Disclaimer: Hopefully you've read enough fanfic's to know the drill. If not, then too bad for you because I'm tired of saying it.
!!!Author's Note!!!: This is the only chapter that will be written in third person. Everything else will be in first.
Time/setting: Um, an abyss-like time between the fourth and fifth book for Hp, and a month after Willow tried to destroy the world for Btvs.
Feedback: HELL YES! Erm, I mean… uh, please?
It was raining the day she returned.
It had been all week, and the rhythmic pounding of the water as it plummeted to the earth had never varied. Much like the actions of those in Sunnydale actually. Buffy still patrolled, Dawn went to school, Xander and Anya did their thing, and the gang researched while Spike grumbled and threatened. But still, despite the appearance of normality, there seemed to always be something out of place, something hard to detect. It was as if a statue had broken, and when everything had been glued back together, you found that there was a missing piece.
That piece came back this afternoon.
They were seated in various areas of the magic shop, Xander and Anya in a comfy recliner, Spike with his arms crossed in a hard, wooden chair, and Buffy at the table paying some bills she's brought over. With the exception of the blonde vampire everyone was talking and laughing, joking and reminiscing, though they tended ot shy away form the topic of their absent friend.
Suddenly Spike's head has snapped in the direction of the entrance, his intense ice blue eyes staring, drawing the others attention that way.
The door had opened slowly, almost hesitantly, and then, as though the person on the other side had managed to draw up enough courage, it was flung open with a mustered confidence.
Ten eyes watched as Willow stepped into the threshold. She was wet, having no umbrella or raincoat, and the wisps of her scarlet fiery hair seemed a strange shade of black as they clung to the sides of her pale face. Her large emerald eyes were moist with raindrops, and her full red lips were drawn close as she stared out at her friends nervously, though hiding it well. Giles stood beside her with a wary smile, holding at his side a closed umbrella. He ushered her in with a gentle, almost fatherly touch, and then door closed behind them as they fully entered the shop.
Silence hung thick, and the humans seated squirmed uncomfortably.
"Erm, hey Wills," Xander said with a half smile. "Haven't seen you for a while."
It was as if air had once again been let into the room. Everyone finally began grinning, and many stood to embrace their red-haired friend, excitedly talking about what she'd missed.
She returned their hugs, though with silence and less enthusiasm, and for a moment at least, all was right with the world.
"Giles?" Buffy approached her friend and former Watcher hesitantly. "Can I talk to you for a sec?"
He glanced up at the slayer from a book on magickal runes that he'd been reading, and reassured her with a smile. "Of course, Buffy. What is it?"
She sat down beside him with a sigh. "It's Willow." Her worried eyes met his. "She's done nothing all day but stare out at the rain from the window. She hasn't spoken a word. What's wrong with her?"
Giles' pursed his lips and began cleaning his glasses, a nervous habit of his that he'd never been able to change.
"Buffy, Willow has just come back form some rather vigorous sessions learning to control her magic. It also doesn't help that it… it didn't work as well as we'd hoped."
The Chosen One's eyes widened. "What do you mean? Will she have a relapse? Is she going to be okay?"
Giles' held up his hands in an effort to ward off her speedy and worried questions. "Please Buffy, calm down. It's nothing life threatening. It's just that she wasn't able to learn control to the full extent that she wanted. She's turned from the dark side of the moon but, to put it simply, it will be awhile before she is back to the way she was." He looked at her with sad eyes. "That's if she even returns at all."
Buffy sat there, taking this all in, and for one of the first times in her life she was at a loss for words. She knew that it wouldn't be easy, after all Willow had tried to destroy the world, but she didn't understand. Her life and that of her friends had never been trouble-free, but it never took this long for things to bounce back, never. Why was it now? A sudden surge of resolve washed over her like a tidal wave. She couldn't let her friend slip away without a fight. She couldn't, and she wouldn't.
She gazed at her former mentor with an intense devotion to her new cause. "What can I do to help, Giles?"
As he opened his mouth to respond another voice piped in.
"What about patrol?"
They both turned to see Xander entering the room, eating a sandwich.
"Patrol?" Buffy questioned skeptically.
He shrugged. "Yeah, you know, slayage. Walks around cemeteries, staking the bad guys, joining together as a big happy family to enjoy the past time of turning vamps into ash." He took another bite. "It'd be like high school you know? Sort of bring back the warm fuzzy feelings of our younger years." He paused. "At least, as warm and fuzzy as it could be with demons and bumps in the night."
Buffy raised an eyebrow at him but Giles was the one who spoke next. "Actually Xander, your method of psychology is, surprisingly enough, a sound idea. It could just have a positive effect on her."
Xander's eyes grew wide and he pumped a fist into the air with a shout of happiness. "Score!"
"Hey Willow!" Buffy called to her friend as she entered the main room.
Sluggishly she turned her head and faced the slayer, blinking her eyes expectantly.
Buffy glanced from Xander to Anya, both of whom stood by her. "Hey, we were wondering if you'd like to go on patrol with me, Xand, and Anya tonight. You know, help kill the baddies who are dead, only don't know it yet?"
