Aspects of Love

Part One

Written by: Joanne W

Summary: Coping in the aftermath. Just how much is Buffy prepared to love Xander?
Sequel to: 'Mirror Mirror' and 'Breaking the Rules'
Rating: R for violence, language and sexual situations.
Disclaimer: Anything or anyone you know to be from Buffy belongs to Joss Whedon and all his little friends. Anything or anyone else that I've blatantly made up belongs to me.
Warning: The flashback sequence in the latter part of the story is quite graphic, so be warned now.
Author's Notes: This fic starts three months after Mirror Mirror ended. Also notes for British spelling, *'s indicate word emphasis and //'s indicate direct character thoughts.



Xander was floating.

At least he thought he was floating. He could have been drifting. He wasn't too sure.

He knew he wasn't flying, because he couldn't remember ever being able to do that. Especially being able to fly on his back.

At least Xander thought he was on his back. He wasn't quite sure about many things at the moment. Thoughts never seemed to stay long enough in his head for him to be able to concentrate on them properly.

The same thing went for memories. Especially his current ones. They just flitted in and out of his head, not even giving him a chance to see anything, only allowing him to feel brief sensations and emotions.

Another thing Xander wasn't sure of was *where* he was. As far as he could make out he was in a big black hole of nothingness. There was no sound, no breeze, no nothing.

Strangely though, Xander wasn't worried that he was drifting, floating or whatever he decided he was doing. Because despite it's nothingness, Xander felt safe. There was only him here and that meant there was nothing could hurt him. Xander, in his moments when he could feel things, felt that was the important thing. That he was safe.


Buffy took the cup of coffee that Giles handed her. She looked up and gave him a brief smile "Thanks" she said before turning her attention back to Xander.

It had been three months now that Xander had been in a coma and there had been no change in his condition. The doctors had run every test they could, and they now said it was a question of just waiting.

Buffy was seated by Xander's bed, a position she had barely been out of since Xander had been in the hospital. She sighed sadly and took hold of Xander's hand and squeezed it gently. Xander was still hooked up to machines that monitored his vital signs and drips, but he was still breathing by himself and his dressings had all been removed and his head was no longer bandaged.

Giles put his hand on Buffy's shoulder "Buffy" he said gently "I don't think he's going to wake up by your willpower alone"

"I know that Giles" Buffy said softly "But I just can't help thinking that maybe the next time I squeeze his hand, will be the time that he squeezes mine back."

"Then maybe someday he will. Some day soon" Giles said kindly. Then he sighed sadly "Buffy, I have to be going now. I have to open the shop" he paused "Are you going to be coming in today?"

"Uh... yeah" Buffy said "Xander has his check up at twelve o'clock and they don't like me being here, so I'll be into work today"

"I wasn't pressuring, Buffy" Giles said "And Ren is coming in today anyway"

"I *said* I'd *be* there Giles-" Buffy stopped "Sorry" she put her hand over his that was on her shoulder " I didn't mean to-"

"It's OK" Giles said, his tone understanding "Look" he stepped back and went to stand in the doorway to Xander's room "If you come in I'll be glad to see you. If you decide to stay here, I won't mind"

Buffy smiled gratefully "Thanks Giles"

Giles smiled back and left Buffy with Xander. He closed the door and walked out on to the corridor. He looked through the small window and watched sadly for a few minutes before he began to walk away.

He hadn't wanted to return from England to *this*. He'd left them here with every intention of trying to *help* Buffy. But, as it turned out it, hadn't even *been* Buffy. He remembered how much he had been horrified when Willow had relayed to him the whole story. How it had been Tay, Ren's sister, pretending to be Buffy in someone else's body. How Buffy had been kept prisoner by Tay (and Spike), until the time came for Buffy to have to watch Xander die infront of her very eyes. Buffy had told him that Tay had said she'd slept with Xander. Buffy hadn't known whether to believe her or not, that she didn't know whether Tay was just trying to torment her even more. But Buffy said she couldn't really be sure of anything that happened between Tay and Xander until Xander woke up.

//That is if he ever does// Giles rubbed at his temples. Giles knew that he should be thinking more positively, but Giles had begun to think more realistically. The doctors still seemed to think that Xander only had a forty percent chance of regaining consciousness and even then they had no idea if he'd suffered any brain damage and to what extent it would be if he had.

Giles knew that all this was taking its toll on Buffy. It was hard on all of them, especially as they all blamed themselves for not seeing Tay for who she really was. Buffy had told them that Tay was good with magic and had said that she'd tricked them by giving herself Buffy's aura, therefore Tara was right about sensing a different aura for the body they were seeing. But it still didn't stop the guilt.

And then there was Ren. Ren, who's world had come crashing down around her. She had disappeared the night it all happened. Willow said she had left Ren by herself to go after Buffy and when she had got back Ren had gone, leaving no indication of where she was going to be or if she was coming back.

But Ren *had* come back. Giles remembered opening his door and finding her standing there, still looking the same but Giles could see in her eyes that she wasn't the same inside. Of course one could say that was down to the fact that Tay had given Ren her mortality back, but Giles knew better. She wasn't the same confident woman he knew and adored; she looked like a confused little girl who had lost everything she had come to know.

Giles had taken her in, not wanting her to go through what she was by herself. Gradually she had come out of her shell, however she still wasn't her usual self, but Giles put that down to being worried about Xander's current state of health.

It had been a tough time for all of them. They all spent as much time as they could with Xander, letting him know that they weren't going to abandon him. Willow had started back at school, throwing herself into her college studies to help her cope, but still she found the time to be with Xander. Buffy had decided to take a year out of college, because she didn't think she'd be able to concentrate on anything and it would be a waste of her time. Buffy was now living back at home with Joyce and helping Giles when she could in the Magic Box, the shop he had taken over when the last owner had met an untimely demise.

Giles sighed sadly as he left the hospital and he began to make his way to his car //Just the beginning of another day on the Hellmouth//.


Xander wasn't floating anymore. He wasn't drifting either. He was falling.

Falling downwards rather quickly. Hurtling in fact. He yelled out, to express verbally his concern that he was falling at a somewhat alarming rate and there was no sign of what he was heading downwards to.

Then suddenly he stopped, his fall being broken by an armchair which apparently rushed upwards to meet him and which he was now sitting on. Xander considered this unusual, as he hadn't remembered seeing any chairs in the 'nothingness', let alone ones that seemed to be suspended in mid-air.

