All things considered, my funeral was very nice.
Lots of flowers, some pretty speeches and a bright sunlit day to hold it on. No vamps, no demons ('cept Clem, but he doesn't count) and no trouble whatsoever. Even Willow didn't break down too badly.
I'm Kennedy, and this is what happened after I died.
~ + ~
2011. That's when I died.
Eight years after we closed the Sunnydale Hellmouth and changed the world. Eight years as a Slayer in my case which, while still nowhere near Faith's record (Buffy keeps trying to claim it, but even Giles had to rule that every time she died she re-set the clock) is about six years longer than I ever expected.
I knew I was a potential when I was growing up. Stuffy British guy from the Council approached my (rich) parents and let them know the possibility of my being called. Personally, I still think he was hoping for some cash to go away and forget about me, but for once in my life my parents actually listened.
They investigated, and Father even used some of his governmental contacts to access the old World War II Demon Initiative files. Mother and Father believed all right and naturally enough I believed what they told me. Of course, now I can see why they pushed me so hard and fast into all those training courses. All those tutors, all that lore, all that subtle reinforcement that I would be the Chosen One, that I was special. Wanting to keep me alive that much longer.
All I knew was that I resented their interference with my life by that stage. And then of course, Buffy was called, and then Kendra, and then Faith.
And I was passed by.
I didn't take that well unfortunately. Ever look back on your past activities and wince at just how stupid you could be? Something all of us in Brooklyn had in common. In my case, I fought and argued with my parents about minor things, my training schedule, my choice in girlfriends (and let's not even think about that particular day I told them about liking girls) and what I was going to do now I wasn't going to be a Slayer.
The Bringers killed them while I wasn't there.
And I ran, all the way to Sunnydale where I put on my best Drill Sergeant impression, and desperately tried to look like I knew what I was doing.
Then I fell in love with Willow.
Sweet, glorious Willow.
So I pursued her. That was something I knew how to do, that subtle and not so subtle dance between two people. This was something I was in control of. And the more I got to know her, the more I came to love her and understand her.
She's amazing. She looked into my heart and soul and loved me too. She taught me that you can love again after whatever disasters may fall, whatever may tear you apart from each other.
Shame she can't take her own advice.
~ + ~
Brooklyn Hospital, still 2011.
I've been dead for about two days now.
No one can see me, no one can hear me and all I can do is hang around and watch Willow in this hospital bed. That's her down there, the redhead with all the tubes stuck in her and the casts. I hate seeing her this way so full of pain and despondency. This isn't her to me.
It was something about the way she lived her life so intently that first attracted me, even way back in Sunnydale. The perfect combination of hotness, geekery and kick-ass magical powers. I never imagined that I'd ever fall for a woman like that. God, I was so full of myself back then. But she also looked under my skin and whatever she saw was good enough for her.
Right now, she looks smaller, almost shrunken into herself. Not just the result of the car crash.
The one eyed guy over by the door? That's Xander Harris, one time demon magnet, Willow's oldest and best friend from way, way back, and in so many ways the other half of her soul. I never really understood their relationship until after I died.
He's asleep now, awkwardly perched on a stool, but somehow never quite slipping off. It's just been me and him watching over Willow non-stop for the past few days. Everyone has been rushing in and out waiting for her to wake up, but Xander's the solid one. Always patient, never moving.
I'm glad she still has him.
I want to comfort her, to hold her, but I can't.
Thank you Xander, for doing that for her.
~ + ~
One year on and I'm still around.
Still can't be seen, still can't be heard. Still watching Willow.
Here we are in Groggy Vic's. One of the few bars in Cleveland we hung out a lot in back when we first decided to set up in Brooklyn. We've finally got the ground for the proposed Centre all sorted, and Xander's even brought the master blueprints out with him.
I'm concerned about Willow.
She just insisted on naming one of the halls after me. Kennedy Hall. Which is all flattering as heck on first thought.
Except that she's wearing that lavender sweater I knitted her some time back. It was terrible, one sleeve longer than the other and I never did quite understand how to do buttonholes properly. But it made Willow tear up for a good five minutes that Christmas.
She still sleeps with it every night. Alone.
I watch her as she sleeps, much as I used to do back when I was still alive. Only now I can't soothe her when she wakes, hold her tight in the middle of the night, or sing gently to her when she needs to be safe.
