After All

Disclaimer: Joss Owns them, I borrow them.

Author's note: When I originally started this story, I planned it to be an exploration of a Buffy/ Willow  post "Chosen" relationship. Unfortunately for some, it didn't turn out that way. I'm to blame because I didn't rewrite this opening note. I'm doing that now, to correct any misconceptions about this story. Here goes:

This story begins as a Willow/ Buffy story. Then, it gets really complicated, with Faith added in the mix. It winds up Willow/ Faith, but it's not a happy ending for them. THERE IS CHARACTER DEATH IN THIS STORY. BE AWARE OF THIS, AND IF IT'S NOT TO YOUR LIKING, STOP NOW BEFORE YOU START.

If you do start it, and don't want to hit the Character death, consider Chapter 7 as the last one you read. After that, there's no way to avoid it.

Last warning. DARK FICTION, DARK FICTION, DARK FICTION. Ok, you've been suitably warned.

As a side note, I did try to rewrite the last chapter, saving Willow, and trying to make Faith's death a little less dark. I tried, I really did. I got through about half way, and it just wasn't working. So I let this story stand as it was. It's one of my least popular stories.

In response, I wrote another story " I'll see you in my heart" . It was taken down because one love scene violated the TOS( they said NC-17, I said R…). If you email me( it's in my profile) I'll direct you to the site where you can read that. Or, if you have an account that can take attachments of about 170K, I'll mail you a zipped copy of that story.

Ok, I'm done. If you're brave, read on. If this isn't you're kind of story, please try some of my other fictions. Thanks anyway for reading this rather long note.


After All


A small town outside Rome. Towards the Mediterranean. Afternoon.

Buffy Summers is relaxing on the Beach, enjoying the sun. Life has certainly changed for her since her battle with the First. Time was, taking a vacation was … well…impossible for her. She was the Slayer, the Chosen one. No time off for good(or even bad) behavior. Even now, it was weird, just lazing under the sun, not worrying what the next 'thing' would be. What demon would get it in his head to take over, destroy or otherwise make the world miserable. 'Nope, nothing to do but to sit here, enjoy the sun, and bake a little. Which reminds me' she turns over onto her tummy, letting the sun wash over her back  'Half a tan just doesn't cut it' She chuckles.

Not that she wasn't still in the game. She had a new responsibility now. Giles had taken over and restructured the Watcher's Council(built it from the ashes, more like), and Buffy had taken on a new responsibility. She had become… what would you call it? Talent Scout? Spotter? Slayer detector? Whatever, she went around with a potential Watcher, and recruited new Slayers as they popped up(ok, maybe recruiter then). Along with the Watcher, she would tell them about themselves, what it meant, and then offer them the choice of becoming a slayer, or not. That was one of the great things about the now. They had a choice. No longer a duty, a destiny…these girls could chose to say "Not interested" and that was that. What surprised Buffy, somewhat, is that most chose to become slayers. Maybe it was an inborn thing. But even after hearing the down part(pain, lots, normal life, none, pay…you're kidding, right?, short life? Oh yeah) they often chose the life. Maybe that's where she was the freak. Who knows? But she knew that despite sometimes missing it, she was happy to not have to do it anymore. If she chose, that is.

Neither she nor Willow realized exactly what would be the result of that spell they cast, to activate all slayers. Their main goal had been to make the potentials into slayers, But all the potentials, worldwide, had been activated. Even at 1% of 1% of 1% of the population, that meant 6000 slayers, worldwide. The idea of that many slayers, a small army, was mind boggling. She had to grin. The Big Bad was in for one Big Bad of a headache.

She and many watchers had recruited through Belgium, France, Spain… and now Italy. Over 300 slayers, or nascent slayers, had been approached…and nearly 260 had 'signed on'. They were taken to England, where they were trained at the Watcher's council. A Watcher no longer had one, but many charges under him. Well, about time they worked for a living, Buffy chortled. Ok, Ok, Giles had always devoted an enormous amount of time to it…but hey…I was the one out there fighting ,right? And still there was a lot of Europe to go through. Sigh. Who knows how many there would be at the end of the tour? And there was still Asia, Africa, Latin America…she shook her head. Too much to think about , right now.