Xander looked around at his surroundings. He was still in the nothingness, but, Xander realised, he could make out the armchair he was sitting in. It was greenish and comfy and not unlike Giles' couch in style. Xander could also see what he was wearing and it looked like a hospital gown. Xander's brow furrowed in confusion.

"Huh" he said simply. Then he had to shield his eyes as a sudden flash of light erupted in front of him and then disappeared just as quickly.

Xander blinked a couple of times to let his eyes focus. When they did they focused on someone who had apparently appeared with the flash of light.

Sprawled lengthways on a red, velvet covered sofa (also suspended in mid-air) there was a woman dressed in a long, white flowing satin gown. She had a white, crushed velvet shawl wrapped around her shoulders over which long dark hair fell. To complete the outfit she wore a silver headband, from which protruded two stars, each on a short spring.

She was also disturbingly familiar to Xander.

Both Xander's eyebrows hit his hairline "*Cordy*?"

Cordelia raised her own eyebrow in response "If you say *one* word about my head gear Xander Harris..." she trailed off, giving him a warning look.

"Uh... 'kay" Xander cleared his throat "Um, not to get straight to the point, but what the *hell* is going on here?"

Cordelia frowned at him in surprise more than anything "You mean you don't know?"

Xander shook his head "Not a clue" he replied the paused "I'm *supposed* to know?"

"You *really* *don't* know?"

Xander felt a little exasperated "I said so, didn't I?!"

"Hey!" Cordelia huffed "There's no need to get *snappy*"

Xander pinched the bridge of his nose "Cordelia, could you please just tell me what's going on?"

"Well... if you *don't* know, it's a good job you're sitting down"

Xander just looked at her "OK, that didn't fill me with confidence."

Cordelia looked back at him sadly "It's not" she hesitated "You're in limbo."

Xander blinked "Limbo?" he looked around and then back to Cordelia "OK... that actually *does* kinda make sense" he paused "Why am I in limbo?"

"Well..." Cordelia cleared her throat "You're... you're in a coma"

"I'm in a *what*?"

"A coma"

"That's what I thought you said" Xander drew in a shaky breath "A coma?"

Cordelia nodded sadly "You got hurt bad"

"I... oh god" he looked at Cordelia anxiously "Buffy? She's not hurt, she's-"

"No" Cordelia replied quickly "She's fine. The others too"

Xander sank back into his seat and ran his hand through his hair "What happened? How did it happen?"

"You really don't remember?" Cordelia asked again, concerned.

Xander shook his head "I don't remember much. At least I don't think I do" he paused, searching his memory "I-I remember..." he smiled widely "I remember I asked Buffy to marry me. She said yes"

"Y'know, I can't believe you two ever got together" Cordelia said "I mean, I *never* thought it would happen-" she broke off and grinned sheepishly "But that's not what we're talking about is it?"

Xander smiled "It's OK. I mean, I never thought we would either" Xander began to pick at the arm of the chair.

"You're really happy, huh?"

"I love her" Xander said simply "I remember that"

Cordelia smiled genuinely "Good"

"How... how is she?" Xander asked "Buffy... she's OK, right?"

Cordelia's smile faded a little "She's doing OK. She misses you"

"How long have I-"

"Three months"

"Three... oh god... woah... that's..." Xander ran his hand through his hair again "W-what happened?"

"Like I said" Cordelia replied "You got hurt bad"

"But I don't remember getting hurt... oh wait... it's coming back... I-I remember a patrol" Xander sat forward a little, memories emerging in his mind "Buffy and I... we were together... then-then there were lights and an explosion" Xander began to search his memories again "Was I in the explosion?" he asked Cordelia "Is that what happened?"

Cordelia shook her head sadly "No Xander, that's not what happened" she swung her legs off the sofa and suddenly flooring appeared on the surrounding area immediately underneath where they were seated "Xander" Cordelia continued "What I'm about to tell you... well it won't be..." she paused "It's not nice"

Xander looked at her apprehensively "Do I really want to know?"

"You *have* to know, Xander" she replied "You don't have a choice"

"Tell me"

Cordelia did.

When she'd finished Xander stared at her in horror "Oh god" he said hoarsely. He lifted his legs on to the cushion and hugged his knees to his chest "I think I'm going to be sick"

"Xander" Cordelia got up and walked across the suspended floor over to him. She knelt down by his chair "None of that was *your* fault. None of it"

Xander began to rock slightly "I should have known" he said "I should have known"

As he began to repeat those four words over and over, Cordelia stood in front of him and placed a hand on each of his knees to stop him rocking "Xander, stop it" she said softly "You *couldn't* have known"

Xander looked up at her "But I should have" he said "I should have seen-"

"But you *did* see" Cordelia said "Remember? When Tara cleared your mind of the suggestions that Tay put in there, you saw Tay for who she was. You *knew*, even with her having Buffy's aura, that she wasn't *Buffy*"

"But I was too late. I was-"

"Oh for God's sake Xander, would you just *snap* *out* of it?!" Cordelia stepped back "Listen. To. Me. It *wasn't* your fault. It was that bitch Tay. *She* did all this. Not *you*. OK?"


"*No* *buts*" Cordelia said, "*No* *one* blames you. *Buffy* doesn't blame you" Cordelia's demeanour softened "She *misses* you. She wants you to go back to her"

"She does?" hope crept into Xander's voice "Really?"

"Yes." Cordelia smiled "Really."

"So-so how do I get back?"

Cordelia sat back down "You can't go just yet" she said, "You're not better"

Xander's face fell "But I want to be with her."

"The time isn't right Xander" Cordelia replied "You'll have to wait"


(Some time later)


"Hmm?" Cordelia sat examining her nails.

"Can I ask why you're here in um... limbo... *with* me?" Xander asked.

Cordelia looked across at Xander "We've been sitting here for *how* long and you've only just asked?"

"I've had other things on my mind" Xander protested "And how long *have* we been here"

"A few days."

"A few *days*?" Xander repeated "But it *can't* have been. It's got to be only a few hours since *you* got here"

"Time passes differently here" Cordelia shrugged nonchalantly.

"How do you know?" Xander asked, "How do you know all this stuff? *What* are *you* doing here? *How* are you here"

Cordelia sighed "It's kind of an astral projection... thingy."

"All right" Xander said slowly "I'll buy that" he paused "But why *you*? I mean why not... Willow?"

"You're picking Willow over me *again*?"

Xander buried his face in his hands "I just walk *right* into them don't I?"

"Yup" Cordelia smiled a little.

