DL 1.14

Aug. 13th, 2005 01:38 am
[identity profile] eee1313.livejournal.com posting in [community profile] dancing_lessons_archive
Lesson the Fourteenth: Power Trip

by Peggin
I Won't Back Down by Tom Petty

Shoutouts: Pretty much the same as always. To the whole club for encouraging me; it wouldn't be worth writing if I didn't know you guys were enjoying it. To morningglory for helping me with the Latin. And, most of all, to Abby, alkibiadhs, and cousinjean for pointing out the problems and helping make my story the best it could possibly be. I love you guys!


*
The silence in the car was deafening.

They’d been driving for over an hour, and Buffy had yet to speak a word. She just stared at the road ahead of her, a look of grim determination on her face. Willow occasionally chanted a few words, keeping her tracking spell active.

Buffy suspected that Willow was also using magic to facilitate their trip. The gas indicator hadn’t moved since they’d started driving. The other cars on the road seemed determined to get out of their way. The SUV was nearly flying, and there wasn’t a police car in sight. Buffy wasn’t sure how far ahead Spike and Dawn might be, but Willow assured her they were gaining on them.

It had only taken a few moments after Spike and Dawn had disappeared from view for the shock to wear off. She had stood there, holding the rock with Spike’s note wrapped around it, staring at the rubble in front of her. A note. He’d written her a note. As if there was any chance she would read it. As if there was any explanation he could offer that would make her forgive this final betrayal. He was in league with Glory, and he had just kidnapped her sister. Did he really think she was going to take the time to read a damned note?

How could she have ever thought she was falling in love with him? Even after seeing him with Glory, even after trying to kill him over it, a part of her had still wanted to believe in him. She knew what he was, a vampire without a soul, and still she had let herself start to believe in him. She should have known better. After everything that had happened when Angel had lost his soul, she should have known better than to think a soulless vampire was capable of love.

Buffy had gone back up into the crypt and she’d thrown Spike’s rock at the wall with as much force as she could manage. It hadn’t made her feel any better.

“Spike has Dawn. He’s taking her to Glory. I have to stop him. Willow, you come with me; I need you to track them. The rest of you, you should be safe. All Glory wants is her precious Key. With Dawn gone, she should leave you alone.”

Buffy had taken Willow back to what was left of her house to get her mother’s SUV. She gave a silent word of thanks to whoever cared to listen that the car hadn’t been damaged in the fire.

Willow had given a small protest over the prospect of getting in the car with Buffy behind the wheel, “I’ve seen you drive before, Buffy. And I’ve seen you crash.”

Buffy had assured her that she knew how to drive now. “I had a good teacher,” she’d remarked, her voice filled with bitter irony.

Finally, after over an hour of silence, Willow turned in her seat and asked, “Are you okay, Buffy?”

Buffy laughed. “Gee, Willow, why wouldn’t I be okay?”

“Well, I mean, just yesterday you were telling me you thought you were falling in love with Spike and now—”

“Well, yesterday I was an idiot, wasn’t I? He’s got Dawn, and he’s taking her to Glory.”

“You don’t know that.”

“I saw him talking to her, Will. And the next thing I know, he’s snatching my sister right out from under my nose. There’s nothing else to think.” Buffy’s voice got very sad and quiet. “I have to kill him.”

“Maybe not. Maybe he had a good reason. I mean, a good reason, as in, not evil. You were starting to trust him. Maybe you have to go with your instincts.”

“Yeah, because trusting my instincts when it comes to men I care about has always worked so well for me in the past.”

“But, Buffy, as much as I’m not thrilled with the idea of you having feelings for Spike, even I can see that he’s … different.”

“Different, how?”

“Angel and Riley, both of them … you asked them to stay and they left you anyway. Spike, as many times as you tell him to leave, he never goes away.”

“So, what are you saying?”

“I don’t know. Maybe you just need to trust him a little. I know he hasn’t done a lot to deserve it, but maybe you have to give him the chance to earn it.”

“That’s what he said. I mean, not him … not exactly. A dream of him.”

“A Slayer dream?”

“I don’t know.” Buffy shrugged. “So, what brought on this sudden burst of pro-Spike sentiment?”

“This.” Willow held up a crumpled sheet of paper. “I read Spike’s note. I saw you throw it at the wall, and I thought it might be important.”

“I don’t want to know what he had to say.”

