Justice League Xander:
An Arrow's Flight

By Paradox761
Paradox761@mail.com
http://memberstripod.com/~Paradox761

Disclaimer: I do not own these characters, nor do I claim to. No copyright infringement is intended, so please don't sue. I don't have any money anyway.

Spoilers: “Halloween” (BtVS), “Graduation” (BtVS), “Pangs” (BtVS), “Grave” (BtVS), and “Patriot Act” (JLU).

Summary: When Xander dresses as one of his heroes for Halloween, the path his life takes is changed forever. Will his friends be able to deal with the choices he makes? (note: this is *not* YAHF)

Author's note: This story is part of the “Justice League Xander” series, the rest of which can be found at my website (link above).

* (1/?)

January, 1998

Oliver Queen sat in his office, shuffling papers and signing checks, trying to keep busy until his next appointment. He thought when he sold his company to become a philanthropist that he wouldn’t ever have to deal with mindless paperwork again. But managing his fortune was a job unto itself. A job that Ollie wouldn’t trust anyone else with. So he still kept an office in the city, and employed a secretary to keep track of his calender. Philanthropy wasn’t as fun as it sounded, he decided. Giving away lots of money to important causes just seemed to anger all the people that he wasn’t giving money to. There were accusations of grandstanding to remain in the public eye, and of giving to charity solely for the tax write offs. But mostly the work was just tedious. Sometimes the tedium was a nice distraction from the stress of his *other* job, but most of the time is was just, well, tedious. Ollie looked out his office window as the rain beat on it. ‘Just another beautiful day in Seattle,’ he thought sarcastically.

The intercom on his desk buzzed. “Ollie,” his secretary’s voice came through. “There’s some kid out here to see you. He doesn’t have an appointment, but he says it’s important.”

Another draw back to philanthropy, Ollie thought. Everyone always came to you with their hand out. Ollie pushed the button on the intercom. “Tell him to make an appointment.”

“He says he’s from Sherwood Forest. I don’t know what that means but he said you would know.”

Ollie dropped the pen he was holding. What could that mean? Did this kid know who he was? How could that be? “Send him in, Julie.”

A moment later the door to his office opened and a young man walked in. He had a mop of brown hair, wet from the rain outside. He wore a simple pair of jeans and a teeshirt, with a light windbreaker on top. A little too light considering the temperature outside, it was January. He looked ordinary enough, like any other high school kid.

“My name is Xander Harris. Thank you for seeing me, Mr. Queen,” he said, extending his hand.

Ollie regarded the young man suspiciously and didn’t shake it. “Why don’t you sit down and tell me what this is about.”

Xander took his hand back and sat down nervously. “I’m sorry if I scared you. I’m not planning on blackmailing you, or selling what I know to the tabloids or anything like that. I just want you to hear me out. And if after I say what I’ve come to say, you want me to leave, I will and you won’t ever hear from me again. Your secret will be safe, I promise.”

“And just what is it exactly that you think you know about me?” Ollie asked.

“That you’re the Green Arrow,” Xander answered.

“And what makes you think that?”

“I don’t think it, I know it. I know everything about you. I know might sound a little far fetched, but the truth is that I know. You were born on August 15, 1968 in Star City.”

“Anybody can look up that kind of information.”

“In the sixth grade you had a crush on a girl in your class named Kelly. She moved away a year later, and you always regretted not saying anything to her. When you were seventeen you lost virginity to the redhead who lived next door, her name was...”

“Julie, reschedule my one o’clock please,” Ollie said, pressing the intercom button on his desk. When he let go of the button, Xander continued.

“And when you were twenty-one, you and a bunch of your friends took a cruise to the South Pacific. You got drunk one night and fell off the boat. You washed up on a deserted island, where you spent the next eight months. That’s where you developed your archery skills, hunting to survive.”

“Reschedule my two o’clock too, Julie,” Ollie said into the intercom.

“Sure thing, Ollie,” she answered.

Ollie just stared at Xander for a moment, looking in his eyes for any clue as to what he was all about. He didn’t see any malicious intent in those eyes. Just nervousness, maybe even fear. But there was also determination. Whatever he was doing here, it was important to him that he do it, no matter how nervous or afraid he might be.

“Okay, I’ll bite. You know me. How?”

“Do you believe in magic, Mr. Queen?”