Xander looked up from his hands "I'm all messed up" he said quietly "I don't understand any of this"

Cordelia looked at him warmly "I don't know why it's me, Xander" she admitted "All I know is: I'm here and I have to help you"

"Then why can't you help me by sending me back?"

"Because you're not ready."

"All right. How long before I *am* ready?"

"When they tell me I can let you go" Cordelia replied.


Cordelia huffed "Don't *even* get me started on *them*

Xander stared at her for a few seconds "Uh... maybe later, huh?"

Cordelia smiled "Sure" she said. Then she sighed "Y'know you can get up and walk about. You don't have to keep sitting down."

"I'd rather stay here thanks" Xander replied "Strangely I don't trust floors suspended in thin air."

"Pfft. You're just worried about me seeing your butt through that hospital gown."

"Am not" Xander protested.

Cordelia smiled "Are too. I wouldn't worry. It's a great butt."

Xander stared at her "Cordy!"

"What?" she said innocently.

"You... you..." he sighed "Nevermind" Xander tried to surreptitiously bring his knees together and pull his gown as far as he could over them.

Cordelia grinned "Too late for *that*"

Xander glared at her "Can't you like *zap* me some new clothes or something?"

"I get to choose?"

Xander eyed her warily "Just so long as it's not a g-string."

Cordelia contemplated that image for a moment before waving her hand "There" she said, "How's that?"

Xander looked down at the only item of clothing Cordelia had given him and then he looked back across at her "Leather pants?"

Cordelia began to grin, then her attention was drawn to something else and she frowned slightly.

Xander looked down again to see what Cordelia was looking at "Oh" he said after a while "This... this is what she did?" Xander began to trace his finger along one of the two large, still slightly pink scars that ran lengthways across his abdomen.

"Yeah" Cordelia replied sadly "But Buffy got her back."

Xander looked at Cordelia hopefully "Can you magic Buffy here too?" he asked.

Cordelia shook her head "I'm sorry Xander, I can't."

"Oh... I just..." Xander sighed "How long before I can go back?"

Cordelia closed her eyes and it looked to Xander as if she was listening to something. A few moments later Cordelia opened her eyes and spoke:

"Soon" she said.


Giles looked up from his book that lay on the counter when he heard the shop door open and smiled warmly when he saw Ren walk in. Despite her becoming mortal from one hundred and eighty-ish years of living as a demon, physically she didn't look any different to Giles, but then she had never looked like a demon in the first place. She was still beautiful, although her eyes didn't seem to shine as much as they used to. Her hair was still a pale blue and it hung in long waves that fell over her shoulders.

"Morning" Giles greeted

"Hey Rupert" she smiled back, indicating the book that Giles had been reading "Hard at work I see."

"No, no... it's, uh, research actually" Giles said, turning the book around for her to see. He pointed out a picture of a demon "Willow and I spotted one of these while out on patrol the other night."

Ren wrinkled her nose "Man, he didn't just get hit with the ugly stick" she commented "More like the whole bloody tree."

"Buffy said the same thing," Giles said closing the book "I stopped by the hospital again this morning to check on her and Xander"

Ren's eyes saddened a little "She's still going there after patrol?"

Giles nodded "The last time I told her to get some proper rest she threatened to rip off my arm and hit me around the head with it if I didn't stop nagging her."

Ren sighed "I take it there was no change?"

"No" Giles ran a hand over his hair "No change."

"Is Buffy going to be there all day?" Ren asked "I was going to go up with Willow and Tara later this afternoon."

"Actually" Giles said "I think Joyce was going to try and get her out of there for a while. Give her a change of scenery."

Ren nodded "She'll make herself ill if she keeps carrying on the way she is" Ren leant against the counter "The other night when we were on patrol she almost got taken down by this piddly little vamp. I mean, even in my current state, *I* could have taken him"

"Perhaps we could try and talk to her again" Giles suggested.

"You think she'll listen?"

"It's worth a shot" Giles replied "Plus if we all go together she's less likely to rip off one of my limbs."

"I'll speak to Willow and Tara when I see them," Ren said. Then she smiled slightly "They're going to read him X-Men comics."

"Do you think he can hear what's going on around him?"

"I like to think he does" Ren replied "I tell him stories of some of my wilder days. The ones I never told him when I was with him before" she smiled wryly "Better late than never, huh?"

"Why did you never tell him before?" Giles asked.

"I didn't want to scare him away" she sighed "Perhaps if I'd have told him everything about me" Ren looked at the floor "None of this would have happened. If he'd known about Tay-"

"Ren, you couldn't have known any of this was going to happen" Giles reached out and touched her chin, gently tilting her face back up "None of us saw this coming"

"But *why* didn't we Rupert?" Ren said "The first time, I was here for months before we even knew what I was saving him from. This time... this time it all happened within a matter of *less* than two weeks and there was no warning, no nothing!"

"I'm afraid I don't know the answer to that Ren" Giles said "Maybe we never will."


"Mom" Buffy protested as her Joyce tugged her from Xander's room "Mom, I really don't want to go shopping."

Joyce slowed down and turned to her daughter and looked her over. Buffy looked haggard with her now ever-present bags under her eyes and her hair pulled back in an untidy ponytail. Buffy wore a pair of old jeans and a thin, short sleeved sweater top that had seen better days.

"Buffy, you need to get out of that room" Joyce said, "I'm worried about you. You don't look well."

"Mom, I'm fine. Really" she pried her hand away from her mother's "I just want to be with Xander."

Joyce smiled warmly at her daughter "Buffy, honey. I'm sure Xander won't mind being by himself for a few hours. I have it on good authority Willow, Tara and Ren are coming up this afternoon, so he's not going to be alone for long."

"It's not-"

"Buffy" Joyce gave her a stern look "I'm only thinking of you. I want you to get some fresh air" she took Buffy's hand again "You don't want Xander to wake up and find that you're sick now do you?"

Buffy hesitated "No" she said finally. She looked at her mother "I'm coming back tonight though."

Joyce smiled "Then maybe we can find something for you to read to him" she and Buffy began to walk "I think Willow and Tara are warping his mind with those comics they keep bring in"

Buffy chuckled "Mom, they're *Xander's* comics"

Joyce let go of Buffy's hand and put her arm around her daughter's shoulder instead "Y'know, that's the first time I've heard you laugh for weeks" she said, "You should try to let yourself do it more often"

"You won't be able to stop me when he wakes up mom" Buffy replied "But for now... you might just have to wait.


(Sometime later)

"Well, what about this?" Joyce held up yet another dress for Buffy to see "It's the same colour as the one in the last store"

"S'okay" Buffy flipped idly through the clothes on the rack.

