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When Angels Cry


Wait
Your tired arms must rest
Let this moment pass
Wait until the morning

July 27, 2006

The light was so bright. Willow Rosenberg Harris squinted her green eyes, and then closed them completely. "Xander?" she whispered.

Her husband, Xander Harris, left the window he had just opened and rushed to her side. "Yeah, baby?"

"Can you close the blinds again? The sun is too bright."

"Sure, Will." He went back to shut the blinds again before sitting next to Willow's hospital bed. He reached out and took her hand. "How are you feeling, Will?" he asked gently.

"Come here, Xander," she said softly. He leaned closer. "No, come here, all the way. Lay down with me." She shifted her body to the left and he laid down next to her, cradling her frail body. Willow had been in and out of the hospital ever since she had been diagnosed with cancer five months earlier, and this had lately become a familiar position for them.

She mustered her energy and twisted in his embrace so that they were facing each other. She raised her nearly translucent white hand to smooth back his dark brown hair. She was going to miss him so much. Every time she thought leaving Xander and their daughter Carrie, her heart broke. Carrie. Her sweet little baby girl, who had been through so much recently.

"Penny for your thoughts," Xander finally said, gently squeezing her hand.

She smiled sadly at him. "I was just thinking about how much I'm going to miss you." He got a peculiar look on his face, and she knew he was going to try and refute her statement. He still hadn't come to terms with her impending death yet, and soon, it would be too late. "Xander, shhhh," she said, putting her fingers over his mouth in an effort to quiet him. "Xander, you have to listen to me. It's hard, I know. But I'm going to die, sweetie."

His eyes filled with tears at her last sentence. Intellectually, he knew that they didn't have much time left. It was just that he couldn't imagine his life without her. In the twenty years they had been best friends, they had never been apart, and now he had to contemplate spending the rest of his life without his other half. He realized that she was waiting for him to say something, and he struggled unsuccessfully to hold his tears back. "I know," he finally managed, his voice thick. "I know." The dam finally broke, and he started sobbing as Willow's imminent death truly hit him for the first time.

The tables turned, and now Willow was the one to cradle Xander as he sobbed out all the pain and frustration he had been feeling for the past few months. She closed her eyes as she hugged her husband's shuddering body to her breast, and let her own tears fall. She cried for Xander, and Carrie, and Giles, and also for herself. She would never get to see Carrie grow up, get ready for her first date, her prom, or her wedding day. She would never get to grow old with Xander, or have more babies with him. They cried together for the future they would never get a chance to share, and for all they were losing. They stayed that way for almost an hour, until all their tears were spent and they lay limply in each other's arms.

"Xander?" she asked weakly.

He lifted his head, his watery brown eyes meeting her dull green ones.

"It's going to be soon, Xand. I can feel it, and I don't want to die here. I want to be at home, in our bed, listening to our little girl playing and laughing in her room next to me," she said wanly, her voice breaking.

He hadn't thought he had any more tears left, but he was wrong. "Okay," he said softy as she brushed his tears away. "I'll talk to the doctor, and we'll get you home, where you belong."

She smiled at him. "Thank you."

~*~

Close your eyes and let me see
Who you used to be
Left without a warning
Who knew one so big could grow so small
Lighter than the writing on the wall

July 26, 2001

Dear Diary,

I can't believe it! Xander proposed to me today. Proposed! I'm getting married! I'm just so excited. Our perfect day started this afternoon. . .

"Hey, Will!" Xander called out as he let himself into the apartment his girlfriend Willow shared with their friend Buffy. He spent so much time there, Willow had given him his own key.

"I'll be right down," Willow shouted. "I'm almost ready!"

"Okay!" he called back, and settled himself on the living room couch. Buffy walked in from the kitchen, eating an apple, and sat down next to him.

"So?" she asked eagerly. "Are you going to do it?"

Xander pulled a small black velvet box out of his pocket and handed it to his friend. "For better or worse."

Buffy opened the case and gasped. "Oh, my God." She lifted the sparkling diamond solitaire ring and examined it in the sunlight. "Xander, this is gorgeous! It must be a, what, full carat diamond? How in the world did you afford this?"

He took the ring back, putting it in the case, and slid it into his pocket. "Ask me no questions and I'll tell you no lies."

She whistled. "Okay, don't wanna know. Are you sure you want to do this now, though?" she asked carefully, voicing a question she had been asking herself since Xander had told her his plans a week earlier. "I mean, you guys haven't even finished college yet."

After graduation, Willow and Oz had broken up. He had moved to New York to work on his music, and Willow had decided to stay in Sunnydale to help Buffy and Giles. She attended a small, private college about ten miles away, while Buffy and Xander chose to go to Sunnydale Community College. All three would start their junior year the following month. Angel and Cordy had moved to Los Angeles after graduation, and hadn't been back since. Soon after the start of freshman year, Xander and Willow had "fluked" once again in her dorm room, but decided that they didn't want it to be a fluke. They had been seriously dating ever since.

"I'm sure, Buff," he said with a confidence that had been fading all day. "Will and I are meant to be together. We've been in love with each other since we could walk, even if it took me a little longer to realize it. We've already spent a lifetime together. It was just a matter of time until we decided to spend the rest of our lives together."

Buffy smiled wistfully, missing that kind of all-encompassing love, as Willow came down the stairs and walked over to Xander. "Hey, sweetie," she smiled, leaning down to kiss him. "You look nice," she said, admiring his well-fitting black jeans and grey t-shirt. "So, where are we going?"

He couldn't take his eyes off her, with her snug denim shorts and blue tank top. "So beautiful," he breathed, still amazed that this wonderful woman actually loved him.

She blushed. "Xander, I've worn this outfit a million times. Where are we going?"

"Right. Going," he said, still staring at her long legs. She hit him playfully and he snapped out of it. "Hey!" he protested. "And no, no telling. Where we're going is a surprise. Ready?"

"Ready, Freddy," she giggled, pulling him off the couch. "Bye, Buff! See you tomorrow!" Buffy waved as the laughing duo headed out the door.

"Please tell me where we're going?" Willow pleaded as they headed out in Xander's car.

"Uh-uh," Xander shook his head. "No hints, my little witch. Just wait."

"Oh, you're no fun," she pouted, leaning over to turn the radio on. She played with the stations until she found something she liked. "Oh! I love this song!" she said excitedly, cranking the volume up. "Kiss me beneath the milky twilight. Lead me out on the moonlit floor. Lift your open hand, strike up the band and make the fireflies dance. Silver moon's sparkling, so kiss me," she sang along, only a little off key.

Xander watched her out of the corner of his eye as she continued singing. How did he ever get so lucky? he wondered. 'Goin' to the Chapel' was the next song, and Xander prayed that it was a good omen as Willow continued to sing along.

