Kennedy held Willow until she stopped crying. Still upset, Willow said, "I know what they were talking about now. I thought I understood it when I saw that phantom in the circle, but I didn't, really. Not until it came back."
"Do you want to go upstairs right now?"
Willow shook her head. "No. Alone time's not what I need. Alone time and strong emotions plus me equals badness."
Kennedy hugged her again until she felt a tap on her shoulder. "May I?" she heard Xander's voice say.
"Of course," Kennedy said, and gently released Willow into Xander's arms.
She knew Xander and Willow had a relationship that was much deeper than almost anything on the planet. People had said -- never meaning to hurt Kennedy, though it had hurt -- that Tara had been Willow's soulmate. Kennedy had never doubted it. But Xander was Willow's soulmate, too.
Once, Kennedy had stupidly said she would have liked to seen the evil Willow. Willow had reacted as though Kennedy had said she would have liked to have seen Ted Bundy kill people. Later on, she found out why.
It had taken Tara's death to set Willow on a murderous rampage. It had taken Xander to bring her back.
And, Willow'd said, he was the only person on the planet who could have.
She hoped one day she could reach that level of intimacy with Willow.
Check that. She'd already reached it. She was hopelessly in love with the woman. If she hadn't been before the events of the last day, she would have been. To go through what she went through and still have put Kennedy's own welfare so high -- to be missing part of her soul and still be willing to face down her friends -- that would have done it.
She hoped one day Willow would feel that level of intimacy with her.
She knew Willow cared about her; she knew Willow loved her. But it was unequal.
Not that she was complaining.
Xander let Willow go and passed her back off to Kennedy. She’d stopped crying again.
Kennedy leaned in and kissed her.
After she was done, she said, “Now do you think you’re okay to go upstairs?” Willow opened her mouth in protest and Kennedy said, “No one said you had to go alone and I really don’t think anyone’s going to complain about you missing the cleanup. Part of your soul was gone, sweetie. And honestly, despite the pep-talk and reassurance from the other Slayers, I’m still not 100 myself. Will. You were there for me. Let me be there for you, okay?”
Before they went back to their room, Kennedy went over to the center of the former diagram and picked up the Scythe. No visions assaulted her. “I believe this is mine,” she said.
No one argued the point.
X X X X X
Willow let Kennedy take her back up to the room they shared. She sat on the bed while Kennedy fiddled with the Scythe, apparently checking to see if there were any lingering effects of the magic.
“Are you sure you’re okay?” Kennedy asked her.
“Like you said, of course not. But you and Xander have gotten me through the worst of it.” She pointed to her hair and eyes. “See? No black. No sudden urges to go off by myself and cast evil spells.”
“Good,” Kennedy said. “Then I won’t need to use this.” She twirled the Scythe around before leaning it against the wall.
“Like I couldn’t stop you if I wanted,” Willow said.
Kennedy walked forward, slowly, until she reached the bed. Then she crawled up it until she was on top of Willow, pinning both hands with one of her own, while kissing her.
When they finally stopped to take a breath, Kennedy said, “You didn’t stop me.”
“I didn’t want to,” Willow murmured.
“I love you.” As Willow opened her mouth – what could she say in response to that – Kennedy put her hand over it. “Relax. You don’t have to say it back yet. I wish you could, but I know you can’t.” She kissed Willow again, quickly. “I just want to be here long enough to have the chance of hearing it someday.”
“You saved my life,” Willow said. “I’m not letting you go anywhere anytime soon.”
“You saved my sanity,” was Kennedy’s response. “And you’re not getting away from me, either.”
They kissed for a while longer, but the events of the day still weighed a bit too heavily on them for them to do anything other than hold each other.
Still, for the moment, that was enough.
X X X X X
Lorne, Gunn, and Fred made a gracious exit, heading back to either Wolfram & Hart or home.
Andrew started to gather books to take back to his room. Giles tapped him on the shoulder. "What are you doing?"
"Buffy asked us to find out what happened to the brave Faith," Andrew said.
"And we shall. But not tonight. We have been through an ordeal to end all ordeals. I've barely slept, and none of us have talked to former principal Wood --
"Actually," Angel said, "I stopped off on my way back here and filled him in." Giles looked guilty. "Under the circumstances, Giles, I doubt he'll be holding grudges."
"I hope not. Still one of us should probably go and see him tomorrow."
Xander said, "I'll go." So did Dawn.
Angel said, “Giles, some of those Watchers are going to get here tomorrow. Are you up for meeting with them? If not, I’m sure Wes can cover it.”
“I’m up for it,” Giles said. “But I would appreciate Wesley’s presence as well.”
"I wouldn't miss it," Wesley said.
“You can meet here,” Angel said. “I understand your wanting to keep the Wolfram & Hart name off of this.”
“Thank you,” Giles said gratefully. “While I’m still not sure why you chose to ‘sleep with the enemy,’ as the phrase goes, the events of the last 24 hours have proven to me that you can still be trusted. I am grateful for everything.”
“You’re welcome,” Angel said. “I hope Buffy can find some peace now. I hope they all can.”Seventeen Days Later:
An envelope arrived at the offices of Wolfram & Hart. Angel was talking with the former Angel Investigations staffers about their plans for the law firm, and the firm’s plans for them, when he ripped the envelope open.
A familiar amulet fell to the floor. A miniature black cyclone came out of it, rustling papers around the room. Quickly, something began to form inside the cyclone – first a skeleton, then the rest of a body.
Angel couldn’t see who it was until the wind stopped.
“Aaaaah! Son of a bitch Jesus Christ motherfuck!” the person yelled, almost doubled over in pain. “What the hell just happened to me?”
Wesley said, “Faith?”
Angel said, “Faith.”
Harmony stuck her head in the room. “Who the hell are you?”