Disclaimer: I don’t own these characters and never will. BtVS belongs to Joss Whedon and Legacy of the Altendata belongs to John Ringo. I can only claim ideas that come from sleep deprivation and overdosing on caffeine and nicotine.
Chapter Twenty Four
“So Willow what do you want to talk about?” Xander asked.
Willow took a deep breath. What she was about to confess to Xander might end their friendship but she knew that she had to tell him.
“Xander there’s something very important that I have to tell you!”
Xander looked at his friend from kindergarten and nodded. “Maybe we should talk upstairs?” He said and led Willow upstairs into his apartment.
Minutes later he was sitting at the kitchen counter with a cup of coffee in front of him while Willow toyed with the glass of water he had given her.
“So Wills, what is it that we need to talk about?” He asked, his voice touched with concern. Whatever it was that Willow wanted to talk about it was something that upset her. She had the same look on her face as she did when they were thirteen and Willow had first tried to hack a major government database and had almost been caught.
Willow pushed aside the glass and looked at the young appearing man who sat opposite her. For a second she was tempted to tell him it was nothing and flee back to the school but she knew that she owed Xander the truth.
“Last night I went home.” She said softly. “And I started preparing to cast a spell.”
Xander nodded. Giles had told him that while he had been gone Willow had dove headlong into studying magic and along with Amy Madison the pair were well on their way to becoming witches. But he doubted that Willow just wanted to tell him about that.
“It was a spell that I’ve been working on for awhile, pretty much since you came home.” She said.
“What sort of spell?” Xander asked
“Xander you have to understand, you’ve changed. You’re not the same person you were before you left. I just…. I just wanted for you to be the way you were.” She paused then continued. “The spell I was going to do would have made you forget everything that had happened to you.”
Xander looked at his friend. He’d always known that Willow liked to have things the way she wanted them. In that regard she was a lot like Cordelia though they used different methods to do it. But to hear her tell that she had planned on casting a spell on him to remove those things that she didn’t like shocked him.
“Why didn’t you use the spell?” He asked quietly, his fists flexing unconsciously. If he had been wearing his armour that would have caused the blades concealed in his gauntlets to deploy.
“Someone showed me how wrong it would have been.” Willow said, not daring to look into the eyes of the man opposite her.
The eastern horizon was just turning a slate grey, showing that the sun would rise in an hour or so. Willow Rosenberg stifled a yawn as she once more double checked her preparations. Carefully she confirmed the orientation of the pentagram, ensuring that it was set to true north. She gave a small smile, it was probably one of Amy’s smarter ideas, to paint the mystical symbol on a square of canvas.
Now instead of wasting time carefully drawing the symbol whenever a spell needed to be cast all that needed to be done was to clear a flat area and unroll the canvas. Plus there was no clean up required afterwards.
Satisfied that the pentagram was ready she swiftly placed lit candles at the cardinal points and picked up the shallow brass bowl containing a mix of Lethe’s Bramble and other mystic herbs. She reminded herself that she would have to visit The Magic Box tomorrow, the spell that she was about to cast was going to use up pretty much her entire supply of spell components.
With everything set she took a deep breath to prepare herself. This spell would bring back the Xander she remembered and wanted then everything would be right.
Opening herself to her magic she was about to begin when she heard a voice behind, a voice she knew but hadn’t heard in over a year.
“Willow don’t do this!!”
She spun around and when she saw who it was how had spoken her mouth dropped open in surprise. Standing there was a woman with brunette hair, wearing a long flowing dress and leather jacket who was slightly transparent.
“Miss…... Miss Calendar?!” She stammered. “But….. But you’re dead!!”
The ghost of Jenny Calendar looked at Willow coolly but with an undertone of concern.
“Yes Willow I am. But I’ve been allowed to come back to talk to you.”
“Why talk to me?” Willow asked confused
“What you are about to do is wrong on so many levels it’s not funny and it cannot be allowed. So I’ve been sent here to show the repercussions of your actions. Think of me as your personal ‘Ghost of Christmas Future’.” Jenny said holding out her hand. “Come with me and see what may happen if you go through with this.”
Swallowing nervously Willow nodded and reached out for Jenny’s hand. To her surprise she was able to feel the grip of the spirit of her former teacher then everything blurred.
Blinking her eyes Willow looked around. She was standing in the back yard of a small house she didn’t recognise and she didn’t think she was in Sunnydale either.
“Where are we?” She asked Jenny who was standing beside her.
“A small town near San Francisco. This is where you live after you left Sunnydale.”
“I left Sunnydale?” Willow asked. “But why?”
“There was nothing left in the town for you Willow. It’s now ten years since you cast your spell on Xander and much has changed.” Jenny said.
Willow was about to ask Jenny what had changed when she heard the back door open. Her eyes widened in shock when she who it was who had stepped onto the back porch.
It was her but Willow barely recognised herself. The future version of herself looked ‘washed out’. That was the best description that she could think of. Her bright red hair had faded and if Jenny hadn’t have told her that it was ten years in the future she would have thought that it was nearly twenty years.
Willow’s doppelganger looked out over the back yard and seemed to stare at the younger version of herself and Miss Calender before turning back into the house.