Nearly an hour later, they had arrived at their destination. Just as Xander had hoped, they had time before the sun set.

Willow looked around at the clearing of the forest where they had stopped. There was something familiar about it. "Oh!" She clapped her hands. "Second grade camp-out," she said excitedly. "Remember? Of course you do, you brought me here. God, I was terrified of the things that go bump in the night, and you let me share your sleeping bag. Is that my surprise? Are we going to have another camp-out?" She bounced excitedly in her seat.

Xander smiled at her animation. "In a way. See, now we know that those things that go bump in the night are real, so I had to improvise. Over there," he pointed, "is a small cabin, which is where we'll have our camp-out. In a nice, safe, vamp-proof place. Sound good?"

"Sounds very good," Willow smiled, leaning to give him a quick kiss before jumping out of the car. "Come on! Let's go," she said happily.

He reached into the back seat to pull a duffel bag full of clothes he had packed for them, and exited the car. He caught up with his girlfriend and walked her back to the cabin.

Xander pulled the key out of his pocket, and opened the door with a flourish. "After you, milady," he said with an exaggerated bow. Giggling, she curtsied back and walked into the small cottage. He followed her inside and dropped the bag on the ground. "So, what do you think?" he asked nervously.

"It's beautiful, Xander," she said, spinning around to see everything. "This is so cool. Look at the size of that fireplace!" She disappeared into one of the adjoining rooms. "Oh!" she exclaimed, popping her head back out, eyes wide. "Did you see the size of the hot tub? It could fit a football team!" He laughed as she darted into the other room. She reappeared a few minutes later. "Goddess, that must a King and a half size bed!"

He grinned again. "I'm glad you like it." He glanced to his left. "Did you see the kitchen yet?"

"Uh-uh," she said, and headed over. She opened the refrigerator and gasped. "Xander! Oh, my word. Look at all this stuff!"

He walked over behind her. "It's for our picnic," he said, taking the bottle of wine out. "In front of the fireplace."

She turned to smile at him. "Sounds perfect."

Two hours later, they were laying spoon style on a blanket in front of the fireplace, staring into the flames. Music was playing softly on a small boom box Xander had brought with. "Happy?" Xander asked, dropping a small kiss on Willow's hair.

She smiled contentedly. "Yeah. Very happy," she told him, snuggling against him.

He took a deep breath, and slipped the small box out of his coat pocket behind him. Not giving himself a chance to chicken out, he pushed in front of Willow.

"Xand?" she questioned. "What's this?" At his direction, she opened it and gasped. "Oh!"

He pushed himself up and knelt in front of her. She slowly sat up, not taking her eyes from the diamond ring. He gently took the box out of her hands and held up the ring. "Willow, sweetie, I love you so much. Will you marry me?"

"Oh!" she said again, stunned. "Oh, Xander." He waited with bated breath. "Yes! Xander, yes! Yesyesyesyesyes!" she said excitedly, starting to giggle with happiness. He briefly closed his eyes in relief. When he opened them again, she had her hand out, waiting for him to put the ring on her finger, where it belonged. When it was in place, she just looked at it, amazed. After all the years, her dreams were finally coming true. She looked back at Xander. Not just Xander, she thought. My Xander. My fiancee. Their eyes met, and matching smiles of joy appeared on their faces.

"Wow," Xander said, sounding amazed. "We're engaged."

"Yep, we are," Willow agreed.

They looked at each other. "Took us long enough!" they said in unison, and started laughing as they hugged each other euphorically. Xander tugged Willow to her feet, still not letting go of her, and spun her in a circle. "Yea, us!" Willow cheered, still laughing.

 

November 20, 2001

Dear Diary,

I can't believe it! This is just unbelievable. Unbelievable in a good way, but still unbelievable. What's unbelievable, you ask? We're going to have a baby! I'm 11 weeks pregnant. Isn't that awesome? Luckily, I won't be showing until after the wedding, which is in only 27 days. I think Xander was more shocked than I was when I told him. *g*

December 17, 2001

Dear Diary,

Well, it's official. I am now Mrs. Alexander LaVelle Harris!! "Hello, I'm Mrs. Harris. Willow Harris. Willow Rosenberg Harris. Willow R. Harris. Willow Rosenberg-Harris." Okay, yeah, I still need to decide on that. It can wait, though. I don't have much time now. Xander went out, with Buffy, (yes, on the first night of our honeymoon) to get me and the baby a cheeseburger and cheese fries. I had a craving, what can I say?

The wedding was beautiful. Buffy was my maid of honor and Giles was Xander's best man. Buffy and I found the most perfect dress for me—it was very simple, with a plain white bodice, short sleeves, and a full skirt with a lace overlay. White, of course, even though I'm not exactly virginal, being almost 15 weeks pregnant. Buffy's pale blue dress was a little more form fitting, and slinky, but I decided I didn't want to dress her in something she hated, so she wouldn't do the same to me when she had a chance. We had it early so the guests would be home before nightfall. Giles gave Buffy the night off and we figured the fewer people out tonight that we knew about, the better. Not that we had very many people here. Neither Xander nor I have very large families, and we both just invited a few other friends from college.

College. I have no idea about what I'm going to do now. Sure, I'll finish off at least this next semester, but the baby's due in June, and what about after that? Xander and I have decided to take a Scarlett O'Hara approach and think about that tomorrow, but eventually we have to decide what to do. Oh, goody! Xander's back. More later!

 

March 7, 2002

Dear Diary,

Xander and I saw our baby today! I keep looking at the sonogram picture in amazement. We made this baby. And it's perfect. We're starting to talk about names now. If it's a boy, we both like the names Christopher and Jeremy. If it's a girl, I kinda want to name her Jennifer or Jana after Ms. Calendar, but I don't know how Giles would feel about that. Xander prefers Emily or Rebecca. We'll figure it out eventually. We still have a few months.

Speaking of Giles. He's just been wonderful. Xander has a job in the afternoons and evenings now, so he always takes me to the library to stay with Giles, who takes me home every night. They're both being so protective of me, because there's no way I can fight off any baddies in this condition. A few days ago, I was talking to him about the problem of what I'll do with school after the baby was born. He actually suggested that he would take care of her! (Okay, no, we don't know the sex yet, but I can't help referring to it as a girl, because "it" seems too impersonal.) I told him that he was crazy, because whoever heard of a newborn in a library? He reminded me that he has tenure, so they can't fire him, Snyder's gone and his replacement apparently doesn't even realize that there is a library, and the students never did. I guess it's definitely an option, and I can't think of anyone I trust more than Giles to take care of her if Xander and I can't be there. I think he regrets that he never found someone to marry and have children with, and our baby is the closest that he'll ever come to a child or grandchild of his own. Maybe it is the best idea, for all of us.

