Buffy fanfiction; Willow fanfiction; Buffy slash
Don’t own ‘em. Just borrowing them from Joss and the
folks at various companies.
note: This story is a prelude to Watchers, a virtual
season we’re premiering this fall at http://www.thewatcherscouncil.net.
Well yeah! Please post it here if you would or if you
like you can email me privately at email@example.com
PG-13 (just to be safe)
This story takes place right after ‘Chosen’ and
offers a little insight into the virtual season Watchers
Angel and his crew
heard the door open at his hotel and they turned around.
Buffy walked in and looked at the wreckage around them.
me," she quipped, "Another hellmouth?"
Angel raced over and
pulled her into a tight embrace. Relief at seeing her
alive was an understatement. When the Slayer winced,
Angel pulled back quickly and saw the wound that was
hidden under her coat. "God, I’m sorry. Are
"Healing as we
speak, but still tender."
"So no second
Angel sighed and
pulled Buffy back into his arms again, but this time he
made sure to hold her gently. From over her shoulder, he
saw the others begin to make their way in. Faith and
Giles, who helped Wood inside, appeared first and once
more Angel sighed in relief. The rest of Angel’s gang
gathered around and began helping people inside. Angel
couldn’t wait to see who else survived. He had to
He pulled back to look
in Buffy’s eyes. "The Scoobies and Dawn?"
"Will, Xander and
Dawn, yes. But we lost Anya. Xander’s alive, but in
shock, I think…We lost about two thirds of the girls
and… Spike too."
At first, Angel
wasn’t sure what to say. "Well… The amulet? Did
"Like a charm. It harnessed sunlight and brought it
right to the ubervamps. Blasted them all along with the
Hellmouth. Spike was wearing it and he… he started to
combust, but… he saw it through. Right to the end.
Even you might have been proud."
Buffy," Angel said sincerely.
"Note the sarcasm
I’m about to use: Oh really?"
"You said he was a part of your heart. I know
you’ve lost lots of ‘parts’ over the years. So
boyfriend or not, I’m sorry it happened and I do mean
Buffy gave a dismal
grin. "Thanks…It’s just…I don’t think
Xander’s the only one shocked here. Everyone
understandable," Angel told her. "We been
cleaning here – getting things in order. We heard the
reports of an earthquake in Sunnydale on the
radio…I’ve been worrying for the past two
"I tried to call,
but we must have had some electrical disruption or
something when the Hellmouth fell in. And that’s a
literal ‘fell in’ – no more Sunnydale. Anyway, the
cell phone wouldn’t work. Phone booths don’t take
dollar bills and no one had a calling card. Nearly
everything was at the house… well… what used to be
"I’d offer you
the chance to stay here, but as you see…these aren’t
the best living conditions. But I can put you up
anywhere you like."
"I think it might
be hard to explain the walking wounded to the check in
clerk at the Ritz Carlton." Buffy grinned.
Lorne who was helping
Vi tend to Rona overheard them and turned around.
"I can make a few
calls," he told the pair. "Find someplace
quiet, private. The troops could rest up there."
That’d be great," Angel told him.
you," Buffy added.
it." The green skinned demon darted away quickly
with a nod.
After he was gone,
Buffy looked around again. "Where’s Cordilia?"
story," Angel told her.
"And the state of
"An even longer
story. But we’ve got all night…Let’s sit down.
Slayer healing or not you need to relax. Come on."
Too far away to hear
Buffy and Angel’s conversation, Fred stood by the door
and waited. Slayers and Scoobies started to file inside
but no sign of Willow. When a few moments went by and no
one else entered, she squared her shoulders and took a
deep breath. Fred had to find out if Willow survived and
she walked outside. She looked at the bus, seeing if
anyone else was still aboard but no one was behind the
she sighed softly with a feeling of dread.
That’s when she saw
the witch and a dark-haired woman exit down the steps,
carrying a host of duffle bags and backpacks. Willow put
what she was carrying on the sidewalk and turned back to
the woman to take the bags she held.
"Thank you Gaia,"
Fred whispered with a smile as she raced over.
Willow was talking to
Kennedy and didn’t notice the petite woman racing
toward her. At the sound of rushing footsteps, Willow
turned around just in time to get locked in a bear hug.
The impact pushed her back a foot or two and the witch
started to giggle.
"It’s good to
see you too." Willow smiled.
God," Fred sighed. "I waited and waited. Then
everyone came in and then I thought ‘No Willow. Oh
no’ and then I looked at the bus and-."
Willow put her finger
over Fred’s lips. "You’re yammering," she
said with a grin.
okay," Willow assured her. "Think you can give
us a hand with the supplies?" Willow turned back to
the bus and saw Kennedy examining them with a
questioning look. "Oh I’m sorry. Kennedy this is
Fred. Fred, Kennedy."
Fred said cheerfully. "Are you a potential?"
Kennedy thought for a
moment and a small grin came to her face.
"No…I’m a Slayer," Kennedy answered with a
far amount of pride. "And Will’s
girlfriend," she added for good measure. So
this is Fred eh? Kinda scrawny.
Nervously, Fred took a
step away from Willow but something else registered with
what Kennedy said. "But Buffy and Faith are still
alive," she replied. She then turned to Willow.
"How can she-."
Did a spell. Made all the potentials active. Kennedy was
one of about 30 girls in our group."
replied. "I’m not sure what to say. Is
do," Kennedy nodded and tossed the bag she was
holding to Fred. The weight of it shook the smaller
woman as she caught it. "Why don’t you give us a
hand and start taking these in? That’s medical
supplies the crew’ll need right away."
absolutely," Fred answered, juggling the bag.
"I’ll take this and come back for the
Fred," Willow said sincerely.
When the small woman
was out of earshot, Willow turned back to Kennedy.
"What’s with the butch?"
"I have no idea
what you’re talking about." Kennedy grinned.
Slayer. And Will’s girlfriend," Willow
mimicked in a deep, manly voice.
"I did not say it
that way," Kennedy countered with a laugh. "I
just wanted to let her know…what’s what…Besides,
you said she came on to you."
"No. No. No. I
did NOT say that," Willow answered with a grin,
pointing her finger. "I said and I quote ‘She
took an interest in me’."
on. Same diff."
"Oh jeez, why not
just brand me while you’re at it? Property of
Kennedy smirked. "But you’d probably like it too
much. I bet there a bit of kink under there that’s
aching to get out."
They exchanged a brief
smile before Willow began to pick up a couple of bags at
her feet. "Come on. This stuff isn’t gonna move
Kennedy followed suit
and they began to make their way to the hotel.
"Faith was right," she told Willow as they
I’m starving and I’m very…lusty."
Willow felt a bashful grin come to her face but not able
to look over at Kennedy.
lusty," Kennedy corrected. Her hand snaked down to
Willow’s backside and she grabbed a cheek. "Have
I told you you’ve got a great ass?"
indeed," Willow chuckled.
"I can’t help
it. It’s like my whole body is humming right now and
it won’t go away."
get everyone situated and then we’ll call it a night.
Angel has spare bedrooms on the second level
that…" Willow trailed off when she walked in and
saw the damage, "I’m guessing are totally
destroyed." She looked around taking it all in.
"My goddess what happened here?"
"You want the
long version or the short?" Gunn asked coming up
behind her. "How ya doing Will?"
That’s all I really know."
"No doubt. Look
at this place."
He noticed the bags
they were carrying. "Got more?" he asked.
Willow nodded before
dropping what she had. "Andrew?" she called
out making the young man turn and walk over. "Start
giving everyone their bags, okay? The ones
that…don’t have owners – put in the corner over
Willow," he said, looking starting to look at the
tags. "Uh Willow?" he asked sparing a look to
Xander who was sitting in the corner alone with a blank
expression. Andrew picked up the bag at his feet and
asked, "What should I do with Anya’s bag?"
Willow sighed and
looked to Xander for a brief moment. She knew he
wasn’t ready to deal with it. Hell, a large part of
her wasn’t ready either but as Giles said there was
work to do – and not all of it pleasant. "I’ll
take care of it," she told him. "See to the
He gave a nod as
Willow took it and slung it on her shoulder.
Gunn said motioning the women to the door. "We’ll
unload and I’ll tell you our story if you tell me
Willow mustered a
Faith came over to Buffy and Angel. "Robin’s
bleeding stopped but…he lost a lot of blood. We’ve
gotta get him somewhere."
"I already called
a medical team," Angel answered. "They should
be here any minute but let me call again."
Faith nodded and
headed back over to Robin as Angel went to the phone.
She felt a smile
tugging on her lips as he smiled up to her. She began to
clean his stomach wound again, making sure that the
bleeding really had stopped.
"I’m not a
doctor but you’re gonna be fine. Angel’s guys are
coming to fix you up," Faith grinned down at Robin.
"To think all
that blood I gave away at various drives…could sure
use it now huh?" Robin joked.
"Yep you sure
could but Angel’s gonna set you up with some more. One
of the perks of having a powerful vamp friend I
good at that – bedside manner stuff."
"What can I say?
I’ve got experience."
"No just months
of being in a hospital," she grinned. "Gotta
finish college for that nurse gig…well finishing high
school would help too I’m sure."
mean your not gonna surprise me now?"
all," Robin smiled. "You’re a pretty amazing
She finished and
covered the gauze with a large latex bandage.
"Sorry it doesn’t match. The box did say
‘flesh’ color," she quipped with a knowing
Robin smiled down at
the tan bandage that graced his dark skin and tried to
suppress a chuckle.
"Don’t make me
laugh just yet. Stomach’s not ready for that."
Faith grinned and ran a hand over his face. Robin
watched concern take hold over her features. "One
way or another…" he told her in all seriousness.
"I’m gonna keep my promise. I’m gonna surprise
She mustered a grin
and gave his arm a pat. "You better. You don’t
wanna piss me off." She stood up and picked up the
supplies she knew other people there might need. "Gotta
get this to Will. I’ll be back."
I’ll be here. Not running any marathons just
yet," he said with a smile. Faith smiled too before
walking back over to the table, handing the items to
"I’ll be better
when the damn doctors get here."
"He’s gonna be
okay," Willow said optimistically. "I think
he’s too stubborn to give up yet," she grinned.
right Will…He owes me."
Lorne said hanging up the phone. "Gotta guy in the
Valley," he added walking over to Angel and Buffy
with a piece of paper in his hand. "He’s a big
shot independent producer. He’s on location in New
York so the place is yours. He knows the situation and
gives his blessing to use whatever you need. A friend of
his should be here within the hour to bring you the
You’re a god," Buffy grinned.
"Now let’s not
be too hasty Sweetcheeks. A demi-god…maybe." He
grinned and handed her the paper.
Buffy reached up and
stroked his face. "Well a sweetie for sure,"
she said with a grin.
"No wonder you
fell for her," Lorne winked to Angel. "I’m
gonna see if Willow and Dawn need any help organizing
the…unclaimed bags." Lorne paused trying to find
the right wording for the deceased belongings.
Before they boarded
the bus to go to Sunnydale High, Buffy told everyone to
pack one bag each. Anything that was important they
should take with them as well as next of kin contacts on
the inside and outside of the bag…just in case.
Right now, Willow and
Dawn went through the bags that went unchecked. Willow
was making a list from the luggage tags Dawn had already
pulled from the bags, compiling names, address and
numbers. They had some difficult calls to make. When
Dawn hadn’t returned after a few moments of delivering
the last tag, Willow looked over and saw her staring at
one bag in particular.
Willow called over. "You okay?"
Dawn cut the hangtag
from the bag and brought it to Willow. The witch looked
at the name – Amanda Matthews. Willow pursed her lips
and looked up to Dawn. She could tell the teenager was
trying to hold it together, her eyes glossy with unshed
"It’s okay to
let it out Dawn."
That was all Willow
had to say and a cascade of tears fell down her face.
The noise turned a few heads in their direction but Dawn
was unable to control it any longer.
