Buffy the Vampire Slayer: The Willow Files, Vol. II -- An Excerpt

Winnter of the 2002 Bram Stoker Award
in the category of Works for Young Readers
Presented by the the Horror Writers Association

Buffy the Vampire Slayer
The Willow Files, Vol. 2

(An Excerpt)

The Willow Files, Vol. II



     Okay, so I haven't been as good at keeping my computer journal up to date as I thought I'd be.

     It's not like we haven't been busy around here, you know. In fact, things have been like ultra-busy, super mondo busy, with stuff happening at twice the usual Sunnydale weird-rate. Think I'm joking? We have two Slayers now-- the new one is called Faith and she just kind of... showed up one night in the Bronze and started vamp pummeling that same night. She's sort of wild and, well, she doesn't follow orders very well-- Giles seems pretty freaked a lot of the time, since his constant grown-up attempt at authority thing is pretty much lost on Faith. As for Buffy... she's different now. I know that the time she spent away from Sunnydale last summer had a big impact on her mind and heart, but Faith has affected her in a different way. It's hard to put my finger on it, but she seems half dismayed by the way Faith acts, but half competitive, too... like she has to constantly prove she's still worth something now.

     Even with two Slayers, it doesn't seem like anyone's managed to sneak totally past the Hellmouth's influence. Not long after Faith got here, this guy named Scott who was sweet on Buffy for awhile lost a couple of good friends, Pete and Debbie, to the special brand of evil influence that seeps all through this town. Pete was so obsessed with being perfect for Debbie that he just couldn't see beyond the illusion he had about what was right and what was wrong, and in the end it ended up killing them both. The whole Scott-as-a-potential-Buffy-boyfriend thing blew up bigtime when Angel came back from Hell at the same time I nearly lost Oz.

     No, the vampires didn't almost get him, and that creepy werewolf hunter-- Cain-- didn't come skulking back into town. I've thought a lot of things about myself-- like sometimes I'm so dependable and predictable that I even turn invisible-- but I always thought I was at least smart and in control. I guess sometimes even the smartest of us, well, lose it, just mess up the best of what we've got going without really understanding why we're doing what we're doing at the time, a whacked-out version of that urge to push that big red button labeled "Don't Push Me!" You know which one-- it's usually tied to the bomb that blows up everything worthwhile in your existence.

     See, this thing I had for Xander all these years... he always had this kind of thing for me, too, you know? But he never said or did anything, and neither did I. But then we were trying to get ready for homecoming and we just--

     Okay, we ended up, somehow, kissing. To make it even worse, after that it seemed like we couldn't not grab a smoochie or two every chance we got, or play footsie in class, or whatever. I'm not even sure how or why, but there it was, this... thing between us except it wasn't really a thing, just a freaky sort of delayed attraction. I tried concocting a spell to cool things off, but I never did pull it together in time, and my Wiccan skills are still growing-- they need a little, like, fine-tuning or whatever. So it ended up that there was the whole guilt thing with me about Oz, and Xander about Cordelia, and during that Mr. Trick-- the nasty vampire who works for Mayor Wilkins-- got this whole candy thing going that turned all the adults in town into us. Well, not literally, but jeez-- they were partying and tearing around and making with the all night rowdy... it was just embarrassing. Buffy discovered the problem was something in the candy we'd been selling to support the school band, so she got that fixed-- although her Mom and Giles still seem really weirded out about it-- but then this English woman showed up and masqueraded as Faith's new Watcher. She tried to turn herself into this power-wielding demon and kill us all with this mechanical hand-contraption, and in fighting through that, we all ended up with the lowdown that Angel was back. Not long after was when Cordelia and Oz found out about Xander and I... except they did it the hard way.

     As in a direct eye-view when Xander and I thought we were alone.