Well…Faith and Robin were doing the North America tour. She chuckled. We actually wanted to do it together. Me and Faith…the Slayer tour. Hee, hee that woulda been cool. No doubt, Faith is one hell of a girl to party with. But, in the end they thought it better to divide us up " Use your resource to the best advantage". Me? I think they just didn't want us together. We coulda gotten up to some trouble. Kinda cool how Faith and I, after all those years of being enemies, finally made it up, became friends. And now that she's got Robin, she seems really happy for the first time. I'm happy for her…and ok, a little jealous. I mean, when do I get my Hunk O' Hunks eh? Buffy shrugs. No big. Right now just happy being Buffy solo.

Well, at least I got Dawnie settled. She's in the American University in Rome, studying. I still can't believe where that girl gets the brainpower…not from big sis, let me tell you. She is totally smart…makes me look like dummy Buffy girl. I guess Will rubbed off on her. Double cool is that the Watcher's Council is paying for it YAAAAY. Ok, well…hitch. She's gotta be a Watcher afterwards. Wiggins time, let me tell you. I mean…Dawn ,watcher? Ewwww. But , if it's what she wants, what can I say?

Will and Kenny took South America. Last I heard, they were in Brazil. But that was awhile ago…long while ago, actually.

Buffy gets a strange expression on her face… serious, a bit sad, a bit nostalgic.  She shakes her head, like trying to get rid of some disagreeable thought…then shrugs.

Anyway, hope things are going well for them. Sure would like to call, to find out. But I don't have a number for them, and they're moving around, so mail probably would miss them. Well, I'm sure they're doing fine, and all's well. I mean, Will always was up for a challenge, and I'm sure Kennedy is doing her best.

If Buffy were honest with herself, she would have to admit she missed Willow. After L.A. she didn't think that would be possible. But it's not really fair to blame it on just what occurred in L.A.  They had been drifting long before that… maybe as far back as the first year they were in college. Willow had Tara, I had Riley, and we were doing our thing. She with the magic stuff, me with the Slayage. Then there was Glory…and I lost Riley, and died… and was brought back. Living, but not really living… Ya know? And Willow had her problems with Magic, and she  and Tara broke up over it. And her addiction to it. How she tried to fight it…and the Trio(of geeks, no less) causing so much trouble. Just when she and Tara get back together, Tara dies…and Will goes Evil in her grief and anguish. And nearly destroying the World. Yikes. And then, afterwards, and after she went to England to heal…she came back. But there was an awkwardness we never entirely got over. We tried, and did get somewhat closer…fighting the First. But then L.A. happened…

Now, she's in South America, I'm here in Europe. So far away from each other. And … I miss her. I miss talking to her. I miss the friend I had. That I could tell anything to. Could talk about fears, dreams…or just stuff. And it was all cool. And she helped me a lot. I didn't realize how  much 'til I didn't have her close to help anymore. That's always it, though, right? You never see what you got 'til you don't got it anymore.

Then there's Spike. There is an enigma wrapped in a mystery tied up with a puzzle. So much easier when we just hated each other. Cleaner, purer, I guess. But then it got muddy…and after I came back, muddier. Using him to feel. Something. Anything. And he tried to rape me. That's confusing too, because did I really expect him to follow some moral code? He was evil… leashed, but still Evil. He was playing by the set rules, but I changed them. But no means no. Even he, finally, got that.  Then he left, and came back… with a soul. But unlike Angel, it didn't really night and day him. There was still  Spike there… he wasn't totally William…or totally Spike. Confusing? You betcha it was confusing.  Something was there between us. Something that could've grown, been more. Had there been time. But there wasn't time. I didn't even realize my own feelings 'til nearly the end, when he was already dying, fighting the First. And he didn't believe it. Didn't believe it. He died as he lived…confused. And I live on, confused.

Damn I miss Will. I could talk to her about this. No doubt, she would get the major wiggins, but she would still listen. And try to help. But, that's not gonna happen.