"I really thought
she’d make it," Dawn sobbed. "She was my
friend. Lots of ‘em were but she…"
Dawn couldn’t speak
anymore. All she could do was cry.
Vi sat next to Rona
who lay on the sofa behind them with 35 stitches that
Angel’s medical team had given her. They looked at
each other and silently grasped hands. They felt
Dawn’s loss too but they were grateful that they were
two who made it out. They looked at each other with a
mix of silent camaraderie and quiet mourning.
Willow stood up and
pulled the shaking girl into her arms as she kissed her
temple. "I know. I understand," Willow said as
she continued to hold her close and stroke her hair.
Dawn quickly pulled herself together again and wiped her
eyes. That’s when she saw Lorne lingering behind them,
not sure if he should finish his approach or go away.
Dawn said after clearing her throat.
Willow turned to see
him standing uncomfortably behind them. "I’m
sorry to intrude," he said sympathetically.
"But I thought maybe I could lend a hand."
that’s not a bad idea," Willow said before
turning back to Dawn. "Could you get me something
to drink Dawnie? A-and Lorne and I can finish up
Willow," she nodded.
After Dawn left Lorne
approached closer. "I’m sorry. I really didn’t
high all around tonight. Lots of loss, ya know?"
Lorne nodded sadly before Willow continued. "But
it’s gonna be okay …She insisted on helping
but…maybe it’s better that an outsider helps with
this job. You know? Someone who wasn’t on a first name
basis with the girls? I could use the help."
Enough said," Lorne said solemnly, picking up where
Dawn left off.
say?" Wesley asked the older Watcher. Giles just
The group still
continued in a holding pattern as they waited for the
arrival of their guide to lead them to the safe haven.
Many of the girls were now asleep in different areas of
to come," Giles offered. "We could use all the
Watchers we can get."
Wesley stroked the
stubble on his chin. "I would but…"
"You have prior
commitments," Giles grinned. "I
Wesley felt a sense of
guilt for not being able to be a part of Giles plan.
"But that’s not to say that I wouldn’t help if
you need it," he offered. "Any resources or
information you require…I’m just a phone call away.
As I explained to Faith, the situation that Angel has
with Wolfram and Hart could prove to be quite
Wesley. That’s good to know."
where you might start? You mentioned Cleveland but as
far as how you’ll rebuild the council-."
"With no funds
and a limited library across the ocean that will take
weeks to get here? Not a clue," Giles smiled before
turning serious. "But there’s work that needs
done. Slayers to oversee - many, many slayers from what
Willow has sensed so far. Not to mention the Watchers
themselves who require schooling," Giles gave a
sigh. "It will be an uphill battle at best but
we’ll get there…We’ve seen worse."
"If anyone can do it…it’s Rupert Giles."
At that moment a man
walked into the hotel and Lorne smiled, making his way
over. "Are you Daniel?" he asked.
called said you needed his key…If you don’t mind me
saying, I can see why you need a place."
"It’s not for
Angel Investigations. It’s for these girls."
"Well I’m ready
when you are," he said.
"Mind giving us a
few minutes? Well lots of minutes actually?" Willow
asked. "We’ve got a few more things to
"Sure, take your
time. I’ve got no where special to be tonight,"
the stranger grinned.
sighed as Vi helped her walk into the foyer of their
makeshift home. "Think this guy would be willing to
"Only if he takes
me too," Vi added with a grin.
A gigantic chandelier
hung from the large vaulted ceiling. Off to the right
sat a grand room and to their left was a wide staircase.
Daniel, their ‘tour
guide,’ filtered everyone to the grand room.
"Okay I’ll keep this brief since I know you’ve
had a long day. You’re standing in the east wing of
the house. Straight through the back is the kitchen and
dining area. Off that way," he pointed further
down, "is the west wing of the house. There’re
other living areas and game rooms inside. There’s four
baths in various areas. Downstairs has one by the
kitchen. Upstairs one is adjoined to the master suite.
There is another in the hallway up there and one by the
game room to the west. You’ve got 6 bedrooms upstairs.
"Michael said use
whatever you need. His staff’s been informed of your
arrival and when they get here tomorrow at 8 am
they’ll await Buffy’s instruction on meals and such.
If you require anything from the store they’ll take
care of it. Just make your requests with Buffy…any
Willow said and then turned to Kennedy. "Was your
house this big?"
casually. "Mine was a little bigger…But this is
nice, don’t get me wrong."
"Yes, way nice
and very much appreciated," Buffy told Daniel.
questions?" Daniel asked. When no one spoke up he
walked over and handed the keys to Buffy along with a
piece of paper. "I don’t think you’ll need a
security code after the story Lorne told me – this
place will be guarded better than Ft. Knox with you gals
here. But if you do, here’s the code."
and if you get the chance, thank Michael too."
"Not a problem.
You guys rest up. If you need me, my numbers there at
again," Buffy replied.
"You folks take
care," he nodded to the group.
Buffy walked him to
the door and once more thanked him for his time and
"I call dibs on
the master bedroom," Kennedy announced.
You’ll have to rough it in one of the other five
spacious rooms," Faith told her.
"I need a
bathroom nearby for Robin. It wouldn’t be a bad idea
for Rona to stay with us too. That way I can keep tabs
on both of them during the night."
Buffy answered. "You’ll need water access and
this way they don’t have to walk far to the
okay," Rona told them. "I’m feeling better
already. Slayer healing remember?"
"Yeah but that
spell might not hold up." Faith told her. "If
that happens you might be in for a world of hurt so
let’s play it safe for tonight, okay?" She added
in afterthought, "No offense Will. You did great
taken," she replied and looked to Rona.
"Faith’s right. Better safe than sorry."
Buffy looked over and
saw Xander leaning against the door frame staring –
just staring without looking at anything in particular.
"Xander will room
with me tonight," she told the group. "Giles?
You and Andrew will stay together. And Vi, go upstairs
and check to see what kind of beds we’ve got. If
they’re kings we’ll try to fit three Slayers into
the two remaining beds. Draw straws if you like. Anyone
that gets the shortest straws will have to bunk on the
Vi gave a quick nod
and headed upstairs.
Everyone filtered into
the bedrooms ready to call it a night. Buffy, even
despite Slayer stamina, felt exhausted and was ready for
a little sleep if only a few hours. She looked into the
grand room and found Xander sitting on the sofa with two
duffle bags at his feet. She took a deep breath and
said softly. "Why don’t you come up with me?
Catch a few winks?"
He mustered a grin for
her, "I don’t think I can sleep."
try," Buffy answered.
"Nah, but thanks
She took a seat beside
him and took his hand. "I said you were my strength
Xander and I meant it…Just remember, I can be your
strength too if you let me."
Xander squeezed her
hand but couldn’t look at her. He knew if he did he
might lose the reserve he’d been holding since his
shock began to merge into denial. "That’s good to
know but really…Go on up to bed. I’ll get there
Buffy knew that Xander
needed time and moved to her feet. "I love you
Xander. If you need me…"
"I know where to
find you," he said finally looking at her again.
She nodded and began her journey up the stairs.
From inside the third
bedroom, Kennedy watched from the bed as Willow slipped
out of her pants and into a pair of boxers she brought.
last," Kennedy said, wiggling her eyebrows for
emphasis. "I don’t think you need to put those on
Willow answered, devoid of emotion, and unable to move
to the bed.
Absolutely. Absolutely not…I just…I’m not a Slayer
so I don’t have the slayer hormones at the moment.
Kennedy got off the
bed and came over and ran her fingers through her hair.
"What’s the matter Sweetie?"
Nothing," she sighed, shaking her head.
"I sense a mass
of contradictions here."
"Well that would
be accurate," Willow replied. "I just…I feel
guilty. I’ve got a beautiful woman who wants to take
me to bed and ravish me."
true but why the guilt?"
Xander. Or more like Anya and Spike…They lost so
much," Willow sighed. "But I…"
You’re alive and I’m alive. Is that it?"
grateful – beyond grateful actually but…"
Kennedy kissed Willow
softly on the lips. "Go on," she said nodding
toward the door. "I’ll be here when you get
shouldn’t. You’ve been waiting all night to be alone
and I need -."
"You need to
speak to them," Kennedy interrupted.
"Are you sure? I
mean you’ve got the ‘humming’ thing going on and
I’d like to help you take away the hum but-."
Kennedy said making her stop. "I’ll be
here," she grinned. "I’m not gonna push you
if your heart’s not in it. Go on and check on
Willow smiled before
nuzzling into Kennedy’s neck. "You’re pretty
understanding for a brat," she told her.
"I have my
moments," she said with a grin that went unseen by
Willow. The redhead felt so soft and so firm. And the
smell of the recent shampoo and body lotion began to
assault Kennedy’s senses. "Okay, you better go
now before I blow my understanding all to Hell. I’ve
got Slayer strength now and it’s telling me to throw
you on the bed."
Willow chuckled and
pulled away. "Point taken," she said holding
Kennedy’s hands. "I’ll be back soon.
Kennedy nodded to the
door again and she watched Willow slip quietly from
Buffy had on her yummy
sushi pajamas and was about to climb into bed when she
heard a knock.
"It’s me. Can I
Buffy answered with a grin, recognizing the voice.
Willow opened the
door, grinning since she was sure Buffy knew it was her
on the other side. "I just wanted to check on you
and Xander but I see our Xander shaped friend is
downstairs. I tried to get him to come up and get some
"Well what about
you? How are you taking it all?"
"I knew we’d
have losses. Heavy losses but…" Buffy sighed and
took a seat on the bed and Willow joined soon after.
"Is it? Because
on the other hand, I don’t feel bad. You know what I
"You’re sad we
lost them but you’re happy you’re still here?"
"Yeah, I think
that’s it. Plus I’m not the only one anymore – the
Chosen One. It’s freeing and I have you to
"Awww, just doin’
my part is all," Willow told her with a grin.
"Well I’m not
an outcast. I belong to a ‘family’ or I don’t know
‘a race’ maybe? I know that doesn’t make sense.
All I know is I don’t feel so freakish anymore."
does," Willow said sympathetically. "And I
feel it too…Well not the Slayer thing but the
loss/happy part. Kennedy’s got those come and get me
eyes but…I keep seeing Xander’s face after we got
back on the bus."
girlfriend’s hoping to woo you and you think of
Xander? Something you’re not telling me?" she
that," Willow answered, grinning. "I mean, I
know how he feels and there’s no pain in the world
like it. Things were getting good again for him and
Anya. It’s like he finally won her back and
then…Let’s just say I can relate."
"You should talk
to him Will."
"I plan to but I
came to check on you too…I realize that you and Spike
broke things off but still…it’s gotta hurt."
I’ll be okay."
just tough Slayer talk is it? Because I know how you get
Buffy grinned and took
Willow’s hand. "You know why I’ll be okay? And
no stoic slayerness involved…He died achieving the
redemption he wanted…I told him I loved him before I
left. He said I didn’t but thanks for saying it…And
he was right. I mean I do-did…love him but it’s not
the love he had for me. I told Angel when he came to
Sunnydale that I’m not the me I should be yet.
I’ve got more growing to do as a person…I think
Spike recognized that. And in some twisted way he knew
me better than anyone – even better than myself at
times…So that I’ll miss but mourning the way he
died…I can’t do it. He went out the way he should
have, with a big, glowy finish."
Buffy grinned but it
wasn’t wholehearted. Willow nodded and rose to her
feet. "Well I’m gonna try to get Xander up here
to get some sleep. So with any luck, we’ll be back
gonna need it."
Willow made her way
from the bedroom and down the stairs. Xander heard the
noise and looked over.
Willow said making her way over. "Is this seat
too," Xander answered shaking his head.
"I’ll take that
as a no," Willow said sitting down. An
uncomfortable silence passed between them until Willow
spoke again. "You realize…this is one of those
rare moments when someone can tritely say ‘I know how
you feel’ but actually mean it."
