Always Time To Say Goodbye Part 2
"Oh goddess give me strength, she's awake."
Willow looked at the steel door that led to the temperary prison which now held her oldest friend. Angel had picked the building, a long disused warehouse in an out of the way area. The company which used to operate out of this office had been a clearinghouse for high-end silverware, and contained a storeroom built like a vault. Even so, the re-enforced door rattled questionably when Buffy struck it.
Willow unlocked the door and prepared herself just for a moment before entering, putting out a hand to stop Angel as he made to join her. "I have to trust her, ...I have to ..." Entering the unlit room she could just make out the figure standing in the darkest shadows.
"Willow, what did you do?"
Rushing forward Buffy seized her by the shoulders. " WILLOW, I trusted you with my life, my very SOUL, what did you do?" Yellow eyes glowed and the words were forced through sharp fangs.
" I did exactly as you requested, I...I swear it Buffy, only w..what you asked." The ridged brow and yellow eyes had completely unnerverd the wiccan, but after a moment the petite blonde's face reverted to normal, the feral eyes replaced by their normal hazel. " I used the spell to restore your soul, the spell you g..gave me, it's not the same as the one I used for Angel, but it worked, I..I mean you're you....right?"
"Sorry Wills. Yeah I'm me... I'm just, ... I'm so . . . "
"Hungry." Angel stood in the doorway, leaning against the jam with his hands in his pockets. He looked exactly the same as he did the last time she saw him almost twenty years ago. " Com'on out here when you're ready, I've got some...coffee."
"NO! I'm o.k. I don't need ...that."
"Buffy, it's o.k., you know you have to, putting it off won't make it any easier."
"I . . . just don't watch, o.k. ?"
Willow put her arms around Buffy's thin body and held her tightly to her. " I missed you so much!" Buffy's body was complient at first though she didn't return the embrace, but after a few seconds she stiffened and pushed Willow from her and quickly walked out into the office area. She found Angel in a small office, he removed a coffee cup from a microwave and set it on the desk and walked by her out of the office.
A few minutes later they where sitting around a conference table, the tension growing between them, so many years, so much pain that had been shared, so much history. And so many emotions between the three of them it threatened to spill out, especially for Willow, the regret of never having gotten back the relationship they once had, or the one she had secretly wished they could have had. Willow looked closely at her friend, Her eyes misting at the thought of what she must be feeling at that moment. She was now what she had fought against her whole life, the realization of her worst fear. How could she sit there looking so calm? What could she possibly be thinking? The witch didn't have to wait long to find out.
" I know I have asked the impossible from you two," the slayer began," and I know that you have serious doubts about everything but it has all been necessary, and it will all be over soon, I promise."
The way she spoke gave Willow shivers and the last part sent ripples of fear down her spine. She had so many questions and it was starting to sound like she didn't really want the answers.
"Buffy," she looked at the slayer catching her eyes with her own, " what happened? Did you face the master, alone? Why didn't you let anyone help you? "Her tears began to flow freely."Why didn't you let me help you and now the master's turned you andwhatarewegoingtodonow?"
Buffy had to smirk at Willow's descent into full babble mode, God she had missed her. But her face became serious again and she took one of the wiccan's hands into her own.
"Willow, this is going to be hard to hear and harder for you to understand. . . the master didn't turn me. I faced him, but he was more powerfull than I could have imagined. He beat me, I never had a chance, he played with me for awhile then he just beat me, and finally he just laughed at me and left me for dead. I was no threat to him."
"Well, if he didn't turn you then who did? It's not like there's many, or even any vamps left?"
Angel cleared his throat, " I did."
"What the hell do you mean Angel changed you?" Willow's voice was rising and they could see the anxiety building. Buffy decided that she had better calm the witch down before she did something drastic to the other vampire. Of course, if things went anywhere near according to plan it would all become a mute point anyway.
"Angel, could you give Willow and I a few minutes alone to talk? Perhaps it would be best if you began to make those arrangements to deal with the master, OK?"
Angel looked between the two before nodding once and rising. He stopped beside Willow who was obviously upset. "Listen carefully to her Willow, to everything she says. It's important. "
Angel's tendency to be cryptic had always annoyed her but never so much as now.
" What are you talking about? GOD! If I don't get some strait answers soon I'm not going to be responsible for what I do!" She was so confused, it was paining Buffy to do this to her, and it was going to get worse. This needed to be done though; nothing could be changed if Willow was not at the very least co-operative.
"Willow? I need to tell you everything, but it has to be done in a particular order. So please, calm down and let me explain without interruption for a while, I promise you'll understand things a lot better."
The witch could see the earnestly in the former slayer's eyes and forced herself to calm her breathing and focus. "OK, I'm calm and I'm listening, please just tell me that I haven't made the biggest mistake of my life."
"Wills, you didn't make a mistake, everything is happening just the way it's supposed to for a change."
"What the hell is that supposed to mean, you know, you're sounding more like Angel by the minute. Is it some kind of vampire thing to speak in riddles?"
Buffy couldn't help but smile; at least she was receptive enough to make jokes. She took a deep, unneeded breath and ordered her thoughts. 'Well, here goes.'
