Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy and UPN are the Powers That Be here. I'm just trying to figure out what the hell the Season Finale was about!
Let me know, and spell my name right.
Up to the Sixth Season finale. You have been warned!
PG-13 for now, later chapters may change.
And older, wiser and sadder Willow makes a wish…
Life; Version 2.0
"It was long ago, and it was far away,
But still it seems so very hard,
And if life is just a highway,
Then the soul is just a car,
And Objects in the Rear View Mirror
May appear closer than they are."
"Objects In the Rear View Mirror"
All she could do was weep.
The Magic Box was leveled. Warren and Rack were dead. Dawn and Buffy were nearly killed.
And she was the one responsible.
All she could feel were Xander's arms around her, the sting of her tears, and the terrible black hole where her heart used to be. Tara was dead. And she had become a killer, avenging her lover's death. But the pain still wouldn't go away. All she wanted was to end the pain. And the only way she could end the pain was to end everything.
She reveled in the anger, the fury, the power that flooded through her being, firing her synapses, fueling her body. Now, she had crashed hard. She knew that any access to that kind of power, even a fraction of what she wielded tonight, would kill her.
And she doubted that anyone would mourn.
Xander, maybe. Wasn't he the one who talked her down in the end? He still believed that the sweet innocent Willow of his childhood was still within her, under that nest of black hair, behind the obsidian eyes of the monster that she had become. How could she tell him? Innocent Willow had died the moment the bullet entered Tara's body. There was nothing left now. All that remained was a hollow husk that bore the shape of his friend.
She lifted her head and looked at Buffy. The Slayer had her arm around Dawn protectively, eyeing Willow suspiciously, as though waiting for her to strike again. That confirmed it, thought Willow. She had officially lost her best friend. Sure, she'd forgive her, eventually, but she wouldn't trust her again. And how could Willow blame her? After all, she had tried to destroy the world, dammit! How can you just forget that?
The realization that she had lost her friend stabbed at her, hurting more than the loss of her lover. She could only curl up in Xander's arms and weep again. She was peripherally aware of Giles and Anya, surveying the remains of the Magic Box. She felt more lost than ever; here she was, surrounded by the people she loved most in all the world, and knowing that she had lost their trust, possibly forever. She had no idea what was going to happen tomorrow, except that she would only know a world of pain and anguish. A world that she had earned.
"Oh, Goddess," she murmured into Xander's chest. "I wish I could just erase everything I've done. I wish I could just go back to where it started and change everything."
So quietly she spoke that she didn't believe that anyone could hear her. But one person did. One person turned toward Willow's crying figure, and regarded the fallen wiccan with hooded, unreadable eyes. One person considered Willow's plaintive wish, and came to a decision.
"Done," Anya whispered.
"Okay, Willow," the vaguely familiar voice urged her on. "Just breathe in, and out. In…and out."
The scent of jasmine and patchouli flooded her nostrils, both exotic and as close as home. She became aware that her surroundings had changed. She didn't feel Xander's arms around her, her eyes felt dry and her body felt somewhat stronger than it had seconds ago. She opened her eyes and glanced at the room around her.
She was sitting in a lotus position on the floor what looked like a living room. The table lamp was dimmed, and a circle of candles was arranged on the floor in front of her. She took her eyes away from the flickering candle flames, lifted her head, looked at the person who was speaking to her, and panicked.
She sat casually in front of Willow, her hands gently laying at her sides, nearly lost in meditation. Short black hair framed a pretty face, her features bearing a Romanian flavoring.
Willow squeezed her eyes shut for a second and reopened them. The woman before her suddenly opened her eyes, and furrowed her brow in concern. "Willow?" she asked. "You okay?"
Willow couldn't speak, she could barely think. She could only stare at the person sitting before her. With supreme effort, she simply said two words;
The warm, caring face of her computer teacher smiled at her. "Yes, Willow?"
Willow gasped hard. "Omigod, omigodomigodomigod! This can't be happening. I'm dreaming, that's it. Or I'm dead. That's gotta be it, I'm dead. Except that, for all I've done, I'd be in Hell, wouldn't I? No way I'd be here. I mean Jenny made it to Heaven, right? No way I'd make the cut, not after--"
"Willow!" Jenny Calendar grabbed Willow's arms, in a desperate attempt to halt her panicked babbling. "Willow, get a hold of yourself! What are you talking about?"
"Miss Calendar…" Willow stammered, desperately stifling the tide of fear that threatened to overwhelm her. "Wha-what's happened? Are you real? Are you alive?"
"Yes, Willow," Jenny tried to assure the redhead. "It's alright. You were in a deep meditation trance for a moment. Dreams and visions are not uncommon under such circumstances."
"Miss Calendar," Willow gasped urgently. "What is today's date?"
Jenny glanced at Willow, her brows knitting furiously. "Uh, today? It's the twenty-second of February."
"What year?" Willow demanded.
"Year?" Jenny frowned. "1998."
"Oh…my…god…" Willow immediately rushed to Jenny's bathroom, turned on the light, and gazed into the mirror. A gawky face gazed back at her, long stringy red hair hung down her back, a pronounced widow's peak outlined her forehead. "Ohmigod, I haven't worn my hair like this since…"
Willow shuddered. 1998. The twenty-second of February. Frantically she summoned her memories of that terrible time; Angelus was loose, and Jenny was trying to find a way to restore his soul.