 

June 21, 2002

Dear Diary,

I'm a mommy!! I thought this day would never, ever come. Miss Caroline Jennifer Harris was born at 6:56 pm today, weighing in at 7 pounds, 11 ounces. So far, she has my red hair, but with blue eyes, which the nurses say will probably change colors soon. I was at the library with Giles this morning when I went into labor, and Xander met us at the hospital. Luckily Xander had made Giles give up his beloved Citroen when he started driving me every night, so we got to the hospital in pretty good time. Giles and Buffy, who we asked to be Godparents, were in the waiting room the whole time. When I asked him if he minded us giving our baby Jenny's name as a second name, I could swear I saw tears in his eyes as he told me that it was a wonderful idea. Caroline isn't for anyone, it was just one of the names we could actually agree on. Emily was starting to grow on me, but then Xander saw this name and we both fell in love with it. I think we're going to call her Carrie. Our little Care-bear. : ) She and Xander are sleeping now—she's staying in the room with me. He was holding her in the chair the next to my bed, her little body curled up on his chest, and she fell asleep, and he followed soon after. And now I think it's my turn. I'm really tired, I just wanted to get this all written down today while it was still so fresh in my mind.

September 3, 2002

Dear Diary,

I had no idea it would be so hard to leave Carrie with Giles to go to school today. It was the first time I would be away from her for so many hours, and it nearly killed me. I think it nearly killed Giles, too. It took me almost half and hour to actually leave the library today, and then I called almost every fifteen minutes after that. I tried to cut my afternoon classes, but he wouldn't let me. He actually put her on the phone with me to demonstrate that she really was doing well. And she was. She loves Giles a lot, since she saw him so much over the summer. It was much more traumatic for me than for her, and there has got to be something wrong with that. But this was a good idea. I just hope it goes easier on me tomorrow.

 

January 13, 2003

Dear Diary,

I'm so happy for Buffy and Giles! They have finally, finally realized what Xander and I have known for ages—they're in love with each other. They don't want a huge wedding, so Xander, Carrie, Joyce and I are going to go with them to see the Justice of the Peace tomorrow for the ceremony. Joyce is disappointed that there won't be a real wedding, but I understand that Buffy is terrified that if they don't do it now, she won't be alive for the wedding. At nearly 22, she's the oldest Slayer ever, and she doesn't know how much longer she really has.

Carrie's going to be the flower girl, at "Aunt" Buffy's insistence. I swear, Buffy is like a second mother to her. Then again, Giles is like a second father, so it's fitting. Whenever Xander and I need a night to ourselves, they're always there, willing to take care of Carrie for us. I don't know how we would deal without them.

January 15, 2006

Dear Diary,

I'm numb. Just completely numb. Buffy died today. Even as I write it, it doesn't seem real. Nothing seems real, anymore. I can see Carrie playing with her dolls in the corner, and Xander is on the phone with his boss, telling him why he won't be in for awhile, but it's like a dream. Giles is just devastated, as is Joyce. We all knew this day was inevitable, but we always thought that Buffy would beat her calling. She was too full of life to be killed, and yet here we are, and she isn't. When Joyce called us early this morning, all I could do was run into Carrie's room and hug her with all my might. I can't bear the idea of ever losing her, and yet that's exactly what Joyce has to face now. I think of Giles, all alone now, and I can't imagine life without Xander, either. He's my other half, truly part of me. Maybe I don't show him that enough, but we're both so busy. If he died, I don't know what I would do. I would just crumble, because he's my life support. . .

Willow looked up from her journal and saw Xander watching her. "I love you, Xander," she said softly, meeting his eyes.

He nodded, understanding exactly how she felt. "I love you, too, Will. So much." He reached across the bed and engulfed her in a huge hug, both clutching at each other with all of their strength.

Across the room, Carrie saw her parents holding each other, and decided to join them. "Hug!" the three-year-old squealed, running and jumping on both her parents, who opened their arms to let her join the hug.

Willow and Xander exchanged a look over their daughter's short red hair. Carrie noticed the wetness on her mother's face and gently touched it. "Mommy's crying?"

Willow swallowed hard. "Yeah, baby, Mommy's crying. I have some sad news, sweetie."

Carrie looked at her father, uncertain. "Daddy?"

Xander took his wife and daughter's hands into his own. "Carrie, something happened to Aunt Buffy last night. A bad man came, and he hurt her, really bad."

Carrie paused, thinking. "Like when I fell down the stairs and bumped my head."

Willow nodded at her daughter. "That's right. Only, Aunt Buffy was hurt a lot more. She died last night, baby."

Carrie looked at her parents, not understanding.

Xander tried to explain. "She was hurt so bad, Care, that her body couldn't fix itself anymore, and it stopped, so she went to heaven."

Carrie considered this. "So, when's she coming back?"

Willow closed her eyes, and struggled to get the words out. "She's not coming back, Carrie. Once you go to heaven, you can't come back. She has to stay there now."

Carrie nodded. "Oh. Okay, Mommy. Can I go play now?"

"Yeah, that's fine, sweetie," Xander told her, and she scampered away to find her dolls. He looked at his wife, who looked lost. He hugged her, and she held on to him.

"I wish I was three years old and didn't understand," she whispered. "I wish I didn't know how hard the world is."

He rocked her, his tears falling onto her hair. "I know, Will. Believe me, I know."

 

March 3, 2006

Dear Diary,

It doesn't end. Why doesn't it ever end? It's been almost three months since Buffy died. I've been feeling run-down and tired lately, but I figured it was because I was grieving for Buffy, and expending so much energy helping Giles and Xander. Then, I thought that maybe I was pregnant again, so I went to the doctor's for some tests. Who would have thought that it would be cancer, and it was my turn to die?. . .

"Xander?" Willow walked into their bright house and looked around, not seeing anything. "Xand?" she called again.

He poked his head out of the kitchen door. "Hey, sweetie." He walked over and kissed her. "How did the doctor's appointment go?"

Willow dropped her jacket on the couch. "Where's Carrie?" she asked.

"Giles came by to take her to the park," he said. "Will, what's wrong? What did the doctor say?" She didn't say anything, and a feeling of dread started in the pit of his stomach. "Will? Willow, honey, you're scaring me. What did she say?"

Silently, she took his hand and sat him down on the couch. "They ran some tests, Xander," she said, staring at the floor. She raised her head and met his eyes. "It's cancer. They showed me the results of last week's tests and this time's. I have leukemia."

Xander felt as if he had been punched in the stomach. "What?" he whispered. "No. No way."