Unless I do something. Find a way to contact her. Feel her out…maybe we can work this out.

I dunno. It wasn't pretty. But…maybe I can try, ya know? Can't be much harder than fighting Glory. Much.

Yeah, that's the way to make it happen… scare yourself

Buffy picks up her cell, and makes a call.


Willow Rosenberg wondered exactly what she was doing here, anyway?

She knows she's supposed to be helping in 'recruiting' new slayers, but she doesn't really seem to be doing much of anything. She goes with Kenny and a Watcher, and is kinda like the silent(is that, as in dumb?) 3rd partner. Not saying much, If anything. Watching as they interview and test nascent slayers, and make the offer. Then she gets the fun job of writing the reports, while the others go out, or whatever. She had hooked up, thinking… " South America…wow. Cool food, adventure, pretty scenery." Instead, she might as well be in a library back in L.A. for all the local color she soaks up.

Even being with Kenny…wasn't turning out all that wonderful. When they first met, back in Sunnydale, fighting the first. It had been all wiggly and exciting and fun. I mean, she had liked the " I know what I want…YOU" from Kennedy. The in your face attitude, and then the sweetness she showed making love. It had been so …nice. It was so different than it had been with Tara. But in a nice way.

But the bloom was definitely off there. After the first, after taking this new assignment, things had changed. Kennedy was …ok, just say it, she was totally flirting with the new slayers, hanging with them…and not spending a whole lotta time with Willow. And that hurt Willow a lot more than she liked to admit. Willow had been quiet about it, hoping it was just a phase, the excitement of the new job, etc. But as time passed, it didn't seem to be lessening…rather the opposite. Willow was beginning to believe this had been a mistake. A big mistake. But she wasn't gonna admit it. No sir, not her. Uh-uh. She would hang in there, 'til she saw it through.

But she was missing stuff. She totally missed Tara. More than a year had passed since she… had passed, and still it hurt. Lots. She couldn't get over it entirely. And Xander… she missed her lifelong friend and goofball. He seemed so clueless…'til he surprised you with how much he totally got it. She smiled. Even with one eye, he still saw it all. She really missed him. And Giles. Boy, she missed Giles. She never admitted it, but she always fantasized that Giles was her dad, showing her the world. He was more a dad than her dad had been. She missed being able to talk to him about stuff. Even when he lectured her, she secretly liked it…most of the time.

But I'll tell you one person I don't miss. Buffy Summers.

Well… not a lot anyway. Hardly at all. A little., maybe.

No, why should I miss her, huh? She pretty much let me know what she thought about me, about Kenny, about Kenny and me. Like she did so good at picking boyfriends, huh? Where does she get off? Who does she think she is?

Your best friend.

Yeah, right. Sure. Thought best friends were supposed to support you. Stand by you. Not carp on you. Not get in your face about your choices. She was just jealous. That's it. I had someone, and she….

Willow pauses, closing her eyes. She looks unhappy"… was alone. Again." Willow had forgotten about Spike, how he'd just died, saving the world. And how maybe Buffy was mourning him, in her own way.

Still…she didn't have to say those things. They were mean, and hurtful.

Of course, none of your stuff was mean… or hurtful, was it?

Willow winces. She did it first!

That's mature, Willow. It's ok to hurt, long as they do it first, right?

Whose side you on, anyway?


Then why're you at me? Why're you doing this?

Maybe you miss her. You're best friend. Maybe you could use a best friend right now?

Maybe. But that's not happening. Not after what was said. That's over.

Is that what you want? For it to be over?


Is it?

"…no.." small voice.

What do you want, Willow?

She wanted, more than anything, to take back those last 5 minutes. To take back those words she said, and never meant. Said in anger, and in spite.

But that couldn't happen. All she could do was live with it. She'd made her choices, said what she said, and no amount of wishing would change that.

Willow looked at the report she was writing, and couldn't understand at first why the screen appeared fuzzy. Til she realized she was crying… had been for the last few minutes. She rubbed furiously at her eyes, trying to rub out the hurt with her hands. But it remained, and became stronger.

