Epilogue - NEW 12th March
~ Three Months Later ~
It was never going to end.
Willow Jackson squeezed her eyes shut as the nightmare faded from her mind, the arms of her husband keeping some of the fear at bay. She couldn’t stop shaking and she couldn’t shake the feeling that the dream had been more than a simple dream.
“Another dream?” her husband asked as he gently rubbed her back.
Willow could see the anger and concern flash across his face in the dim light of the fires outside. As much as she tried to hide the dreams from Daniel, she couldn’t. Over the last three months, he had come to know her too well.
And she had come to love him too much to keep the truth from him. “Sort of.”
He tightened his hold on her and Willow reveled in the safety he gave her.
Daniel… he had become so important to her. Something she never thought possible. Willow never thought she would find love again. After Tara, and everything she had done, Willow didn’t think she deserved to find love again. Even after Nirrti, Willow didn’t think peace or love would ever find its way to her. But after three months of living on Abydos, living an existence that was poles apart from her former life, she was pretty sure she had found it.
Willow had felt a flicker of something for him before she blended with Nirrti and after Nirrti had been destroyed, Daniel had been there waiting.
He had taken her into this safe world, left everything and everyone he loved back on Earth, and took care of her. Every night, for the last three months, he had held her and loved her. He had been with her when she had wanted the world to disappear, for the memories to fade, and he had been there when she cried.
He loved her unconditionally.
And she… She was beginning to love him the way he loved her. It was a slow, arduous, journey of letting go of the pain and forgiving herself. She still missed and loved Tara, and for the rest of her life she would, but she loved Daniel too. She loved him as much as she could love anyone.
She had come to rely on Daniel, and Jack, in a way that bordered on unhealthy. But her in her relationship with those two and, to a lesser extent Skaara’s, her apprentice’s friendship, she found love, happiness. Peace.
At least she had until the dreams started.
At first, she thought they were dreams from Nirrti’s memories or the Goa’uld’s knowledge finding a way around the spell she used to bury it. But now they were getting more frequent, more vivid. They were something more.
They were dreams of the future, one Willow knew would eventuate. A future filled with death and destruction. She didn’t understand why she was getting the dream or what she was supposed to do with what she was being shown. She had healed a lot since coming here, but Willow knew in her heart that she wasn’t ready to fight anything.
Least of all an apocalypse.
But it was coming. With each dream she could feel that the apocalypse was a little bit closer and when it arrived, it would destroy them all.
God, she couldn’t do this. She couldn’t –
“Want to talk about it?” he asked gently, already knowing the answer.
No, she didn’t want to talk about it. She didn’t want to remember what she had seen, who was in it.
“Are you sure you don’t want to talk about it?” he asked again, an edge of desperation to his voice. When she didn’t answer, he spoke again. “You know he’ll kill you if he knew you weren’t taking care of yourself.”
She smiled at that. He was talking about Jack. Jack would go ballistic if he knew she was shutting Daniel out. God, he would go ballistic if he knew she was having nightmares. She could just imagine him, bursting in her and ordering her to tell him what the hell was going on. “Sometimes I think there are three of us in this marriage.”
Daniel, not surprisingly, didn’t argue.
He didn’t argue about a lot. Daniel was always so gentle with her, never pushing her when she shut him out, always protecting her. Her smile fell, she had to tell him. "I dreamt about Tara again.” It was always Tara who appeared to her in her dream, kind of like a guide. Showing her what the future held for them, giving her cryptic clues about what it all meant.
Daniel froze. “What did she say?”
“That I can't fight it... That I can't stop it.” In her dream Willow had tried to fight everything Tara showed her, but her dead lover was relentless. Tara said she couldn’t stop the future in her dream from coming true – and that she couldn’t hide from it. “She said that I'm in the middle... but I didn't do anything. Daniel, I swear, I didn't do anything.”
Willow could sense the anger radiating off Daniel.
She understood his anger and, if she wasn’t so scared, she’d be feeling it to. The Powers had promised her peace, freedom, and now Willow was beginning to think it was all a lie. Tara in her dream… It had to be a message from The Powers, but Willow didn’t dare mention that to Daniel.