Ollie blinked at that. “You mean like David Copperfield?”

“More like Dr. Fate or Zantanna.”

“Oh, that kind of magic.”

“The real kind, yes. I was born and raised in a small town in California called Sunnydale, I’ve lived there my whole life. This is the farthest North I’ve ever been. Sunnydale is a very...strange town, to say the least. You can look up the statistics yourself. Per capita, the rate of unexplained deaths is higher than Detroit. And the rate of missing persons is higher than New York. There’s a war going on, between good and evil, and Sunnydale is one of the battlefields. I’ve been involved in this fight for two years now. Sometimes on the front lines, but mostly as support.”

“What does this have to do with how you know who I am?”

“I’m getting to that. This past Halloween, a chaos mage by the name of Ethan Rayne showed up in Sunnydale. He cast a spell on a selection of costumes, and then sold the costumes to the kids and teenagers in the town. The spell turned us all into whatever we had dressed as that night. So all those kids dressed as ghosts and goblins became actual ghosts and goblins. One of my friends was a ghost, the other was a 18th Century noblewoman. And I dressed as the Green Arrow.

“For that entire night, until the spell was broken, I was you. I had your memories, your skills, your trick arrows. I did pretty good that night. Or maybe I should say, you did pretty good. Fought hard, kept my friends alive. When the spell ended, and I was me again, I still remembered everything. The memories have been fading, like a dream, but I’ve been doing my best to concentrate and remember as much as I can. I don’t have any of the trick arrows anymore obviously, and I’m not as fast or accurate with the bow as I was that night, but I’m still pretty good.”

“Let’s say for a moment that I believe you. Why come to me?”

“The Green Arrow has been my hero since I was a kid. When other kids were sticking newspaper clippings of Superman or Batman up in their lockers, I had clippings of you. Superman is powerful, Batman is mysterious, that’s what those kids were drawn to. But you were just a man. A man who fought with bravery, and your wits, and skills that you worked hard to obtain. I’ve always admired that. I always dreamed that maybe, someday I could be like you.

“And then two years ago I met a girl who showed me how dark this world really is. She introduced me to a new fight, one that was just as important as yours. And it was right at my doorstep. And I thought, this was my chance. My chance to help people, to make a difference in the world, to be somebody. And over the last two years, I have helped. And I thought it was enough. But that night, when I was you, I finally found out what it really felt like to be a hero. And I realized that what I’m doing isn’t enough, not for me. What my friends do, it’s important, don’t get me wrong. But I’m starting to feel like I don’t really contribute all that much. It might be the most important fight there is, but I don’t think it’s my fight anymore. I don’t think it’s what I’m meant for.

“So what I have for you today Mr. Queen is a proposal. I want to be your partner. Sidekick, ward, protogé, padawan learner, whatever you want to call it. I want you to train me to be like you. All I want is a chance, to be the kind of person that I’ve always wanted to be, that I know I can be.”

Ollie looked at this young man in front of him. This boy whose eyes betrayed a soul much older than his body. There was determination there, there was a drive greater than his own even when he first decided to put on that costume and put his skills to good use.

“That’s a pretty unbelievable story,” he said.

“We live in a pretty unbelievable world,” Xander answered. “It’s the truth, and I can prove it all to you if you give me the chance. Please, I’ll do whatever you want me to.”

“What if I asked you to kill someone.”

“You wouldn’t.”

“But what if I did?”

“You wouldn’t.”

“But what if I did?”

“Then I’d knock you out and take you to some friends of mine to figure out what had possessed your body and how to get rid of it.”

Ollie smiled at that. “I can’t believe I’m actually considering this. I don’t even know you, and I’ve never even thought about taking on a sidekick before.”

“Partner,” Xander corrected. Ollie looked at him. “Or sidekick, if that’s what you prefer.”

“You’d have to finish high school.”

“Of course.”

“And you’d need to follow a strict training regimen to get you into the best shape of your life before I’d even consider letting you out with me.”

“Understood.”

“And you’ll need a job. I suppose I could find a few things that I needed done that I could pay you for.”

“Whatever you say. Does this mean...I mean, are you agreeing to this? You’ll train me, Mr. Queen?”

The philanthropist stood up and walked around his desk, offering Xander his hand. Xander stood and shook it. “Call me Ollie.”

