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Interconnectivityism (or How Xander Spent a Productive Afternoon Doing Nothing At All)

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If he had to pick, Xander would have to say that walking home alone was one of his least favorite activities. Sure, it wasn't as bad as actually fighting demons and vampires, or facing the possibility of dying unloved and alone, but he had help with the former and there was still time to remedy the latter. Walking home just reminded him of how things were different, now, and everything looked just plain... off—'wonky,' as Buffy would probably put it—during the daytime.

He was still deep in his morose thoughts when he turned the corner into the house and started down the stairs to the basement, but he paused halfway, realizing something seemed off here, too.

It was completely quiet.

Xander leaned over to peek into the crammed living space and found himself immediately overwhelmed with affection for his friends. Giles was sacked out on his inflatable, his pantleg rucked up to display one shockingly maroon sock. Willow was curled up on the edge of the couch, her legs tucked under herself and Buffy was asleep with her head pillowed on Willow's leg. His lips quirked into a smile as he blinked at them, unwilling to move even though his back hurt from the angle.

The best part was that he didn't even feel uncomfortable watching them sleep, not right now. Now, the three of them seemed like the epitome of everything he loved about his life and nothing of what he didn't—for all that they were asleep in his cramped basement which was really kind of too small for Xander on his own. They trusted him. They trusted each other. They could still look innocent after all they'd been through, both together and singly, and wasn't that as much a testament to their friendship as to their own personal strengths?

Xander yawned and frowned. Jeez, he was getting melodramatic. He shook his head and started back down the stairs as quietly as he could, but when he looked up, Willow was regarding him gravely, her eyes still sleep heavy. He shrugged an apology and she nodded at the couch cushions still laid out on the floor near her feet. Without even checking his watch, Xander took off his shoes and lowered himself onto them, his earlier stress sliding off of him like shed scales.

As he turned over onto his side, already starting to doze off, he felt the cushion under his head twitch. Xander looked over his shoulder to see Willow feigning sleep, her toes disappearing beneath his pillow. The answering grin on his face took a long time to fade, the muscles retaining their joy long after the rest of his body succumbed to sleep.