They got up early and got dressed....something they forgot to do last night. Making their way down to the kitchen they found Giles with the morning paper, drinking a cup of tea.
"Morning, Giles." Buffy chirped.
"Yes, um...good morning, indeed." Shades of red began to rise up in his neck and settled in his cheeks.
Both girls looked at him, embarrassed at the implications. "Giles..I..uh...we...um." Buffy offered.
"Yes, well....if you'll both have breakfast and get dressed quickly, we have a lot of work to do today." He got up and exited the kitchen rather quickly, mumbling something about earmuffs.
"Oh, no...he....he heard us?" Willow looked a lot paler than usual.
Both girls looked at each other in shock and then broke out into a fit of laughter.
"Well, at least we don't have to figure out a way to tell him." It was a weak offer, but Buffy couldn't think of anything else to say.
"Great....he probably thinks we're both nymphomaniacs now.." Willow was very disturbed.
Buffy came up behind her and gave her a little squeeze. "Probably not." She nibbled on Willow's ear, "Then again, why disappoint him?" She ran her hands down the redhead's thighs.
'Buffy! You're bad. Bad, bad, bad...'
'I know. You love me though.' She came out from behind her and gave her a peck on the cheek.
They ate, got dressed, and joined Giles in the den to go over their notes. As night fell, Buffy and Willow went on a routine patrol through the cemetery.
"Nothing." Buffy sounded disappointed.
"Yeah....they must know something's up toni----AH! Buffy!"
Without warning, a dark figure grabbed Willow from behind, knocked Buffy to the ground and took off towards the high school.
Buffy quickly got to her feet and looked in the direction she last saw her. Nothing. It was like they disappeared. What began as a jog turned into a full sprint as she rounded the corner and spotted the high school just a block away. Buffy stopped short in front of it, unable to believe her eyes. There, at the entrance, was Willow and she was being held by Angelus.
"Buffy..it's a trick! It's not him..." She managed to get out before the figure tightened his grip.
"Long time no see, lover. As much as I'd like to make with the small talk, I have work to do....now, if you'll excuse me...." His free hand shot up and an energy ball came barreling at her. Rolling away, it missed her by inches and turned the car behind her into a pile of dust.
It was distraction enough for him to get inside with Willow.
'Nope....definitely not Angelus....but enough like him to distract me.' She thought to herself.
She worked he way around the outside of the school until she was at the window to the chemistry class. An image of Faith flashed in her mind...when she'd drawn the little heart with the stake in it on the window. Shaking it off, she climbed in carefully and made her way to the library. She was sure that's where they'd be.
Peering in, she saw Willow tied to a chair next to what looked like Giles' old office. The library was in various stages of disarray....the most destruction being in the middle and lessened as it got to the fringes. The demon was on his knees, maybe five feet away from her. He was in a circle, arms at his sides, chanting something. Willow looked up and noticed her in the window. She tried to bring Buffy's attention to something next to him. There, on the floor lay the most magnificent sword she'd ever seen. It had a jewel encrusted handle, and seemed to be made out of pure gold. It shimmered in the light cast by the fire in the center of the circle. Buffy nodded her head in acknowledgement and ducked down again.
Willow noticed a book nearby and kicked at it, distracting demon-Angelus. He turned his head and it was that moment that Buffy decided to run into the room and take a defensive stance in front of him.
"Hello again, lover. I thought I took care of you before? Silly of me to underestimate you, of course." He slowly began to work his way towards the sword. "Trust me...it won't happen again." Swiftly he picked it up and sliced vertically in her direction.
"Remember this, love? Well this time, it'll be your belly they find it in." He attacked and she dove away towards the cage. Feeling around behind her, she picked up the first thing she could get her hands on. Scrambling to her feet, she brought the weapon in front of her and realized that it was a replica of what the demon was holding...only in silver.
"Well, this does nothing but put an interesting twist on things, don't you think?" He smiled, and shifted into game face.
She thrusts at him with her sword, but he parries and swings around with a thrust of his own, which she also parries. They clash blades several times, and Buffy ducks a wide arcing swing from him. They face off again and trade one thrust and parry after another. Angelus tries another arcing swing from above, but she easily ducks and sidesteps out of the way. They face off again in front of Willow and trade a few more blows. Willow puts her foot out in front of him and he falls to the ground. This gives Buffy enough time to run over and cut Willow loose.
