Relapse

They promised to always find each other. Set in Season 7 after 'Beneath You' W/T, B/S, X/A-

It took me a while to find a good plot and figure out the characters- I hope this finc works out. Please, read and let me know what you think :D


Children should be seen and not heard. Scattered toys were confiscated and never returned. Fish that died were replaced years later. Bad grades granted confinement. Boys at home were forbidden. Acting out was frowned upon. Displays of superior intelligence earned beatings and mockery. Killing vampires was for Slayers. Magick was not to be toyed with. Bringing back the dead was dangerous. You should not leave the Coven's grounds. You should not ask for more than you are ready to understand….

Anger helped smothering the growing guilt and so the listing of imposed limitation suffered through her life continued. She had lied to Giles and Mss Hartness, her conscience nagged, and casted a cloaking spell on herself to ditch her friends who instead of hating her had come to the airport to welcome her back home. This was wrong and nothing would make it right.

The rotten world surrounding her helped little to appease her troubled conscience. A year ago, she wouldn't have even thought of walking down those hostile streets alone. Only dark elements wandered that part of Sunnydale at night. A demon had yet to cross her path. Willow wondered if they could sense the darkness in her or if they knew what she had done. Demons could do gossiping as good as any Cordelia.

It was a long walk but she finally reached her destination. The new High School looked fancier and bigger than the old one. There was a lot of glass and painted metal, broad windows and a few columns, everything very typical of modern designs for public buildings. Architects defended it as something stylish and economic but Willow didn't like it. It seemed to lack personality and warmth.

The main building was already in use but the peripheral facilities a High School should have were still under construction. The broad empty area that had been adjudicated for the construction of a parking lot lay right behind the High School building. Piles of wood-planks, huge bags of sand, scattered debris and heavy machinery added some color to the sterile field. Willow had to wonder why The Supplier had chosen this- of all places- to meet.

A dark figure emerged from behind the massive wheel of a bulldozer. Willow felt a little disappointed. It was her first 'ilegal' transaction and the dark mysterious dealer she got was a tiny bald man in jaggy pants and a greasy shirt. It also occurred to her those thoughts were highly inappropriate.

"I pictured you bigger. And more ugly. With a scar or two."

"Yeah? Well...I assumed you'd be bigger too." Willow answered lamely. As the man stepped into the white glow of the fool-moon she realized his eyes were as dark as coal. "I-I brought the flowers…"

"I've got the sphere."

"Let me see."

A long purple tongue darted from between his lips and flickered in the air. It slipped back out of sight. The Supplier was of the same breed of demon that had cut Dawn's arms last year-up at Glory's tower. It was not the same individual but Willow found herself hating him. It must have shown in her face because the demon stepped back into the shadows. He removed a small box from the front pocket of his pants and opened it. A small orb laid inside, cushioned with dark velvet strips.

An apprentice at the Coven had called it the Orbis Damnatorum and said its only porpoise was to corrupt and destroy anyone who possessed it. An old witch in a rotten bar at Torguay had connected it with an orb called the Coniun Sphere, which served to perform advanced necromancy rituals. Some of the more refined demons of Sunnydale whispered about the Anima Continen, a magical object that could trap wandering souls. Without access to books on the subject or Internet connection, it had taken Willow some time to realize the three things were one and the same. Finding someone who actually had the orb was easier.

The demon snapped the box close, denying her the sight of the precious object. She looked up. The creature took another step back.

"Th-the flowers!" It stammered. "Then it's all yours."

Willow struggled to control her anger and removed from the front pocket of her jacket a pouch. Guilt twisted inside her like a parasite. It was a gift from Mss Hartness- one of her assigned guides. Unknown fallen leaves, seeds and fructus found during the long walks across the meadows of the Coven's grounds were to be stored into the pouch to be studied and identify later on class. Botanic had taken a big part of her training. It had been a very soothing and rewarding…

"I ain't got all night, witch!"

The flora kua alaya- or just kua- was a wild flower only found on Paraguay's rain forests. The natives called it Ivoty Guirá: the bird flower. They said that- like a wild bird plucked from the sky and stuffed into a cage- the plant withered and died when confined to pots. The phenomena had been carefully studied over the years but science could offer no explanation. It seemed the flowers simply died of sadness.

