Willow stood in front of her locker, absently going through her psychology book to find the piece of information she needed for her psychology paper on the causes and treatment of clinical depression in young adults. In doing so, she found it ironic that her text, as well reviewed a book as could be found within the field, failed to help explain the cause of her current state of mind.
"Not that anything could," she thought absentmindedly as she flipped through the pages. "I highly doubt that the guys who wrote this or any other psychology book had my situation in mind when they all got together in their fancy boardroom office and decided to write them." Finding the page she wanted, she sat down against the locker, laid the book out in front of her atop her notebook, picked up her pen and began to jot down notes.
As she did, she quickly found her mind drifting from the books in front of her to what had happened to her life in the past few months. It certainly hadn't been normal ever since that day back in October when Luna had first appeared in her bedroom, but it had looked remarkably tame compared to the three months that had gone by since then. And she didn't really admit it aloud, but she had rather enjoyed what had happened to her.
Well, except for the whole "fighting-with-her-friends-leading-to-the-capture-of-one-of-them" scenario that had led to her learning of how Tara fit into the whole thing. Ever since learning of her girlfriend's search for the Mystical Silver Crystal, Willow had assumed that Tara was the reincarnation of Princess Serenity, the one whom she and her friends were searching for.
But that cold December day had led to that conclusion being proven false; however, it did not mean that she wasn't involved. Quite to the contrary, in fact: Tara had been involved ever since she was six years old. And despite her intent to keep her safe, Willow found herself shocked that she had been helping her all along, doing so in her guise that one of her friends had not-so-originally dubbed "Tuxedo Mask."
Setting her pen down, Willow heaved a sigh. Even then, Tara had cultivated an air of mystery around her that permeated her so deeply that it was nearly impossible to see her in the guise of a superhero. Then again, she had long had doubts as to whether or not that label could apply to her, as well.
Now she knew the reason why the label of Superhero felt strange to her: it wasn't true.
One of the other revelations to happen on that December evening was the fact that it was not Tara who was the reincarnation of Princess Serenity, but she herself. It was she who was the reborn Princess of the Moon, heir to the long destroyed Moon Kingdom and keeper of the Mystical Silver Crystal.
Willow found her mind drifting to the image of the crystal, currently resting in a jewellery box in her bedroom under Luna's watchful eye. It was as bright and as pure as any diamond she had ever seen. It had been given form by one of the tears she had shed while holding Tara's broken body into her own, the overwhelming power she felt at seeing that act restoring to her the long dormant memories of her past life. She had focused that power into the form of the Crystal, through which she could heal her beloved, having the unexpected by-product of restoring the memories, or at the very least allowing them to come forth easier, of those who had been present.
"I guess that's why things are 'All Quiet on the Dark Kingdom front'," Willow thought, picking up her pen and resuming her writing. Well, things weren't all that quiet. Fred, having been captured by the Dark Kingdom shortly before the confrontation in downtown Sunnydale last month, and by whose hand Tara had nearly died, was even now somewhere in this building, acting for all the world as if there wasn't anything wrong.
But she knew differently. She and Buffy and Anya and Cordelia knew what was wrong. And only they could work together to bring her back and stop the enemy from doing to Earth what they had done to the Moon Kingdom in the past.
"They'll follow me," Willow realized. "We've disagreed on what to do before, but that's over now. They've told me they'll do whatever it takes to bring Fred home and drive the enemy away. But why are they so willingly following me now? Is it because they can see things from my point of view...or is it because they know now that I'm the Princess, whose wishes have to be obeyed without question or debate?"
It was certainly a good question, and asking it brought forward the same question she had been asking herself ever since she had first learned of who she was.
"Who am I?"
She couldn't answer that question then. She hadn't been able to answer it for the past two weeks. And as she heard the bell ring, she knew that she couldn't answer it now. Getting to her knees, she picked up her book and, getting fully to her feet, put it back inside her locker and closed it after withdrawing her English book. Picking up her notebook and pen, she took off in a running pace and had barely made it ten feet when her feet tangled and she fell to the floor, her books flying away from her.
Wincing at the impact, Willow let out a groan that turned into a half hearted chuckle. She may not know whether or not she was a Princess, a Superhero, or a regular girl pretending to be those two things, but at least in this case, she was the same sort of person she always was. There was a time when she wouldn't have laughed about it, but nowadays, she was desperate for anything that would make her laugh, even if it was at her own expense.