She nodded. "I know. That's what I said. But no, it's true. I need to start chemo next week. Doctor's orders."

He sat there, stunned. Then, a look of resolution passed over his face. "We'll beat this, Willow. We're not going to let it get you."

"But," she began.

"No buts," he stopped her. "See, I have a resolve face, too. See it? We are not going to let this get you. End of story."

She nodded slowly. "Okay. You're right. We can do this. I won't let it beat me." Tears suddenly filled her eyes. "But that doesn't mean I'm not scared out of my mind."

He quickly leaned forward and pulled her toward him. "I know," he said, almost inaudibly, holding her as she cried. "Me, too."

~*~

When angels cry, can I stand by
When stones weep, can my heart sleep
Wish I'd never heard
Wish I'd never heard
Wish I'd never heard

The power of a four letter word

March 9, 2006

Dear Diary,

I started chemo today. I'm doing it on an outpatient basis so I can be there for Carrie during the day, like she's used to. I've always worked at home, because it never did get easier for me to leave her with Giles at the library. Luckily, right after graduation, I had been able to find a small computer company that was so excited to get me, that they didn't care if I worked at home or in Timbuktu, as long as I worked for them. Chris, my boss, was great when I told him about the cancer. He gave me 3 months' leave, just asking if I could do some work if I had the strength. My job will be there as long as I'm here, he said. I never imagined I could be so tired, though. It's like the chemo isn't just killing the cells, it's killing my very life source. I'm in bed now. I had to call Giles to get Carrie and take her to the library. She can't see me like this. I wish I hadn't forced Xander to go to work today. I need him.

March 10, 2006

Dear Diary,

No sooner did I finish that entry, than Xander was home. He said he could tell that I needed him, so he came home early and arranged for Carrie to stay with Giles for awhile, until I get my strength back up. I talked with her on the phone last night and again this morning. I think a visit with her is exactly what Giles needs right now. He hasn't been the same since Buffy died, just walking around like he was dead inside, and telling him about my cancer didn’t help things at all.

I can't believe how much better I feel now that Xander's here. He knows exactly what I need, whether it's a hug, some sleep, or just a little bit of food. He's so amazingly optimistic that I can't help feeling that maybe he's right, and I will get through this. I'm so much stronger when I have him by my side. He says he feels the same way.

April 25, 2006

Dear Diary,

Chemo didn't work. I still have cancer. I'm cancerous. Xander keeps telling me to think positive, but it's so hard. Xander was there with me this time at the doctors. He kept saying that there had to be something else we could do. So, I start radiation treatment soon. When? As soon as I decide. Xander keeps pushing me to start tomorrow, but I need time to regroup. What if this doesn't work? I want to spend time with Carrie now, before my energy is depleted again.

I hate feeling so tired, so useless. I want to be with my daughter! Is that such a big thing to ask? I want to play with her, like we used to. Now, all I can manage is some small game while sitting down. No running, no going to the park and playing, unless someone is there with a car to bring me home when I get so exhausted, I almost collapse. How much does she understand about what's going on? What do you tell a three-year-old about her mother's possible imminent death? Xander and I told her that Mommy is sick and has to take medicine that makes her very tired. Can she pick up on the tenseness and worry that are in Xander and Giles' faces every time they see me? How much does she truly understand? And how will she take it if something does happen to me? These are questions that I don't even want to think about, but are constantly running through my head.

May 11, 2006

Dear Diary,

I'm worried about Xander. Sure, he wants to be positive and optimistic about my survival. I understand that. But I think it's gone a little farther than that. I don't think that he can even contemplate the fact that I might not make it. He doesn’t even really talk about cancer with me. I try all the time to get him to talk to me about how scared I am, how scared he is, but he can't. He leaves the room, he changes the subject, he goes to get Carrie. This diary is great, but I need to talk to someone! A person, who can respond to me, and tell me that it's okay to be scared. I need Xander to do that for me, and he can't. It's a weird feeling to not be able to count on him for something, anything, and I don’t like it.

May 29, 2006

Dear Diary,

Once again, Giles to the rescue. He came over for a visit this morning, and I just lost it. All the frustration and anger and helplessness that has been building for months finally just came out. He sent Carrie to play with one of her friends next door, and just held me while I cried and screamed out my rage. And when I was done, he didn't condemn me, or tell me I shouldn't feel so negative, he just told me that he understood. And he does. He knows how I feel helpless as the cancer slowly kills my body, just as he felt helpless when the vampire killed Buffy. All these bad things are happening, and we're powerless to stop it. He told me how he's felt these past months, and we cried together. It was nice feeling so close to someone again, but the whole time, I wished it was Xander. Xander hugging me, Xander crying with me, Xander telling me that he'll always be there for me when I need it. I don't understand why Xander just can't be there for me. If Giles can, why can't he? He's my soulmate, my other half, the one who has always understood me in every way. Why can't he understand this?

June 13, 2006

Dear Diary,

I haven't really talked to Xander in weeks. I don't mean we're silent with each other. No, we talk, but I'd almost rather the silence. Everything we talk about is just inconsequential: what nice weather we're having, Carrie and Giles are so good for each other, what a cute drawing Carrie made. The radiation treatment hurts so bad. I come home from the hospital, and I'm just dead tired and sick for at least two days. Giles usually takes Carrie to her friend Maddie's house, and he'll take care of me all day. He listens to me complain, he comforts me, he lets me cry, and he just generally does everything I used to be able to count on Xander for. We've gotten so much closer in the past week, it's just amazing. I thought I knew him before, but I learn something new about him everyday.

Today, we took Carrie to the zoo, and she just loved it. "Uncle" Giles bought Carrie absolutely everything she wanted, but what's new there? : ) She adored the petting zoo, but her favorite place was the house of birds. She loved the hands on experiences of creating her own bird, and following a path to simulate flying like a bird. The creation of the bird was so cool—she used a computer to choose different aspects of birds, from color, to feathers, to sex, and finally a species name (for which she chose Care-bear!). I'm just hoping Giles doesn't give in and actually buy her a bird! It could go either way, though, and her birthday is next week. She has him wrapped around her little finger, and we all know it.

It was a great day, but it should have been Xander instead of Giles.

June 21, 2006

Dear Diary,

Today was Carrie's birthday. I can't believe she's four already! She's getting so big. Because of our zoo visit last week, we had a bird themed party. It was small, of course. Her best friend Maddie, two of her friends from morning summer camp, Giles, Xander, and myself. I planned it all out so carefully, pretty much threw myself into it completely, because this could be the last birthday I get to spend with her. I know, I know, it sounds morbid, but it's something I have to consider. Because if I do die soon, I need to make all the wonderful memories I can. I want her to remember me, and how much I loved her. I'm trying to stay on the line between showing my love and outright spoiling her, but I don't think I'm doing such a good job at it. Let's put it this way—Giles now half owns a bird with her. : ) It lives at his house, of course.