*

Buffy was sitting at the table in the library thumbing through a newspaper and Giles was standing behind the circulation desk when Willow walked in. She was holding an envelope in her hand and wearing a blank expression on her face.

“Hello, Willow,” Giles said, looking up from his work. But Willow didn’t answer. She just walked over to the table where Buffy was sitting and sat down.

“Wills, are you okay?” Buffy asked. Giles walked out from behind the desk and over to the table.

“I got a letter from Xander,” she finally said.

“Did he say when he’s coming back?” Buffy asked. “Winter break is over in two days.”

“He’s not.”

“He’s not what?”

“He’s not coming back.”

“What?”

Willow slid the letter across the table to Buffy. She picked it up and took the letter out of the envelope. She unfolded it and started to read it out loud.

“Dear Willow,

“This is the hardest letter that I’ve ever had to write. I’ve started it five times already because I just can’t think of the right words. Do you remember what I told you after Halloween, about how being the Green Arrow for the night really got me thinking about the kind of person I am, and the kind of person that I want to be? Well, that’s kind of why I took this trip. I had to give it a try, if I didn’t I would have regretted it for the rest of my life. I know that you don’t really know what I’m talking about, and I wish I could tell you more. But the details are part of a secret that isn’t mine to tell. I hope you can understand that.

“What I’m trying to say is that I’m not coming back to Sunnydale. I have a chance here to do something special, and I’m taking it. I’m not saying that what happens in Sunnydale isn’t special or important, I know that it is and I have been proud to help with that fight in any way I can. I just think that what I’m doing now is a better fit for me. Now don’t worry, I’m going to finish school up here, I promise. And by ‘up here’ I mean Seattle, which is where I am. And no, I can’t tell you why just yet. I’ve got a job and a place to stay and all that, so I’ll be well taken care of.

“I know that writing a letter like this instead of calling you or telling you in person must seem very cowardly, but I have two very good reasons for it. One, I’m a coward. And two, there are things that I want to say to you, and I think that if I called you and told you this, you’d be too busy trying to convince me to come back to listen. Willow, you are my best friend in this entire world, and that doesn’t even begin to describe what you mean to me. You saved me, Willow. You took that lost little boy that you met in kindergarten and you shaped him into the person I am now. I don’t know what I would have done without you in my life, I can’t even begin to think about it. I’m telling you this because I don’t want you to think that I’m leaving our friendship behind in Sunnydale. The truth is, it’s because of you that this is the hardest decision that I’ve ever made. But it’s also because of you that I’ve had the courage to make it. You will always be the most important person in my life Willow, and I love you.

“I hope you’ll share this letter with Buffy and Giles, there are some things I’d like to say to them too. Buffy, you’ve been my hero for the past two years, and an amazing friend. You saved me too, in the more literal sense, more times than I care to count. I hope that you’ll always remember what a great person you are. And that the slayer may be what you are, but it isn’t who you are. You’re Buffy, first and foremost, and as long as you surround yourself with people who believe that just as strongly as I do, you’re going to be just fine.

“Giles, as I’m sure you must have guessed, my home life hasn’t been the greatest. I never had a lot of positive male role models growing up. But I’m proud to say that as I become a man, I’ll always think of you as the example to be measured against. I hope I can make you proud of me someday.

“This is not goodbye. I still want to be part of all of your lives, as much as possible. Willow, I’ll call you in a few days once you’ve had time to let all of this process. I hope you’re not angry with me for doing this, and if you are then I hope you can forgive me. This is my brass ring, I had to grab it. I’ll miss you all, but we’ll talk real soon.

“With love, your friend, Xander Harris.”

Buffy felt her eyes well up a little as she put the letter down. “I can’t believe it,” she said.

Willow was shaking her head, fighting back tears. “How can he do this? How can he leave? What am I going to do without him?”

“While we’ll all surely miss Xander terribly, we can’t begrudge him his chance at happiness,” Giles said calmly. “And if he thinks that chance is in Seattle, we should respect his decision and wish him the best of luck.”

“But why can’t he be happy here, with us?” Willow asked. Giles walked over to her chair and gathered the redhead into a hug.

Buffy looked down at the letter on the table. She flipped the newspaper that she had been reading over to move it out of the way. When she did, the picture on the back caught her eye. It was the society page, and on it was a picture of Xander standing next to a man with blond hair and a goatee. The headline read ‘Millionaire Philanthropist Reunited With Long Lost Nephew.’ Buffy’s eyes nearly bugged out of her head as she picked up the paper and looked closer.

