Magic By Coffee
Xander was dreaming.
They were on a beach. Salt water smell was in the air, and the sun was shining. Xander felt the warm sand beneath his bare feet, and enjoyed the feel of Willow walking beside him, her arm through his own, holding him close like she was afraid to let him go.
So caught up in the feeling, he didn't notice the sky turning black or the waves stirring. He didn't notice that that she had dropped her hat or the small black veins that were beginning to etch across her face.
"I'm glad we came here, Wil," Xander told her.
"I love you, Xander," she said, her hair hiding her face from him.
Abruptly, Willow unlinked her arm from his own, and began to walk toward the tumultuous ocean where the black waves were rolling high and breaking heavy. It was too dangerous to go in the water. Why would she go there?
"Wil, wait!" he cried, but she seemed to be walking in fast forward. Her white sundress was now wet on the bottom where the hungry ocean was lapping at her ankles.
"I'll be okay," she said to him without opening her mouth. "I have something for you."
The entire world had gone grayscale except a tiny package that Willow held with both hands. It was wrapped in metallic gold paper, a purple bow expertly tied around it. Xander remembered when Oz held that package. But Oz threw it away, and Tara painstakingly picked up the tattered pieces, taped it back together again then wiped it clean.
Now it was whole again, still taped up, but there. In Willow's hands.
What was it? he wondered, following her down to the sea. The cold water abraded his skin, but he paid no attention to the pain. This was Willow. His Willow. He had to get her out of the water, had to get her warm. They would go back to the hotel after he saved her, and he would bundle her up in blankets, give her all the snacks from the mini-bar regardless of price, then he would open her gift, and tell her that he loved it no matter what it was.
First he had to catch up to her.
The water was already knee high, but she was so far away that he could barely make out the glint of wrapping paper from where he was.
"Xander," he heard her cry, just before her head went under water.
Xander learned the craft slowly. Little by little, spell by spell. Loved the kick it gave him. Loved her more for it. It helped to know, he had told the others. It helped save his life. He blatantly ignored the religion, only interested in the results, only interested in the magic.
The hoodoo instead of the voodoo.
The others warned him to stay away from it. Then the warnings had turned into telling him to stop. As slowly as he learned the craft, his friends faded away. They were caught up in new slayers, a new council, a new life. Xander had no one but the ghost of his dead ex-girlfriend, and the emptiness at his side where his best friend should be. All he had was a future that was one big question mark.
The magic helped to numb the pain.
Xander soaked it all in like a sponge, eager to learn, eager to feel full when he felt so empty.
Willow had been missing for months. Kennedy last reported seeing her in a magic den, up on the magics and unapproachable. A scorpian eating its own tail. One target that could not be locked. Giles and his nifty Super Coven had come up empty.
Xander did his investigating on his own, in the trenches, and he learned a lot.
Apparently the slayer spell, activating that strength in every potential, had sent Willow on a dizzying downward spiral that made her addiction a hundred times more powerful.
The last he'd heard, she was the proprietor of her own magic den. The warlock of the house. Bad magic mama lost in the ocean, and Xander needed to find her, needed to save her. He needed to find whatever it was she had for him.
He just ... needed her.
He changed for her.
Xander found her in Boston. An old city with a Hellmouth beneath. There were a lot of historical places that were said to be haunted there. The mystical energies were high, and he owed his tipster a thousand dollars.
It had taken him a lot of dark, nasty spells to even get to the point where he could feel magic, feel the darkness in the air. The scorching heat of the den she was running made him feel feverish. The portal was in a parking lot for an apartment building off of Beacon street that seemed more like a war zone with dozens of unnecessary decaying, unpainted speed bumps and pot holes the size of bowling balls. The portal all but hummed to him between a black Lexus and a silver Mercedes. Xander stood outside, chilly air turning his face red, and let her magic wash over him.
Over the sound of honking horns, and car alarms, he heard her voice crystal clear in his mind, "You shouldn't be here, Xander."
The memory of her enveloped in a twister of dark magic was a reminder to him that he was willing to die with her rather than letting her destroy the world, rather than letting her die alone. If they were going out, they were going out together.
When he stepped inside the den, he ignored the junkies with their vacant stares and shaking limbs, he ignored the cigarette smoke and the protests from the suddenly rabid wide-eyed freaks that proclaimed that they were next, that it was their turn.
Xander opened the door to her inner sanctum, and stared at familiar green eyes, at her face with its unfamiliar cold smirk. It changed the more he stood there, until the coldness went away. Until it was the sweet smile he remembered.
// She was walking in hostile water, letting the salt of the ocean burn her into nothing. //
"Wil!" he said. "You didn't call, you didn't write. A best friend could get worried."
Slowly, she circled around him, her hands crackling with magic so powerful it made his skin crawl. He was pretty sure that she sniffed his hair. "You're different. I can feel it," she stated plainly. "I like it."
"I did it for you," he told her, his dark brown eyes sincere. "I love you."
// Water crashing against her hips, the salt spray white and the force hurtful. A tiny gold present held in her hands. //
"I love you too." Willow moved her hand to his chest, not bothering to hug him, because she knew he wasn't going anywhere.
Willow smiled wide. "I have something for you," she told him, snaking her hand under his shirt that he hadn't tucked in.
The moment her hand made contact with the flesh of his chest, he felt so much more alive. Like a carnival ride that was just turned on, warming up, ready to entertain.
The jolt of magic was blissful, euphoric, more pleasurable than anything in his life. Willow's magic, running through him, making his back arch was a revelation. Willow's eyes closed, the connection overwhelming, then opened a dark black that to Xander looked warm and inviting. She was siphoning him like a tank of gas, and he was enjoying it.
He would love her forever. He'd love whatever she became, whether she went darker or tried to reform. It was constant, something he couldn't control, and didn't want to control anymore.
// Xander followed this time, swam with her until she gave him that present, and he couldn't breathe. Couldn't breathe, because his lungs burned and were full with Willow. //
Xander now knew exactly what his dream meant.
If he wanted Willow's love then he would have to drown with her.
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