Just my take on things -- hope it doesn't offend anybody
Willow sat in the bar nursing the beer she had been forced to order. The bartender, an extremely hairy demon that bore an uncanny resemblance to Alec Baldwin, had glared at her until she had ordered something. She didn't like beer but she had figured something in a bottle labeled Budweiser couldn't be too tainted by evil.
Well, she had thought that until her first sip. It was bitter, watery and warm and being a bit evil could only improve the flavor. The bar was different than Willie the Snitches. Willie's had been more of your neighborhood demon hangout. This place was more of your shadowy booths filled with people who hid their face, something she could relate to as her own was hidden by a gray hooded cloak that Tara had made for her. Her peripheral vision blocked, she didn't notice the approach of the tall figure by her elbow until it spoke.
She looked up into the dark hood of the demon but she could detect no face except for a very human looking mouth. Everything above the mouth simply was not there. "Vendi'ka'tu?"
"Yes," the figure said simply as it sat down in the booth across from her. "You wish the restoration spell."
Well, Willow supposed, any ridiculous bar chit-chat was out of the question. "Yes, I seek the restoration spell. You can get it?"
"But, but your email said," Willow sputtered angered and not a little frightened. Could this possibly be an ambush or some sort?
"I can obtain for you the book that will tell you where to find the restoration spell and what you will need to complete the spell."
"Oh, well, that will be okay," Willow nodded. She had spent nearly every moment since Buffy's funeral trying to find a way to bring her friend back. She was getting closer each day. It would have been faster, perhaps, to ask for Giles' help. But she didn't wish to raise the bereaved man's hopes if she was unable to work the magic.
"You have my fee?" Vendi'ka'tu asked.
"You get it when I have the book," she retorted. She had already lost several hundred dollars chasing down false leads. She'd had to cash in several of the bonds that her relatives had given her for her college fund to raise the money for this deal. There was no way she could afford to be tricked again.
"The book," Vendi'ka'tu gestured to the table and the book appeared. It was a small leather bound book, about the size of a day planner. There was a complicated brass lock on its side that held it closed.
"How do I open it?" Willow asked, not daring to touch the book until the transaction was completed.
"By giving it the death of someone you love," the faceless demon replied in the same even tone it had spoken in their entire conversation.
"To open this book," Vendi'ka'tu enunciated carefully as if speaking to a slightly backward member of society. "You kill someone that you love and dedicate their death to the book. The lock will then open and give you the location of the restoration spell."
"But, but I'm trying to restore somebody I love. I can't kill somebody else I love to get her back!"
"You do not love everyone equally. You kill something you love less than the person you wish to restore to life," the demon said casually.
Willow stared at the book. The horror of what had been said slowly settling into her brain. How could she kill anybody to bring back Buffy! She could admit to loving some people less than Buffy but there was none she would choose to kill. She sickeningly realized that she was already thinking of killing somebody, some person she loved. Thinking about it rationally.
"Is there no one small love you could kill?"
Willow continued staring at the book, trying to think. She had to get Buffy back, she couldn't leave her friend to suffer in some hell dimension. She could get her back! She needed her friend. There had to be a way. An idea came to her, and she asked, "Does the small love have to be human?"
* * * * *
"I'm so sorry, baby," Willow's voice quavered as she faced Tara. "I just left the window open for a minute and she escaped."
"It was an accident, not your fault," Tara reached out and hugged her trembling girlfriend. "Cats have plenty of sense, we'll go searching for her. Put up some lost cat posters. Don't cry," Tara reached out a hand and gently wiped the tears from Willow's face. So often Willow was the strong one in their relationship, she felt good being the one to offer emotional support. Gently she hugged the other woman and rocked back and forth.
"It was an accident."
"No, for being so upset," Willow mumbled and tried to break their embrace. Tara didn't allow her to, she just kept up the rocking motion and rubbing her back.
"Don't be silly, you don't have to be strong all the time," Tara said taking a step back and locking eyes with her lover.
Willow nodded and fell back into the hug. She didn't trust herself to speak her reply to Tara's proclamation. She had to be strong, strong and silent. She could never tell the other's what she'd have to do bring Buffy back to them. There were so many steps to take before she could reclaim her friend from the hell dimension she imagined her to be in. So many steps, today's was merely the first.
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