“Um, Willow, you might want to see this.”

*

Xander took a long swig from his water bottle as he stopped to catch his breath. He had already run two miles and he had three more to go before he was allowed to stop for the day. He was covered in sweat, every muscle in his body was screaming in pain, and he was sucking air like an asthmatic trying to climb to the top of the Sears Tower. He had only been training for two weeks, but it felt more like months. He knew it was going to be hard, but he hadn’t been prepared for the reality. Running every day, lifting weights every other day, basic combat training, and all of that on top of the ‘job’ Ollie had given him, fixing all of the things he had been neglecting around his house. Cleaning out gutters, rehanging doors, tiling the guest bathroom. Xander had never worked so hard in his entire life.

Ollie jogged up from behind him, he was already ahead of Xander by at least two laps. That was what really kept Xander going. Everything he did, Ollie was right there doing it with him. Well, except for the gutters. And when Xander felt like he was on the verge of collapse, Ollie barely looked like he was sweating. This is what he did, every day, to keep his body in peak physical shape so he could keep doing what he did. He didn’t just put on a mask one day and decide to become a hero on a lark, he busted his ass every day to make it happen.

“You want to quit?” Ollie asked.

“No!” Xander insisted, possibly a little too loud. “No, just taking a break.”

Ollie smiled. “Yeah, I could use a break myself. Come on, let’s go sit.” The two walked over to a bench next to the track where they left their stuff.

Xander took another long pull off of his water. “I’ve been meaning to ask you, Ollie. All this training has been great, loads of fun, don’t get me wrong. But when am I going to start archery training? You didn’t change your theme and not tell me, did you? You’re not the Green Running Guy now, are you?”

Ollie laughed. That was one of the things that he really liked about Xander the more he got to know him, he kept his sense of humor through everything. “We have to work off some of that baby fat first,” he said, poking Xander in the side.

“Hey, don’t get fresh. I don’t put out on the first date mister.” Ollie laughed again. “Seriously though, my memories of being you are really starting to fade. I don’t want to lose any skills I might still have before I start training with a bow.”

“Xander, I didn’t agree to take you on because you had my memories. I did it because of what I saw in your eyes, what I still see there everyday. Determination and passion. You have the heart and soul of a hero, Xander. The other stuff can be learned, but not that. You have to be born with it. So don’t worry about your skills. When the time comes, you’ll learn everything you need to know.”

Xander smiled. “Thanks.”

“In the mean time, I do have something for you.” Ollie reached under the bench and pulled out a long metal case. “Consider it a reward for all the hard work you’ve done. Go ahead, open it.”

Xander opened the case and looked inside. “Oh my god.” It was a bow, almost exactly like Ollie’s except that it wasn’t green. It was just bare wood. “It’s beautiful,” Xander said, picking it up out of the case.

“It’s hand carved from a single piece of Pacific Yew, from the rain forests of British Columbia, just like mine. It just has a light finish on it now, eventually we can get it painted whatever color you want.”

“I...I don’t know what to say. This is really for me? Not just for me to practice with or something?”

“It’s one hundred percent yours,” Ollie confirmed. “I just thought you should get familiar with it before we start archery training. The feel of it, the weight in your hand. It’s going to be with you for a long time. Chances are it will save your life more than once.”

“Wow, I feel like I should name it or something,” Xander said, running his hands over the smooth finish.

“Nah, that would just be creepy.”

“Yeah, you’re probably right,” He put the bow back inside the case and closed it.

“What do you say we knock off early today, go get a pizza or something,” Ollie suggested. “Just this once.”

Xander grinned. “What’s the matter, you tired old man?” Xander asked, elbowing him in the ribs. He stood up and started toward the track. “We still got three more miles to run, let’s go!”

“You still have three more miles, I only have two and a half,” Ollie said, standing up and jogging after Xander. “Just try and catch up.”

“Watch me!” Xander yelled back, taking off at a full run.

*

June, 1999

“So, that’s the plan?” Buffy said. She looked at her friends, gathered in the library for what could be the last time as they awaited the Mayor’s ascension. “I know it sounds crazy...”

“I personally don't think it's possible to come up with a crazier plan ,” Cordelia said.

