This story is currently unfinished and being posted in parts
| Ch 6 | Ch. 7 |
'Don't waste time, child.'
Willow heard the woman's voice in her head. Amid everything going through her right now, she didn't want to have to decipher this lady's cryptic advice. It was important, though. She could tell by the expression on her face.
'Focus, Willow. She still has time. I'll lend as much assistance as I can.'
What was she…God! CPR. Buffy had only been gone a few minutes. She set her friend's head down on the ground and kneeled over her chest. She was determined.
"Cordelia, apply pressure to her wound."
She wasn't sure what Willow had in mind, but she moved away from Xander and down to the wound in Buffy's stomach. Holding back any remarks, she looked around for something to use. Giles slipped his jacket off, and handed it to her. She tried to push as hard as she could to stop the bleeding.
Willow was about to tell him that she wanted to try CPR, but he didn't need to be told. He put his hands over Buffy's chest, and looked to Willow. She leaned down, and moved Buffy's lips open. Buffy was still warm. That was a good sign. Six breaths. One…two…three…four…
Giles followed up with six compressions on Buffy's chest. Willow repeated her breathing. "Come on, Buffy. Come back…"
"Someone should call an ambulance." Xander said, in obvious pain. Physical as well as emotional.
"They are already on their way." The woman said.
Willow glanced up at her quickly, and she and Giles kept repeating the process. Oz came in. Dressed. He just looked at everyone, and down at Willow trying desperately to resuscitate Buffy.
"Is the -" Giles started to ask.
"I heard sirens. They'll be here any second."
"How did you get clothes?" Xander asked, needing a distraction.
"Van. Lucky there's no one on the road at dawn."
"Angelus is gone, isn't he?"
"Could be dust."
"He's not." The woman said.
That's when Buffy started to breathe, but went into shock. There was a lot of blood loss. Willow started to panic.
"I don't know what to do!"
The wail of the ambulances was heard parked on the street. Two EMT's rushed into the mansion carrying a stretcher. They weren't sure why they were there at first, but then saw Buffy on the ground.
They both carefully lifted Buffy onto the stretcher.
"We need to get her to the hooked up to ventilator. How long has she been in shock?"
"About a minute." Willow answered.
"We need to hurry." They all started to follow the EMT's out, and Xander couldn't move. "Don't move. Two other guys are coming up with a stretcher for you."
Willow hopped in the back of the ambulance once they got Buffy situated. She grasped her hand. Buffy, although breathing and alive once more, had yet to open her eyes. They drove off.
Cordelia went with Xander in the second one, leaving Giles, the woman, and Oz behind.
"What's going on?" Giles asked her.
"She's missing something."
"You don't like explanations. I can tell." Oz said.
"Something Willow now has. Though she's not aware of it. Yet."
In the ambulance, Willow was trying hard to mask her panic, and still gripped Buffy's hand tightly. The driver was talking on the radio to the receiver at the hospital, and the second man was in the back with them. Buffy's body had calmed somewhat.
"Summers, Buffy. Female. Eighteen years of age. Stomach wound. Massive blood loss. She's stable, but she'll need transfusions. We'll be there in two minutes."
"Why aren't her eyes opening?" Willow asked.
"She's weak from the loss of large amounts of blood. It's a miracle she's made it this far."
"But she should be doing…something!" Willow said raising her voice.
"I know you're upset, but I need you to calm down for me, okay? Can you tell me what happened?"
"She…I'm not sure. It happened really fast. Is she going to be okay?"
"They'll do everything they can for her. It would really help if we knew her blood type. The faster she gets blood, the better shot she'll have."
"Her mom would know. It never really came up before. I should call her -"
"The hospital already did." The paramedic put his hand on Willow's shoulder. "You gave her a fighting chance by reviving her as quickly as you did. She must really mean a lot to you."
"You have no idea." She said quietly.
The ambulance pulled into the ER entrance, and the mad rush began. As much as Willow wanted to stay with Buffy, she knew she had to let the doctors handle her now. She went inside to wait for everyone. Especially Buffy's mom.
Angelus. She could see his face. He was looking at her. Pure pleasure in his expression. She lowered her eyes, and saw the hot poker in his hands. He was getting ready to use it.
Looking across the room, she saw…herself? Where was Buffy? Unless…
He jammed the poker forward and it penetrated…
Everything sped up, and she shot across the room toward herself and entered…
'I'm with you, Willow.'
Willow shot forward, coming awake. Where was she? Buffy's bedside. Joyce was there, standing next to her chair.
"Willow, are you all right?" She asked.
