Sunday, January 3, 2016
SECOND EPILOGUE: THE PRESENT
Xander walked along the boardwalk, relieved that Buffy was going to be okay. She had been hurt badly in yesterday’s battle, but as with so many injuries before, she would recover quickly. What was harder to understand was why Castillo hated her so much to begin with, and who that guy was who had jumped Castillo at the last moment and saved her life, only to die himself. Xander figured he would probably never find out, but he was okay with that.
He walked past a couple of tourists and heard them talking loudly about yesterday’s freaky weather being caused by global warming and how it was weird that both it and the rioting had stopped all of a sudden. He couldn’t help but smile a little smugly. If only they knew, he thought.
A cool breeze blew in from the ocean, and as soon as he passed the couple, the only sounds were his own footsteps and the lapping of the waves against the wooden supports. It was a peaceful day, and although still perhaps a bit warm, a good day to be outside.
He saw her a few minutes later, near the end of the boardwalk. She sat up on the wide railing, a few feet over the boardwalk itself. Her legs were curled under her as her light jacket fluttered in the breeze. She was staring out over the water, and didn’t move when he walked closer.
“Hey Will,” he said.
“How’d you know I was here?” she asked, without looking at him.
“I just sorta knew,” he said. He knew that Willow and Tara had come here frequently. The couple would hold hands, and laugh, and be alive. “So . . . I just wanted to tell you that Buffy’s okay and everything, and stuff is pretty much back to normal. The Abominable Frost Demon is gone for good, and Dawn buried the chest where no one will find it.”
“Okay,” she said.
“Yeah. It figures, huh? The only chance we’ve ever had to get a snow day off school happens after we graduate.” He knew it wasn’t very funny, but it was all he could come up with. He desperately hoped she would smile anyway, like the old Willow. He knew that if she smiled, even a little, she was going to be okay. He looked at her closely.
He stood there and waited, looking out at the water with her as the sun set.
Finally he spoke again.
“There’s some other news too. Giles got back into town this morning. He finally took care of all those loose ends back in England. He also called some people. Do you see him down there?”
She looked with him and they could see a tweed-jacketed figure standing patiently at the end of the
“Uh huh,” she said.
“Well, Giles has this idea. I told him it was stupid, but he made me promise to ask you about it anyway, so here it is. He wants you to go back with him. To England. I guess there’s a coven of witches there or something.”
She didn’t say anything. He waited, and then spoke again.
“Yeah, I didn’t think it was a good idea either. Well, listen, I’ll go let him know and—“
“I’ll go,” she said, turning and looking at him for the first time.
Her eyes scared him. They weren’t angry, insane, sad, or happy. They were just empty.
“Are you sure, Will?” he said anxiously. “I mean . . . well. We care about you. We all loved Tara, but I know that we can get through this. It’ll just take a while is all.”
She didn’t respond and he could tell she was thinking of someone other than him.
He tried again. “And really . . .what am I going to do with my best friend across the ocean? I don’t think we’ve ever been that far apart.”
She continued staring out over the water and didn’t trouble herself to wipe away the tears that flowed down her cheeks. Xander felt like crying himself from seeing her like this.
“I have to go away from here. To England,” she said finally. It was the most words she had said to him in one sentence since Tara’s death—but it wasn’t what he wanted to hear.
“You don’t have to go away, Will. We’re here for you. Buffy, and Dawn, and Anya. And me.”
“It doesn’t matter anymore,” she murmured, more to herself than to him. “I’m not much of a friend right now, Xander. I’m not much of anything, really.” She climbed down from the railing and started walking towards Giles.
Xander stood motionless, trembling as Willow walked down the boardwalk. When she reached the end, Giles put an arm around her and with a nod towards Xander, led her towards his waiting car. A moment later the car’s engine started and they were gone.
Willow was gone.