"You didn't even look at it."

Buffy turned to her mother and gave her an apologetic look "Sorry mom... I-I guess I'm just a little pre-occupied."

Joyce smiled understandingly "I know" she hung the dress back on the rack "I guess shopping wasn't such a great idea, huh?"

"Somehow it doesn't seem to hold the wonder and joy it once did" Buffy replied with a small smile.

"You wanna get a coffee instead?"

Buffy nodded and followed her mother out of the store.


About ten minutes later Buffy and Joyce were seated at a table, each with a large mocha in front of them.

"Are you working tomorrow?" Joyce asked Buffy "Because if you aren't and you want a change of scenery, I could use some muscle at the gallery"

"Oh... I don't know" Buffy replied "I wasn't working but..."

"It was just a suggestion," Joyce said with a smile "I know you'd like to be with Xander"

Buffy stared in to her coffee "It's just... it's just I think that if I'm not there, that's he's going to wake up and he'll think that he's been left alone" she looked up at her mother "I don't want him to think that. I want to be there when he opens his eyes."

"I'm sure you will be" Joyce said reassuringly.

"I won't give up on him, mom" Buffy said "I won't."

"I never thought you would" Joyce replied and took a sip of her coffee "You practically live at the hospital. That's hardly being someone who's going to give up."

"I love him so much. I-I don't know what I'd-" Buffy broke off when she felt a tear slide down her cheek.

"Hey sweetie" Joyce took one of Buffy's hands "Don't upset yourself. Don't think like that. If you start to let it break you then *she's* won. Don't let her win."

Buffy knew whom her mother meant. Tay. Buffy took a deep breath, dispelling more tears that had threatened to fall "You're right mom" Buffy said firmly "She won't win."

Joyce smiled "That's my girl."

Buffy managed to smile back "Mom?"


"I did see some shoes I liked..."

Joyce smiled again "Let's see if they're still there, huh?"

They both got off their stools and began to walk.

"Y'know" Joyce said, "Maybe we could get you some clothes to match them"

"Are you hinting at something?" Buffy said with a small smile.

"Buffy, I haven't seen you out of jeans since Xander's been ill and if you want to be there when Xander wakes up" Joyce turned to her daughter, her eyes twinkling a little "I'm sure you'll want to look your best"

Buffy rolled her eyes "Mom, Xander *proposed* to me when I was just wearing one of his T-shirts and covered in goop as a result of a faulty blender" she smiled at the memory and absently touched the ring she still wore on her left hand "I don't think he'll mind what I'm wearing"

Joyce looped her arm through Buffy's "Then he won't mind if you're wearing something nice."

"I can't win can I?"


"In that case... I *really* liked those blue pants in Bloomy's"


Tara closed the comic and put it back in her bag, before looking across Xander's bed at Willow.

"Are you sure you didn't bring anything else?" Tara asked.

Willow shook her head "I didn't think I'd need to" she said, "You read too quick"

Tara stuck her tongue out at her girlfriend "All right. What now?"

"We could tell him about patrol the other night where I kicked that demon's ass" Willow suggested.

Tara grinned "You just wanna show off *and* you've already told him"

Willow pouted "Well, what do you suggest?"

"Ooh. I-I have tarot cards," Tara said. She reached into her bag and produced them "We could do some readings for him."

"Um... doesn't Xander kinda have to be... *involved* for that?" Willow said in a quiet voice.

"W-well, not necessarily" Tara replied "He can hold them for a little while. That'd work" Tara passed the cards to Willow.

Willow looked at them dubiously, before turning to speak to Xander "Y'know Xander, Tara doesn't just do this for anyone"

Willow took hold of Xander's hand and pressed the cards into his hand, trying to curl his finger's underneath. Realising that they weren't going to stay there, Willow held her own hand over Xander's. She looked at Xander sadly. Willow reached out with her free hand and brushed Xander's hair off his face. She allowed her hand to linger and she gently touched her fingers to his cheek, grazing the scar he had there "It's not fair" she whispered sadly.

Tara got up and went over to Willow "Sweetie, why don't we just sit here with him, huh?" Tara took the cards from underneath Willow and Xander's hands "We don't have to do anything"

Willow kept her hand on Xander's "You don't mind?"

Tara began to stroke Willow's hair "Of course not."

Willow leaned back into her girlfriend's touch "I just want to hear him laugh again Tara" Willow said "That's not too much to ask it?"

"No, it's not" Ren said.

Both girls turned to face the other woman who had just arrived. "Hey" Tara smiled "You get everything done?"

Ren nodded "You two OK?"

"Just getting a bit weepy" Willow said, sniffling a little "I don't think I could have kept up being cheerful for much longer anyway."

Tara gave Willow's shoulder a comforting squeeze "You can't help how you feel" Tara said.

Ren sat down in the chair Tara had previously occupied. She looked at Xander and frowned slightly "I wish Buffy would get them to cut his hair."

"Oh... I kinda like it long. And the four day old stubble." Willow said, "Makes him look cuter."

Ren's smile got a little wider "That's possible?"

Willow looked at her and smiled back "You're probably right."

"Hey, should I be worried?" the blonde witch asked.

Willow looked up and saw Tara was smiling "Nope" she put her hand over Tara's "Course not" Willow paused, her eyes then twinkled a little "But then I guess you've never seen him in Speedo's"

Tara raised an eyebrow "Speedo's?"

Ren chuckled "Oh, I've seen him in less than that."

Willow rolled her eyes "Yeah, you and your-your corrupting demony ways-" Willow broke off "Oh... I-I'm sorry. I-"

Ren waved her off "Willow, it doesn't matter. The only thing I want my demonhood back for would be to heal Xander. Other than that... I'm happy as I am."

"Well that's good" Willow replied "You're like all... *nice* now"

Ren stared at her "Gee... thanks Willow."

Willow smiled "You're welcome."


Buffy walked slowly along the corridor towards Xander's room. It was late in the evening and she had spent nearly all day with her mother. It was rare that she spent that much time away from Xander. Buffy spent most night curled up in a chair by his bed, only half asleep, the awake half of her hoping to detect some signs of life from Xander.

But in three months there had been nothing and Buffy didn't know how long she was going to have to keep listening. She knew she wouldn't give up on him. She'd told Xander he was the best thing to happen to her and she meant it.

