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Aftermath for Monsters

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WILLOW and GILES sit across from each other in a quiet corner of a restaurant in Islington. The walls are red brick and covered with framed black-and-white photographs of early nineteenth century London. GILES wears a grey three-piece suit and WILLOW has on a long red dress and owl earrings.

WILLOW: I feel like such an adult, eating my Caesar salad in a restaurant.
GILES: I don't suppose we ever went to one in Sunnydale, did we?
WILLOW: Does the Double Meat Palace count?
GILES: Absolutely not.
WLLOW: The high school cafeteria?
GILES: Burned down. And definitely doesn't count.
WILLOW: Didn't Buffy go to one with Principal Wood once?
GILES: I do believe you're right. Sunnydale had a decent spot after all.
WILLOW [mashing a soggy crouton beneath her fork]: Soo... I broke up with Kennedy.
GILES [adjusting his glasses]: I was wondering when you'd get around to telling me.
WILLOW: Definitely post-Caesar salad. Break-up announcements must always take place after the appetizer and before the canapés. I'm sure I read that in an etiquette book somewhere.
GILES [mildly]: A canapé is an appetizer.
WILLOW: No! You're kidding me. Bad etiquette book. Not to be trusted.
GILES [prompting]: You were saying, about Kennedy?
WILLOW: She's gone. Kapoof.
GILES [lays a hand on hers]: My dear girl. Are you alright?
WILLOW [with false brightness]: Oh yes. I did the breaking, you know. Broke her. Chop chop. [Makes karate gestures and almost knocks over her glass, but Giles is there in a pinch.]
GILES: May I ask why?
[WILLOW is quiet a moment, mopping up spilled drink with a napkin. Then she shrugs.]
WILLOW: She could never be quiet. [A smile quirks Giles' lips, but he valiantly battles it down.] Hey now. You know what I mean. I know I can ramble on. Babble. Become garrulous, even. But sometimes, after everything, I just want to, you know, sit and be. Be me. Be Willow. Just Willow. Not Willow-and-Kennedy. And she'd always intrude. You shouldn't feel like your girlfriend's an intruder all the time, should you? That's not in the etiquette book either, how to be alone, or how to be with someone, or how to know when you want what you want or even what that is. Does that make sense?
GILES: In every way possible.
WILLOW: Are you seeing anyone at the moment?
GILES: On and off. I never could settle.
WILLOW: Do you like it that way?
GILES: Being a serial monogamist?
WILLOW: Being unattached more often than not.
GILES: This life, our kind of life, doesn't lend itself to permanence, I've found.
WILLOW: Is this still our kind of life? I mean, it's been four years now since Sunnydale... happened. Do we really have to be stuck forever in the patterns it made for us?
GILES: To be honest, yes, at least for me. I'm a fusty old librarian, Willow. My legacy is in what gets left behind. Books. Memories. Maps. Hellmouths.
WILLOW: You're not fusty.
GILES: I am a little.
WILLOW: That's because you still wear tweed. Tweed!
GILES [intoning wryly]: My legacy is in what gets left behind. I'm like the sixties.
WILLOW: The eighteen-sixties.
GILES: Harsh but accurate.
WILLOW: I don't want to be tweed.
GILES: What are we really talking about here?
WILLOW [fiddling with her straw]: I don't think I want to be in a relationship. I mean, ever.
GILES: People always say that after a break-up.
WILLOW: No, I mean it. I feel so hurt and raw all the time. All the time, Giles. Like it never goes away. And every time someone brushes up against me, there are all these things I can't tell them, that they could never understand. And so it would never work. The patterns are still there, but Sunnydale isn't. The life we grew into doesn't exist anymore. So there's no one to share it with - the aftermath part. I'm like a jungle cat whose habitat has been burned to the ground.
GILES: Except the jungle was an army of demons, and we did the burning.
