Prologue, Chapters 1 and 2
Disclaimer: I own nada.
Spoilers: Through Season 7 Buffy. All 3 books AND movies just to be safe. Where Angel the Series is concerned, this is an AU fic- the Oracles are alive and working.
A/N: dialogue in ‘single quotes’ is mind-speak. “Doubles” are aloud.
Galadriel was climbing the stairway that lead to the chamber she shared with Celeborn when she felt *it*. Something had happened. She glanced at Nenya, the ring she bore on her finger, and her elven heart dropped- the stone was flashing blood red. That was when she knew.
Galadriel rushed up the rest of the stair and threw open the door to find Celeborn sitting in a wooden chair. He looked up in alarm. ‘What is it?’ he asked in their fashion of mind-speak.
‘Mithrandir,’ Galadriel replied. ‘He is nearing danger- deadly danger.’
Celeborn frowned in confusion. ‘How do you-’
‘Nenya,’ Galadriel interrupted. ‘Mithrandir and I are both bearers of the 3 rings. My love, I fear if something is not done, he will perish.’ She sank down to sit on the bed.
Celeborn moved to embrace her. ‘He set out from Imladris not long ago. We shall send Haldir to intercept the travelers. Surely he will be able to protect Mithrandir.’
But Galadriel shook her head. ‘No, if elvish power was all that was needed, Legolas Greenleaf is already there. I am afraid his power will not be enough to stop anything a wizard cannot handle.’
‘Then what?’ Celeborn asked, frustrated. ‘If Haldir and Legolas and Mithrandir are no use, truly he is doomed. Unless… you do not propose to aid him yourself?’
‘No,’ Galadriel answered sadly, ‘Neither I nor Nenya may leave Laurelindorean for a long time.’ She sighed with the sadness of the elves. ‘We must seek help from The Others. There are many in our Sister World who are champions. We will implore their aid.’
‘The Others?’ Celeborn snorted incredulously. ‘We have not relied on them since The Beginning. Do you think they will even help?’
‘They must,’ Galadriel said resignedly.
Chapter 1. Short Goodbye to a Long Friendship
Willow inhaled deeply and rose from her kneeling position. Her morning centering exercises completed, her newly-found peace of mind focused on one thing: breakfast.
She pulled on a sweater -less fuzzy than in her high school days- and made her way down the hall to the kitchen that she was temporarily sharing with the Scoobies in L.A.
Willow greeted the just-woken Buffy as she poured herself a cup of coffee. “Good morning, Buffy,” she said. “How’d the Cleveland update go last night?
Buffy smiled at her friend. “It was okay. Giles gave me the usual story: the troops are fine, he’s fine, everyone’s fine. Then Kennedy got on the phone and told me the truth.”
“Which was…?” Willow asked. The redhead no longer minded hearing about her former lover. Their relationship had been based on danger and passion; the heat of battle, not knowing if you would live to see the next day. After the war with the First had ended, they just didn’t really work and had decided to end it. Of course, the fact that the brunette was miles away in Cleveland with the other slayers helped ease the breakup.
“Oh, you know,” Buffy said. “The same as last time. ‘It’s crazy here, we have no idea how to do this, and we need a real slayer. Blah blah blah.’” The blonde smiled dryly.
Willow laughed. “Sounds like it’s pretty urgent. I’ll admit, taking a break here in LA has been great. We haven’t really rested like this, well, ever! But, just the same, Cleveland sounds nice, you know? You’d have a purpose again. Those girls look up to you.”
“I know,” Buffy sighed. “And, I love being here, with you and Xander, and Dawn-”
“And Angel?” Willow teased. “I know what you mean, though. It’s like high school again. Even Cordy and Wesley are here!” The girls fell silent as the remembered their shared past. To Willow and Buffy both it seemed that a lifetime, not a few years, had passed.
Willow broke their reverie. “You know I can’t go with you to Cleveland, Buffy.”
The Slayer looked closely at her friend. “What do you mean? We all agreed to meet Giles next week. Where else would you go?”
“I don’t know where I’ll stay,” Willow began. “Look, Buffy, when I activated the Potentials, that was it. I knew then that that was what I was put on this earth to do. A new age is coming, an age of slayers that I have no place in. It’s for you, and Giles, and even Xander. But not me. I’m different than you now. I’ve been tainted, and I still need to make up for it.”
“I think I understand,” Buffy said slowly. “You’ve been acting strangely since Sunnydale. I would love nothing more than to have you by my side on the new Hellmouth, but I know you have your own thing. I really do understand.”
Willow looked at her best friend with tears in her eyes. “Thanks Buffy. I love you.”
The two hugged and Buffy said, “Wait, you mean you’re leaving now?”
“Maybe. I’ve already said goodbye to Xander and Dawn. I’m going to see Angel now, I think he may be of some help to me. Goodbye, my friend.”
Willow turned and left the house. An hour later Dawn got up to find her sister sitting at the table with two mugs of cold coffee.
Chapter 2 Meeting the Powers
Willow stared at the swirling black door in front of her with a mix of fear and suspicion. Angel had told her to seek out the Oracles, to find meaning in her life. She couldn’t understand why the Powers had given her such strength, when she only seemed to use it to screw up. Angel had gone through a similar dilemma, wondering why he had been brought from Hell, and why he had been allowed to live. He said reassurance and direction from the Oracles helped immensely. Of course, their message was also a source of great confusion.
Willow gulped as she picked up a foot to step inside. “Angel, you had better hope this is the right place,” She muttered. Mentally making a note to hide his hair gel for not warning her about big scary doorways, she entered. She immediately felt warm sunlight on her skin, and heard water trickling in the distance. Looking around, she saw two figures quickly approaching. Something inside told her not to run.
Each figure had angelic golden hair, but the woman’s was longer and curlier. The man beside her was, if possible, equally as beautiful as she. The man spoke first. “Who are you to have entered our realm?” He spoke with a frown on his face, which looked to Willow to be a permanent feature.
“She is Willow,” spoke the woman. Her voice reminded Willow a bit of Drusilla, but somehow with more weight to her words. It felt as if the golden-haired lady was looking into her, searching for something. “She is the witch from the mouth of Hell.”
“I’ve done some bad stuff,” Willow stuttered. Her 21 years of age disappeared in their presence and she felt like an insecure teenager again, but her voice gained courage with every word. “But I want to make up for it. I need your guidance.”
“Like the vampire, you have much to atone for,” said the man. He too stared hard at her, and Willow wished for something to hide behind, or for someone else to enter that big swirly door to take the attention off her. “But it is not for us to give forgiveness. That task is given to the Powers That Be. Only they may decide whether you have proven your worth.” He turned away from her. Willow felt that his stony back was worse than the piercing glare. Her eyes moved to the woman Oracle.
“Perhaps there is something we can do,” she said. Then for many minutes the Oracles gazed into one another’s eyes and it seemed to Willow that they were having an intense conversation.
Finally, the male said to Willow, “We cannot give you forgiveness.” Willow’s heart fell, and she lowered her eyes. “However,” he added, “we can give you a chance to redeem yourself.”
“Your task on this earth has ended,” the other Oracle said. “Activating the slayers is a task that will not soon be forgotten. But there is another task that you were meant for, it seems, but not in this realm. Do not be afraid.” And with those words the Oracles spread their arms and Willow saw a bright vortex open below her feet just before she fainted.