“He said he loves you. And he stopped the knights from burning down your house.”

“So, that’s supposed to make it okay if he hands my sister over to Glory?”

“I don’t think he’s going to.”

“Will …”

“I think he’s trying to keep Dawn safe.”

“Don’t do this, Will.”

“Do what?”

“Don’t … don’t make me hope. Remember when I had to kill Angel? You know what the worst part was? It was the hope.” Buffy took a deep breath before continuing. “I had given up hope of ever getting him back. I’d accepted that my Angel was gone forever. I was ready to kill him, it would have been easy. Then he was back.” Buffy’s voice broke momentarily at the memory. “He was … Angel again. For one moment, I was able to hope that everything would be better. Then I saw Acathla’s mouth open, and I knew it wasn’t. I knew I had to kill him.” Buffy briefly turned to face Willow. “I know you meant well when you did the curse, Will. I’m the one who asked you to do it in the first place. But it was that one moment of hope that nearly killed me.”

“Buffy, I’m so sorry.”

“I know. I don’t blame you. Don’t think for a minute that I ever blamed you.” Buffy turned her face back to the road. “I have to kill Spike tonight, I don’t think I could take it if I started hoping …”

“Okay. Forget I ever said anything. No more hoping. Just say nope to hope.”

Buffy sighed. It was too late for that. She’d been so certain Spike would leave town. They always leave, but Spike had stayed. She’d been so sure that he was working against her, but he’d saved her house from being burned to the ground. He kept saying that he loved her, and she believed him. She didn’t want to have to kill him. As painful as it was, it was hard not to have a little hope.

***

Spike turned his stolen Porsche off the highway. He only had a few dollars left, but a few dollars worth of gas would put a few more miles between Dawn and Glory. At least, that was the plan. He had to drive a few miles before he finally found a gas station.

“Bollocks!”

“What?” Dawn stirred, having fallen asleep in the seat beside him.

“We’re almost out of gas and the bloody gas station's closed. Looks like this is the end of the line, Nibblet. We’ll have to hole up here until Glory’s deadline passes.”

Dawn looked worried. “How long do you think that will be.”

“Can’t be entirely sure, but I think I figured it out. Glory is on some kind of deadline, see? She has to use you at a certain time. And Ben was set on destroying the Key before the end of the night. So, I’m guessing that Glory’s ritual is tomorrow. Probably at sunrise. These thing always seem to happen at sunrise. ‘Sides, the monks did name you ‘Dawn’, after all, and I guess they did that for a reason.”

“That’s a lot of guessing.”

“Sorry, Little Bit. It’s the best I can do.”

“Okay. It does make sense. Sort of. So, if she misses her deadline, then I’m safe, right?”

“That’s my guess.”

Dawn tried to hide her fear with a smile. “Well, only a few more hours and then we’ll know. Either I’ll be safe, or I’ll be …”

“Don’t. Don’t even think it. I will not let Glory hurt you. Not if there’s anything I can do to stop it.”

“I know. I trust you, Spike. I know you’ll keep me safe.”

Spike still wasn’t comfortable with hearing her say things like that. He turned away from her, muttered something about grabbing a smoke, and got out of the car.

Dawn got out of the car, too. She said something about checking to see if the restroom was unlocked.

Spike watched her enter the building. The door had barely closed behind her when he felt someone standing behind him.

“Idiot vampire. Did you really think you could hide? From me?”

Spike turned slowly, dismayed but not very surprised to see Glory standing just a few feet away. “Well, that was … kind of the plan, yeah.”

“You promised me you’d make sure my Key stayed in Sunnydale.”

Spike scoffed at her. “And you believed me? For a god, you really are a bit of a moron, aren’t you?”

“You lied to me. Do you have any idea how that hurts my feelings?” Glory grabbed him by the throat and threw him into the car. “Maybe I didn’t hurt you enough that night in the hospital. But I don’t have time for you right now. There’s only a few hours left. Just … give me the girl and I’ll leave you alone.”

“Sod off. I’ll never let you touch her.”

“Never is a long time, sweetie. What is the matter with you, anyway? Don’t you remember you’re a vampire? Why would you want to help the Slayer?”

“I love her.”

“Poor baby. Don’t you know that falling in love only leads to heartache?” With that, Glory pushed her hand through Spike’s chest, wrapped her fingers around his heart, and began to squeeze.