"Yeah…bad dream. Did the doctor say anything?"
"She's stable, she…they don't know why she isn't responding. They said the operation went fine. She accepted the blood…" Joyce was speaking in a monotone voice, and her eyes were red.
"I'm sorry, Mrs. Summers."
Joyce kneeled down to face Willow. "You didn't do anything wrong. Don't blame yourself." She hugged her. "If it wasn't for you…"
Willow smiled weakly, and glanced up at the small window in the middle the door. Looking in, was the old woman.
"I need some fresh air. Will you -" Joyce nodded, and Willow stood, kissed Buffy softly, and left the room.
She went out in the hall. Oz was sitting in a chair against the wall, and the woman was gone.
"Hey." He said. "How's she doing?"
"Same. Where is everybody?"
"Giles went to get coffee, and Cordelia's still trying to get Xander to stay in his bed. Doctor doesn't want him aggravating his leg again. How are you?"
"How do I look?"
"Like you could use massive amounts of sleep."
"Just woke up from a nap in there." 'And I'm in no rush to do it again.' "Did you see -"
She spotted the woman down the hall, and saw her turn to go into a room. Without a word, she followed her. The room had no occupant. Just an empty, freshly made bed, and a window, which the woman was standing by.
"Know what? That Buffy's lying in a bed, not waking up, or moving at all? Yeah, I got that pretty clearly."
"And do you know why?"
"My brain's not really working that well right now, so could you just come out with it?"
"Have you asked yourself why you were healed and she wasn't?"
Willow thought back to her dream. Was it a dream? 'I'm with you, Willow.'
"She's in me," Willow said slowly.
"Very good. Although, more specifically, her essence. What some call the soul."
"Your bond, Willow. Her desire to keep you safe was so strong, that at the moment you and she were going -"
"To die, her soul traveled into me, and kept me alive. Took away all my wounds…"
"More than that, my dear."
"What do you -"
Willow looked over at her right side, and saw a vampire standing there. Not stopping to wonder how or why it got there, on instinct, she charged it, knowing exactly what to do She did a high, jump kick, and connected with its head. It vanished.
"How'd I do that? How'd I know -"
"She's guiding you. Don't you see?"
Willow was speechless. Her shock passed, and she quickly began to worry. "But I'm not the Slayer. I can't…"
"Yes you can. But you are right. You aren't the Slayer, but you may have to be. For a time."
"How do I get her back?"
"She has to want to return. And it must happen before too much time passes."
"There is a delicate balance in all things, Willow, and by Buffy's soul inhabiting your body, that balance is disrupted. Buffy could be lost forever. Her body could stay in the coma-state indefinitely. And you…two souls in one body, could have consequences."
Willow didn't tell anybody about what she had learned. Saying you have someone's soul wasn't the kind of thing you just came out with. Especially because she felt responsible. Buffy gave up her soul to keep Willow going, and now she was lying prone in a hospital bed. Willow felt like a thief, although she knew she had nothing to do with it.
As she looked out the window in Buffy's room, the light from the full moon shined on her features. She was glad Oz was locked in the mausoleum. He had really taken it hard that he didn't remember to lock himself up the night before. Even though his wolfness really came in handy, and probably saved his and Giles' lives.
They had all just been so preoccupied, that a lot of things had slipped their minds. And now they were even more distracted. Seeing Buffy in this condition was hard for them, and she saw the looks of sympathy they gave her too.
Willow turned back to Buffy's bed, sat in the chair next to it, and grasped her hand. It was cold. She had sent Joyce home, who after a long "discussion" and some crying, she left reluctantly. She wanted to feel close to Buffy again, and even with her soul, she couldn't feel anything.
She felt her eyes start to droop.
She found herself standing in the middle of the graveyard. Knowing instinctively that it was a dream, she waited. Then she felt something stirring in her.
Buffy's voice. That was Buffy's voice…
"Are you okay, Will?"
"Where are you?"
Before she could finish, she felt something untangle inside her. A few moments later, Buffy was staring her in the face.
Willow hugged her immediately, and noticed she had a light illuminating around her.
"So are you." Willow looked down at her hands, and saw that she was indeed glowing. "What's wrong?"
"What's wrong? You're…not…body…" Willow babbled.
"You're better aren't you?"
"Cuts and bruises wise. But…I need you."
"You have me."
"Not like this. You have things…you have to go back."
"I don't want to. It's safe with you. Nice."
"What about me…out there? Xander? Oz? Cordelia? Giles? We miss you. Your mom is really upset. What about her?"
