The sky was a weird colour, sort of coppery at the horizon and washed out blue above. Getting to her feet Willow began to walk, desperate to discover where she was and get back to the others, the image of Angel snapping Giles’ neck so fresh she stumbled and then remembered Buffy swinging the scythe at the Seed. She could feel an ache in her chest where the Seed's power had rested in that moment before light and space pulled her away.
There was nothing to see in any direction, just the unrelenting mix of copper and blue and greyness underfoot. Time felt wrong as she walked, she couldn’t tell how much had passed or what direction she was travelling without the sun to guide her. The light around her did start to dim suggesting that it would be time to rest, if her own aching feet weren’t enough of a give away.
When she stopped she realised the way in front of her had changed. Reaching out a hand she encountered a barrier, soft and giving but still a barrier. Pressing in close she could just make out shapes beyond the barrier, shapes that could have been trees and figures moving around but she couldn’t be sure. She couldn’t hear anything and when she pounded against the barrier and screamed for help nothing changed.
With a sob she sank to her knees and rested her back against the barrier unwilling to stare at the ghostly shapes. When she opened her eyes the light was brighter around her indicating she had slept but she had no idea for how long. The silence and the solitude were so heavy she didn't want to even move.
Turning around to face the barrier Willow fell back with a yelp at the distorted face peering at her. When the face didn’t move she shifted closer and raised her hand to trace the features in an attempt to make sense of them. Shapes transformed into fingers that followed hers almost curiously and seemed to press against the barrier. Suddenly the shapes disappeared and she pounded on the barrier desperately.
Three more times the figure returned and each time she was able to see more and able to convince herself that the space between their fingers was thinning. She didn't dare leave the barrier in case the figure couldn't find her and didn't come back. She wasn't hungry or cold and she was beginning to fear she was dead and trapped in some sort of pocket dimension and would be there forever.
When the fingers pressed through the barrier like it was honey she was still caught unaware when they grabbed her. She jerked back and dragged more of the hand and arm through. The fingers entwined with hers and pulled back but when her fingers reached the barrier it was solid. They tightened on her and pushed back indicating that she should pull.
There was resistance at first and then a familiar figure slid through as if the barrier was gone.
“Willow,” Angel pulled her into a hug, “I was afraid to hope it was you. What happened?”
“The seed,” she said in a daze, “how did you find me?”
“I didn't not on purpose,” Angel said. “Things aren't good out there, it feels like the world is dying. Those of us who can are trying but it feels like a losing battle. This 'thing' you're trapped in was the first bit of magic I've encountered since everything happened. I could see something inside but couldn't get through. I kept coming back and each time seemed like I was getting through and then I did.”
“Nobody looked for me?” Willow said.
“We thought you were dead,” Angel said, “Willow it's been six months.”
“No, it can't have been,” Willow stammered, “I mean it's hard to tell in here but I wouldn't be alive if it was six months.”
“Time must be moving differently,” Angel said looking around. “Magic vanished when you did,” he added, “all magical beings too, except vampires for some reason. There was nothing to explain why or the whole Twilight thing.” Angel looked ashamed. “Buffy left after she found out Giles had left his estate to Faith, the other slayers all lost their power.”
“Why would I be trapped?”
“There must be a reason, do you have any magic?”
“I don't know,” she said, “it never occurred to me to try.” she gestured but nothing happened. “I can feel the magic but its blocked. What if I'm trapped in here forever?”
“We'll figure something out,” Angel said.
“How? If there's no magic in the world how will I get out?” Willow said in despair.
“You said your magic is still there so there's hope,” Angel said awkwardly putting his arm around her shoulders.
“Is it really bad out there?” she asked quietly.
Angel nodded. “Everything's darker. We thought it would be better with the demon dimensions blocked off, but as the magic drained away it was like hope drained away with it. Everyone's a little bit meaner a little colder and it's just getting worse. I was hoping that what was through the barrier would be something that could help.”
“Instead you got me,” Willow said.
“And that's better,” Angel said.
“It has to be,” she added, “I'm all that's here. Except the Seed and that's not doing much.”
“Where is it?” Angel asked looking around curiously.
“Here,” Willow said pulling down her shirt slightly. She took Angel's hand and held it against her breast.
“It's hot,” Angel said in surprise.
“It hurt at first but now it's just there,” she admitted, “Before I thought it might be communicating with me but its been silent since I got trapped. You could be trapped with me now,” she added.
“I was able to pull back when I grabbed your hand initially,” he said, “but we don't need to worry about that now. I'm not going anywhere any time soon.”
Willow sighed. “It didn't feel like six months but I was alone and it felt awful. I'm glad you found me even if you weren't looking.”
“I'm glad I did too.”
“Angel, what happened with Giles?” Willow couldn't forget the sight of Angel so casually breaking his neck.
Angel didn't meet her eyes. “Twilight was different to when I'm Angelus, then I can't stop him but with Twilight it felt like the right thing to do. The new universe was going to be perfect and we deserved to be happy no matter who suffered. Giles knew what would happen when he stepped in front of me. Knew Buffy wouldn't have spurned me without his death. It was the ultimate sacrifice to save our universe.”
“It didn't save the world though did it? Buffy thought she was destroying the Seed,” Willow said. “Oh my god the Seed did it, it took all the magic and locked us both away before Buffy could destroy it completely.”
“So it could return, restore magic to the world,” Angel said hopefully.
“Maybe,” Willow said.
“I'll have to leave and find out,” Angel said, “Spike knew a lot about the Seed, maybe he can help.”
Willow nodded. “You'll come back as soon as you can?” She looked down at where Angel's hand still rested on her breast. Angel made to move it but she held it in place. “We don't know how long it will take to find the answers, I could be alone for a long time.”
“I'll find Spike first,” Angel said, “send him here to see if he can get through the barrier too.”
“What about the others?” she said.
“We lost touch early on, I don't know what's happened to any of them except Spike but he might know more, he's always been better at keeping tabs on people,” Angel admitted.
“What does the barrier look like from the outside?” she asked curiously.
“Like a shimmer,” he said, “most things just seemed to step around as if it wasn't there. I'll step out and get you some supplies, it won't take long.”
“What if you can't get back in?” Willow asked nervously.
“We have to find out sometime,” Angel said. He leaned down and rested his forehead against hers. “It will be all right, I promise.”
“I'd really like a bed,” she said stepping closer to him.
“Willow Rosenberg are you propositioning me?” Angel said.
“What would you say if I was?” she whispered.
“I'd say we really need that bed.” Angel had lost his concern for the world after everything that happened with Buffy and he didn't have to think too hard about her question. The world was dying and if keeping Willow and the Seed safe and sane meant sharing comfort then he had no objection to being used, and his sense of smell told him she was honest in her attraction if not her fear of being abandoned and need to reconfirm her existence.
“What's going to happen Angel?”
“I don't know, but we will work it out I promise.”
It felt like forever before Angel returned and even longer before Spike pushed through the barrier bringing with him news and booze. In between she came to terms with the Seed and was granted a trickle of magic to make her space more comfortable while she waited for the world to be ready for magic again.
The world changed but she remained the same as did her two vampires, her conduit to the world reminding her that she was still human no matter what.