Her mother had spoken to her shortly after Xander had been in the hospital about what they were going to do when he woke up, about Xander and Buffy being engaged. Joyce had said she had had some doubts that they were rushing into things and that they should think about a long engagement. Joyce had also said she felt it was also too soon for Buffy too be thinking about marriage after such a short time after she had broken with Angel.

Buffy had spoken to Willow about this and Willow had said all the right things, but it was what Ren said to Buffy that made her feel right inside. Ren had said that if Buffy and Angel were supposed to be together, that if they were supposed to be soul mates, then they'd *be* together, despite everything. The fact that they weren't... Ren said that kinda proved her theory. Buffy agreed with her.

When Buffy reached Xander's room she saw both his parents with him. Buffy stopped by the window and looked in through the half-closed blinds.

She looked on in silence for a short while before she realised someone was standing beside her.

"I didn't think you'd still be here," she said to Ren.

"Thought I'd keep you company. See if you wanted a hand on patrol or anything."

"I was only going to do a quick sweep" Buffy replied "I was going to see Xander before I started off, but" she turned back to the window, "I thought seeing as how-"

"They've *both* actually managed to make an appearance this week?" Ren finished for Buffy.

"Yeah" Buffy turned back to Ren "Up for a quick spot of violence then?"

Ren smiled slightly "As ever."


"Cordy" Xander rubbed his temples "As much as I appreciate your being here with me and helping me to pass the time... could you please *stop* humming Ricky Martin songs?"

"Only when you look as good in tight pants as he does" Cordelia replied "I have yet to see you stand up so I can admire the ones I gave you, so until you do, you get Ricky"

Xander scowled at her "Cordy, I told you. I am *not* standing up. Not only am I not going to be your eye candy. I do *not* trust this floor" he indicated the half-transparent floor that was spread out before them both.

"The floor *is* fine" Cordelia said and proved it by walking across it and over to him "And do you *want* the hospital gown back?" she stood infront of him, arms crossed over her chest "'Cos I can do that"

Xander looked up and addressed the nothingness above him "Why did you send her?" he cried "You could have sent anyone, but *nooo* you had to send my *ex*"

Cordelia glared at him "You know, you're mean for someone in a coma" she stomped back to her seat "I'm only trying to help" she huffed and began to sulk.

Xander ignored her "I'm *upset* Cordy. I'm upset because I can't be with the woman I love" he said "I'm *upset* because she's waiting for me, not knowing if I'm going to even wake up or not!"


"Send me back."


"Please Cordy... I-I can't wait here much longer. I want to get back. I want to tell Buffy everything... that I'm sorry... that I love her" he smiled a little "I wanna tell her everything about this place"

Cordelia smiled sadly "You can't do that. You can't tell her about this place."

Xander frowned "Why not?"

"Because you won't remember it" Cordelia replied "No-one ever does"


"Xander, you'll only remember what I told you about how you got in the coma. About Tay... about all that" she smiled a little "You won't remember me."

"Cordy-" Xander started but he had to shield his eyes after there was a flash of white light. When Xander looked again there was no Cordelia.

No floor.

No chair.

Just nothingness.

And Xander was falling again.


(Next evening)

Ren hit the ground with a hard thump.

It was nearing midnight and she and Buffy were on patrol. Ren had just been thrown over some vampire's shoulder and she saw him looming down on her, baring his fangs. Then he turned to dust and Ren saw Buffy standing over her.

"You OK?" Buffy asked.

Ren nodded then grimaced a little, wishing she hadn't just nodded "Yeah. Thanks."

Smiling, Buffy helped Ren to her feet "You forgot you weren't Supergirl again, didn't you?" Buffy said.

Ren rubbed her head "Just for a minute" she admitted and brushed the dust off her clothes "And I would have preferred it you'd likened me to Wonder Woman" Ren smiled "She had a *much* better costume"

Buffy chuckled "Come on" she said, starting to walk away "I think we've done enough slayage for tonight"

"You couldn't have said that half an hour ago?" Ren said as she followed after Buffy "It would have saved me having to put ice on my shoulder."

Buffy smiled a little "I'm sure that if you asked Giles nicely he wouldn't mind helping you. Come on" she said, changing the subject "We don't want to keep Xander waiting"

Ren now walked beside Buffy "Are you going to be staying again tonight?" she asked.

"Yeah" Buffy replied "Mom had to go out of town for a couple of days suddenly and I didn't want to be by myself at home."

"Buffy, you don't have to be by yourself" Ren sighed "Do you even get any sleep?" she asked, "I mean. Not being rude or anything, but you haven't been looking too hot lately"

"That's *not* being rude?"

"I'm just worried about you" Ren said, "You have to take care of yourself as well. I'm just saying this as a friend."

"We're friends?"


"Damn" Buffy smiled a little "I was hoping you wouldn't notice."

Ren laughed and then her tone became more sincere "Seriously Buffy" she said "I *am* worried about you. We all are."

Buffy sighed "I know I'm not at my best. I *know* that" she ran a hand though her hair "I... I just can't stop worrying about Xander. It's hard to think of myself when he's so ill."

"No-one's asking you to *stop* worrying Buffy" Ren said "Just don't think you have to do it by yourself. There are *more* than enough of us who care about Xander to worry about him *with* you"

"Thank you" Buffy said softly "I just... I don't know what I'd do if I didn't have you guys. I know you're all worried and upset too."

"I know" Ren said "And we all cope in our different ways-"

"I just don't have to *cope* by myself?" Buffy finished.

"Right" Ren replied. She put her arm around Buffy's shoulder "We're not going anywhere. Barring a sudden apocalypse, we're all here" Ren said and the two women walked for a little while in a comfortable silence. Then Ren spoke again.

"Well I think that little talk went well," she said smiling at Buffy "You didn't rip off my arm or anything"

"Yeah" Buffy said "Tell Giles I'm sorry about that" then Buffy cast a side-glance at Ren "Plus I'm too tired for anymore violence. Think yourself lucky."


(A little while later)

Buffy and Ren sat together with Xander for a short while before Ren made a move to leave.

"Donuts or bagels for breakfast tomorrow?" she asked Buffy with a smile.

"Bagels" Buffy replied and then she yawned "And maybe a gagillion espressos."

"You be fine if you just get some good sleep" Ren told her "You want me to bring anything else?" she asked. Buffy shook her head.

"OK" Ren leaned over and placed a quick kiss on Xander's forehead "Bye Xander. See ya tomorrow" she stepped back and headed towards the door.

"Night Buffy."

Buffy smiled wearily "Bye Ren."

Ren smiled back and left.

