Once upon a time, my best friend was in a coma that we weren't sure she would come out of. So I sat beside her and confessed some of what she meant to me. I told her that she was too important to my life for her to leave me, that I needed her. That I love her.
Then she woke up and asked for someone else.
I walked away; knowing that someone else was who she needed then. I honestly thought that, at some point, it would all work out. That she'd be mine.
Instead, today I'm watching her marry another man.
And I know he loves her. I know he needs her. I know that he will treat her exactly the way she deserves. I know she deserves nothing less than perfection.
And as I look at her, staring into his eyes with the same emotions I see in his, I wish her every happiness.
But I'm afraid those same emotions are in my eyes.
And I can't help but wonder.
He's staring at her with the strangest look of puzzlement. I know he's thinking about all those years ago when our future, our destiny, began to unfold.
We were five. They were inseparable and all the rest of us would taunt them, calling them Siamese freaks and other horrible things. And they didn't care. So it got more and more vicious.
I was the worst. Not because I hated them, but because I was jealous of what they had.
When you have money or style or class, people get jealous, but they show their jealousy by latching on to you in an effort to have whatever it is by association. They like you even though they hate you.
When you have friendship and love so pure, so unquestioning, people get jealous. And then they lash out with hatred and venom.
Or if you're me, you take it one step further.
You wait until Willow leaves something precious, like her Barbie doll, with Xander then you steal it when he's distracted.
You watch him take the blame, and the anger and the hurt, all the while trying to avoid his sad eyes that seem to burn into you as you smile down at your new toy.
Then you realize something like love and friendship can't be taken away like a doll. So you're still alone and lonely with a new toy while they still have each other.
In high school, I used to wonder what it would have been like if I had befriended them instead of mistreating them.
And I wonder, if I hadn't stolen that Barbie away, if Willow would still love Xander like she used to, if Xander would feel the same.
Or if we'd still be standing right here.
Life began for me my senior year in high school. The first senior year, that is.
I met Willow.
Don't get me wrong, I'd met and known quite a few amazing, beautiful girls…and women before. But none of them got me like she did.
She seemed to understand my nature immediately. And after learning Sunnydale's secret, I got her too. Literally. I got to call Willow Rosenberg my girlfriend.
At least until she realized her heart.
It's comical almost. I was always afraid she'd fall back in love with Xander and leave me for her childhood love.
Called that one wrong.
But looking at her with him, love shining out of her teary green eyes, I realize that he's who she loves, who she needs.
And I take a little pride in knowing I helped her get where she needed to be. Looking around at the group, I realize we all did.
She ties me up in knots then she helps me come undone. I wrote that about Willow long before I told her I did. I wrote it the day she told me she loved him.
At the time, I wondered how she could leave me, how she could love him.
Seeing them together now, I wonder how I could have had any doubt.
It's been so long since I've had a family that standing here feels strange. But that feeling is overwhelmed by the surprise and joy I felt when Willow asked me to be here.
As much as this is a wedding, joining Giles and Willow, for me it's so much more.
All the pain and alienation that I've harbored for so long is set free as I look around at *my* family.
Angel - the brooding cousin who listens to too much classical music and reads too much poetry. Cordelia - the social butterfly sister who arranges parties and leaves the mess for the others to clean up. Oz - the steadfast older brother, the voice of reason who tells you exactly what you need to hear, which is the exact opposite of what you want to hear. Xander - the goofy kid brother that follows you wherever you don't want him to be. Buffy - older sister, rival, best friend. Willow - mother hen and the strength behind us all. Giles - father figure, father confessor and the heart behind our little group.
And me? Well, as the newest member, I can't help but wonder who I get to be.
All I can think of is the night I gave Buffy her ring. It was meant as a promise I held, a hope that I could one day fulfill.
I was wrong.
But so much goes wrong in Sunnydale, I had hoped the odds were in our favor.
I let my gaze travel from Buffy to Willow, resplendent in creamy, white silk. From a distance, she and Rupert, like Buffy and myself, make no sense.
She's half his age, so vibrant against his muted tones, so similar in temperament and in their likes and dislikes that they seem as ill suited as a Vampire and a Slayer.
Love likes irony. She looks at him with age-old eyes and sees his soul. She heals him as he teaches her. They are like two beacons of light in the darkness.
Buffy has that light.
Dimmed now, by the brilliance of the love surrounding us all, but no less beautiful.
Dimmed by sadness as well. She told me about the Ritual and the dreams, the drugs and the desires. She told me how it was all resolved.
But she's scared that she's losing something here today.
She looks over at me and I see the wish of a future and happiness for us, in spite of the fruitlessness of it all.
And I wonder if there is any hope for us.
I'm losing my best friend.
I'm losing my Watcher.
They assure me that I'm not and I want to believe them, but marriage changes things. No more nights at the Bronze scoping out all the honeys.
No more late night chocolate-fests.
No more knowing that Giles is concerned solely for me.
God, I'm selfish.
I smile, shaking my head slightly. Giles raises an eyebrow in question and a sense of calm floods through me.
It's going to be all right. I'm going to be all right.
I catch Angel's eye and wish, once more, that he and I could share this. I'll wish that forever.
The ceremony is getting close to the end and my heart is filled with happiness.
I'm losing my best friend.
I'm losing my Watcher.
But I'm getting something better in return.
I wonder what it will be like.
I'm not supposed to be here. I'm sure that if Rupert could see anything other than his little witch, he'd have me escorted out on the arms of both his Slayers.
But my oldest, dearest, living friend is getting married today.
I guess the witch was right, he's lost to me now.
Still, it's nice to see he's sticking with the principles I taught him. He's discarded the council for the most part, realizing what they want from him and his Slayer is far more than anyone should have to give.
He's become a man finally, deciding what he wants, taking what he's learned from me, his father and his makeshift family and incorporated it into this person he's become.
I'm proud of him.
And I'm going to miss him.
Willow looks over at me for a moment and I wonder how long she's known I was watching. Her smile never falters as our eyes meet. She nods slightly before turning her gaze back to Rupert.
I've been dismissed, but it doesn't hurt nearly as much as I expected it would. Perhaps it's simply that I know he'll be well taken care of, or perhaps it's because I'm not going to disappear completely.
He'll need me again for some reason. Eventually.
But for now, all I can do is wonder what that reason might be.
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