CHAPTER SEVEN: WHAT MATTERS
Within the blink of an eye, Buffy found herself sitting on the bench in her backyard hugging Xander fiercely. Buffy heard footsteps coming up the side of the house and quickly disentangled herself from Xander. She ran to the fence as Warren came through into the backyard. His face showed that he hadn't been prepared for the Slayer to meet him halfway. He fumbled to get his hand into his jacket pocket, and Buffy used his disadvantage and quickly backhanded the angry black-clothed man.
Warren stumbled and she hit him again, making him double over. She brought her knee up and smashed Warren's head against it, sending Warren into unconsciousness. Xander ran up behind her, his heart racing.
"How did you know he was there?" Xander asked.
Buffy turned to him, her face pale, her breathing shallow.
"You wouldn't believe me if I told you."
After the multiple police questions directed at the Scoobies who answered them as well as they could without mentioning demons and robots, Buffy felt safe in the knowledge that she and the rest of the Gang were free from The Trio. As the police car drove away, Warren screaming angrily from inside, Buffy smiled to herself and walked inside.
Willow and Tara walked down the steps, dishevelled but looking incredibly sated. Tears came to Buffy's eyes and she gave both of them tight hugs, thankful that the words that had come as an accident had changed their world for the better.
The Wiccans were obviously confused by the sudden change in the Slayer, but they didn't mind all that much. She was smiling and crying 'happy tears' as she had told them. She had greeted Dawn with a hug and had told her that she loved her. Dawn had been slightly worried by the turn of events, but had been grateful for the attention. She saw a spark of Buffy's old self in the Slayer's eyes. Dawn knew that whatever had caused it had been big, big enough to give the Slayer a dose of reality, and Dawn was thankful for it. She only hoped that it continued.
Later that afternoon, the Scoobies gathered at the Magic Box. Buffy smiled as she walked in, grateful to see that the Shop was completely in tact. The group sat around the table, discussing the Trio's downfall and talking about their plans for the summer that was coming soon.
Anya forced herself to pull away from the customers for a moment, tapping Buffy's shoulder to get her attention. Buffy turned, a smile on her face. She saw the seriousness in Anya's eyes and her smile fell. She stood and followed Anya into the back room.
"You still remember, right?" Anya asked.
Buffy nodded, a tightness forming in her chest as she remembered the hurt from only hours ago. She couldn't believe how quickly things have spiralled out of control.
"Nothing can reverse the wish, right?" Buffy asked, concerned for both Willow and herself.
Anya shook her head. "Not unless you're planning on destroying my necklace before I grant my next wish."
Buffy shook her head emphatically. "Not in this lifetime."
"Good. Cos I didn't particularly like that world either," Anya said.
"It wasn't fun," Buffy agreed.
Anya smiled and gave Buffy another quick hug. "I'm glad you're alright. That evil bitchy you wasn't too much fun. Willow bitchy was terrifying, but…what you would have been capable of…scary."
Buffy nodded, agreeing with Anya completely. "I know what you mean. I just…I can't believe that we hadn't thought to make a wish before that. I didn't even say that on purpose."
"Sometimes the most obvious answers are staring us right in the face. We're just too blind to see them," Anya said wisely.
Buffy smiled, wondering when Anya had come across this much wisdom. Anya tilted her head to the side thoughtfully and stared intently at the Slayer.
"What?" Buffy asked, slightly uncomfortable with Anya's gaze.
"You look better," Anya said.
"Better than the evil bitchy me? I'd kinda hope so," Buffy said with a laugh.
Anya just smiled and shook her head. "No, I mean better than before. Better than you've been since you've come back."
Buffy thought about it for a moment and smiled. She felt considerably better than she used to as well.
"I guess my little stint as the newer model of the evil bitch monster of death, I've kinda put things into perspective," Buffy admitted. "Seeing Will and Tara again, happy, together…alive. That's what matters."
The door to the training room opened and Xander poked his head around, surprised to see his ex-fiancée and his best friend deep in conversation.
"Hey girls," he greeted. "Ahn, Giles is on the phone. Wants to know if you got the latest shipment of stuff that he sent."
Anya thanked him and turned back to Buffy.
"You should talk to him," Anya said.
"Who, Xander? We made up this morning," Buffy replied.
Anya rolled her eyes, surprised at Buffy's obliviousness. "Not Xander, Giles. You should talk to him. If that hug you guys had said anything he misses you as much as you miss him."
Buffy thought about it for a moment before nodding her agreement.
"Just yell when you're finished talking to him," Buffy said, a smile spreading across her face even as her insides swirled with nervous butterflies.
Anya nodded and walked out, her good deed for the day done. Buffy followed and sat down with the group, Xander sitting next to her. He nudged her playfully and was met with a grin. He couldn't help but smile back, Buffy's happiness contagious. He'd forgotten what it was like to see the Slayer smile.
"How come you're all happy today?" he asked.
"Cos," Buffy replied, her smile widening. "It's a new day, my friends are healthy, happy…alive. Those stupid nerds are locked up where they belong and…and I think I've finally remembered why life is so damn good."
Xander swallowed hard and forced himself not to cry.
"And why's that Buff?" he asked.
She cast a look at Willow and Tara who were curled up in one chair, Willow in Tara's lap, the girls whispering, kissing and giggling together. Dawn was in a corner, a book in her lap and a smile on her face while Anya chatted happily on the phone. "Cos of you guys."
Thanks for reading. I told you it had a cop-out ending, but…at least it's finished! *grins* One of the many reasons I've forgotten about my many WIP'S. Cos I keep starting new stuff. Hope you enjoyed. Please review or email, cos I'd really appreciate that!