Willow scrambles to the side and begins a chant of her own. Several energy balls form in her upturned palms...each chant making them grow stronger. Just as Angelus is about to deliver another blow to Buffy, a ball shoots out from Willow's hand and strikes the sword, temporarily blinding him. Each ball in turn shoots in his direction....leaving him to deflect each in turn. Instead of them being deflected, they begin to act like paddleballs, coming back at him as he strikes each one away.
While Buffy catches her breath, Willow begins yet another chant. This time her hands begin to glow with a yellow light and her eyes are emanating a deep blue light that stretches across the entire room. By this time, Angelus has dispatched with all the energy balls and turns his attention to Buffy again. He strikes out at her with the sword but she easily deflects it. Each of them strikes at the same time and they come face to face. Angelus uses his height to his advantage and throws her across the room, turning on Willow now.
Having stretched her hands out in front of her, she delivers the yellow light to Angelus full force. He is struck in the chest and thrown against the cage and then to the floor. Willow runs over to Buffy who is trying to shake off the last blow she was dealt. Without thinking twice, Willow grabs the silver sword from the floor and marches over to where Angelus is kneeling.
He shakes his head and looks up upon her approach. Only, it's not Angelus.
"Willow.....what's happened? Oh, God....Will...It hurts....." It was Oz.
She stops dead in her tracks. "Oz...no...how did you......How did you get here?" She lowers the sword a bit, afraid to trust what she's seeing.
"I don't know...."
Buffy reacted. "Willow, NO! It's a trick...."
He morphed into wolf form and tackled her. She dropped the sword and they fell in a pile. Buffy rushed over and grabbed the sword, looking for a clean shot. Willow brought her knee up full force and planted it firmly in his groin. He recoiled in pain and Buffy was able to at least nick him before he could scamper under the table. A deafening silence fell on the library.
"Wha...where'd he go? Stay behind me, Will..."
Suddenly, a great rumble began to grow from under the table. It quickly spread throughout the library and before them stood a knight in full clad armor.
"I have come for you my love..." He pointed towards Willow, then turned his attention to Buffy, "And you, Sir Lancelot, shall feel the wrath of the King you have betrayed!"
"Buffy...do you trust me?!" Willow screamed over the noise.
"Do you trust me?!"
"Yes! Of course I do!"
"When I say now.....swing!"
Buffy deflected the blows Arthur threw at her the best she could. Meanwhile, Willow stood a few feet behind her, with her arms stretched out wide. Arthur swung and missed. Buffy was able to bring the sword down hard on his armored back. It didn't even make a dent.
"Come on Will, I don't know how much longer I can hold out...."
Again they were sparring. Slowly, Buffy began to realize he was losing power and his down slices were loosing their aggression. In a daring move, Buffy advanced on him and pushed him back about five feet. He came out stronger than ever. 'He tricked me!' She stumbled and it was all he needed to bring the golden sword down and cut her arm. She screamed out in pain. He stood there, laughing at her.
"You think you can beat me, you pathetic fool?"
She felt Willow come up behind her and grab the sword underneath Buffy's hand.
'One, two, three...NOW'
They swung the sword in unison and a great white light shot forth from the tip. Swinging right to left then left to right they effectively sliced him in two, without even touching him.
"The sword Buffy....destroy his sword!" Willow called out from behind her.
She ran over to where the demon Arthur was squirming on the ground and grabbed the sword. She placed it on the table and with a downward strike she shattered it into a thousand pieces. The demon screamed out in pain and exploded. When the smoke cleared, all she could see was a puddle of steaming gray slime.
"We did it, Will.....we won......" Buffy dropped the silver sword and grabbed her arm. She turned around and saw that Willow had collapsed on the ground. Immediately, she ran over to her.
"Willow...WILLOW!.....God, don't do this to me, Will, not now." She gathered her up and was smoothing the hair away from her face. "Come on, Will, wake up....we won.....we did it...together....." She was crying and holding her, rocking back and forth.
"Will, don't you leave me, damn it!......we've been through too much for you to just give up now. Come on!" She was sobbing uncontrollably.
