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Anywhere But Here

Title: Anywhere But Here
Rating: R
Characters: Willow, Giles, Xander, Buffy
Words: 2,700+
Warning: Attempted suicide


Award for first part


I didn’t talk after Giles and Anya found Xander and me in the desert. I didn’t make eye contact with any of them. I didn’t listen to the words they said. I sat huddled on the ground trying to make myself small. Giles took my shoulders and helped me to my feet. I suppose they’d made some kind of agreement as to what to do with me. They didn’t even consult me. It was my life they were dealing with, they probably though I didn’t deserve it. I know I didn’t.

Giles led me back to Sunnydale, back to the hotel he was staying in. It must have been a long walk because my legs were throbbing and sore by the time we reached the building, but I cannot recall a second of it. He opened the door and guided me over to the bed where he let me sit.

It was the first time I looked up at him. He looked beaten and weak and it was all, all my fault. It was really my fault. The blood on the side of his face, the bruises, the near deathness- I did that. I did that to Giles. Giles in all his Gilesness. He was like the non-biological British father I never had; he certainly paid more attention to me than my non-non-biological parents did.

He nodded over to a door on the other side of the room and told me to go get cleaned up. I saw him take off his glasses and wipe them on his shirt. I hung my head embarrassed. He told me he was going to see what arrangements he could make for another plane ticket back to England. He locked the door as he left.

I sat there for another I-don’t-know-how-long before I could make my legs carry me off the bed and into the bathroom. I closed the door behind me. I didn’t move once I got there, I just stared at the clean, pure, whiteness of the room. I looked down at my hands. I guess I hadn’t washed at all in the past few days, I could still feel Tara’s blood on me. Oh goddess. Anything, anything but this! I sat down on the toilet. Anywhere but here…

I’m on the beach. The sky is full of stars and there isn’t a single cloud in sight. The moon is full so everything is bright; the sand is glowing, the ocean is shimmering. It’s the perfect kind of sand too- like a fine powder, not rocky or full of tiny shells.

Anything for the old days; before death, back in college, when everything at least felt right. Joyce was still here, Tara was still by my side, Xander and Anya were awkward but together, Buffy was still my best friend. None of them want anything to do with me anymore, not after what I did.

Tara’s holding my hand as we walk together. We look up at the stars making pictures out of them. I can see the big pineapple. But the night is warm, and I can feel her pulse as I hold her hand.

I got up and walked over to the bathtub, turning on the water. I sat on my knees at the edge and watched it fill up. Bubbling, turbulent, but still so clear. I tore my clothes off of me and threw them into the garbage can. They felt dirty. I crawled into the tub, water splashing over the edge and onto the tile floor. The water felt scalding hot but it didn’t bother me too much, I deserved it.

“I bet you can’t catch me,” Tara giggles and runs out in front of me. I smile and run after her, giggling as well. We sound like school girls. I catch up to her and playfully tackle her into the sand. The only sounds around are the crash of the waves and the soft whinnies of the horses we rode out to this secluded place and our panting breaths. I lean close to her kissing her softly. “I love you, Tara, I love you more than anything. I want to spend the rest of my life with you…”

I could have not gone down that dark, dank, stinky, evil path. If I didn’t, Tara would probably still be here. We wouldn’t have split. We wouldn’t have gotten back together. We wouldn’t have senselessly been doing it like rabbits all day. She wouldn’t have been in front of that window. That bullet would have never hit her. Oh Goddess, Tara, it’s all my fault.

I groped for the soap and the washcloth and scrubbed compulsively, but no matter what I just could not get clean. I felt everything. Tara’s blood, Warren’s blood, Xander’s blood, Buffy’s blood, Giles’s blood. I looked down at the water expecting it to be turning red around me, but it was only mildly murky with the sand from the desert. I wanted to cry, but I had no tears left inside me. I hadn’t shed enough. There had to be more of myself I could give. I know nothing I could do would completely fix what happened but there had to be something I could do.

