Three Years in Hell, A Lifetime of Pain
The Magic Box
“Come on Will. I'm almost 18 and you were fighting and patrolling when you were a lot younger. I'm old enough to patrol.” Dawn paced back and forth in front of Willow.
Willow patiently folded her arms as she watched Dawn pace, “That's not the point Dawn, we patrolled because we ‘had’ to, not because we wanted to. So why do you really want to come with me, are you looking for something else to hit?”
Dawn stopped pacing and frowned, “That's not fair Will. I just want to do something to help.”
Willow sighed, she'd seen that look before. It was usually on Beth's face when she made a decision she was going to do something and they weren’t going to like it. “Fine, you can come along. But I'm setting ground rules, break them and I will teleport your butt home so fast it will make your head spin. Understood Dawn? Okay then, Rule number one; you stay out of the way. We run into something you let me handle it and if I say run, you go. Rule number two; when we patrol you pay attention to what's going on, if you see something you tell me and Rule number three; you break rule #1 or #2 you're gone. Clear?”
“Yeah, I get it.” Dawn answered sulkily.
“Good.” Willow smiled. “Be here at 'The Magic Box' around 7pm, okay Dawn?”
Willow saw the look on Dawn's face and walked up to her, “Dawn, I just don't want you getting hurt, that's all.”
“I know. I just feel you guys treat me like I'm still a kid sometimes and...”
“And you think if Beth were alive we wouldn't?” Willow reached out and moved Dawn's head up so she could see her face. “We'd still be just as protective as we are now.”
Dawn reached out and pulled Willow into a hug, “Thanks for being there Will. With Faith gone now, all I have left now are you and Xander.”
“I'll always be there for you Dawn.” Willow stepped back, “Now I've got a class to teach so I'll see you later, k?”
“Ok,” Dawn smiled, feeling better for the first time in a while and turned and left the shop on her way home.
Willow was happy, so far they hadn't really run into anything. The dead were staying that way tonight and she was one very happy Wicca about it too. Although Dawn was looking bored as the day is long Willow noticed, [Good, boring for her is a good.]
As they were leaving the Roselawn Cemetery something caught her eye and Willow stopped. Looking harder, she saw several figures standing near a grave. “Dawn, we've got trouble stay close.” As she neared the figures Willow saw that they were standing by Beth’s grave. [What are they doing by her ‘grave’? They’re not vamps. Well they’re gonna be toast in a minute!] Willow ran towards the creatures by the grave site.
Dawn looked over where Willow was running towards and saw several vamps by Beth’s grave. Anger filler her at the thought of Beth's rest being desecrated by vampires.
Two of the figures darted away into the shadows. “Solaris Luminae!!!” and Willow ‘threw’ a large ball of yellow energy at one of the shadows, there was a bright flash as it hit the creature and Will watched the creature absorb the spell into itself. Willow watched as the creature shattered Beth’s tombstone with one blow before it turned to face her. Its features were still obscured by a large, dark hood and she could only make out the red eyes that glowed inside the cowl. Willow barely had time to get a shield spell up around her and Dawn when a ball of black energy flew at her and hit the shield. Willow felt herself thrown back from the backlash as the shield shattered.
Dazed Willow looked around and saw the shadow figures had left leaving only her and Dawn still in the cemetery. Willow got up and checked on Dawn and saw that Dawn had cut her forehead on a rock when she'd landed, but she'd be okay. Willow slowly walked towards Beth's grave. The headstone was completely pulverized into little pieces and there were strange symbols burnt into the grass all around the grave. Willow slowly walked back to Dawn, she felt drained and exhausted from whatever had hit her shield spell.
Pulling out a cell-phone, “Tara? It's Willow, can you come by the Roselawn Cemetery we need a ride. Yes, Dawn and I are okay. Um hmm. No. Just pick us up, we don't need to see a doctor, besides there's something I want you to see. Ok, I love you too. See you in a few. Bye!” Willow closed the phone and kneeled by Dawn as she waited for Tara to arrive.