Xander didn’t say
anything. Instead, he reached beside him and handed
Willow a photo. She turned it over to find a picture of
her, him, Tara and Anya.
"It was in with
her bag o’ most precious things…That, her favorite
shirt and pants, some business cards for the Magic Box
and a package of Twinkies," Xander chuckled
although he sounded like he was on the verge of tears.
"That’s all she had in the world that was
"Well Anya always
did have simple needs. Of course she loved money which
is rather odd if you consider it," Willow said
trying to grin.
here’s the thing…that favorite outfit was my
favorite outfit – she didn’t care for it and as for
the Twinkies she hated them. She packed ‘em for
me…And I’ve been sitting here, looking at that
picture and asking why half the people in it are gone
now. And are they really gone? Because a part of me
keeps saying if I sit here long enough she’s gonna
walk through that door and apologize for being late as
usual…Is that crazy or what?"
Xander began to cry
quietly and at that point Willow pursed her lips to try
to stop herself from doing the same but it was useless.
She started to cry too. She’d looked at her bedroom
door many times expecting the same with Tara. She took
Xander in her arms. Instead of pulling away, which she
thought might happen, he tightened his hold and cried
into her shoulder.
"Did it hurt like
this?" he asked with a sob.
It was all she could
say. Beside, she didn’t need to add more. Sadly they
both knew how it felt. After a few moments he cleared
his throat and wiped his eyes.
"Then what I said
on the bluff was true. I really couldn't imagine what
you were going through." He began to tear up again
and Willow wiped her eyes. "The way this feels,
it’s…unbearable…and I’m sorry you lost Tara –
truly sorry you had to feel this way too."
Willow told him pulling him into another hug and stroked
the back of his head. "For what it's worth, I'm
gonna miss Anya…but don't you dare tell anyone I said
that…I’ve got a reputation to uphold after
She pulled back and
looked at him with a grin even though the tears still
stained her face. He smiled too at the comment.
"I know. And she
liked you too Willow. She told me once and I quote
‘Against my better judgment yes I like Willow. There.
I said it. Are you happy now?’" Xander began to
chuckle lightly at the memory. "But that was
Willow began to
chuckle a bit harder as if she remembered something and
Xander’s expression begged for an explanation.
Halloween, the night Dawn went missing and you dressed
up like a pirate?"
"Tara told me
while we were out searching for Dawn that Anya came up
and asked her if she ever played ‘shiver me timbers’
because that’s what you two were gonna play that
night," Willow explained.
kidding? She didn’t."
"Of course she
the lines of not needing any timber or something like
that," Willow answered. "But like you said,
that was Anya. She was never afraid to say what she
Willow watched the
smile begin to leave Xander’s face and she spoke up.
"And even though it doesn’t seem like it
now…There’s gonna come a day when you think about
her, remember her…and you can smile without turning on
the water works."
Xander asked with a sigh.
Willow nodded. Then
she stood up and reached out her hand. "Come on.
You’re gonna come up stairs and go to bed. You don’t
have to sleep - just promise me you’ll lay down for
awhile with your eyes closed."
"Ah, I see.
You’re gonna trick me into getting rest?"
"Well if I told
you it wouldn’t be a trick, now would it?" she
replied with a smile. "Come on," she nodded.
Xander took her hand
and stood up but she wouldn’t let go. She walked hand
in hand with him and led him into Buffy’s room.
The Slayer was laying
in the bed with a box of Cheez-Nips and the remote
control for the TV, watching a 1950’s B-movie horror
flick. She patted the bed. "Have a lay. Lots of
Xander grinned and
climbed on the king size bed and took the box from
Buffy. "Hey! Those are mine," she teased.
alike," he told her.
"Fine. Come on in
Will. There’s lots of space."
but…" She knew Kennedy was waiting for her but
she knew this was important. She climbed into bed too,
stealing the box from Xander. "Oh what the
"What are we
watching?" Xander asked, popping a few snacks in
"‘The Curse of
something or other’ I’m sure. All these
‘classics’ start with the phrase ‘The Curse of’.
I think the movie is more cheesier than the
The three of them
smiled at each other and although not a single one
mentioned it, it felt like home. It was like the old
days when Buffy would pop in a movie and the three of
them would snack on the goodies that Joyce brought to
her bedroom. Laying there and doing nothing but making
snide, sarcastic comments about the film and junk
fooding themselves into oblivion, the trio was happy.
Yes they had terrible losses…but they still had each
Willow woke up and
looked around. An infomercial was on TV and the clock
read 4 am. Oh jeez, she thought as she untangled
herself from Xander’s hold. Once she was free he
rolled over and decided to snuggle into Buffy. She
grinned as she watched them. We managed to get him to
sleep – yay us! Tiptoeing out, as not to wake them
she headed back to her bedroom.
She crept inside to
find Kennedy asleep, naked, in the mix of sheets and
pillows. Guess she started without me, Willow
grinned. She too disrobed and slipped under the covers
snuggling next to her lover. True, they lost loved ones
but they still had each other. They were both alive.
They were going to be okay. And Willow felt the need and
desire to fulfill her promise.
She began to kiss
Kennedy’s neck and the raven-haired woman stirred
slightly before opening her eyes.
Willow murmured against Kennedy’s earlobe. The
sensation woke the Slayer up even more and that’s when
she looked down.
"That I am,"
The next sensation the
witch felt was herself being rolled over and her lover
on top of her.
mine," Kennedy said with a lecherous grin.
Willow told her sincerely. "So show me."
"Show you what
"Show me how
great it is to be alive."
Kennedy grinned and
planted a soft kiss on Willow’s lips before pulling
back to look in her eyes. "Anything you wish."
Giles opened his eyes
but didn’t roll over.
"Andrew? Why on
earth are you shaking the bed…On second thought, maybe
I don’t want to know."
I’ll stop," Andrew whispered.
Giles could hear the
sadness in the young man’s voice. He turned on the
nightstand light and reached for his glasses. "Are
The Watcher heard him
sniff before exhaling a deep sigh. "It doesn’t
Giles asked when Andrew didn’t continue on his own.
Quietly the young man sat up too and Giles could tell
he’d been crying.
"Why am I alive?
I’ve been asking myself all night. I should be dead.
Anya…She was marvelous Mr. Giles. She took down three
in one swing. Just like Xena. You know, she could even
do the battle cry too better than anyone I ever heard.
Of course that might have just been the acoustics in the
hospital that day. Plus Anya was shorter and blonde too
which would actually make her more like Gabrielle than
Xena now that I think about but…" Andrew shook
his head to get back on topic. "Anyway, you get the
point. She went out fighting – brave and noble. And I
meant what I told Xander. He would have been proud of
"Well she did
have many skills," Giles said with a small, knowing
grin. A look of realization washed over Andrew’s face
at the catch phrase the Watcher used to describe Anya
and the ‘Warrior Princess’ in the same breath.
"Tell no one," Giles whispered
conspiratorially. "If any of the others knew I
watched that campy television series I’d never hear
the end of it."
"Your secret is
safe with me…" Andrew said with a brief grin.
"Anyway, it doesn’t seem right. I battled one guy
and the only reason he died is because he tripped and
fell into another bringer’s sword… I took that
single goof to stab the other one and he fell on top of
me… and that’s when I saw it. I looked up for just a
second…I tried to move…to get to her…" Andrew
continued as Giles listened to not only his words but
also the strain in his voice. "I saw him. The one
coming up behind her…but I just couldn’t get there
in time and he cut her – nearly in half. It was
like…she froze. And it wasn’t like in the movies
where someone has a huge dramatic death. I don’t know
how to explain it. But she didn’t cry. She didn’t
scream. She just…stopped. And then she fell over –
"What happened to
the bringer?" Giles asked.
"He just kept
running like the other two that were still upright. I
don’t think they realized I was alive…well that or
they just wanted to get out. I managed to pull the dead
bringer off of me when someone reached down and told me
we had to get out."
through quite a lot Andrew."
replied with a nod. "But not like Xander. I mean, I
keep remembering that tape I made and the conversation I
recorded between them. He really loved her and she loved
him. And now she’s dead…and it’s my fault."
Giles watched as
Andrew quickly wiped his eyes. "How do you
figure?" the Watcher asked.
"I was her
partner. Her back up. The Spock to her Kirk. The Riker
to her Picard. The-"
"I get the
point," Giles said holding up his hand.
"…The thing is
I let her down," Andrew muttered. "I let
Xander down. I let everyone down."
"You did what you
could. We all did. You think that I don’t feel some
sense of guilt over the fact my partner was sliced? That
if I had reacted a split second sooner Robin would be
walking around fine tonight instead of being monitored
by Faith? I do feel that guilt…but I also know that I
did the best I could. That’s all any of us can
"If you don’t
mind me asking Mr. Giles. How did you survive? I
mean…you’re a Watcher not a fighter."
"You think a
Watcher can’t be a fighter?" Giles answered with
a grin. "It’s our duty to train fighters so we
should know something about it wouldn’t you say?"
"Guess that makes
"Now keep in
mind," Giles continued, "we don’t have
Slayer skills b-but in some Watcher’s case, such as
myself, we study the warrior arts. Some study crossbow,
martial arts…I was a fencer years ago – a rather
good one I should add. A-And it’s a skill like riding
a bicycle – you don’t forget."
Andrew gave a slight
grin. "That’s pretty cool…Seems like you have a
real purpose. That’s great."
"But you don’t.
Is that what I’m hearing?"
"Maybe when I get
over the fact that I should be dead I’ll figure it
Giles paused a moment.
He wasn’t sure what to add but he could see that
Andrew, despite his shortcomings did have a good heart.
Didn’t he himself have reckless moments in his youth?
Didn’t his trusted ally and friend, Willow, try to
destroy the world a year ago? People change but deep
down they always remain what they are – what they were
intended to be. Some people like himself, Willow and
even Faith find their calling while some do not. Giles
knew the events that happened hours before profoundly
affected the young man.
Andrew…You don’t have to answer now but I’m going
to be starting a Watcher’s Council in Cleveland.
You’re welcome to come along if you like."
"You mean that? I
could be like…a Watcher."
said with a grin and watched as Andrew’s face fell.
"However we do need help in other areas. Someone to
make sure things run smoothly for us."
minion, you mean? A gofer?"
Yes that’s exactly
what I mean,
Giles considered silently. But he wanted to be sure to
put it in a better light.
"Well, we’ll be
busy setting things up s-so we’ll need an individual
who can get things done for us that are important but
perhaps not directly related t-to the act of Watching or
Slaying. As I said, think it over-."
Giles chuckled lightly
at his enthusiasm. "Well, first order of business.
Don’t tell anyone. I haven’t approached the others
yet. Do you think you can handle that?"
Mum’s the word," he said with a sincere grin.
infuriating at times and bloody hell annoying at others
but…I think your heart is in the right place. You had
many chances to run from this fight and you didn’t. I
admire that Andrew. I truly do."
"Thank you Mr.
Giles. That means a lot."
try to get some rest then. What do you say?"
Andrew nodded and
began to lay back down as Giles took off his glasses and
turned off the light before settling in himself.
Andrew cleared his
throat. "I hope I don’t let you down Mr.
"You haven’t so
far Andrew. Goodnight."
Dawn said to the breakfast table, everyone was present
except for her sister. "Hey, where’s Buffy?"
"She already ate.
She’s out back," Faith told her as she pointed.
Dawn poured two cups
of orange juice and headed outside. She found Buffy
lying in the sun on a chaise as she walked over.
"Sister bearing sun kissed refreshments," she
Buffy turned and
smiled. "Hmm, yummy," she said taking the
glass as Dawn took a seat beside her.
"So how’d it go
last night?" she asked. "With Xander? Figured
you guys would need your space." Buffy chuckled at
her sister’s comment. "What’s so funny?"
