i will make you hurt (Prologue)
It seemed like Willow had been groaning for half the night and Buffy was tossing and turning impatiently. Not that she didn’t sympathize with what Willow was going through - magic withdrawal seemed to be pretty painful – and she totally supported Willow in her sobriety, but tonight’s shift at the Doublemeat had been rough, as had the brief encounter she’d had with Spike, and what Buffy needed more than anything was sleep, as much as she could get of it.
Oh thank… whoever. Finally. Silence.
There was a sigh of relief and anticipation of imminent rest, then Buffy turned onto her side, closed her eyes and…
A loud, shrill sound startled her completely awake.
What the…? Oh god! That was a scream. A really bad, horrible scream… and it had come from Willow’s room. In seconds, Buffy was out of bed, down the hall, and through Willow’s bedroom door, Dawn following on her heels.
“Will? Willow, are you…?”
The rest of the question stuck in her throat as she looked at the peaceful figure lying on the bed. There was no evidence of anything that could have made her cry out. Nothing at all. In fact, she looked… serene. It was as if all her pain and sorrow had left her and for a terrible moment Buffy hated and envied her. Why did she get to feel like that when Buffy…
No, don’t go there. You’ll never get any rest if you go there.
So she brushed it off… like dirt from the grave.
Well, since it seemed that Willow was okay, she guessed she was going to just chalk the screaming up to a nightmare and hustle Dawn back down the hall so they could both get some sleep – after all, it looked like that was what Willow was doing.
But then, call it her spider senses, something told her that there was something wrong with this picture. Willow was a notoriously light sleeper, especially lately. The noise of two people barreling into her room should have woken her immediately; instead, she hadn’t even moved. Not a twitch. Not even the flutter of an eyelid.
A cold chill went up her spine. This was bad. This was very, very bad.
“Dawn, go back to bed,” Buffy ordered. She was annoyed but not surprised when Dawn ignored her.
“What’s wrong with Willow?”
She tried again, sterner this time. “Go back to bed.”
But Dawn paid her no heed, almost barreling into her as she rushed to the bed and shook Willow. “Wake up!” she yelled. “Be okay! Please be okay!”
There was no response from Willow. She was limp as a rag doll.
Why wasn’t she moving? For that matter, why wasn’t Buffy moving? Why was she almost frozen, unable to make herself do anything, watching as Dawn felt for a pulse and exclaimed, “She’s alive!” before collapsing in tears because Willow still wouldn’t wake up?
Then her eyes fell on… the phone. She needed to call an ambulance, right? Because Willow was still alive. Somehow, she managed to reach out and grab it, punching in 9-1-1 and giving them her address and hearing a voice she barely recognized as her own calmly describing Willow’s condition.
For a split second, when she looked at the figure on the bed, she saw blonde hair.
This could not be happening again.
This was happening again.
Death was here – in her house – and she was the Slayer and she couldn’t fight it, couldn’t make it go away.
Was it her fault? Was Willow dying as some sort of payment for pulling Buffy out of Heaven?
She wasn’t the only one who was wondering things, though, because Dawn was sobbing something about ‘my fault, this is all my fault, it’s the magic, isn’t it?’ and now Buffy had no idea what to think.
Just then, she heard the sound of the ambulance pulling up and she ran downstairs to let the paramedics in.
There’d be time to figure out what this all meant later. Right now, she just hoped Willow would be alive to help.
Flinging open the door, Buffy greeted them with “She’s upstairs,” and watched as they raced to the bedroom.
Everything was chaos and the sound of Dawn crying.
To be continued…