If she did, he would tell Jack and they would have to leave Abydos. Jack didn’t understand, he thought distance made a difference to The Powers. It didn’t. They were billions of miles from Earth, and they had found her.
Willow loved Abydos as much as Daniel. She felt safe here. She had friends, family, Skaara was her apprentice in witchcraft – healing magics – and she didn’t want to give that up.
She wanted to stay here… until it was time.
In a quieter voice, she said, “Tara said that the decision is made and they'll be coming soon. She wouldn't tell me who was coming.”
There was nothing they could do to stop it.
** ** **
~ London, England ~
“You know, Watcher, your apartment here isn’t any better than the one back in Sunnydale,” Whistler remarked as he poked his head out of the fridge. “Do you have any decent food here?”
Rupert dropped his groceries in the doorway and fought the urge to walk into his apartment and pummel the demon inspecting his fridge. Instead, he picked up his groceries and closed the door behind him.
Months had passed since Willow and Nirrti were blended then subsequently separated. And everyday since then he had waited for this moment. He had known, despite Whistlers hopes, that the Apocalypse he had spoken of in the demon bar would not be averted.
“Get out.” What the Powers had done to Willow, apocalypse or not, was inexcusable and Rupert knew he would never forgive them for it. Colonel O’Neill was giving all of them updates on Willow’s progress on Abydos and her progress was slow. After three months, Willow was still having problems coping with what had happened. If Daniel wasn’t at her side almost every minute of every day Rupert doubted if she would have come this far at all.
He was her source of strength, as was Jack, but she was still a shadow of the young woman he knew. The only real – permanent – progress any of them had seen was when Willow married Daniel on the planet they were hiding on. Though it hurt – and worried – them that Willow had done something so monumental without them, it gave them hope.
She was healing, slowly. But Willow still had such a long way to go before she would be her old self, if that were even possible.
“Hey, is that the way to greet an old friend?” Whistler complained, sitting himself down on the couch.
Rupert glared at him. He wanted to demand he leave again, but it would be useless. Whistler wouldn’t be going anywhere. “Why don’t you get to the point, Whistler? I’ve no time for your antics.”
Whistler sighed. “You know why I’m here,” his tone was uncharacteristically somber. “The latest attempt to stop the apocalypse failed. It’s time.”
“And now you need Willow to have a go at succeeding where The Powers other Champions have failed?” Rupert couldn’t keep the fury from his voice. “I’m sorry to tell you this, Whistler, but The Powers plans to make Willow powerful enough to defeat whatever foe you want to set her up against has failed. According to Colonel O’Neill, Willow has buried everything she learned from Nirrti. She’s too scared to use it. And even if she didn’t bury what she had learned, she’s far too damaged to do anything with it. They destroyed her.”
The demon had the grace to wince. “They’ve been keeping an eye on her,” he replied. “They know how she is.”
Really? “Then they know she won’t be able to fight their apocalypse? She’s hardly able to fight her nightmares, she’s in no shape to go up against an enemy of The Powers.”
To his surprise, Whistler nodded. “You’re right, she’s is no shape to face anything… And she won’t be.”
She wouldn’t? Thank the Lord for that! Had The Powers changed their mind having seen the state Willow was in? Yet… If they had changed their mind, what was he doing here at all? “But back at the bar you said Willow was needed to fight in an apocalypse.”
“No, I said one of them was needed to fight in the apocalypse.”
One of them? Rupert sighed. Was he at all surprised that Whistler wasn’t making sense? Not at all. “One of whom?”
“One of the Willows.”
One of… “I’m sorry?”
Whistler smiled and walked towards the scotch bottle Rupert had left on the counter. Without asking, he poured them both a drink and motioned for Rupert to sit down. When he made no attempt to move, Whistler shrugged then sat down.
After Whistler took a drink, he regarded Rupert thoughtfully. “You know about alternate realities, right?”
“Yes, I’m aware of them.” Vampire Willow instantly came to mind.
“Good. It makes what I have to tell you a hell of a lot easier.” Whistler took another drink.
“Wait, are you saying that the Willow here isn’t needed to fight the apocalypse you mentioned. That a Willow from another reality is?”
