Watch Your Step
Title: Just Too Bad
Disclaimer: Don’t own BTVS or Supernatural.
Spoilers: S7 for BTVS, some S2 for Supernatural.
Summary: She missed a step, and then missed a lot more . . .
Notes: Response to “Waking Up To The Married Life” challenge.
~Watch your step~
“I told you to watch your step.”
Cassie, again. Cassie, which was short for Cassandra. It was a lovely name, with tragic implications. There was a sorrow with that name, one that would haunt its bearers down through the ages.
“They didn’t believe you back then, did they?”
“I’m not meant to be believed, even if I’m always right. I think it’s the universe’s idea of a running gag. Gets funnier every time they see it.”
She blinked and frowned when she found herself staring up at a cloudless night sky. The stars were blinking brightly and innocently, like they didn’t know what Cassie was carrying on about. Or maybe they did, and they didn’t believe her. It would fit the pattern. “It doesn’t seem to be that mean.”
A lock of purple hair has flown away from the mass of blonde tresses and the girl pushes it back behind her ear with an annoyed expression on her face. “I should have died with a scrunchie. This is getting to be so tedious.”
She noticed that her statement went ignored. “It can’t be the universe.”
Cassie looks kind of sad. “What else could it be?”
“You tell me.”
“You won’t believe me, remember?”
There was an awkward silence. She just went back to looking up at the night sky and the bright little stars. She frowned and wondered where the moon had gotten to. Shouldn’t it be right there, where it always is?
“You’re not where you always are, so why should it be there?” Cassie was sitting cross-legged on the grass, head tilted all the way back so she could see the same stars. It would be far more comfortable for her to just lie on her back and look up at them, but it probably wouldn’t make much of a difference to Cassie.
“Comfort is irrelevant once you’re dead.”
Cassie nodded and continued to stare at the sky. She went back to doing the same. The moon had reappeared. She was taking that as a good sign.
“Optimism isn’t going to get you through anything right now. You’re much better off being pessimistic. It’s not uplifting, but a lot more realistic.”
“Why do you keep suggesting things? You know I’m not going to listen.”
“I can hope.”
“Well, you wouldn’t be practicing what you preach.”
“Hey, I’ve got an eternity of these little interactions to look forward to; you might not live not the next few hours. I think someone in for the long haul needs more uplifting than anyone else.”
“Rationalizations are tedious too, you know.”
“You weren’t this annoying back there.”
“How would you know? You died before I met you.”
“I died before I met a lot of people. Didn’t mean I didn’t know them.”
“You’re getting philosophical. Or kind of stalker like. I’m not sure which frightens me more.”
“The philosophy should get you. It’s got a mind of its own.”
“But it’s malleable. I can shape it to make it what I want.”
There was a short, bitter laugh. “That’s the biggest lie ever told. You don’t shape philosophy-it shapes you. And tricks you, like Coyote. Never take it at face value-it’ll just take the opportunity to smack you on the mouth.”
“I’m starting to think some of this being-dead nonsense has embittered you.”
“I’m not embittered. I’m not anything. I’m not even here, if you really want to get down to it. You know this is just a hallucination, right?”
“I would classify it more as a dream. Maybe even a prophetic dream.”
Another bitter laugh. “You’re no Slayer, honey, so I’d just forget about that prophetic thing. Besides, it’s not the greatest thing in the world. Most of the time the message isn’t figured out until the last possible second-so you can’t change it.”
“Maybe you aren’t meant to change it. Maybe it’s always been about changing you.”
“Did I just warn you against the philosophical?”
“Yeah, but no one listens to you, remember?”
Cassie didn’t say anything, but her face betrayed her emotions. She was getting kind of annoyed.
“Where are the others?”
“Not here. They watched their step.”
“Probably because you didn’t tell them to.”
“Are you going to be this disagreeable throughout?”
“Depends. Throughout what?”
She wrinkled her nose. “I don’t like calling it that.”
“That’s what it is.”
“Why am I hallucinating you?”
“Maybe I’m hallucinating you, ever think of that?”
She paused for a second. “No, not really.”
Cassie sighed in exasperation. “You’re a lot more self-centred than Buffy led me to believe.”
“You’re not a very nice hallucination.”
“Scary thing is, I’m the nicest thing that’s going to happen to you in the next little while.”
“Can’t hardly wait.”
“Sarcasm isn’t good for the soul.”
“Neither is being catapulted into a galaxy far, far away.”
And then Cassie laughed. “Oh hell, you aren’t that far away. Hell, you aren’t far at all. Just a few steps over, in the same galaxy mind you.”
She frowned. “Isn’t it like a law that when you miss your step, you wind up in an alternate dimension?”
“No. Where’d you come up with that stupid theory?”
She shrugged. “Just seems to be the way most things go.”
“Look, dropping into another dimension isn’t exactly something you can do by accident. If it was, no one would be in the right place, ever!”
“That would be inconvenient.”
“To say the least.”
“So what now?”
“Now we sit here and wait for it.”
“Wait for what?”
“You’re not a helpful person by nature, are you?”
“I’m very helpful. I’m so helpful that it hurts. It’s just that no one listens to me when I’m being helpful. And then when everything comes around to bite them on the ass, they accuse me of being unhelpful.”
“How can it be reality if this is a hallucination?”
Cassie gave a shrug. “Don’t ask me how the system works.”
She was feeling a headache coming on. “Can’t we at least discuss what happens now?”
“Why? So you can ignore me like before?”
“What happened to your hope?”
“It decreases with my annoyance. Damn it’s cold out here.”
“Should have died with a jacket on.”
Cassie chuckled dryly. “Yeah, should have. And you know, I knew it was coming too, so I probably should have thought of all these things before.”