She laid her head on the desk, and just gave into her feelings.


Los Angeles, California. Evening. A few months prior.

It was a balmy June evening, as was common in L.A.  Buffy Summers was enjoying the night air, sitting in the courtyard of the old hotel that had been the offices of Angel investigations for the last couple of years. Now that  Angel was the CEO of the L.A. Branch of Wolfram and Hart, the building was largely unused. It was currently occupied by Buffy, Willow, Faith, and the rest of the refugees of the battle with The First. The wounded had been tended to, and were recuperating upstairs. Some had already left, their families coming to bring them home. Things were settling down, and plans were being made for the future. The Scoobies, homeless with the destruction of Sunnydale, had come here … there was no other place to go. But it was just temporary 'til things could be sorted out.

Many things were on Buffy's mind. One of them was Angel. It bothered her that he was now working for an organization that had so recently been dedicated to his removal and destruction. Whose purpose in the many dimensions and countries it had offices in was for … frankly, evil. Angel had made the case for working from the inside, using the vast resources of Wolfram and Hart to fight the good fight, do as much good as possible. But it just didn't sit right with her. Too much temptation, too likely to give in, "go with the flow", so to speak. She didn't like it.

Of course, Angel didn't tell her the real reason for accepting the offer. Two reasons, actually. One was the care of Cordelia while she was in a coma, hoping to eventually cure her, and restore her. But the main reason was his son, Conner. His son, that no one remembered now. Because the clincher had been that the senior partners, as they were called, had folded time, and gave Conner a normal life… a life in a normal family, happy with a future. Angel had seen Conner after the destruction of Jasmine. After he lost his faith in her. How …desolate he was, how miserable. He'd lost his father figure(Stephen Holtz), his love(Cordelia) and his child(Jasmine). His was ambiguous in his feelings towards Angel. His short life had been spent in a hell dimension, and he had never known untainted love or happiness. Angel, his father in all ways, decided that he had to give his son a life free from the pain of being his son. So, he sacrificed his son ever knowing him, to give him happiness. And had struck the deal with Wolfram and Hart to do it. But no one knew, or would ever know what he'd done. Not even Buffy.

Buffy was mourning the loss of Spike. It was still hard to accept losing someone you were beginning to really care for, and about. She did care about the Spike who had changed so radically over the years. From a bloody, soulless vampire who's main pleasure was torturing his victims(one way being driving a rail spike through their heads...ergo, the nickname 'Spike') to a vampire with a soul, who had changed, really changed. Lots of the bravado and attitude had still been there, but the core was different. He'd become a decent, caring being. She had turned to him when she was at her low, and he'd comforted her without asking for anything but the privilege of comforting her. There had been an animal attraction between them, at least on her side, before he'd gotten his soul. But that had been changing…into something deeper, more profound. But, that was over, gone with Spike and Sunnydale…buried in the crater that had once been her home.

She was mourning more than that, however. She was mourning the loss of her friends. Her 'scoobies'. Her slayerettes. With the destruction of Sunnydale, and the sealing of the Hellmouth it sat on, there was no reason for them to be a 'group' any longer. They were coming apart, drifting. Xander was first. He was planning on leaving soon. 'To find himself' as he put it. To make a life for himself, and to find a new home. And to grieve the love of his life, Anya, who'd been killed in the battle. Faith, with whom she'd just starting bonding in friendship, was leaving for New York with Robin. From there, they were going to cover the U.S. in search of slayers…the slayers that had been activated by Willow's spell…hundreds, perhaps thousands of them worldwide. She and Dawn were off to Europe, stopping briefly in Britain with Giles, then on to the continent to do the same thing. And Willow, with Kennedy, was going to cover South America. It was all very important, very necessary, she realized, but it didn't change her feelings. She was losing something, something fundamental to her. For the last 7 years, through good and bad, her friends had been with her. Others had come, and gone, but the core group had always remained together. And now that was ending. It meant losing something that had been an integral part of her life for long, long time.