Willow, in her arrogance, had scuffed at the notion of vegetables feeling emotions. If the plant's biological needs were fulfilled, then it could be cultivated properly. That tale was obviously a legend. She had not kept her opinion to herself. She had mumbled it crossly to Miss Hartness while they rested under a willow tree in the garden. The old woman had regarded her for a full minute before pointing out:

"You felt their pain. You felt everything."

Willow still had problems understanding what happened after that comment. The magicks had flooded through her without consent but she had been fully aware of what it was doing and could have put a stop to it. She hadn't…

The sudden terror on such a placid face was strangely rewarding. Miss Hartness backed away from the willow tree that seconds ago had shielded them so gently from the trimming rain. Its branches flailed in the air, its trunk twisting, the wood groaning as the tree struggled to free its roots from the earth. The old woman raised her arms, whispering words to comfort the thrashing thing but the rabid hatred Willow infused it with was too great to be smothered.

Its massive root sprung free and moved with astounding speed towards Miss Hartness, catching her on the cheek and cutting the delicate skin. The woman fell upon the hissing, twisting grass. She crawled back away from the thrashing tree, screaming at the responsible of its torment for leniency. Willow just watched.

And then Giles was there with a strong grip on her arm. He didn't scream like the others. He talked in quiet angry words. It was a nice change. There was logic to what his words. He spoke nothing about plants feeling pain or pleasure; there were no talks of forgiveness and redemption. He said if Miss Hartness died there would be no one left to help her. He said that if she continued attacking these people, she would seal her faith and be a threat to every living thing in the planet. She would be worse than a demon…

And so she waved her hand and the thrashing groaning tree and the waving hissing grass settled. Giles helped Miss Hartness back to her feet and the three of them walked in silence back into the old mansion that was the Coven. They never talked again about sentient plants…

Willow had investigated the kua intensively the following weeks. She teleported specimens from Paraguay and attempted to keep them in pots. The flowers died within minutes. She tried leaving them right where they sprouted on the earth and they lived a little longer. She had gone as far as to study the composition of the earth in the rain forests of the plant's mother land and made a mixture of it to plant the flower on. It did not work. She had tried teleporting a huge bunch of earth of the forest with flowers on it…and they also died.

Miss Hartness and Giles begged her to stop at that point. The species was scant enough without her tampering with the population. Sullenly, Willow had tried one last trick. It worked. A spell that would blind an animal kept the flowers alive anywhere she put them. Even in a velvet pouch…

"What do you want with the flowers?" She asked dully, looking up to meet the demon's dark eyes. "And don't lie to me. I'll know."

He snorted, stuffing the box with the sphere back into his pocket.

"What are you? A Slayer? What I'm gonna do with it ain't any of your business. Do you want the sphere or not?"

"Yes. Give it to me."

"Gimme the flowers first."

"Give it to me…"

The demon stiffened suddenly. A strangle hiss of outrage slipped his pale lips. His legs moved forward, dragging him from the sheltering shadows of the massive bulldozer's wheel. His trembling arm reached out towards Willow, the box protecting the sphere groaning under the strain of his stiff fingers. It took some effort to force it free. The demon collapsed with a scream when the invisible force of the magicks released him. Willow turned her back on him and walked away.

He did what she was hoping he would do: he tried to attack her. His tongue-sharp like a razor blade-tensed in preparation to lash out and cut off her head; it never left his mouth. The demon gurgled as his muscles stiffened. His bones cracked under the pressure. His skin started to split. A horrible sound of agony ripped the peaceful silence of night. The demon's skinless body collapsed on the dirt.

Willow dimly wondered why that incantation was used. It was particularly cruel. He belonged to the same breed that had cut Dawn's arms open at Glory's tower a year ago. It was an action that led to Buffy's dead. And that brought about the need to bring her back. And that led her to the darkest powers, to corruption…to Tara leaving her, to their reconciliation...to her death...

"Soon, baby…" She whispered hollowly to the empty night. "We will be one again…"