A Simple Request
By: Aurorarose13


It had been another quiet day in the store. Buffy whistled lightly to herself as she idly strolled up and down the aisles. Her faintly green eyes scanned for potential customers, with no luck. The place was completely empty.

Approaching the end of Aisle 4, Buffy began to turn the corner and found some young man blocking her way. His back was turned to her as he perused the inside of a card. His hair was a rich, chocolate brown, and his skin was lightly toasted by the sun. Whoever this man was, he definitely smelled good, too. A gentle aroma of the summer weather clung to his shorts and tank top.

Buffy thought she recognized the familiar form standing in front of her, so she decided to give him a surprise. After all, Xander had said he would stop and visit Buffy today. Slipping down the center aisle, the Slayer made her way around the man, careful not to alert him to her presence. She crouched down, cut the corner sharply then sprang onto her victim. “Boo!” Buffy shouted, grabbing the card from the man’s hands.

The poor victim leaped about three feet into the air, his whole body trembling with fear. His mahogany hairs in his beard stood on end and his eyes glazed over. “Geez oh man, Summers!” he growled. “Scare out what little life I have left in me, why don’t cha?”

Buffy grinned mischievously. “Sorry, Mr. Linkhar. Couldn’t help myself.”

“Thank goodness you’re not one of my students anymore, huh? I woulda failed ya in a heartbeat.” Despite his angry tone, Mr. Linkhar was smiling. “Been working much, huh, Summers?”

“Not as much as my mother wishes I would.” Buffy robotically straightened the haphazard cards in the aisle. “But of course a little work is too much for me.”

“Well,” Mr. Linkhar began, “can you please direct me to your Bon Voyage cards?”

Buffy lead him down paths of carpets and turned several corners, and suddenly they were in a section labeled “Special Occasions.” “Right here, Mr. Linkhar. By the way, it was nice to see you again.”

The slender young man bowed politely and returned the sentiment. “You too, Summers.” Then his gaze returned to the task of sorting out the cards before him. “Don’t work too hard.” She grinned, as did he. Buffy then ushered Mr. Linkhar to the registers and returned to her boring customer service duties.

Boy, did she ever wish Xander had shown up! It was hardly ever dull with any of her crew around. Buffy meandered down aisle after aisle, praying she’d run into someone she knew, but she never did. Instead, to occupy her free time, she whisked herself away to the night before, the night of the Romance Dance. Yeah, so it was exactly like all the other Bronze themed dances, but it was an excuse to socialize, call off work, and meet up with some local cuties.

All of the Scooby Gang had been there, to Buffy’s delight (they had little hang out time together lately). Even then, however, they really didn’t chat all that much. Willow and Oz had spent the time making the most of that month’s theme, Xander had moped on the couch with that demoness, Anya, and she had slow-danced with quite a few boys (oh, Zachary… what a face…) who had caught her eye.

There was one thing she regretted though…

A tap on the shoulder gave Buffy a shock. She twirled around, expecting the chubby face of her manager, but was instead greeted with the sight of charming visage of her pal Xander. “Hey, Buffster! Dreamin’ about me again?” he prodded, smiling wickedly.

The Slayer sighed. “You wish, buddy. Nyah, I was just sorting cards and stuff. Same old Hallmark busy work. Why are you here?”

“Well, duh,” Xander said with an emphatic eye roll, “I came to see you. I promised, after all.” He thumbed a few cards, pretending to seem interested in them.

“Yeah, I know you came to see me, but why did you want to? I thought you’d be relaxin’ at the Bronze with Wills and Oz.”

Xander shrugged, returning his direct attention to Buffy. “Eh. We did that last night. Sides, Willow and Oz just sit there and make kissy faces the entire time. I don’t think I can stomach a whole nother evening of that sickening stuff.”

“I see what you’re getting at.” Buffy smiled at the thought of her two friends. They could never get enough of each other. Just like she used to be with Angel…

Suddenly the mood darkened. She couldn’t help it; she didn’t want to think of her lost love, but there was no avoiding it. Buffy swallowed a wave of tears as she tried to keep her cool exterior on the outside. She didn’t need Xander seeing her like this again. Poor, weepy Buffy. No one to love. Though she was determined not to show the dying side of Buffy, somehow Xander sensed her pain and pressed a tender hand onto her shoulder. “Please don’t,” she begged, unnecessary urgency in her voice. “I don’t need your pity. I’ve had my fill of yours and everyone else’s, including my own.”

