The Witch and the Dragon – Chapters 29 & 30

Standard Disclaimer

This is fan fiction of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel, which were created by Joss Whedon. If you like, you can read my thoughts on the ethics and legality of fan fiction.


[Start reading story from beginning]

[Go back to chapters 27 & 28]

Chapter 29

The rain stopped. Gradually, the stormclouds separated, and a little sun returned.

Spike and Illyria were helping tend to the wounded. Buffy and Dawn had never left their mother’s side, while Xander and Giles had gone back to search in the crowd of souls.

That left Willow and Tara. They held hands, sitting on the ground together so as not to hurt Willow’s leg.

“I’ve wanted this for so long,” said Willow. “But now that I’m finally with you…”

Tara waited, studying her.

“I can’t imagine what you must think of me. First Warren, now this. I don’t know if I’m good or evil, Tara. I’m not sure I know the meaning of the words. All I know is, when anything happens to you, I go a little bit crazy.”

Tara touched Willow’s hair. “I’m lucky, in a way. I’ve never had to make those choices. If someone had ripped you away from me, if I’d had your power…? I don’t know. It could’ve been me all black and veiny.”

“Don’t say that,” Willow whispered. “Even if it’s true. I’d rather think about what you actually did. You were so brave today.”

“Well, I learned it from you.”

“I learned it from Buffy.”

They sat together, savoring the sheer fact of each other’s presence.

“Illyria thinks the rift will close after today,” said Willow. “This is probably the last time I’ll see you until…you know.”

“Shh.” Tara squeezed her hand. “Don’t think about that. Be with me now, okay?”

Willow ran her thumb over the back of Tara’s hand. “It’s funny. I want so bad to say the perfect thing, to be profound and meaningful. I tried so hard to think of the words beforehand. But there’s nothing. And Xander, when he finds Anya, you know what he’s going to do? Just hug her, say ‘I love you,’ and cry. Can you believe it? I mean, how lame is that?”

Tara smiled. “Pretty lame.”

Willow hugged her.

Hot tears spilled from her eyes.

“I love you.”

“I love you.”

She pulled away…and Tara was gone.

“No,” she whispered, looking around, as if Tara might just be nearby.

She sagged to the ground, curled up tight, and sobbed for a long time.

Then she got up, dried her eyes, and felt the sunlight on her skin. She set out in search of the friends she still had.

 Chapter 30

The final death toll from the battle was seven. Five slayers, including Dana, whose real name was Charlotte. Olga had survived. Two witches: Marissa and Svetlana. Young, relatively new. With more training, maybe they could have…

Willow promised Emily she would tell their parents.

They called in a helicopter for the seriously wounded. The Slayers gave first aid to everyone else. It turned out they had a lot of practice with that sort of thing.

The witches piled the bodies of the demons into a great heap over Abaddon, and set the whole thing ablaze. It burned blue, and the flames licked far up into the afternoon sky.

By 6:00 everything was ready, and they filed back into their respective vehicles for the ride home. This time, Buffy rode the bus.

The mood was somber. Willow wondered if anyone else felt as uncomfortable as she did. Nobody talked for ten minutes or so.

Finally Spike broke the silence. “Good seein’ Joyce again,” he said. “Sweet lady. Not like you lot, forever runnin’ off to skewer one bogeyman or another. Shame about her dyin’ and all.”

“Really, Spike?” said Dawn. “My mother dying, is that a shame, in your opinion?”

“Don’t have to get snippy,” said Spike. “I just mean that was a right proper reunion for you Summers girls. Lot better than mine. Never knew how much I liked vampire Harm till I met human Harm. Eh – vampire Harm is dead, right?” Buffy stared at him in disbelief. “All right. Silly question.”

“I met Principal Snyder,” said Xander.

“No way,” said Willow. “Did he say anything?”

“Mostly he yelled a lot. Seemed to think there was too much lollygagging in general, and there was concern that some delinquent had pulled the fire alarm. He’s not a happy man.”

“What about Anya?” said Dawn. “You found her, right?”

“Yeah.” Xander smiled. “She said her afterlife was – and I quote – ‘acceptable.’ The pros are eternal bliss, the end of suffering, and no rabbits. Cons include the absence of any financial markets – she describes heaven as ‘Communist’ – as well as a complete lack of any special powers, demonic or otherwise. She was pretty vocal about that last one.”

“Did she say anything about me?” said Spike.

“Um, let’s see…yeah. Not by name, though. She called you ‘That vampire who did it on a table for about eight seconds.’”

Spike made a face. “A simple ‘no’ would have sufficed.”

“Giles?” said Willow. “Did you find Jenny?”

“Indeed.”

They all waited. He glanced up.

“Oh. I suppose you want details of my emotional, deeply personal, incredibly private experience?”

“Yes, please,” said Dawn.

“Well, she was happy to see me,” said Giles. “She told me to be careful. And she said, ‘Rupert, it’s 2035, so tell me you’ve figured out how to use a computer by now, because if not, I’ll haunt you till the day that you die.’” He looked thoughtful. “And then she described me as a ‘silver fox,’ which I can only presume is a term of endearment.”

“Well, you are pretty foxy,” said Xander.

“And with that sentence,” said Giles, “my life is complete.”

“Giles,” said Willow, “I have to ask. About the Almada spell. You never told us. Did I – did we – make the right decision?”

He didn’t answer for a while.

“All of you,” he said, “you went against my express wishes. You violated the sanctity of my mind. You interfered with the natural order of things.”

He sighed.

“And I am deeply grateful.”

They smiled. Willow said, “So you don’t think I’m a ‘rank, arrogant amateur’ anymore?”

“Well, you’re asking the question, so I don’t think you’re arrogant. And after today, no one could possibly mistake you for an amateur.”

“What about ‘rank?’”

“You know, I used that word because it had a certain gravitas, but I confess I’m not entirely sure what it means.”

He turned serious.

“When I was walking amongst all those dead souls,” he said, “I happened to come across Ben, the young man I killed in order to do away with Glory. He ran off when he saw me. But afterward, I couldn’t stop seeing his face whenever I closed my eyes.”

Giles took off his glasses, cleaned them.

“Willow,” he said, “if you’re looking for reassurance, or forgiveness, or redemption, or anything of that sort, I think that’s quite natural. But don’t look to me. I’ve just as much need of it as you do.”

She wanted to say something, but the warmth inside her refused to be translated to words. She only nodded.

Silence returned for a long while. Then Dawn reached for her sister’s arm.

“Well, Buffy? What are we gonna do now?”

Buffy looked at her, and smiled.

[Go on to chapters 31 & 32]

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