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The Fire Within by Eowyn315
Not the End of the World
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A/N: Giles' song is It's Not the End of the World from "Tell Me On a Sunday," and Willow's song is No Good Deed from "Wicked."


Chapter 12: Not the End of the World

“Hey, Will?” Xander peeked into the training room, where Willow was still crumpled on the floor. “We’re, uh, we’re going home now.”

Willow didn’t stir.

“We’re locking up,” Xander tried again. “Do you – do you want a ride home?”

She shook her head silently.

Xander sighed, leaving his perch in the doorway and coming to crouch next to his friend. “Will, sweetie, come on. You can’t stay here all night.” He tried to take her hand and pull her up, but she resisted him.

“Tara…” she whimpered, running her fingers through the remnants of the sand circle on the floor.

“Come on, Will. We’ll get her back, I promise. But you can’t just stay here.” He grasped both her arms and pulled her roughly to her feet.

“I let this happen,” she said, burying her face in his shoulder as she collapsed against him. “I made it happen.”

Unable to argue, Xander just rubbed soothing circles on her back as he led her out to his car.


There was a heavy sadness weighing on his shoulders as Giles unlocked the door to his hotel room. It tore at his heart to see his surrogate children so thoroughly broken, and he wondered how they had come to this.

Tara was gone, possibly already trapped in another dimension. They had no idea how to get her back, if it was even possible.

Willow was a mess, already too deep in her abuse of magic, and this could quite literally drive her over the edge. She was as lost to them as Tara, for she surely would not survive the loss of her lover. He feared for the young redhead, the girl he’d thought of as a daughter for years, whom he’d taken under his wing nearly as much as the Slayer he was charged with.

But not enough.

Pouring himself a glass of Highland Park with a shaky hand, Giles drowned his regrets in single malt scotch. He should have been more careful with her, should have monitored her progress more closely. She had advanced much too quickly, tackling vast, complicated spells before she’d mastered the simple skills. There were so many times he should have put a stop to it. The restoration of Angel’s soul. Her “will be done” spell. Teleporting Glory. Reversing Tara’s brain-sucking. Her recent telepathic abilities.

And beyond all of that, if anything should have indicated to him that the young witch needed to be reined in, it was the resurrection spell that brought Buffy back. He was foolish to think that she’d back down, that she would turn away from the path she was on. The budding witch was out of control, harnessing forces she could not comprehend.

And then, there was Buffy.

He still hadn’t gotten over her betrayal. All this time, she had been lying to him. The one person in the world she was meant to trust. She, above all of them, was his. The daughter he’d never had. He, the father she deserved.

Or, so he thought.

He would always carry the guilt of letting her die. No amount of argument, no convincing himself that this was the natural order of things, for Watchers to lose their Slayers, could persuade him that it was not his fault. Her return had been a miracle – his second chance as much as hers. But it was all a lie, for his precious Slayer could not trust him enough to tell him the truth. That was when he knew. She didn’t need him as a Watcher. She just wanted him as a crutch.

He poured himself a second glass of scotch and pulled the plane ticket out of his jacket pocket. He stared at the words until they became meaningless, swallowing a mouthful of the whisky as the mournful, compelling intro music began to play.

“It’s not the end of the world if I leave her
It just might seem so tonight
It’s not the end of the world, it’s a blessing
Mustn’t wait ’til it’s too late”

Really, this revelation about heaven was a blessing in disguise. If he hadn’t known, he might have lost his resolve, continued to stay, which would only further ingrain in Buffy the notion that Giles would always be there to fix her problems. No, this was good. He could leave, knowing he was doing the right thing.

“I’ve got to go away, it’s the best thing to do
If I stay, she won’t stand strong
It will do her good
Even though she may think she’s upset
She’ll forget”

He’d thought to leave her to teach her how to be independent. Now, it seemed she was teaching him a thing or two about independence. Perhaps he’d known all along, inside. After all, he was still living in a hotel, rather than searching for a new flat. It was as though he’d understood, intrinsically, that his Slayer was gone for good. Even resurrected, she had ceased to be his.

He tilted his head back, draining the last drops of liquid from the glass before finishing his song with weary resignation.

“It’s not the end of the world to move on
It’s not the end of the world ’til it’s gone”


“Hey, Ahn?” Xander said, lying in bed on his back, staring up at the ceiling.

“Mmmph?” Anya murmured sleepily, her voice muffled by his chest.

“You think Willow’ll be okay?”

Anya picked her head up and stared at him, and for a moment, he was afraid this would be another “jealous girlfriend” moment, where he wasn’t supposed to worry about his best friend because Anya was envious of his close relationship with another woman.

Instead, she surprised him by saying, “Of course she’s not okay,” in her best “stupid male” voice. “She screwed up her magic and accidentally sent her girlfriend to a hell dimension. Which part of that did you think she was gonna be okay with?”

Xander sighed. “None of it, I guess.”