     It was pretty awful-- Cordelia totally wigged and started to stalk off, but she was on these rickety stairs and they, like, collapsed. She fell and got impaled by a piece of metal sticking out of the floor below us, and for one terrible moment, we all thought she was dead. It turned out that she was okay, thank God, but poor Xander-- even while she was in the hospital she wouldn't have anything to do with him, and now that she's out... she certainly won't forgive him. It took some time, but Oz decided to give us-- me and him-- another chance.

     I'm just so sorry to see Xander suffer like this, especially since a lot of it is my fault-- sharing the blame is the only honest thing. And I know Cordelia tried to do something to him-- maybe to all of us-- as payback, but no one's sure what. Sunnydale being what it is, there's no telling what can go on behind the scenes around here. See, there's this thing with me and witchcraft-- I may not know how far I can take my spells just yet, and I don't always get stuff exactly right, but I just have this... feeling that Cordy tried something, like this little tickle inside me that's setting off all my Wiccan alarm bells. Yeah, the gang finds out most of the nasty that goes on around Sunnydale, but how much happens simultaneously when there's someone or something bigger and badder going on that might overshadow it? As for Cordelia... she can be so venomous to begin with, but I can't help but think it might have gone a little better for her if she'd had her old friends to give her support... well, whatever kind of support you get from people like that, anyway. But they pretty much abandoned her after Xander, and I guess they really reveled in their turn to lord it over Cordy-- I heard there was a lot of verbal cutting directed at her.

     A lot of people... okay, adults... claim that what goes around, comes around. It might sound like a bunch of hooey, but so does a lot of stuff-- like zombies, vampires, demons and a whole host of other creepies that make the adults roll their eyes. So what if that saying is true? Because... well, divine payback scares me to death after what I did to Oz, even though he forgives me. How sad that we don't always see the wonderful in what we have when it's right in front of us, or worse, sometimes we let someone else cloud our view of what's out there...

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     Willow Rosenberg stood in the crowded cafeteria with her friend Amy and scanned the tables, looking for an empty one. A few feet away she could hear Xander Harris trying, somewhat desperately, to make conversation with her boyfriend, Oz.

     "So," Xander said with strategic brightness. "A burrito."

     Oz glanced at him as he dropped the school's version of genuine Mexican grub on his tray. His expression never changed. "This is a burrito," he agreed.

     "Damn straight," Xander said.

     Awkward, Willow thought as she watched them head for the cashier. Sooner or later the stiffness fueled by the guilt she and Xander felt would wear off and everyone would get back to normal... wouldn't they? Then again, maybe not-- Cordelia had turned into the Ice Queen to Xander and the rest of the Slayerettes as well. For her, there were some things you just didn't go back to, and obviously Xander was in that group.

     "And," Amy said, thankfully breaking into her thoughts. "Oh, God-- Mr. Nyman? That thing he does with his face--"

     Willow brightened. "Thing with the face, yes! When he makes a point, that-- I always think he's going to sneeze!"

     Amy grinned. "And I thought I was the only one who saw that."

     Off to the side, she glimpsed Xander and Oz snag a table, so she and Amy angled that way. "Hi, Oz," she said and smiled. She glanced at Xander and nodded. "Xander."

     There were hi's and hey's all the way around, then Xander peered at Amy. "Hey Amy-- like the new hair."

     Amy smiled as Oz looked to Willow. "I haven't seen you all day. Where've you been?"

     She opened her mouth to answer but Xander cut her off. "Not with me!" he announced. "No, sir. Ask anyone." They all stared at him and he floundered around a final denial. "Noooo."

     More silence, and Willow wished she could think of something cheerful and witty to say, anything to start the conversation over again. Then, thank goodness, Oz sat forward and saved the day.

     "So," her boyfriend said. "Buffy's birthday is next week."

     Xander's sigh of relief was audible. "Oh-- yeah. Good." He grinned slyly. "I've been pondering gift options--"

     Willow's eyes widened as she glimpsed something behind Xander. "Shhhhh!"

     "Oh, come on," Xander griped. "We just got a topic here."