“Then why are you still crying over him?” His words came out harsher than he had hoped.

She turned her back to him, an air of coldness closing in on Xander’s body. “Drop it, okay?”

The first strains of a soft melody echoed down the barren aisles. “Under one condition,” Xander replied.

“And that is?” Her back was still to him, separating the two friends with an invisible wall.

Lately I’ve been trying

To fill up my day since you’re gone.

The speed of love is blinding,

And I didn’t know how to hold on.

“You give me that one slow dance I never got.” Curious, Buffy faced him again. His hand was extended, offering a peace treaty, yet so much more. It was that gentleman’s gesture that thawed the slayer’s heart enough for her to place her own hand in his.

My mind won’t clear.

I’m out of tears.

My heart’s got no room to left inside.

He tugged her close to him, keeping as little space between their bodies as Buffy would allow. At first, Buffy tensed within his embrace, but Xander’s almost indecipherable touch on the small of her back soothed her eagerness. Shortly thereafter, the slayer nearly collapsed in Xander’s arms, willing to escape a painful past. Her head fell to his shoulder, and she felt his cheek rest on top of her hair.

How many dreams will end?

How long can I pretend?

How many times will love pass me by,

Until I find you again.

Buffy’s eyes drifted shut as she let the sweetness of his touch sink under her skin. Was Xander holding her, or was it Angel? Angel had always made her feel as though she were the only woman in the room, but, no, this embrace was different. The slayer believed she was the only woman in the whole world at that moment, so loving was her partner’s touch. Light. Caressing. Perfect. This was just the way she liked to be held.

Will the arms of hope surround me?

Will time be a fair-weather friend?

Should I call out to angels?

Or just drink myself sober again?

They moved slowly, both of them letting the smooth rhythm of the music infiltrate their systems. Every note guided their movements. They were helpless marionettes within the singer’s grand performance. Eventually, the embrace became more passionate, necessary and natural.

I can’t hide it’s true;

I still burn for you.

Your memory just won’t let me go.

Angel’s silhouette blinked in and out of Buffy’s mind. His hold on her was weakening; she could feel it. He extracted his fangs from her heart, and blood began flowing through her veins again—hot and yearning. Buffy opened her eyes to glance at her arms and found them to be covered in goosebumps. How could Xander be the one holding her?

How many dreams will end?

How long can I pretend?

How many times will love pass me by,

Until I find you again.

Buffy squeezed Xander’s shoulders, sending him the silent message to hold her even closer—if that was even possible. He willingly complied.

I’d hold you tighter,

Closer than ever before.

No flame would burn brighter,

If I could just touch you once more,

Hold you once more…

For the first time, Buffy let her soul soar free of Angel’s love. Even if it was for but a mere second in the great span of time, she was free, free enough to enjoy the dance in every sense of her existence. Playfully, she nuzzled Xander’s neck, wondering if he felt the tiny jolts of electricity emanating from their close contact like she did.

How many dreams will end?

How long can I pretend?

How many times will love pass me by,

Until I find you again.

She drew in the deepest breath she could, savoring Xander’s spicy cologne. Angel never smelled this good, Buffy sighed dreamily to herself. Xander was safe and familiar. There was no deadness about him. And the best part was his steady heartbeat. Xander was alive. He was real. And he was damn handsome, too.

Until I find you…


“Thanks for making my life,” Xander whispered into her ear as he released her from his sheltering grasp. Buffy involuntarily shivered at the words, and she had little idea why. Then, without warning, Xander bent down to her cheek and brushed his lips against her skin, so gentle it was more of a caress than a kiss, but just as penetrating.

For one of the first times in her life, Buffy’s throat tightened with pleasant shock. She didn’t know what to say. The only thing that came to mind was, “You’re welcome.”

The corner of his lips curled slightly and his eyes flashed mischievously, an alluring devilishness stirring within their depths. “Being seeing you later?”

“Yeah,” she muttered, resisting the urge to touch her cheek. “Later sounds fine.” At last, the control had returned to her voice and body, and she shoved him toward the door. “Now get out of here before my manager yells at me. Go tell the guys I said hi.”

“Will do.” Xander gave a little salute to his partner in crime before heading to the exit. Hook, line and sinker… he thought smugly.

By the end of the night, Buffy had forgotten Angel’s attractive, mysterious face. There was only one man she could think of in that blissful moment of warmth—warmth only offered through human interaction, but, more importantly, human love.