“We attack the Mayor with hummus,” Oz said.

“I stand corrected,” Cordelia amended.

“Just trying to put everything in perspective,” Oz added.

“I don’t know, I think we can make it work.” Everyone turned and looked toward the door at the person who spoke, with varying degrees of shock at who they saw there. “Buffy’s plan I mean, not the hummus thing.” He wore a red body suit with no sleeves, and bracers over his forearms. He had yellow boots with a yellow belt and a yellow strap across his chest holding a quiver of arrows to his back. On the left side of his chest was a yellow circle with a black letter ‘S’ in it, and he wore a thin black mask over his eyes. In his hand he held a yellow bow.

“Xander!” Willow yelled, running over to him and pulling him into a hug.

A second later Buffy joined her, making it a group hug. “It’s good to see you, Xan,” she said.

“It’s good to see you guys too,” Xander said. He looked up at the others. “I guess my secret identity is out then.”

“Oh please, as soon as we saw that Green Arrow had a new sidekick we put two and two together. Besides, a pair of sunglasses covers more than that mask,” Willow said, pulling back from the hug.

Xander smiled. “Maybe, but you’d be how surprised how well it works. And it’s partner, not sidekick.”

Willow smacked him on the arm. “I haven’t heard from you in over three months, no phone calls, no emails! What’s the matter with you, how could you not tell me about this?”

“I’m sorry, I was going to, things just got...busy.”

“So what are you doing here?” Buffy asked.

“Well, you guys couldn’t make it to my graduation, so I thought I’d come down for yours. Plus I heard you had some demon problems.”

“I’m afraid it’s a bit more complicated than just demon problems,” Giles said.

“Yeah, it always is,” Xander responded.

“So, you guys know Speedy,” Oz said in his usual flat tone. “Somehow that doesn’t surprise me as much as it probably should.”

“You must be Oz,” Xander said. He crossed the room and offered the shorter man his hand. “I’ve heard a lot about you.”

Oz shook his hand. “I’ve heard a lot about Xander, and I’ve read a lot about Speedy in the papers. Now I have to combine those things in my head. It might take a while.”

Xander nodded and smiled. “Take your time.”

“Wow dweeb boy, you really bulked up,” Cordelia said, sauntering up to Xander and squeezing his bicep. “It looks good on you, even if you are dressed like a circus performer.”

“Thanks, Cordy. Your candor is as refreshing as ever.” The two hugged briefly. “It’s good to see you too.”

“Yeah Xander, how did you get in here dressed like that?” Buffy asked. “Didn’t anybody see you?”

“You’d be surprised what people in this town will ignore,” he said. “Then again, maybe you wouldn’t be. And by the way, can you guys try to call me Speedy when I’m in costume? I may not be able to keep any secrets from you, but I’d rather the whole school not know that it’s me.”

“Xan...I mean, Speedy, this is a small town, we’ve been in school with the same kids since kindergarten,” Willow said. “Don’t you think they’ll recognize you?”

“Wills, everyone I ever cared about or who ever cared about me in this town is in this room right now. You’d be surprised how much a simple mask can cover. I’ll be fine. Now, we’ve got more important things to worry about right now.”

“I would say so,” Giles said. “The Mayor is planning on ascending to pure demon form at commencement this afternoon, so we haven’t much time to prepare.”

Speedy nodded. “Like I said, I heard Buffy’s plan and I think it can work. And I can help, we’ll just need to liberate a few items from the gym, and hit the hardware store for a few cases of Sterno. I think we can cook up a few surprises for the honorable Mayor McDemon.”

*

“Second wave, draw! Light ‘em up! Loose!” Twenty flaming arrows cut through the air and struck the giant snake that had once been Mayor Richard Wilkins III. In a few places the Sterno from the arrows stuck to the demon’s skin and continued to burn. The creature roared. Speedy shot off a couple explosive tipped arrows of his own, hitting the demon in the head. They weren’t doing much damage, but it was enough to distract the mayor long enough for Angel’s group to dispense with the vampires and get as many people away from the school as possible.

“First wave, draw! Light ‘em! Loose!” Between the gym equipment room and the local sporting goods stores, they were only able to scrounge up forty bows. So Speedy separated his volunteers into two waves, one would fire while the other prepared their next shot. So far it was working well, but they only had enough arrows for a few more volleys. He glanced over at Angel’s group and saw that they were taking some casualties. He hoped Buffy was ready soon. If her part of the plan didn’t work, then none of the rest would matter.