Seeing her binder placed in front of her face, Willow got to her feet, reaching out with one hand to take it, grateful that someone had taken the time to help her out. "Thanks." Once she was standing, however, her happiness turned to worry when she realized who it was.
"Hey, Willow. Nice to see you."
Tightening her grip on her binder, Willow frowned as she stared at Fred, her emotions betraying her immediately. "What do you want, Fred?"
Fred's face contorted into one of sadness, as if she was unaware of the reasons why Willow was talking to her in this fashion. "What's wrong, Will? Can't friends talk to one another before class?"
"We're not friends," Willow said, the words coming from her with great reluctance. There was a time when that was certainly true; when Willow didn't particularly care one way or the other about being friends with Fred, a feeling shared by the majority of her classmates. But ever since learning of their mutual destiny, Willow had tried her hardest to put those feelings aside where they belonged and tried to make Fred feel as if she had a close circle of friends she could depend upon to get her through life. The fact that she couldn't must have left the young Texas native emotionally unstable, making her an easy target for the Dark Kingdom to convert to their side.
By doing so, they had ironically granted Fred the one thing she wanted most: her friends united in a common purpose. That purpose, however, now included rescuing her from their clutches, a fact that Willow knew would be impossible at the present time, and was most likely why she was here. Knowing that there was nothing they could do to each other while in school, Fred's singular goal appeared to be to find the easiest path to getting a rise out of Willow and making her do something she would regret later.
Her friends would have been able to help, but they couldn't now. Buffy was no doubt in class waiting for her, Cordelia didn't even go to this school, and Anya nowadays spent as much time at her home as she did at school. Despite being all alone, Willow stood her ground, prepared for the worst. "We're not friends."
Fred cocked her head slightly, that singular motion bringing out a completely different change in attitude. Gone was the shy, eager to please schoolgirl image that she had been, her composure becoming that of a strong and capable warrior, one who exhibited no weakness as she sought out the best place to penetrate her opponent and strike her down.
She wouldn't do that now, though. Willow knew of at least a dozen opportunities Fred had to do so in the week since school started again, and yet she hadn't taken them. Whether it was under orders or simply to keep her on edge didn't matter. The fact of the matter was that it made her nervous beyond measure.
"That's right," Fred replied, her voice taking on an icy glare. "We're not friends. We never were friends. You used me. You all used me. You left me all alone. I'll never forgive you for that."
Willow couldn't figure out what Fred was getting at. "If you feel that way, why are you fighting alongside the enemy?"
Fred smiled ever so faintly. "We have the same goals. We both want what you have, and will do whatever we have to in order to get it." Turning on her heel, she walked back down the hallway to class. "And we'll get it by any means necessary."
Willow watched Fred walk into class, unable to say anything that could make things right. Fred wouldn't listen, and she wouldn't feel better by doing so.
Willow turned to find Harmony running down the hallway. "Hi, Harmony," she said with as much enthusiasm as she could muster, which was to say not very much at all.
"Hi," Harmony replied, her perpetually perky voice and smile being just the thing Willow needed to liven up her spirits after her clash with Fred. "So, you've got Mrs. French for Psychology next period?"
"Yeah," Willow replied absently, her mind on other things and only vaguely aware of the fact that Harmony was dragging her to class. She relented after a few paces and moved into the class under her own power, confident that, despite Fred being in the same class, there wasn't likely to be anything that could go wrong.
Cordelia sat on the bus bench across the street from Sunnydale Middle School for the Gifted, watching as the other students returned from their lunch breaks and headed inside to go to afternoon classes. She would get up and follow their lead...eventually.
When eventually would be, however, was a question that eluded her at this moment.
She didn't like to go to that school, and it was only because she belonged to one of Sunnydale's most prominent political families that she was forced to, her father deciding for her that the school was the best place for her to get a good education. A good education was important, Cordelia had to agree, but so was having emotional support from friends, something which she never got from anyone who attended the school.
Her only friend had been Willow, who went to school on the other side of town with the other young women who had become important to her, especially Anya. Ironically, of the four who had become her friends, now reduced by one to three, Anya had been the one she had disliked the most upon first meeting her. When Luna had gathered all of them together, it had become obvious to her, if not to everyone else, that she was going to be the source of many problems over the course of the next few months.