Buffy turned her attention back to Xander. She sighed sadly and got up from her seat and perched herself on the edge of his bed. Buffy placed a hand on his chest "Xander honey, if you can hear me, I'd just like to tell you that I find it very scary that Ren and I are friends" she smiled a little "You're gonna get one hell of a shock when you wake up"

Buffy kicked off her shoes and swung her legs up on to the bed so she was lying on her side facing Xander. She nudged him over slightly and lifted his arm. She snuggled up against him, resting her head against his upper chest and then she placed his arm around her.

"I miss you Xander" she said softly "I think you've probably got that by now from the amount of times I've told you, but-" Buffy yawned "But, I don't think I'll ever be able to stop saying it until you wake up" she reached over Xander and took hold of his other hand, threading her fingers through his.

Buffy looked up at Xander and smiled sadly. She shifted herself up a bit on the bed so she was almost face to face with him. Buffy pressed her lips to his and let them linger there for a while before pulling back and placing her head back on his chest. She smiled as she listened to his heart beating.

"I love you" Buffy said softly "Please don't stay away from me... from us... for too much longer" she squeezed his hand again "We love you"

Buffy yawned again "Night Xander" she murmured before closing her eyes and hoping to fall asleep.


Xander landed with a thump.

He hadn't landed in a chair this time. He'd landed on his butt. On the floor.

Xander looked down and narrowed his eyes at the floor. It was definitely more solid looking than the last one and he hadn't fallen through it yet so he decided that it was safe. He hit it a few times with his hand first to make sure though.

Xander got to his feet and looked at his new surroundings. He wasn't in the nothingness. At least he didn't think he was. Wherever he was, it looked suspiciously like the Bronze. An empty Bronze.

Xander looked down at himself. He was still wearing the clothes that Cordelia had given him. //If it was really Cordy// Xander then thought. He ran a hand through his hair and took a few steps forward, shivering slightly as his bare feet connected with the cold floor.

"Hello?" he called out "Anybody here?"

No answer.

"Buffy?" he called out hopefully.

Still no answer.

Xander walked up to the bar. He reached out his hand to pick up a bottle of beer that was standing on the counter. Xander wasn't that surprised when his hand went right though it.

"Guess I'm still in limbo" he muttered to himself. He leaned back against the counter "But at least this place feels a little closer to home."

Xander closed his eyes and allowed the memories to flood his mind. Among them evenings he'd spent at the Bronze with Buffy, the two of them in their own little world as they danced with each other to whatever music happened to be playing. Evenings he'd spent here with all his friends, all of them just hanging out and talking.

Xander sighed sadly and opened his eyes, facing the reality that none of the people he cared about were here to keep him company as he stood alone in a place he knew so well.

He began to wander about. Although it was deserted, the building wasn't totally silent. Xander could hear slight clinking of pipes and the hum of the few lights that were actually on. //Transparent beer but I can hear the heating system? Colour me confused//.

Xander also tried all the exits, hoping to get outside, see if he could feel fresh air on his face, but not one of the doors opened no matter how hard he pushed or pulled against them and neither did any of the windows.

He made his way to the dance floor, heading towards the front of the stage. As soon as he stood in the middle of the floor, the lights dimmed a little and suddenly Xander found himself bathed in the soft white light from a single spotlight above him.

Xander sighed "Cordy. If that's you-"

"It's not" a quiet female voice answered.

Xander struggled to focus on his new companion until they got to within a few feet of him and became bathed in a spotlight of their own.

Xander's eyes widened "Anya?"

"Good." The ex-demon replied "You still recognise me"

"Well, you're a little hard to forget" Xander replied "OK. I *am* still in limbo right?"

"Yes. It's a Bronze shaped limbo" she replied. Anya looked around "It's really amazing what you can achieve nowadays" she said, looking back at Xander "I remember when all you used to get were a couple of chairs floating about in a black hole"

"Uh... actually you-you still get that" Xander told her "I was there a little while ago with Cordelia" he paused, thinking something over "And what do you mean *remember*? You've done this *before*?"

"On and off" she replied simply "So" she continued "I hear you're in a coma. How's that working for you?"

Xander blinked slowly "Oh it's just great Anya" he replied sarcastically "I almost died and everything. Not to mention the fact that my fiancée is worried sick along with everyone else and I have no idea what the hell is going on."

"You're upset by this aren't you?" Anya replied matter-of-factly "I can tell by your tone" she stepped closer to him and put a hand on his arm "Do you want to talk about it?"

"And what would be the point of that?" Xander replied, brushing her hand away and stepping back "I'm not going to remember any of this, so why bother talking about it!"

"My, you are tense" Anya remarked, "You really should relax"

"*Relax*?" Xander began to pace and the spotlight followed him "Anya do you even have any idea-" Xander broke off "Oh just... forget it. It doesn't matter. None of this-" he gestured around him "Matters"

"Did Cordelia tell you that?" Anya asked and Xander nodded. Anya sighed "Great. The girl gets a couple of visions from the Powers that Be and suddenly she thinks she's little Miss 'Been-there-done-that-bought-the-T-shirt'"

Xander was confused "What are you saying?"

"Cordelia is only half right" Anya said "You *will* remember how you got into the coma and you *won't* remember either of us or these places. But" she silenced Xander as he was about to speak "You *will* retain certain thoughts and feelings that you had in these places when you wake up"

"Thoughts and feelings?" Xander looked at Anya "I don't suppose there's any chance I can choose which ones-" Xander stopped when Anya shook her head "OK. Figures. I noted you also said *when* I wake up" Xander said to her "Any chance of telling me *exactly* *when*?"


"Soon?" Xander groaned "You're about as helpful as Cordelia"

"Hey!" Anya protested "I resent that remark"

"Strangely Anya, I don't care" Xander said "At the moment I'm just wondering if the next place I'm going to appear in will be a motel room shaped limbo and that Faith will be there wanting to have a chat with me"

"Pfft. That's ridiculous" Anya scoffed. Then she added "Faith would *never* get this job"

Xander walked up to the stage and leant over the edge, bowing his head "I just want to go home" he let out a long shaky sigh and then turned around to face Anya "I just want to go home"


Xander sighed and closed his eyes. He both hands over his face and then pushed them back through his hair. He opened his eyes and looked back at Anya "So I guess you're here with me for a while then?"

"No" Anya replied "Although I am tempted to keep you here 'cos you look *hot* in those pants" she added "But" she continued "You have to go now Xander" She took Xander's hand and led him to the main entrance.

"Go? Go where?"

