Chapter Eight (end)
They took the story of her life without too many exclamations of surprise, though Willow was mollified by the fact that their jaws did drop once or twice.
More like a dozen or more times, she corrected herself with a tiny touch of amusement.
And now they were looking at her like…
…well, like they didn’t know what to think.
“Um, guys – you okay there?” She looked around the room, forcing herself to smile at each of them in turn. The only one that wasn’t shocked to the core was Michael but, then again, he’d already heard the story. For that matter, he’d been sorta cute when he tried to butt in and help her tell them about her life.
“Fine,” Isabel muttered weakly, her eyes faraway as she looked at Willow. “You… I mean… “ She shook her head, unable to come up with a coherent thought.
“And we thought we had it bad,” Liz muttered.
“We do,” Kyle shrugged. “Just… not –that- bad… obviously…” He trailed off, obviously no more clear where he’d been going with his current statement than they were. But the overall impression they got, of what he felt, was pretty clear. He was just as horrified as everyone else in the room.
Willow turned her head from their pitying stares, feeling uncomfortable under so many gazes. She shifted absently, squirming and putting herself closer to Michael without even meaning to. Her body and mind were both tired yet still she sat here, with them, trying to make them see that there were people they could trust. People that didn’t just want to exploit them for their talents or where they came from.
Hell, she had more power in her little pinky than they had altogether, she was betting. It was just a different type of power. She couldn’t heal like they could, though she had gladly given her energy to help them. Still, they weren’t exactly the type of super warriors that she was guessing Lilah and those other scumbags were hoping they were.
“Yeah, well – that’s my life,” she brushed off their pity with a shrug of her shoulders. She didn’t need it or want it. They had worse things to worry about, something she was pretty sure they hadn’t even taken the time to think about yet. “So – what are you guys going to do now?”
“Now? Get a good night’s rest and then head home,” Max offered with a raise of his eyebrows.
She smiled sadly, shaking her head. “It’s not that simple.”
“It never is,” Isabel sighed. “She means what are we going to do now that we’ve been exposed to those… lawyers, Max.”
“If we go back, they know where to find us… where to capture us.”
She saw Michael shudder out of the corner of her eye and reached instinctively for his hand, giving it a squeeze. The gesture put her that much closer to him, her side brushing his, head nearly on his shoulder. It was so tempting to just lay her head down and take a nap, but there were things that needed to be discussed and she was one of the few people on this Earth that was qualified to help them through it.
… well, she’d just save that plan for later. Better to see what they came up with on their own first.
“So we run?” Kyle frowned. “Like we planned back before graduation and never needed to?”
“Run?” Willow exclaimed before she could stop herself. “Do you plan on running for the rest of your lives? They won’t give up. Lilah doesn’t just give up – not when she sees something she wants and you’d best believe she wants you guys. Power… the chance to experiment…” It made her stomach churn just to voice the words aloud, but they needed to be said.
“What else is there?” Max spoke, but it was obvious the thought was shared by the group as a whole. She felt awful for them, sitting there with their entire lives hanging over a crevice with no end in sight. One wrong move and they could disappear… falling forever into the abyss that was the Wolfram and Hart labs…
Or on the road, never getting a moment’s peace.
She couldn’t let that happen to them. Not when they reminded her so much of another group of frightened teens she had once known. Her, Buffy and Xander… together they had tried to take on the world. And they had won. Time and again, against all odds. They’d earned their anonymity through blood, sweat and tears.
But… alongside that… a little good old fashioned luck.
Like the fact that anything could hide on the Hellmouth.
“Well… I do have one suggestion… but you’d have to trust me on a few things…”
“So – this is it?”
Willow rolled her eyes and took the hug Cordelia offered, letting herself linger for a few moments before pulling away with a wry smile on her lips. “I’m only going to SunnyHell.”
“You’re moving back there.”
“We all knew it would happen eventually,” she shrugged. “It’s time I get off my butt and start fighting the good fight on home ground again instead of prancing around playing Robin to Angel’s batman.”
The corner of the brunette’s mouth twitched up in a smile before she snickered softly. “Thank you for the bad mental images of Angel in leather and a cape.”
“Angel in leather is a bad mental image?” Willow snorted. “Since when?”
One by one she said goodbye to them, reminding herself even as she reminded them that it wasn’t a permanent goodbye. She could easily come back whenever she wanted.
But it was time to go home, just like she’d told Cordelia.
“We ready?” She greeted the group standing by the door, hefting her duffel on her shoulder, her laptop bag in the opposite hand.
“Here, let me –“
“I can ---“
Michael grabbed the case from her before she could stop him. “I know you –can-.”
She smirked, shaking her head. It was just her luck that she’d gone and made friends with the wise ass of their little group, wasn’t it?
But she wouldn’t take back that friendship for anything.
“C’mon, people. We’ve got road to cover and I’m not in the mood for dragging this out any longer than it has to be.”
There was the ‘ice queen’, as Michael had finally let her in on the nickname of the blonde haired woman. It fit her. Really, it did. As did ‘list nazi’.
So… an alien king and his chosen queen… an ice princess… a Buddha loving former jock with some freaky powers of his own…
And a smartass.
Wait until Buffy got a load of this group.
“You heard the lady,” she laughed. “Let’s get going. Oooo – maybe we’ll even get there in time for a nice round of slayage before dinner. Nothing says welcome to the Hellmouth like slaying your first vamp.”