***

“Hurt, hurt!” Without warning, Xander put his hands to his chest and started to cry.

“Xander what is it?”

Xander stopped crying as suddenly as he’d started. He turned to Anya with a smile on his face. “My demon,” he proclaimed happily.

Anya turned to Giles and Tara. “Did you find anything? Can you fix him?”

“Nothing,” Giles responded, not even looking up.

Tara closed the book she’d been reading, tossed it on top of the sarcophagus, and reached for another. “Not yet. A lot of this stuff doesn’t make sense to me. But I bet Willow will be able to find something.”

“Well, can I help?”

Giles looked up, annoyed. “Anya, that’s the tenth time you’ve asked that question. The answer is still the same. Unless you have at least a rudimentary working knowledge of witchcraft, the contents of these books won’t make any sense to you. They barely make sense to me.”

“Wait!” Tara stood up suddenly. “Here’s a spell to restore a fractured mind. We have to get him to drink a mixture of bindweed and Styx water, and someone has to chant these weird words with no vowels in them. Oh.” Tara looked up, apparently not happy with what she’d just read. “And they have to be touching Glory when they do it.”

“I can do that!” Anya said. “If it will fix Xander, I’ll do it.”

“Well, I don’t know. It looks kind of advanced. I think it has to be either me or Willow.”

“But it will fix him, right?”

“If we do it right. But, Anya, this stuff can be pretty complicated. I’m not sure if I can do it, and it might even be too much for Willow.”

“Well, maybe there’s something else, another spell or something.” Anya sounded desperate. “You have to fix him.”

“Anya, I can’t guarantee that it will work, but I promise I will do everything I can. Now, I have to look for the other spell. This one might fix Xander, but we still need the spell to drain Glory of her power. It’s gotta be in one of these books. Fixing Xander won’t do him any good if Glory completes her ritual and kills all of us.”

Anya took a deep breath. “Okay. Right. Being dead would be a bad thing. You … you just keep reading and find a way to keep us all from being dead.”

Tara turned the page in her book. That spell Gabriel had mentioned had to be somewhere in one of these books, and she had to find it quickly. Time was running out.

***

“I think we’re getting close.”

“How close?”

Willow closed her eyes and chanted again. “Pull off the highway at the next exit and turn right at the end of the ramp.”

Five minutes later, Willow turned to Buffy. “There, up ahead, that gas station. That’s where they are!”

Just before they reached the gas station, an unearthly scream pierced the air, followed quickly by the sound of Dawn’s voice shouting, “No!”

Buffy took in the situation and maneuvered the SUV between Glory and Dawn. She came to an abrupt stop and jumped out just in time to see Glory toss Spike to the ground. Her first thought was to keep Glory away from Dawn, but she took the time to call out, “Willow, help Spike!”

Glory turned to face her. “Well, well, if it isn’t the Slayer. I’ve come a long way to get my Key, and you know I’m not leaving without it.”

“I won’t let you. You’ll have to go through me to get her.”

“That’s really not a problem for me.”

***

Willow knelt on the ground next to Spike. “Are you okay? Can you move?”

“Bloody hell,” Spike replied as he slowly sat up, holding one hand to his chest. “That bint really knows a thing or two about pain, doesn’t she?”

Willow smiled. If Spike could make sarcastic remarks, she figured he’d live. Well, not live, exactly, but he’d be okay.

Willow was about to say something, when she saw a look of horror cross Spike’s face. “No!” he shouted.

Willow turned to see what he was looking at.

Buffy was on the ground. Glory was kneeling over her with her hands pressed against Buffy’s head.

No. Not again, Willow thought. I’m not going to let that bitch hurt another one of my friends. Filled with rage, Willow’s eyes suddenly glowed black. Without even thinking of it, she heard herself say, “Avertatur Influxus”

There was a flash of light and Glory was thrown away from Buffy, momentarily stunned. She shook her head and said, “What the hell was that?” She looked at Willow. “What did you do to me, witch?”

It only took Glory a second to regain her composure. Glory grabbed Dawn and took off running. Before Willow could do anything, the two of them had vanished.

Willow ran over to Buffy. “Buffy! Buffy, are you okay?” Willow was terrified that she was going to have another Xander on her hands.

Buffy sat up slowly, a blank expression on her face.

“Oh, no! Buffy!”

Buffy blinked. “I’m … I’m okay, Will. That was … strange.”

