WHAT THE FUTURE HOLDS
A Moment In Time
Buffy stared at Riley. What he had just told her completely rocked her world. He was a member of the Initiative. Her normal boy was anything but.
"You may be normal for this town, but I don't grade on a curve."
That was the last thing she said to him before she left her dorm room. It was funny in retrospect, but an exit is an exit. Riley just wasn't the man she thought he was. Then again, she had lied to him also but she didn't care. Leaving was the right thing to do. Wasn't it?
Shortly after she left, Buffy felt an earthquake. Normally it wouldn't have been that big of a deal, they did live in California. However, the last earthquake Buffy had been in resulted in her "death." Buffy was wigged.
Like with everything else in her life, Buffy ended up at Giles' flat. Giles tried to convince her that it was nothing more then a simple California earthquake but Buffy didn't believe him. Then he brought up the Innitiave.
For a split second, Buffy considered lying to Giles. Then Buffy remembered what happened every time they lied to each other. Badness. Big ugly near death experience badness. So she told the truth.
"Riley is in the Initiative?" Giles was dumbfounded.
"Yeah that's what he told me."
"He told you?"
"Didn't have much of a choice. " Buffy paused, "We were both after those creepy take your voices, steal your heart guys and well...."
"I get the picture."
"Could have slayed me with a toothpick." Buffy smiled.
Giles smiled, "So what are you going to do about Riley?"
"Not much to do." Buffy paused, "The Initiative are not trustworthy guys. Something bad going down with them. If Riley is on their side. He's not on ours."
"I know Giles. He's a nice guy and all but...."
"But he's not the first nice guy to be lured by evil."
"And I'm not into luring evil, especially from boyfriends. Been there done that. Don't wanna do that again."
Giles paused for a moment, "OK, about this earthquake."
Willow was in Tara's dorm room when the earthquake hit. After the shock wore of she made sure Tara was alright. Then on instinct she called Giles. It had become a habit of hers, every time something 'different' happened, she called Giles. Whether it was a good different or a bad different, she called Giles.
"Giles wants me at his place." She turned to Tara, "Uhh can we do this later."
Tara frowned, "Yes.. later."
Willow ran and headed for Giles' flat. By the time she got there Giles, Xander, Anya, and even Buffy were all in research mode. Willow just smiled and grabbed a book.
"So what are we researching?"
"We don't know yet." Giles frowned.
"OK so why are we researching?" Anya asked.
Giles looked remotely angry at Anya, "Because the last time there was an earthquake in Sunnydale, Buffy died."
That was enough to silence Anya. At least for awhile.
"Well, that was interesting." Xander quipped as they left their old burnt down high school.
Willow was about to respond when they ran into Riley Finn. Riley tried to cover up is reasoning for being there but they had all pretty much figured out who he was. Buffy had told them a little, they figured out the rest themselves.
Willow followed Buffy back to their dorm room. Buffy had been there for Willow when the whole Oz thing had happened. Now it was her turn. Willow was going to be a good friend and listen to all Buffy's angst. She was going to give Buffy ice cream.
The strange thing was, Buffy didn't seem to be upset, which but a minor damper on Willow's plans. Plans that she was more then willing to throw away. Instead Buffy and Willow most of the next two days talking about how evil men were. (Well all except for Xander and Giles, and maybe Brad Pitt.)
Somewhere around the third day Willow realized that for the first time since Oz left, she was truly happy. Her life was finally coming into focus. Even if it was for a just a moment, Willow was happy.
Changes Of The Heart
Willow and Tara were doing their magic thing when Willow got a call from Giles. Willow had been spending a lot of time with her new friend. They had a lot in common, both had an affinity for magic.
Willow liked being around Tara. She was funny, she was smart, she was.... Willow didn't know what. It really didn't matter. Willow liked Tara.
"I'm sorry." Willow said sadly, "Duty calls."
"I...its Ok." Tara frowned, "I understand."
Willow smiled, "I'll see you later?"