Anya opened the door and Xander raised a hand to shield his eyes from the bright white light that flooded in. Eventually it faded and Anya spoke again.

"I think you know Xander" she said and gave him a gentle shove forward "Go on. Go."

"Anya" Xander turned around to speak to her but she was gone suddenly Xander found himself outside the Bronze.

It was a cold, damp night and Xander shivered against the breeze and he wished he'd asked Anya to zap him some shoes. Xander hugged his arms around his chest, trying to keep any body warmth he had to himself. He looked quickly around at his surroundings; trying to pick up any sound that might indicate if there was anything he should be wary of but he couldn't hear anything. So he walked forward.

Shortly Xander found himself on one of Sunnydale's main streets. Aware of how vulnerable he looked; he'd walked quickly and had kept to the well lit areas, hoping that he wouldn't bump into any of the town's bloodthirsty inhabitants.

Although, in fact, he hadn't bumped into anyone at all, human or demon. Not even a cat. Sunnydale was a ghost town. But still Xander kept going. He knew where he had to go.

He didn't now *how* he knew. He just did.

It wasn't long before Xander arrived at the hospital. It was the same as the rest of Sunnydale. Deserted. But as Xander began to make his way along the corridors he was beginning to make out sounds. Parts of conversations, trolleys being wheeled along the corridors, sounds of everyday life.

Xander still knew where he was going and after a little while of walking through the hospital, Xander stopped outside a room.

There was a window that faced onto the corridor but Xander couldn't see through it as the blinds were closed all the way. He pressed his ear to the glass but all he could hear was a muffled voice. Xander opened the door and walked in.

He smiled a little sadly when he saw Buffy curled up on the bed with a comatose him. Xander stepped up to the bed and touched his fingers to Buffy's cheek.

"I love you" he whispered. Buffy stirred slightly and Xander smiled. Then he looked at himself.

//OK. This is definitely my weirdness quota filled up for the year. And I need a shave// Xander put his hand on his double's chest and Xander felt a sudden coolness wash over him. His knees wobbled and eventually gave way, but still Xander kept his hand in place. He closed his eyes and he felt himself drifting again.

But it wasn't the same as before because Xander knew *where* he was going.


(Next morning)

"Buffy?" Willow tapped her friend on her shoulder "Buffy, wake up."

Buffy groaned sleepily "Go away... comfy here"

Willow smiled "I know you are Buffy, but you're going to have to move sooner or later and if it's not sooner, I'm going to eat the last two bagels"

Buffy opened her eyes and moved her head to look at Willow "You're eating my food?"

"Well you didn't wake up when Ren arrived" Willow said "And she told me you looked so peaceful, she just stayed a little while with you both and then left the food for you"

Buffy sat up and stretched "You drink my coffee too?"

Willow looked at her guiltily "I-I might have had a-a sip."

Buffy smiled "Forget it Will" Buffy got off the bed "I feel awake enough" she looked at Xander "I think he helped me get a good nights sleep" Buffy smiled and planted a quick kiss on Xander's forehead "Thanks" she whispered in his ear. Buffy brushed his hair back off his face and smiled, content to just look at him for a few moments in silence.

Shortly she turned back to Willow "Is it OK if I leave him in your capable hands for an hour or two?" Buffy asked, "I want to go home and grab a shower"

"Sure" Willow replied "I've got plenty I can talk to him about and Tara'll be here soon" Willow added, "She's bringing donuts."

Buffy grinned "Well maybe you can save me some of them if you eat the rest of my food."

"I'll try" Willow grinned back "OK, get gone. I wanna talk to Xander about you behind your back."

Buffy picked up her bag and hugged Willow goodbye "I won't be long."

"You never are" Willow called after her as she left. Willow sighed and picked up the bag of bagels. She took one out and began to eat.

"Y'know Xander" she said with her mouthful "You're one lucky guy" Willow paused "Y'know... except for-for the coma and almost dying and everything. Sorry" Willow finished what she was eating "What I mean is, you're lucky to have Buffy. I know *she* thinks it's the other way around but" Willow smiled "I happen to know different. When you two are together you have this... this look. Not the usual stupid, goofy one, but this look of happiness" Willow took hold of his hand "And if I can't see it on your face, I can always see it behind your eyes. You never had that with anyone else. Not even me. And I'm not bitter" Willow added "I'm glad that you have that with Buffy"

Willow dropped his hand and rested both her elbows on the edge of the bed, propping up her chin with her hands. She smiled warmly at him "Tara says that she can't ever believe you and Buffy weren't together for longer 'cos you just fit together so well. I told her you weren't together before because you were both idiots" Willow sighed "Although I know there were other factors that kinda hindered your togetherness... y'know the whole Angel thing and stuff. But you found each other and that's good" Willow smiled again "There's nothing like seeing your two best friends in love, especially if it's with each other."

Willow took her elbows off the bed and leaned back in her chair. She picked up the remains of the bagel and took another bite "We've got a lot to catch you up on when you wake up" Willow said "I told you Giles bought the shop right? Well it's really handy for me and Tara. Much cheaper too. Tara is almost as good as you at pulling the puppy dog look. Giles doesn't stand a chance when she does it to him."

"Anyway" Willow continued "What I'm trying to say is, I really wish you'd stop hanging about wherever you are in that mind of yours and come back to us" Willow smiled sadly "We miss you Xander" she took hold of his hand again "*I* miss you" she whispered "You're my best friend and... and I want you back"


"Giles?" Buffy called out, not spotting Giles in his usual position behind the counter when she went in to the shop "Giles, you here?"

"He had to go back home for something," Ren said as she appeared from the back room "Didn't expect to see you here today."

"I'm not stopping" Buffy admitted, "I'm going back to the hospital now" Buffy leaned against the counter "Just checking in."

"Well, you do look better than you did" Ren commented "Guess the little Xander snuggle you got worked, huh?"

Buffy smiled "Yeah. I would have stayed there longer but Willow woke me up to tell me she was eating my food."

Ren chuckled "So, did you want me to pass on a message to Rupert?"

"No, it's fine. I'll catch him later. Are you going to be coming up again today?"

"I'm hoping to" Ren replied.

"Good" Buffy said "Not just for me" she added "But for Xander" she smiled a little "I think he does like to hear your voice."

"You think?" Ren said "I mean, I-I wasn't too sure at first... y'know... what with everything and me a-and Tay..." she trailed off.

"I think he knows it's you" Buffy said. She began to fiddle with some of the small items on the counter "Y'know Xander was kinda low after you left" she said, meeting Ren's eyes "And then when he got that letter"

"I never wrote that" Ren reminded her gently.