“Probably didn’t see this messenger thingy at that time.”
“No, you’re right. This gig was a surprise. One I could have done without, mind you.”
Then they were quiet again. She looked back to the night sky, saw the stars and the moon, and realized that everything was back in its place.
“Time to go?”
Cassie nodded. “Time to go. You won’t remember much, but time has passed. And things have changed. There’s a ton of new people, new enemies, and new problems. You’re going to break a lot of hearts, if you’re not careful.”
“Hearts? Why would I break hearts? It’s not exactly something I’m known for.”
“I didn’t say you would do it on purpose. Just if you’re not careful. Like I said before, new people. New people, and new relationships, ones that you could mess up really bad if you don’t watch what you say. And what you do. Just remember, they’re not there to hurt you. Unless it’s an enemy, then they will hurt you.”
“How am I supposed to know the difference?”
Cassie shrugged again. “You just will, I guess. But be careful. He’s got a rough exterior, but he can be hurt. And you’re one of the only ones who could hurt him enough to break him.”
“You’re not talking about Xander, are you?”
She ponders for a moment. “Spike?”
Another chuckle. “No.”
“Giles? Angel? Connor? Gunn? Oz? Riley?”
“Nope, nope, nope, nope, nope, and nope.”
She screwed up her face and played her last card. “Andrew?”
And there was just laughter, no confirmation or denial, but she was taking that to mean she wasn’t on the button with that last one. Well, she didn’t think she would be, but she was out of men at that point. “Then who?”
“I already told you, someone new.”
“Can I get a name?”
“Why? You won’t remember this later.”
“I won’t? Why not?”
“Because I don’t have time to explain and you’re waking up ri-”
She was all warm and comfortable. There was a pillow under her head, and though it wasn’t as soft as the one at home, it was okay. The bed itself was kind of hard, but the covers were wound tight around her and she was nice and cozy.
At least she had been, until she started waking up. Then her mind became more conscious and began telling her that things were out of place. First, though she had guessed it wasn’t her bed at first, her mind was starting to wonder how in the hell had she ended up in a bed that wasn’t her own. If she wasn’t in Cleveland, then where was she?
Secondly, why wasn’t she feeling any clothes at the moment? Regardless of where she was, she always wore pyjamas to bed. Usually her Scooby Doo ones, but she had a nice Tiny Toons one as well. Point was, she wasn’t wearing either at the moment. Actually, she wasn’t wearing anything right now. Why was she naked?
And thirdly, but most alarming, was the fact that there was someone in bed with her. She hadn’t really noticed before, but as she started becoming more awake, she became aware of the fact that there was most definitely someone in bed with her. Someone who had a nice, firm chest that was currently pressed up against her back. Someone with a muscular arm that was wound around her waist, her naked waist. Someone with a strong chin that was resting on her shoulder. And someone who was most definitely a male, and a naked male, as was evident by that hardness pressed against the back of her leg. Why was she naked with some guy?
Her eyes snapped open and her hand reflexively tightened around the corner of her pillow. The pace of her breathing picked up and all the muscles in her body became tense with fear. She willed herself not to move, not to scream, until she could turn around see who her naked companion was.
But she took too long. Almost immediately the person behind her started to move, the arm around her waist tightening for a second as he shifted. His chin left her shoulder, but his chest pushed further against her back. It took her a second to realize that he was pulling her closer as he was rising up a bit. She swallowed the scream that was threatening and turned wide eyes to face her companion.
He’s handsome, whoever he is. A very pretty face, dangerously close to being too pretty for a boy. Lovely eyes framed with to-die-for lashes, lips all red and pouty, and stubbly chin that probably could go one or two more days without a shave. He was using his one free hand to rub the sleep out of his eyes, something that he did quickly so that he could level a concerned look down at her.
“Everything okay?” he asked, his voice scratchy and deep. She ponders the shiver that went shooting down her spine at the sound of his voice. Slowly, her initial fear is fading, though she’s not sure why. She still doesn’t know who this guy is, and why they’re both naked in a strange bed.
“Willow?” This is said with a gentle nudge. Her eyes widened a bit more. So he knows who she is, which means they probably met before this. So why can’t she remember? Did she could on a bender last night and hop into bed with some random person?
“Willow, what’s wrong?” The sleep has faded from his eyes. He looked very alert and very worried. His eyes travel down her body before coming back up to her eyes. She realized that he was checking her for any sign of injury. His hands are rough and calloused, but soft in touch as he rests one on her arm. There’s definite worry in his eyes now, and she watches as his eyes go from confusion, to slight panic, and then almost piercing fear. “Willow, what’s wrong?”
This time his voice has a slight tinge of fear. It makes her heart constrict, though she can’t tell why. She shook her head, trying to clear her mind of these random thoughts. His hand made his way up to her chin and suddenly he’s cradling her face as gently as possible. “Willow, tell me what’s wrong?”
At last, she found her voice. Her mouth opened and the burning question made its way out of her throat. “Who are you?”
His eyes betray his disbelief. A disbelief that turns to anger and finally into despair. His face hasn’t changed at all throughout these transformations. But his eyes let her know what he was feeling. And then it was like nothing was there at all. He just shut down, face turning to stone as he pulled away from her. She followed his movements with wide eyes, sitting up with the covers still wrapped firmly around her.
And just when she thought he wasn’t going to say anything, he did. She just didn’t understand what he was saying.
“So, it finally happened? Dad told me it would; I guess I just thought he was wrong. More like hoped he was wrong. Everything would be fine if I just ignored him. Suppose that’s why people don’t accuse me of being the smart one.”
He looked at her out of the corner of his eye, that face of stone still there. Her stomach twisted at the sight of it.
“Can’t delay the inevitable, I guess. I’m Dean. I’m also your husband.”