“It worked? Oh my God, it worked!” Willow wrapped her arms around Buffy in a bear hug.

“What did you do? I feel … strong, different.”

“I thought, maybe, I could make the energy flow in reverse. I wasn’t sure if it would work, but I had to try something.”

“So, instead of the energy flowing from me to Glory, you stole some of her energy and gave it to me?”

Willow smiled and nodded. For a second, she felt almost giddy. Until she remembered, “Oh, no! Glory has Dawn. What are we going to do?”

“We’re going to go after her. Stop her before she can start her ritual.”

“How? We don’t even know where she’s going.”

A bemused expression crossed Buffy’s face. “Yes, we do.”

***

Buffy got up, walked over to where Spike was still sitting on the ground, and knelt beside him. “How are you?”

“I’ve been better.”

“I’m sorry.”

“For what?”

“For not believing you. For not trusting you. Maybe if I’d listened to you, you wouldn’t have gotten hurt.”

“Not your fault, love. I don’t exactly have the most trustworthy track record where you’re concerned.”

Buffy offered him her hand. “Can you stand? We have to get back to Sunnydale. Glory has to do her ritual at the Hellmouth at sunrise. We’ve still got a few hours to stop her.”

Spike took the proffered hand and slowly rose to his feet. “How can you know that?”

Buffy looked at him thoughtfully. “I don’t know. But I know.”

“Well, then, I guess we’d better get going. Want me to drive, pet?”

“No, you’re hurt. Besides, I know how to drive now, remember?” Buffy smiled. “I had a really good teacher.”

Buffy didn’t take the time to wait for Spike’s response. There would be time for that later, assuming they all survived. Right now, her first priority had to be saving Dawn.

The Slayer, the witch and the vampire silently climbed into the SUV and headed back toward Sunnydale for a showdown with a god.

***

Giles and Tara were still busy poring over the Knights’ books when Buffy, Willow, and Spike returned to the crypt.

As they entered, Buffy said, “Okay, what’ve you got?”

Giles looked up at her. “There are still a few more volumes to go through, Buffy. We need a little more time to--”

“No. No time. Glory has Dawn, she’s going to do her ritual at sunrise, and we’ve got to stop her. Whatever you know right now, it will have to be enough, so talk.”

“All right. Here’s what I’ve learned. As you know, this world is older than most people believe and, contrary to popular mythology, it did not begin as a paradise. For untold eons demons walked the Earth.”

Willow turned to Tara and whispered, “He loves doing this.”

Giles frowned at her, “Shush. They made it their home, their Hell. But in time they lost their purchase on this reality. The way was made for mortal animals, including man.”

Buffy stared at him. “Is it just me, or is anyone else having a serious déjà vu moment here?”

“Do you want to hear this or not?”

“Sorry. Keep going.”

Giles continued, “There have always been gateways, portals if you will, between the various dimensions for anyone who cared to look for them. Long ago the monks found a way to block the gateway that leads to Glory’s … rather unpleasant dimension. A barrier was created, and it was locked with a Key. With … with Dawn. For several millennia, the monks were able to keep the Key hidden from Glory. She was trapped on this side of the barrier, stripped of most of her godly powers. As far as I can tell from these books, an event called The Alignment occurs once every thousand years, although I was unable to determine when that might be.”

“It’s at sunrise, just a little over an hour from now.”

“How can you know--”

“I just know. Keep going.”

“At that time, our dimension and Glory’s are in position so that the Key can be used to unlock the barrier.”

“So, the Key unlocks this barrier,” Buffy said. “And then what?”

“The gateway to Glory’s dimension is opened.”

“The Hellmouth,” Buffy said.

Giles nodded. “Yes, exactly.”

“I don’t know about the rest of you,” Willow said, “but I’ve seen the Hellmouth open enough times for one life. So, how about we stop Glory before that happens.”

“I agree, that would be our best course of action,” Giles responded.

“So, how do we stop her?” Buffy asked. “Did you find the spell that will drain Glory of her power?”

“I … I found something,” Tara said. “But, it’s really advanced. I don’t know if I can do it.” She turned to look at Willow before continuing. “Maybe you …”

Willow nodded. “Show me.”

While the two witches went to look over the books, Buffy turned to the rest of her troops.

“Okay. So let’s talk strategy. It’s only an hour until sunrise. We have to get Dawn away from Glory and stop the ritual before then. Someone has to stay here and watch Xander--”

“No!” Anya objected. “We need to bring Xander. Tara, tell them.”