I crawled out of the tub, dripping, not even bothering for a towel. The mirror was all fogged up. I realized I haven’t looked at myself since everything fell apart. It was fogged up. I looked at the vague shape that I could see. I stared for a long time before I reached up and wiped away the steam. It looked like Willow in the mirror there. It was not Willow. It was some beast who used to have friends, used to have a lover, used to be a person. The old Willow could never come back, and could not be of any use here anymore. I didn’t want to see the reflection anymore. I pulled my hand back and punched the mirror. It shattered, a few pieces of glass clattered to the floor.

I think I had an idea.

I knew that I could give something to make things better. I picked up a piece of glass and sat on the floor with my back against the tub, I made a shallow cut on my wrist and watched the blood trickle. That was better. No more Willow, no more problems. I dug the glass in and made a deeper cut. The blood flowed more freely now, it dripped down onto the tile floor. At least it wasn’t white anymore. I hated all that white.

I made another cut right next to the first one and then a third trying to connect them. The blood was flowing faster, my grip on the glass slipped from the red coating it. That was okay, I didn’t need it anymore. I had done enough. I’m pretty sure I started crying again, but this time they were tears of joy, as I watched my life flowing out of me.

New scenario. I’m dead. We’re together again.

I think I remember hearing “Dear, lord,” before everything went black.

Epilogue Part 1

I can understand the desire to kill as a survival mechanism. To protect yourself, to protect those you care about.  Or In a Darwinian manner- to get rid of competition for power, resources, sex- even vampires kill because of a need to feed. Or to act out in rage, a crime of passion, to enact even a warped perception of justice. It’s primal, animalistic, and utterly stupid, but they are reasons, and reasons I can understand- I have acted with such reasoning myself.

That is why I could understand all of Willow’s actions. She was a human being in pain, under the influence of powers stronger than herself- revenge and a somewhat twisted intention to rid the world of pain- and those were reasons.

However, what I fail to comprehend is the desire to destroy simply for the sake of destruction- too torture, to kill, simply for the joy, the personal satisfaction. It’s also why I can never comprehend suicide.

I know that Willow sensed my unease, five hours into the flight and she had not looked at me once, her focus was either on the bandages on her wrist or out the window. 

I believe the hospital workers had some feelings of relief when, for the first time in what must have been a long while, blood was needed for someone who was not suffering from neck rupture.  I saw in the waiting room for hours, waiting for word, and thinking on one of the hardest decisions of my life.

I’ve made many mistakes in my life. Raising a demon. Selling records in my youth that now would have made me a wealthy man. But I think my biggest mistake of all was leaving Sunnydale this year.

Just because one has saved the world more times than most people take the SATs, doesn’t make them a grown-up. They’re not even old enough to rent cars. They still need some kind of father figure to look in on them, make sure they were all okay. I should have seen that they needed me to stay, but I couldn’t, I didn’t. And now there were things that I needed to make right.

I had the payphone in my hand, quarter in the box already. I dialed the first six digits of the number that would connect med to 1630 Revello Drive. I’d gone over what I was going to say. That there had been an incident and they were needed at the hospital. However, before I could bring myself to push that final button, I set the receiver back in it’s cradle with a click and turned to sit back down.

An incident?

Buffy, Xander, Dawn, all of them must have still been reeling from the near apocalypse, the death of Tara. It was too much to deal with, and to then hear that their dear friend, whom they so exhaustively battled, had on top of everything, tried to end her existence- well it was just too much for them to hear.

She was going to be alright, she was going to come back to England with me, they would never have to know, and perhaps they would be better off not knowing.

It took quite a bit of work to get her released from the hospital, the doctors insisted that she needed counseling. I assured them that upon reaching England, she would be receiving a good deal of counseling, it just didn’t happen to be the kind they had in mind.

From the moment I walked into the room to see her, she wasn’t Willow. Willow was the spirit of the group, the brightness, the energy. The girl in the hospital bed was dim, empty, hollow, and I was more convinced than ever that it would be best if the others did not see her like this.

It was at one of the moments that she was staring at her bandaged wrist, that she spoke her first words since the desert. “Giles?” she asked softly.

“Yes?”

“What’s going to happen now?”

