By the time Willow and Anya had come up with a plan that they could both live with, it had been nearly dawn, and Jason had taken Asher back to the Circus. Willow had decided they would stay an extra day so she could say goodbye to Asher. She and Anya had spent most of the morning finding the necessary ingredients, while Jason and several wereleopards guarded Halfrek.
Anya had been so quiet during the entire process that Willow had worried the other woman would change her mind. She had returned home briefly, just long enough to let Kennedy know that they would be home the next night, and that she should get Xander to England as soon as possible. Kennedy had told her she would also meet them in England. Willow wasn’t sure how she felt about that; she had hoped going straight to Giles would allow her to avoid Kennedy a little longer. Avoid the conversation she didn’t want to have.
They had spent most of the afternoon talking about going home, and if they had done the right thing for Halfrek. Anya had agreed, in the end, that the risk of a memory spell was better than killing her friend. Anita and Jason would make sure Halfrek integrated herself into this world. If there were problems, Willow had left detailed instructions on how to contact her, and Anita assured her she knew several witches that would be able to perform the spell.
Anya was concerned that Xander wouldn’t be happy that she was back. That maybe Willow had misread the reason for his grief; that what Willow thought was grief over her death was really grief over the loss of his eye. Willow assured her that wasn’t the case. He had gone through that as well, but now he missed Anya. The love he had for her hadn’t ended when he called off the wedding, and it hadn’t ended when she died.
They had arrived at the Circus early. Anya hadn’t actually had a chance to see the show since she’d been in town so they had come early enough to catch part of it, watching it from backstage with Jason and Jean-Claude. Anya had been s fascinated by the vampire as she had been by the show. Fascinated by the fact that he had taken all the things humans feared and made them profitable. Willow would’ve enjoyed the show more had she been able to get a straight answer from anyone about where Asher was. All Jason and Jean-Claude would say was that he would be there after the show.
“Okay, show’s over,” Willow said, impatiently. “Now, will you tell me where Asher is?”
“I’m here,” Asher said from behind her.
“Okay, then what’s…” Willow’s voice trailed off as she realized he was wearing jeans and a black t-shirt. “Wow, um…why are you…? I thought you didn’t dress…?”
“You said, this is how vampires in your dimension dress, correct?”
“But they don’t usually look like that
in those clothes,” Anya offered.
“Yes, it is how they dress,” Willow agreed, ignoring Anya’s comment while silently agreeing with her. “But what does that have to do with you?”
“It is best if I blend into your world, is it not?” Asher asked, a small smile forming at her confusion.
“So, you’re starting early?”
“But I thought,” Willow said, realizing what he was saying, “It would take time to make arrangements and Jean-Claude needs…”
“I am not such a monster as to deny Asher happiness,” Jean-Claude responded. “Not for any reason. We will manage a few weeks without him, or Jason.”
“Why Jason?” Anya asked.
“He needs to feed,” Jason explained. “Vampires from here can’t survive on animal blood like yours do.”
“Will it be a problem?” Asher asked. “I know you had things to take care of first.”
“No,” Willow said hugging him tightly. “I want you to come with me. It may be awkward at first, but…”
“Kennedy was never good enough for her,” Anya interrupted. “I never understood what you saw in her.”
“Well, then, we should go,” Willow smiled. “Because it’s getting late, and my explanation just became a lot longer.”
Everyone said their goodbyes and a few minutes later Asher, Jason, Willow, and Anya found themselves in Giles’ kitchen, a few feet from a startled slayer, stake in hand. “Willow, you really are going to get killed one day if you keep popping in like this,” Rona said, lowering the stake to her side. “Is he a vampire?”
“Yeah,” Willow took Asher’s hand and pulled him forward. She frowned at him when he immediately shook his hair forward to cover his face. “Rona, this is Asher.”
“So, this is one of the ‘we don’t stake this vampire’ cases?” Rona asked. “Like Spike?”
“Yeah,” Willow agreed. “And this is Jason.”
“Nice to meet you both,” Rona said, and then realized who the last person in the group was, “Anya?”
“Hi,” she replied quietly.
“What? How?” Rona asked, looking between the other two women.
“Willow and magic,” Anya answered simply.
“You’re the secret,” Rona’s eyes narrowed, “You’re the reason Kennedy told Xander to get here as soon as possible.”
“So, he doesn’t know yet?” Willow asked. She had told Kennedy not to say anything, and she had trusted that she wouldn’t, but Andrew knew as well, and she was less sure of his keeping quiet.
“No, he’s been asking everyone all day though.”
“Rona, do we have any…” Xander’s words trailed off as he and Buffy came through the door. “What’s? Anya?”
“Oh, my God,” Buffy said, staring at Anya. “How did…? Willow?”
“She found me,” Anya said, continuing quickly when she saw the angry look on the slayer’s face. “Not like when you died, Buffy. She found me and asked if I wanted
to come back.”
“I couldn’t watch you grieve for her anymore,” Willow said quietly to Xander. Asher took a step closer to Willow as Buffy’s eyes fell on him.
“You did this for me?” Xander asked. Hugging her tightly, he noticed that there were other people in the room. “Will, um, did you bring friends of your own back?”
“A vampire friend,” Buffy added, as Xander stepped away from Willow and reached for Anya. “And something else, not a vampire, but not human either.”
“Werewolf,” Jason offered. “I’m Jason.”
“Sorry, yeah, I brought back friends,” Willow agreed. “This is Asher, and he’s here because… You know what, it’s a long story and Kennedy should hear it first. So, later okay? Jason is here so that Asher doesn’t have to feed on the general population. Again, long story.”
“Can you explain how you found Anya, then?” Xander asked, keeping his arm around Anya.
