Pairing: X/Buffy, X/Willow, X/Cordelia, X/Anya, X/Spike.
Warning: Spoilers for, well, pretty much the entire seven seasons of Buffy. Unbetaed, so point out mistakes and I'll fix them.
Rated: PG-13. Take the necessary precautions: practice responsible reading.
Archival: "Big Maypole Fish Thing", anyone else just ask and ye shall recieve.
Disclaimer: Don't own any of the Buffy or Angel cast/crew/characters/plotlines/etc.
Thanks to: penne4m, for poking me into finishing this.
Author's Notes: This is kinda influenced by Becka's awesome Spander fic "'I love you' means...". One day I was thinking about that fic and Xander, and I realized every time he gave someone a piece of jewelry, they hurt him almost immediately afterwards. Didn't really remember seeing a lot of fic exploring this trend, so I decided to write a series of shorts about poor Xander and his gifts.
Author's Notes, take two: Most of my references are either from memory or else I'm bluffing. So don't pause while watching "Lover's Walk" to see if Willow is wearing the watch, 'cause I don't think she is.
Tokens of Affection
No one ever had to tell Xander Harris that love hurts - he knew it from experience.
He'd paid twenty-five dollars to have "Yours Always" engraved on the bracelet. He'd been too shy to straight-out say anything, so he'd resorted to writing his feelings in 24k gold.
"You're my Xander-shaped friend. You are totally and completely one of the girls!"
Words that had cut him to the quick, and he thought he'd almost prefer sticks and stones. Sticks you can burn, stones you can smash. Words were untouchable, indestructible. She only wore it that once, and sometimes Xander wonders if it got thrown out with the rest of Amy's mom's voo-doo crap. He saw Amy steal it off of her wrist, saw Buffy not even notice that it was ever missing. He knew then that it would never matter how good a friend he was or how many gifts and trinkets he bought her, she would never feel the same way about him.
Didn't stop him from taking the risk and asking her to the Spring Fling. And even though he knew it was coming, her refusal still crushed him.
It was almost amusing, Xander thought, in a really stupid ironic way.
Willow waved the little witch pez at him, as if it contained Xander-repellant instead of strawberry candy. And all Xander could think about was the Tweety Bird watch that was on her wrist, and suddenly he kinda understood Shakespeare, 'cause what he wouldn't give to be that watch, pressed against her pulse...
He remembered the day he gave it to her, sitting in the hospital by her bed as he waited for her to wake up. The doctors had taken it off him when they put the cast on his arm, and now he was putting it on Willow, hoping that whatever good energy it carried would help her get better. Plus, he knew she hated the plastic bracelets that the hospital gave out, and this would give her something else to look at when she woke up.
Sometimes he wonders if the whole fluke thing was his fault. He still remembers feeling the band of the watch rub against his neck as her fingers twined in his hair, remembers hearing the faint tick of it as they kissed for the first and last time.
Willow took the watch off when she dressed up in black leather, and he never saw it on her wrist again. When they were cleaning out the book-cage before graduation, Xander found it in the corner, face smashed in and hopelessly broken. He didn't pick it up, just set an explosive on top of it and left it there.
Valentine's day. The day for kisses, romance, and getting your heart stomped into a pulpy mess as it's ground into the dirt. Xander had agonized over what to give her all week, discarding ideas almost as soon as he thought of them. Red roses were the only flowers Cordy would accept, and they were way too expensive. Cards were too common, chocolate too fattening. That left him with the tried and true old reliable: jewelry. He didn't always listen when she lectured about different brands of purses or shoes, but he did pay attention to what she liked. He knew she preferred silver over gold, and would much rather have something simple and elegant than big and gaudy.
So he picked out the heart pendant necklace, declined the engraving option (because it had worked so well last time), and bought it to give to Cordy. Now he was out a necklace, a girlfriend, and everyone in the school was giving him pitying looks.
Not anymore though. Now he was the one in power. Hidden in his backpack was a book he'd stolen when Giles was busy elsewhere. After all, he knew better than checking it out and leaving evidence on the easily-hacked-into school records. It was a spellbook, one he'd noticed during one of the all-night Scooby research parties, and it was full of easy nasty little spells. That evening he cast a circle in his room and tried several of the spells - he sent plagues of sickness, he chanted for unhappiness in future relationships, and he cursed the fruit of her loins (which was actually a nifty little spell that only needed a potato and some lemon juice). The next day at school when Cordelia looked healthy as she macked on her newest conquest with un-cursed loins, he was about to give up.
Then he saw Amy and her non-existent homework, and decided to try it one more time.
He's started to recognize the pattern, and so Anya's slap wasn't as much of a surprise as he thought it should be. It was when she said yes, even if it was an 'After the Apocalypse' yes, that really floored him. He'd thought that maybe, just maybe, he'd actually been able to break the cycle, to find 'the one', and now... Easy Street, here comes Alexander Harris.
She kept the ring in her pocket at all times, touching it throughout the day to make sure that it was still there. At night as they caught their breath after interlocking parts, she would fall asleep with her hand on his chest, gazing at the tiny diamond. He hoped her dreams sparkled like the diamond did, bright and shining and full of hope.
A few weeks after the wedding-that-wasn't and after the urge to wreck vengeance had simmered down to a low heat, she tried to give him the ring back. She said that she'd read in one of her bridal magazines that that was the proper thing to do in this kind of situation. He pressed the ring into her hand and closed her fingers around it, and with a kiss on the cheek he told her she could keep it. The teary smile on her face made him feel better than he had all month, and he knew it was the right thing to do.
Even though he knew he couldn't be the man she deserved, he hoped that she'd wait a few years before someone else's diamond sparkled on her finger. He didn't know that she only had a couple years left.
Things were going great, life was good in Xanderville and he had almost everything he could wish for. He had a good job, a nice apartment, and someone to love who loved him. So, of course, Xander had to fuck it all up.
He came home with a lump in his pocket that felt heavier than any box that small had a right to be. He sneaked up behind Spike, who was sitting on the sofa reading, and kissed his lover's neck. Spike smiled and leaned his head back, enjoying the surprise. Xander came around the side of the sofa and sat down next to Spike, placing the small velvet box on Spike's lap.
Spike put his book to the side and quirked an eyebrow. "What's this then?"
"Open it." Xander smiled to hide his nervousness.
Spike picked up the gift, eyeing it warily. "You're not proposing to me, are you?"
"It's not a ring." Xander said, sidestepping the question. Truth was, it did feel like he was proposing, and any minute now he was half-expecting Spike to slap him.
Spike opened the jewelry box, and regarded the contents. Inside, on a little black velvet pillow sat a single diamond stud earring. Engraved on the mounting in tiny print but still readable was a cursive S and X intertwined. Spike touched the silver hoop in his left ear, the piercing a whim he'd had months ago. With hands that trembled slightly, he unfastened the hoop and took it out, replacing it with the diamond.
"Like it?" Xander asked, uncertain. He fiddled with the twin diamond with its identical engraving in his own left ear. Maybe he should've stuck with the ruby instead...
Spike shot him an incredulous look, his eyes suspiciously wet. "Love it," he said hoarsely, pulling Xander into his arms. They kissed, long and slow. "Love you." he whispered, holding Xander tight.
"Love you too." Xander beamed. Maybe everything would work out after all.
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