No, I have to watch her staring at that picture of me, tears running silently down her face. I want nothing more than to wipe them away with my finger, but I can't.
And every morning she takes a deep breath, washes herself and heads back out to fight the good fight with a smile on her face and sorrow in her heart. And they laugh and they smile and they nod and remark on how well she's coping.
It's killing me.
~ + ~
Three years since I died, and the Centre is done.
My girl's done so much for it – the organising, the getting approvals from various people. All those building permits and zoning permissions. Training herself to run the infirmary, getting all her medical knowledge on top of all the regular apocalypse stuff that goes on.
I both adore her and worry for her.
She's had her must-fix-things mood on for three straight years now. I remember Xander once telling me about guilt cookies back in the early Sunnydale years, and never quite believed it until the first time I got injured as a result of one of her magic spells not quite working right in a battle.
Willow cares so much at times, she'll do anything to stop the pain – whether it's hers or not.
And despite being the single busiest person on the site (aka being the only person with real, honest construction experience) Xander's the only one who can get through to her, and make her stop her studies for a moment and just do something fun. Oh, everyone else has tried – Dawn and her fiancé Calvin, Giles, Buffy.
But Xander's the only one she listens to at times like these.
The Centre's good and ready now. All the buildings are up and running, all plumbed and wired and sound-proofed, ready to become the place for Slayers and their support staff. Two years of hard, back breaking work.
Not to mention one of the handiest excuses for not dating again I've ever seen.
Willow… What will you do now that it's all done? Will you stop quietly crying yourself to sleep at night, curled around that sweater?
~ + ~
The Centre Library, 2015.
She got a new obsession instead.
On one hand, it's Xander. Much as we never really got to be the closest of buddies, I've seen more of him these past few years than ever before. And if anyone deserves his eye back, it's him.
Where Will's more the Head, always thinking, Xander is more the Hands of our little group. See all these bookcases? The chairs? All those big honking tables? All his work and not a stitch done via the easier raid-Ikea method. And they're not the only thing around here he's made from scratch.
But on the other hand, she's still not dating anyone. Not sleeping with the sweater any more, but there's still something missing. Something not-Willow. I miss you so much, babe, but you need to do something for yourself.
She's been keeping busy examining all the data she can find on transmuting something into a real replacement eye for him. Hitting the books a little too hard again. I know Xander's noticed, hell – even Buffy and Faith have noticed.
Anyhow, Buffy's just popped in with Faith, dropping off one of the new bookcases. Again, that's a relationship I never figured out until after I died. So many things you really did have to be there for. Still at least it wasn't one of her speeches, and Willow's no longer talking about waffle-pods.
I swear I killed a waffle-pod once. I think.
It's just nice to see her smiling at everyone again.
Huh. She smiled differently at Xander than the others. And not in that you-are-my-oldest-bestest-yellowy-pencil-type-friend way.
~ + ~
"'Recent research has indicated that transmutation into viable biological material is best accomplished when the source material has both symbolic and personal connections to the finished products.'"
Always the smart one, my girl.
Xander gave her a drawing from way, way back when they were seven together. She drew a picture of him way young, with floppy brown hair and brown eyes. Lovingly labelled with 'ALEXANDER HARRIS' in one corner. It'll work beautifully in the spell she's going to attempt.
Wonder if she's realised yet how long he's kept this, and why he chose this of all things to save from the great Sunnydale Collapse of '03.
It's late at night in her room in the Centre, and she's normally running through a last few things on her laptop. Instead, tonight the laptop's folded away, and she's staring at that drawing propped up on the bedside table and smiling.
My photo's hidden behind the drawing.
I'm smiling too.
~ + ~
It's done. The operation was a success and Xander has two eyes once more. And now he's finally seeing Willow. And she… she's letting herself look at Xander.
I feel something within me release, as they kiss there and then on the infirmary table. And I feel happy, joyful and free. For the first time in years, I leave Willow behind me as I walk through the wall and into the corridor. I watch Buffy and Giles as they stroll off together, both just as pleased as me. Willow and Xander are together. And judging from those noises, very happy to be together.
All I ever wanted was for you to be happy again, Willow. Xander's a good man, and has always tried to make you happy in his own way. He'll be good for you, and I'm glad I've seen you two.
Now you're happy again, I realise it's time for me to go. Moving on or whatever way you'd put it.
I love you, Willow.