And she had been right. Anya's domineering mood, combined with her decreasing ability to put up with the visions which she had learned were the long dormant memories of her former life reasserting themselves, had led her to leave the group, after which it seemed that Anya had made it her life's mission to go after her, doing anything she could in order to convince her to come back. She had finally relented, and just in time, it seemed, for that day had seen many things happen which had totally changed her outlook on life: Fred had been captured and brainwashed into fighting against them, Willow had been revealed as Princess Serenity and Anya had revealed to them the condition that would claim her life within months.
It was these last two things which troubled her. Willow had been her friend for a long time, and they had always stuck together no matter what happened. She felt incredibly guilty about having all but abandoned her at the time when she needed her the most. But it was Anya she was most worried about. The young woman had been so determined to have things go her own way that she constantly clashed with the others, and like them, she had resented it deeply. But now that she knew that her stubbornness and narrow minded attitude towards the others was the result of learning that she would be dead within six months, it made Cordelia think differently about her. Before she had been Anya's most vocal opponent, now she had become her greatest supporter.
She shivered, and wrapped her arms around herself, determined to stave off the cold for as long as she could, the question of whether to go back inside still weighing heavily on her. She heard the soft footsteps of someone approaching then, and turned to look at who it was.
She smiled. "Hi."
"Hi, yourself. What are you doing out here?"
Moving to sit down beside Cordelia, Anya kept her gaze locked on the brunette as she looked back towards the school. "Thinking that maybe I should go back inside." She turned to look at Anya. "And wondering why you're not at Sunnydale High with the others."
"I've decided to take a day off," Anya replied, her tone telling Cordelia that wasn't the answer, but also warning her not to push it. She decided to ignore that feeling.
"Are you feeling OK?"
"Fine," Anya said sarcastically. "Or about as fine as someone standing out in the middle of the cold can be."
"So am I," Anya retorted. "You know how bad it is to be walking around in the cold for hours? I stay out here any longer, I'll be legally declared a popsicle."
Cordelia laughed, then realized why Anya was behaving like this. "Something's wrong, isn't there?"
Anya fell silent before nodding in agreement. "Yes. I just went to the doctor, and..."
"They say there's an operation I could undergo in order to...to cure me. The chances of success are low, but even then, it's likely that they'll be able to remove most, if not all, of the tumour."
Cordelia brightened at that. Good news such as this was very much needed right now. "So what's the problem?"
"I don't have the time to think about that."
"Why not?" Cordelia asked, confused and surprised that Anya wouldn't take whatever measures she could in order to save her life.
"It doesn't matter."
"It doesn't matter?" Cordelia asked, shocked that Anya would say that. "What do you mean, it doesn't matter?"
"It just doesn't!" Anya shouted, getting up and looking down at Cordelia with contempt. Then, after a moment's pause in which she allowed herself to calm down, added, "I don't want to think about doing anything that could leave you guys vulnerable."
Cordelia looked down at the ground, trying to find the right thing to say. "You could best accomplish that by staying alive."
"I know," Anya said, sitting back down and bringing Cordelia's head around so that they were looking at one another face to face. "But like I said, the chances of success are low, and I don't want to risk my life, not when I'm needed most."
"Don't make this about you," Cordelia muttered, turning away only to have her head brought back around once again.
"I'm not," Anya said. "I don't want to leave Willow vulnerable right now. I want to make sure that Fred comes back. And...and I want to make sure you're prepared for when I'm dead to lead the others in protecting Willow and safeguarding the Crystal."
Cordelia frowned. "Me?"
"You mean you don't remember?"
"You were my second," Anya explained. "In the past life. You were second in command of the Soldiers, as devoted to protecting the Princess...protecting Willow, as I was. When I learned that you were friends, I wasn't surprised. You were always loyal to the Princess, teaching everything she needed to know in order to protect herself. When you left us, I was surprised. I couldn't believe that the one who seemed most loyal to the cause would abandon it so readily."
Anya turned away and continued, "That's why I went after you, tried to make you understand the importance of finding the Princess and being devoted to the mission from the past life. I wanted to make sure...in case something happened, that everything we fought for in the past...and what we want to accomplish in the future...wouldn't be lost."
It was all starting to make sense to Cordelia. This was why Anya had singled her out in trying to get all of the others focused on the mission. Knowing that she had only a short time to live, Anya wanted to make sure that they could accomplish that goal, leaving behind a legacy that promised that, in the eventful case that her plans fail, she wouldn't be leaving them without the hope of succeeding.
"Hope won't be lost," Cordelia reassured Anya. "We'll fight to get Fred back to us, and we'll protect Willow and Tara as best we can."