"But he didn't know that" Buffy answered "But... he missed you. And I was OK with that. I mean you were his friend and well as his..."

"Yeah" Ren finished for Buffy "I missed him too" she paused "Is this leading up to something Buffy?" Ren asked.

"Do you... I mean, have you still got... y'know..."

"Feelings for him?" Ren finished.

"In a nutshell."

"Buffy, it's-it's hard for me at the moment" Ren said "With everything that's happened" she sighed "I mean I have... feelings for him... I do. But... but-"

"But what?"

"Buffy" a male voice behind her called out.

Buffy turned around "Hey Giles."

"I didn't expect to see you today" he said, "I thought you'd be at the hospital"

"I was earlier" Buffy replied "I'm on my way back. Just thought I'd drop in and see you but Ren" Buffy turned back around to face the ex-demon, but Ren had disappeared. Buffy gave a small sigh and turned back to Giles "Guess she didn't want to stay and chat."


Willow and Tara both smiled at Buffy as she entered Xander's hospital room.

"I rescued two donuts from Willow for you" Tara said to Buffy "I swear I don't know where she puts it all"

"Thanks" Buffy said with a smile "How's everything been?" she asked.

"As good as it can be" Willow replied a little sadly "We've been reading to him again" she added "I thought if I read him some of the work I'm doing on my project it might make a little more sense to me"

"Let's hope so" Buffy replied. Willow and Tara began to gather their things.

"You're going?" Buffy looked at the two witches.

"W-we thought you might want some alone time" Tara said.

"Stay" Buffy said and looked pointedly at the other two until they sat back down, Willow though sitting in a different chair, allowing Buffy to take the one nearest Xander.

"How was patrol last night?" Tara asked.

"Did you slay anything cool?" Willow added.

"Nah. Just the ones of the usual undead variety" Buffy replied "I think Ren bruised her ass, but other than that everything was fine."

"I take it she's still getting used to not having demon strength thing?" Tara asked.

Buffy nodded "Although she'd pretty good with the weapons and she's still a better aim than me with a crossbow" Buffy admitted reluctantly.

"Well she has had a few more years practice" Willow pointed out "Like *over* a century and a half. I mean..." she trailed off when she noticed that Buffy was a little distracted "What's up Buff?"

"Hmm? Oh, I uh had a conversation with Ren a little while ago. Well actually I had *half* a conversation" Buffy added "I think I got on to a subject that was a little touchy for her" Buffy sighed and took Xander's hand in hers and looked at him "Seems this guy here still has a hold on her"

"Poor Giles" Willow said softly. When the other two looked at her Willow continued quickly "I-I didn't say that-"

"Sweetie" Tara said, "Buffy and I have eyes too"

"Oh" Willow smiled a little "D'ya think she knows?"

"I don't think so" Tara replied, smiling back "Maybe we should-"

"I think we should stay out of it" Buffy said, interrupting Tara gently "If it's gonna happen it's gonna happen"

"You're probably right," Willow said. She stood up "I'm going for coffee. Do you two want anything?"

Both Tara and Buffy shook their heads and Willow left.

Buffy looked at Xander fondly. She squeezed his hand gently "Xander honey" she said "I think-" she broke off and her eyes widened.

"Buffy, what is it?" Tara asked, concerned.

Buffy kept looking at Xander but answered Tara "I-I think his hand just moved"

"What?! A-are you sure?"

Buffy squeezed his hand more sharply this time, placing her other hand on his forearm "Xander?" she said, a hint of urgency in her tone "Xander can you hear me?" She choked back a sob when she felt his fingers curl slightly around hers.

"Oh! Oh!" Tara shot up quickly, seeing Xander's hand move for herself "I'll go-go get someone!" she rushed from the room.

Buffy got up quickly too and leaned over Xander. She touched her hand to one side of his face, running her fingers along his brow "Xander, please... I'm here... Xander... oh god... please look at me" tears began to fall from Buffy's eyes. Xander's eyes remained closed. Buffy kissed his forehead "Xander?"


Buffy turned around to see Xander's doctor, Dr Rogers, standing behind her with another older man by her side.

"He moved" Buffy told them anxiously "He squeezed my hand."

"Why don't you step outside for a moment while we check him over?" Dr Rogers suggested gently.

"But he moved!" Buffy insisted "I don't want to go"

"Buffy" Tara said, coming into the room "Come on, let's go wait for Willow outside" Tara took Buffy's arm "Let the doctors look at him"

Reluctantly Buffy let Tara lead her from the room and the door got closed behind them. Buffy buried her face in Tara's shoulder and the witch responded by wrapping her arms around Buffy.

"Oh god... I-I can't believe this" Buffy said after a few moments of silence "He-he squeezed my hand and then-then there was like nothing."

"I saw Buffy. I saw" Tara said, "I know this is going to be good, OK? I can just feel it" Tara continued to comfort Buffy for a couple minutes more until Willow arrived back.

"Guys? What's going on?" Willow looked at the other two women with concern.

Buffy pulled back from Tara and turned to Willow "He squeezed my hand" Buffy wiped away some tears.

Willow's eyes widened and she looked to her girlfriend who nodded in agreement with Buffy "Well why aren't we in there?!" Willow said "We should be-"

"The doctors are checking him" Tara explained "They said for us to wait out here"

"Oh Buffy..." Willow placed a comforting hand on Buffy's arm "Buffy-"

"Oh god Willow" Buffy sniffed "I just want everything to be OK"

"Hey, it will be" Willow replied, her own voice beginning to crack like Buffy's was "He's gonna be just fine"

"Miss Summers?" the older man who had been with Dr Rogers had come out of Xander's room "I'm Dr Hansen"

"What's happening?" Buffy asked.

"We're going to have to take Alexander for some tests" he told Buffy.

"Tests? What tests? How many more tests could you *possibly* do?"

"Miss Summers... Buffy, I think there's something you should know-"

"No! You-you people just keep giving me... giving *us* bad news" Buffy clenched and unclenched her fists "I want you to stop doing that. I *want* to see him"

"You can" Dr Hansen said, a little alarmed by the aggressive look in the petite blonde's eyes "Just for a couple of minutes though. Before we take him down."

"Why? You people just keep taking him away from me" Buffy glared at him "Why let me see him when you can decide everything *for* me"

"It's not that" Dr Hansen smiled at Buffy warmly "It's because Alexander asked for you."





Part 2

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