“Don’t worry Willow no one can see us.” Jenny said softly, laying a gentle hand on Willow’s shoulder to stop her from going inside to see what she was doing.
Minutes later she reappeared, this time leading someone else. A tall young man with a shock of dark hair and a dull, vacant look on his face.
If the sight of her future self had stunned Willow the sight of her oldest friend, Xander, being led out by the hand shocked her into silence. She could only watch as ‘Older Willow’ guided Xander over to a chair where she gently pressed on his shoulders, causing him to sit before going back inside.
Willow looked at her friend. It didn’t look like Xander had aged much in the last ten years but he was definitely different to the person that she had seen in the library the previous night. She watched aghast as a line of drool ran down his chin.
“Miss Calender what happened to Xander?” She asked as ‘Older Willow’ came back holding a bowl and a glass of water and began to spoon what looked like baby food into Xander’s mouth.
“You happened to Xander.” Jenny said. “Ten years ago you cast the spell that you had been working on and it succeeded far beyond your expectations.” She was silent as ‘Older Willow’ finished feeding Xander his meal and held the glass to his lips for him to drink. The entire time there had been no expression or even awareness on his face.
“The spell you cast didn’t just remove the memories of the time he spent in that other world.” Jenny explained as ‘Older Willow’ wiped Xander’s mouth and went back inside. “But every memory that he’d ever had in his life.”
“My spell did that? NO! It couldn’t have! I checked everything carefully!” Willow spluttered, trying to understand what could have gone wrong.
“Yes Willow it did. You are the reason that Xander is now nothing more than a walking vegetable who can’t take care of himself and isn’t even aware of what is going on around him.”
Taking a shuddering breath to calm herself, she knew that now was not the time to panic. “Why didn’t I try to fix it? If magic did this shouldn’t magic be able to reverse it?”
Jenny shook her head sadly. “You did try to find a way to bring back Xander through magic Willow. For several months you devoted all you time to it, ignoring school and your friends, channelling more and more magic, delving into things that you were not ready for, until….”
“Until you tried a spell that you thought would make everything right. It didn’t work and what was worse it destroyed your ability to do magic. From that day on even the simplest spell or incantation was beyond you.” Jenny finished.
Willow just stood there, trying to take it all in. Jenny was telling her that despite her best intentions she had destroyed the life of her oldest friend, almost her brother and when she tried to correct her mistake she lost one of her greatest joys, magic.
Jenny continues speaking. “Your life now is centred around caring for Xander. A self- imposed penance for what you have done.”
Willow’s gaze was drawn once more to Xander who simply sat there not moving a muscle and she felt guilt overwhelm her over what she had done. Turning back to Jenny.
“If I don’t cast the spell will things be better?”
Jenny gave her a small smile. “I can’t tell you exactly what will happen if you don’t cast the spell. Only that the lives of everyone you know and care for will be different.”
She held out her hand. “It’s time for us to go now.”
Nodding Willow reached out her own hand and then there was blackness.
Willow jerked awake as she heard birds singing outside in the yard of her home. With wide eyes she realised that she had fell asleep in the living room. Scattered on the floor in front of her was the paraphernalia that she had planned on using.
“Oh my goodness!!” She breathed as she remembered.
Unnoticed by her an owl, which should have back in its roost seemed to stare at the young witch before taking off on silent wings and disappearing.
“I don’t know whether the spirit of Miss Calendar actually came to me last night or if I just dreamed it. But when I woke up I had another look at the spell book I was going to use and realised that the spells in it were evil!” Willow said to Xander, her eyes bright with unshed tears. “Do you hate me?”
Xander looked at his friend in silence for a few moments before answering.
“Willow, I don’t think that I could ever hate you.” He said. “My memories of you helped keep me sane in an insane situation.” He paused and Willow gave him a tremulous smile. That smile faded as Xander continued speaking.
“But I can’t pretend that I’m happy with the fact that you wanted to change me into something that I haven’t been in over fifteen years. And why didn’t you talk to me instead of immediately concocting a spell? I know that we don’t spend as much time together that we used to but it’s not as though we’ve cut each other out of our lives.”
Willow just lowered her eyes. She didn’t have an answer for Xander since he was right. If she really wanted to talk to him there had been plenty of opportunities to do so.
Then there was the little voice in her head. The one that was asking questions, questions like that if she was willing to use magic to change Xander then who was next? Buffy? Giles? Or perhaps even Oz?
“I understand Xander. I just thought that I knew what was best. I just hope that one day you’ll forgive me and I promise that I won’t use magic again.”
“First off Willow there’s is nothing to forgive. You stopped yourself before you did something wrong.” Xander said. “And secondly, don’t make promises that you can’t keep. I know you, you could no longer give up magic than you could give up computers or coffee.” He paused. “Just try to be a bit more careful with magic, talk to Giles before you try a new spell.”
Willow nodded, glad that Xander was still her friend. Getting to her feet she gave Xander a relieved smile.
“Thank you Xander. I’d better get going if I don’t want to miss the last two classes for the day.”
Xander rose from his seat. “Sure Wills. If you want I can give you a lift, save you some shoe leather.”
Nodding in acceptance Willow and Xander walked down to where Xander had parked his new SUV.