I'm The Fool

Absence of Light Awards Title: I'm The Fool

Title: I'm The Fool
Author: CJ
Disclaimers: Not mine, don't sue.
Pairing: Mentions S/X
Rating: PG-13ish
Author's Notes: Song is I'm the Fool in Love with the Fool Who's Still In Love With You by Lee Ann Womack.

Buffy stood not five feet away, arms crossed over her chest, fear warring with concern for control of her features.

"Look, Xander, I didnít mean to upset you. I just want you to be safe and being with Spike is just not. He'll hurt you and when he's done, he'll leave." Her mouth snapped shut at the pained expression on Xander's face. She wished she could be doing anything else right now, anything but putting that look on the face of one of her best friends, but she felt she had to make him understand.

Xander closed his eyes, barely holding back the flood of tears that threatened. Heíd listened to Buffy's speeches on the badness of Spike so often he knew them by heart, but it still hurt that she couldn't support him. Pretty hypocritical for the guy that gave her hell every second she was with Angel, but he thought that they'd all grown up some, matured. Maybe not. In the distance, he caught the opening strains of a song, something slow and mournful.

//You don't know me
but I know who you are
Mind if I sit down
Do I look familiar
If I don't well I should
I'm sure you've seen me around
I know you've probably heard my name
Though we've not been introduced
I'm the fool in love with the fool
Who's still in love with you.//

"Buffy, I know you don't approve of me dating Spike. Do we really have to go over it every time we see each other?"

Buffy grimaced at all the many levels of sadness she could make out in Xander's voice and turned away. "I'm sorry Xander, I just couldn't stand to see you hurt again, any of you....."

"I love him, Buffy."

"Xander, don't...."

"But I know he'll never love me. I'm not stupid you know. I know everyday when I wake up, that I'm not the one he wants. Every night when we go to bed, I can see in his eyes....."

"Xander, please.."

//Just one more thing before I go
I'm not here to put you down
You don't love him and that's a fact
Girl I've seen you around
But you hold his heart in the palm of your hand
And it's breaking mine in two
Cause I'm the fool in love with the fool
Who's still in love with you.//

"It's you, Buffy. You that I see in his eyes when we're together. You that he wants beside him at night. You that he wants with him when we wake up."

Tears streaking her face, Buffy reached up to cup one palm around Xander's cheek. "Xander, I never meant...."

"I know. I've tried so hard. To make him happy. To be the person he wants. But I can't be, Buffy. I can't be you. And that hurts him. So, yeah. I figure one day he'll hurt me. And I know that one day he'll leave. But for now, even if it's only one more night, don't I deserve to be happy?"

"I'm so sorry Xander. The only thing I've ever wanted for any of you, is for you to be safe and happy. And you're right, as the Slayer I don't...can't approve of you being with Spike. But Iím still your friend, I still love you. If this is what makes you happy, I can wish you luck."

Xander ducked his head, nodding his acknowledgement, too unsure of his voice to trust it with words.

"Xander," Buffy caught his chin in her hand, nudging it up so she could catch his eyes, "I never wanted Spike to love me. Right now, if I could, I'd wish with every ounce of my being for him to love you, if I thought it would help. But it wonít. I can tell you, though, that when the day comes and he hurts you, I'll be there for you. I'll give you my shoulder, my support, my love, and my stake if you want it."

"Buffy, it means a lot to me...."

"I wasn't finished." Giving a mock stern look, Buffy waited for the small grin she knew was coming, then continued. "You deserve so much more, Xander. You deserve someone who will make you happy and will be happy with you. As your friend, not the Slayer, I'm begging you to stop and think. That's all, just think about how you feel when you see someone else in his eyes. That's not love Xander, that's settling."

"I know, Buffy. I know all this. But I love him so much."

Standing on her toes, Buffy pressed a kiss to his forehead and whispered, "I know Xan, I know." Then she turned and walked away.

//I'm the fool in love with the fool
Who's still in love with you.//