Giles came rushing in. "Buffy..Buffy where...." He spots them on the floor and rushes over. "Dear, God, what's happened?"
"She won't wake up Giles.....make her wake up...please." She looks imploringly at him, her tears making a trail down her cheeks and dripping into Willow's hair.
Giles reaches out for Willow's hand. "She has no pulse, Buffy.....she's....she's gone." He removed his glasses and put his hand lightly on her shoulder. "No....anyone but her...." A lone tear fell from his eye.
"No, Giles...that's not good enough! You have to do something.....not after everything ...everything we've been through...we won, Will.....do you hear me? We won....." She hugged her closer now, unable to accept what he'd said. "She can't be...Giles she can't....I love you, Will......I wish it was me....I'd do anything....please, why couldn't it have been me."
A brilliant white light emanated from the hallway, and the doors swung open. He was wearing a royal blue robe, with stars, moons and suns embroidered in it. He carried a staff and at the tip of it was a beautiful orb. His beard reached almost down to his knees and his eyes were pale yellow, but it was Myrddin just the same.
"These things happen child, no one can predict them. No one knows exactly what we'd sacrifice for love." His tone was soothing and warm.
"But she can't go....We just found each other....I can't lose her....not now.....It's not fair."
"You knew what to do. You listened to your heart and you knew. So did she."
"But I love her.....she's so young...."
"In my time, it was an honor to give your life for the one you loved...do you wish to dishonor her?"
It was a loaded question. "No...but I want to give her a second chance....she doesn't deserve this....she deserves so much more..."
"Do you love her with everything you have to offer...and then more besides?"
"What?" She couldn't quite place where she'd heard that before.
"I said, do you love her with everything you have to offer....and then more besides?"
"I'm no expert on matters of the heart....but if she asked, I would offer, and if I didn't have what she asked for, I'd find a way to give it to her....simply because it's what her heart desired." Buffy made the statement simply, truthfully...as if there were no other truth she knew but the words that she spoke.
Myrddin smiled. "You are smart child, smart indeed. I can see the love in your eyes, the purity in your words and the conviction you hold in your heart. I offer you this: You know what to do. You know how to heal her and make her whole again. Show her-give her-everything. It's all there...right INSIDE of you." With that, he simply vanished.
Buffy looked down at her. "Show her...everything....inside of me...inside of me...inside."
She closed her eyes and followed the link deep into the center of Willow's soul. Mentally grabbing onto it with both hands, she felt the reverberations coarse through her. Getting a good grip she yanked as hard as she could. The minute she pulled she felt a sort of mental slap vibrate through out her entire body.
'Come on, Will....wake up.'
'I know you're in there....get up...I swear, if you leave me, I'll never forgive you.'
She grabbed onto the link again. With an even greater force than she knew she possessed, she yanked on it again...this time, the slap sending her to her knees.
'Willow, damn it....'
'I can't do this alone. Who's gonna let me copy off of them in Walsh's class? Who's gonna save my ass with the floating pencil when the vamps attack all at once? Who's gonna bandage my wounds and chase the monsters from under my bed? You're a part of me, Will....If you leave me, I die....I can't survive without you.....two halves make a whole...remember?......you complete me....I'm nothing without you.....nothing.'
'I've waited my whole life for you, Willow Rosenberg, and I'm not going to give you up now. Do you understand?.....I....damn it....I deserve you. I deserve to have you in my life....I earned you and nothing is gonna take you away from me now. NOTHING!'
'Will...Oh, God...Will.' "Willow...open your eyes...come on, you can do it. Open your eyes for me." Buffy was looking down at her...waiting for the slightest movement. Giles could do nothing but hold his breath and witness the scene before him.
Slowly, almost sleepily, she began to stir. Then she squeezed Buffy's hand. It wasn't much but it was a start. "Look at me, Will. Open your eyes....."
She blinked once, twice.....then Buffy was able to look deep into a sea of emerald green.
"Hey," She managed to whisper.
A sob escaped from Buffy's throat and the tears began to flow again. She smiled down at her. "Hey yourself."
They made their way up the path. They could hear music coming from inside the house they were approaching. Not wanting to walk in just yet, they stood outside the window and looked in.
