Fear is the Mind Killer
March 29, 2005 9:26 PM
There was a knock at the door. "Willow?" It was Giles.
She was too old to hide under her desk and pretend to not be here. Willow had pretty much been avoiding everyone she could since Wednesday. The only exception being when Draco and Pevensie had gotten hurt.
Giles slid into the office and closed the door behind him. "Hello, Willow. May I sit down?" He was being very careful to keep his tone even.
She was wringing her hands in her lap under the desk. Her palms were sweating profusely. Willow could not recall feeling this nervous.
Giles sat. "So. Tell me about the other day." Still neutral.
"Which one? The one where I vomited black stuff or the one where Draco was knocked out and I owled his whole family in a panic because Buffy had to carry him here?"
"Let's start with the vomit," he responded.
"Um...okay. So Buffy and I were going to have snacks and girl time, and we were downstairs and Draco was screaming, and it just... it was dark. There was something so dark vibrating from his arm. Not him. Just his arm, and it hurt me. It hurt so bad. And that voice in the back of my mind that I try not to listen to said if I tapped into my own dark, I could crush whatever this was, and then that part of me started fighting with the me part of me. Me
"Are you all right?"
"I'm scared. I scared some of the younger slayers. Evil me said something nasty to Buffy, and I think I scared her. I've been slipping, Giles. Little things here and there. Just like before, and I know that I could lose control. I try not to take it to a dark place, but I can feel everybody and sometimes it's stiffling. They're angry and suddenly I'm angry. Sometimes I feel like when I released the essence of the slayer that I lost a part of myself, that I became part of a hive mind instead of being just Willow."
Giles was not one for unnecessary physical contact, but what Willow really needed right now was a hug and some reassurance. "Come here."
"You don't have to bind me or anything. I'm just going to keep to myself like I have been doing."
He gave her a look.
"Okay, not wanting to do binding. My misunderstanding."
Willow got up and came around her desk as he stood. She was surprised by him pulling her into a big, tight hug. She was equally surprsed by how much she had needed something like this and not even known it.
She melted into him and rested her head upon his chest. "I'm frightened for you as well," he told her. "I think it may be prudent for you to begin your visits with the Coven again."
Willow just nodded.
"I want to be better, Giles, but it's really hard. There are so many wounds that are still open here, and not just with me. Bad things happened in this part of the country, and they still haven't recovered."
"I know." He rubbed a hand up and down her back. "Speaking of... How is Draco doing?"
"Surly and brooding. Something is bothering him and he won't talk about it, and he made a very mysterious trip off of the grounds yesterday that he thinks I don;t know about. He came back looking haunted."
"He'll talk when he's ready. Has he gotten more comfortable with Pevensie? He may tell her before anyone else, if he ends up telling anyone."
"They're closer. She put herself between that demon and unconscious Draco without a thought, Giles. She's already there. He's her family."
"Let's hope he comes around soon, then." He let her go.
"Getting back to the 'vomit'... What do you think triggered it?"
"Whatever was affecting that tattoo. It was ugly, Giles, and very, very dark. Some of the worst kind of evil is pulling those puppet strings. I think evil me is wrong and it's more powerful, but also disjointed... like it's not one person working the mojo."
"Ordinarily, I say that we should research this, but I don't know where to start. I'm not even sure what sort of enchantment those tattoos are
. But multiple casters could help us determine who might be responsible."
"Maybe we should consult... a Seer?"
But Willow only knew one that was still living, and Astoria was unstable at best.
Giles considered his words carefully. "Andromeda and I discussed keeping Astoria Greengrass in the loop on this matter," he told her.
"You already talked about me to Andromeda?"
"She was the closest coven member, I thought it necessary to enlist their help in this matter. If it makes you feel any better, we also discussed our next date."
"I think you can expect Draco to eventually threaten you on that front. He's warring with it because you're his boss."
Willow looked away.
"I like Andromeda, Giles. I don't want her to think bad about me."
"She doesn't. She's rather fond of you, as a matter of fact."
"She's rather fond of you too, you know," Willow said, poking him playfully in the side with one finger.
"Yes, I'm fairly certain that this is so, seeing as how she wishes to see me again."
Willow smiled. "Good. I'm glad. You should have dates. Oh!" She waved her hands in his face. "You should play guitar for her."
"I believe that is a third or fourth date activity. There is no need to melt her knickers this early in the game, now is there?" He wore a wry look.
"How do you even know she wears knickers?" Willow asked slyly, then made a face.
She so did not need to go there.
"You raise an excellent point. I have not gotten to..." He paused. "Third?"
"Ack! I'm not raising anything. And no thirds for you. I mean, you can have thirds, but I don't want to know about it. I should go. No, this is my office," she said with a furrowed brow. "You should go."
"Yes. Probably," he replied. "Might I ask you a favor before I do go?"
"The next time you feel yourself slipping, please send someone to get me... Just in case."
Her first impule was to say no, but he was not saying this to make her feel closed in and distrusted. Willow knew Giles worried.
"I will try."
He smiled. "Thank you."
He hoped to whichever gods took care of these sorts of things that he never got that call.