WILLOW: Exactly. I brought it on myself, and I had no choice, and I'd do the same again. But in a truly twisted way, I miss those days too. We got to be superheroes, Giles. [Gives a funny little laugh-hiccup.] We'll never be ordinary, and ordinary people will never understand us, and that means I'll always be alone.
GILES: No one is ordinary, Willow. Everyone has their quirks and everyone thinks they're unreachably different until the right person comes along.
WILLOW: What kind of right person understands that I killed demons with my hands from when I was fifteen? Or that I flayed alive the man who shot my first girlfriend? I'm a monster.
GILES [gently]: I thought you were a superhero.
WILLOW: That too. I'm so many things at once, all of them whacky and wild and frightening. I'm a monstrous superhero jungle cat with identity issues. [Pushes away the half-empty salad plate.] I'm ready for something new, but I don't know what that is, or who that is, and I can't believe it'll be enough if it ever comes.
[WAITER arrives at the table and clears up the plates]
WAITER: Are you ready for your mains?
GILES [glancing at Willow, who nods]: Yes, thank you.
WILLOW [dejectedly]: Don't even remember what I ordered.
GILES: The angel hair pasta, because you said it looked like little hay bales in a cheesy swamp.
WILLOW [brightening]: Oh yeah.
GILES [seriously]: You're not wrong. We'll never be normal again, not in the way other people are who weren't war veterans and supernatural beings in their adolescence. But that doesn't mean you're alone or destined for unhappiness. We debunked the idea of destiny too many times to let it control you.
WILLOW: You're probably right. You usually were.
GILES: Not as often as you might think. I was a hell of a procrastinator when it came to end-of-the-world deadlines. These days, I could have just set up calendar alerts and saved myself a lot of last-minute hassle.
WILLOW [laughs]: I guess there's something to be said for breaking away from old patterns and embracing the new.
GILES: I think we've already established I'm not one for innovation. I've always found my greatest comfort is in reconnecting with my past joys. [Pauses.] There's a spare room in my flat, and you are welcome to stay as long as you like. Until you figure things out.
WILLOW [biting her lip]: Do you really mean that?
GILES [simply]: You are a joy to me.
[WAITER returns and deposits their meals in front of them, then leaves]
WILLOW [starts to cry]: Oh. I'm sorry. This is so stupid. Giles, why did you let me start crying? This was supposed to be a nice dinner and now I've cried all over it. I don't know what's wrong with me.
GILES: Shall we get this for take away?
WILLOW [wet eyes going wide]: Can we do that? In a fancy London restaurant?
GILES: We can do anything we want. Hang the etiquette book. We're an old warlock and a witch with a fork.
WILLOW [hurriedly putting down the fork she's clutching in her fist] You're not old.
GILES: And there's nothing the bit wrong with you.
WILLOW: Then yes. Please. Let's go.
GILES [signaling for WAITER]: Have you truly felt so alone all these years?
WILLOW [shrugs and picks up her purse]: I don't get to talk about it much. Xander… it's like he's forgot everything, or doesn't want to remember, or something. And Buffy's too busy. I feel like I'm the only one who got left behind.
GILES: I know how that feels. But there's no such thing as an aftermath, Willow --
WILLOW: There's only the math?
GILES [snorts]: Something like that.
WILLOW: Sorry, were you going to say something profound?
GILES: I think you just did. Come on, let's go.
[They stand and collect their things.]
WILLOW: Giles?
GILES: Yes?
WILLOW: Thank you. For reminding me I'm not the only one with monsters inside me.
GILES [smiling]: I can handle myself around monsters.
WILLOW: Good. 'Cos I'm pretty darn scary.
[He helps her into her coat.]
GILES: Willow?
WILLOW: Yes?
GILES: The square root of Willow is still Willow. Always. Okay?
WILLOW: Okay.

A short time later, they walk out of the restaurant, still talking, their bagged past(a) under their arms. Willow takes Giles' elbow and doesn't mention the fork she slipped into her purse, for luck.