Willow grabbed her things and left Tara's dorm room and headed for Giles' flat. Tara stood there and watched her go. She didn't move until Willow had been gone for a long time.
"So Maggie sends me down into the sewers with one of those blasto guns and the next thing I know it's raining monsters."
Buffy, Giles, Willow, Xander, Spike, and Anya were discussing the latest turn of events from the Inniative. Buffy had been nearly killed when Maggie Walsh had set her up.
"Hallelujah." Xander quipped.
Buffy ignored Xander and continued, " And then this gate slams down behind me and I-I try to use the gun but it goes pfft."
"You're saying that Maggie Walsh set you up?" Giles asked.
"That's exactly what I'm saying. She sent me on a one way recon."
Spike decided to pick this moment to speak, "Got to hand it to you goldilocks -- you do have bleeding tragic taste in men. I've got a cousin married to a regurgitating frovilops demon that's got better instincts than you."
"What does my taste in men have to do with this?" Buffy asked angrily
"You think Riley was out knitting booties for your future offspring while Maggie stringing you up?"
Anya, Giles, and Xander remained silent. Spike had said what they had all been thinking.
"You guys think Riley had something to do with this." Buffy asked her silent friends.
"Um, probably not but we, uh, be remiss if we didn't think all the possibilities." Giles said nervously.
Willow tried to come to her friend's aid but the fact of the matter was that she had thought the same thing. Buffy, was her friend though and if she liked Riley, (and Willow knew she did, she had gone back to Riley a few days after the whole can't speak episode) then Willow would back Riley unless real evidence came forward.
The conversation went on for quite awhile. Willow and Buffy continued to try to convince the others, and themselves, that Riley had nothing to do with the attempt on Buffy's life. After a little while the group realized they might be in a bit of trouble.
"We need to relocate someplace we're less likely to be found. We need to come up with a plan." Buffy said in full slayer mode.
"We could go to my place." Willow said helpfully.
"The Initiative guys know how close we are. They'll automatically check the places that you hang out. Xander, what about your basement? The guys haven't seen us together that much and there's enough room."
"Ooh, plus mirrored ball." Willow said, a little too happy.
"Cool! Come on down and boogie at Xander's hideaway." Xander said also happy.
"Yes, come boogie." Anya wasn't so happy to have to share.
"Absolutely not! I will not squat in that dank hole." Giles said nixing the idea.
"What, it was good enough for me, but you're above it all?" Spike asked sarcastically.
"Precisely. Besides I-I don't see why we can't stay right where we are. Pfft. It's very unlikely that those Initiative boys are going to come round here to look for uh_"
At that exact moment there was a knock on the door and Riley entered. The group was not happy to see him. Even Buffy looked at him wearily.
After an awkward few moments, Buffy and the group tried to convince him that the Inniative and Professor Walsh were up to no good. Riley however was too good a soldier and too blind to the truth to see it.
"Professor Walsh is one of the good guys." Riley headed for the door, "I am starting to believe that you aren't."
Riley left Giles' flat. The Scooby gang had made a new enemy.
"So what do you think, Riley?" Professor Walsh asked.
Riley was in fully commando gear getting ready for a new recon mission when Professor Walsh approached him. Riley smiled at his mentor and then continued to work,
"About what, ma'am?"
"About Miss Summers?"
It took Riley a moment to speak when he did he wasn't looking into Walsh's eyes. "Buffy Summers and her friends are to be considered hostile to our mission."
Walsh frowned. "I want a full report on my desk by tomorrow."
Walsh began to leave but before she reached the door she turned around. "And Riley, if you run into them again...."
Riley looked up from what he was doing. "Yes?"
"Make sure they don't get in our way."
A Moment Too Late
"Patrol's been totally uneventful. My kill count's way down."
Once again the gang, Xander, Giles, Anya, Buffy and Willow were sitting in Giles' flat talking about recent events. Willow had managed to bring Tara along, introducing her as one of her wicca friends. The group was, at first a little worried, but soon they were all charmed by Tara.
"She means there's been less bad-guy activity." Willow said to Tara.