The party started at two, and lasted about an hour and a half. They are only four, much longer and we would have gone insane. I've been trying to rest a lot so I could be as close to my former self as possible. It worked, up to a point. Xander seemed really concerned about how often I had to sit down, but wouldn't say anything. Or maybe couldn't say anything, since it's because of the cancer. I don't think Carrie noticed it much. The moms who came to pick up their kids did, though. Not Jan, Maddie's mom, but the others kept looking at me, and directed their comments and conversations to Xander only. Hello, people! I'm not dead yet, you know. But the important thing is that Xander and I gave Carrie a great party and a wonderful day, and she had a blast. In all of this, she is what matters most. Not Xander's inability to face reality, not the ignorant old biddies who picked up their kids today. Carrie matters, and the fact that she had a happy birthday is what counts in the long run.

July 2, 2006

Dear Diary,

The radiation didn't work. I saw the doctor today, and it didn't work. Not at all. The only other recourse, according to Dr. McFarland, is a bone-marrow transplant, and that doesn't have very good odds. So, I made my decision. No more. I'm going to die. That's the constant. The variable is how I do it, and I'm not going to spend my last few weeks or months in the hospital or in so much pain, I would wish I was already dead. I'm going out in style, Willow style, and on my own terms. I told Giles, and he said that he would support me. Now's the hard part. How do I tell my husband and daughter that I'm choosing to not fight to stay with them?

~*~ For woman or for man
What's the difference now?
Here we live with bottles
And needles and truth
Here is your living proof
That death cannot be proud
Some say it's a judgment on us all
I can't believe that God would be that small

July 3, 2006

Dear Diary,

Xander won't talk to me. I told him about my decision, and he just froze. He told me, "It's up to you," in this icy voice I have never, ever heard from him, and he walked away. He doesn't even come into our room anymore. If he sees me, he walks away. Despite all this, he doesn't let it show when he's with Carrie. He's such a wonderful father, and she's a definite Daddy's girl. That's good, because they're going to need each other when I'm gone.

July 4, 2006

Dear Diary,

I went to see Giles today. After a long overdue and very difficult conversation, I went home and Xander and I had our own fireworks. Finally. Turns out it was just what we needed to get ourselves through this. . .

Willow knocked on Giles' front door before she turned the handle and walked in. He met her in the front hallway.

"Hi," Willow said comfortably as she moved past him, "Carrie's at Maddie's house, so I decided to come for a visit."

"Yes. Willow, we need to talk," he said as gently as possible. She froze in the doorway to his kitchen. She had been getting the feeling he had something to say to her for a few days now, but had tried to ignore it. She turned back, a fearful look on her face.

"About what?" she asked carefully.

He sat down on the couch and gestured for her to do the same. She did, sitting very straight and stiff.

He smiled at her. "Willow, please relax. All right?"

She nodded and let her breath out. "Right. Relax. That's me, all relax girl. See?" She realized she was babbling, a habit she thought she had broken years ago, and quieted.

"Yes, quite." Giles also had a flashback to a sixteen-year-old Willow, and he felt a tinge of sadness. Ten years ago, no one would have been able to guess the sadness that was to come now. His friend's cough brought him back to the present. He had been trying to broach this conversation for a week now, and he still didn't know the best way to say it.

"Willow, I consider you to be one of my closest friends. You know that, yes?" At her nod, he continued. "You've allowed me the wonderful pleasure of being a large part of Carrie's life, giving me a relationship with her that I never thought would be possible.

"And you've been such a comfort to me since Buffy's death. Which is part of the problem." Willow looked confused, but he didn't give her a chance to speak. "It's a problem in the way that I've been using you, emotionally, as a substitute for her, and I fear you're doing the same to me in regards to Xander. I'm so glad that you know you can depend on me, Willow, but I'm not your husband," he said gently. "You should go to Xander when you need help or when you're sick, not me." At her hurt look, he rushed to explain. "It's not that I don't like you, or our conversations. Oh, blast, I'm not doing this right." He ran his hand through his hair and tried again. "Willow, you need Xander right now. You need to connect with him again, before it's too late."

Willow slouched back against the couch. "But he doesn't want me, Giles," she said, struggling not to cry as her cheerful mood evaporated. "He doesn't want to have anything to do with me anymore, and he hasn't for a long time. You're the only one who understands how I feel," she told him, raising her tear filled eyes to meet his.

"Oh, Willow," he sighed. "I am sorry, sweetheart, but this is something that you need to work out with him. Make him see that you need him, and that he does need you, too." He gently wiped away her tears with his thumb. "Don't wait until it's too late. He loves you, Willow. He loves you so much, and that's what is scaring him. He doesn't want to have to say good-bye. Go tell him that you don't want to say good-bye, either. But you need to." He paused. "I'll always regret that I never got to tell Buffy good-bye, or that I loved her, that one last time. I can't let the same happen to you and Xander."

Willow closed her eyes, trying to stop her shuddering sobs. She sniffled once, and nodded. "You're right. I know you are. I can't leave without knowing that he does love me," she said, her voice breaking. "But what if he doesn't anymore?"

"Willow, we both know that he could never stop loving you. Now go to him. I'll call Maddie's mother and take Carrie home with me today. You just concentrate on getting your marriage back."

She nodded, and a weaker version of her old resolve face crossed her face. "Okay. And Giles? Thanks."

He hugged her as they stood from the couch. "Anytime, my dear. Good luck."

Twenty minutes later, Willow was at home, waiting for Xander to come home from grocery shopping. At least, that's where she thought he was. She hadn't quite heard his mumbled response to her question earlier that morning, and he hadn't given her time to ask again before leaving the house. She curled up in the corner of the living room couch with an old book.

Half an hour later, Xander pulled into their driveway. He had indeed gone to the store, but he had stopped at the park before shopping, and had stayed there for most of the morning. He and Willow had spent a lot of time there, both before and after Carrie was born, to relax and unwind. It was always fun acting like a child again, even for an hour, and remembering what they had been like before high school, before everything had changed.

Carrying the few bags to the door, he balanced them carefully and let himself in. He hadn't expected anyone to be home, and the sight of his wife curled up with a book, just like old times, threw him. Willow lowered the book when she heard the scrape of the key in the door, and looked at him.

"Hi, Xander," she said, trying to smile at him.

"Hi," he said shortly, walking into the kitchen to unpack the bags. She followed him and sat at the table.