"Bloody hell, boy. You know I can't bite you." Spike was sneering at Xander. "Would you untie me already....even dogs are allowed a longer leash than this." In his hand he held a rope that was maybe three feet long. One end attached to his neck, the other to the doorknob of the closet.
"I don't think I like him very much. He irritates me." Anya offered from the couch.
"Sod off, you! Damn vengeance demons...never know their place....if I ever get out of this, I'm gonna....I'm gonna..." Spike shot her a nasty look.
"You're gonna what? Close your eyes and wish really, REALLY hard that you could bite me?" She smiled at him. Xander tried to contain himself, but he had to turn away so Spike couldn't see him chuckling.
Buffy looked at Giles, then to Willow. "Yeah....I'd say we're home."
Willow nodded her head in agreement and smiled her patented Willow-smile. "Be it ever so humble."
"Hmm, yes. I quite agree." Giles added before putting his key in the lock and opening the door.
"So nothing, huh?" Xander asked for the hundredth time.
"No Xand....no vamps, no tramps, no imps, no nada." Buffy smiled.
"Oh, well...at least you got to ski. Too bad you cut your arm when you fell off the lift though. I thought Slayers were supposed to be graceful?" He gave her a sly grin.
"They are...I was just....distracted." She gave him a little pout.
"I see...spotted another flavor of the week, huh?" Xander grinned at her. "Was he buff, Buff?"
"Xander, don't you think it's getting quite late? You should be making your way home sometime this evening...no?" Giles interjected.
"Yeah...wow...look at the time...." He got up from the couch and made his way to the door. "Hey, Will....how about I walk you home? It's on my way."
She looked up from her position on the couch. "No thanks, Xander. My parents are out of town and I'm staying with Giles until Buffy and I can get back into the dorms."
"Well, suit yourself....I for one, am camping out under the stars....the Xander Harris tradition. Only this year, I'll have company.....ready, Anya?" She walked over to the door and followed him out. "Night, all."
"Well, I'm quite tired myself. I think I'll turn in." Giles got up from his chair and put his tea cup on the counter. "Good night, ladies."
Hey, Giles....wait a sec." Buffy called out. "I have an early Christmas present for you." She looked in Willow's direction and gave her a knowing smile.
"That's not necessary, Buffy. We can open them all together, tomorrow."
"Really, Giles....we insist." Willow gave him an innocent smile.
He walked over and retrieved the package Buffy had produced from behind her back. He pulled off the ribbon and the paper. Then he opened the box. His cheeks turned an interesting shade of red. "Yes, well....I see. A practical gift, one would assume."
In the box was a pair of tweed earmuffs.
He smiled at them and went off to bed.
"I didn't think I'd ever see him turn that color again......Rainbow Giles....distant, distant cousin of Rainbow Bright." Buffy smiled over at her friend.
Willow crept over to the other side of the couch where Buffy was sitting. "I have an early Christmas present for you, Buffy...." She said in a sing-song voice.
Her eyes grew wide. "What? What, what, what...come on, Will, what is it? You know how impatient I can be!" Buffy had her by the shoulders and was shaking her with each word.
"All right....but you have to close your eyes...." Willow gave her an innocent smile.
After a bit of pouting, Buffy closed her eyes. Willow got them both off the couch and led her into the bedroom they were sharing. Willow pulled her to the middle of the room.
"OK, Buffy....open your eyes."
She opened them slowly and first noticed the red and green candles everywhere and the soft light they cast on the room. Looking around a little more, she saw that there was green garland on the walls and a little Christmas tree on the dresser, right next to a miniature Menorah. She was about to say something then she noticed something hanging from the ceiling. Actually, she noticed a lot of something's hanging there.
"Will?" Buffy gave her a questioning look.
"It's mistletoe....well, actually....it's A LOT of mistletoe. Do you like it?"
"I love it...but there's one little problem..." Buffy looked at her seriously.
"What?" The redhead's eyebrows arched at the thought she'd forgotten something.
Buffy leaned in for a long lingering kiss. After a few moments she broke away and looked deep into her eyes. "I never need an excuse to kiss you. Ever. No spells, or mistletoe or special occasion." She reached her hand out and touched her cheek. "It comes as natural to me as breathing....." She smiled.