Buffy's light began to dim as she frowned. "No. I won't…"
She vanished, leaving Willow standing alone. How was she going to do this?
A group of vampires suddenly appeared, encircling her. She assumed a fighting stance, when one of them approached her. Its face shifted, and took on the guise of Angelus.
"Can you handle it? I don't think you can. You're not Buffy. We'll destroy you, and her soul. And then the world."
Together, her and Buffy's voices mixed, coming out of her mouth as one. "No!"
Sweat dripping down her forehead, she was startled as she felt a hand on her shoulder. She kicked up her leg, and jumped out of the chair. Giles was now on the floor, and she looked at him guiltily.
"What…are you doing here?" She asked.
"I came to tell you that visiting hours have been over for the past half hour. Xander came in earlier to tell you, but you were asleep, and he didn't want to wake you." He got up, and tried to regain his composure. "Where did you learn that?"
"I didn't. Well…kinda. I don't know."
"There's things you need to know. Things I need to know."
"Who's the Wicca lady? Oh, and how to slay."
Seeing his puzzled expression, she looked back at Buffy quickly, then led him out of the room. This was going to take awhile.
Buffy, well actually her soul, sat surrounded by light. She never wanted to leave. She was connected to Willow's soul, and felt completely safe and complete. She had no other care in the world. But she should of.
She felt like she was being pulled suddenly, and then everything disappeared into a tunnel of bright blue light. It went on for what seemed like forever, and then…stopped.
Finding herself at the bottom of a large set of steps, she started to look around. The stairs seemed to go on forever. Glancing behind her, she saw a faint, glowing cord. It was her connection to Willow's body. If it broke…
"I don't know what I'm doing here, but I'm not climbing all these stairs, so you can forget that right now."
(You have no physical body here, climbing is unnecessary)
"Then why have steps in the first place?"
Seeing she wasn't going to get an answer, Buffy allowed herself to float up the large number of stairs, and to a man whose back was turned. He was standing, facing two large double doors.
"Who are you?" The man turned, and Buffy went wide-eyed. "Angel?"
"We need to talk."
"This is a delicate situation. She is not prepared for this and we need to find a solution as fast as possible." Giles said, on the phone.
"We, Rupert? Miss Summers made her decision quite clear to Mr. Pryce. She wanted to severe ties with us, and she got her wish. She was warned against this, but she did not heed our advice. As far as we're concerned, she caused this through her own recklessness."
"But Willow is an innocent. Surely you can not expect her to -"
"It's a shame, but as long as the soul of the Slayer is bound to this world, the Council can do nothing. And if this young woman perishes doing Miss Summers' duty, it will be your charge's fault, not ours. Do not contact me any more on this matter."
The man on the other end hung up, as did Giles. Angry, he made his way up to the roof of his house, where Willow was training. He saw her kicking a makeshift dummy he had set up. She stopped as he walked closer.
"Guess we should have figured as much, huh? So…what's next?"
He looked at her. She borrowed some of Buffy's workout clothes, and that was a good idea, because she was sweating like crazy. Plus, she was out of breath.
"Willow you don't have to -"
"Stop right there. I do, okay? The world needs a Slayer, and till we can get Buffy back…"
"Do you think she'd want you risking your life?"
"She risked her life to save me. And she might…disagree, but she's not here right now. So what's next?" He started to open his mouth again. "Do you want me to use my resolve face? I will, if that's what it takes."
"Fine. Then what's next, is class."
"Oh right. College. Can I though? I mean…"
"You cannot put your life on hold. It seems to me that Buffy is not only supplying her ability, but her personality as well."
Willow put her hands on her hips in a very "Buffy-like" stance.
"What's that supposed to mean?"
"Just an observation." He stuttered. "Cordelia's coming by to drive you to campus."
"Then I guess I should shower." Willow suddenly got a worried look on her face. "What if Buffy doesn't come back in time?"
"We'll get her back and we'll defeat Angelus, don't worry."
"Yeah that too, but what about college? She could fail!"
"One thing at a time, Willow. I know a lot of things have happened in the past couple days, but you need to focus."
"I know…I just miss her, and when she comes back I…thanks, Giles." She smiled at him, and made her way back inside.
Giles turned around, and faced the Wicca who had just seemed to appear.
"I have great respect for you, Watcher. You are exactly what she needs right now."
"As I have respect for you, but there are things she needs to know to survive. Things I cannot teach her. Are you going to tell her?"
"Yes, the time is right. I will watch over her tonight."