"Well, we know what that often indicates" Giles commented.
"Buffy doesn't make her quota." Xander shook his finger at Buffy, " Bad slayer!"
"Well, I wish it were that innocuous, but with Adam around, I feel he's involved somehow." Giles said worried.
The group at recently discovered what Professor Walsh had tried so hard to keep a secret. She had been creating a super weapon, a creature part man part demon. Her creation, like the Frankenstein monster he was, had killed his creator. Now the Inniative was in an uproar, which should have meant more demons to kill. Instead there were none, which had the group more then a little worried.
"When things get slow, it's usually because there's some extra evil brewing." Willow said to Tara who was a little startled by the conversation.
"I've heard from a few sources of mine that the Inniative is going bonkers with demons." Xander commented, "Up to their ears in um."
"That's a metaphor." Willow once again tried to ease Tara's way into the group.
Tara smiled, " I got it, thanks."
"I'm overhelping, aren't I?"
They continued to talk for awhile and Giles was about to bring something up of some importance when everyone looked startled. Giles looked at the door and standing there was Oz.
Willow and Oz walked through town neither of them speaking at first. There was so much to say but neither of them knew exactly how to say it. Eventually they began to talk. It was awkward at first but they both needed the moment.
"I know what I put you through, and I'm not gonna push. But I am... a different person than when I left. And I can be what you need now."
Willow just stared at him. If he had said those words a week before she would have ran to his arms forgiving him everything. Now things where different. Willow didn't quite know why, but..... things were different.
They went back to Willow's dormroom so that Willow could pick of a coat so they could continue their walk. Willow decided she need to freshen up so she went to the bathroom. When she came back Oz looked a little confused.
" Your friend came by. The blonde girl? But she wouldn't stay." Oz turned around to put on his coat. " So what do you think? Where you wanna go?"
If Oz had been paying attention he would have noticed the look of worry on Willow's face.
Buffy had spent the night at her mother's house. She had decided to give Oz and Willow space to talk. Buffy liked Oz and she knew how much Willow missed him. Willow had been there for her for all the troubles in her life, so no it was her turn. Buffy would do whatever it took to make Willow happy.
"I was with him all night." Willow responded to Buffy's question.
Buffy grinned, " All night? Oh my god." Buffy sat on Willows bed. "Wait. Last night was a wolf moon, right?"
"Either you're about to tell me something incredibly kinky, or-"
"No kink." Willow smiled. "He didn't change, Buffy. He said he was gonna find a cure, and he did. In Tibet."
"Oh my god. I can't believe it." Buffy paused. " Okay, I'm all with the woo-hoo here, and you're not."
"No, there's 'woo' and, and 'hoo.' But there's 'uh-oh,' and... 'why now?' And... it's complicated."
Willow sighed, "It's complicated... because of Tara."
"You mean Tara has a crush on Oz? No." Buffy paused for a moment. "Oh."
Willow smiled nervously at Buffy. She hadn't planned on telling Buffy the way she felt. It was the last thing on her mind. Especially with the way she felt for Buffy. But Buffy was one of those unattainable things that Willow had long ago given up hope on. Tara however had possibilities.
Buffy stood up. "Oh. Um... well... that's great. You know, I mean, I think Tara's a, a really great girl, Will."
"She is. And... there's something between us. It-it wasn't something I was looking for. It's just powerful. And it's totally different from what Oz and I have."
"Well, there you go, I mean, you know, you have to - you have to follow your heart, Will. And that's what's important, Will."
"Why do you keep saying my name like that?"
Buffy tried very hard to be happy. "Like what, Will?"
Willow stood up from her bed. "Are you freaked?"
Buffy immediately said she wasn't freaked but neither of them believed her. Willow thought that it was because Buffy was a little wigged at the newest revelation about her life. She was wrong.
Buffy was freaked because she realized how she felt about her friend. She finally had something in common with Oz. They were both a moment too late.
