Title: Beer Very Bad
Author: Golden Waffles
Rating: T. For minor language (For real this time! Someone said a bad word! I'm so happy!) and occasional mentions of sex.
Disclaimer: Of course I don't own the characters or settings of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Just the situations I put them in here.
A/N: You'd thinking editing 4000 words instead of 1000 would only take 4 times as long, but for baffling reasons, it's more like 40, so I'm posting in shorter parts to preserve my sanity and curtail the constant rewrite process. That's my reasoning for the length of this chapter. The next one should follow soon.
A/N2: This fic is celebrating two happy occasions. The first: 50,000 words! That's like a NaNoWriMo novel length! The second: Its first birthday! Beer Very Bad is now over a year old! Who'd have thought the silly whim I had to post that first chapter would lead to all this? In any case, I'm glad you all are still reading and enjoying this. I still like writing it. So have no fear; it will not be abandoned.


Chapter 21:
Omens

Willow dragged herself out of bed with an irritated grumble. It was still too early, but her body refused to sleep any longer. She had spent the night tossing and turning restlessly, and the little sleep she managed to get hadn't removed the ominous feeling she had about last night. If anything, it had only gotten worse. Buffy, not having the same problem, snoozed in her bed, unwilling to get up so early on a Saturday now that she and Riley were made up and she could sleep soundly.

Willow grumpily rifled through her closet, wondering if Tara was awake yet and if she had slept as poorly as she had.

She says she has trouble sleeping sometimes. Maybe it's because of feelings like this, that something is wrong and she has to find out what. Maybe I should call her…

She shook herself, trying to dislodge the idea.

Relax, Rosenberg. You'll see her later today. Remember last time this happened? You overreacted for no reason because of a weird feeling and she was just waiting out insomnia with bad television and you looked like a crazy person.

She kept trying to shake off the feeling, but it stuck to her, taunting her like a stubborn itch hiding just out of reach, or an ambiguously worded question on a test. Finally giving up, she finished pulling on clothes and wandered out of the room in search of breakfast. The halls weren't crowded this early in the morning, but a few unlucky coeds with Saturday classes loitered about in Stevenson's student lounge, chatting or hurriedly finishing homework. She paused in front of a coffee vending machine, wondering if the low-quality, caffeine-infused muck would be an acceptable stand-in for an actual breakfast. Like I'm not jittery enough as it is… A boy and a girl stood in front of her in line, the boy talking while the girl made her selection.

"I'm just glad I'm not in Stevenson or Kresge this year. Talk about dodging a bullet, right?"

Willow resisted the urge to flinch. Word had traveled quickly about the Gentlemen-related heart-stealing death in Stevenson, and most students now considered the dorm bad luck.

"Why Kresge?" the girl asked, trying to feed a dollar into the uncooperative machine.

Willow found herself also interested in the answer. It was probably something about fewer bathrooms per floor or being further from the main buildings, but hearing it mentioned in the same breath as Stevenson made that nervous feeling reassert itself. She could feel a slight tremor starting in her fingertips.

"You probably haven't heard yet." The boy seemed proud of his insider knowledge, and leaned against the machine in a way he presumably thought looked cool. "Some guys broke in last night and trashed the place. There's broken stuff everywhere."

"Shit. Did anyone die?"

"Dunno. They haven't found anyone yet, but I guess we'll have to wait and hear if anyone's unaccounted for."

"What's the deal with this place, anyway?"

Willow never heard 'what the deal with this place' was over the sound of blood roaring in her ears and the impact of her sneakers against the hard tile floor.

By the time she reached Kresge, her sneakers were soaked from running through the dewy grass, and the cold was seeping into her socks. A campus security officer stood by the entryway, consulting with someone on his radio. Willow brushed past him, scowling. She was never sure whether to be annoyed or relieved that the police were never around when the Hellmouth opened its maw, but if it led to Tara being in danger, then she decided she was downright furious about it. Still, there was no evidence besides her churning stomach and shaking hands that anything had happened to Tara. Yet.

As soon as Willow entered the building, she could see the damage. A water fountain had been wrenched from the wall, and water from the exposed pipes created a small flood in the entryway. She trudged through, ignoring the cold water that invaded her already-soaked footwear. The student lounge had seen even more damage. Tables were overturned, chairs were scattered, and some broken glass was being swept into a pile by the students and staff who were already starting to clean up. Anxious green eyes eagerly searched the group of students righting tables and collecting trash, but she didn't see Tara. Trying to quell the panic rising in her chest, she hopped up the stairs two at a time towards Tara's room.

Once upstairs, she pounded on the solid wood of Tara's door and pressed her ear against it to listen for movement. She didn't hear anything. She pounded again. There was no response. She tried the handle. It was locked. In a final Hail Mary, she jogged over to the rec room door and poked her head in. Empty. She shakily backed away, her heart racing.

Okay, this may be cause for some panicking. I know she got back inside safely. She's a light sleeper, so she definitely would have heard my knock. She doesn't have any classes this morning. She wouldn't have gone to breakfast without helping out downstairs. Where else could she be at this hour?

She paced in front of Tara's door, briefly contemplating casting a finding spell. Unfortunately, even with all the progress she had made magic-wise, the odds of it going right without Tara's guidance and supplies was not great, especially in her current emotional state. With a sigh, she braced against the door and tried to calm down. Her hands felt clammy and her head spun like she was fighting off a fever. Still, she couldn't just run around Sunnydale blindly, stopping every blonde she saw. She would have to resign herself to waiting for Tara to return to the dorm. In the meantime, she would call Buffy from the phone in the lounge, if it was still intact. She would want to know about something big and strong trashing the campus. Riley, too, probably. Maybe they could even ask Jonathan to help. That idea comforted her a little.

Adrenaline still curdling her blood, she descended the stairway again. There were a few more people around now, and most of the displaced furniture had been returned to its original place. Willow absently picked up a chair and set it next to one of the intact tables. Whatever came through here must have been big. And angry. She looked around for a campus phone to call Buffy with. As she searched, still watching the entryway for Tara, a mustachioed man in a janitor's uniform came through the door, grimacing at the mess and shaking water off of his shoes. He made his way to his supply closet, which had taken quite a beating, it seemed. The door was dented and splintered in places where something had tried to break its way in, and the sign hung listlessly from a single screw. With a resigned sigh, the man tugged at the handle. He seemed surprised when it didn't open. Frowning, he took out a huge ring of keys and used one on the deadbolt. It still took him quite a bit of effort to lever the door open- it was jammed in place from abuse. With a final sharp tug, the door shuddered and gave way. The janitor sprang back with a frightened yelp.

Willow, suddenly in full Scooby mode, leaped forward to see the cause. If it was a demon, they would have to evacuate the building, and she would have to try to distract it. Maybe there's a spell…

As soon as she got a good view of the inside of the closet, all thoughts stopped. She felt her heart freeze, dead and cold. There was a form curled in the corner, cowering away from the door. A form with very familiar blonde hair and last night's clothes.