The Witch and the Dragon – Chapters 31 & 32

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 29 & 30]

Chapter 31

In the months after, a lot of things changed.

Willow returned to the San Jose College of Witchcraft, but it didn’t take long to realize she was making everyone nervous. Apparently they didn’t like getting performance reviews from someone who could kill them with a thought. Sad, but a little relieved, she resigned as President. By unanimous vote, the Board chose Emily to replace her.

With Cathy’s permission, Willow moved to Redwood Falls, Minnesota, to be closer to Xander. After some early friction, she and Cathy grew to be friends. She set up shop as an independent magic tutor, and never lacked for clients.

Buffy retired from Zeta Black. Some of its members left to work for the Watchers’ Council, or do other things, but most remained together, turning the team into an all-purpose demon-fighting unit. She gave the Scythe to its new commander.

She moved to London, where – to the surprise of absolutely no one – she and Spike found a flat together, just a few blocks away from where Spike’s childhood home had once stood. Spike left Peace Village in the capable hands of its assistant director. He and Buffy signed up to work at a local homeless shelter. They both insisted they had no plans to get married, but Willow expected a phone call any week now.

Giles got hired as a senior adviser to the Watchers’ Council, where he made a great nuisance of himself by coming up with better ideas than anyone else. He firmly declared that – with advances in modern medicine – he fully intended to remain a nuisance for another fifty years.

Dawn felt an enormous weight had been lifted from her shoulders. She had her whole family with her: the kids, Buffy, and Giles. Everyone who saw her agreed she seemed happier than she’d been in decades. She still refused to upgrade her prosthetic leg.

And one day, Willow got a message from Illyria, asking if they could meet.

Chapter 32

The place was a karaoke bar by the name of Comitas, a few blocks southwest of Union Square in San Francisco.

From the outside, it was a nondescript beige rectangle nestled between a Korean sushi joint and a discount grocery store. (A simple glamour spell made it invisible to anyone not looking for it on purpose.) Inside, Willow found a sleek, modern lounge with hardwood floors and mellow lighting.

Comitas was packed with demons and humans, all looking rich and sophisticated, wearing what she could only assume was the latest fashion. Willow felt distinctly out of place. She searched the crowd and found Illyria on a plush stool at the bar, examining a martini glass that held some kind of pale green liquid.

“There you are,” said Willow, standing beside her, since there were no open seats. She raised her voice over the beat of the music. “I didn’t know you drank alcohol.”

“It is for you,” said Illyria. “Something called an ‘Emerald City.’ A curious mixture of vodka, various juices, and a high proportion of melon liqueur. The ethanol content should be sufficient to induce mild intoxication.”

Willow grinned and took a sip. “Pretty good. Hey, some people just left, let’s take that seat over there.”

They claimed a fuzzy armless sofa in the back of the lounge. A blue-skinned bonesucker demon in a sparkling jacket was up onstage, doing a not-too-bad rendition of some forgettable pop number from the 2020s.

“I feel bad I’ve never come here before,” said Willow. “I knew Lorne had opened a new bar, I just never got around to visiting.”

“It is my first time here as well,” said Illyria. “I do not normally enter venues that are this…” She glanced around. “Distracting.”

Willow sipped her drink. “So why the invitation? No offense, Miss Burkle, but this really isn’t like you.”

“Would you consider us to be friends?”

“Um. Yes.”

“That was my assessment as well.” Willow laughed, and Illyria went on. “Since you have undergone emotional trauma, and – to a lesser extent – physical trauma, I felt obligated by our friendship to provide solace.”

“You were worried, and wanted to cheer me up. Illyria, that’s sweet.”

“Agreed.” Illyria was watching the demon sing. “But I am uncertain how best to comfort you. My talks with others suggest I could temporarily distract you from your trauma, or provide superficial, asinine reassurance. Would you like either of these options?”

“Uh, they sound really tempting, but I’ll pass.”