"You really are
growing up aren’t you?" Buffy said with a proud
supposed to mean?" the teenager asked.
"Well last year
you’d probably be complaining because I put you in a
room with two other Slayers or you’d be asking why you
couldn’t be ‘part of the gang’."
totally cool. I knew you guys needed some privacy last
said with a nod, holding her grin in place.
"Growing up alright."
you’d see the day huh?" Dawn chuckled.
"Had my doubts
and some days I still do."
said swatting her arm.
Buffy just grinned and
continued, "But really…it looks good on you Dawn.
And to answer your question it was Will that got Xander
to bed. I think losing Tara helped – oh boy did that
come out all wrong."
"No I get it –
misery loves company. And we certainly have our company
here don’t we?"
"Yeah, sadly we
A small silence passed
between them as they both thought about people they
cared for and lost – Jenny, Joyce, Tara, Anya, Amanda.
Even the short-lived friendship Dawn had with Cassie
came to mind. But there was one in particular that was
at the forefront in the mind of the Slayer’s sister.
"I’m gonna miss
Spike," Dawn said quietly. "No matter how old
I got I always envisioned he’d call me lil bit. But
now, no one ever will again."
Buffy offered. "But I know it’s not the
Dawn paused a moment
to give her sister a serious examination. "Are you
okay with it Buffy? Well maybe not okay but more hurt
than you’re letting show?"
"Are you Willow
now?" Buffy answered.
began in a teasing, sing-song voice, "there was
this cute girl in gym class I fancied before the
apocalypse broke out and-."
funny," Buffy said with a gentle smile. "And
yes I’m okay. I’m not great but I’m
not…well…I’m not Xanderish about it…But yeah,
I’m gonna miss him and at some point I think it’s
gonna hit me harder. I’ll cry. I’ll mourn. But
I’ll think about how proud he looked when I last saw
him. He was doing the right thing Dawn."
Another small silence
passed between them as they sipped their juice.
"So what exactly
did the scoobies do last night?" Dawn asked.
50’s horror flicks until we passed out. I think we all
fell asleep together but when I woke up Will was
"Well, by the
grin on Kennedy’s face this morning, I think it’s
safe to assume Willow made it back to her room at some
Buffy just chuckled.
After a few sips of
orange juice Dawn continued, "So what are we going
to do now? Sunnydale’s gone now. Along with the house.
All of our stuff that wasn’t in a duffle bag…So any
idea where we go from here?"
"I’m not sure.
I’m just gonna enjoy my first day of retirement,"
she told her sister. "But I promise after I’ve
had a chance to put it all together I’ll give you an
answer this week…I mean I know I’d like to travel
but we need to find you a steady home, a school that is
hopefully demon free and a chance for us to…I don’t
know…get to know each other…I told you it was a big
world and I wanted to show you things – teach you,
train you in how to be strong," Buffy added with a
grin. "I wanna keep my promise Dawn but I don’t
think I’ll ever be able to do that as a Slayer. I want
that to be my focus right now if that’s okay with
okay with that," Dawn grinned.
"Good. Because I
want to know who my sister is and I want her to have as
much of a normal life as possible."
"But not too
normal because, you know, that would just get
exciting and fun filled. Think I can manage that,"
Buffy said with a smile.
Giles asked coming over to the sofa where Kennedy was
lying with her head in Willow’s lap. "Do you mind
if I have a word with Willow alone?"
Kennedy looked back
and forth between the Watcher and her lover as she rose.
"Sure," she answered, giving Willow access to
Giles motioned Willow
to follow him, which the redhead did, without comment.
He took her outside to the front of the house and once
they had their privacy the witch spoke.
someone else die? What’s the-."
"No one’s dead.
Everything is fine…I just have a proposition for you
that I didn’t want to mention in front of
"This isn’t one
of the indecent variety is it? Because that would just
said as he chuckled. "I’m going to Cleveland
Willow. And I’m rebuilding the Watcher’s Council
there. And I’d like you to come with me but I don’t
know if you and Kennedy have made any future plans yet
and I didn’t want to put either one of you on the spot
for an answer. I thought I’d speak to you first to see
if it’s something that both of you might be interested
"Aside from what
we’d like for dinner? We’re not thinking that far
ahead at the moment. Still kinda worn out, ya
Giles agreed. "But I’ve been considering it. I
wanted to ask you in private; t-to test the waters. She,
of course, is welcome too but…my history is with you.
I thought I should ask you first."
depends. I mean…what would you have me do?"
"I need someone I
trust to help me run the council. In addition, the coven
is still in England but I’d like to form one here in
the states. And I’d like you to run it."
Giles simply nodded.
"I don’t know
what to say," Willow answered, as her grin grew
larger by the second.
you’ll say yes," Giles told her. "It’s the
perfect opportunity to put your Wicca skills and
knowledge to use. You could give guidance and training
to many young men and women. I think you have knowledge
that would be wonderful to impart."
"Did you ask the
others – Buffy and Xander, I mean?"
replied. "Not yet."
"So I’m the
first one," Willow beamed. Giles didn’t say
anything but Willow could recognize that look of guilt
anywhere. "Okay so I’m not the first one?"
dropped. "You asked Andrew first? Boy, do I feel
understand. You weren’t there. He was crying
what it takes to be tops in your book?"
Giles gave up at that
point. "Are you quite finished?"
"No, not yet.
"He’s trying to find his place and you know as
well as I do he had many opportunities to flee if he
wanted to. All of us did and like all of us he stood his
Willow had to give
Giles that. It was true. Andrew might have been scared
but he wasn’t a coward. "Andrew," she
"I need someone
to run the day to day activities for what I have in mind
and I think it would suit him well."
"And you want me
to start a coven?" Willow asked to clarify her
"Yes. But I also
need your research skills and intellect. I’ve met some
highly intelligent people in my years but I must say you
are one of the brightest I’ve come across."
Willow blushed slightly and broke eye contact until
Giles continued. "This won’t be an easy venture
but I need you. And if you feel you can’t do it I
understand. I’ll have no ill feelings. But with
this-this new council as it were, I have the chance to
keep the Watchers alive for all these active Slayers. I
can ‘re-write’ and update the council creed and
bring it up to the 21st century."
"Gee, Giles, to
do that would mean computers too and I know how allergic
"Yes, as much as I hate to admit it – that’s
part of it. Doesn’t mean I have to like it you know?
But it is what one might call a necessary evil."
"You have your
opinion I have mine," he said with a grin.
"Let’s agree to disagree shall we?"
"So how are we
gonna do all this?"
"Well I mean
you," Willow corrected herself. Giles tried to hold
back his grin. He was close to getting a confirmation.
He could feel it. "I can’t say I’m on board
until I talk things over with Kennedy. But I’m
interested – no doubt there," Willow added.
"To be honest
I’m not sure. I need money. I have some but I’m not
sure if it’s enough to get started."
"What about the
council?" Willow asked.
the council gone kaboom, what happened to all their
money? Not like they’d leave that under a mattress
some place, right?"
"I’m not sure.
It’s probably sitting in a Swiss Bank account
somewhere," Giles shrugged.
"Where no one is
using it or claiming it?"
Another slight grin
came to the Watcher’s face. "Just what are you
to be had. Probably lots and lots of money that’s
doing nothing but earning a return for a bank out
there…To the victor go the spoils Giles."
"No, it’s too
dangerous." he told her.
"Oh come on. A
little hack here, a little hack there. Here a hack;
there a hack. Everywhere a hack hack."
"You can’t help
me run the council from a jail cell," he said
Willow brushed him off with a wave of her hand. "I
just find a few accounts, change a few names. Where’s
"Oh I don’t
know. Bank forgery? Embezzlement? Grand Larceny?"
"Well yeah when
you put it that way," Willow said with a sarcastic
snort. "But think about it Giles. That money is
sitting there doing nothing. It was used to fight evil
in the world. You’re taking up that fight now – you
are the rightful heir."
"Nice spin you
put on it," Giles admitted.
"It’s not spin.
It’s fact…And don’t let this go to your head but
there isn’t anyone else out there as qualified as you.
You’ve been in the trenches for 7 years now and not
tucked behind some ivy clung palace. You know what this
battle is all about. The council was so far removed from
what it takes to-."
understand," Giles interrupted. "I do. And you
are right. No one has contacted me except for Robson and
he has had no contact from anyone either."
"So what’s the
problem then?" Willow pressed.
"I’m not sure
"This from a man
that broke into the council to claim the only known
books on the First to avoid bureaucracy?"
"Well that was
different." Willow didn’t reply she just cocked
her head and raised her eyebrows in disbelieve.
"Okay so it’s no different but still…I don’t
want to endanger you," the Watcher added.
been endangering myself since sophomore year. Ya think
I’m gonna stop now? Especially with something this
"I couldn’t ask
you to do it," Giles told her sincerely.
asking. And at this point I’m not offering either.
I’m gonna do it Giles. You need it. It’s not an
overstatement to say the world needs it. A-And you know
me well enough that you’re gonna get the money
regardless of what you say. I’ve made up my
"Sounds like a
bit of a commitment on your part. Sure you don’t want
to speak with Kennedy first as you planned?" Giles
"I’m her way.
Where I go, she goes. Or so she told me…Guess I find
out how true that is because it looks like I’m going
to Cleveland," Willow concluded with a grin.
Willow snaked her arm
through Giles and they walked back into the house.
Kennedy looked over at
the sound of the door opening and watched as Willow and
Giles entered with their arms linked. They grinned and
spoke to each other. Giles said something and Willow
gave a nod.
Next the Watcher
kissed the Wiccan on the cheek and made his way toward
the kitchen. Unsure of just what the touching exchange
meant, Kennedy rose from the sofa and closed the
distance between her and Willow.
on?" she asked.
football, right? The 49ers?"
Kennedy looked confused at first but found her voice.
"Well, yeah. But what’s that got to do
becoming a Browns fan instead?" Willow asked with a
smile as she led Kennedy by the hand upstairs.
Giles passed Dawn as
she re-entered the house carrying two empty juice
glasses. "Is Buffy still outside?" he asked as
"Yeah, over by
the pool," Dawn pointed and continued on her way.
Giles walked outside
to find Buffy in a bikini, soaking up the sun.
want," Buffy muttered with her eyes closed.
"The answer is no."
"Not even a
consideration?" Giles teased.
Giles!" Buffy said sitting up. "I thought it
was Dawn asking me to take her someplace."
he asked taking a seat on the chaise next to her.
"Yeah. She wanted
to go to the mall today but I told her I’m not going
anywhere for the next 24 hours. She did, however, manage
to talk me into a movie studio tour before the end of
the week, which prompts me to ask…how did you
he asked obviously confused.
"Manage a head
strong 16-year-old girl."
Giles simply grinned.
"If you remember correctly I didn’t succeed most
of the time. And I must admit," he said sparing a
glance toward the house. "You certainly have your
hands full now."
"This is the
Watchers curse isn’t it? Giving me an incorrigible
sister to look after. I thank you muchly."
nothing," he nodded with a small grin. "And
lest we forget she has Summers blood."
Buffy settled back as
if she was reflecting for a moment. "Was I really
that bad? Not that Dawn is bad. She’s got her moments
– like last night, giving the Scoobies and me space
but…then again she’s…well she’s got her moments!
Like not taking no for an answer and whittling me down
until I cave into what she wanted to do." Buffy
paused a moment. "You know, now that I said that
out loud…Don’t bother answering that question. I
remember. I was that bad."
"You, like Dawn,
always did the proper thing when it mattered most,"
he offered anyway. "Even at 16," he added in
afterthought. He looked as if he was about to speak
again but stopped and Buffy noticed the shift in mood.
"Do you have bad
news? Did someone just die because-? " Buffy asked
motioning toward the house.
answered with slight annoyance. "Why is everyone
asking me this?"
starters you’ve got Giles face," she answered.