I removed my glasses and set them on my lap, pinching the bridge of my nose with my free hand, warding off the headache brought upon by the recent events. “I don’t know,” I told her. I really didn't know.

She turned her attention back to the window as I replaced my glasses.

Epilogue Part 2-

Okay yes, she did try to kill us all. So it’s understandable that she’d be wigging about coming home. But it’s not like it hasn’t happened before- I mean Buffy duct taped us up and left us with a demon in her basement and we forgave her. There had to be something else. But whatever it was, she wasn’t talking about it.

I know they say curiosity killed the cat, fortunately I’m not a feline. I couldn’t just blatantly ask what was going on with her- I may be the king of cretins, but that’s not what best friends do. She was trying to be better, to not drag anyone into the little black hole she was inhabiting. I think she knew that I knew, so she was being even more cautious around me.

I tried to do a lot to get her to open up. I went out with her, walked her to Tara’s grave, hoping that might open up some line of communication. I walked with her to the park, around town. One time I kidnapped her and took her to the movies, but still, she kept a wall between us. We’ve been best friends since before we could talk, but she still thought I wasn’t going to figure it out. I was going to, even if she didn’t tell me I was going to.

It occurred to me, about two weeks after she got back, that I hadn’t seen her wear anything but long sleeves. Now granted you can’t just run up to someone and roll up their sleeves without being a total freak, but I just had to know. We went out to the park, with a picnic, just spending some quality best friends forever time together. That’s when I asked.

I asked if I could see her wrist.

She hesitated at first, but then just held it out to me, and let me roll up her sleeve. She didn’t look at me until I spoke.

“Why didn’t you say something?”

“Because.”

“Because?”

“Because I didn’t think you cared.”

“I thought I made that clear on the bluff, you’re my best friend and I love you.”

She took her wrist back and rolled down the sleeve. “I was beginning to think you were just saying that to save the world.”

“An excellent tactic, that would’ve been. But I did mean it.” 

She looked up at me, “Then why didn’t you guys come to the hospital?”

“Because you were in England?”

“No, Xander. I was here. Right here in Sunnydale at the hospital we’re at all the time.” There was a flash of realization in her eyes, “I woke up, expecting to be dead, and I was just all alone with the wires and the tubes and the beeping, and I thought you guys just didn’t care.”

I reached out and put my hand on her shoulder, “Of course we care, all of us, and if we knew we would have been there, no bout adoubt it.” She got quiet again, “So… you can do that skin regrowing thing, why don’t you cover the scar?”

She told me that she didn’t deserve it, that she needed to live with the reminder of how she failed- failed Tara, failed her friends, and failed herself.

You know how sometimes you wanna just grab someone by the shoulders and shake some sense into them? Well I wanted to. But I didn’t.

“Yeah, you messed up. You did some stupid things, but is that stupid mark on your wrist really going to help you? Or is it just gonna keep you all mistress of misery and shame?”

I don’t remember when, but a few days later, I saw her wearing short sleeves again.  Glad to see I can still get through to her.

---

Epilogue Part 3

I found out from Xander, and without even giving a thought to the time, I snatched up the phone and began to dial before he took the phone out of my hands. He said he didn’t want me to say something stupid.

Something stupid?

What Giles did- that’s what was stupid!

How could he keep this from us? Did he think we wouldn’t find out? Did he think it wasn’t important? What was he thinking? Why would he let Willow wake up feeling alone and abandoned and afraid?

Even if she was temporarily evil, she was still my best friend, and I loved her.

It’s hard to think of anyone I know who wasn’t temporarily Mr. or Mrs. Killing Spree… okay, maybe Xander wasn’t or Dawn, but they’re exceptions to the rule.

We’re the Scooby gang… 6 years together… and now it’s just falling apart. Giles has gone all pod person, Willow’s recovering from being evil, Xander’s depressed, and well let’s face it I’m not exactly Miss Emotionally Available either. I just want us to be a family again… but it’s not going to happen, not now, something’s coming. Something big.

I didn’t bring it up to Willow, though. I just gave her a big hug and let her wonder what it was for.