Author: Kat Lee
Fandom: Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Character/Pairing: Willow/Kennedy, Willow/Tara, mild Spike/Buffy, Xander, Dawn
Challenge/Prompt: sunnydalescribe MC 3: October, beattheblackdog 131: Travel, faerie_wish13: Fall/Autumn
Warning(s): Future Fic, Cannon Character Deaths
Word Count: 2,514
Date Written: 18 October 2018
Disclaimer: All characters within belong to Whedon, not the author, and are used without permission.“I don’t feel right about this,” Xander whispered, peering through the bushes with three of his most trusted friends at his very best friend.
“Yeah,” Dawn agreed, dropping a branch and looking to her sister for support. “Spying on Willow does not feel right at all.”
“I agree,” Buffy whispered back. “It doesn’t feel right, but what choice do we really have?” She shrugged one shoulder. “Kennedy and I have both questioned her this week, and the answers she’s given us . . . aren’t . . . well, they’re not really answers,” Buffy protested, making a face. “What are we going to do if she’s up to what she tried to do before?” At Dawn’s blank look, the Slayer hissed, “You know what I’m talking about, Dawnie! If she’s trying to end the world again -- “
“But why should she be?” Xander asked. “She’s happy. Isn’t she?” he added, looking to Kennedy for confirmation.
Kennedy shrugged. “I thought she was. I try to keep her happy. We’re not having problems that we know of, but -- “
“But she’s not telling us the whole truth,” Buffy concluded, “so something is wrong here, and it’s not just that we have to spy on Willow to make sure she isn’t delving into the black magic again.”
“She wouldn’t do that! She’s been careful with magic ever since -- well, ever since -- you know -- “ Dawn’s voice trailed off. She didn’t want to actually mention that Willow had come so close to ending the world before and only Xander had managed to stop her. A chill ran through the young woman. “What are we going to do,” she whispered, looking wide-eyed at Buffy and Xander, “if she is doing it?”
“Black magic’s a hard habit to break, Nibblet,” Spike said, dropping a comforting hand onto Dawn’s thin shoulder. “It’s like drugs or blood or any of the other big, nasty activities that are so alluring because of the power they seem to give the person using them. But this is Red. We’re find a way to stop her, to free her again, if that is what’s going on.” He intently watched the Witch in question through the bushes as an Autumn breeze scurried colorful leaves down the lonesome street behind them. “But I don’t think that’s what’s going on.”
“Then what do you think -- “ Kennedy didn’t have a chance to finish her question as Dawn gasped aloud.
“Hey, something’s happening!”
“She’s using magic,” Buffy said in a tense tone of foreboding. She had hoped to never again have to face the idea of fighting Willow, but she had promised Willow she’d stop her if she ever tried to use her magic for the wrong reasons again. She had promised Tara she would protect her. She had promised . . . Buffy’s mouth fell open.
“Tara!” Dawn cried. Her mouth, like her sister’s, hung open.
“That’s -- “ Kennedy spoke in disbelief. “That’s Tara?!”
Xander’s one eye looked as shocked as the women. Only Spike leaned calmly back on his heels and let the branch he’d been holding drop. “I knew it,” he said with a confident roll of his leather-clad shoulders.
“You knew it?” Buffy repeated, cutting angry, green eyes at him. “What do you mean you knew it?!”
“It’s Halloween, pet,” Spike said, reaching into his pocket and retrieving his cigarettes and lighter. He took one out, but before he could light it up, Buffy clasped her hands over them.
“What do you mean it’s Halloween?” she demanded. “Like that explains everything?!”
“Of course it does, luv. Halloween is the one night of the year the spirits can travel freely between realms.”
“So the dead can come visiting,” Dawn mused, still as shocked as her sister.
“Precisely. The Nibblet’s got it.” Spike nodded approvingly in her direction. “Now can I smoke?”
“No! They’ll see us!”
“It’s a wonder they haven’t seen you lot already -- “
“You can come out now,” Willow called. She did not look happy.
The group stayed crouched where they were. “We know you’re there,” Tara added, her gaze going directly to the bushes behind which Buffy, Xander, Spike, Dawn, and Kennedy were all trying to hide.
Xander slowly started to stand up. Dawn reached a hand up for him, intending to snatch him back down, but Willow’s calm, almost happy voice stopped her. “I’m not mad,” she said. “But you didn’t have to hide.”
Kennedy popped up from behind the bushes. “We asked you,” she said. “Buffy and I both asked you what was going on!”