After several minutes Willow looked over at a still silent Dawn, “Dawn, what’s wrong. You’ve been quiet as a church mouse, which is very un-Dawn like.”
Dawn looked up at Willow, “Nothing’s wrong Will, I’m just tired tonight is all.” Dawn replied.
“Dawn, try lying to someone who isn’t a Wicca. So tell me what’s up, is it because of the demons by Beth’s grave?”
“What the hell do you think Will?!?” Dawn yelled angrily and stood up abruptly. “Why can’t they leave Beth alone? She’s dead Will!” Tears coursed down Dawn’s cheeks, Dawn fell to her knees her hands over her face as she sobbed.
Willow pulled Dawn into her arms and held her as she tried to comfort Dawn.
“It’s not fair Will, Beth suffered so much when she was alive, why can’t they leave her alone?” Dawn choked out thru the tears.
Willow sighed softly. “She is at peace Dawn, she earned it.”
[Willow’s barely said two words since we dropped Dawn home, something’s wrong.] thought Tara. “Wills hon, are you okay? You’ve been really quiet since I picked you and Dawn up.”
“I’m fine Tara,” Willow answered snippily. Closing her eyes Willow sighed softly, “I’m sorry Tara, I shouldn’t been taking it out on you.”
A look of concern crossed Tara’s face, “What’s wrong Wills?”
“I’m tired of lying to Dawn and everyone else! Every time I see Dawn I have to lie or pretend that Beth is still dead even though I know the truth.” Willow shifted uncomfortably in the seat.
“But Wills hon, you know why we can’t tell anyone. It’s to protect Beth…”
“That’s not the point, you didn’t see how torn up Dawn was tonight after those demons had done something to Beth’s ‘grave’. I-I just feel dirty lying to Dawn when we know the truth and it’s not going to get any easier.”
Tara reached over and put her hand on Willow’s shoulder, “I know. But for Beth, we can’t tell anyone.”
Willow leaned her head against Tara’s hand, “I know Tara, I just don’t know how long I can keep on lying about it.”
3 Days later…
15 kilometers South of Belfort, France
Faith stopped to fix the Alice Pack and let Beth walk past her. [Damnit B. Why are you pulling away from me? Don't you trust me?] Faith started to jog to catch up with Beth and slowed down as she reached her. “You're quiet today B. What'cha thinkin?”
“Not much, just tired of walking across all of France. I think I've seen enough of the ‘beautiful French countryside’ to last me is all.”
“Oh,” Faith tried not frowning at Beth's evasive answer. “Well we're only a day out from Belfort.” Faith tried to cover the hurt and gave Beth a sidelong glance. After she had found out that Beth had been raped, Faith had noticed Beth had slowly started to withdraw into herself emotionally. Now she wasn't even sure if B even trusted her, B was always looking at her oddly or double-checking something she said was done.
“We should probably make a camp for the night in about an hour and head into Belfort in the morning B. Okay?” Faith asked.
Beth looked at Faith, “Sure,” her voice was carefully neutral.
Faith stopped and stared at Beth's back before Beth finally turned around. “What Faith?”
“Oh come on B. Don't what me! I know it's hard for you, but you keep acting like I'm gonna hurt you.”
“I know you’re not Faith,” Beth answered patiently.
“Then what’s the problem B? You’ve been looking at me weird for the last few days and every time I go near you suddenly you jump.”
Beth turned away from Faith and started walking down the dirt road away from Faith.
“B, where the hell are you going?”
“Does it matter F?” Beth replied angrily.
Faith ran up to Beth and grabbed her by the arm and spun her around. “What the hell is wrong with you B?”
Beth pulled her arm free, “You, they way you’ve treated me since I told you about being raped.
“How have I treated you B? You don't talk to me unless I talk to you first. You don't listen, just like you aren't now. I'm not treating you any different Beth.”
Beth spun around. “You don't know what you're talking about Faith.”
“I don't know what I'm talking about? You better think twice before you bite off more than you can chew B. I saved your ass from that place when I had orders to kill anyone alive.” Faith said with a touch of anger. “So step back B.”
