Upon arriving at the school, Willow sat on one of the weathered stone benches and waited for Xander. A few guys passed her and did a double take at the new clothes she had been forced to buy upon opening her closet to discover a sea of toddlerwear. She curled her lip and they fled. There was a loud crash behind her. She turned around to see Xander sprawled out on the pavement, skateboard in hand. "Willow, very much the person I wanted to see" A flash of the last time she had seen him like that flashed through her mind as she helped him up. She shook her head to clear it and the flash faded. They pushed through the double doors and entered the school.
"Hey hey!" a familiar voice called out. Jessie. She had forgotten all about him. Tears sprang to her eyes. "Hey Jessie, what's what?" Xander greeted him casually.
Jessie smirked. "That's right, I saw her. Pretty much a hottie."
Willow chuckled under her breath, remembering Xander's bumbling attempts at wooing said hottie.
"-needs to call me."
"Trendy, but tasty"
"That was pretty much a gimme, but you passed!"
"Willow" Cordelia crooned. "Nice coat" "Does it come with the ew or is that just part of the Rosenberg Special?"
Willow sighed, crossed her arms, and turned to face the bane of her high school existence. "Cordy, you look just lovely today. I wonder if you wouldn't mind trying out the 'Rosenberg Special'" She leered and the brunette spluttered, blushed red as a tomato, and stormed away.
Buffy looked shocked and quickly rushed after her.
Willow ate her lunch on the same bench she had waited on not four hours ago. As she was unwrapping her sandwich, Willow felt the hairs on the back of her neck stand up. She took a deep breath and smelled the Slayer's strong perfume.
She heard the other girl scuffle around on the pavement trying to figure out what to say.
"Is this seat taken?" She asked softly. It took all of Willow's self control to keep from leaping up and reenacting her Xander hug. Willow shook her head. Buffy sat down and began to unwrap her lunch as well.
They ate in silence for a while, each trying to think of what to say to break the ice. Finally Buffy spoke.
"I'm Buffy Summers, I'm new." She gave Willow one of her winning Buffy Summers Sunshine of the World smiles. Willow's heart leapt at the sight of what she thought long gone.
"Willow. Been here long?" Buffy shook her head.
"About a week or two, I've had time to unpack and stuff, but I still don't know my way around town yet." Willow smiled.
"I could show you, I mean if you're not busy tonight we could-"
She was interrupted by a flurry of teenage boy. Xander settled in next to Willow as Jessie inspected the "Pretty much" hottie.
"Um, Buffy this is Xander and Jessie. Guys this is Buffy Summers." The boys barely nodded as they Ogled the blonde. Willow snorted and continued
"Like I was saying, we could all go out tonight and show Buffy around."
The boys nodded. Jessie tore his eyes from the beauty that is Buffy Summers to ask Willow if she thought Cordelia would be at the Bronze tonight. Suddenly Willow remembered something about that night. Jessie's last night.
"Oh Jessie I'm so sorry I forgot, we need to work on that history project!" She turned to the blonde, "I hope that's okay?" Buffy nodded, "Maybe tomorrow?"
"History project? Thats not due til next week! Let's go out and show Bunny here a good time." Jessie gestured to the exasperated girl in question.
"Its Buffy" She scowled and Jessie had the good sense to look apologetic.
"Can you at least try to do some of it? What are you gonna do when you can't get into college because of your terrible grades? Live in a box?" Jessie's eyes widened in fear and he shook his head.
"My mom would kill me!"
"Then stay in tonight and get some of it done before you're swamped on a Sunday night and end up with an F as your first grade in the book." Jessie worried his lip between his bottom teeth as he weighed the options. After a beat her slowly nodded his assent, eyes downcast.
"Sorry to skip out on you Buffy, but it's really important that Jessie stays inside and studies all night."
Buffy smiled understandingly. Willow's felt her throat constrict.
Jessie had shown up and made almost zero progress on his project, but Willow was just glad he wasn't at the Bronze becoming a vampy hors d'oeuvre. When the clock struck ten, Willow sent him on his way and went to bed.
The next day at school was easily one of the worst of her life. When she arrived no one would make eye contact with her and they whispered as she passed. Suddenly she was engulfed in a Xander sized hug. Willow wheezed as the air was smooshed out of her by his arms around her ribs. He stepped back and wiped tears from his eyes.
"Xander what's wrong? Are you okay? What's going on!?"
He looked taken aback at her cluelessness and grabbed her hand, dragging her outside behind the school.
"They found him last night. It was a hit and run, no one saw what happened..."
Xander kept talking but his words pooled together in her head as a blurred mush of sound. She shook her head slowly, realizing who he was talking about. She hadn't been able to save him, not in the original timeline, not now. Willow felt like her heart was being poked apart like a pincushion. She was useless at hindsight save-age.
A realization dawned on her not long after. Since she and Xander hadn't been at the Bronze with Buffy, they hadn't found out the truth about how very real vampires and demons were. She could keep Xander out of Buffy's slaying life and save him heartbreak and suffering and of course the eventual loss of his eye.
Willow furrowed her brow as this idea gained momentum in her head, snowballing into a plan. Her brain, satisfied with it, turned its metaphorical head back to face Xander.
He was looking at her oddly.
"What?" She frowned at him, he shook his head ruefully and wiped his eyes.
School wasn't cancelled for Jessie. Kids die all the time on the Hellmouth. He was no different.