Buffy had been through countless apocalypses, she had died, gone to heaven and returned, she had false memories implanted in her brain, and lost her beloved mother. Half the men she had slept with in her life had no heartbeat, one of whom she had to kill in order to save the world.
To say she had been through hell and back was not a metaphorical expression, it was a fact.
She ran her own business now, holding self defense and fitness classes in the converted space behind the Magic Shop. She graduated from college a year later than originally intended, but she was the probably first slayer to do so, she remembered Giles' proud tears at her graduation. She was fit, content in her own skin and in control of her life, there were very few demons she was not able to handle.
So she was surprised to find herself totally helpless as she watched her best friend relentlessly attacked by the omnipotent heartbreak demon. It was after patrol, she was perched on top of a gravestone while Willow was slumped with her back to another one.
"Six, seven years. Does none of it mean anything to him?" Willow choked, no longer bothering to wipe away the tears. "Granted, the last 3 was more a long distance thing, but after what we went through, with the Mayor and the Initiative?"
"May be she was just a visitor? Electrician? Yoga instructor?" Buffy was grasping at straws but she'd run out of options to comfort the redhead.
Willow shot Buffy a desperate look. "No, I heard him call out to her and I know the tone of his voice. It was intimate. I mean, it was 11 o'clock at night, a woman answered his phone and, and ... I don't think she's his yoga instructor, Buffy," she whimpered as her whole body shook with sadness again.
"There may be a reasonable explanation, Will. It's Oz, he wouldn't cheat on you."
"That's what I thought too, but look at the evidence. He never calls me. I leave messages. I write emails, letters, I get nothing back. When, if I manage to reach him and he says everything's fine but I was too dumb to recognize how distant he sounded. Like he was being all avoidy. I should have suspected, that jerk."
"I'm calling Angel to see if he's got any contacts in New York, dig around to see what he's up to. And if they find out it's what you think, they can break his door down and, and, I don't know, do you want him beaten to a pulp?"
"I don't want anything, I just want to understand," Willow wailed. "Why does it hurt so much? Does it have to hurt so much?"
Buffy moved from her sitting position to hold Willow close and gently stroked her head, offering what friendship she could, words could not comfort the distraught redhead tonight.
Willow's sobs slowly subsided, and she gradually regained some of her composure.
"I can't sleep, I'm up all night thinking back, running through scenarios, trying to pinpoint at which point I lost him. Was it before or after he decided to go to New York? Was he already unhappy with me before he left?" she asked, not expecting an answer.
"Sometimes it's better not to dwell on these things, Will. Dwelling leads to festering which leads to rotting, and we all know that's not of the good," Buffy pointed out.
"It's hard not to think about all the what-if's and if only's. If only I'd opened my eyes more, if only I would have gone with him," Willow sighed. "I'd make a wish to go back and try to make things right, if I wasn't so afraid Anya'd put Halfrek on the case and add one of their little twists."
"Will, you shouldn't think about it so much, there's not a lot you can do by thinking about the past. Plus no wishing," Buffy said.
Willow was silent, a thought suddenly clicked in her head. She thought about it more, frowned a little, then put on her resolve face.
"Yeah, no wishing, no spells either. I feel like I should be doing something, anything, but I don't know what I want to do yet," she sighed as she stood up. "But right now, we should head home, it's getting a little cold. Thanks for being here, Buff."
"You know I'll always be here for you, anything I can do," Buffy replied. "Let me walk you home."
Willow lit some lavender scented candles and did a series of cleansing breaths. It had been a tumultuous few days, and she was still reeling from the discovery that Oz was very likely cheating on her.
Her friends had been super supportive but she felt uncomfortable unburdening all her emotions onto them. Anya, predictably, offered to get D'Hoffryn involved, Xander looked like he was ready to hit someone at the drop of a hat, Dawn threw away her prized collection of Dingoes gig posters. Even Giles gritted his teeth more. With Tara though, it was different, she poured her whole heart out.
I thought it was hard when he left for New York, that I might have gotten used to not having him around, but it doesn't compare. It just doesn't.