AN: I don't own Buffy: the Vampire Slayer, nor the characters within.


It was the bewitching hour. Glancing up at the old clock Giles had proudly brought with him from England, Willow sighed and reached out to turn off the reading lamp she had been using. Leaving a bookmark in the binding of the book she had been looking through, she shut it, rose from her seat, and stretched out her shoulders and arms. Making her way to the kitchen from memory, a soft light shone down from atop the stairs telling her that Giles was still awake (or had fallen asleep reading with the light on again).

She smiled – Giles was so predictable - and opened the refrigerator, squinting at the light that blasted her in the face. She grabbed herself the carton of milk. Clinking down a glass from Giles' cupboard, she sighed with relief when the cool milk soothed her mouth. Sometimes, milk was wonderful.

Finishing her drink, she put the cup into the sink and filled it with water, replacing the milk back into the cold where it belonged. Making her way back to the study, she thought about going upstairs to turn off Giles' light for him, but decided against it. The idea of seeing the British gentleman in his pajamas didn't frighten her – in fact, it might even be cute – but Willow really didn't want to run into him if he was still awake and face some awkward questions. So she grabbed her stuff, slid into her warm winter coat, armed herself with some stakes and holy water, and left Giles' apartment.

Willow didn't really mind being the one who always stayed longer than everyone else when they were researching. She loved to look through the old books that Giles had brought with him. Each one was different, and the redhead knew that if she treated them the way they were meant to be treated, the books wouldn't mind dispensing their knowledge to her. In fact, Willow was sure that the reason Xander, Cordelia, and Buffy rarely ever achieved their goals when researching was because they thought the books were there just to help them or sleep behind. Most books wouldn't care, though magical ones, as a rule, did. Willow always made sure to treat hers with respect anyway.

It was a rather warm night, and she would have gladly taken a more leisurely stroll through the park, but this was Sunnydale and the Hellmouth, and she couldn't take any chances.

So, when a bright pink aura suddenly surrounded her, she wasn't altogether surprised. She was, however, alarmed. She twirled around, trying to see who had sent the cloud, but no one was there, and as soon as it had appeared, the pink was gone.

Willow blinked, and stopped. Had the pink ever been there? She didn't feel any different. Had no trouble breathing. Bringing up her arm, she sniffed the sleeve of her coat, seeing if any new scent had settled there. Nope. Stuffy leather smell, as always. She touched her right hand with her left. Was it sticky? Oily? Nope, skin-feeling as always. Taste…? Slightly hesitantly, she licked her finger. The same.

Shaking her head, she decided that it was just caused by her lack of sleep. Turning back towards her house, she figured it was only logical to run the rest of the way.

So she did.