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The Reason (They Made It)

Title: The Reason (They Made It)
Author: Kat Lee
Fandom: Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Character/Pairing: Xander+/Willow
Rating: G/K
Challenge/Prompt: tv_universe Boxes of Emotion (If you join, tell them Kat Lee of Team Bunny Ears sent YOU!)
Warning(s): None
Word Count: 822
Date Written: 18 February 2017
Disclaimer: All characters within belong to Whedon, not the author, and are used without permission.

They stand together at the ocean's edge. He knows the ocean is supposed to make him feel small, but for some reason, it doesn't have that effect any more. Instead, it's standing by his friends that truly makes him feel small some days, and other days, their presence near him makes him feel as large as life.

"What's wrong?" she asks, seeing the faraway gaze in his dark eyes and reaching out to hold his hand.

He threads his fingers with hers. "I was just . . . " He pauses and nods his head toward the ocean. "You know that's supposed to make us feel small."

"It doesn't?" she asks. He shrugs. She tugs playfully at his hand. "Come on, Xand. What's on your mind?"

"I was just . . . " He turns to face her, no longer hearing the cries of the sea gulls above them or the gentle lapping of the tide moving inland. "Do you ever wonder how we made it?"

She cocks her head to one side and searches his eyes with hers. "What do you mean?" she asks softly.

"Come on, Wills." He tries to smile, but his grin falters. "You know what I mean. Every day, it's a Demon or a Vampire or some other big bad. Every day, we're living the impossible, surviving the impossible, and way too many days, stopping an apocalypse. But I remember when we were just two little kids that the rest of the school hated. Don't you remember that? We were normal once."

"Of course I do," she answers softly, smiling up at him.

"How on Earth have we survived all this?"

She takes her hand from his to wrap her arms tightly around him. She holds him so close that the flaps of his open jacket go around her small waist. "I remember a boy and a girl who were terrified, terrified of what they felt for each other and of the whole school around them. They were scared to go to school, not even thinking of the dangers we know are out there now. But they were there for each other. I remember a shy girl who found the courage to share a yellow crayon, but I remember a boy with so much more courage than anybody, including himself, thought he had."

She places a gentle, chase kiss on his cheek. "I remember that same terrified boy growing into a man whose every decision was defined by his friendship. I remember him saying once that normalcy was overrated, but I remember him being there, too, at every apocalypse, praying nobody heard his knees knocking together -- or, at least, that's what he told that same girl once."

"I remember that, too," Xander whispers.

Willow continues, "And I remember him being there for that girl when her whole world was taken and she was ready to take the world from everybody else. Everybody else wanted to fight her, to kill her even, but he only wanted to be there for his friend. And that's how that boy saved the world."

She peels back from their embrace just enough that she can look directly up into his eyes. "You ask me," she queries softly, "how we've survived all that's happened since we were those two little kids? You're the reason we've survived, Xander." She shakes her head, and he sees how the setting sun's yellow, orange, and red rays cascade and shine on her short, red hair and feels something move deep inside of him.

"Not Buffy. Not my power. Not the Watcher's Council or luck or anything else. You are the reason we've survived." She kisses his cheek again, ever so gently as she concludes, "And that's just one of a million reasons why I love you, Xander Harris, and why you're always be my very best friend."

He holds her there before the setting sun and knows, deep within himself, that their friendship will always run deeper than normal friendship. Normalcy, he thinks again, is overrated, but unlike Willow crushing on him in secret, he's the one now who loves her from afar. He realizes he always will and gently presses his lips to her brightly shining, red hair. "I love you too, Wills," he murmurs.

They stay there, just holding each other, until long after the sun has set. Finally, Willow moves, tugging at his hand again as she does so. "Come on," she says. "Buffy needs us."

Buffy does need him, he thinks, just as he will always need both of his dearest friends -- and, he knows again but admits only silently, will always love Willow. "Yeah," he agrees quietly. "Apocalypse, here we come." They might not beat it tonight. There's always that possibility. But if they don't, at least he'll go out at Willow's side. He'll go out loving his friends and being there for them, and that's the most he can ever ask of life.

The End

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