Willowy Megness (wishingwillow) wrote in iftomorrow,
Willowy Megness
wishingwillow
iftomorrow

I ran down the hall maybe a dozen steps or so before I realized I didn't know where I was going. While a 'dozen' steps might not be the most accurate obsevation I had ever made, after all I hadn't been counting during my flight, it was still somehow the thing I was surest of at this exact moment.

When I looked behind me, I could see it. Twelve feet or so from what was now my bedroom stretched between the door - and me. A dozen steps, or very close to it. There was truth there.

It was a clear picture, and when I looked back I could see it all. The floor, the walls, and all the rooms spaced just so. It was as painless as the motion could ever be.

Looking back was never easy anymore, if only because it felt like most of what I was lay behind me. My absolute best friend, my absolute best love, my absolutle best moments. Did I have any of my bests left to give? Or was I just best at remembering now?

I looked at the door to my room again and my cheeks colored with guilt. Illyria and Wesley were trapped in there with a different kind of memeory, and it was all my doing. I had connected to Illyria downstairs, and because of that spark I might have done something rash. She was trapped in the memories too, caught in looking back. Only she didn't know what she was holding on to, or have enough of the peices to find comfort in what she was seeing. The best of Illyria would be found in the present and future tense. I was sure of it.

I didn't know how really. It was just there.

Just like I was still standing in a hallway by myself, looking back. Doing what I was best at again. I realized I wasn't sure where to go. This wasn't my home, so my body wouldn't mindlessly move itself to a place it could find comfort in. I didn't have a favorite chair, or a kitchen stool near some afternoon light, or a pet to curl up with. I was going to have to make a decision of where to go.

My room was out of the question, and the idea of just sitting in another empty one somehwhere depressed me. I took measured steps down to the lobby where I stood more a moment staring at the couches that were scattered about the room. Finally I looked through the side door to the garden that sat just outside them.

Yes. I could handle that.

I slipped through the doors quietly, and sat down on the low stone wall of the fountain. I looked back at where I had just come from for a long moment, then stopped and glanced at the water that danced in front of me.

Then I concentrated on not looking anywhere at all.

((open to Wesley))
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I must've ran 'round half of the hotel before I found Willow. There'd been the youngsters Connor and Dawn up in one of the rooms, Cordelia and Xander in another... Buffy in the kitchen... Angel and Faith training... Gunn and Spike in the lobby... As I rushed about, I wondered from time to time if Illyria were following me, but I never once looked back.

Can't look back. Mustn't look back. Not like that.

Not without the right kind of glasses... won't see thing clearly.

I found Willow in the garden, sitting on one of the low stone benches, staring out into the street, into the night. Staring into the dark. I wondered what answers she might be seeing out there in the dark.

I needed to ask her something, but I couldn't remember.

My steps were whispers, so quiet that the soft gurgle of the fountain masked them until I was no more than a yard away from the red-haired witch.

"Willow," I whispered, taking one more step closer.

My voice was quiet and sounded almost distant, even to my own ears. I was a hundred miles away from this place. Or I was I a hundred days away from this time? It was getting harder to keep track, really.

Following her gaze out into the dark, I found that I couldn't see anything, really. Not the dark, not the city, not the dangers and monsters and this thing called The First that was determined to destroy all the light-- the pittance that remained-- still glowing in the world.

I couldn't see a damn thing, so I turned back to Willow.

"Willow," I said again, no louder and no softer than before.

There was no anger in the next word, just very, very, very quiet curiosity.

"Why?"
"Willow."

The voice was soft and haunting, and I struggled to not turn my head. To look back at whatever had just said my name.

'Whatever'....

What....

The First....

Surely that was what had just said my name, ready to call me out of the magicks I had just performed. The ones that negated my promise to it with undebatable certainty. It had taken a lot of me to make that world within a world upstairs. To hold her together, hopefully long enough for Illyria see just what she had been denying - in the terms of both her past, and her potential.

But beyond that lesson, I found myself strangely hoping that Illyria was 'alright'. I only wanted her to benefit from the any lessons she might have learned, not have to face any of the consequences. That should be left up to me. It had been my suggestion, my spell. I just hoped any gift could be given that freely in the place we all lived in now.

"Willow."

I was going to have to face it. I was going to have to look back again, if only to finish what I had started. I turned slowly from my perch on the fountain.

And found Wes.

"Why?"

"To help her," I said honestly. "To let her see."
"To help her. To let her see."

Even though I'd been looking right at her-- well, at the back of her head, at first, then at her-- the sound of Willow's reply out loud surprised me. My eyes widened a touch as her words echoed a few times off the granite and marble around us, swallowed by the night-black leaves and branches and the jasmine.

In my mind, though, I held the words, turned them over and over, as if trying to find their true meaning written on the back, or some other translation, hidden between the lines and whorls and spaces of the letters. But no, there was nothing. Nothing more, and nothing less than precisely what Willow's words had been meant to say.

"To help her. To let her see."

I had not been intended as a part of the equation. I was nothing more than... what would she have called it? A catalyst. An element introduced into the situation to cause a reaction.