"Get any goodies?" she tried again. He tossed a box of Ho-Hos at her and went on silently putting the groceries away. She waited quietly for him to finish, and then followed him back out into the living room. He sat in the armchair while she chose to sit on the couch. He picked up the remote and then dropped it back onto the coffee table.

"Is there a reason you're following me around, Willow?" he asked, irritated.

"Yes."

"Well, are you going to enlighten me, or are you just going to sit there and stare at me all day?" he snapped.

"I went over to Giles' today, and he made me see that there's something I should have done a long time ago. We really need to talk, Xander," she told him.

"About what, Willow?" he sighed.

"Everything, Xander. About our marriage, about my cancer, and the fact that I'm going to die soon," she said matter of factly.

"I don't need this." He jumped up from the chair and made to move from the room, shaking his head, but she was too fast, even in her weakened state. She pushed past the table and grabbed his arm, whipping him around to face her now angry face.

"No! Alexander Harris, you are not running from this. Not anymore. Now you are going to sit down and you are going to talk to me!" she shouted. To make her point clear, she shoved him down onto the couch and stood over him, green eyes blazing.

He looked up at her, stunned. He had never seen her this angry before. "There's nothing to talk about, Willow. Yes, you have cancer, and you are choosing to die. What is there to talk about anymore?" he demanded, his own anger rising.

"Everything! There is still everything to talk about! I am not choosing to die! Did you think that it was an easy decision for me? Do you think I want to leave my baby girl? Or you? I'm 26 years old! I don't want to die! But all of my choices were second best! There was no best decision. I was going to die painfully, drugged, and in the hospital or I was going to die me. And where the hell were you when I needed you to comfort me and help me? Certainly not here! Where were you, Xander?"

"You didn't need me! You were all Miss Self-sufficient!" he slammed back, jumping up to be face to face with her. "You've never needed anyone, Willow, and you know it."

"My goddess, Xander, how many years have you known me?" she yelled. "I've always needed you! Ever since we were kids and you would stick up for me! I have never not needed you, and you have never not been there for me until now! And I don't know why. Why couldn't you be here when I needed you?" She had stopped screaming and just looked at him, the tears beginning to stream down her face. "I need you, Xander. I always have," she whispered. "I'm so scared. Please don't leave me when I need you most."

Her words finally pierced the wall he had built around himself. "Oh, God, Willow, I'm sorry," he said, sounding tired as he slumped back down onto the couch. "Come here. Please?" he asked, almost pleading, as she stood there. Finally she sat, and he hugged her close, almost crushing her in his need to finally hold her again. "I'm sorry, Will. I just. . .I'm so scared, honey. I don't ever want to lose you. I can't imagine life without you. So I distanced myself, thinking that it would be easier to, I don't know, say good bye now and not later. Just get myself the hell out of the whole situation, so I didn't have to deal with it." He gently pulled her onto his lap, and rocked her slowly as she cried, his own tears now starting to fall. "I never thought about how you felt. You seemed to be fine with everything, always managing, and it never even occurred to me that you were just as scared of everything as I was." He tilted her head up and smiled shakily at her. "Forgive?"

Her tremulous smiled matched his. "Always, Xander. I love you."

He leaned in and kissed her. "I love you, too, Willow," he murmured. "Always and forever."

July 10, 2006

Dear Diary,

I can't believe the world of difference between me and Xander since the fourth. Today, we took Carrie to the zoo. It was just like old times, except I needed to sit down more. Giles comes over everyday to stay with Carrie for even just a short while so Xander and I have time to ourselves. And every time I see him, I can't help but to give him a big bear hug. He didn't just help me get my marriage back, he helped me get my life back.

July 12, 2006

Dear Diary,

I'm just on a high today! Xander surprised me with a weekend away. Carrie stayed with Giles, and he took me for a ride in the car, not telling me where we were going. And just like that day almost five years ago, he brought me to the cabin in the woods. It was the most perfect two days, even though I missed Carrie. Another fireside picnic, along with other fireside activities. I can't believe how much I've missed Xander, and I can't believe how happy I am since he's been back. Not that he was really gone, it just seemed that way. And I hated every minute of those horrible months.

July 17, 2006

Dear Dairy,

Xander, Giles and I took Carrie to Disneyland today. We've always meant to do that, and now we know that we're not going to have many other opportunities. She had such a good time, and didn't even bat an eye about the fact that I had to spend all day in a wheelchair. Xander and Giles took so many roles of film, with every possible combination of us. Every day and every thing presents a photo op, according to them. We've amassed a great sum of rolls in the last few weeks: me and Carrie, me and Xander, me and Giles, me, Carrie and Giles, me, Carrie and Xander, me, Xander and Giles, etc. Carrie had the most fun with that last one. She's really gotten the hang of the camera, and I think her pictures come out better than Xander's!

July 22, 2006

Dear Diary,

I'm dying. I mean, really dying, as in days left. I can tell. I can feel it, and that scares me so much. Now I really know how Xander felt. How he still feels, I think. He took me to the park today, even though I couldn't do much other than stand by myself. He ended up carrying me over to the swings and pushing me for awhile. I tried to tell him that I knew I was really dying, but don't think he wanted to hear it. Either that, or each of those well-times kisses were completely coincidental.

I'm going to go read to Carrie. Ever since the fourth, I've been making Xander take over more and more of her bedtime ritual so it's not as difficult for her to adjust in that one respect when I'm gone, but I still love reading to her. It's one of the things I can still do with her, and I'm just not ready to give it up yet.

July 25, 2006

Dear Diary,

I can barely hold up this pen. It takes more effort that it should. I just finished reading a story to Carrie - Mrs. Twiggley's Tree. It's her favorite, just like it was mine when I was her age. Xander's reading another story to her now, and then he'll be in. Giles stays here in our guestroom now. In case I stop breathing in the middle of the night, Xander can rush me to the hospital without having to wait for him to come stay with Carrie. Sometimes I think I want it all to be over, because this lingering, knowing it could be the end at any minute, is awful, but I just can't imagine not being here. Not reading a story to Carrie at bedtime, or greeting Xander with a kiss when he comes home from work. Just not being here at all. It terrifies me to just think about it.

During the last few months, I've been writing letters to Carrie and Xander. I'll leave them in this diary, and hope that Xander finds them. They're for the special times for Carrie - her 13th birthday, 16th birthday, prom, wedding, birth of first baby, first promotion, and everything in between and after that I should have been able to be a part of. I think I've covered every conceivable momentous occasion possible. For Xander, I have our anniversaries, and a lot of Carrie's occasions. I figure that he'll be needing help on some of them, like "Congratulations now that you can legally drink!" Okay, not really, but I want to share as many things with him as possible in any way that I can. Here he comes now, so, good-bye. . .