“Why did you even bother then F?” Beth's voice was cold as ice. “You should have just left me there.”
Faith shoved Beth back, “Go to hell B!” Faith yelled angrily before spinning on her heel and walking down the road.
Beth watched Faith walk away and felt the anger drain away. “Dammit,” she muttered before jogging after her, Beth continued to watch Faith from behind for several minutes [Damn, damn, damn!! Stupid temper.] thought Beth, [What is wrong with me?] Beth sped up her stride till she was walking next to Faith, “I'm sorry Faith.”
Faith stopped and looked at Beth, “For what exactly? You've been like a...a...I don't know what! But I’m tired of it B. I'm tired of feeling like I did something to you when I didn't. So what's going on?” Faith asked, desperately wanting to understand what was going on in Beth’s head to make her act this way.
Beth sighed and sat down on the ground.
Faith sat down next to Beth, “B, what's been eating you then?"
"When I told you I was raped in the prison I felt like a weight was lifted from my shoulders, but then after we got back to camp...I just started to feel like every time you looked at me you were judging me, and that I had done something for them to rape me...that maybe I deserved it.” Beth answered softly in a quiet voice.
Faith sat in shock for several seconds and then grabbed Beth by the shoulders. “Don't you ever think that B! You didn't do anything to have that done to you! They were just sick scum B, that's all.”
“No B, that's all there is to it, no buts B.” Faith looked Beth in the eyes, “And I'd never judge you B, I'm not fit to judge anyone. I've done too much evil in my life to do that. But you, you've saved the world more times than I can count, you protected me when you had no reason to. You're a hero B, that's who you are. Not a victim or a screwup like me. Don't ever doubt that.”
Beth wiped the tears in her eyes with the back of her hand, “Okay Faith. And thanks.” Beth pulled Faith into her arms and held her tightly, she felt Faith's arms wrap around her and she knew that Faith was right.
Faith moved back and stood up, “Come'on B, we've got a little ways to go before we can stop.”
Beth stood up next to Faith, "You're wrong about one thing though Faith."
Faith's brow furrowed as she wondered what Beth was talking about.
“You’re not a screwup, you never were. You are a beautiful and intelligent woman who's gone through a lot and come out stronger inside than I could ever be.”
Backroom of ‘The Magic Box’
“Aha!!” Tara cried out, as Research-Fest ’03 came to a halt. “I found it. It’s a….Rylarn demon. They are or were powerful sorcerers and mercenaries of the demon realms. The last of them were supposed to have been destroyed on August 27, 1883.”
Willow frowned as she heard the date, [I know that date from somewhere, damn!] “What happened on August 27, 1883 Tara?”
“Krakatau blew up and destroyed over three quarters of the island, Rakata. According to this several Rylarn demons were seen on the island when the volcano blew up.”
“I always thought that it was a nature thing when that happened Will, why do you think they were there and why would they be messing with Beth’s grave?” Xander asked.
“I’m not sure, but I’m going to find out. Does it say anything else Tara?”
“Yeah,” Tara answered quietly, “A Watcher and her Slayer were there that same day the volcano blew.”
The Following Night
Willow had been walking around Sunnydale looking for any sign of the Rylarn demons for the last two hours and had found exactly nothing so far. She and Tara had cleared the symbols from Beth’s grave re-sanctified it and cast several protection spells they thought should keep the demons away from the grave. Willow found herself back at Beth’s grave minus the headstone, which was being replaced tomorrow.
Willow sat down next to Beth’s grave, “I know you’re not really here Beth, Cordy says that you’re safe with Faith right now. But you don’t know how much we miss you, especially Dawn. It’s been hard on her, harder than when you were sent away to the Marines. At least she knew you were alive then, so she could hope that one day she’d see you again. But she’s so angry now and I’ve been too wrapped up in my own problems to help her.”
Willow heard footsteps quiet footsteps behind her and whirled around, a large ball of glowing red energy forming in her hands, and came face to face with Dawn. “Damn it Dawn!! What are you doing out here?” Willow absently released the spell and the energy ball vanished. “Well?!? It’s almost midnight, are you trying to become dinner for some stray vamp?” Willow said angrily.