Tara handed the book to Willow and returned to the group. “There’s this spell that might restore Xander’s mind. If either Willow or I can get close enough to Glory, we can extract some of her power and transfer it to Xander. But Xander has to be there for it to work.”

“Okay.” Buffy considered for a moment. “Spike, you’re already injured. You can stay on the sidelines and watch Xander. Gabriel, I’ll need you and your knights to take out as many of Glory’s minions as you can. Giles, Anya, you work with them. And I guess that leaves me to take on Glory.”

Willow joined them, spell book in hand. “This spell is pretty advanced, but I think it will work if Tara and I do it together.”

“Good.” Buffy nodded. “That’s good. You drain enough of her power, and I’ll be able to kill her.”

Buffy took a deep breath and looked at the small group of people surrounding her. “Is everyone clear on what you’ve got to do?” She waited until everyone agreed before continuing. “We’ve only got one shot at this, so let's make it a good one.”

***

So here they were, just as they had been so many times before, making their way through the burnt out remains of the old high school.

“In an odd way, it’s almost like coming home, isn’t it?”

Willow looked at the Watcher as if he had gone insane, “Sure, Giles. If your home is in Hell.”

As they approached the area where the library used to be, they heard some of Glory’s minions begin chanting.

“They’ve already started the ritual. It’s now or never,” Buffy said. “Let’s go.”

Everyone charged.

The first thing Buffy noticed was Dawn, terrified and crying. She was bound in chains and suspended from the ceiling directly over a large crack in the floor where Buffy knew the Hellmouth would open.

The sounds of battle filled the air as the Knights began taking on the minions. Buffy charged at Glory. She knew she couldn’t beat the hellgod just yet, but she needed to buy a little time for Tara and Willow to prepare for their spell.

Glory pushed Buffy away effortlessly. “You know, you’re really starting to get on my nerves, little girl. You keep showing up and interfering with my plans.”

“Well, you won’t have to worry about it much longer, Glory. You’re going down.”

“Wrong again, Buffy. I’m going home, and you and all your little friends are going to die.”

“We’ll see about that.” Buffy charged again. This time she hit Glory squarely in the chest with a flying jump kick.

“Ow! That hurt!” Glory stumbled backward a few steps. “You want to know what hurts more? This.” With that, Glory picked Buffy up and slammed her head into the wall.

***

“Harris! What do you think you’re doing? Stop. Get back here!”

Spike was annoyed to see Xander wandering off into the middle of the fight. Buffy had left him with one job, and he didn’t plan on letting her down. With an irritated sigh, Spike started after him.

To Spike’s surprise, nobody seemed to pay the boy any mind. The battle was raging all around them, yet somehow Xander had found a path right through the middle of it.

“Pretty. Shiny.” Xander smiled and pointed at where Dawn was hanging from the ceiling.

***

Giles swung his battleaxe at one of Glory’s minions, neatly decapitating him.

He took a second to gloat over his easy victory. Perhaps a second too much, as he felt a sword slice into his arm.

“Blast!” he yelled. He quickly turned and raised his weapon in time to block another blow.

***

With barely a thought to the battle raging around him, Spike ran across the room. Xander was standing right below Dawn, smiling like an idiot. Which, Spike thought, is appropriate, I suppose, all things considered. One of Glory’s minions tried to block his path but Spike tossed him through the crack in the floor with very little effort.

“Spike!” Dawn cried.

“Hold on a second, Little Bit. I’ve got you.”

Spike took a quick look around him and spied a fallen Knight with a sword still grasped in his hands. “Guess you won’t be needing this anymore,” he commented as he picked up the sword, turned around, and hit the chains binding Dawn with as much force as he could muster.

***

Buffy ignored the gash that had opened in her forehead and pushed Glory away. She took a quick glance to see how much longer it would be until the two witches were ready to attempt their spell. They had managed two circuits of the room, they needed enough time for one more before they could start. She just needed to hold Glory off for another couple of minutes.

“I thought you were supposed to be some kind of god.” She taunted. “Is that the best you can do?”

“Oh, that wasn’t enough for you? Well, I guess I’ll just have to try a little harder.” Glory smiled as she punched Buffy in the face, knocked her to the ground, and kicked her in the stomach.

***

It took five blows with the sword, but Spike managed to cut through the chains.