"There is no such
thing," he replied.
is," Buffy countered. "Your lips purse, your
eyes get squinty and if you didn’t have those new, hip
contact lens you’ve been wearing you’d be cleaning
your glasses right about now. So what gives?"
He chuckled, pinching
the bridge of his nose as he gave up pretending.
correct. I do have ‘Giles face’ as you say…I
needed to ask you something."
Buffy told him.
Giles paused a moment
to organize his thoughts. "I’m forming a Watchers
Council in Cleveland and I’d like to know if you’d
"Really? A new
He nodded. "I’m
trying to talk to everyone, individually so they don’t
feel they have to join us and I’d like-."
us?" Buffy asked.
"Well at this
point Willow has agreed to come which I’m assuming
means Kennedy as well," he told her. In a smaller
voice he added, "And Andrew."
asked Andrew before you asked me? I mean Willow sure –
she’s the brainy-ac. I could see why you’d ask her
"Are you all
going to do this to me?" Giles asked.
Buffy paused a moment,
considering his choice of words. "Wait a second.
All?…You mean you asked Andrew before you asked
doesn’t matter who I asked first," Giles replied
trying to get back on topic.
"Of course she
was but I didn’t have a choice. He was crying last
night a-and I felt-."
"You big push
over," Buffy teased. "Damn. If I’d know that
crying was the key to getting my way think of all the
clashes with you I could have avoided all these
said with a grin. "A new Watchers Council with you
and Willow at the helm I’m assuming?"
replied. "And I need people to oversee the Slayers
we’ll be bringing into the group. You were the chosen
one Buffy. I’d like you to be a part of it as
"Emphasis on the
word ‘were’ – I’m not anymore."
"Does that mean
you won’t do it?" Giles asked. "As I told
Willow I would have no hard feelings if you don’t feel
that you can join but…y-you’re presence and
experience would be put to good use I assure you."
Buffy looked at Giles briefly, the corners of her lips
turned downward before she began playing with her
fingernails. When she didn’t say anything Giles added,
"You’ve got Buffy face."
She gave a forced
grin. "I think it’s a noble idea Giles. I think
you’d do a damn better job than Travers ever did,
that’s for sure."
Buffy said with a sigh. "I have to make Dawn my
priority now. And I don’t think I can do that as a
Slayer Giles. I tried but the Slayer duties sidetracked
me. I don’t think I can do both. I’m sorry."
sorry," he answered immediately.
pretty selfish to bail isn’t it?"
Giles gave her a warm
grin before he spoke.
holding anything against anyone that wishes to walk
away, least of all you…I-It’s true that we all
helped the Slayer but you were the Slayer Buffy. That
meant that everything fell to your shoulders in the end.
After nearly a decade of sustaining that weight I can
see your need to take a step back. And I don’t think
your refusal is rooted in selfishness. You’re doing it
for Dawn as well. And that’s what I find to be
a noble idea."
"Do you really
mean that Giles?" Buffy asked on the verge of
"I wouldn’t say
it if I didn’t mean it…Take your respite Buffy.
You’ve more than earned it."
Buffy leaned over and
pulled Giles into a hug. "Thank you," she said
He could hear a light
sob in her voice and his arms found their way around
her, tightened the hold. "You’ll visit, won’t
you? Stop by to see us?"
it," Buffy said as she pulled back and wiped her
eyes of the unshed tears that hung there. "And if
things get really nasty and you find yourself in a
pinch, I’m a phone call away…Of course I’m not
quite sure where my phone will be at this point but
I’ll look into getting a phone and a house that’s
not buried under a town someplace," she joked.
"Point is, you can still always count on me when it
Giles smiled warmly.
"I’ll keep that in mind."
huh?" Kennedy asked.
Willow sat on the bed
and watched Kennedy pacing in front of her.
where I’m heading. We hadn’t discussed what would
happen after everything because you know, there might
not have been an after part a-and outta sight outta mind
was better we said but-."
"Do you want me
to go?" Kennedy asked.
You’ve been war tested and you shoot a pretty mean
Kennedy stopped her. "Do YOU want me there? I mean
I don’t see any double bride commitment ceremonies
this soon, well actually I’d be more the tux type, but
you get the point. It’s a pretty big step."
"Is it one you
don’t wanna take?" Willow asked.
"Well if I do go,
it’s not just for you. I mean yeah it’s for you too.
I want more Willow," Kennedy added with a grin.
"But this sounds important and I’d like to help
Giles. Plus maybe I can show the new girls that come a
thing or two. And if I can keep you in my life then
yeah…it sounds like a good idea to me but like I said,
only if you want me there."
you," Willow replied, smiling.
Kennedy teased before pausing and falling to her knees
in front of Willow. "How much?" The dark
haired woman’s fingers began to make trails up the
outside of the witch’s denim covered thighs.
Willow gave a bashful
grin and stroked Kennedy’s face. "More than you
realize I think."
"I can imagine
quite a bit if last night was any indication," she
retorted with a sly smile.
Willow gave a
contented sigh. "I’d love to show you but at the
moment I-I promised Giles I’d speak with Xander."
huh?" Kennedy said moving away and coming up to sit
beside her lover.
sorry," Willow said sincerely.
"No, it’s okay.
I get it. I’ve been around the Scoobies enough to know
how this all works."
Willow asked hopefully.
Kennedy ran her
fingertips over Willow’s cheek before pulling her
closer by the chin. Her lips lightly teased the witch.
"Count on it," she answered in a husky voice.
Willow took an
unsteady breath and gave Kennedy’s thigh a tender
squeeze. "Okay I gotta get outta here now,"
she replied with a chuckle before standing up.
back," Kennedy teased as she jumped on the bed and
gave it a little pat.
Willow just smiled and
shook her head before she left. "You drive me wild,
girl," she muttered under her breath.
know," she heard Kennedy announce after she had
left the room.
Willow still had her
grin when she walked down to Xander and Buffy’s room
and knocked on the door. "Xander? You in
"Come on in
Will," she heard him call out.
Willow waved as she entered and closed the door behind
her. Xander was lying on the bed watching television.
She walked over and picked up the remote, turning it
off. "I wanted to talk to you. Well, actually Giles
wanted me to talk to you to be more accurate but I did
up?" he asked with slight hesitation.
"I’m not sure
where to start."
"The beginning is
usually a good place," he told her.
huh? Okay, well, remember when we met Buffy and found
out she was a Slayer and Giles was her Watcher?"
"Do we have to go
back THAT FAR Will?"
not," she reconsidered. "Okay, cutting to the
chase now. Giles is gonna start a new Watchers Council
in Cleveland. Kennedy and I are going and he wanted me
to ask if you’d like to join us. A-and like he told me
– no pressure. We’re just checking with everyone to
see what they think."
to Cleveland?" Xander asked. "Where?
"We’re not sure
yet. But that’s where we’re heading after I get a
few details squared away." She grinned before
adding; "You know, transferring a few Old
Council’s funds to us and such."
"You can do
that?" Xander asked.
"Well I don’t
know how much the cops would like it but yeah. It’ll
take me a few weeks I’m sure but eventually I’ll
find their accounts…So what do you say? Wanna join
Xander paused and took
a deep breath. "Another Hellmouth?"
more than one on earth. A-and we could use you
"What? For those
late night coffee and donut runs?"
"Maybe a few
repair jobs after the baddies trash the place or hey,
maybe I can be the resident pirate? Think Giles would
spring for a parrot?"
Willow wasn’t sure
how to respond – there was an acidity in his voice
that made her uncomfortable. "Xander, what’s
"Do you really
have to ask that question Will?"
"Yeah I think I
do," she replied.
"I lived on a
Hellmouth my entire life. I’ve watched friends and
lovers die. I’ve lost partial sight and everything I
owned and worked for, except for a duffle bag, is now
buried under a pile of rubble…Don’t get me wrong
Will. I was happy to help. And if you and Giles and the
rest of the gang want to keep up the fight you can
but…I just don’t have any more fight left in me.
"So you’re not
gonna come?" Willow asked. "What are you gonna
"I don’t know.
No job, no apartment, no…Anya…But one thing I do
know is no more fighting evil. I can’t. This last one
– this battle – short of my own life Will, it cost
me everything. I just don’t think I can do it
"Well you still
got us Xander," Willow told him. "You
haven’t lost everything."
"Yeah but how
long will that last Will? How many more battle, if I
live through them, will I watch people I love die?
It’s a good fight Willow and you and Giles will do a
great job. But I need to get out of it. I need to figure
out just what I want in this world. I hope you can
Willow pursed her lips
and took a deep breath.
"Hey, I spent a
summer in England trying to figure out what I wanted in
life so I can relate," she told him, trying her
best to sound optimistic. "Doesn’t mean I’m not
disappointed you won’t come. A-and saying I’ll miss
you is an epic understatement."
"I’ll miss you
too Will but…I just can’t do the Scoobies scene. Not
now and maybe not ever. Everything is just so…"
"Bleak, black and
"To name a
Willow began. "A-And this is not any pressure at
all to join us but…if you change your mind Xander
you’re always welcome. You know that right?"
Xander gave her a sad
grin. "Yeah I do. Thanks for the offer but I gotta
pass. I’m sorry."
"Aww, don’t be
sorry Xander. Take some time to figure things out. Get
back on your feet again. Maybe that will change and
you’ll wanna come back but again," she added
quickly. "No pressure. Okay?"
try," he told her.
Realizing it was
pointless to talk about it further Willow figured
she’d check in with Giles and give him the bad news.
Quietly she slipped from the room and made her way
Rona, Vi and a few of
the other girls were at the kitchenette table playing
cards. "Anyone seen Giles?" she asked.
"He was looking
for Faith so he’s probably upstairs," Vi told
she replied before heading up.
She knocked on the
door and heard Giles voice. "Come in."
"So how’s the
big guy doing?" Willow asked walking over to the
bed where Robinwas sitting up against the headboard.
"As long as Faith
here keeps the morphine coming? I can’t
complain," he smiled.
him into a stoner," Faith quipped. "Heard
you’re making the big trip out to Cleveland," she
"Yeah I am and so
is Kennedy too," Willow answered, nodding toward
Giles with the news.
nodded. "I’ve gotta second in command to run
things with me then. That’ll work."
"Run things? Does
that mean you’re coming?" Willow said with a
"Well it was
either another Hellmouth or another prison. Talk about
your worst of two evils huh?" Faith told her with a
her with jail!" Willow asked turning to Giles.
"I did no such
thing. I made the offer and she took it."
admitted. "Giles here asked and I was going to do
one of two things – turn myself in or get a Slayer gig
somewhere. His plan fit. So I signed on."
"As did I,"
Robin added. "And if I said no then Faith would
stop the drugs and I’d be in serious pain right
"That is so not
true Dude," she chuckled and slapped his arm.
"You gotta get used to his warped sense of humor
Will. It takes time."
"How did it go
with Xander?" Giles asked.
Willow gave a defeated
"Not well I take
it?" Giles prompted.
about him Giles. He’s not taking things well and he
doesn’t think he can be a part of it. He’s gotta
point though. He’s lost a lot."
"Well B’s comin’
right?" Faith asked.
actually," Giles told them.
and Willow both echoed in disbelief.
"She wants to
look after Dawn. Try to give her a stable home. I can
can’t," Faith told him. "Let her find a damn
stable home in Cleveland. She was the Chosen One for how
long? It’s her duty."
"It WAS her duty.
It doesn’t have to be now," Giles retorted.
with this Giles?" Willow asked.
"Yes I am,"
he answered honestly. "I can’t make Buffy join us
anymore than you can get Xander to come along. Everyone
that’s with us needs to be WITH us – absolutely,
totally. If they’re not committed to it t-then in all
honestly they’re of little use to us."
true," Willow answered.
not," Faith challenged. "It’s BS. You all
got into this fight to help THE Slayer and she’s what?
