TITLE: A Gentle Ascent

AUTHOR: Whoser88


SPOILERS: Right after S6's ep, "Grave"

SUMMARY: The plane ride to England invokes emotions in Willow.

DISCLAIMER: The characters are the property of Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy, Sandollar Productions, Kuzui Enterprises, 20th Century Fox Television, the WB Television Network, and whoever else may have a hold on them. I do not mean to infringe upon any copyrights.

Dedication: To HonorH, the author of the Official Buffy and Angel Fanfiction University, who made me realize that you limit yourself by focusing on 'ships or specific pairings. This is my first excursion into the world of canon fic, so thank you for giving me the courage to do so HonorH.

The plane began its slow taxi out of the gate and Willow settled herself further into her seat. She was dressed in all black once more, this time not as a show of allegiance to the inner darkness that compels us all, but rather as the more traditional sign of mourning. The plane gathered speed as the rain started, droplets gliding gently over aero-dynamic surfaces. Through the murmur of flight attendants and safety precautions the soft weeping of Willow could almost be heard. They lifted, and the rain drove harder against the gleaming shell. Tears landed with melodramatic plops on the tray table. Giles leaned over and offered his handkerchief, trying to convey the message of support without the awkward words that would mar the sincerity of the statement.

The plane broke through the clouds and the patter of rain stopped. The engines hummed and Willow sniffed. She made to give the handkerchief back to him, but Giles would have none of it. Leaning back, he closed his eyes and let sleep capture him, an ending to its hunt that had begun weeks before. His limbs lay slack against the chair, and Willow smiled grimly at the band of black Giles wore around his left arm.

She turned to look out the window, squinting to see into the distance. She strained for the sounds of other jets, anyone else leaving home. In truth, her home had left her. The air was silent, the plane isolated in this patch of sky. A quick glance confirmed Giles' slumber, and Willow placed the handkerchief on his tray.

Looking back to the window, she felt the tug internally. The cold distance of the clouds called to her, and she placed a palm flat against the tightly sealed glass. It had taken a while, but Willow had finally accepted the truth: Whatever tomorrow she had, she would face it alone.