Willow closed her worn journal and put it on the bedstand next to her as Xander walked into the room and dropped onto the bed next to her.

"Hey, sweetie," he said, kissing her head. "How are you doing?"

She smiled weakly. "Been better, Xand. Did Carrie go down easily?"

"Oh, a few bribes here, a few more there, and it was as easy as pie," he said, waving his hand through the air. Willow rolled her eyes and he laughed. "So, up for a scintillating night of television viewing?"

Willow lifted her shoulders in an approximation of a shrug. "Why not. Ooh, no, let's watch a movie. I'm up for something really, really funny."

"Something really, really funny. I can do that. How about something with Jimmy Stewart? You know, and Maureen O'Hara?"

"Mr. Hobbs Takes a Vacation. Sounds good," Willow nodded. "Hey, turn up the radio on your wait out, okay?"

"Sure, hon," he said, doing just that. She closed her eyes and let the music wash over her. She could lie there for hours listening because it gave her a feeling of calmness in her otherwise tumultuous world. A few songs later, her husband finally returned. "Sorry, sorry, couldn't find it. Who would have guessed it was where it belonged?"

She smiled wanly. "I'm glad you found it. Oh! Xander, I love this song."

He didn't hesitate before grasping her hand. "Then I insist we dance, Mrs. Harris."

She tried to pull her hand from his, but didn't have the strength. "I don't think I can, Xand. I'm sorry."

He was determined to not let her illness stop them. "Nope. Up. I'll help." He gently pulled her to her feet and held her in his arms. She had lost so much weight that he had no problem just pulling her up in his arms and holding her there. Willow didn't even have to worry about not having the strength to stand as he concentrated only on pressing his fragile wife against his body. He followed Willow's example and let the calm rush over him while he rocked them gently to the familiar song.

I'm so tired
But I can't sleep
Standing on the edge
of something much too deep
Funny how I feel so much
But cannot say a word
We are screaming inside
Oh...but we can't be heard

I will remember you
Will you remember me?
Don't let your life pass you by
Weep not for the memories

So afraid to love you
More afraid to lose
Clinging to a past
that doesn't let me choose
But once there was a darkness
A deep and endless night
Gave me everything you had
Oh...you gave me light

I will remember you
Will you remember me?
Don't let your life pass you by
Weep not for the memories
I will remember you
Will you remember me?
Don't let your life pass you by
Weep not for the memories

"I love you, Xander," Willow managed to whisper as Xander felt her slump in his arms. "Will?" he asked, panicked, as he head lolled back. "Willow! Oh, my God, Willow!"

He laid her down on the bed and tried to find a pulse. It was there, but weak and thready. "Hang on, baby. Don't leave me, Will."

He ran to the door as fast as he could, not wanting to leave her. "Giles! Damn it, come here! GILES!" He raced back to the bed when he heard the older man's footfalls on the stairs, knowing Carrie could sleep through an earthquake. He slid next to his unconscious wife, holding her close. "Will, please, I need you. Don't die on me. Please, you can't." He clutched her body to his as Giles called 911, barking out that they had an emergency. Xander could only focus on his wife while he held her close, as if she could take from him the very life she needed. "Please, Will. I love you. Don't go."

<

~*~

If ever was a heart that longed to fly

If ever was a soul that longed to bloom

If ever was an angel, it was you

So close your eyes and say good-bye

Good-bye

July 28, 2006

Xander left Willow in their bedroom, where she had fallen asleep again, and went downstairs to find Giles and Carrie. He walked into the living room, and saw his daughter sitting at her kiddy table with Giles crouched behind her, smiling proudly.

Carrie noticed her father standing in the doorway and jumped up excitedly, running over to him. "Daddy! Daddy, look at what Uncle Giles teached me." She dragged him to the table where Giles sat, and pointed at the sheet of paper. "Caroline Jennifer Harris. See, I can write my name!" she said proudly.

"Wow!" Xander told her, smiling. "That looks great, honey," he said, hugging her.

"Can I show Mommy?" she asked hopefully. She had missed her mother during the few days Willow had been in the hospital.

Xander looked up at Giles, as if wanting an answer himself, before looking back at his impatient daughter. "Sorry, sweetie, she's sleeping right now. Why don't you put that on the fridge now, and you can show her later when she wakes up. Is that okay, Care?"

"Okay, Daddy," Carrie agreed and ran out of the room.

Exhausted, Xander ran his hand through his hair and slouched against the couch. It had been a long night. Even though Willow had slept so much, he hadn't let himself close his eyes once, just watching her all night.

"How is she?" Giles asked quietly.

"Not good. She's sleeping most of the time now, and her breathing is erratic." He looked up, the pain in his eyes unmistakable. "We're losing her, Giles, and there isn't a damned thing we can do about it." He stood up. "I have to go back up now. I don't want to leave her alone, in case. . .just in case."

Giles nodded. "Carrie and I will be up later to visit."

"All right. We'll see you then." He went back upstairs and entered their darkened bedroom. He had closed the drapes to block out the bright afternoon sun when Willow had fallen asleep again.

Willow was lying down on the bed, awake, and holding an old picture of Buffy, Giles, Xander, Carrie, and herself. "Do you remember when this was taken?" Willow's whisper cut through the still of the dark room.

Xander sat next to her. "Yep. It was the week before Carrie's second birthday. That's the dress that Giles bought for her." He squinted at the picture. "It was how many sizes too big?"

Willow smiled. "I think it was a 6x. She still can't wear it." She laughed. "He tried, though. And he's gotten better." There was a small silence as they both remembered those days, when Buffy was still alive and Willow wasn't sick. "She'll remember me, won't she?" Willow asked suddenly.

"We won't let her not remember," Xander reassured her. "She'll grow up know all about her mommy and her Aunt Buffy. Giles and I will tell her stories, and show her pictures, and she'll always know how much you love her." They heard Carrie chattering to Giles coming up the stairs and Xander smiled. "Speak of the devil. Carrie has something she wants to show you. Up for it?"

Willow smiled back. "Of course."

He got up and went to the door, turning the light on. "Carrie, do you want to show Mommy your paper?"

Carrie held it up. "Yeah!" She ran past Xander and climbed up next to her mother. "See what I did, Mommy? I writed my name!"

Willow took the paper from Carrie and smiled. "Oh, I can see that! I bet Uncle Giles taught you how to do that."

Carrie gave a nod. "Yep. We practiced all morning."

"It looks great, Care bear. You did a wonderful job. Are you going to put it on the refrigerator?" Willow asked as Carrie snuggled against her.

"Uh-huh. I had it there, but I wanted to show you." She twirled her mother's hair for a second. "Uncle Giles is going to read me a story now, so I gotta go. Okay?"