“Yeah,” Willow agreed. “That I can explain, but it’s a long story too, so let’s sit.”
“You’ll have to let go of me so I can sit, Xander,” Anya pointed out, smiling. “I’m not going to disappear.”
An hour later, Willow and Anya had finished their stories. “This is a good thing, right Xander?” Anya asked. “You’re happy I’m here?”
“Of course, I’m happy,” Xander said, hugging her again. “You have no idea the hell it’s been these last couple years without you.”
“I really should go find rooms for Asher and Jason,” Willow said, wanting to give Xander and Anya time alone, and realizing how close to dawn it was. “So, um…Buffy, why don’t you help me?”
“Willow,” Xander said, as she started to leave the room followed by Asher, Jason, and Buffy. “Thank you for doing this. For bringing Anya back.”
Willow turned to answer, but his attention was already back on Anya.
Jason and Asher decided that sharing a room was the better option. They weren’t sure how the change in dimensions would affect Asher and it was better if Jason was nearby, at least for a while. Buffy left the room to find something to cover the window. They had chosen a room with only one small window but it did still need a heavier covering than what it had. “Your friends are very nice,” Asher said.
“They are,” Willow agreed. “Of course, Xander may be less friendly later, when it all sinks in and he realizes why you’re...”
“Will,” Buffy said, poking her head in the room. “Sorry, but Kennedy’s back from patrolling with Andrew and Giles and she’s…Giles says to get downstairs before she gets up here. I think she knows about Asher.”
“Oh, um…” Willow’s eyes widened at the news, and she turned to the two men, “Don’t leave this room. Either of you. Not until Buffy or I come and get you, okay?”
“Why?” Jason asked.
“Because there is a pissed-off slayer downstairs,” Buffy offered. “Who has apparently found out that her girlfriend is leaving her for a vampire, and she may just stake the first non-human stranger she sees.”
“That pretty much sums it up,” Willow said, pulling the door closed as she left them alone. Once the door was closed she turned her attention to Buffy as they walked down the stairs. “How did you know?”
“About you and Asher?” Buffy asked. Willow nodded. “I’m not blind.”
“How does Kennedy know?”
“From what Giles said, Andrew told her while they were arguing.”
“Andrew told her,” Willow sighed, “Why did we keep him, again?”
“He’s like the stray puppy that pees on the floor,” Buffy offered. “You know you should get rid of him, but you just can’t.”
“Is it true?” Kennedy shouted at Willow as soon as they walked into the kitchen. “Was he telling the truth?”
“Do we have to do this here?” Willow asked, glancing around at Xander, Anya, Giles, and Andrew. “In front of everyone?”
“Why not?” Kennedy said angrily. “You already told them anyway.”
“No, I didn’t. I told Giles because I needed his help, and Andrew just happened to be there. No one else knows yet. Or well, they do now, since you insist on having this conversation in the kitchen.”
“So that’s it? You’ve found someone else,” Kennedy said, “Were you even going to tell me at all, or just go back with him and leave me waiting? Is that why you didn’t want me here?”
“Of course not,” Willow argued. “I wouldn’t do that. I was going to talk to you when I got home. Or well, tonight when you said you were going to be here.”
“Willow’s dating that Jason guy?” Xander asked Anya, “Another wolf? Doesn’t she learn?”
“No she’s dating Asher,” Anya responded.
“You’re dating a vampire
?” Xander yelled at Willow, standing up suddenly.
“Not now, Xander,” Buffy said, pushing him back in his chair. “You can yell at her later, okay?”
“He’s here, isn’t he?” Kennedy asked, pushing past Andrew and Willow and heading for the stairs. “Where is he? You couldn’t even wait until…”
“You aren’t going up there, Kennedy,” Buffy said, stepping into the younger slayer’s path.
“Get out of my way, Buffy,” Kennedy glaring at her. “Don’t make me…”
“What?” Buffy asked, raising an eyebrow in question. “Move me? Hurt me? Do you really think you can?”
“Kennedy,” Willow said, touching her shoulder lightly. Kennedy was angry, and she had no doubt that she would try to attack Buffy if she didn’t move. She might not love Kennedy anymore, but she didn’t want to see her hurt either. “I didn’t mean for it to happen this way. None of it was supposed to happen. If I was looking for someone else wouldn’t it have been a hell of a lot easier to look in my own dimension?”
“And at humans,” Andrew offered.
Shut up, Andrew,” Giles, Buffy, and Willow all said in unison.
“So, that’s it then, it’s just over?” Kennedy asked, turning back to Willow. “You’re just leaving?”
“Yes, I’ll stay here with Giles for a while,” Willow said. “Then I’ll go whereever I’m needed. You stay at the house and train the girls.”
“Why did you have to bring him with you?” Kennedy asked, sinking into a chair across from Xander.
“I hadn’t planned to,” Willow explained. “He was supposed to come later. After I talked to you. I hadn’t intended to rub it in your face like this.”
“Whatever,” Kennedy shrugged. “I’m leaving. I’m taking the next plane home.”
“You don’t need to leave right away,” Willow said, “You just got here, wait until…”
“I need to be…not here,” Kennedy said. “Rona, can you drive me to the airport?”
“Yeah, sure,” Rona said and followed her from the room, “I’ll help you get packed.”
“That was…” Buffy said when the two girls had left the room. “I’m sorry, Will. That didn’t go well at all.”
“No it didn’t, but I didn’t think it would,” Willow sighed. Turning her attention to Andrew, “I didn’t intend for it to be done like this though. Why did you tell her?”
“It just came out,” he said, backing away from Willow. “I didn’t mean to tell her.”
“I think we’re all missing the important thing here,” Xander interrupted “Willow, when did you stop being gay?”