"But what if we fail?" Anya asked, giving Cordelia the first hints that, under her gruff and determined exterior, she was as unsure as the rest of them as to whether or not the task they had been given was as easily accomplished as she thought it was. "What if we bring about the disaster from the past all over again?"
"Then we'll go down fighting," Cordelia promised. "As we did before. And we'll take as many of them as we can with us. If we do that, even if we fail, their victory will be as hollow as defeat."
Anya smiled faintly, then frowned as she reached for her forehead. Cordelia immediately took notice, standing up to help her remain steady. "What is it?"
"It's nothing," Anya said. "It's just a little headache. It'll pass..." She didn't get any further before she collapsed limply onto Cordelia's body. Panicked, and knowing little else to do, she set Anya's body down on the ground and reached for her bag to dig out her cell phone.
"Willow Rosenberg, Elizabeth Summers, report to the Principal's Office, please."
Willow was grateful to have gotten out of class, even if it meant having to face a dressing down from Principal Snyder for some reason she couldn't even begin to imagine. She didn't know what she had done, but being dressed down for some nonexistent reason seemed preferable to remaining in a classroom being tormented by Fred whenever the teacher wasn't looking.
"Why did Harmony have to take that last seat up front?" Willow thought to herself. "And why did the only available chair have to be in the back of the room beside Fred?" Another more immediate concern entered her mind at that moment. "What was it I did that warranted this?"
No answers were immediately forthcoming as Willow entered the Principal's Office to find Buffy already there, sitting down on one of the chairs near the secretary's desk. And, seeing that she was dressed in a loose tank top and sweatpants, having apparently made her way here straight from the gymnasium without even bothering to change.
"Come from gym?" she asked unnecessarily.
"Yeah," Buffy replied, not even bothering to call Willow out on her faux pas. "You?"
"Psychology," Willow answered. "And let me tell ya, I don't know what it was that I did, but I'm glad it got me out of there. One minute more, and I would have knocked Fred for a loop."
"Great way to maintain your secret identity," Buffy muttered, lifting the sports water bottle beside the chair and taking a drink. "And I know what you're thinking, Will. I didn't do anything."
Willow flinched involuntarily, knowing that Buffy had called her out on the fact that she was thinking that the reason why she was here was because she had gotten into a fight. It had become known fairly quickly after Buffy had transferred here that she had a history of getting into trouble at her old high school. There was even a rumour floating around that she had burned down the high school gymnasium, one that Buffy jokingly said she had started herself, and immediately regretted as it soon became all but confirmation of her nature as a troublemaker.
Willow realized that she had done it again. She had misjudged the actions of a friend based on rumour and innuendo. That was an old habit of hers, and she knew that she would have to break it. The last person she had negative thoughts about had been Fred, and it was those thoughts that allowed her to be corrupted so easily by the Dark Kingdom. And if there was one thing Willow did know, it was that she couldn't afford to lose any more allies.
The door to the principal's office opened then, and Principal Snyder walked out; his face a very well manipulated mask of sympathy that looked out of place on him. "Miss Rosenberg, Miss Summers..."
"I've done nothing wrong!" Buffy interrupted, jumping to her feet.
"Settle down, Miss Summers," Snyder said, a hint of his true nature poking through the mask of neutral concern on his face before disappearing. "Neither of you are in any trouble." He turned to Willow. "Miss Rosenberg, we got a call from your mother. Your father had a heart attack and had to be taken to Sunnydale Memorial. Both you and Miss Summers are excused for the day to go meet your mother there."
Willow was confused. Her mother would certainly have told her if something was wrong, but they weren't exactly on speaking terms lately, so the fact that she would do it in this fashion was totally out of character for her. More importantly, she wouldn't have included Buffy in that sort of scenario.
Buffy, perhaps unwisely, called attention to this. "But what about me? I mean, not to sound insensitive, but I think this is more of a family thing. Why did she say I should come along, too?"
"Miss Rosenberg's mother said that it would do her good to have the emotional support of someone close to her," Snyder explained. "I'm sorry, Willow. Your father is clearly hurt if she would think that." Shifting uncomfortably on one foot, it became obvious that behaving kindly towards two of his students was quickly becoming too much of a chore for him, and so he left without another word.
Buffy and Willow exchanged glances. "Definitely not my mother," Willow stated plainly.
"Yeah," Buffy agreed. "But who else would..."
