It happened in Calgary, which is a new location on the big old map of supernatural wackiness. Not that there’s actually a map or anything, so far as she knows. When she checks the twitter account again, she sees that Faith’s already replied and is sending someone up there to look into it. Willow sends a quick reply that she’ll do some research when she gets home to see if it’s the first attack with this MO or just the first reported in the newspaper. She gets her espresso and hurries back to her apartment. While it’s just one victim, they’ve learned over the years that one often leads to a dozen if they don’t take each possibility seriously and take action. It’s better to overreact over a simple murder than allow a vampire clan to form that terrorizes a city before they can stop it.
When Willow gets home, she heads straight to the computer. She hacks into the Calgary police department server too easily, and she does a quick search for recent victims suffering from blood loss as well as possible animal attacks. If the vampire ripped the throat out of Daniel Osborne, there’s a possibility that it has had other victims with that similarity. The search finds nothing unusual, so she focuses on the official report for Osborne. There are coroner photos at the bottom of the file, and she stares at them dumbly before she turns and throws up on her living room floor.
She’s in Avebury when her world continues to tip. It’s an email from Giles this time, disrupting her period of meditation and reflection. In the two months since Prague, Willow’s felt ungrounded, and she knows coming to a magical place is what she needs. It’s extremely important that she keep control of her magic. The last time she let emotions interfere with it, she nearly ended the world, after all. There’s nothing she can do to change the fact that Oz is dead, and it isn’t like she’d seen him in years, anyway, but it’s still hit her hard and is making things difficult.
The email alert is on her phone when she finishes her ritual amongst the stones. She feels refreshed and alert as she walks to the pile of clothes she left outside the stone circle. The dew is cool against her bare feet, and she shivers as she reaches for her panties. Sliding the material onto her legs is almost like putting a barrier between her and nature, something she’s more aware of following the ritual. It’s too cold to stand around naked, so Willow focuses on practicality.
After she’s dressed, she checks her messages and reads the note from Giles asking her to call him. Before she can, she gets a text message from Buffy and clicks it. Willow. I’m sorry about your parents. We’ll find out what happened. I’m here if you need me. Love you. Buffy Her parents? She hasn’t spoken to them since Hanukkah last year, which is their usual yearly conversation. Something’s happened to them. Giles’ email and Buffy’s text means something’s wrong.
Willow closes her eyes and focuses on the hotel room she’s staying in, feeling the tingle against her skin as she transports there. Once she arrives, she sits on the lumpy bed and calls Giles. He calmly tells her that her parents have been found dead in Barcelona, where they were staying for a conference. Bodies found on the beach, drained of blood, throats cut, posed together. Andrew had linked to the newspaper article due to the blood loss, and Giles had recognized their names. She supposes that it’s better to find out from him instead of Twitter, like with Oz.
Her parents are gone.
She’s in Barcelona when her world begins to fall onto its side. The local police have ruled her parents’ death as murder, but there are no leads and no one saw anything. People only vaguely remember her mother because she was loud and rude, though nobody saw them the night they died. Nobody can explain to her why they were on the beach when her father hated the ocean and her mother didn’t swim. A romantic walk before bed and they stumbled upon a murderer is the popular theory, though she’s also heard accusations of them seeking drugs from the less desirable citizens in town which led to the vicious attack. Neither of them had drugs in their system, but that doesn’t seem to matter if the police can pin it on a drug dealer.
There’s nothing Willow can do here, but she can’t bring herself to leave because it feels like giving up. They were her parents, even if they were absent more than they were there from the time she turned twelve and could look after herself. Her magic’s getting wonky, but she’s keeping control of it. Between Oz and her parents, it’s just getting to be too much. She doesn’t really believe in coincidence, either, so losing three people in her life so close together in similar ways is nagging at her, even though no one else seems to think the deaths are related. Well, Dawn believes her, but Dawn’s always been pretty loyal to her. Buffy thinks she needs to rest and Giles mentions the stress of work anytime she’s suggested a link between Calgary and Barcelona.
It’s Xander who calls her when she’s sitting in her tiny hotel room searching the internet for any recent cases involving blood loss and posing of bodies. If there is some kind of vampire serial killer traveling around the world killing people, there’ll be a trail she can find on Google. So many newspapers are all on-line now that it isn’t like it was back in Sunnydale when it took more effort to locate information. Xander’s call disrupts her search, and she knows as soon as she hears him say her name that something’s wrong.