She already knew she was going to miss Willow most of all. Out of the group, Willow had been closest to her. They had shared so much together, and had leaned on each other when times were bad. And she had seen Willow change from a shy, geeky computer nerd into a strong, powerful woman…and an extraordinarily powerful Wicca. Even when things had been bad between them, when the had drifted apart for so long, they still came together and fought together, facing the world together. It was hard to give her up. Very hard.

And, frankly, it bothered her. Willow, with Kennedy. Or Kenny, as everyone called her. Buffy had tried, bent over backwards trying, but she just couldn't like Kenny. Something about the former potential just really rubbed her the wrong way. She never listened. She always knew better. She was a smart mouthed little…ok, Buffy… chill. Point being, try as she might, she couldn't stand the girl. The only thing that had prevented her from taking Kennedy out and cleaning her clock on a number of occasions had been Willow liking…loving?… Kennedy. That had been her saving grace. And Kennedy was too…dense to see it. To be fair, there were good things about Kennedy… She had no fear, she was good to Willow…but, hey, these are my thoughts, I don't have to be fair. I don't like her, and I think she's wrong for Will. Sue me!

Buffy was lost in her thoughts when a hand descended on her shoulder, and squeezed lightly. She nearly jumped out of her skin…then saw a familiar face, with curls of red hair framing it. She smiled, her heart feeling lighter. She patted a seat next to her, and Willow sat down.

"Hey" Buffy said, smiling a little

"Hey" Willow replied. " Whatcha thinking?"

"Oh, stuff.." Buffy said. " Guess I'm thinking about what's gonna happen now" Her voice was a bit sad.

"Hey, hey, Buffy…it's gonna be ok" Willow said, putting an arm around Buffy's shoulders "It's gonna be good".

" I dunno, Will. We're all going away from each other. Xander's leaving, Giles is leaving…I'm leaving, I guess, ….you're gonna leave…so far away…"

"We'll keep in touch, Buffy. Promise" Will said." Not like there aren't phones and stuff… and email…and hey…we could have a reunion…you know? Like every year, we all get together….the "We saved the World" reunion. And… and we could rent a hall…and tell stories…and party… and have punch…it'd be great" Will goes on enthusiastically. Buffy smiles, but she looks away.

"It's all changing, Will. It's all gonna be different. You're gonna be half a world away. Who am I gonna go to get mochas with? Who's gonna be there, when I need to talk? Who will I hang with? You'll have Kennedy…you're time'll be hers now. You won't have time for me anymore…" Buffy says, maybe with a little resentment.

"Buffy, that's not true…I'll always have time…" Willow starts, but Buffy won't let her finish.

"Puh-lease, Will. It's been like this since Kenny showed up. You don't have time for me. You're always with her. You don't hang with me anymore. You're always taking her side, defending her when she screws up…" Buffy says

"Buffy, what's this about?" Willow asks, getting a little irritated. I mean, where she get off, anyway?

" Will, she's all wrong for you. Don't you see that? She doesn't care about you. She's gonna use you, then when she's through, she's gonna dump you, break your heart. And I won't be there to pick up the pieces…." Buffy started, but Willow stops her

"Pick up the pieces? What're you saying? You've never been there to pick up the pieces, Buffy. My god, when Tara died, where were you?"

"Shot, Will… remember? In the hospital? And you had gone all evil and veiny by that time" Buffy said.

"And still, I managed to take that bullet out of you and heal you. And what? Did you try to reach out to me, Buffy? No, I don't think so. All you could do was think " gotta stop Willow, Gotta fight Willow. What about " Gotta help Willow"? Where did that go?"

"Help? How? You were all vengeful…you didn't listen to anyone. You flayed Warren alive, you tried to kill me, Giles, and Anya…and nearly Dawn and Xander with the fireball… Help you? You didn't want help…you wanted to destroy it all!"