Willow dropped her head and stared at the carpet, and the friends who stood waiting for her answer exchanged nervous glances.
She then looked up again, and gave a solemn nod of acceptance.
Buffy let out a breath she was unaware she'd been holding. Maybe this would work after all.
Patrol so far had been uneventful.
Willow remained as quiet as ever, Xander and Anya's faces were practically stuck together, and despite Buffy's vigilant and watchful eyes, she hadn't been able to spot anything. That, and it was still raining.
Until they'd arrived at the graveyard, Buffy hadn't been sure if there'd even be anyone out tonight.
They reached a cemetery where so many of Buffy's battles had taken place, and began to aimlessly walk around, not truly expecting to see anything, but wanting to be ready if they did.
An angry and deafening roar broke through the silence as a large, scaled, horned demon came out form behind a tomb, charging straight for Anya and Xander.
Though the two were momentarily frozen, Buffy sprang into action, whipping out a knife and leaping for the demon. The two wrestled briefly, but the demon was able to grab her shirt and fling her against a tree. With a wince, Buffy dismissed the minor setback and stood up, seeing that the monster had already focused back upon her friends.
"What, am I not enough for you?" she yelled tauntingly as she approached him, making him turn around. "Do you need to fight helpless innocents, you big, stinky coward!"
The demon growled at her, severely ticked-off, and she ran for it with a cocky grin.
What she didn't take into account was the rain soaked, and decidedly slippery ground.
She slipped, and landed with a numbing jar on her back.
Opening her eyes to Xander's desperate call, she saw that the demon was only a foot away, and was smirking, showing off his three sets of pointy fangs. Then, in a startlingly bright flash of blue and green, he blew up.
The graveyard went deathly quiet, and all eyes turned to Willow.
The impressive Wiccan stood solemn, her mouth still in a firm line, and not a bead of sweat on her forehead. She held out her hand in a 'stop' gesture, so that it resembled a crossing guard halting traffic, which would have been funny if not for the circumstances. With a practiced air she lowered her arm met the gazes of her friends. Her eyes were the only things that gave away how worried she was, much like a child fearful of reprimands.
But, no one came to console her. Probably because they were much too frightened at the moment to notice.
It was an hour later. Willow had split up from them without a word, and the somber group had trudged back to the shop, still too shocked to speak. When they'd gotten back Giles had immediately noticed their baffled and upset faces, and had inquired as to how the patrol had gone. After he'd been told, he too had settled back in a seat and sat quietly.
Spike had heard, and actually had the gall to laugh as he walked out into the kitchen to heat up a bag of blood.
Then Willow returned. She opened the door, and stepped inside, and they noticed that she was still in the same drenched red sweater and black slacks that she'd been wearing earlier. The only actual difference was her composure, and the car keys in her hand.
"Willow?" Anya asked tentatively, sensing that the moistness around the witch's eyes was not only because of the rain.
Then, to the surprise of everyone, Willow spoke.
"I'm sorry," It came out in an almost whisper. "I truly am so sorry."
Buffy's mouth opened at once, ready to completely forgive her and re-welcome her with open arms, but a look from Giles cut off any comments she may have made.
Willow took in a deep and steadying breath. "I'm leaving."
Wide eyes and gaping mouths fully prepared to protest met the statement instantly, but a quiet "Why?" from Buffy was the only word that actually got out.
Willow gave a harsh, rueful laugh that seemed uncharacteristic and unnerving. "I could list a dozen reasons why, but I think the main reason, is that I'm not ready. I didn't think I was when Giles and I left, and I was assured of that again tonight." Tears rose in the corner of the eyes.
"I'm powerful Buffy. I'm too powerful." Her voice elevated, anger in every word. "Do you realize that I could kill you right now?! You, Xander, Anya, Giles, even Spike?! I could kill every last one of you without so much as blinking and you wouldn't be able to stop me."
Tiny waterfalls cascaded down her cheeks and she drew in a shaky breath. "What happens when the sidekick becomes more powerful than the hero? What am I supposed to do? This power is… it's overwhelming, and it's intoxicating, and it's beautiful and I desire and curse it at the same time. And then I look in your eyes."
A sob broke loose. "I look in your eyes, a friend that has known me so long that we're like sisters, and I see your fear. You're frightened Buffy. You, Xander and Anya. Goddess, even the Coven was frightened of me! You're frightened of my power, of my stability, and deep down inside you're frightened that I might take over your role and become leader. Every one of you looks at me like I'm a time bomb, and that I'm only a few moments away from exploding, and I can't freaking take it anymore."
She turned away from them, hugging her arms, and then spoke in a soft, childlike voice full of raw emotion. "I'm sorry, but I have to go. I might come back. I might not. It doesn't really matter right now."
She trudged her way to the door, slipped through, and was gone. Just like that. Leaving the others in a stunned, and stupefied silence.
Hope you like it so far. I'm working on other projects, so you'll have to wait a few days for an update, but I will get the ball rolling soon enough. Feedback is your friend!