They both reached the same conclusion at the same moment. "Anya!"
"I had to get you here as fast as I could," Cordelia explained to Willow and Buffy as the three walked down the hospital corridor to Anya's room.
"And calling the school and pretending to be my mother was the best thing you could come up with?" Willow asked.
"What was I supposed to do?" Cordelia asked. "Tell whoever it was that answered the phone that one of your friends had fallen ill and had been taken to the hospital? Somehow I don't think that they would have let the two of you get out of school for that."
"She's got a point," Buffy said. "You know how uptight Snyder is, Will. Not to mention how uncomfortable he was talking to us about this. You know he wouldn't have let us go unless it had been an emergency."
"But my mother?" Willow persisted, trying to get an explanation out of Cordelia.
Cordelia, for her part, was rather annoyed at having to be grilled about what she had done. "It wouldn't have worked if I called the school myself, nor would it have worked if I had done so as my mother." She gestured towards Buffy. "And her parents are dead, so that wasn't an option..."
"OK, OK," Willow sighed, sorry to have brought the whole thing up as the three reached the door to Anya's room. Cordelia wrapped her hand around the knob and entered the room, Willow and Buffy following behind her. Anya laid on the bed at the far corner of the room, a doctor standing over her and talking to her as they walked in. Seeing them enter, he looked up at them.
"She'll be all right. She just had a minor fainting spell from exerting herself too much. She'll be fine if she stays off her feet for the next few days."
"Thank you, Doctor," Cordelia said. "Can we talk to her alone for a moment?"
The doctor nodded and stepped out of the room. As soon as he was gone, Willow and the others took chairs and moved to sit down around her.
"We haven't even said anything yet," Buffy said.
"You don't have to," Anya replied, moving to sit up. "I know what you're going to say. And the answer's no."
"Didn't you hear the doctor?" Cordelia asked, her voice cracking a bit as she fought to keep her emotions in check. "There's nothing serious, but you could end up causing yourself serious harm if you don't be careful."
"I'm already dying, Cordelia," Anya countered, her voice devoid of emotion. "I think it's a bit overprotective to be thinking about being careful, don't you?"
Cordelia, caught off guard, couldn't find the words to respond. Thankfully, Willow was there to keep the four of them from sliding into silence. "I could force you to, you know."
Anya looked at her. "What?"
"You know what I'm talking about," Willow responded, her voice filling with a firm conviction that was out of place for her. "You may be the leader of us when it comes to fighting the good fight, but when the chips are down, I'm higher on the food chain than you are, seeing as how I'm the Princess, and all. And if I say you have to do something, you have to do it without question, don't you?"
"Well, yes, but..."
"No 'buts'. As Princess of the Moon Kingdom, Guardian of the Silver Crystal, and your boss, I order you to stay here in the hospital until you feel better." Willow put on her resolve face, making sure Anya knew in no uncertain terms that she was being serious.
Anya, seeing this, knew she had no other choice and laid back down. "Fine."
"Good," Willow said. "Now that we've got that over and done with, what's everyone going to do now?"
"I guess I should go home," Buffy replied. "I've got a date with Riley tonight, and I said I'd cook dinner for him."
"Make sure to have 911 on Speed Dial," Anya quipped. Buffy looked at her as if to respond, then thought better of it and moved to leave. Willow looked at Cordelia.
"I'm going to stay for a bit, if that's OK with you."
"Sure." Willow moved to follow Buffy out the door as Cordelia sat down beside Anya and took one of her hands into her own.
"Get out of here," Anya said. "I'll be OK."
"You sure?" Cordelia asked.
Anya nodded, and a moment later, Cordelia got up and followed the others out the door, leaving Anya alone in the room. Sighing, she settled herself into a comfortable position and closed her eyes to take a nap.
Three seconds later, she heard the faint string of piano music. Thinking that someone had walked into the room to turn on the radio, she opened her eyes to find a figure clad in silver and white sitting in one of the chairs beside her. Someone that looked very familiar to her.
Someone she had met in battle. And someone she knew wanted her dead.
Before she could move, the stranger stood up and looked down at her. "If I wanted you dead, you already would be. I wouldn't waste my time doing this if I wanted you dead."
"What is it that you want?" Anya asked, wondering why it was that this person she had bested would waste time talking to her.
"The same as you," the stranger responded, moving to the foot of the bed. Anya tensed up, expecting at any moment for him to pull a surprise out of the air.
"And that is?"