“No…I just needed to get out and I wound up here.”
“Dawn, this is the last place you should be right now.” Willow said in a calmer voice. “It’s dangerous with those demons on the loose.”
“What about you Will? Why are you here?” Dawn asked petulantly.
Willow leaned down and brushed the dirt off her pants, “I came to check on Beth, I wanted to make sure no-one was bothering her.” Something caused Willow to look up and she saw a shadowed figure appear at the edge of the woods about 50’ feet away. “Dawn! Don’t move, just listen. Those demons are back, I’m going to get his attention, I want you to run as fast as you can out of the cemetery and keep on running till you get to Xander’s,” Willow whispered.
“No buts! I don’t have time and I can’t protect you and fight this demon at the same time. Now reach into my left pocket, grab the cell phone. When you get out of the cemetery, call Tara and tell her what’s going on, okay?” Willow watched as the hooded figure started to move forward towards them.
“Okay Willow.” Dawn felt her heart race, she couldn’t ‘see’ the demon but she knew the way Willow had tensed up it was coming closer. She was scared for Willow after what it had done last time.
Dawn ran faster then she ever had towards the cemetery gates. She heard Willow yelling in Latin and but she didn’t hear explosions or anything. As she neared the gate Dawn saw something move out of the shadows by the entrance. “WILLOW!!!!” she yelled as she saw another of the demons step into the light in front of her.
Willow froze for a moment as she heard Dawn yell her name, she turned to look and saw Dawn backing away from the cemetery gate as another of the Rylarn demons stepped out of the shadows. Turning back to the first one Willow barely managed to deflect another of the black energy balls from this demon, the shock of the two spells destroying each other threw Willow back several feet. Quickly Willow got to her feet and looked over by Dawn. Willow saw the second Rylarn demon cast a spell at Dawn and threw a quick shield spell over her blocking most of it, when she felt a blinding white-hot pain in her shoulder and fell to her knees. Looking down she saw a knife in her shoulder and blood all over it. “Dawn! Come over here quick!” Willow called out.
Dawn ran over to where she saw Willow kneeling, as she got close she saw Willow had been hurt. “Willow!!”
“Help me up,” Willow said weakly.
Dawn helped Willow stand up and watched as both demons walked towards them, slowly.
“Now they’re gonna find out why they should have stayed dead.” Willow said angrily.
Dawn watched as Willow seemed to get stronger and a deep green fire burned brightly in her eyes. Dawn heard Willow start murmuring softly until Willow’s voice was echoing in the clearing, “Beatus deus cessum tui fidelus creatura tui imperium deleo nunc malus peior pessimus!!!”
Dawn felt herself pushed back by some force, a red glow surrounded Willow and she hovered several feet off of the ground. The stars disappeared beneath clouds that had formed in the sky and Dawn found herself too afraid to do anything so she stood still and watched.
Looking over at the demons, Dawn saw that they had stopped moving towards them and were watching Willow when from the sky 2 bolts of lightning shot down and surrounded both demons and trapping them. “You have threatened and injured MY servant and Chosen!!” Dawn looked up at Willow who was now hovering about 12’ feet in the air. Dawn watched as Willow gestured and the cages started to shrink and the demons began to scream in pain. “You are abominations to Nature and now you will be destroyed!!!” the Goddess’s voice echoed from Willow. The cages continued to shrink as the demons screamed louder, there was a loud clap of thunder as the demons disappeared, bits of ash gently floated where the demons had been a moment ago.
“Willow?” Dawn asked.
Slowly ‘Willow’ floated back down and walked over to Dawn, “My Chosen, who you call Willow will be fine. Have no fear little one,” said the Goddess.
“But her arm, the blood…” Dawn said nervously. [This is a goddess or ‘the’ goddess? Wow!]
“I have done what I can, Nature must take care of the rest. Sit and rest. You will be safe and under my protection this night, no harm will come to you.” ‘Willow’ sat down and closed her eyes, the reddish glow slowly faded away.