"Uh, maybe we should wrap this session up early," Jenny offered, "and I can give you a lift home if you want. We'll have to pick this up two days from now, as I ... I have things to do tomorrow."
Angelus. Library. Ambush.
"NO!" Willow shouted. "Miss Calendar, you can't go to the library tomorrow!"
Jenny opened her eyes in mild surprise. "How did you know I was going to be at the library?"
"Angelus is gonna be there! He's gonna kill you!"
Jenny crooked her eyebrow in concern, reminding Willow of Mr. Spock. "How do you know that? Did you have a vision during your meditation?"
Willow stood before her mentor, not knowing how to explain what was happening. She was crying outside the Magic Box, then she was sitting opposite her first instructor in magic, reliving her first meditation, her first true lesson in magic…
Where it all started.
The tumblers clicked and with the discovery came a strange euphoria. "She must have heard my wish," she whispered, half to herself. "She granted my wish."
"Who granted your wish, Willow?" Jenny asked. "C'mon, girl, you're scaring me."
"Uh, wha…Oh, sorry," Willow stammered as she recalled the woman standing next to her. She saw the worry creasing her forehead, and decided to attempt the truth. "Miss Calendar, you're not going to believe this, but I know what you're planning, and I know that Angelus will kill you tomorrow. Because for me it happened four years ago. I lived four years since then, I've seen so much, done so much…and now I'm here, and…and I can change things."
Jenny sighed deeply, and regarded Willow with a motherly concern. "Okay, Willow. Maybe you'd better sit down. I'll get some of that Earl Grey stuff that Rupert gave me for my birthday, and you can start from the beginning." Willow accepted the offer silently, making her way to Jenny's couch on unsteady legs, and waiting for Jenny to return from the kitchen with two tea cups and a kettle of hot water. She poured the water into the tea cups, letting the tea from the bags stain the water reddish brown, and sat down in her favorite chair, opposite Willow. "Okay, Willow. Start at the beginning. How do you know that Angelus is going to kill me tomorrow?"
Willow breathed in, then out, and started to speak. "Cliff Notes version; from 2001 to 2002, I made some mistakes. Big ones. I abused my magic, got some friends hurt, Buffy got really hurt…and at the end of my rope, I wished that I could go back to where it started, and change things for the better. An..someone heard me, someone with real power, and granted my wish. So, here I am, at the time I started learning magic, and I guess I got a chance to make up for my mistakes."
Jenny nodded patiently. "I see. And you remember my dying tomorrow?"
"Yeah. It was
the inscription over the library; Latin, something like, 'Enter, all who thirst
for knowledge' or something like that. He
took it for an invitation, and killed you before you could find the spell to
re-soul him." Willow
stared at Jenny with pleading eyes, desperate to read any sign of understanding
in her level features. "You gotta
believe me, Miss Calendar! You died, and
Giles went all vengeance-y and…Buffy blamed herself for everything and ran away
over the summer, and Kendra…"
"Willow," Jenny rose her voice to calm her down, "I believe you. I mean, I hadn't told anyone about my plans for tomorrow, even Rupert. How else could you have known? Look, maybe you'd better spend the night here. You can call your folks and tell them you're at a friend's, sleeping over."
"My folks?" Willow mused. It's been a long time since she even thought of her parents as anything but an afterthought. She struggled to remember her folks' phone number. "Uh, yeah, sure. But are you okay with having me over tonight?"
"Hey, it's no problem," Jenny smiled reassuringly at Willow. "The sofa folds out into a hide-a-bed. Tell you what, I'll order some pizzas, we'll watch Thelma and Louise, it'll be fun. And tomorrow, we'll talk to Buffy and Rupert and the others, and get to the bottom of this."
Willow sighed with relief. Jenny Calendar was as warm and giving as she had remembered her. "Thanks, Miss Calendar. I appreciate it. Just promise me you won't go to the library tomorrow?"
Jenny chuckled at Willow's earnestness. "I promise. How about this; I'll go the day after tomorrow, and I'll only go in broad daylight. No way I'm letting Angelus get the drop on me, not with your advanced warning. Now then," she added as she reached for her phone, "how do you like your pizza?"
That evening, Willow lay down on the sofa sleeper, staring at the ceiling of Jenny's living room. She could scarcely credit her good fortune. From the most hopeless moment in her life, feeling abandoned by friends, loved ones and family, when even her own self revolted against her, she now found herself reliving a more innocent time. But she was innocent no longer. She knew too much. She knew what Jenny would unleash if she continued her magic lessons.
She knew exactly how Drusilla would kill Kendra, how Faith would betray her friends, how a brain tumor would claim Joyce, how Buffy would sacrifice her life to save her sister, how Tara would die in her very presence.
A grim determination filled the vacant spot that was her heart. Where there was hopelessness, Willow now felt resolve. It wasn't gonna happen this way. Jenny would live. Kendra, Joyce, Tara, they all would live. She had a second chance, to make everything right again.
And she was going to use it.