Cordelia had decided to stay in Sunnydale to be with her friends. In her new used Honda Accord, Willow was trying to be nice and listen to her upset tirade. But it was hard to be supportive, when your life was falling slowly apart.
"I have to learn to haggle, you know? I mean I got a lot of money when I sold my convertible. A lot. But after paying the rent, and coming here, did I get another convertible? No. I got a stupid Honda."
"It's not a bad car."
"And the worst part is that I don't really own it. It's leased. Leased! And waitressing…" She looked over at Willow, and realized she wasn't paying much attention. She was staring out the window. Cordelia frowned to herself guiltily. "I'm sorry."
Willow looked over. "It's okay. Really."
"No it's not. I'm complaining about a stupid car, and you lost Buff -" Cordelia caught herself, and couldn't stand seeing that destroyed look on Willow's face. "I should just shut up, shouldn't I?"
"No…I…I feel lost. I just want her back. I don't know what to do anymore."
"She is with you though, right?"
"Well she wouldn't steer you wrong. You know how she is. Stubborn. But the fact that she doesn't want to leave you, shows how much she loves you."
"Thanks, Cordy. For staying and everything. It's a big help."
Cordelia smiled. "I'm glad. And all she needs is someone to show her why she's needed out here."
"About?" Buffy asked him.
She avoided him. "Where is this?"
"Souls cross over here. I asked to talk to you."
"I don't have much time. I can't help you fight any more. I can't go back into the world. But you can. And you need to."
"You brought me here."
"I mean to your body. The longer you stay with Willow, the more molded your souls become."
"What's wrong with that?"
"There's a balance in life Buffy. You're needed to help keep it that way. Willow too. But you're upsetting that balance by staying locked away. You like the comfort, right? No worries? No pain?
"But you're hurting Willow. And that's selfish."
"I saved her."
"For now. But he'll eventually regroup and come after her. Do you want to leave her with that responsibility? Your responsibility? Because if you do, she'll die."
"No…no she won't. Why are you hurting me like this?"
"I don't want to hurt you. I want to help you to see. Willow is as important to the cause as you are. A fighter. Which is why your joining together was meant to be.
"But she's confused now. Her skills aren't in the slaying area. Yours are. Together you're strong."
Buffy was quiet. Flashes hit her. Holding Willow, kissing her, feeling her warmth, she missed her. Her friends. Her mother. Giles. She hadn't realized it at first. Given the chance at escape, she had hid, and liked it. But she loved Willow, and didn't want to leave her to fight by herself.
"Okay, you've got my attention. But answer some things for me. Why Angelus?"
"They want to swing the balance in their favor again. Since the Mayor's death, Good has gotten a couple steps ahead of Evil. He kept a tight reign on things. Now it's fallen apart. Angelus' drive to take you out got him elected for the job."
"But Angelus is just a vampire. He can't -"
"He's a vampire who's very good at what he does. As far as the other side is concerned, he's been successful. To them you and Willow are dead."
"I guess technically we were, but what does that mean? What are they gonna do?"
"You have to go, and so do I."
"No, wait…" Everything vanished, and she was beside Willow's soul again. "Okay…so how do I get back?"
The sun was going to be down in five minutes. At least she was early for her new job. The cemetery wasn't so bad when the sun was out, but she could feel the vampires waiting to rise. It was unnerving. She didn't know how Buffy could handle it.
"Who am I kidding? I should just offer my neck to a vampire right now and get it over with."
"Do you really think that is a wise choice?" The Wicca lady said from behind her.
She whirled around, her newly acquired reflexes responding quickly.
"You!" Willow crossed her arms over her chest. "I've had enough of this 'popping up everywhere' act. I'm jumpy, and I can't handle it anymore. Who are you?"
"Search my eyes."
Willow locked eyes with the woman, and with the words she wasn't sure were her own, spoke. "Listen to the words of the Great Mother, who of old was called Artemis, Astarte, Demeter, Melusine, Aphrodite, Cerridwen, Diana, Arianhod, Brigid, Hectate, Isis, and the many other names.
"I am the beauty of the Green earth and the White moon, and the Mysteries of the waters. From me all things proceed and unto Me they must return. Let My worship be in the heart that rejoices, for all acts of love and pleasure are My rituals.
"Let there be beauty and strength, power and compassion, mirth and reverence, within you. And you who seek to know Me, know that your seeking and yearning will avail you not, unless you know the Mystery :
"If that which you seek, you find not within yourself, you will never find it without. For behold, I have been with you from the beginning, and I am that which is attained at the end of desire."
"Your Wiccan instincts do not fail you."
