BtVS by Whedon and Mutant Enemy. Final Fantasy by Square Enix. Hmm... Also, HUD is short for head's up display. Will expand on that later.

Willow Rosenberg:

Sunnydale, November '99


My body was in the room with Buffy, but my mind was on other things. My boyfriend had broken up with me after the girl he'd cheated on me with while under the influence of being a werewolf had tried to eat me and he'd had to take the matter into his own teeth. I'd tried some magic to take the edge off the pain but I couldn't even bend a Q-tip with my words.

Stupid 'my-will-be-done' spell.

"Hey, Willow," Buffy said, poking me with her finger. She had super-strength, but she was going easy on me. "I'm trying to be the supportive friend here, but you're zoning out and it's starting to worry me."

"It can't be that bad," I said, leaning back onto my bedspread, only to leap to my feet after putting my hand in something wet. "Uh, you could be right. Amy," I scolded the rat, lifting her away from the pet-water bottle I'd been distracted enough to leave on the bed while I was cleaning her cage. She'd pushed the little metal ball far enough up the spout that all the water had started to run out.

"Ooh, that rhymes," I said, randomly pleased with myself as I returned to my comfy spot.

Buffy looked at me like I was nuts. "I really hope that you come out of this okay, because good friends-slash-magically-capable Wiccans are so hard to come by these days."

"We've a spare right here," I said, petting the rat in my lap. She'd been a rat since the senior year of high school and I was worried about her lifespan as a rodent. "Or we would if it hadn't been for that possessed torch-wielding mob. Some safety she ran to. One minute she's human and 'POOF'."

Suddenly I was flat on my back and my arms were full of naked chick.

No, not Buffy, I thought, looking to my right. Wait a second, I'm vaguely disappointed. I need to get that checked.

"This is just like in Piers Anthony's Chaos Mode when Colleen offered to carry the floater by his ridges and he compared it to her being carried by her breasts and knees." I giggled, offering absolutely no help to Buffy as she helped the extremely freaked out Amy to her newly-human feet.


"Seriously, that's enough." Buffy snarled as she checked my forehead for a fever. "Also, if it was that easy to cancel her spell, why didn't you do it sooner?"

"It's not that easy, Buffy, you need to know what you're doing or be backed by extra mojo." I rolled on my side to appreciate Amy again. She'd filled out nicely and aged some, but not that much, while on vacation from herself. "Someone doing what I just did by words alone would be like someone like you creating pink elephants just by thinking about them."


When everything had settled down it took a simple counter chant to reverse all the bad changes my 'getting over Oz' spell had caused in the people around me.

It took a *lot* more than that to fix the holes in the floor.


Sunnydale, December '99


I'd been sitting on the edge of my bed, staring into space when my girlfriend, Tara, wrapped her arms around me and said that she was worried.

"It's nothing," I said. "I'm just the third wheel. Amy's much better at flashy pyrotechnics than I am. I mean, when she tells a vampire to go Boom it does. And you, you've got aura reading and the HUD," I said, referring to the demon detection spell Tara and I had done together that she'd both mastered and compressed to a solo version. "She does combat, you do detection. What am I going to do? I guess I could summon a bear or something, adopt it as my totem animal, but where am I going to keep it?"

"Sweetie, relax, I'm sure our kitten wouldn't mind a roommate."

I gave her a stern look until she laughed and kissed me.


A few days later, Tara cornered me between classes with a sketchbook. Three pages were covered in drawings of different costumes and idea clouds, those little terms and phrases surrounded by circles and connected to each other by lines for brainstorming purposes.

"Black Mage, White Mage and Red Mage," I read aloud, mentally breaking them down into the gaming categories of the direct damage dealer, the healer and the transmutation specialist. Amy was portrayed in the darkest and skimpiest clothing. The belted white dress on me wasn't exactly practical, but the large red hat parked jauntily on Tara's head seemed interesting... "I believe you've been talking to Xander?"

She smiled faintly and I sighed. I'd been asking her to hang out with my friends more, even though she had been worried about not having much in common with them besides me. It figured they'd bond over one of my problems.

Tara explained that she hadn't said anything about my fears. She had approached Xander for his assessment of the best tactics to choose in advancing our careers. "You can see here that, including Amy, we have most of these powers covered. The main area we're lacking in is healing."

I blinked. "So we have a plan of action and a jump on next year's Halloween costumes? Seriously, healing is one of the hardest magics out there. We mainly deal with spellbreaking anyway and Buffy regenerates. I'd have to start visiting national parks on my days off of school. I'd have to hunt down a ton of new books. I'd have to start carrying an entire backpack's worth of ingredients around to be prepared for anything that could go wrong. Without help, it will take me months to even learn the simplest spells. Even with help it'd be difficult to, you know, advance and not just plateau. What makes you think I can do this?"

"Giles has his family home in England. His girlfriend lives in England and she's spending the holidays with her family. He'd like to visit, but he's not about to leave the country without a good excuse. Finals are in a week and, after that, we're on break until next semester. There's a huge coven a county or two over from Giles' place." Smiling, she put her hand on my arm and drew me closer. "One of his guest rooms has a fireplace."

"You know," I said, sighing softly. "This is one of the reasons that I love you."