"Yeah, I know....again with the cheese factor." Both girls giggled. "I hope you like cheese, Will....I certainly have more than enough to go around."
"Absolutely.....I would have to say that Buffy cheese is my favorite cheese of all."
They kissed some more. Neither one in a rush. They knew they had time.
'Merry Christmas, Buffy.'
'Merry Christmas, Red.'
He peered in the window, taken by the sight they presented. The Slayer and the witch. They were quite a pair. He turned to his companion. "They're meant to be, you know."
They were kissing in the middle of the room. Soft music came from the radio on the night table.
"Myrddin wasn't kidding when he said he needed a big favor. It's not every day you find a 1400 year old wizard on your doorstep." He looked at his companion again. "Something bothering you?"
"I get that it was meant to be, and I have no complaints about that. I still can't figure out why he wanted to use our memories though......you think it helped?" He looked up at his friend, and stood there in contemplative silence.
"Just look for yourself." He waved his hand towards the window.
They had made their way over to the bed now. Willow reached out to cup Buffy's face, the love in her eyes could be clearly seen...even from where they were standing.
"What ever happened at the library must have been something else."
"Come on. I think we've seen enough. Don't you?" He stuck his hands in his pockets, waiting for a response.
He gave one last look in the window. If they stood there any longer it would definitely be an invasion of privacy. "As Willow goes......so does my nation." He gave a heavy sigh, and they walked away into the night together. Both realizing, maybe for the first time, what it was exactly they'd lost.
He crouched down next to his companion, both watching the fight ensue nearby.
"What do you think?"
"I think they can handle it. You?"
"Yeah, but I have a funny feeling about this one." He motioned to the masked figure currently on the wrong end of a high kick. "It's unnerving. He's human but he's strong. I recognize the scent he's putting off but I just can't put my finger on it."
He glanced up at the dark-haired man, then turned his attention back to the fight. "Yet, she had a bad-ass Wicca to fight next to her, so, there's an upside."
They watched the fight continue and Willow appeared from behind a tree. She chanted some words, raised her hands in the air, and swiftly planted an energy ball at the feet of Buffy's opponent. The fight stopped, Buffy turned to Willow in surprise, and the opponent took that opportunity to high tail it out of there through the bushes.
"I don't like it, Oz. He's working for someone . . or with someone which is worse. I can't fight the feeling that it's not over yet." He brought his hand up to his chin as if in contemplation.
Buffy and Willow exchanged some dialogue they couldn't hear, then headed off in the direction of the dorms.
Both remained in the bushes until the two girls walked out of sight. "I think it's safe now. We should go."
He rose to his feet and his companion glanced up at him. "Come on, you can perfect your brooding skills on the ride back to LA."
"It's not over yet. We should stick around."
"If you insist. After all, you're the expert on lurking."
"...the point is that I was handling it. I didn't need your light show to bail me out!"
"Buffy, you were getting your ass kicked out there. I was only trying to help."
They walked into the dorm room, Willow flipped on the lights and Buffy stomped over to her side of the room and tossed her bag into the closet. It had been a month since they'd faced Arthur and won.
"Of the two of us, which one is the Slayer here? I can handle myself and my slaying, I don't need you momming me. Last time I looked, this job wasn't opening up."
"I was only trying to help. It looked like you were in trouble so I ..."
"Jumped in with your Samantha routine."
"That wasn't very nice."
"THAT was the truth."
Willow got up off the bed and headed for the door. "I really don't need this right now..." She opened the door and slammed it behind her.
She wasn't sure where she was heading as long as it was away from her. Things had gone seriously downhill since Christmas and neither one of them could figure out why. It wasn't all bad all the time, but each one felt like the other was on a different page sometimes.
Willow found herself at The Grotto. 'May as well have some coffee. I don't think I'll be going to sleep anytime soon.' She walked in, ordered, and sat down at a nearby couch.
She looked up and saw him. 'I really don't need THIS right now.' "Jeff." She had to admit to herself, he looked good except for the shiner he was sporting under his left eye. "What happened to you?"
He walked around the couch and sat next to her. "Two hand touch football with the guys. Someone has to explain the rules to them." He shrugged and gave her a sheepish grin. "I haven't seen you around lately. How have you been?"