“I . . . “ Willow’s gaze fell to the ground. Tara watched her imploringly while her current girlfriend glared at her. “I . . . didn’t know how to tell you,” she finally said apologetically.
Kennedy stepped over the bushes and strode purposefully toward them. “I wonder why. ‘Hey, I’m going to visit my dead girlfriend on Halloween night’ doesn’t exactly have a good ring to it.” She pouted.
“I knew you wouldn’t understand,” Willow said softly. Her eyes slowly raised to Kennedy’s, but her hands were holding to Tara’s. “That’s why I couldn’t tell you.”
“Of course I don’t understand!” Kennedy waved a hand angrily at the blonde phantom whose hands Willow seemed to be clinging. “How am I supposed to compete with the dead, Willow?!” She looked genuinely hurt and, after a moment, added in a hushed, emotional whisper, “I thought I was enough to make you happy.”
“Oh, baby!” Willow cried, dropping Tara’s hands. She grabbed Kennedy’s hands instead and tugged slightly on them, urging her to look at her. “Of course you make me happy!”
“Then why . . . “
“I had questions,” Willow tried to explain, “and even if we’re not together romantically now, Tara will always be a huge part of my life. I’ll always love her. I’ll always miss her. But that doesn’t mean I don’t love you too.”
“I have questions too,” Buffy spoke up. She and Xander joined the three women while Spike and Dawn looked on. Buffy’s eyes swept over the gravestone. “When did this happen?” she asked, gesturing to Tara’s grave with one hand.
“What do you mean?” Willow asked, frowning, but Willow immediately understood.
“Tara was killed, and buried, in Sunnydale.”
“So when the town was destroyed,” Kennedy thought out loud, catching on, “her grave should have been -- “
“By the best we could figure,” Willow said, “anyone left in Sunnydale was going to be trapped in Hell. Tara may not have been alive,” she paused to take a deep breath before continuing to explain, “but I was worried about the impact whatever was left of the bodies in the graves would make on the souls attached to those bodies. I didn’t like the idea of any of them going to Hell.”
“Mom -- “ Buffy breathed, her eyes having grown huge and watery with sudden fear and worry. “I never thought -- “
“It’s okay,” Willow said quickly. “I don’t know what happened to the others,” she shook her red head, “but I couldn’t take that risk with Tara or your mom or Jesse. So I asked Spike to move them.”
Buffy swung her head to look at her lover. “You moved my mother’s grave?” she demanded. “And didn’t tell me?!”
“You had too much on your plate right then, luv. You didn’t need any more worries.”
“We, huh, we did it together actually,” Xander said, stepping up. “We used some of the equipment from my job.”
“And you moved Mom,” Dawn spoke. “So her grave,” she added, looking around them, “is somewhere here?”
“Yes.” Willow nodded. “All three of their graves are. I’ve . . . “ She gestured to their surroundings with a wavering hand. Lights sparkled in strings of bulbs strewn from the lower boughs of trees in the graveyard, and the plastic roses and tulips she had stuck all around Tara’s grave added to the lighting. The atmosphere was somehow both eerie and romantic. “I’ve been working on getting things set up properly for them all this past week. But I knew you wouldn’t understand,” she said, looking again to Kennedy, “and I didn’t want to worry any of you, so I didn’t tell you.”
“I knew about the graves,” Xander admitted with Dawn and Buffy both eyeing him, “but I had no idea about the Halloween thing.” He scratched the back of his head. “I guess I kinda knew it was possible, what with some of the villains we’ve had return before, but I never really thought about it.”
“It’s cool,” Kennedy whispered, looking at Tara and seeing the love for Willow that shone in her glowing eyes. “I guess I can share you for one night.”
“Hmp. Thank you. I’ve got something to say to you too,” Tara spoke, “but first, Buffy, Dawn, there’s someone here who wants to speak to you.”
“M-Mommy?” Buffy breathed shakily as another ghostly figure suddenly appeared in the night air.
“MOM!” Dawn gasped.
Joyce smiled kindly down at her daughters. “Hello, my dears.” She held her arms out to them, and they rushed into her embrace.
Xander turned his head away. He didn’t want anyone to see the tears shining in his one good eye, but he had to smile, even if it hovered near a smirk, when he saw Spike also batting moisture from his darkly lined eyes. The Vampire gestured with his head, and Xander nodded in agreement. They walked away together, giving the girls their privacy but remaining close enough to help should anything choose that moment, with the Slayer being completely distracted, to attack.