"First things first, Angel turned me because A; I asked him to, and, B; because the Powers that Be told him to. " She could see that Willow was about to interrupt, she held up her hand to cut her off and continued.
"I know you're confused, and you have good reason to be. Angel misled you, and so did I. I needed you to perform the spell, but I couldn't tell you why, you had to come to that decision by yourself. But I'll get back to that in a minute. As to why I had Angel turn me, it was because I didn't have time to do what needed to be done, I was dying. The master didn't just beat me, he did so much damage that even with slayer-healing there was no way I was going to survive, my spine was broken, there were internal injuries, the list was long and unpleasant."
"Willow, it wasn't just any master that I found, it was THE master, the original vampire. You've heard the legend from Giles, eons ago the last of the old demons to leave this realm mixed its blood with a mortal's, creating the first vampire. This was THAT vampire. It's millennia old, or more, and more powerful than you can imagine. I saw it's face before it vamped out; it wasn't even human to begin with, not really. It was like a Neanderthal or something, big, hairy, powerful. Like I said I never had a chance."
"It talked while it pounded away on me, what it told me took the will right out of me. The first is back Willow, and I mean in a big way. The day it was fighting for is here, the ubers aren't gone, they've just been hiding. And not just under one hell mouth, but several. There's millions of them, and they're ready to come up. The first has been planning this since the beginning, it's one of the mistakes that needs to be corrected."
"What mistakes Buffy?" Willow's heart was sinking quickly, they had barely defeated the First last time. How were they going to win this time?
"I'll get to that soon, I promise. Just bear with me. OK . . . I was in the hospital, in and out of consciousness, and I think I may have died just for a minute, but regardless of how, I found myself before the Powers that Be. They told me that there is an order to things, a balance, and this balance has been disrupted, both by us and by the forces of evil. Changes were made that were not supposed to happen, mistakes in this big cosmic order of things. "
"The Powers told me that I was dying, but there was a way to make , at least some things, right. They laid everything out for me, what needed to be done, and who needed to do it. But I needed time, time that my injuries were not going to give me. So I talked to Dawn and we came up with this idea, but it meant lying to, or at least deceiving pretty much everyone. "
"First, I needed to persuade Angel to turn me, which wasn't easy. In fact, he refused to do it until he got a visit from than PTB, I think they may have told him more than they told me cause though he did what I needed him to, I can tell that he's really not happy about it. I think he knows more than he's letting on, but the truth is that really doesn't matter. Anyway, once he was convinced, then we just had to work out a way to get you to restore my soul. I'm sorry that I couldn't tell you everything right from the start but I just couldn't take the chance that you wouldn't do it."
"Buffy . . .this is , well it's just so out there. And what about the First, what are we going to do about that? And the PTB, what do they have to do with anything, andWhatthehellisgoingon?"
"Geez Wills, you can still babble with the best of them, can't you?" Buffy had to laugh. She hadn't realized until recently just how much she had missed her.
"OK, this is the important part, we have a chance, you, me, and Angel, we have a chance to change things. We can't change everything, but there were certain things that didn't work out the way they were supposed to, events that didn't unfold the way they should have, these things we can change. "
The Powers that Be are willing to give us one chance to make certain things right, just one chance, but if we get it right this time, things will be the way they should."
"What kind of things, what are we supposed to change? You mean we could go back and say . . . save Tara? or your mom?" Willow was getting highly agitated and Buffy knew she didn't have much time to convince her.
" I don't know how it's going to work exactly, but no, we can't just go back and make one or two major changes. From what I can understand, we can go back and do it all again, everything, only this time we can do things right, or at least differently. I'm sorry that I can't explain it better than that, I don't have all the answers. " She waited a few moments to let Willow think, then decided to push things a little bit. She was walking on thin ice, the PTB gave her pretty clear direction on what she was and wasn't allowed to say.
" Let me ask you this, have you ever felt like our lives, and by that I mean you and me, did you ever think that things weren't right between us, that maybe it should have been different?"
Willow wasn't sure what exactly Buffy was asking her, and she was pretty sure that she didn't really want to give an honest answer, not even to herself.
"I'm gonna push my luck here a little bit, but like I said, time is kind of important right now. I'm not sure about you, but I have a lot of regrets about how our . . . relationship has worked out, there are things that I really wish I had done differently. "
"What I'm really asking you to do is to give up the life you have, that you have had, and to do it all over again. I don't know how much , if anything we'll remember from this life, but I have to believe that we will have at least some idea of what to alter and what not to. But, that said, I realize that I'm asking you to take the risk of all risks here."
Buffy was starting to get desperate, the pain inside was starting to be more than she could bear, and time was seriously becoming short. Willow could see the pain as it worked its way over her features, the sweat rising on her brow and the way her hands had begun to shake.
"Buffy, what's wrong? I can tell you're trying hard not to let me see it, but I can see the pain written all over your face. Please, tell me what's going on."
The one time slayer clamped her teeth against the pain and held the redhead's deep green eyes. "I can't tell you, not yet. I'm sorry but I can't say anything more 'till you decide if you're willing to do this. I know I'm asking a lot and I wish I could give you more time to think about it, but times running out and you have to decide right now. "
"Buffy . . . I . . ."