"Good, I've been good. Keeping busy with classes and the computer lab."
"Willow ...I just wanted to apologize for the way I acted last time I saw you. It wasn't me, really, and I feel really bad that I made you cry."
"Forget it, Jeff. It's over ...I'm over it, really."
"No, I need to explain. See, Veruca and I, well, we had something. I knew she was ...you know, grrr, but it didn't matter to me. I should have kept a closer eye on her. If I had then maybe..."
Willow's eyes went wide with surprise. "Wow, you knew? But it's not your fault. Veruca was responsible for her own actions, not you, and Oz was responsible for his."
He smiled. "How'd you get so smart?"
"I had some help." Her mind drifted to Buffy and the fight they just had. "Listen, I should get going. It's late and I have a class at nine tomorrow." She rose to leave.
"Let me walk you back. It's the least I can do since I was so horrible to you."
Buffy looked out the window again. Willow had been gone only an hour, but she was worried none the less. She knew what lurked out there in the darkness, probably better than anyone.
She'd been feeling strange this past month. She was more sensitive than usual to anyone helping her fight the good fight. She noticed that every time a fight ended and a vamp was dust at her feet, she could still feel it there, like it was lingering and didn't want to give up.
She also wasn't sure why she freaked out on Willow like that. She'd only tried to help the way she did a thousand times before. Now Buffy felt guilty for driving her away and making her leave.
They approached the door and Willow pulled out her key. She hesitated and Jeff noticed it. "What's wrong?"
"Hmm? Nothing. I had a fight with Buffy earlier and I'm sure she's still in there and ..."
"You don't have to go in if you don't want to. We can sit and talk ..."
"I don't know ..."
"Come on ...what could it hurt?" Without waiting for an answer, he ushered her away to the lounge.
One hour later.
"...she just doesn't want my help anymore. I don't know what to do."
Willow had explained more or less, the problem she was having with Buffy. Avoiding all the vampire and prophecy stuff, she did a pretty good job of it.
"She's crazy not to want you around to help her all the time. If you were my best friend, I'd never let you out of my sight."
"That's sweet, Jeff." A thoughtful look washed across her face. "Maybe it wasn't such a great idea for us to room together after all. We have opposing personalities, she's messy and I like order, she loves to cut loose and I love to sit and read a good musty old book. Totally different." She sniffled and wiped a threatening tear from her eye.
"You could be right. Maybe you two just need some time apart. Chris and I decided not to room together ...best idea in the world. He just can't seem to keep his dirty socks on his own lamp." She chuckled a bit. "Yeah, you think it's funny ...do you have any idea what warm week-old gym socks smell like?" He crinkled up his nose to demonstrate the point.
Her mood lightened a little. "Thanks, Jeff. I really needed a laugh."
He put his hand on hers. "You should really do that more often. You have a great smile, you know."
She glanced down and noticed his hand. 'Now how did that get there?' She felt the color rise in her cheeks and tried to pull her hand away. "Jeff, I don't think this is such a good idea..."
He leaned in. "Do you know how cute you are when you get nervous?" He hesitated a moment then leaned in some more, just brushing her lips with his. "I think you're beautiful, Willow." He kissed her again with more determination this time. "And I intend to show you just how beautiful you are ..." The sentence was broken by yet another lingering kiss. It was passionate, desperate ...sensual.
Willow gasped at the invasiveness of his lips. Definitely not like kissing Buffy. Buffy was softer and more gentle. Not like Oz either ...he had more stubble. Suddenly, she realized what was happening. 'Kissing Jeff, kissing Jeff.....I can't be kissing Jeff!' She pushed him away at arm's length. "I can't ..."
"But you just did. Didn't you like it?" He was puzzled.
"Yes ...no, I mean, I can't. I'm ...involved with someone." She rose to go and he rose with her.
"Willow, wait... .please don't go." He reached out and touched her shoulder. "We were just getting started." He looked at her with a gleam in his eye.
She couldn't think ...couldn't respond. It was like she was crazy-glued to that spot and not even an earthquake was going to make her budge.
He took the opportunity to kiss her again. This time when she gasped, he took it as an invitation to deepen the kiss. He reached up and let his hand get l