Just gonna quit while we carry on the fight? It’s
"Why does this
bother you so much?" Giles asked.
offer so much to these young girls we bring into the
academy before we chuck them and their Watchers out into
"You can be an
effective leader too Faith, without Buffy," Giles
"That’s not the
point Giles," the dark Slayer answered. "B’s
got a duty, a responsibility – a birthright! Yeah I
did too and I screwed it up royally and ended up in
jail. But I’m gonna set things right. I’m not
walking away from the fight. And she shouldn’t
should speak with her t-to clear the air?" Giles
"Or clean her
clock," Faith answered. "What’s with
"She wants to
care for Dawn," the Watcher explained.
"She’s tried before but she wasn’t able to do
"Okay so she
wants to take care of her sis. I get that," Faith
answered. "But still Giles…to have her walk away.
Aren’t you the least bit bitter?"
replied truthfully. "Because I’ve seen her grow
from an impetuous girl to a responsible woman. I’ve
watched her battle countless demons; fight major
apocalypses; sacrifice her life. She needs this time to
think, to gain her perspective. She spent so much time
saving the world I think it’s time she had the chance
to see more of it."
believe she’s not coming," Willow answered.
"Xander, yeah, as much as I hate to admit it. I
mean I can see why he needs to take a step back from the
Hellmouth. I did too after everything with Tara…But
Buffy…It’s just gonna feel odd. The group’s
splitting up Giles and I never thought I’d see that
happen," Willow added, moving to a chair in the
opposite corner. "I need to sit down."
will always be a part of our life Willow," the
watcher stressed. "We’re not going to go to
Cleveland and vanish forever."
"Well it is a
Hellmouth. That could happen." Faith snorted.
Giles gave a
frustrated nod. "You have a point," he told
her before turning to face Willow. "…but all
things being equal that’s not going to happen. We’re
not going to forget about them and they won’t forget
about us. We’ll still always be there for each other.
We’ll do the right thing no matter how difficult or
risky it might seem. We will continue to make sacrifices
for each other when it really counts. That will never
you’re right," Willow conceded.
"I know I’m
right. Buffy and Xander are both just a phone call away.
Just the same as we are for them I should add,"
Giles told her.
Faith nodded. "So when the demons of Cleveland are
kicking our ass who’s gonna be on phone duty? And
while we’re at it, do you think Buffy can catch a
flight soon enough before we’re all dead or the world
Giles sighed. Before he could continue Robin reached out
and took Faith’s hand.
down, please," he said softly.
that Willow and Giles didn’t expect. Faith took a deep
breath and sat down slowly on the bed next to her lover.
"It just upsets
me," she answered in a calmer voice.
Robin said tightening his hold on her hand. "The
entire room can feel it but…I’m talking from
experience here. If Buffy wants to give up the Slayer
life – if she doesn’t have to the Chosen One anymore
– let her. My mom’s watcher told me how my mother
wanted out to raise her son. Buffy’s got the chance my
mom never had. I think we should give her that."
"Yeah well your
opinion is biased," Faith countered with a grin.
"I’m sorry but that’s true."
absolutely biased. I won’t argue that." He
grinned back at her. "But that doesn’t make my
opinion less valid or wrong."
Faith took a deep
breath and squared her shoulders.
fine." She nodded. "I see you folks are all in
agreement and in keeping with the new and improved Faith
I’ll let majority rule. Doesn’t mean I can’t have
some quiet resentment. Just means I’ll drop it."
"Well thank you
for the artificial understanding," Giles replied
with a slight grin.
lucky you got that," Faith told him pointing a
"So moving onto
other things," Robin said, trying to stir things
away from another potential argument. "…what
about the other girls? Have you asked them?"
"We’ll have a
meeting tonight to discuss our plans; find out who else
might like to join us."
"Well give me
plenty of notice," Robin advised, "I’d like
to be present and it takes me awhile to get
"I could always
carry you," Faith offered, flexing her arm muscle.
"Slayer or no
slayer, my male ego would never let me live it down. No
girlfriend of mine is gonna carry my battered body
huh?" Faith answered.
"Hey, I don’t
make promises to just anyone," he said with a
smile. "I want something outta this deal too you
"Oh and just what
did you have in mind?" Faith added with a teasing
"I wanna know
that the beautiful, ass kicking gal on my arm wants to
be mine. You gotta problem with that?" he countered
adjust," Faith replied with a smile. "And you
know any other guy that just gave that speech would end
up with a punch to the gut."
punches," Robin said placing his hand over his
bandage. "Give me a few months until I’m fully
recovered. Then you can try to open fire."
"Boy if that
doesn’t sound like true love," Willow quipped.
has met her match," Giles said joining in the fun.
Faith paused a moment
and looked at Robin before turning back to Giles.
"Maybe I have," she confessed with a grin.
you all here for a reason," Giles began. The entire
household was gathered around the living room as the
Watcher addressed them. "Many of you have asked
about our plans at this point. A few of you want to
return to your homes and the lives you knew. After we
tell you what we have in mind, take the next few days to
Kennedy sat next to
Willow on the sofa with her legs tucked underneath her
and her arms curled around the redhead’s arm; her chin
resting comfortably on Willow’s shoulder. Faith was
seated next to Robin with her arm protectively yet
comfortable around him, the limb resting on the back of
the oversized stuffed chair.
"Now many rumors
might be floating around so we’re going to settle a
few things. First, it is true that Willow Rosenberg and
myself will be heading to Cleveland to begin rebuilding
the Watchers Council. And yes, there is another
Hellmouth located in Cleveland. At this time, Andrew,
Faith, Mr. Wood and Kennedy will be joining us. You’re
"What about Buffy
and Dawn?" Rona called out.
Xander?" Vi added.
invited as well but they have..."
enough?" Rona quipped.
"I was going to
say prior commitments," Giles added.
said standing up, waving a finger at Rona before Giles
could continue. "I’ve watched my sister fight for
7 years not 7 months. When you start saving the world on
an annual basis and saving numerous lives each night you
can have an opinion."
Rona didn’t have the
chance to finish.
‘saying’ ever since you arrived," Dawn
Buffy said, reaching up, trying to make her stop.
It did no good. Dawn
just shrugged her arm away and continued.
and whined since the first day you got here. You’ve
never added anything of use to the group and every
comment you make is almost as caustic as hers,"
Dawn said now pitching a thumb back toward Kennedy.
brunette shouted, moving away from Willow and rising to
"But at least
Kennedy has redeeming qualities," Dawn added in
Rona stood up, her
stomach and arm both healed now thanks to Slayer
strength. "Like what? Boinking the sidekick?"
Willow shot a quick
glance to Kennedy and noticed a vein in her neck
pulsating. She tried to reach up to her but Kennedy was
already in motion. Dawn walked over confidently, coming
toe to toe with Rona as Kennedy following behind her.
Keeping a tab on things Faith rose to her feet as well
but stayed by the sofa.
smart ass too," Dawn told Rona. "but at least
she backs up what she says. She’s not afraid to fight
and she doesn’t whine about her
just calm down," Giles said trying to gain control
over the group.
A small quiet filled
the room until Rona, Dawn and Kennedy began arguing all
at once, their words getting buried under each other’s
comments. After a few seconds, Willow was finished
listening and darted to her feet.
she yelled over the debate.
Everything in the room
stopped. When she had everyone’s full attention Willow
turned to the two young women who stood side by side
facing off against Rona.
Please sit down."
Kennedy paused in
front of Rona a moment but walked back without question.
Dawn, however, put her hands on her hips and turned to
Willow. Before the first syllable left Dawn’s lips
Willow cut her short with a firm voice.
Willow ordered, pointing to a chair beside Buffy. Dawn
closed her mouth and quickly darted toward her sister,
taking her seat again. After she was seated her eyes
didn’t leave Willow for an instant.
Rona and Kennedy
silently squared off from across the room as a smirk
crossed Rona’s face. "You sure are whipped,"
she taunted. "Or maybe just well trained like a lap
Kennedy was on the
verge of charging across the room but she felt a hand on
her shoulder. She looked back to see Faith now standing
behind her shaking her head. "She just wants to
provoke you, Ken. Don’t let her."
smiled cooled Kennedy’s temper and she watched
silently as Willow closed the distance between herself
and Rona. The redhead got about three feet away from
Rona and stopped. At first she said nothing. She just
looked at Rona until the young woman broke eye contact
first. Only then did she speak.
out from the beginning," Willow stated in a flat,
matter of fact way. "...But the fight’s over.
You’re safe for now. And there’s the door," the
redhead said with a nod.
Rona didn’t say
anything. She just glanced down at her feet with a look
this," Willow told her, forcing her eyes up with
the wave of her hand. Willow’s fingertips never
touched the young woman but it was obvious that an
unseen force had hoisted Rona’s chin so Willow could
meet her eyes.
Rosenberg," Andrew whispered unheard to anyone else
you have, that strength," Willow continued, "I
gave it to you. And with it comes responsibility so use
it wisely. You’re entitled to your opinions about
anything in life, including my relationship with
Kennedy. But lucky for you, I know there are things more
important, things worth fighting for, than taking
payback on someone shooting off flippant comments. If
insulting others makes you feel better about yourself,
go for it. I can’t help you there. The responsibility
I speak of goes much deeper than the need to feel
superior. It’s about making moral decisions – using
your gifts and talents to help others and not yourself.
I speak from experience and major mistakes. You should
also know I’ve battled a Slayer, THE Slayer in fact. I
went round for round, toe to toe. So you SLAYERETTE?"
Willow harrumphed, pointing at Rona. "Don’t think
I can’t take you out in a heartbeat for the
‘right’ reasons if need be. Is that
Rona nodded quickly,
with fear in her eyes. The unseen force that had gripped
Rona slipped away and she was finally able to move her
head down again. She let out a sigh of relief as Willow
turned her back to casually stroll around the room.
"All of you girls
who just received your powers need leadership and
training. Don’t think for a moment that this one
battle, this fight in the hellmouth is the end. It’s
not… True, some of you might live the rest of your
lives and never see another vampire or demon again. Some
of you might see them on a nightly basis. But all of you
need training in how to deal with it all. That’s what
Giles held back a grin
as he listened but Buffy smiled openly. She looked over
and could tell her Watcher was restraining himself.
Giles sat to her right and she motioned him closer.
"I see why you
asked her first," she commended.
The comment broke his
reserve and he simply smiled and listened as Willow
"Now Giles and I
are taking on a monumental task," Willow admitted
to the room, "and we don’t have time for this
kind of petty crap. What we need are people who will be
with us 110 percent so if you can’t give that, I
suggest you leave." Willow stopped and looked
directly at Rona before her eyes moved on again.
"If you wanna go it on your own, maybe see where
life leads you, well, best of luck. You’re gonna need
Willow stopped in
front of Vi and made eye contact with her. "But if
you want to take these powers you’ve been given, use
them for the good of mankind as they were intended, then
come with us." Willow paused a moment and began to
walk around the room again. "If you do then
you’ve got to give us everything you have. We have no
room for slackers. We have no need for people who want
to half-ass their way through life. And we certainly
don’t need people who feel the fight is drained from
Willow stood behind
Xander who was seated next to Dawn and she put both
hands on his shoulders.
Buffy and Dawn aren’t just dear friends to us –
they’re family. And we’ll miss them," Willow
felt herself tear up but she took a deep breath and
pushed it aside. She gave Xander a gentle squeeze before
she began walking again. "But they can’t give
what we’re asking. And that’s fine. They’ve
already given the world so much. Much more than most of
you know or even realize," Willow told the group.
"As I said, one fight doesn’t make you the be all
end all in demon fighting so get that silly notion out
of your heads. And if you want to learn more, train more
and contribute something to the world then come with us
and we’ll help. You’ve got the strength girls but
now you need the true power. And knowledge is power.
That’s what we’re offering, the knowledge of what it
means to be a Slayer. So with that said, I apologize to
Giles. I believe he had the floor."
comment Willow returned and took a seat next to Kennedy
who simply beamed and took up her prior position on
Willow’s arm. Faith leaned in between them.