“In that case,” said Illyria, “I shall address the causes of your suffering directly. First, your interaction with Tara. The pain of losing her will never disappear, and I cannot alter that.”

Another sip of her drink. Willow ought to have been hurt, or offended, or something, but she couldn’t help smiling again. This was genuinely Illyria’s idea of comfort. And in a way, it was more comforting than the vague platitudes she’d gotten from others.

“Second. Your decisions regarding the use of magic. I do not believe you have cause for regret. You were guided by conscience and love, and thus, your actions were as ethical as can reasonably be expected.”

Willow’s eyebrows went up. “Really? That’s your standard for ethics? I figured you’d come up with something more…precise.”

Illyria looked at her. She never smiled, but she seemed pleased somehow. “I attempted to do so. I tried to define a set of moral axioms and deduce the rightness or wrongness of your action. But the choice of axioms proved difficult, and even with a given set, I found their application to real-world problems to be a nontrivial affair.”

“Logic is tricky,” Willow translated.

“Having failed in that, I next surveyed the pronouncements of traditional authorities. But I found most of these to be irrelevant or demonstrably false, and many of the ones that remained contradicted each other. For instance, I am told that ‘absolute power corrupts absolutely’ by individuals who worship an omnipotent, benevolent God.”

“The average IQ of the room has gone up ten points. Well?”

“Eventually,” said Illyria, “I returned to my original foundation for ethics. I asked myself what Wesley would do. Would he use a power like yours to dispense executions on a daily and global basis?” She gazed at Willow with piercingly blue eyes. “I do not believe he would. I believe he would be guided by conscience and love.”

Willow finished off the Emerald City and didn’t answer right away.

The song finished, and now Lorne walked onstage. He wore a suit – no surprise – garish crimson but otherwise classy. He didn’t look a day older. Willow seemed to recall that Pyleans aged very slowly.

She stood up and waved vigorously, dragging Illyria to her feet. He looked surprised at first, but he grinned and winked at them.

“A shout out to Red and Blue, the two lovely ladies in the back. Mike, their drinks are on the house.”

He tapped a few buttons on the karaoke stand. The music started, and he began to sing in a rich, effortless voice.

Fly me to the moon

Let me play among the stars

Let me see what spring is like on

Jupiter and Mars

Willow sat down with Illyria. She said, “Wesley was a good man, but you can’t just base your decisions on what someone else would do. Nobody’s perfect.”

Illyria tilted her head. “Not even Tara?”

She doesn’t know what she’s doing to me, thought Willow. She thinks we’re just talking.

“No,” said Willow. “Not even Tara.”

“If she is imperfect, in what ways do you wish to change her?”

Fill my heart with song

And let me sing forevermore

You are all I long for

All I worship and adore

Willow frowned. “I don’t want to change her,” she said. “That’s not what I mean.”

“You directly altered reality, creating a new reality better suited to her survival. In effect, you considered Tara more perfect than the universe itself.”

“I don’t…” She shook her head. “It’s not exactly…”

“I have hypothesized,” said Illyria, “that perfection is a relative trait. Wesley is perfect, relative to me. Tara is perfect, relative to you. Dawn – and later, the vampire project – were perfect to Buffy. The pursuit and defense of our ideals is the meaning of love.”

“You make it sound so romantic,” murmured Willow. But she was lost in thought.

In other words, please be true

In other words, in other words

I

Love

You.

Everyone applauded, though half the crowd had probably never heard the ancient song before. Lorne bowed and bowed again, then hopped off the stage and made his way to ‘the two lovely ladies.’

“Sugarcakes,” he said to Willow, “you ought to call first. I could’ve had a private room lined up and everything.”

She smiled. “I’m having a good time right here.”

“So what’s shakin’? What brings you to my humble establishment? Do you want me to read your aura?”

“No,” she said. “No, that’s okay. I think I finally know who I am.”

“Must be nice,” said Lorne. “So who are you?”

Willow was still smiling.

“I’m Tara’s girl.”

[The End]

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