A/N: Requested as a holiday prezzie type fic.
Dawn eyed the knife in her hand, the one that she’d taken from the kitchen drawer nearly twenty minutes before. It glinted under the overhead light, the edge sharp. It was one of a set that Duncan had given them on their wedding day, her brain supplied the false memory a little too easily for her tastes and she swallowed back a nervous flutter of apprehension.
Was this what everyone had felt like when she first appeared? Memories that they couldn’t dispute, but that felt a little off nonetheless? Things that some part of them had known, deep down, had never happened – but that seemed real all the same?
She didn’t like it.
Didn’t like it at all.
But there was something she didn’t like even more. Something that made her insides knot up in an unpleasant way.
And that was this idea of immortality.
Or, Immortality – capital I – as it was.
She swallowed thickly and looked at the knife again.
Was Willow right?
Had Anya linked her to Richie the way she’d linked Willow to Duncan?
There was only one way to find out and she didn’t relish the thought at all. She could remember all too well what it felt like for a knife to cut at her soft flesh, letting her blood spill. It wasn’t like that this time – no danger of opening a portal to another dimension and it was just going to be a small cut.
Gripping the knife tightly, she slid it quickly along the pad of one fingertip before she could change her mind.
“Dawn – what –?”
She heard his footsteps behind her, felt his hand grabbing at the knife, but all she could see was the drops of blood that began to well out of the cut. The way they pooled on her finger before becoming too large and dripping slowly over the edge. It trickled slowly off her skin to land on the table.
“Why did you do that?”
“Had to see. Had to know,” she murmured, shrugging absently. There. There it was, just like Willow had said. Like an electric spark over the cut and then nothing. The blood stopped flowing and the dull ache of pain that had only just begun was gone. The urge to do it again, just to be sure, was strong – but Richie looked like he’d fight her tooth and nail if she even tried. Their eyes met for a long moment and then she looked away, her heart dropping.
She was Immortal.
Richie sighed and dropped the knife onto the table before falling into the empty chair next to her. “I’m sorry.”
She laughed, sadly. “Me too.”
“You know – it’s not all that bad.”
Dawn frowned and arched an eyebrow at her… husband. “And why’s that? I mean, the way I see it, most of the people I care about are going to die and I’m going to just keep on kicking, assuming you don’t do something stupid and lose your head. Which is just a dumb rule to a dumb game, no offense. A bunch of loony people with swords that have forever to live and do stuff decide that they just want to fight to the death. Repeatedly. Losers.”
“Hey!” Richie exclaimed. “I am not a loser.” He paused, considering what she’d said. “Or crazy.”
“Uh huh,” Dawn snickered. “Remember the time you –“
She trailed off, the words dying in her throat. That hadn’t happened. No memories she had of their life together were real. Not the good times. Not the bad. Not the frightening or the –
-- the passionate.
There were a lot of those and her memories were very vivid in that regard, too. Figured. Of course Anya would leave her with explicit details of the sex life her and Richie had supposedly had together.
There were even videos hidden under the bed. Videos of her and Richie together, the transplanted memories supplied all too readily.
Definitely Anya’s work.
The more time that passed since they ‘woke up’ to this new world, the more memories there were to work with. For instance, she now had a clear recollection of the first time Richie had ever told her he was Immortal, whereas when this had all began he’d had to tell her…’all over again’. It was like opening box after box of memory, uncovering different parts at different times.
Exciting, but frightening.
Dawn breathed her own soft sigh. “I know you’re not a loser or crazy… but this game of yours is.”
“It isn’t my game, though,” he implored quietly, with his tone and eyes. “I was just wandering along, living a life of juvenile delinquency until I stumbled on it all. And then I got caught up and then – one night everything changed. I got shot.”
Without even thinking about it, Dawn reached out and took one of his hands in hers, squeezing gently. This was always hard for him to talk about and though she’d ‘heard’ it all before – she wanted to hear it again. For real, this time.