Line In The Sand
Buffy woke up and saw that Willow wasn't in her bed. At first she was worried, when Buffy had come home late, Willow wasn't there and she still wasn't. Then Buffy remembered the night before. Willow was probably either with Oz or Tara. Probably Tara.
The night before had been a night full or revelations. Oz had returned more or less in control of his werewolf nature. He, ironically, lost control when he realized that Willow was in love with someone else.
Then he was captured by the Initiative. It had been Tara who had brought the news to Willow. Buffy had to give her credit for that. She didn't have to say anything, especially since she had truly believed that Willow still loved Oz. She did though, and that gave her many brownie points in Buffy's book.
Giles, Willow, Xander, and Buffy had gone on a search and rescue to get Oz back. Thy had snuck into the Inniaive and had almost pulled it off without a hitch, but then they ran into Riley.
"I can't let you do this Buffy."
"You're holding a friend of ours."
Riley looked confused. "The werewolf."
"His name is Oz." Willow said simply.
"He's a werewolf."
"We're going in, Riley."
"You'll have to go through me."
Buffy punched Riley in the nose and he went down. It was the last straw in the relationship. The last nail in the coffin that was Buffy and Riley. Buffy had drawn a line in the sand and Riley had stupidly crossed it. There was no going back, for either of them.
With only a few other minor inconveniences they had managed to get Oz out of the Inniative. Now they were all, more or less in hiding. The Inniative was pissed. To make matters worse, their little escapade had pretty much cut the power in most of Sunnydale. This was bad, considering they lived on a Hellmouth which meant that Buffy spent most of the night slaying.
Willow had gone with Oz. Buffy knew it was to say goodbye, which meant that if she wasn't in the dormroom she was with Tara. Buffy wasn't sure how she felt about that. She was no expert in the matters of the heart, especially her own.
"Maybe Spike was right." Buffy said to herself.
Buffy thought about her taste in men. First their was Angel (Sleep with him, he loses his soul), then Parker (Wham, bam, thank you ma'am guy), and Finally Riley, (Shucks, I'm just a country boy with a bazooka.)
"Three up, three down. The side retires."
Buffy looked at the clock. She had a class in a half-hour, which meant she couldn't wait for Willow to return. Buffy frowned. The next time she would see Willow would be in Professor Walsh's class. Riley would be doing his student teacher bit. That was, unless, Buffy had put him in a coma. Well it would make things interesting.
Buffy left for class thinking about Willow, and what do about the situation. Finally she decided on nothing. There was nothing to do. Buffy knew her feelings were irrelevant. She didn't want to put added stress on Willow. She didn't want to make Willow choose. Buffy knew she'd lose.
Willow was in love, with Tara.
The Greatest Damage
Willow sat on Tara's bed and stared into space. She new she should be hacking into the Initiative computer but she didn't want to. She just couldn't concentrate. The same angry thoughts came barging into her head.
Willow was aware that Tara was watching over her. She was sitting in a chair across the room looking nervous. Willow, however was too hurt and angry to acknowledge Tara. The only thing on her mind was the confrontation she had had with the people she called her friends.
And Buffy had to out me in front of everyone.
They don't need me anymore. Buffy doesn't need me.
Tara got up out of her chair and sat beside Willow, which immediately took Willow out of her bad thoughts. All she could think of was Tara.
Kind loving Tara. She's all I need.
"They do need you Willow." Tara said after awhile.
Tara smiled. "They can't get into the Initiative again without you."
Willow shook her head sadly. "They'll find another way."
"Not without your help. You are the only one who can find the hidden room."
"Why should I help them?" Willow asked angrily, "They don't care about me and I don't care about them."
"Y...Yes you do." Tara took Willow's hand and smiled. "Y...You wouldn't have been able to hurt them like you did a...and they wouldn't have been able to hurt you if you didn't care. T...The greatest damage is done by those you love."
Willow thought about that for a moment. Tara was right. If the Scooby Gang hadn't known each other so well, hadn't cared about each other so much, they wouldn't have known, or been able to press each other's buttons the way they did.
