Title: Soul Searching

Author: Aislin

Season: Takes place after "Grave"

Characters: Mostly Willow and Spike.  There may also be some W/S shippage, I'll just have to wait and see how the story plays out

Disclaimer:  I don't own any of these characters; I just amuse myself by playing with them when I'm bored.  They belong to Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy, and whoever else owns them.  Please don't sue me, I have no money.

Feedback:  I would love that, thank you.  This is my first attempt at a Buffy fic, so please tell me how I do.  No major flammage, please.  I don't know that I could handle it.

Rating:  I'm gonna call it R cuz it deals with some heavy issues and there will be some adult situations.

Authors Note:  Wow, there's a lotta stuff up there, huh?  Well, this is my first Buffy fic, as I said.  Please tell me what you think of it!  If I get enough reviews, I'll post more!  Anyway, go reads the story now, and tell me what ya think!

            Willow felt broken.  The last week had lasted for an eternity.  But, when she looked back, she wondered how it could really have been a full week since she had tried to end the world.

            The day it happened, Tuesday, she had spent in Xander's arms until dusk when she began to shiver and they decided to go home.  She had spent the night at his place, not really in the mood to face Buffy.  The two of them had found some Indian soap operas on, but hadn't really paid much attention.  Xander had made a crack about tea that Willow didn't really hear and she had fallen asleep on his couch, curled up into a ball with her head on his chest.  Xander's arm had still been around her when she woke up the next morning.

            They had eaten breakfast and headed over to Buffy's house, Willow gripping Xander's hand the same way she had done on the first day of school every year.  Every year until junior year anyway.  By then she had known that there were a lot scarier things out there than school.  Or maybe she had just realized that the first day of school was always relatively good compared to the rest of the year.

            Xander had rung the doorbell and Willow had let go of his hand.  When Buffy opened the door, a few seconds later, she had coldly invited them in.  Giles and Anya were already on the couch.  Willow sank into a chair and Xander had remained standing.  Then the lectures had started.  Everyone began attacking Willow, well it seemed that way.  Actually, Buffy was the only one talking.  Maybe that was the problem.  Willow's "friends" weren't defending her.  They were just sitting there, letting Buffy yell at her.

            Dawn was staring Willow down in a look frighteningly reminiscent of Buffy when Faith had joined the mayor.  Giles looked at her like a stern father might.  He was obviously mad, but he still loved her.  Well, if he still loved her then why was he not defending her to Buffy?  Because Buffy was his favorite, that's why.  Anya was quite obviously pissed at her.  And then there was Xander.  All the support of the previous day and that morning had left.  He was looking at her with eyes that plainly said that, while he still loved her, she had tried to destroy the world.

            Willow sat mute.  Her eyes rested on her hands as Buffy's lecture went in one ear and out the other.  When Buffy's voice stopped, Willow stood and left.  The next few days remained the same.  No one would look at Willow.  Buffy lectured her every time she saw her.  Finally Willow had had enough.

            She didn't just take off, not the way Buffy had.  No, Willow couldn't do that.  She said good-bye to each of her friends.  She made sure that they all knew her pager number, in case they needed to talk to her for whatever reason.  Then, she had packed everything she might need and got on a bus.

            So, that was how Willow got where she was now.  She sighed and let her head fall against the window.  None of her friends knew where she was going.  She didn't really even know where she was going.  She figured she'd wander around until she felt better.  She might return to Sunnydale, she might not.  It would just depend on how she felt.

            Willow sighed.  She didn't want to think about that right now.  She turned her thoughts to the spell book in her bag.  It was the same one she had started studying from, all those years ago.  She would never be able to live without magic, she knew that now.  It was too much a part of her.  So, she decided she would start over.  Master the simple spells.  Maybe she'd remain in control this time.  No, she corrected herself; she would remain in control this time.  Buffy didn't think she could do it.  Xander probably didn't believe in her anymore.  Tara would believe in her.  Tara would support her.  Tara would always love her.

            Willow shook herself.  Tara was dead.  She'd have to get used to that.  There was nothing that would change it.  She tried to concentrate on something else, but it was no use.  Her thoughts always lead back to her so-called friends and her lost love.

            Maybe sleep would clear her head, Willow thought.  She felt her eyes slip closed and enjoyed a dreamless sleep.

~~~~~~~~~~*

            Willow stood in the rain as the bus pulled away from the stop.  She clenched her suitcase in one hand and had a knapsack on.  Most of her belongings were still in Sunnydale.  She wanted a fresh start, with as few reminders as possible of her life as a Scooby.

            The air was warm and sticky.  The humidity would make her hair frizz, if it wasn't drenched.  Maybe she would grow her hair long again.  She could pull it back a lot easier and maybe try a few new hairstyles.

            The redhead began walking down the street of, what was this town called again?  She looked at the stub of her bus ticket.  West Oaken.  Whatever.  She was in Connecticut, three thousand miles from Sunnydale and her old life.  Three thousand miles from any reminder of Tara, Xander, Buffy, Dawn, or the rest of them.  Three thousand miles from any sort of demon or beast.

            Well, first things first.  Willow found a discarded newspaper dated June 1.  She thought it was the second or third of June, so that should be recent enough.  First, Willow had to find a place to crash and a job to pay for it.  She had a couple thousand dollars with her.  She hadn't enrolled for the next year of college and had kept the money her parents had given her for the tuition.  They sent the money every year, not even knowing where Willow was living or what she was majoring in.  Willow didn't care though, she had gotten over the lack of love from them years ago.

            Willow saw a few apartments in her price range and decided it was still early enough to check out one or two.  She also noticed some jobs that looked promising.