I laughed quietly to myself again, wondering if she ever knew that I paid such close attention to her rambling.

That was me, then. The catalyst. I was brought into that spell, into that somewhere that wasn't a part of the real 'here' not for my benefit-- because, God if that was the plan, then it was the cock up of all cock ups-- and not for my pain, not intentionally, though there was more of that invoved than perhaps I even realized there was.

My hand-- of its own volition, I swear it, because I wasn't mad enough to actually want to remind myself of it-- rose up and went to the side of my face. For an insane moment, I imagined flashing neon lipstick mark there, the kind that in cartoons pulses with a heartbeat of its own.

I wanted to dig my nails into my cheek and rid myself of that feeling, but no. No, I really didn't. I wanted to keep it, let it mark me and remind me like the dull scar that stretched across the side of my throat. Remind me to never forget.

Mooning again.

What?

Mooning again. Like a lovesick schoolboy with a prepubescent fixation on his teacher.

Go to hell, Father.

I'd thought you'd finally grown some backbone, boy. You might've looked like a vagrant, stank of whiskey and rutted like a farm animal with that harlot of a Wolfram & Hart lawyer... but you lived like a man, fought like a man.

And now I'm standing in a garden, talking to myself, and to my Father, on the other side of the planet. Yes, yes, I've gone quite daft, Father. As I said-- go to hell.

No answer. Abandoned again. But for once, I asked for it, so I shouldn't complain.

Finally, I was able to focus on Willow, who sat on the bench, looking at me with eyes clear and open, guileless-- at least for the most part. She'd done what she'd thought was necessary to help someone in need.

I had absolutely no right to condemn her for that, none.

Stiffly, as if my muscles weren't quite up to the task of responding to me, I sat beside her, trying to pull words from a mind still reeling.

"Willow, what you did... the spell... I..."

What? 'I'm so blasted angry that I'd like to take my guns and hunt the damn First myself'? 'I feel so broken that I wish Justine had finished the damn job'? 'I think I've gone rather crazy'?

"I... understand." My breath came out in a great sigh. "I truly wish you'd gotten to know Fred. You'd have gotten on so well, I believe."

Something that looked, I think, like a smile curled at my lips.

"I didn't know, really... not until just now... not until you did what you did..."

Now, something almost a laugh, but too bitter, too cold.

"I didn't know how much I loved her until you did... what you did..."

My body shook with a sob, and my legs went soft. I slid forward off of the bench until I was kneeling on the cold granite, body bent over, head hanging limp, still sighing.

"Bring her back... Please... Just... oh, God, just please... bring her back..."
I stayed perched on the wall of the water fountain, watching Wes as he seemed to work through what I had just said and sat down next to me. I truely wished that there was a better answer there for him, but it was all that I had. I wasn't sure exactly how what I did had helped, or what, if anything, Illyria would hopefuly have seen.

I just knew that it felt important to try.

I pulled myself up a little out of the contemplative slouch I had adopted as I continued to look at Wes in silence. I didn't know how succesful I had been with Illyria, but he did. And suddenly, I desperately wanted to break through the quiet with a dozen questions about the spell and the subject. I wanted to refocus on something other than extremeley personal and one sided slant that comes when you have nothing left but to look at yourself.

I guess I sort of wanted to hear that I did ok.


"Willow, what you did... the spell... I..."

"I am so sorry," I blurted out before Wes could continue on. "About tricking you upstairs. It just seemed really important that you be there, most important actually. You are all Illyria talks about. Even when she isn't speaking if you, it feels like she is speaking of you."

"I... understand."

I breathed out a sigh of relief and smiled.

"I truly wish you'd gotten to know Fred. You'd have gotten on so well, I believe."

"Fred," I asked in a whisper, just a little confused. But then I remembered she had been in there with them, and of course Wes would have seen her too.

"It worked then," I added in understanding as I felt a small amount of satisfaction course through me, though the feeling never quite reflected on my features. I had felt the pull of course, and the drain, but with everything that had happened latley sometimes it was hard to be sure.


Now I knew.

Wes smiled at me, and I smiled back -- if only just a little one.

"I didn't know, really... not until just now... not until you did what you did..."

"What happened?" The tone of my voice colored just a little more as I watched the beginings of something strange play across his face. No, not begin...surface. It was something that had been there the whole time, I realized. "Is Illyria all right? Did she get what she needed.....does she understand now?"

"I didn't know how much I loved her until you did... what you did..."

Love?

Wes didn't love Illyria, as distanced as I was even I could see -- oh no.

Oh please not....no.

Fred.

"Wesley....I....I didn't know. I swear I didn't know."

But I did. Goddess help me deep down I did. I remembered the look on his face when we had first arrived, the lack of light in Wes's eyes when he spoke of Fred being gone. And 'tricked'? That was my word wasn't it, and no one elses? I had felt the need to trick Wes upstairs...why?

Because I knew that he just might own one very compelling reason to say no.

Deep down Willow, you knew.

I watched helplessly as Wes collapsed in front of me, puddling just out of reach. Only it wasn't helplessly...

You helped, I bitterly told myself. You helped put him there. Even a shorter idea to hold -- You put him there.