“Second wave, light ‘em, loose!” The demon roared again as another volley of arrows slammed into him. That’s when Speedy spotted Buffy, standing in front of the mayor waving Faith’s knife around.

“Hey! You remember this? I took it from Faith. Stuck it in her gut. Just slid it in like she was butter. You want to get it back from me...Dick?” The demon snarled at her and Buffy took off into the school. The giant snake turned and followed.

Speedy turned to his archers. “All right, hand to hand!” he yelled. It was all up to Buffy now. The only job they had left was to survive. “Get as far from the school as you can!” The archers dropped their bows and picked up their other weapons before running into the fight with the vampires in front of the school. Speedy stuck to the high ground. He pulled a wooden stake tipped arrow from his quiver and took aim at the closest vampire he could find. This fight was far from over.

*

The fire department was calling it a gas explosion. Probably because listing ‘explosion to kill giant demon snake’ on an official report as the cause of the fire would raise a few eyebrows. Sunnydale was a town entrenched in denial, and sometimes that worked to the good guys’ advantage. It seemed like the whole town had turned out to watch the school burn. The street was filled with firetrucks and cop cars. There was even a newspaper photographer running around taking pictures of everything.

Speedy was standing in the grass with Willow, Cordelia and Oz, watching the spectacle like everyone else. He was a little dirty and banged up, they all were. It was a long fight. “It’s not every day a guy gets to come back to his home town and set fire to his high school,” Speedy said. “This is a special day for me.”

“Yup,” Oz agreed.

Speedy watched Buffy and Giles talking in front of a firetruck a dozen or so yards away. He saw Buffy look off in the distance at Angel with a sad look on her face. And then Angel was gone. “What’s going on with Buffy and Angel?”

“He’s leaving,” Willow said. “It’s just too hard for them to be together.”

“Damn,” he said. “That’s got to be rough. How’s she dealing?”

“I’m not sure she is yet. There’s been so much going on, with the mayor and all,” Willow said. She looked at Speedy. “I thought you of all people would be happy to see him leave.”

Speedy looked at her, surprised and a little hurt. “I don’t like seeing anyone I care about in pain. All I ever wanted for Buffy was for her to be happy. The fact that Angel and I didn’t get along doesn’t change that, I’m not that petty,” he said. “Not anymore.”

Buffy walked over to them, a distant look on her face. Speedy held his arms open, offering a hug. She took it, and laid her head on his chest for a second. Willow put her hand on her shoulder.

“I’m sorry,” he said.

“It’s for the best,” Buffy said. “As much as it doesn’t feel like it right now, I’ll be okay.”

Speedy kissed the top of her head and Buffy turned around to watch the firefighters finish putting the school out. That made two high schools she had set fire to now. There was a small amount of satisfaction in that.

“Guys. Take a moment to deal with all of this,” Oz said. “We survived.”

“It was a hell of a battle,” Buffy said.

“Not the battle, high school.” They all took a moment and silently watched the smoldering remains of the school. Cordelia stood up from where she was sitting in the grass and brushed herself off. “We’re taking a moment...and we’re done.”

Cordelia wandered off. Oz reached over and gave Willow’s hand a squeeze before walking into the crowd himself. Buffy gave Speedy another quick hug before heading back over to where Giles was standing. That just left Willow and Speedy standing in the grass.

“You were great today,” Willow said. “We couldn’t have done it without you.”

Speedy smiled. “You were pretty great yourself. You’re getting pretty good at the magic thing.”

“Thanks. You’re getting pretty good at the bow and arrow thing.”

“I do okay,” he said. “I’ve got a good teacher.”

Willow paused. “You haven’t told me much about him, even when you did call or email.”

“Well, I don’t know how comfortable Ollie is with my friends knowing who he is. Even though he admits that it’s his own fault for letting that picture of us get taken. Besides, we don’t get to talk much anymore and I thought you’d be more interested in me,” he said with a smile.

“I am, it’s just...we used to tell each other everything. Now it just feels...it feels like I don’t really know you anymore.”

“Willow, come here.” Speedy drew her into a hug. “You are my best friend, and that’s never going to change, no matter how many hundreds of miles are between us. I know that this hasn’t been easy for you, it hasn’t been easy for me either. But what I’m doing now is important, and I think it’s worth it. I’m becoming the kind of man that you can be proud of.”

