"Perhaps you misheard me. Absolutely not. No. Never. Forget it." He made his way through the library, heading behind the counter.
"But I can help!" Willow set her books down.
"Yes. With research."
"No. With magic." She stared at him. "Buffy is going up against a formidable opponent tonight. You said so yourself. I can help keep some of the bad guys away from her."
"It's too dangerous."
"I'll take the necessary precautions. Like I always do."
"You aren't trained."
"I won't learn any other way. I follow the spells carefully. I use the proper wards. Xander, Cordelia and Oz help protect me. I'll be fine. Buffy needs me."
"Buffy is the Slayer. The chosen one. The only person she needs is her watcher."
"You're wrong. Buffy does need us."
"Every other slayer has only had her watcher."
"And every other slayer has died young!" Willow bit her lip at the look of agony on Giles' face. "I'm sorry, but it's true. Buffy's still alive because Xander stepped in. You need our help. She needs us."
"I'll consider it."
Willow sat in her regular seat at the table. Sighing, she openned her bookbag and withdrew a sheaf of papers, a small candle and a bag of powder. She flipped to the appropriate page and lit the candle.
"Stop it!" Giles' fist struck the table and caused the candle to go out. "Damn it Jenny!"
Silence filled the room. "I'm Willow."
He sank into a chair. "Yes. Of course. Willow. I just..."
"I am Buffy's watcher. My job. My calling. My life is trying to keep her alive. And as much as we...I appreciate all of the help you provide, I cannot - no, will not be responsible for your lives. I can't save you all."
"We don't expect you to save us."
"But I do. And I can't. Just like I couldn't save Jenny. Don't you understand? She died. Helping me. Helping Buffy."
"It was more than that. She died trying to destroy a demon. Because she loved you. But also because she cared about us. All of us." He started to interrupt, but she held up a hand to stop him. "It's like Buffy. And it's why those of us who know help. Buffy doesn't do this because she has to."
"Don't be ridiculous. She is the chosen one."
"But that's not why she does it. She slays because if she doesn't, her friends, her family or her watcher might die. She slays for us. Even for the ones who don't know that every night she risks her life to save theirs. Maybe especially for them."
"You are trying to convince me?"
"My meager talent is all I have to give. I may not be the chosen one, but I have chosen to help get the bad guys. And I will help. But I'd rather do it here with your help and guidance."
He stared at his hands, clenched in front of him. "You're determined to do this? My input doesn't matter?"
"I want your input. That's why I want your...approval, I guess." Giles sighed. "Better that I can keep an eye on you. Very well, Willow."
She watched him walk to his office, obviously upset. Finding her place on the page again, she relit the candle. She sprinkled the pale lavender powder into the flame.
Hecate, pray thee heed my cry Let clouds slip across the sky. Ease his burden, make it light Banish darkness from the night. His fondest wish, his greatest fear, One succeed, one disappear. Give to him which he most yearns, For tonight, as the candle burns. Willow whispered the words, yet they felt loud as thunder. they seemed to echo around her as she blew out the flame.
He lifted his head from where it had been buried in his arms. "Willow?"
He watched in awe as Jenny seemed to materialize in front of him. "My God. Jenny?" His voice broke on a sob.
He raised a hand to stroke her cheek. It shimmered against his touch and a thrill of electricity ran through him. "How? Why?"
"Willow. I've been sort of guiding her. Helping her. Helping you. As for why, well, for you."
"Are you real? A ghost? A vision?"
"A spell. For you. They're worried about you."
"I miss you."
"And I you." She paused, simply staring at him. "I wanted to say good-bye, since we weren't afforded the opportunity. You have to let me go."
"I wasn't aware I was holding on."
She squeezed his hand. "You blame yourself. And you need to stop. Angelus killed me. And if you had tried to stop him, he'd have killed you too."
"I realize that."
"With your head. Now realize it with your heart."
"I love you."
"And I love you Rupert. Always." She held up a cream colored taper candle. "Make a wish."
"Aren't you it?"
"No. Make a wish and blow out the candle."
"Every wish I have comes back to you."
"Come on Rupert. Make a wish or I'll have to do it for you."
"You. As long as it doesn't involve monster trucks."
"All right." She smiled sweetly. "I wish you love and peace. Now blow out the candle."
"Physically. That will happen regardless."
"I miss you Jenny." He closed his eyes and sniffed back tears. With a soft, sad breath of air, he extinguished the flame.
The candle in front of Willow lighted again, causing her to start. She looked up at the door to Giles' office.
He stood there, his eyes red. "Willow. Magic is not a game. Promise me you'll never play with people's emotions again."
"I just wanted..."
"All right. I promise." She looked like a kicked puppy. "I wanted to make you happy. I guess I failed. I just wanted you to be able to say good-bye."
"Willow, you gave me my fondest wish. My heart's desire. Please. No more."
She smiled. "All right. I promise." She gathered her things as he walked back to his office. "Oh Giles?"