Food for Thought
by Gypsy Gray
"Xander can I ask you something?"
"Sure Ri. What's up?"
They were in the kitchen making breakfast for themselves. When Riley
woke up that morning he was terrified of facing Buffy. She would expect him
to kiss her and coo over her, and he couldn't stand the thought of touching
her. He was still uncomfortable with himself after all the things he'd done
and watched her do. He wasn't up to pretending everything was ok. Not even
for the sake of keeping himself off her "to be killed on sight " list.
But Wes had said it would be alright. The ex-watcher and apprentice
sorcerer had put on his glasses, kissed Oz, ruffled Riley's hair, and
strolled out into the hall the like nothing was wrong. Oz had grinned at
him, shrugged in a frighteningly profound way, and follwed Wes out. Riley
was a half second away from hiding under the bed when Spike stepped through
the door, grabbed his hand, and hauled him out. That was how he found
himself walking into the living room with Xander and Spike in front of him
and Oz and Wes behind him. They had surrounded him.
Reaching their destination was rather anti-climatic. Buffy was asleep on
one end of the couch, Willow was asleep on the other. Cordelia was sitting
in one of the chairs eating a plate of what looked like scrambled eggs. By
the mutual agreement of their stomachs they moved to the kitchen to find
Angel taking a mug of blood from the microwave, while Doyle and Giles ate
their own plates of eggs.
Xander immediately appropriated the stove, and after murmuring a spell
that caused the lights to dim for a second, he began asking for things from
the fridge. Riley and the other men watched in awe as Wes, Oz, and Spike
scrambled around the kitchen pulling down pans and ingredients from cabinets
and a refridgerator that had been all but empty. When Doyle asked what was
going on, Giles explained that it was a simple relocation spell. Xander had
brought the things he wanted from somewhere else. Wesley laughed and said
that he recognized the pans from their own kitchen in New Orleans.
Watching Xander do something so amazing, and seeing everyone else treat
it so casually was begining to bother Riley. He'd heard what Xander said
about the magic causing Willow to change, and something about it driving
someone from Giles' life. Xander had talked about it like it was alive.
"When you were talking to Willow, you said the magic changed her.
Which is right, cause she isn't acting like herself. But you use magic, and
yeah you're changed. But..."
"But not like Willow."
Xander sighed and stared down at the pancake batter he was mixing.
Turning his back on Riley he took the batter to the stove and called Spike
"Take over Blondie." The sorcerer handed the now empty mixing bowl
to Wes and set him to making the next batch. Then he sat down at the table.
Riley took the seat across from him and Angel came to stand behind Doyle.
Xander stayed quiet for a moment, his eyes on Wes and Oz teasing each other
while they mixed. Spike's voice joined the mock battle with threats of B
positive instead of blueberries if they didn't hurry up. Finally, the dark
haired young man turned his eyes back to the table.
"Angel and Doyle know some of this. Giles know more. But I've
discovered things...I don't think even the counsel knows what I've learned."
"Xander, the counsel has experts that spend their lives studying
"Yes Giles, but they're experts that focus on one or two different
types of magic. And they rarely use them together. I taught myself, I'm
still teaching myself. I didn't find out that you weren't suppose to be able
to do more then one type of magic until I'd already learned a bunch of them.
It made sense to me that if you needed a spell that had something to do with
water you used the magic that the beings who were connected to it used. Same
with everything else. I'd been using magic for over six months before I
figured out that no one else would combine the spells and chants that I
"Good lord, no wonder you're so powerful. You're calling on multiple
"Like I said, I didn't know I wasn't suppose to. And reading the
books, well they weren't all just spells and lists of ingredients. I've read
and studied the ideas about magic and it's origins and nature from a ton of
different species and races. There a few very common ideas. The first is
that magic is a living force. Now the human disciplines view it as a sort of
mindless, directionless, power, that does the will of the magic user. Like
an obedient slave. But others view it as an entity with a will and wants of
it's own. And if you think about it, that makes a lot more sense. If it were
mindless power we wouldn't be affected by using it. But that isn't how it
works. People are constantly being reshaped and altered by their own use of
magic. Sometimes, depending on what's already inside the person, they become
a better person then they were before. Doyle for example, his visions are a
type of magic. While he can't control them, they effect him the same way.
His life had fallen apart, he was falling apart, but the magic changed that.
It changed him. And because he was essentially a good person, because in the
end all he wanted to do was help....the magic is making him into the person
he needs to be to do that."
"But Willow was a good person, she only started using magic to help
the Scoobies. I mean I didn't know her when you guys were in high-school
together. But she's changed even from when I frist met her on campus."
"Perhaps I could answer Mr.Finn's question Xander?"
"Go ahead Giles."
"Willow was a good person, but she was very young. Very unsure of
herself. She was dealing with disinterested parents, being ostracized at
school, and her own self-doubt and uncertainty. When she began practicing
magic it was with the best intent, but the power of it was too much.
Suddenly, she didn't have to be afraid of the cruelty of her fellow
students. She could do things they never dreamed of. Her desire stopped
being to help others and became to gain power for herself. Emotions provide
energy, the stronger the emotion the more energy, greed is a very strong
"That's something that all the texts I've read agree on. They also
agree that magic "feeds" on that energy. In the end, magic strips us down to
our strongest feelings. If their good feelings we change for the better, if
they're not... I'm just glad I found my way back to the good guys. If hadn't
been for Spike and the guys... I don't want to think about what I could've
"But Xander...you're a good person."
"I'm a better person. I wasn't for awhile. Riley, before Spike and I
found each other...I did somethings that... I'm not proud of them. My
motives when I first turned to magic were anything but altruistic. And I was
changed. I'm not the person I was. I'm not innocent anymore. I am guilty of
evil, including arranging the death of someone in order to protect my own
interests. But then Spike came into my life. He helped me shed most of the
anger and hate that was drving me, and when Wesley came...he brought me a
purpose. He gave me my own means of redemption. And because I've returned to
fighting the good fight, because my motivations for using the magic are
positive ones... I'm still changing, but now I'm becoming someone better
suited to helping people. Before...I don't know what I was turning into. I
don't wanna know."
There was quiet in the kitchen for a moment. Spike came to sit beside
Xander while Wes and Oz brought over plates, silverware, and a platter full
of pancakes. Plates were filed and sighs of pleasure filled the room as the
food was sampled. The smells and sounds brought Cordelia from the living
room. Snagging her own plateful she joined the others at the table.
Breakfast was consumed in silence. It wasn't until Doyle and Cordy were
washing the dishes and the others were playing bridge that the evening was
A knock on the kitchen door stopped all activity in the kitchen. Spike
and Angel moved to the door in perfect unison. They waited a moment until
the knock was repeated; then the door was yanked open. Tara tumbled into the
room barely conscious. Pale and shaking, she was trying to say something
with lips so cracked dried blood had caked inthe corners.
Xander was pulling her into his arms while Wes chanted madly. Oz ran for
their herb bag, while Riley brought a wet rag and a bowl of blean cool
water. Cordy ran into the living room, there was a yelp and a thud, and then
she was back with the blanket that had been covering up Willow and Buffy.
Giles was kneeling next to Xander with a first aid kit. The young witch's
wrists were raw and bleeding, and the Watcher was cleaning and bandaging
with a skill most doctors would envy. Oz was back then, trailed by the
half-asleep and all pissed occupants of the couch.
"Tara....Tara can you answer me? I need to know what happened to you
so I can help you. Come on Tara, talk to me."