“I’ve always been proud of you, Xander. You don’t need to be a big time superhero for that. You just have to be you.”

“Thanks, Wills. You don’t know how much that means to me.” They pulled apart slightly and Speedy wiped a tear off of Willow’s cheek with his thumb. “So no more crying, okay? You’re not losing me, I promise.”

Willow nodded. “Okay. How long are you staying?”

“Not long, I have to leave tomorrow. But I’ll be back to visit again, real soon. I swear.”

Willow just nodded again, not trusting her voice.

“Speedy!”

Speedy turned to see who was calling him. It was Cordelia, walking across the grass and waving for him to come over to her. He looked at Willow to make sure she was all right. She nodded. “Go ahead, I’ll be right here. I love you, Xander.”

“I love you too, Wills,” he said, giving her a peck on the forehead. He turned and walked over to where Cordelia was standing.

Willow looked at him, wondering if this is what Buffy felt like watching Angel leave. She knew it wasn’t fair to feel like that, Xander wasn’t leaving her, the situation wasn’t the same. But all the logic in the world wouldn’t make the hollow feeling in her chest go away.

“What’s up, Cordy?” Speedy asked, jogging over to her.

“I don’t know if Buffy or Willow told you, but now that school’s over I’m moving to L.A. to try the acting thing.”

“Really? That’s great, best of luck to you.”

“Yeah, Daddy’s been having some troubles with the IRS. And by troubles I mean that he hasn’t paid taxes for the better part of a decade and they’re a little peeved by that. They took everything, the house, the cars, my trust fund. So I’m pretty much on my own now.”

“Oh my god, Cordy that’s terrible. How are you holding up?”

“Well, a Chase always lands on their feet. At least that’s what my dad said right before he ran off to Europe to escape prosecution. I’ll be okay. Anyway, we probably won’t see each other for a long time, so I just wanted to say goodbye. I know that we haven’t always been friends.”

“And by always you mean ever, right?”

Cordelia just smiled. “I just wanted to let you know that I appreciate everything you’ve done for me. Saving my life, making my graduation oh so memorable, stuff like that. So, thanks. I’m going to miss you, you big dork.” She reached over and pulled him into a hug.

Speedy was a little surprised, he had never know Cordelia to act like this. Maybe losing all her money had really put things in perspective for her and showed her what was really important. “That’s sweet, Cordy. I’ll miss you to-Mmm...”

Speedy was cut off when Cordelia’s lips suddenly pressed up against his own. It took a second for his brain to figure out what was happening, then another second to realize how strange and unexpected it was, but after that Cordelia did something with her tongue that sent all rational thought out the window and instinct kicked in. His arms wrapped around her waist as hers snaked up around his neck and he started kissing her back. He saw a flash of light out of the corner of his eye right before Cordy broke the kiss.

“Did you get that?” Cordy asked.

“You bet!” a man answered. “Thanks a lot miss, the Enquirer is going to pay a lot for that picture.”

Speedy blinked as his senses returned. He turned his head and saw the photographer that he had seen earlier smiling at Cordelia. “That’s Cordelia Chase,” she said to him. “C-H-A-S-E.”

“Thanks again,” the photographer said, jotting her name down in a notebook before turning and disappearing into the crowd.

“Cordy!” Speedy screeched. “I take back every nice thing that I ever thought about you,” he said, starting toward where the photographer had gone.

“Xand...I mean Speedy, wait!” Cordelia pleaded, stepping in front of him. “Everything I told you was true, I swear. I really am broke and I really am going to L.A. to be an actress. Do you know how many thousands of women go to Hollywood every day to try to become actresses? This kind of publicity could really give me an edge. Speedy, please, I need this.” Speedy just sighed and rolled his eyes. “Consider it a graduation present.”

“You could have just asked.”

“You might have said no,” she admitted sheepishly.

Speedy sighed again. “Green Arrow is going to kill me for this,” he mumbled. “Fine, consider it a favor. But you owe me one.”

“Absolutely,” Cordelia said with a thousand watt smile. “Thank you so much!” She hugged him again and ran off into the crowd.

Speedy turned and looked back to where Willow had been standing, but she was gone. His face fell. “Shit.”

*

TBC...