Willow got up and went to work on the disk she had been given. She was still hurt, she was still angry, but she had a job to do.
Between The Lines
Buffy, Willow, Xander, and Giles drove in silence. The last few days had been hectic to say the least. They had almost managed to lose their friendship, all because Spike knew how to play them. Adam's plan had almost worked.
Adam just made one mistake. He underestimated how strong their friendship really was. In the end he had just made it stronger. Their secrets were no longer secrets. Their worst fears were in the open. They now knew each other better, They were a stronger team then ever.
They were driving back to the Summer's residence after the final battle with the Initiative and with Adam. The battle was all too surreal. Demons versus soldiers. It would have been a massacre.
They had barely found room 314. Buffy smiled to herself, Xander really would have made a good soldier. He definitely knew how to shoot a gun. He had saved their butts more then once.
The final battle with Adam was intense. The power she had gotten was amazing. With one hand she had grabbed Adam's power source right out of his chest. The spell had worked but now the whole group was wired.
Buffy looked out the window. A sudden thought came to her mind. She wondered what happened to Riley.
Spike walked back into the mausoleum he was using as his home. He was pissed. Adam had used him, and Spike hated to be used. Adam had no intention of removing the chip from his head, Spike knew that now. Adam was playing him, like he played the Slayer and her friends.
Spike however had made a sort of amends. He saved Buffy's sidekicks from certain doom. They had decided not to stake him. In Spike's mind they were even. Well almost even.
Spike smiled when he thought of the gift he had given the Slayer without her even knowing. Well it wasn't a gift actually. He enjoyed doing it, and he wasn't sure Buffy would be happy he did it. Spike didn't care thought.
While the others were helping the soldier-boys escape from the Inniative, Spike had run into Riley in full I am half-demon hear me roar form.
"I'm gonna beat you to life." Riley said.
"You're even less funny as a demon, farm boy."
"I'm gonna enjoy this." Riley smiled.
"So am I." Spike pulled out a gun.
"You can't kill me, remember."
"You're a demon now. " Spike shot Riley right between the eyes. "I can do whatever the bloody hell I want to."
Spike smiled at the thought. He really enjoyed killing farm-boy. It was almost worth still having the chip in his head.
Buffy finished changing and walked back down the stairs. Still sitting there were Willow and Xander. Giles had gone into the kitchen to help her mother make breakfast. It had been a long night full of violence and weird dreams. They had met the first slayer, and Buffy, not for the first time, thanked what God was listening that she had Giles. The first slayer never had a watcher.
The dreams were weird to say the least. And that bald guy with the cheese, all of them dreaming about him, was just spooky.
Breakfast was eaten in relative silence. They all had been spooked by the dreams. They each saw a little too much into their own psyche. Joyce had asked a few questions but she also ate in silence. After breakfast Giles again volunteered to help Joyce clean up. Xander made an excuse about checking up on Anya.
"I should be going too." Willow said to Buffy.
"Oh... all right." Buffy said sadly.
"I'll see you later, right?"
"Yeah, yeah of course Will." Buffy paused. "Say hello to Tara for me."
Buffy watched sadly as Willow's face lit up at the mere mention of her girlfriend's name. Buffy was more sure then ever that Willow was in love. There was no way that she was going to complicated Willow's life by telling her how she felt. Willow didn't deserve that.
Willow grabbed her things and left the Summers' home. Buffy turned around and saw Giles standing by the kitchen door. Neither of them spoke for a moment.
"You love her don't you?" Giles asked.
"Yes." Buffy said simply.
"Well...uh.. that's what I thought." Giles took off his glasses nervously, "What are you going to do about it?"
Buffy paused, "Nothing. She loves Tara and I'm not about to risk our friendship just because I am jealous."
Giles looked on sadly as Buffy picked up her things and went to leave. When she got to the door she heard frantic knocking. Buffy quickly opened it. Angel was standing outside, burning in the sunlight. Buffy quickly let him in.
"Help me." Angel whispered in pain and then passed out on the floor.