Exaggeration and Blank Verse
On The Coast Of Somewhere Beautiful
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Buffy the Vampire Slayer/Angel the Series

"That's a lot of water," Xander said thoughtfully, as he and Willow settled themselves down on the sand.

"That tends to happen with oceans," she pointed out, resting her head on his shoulder. He put his arm around her waist and hugged her close.

"It doesn't really look like the ocean by Sunnydale." He watched a few end-of-the-day beachgoers splashing in the sunset waves. "Why do you think that is?"

"There were probably demons off the coast of Sunnydale." She yawned. "Big ol' fish-demons."

"At least a couple of them are about our age and never passed algebra," he said. She giggled and sat upright.

"Oh! I forgot about that! Do you remember how excited you were about finally getting to be the sneaky one, and then you almost got turned into a fish?"

"How could I forget a delightful adventure like that?" He shook his head and traced his fingers through the sand. "Remember when we'd go to the beach when we were little? We built those sand castles, and you'd always try to make a tunnel connecting yours and mine?"

"Of course." She beamed at him, reaching out to lace her fingers through his. "I wasn't going to let you live on your own without someone to keep an eye on you. Remember when we built that raft? We were going to sail to China and go into the fortune-cookie business."

"Remember how mad my dad got because we used the wood he bought to fix the roof in the garage?" he countered, lying down on his back and staring up at the sky. "Yeah. I still think we could be good at the fortune-cookie thing, by the way. Think there's any money in that?"

"Probably not." She lay down next to him, not letting go of his hand. "'Member when I cyber-dated the computer demon?"

"Remember when I dated the mummy? Or almost got eaten by praying-mantis-substitute-teacher-lady? Don't try to top me in the bad dates department, Will."

"Remember when we thought Oz ate the school counselor?" She grinned and poked him in the ribs. "Remember when I dated Kennedy?"

"Okay, so maybe we're tied." He chuckled. "Our remember-when sessions aren't quite like other peoples'."

Her smile turned wistful, and she squeezed his hand until he tilted his head to look at her. "Remember when you saved the world?"

"Let's not talk about that." He sat up, shaking her hand away and brushing the sand off of his clothes.

She stayed where she was, looking very small and helpless. He knew she wasn't. "Hey, there, mister man, you did. You qualify for the Buffy Summers 'I saved the world! Ask me how!' commemorative t-shirt."

"What exactly do I say when people ask me how?" He watched her out of the corner of his eye. "I bored the danger to sleep by talking about drywall and crayons?"

"You were strong and honest and you loved me," she said firmly, grabbing his hand again. "Don't try to just dismiss that."

He shrugged. "You would've done it for me."

"I wouldn't have had to," she said, rubbing her thumb back and forth across the back of his hand. "You don't go nuts in the face of a little emotional trauma the way I do."

"Um, hello? Remember the season of craziness in Cleveland, post-Hellmouth?"

"Oh, that was just the pain and horror of being in Cleveland." She grinned up at him, and he shook his head and lay down next to her again. They watched the sky fade into the misty purple shade just before stars.

"Hey," she said after a moment, "do you remember when Anya-"

"I remember everything about Anya," he replied quickly, cutting her off with a gentle squeeze of his hand. "Every little thing."

"Oh." She frowned a little, frantically looking for a rewind button on the conversation. "Remember when I turned you into a demon magnet? All that wackiness?"

"How could I forget?" He rolled his eyes. "Or how about the time you wiped our memories and we ran around like chickens with our heads cut off?"

"O-kay, I think that's enough with the trip down memory lane," she said hastily, sitting up and squinting across the beach at the pier. "I think this is a moment that calls for Skee-Ball."

"You have to promise not to cheat."

"I don't cheat at Skee-Ball!"

"Oh, sure. Not even a little attraction spell to put the ball in the pocket? Come on, Will."

She put her hands on her hips and glared down at him. "Xander Harris, you have never beaten me at Skee-Ball, even when we were eight years old, which was well before I started doing magic!"

"Well...yeah," he said, pouting a little. She held out her hand and he pulled himself up to his feet. "But just about the time I should've been coming into my manliness and been able to beat you, that's when you got into the spell stuff, so..."

"Don't worry, Xander," she said patiently, helping him brush the sand off of his clothes. "You're all man. And just to prove it, I'll let you buy me cotton candy."

"Oh, thanks. That's sweet."

"It's what I'm here for," she giggled. They set off down the beach. "Hey, remember how we used to play Anywhere But Here?"

"Yeah." He put his arm around her shoulders, and she slipped hers around his waist. "Let's not play that tonight."

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