"Really? How come then Xander was able to stop me? What, did he become Superboy? Don't think so. Did he eat his spinach, and knock me into tomorrow? Not so. He reached out to me. Let me know that NO MATTER WHAT, he still cared about me, that no matter, he loved me. But, could you do that? I mean, I know you knew how I felt, Buffy. I saw how you were when you lost your mom. You knew the devastation of losing someone. But reach out? No way. You were too involved with yourself, Buffy. Too boo- hoo about being alive. God, like that was so bad. But to you it was, going around for a year in a half daze. God, Buffy…you don't think of anything but yourself."

"Try getting pulled out of heaven, Will…see how you feel" Buffy said, now getting really angry.

"Oh, goddess, are we back to that AGAIN? Boo Hoo, Buffy get OVER it already. We're sorry. God, we didn't know. We thought you were in some hell dimension. We were supposed to leave you there? What's your deal, Buffy?"

" You have no idea what it was like, Will. No idea what I went through." Buffy says, voice getting loud. Some of the people inside come to the window, watching…

" Maybe not, Buffy. But I know what I went through, what everybody went through. First, we had to bury your mom. Then, we had to bury you. Have any idea what that was like Buffy? How devastated everyone was? No, you have no idea. Yeah, I had to try something…because we couldn't deal. Ok? And we thought you were in torment. So, excuse me!" Willow is near screaming.

"Right. Then you left me alone to dig my way outta that grave. That was great, let me tell you! I thought I came back as a vampire. I didn't know I was confused. God, my worst fear, realized. And there was no one there to tell me different. I wandered around, not know what was what. Till Dawn happened to find me."

"What? We were attacked by demons, Buffy. Would it have been better if we stayed, and you find our bodies?" Willow spat out at her.

" How can you even say that?" Buffy growls… she's trying to regain control, but it isn't working too well." Face it, Will. Even then you were out of control. With the magic. Why do think Tara left you? You started up with Amy, and then Rack, trying to get some Supernatural high…you got addicted. You nearly killed Dawn that time with the car. And it just kept spinning out of control. You blame Tara's death for your losing control, going evil. What? Maybe it was gonna happen anyway"

Willow is livid. Her temper is out of control, but she starts out quietly, ice like. But the volume increases as she continues.

"You're right, Buffy. I was out of control. I did bad things. And I'm still paying for them every day, minute by minute. But you're right Buffy…as always. Right again" Her voice is dripping sarcasm." I should never have interfered. I should have let things take their natural course. Maybe things would've been better for everyone. Maybe Dawn wouldn't have felt rejected by you, and turn to stealing for attention. Certainly Spike wouldn't have had the conflicted signals from you. Come get me, no go away, no come, no go. Ad naseum. I know for a fact that …asshole Warren wouldn't have come looking to shoot you, and kill Tara instead! Even The First, Buffy. Giles said a great deal of the First's agenda had to do with two active slayers co-existing at the same time…the fact that you came back from the dead. So, you're right, Buffy. As always" Willow is over the top now." I WISH THAT I HAD NEVER DONE IT! I WISH I HAD NEVER BROUGHT YOU BACK. I WISH YOU WERE STILL DEAD!!!!"

Five seconds after the words left her mouth, she wished she could take them back. That she had never said them. But it was too late…way too late.

She saw how Buffy took it. Buffy's eyes were wide, her mouth in a small "o" shape. Then, her face set, and expression went grim. She didn't say another word. She just turned, and walked out.

Willow stood there, remorse and anger freezing her to the spot. She kept clenching and unclenching her fists. Staring at the spot where Buffy had been.

The next day, Buffy was gone. She told Giles and Dawn she needed time alone, that she would meet them in London. She also told them they're to tell no one where she was, or she wouldn't speak to them again. Dawn, after that, was cool but polite to Willow. Giles, on the other hand, knew that Willow was upset. But he was angry with her too. And disappointed.

It came down to finally who was on whose side. Some took Willow's side, some Buffy's. But in the end it didn't matter. There were no winners here, only losers. The biggest losers being Buffy and Willow.

They haven't seen or spoken to each other since that night. The wounds were too fresh and raw for either to reach out.

But they both were still hurting. Both needed the other.

And both were beginning to realize it.


Continue? Yes ? No?

Again, it's up to you. I wait for your reviews. Please read and let me know  =)