She’s in Sao Paulo when her world flips over. Kennedy’s death is another unsolved murder in a town where vampires lurk in shadows. A slayer they feared, a death they celebrate. Willow moves through the shadows as easily as one of them, her power scaring them even as her blood sings to them. They want her yet their fear protects her. It is almost comforting to be back, to feel the magic caress her skin as she ventures into the darkness seeking answers.
Brazil was home to her for years after Sunnydale, when she believed Kennedy was what she wanted. Someone not like Tara, because no one could ever replace Tara. Kennedy refused to leave when things between them ended, became the spoiled brat that Xander warned Willow about but she was too in love to see. Willow is happy to be back, even if she regrets the circumstances that have caused her return. Kennedy’s death has convinced Xander that Willow’s theory might be valid, as he joins Dawn in researching other unsolved deaths in recent months.
Willow’s theory has evolved since she received the phone call in Barcelona. Kennedy was found drained of blood, neck torn, posed like the others, so she knows it’s the same killer. A vampire, even if Dawn rightfully points out that it could be any supernatural being since there is no proof of bite marks on the ripped throats of the victims. Willow knows it’s a vampire. Her magic has told her that, if nothing else. She can feel it, but she isn’t foolish enough to tell Xander and Dawn the entire truth. They support her more than any others, but no amount of years will ever remove the faint fear that lurks in the back of their minds whenever they think of her and magic. She helped save the world not even a year after almost ending it, yet it is death and destruction that will always be remembered.
Oz. Her parents. Kennedy. It isn’t a coincidence. It’s a message. Willow just hasn’t figured out who’s sending it or why she’s the target. This is where she’ll find answers. The killer has brought her to Sao Paulo, and she can feel someone watching her, has felt it since she arrived at Kennedy’s apartment and began snooping around. In the years since Sunnydale was destroyed, there have been a lot of cases she’s dealt with for the council, but she hasn’t been personally involved in a way to warrant retribution or torment. In the days since leaving Barcelona, she has made lists, gotten information from Andrew in case she’s forgotten anything, asked Dawn for opinions on vague possibilities, and she’s still no closer to figuring out why she’s the focus.
She thinks about it as she walks the darkened streets of Sao Paulo, listening to footsteps and feeling an unseen gaze move over her skin. When she reaches her destination, she waits. If this is a game, it’s time that she reminds the unknown player that she’s not a weak victim waiting for him to pounce. She pulls magic from the ground beneath her feet, letting it lap gently at her skin as she gains control of it. A wind begins to stir the air, and her hair blows into her mouth as she murmurs ancient words that only a few can even understand. When she feels the moment is right, she turns quickly and extends her arm, watching pale light shoot out into the darkness around her. She curls her fingers towards her, watching as her magic brings the predator to her.
He is struggling with the magic, fangs bared and eyes blazing yellow as he is brought to his knees before her. The power in him is alluring, and she sways forward slightly towards it, pulling back before she can touch. When he looks up at her, his face shifts, and she inhales sharply. Their eyes meet and she is taken back to Sunnydale, to a muggy night when she nearly died in a twisted game of revenge against her best friend, to husky promises whispered against her ear about belonging and ownership and other things she’s forgotten. Forced herself to forget. She didn’t want it then, and she doesn’t want it now. Does she?
Her hesitation weakens her magic, and he moves fast. He’s on his feet with his hand gripping the back of her neck before she even realizes she’s let go. There is no fear in his face as he tilts her head back, smirking down at her. He wants her, and there’s nothing to protect her. Willow reaches up to push him away, to use her magic to get free, but her fingers curl around his shoulders as she holds onto him. No. This isn’t right. She struggles finally, but his hold is too tight, and she knows she can get free if she tries, but she isn’t sure anymore if that’s even what she wants. There is movement behind him, and she sees a flash of familiar blond hair in the shadows, waiting to catch her if she tries to run.
She looks up into yellow eyes, wanting to ask so many questions that she doesn’t know where to start, but she can only say one thing as she unconsciously bares her neck to him.