The stranger smirked. "To protect the future."
Watching her former friends leave the hospital from atop the building's roof, Fred, clad in her Dark Mercury uniform, allowed a self satisfied smirk to cross her face. How easy it would be for her to pick each of them off one by one, especially the one remaining inside, most likely Anya due to her medical condition.
It wouldn't be that much of a challenge for her to deal with them in this way, but it was her Queen's wish that each of them suffer. How it happened was of no consequence. And in any event, she wasn't exactly sure as if she terribly cared one way or the other, either.
She got to her feet and turned around to enter the building and follow them, only to stop as she found her path blocked by someone standing near the door. Raising her sword, she pointed it at the newcomer. "Who are you?"
The newcomer was a young girl with straight dark hair reaching down to her shoulders, framing an innocent oval face with intense, yet childlike blue eyes. She appeared to be dressed in a yellow with purple trim skirt and Japanese styled sailor suit leotard top with bows (yellow bow on chest, purple bow on small of the back), fur lined white gloves and purple boots and a tiara with an inset jewel on her forehead; all the markings of a Sailor Soldier. This surprised Fred, as whoever this person was wasn't one of her former friends.
The girl raised an arm, an arm which held a weapon in the style of Sailor Moon's Moonlight Stick, and smiled. "Someone who can easily defeat you, Mercury."
Fred chuckled. "Really." Bringing her own weapon up to counter the action of the young girl, she smiled, delighted at being offered a challenge, yet not entirely abandoning the pretence that this may in fact be more difficult than it appeared. "I would like to see you try."
The girl didn't look as if she was concerned about what she had just heard. In fact, she simply took up a similar battle stance, almost as if she was daring Fred to carry out on the threat. The smile on Fred's face widened at the thought of killing this interloper. How dare she interfere? Who was she...?
Suddenly a spark flashed within her mind, the accompanying headache bringing her intense pain. Grimacing, Fred collapsed to the ground on one knee and looked up to find the young girl smiling back at her. "I knew it."
"What are you talking about?" Fred spat through her teeth, trying desperately to right herself and deliver a killing blow, shocked that this young girl, seemingly without any apparent effort at all, had bested her so easily.
"When Sailor Moon used the powers of the Silver Crystal, I had feared that the enemy's hold over you wouldn't have wavered," the girl answered. "Having been exposed to them so recently, I thought the grip of the enemy on you may have been unbreakable. But I was wrong. The spell on you has been weakened. You'll be one of us again soon enough."
That comment brought forth a furor within Fred, which granted her the strength to rise and make her way towards the girl, sword in hand and prepared to split her in half. "I'll never be one of you!" As she closed in on the girl, however, she raised her weapon, casting a blinding light towards Fred.
Instinctively, Fred stopped in her advance, raising an arm to shield her eyes. The light faded after a few moments, and she brought her hand down and blinked her eyes, looking around to find the one who had done this, only to find that the young girl had taken advantage of her momentary distraction and had disappeared.
Then, from out of nowhere, her voice rang in her ears. "Mercury, don't worry. Soon you'll be coming home."
"Never!" Fred shouted the word to the sky as she reverted from her Soldier form back to her civilian form. Collapsing to her knees, she tried to steady her breathing, trying to figure out what was going on. That girl's words, combined with that momentary flash of pain, were bringing about new feelings and memories within her. What had happened to her?
She did not know. She did know, however, that regardless of what it was, it had shaken her a great deal. She needed to return to her Queen for answers.
Getting up, Fred walked towards the door, confident that the next time she faced her former friends, and especially this new player in the game, it would be for the final time.
Watching some distance away, the young girl smiled as Fred opened the door and disappeared, assured that what had just happened meant that she would immediately return to the enemy's stronghold, wherever that was. Things would be right again soon, she realized. All she had to do was make sure that Willow didn't come to harm in the meanwhile.
Leaping to the ground below, she began to walk down the street, humming tunelessly to herself. She paused and let out a deep breath, her eyes glancing upward...to find the large cat ears sticking out of her head. Frowning, she quickly looked to her backside, seeing the tail sticking out from underneath her skirt.
Turning around, she let out a sigh. "Unbelievable!" She began to skip down the street once again, a light encompassing her body after only a few steps. It grew and shrunk after several moments.
And when it faded, where there had once been a girl, there was now a black cat with an all too familiar crescent moon on its forehead. And as it continued on down the street, it giggled in the same voice as the young girl.