“Why didn’t you tell me about this sooner?” Xander demanded. “I could’ve had -- “
“Not everyone comes back,” Spike whispered. He had waited over a hundred years to be reunited with his own mum before finally coming to accept that he was going to have to wait until he no longer died but stayed dead to be reunited with her. As much as he missed her at times like now, he would not give up the time he spent with Buffy for anything or one. “I should’ve known,” he added, watching Buffy, Dawn, and Joyce embrace one another so warmly and with so much love, “that she’d be one of the few who insisted on coming back to see her children.”
Xander glanced at him. There was pain in Spike’s voice, but he knew better than to question the Vampire. He got away with a quick, reassuring pat on his shoulder.
Over Buffy’s and Dawn’s heads, Joyce met their gazes with their own. “Thank you,” she mouthed even as Kennedy decided that it was time she face Tara.
“So,” she demanded, stepping up right beside Willow in front of the ghost of her dead girlfriend, the one who had claimed her love for her own before Kennedy had ever known Willow, or even that such things as Witches and ghosts existed, “you said you have something to say to me?”
“I do,” Tara said, and to Kennedy’s surprise, she smiled. “I wanted to thank you,” she explained from where she bobbed a few feet above the cold, hard ground. “I may be Willow’s past, but that’s all I am. You’re her future. You made her happy again. You made her want to live again when I was afraid nothing would. I was afraid no one would ever reach her again, that she’d live however long she remained in the eartheral world without love or joy. But that didn’t happen because you. Thank you.”
Kennedy was clearly shocked. “I -- I -- Huh -- “ She pondered Tara’s gracious gratitude and the looks that kept passing between Willow and Tara. “Like I said earlier -- “ she started to say and then jumped when she heard music beginning to play nearby. Her head whipped about until she spotted the ghosts playing phantom instruments. She wondered what band they had been, but Willow wasn’t about to tell her that they were deceased members of the Dingoes Ate My Baby or try to explain the whole past situation with Oz. Oz and Tara were her past after all. Kennedy was her future, and she didn’t want anything to upset what they shared, even if she had missed Tara terribly.
Kennedy cleared her throat and forced a shaky smile over her lips. “Like I said earlier,” she resumed, “I guess I can share her for one night.” She squeezed Willow’s hands, then placed them into Tara’s.
“Do you mean it?” Willow asked, searching her eyes.
Kennedy nodded. “As long as you come back to me in the morning, I do.” She leaned over and kissed her. “Halloween night, she’s yours,” she said, looking to Tara, “but she’s mine the rest of the year.”
Willow laughed a little nervously. “I never thought I’d have women fussing over me!”
“We’re not fussing over you, darling. I think . . . I think Kennedy and I have reached an agreement.” Tara nodded as her gaze met Kennedy’s. “You’re her future. I’m only her past, btu thank you for giving this to us, for allowing me the benefit of one last dream come true.” She whisked Willow into the air.
Kennedy had meant to walk away, but as she watched Willow and Tara begin to dance above Tara’s grave, she found herself unwilling to leave them. It wasn’t that she didn’t trust Willow or feared that Tara would not let her go come sunrise. It was instead that the two women just looked so beautiful dancing there in their love and the light, both artificial and celestial, of Halloween night that she could not tear her gaze away from them. She watched, feeling every bit as breathless as Willow, as they danced for the rest of the night.
Buffy, Dawn, and Joyce had gone off elsewhere into the cemetery by the time the sun finally started to creep up over the horizon. Spike and Xander had left ago long ago, too. Tara was the first of the couple to start to descend back toward the ground. “Thank you,” she called to Kennedy and embraced Willow one more time at the close of that year and the start of the new one. She held her tightly and lovingly and kissed her lips, but as she kissed her, she also moved her hands, placing them back into Kennedy’s.
“I’ll always love you, my Willow tree,” she whispered, blinking back tears. She kissed her again. Then she was gone, simply seeming to vanish before their very eyes.
Willow trembled slightly in the wake of Tara’s departure. “I’ll always love you too, Tara,” she whispered, but then, remembering Kennedy and the love she still felt for her and all Kennedy had done for her since they’d first met, Willow turned hurriedly to her and added, “and I’ll always love you, Kennedy.”
Kennedy smiled at her girlfriend through the tears that were in her own eyes. She pulled her closer into a warm embrace as tears slipped silently down Willow’s cheeks. “That’s all I can ask for,” she said, pressing Willow’s head gently down onto her shoulder. “And I’ll always love you,” she added as she swayed with her there in the graveyard, starting their own dance that so symbolically followed the one Willow had shared with her first love.