"Damn, Red. Warn
me if I ever get you angry," she whispered while
giving her a pat on the back.
Giles rose to his
feet. "Well as my colleague, Ms. Rosenberg put it
that’s why we’ve assembled you all here. And to be
honest I couldn’t have said it better myself. But I
would like to add that everyone – yes even you Rona
– is welcome to join us. Willow isn’t the type to
hold grudges so don’t let that stop you."
Andrew harrumphed and
rolled his eyes while Willow reflexively slapped his
group turned around to see the commotion and Andrew felt
all eyes on him. "Sorry, please continue Mr.
Giles looked at the
two of them for a moment. "Well not usually,"
he added. He shook his head to return to his thought
process and faced the room. "Point is…we need
Slayers. We need you…You will be the beginning of a
long line of young woman who will defend the human race,
an army for humanity you could say. All of you have
stood shoulder-to-shoulder and faced unspeakable evil
and won. You’re all to be commended. But these are
just the first few steps in a very long journey. Buffy,
and even Faith, haven’t survived as long as they have
by sheer power or luck alone. Both will acknowledge that
they had help along the way. We’re offering that
help," Giles added as he pointed over to his
‘team’ that now sat on sofa.
"So think it
over," he continued. "Let myself or Willow
know of your intentions and we’ll see that all who
decide to come aboard have a place. Thank you for
letting us bend your ear and if you have any questions
as you consider it please let us know," he told
them with a grin and a brief nod before walking toward
Buffy rose to her
feet. "Okay! Blockbuster night!" she told
them, motioning toward Andrew with a wave of her hands.
"I believe we’ve got something prepared if anyone
"Oh yes!" he
said rising up addressing the gathering. "You are
all cordially invited to the video room tonight were
we’ll be showing the 1960 Stanley Kubrick classic Spartacus
starring Kirk Douglas and Sir Laurence Olivier…well,
before he was a "sir" that is...It’s the
epic tale of a small yet brave group of men who led a
revolt against the evil, oppressive and decadent Roman
Empire. You’re all invited for popcorn, Rasinettes
and, at Willow’s request, Snowcaps, which will be
served free of charge…Thank you. That is all," he
added nervously as he realized everyone was still
watching him and not moving. Quickly he headed off to
the kitchen to prepare and the room began to break up,
moving around the grand room.
nodded Willow aside. She rose and walked into the next
room with him. Before he could speak, she started.
Giles. I didn’t mean to get all good cop/bad cop. I
kidding?" Giles said trying to hide his joy so the
others wouldn’t overhear. "It was bloody
brilliant! This is exactly what I need – – what the
Council needs! Don’t think for an instant that what
you did in there requires reprimand. Those girls need to
know that you are the Watcher and they are the
"Whoa, hold up!
I’m the Wiccan leader, the computer engineer and the
research lackey, okay? I’m far from the Watcher
"Yes I know the
role you wish to fill but I think you’re wrong Willow.
You’re understanding and accommodating when it’s
appropriate but in moments like this, when a firm hand
is needed, you always rise to the occasion. You always
"Yeah well my
firm hand almost killed Andrew once upon a time. A-and
it did kill Warren…"
Giles paused a moment
and looked at her intently. "Remember when we were
in England and I asked what you wanted? You said you
wanted to be Willow?"
Willow nodded. "I
remember. A-and I’ve been trying to get back to
Giles smiled fondly.
"Don’t you see? It never left. You’ve always
been Willow. Through all of it."
very comforting Giles. I don’t want ‘Willow’ to be
a murderer," she told him.
"Yes you’ve had
lapses in judgment but you never stopped being the
person you are – a good person; a just person. I’m
not condoning your actions against Warren or his
friends. But in the blindness of your rage you were
doing what you’ve always done, seeing that justice was
served. And as I said, your anger clouded that to the
point that you couldn’t see any other way but exacting
that justice yourself."
"Well, what if it
happens again?" Willow asked with a slight sob,
straining to get the words out. "I don’t think
I’m as strong as you see me."
"And I know
you’re not as weak as you perceive."
"Willow, we never
know our limits until we test them. You know what
you’re capable of now – both positive and negative.
You’ve seen it. Experienced it. And I’m certain that
should the situation arise again you have the foresight
to make the right decisions. Most people learn from
their triumphs but fewer learn from their mistakes. But
I know you. You’re highly intelligent and perceptive.
You’ve always been a quick study at everything you
attempt. This is no different. And you are one of the
few who has learned from her shortcomings. I know demons
but I also know people," he quipped with a gentle
"I just get
scared sometimes Giles. You don’t know what it’s
like to play God and have the power to hurt
Giles just arched his
conceded with a roll of her shoulders, "you told me
some Ripper tales and yes, you understand perfectly
which defeats my whole entire argument now so I’ll
just shut up."
"I was in that
room," Giles continued, pointing out to the grand
hall that was nearly vacant now. "I saw what
happened. You have enormous power and you could have
done anything you wished to Rona but you refrained and
dealt with her in a straightforward manner. You were
firm. You were fair. And instead of using your power for
revenge you used it to show that this organization
we’re building is one built on strength and
intelligence. I meant it when I told them I couldn’t
have said it better myself…You’re what I need Willow
and I’m thankful that you’ve decided to come aboard.
Don’t doubt that for a moment. And should the need
ever arise for you to take the reins don’t shrug your
off your abilities because of fear."
try," Willow told him.
Giles simply gave a
knowing grin and nodded.
"You say you’ll
try. But I know the truth."
"If the time
comes, you won’t try. You will do it – just as
you’ve always done. It’s that simple."
face is still there," he said teasing her and
getting a slight smile. "I just saw it not more
than 10 minutes ago. You’ll do a splendid job –
better than splendid, superb. So doubt all you like
Willow but I know the truth."
Giles didn’t add
anything more. He simply walked from the room with his
grin firmly in place.
Slowly a grin crept to
Willow’s face. "Sometimes I hate it when he’s
right," she sighed.
Andrew was handing out
popcorn to the crowd that had gathered around the large
screen television when Willow felt her lover tense
beside her. She looked first to Kennedy and then across
the room to see Rona approaching them.
sighed. "I just wanted to say I’m sorry. To both
of you," she began. "What I said was outta
line and what you said made a lot of sense. I would like
to come aboard if you’d have me."
Kennedy didn’t look
impressed and although Willow couldn’t see her
expression she could still feel the tenseness in
Kennedy’s grip on her knee. Willow reached over and
patted Kennedy’s hand. She felt the dark-haired Slayer
eased up slightly and Willow took the opportunity to
thread their fingers together.
"Are you sure you
don’t want to think it over?" Willow asked.
"I’m not saying we don’t want you but I know
you wanted to leave for awhile."
"No I’m in.
I…You gotta understand. I came to Sunnydale without
much to begin with and Vi said she’s going to
Cleveland so…well, she and I got close." Both
Willow and Kennedy’s eyebrows shot up in surprise and
Rona chuckled. "Well not as close as you two. And
not that the ‘close’ you two have is bad or anything
but…Damn, I’m not saying this right," she said
with a frustrated sigh.
"Why don’t you
start over?" Willow offered with a grin that became
a wince yet went unnoticed. She looked down briefly at
the hand that Kennedy held as Rona continued.
"Vi explained why
she’s gonna do it. And the truth is, after all
that’s happened, well, I feel the same way. I don’t
think it ends here and I wanna learn more like she does
and having a ‘study buddy’ will make it easier so
I’m in if that’s okay with you two. And I’m hoping
there’s no hard feelings."
"It’s been pretty stressful on everyone lately so
no, no hard feelings on my side." Willow looked
over to prompt Kennedy.
Kennedy paused a
moment and looked Rona up and down. "It’s
cool," Kennedy finally told her with a nod.
"Good, I’ll let
Giles know later when Vi goes to speak to him."
"Thanks Rona. For
what it’s worth…it’s not every Slayer who could
have fought with one arm tied behind her back. With two
functional arms you’ll do great I’m sure. But
remember," Willow added with a warm smile. "I
can still take ya if I have to."
Rona chuckled and
nodded in understanding. "I won’t let it come to
She walked away and
quickly Willow turned to Kennedy. "Sweetie?"
"My hand really
hurts," she whimpered.
Kennedy looked down to
see Willow’s fingers turning white. "Oh Jeeze.
Sorry. I forgot. Slayer strength now. I just…"
"Was holding back
from decking Rona? I know," Willow answered with a
stained voice as she began to rub her released hand,
trying to get the circulation going again.
tingly again," Willow said shaking her hand up and
down. "So that’s a good sign, right? Means the
Kennedy made a
sympathetic sound and took the hand, lightly kissed each
knuckle. "I’m sorry Baby. I didn’t mean to hurt
Kennedy felt Willow
tense all over again and Kennedy found herself releasing
Willow’s hand quickly. "Did I do it again? You
it’s-it’s not that. It’s…kinda stupid. I’m
Kennedy watched Willow
try to force a reassuring grin. "Hey, I just did
something to upset you so tell me."
was all Willow said.
Kennedy asked, thinking she was trying to get her
"No, it’s the
word – Baby," Willow paused trying to find a way
to explain what she was feeling. "It’s what Tara
and I called each other most of the time and…I told
you it’s stupid."
Willow sighed and
looked down at her hand, trying to avoid looking at
Kennedy. The dark-haired Slayer stroked Willow’s cheek
to get her attention.
"You don’t like
me saying it? Is that it?"
okay," Willow said reluctantly, finally meet her
lover’s eyes again.
"Why am I not
"Cause I’m a
terrible liar," Willow replied with a shrug and a
Kennedy gave a half
chuckle. "I’m not laughing at you. You’re just
so damn adorable some times and…would you look at this
– you turn me into a mushball. You know that?"
Willow answered sincerely.
"Don’t be and
since it upsets you I won’t say it but I would like to
Wiccan answered nervously.
"Is there any
other pet names that are off limits?"
Willow finally gave
her a genuine grin. "No, I think we’re
"So I can call
you Sweetie or Honey or Cutie or Gorgeous or…"
Kennedy leaned closer and whispered something in
Willow’s ear before giving it a light nibble.
"All of those okay?" she asked as she pulled
Willow sighed, letting her fingers trace Kennedy’s
lips. "B-But that last one. Might not want to use
it in mixed company," she told her.
lickable ears only then. I promise," Kennedy told
her with a sly smile.
"How long is this
movie?" Willow asked.
"Too long I’m
"Call it an early
"Well Andrew did
get Snowcaps just for you. We should stay," Kennedy
act," Willow told her. "Then we’re
"Can we bring the
Snowcaps?" Kenned asked wiggling her eyebrows.
It was the last
morning of their stay. Giles and Willow already had
their notes and were charting out ideas using the
information of who was coming and who was going. Only
two girls had decided to leave. Willow had already begun
to start searching overseas accounts to get Giles the
funds they needed for Cleveland. The night before,
thinking she was compiling a spreadsheet, he looked over
her shoulder and asked what she was doing. The simple
reply of ‘You don’t wanna be an accessory’
prompted Giles to cover his eyes and leave the room
shaking his head.
But on this morning
the sun was shining and the group was assembled in the
back yard. Buffy stood before all of them not sure what
to say. None of them were ‘formally’ dressed for the
occasion but in the end Willow surmised that it didn’t
really matter as long as they were there.
Buffy cleared her
throat and the small chatter of the group stopped.
lots of speeches as many of you know. And to be honest I
didn’t think this was one I was going to live to make.
But I’m here. You’re all here. But some of us have
crossed over. And that’s why we’re all gathered her
today – to say goodbye. Many of you have made
sacrifices in this latest fight. The following
people," Buffy said holding up a list, "paid
the ultimate price and won’t be forgotten."