Dawn fell, landing halfway in the crack in the floor.

Spike grabbed her hand and pulled her to her feet. “Come on, Nibblet. We’ve got to get you out of here.”

***

Buffy rolled away from Glory, did a quick flip, and landed on her feet. She looked back to the two witches and saw that they were almost finished with their third circuit of the room.

“Willow! Tara! Now!” she shouted.

***

Willow and Tara began to chant, “Athena, great goddess from days of yore; Patron of justice and wisdom and war; Grant me your blessing at this desperate hour; Deplete mine adversary of her power.”

Nothing happened.

Why didn’t it work? It should have worked, Willow thought, then called across the room. “Tara, try again!”

Glory laughed. “Oh, I don’t think so,” she said. She picked up Buffy and threw her into the wall. Then she turned to Tara. Willow never even noticed her move. Before she had a chance to so much as blink, Glory grabbed Tara by the neck and twisted. Willow watched in horror as her lover’s lifeless body crumpled to the ground.

“Tara! No!” Willow turned to face Glory, hatred and fury empowering her. Magical energy unlike any she had ever felt before coursed through her veins. Her eyes turned black as pitch as she repeated the brief incantation. Lightning flashed from her fingertips, setting Glory’s clothes on fire.

Willow repeated the incantation once again.

Glory screamed in agony. She turned into Ben, then back into Glory, then, for a moment, she seemed to be some strange hybrid of the two hellgods.

Willow repeated the incantation for the third time and, with a loud bang, the hellgod’s body shattered into a million shards of light and disappeared.

Her head aching and blood pouring from her nose, Willow collapsed to the floor.

***

Later, they were all back at the magic shop. It wasn’t much of a victory party.

It took Dawn half an hour before she would say anything, and when she did she said, “It’s my fault.”

“No, Dawnie, don’t do that,” Buffy said. “It’s Glory’s fault.”

“But it was all because of me. Tara’s dead and Xander is never gonna get better now. It’s my fault.”

Willow, who had been reading since they’d returned, looked up from her book. “I think …” Her voice broke. “I can’t do anything about Tara, but I think I may be able to fix Xander.”

Everyone turned to look at her.

“How?" Buffy asked.

Willow took a moment to wipe away her tears. “Well, I’ve been going over that spell that Tara … that Tara found. It doesn’t actually say the energy has to come from Glory, just that it has to be Glory’s energy that gets transferred. It says that I have to touch the vessel containing the energy.”

Anya frowned. “Yeah, but Glory’s gone now. Isn’t her energy gone, too?”

“Not entirely,” Willow responded, looking at Buffy.

Buffy gasped. “Back at the gas station! Glory tried to brain-suck me. Willow did a spell to make the energy flow in reverse.”

“That’s incredible, Willow,” Giles said. “How did you ever come up with something like that?”

Willow shrugged. “I don’t know. I just saw what was happening, and I had to do something, so I did it.”

“Let me get this straight,” Spike said. “You transferred this god-power to Buffy, and now you think you can take it out of Buffy and give it to Harris?”

Willow nodded. “I think it will work.”

“Without hurtin’ Buffy?”

Willow shook her head. “Don’t worry, Spike. I wouldn’t do it if I thought it would hurt Buffy. I’ve already lost enough today.”

“So, what do I have to do, Will?” Buffy asked.

Willow turned to Buffy. “It will work best if you and Xander sit side by side in front of me. Technically, I only need to be touching the vessel that contains the power … um, that’s you … but that’s when there’s a lot of energy to transfer. I think there will be less loss of energy if I’m touching both of you.”

It only took a few seconds for them to arrange themselves. The hardest part was getting Xander to put down his crayons long enough to move him. The spell itself was anti-climatic. Willow spoke a few strange sounding words and an eerie glow surrounded the three best friends. In less than a minute it was over.

Xander blinked. “Willow? What the hell happened?”

“Xander!” Anya shouted, throwing her arms around him and showering his face with kisses.

Willow watched them with a sad smile on her face, then turned away. Watching the happy couple was too painful. It was too soon.

“Will?” Willow turned at the sound of her best friend’s voice. “I’m so sorry.”

Without another word, Willow found herself wrapped in Xander’s arms. It felt good to hold on to him, to have his familiar shoulder to cry on. Having Xander back didn’t make up for losing Tara, nothing ever could, but it was something.

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