Willow smiled at her. "Okay. Have fun."

Carrie threw her arms around her mother's neck and squeezed. "I love you, Mommy."

"I love you, Carrie," Willow said, hugging her back. "Now go have fun with Uncle Giles." Carrie climbed back down and grabbed Giles' hand. Willow looked at her friend and smiled. "Bye, Giles."

He bent down and kissed her forehead. "Bye, sweetheart." He turned to the little girl pulling his hand. "All right, Miss Caroline. Let's go read that story now." They left and Xander closed the door behind them.

"She's so big now," Willow said softly.

Xander grinned. "Looks just like you did when you were her age, with her red hair and big green eyes."

"Acts like you, though," Willow teased. "Can't keep quiet for even a minute, and forget about sitting still."

He laughed. "Oh, you were quite the active child yourself, miss. Do you want something to drink? You haven't had anything all day. I can run down and-"

She reached for his hand. "No. Don't go, Xander. Can you just hold me? Please?"

There was something in her voice that made him stop short. "Okay. I can do that." He lay down next to her, and smoothed back her hair. "But Wills? Do me a favor. Don't pull a "Love Story" on me, all right?" he said with a grin, only half kidding.

"Don't worry, sweetie. I promise I'll wake you up and say something more meaningful than 'hold me'," she grinned back, a glimmer of her old humor returning to her eyes.

"That's all I ask," he responded with a smile.

A short while later, she poked him in the arm and he looked down at her. "Willow? What is it?"

"I wanted to tell you something more meaningful than 'hold me.'" She smiled at him, and he started to smile back until he realized that she had stopped breathing.

The room's sudden new silence seemed deafening to him. He closed his eyes, torn between laughter and tears. She had definitely gone out in her own style, just like she wanted. He curled up close to her body and reached for her arm, placing it around his shoulders like she was hugging him. He didn't know how much time had passed before Giles knocked and entered the room.

"Is she sleeping?" he whispered.

Xander turned to face him, and the look of anguish on his face was enough of an answer.

"She's dead," Giles said blankly. "Oh. Lord, Xander, I'm sorry."

"She's with Buffy now," Xander said. "They'll take care of each other." He touched his wife's face gently. "She'll be okay now."

~*~

When angels cry, I can't stand by

When stones weep, my heart can't sleep

Guess I finally learned

Guess I finally learned

Yes, I finally learned

Love is just a four letter word

Hope is just a four letter word

July 31, 2006

Xander collapsed onto his bed, exhausted. Today had been Willow's funeral, and it had been a long day. Oz, Cordelia, and Angel had come back to Sunnydale for the second funeral in less than a year. The Scooby Gang was together again, but they had parted knowing that the two members who had held them together were gone, and there was no real reason to see each other again. Oz and Giles had eulogized Willow, but Carrie hadn't let go of Xander to allow him to speak. Carrie was having a very hard time dealing with the fact that her mother was gone, and was afraid to be alone anymore. After three long hours of reading books and promising that he would be in his room all night long waiting for her, Carrie had finally gone to sleep. She kept asking when Mommy was coming back, and couldn't understand why she wasn't.

Xander turned onto his side and gently touched his wife's pillow. He knew how his daughter felt. Even after three days, it was hard for even him to believe that she wasn't coming home again. Hugging the pillow to him, he couldn't stop the rush of tears as he remembered his wife's death only three days earlier. Sometimes those days seemed like forever, and other times it was like it had just happened, and he was still lying on the bed with her. He rolled over to turn out the light on Willow's nightstand so he could go to sleep, and froze. Her diary was lying there, just where she had left it before she died. He sat up and put the diary on the bed in front of him, staring at this last tangible piece of his wife. Taking a deep breath, he opened it to the first entry and began to read.

~

September 22, 1999

Dear Diary,

Okay, had you asked me after high school graduation who I would be dating my freshman year, the answer would not have been Xander Harris. But then came last Saturday. We were in my dorm room, watching an old movie just like we do every weekend, and something changed. He looked at me, I looked at him, and we kissed. Just like that. No fanfare, no warning, nothing. It was wonderful, even better than those forbidden kisses last year. Well, anyway, later that night, Xand and I talked about what happened, and we both agreed that it is something that we want. So, there it is. After all these years, I am finally able to tell Xander that I love him. Took me long enough!

~

Xander smiled. He remembered that day like it was yesterday. He read through the rest of the entries, smiling over Willow's anecdotes about Carrie and frowning over the pain he had caused her during her illness by not supporting her. He was so thankful to Giles for helping them have their final month together. Before he knew it, the sun was rising, and he had read throughout the night. Finishing the last entry, it almost hurt him to close the worn book. Reading it had been like listening to Willow, because she wrote the same way she spoke. Sighing, he went to put the diary back where he had found it, not able to put it out of sight, and noticed a manilla envelope addressed to him lying where the diary had been. He opened it, and dumped the contents onto the bed. There were three bundles of letters and a piece of paper. He picked it up and began to read.

~

Hi, Xander! Enclosed in the envelope are letters that I wrote to you, Carrie, and Giles. You can think of this as the first one in your series. I have dates and occasions written on the outside of each envelope—please give Carrie and Giles theirs on those days.

I'm sorry that I can't be here to help you raise Carrie, but I know that you and Giles will do a great job with her. Besides, she's my daughter. How could she be anything less than wonderful? : )

I love you, Xander. My happiest day was when you told me that you loved me back. Thank you for making my life so wonderful.

Give Carrie a hug for me, and don't forget that I'll always be with you.

Love, Will

~

Xander put the letter down just as Carrie flew into the room, landing on his bed.

"Morning, Daddy!" She looked around, her face falling. "No Mommy?"

Xander touched her hair lightly. "No, sweetie, no Mommy. But you know what? She wrote me a letter, and she said to give you a big hug. So, here it is," he said, wrapping his arms around the little girl. She held on tightly, squeezing back.

"Uncle Giles told me that Mommy is still here, we just can't see her. Was he telling a story?" she asked, sliding into her father's lap.

"No, baby, he wasn't," Xander reassured her. "She's here, watching us right now."

Carrie considered this. "Okay, then. Love you, Mommy!" she said to the room at large.

Xander looked at his daughter, the exact image of her mother twenty years earlier, and smiled. Willow really was with them, and she always would be.

 

The End

Song credits: "When Angels Cry" is performed by Janis Ian, and can be found on her CD, Revenge. For GH fans, this was Robin and Stone's song.

"Kiss Me" is performed by Sixpence None the Richer, and can be found on their self-titled CD.

I Will Remember You is performed by Sarah McLachlan and can be found on the Brothers McMullen soundtrack.

 

 

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