Rating:  PG, just general Buffy-ish type things a-happenin'

Feedback:  I'd like that very much, thank you.

Spoilers:  If you know about Tara and Spike's Chip, you're good to go.

Distribution: Here.  If you're interested, please let me know.

Summary:  Willow's magic has backfired again, and this time she's so upset she decides it would be better if she leaves Sunnydale.

Author's Note:  Set sometime during Season 4.

Disclaimer: All characters are owned by Mutant Enemy (Joss Whedon), a wonderfully creative company whose charcters I have borrowed for a completely profit-free flight of fancy.  Kindly do not sue me, please, as I am terrified of you.  Thank you.

Dedication:  For Joe, who is going to have a great future ahead of him.

It's a Willowful Life

            Willow stood at the bus stop, clutching the handle of her suitcase tightly and willing herself not to cry.  This is all for the best, she thought to herself grimly.  If you stay, what happened last night could happen again.  Only next time maybe somebody would get killed.  She blinked her green eyes ferociously in an attempt to keep her tears from falling.  Leaving Sunnydale was her only choice.

            Suddenly, she was surrounded by the memory of the previous night's battle.  It had been a Barathrum, a demon fifteen feet tall with poisonous fangs, razor sharp claws, fire breath, the strength of forty humans, and a serious attitude problem.  Buffy, Spike, Xander, Giles, Tara, and Anya were crowded into its pit-like lair, fighting fiercely.  Suddenly, Willow had an idea.  She had been experimenting with a spell that would temporarily increase the Slayer's power many times over.  She decided to cast it in an effort to make battling the Barathrum a snap for Buffy.  Chanting in an ancient dialect of Greek, she had indeed managed to create the shimmering, golden cloud that was supposed to descend upon the Slayer and grant her tremendous strength.

            Unfortunately, the cloud had other ideas.  Instead of coming to rest over Buffy, it had headed straight for the demon.  Willow's eyes had grown huge as she hoped against hope that the spell hadn't worked at all and nothing would happen.  No such luck.  Instead, the Barathrum had given a tremendous roar and lashed its tail, sending half the ceiling down on top of her friends.  Fortunately, no one had been killed and the demon's power surge only lasted about five minutes.  Once the cloud faded away, a very ticked off Buffy quickly launched a wooden javelin through the creature's throat, making it collapse into a pool of its own black blood. 

Silence spread across the mostly destroyed cavern as Willow took in the damage she had caused.  Xander had a black eye and was walking with a severe limp.  There was a nasty looking gash above Anya's left ear.  Tara was cradling her right arm.  Spike's other eyebrow had a cut running through it that almost exactly mirrored his scarred one.  Giles had a bloody lip and seemed to be missing part of a tooth.  Buffy looked like one gigantic bruise.  Embarrassingly, Willow hadn't been harmed at all.

"Uh, guys, I'm really sor…" she had begun to say when a very angry English accent had cut her off mid-sentence.

"What were you trying to do?  Help the demon finish us off?  Look at this mess!  How many times have you been told not to try casting spells that are too difficult?  This is all your fault, you stupid little witch!  You're nothing more than a child playing with pretty fire – a fire that your pathetic powers could never even hope to control, by the way.  We're lucky that no one's dead, no thanks to you!"

There was a stunned silence in the chamber.

"Actually, Giles, I am dead.  But then I was when I walked in here, so that doesn't count," Spike said.  "By the way, does anyway else here think he just stole my speech?"

 Willow's jaw had hung open for several moments before she had bolted from the room, sobbing hysterically.  Of all people, she had never expected Giles to explode at her like that.  She had raced back to her dorm room, scribbled a hasty note, thrown her clothes into her suitcase and bought a bus ticket to Seattle.  Not that she knew anyone in Seattle.  In fact, that was kind of the point. 

            At last, she saw the bus pulling up to the curb.  Looking longingly at the little town that she had grown up in, the place that held everyone she loved, she took a deep breath.  When the door swung open with a gasp of air, she prepared to take her first step on her journey away from everything she had ever known.  Suddenly, she felt a hand on her shoulder.

            "Just where do you think you're going?" said the last voice she ever expected to hear.  It couldn't be; it just couldn't!

            Her eyes practically bulging out of her head, she turned to look at the woman standing next to her.

            "Miss… Miss Calendar?"  she managed to squeak.

            "Well, I'm not the Easter Bunny."

            "No, because then you'd be pink and fluffy and be carrying chocolate eggs and besides that I'm Jewish and you're dead does that mean I'm dead too?" the redhead babbled in nervousness.

            "No, Willow, you're not dead.  But I still am."

            "So you're, like, a ghost then?"

            "Sort of, but not exactly.  Ghosts are spirits that get stuck here for one reason or another.  I'm here because I have a mission.  And you're it."

            It wasn't until now that Willow took a good look around her.  Sunnydale had come to an abrupt halt.  The traffic had stopped, the people were frozen in place in mid-stride, and even the bus's exhaust fumes were suspended unmovingly in the air. 

            "What's going on, Miss Calendar?"

            "First of all, call me Jenny.  You're not in high school anymore.  As for what's going on, I'm here to tell you not to leave."

            "But, you don't know what happened last night Mi… Jenny.  That stupid spell I cast almost got us all killed!"

            "I know all about that, but have you really thought what your running away is going to accomplish?  Willow, there are a lot of people who care about you in Sunnydale.  If you're trying to avoid hurting your friends, disappearing will cause every bit as much trouble as that spell."

            "They'll be better off.  I suppose some of them might miss me for a little while though," she mumbled thoughtfully.  "I don't like the idea of hurting anyone.  I suppose it would have been better if I'd just never been born."

            Jenny's eyes widened at Willow's words.  "Oh really?  Well, well, it looks like I get to play Clarence."

            "Huh?"

            "Your wish is granted.  Willow Rosenberg never existed."

            With these words a tremendous gale blew up out of nowhere, sweeping away the frozen street and surrounding Willow and Jenny in a whirlpool of swirling light and sound.  Willow was frightened out of her wits, but she couldn't help feeling that if Jenny had told her the truth, then her friends would be living much happier lives.