Chapter 16 - End
Willow looked around Sunnydale's airport, thinking how good it felt to be leaving at last. This wasn't her home anymore. Never would be again, if she had anything to say about it. But that made visiting all the easier - at the end of the day she didn't live here anymore and could leave. She could go back to her cute little apartment that she had decorated all by herself, using tips taught on cable television. Back to her job where she was appreciated and paid all too well, had benefits and bonuses. She didn't have to stay here.
That was the only thing that made visiting possible.
And so she had promised to visit when she had parted ways with Xander and Anya that morning. She had hugged them, tears in everyone's eyes, and told them that she'd come back for the holidays, or sooner if her job permitted. They were her friends and the time for hiding from them simply because of where they lived was over. Sunnydale couldn't keep her. It had no magical powers to hold her in place and trap her. Not like it had when she was younger. She was grown now, with powers and a mind of her own. Never again would she be caught under the will of the Hellmouth.
Or the Slayer.
Buffy was broken, as far as anyone could tell. She had sent letters off to the only people on the Watcher's Council that she still knew, begging for them to send someone to help her - anyone so long as she didn't have to face things on her own.
So far, they hadn't responded.
Willow felt pity for the Slayer on many levels. She had to deal with the memories and images of those she had killed and, in many cases, tortured, for the rest of her life. She was staying with Xander and Anya for the time being, until she could get her wits about her again. That was good. There would be very little point in having saved her if she was just left on her own to pine herself to death.
According to Xander, the blonde was hardly sleeping, and when she did it was fitful, full of nightmares. Willow couldn't do anything to stop those anymore than she could make the sun not shine. Those were horrors that Buffy was going to need to deal with in her own time. Maybe if they had still been friends it would have been possible for Willow to hang around a little longer, try to help her work through these things.
But they had stopped being friends a long time before this happened and there really was no going back.
The red head sighed, glancing around the airport. Ted was here, somewhere, wandering around in search of a pre-flight snack. They hadn't really spoken about what was going to happen after this was over, even now when it was so close to ending. She was getting on her flight to go home and he was getting on his - to presumably go wherever it was that he called 'home'. Though, she admitted, for all she knew he was rushing off to another job. Did men like him have homes? Did they have families? Wives and children?
And, if those things were possible, where would she fit in?
If at all.
Edward took a sip of the soda in his hand, watching Willow from the food stand. She didn't notice him, though he knew she was probably wondering where he was by now. He couldn't bring himself to go back to where she was sitting without a decision, though. It wasn't fair to him, or her, and for once he actually cared that that was the case. He *wanted* to be fair to her, to give her what she deserved.
And he wasn't so sure that that was him.
He knew that if he closed his eyes he could picture her lying there, on their hotel room bed, blissfully naked. The memories were still tangible enough for him to remember sight, sound, even the taste of their lovemaking. But those memories would fade, and with them the longing and desire. In a year or two he might not even be able to recall what was so special about her.
Though he doubted that very seriously.
She was special, in more ways than one, and had touched him in a way no other woman had ever been able to do. Even Anita, who was his soulmate in so many ways, couldn't bring him the pleasure that this little slip of a woman gave to him just by being nearby. It was sappy and too romantic for the likes of him, but it was the truth.
'Just walk away.' He told himself. 'Get on your plane and never look back. She deserves better than you can give her. Much better.'
But he'd always been a selfish man, and that wasn't about to change now. He tossed the remainder of his drink in a nearby trashcan and began the walk back to her, his decision made.
"Ted…" Willow smiled in greeting as her companion joined her.
Willow blinked in confusion.
"My name is Edward."
She sat up a little straighter, her brain working furiously to digest this new information. His name wasn't Ted. Never had been. He was Edward.
"I see…" She murmured, understanding at last that he was letting her in, showing her who he really was.
"Do you?" His cold blue eyes latched onto hers, searching for the understanding she was claiming to have.
"No. Not totally." She offered, the barest of smiles on her lips. "But I'd like to."
Edward nodded, reaching out to grab hold of her hand. He traced a thumb over the back of it, admiring the pale prettiness of her skin.
"You guessed what I was from the beginning, Willow. I can't promise this will be all picnics and roses."
She nodded, never having expected that in the first place. She didn't want to think about his job, though. In this instance blissful ignorance could possibly be her friend, though she knew one day they would talk on it in detail.
"I lived in Sunnydale most of my life, Edward." She said finally. "I never really thought my life was going to be filled with sunny happy days. I'm not that kind of girl."
He nodded, leaning over to kiss her lips gently. She may not be that type of girl, but he deserved those type of things, and he'd give it to her the best he could. He reached into the pocket of his jacket, pulling out a plain white piece of paper. It already had his cell phone number on it, scribbled there this morning before they left the hotel, as though he had made up his mind subconsciously long before he had actively even tried to decide.
"This is my number. Call me in a couple days."
Willow nodded, swallowing hard. She fingered the piece of paper for a moment, committing the number to memory in case she lost it, and then shoved it into her laptop case. She stood with him as he grabbed his bag, his eyes darting to his watch. It was time for him to be boarding according to the loudspeaker.
Their lips met for a final time, the kiss leaving Willow burning on the inside. It affected him, too, though she didn't know how amazing that was. To her he had never been Death. Just Ted. Just a man. And now, as Edward, he was still just a man. They didn't say goodbye, there was no need to. They'd see each other again, probably pretty soon by that gleam in her lover's eye.
She watched him go, smiling to herself. If someone had told her, so many years ago, that she would leave Sunnydale, come back to fight some hellacious demon, and fall head over heels for a real life assassin she never would have believed them. But, here she was and all that had happened, and more. That was just the way life was, she supposed.
Everything always changing, growing.
And getting better each and every day.