Several minutes passed before Willow’s eyes fluttered open, “Owww my head! What hit me?” Willow asked as she raised an arm to start rubbing her temples.
Relief flooded Dawn as she heard Willow’s voice, “Don’t you remember Will?”
“Remember what?” Willow asked puzzled.
“The two demons, that bad-ass spell you cast, the lightning. You know ‘the’ Goddess kicking demon butt!!” Dawn said excitedly.
“No, I just have a splitting headache and my arm is killing me.” Before Willow could say any more they heard screeching tires and then a car door slamming.
“WILLOW!!!!!” Tara yelled as she ran towards them from the cemetery entrance.
Tara ran up and grabbed Willow into a hug, “You’re okay, you’re okay,” she kept saying softly over and over as she ran her hand softly down Willow’s hair. “I had a dream you were hurt Will…”
Willow held Tara close, “It’s okay Tara, really.” Willow kissed Tara gently and deepened the kiss. The two lovers were oblivious to except each other until Dawn tapped Tara on the shoulder several times.
“Uhmm, Tara. Its not that I mind you two kissing, but I can really think of better places for that. Like anywhere but here!”
Tara moved back slightly, “Later?” she asked Willow.
“Yes, later,” Willow smiled and blushed at the same time. “But we should go to the hospital I think, my arm is killing me after whatever happened. And Dawn can fill us ‘both’ in on what happened on the way there.
Sunnydale Memorial Hospital
“Willow, hi!” Joyce said with forced cheerfulness.
Willow turned her attention to the doorway where she heard Joyce's voice. “Joyce, what are you doing here?”
Joyce walked into the room and over by the foot of the bed, “I came by to pick Dawn up, and I thought I'd see how you were doing.”
Willow looked at Joyce with a cool gaze, “I'm fine. Mostly a few bumps and bruises. But otherwise I'm okay.”
Joyce heard the withdrawn tone of voice from Willow and winced, “I wanted to say thank you for protecting Dawn. I don't know what I would have done...”
“I wouldn't have let that happen, Dawn's family to me.”
Joyce heard the unsaid comment, ‘unlike some’ in Willow's voice. “I'm sorry Willow. Maybe I should have done things differently, I never meant to alienate you or Xander. But I did and I can't change what happened.”
Willow shifted in the bed, wincing when she jostled her arm. She shrugged off Joyce as she tried to help her sit up. “I can do it myself.”
“I know you can Willow. Let me help please?”
“Like you helped right after...” Willow trailed off noticing the look on Joyce's face. “I'm sorry. I'm just in pain and grouchy.”
Joyce sat down in the chair next to the bed. "I realize you're angry with me Willow but we need to talk."
Willow turned her head, staring out the window.
“I'm not leaving until we settle this Willow. For Dawn's sake we have to. Maybe I was wrong the way I shut you out.” Joyce watched as Willow still refused to look at her. “Okay, I was wrong, no maybies. But it was a mistake Willow, and what about you. You shut me out as well and look what's happened Willow, Dawn won't talk to anyone.”
Joyce saw Willow flinch with her last words.
Willow turned her head to look at Joyce, “Maybe, so what do you think we should do then Joyce.”
“Talk Willow, that's what. We don't have to be best friends, but we have to work this out somehow for Dawn. She's caught in the middle of our fight and it's not fair to her.”
Willow grimaced clutching her arm, as pain radiated through her. Taking a deep breath she glared at the table. She felt a hand on her shoulder.
“Willow let me help you up, please.”
Sighing, as Willow started to answer Joyce the door opened and Giles walked in.
“Willow! Are you all right?”
Joyce sighed frustratedly and stepped away from the bed, [Well it’s a start of sorts I guess. It’ll have to do.]
“Yes, I’m fine Giles,” Willow saw Joyce start to move away, “Joyce wait!” Willow leaned over to the side so she could see Joyce clearly. “Stop by the apartment tomorrow, you’re right we should talk.”
Continued in Chapter 15