

Xander sighed. He wasn't looking forward to this. "We have to tell them," he said. There was no doubt as to who he was talking about.

"They'll be hurt."

He nodded sadly. "They will. But we have to be honest with them. If we try to go back to the way things were... we'll just end up hurting them worse in the long run."

"I know," Willow agreed. "Xander.... Are you sure about this?"

Xander looked into her eyes, and what he saw there almost took his breath away. They were more beautiful than he'd ever seen them before, because of the love they held.

For him.

"I've never been more sure of anything in my life," he told her.

"Good," Willow breathed. She arched up toward him and kissed him briefly. It was nothing like their earlier kiss; this was soft and gentle... and to Xander, it felt like touching a piece of heaven.

Hand in hand, they walked out of the library. What came next would be hard; in some ways, harder than anything they'd ever done. But they would get through it.


The End