“It’s not a picnic, you know,” he continued, his eyes watching their hands with the same confusion that she felt reflected in them. “But I’d rather live this life than have had it all end years ago because of one punk kid.”
And that was something she could understand.
Better to live life – no matter how crappy it was sometimes – than have no life left to live.
“Sounds like a Scooby motto,” she muttered to herself.
“So – this Adam friend of yours? Where is he?”
Willow smirked. Her husband sounded a little wary of that question.
Well, good. Adam had a lot to answer for when she finally got hold of him.
Not just for the wish – but for a lot of other memories that her brain had begun to supply her with. Like the bachelor party that he’d thrown for Duncan the night before their wedding. Oh yeah – she was definitely going to tear him a new one for that. There weren’t any memories about whether or not she’d done it when it first ‘happened’, so she’d just make up for lost time.
But mostly she was going to deliver a stern and somewhat long lecture on the dangers of wishing, followed up by a hex or three if she could sneak them in behind her husband’s back. Adam wasn’t innocent anymore. Not since the moment she’d found out she’d gained immortality along with a husband. That meant that Adam was now on her naughty list and all he was going to get was a big old lump of coal. He didn’t even deserve switches, for goddess’ sake!
Unfortunately, Duncan was awfully protective of a friend that had royally screwed them both, however unintentionally.
“Just curious?” she answered with an innocent shrug of her shoulders.
“What?” she questioned, still playing up the innocence.
“Don’t give me that – I’ve got enough of those fake memories now to know you’re not the sweet little girl you’re actin’ like.”
Willow frowned and crossed her arms over her chest. He’d just stepped in it and he didn’t even realize it. Yet. “What are you trying to say? That I’m not sweet or innocent? Am I some kind of wicked woman? A harlot? A….a…vicious man-eating tramp?”
“I didn’t say that,” Duncan protested.
“You sort of did,” she argued, deliberately jutting out her lower lip. He was a sucker for this – or so said her memories of him. Couldn’t stand to see a woman in distress, even if he knew he was being played.
Which so far he didn’t.
“I didn’t mean it like that!” he insisted, running a hand back through his hair. She studied him discreetly from beneath lowered lashes. This Adam guy was in for a world of hurt – or lectures at the very least! – and no one was going to stand between her and him.
Not even her well-meaning husband.
The few memories she had that included Adam told her only that he was something of a wanderer. Still, she assumed that Duncan knew how to find him, if not exactly where he was at this very moment.
Fake memories – yes. Mind reading – no. Therefore her dear, sweet husband needed to come clean with what he knew.
“You seem like a wonderful woman,” he continued, hesitantly. “However you have been known to use your…charms… to get what you want.” He stopped, eyeing her speculatively. “And I’m not telling you how to find Adam. For his sake and yours.”
Willow cursed under her breath in a language that was too old for even her geezer of a husband to understand.
“He’s going to hurt for this, you know that, right?”
Duncan chuckled and for the first time it actually affected her, just the way her memories said it had in the ‘past’. A warm tingle of longing that built in her stomach and worked its way outward. She sucked in a soft breath, holding it until the feeling passed. They had years – maybe hundreds or even thousands of them – to discover one another. There was no way in hell she was going to rush into it just because the sound of him chuckling was enough to make her feel sort of hot.
So she settled for scowling. Hard.
“I have no doubt that Adam will get what’s he deserves,” Duncan smiled innocently enough – something she, too, knew not to believe. “He always does.”
Willow rolled her eyes and whirled on her heel. “Somehow I don’t think my foot up his butt is just going to ‘happen’ because of karma!”
A virtual formation of her foot, though – that was definitely something she could look into.
She plucked one of her spellbooks from the bookcase. With a glance over her shoulder to make sure Duncan hadn’t seen her, Willow retreated to the bedroom.
There was a little matter of her own vengeance to be planned.
And then she’d have to get on with getting to know her husband, she supposed. For real this time, and not just memories that Anya had shoved into their brains.