Anya snuggled closer to him and asked, “How would you feel if it were me?” Her tone of voice indicated that it was a rhetorical question, but there was still the sliver of doubt within her that wasn’t certain of the answer. Ever since their secret-spilling duet the other morning, the uncertainty had been gnawing at her belly. Maybe it wasn’t the breakaway pop hit she’d hoped for, but the song had made some valid points. She was terrified that he wouldn’t love her enough, that someday he would leave her because she embarrassed him, because she wasn’t pretty anymore, or because she couldn’t quite figure out how to be human. As much as she wanted to believe in true love and happiness, she had a thousand years’ experience that proved they didn’t exist.

Xander’s breath caught in his throat at her question. She couldn’t be – was she – questioning him? Had he not concealed his treacherous thoughts as well as he assumed? No… she didn’t suspect, wouldn’t… because it was stupid. He would have to be crazy to leave her. He’d never been so in love; he’d never felt this way about any other woman before. But that was the problem, wasn’t it? He loved her too much to hurt her, to lead her, unsuspecting, into a future of hurt and regret. A little pain now would be better than the vast acres of pain that were sure to come.

Pulling her tighter to him, he whispered, “If it were you, I definitely wouldn’t be okay.” And, despite the fears and doubts swirling around inside him, he meant it.


Willow sat down on her bed, fighting the urge to just curl up and cry again. She was alone in the house – Dawn was sleeping over her friend’s house, and Buffy hadn’t returned for the third night in a row.

“I have to get her back,” she said aloud, her eyes going over the shelves of books on witchcraft. There had to be some spell in there that could help Tara. Frantically, she pulled the books off the shelves, flipping through them haphazardly and discarding them in a heap on the floor when they proved to be of no use.

Her panicky gaze focused on a protection spell, and she nodded her head rapidly, murmuring, “Yes… yes… okay…”

She set the book on the dresser, her hands extended in front of her, palms up, her eyes fixed on her reflection in the mirror as she chanted.

“Eleka nahmen nahmen
Ah tum ah tum eleka nahmen
Eleka nahmen nahmen
Ah tum ah tum eleka nahmen”

Her hands were trembling, and her thoughts were so scattered that it was impossible to summon up the concentration she needed. Shaking her head as though to clear her mind, she plowed on.

“Let her flesh not be torn
Let her blood leave no stain
Though they beat her
Let her feel no pain
Let her bones never break
And however they try
To destroy her
Let her never die
Let her never die!”

Willow took a deep breath, raking a frustrated hand through her hair and yanking on it before resuming her spell.

“Eleka nahmen nahmen
Ah tum ah tum eleka nahmen
Eleka nahmen nahmen
Ah tum ah tum eleka… eleka…

“Ugh!” She broke off with an anguished, aggravated cry. “What good is this chanting?” She slammed the book shut hard enough to rattle the odds and ends on the dresser.

“I don't even know what I'm reading
I don't even know which trick I ought to try
Tara, where are you?
Already dead or bleeding?
One more disaster I can add to my
Generous supply?”

She grabbed the book and threw it on top of the pile already on the floor, shooting the pile a reproachful look, as though it were the books’ fault they didn’t have the right spells.

The damage is unlimited
To everyone I've tried to help
Or tried to love
And, oh, Tara, you're the latest
Victim of my greatest achievement
In a long career of distress
Every time I could, I tried making good
And what I made was a mess!

“No good deed goes unpunished
No act of charity goes unresented
No good deed goes unpunished
That's my new creed
My road of good intentions
Led where such roads always lead
No good deed
Goes unpunished!”

She spun furiously, and then she caught sight of herself in the mirror again, eyes wide, her expression wild. The bottom dropped out of her voice, and the note she was holding hollowed. Her next lines were barely a whisper.

Brought back from the dead
Your memory,

As her lover’s name fell from her lips, her voice once again swelled to a frenzied volume, and she began to interrogate herself harshly in the mirror.

“One question haunts and hurts
Too much, too much to mention
Was I really seeking good
Or just seeking attention?
Is that all good deeds are
When looked at with an ice-cold eye?
If that's all good deeds are
Maybe that's the reason why

“No good deed goes unpunished
All helpful urges should be circumvented
No good deed goes unpunished
Sure, I meant well
Well, look at what well-meant did
All right, enough – so be it
So be it, then
Let all of us be agreed
I'm wicked through and through
Since I cannot succeed
Tara, saving you
I promise no good deed
Will I attempt to do again
Ever again”

As she gritted out the words, she returned to the bookshelf, sweeping the remaining books onto the pile on the floor in a tantrum.

“No good deed
Will I do again!”

When the shelves were empty and the background music faded, Willow sank down next to the pile in despair, a sick feeling settling in the pit of her stomach. She couldn’t let it be. She couldn’t just leave Tara there. There had to be something… something she could do to help her. If she couldn’t save Tara – well, just the idea of continuing to practice magic, after it had cost her her lover, made her ill. But if she didn’t at least try, she’d never be able to live with herself.

She gazed at the tomes littering the floor. They weren’t the ones she needed. There were more books at the Magic Box, but she couldn’t get them until morning.

She couldn’t wait until morning.

Glancing at the clock, she made a decision. It was the middle of the night, but what good was knowing a vampire if you couldn’t call him in the middle of the night, right? She snatched up the phone and dialed with shaky hands.

“Hey, Angel… no, Buffy’s fine,” she assured him. She hesitated for a moment. “Could – could I talk to Lorne?”
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