"The Goddess?" She nodded. "I would've thought…you'd look a little less…old."
"Well, that has to be the most interesting reaction I've ever received."
"Oh…I'm sorry…I…yelled…and you're all powerful…"
"I am only as powerful as Fate would dictate."
"You like talking about Fate a lot."
"Fate is simply the force that directs life. I am allowed status only if I do not abuse my gifts. That would make me no better then a demon. I choose this guise to follow the path of nature. And aging is a natural process."
"Okay, I understand, but why me?"
"Because you are Fate's chosen. Alongside the Slayer your magical ability is strong and surpasses any before you."
"Your self-doubt holds you back. You've always been special. You've always been meant to do this."
"But if I'm supposed fight alongside Buffy, why this?"
"Fate isn't perfect, Willow. It does its best to put you on the right path, but sometimes it misses the mark. But if something is meant to be, there are other chances along the way.
"Think of this as a test. I was picked to be your guide, and I will help you harness your talent."
"Wow, being trained by the Goddess."
"I believe it's time for your first obstacle."
As soon as the Goddess said that, Willow sensed the vampire behind her. She could feel Buffy. Like she was telling her what to do. Letting herself go, she brought her forearm up, and smashed the vampire in the face.
"You can do it, Will." Buffy said quietly.
The vampire stumbled backwards, surprised. Willow took the stake from her pocket, and waited for it to charge. It did, and she sidestepped it, kicking it in the back of the knees. It hit the ground hard.
"Trying to overpower him physically is not the only way to fight him." The Goddess said.
Willow ran over to the fallen vampire and grabbed him by the jacket. "What do you mean?"
"Your true ability lies in magick. Use it."
In the midst of pulling the vampire up, Willow loosened her grip when he growled, surprised. He hit her in the face and she landed on her back.
"I really can't remember a spell right now." The vampire stood over her.
"Magick isn't all spells. It's inside you. Reach deep within yourself."
Willow kicked up her leg, hitting the vampire in the groin, and tossing him up over her head. She heard a crack as he hit a gravestone, and jumped up into a fighting stance. She concentrated her thoughts as he charged.
Before he could reach her, a force knocked him back a few feet, but he was able to catch himself. Trying again, he reached her, and took a swipe. He recoiled his hand in pain, and shock when he didn't strike her. Something had blocked him.
Willow jammed the stake out with amazing speed, and dusted him.
"Well done." She saw Willow's arm droop. "Tired?"
"With practice it'll become easier. And that's what I'm here for. There's a reason why Buffy is the Slayer and you have a gift for magick. While her gift may be beneficial, you have to hone your skill.
"Your body is not used to the physical strain of battling demons. So turn to that as a last resort. One demon is enough for tonight. We will work tomorrow."
"What about Buffy?"
"She is ready to return. We just have to find the means with which to return her. And the sooner the better."
Under the streets, in a sewer tunnel, Angelus sat against a wall. His body was still riddled with bullets. He could barely move. A black cloaked figure appeared in front of him.
"You people aren't very original. Black cloaks?"
"We're not concerned originality, demon. And for someone in your position, it is not a time for such wasteful things as sarcasm. You almost sound human."
Angelus growled angrily as his face shifted, showing his demonic side. "What do you want?"
"Sitting here in a sewer is not getting much accomplished."
"Well, I happen to be somewhat incapacitated. Funny thing about demons. They could care less about one of their own. Especially one who's injured."
"What is your point, Angelus?"
"I can't get these damn bullets out, and it hurts like hell."
"Is that the only problem?" The cloaked figure raised his hands, and the bullets ripped from Angelus' body. He screamed, in a mixture of pain and growling. "Listen closely. Do the job we released you for or we take you back as easily as we let you go. You're turning out to be less than we'd hoped."
"What the hell are you talking about? I killed them."
"Really? Their souls are stronger, and still in this reality. You failed."
"Prove your worth. Opening the Mouth of Hell will be less risky with the two Warriors of Light destroyed, but if they're not, you must open the Mouth regardless. We've waited, and our time is near."
"I'll get it done."
The cloaked figure vanished. It was time to get his act back together, and find out what the hell had been going on.
Willow sat by Buffy's bedside, holding her hand.
"You would have been proud me. I kicked serious demon ass. Bet you want to get back to it too now, huh? Well we'll get you back. Don't worry.
"Then were gonna have a lot of missed time together to make up for." Willow smiled.
Willow wasn't sure, but she thought she heard Buffy. Kissing her forehead, she left the hospital with a smile on her face. She felt better then she had in awhile. Things were looking up.