Telling Willow that he didn't want to go to college?
Yeah, that was a total lie.
The only reason she didn't call him on it was because she was all caught up in her boyfriend (the werewolf), their situation with the mayor (dire), and the Buffy-and-Angel-romance-of-the-century (doomed from the start, but apparently he was the only one who realized this). He breathed a sigh of relief when she didn't press him, but it was a short-lived reprieve. Two days after Graduation (yes, capitalized – because killing a giant demon snake and getting your diploma were both events of Epic Magnitude) she walked up to him with an all-too-familiar expression on her delicate features.
"But why?" she asked, the beginnings of a frown marring her forehead. This was Willow-frown-number-two: problem solving; not to be confused with the you're-an-idiot-frown (number three) or the maybe-we-should-ask-Giles-frown (number five).
"Ididn'tgetintoSunnydaleU." he explained in a rush.
"Oh… but you got in other places, right?"
"Xander! You did apply to other places, didn't you?"
"Go, library, look up. NOW!" Willow practically shoved him off the park bench. "I don't want you to leave, but…" she sighed, "I – you – do you remember when we all would talk about… the future?"
Xander nodded, there was no need for Willow to explain to him that "we all" meant Jesse too, meant the time before Buffy came to town. Lots of things had been different before Buffy, but they didn't talk about it much – or at all, really. But that didn't mean that the history they shared had just up and blown away. There had been many a sleepover and serious discussion interspersed between the usual teenage shenanigans.
Willow had planned to go into computer science, development hopefully. Jesse had wanted to open his own music label. Xander… well, his goals had always been a bit more modest. Number one (the only one that really mattered) was Not Ending Up Like His Parents. The first step on that road was to go to (and complete) college.
"Yeah, Wills. I remember." And he did, so he didn't resist heading to the library. He would look up colleges, because Willow had told him to, and because he was crap at lying to her. He wouldn't tell her that between the slayage (fray adjacent or not), Cordelia (learning curves…Mmmm), and assorted craziness with the baddie of the week (bruises were the least of it) and his folks (if you could get a scholarship for skill at dodge-the-drunk, he was a shoo-in), his grades were pretty abysmal. She didn't need to know.
But he found one. One college that said "acceptance is just a click away."
"What do you want to learn?" asked the chipper redhead who reminded him of a more mellow Willow.
"How to fight," he verbally vomited before he could stop himself.
She didn't even bat an eyelash. He supposed, looking at all the things the other students had written (how to cook, how to be zen, how to blow shit up with my mind), that his request was almost – dare he say it – normal. She probably thought he'd watched "Fight Club" one too many times or something like that.
But a few weeks later they actually had a basic curriculum, and there were other people getting interested in the tai chi on the front lawn, and the jujitsu in the basement, and all the other martial activities they were starting to develop.
When a student graduated from South Harmon Institute of Technology he or she was given two diplomas. One gave the "official" degree name, the other stated exactly what the student had come to learn.
To Willow, Buffy, and Giles – Xander had graduated with a Bachelor of Arts (focus: the Art of War).
But to his fellow S.H.I.T-heads, Xander held a degree in Kicking Ass and Taking Names.