     "Hi, Buffy," Willow said, smiling widely.

     "Buffy!" Xander said. Surprised, he still recovered admirably, scooting out of his chair and offering it to her. "So, what's up?" He pulled an empty seat over from another table.

     Buffy sat, her face somber. "You guys didn't hear?"

     Xander frowned slightly. "Hear what?"

     "About the murders," Buffy said quietly. There were shadows beneath her eyes and Willow noticed she was lunch-free. "Somebody killed two little kids."

     Willow gasped. "Oh, no!"

     Her best friend pressed her lips together. "They were, like, seven or eight years old. My Mom found the bodies during patrol last night."

     "Oh, my God," Amy said.

     "Kids?" Oz asked. Even he looked stunned.

     Xander was puzzled. "How is it your Mom was there?"

     Buffy shook her head in disbelief. "More bad-- she picked last night, of all nights, for a surprise ‘bonding' visit."

     Willow tried to process this. "God... your Mom would actually take the time to do that with you?" When all her friends eyed her instead of answering, she realized her blunder. "Which... really isn't the point of the story, is it?" She pinkened.

     Buffy sighed. "No. The point is she's completely wigging."

     "Who's wigging?"

     When they realized Joyce Summers was standing behind Buffy, their jerks of surprise were so perfectly timed they could have been choreographed. "Uh, everyone," Buffy managed. She stood, clearly nervous. "You know, because of... what happened."

     Mrs. Summers nodded listlessly. "Oh, it's so awful. I had bad dreams about it all night."

     The haunted expression on the older woman's face made Willow exchange glances with her friends. "Hi, Mrs. Summers," Willow said, hoping to derail her train of thought. Xander and Oz put in their mumbled one-word greetings while Amy echoed Willow.

     "Hello, everybody," Joyce said, but her heart obviously wasn't in it. She turned to her daughter. "Buffy, have you talked with Mr. Giles yet about who could have done this?"

     Buffy looked uncomfortable. "Uh, yeah. He thinks it might be something ritual... occult. He's still looking. In the meantime, we're going to add to my patrols. You know, keep an eye out--"

     "Occult?" Joyce was clearly appalled. "Like witches?"

     Amy's mouth fell open and she twitched at the same time that Willow's milk suddenly backed up in her throat and made her choke and start coughing. After a second or two, she pulled it together. "Sorry," she got out. "Phlegm-- too much dairy."

     Joyce's gaze stopped on her briefly. "Oh, I-I know you kids think that stuff is cool. Buffy told me you dabble--"

     "Absolutely," Willow agreed, trying to sound happy-go-lucky. "That's me. I'm a dabbler."

     "But anybody who could do this isn't cool," Joyce continued. Her breathing was getting shorter and faster with every word. "Anybody who could do this has to be a monster. It--"

     "You know what?" Buffy interrupted. She put a hand on her Mom's arm as she glanced back at her friends. "Could you guys excuse us for a little bit?"

     Willow and the others nodded as Buffy pulled her Mom toward the cafeteria exit. Mrs. Summers blinked, then gave them all a little wave. "Nice to see you kids," she said absently, then let Buffy steer her away.

     "What a burn," Xander commented as they watched the two leave. "Buff's Mom was just starting to accept the Slayer thing. Now she'd going to be double-freaked."

     Willow exchanged a meaningful glance with Amy. "Makes me glad my mother doesn't know about my extra-curricular activities." She paused for a second as Oz raised an eyebrow. "Or... my curricular activities," she amended a little dolefully. "Or, you know, the fact of my activeness in general..."

* * *

Published by Pocket Books -- February, 2001
ISBN 0-671-03918-0
Now out of print, but a loose leaf version
is available on Amazon.com.

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copyright © 2001-2004 by Yvonne Navarro and Pocket Books. Don't be naughty-- no reprinting or use in any form whatsoever without prior written permission of the starving author. We mean it. We know lots of lawyers. And we ain't afraid to use them.