I knew there would be a price. I knew that lesson. So why, for a moment, had I let myself not care? And why was a not so small part of me still wondering how Illyria was right now, even as my heart broke for Wes.

"Bring her back... Please... Just... oh, God, just please... bring her back..."

"Wes," my voice broke as I said his name outloud, but I hoped it would help me get through. "I....I can't."

"It worked then."

"Oh, yes," I had answered, still almost smiling.

Willow seemed quite interested in the results of her spell. It was very effective, I could tell her that much.

"Wesley... I... I didn't know. I swear I didn't know."

That confused me for a moment. Well, several moments, really. Hadn't everyone known? I mean, certainly Angel and Cordy and Lorne had... I knew that Gunn had known, or else we would never have been quite as at each others' throats. Fred had known, I thought, somehow she had, even if she hadn't ever truly admitted it to herself. She had to have known.

I wasn't that good a liar.

But, I then realized, Willow hadn't been around us enough to know. She was new here, as were Buffy and the others. They were new, and couldn't be expected to know all the things we knew. All the things about frailty and fallibility... about darkness... about compromise.

Then again, I reminded myself, Willow had resorted to subterfuge to bring me upstairs. Maybe she had known, and had done what she'd done anyway.

Had she done it for the greater good? I understood that concept, the greater good. I lived by it, lived for it.

If that had been her reason, then I thought that would be all right with me.

The stone walkway was so cold under my knees. It was almost a kind of comfort to experience a sensation other than the emptiness.

"Wes... I... I can't."

My head snapped up and I stared, wide-eyed at her, stunned by the disbelief. She had to be joking. I'd seen or heard of Willow performing magics that would have crippled lesser witches. She had the power, why in the hell would she be refusing to use it?

For a moment, I considered forcing her to do it. I had a gun holstered in the small of my back-- I almost never went anywhere unarmed these days.

It would be so easy.

Or, I could use the gun on myself.

Shaking both thoughts out of my head, I tried to find something still lucid left inside there. Wasn't much, I realized, with a sad laugh.

Nodding, I pushed myself back up to my feet.

"Of course not. Of course. To resurrect her would upset the natural balance of things. Fred died when Fred was supposed to die, that's what needs to be accepted."

The laugh grew, into something that sounded-- at least to my own ears-- as something just a shade unbalanced. Well, that would just be par for the course, as far as I was concerned, though I did wonder what Willow was making of my behaviour of the last few minutes.

But it was laughable, at least from where I was standing. I mean, I was standing in the garden, proclaiming morals and principles to someone who'd broken them more than once. But then again, I had no right to be pointing the moral finger at anyone.

So, I laughed.

"Sorry," I said between titters, "it's not very funny, is it? But all I wanted... all I never got to say..."

I stopped laughing and put a hand up to a suddenly throbbing temple.

"I have to go now," I told Willow. "Thank you, I suppose," I said over my shoulder as I turned towards the hotel.

Each step I watched quite deliberately, muttering, "No time... not enough time... never enough time..."
Somehow I came to be almost-standing, because it didn't feel right to still remain seated in the face of Wes's obvious heartache. But I also couldn't shake away the voice inside me that said I was the absolute last person in the world to now offer him comfort. That is what kept me from going those last few inches to Wes's side, from placing my already-entended hand on his shoulder, and from saying the right words.

Or maybe it was because I didn't have any words at all. 'I'm sorry' only promised to be weak and wasted. I had tried those once already and I felt them fall flat even as I said them. And honestly part of me wasn't sorry, so to balance that all of me seemed to be shattered at the sight of Wes and what my spell had done to him.

"Of course not. Of course. To resurrect her would upset the natural balance of things. Fred died when Fred was supposed to die, that's what needs to be accepted."

"But Fred didn't just die," I felt the need to explain my inability to help him. At least Wes was now standing, and I could meet his eyes. "She disinegrated. There isn't a her to bring back, not in the way that you want. It would be like trying to tell a story without words."

And maybe that was possible, but not by me.

"Natural would have been a blessing," I added, hating the words as I said them. They sounded like they were about Fred, but they weren't. Now it was all about possible and possibilities and what was never an option at all. I simply couldn't do this. And I didn't feel so foolish thinking that if I couldn't, no one could.

"Sorry it's not very funny, is it? But all I wanted... all I never got to say..."

Goddess he wasn't going to walk away from this. I could tell. "Don't look for things to be finished," I threw out to Wes heedlessly."That only leads to more hurt."

I almost ended my telling Wes he must let all this go, but what right did I have to demand such things? I was still clinging to moments I should have long ago set free.


"I have to go now. Thank you, I suppose. No time... not enough time... never enough time..."

He left me standing alone in the garden, a very big part of me wanting to follow after Wes. But I didn't want to force myself into his grief, especially since I had been the one to bare it so. Instead I called up on a memory from before, from the spell.

From when I had held that space together. That was something I could do, if I wanted to access it.

"She knew Wes," I sighed as he went back into the hotel. "She knew."

Had he heard any of it? Anything at all? Heart hurting, I sat back down on the fountain and waited for nothing at all.