The night air was cool and refreshing as Xander jumped into overdrive and headed towards Estella's old house, hoping she hadn't moved since his last visit. It took only several seconds to travel the fifteen-or-so miles to her house, which was several seconds that he could have done without; the anxiety to finally come face-to-face with his old friend and apologize for all of his wrongdoings had been eating away at his insides since he'd first heard that she'd been asking about him.
When, at last, he stood in front of the house, he was reassured by the slightly peeled letters on the mailbox that still read "EDASH". As he approached the entrance, he suddenly realized that he didn't want to knock and go through the discomfort of dealing with her parents and, instead, decided to make his entrance through the attic window—what he hoped was still Estella's bedroom.
Backing away to get a better view of his intended entrance he noticed that not only were the lights already on in her room but that the window was open as well. For a moment he entertained the notion that his old friend had been keeping her bedroom cool, but the nagging fact that it was early winter and too cold for comfort refused to let him hold on to that belief for very long. Left with no other truth other than the obvious, he took in a deep breath and tried to calm his racing heart.
It was an easy jump to the roof, though landing on the sharply angled roof proved a bit awkward. He teetered, the sharp slope threatening to drop him back over the edge, before he finally found his footing and began walking towards the window. Taking his time, hoping to elude—if no one but himself—of any views of him being clumsy, he dared his first peek into the room when the voice emerged:
"Come in, Xander. It's safe."
He paused as he was not only welcomed inside, but assured of the absence of any third parties. Slowly, he ducked his head and poked it inside. Estella sat on her bed at the other side of the room, which housed a combination of posters and several bookshelves crammed with an ample collection. His eyes quickly scanned a few of the titles, not surprised to find that many of them were somehow magical in nature.
He had not been completely shocked when Stan warned him that she had become a witch in the time they had spent apart, but, seeing her research material, he couldn’t help but realize just how well versed she had become. Finally, his wandering eyes paused, having taken in every detail of the room around him and leaving him with no other option than to finally make eye contact.
"Just on time." Her voice was soft and timid; as though she was afraid of startling a wild animal, "And you don't have to worry about Mom and Dad… they went to bed a few hours ago."
Xander took in a sharp inhale and nodded and looked up at her and her bright-orange aura shifted and she cringed and he frowned; she expected him to yell at her. Instead, he pulled a nearby office chair to himself and sat down, leaning forward and exhaling.
"I'm sorry." She said, "I'll get out of your head now. And I'm sorry about before."
Xander looked at her, "Before?"
She nodded and blushed as she realized that he didn't know what she was referring to, "About entering your mind… more than once." She smiled faintly and shrugged her left shoulder, "I guess you never picked up on the spells when I was casting them." She said the last part with a twinge of pride.
Xander smiled at her. She had always been so sweet and innocent and he was glad to see that time hadn't tarnished that quality.
"It's… good to see you again. I will admit, though, I was surprised to hear that you'd been asking about me." he finally said.
Estella smiled when she heard that and nodded, then suddenly grew still and laced her fingers together in her lap as if she'd done something wrong, "You… you've been gone for a while now.” She looked down sadly, "The principal told me you'd moved away after the fire, but he got angry when I asked him where you'd gone." She smiled, "He always gets angry when someone catches him in a lie. It took forever to finally get Stan to tell me anything."
He looked up at her again, taking in for the first time how much she had changed. Her hair was still raven-black, though she had let it grow out and her eyes still shown with the same bright blue. As he looked more deeply, he couldn't help but notice that her pale face was still somewhat young-looking, though time appeared to have hardened it some in the course of her life and giving the appearance of a marble statue. He was surprised that someone so beautiful would be so shy.
"Why did you ask about me?" he interrupted his own thoughts.
She blushed again, "I… never stopped caring about you, Xander. One day you just sort of cut away from the world and we fell apart. I didn't like it, but there wasn't much I could seem to do. Every time I—"
"I'm sorry." Xander frowned looking down, seeing where the conversation was leading. He didn't want to be reminded of his atrocities towards someone who had been such a good friend over the years.
A far better friend than he'd ever been.
She sat quietly and nodded, smiling slightly, "Can I ask what happened? Why you disappeared and what's happened to your…" she looked down.
Xander knew what she was thinking and raised a hand to his face, "My eye?" He chuckled and nodded. She was owed an explanation, "I suppose I should start from the beginning."
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