She cleared her throat
again. "As I say the name that you’ve been given
please come forward and place your roses to the
front," she told the assembly.
Buffy ran down the
list and Slayer after Slayer brought forth the roses in
their hands. Dawn wanted to be sure to place Amanda’s
rose. Kennedy was given Molly’s and Annabelle’s.
Name after name. Slayer after Slayer they all came
Buffy read on, trying
not to break the stream of fallen warriors for fear that
she might not continue. By the time she was toward the
bottom of the list she could barely see and had to wipe
her tear-filled eyes. She quietly read the name
‘William’ and as she took a step forward and laid
the flower in her own hand with the others. After, she
took a step back they all waited for her to finish the
Buffy opened her mouth
to speak but not a single sound came out. The only one
left holding a rose was Xander.
Buffy looked up to see
him patiently waiting. Willow was tucked under his arm
and her arm was wrapped around his waist, holding his
hip. Both of them had tears running down their faces but
neither said a word or made a sound. The sight was
Buffy’s undoing and she sobbed the last name.
Xander stepped out of
Willow’s embrace and made his way forward and gave the
rose a light toss and hand in hand he and Buffy walked
back to Willow’s side where they all came to stand
linking their hands to each other. Giles moved to the
front and began to speak.
15:51 to 55 and 57…Behold, I tell you a mystery: We
shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed – in
a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last
trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will
be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For
this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this
mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible
has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on
immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying
that is written: ‘Death is swallowed up in victory.’
‘O Death, where is your sting? O Hades, where is your
victory?’ But thanks be to God, who gives us the
victory through our Lord Jesus Christ."
As Giles finished he
nodded to Willow and she stepped up pulling a piece of
paper from her pocket. She cleared her throat and began
to speak. "Although it’s difficult to represent
all the faiths of all the fallen young women I’d like
to begin with a Buddist saying…'Yesterday is a memory,
tomorrow is a mystery and today is a gift, which is why
it is called the present. What the caterpillar perceives
is the end, to the butterfly is just the beginning.
Everything that has a beginning has an ending. Make your
peace with that and all will be well'."
Willow quietly turned
the paper over and began to read.
kaddish in translation." She paused again and
cleared her throat before going on. "Glorified and
sanctified be God's great name throughout the world
which He has created according to His will. May He
establish His kingdom in your lifetime and during your
days, and within the life of the entire House of Israel,
speedily and soon; and say, Amen."
Willow paused and the
group muttered, "Amen."
"May His great
name be blessed forever and to all eternity. Blessed and
praised, glorified and exalted, extolled and honored,
adored and lauded be the name of the Holy One, blessed
be He, beyond all the blessings and hymns, praises and
consolations that are ever spoken in the world; and say,
Once more the group
echoed back to her.
"May there be
abundant peace from heaven, and life, for us and for all
Israel; and say, Amen."
Again they repeated
"He who creates
peace in His celestial heights, may He create peace for
us and for all Israel; and say, Amen."
In one final voice the
mourners said ‘Amen’.
Putting the paper back
into her pocket Willow moved to stand in front of the
roses before kneeling before them. "Hades I praise
thee. I implore thee to guide these souls to a land of
promise for they have fought brave and noble. Osiris, in
your divine wisdom, we ask that you bring these spirits
rest. As a flame to the body allows release we ask that
the flames of this offering guide our fallen comrades
and family to the realm of the Summerland. We ask of
this in faith and in love and in devotion…Ignis
The roses instantly
combusted and began to burn. Buffy and Xander looked at
each other briefly before both of them turned to the
sky, expecting a rainstorm. After a few moments when the
rain didn’t arrive they both looked at each other
again and grinned.
our service," Giles told everyone. "Inside
Andrew has prepared a Wake for all of us this morning.
Kennedy took a few
steps closer to Willow who stood at the end of the ‘
human chain’ the scoobies had created.
okay?" Kennedy asked as she pulled her girlfriend
into a hug, letting her hands run over Willow’s back.
The redhead tightened
her hold for a moment but pulled back giving the
dark-haired Slayer an assuring grin. "I’ll be
fine," she told her. "I’ll be inside in a
Kennedy just nodded
and walked over to Wood, Faith and Dawn who were talking
to each other and she motioned them inside. Giles,
Buffy, Willow and Xander watched as Faith put her arm
around Dawn’s shoulder and said something that made
the teenager grin and nod.
"Well here we are
again," Buffy said turning back to the group.
"You did very
well Buffy," Giles told her. "I know you were
concerned but you did a wonderful job given the
Buffy just nodded and
took a deep breath. "So Cleveland huh? You gonna be
able to handle winter, Will?"
manage," she answered with a grin.
Yet again another
silence passed between them. Suddenly Buffy put her
hands on her hips. "Okay, I’m just gonna say it.
Do you two hate us?" she asked motioning to her and
Willow asked while Giles issued an "Excuse
me?" at the same time.
"Do you hate
us?" Buffy repeated. "Because we’re not
going to Cleveland?"
Willow tried to start but got cut off.
"I just don’t
want you to resent me or Xander," Buffy said
quickly in explanation. "You guys are the only
family we’ve got left and if you-."
cut her off. "As I said, we understand. Now Faith
is another matter but Faith is…well she’s
Faith," he added with grinned.
"Yeah I sensed a
bit of hostility," Buffy confessed.
"I think she
misses the old times and hoped to get back to that
again," Willow offered. "The patrolling and
gossiping and partying – happier times before, you
know, she went all homicidal and crazy." Willow
paused a moment. "And that’s not the pot calling
the kettle just so you know," she added quickly.
"She just…I think she missed you Buffy."
Buffy sighed. "But you guys are okay, right? I mean
you could say no hard feelings and then leave with hard
feelings and you wouldn’t talk to us and-."
going to happen," Giles assured Buffy as he spared
a glance to Xander. "Neither of you will be ‘cut
off’ I can assure you."
"I’m not sure
how I’m gonna handle not seeing you guys
everyday," Buffy confessed.
"We’re a phone
call away," Willow offered. "A-and we’ll
take a break now and then to visit you as well. Mí casa
es su casa – always."
"Well now that
that’s settled you wanna head back in?" Xander
Willow watched him
closely and could see the depression creeping back. He
had moments of happiness however they seemed fleeting at
best. She walked over and put her arm around him and
Buffy, leading them back into the house.
"This is so
exciting!" Andrew said as two taxi vans came up to
the house and he grabbed his bag.
isn’t all that dude," Faith told him. "Just
"Well it’s not
Cleveland exactly. It’s everything. A new move. A new
start. Helping fight the evil of the world."
you’re gonna be fighting is dishpan hands," Faith
Willow stood next to
Kennedy at the bottom of the stairs and called up,
"Giles? Taxi’s here."
now," he yelled back down as he peeked his head out
of the bedroom.
"So this is it
huh?" Buffy asked.
"You can always
change your mind Buffy. You and Xander both," he
"You could always
change your mind too," she offered. "Stay in
California; play the role of rakish uncle?" Giles
simply grinned at her with a slight cock of his head.
"No," Buffy admitted with a nod. "You
gotta go. I know. It’s who you are. And I
"And I understand
that being a Slayer is what you did. It wasn’t always
who you were." Buffy’s shoulders slumped and she
couldn’t look at Giles. Quietly, he walked over and
pulled her into a hug. "Remember what Willow said,
we’re a phone call away. So take the time, take the
funds that Willow’s set aside for you and go see the
world Buffy. You’ve earned it, dear. If it leads you
back to us someday that’s wonderful. And if it
doesn’t that’s quite alright too – as long as
Buffy chuckled through
the tears that had formed in her eyes after Giles
speech. "Oh yeah! You’re gonna be so much better
than Travers ever was," she quipped, pulling away
and giving him a pat on the arm.
Giles and Buffy both
turned to the door at the sound of Willow’s annoyed
voice that had floated upstairs again.
beginning to bellow," Giles sighed. "That’s
my cue to go."
He picked up his bag
and Buffy followed him on his journey downstairs.
"All loaded up?" he asked Willow as he reached
"I’ll take my
things out then," he told her leaving the two women
"Where are Xander
and Dawn?" Willow asked.
"Kitchen I think.
That’s where Giles saw them last," Buffy told
Willow gave a nod and
she wasn’t sure what more to say. Instead of saying
anything she just pulled Buffy into a hug and stood
still for a moment as they tightened their hold on each
"I’m not gonna
say good-bye," Willow finally spoke. "That’s
not what this is. I’ll just say see ya later,
Buffy pulled back and
wiped her eyes. All she could do was nod.
ready?" Kennedy asked her lover from the open door.
"We’re all loaded up."
"Yeah I’ll be
right out. Gotta say see ya to Xander and Dawn."
Buffy’s arm as she walked past her and began her
journey toward the kitchen. Kennedy waited and gave
Buffy a grin and a nod before the blonde Slayer closed
the distance between them.
"Take care of
yourself," Buffy told her sincerely.
Kennedy said with a nod.
"And as for
Willow," Buffy told her. "If you hurt her I
will hunt you down and kill you. Do you
"Where the Hell
did that come from?" Kennedy asked.
herself likes to say," Buffy told her with a grin.
"A vague disclaimer is nobody’s friend. That
woman has been through Hell and back. Don’t drag her
through another one. That’s all I’m saying."
"I won’t Buffy.
I promise," Kennedy answered.
Buffy said as she pulled Kennedy into a hug. "Look
after each other, okay?"
Buffy didn’t add
more. She simply walked back upstairs and Kennedy
watched every step.
Willow said poking her head inside. "Train’s
leaving," she told them.
Dawn walked over and
started crying and pulled Willow into a fierce hug.
Willow closed her eyes against doing the same as she
spoke, "We’re not gonna be gone forever Dawnie
and you can come visit whenever you like, okay?"
"I’m gonna miss
you guys so much," she sobbed.
"Yeah well just
mind Big Sister Buffy or else I might have to come back
out here a-and I promise I won’t be in the best of
moods if I do. I want my visits to be friendly so keep
your nose clean, okay?" Dawn nodded and Willow
motioned toward the doorway. "Why don’t you start
by checking on her?"
"Okay. Take care
and write me whenever you can. You’ve got the email
Willow smiled and
nodded. "I sure do and I promise. Cross my
Dawn gave a nod and
exited the kitchen leaving Willow and Xander alone. He
walked over slowly.
she began. "It’s never too late to change your
"A big part of me
wants to go because of…well you. I love you Will.
I’m not sure what it’s gonna be like not talking to
"You still can
"Yeah but it’s
not the same," he told her. "Before I could
just hop in my car and come on over."
"Well now you
just hop on a plane. Not all that different," she
said trying to sound optimistic. "Any ideas what
you’re going to do now?"
"Well I’m gonna
take my share of the ‘spoils’ and see the country.
The nomad life sounds appealing. I think I could use
some isolation right now. Quiet reflection and all
"Well like I
said, if you change your mind, you’ve got a home. As
long as Giles and Buffy and I are around you’ll always
have a home. Don’t forget that," Willow told him.
She pulled him into a
hug and he wrapped his arms around her kissing the crown
of her head.
"Don’t let Ken
boss you around too much," he said teasing her.
"Oh, I think we
know the one who’s really whipped," she retorted.
Xander gave a
half-chuckle. "Yeah, you got that whip appeal going
on," he admitted before looking serious again.
"Take care, Will."
"You too, Xan."
Willow reached up and
pinched his cheek before pulling away. Once she was
turned around she walked out not looking back. She
couldn’t look back. She had to keep moving forward and
her bottom lip quivered as she walked.
The only person Willow
found downstairs was Kennedy who was waiting at the
door. As she arrived, Kennedy put her arm around
Willow’s waist and joined at the hip the two walked
silently to the taxi.
As they settled in
next to each other the cabbie asked, "All
Giles sat on
Willow’s opposite side and put his hand around her
shoulder. "To Cleveland?" he asked her.