by Te
November 2000

Disclaimers: If he was mine, I'd smile at him.

Spoilers: General season 5.

Summary: Xander. Er. He does some thinking.

Ratings Note: PG-13

Author's Note: He's just not all there anymore, is he?

Acknowledgments: For Mighty Mighty, she who helped me get this out,
and told me what I really meant to say.

Feedback: Craved at teland793@sbcglobal.net


It was a lot like growing up all at once, in the most depressing sense
of the phrase. You never know how many illusions you have until they're
broken and. Heh. I had a lot.

But this can't be a surprise to anyone, right? Xander Harris, King of
Clueless. No, wait: King of *Cretins*. Grand Royal *Emperor* of
Clueless. That's better. Except not anymore.

The "weaker" me, and I have to wonder at that particular label -- later.
The weaker me slipped inside without even a moment's pain or hesitation,
and I was him, and he was me, and I was face to face with everything. It
was too much, all at once.

Buffy will never love me. Giles still doesn't respect me, and maybe
never will. Willow still sees me as the teenager too stupid to realize he's
had love standing next to him all this time. It's in their faces, in
everything they *are* to me. All that vision a soldier had once put into
making plans, a builder once put into construction... all of it, suddenly
focused on the people most important to me.

For the first time.

The weaker me... never looked. Not once. Just like a Xander. Blind, blind,
blind. And yet... they say weak and strong need each other, and I can
believe that now. Wholeheartedly.

What would I have done if I hadn't been blind to this? How would I have
made it through high school, and my year on hold from life if I'd had to
stare *that* right in the face?

Because, let's be honest, Buffy, Willow, and Giles were all I had.

If I'd known, I would've been alone.

Me and alone don't get along too well.

Everything happens for a reason, maybe, and in its own time. I'm given
this revelation about my friends just as I have a girlfriend who truly
does love me, cherish me, and need me right down to her soul.

A job I love.

A chance to... escape. Once and for all.

Into a brand new life -- should I choose to accept it.

It would be better if I were in love with Anya. Better if I didn't still
feel *responsible* for them in some way. Take care of them. I love them,
of course. I don't think I would change that.... and everyone needs a sap,
now and again, right?

I can still play that part. I still have all the jokes. And if they don't
notice that it's a little harder for me to *make* them these days then
that's fine, too. For now.

And only for now, because beyond all the crap that once held me down
there is a *choice*.

And one day I'm going to take it.