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It just struck me that I haven't posted any holiday fic this year. And I'd hate to break a tradition. So I realised that this slightly creepy plot bunny I've had for a while might work and banged this one out. Hope it works. Happy whatever, everybody!

Title: The Gift That Keeps On Giving
Author: Beer Good ([personal profile] beer_good_foamy)
Fandom: Buffy, post-series
Word count: ~1000
Rating: PG13
Summary: Willow tells Xander about the gift she was going to get him, and why she didn't.
Author's Note: Familiarity with the Doctor Who episode "The Doctor Dances" is helpful - if nothing else, to avoid being spoilered on it.

The Gift That Keeps On Giving

So it turned out England has winters. Which is picturesque and Dickensian and all, but not so much if you arrive there directly from Brazil to celebrate non-specific winter holiday with friends you haven't seen in four months and forget to dress properly before getting off the plane.

On the plus side, Dawn took pity on Willow when she came down with a nasty cold and gave her her present early. And so it was that she and Xander spent the day before Christmas on Giles' couch with a brand new box set of season 1 of Doctor Who, while Willow went through hanky after hanky. Then they got to that World War II episode where an alien ambulance ship accidentally turns dozens of children into gasmask-wearing zombies.

"OK, gaaaaah," Xander said after it ended. "I've seen some things in my time, but seriously, what's wrong with British people? With the gas masks, and the... Um, you OK, Will?"

Willow didn't answer; she was still staring at the screen, with her mouth clenched and eyes watering.

"Willow, starting to freak me out here. It's just a TV sho-"

"Ah-CHOOO!" He was interrupted by a rather impressive sneeze that Willow had been trying to hold in.

"...Bless you." Xander handed her another hanky. "Are you sure you don't have some spell that could take the edge off that cold?"

Willow may have made some non-committal sound in response, but it was covered up by her blowing her nose. "I thought it was good. Creepy, but hey, awesome bi character. A-and the way they were really just tryig to help. That was irodic, dodtchathick..." She paused to blow her nose again. "I mean, most shows would have the aliens be evil, but here they were just trying to make the world better and heal people, and they ended up going way overboard and then everything went kaflooie... Because obviously helping people feel better is a good, but, I guess sometimes the risk just isn't worth it, no matter how much they want their friends to live a normal life."

"Yeah." Xander got some more popcorn and chewed thoughtfully while he digested the rant before pointing at his eyepatch. "This is about the old peeper, isn't it?"

She wiped her nose again. "I tried. I know you asked me not to, but I've looked really hard. I've been through the spell books, I've checked with the coven, I talked to all sorts of shamans and stuff in Brazil who are supposed to know how to regrow limbs, o-or at least I think I did because my Guarani sucks and it's possible that they were from the Brazilian Tourist Board, but..."

"And it's impossible." Xander put his hand on her shoulder.

Willow reached for her cup of tea and took a big gulp. "See, that's the funny thing." She laughed nervously. "That'd be the easy answer. But it's... what's the opposite of 'impossible'? Expossible. Suprapossible. Waypossible. You want an eye? I can get you an eye, believe me, there are ways. Heck, I can get you dozens. You could be the amazing Oculo, with eyes id the back of his head, add everywhere else, add... ad... CHOO!"

"Will."

Willow blew her nose with even less enthusiasm. "Healing spells can't just create bodyparts out of thin air," she continued. "Well, you can make slabs of meat with all the right gunk in them, but you can't make them live. To do it right, you have to, well, overclock the body's own healing process and let nature do the rest. Which is fine if you just want to heal a skinned knee or something, but the more you wanna do, like, grow extra bits or kill cancer cells, the harder it gets to reset the factory settings so it doesn't just keep going. And then it's gas basks add 'Are you by bubby' all aroud." She blew her nose again and frowned at the mixed metaphor. "I'm sorry, Xand. I was going to come back here with the perfect Hannukah miracle and be all like 'Hey, Xander, look to your left, it's Santa', and I know that this is a dumb thing to spring on you, but... I screwed up a healig spell odce ad got lucky, I cadt risk dat wit ya... yaCHOO!"

He sighed and looked away. "It's OK, Will. I'm not saying it doesn't suck, but I can't ask..." He suddenly realised something and turned back to her. "Wait, what spell was it you screwed up?"

Willow twisted uneasily in her seat and seemed to consider her answer very thoroughly before deciding what the heck. "Um, remember that time I pulled a bullet out of Buffy and healed her in two seconds flat?"

"Yeah, but Buffy's fine. I mean, it's not like that had any long-term effects?" He looked at her. "Will? Please don't tell me - "

Willow shuddered. "Sorry, I shouldn't have said anything."

"No no no, hang on," Xander insisted, thinking back to Buffy coughing up blood after fighting the Turok-han and standing up only minutes later. Buffy changing on the bus out of Sunnydale, a stabwound clean through her belly already healing. "Are you saying you made Buffy... immortal?"

"What? No!" She looked horrified, or possibly like someone trying to look horrified by something they've already thought a few hundred times. "Buffy's regular old Buffy." She blew her nose, though she didn't really need to. "I think. Just, y'know, a teensy weensy bit more super healy than she was. Kindapossiblymaybe. I'm pretty sure she hasn't even noticed."

"But does that mean she's... that she'll never..."

"She's 24, it's kinda hard to tell. Let's just say I'm monitoring her crows' feet more closely than Kennedy likes." Willow looked at him pleadingly. "Please don't tell Buffy."

Xander thought about it before deciding. "Well, call me crazy, but as screw-ups go, I say that one's not so bad. I'd rather have Duracell Long Life Buffy than dead Buffy. EVERYBODY LIVES!" he added in a not entirely convincing Christopher Eccleston impersonation. After a few seconds, he gestured towards his eye again and quietly added: "And you're sure you couldn't..."

"I'm not sure at all. But I can't risk it," Willow said firmly, as if convincing herself. "But hey, today's Festivus, so if you want to air your grievances, just let me have it."

"Eh, it's the thought that counts." Xander borrowed one of her hankies and blew his nose. "So what did you get Buffy?"

"Oh, I got her a pair of noise-cancelling headphones with a radio in them. Pink. I figured with all the new Slayers, she might need them."

"Very true." Xander nodded. "And I'm suddenly feeling better about getting her chocolate. Between the newbies doing all the heavy lifting and her new goddessness, we should probably keep her cholesterol level up to compensate."

"Yup." Willow blew her nose again and smiled a little. "Can't have her live forever. I'm thinking I might turn evil again at some point and fix that."

Xander gave her a quick hug. "Hey, we all have issues."

"More like a lifetime subscription," she muttered.

"See, that's the holiday spirit. Wanna watch the next episode?"

"Does it have Captain Jack in it?"

"Let's find out."
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