The demon nodded. “Didn’t you wonder why you guys haven’t heard about the apocalypse before I told you?”
“It did cross my mind.”
“Well the reason you guys weren’t involved is because the apocalypse is happening in another reality, two actually.”
Once again, Whistler had astounded him.
“Let me start from the beginning,” Whistler began. “Remember that apocalypse I told you about? The apocalypse to end all apocalypses?” Rupert nodded. “Well, in order for it to come to pass a number of major events must happen. One of those events happened two years ago, but our champs weren’t able to stop Glory in time.”
Glory? “We defeated Glory.”
“In this reality, yeah. But in one of the core realities… they failed.”
“Wait!” Rupert interrupted him. “One of the core realities?”
“There are core realities of which all other realities are based. One reality is a world without science; aliens and all that hoopla don’t exit but magic and supernatural do. The second core reality is a world without demon or anything supernatural. All other of the billions and billions of realities out there, including this one, are variations of those worlds.” Whistler paused. “When the other Willow gets here, ask her about it. She explains it a lot better than I do.”
“I’ll, um, do that.” He was speechless and somewhat confused.
“Anyway, in the magic reality, they didn’t defeat Glory so the fabric between the realities and dimensions was weakened, making way for hell on Earth AND giving this apocalypse another push forward,” the demon explained. “Anyway, to make a long story short, the Willow from the magic realities went into the world without demons to save her own from destruction. But instead of stopping the apocalypse like The Powers thought it would, it spurned it on. Again. Everything she’s done since then has had the same result.”
“And you need our Willow to help?”
Whistler made a face. “There is still a small chance that the other Willow might stop it but… All the signs are saying that she won’t, and The Powers can’t wait any longer. They need to get all their Champions and Warriors in all the key realities working.”
“That’s why Willow’s been getting the dreams Colonel O’Neill rang us about.”
He nodded. “There is still quite a bit of time before the other Willow gets here. The Powers know it’ll take our Willow a while to be strong to help so they’re calling her long before she’s actually needed.”
“What do they want from her?” Rupert wanted to know.
“They need her knowledge, her power. She’s one of three. She can successfully combine Goa’uld technology and magic together. They’ll also need the book we gave you to save her.”
“Oh yes, the spell, I’ve been wanting to ask you about that.”
“About the souls that entered Willow to save her?” Whistler smirked at him. “The spell didn’t go wrong, just so you know. It worked like a dream, better than we hoped actually.”
Well that was bloody terrifying to know. “You didn’t know the spell was going to work? And whose souls did we call from the ether?”
“You know, your lack of faith is still surprising,” the demon said. “Yes, we knew the spell was going to work. Willow was too important to us for it not to work. We just didn’t think it would call the souls that it did.”
“Souls of those who died for the cause,” Whistler replied cryptically. “Look, if I explain it to you, we’ll be here all night. I’ll tell you about them when it gets closer to the time. Right now, we need to get back to the apocalypse.”
Yes, the trans-dimensional apocalypse.
“The knowledge Willow gained from Nirrti, from her going nuts with magic after Tara died, and the power she gained will be needed to defeat the people we’re up again,” he told him. “Now, your Willow won’t be using it. The other Willow will. When she gets the knowledge and the book, she’ll be able to face her enemy head on.”
“I’m sorry…” Rupert held his hand up to stop Whistler from explaining any further. “I don’t understand, why did The Powers choose the Willow from this reality?”
“You know how I said there were two core realities? Well, in actual fact, there are three. Think of the millions of realities that are out there are all on a spectrum, a scale, of some sort. At the ends, you’ve got the worlds without, but in the middle, there is a reality where both science and magic exists in perfect harmony.”
Whistler nodded. “When I said this was the apocalypse to end all apocalypses I wasn’t kidding. Every reality in this realm is in danger, and it’s up to the three core realities to stop it from eventuating. If it does eventuate, then all of realities will be destroyed. Every one of them.”
“And Willow is needed because…”
“She’s the Willow in the middle.”
A/N: For those of you who have no idea about the Willow in the middle, you can read all about her (and the other Willow mentioned) in the sister story, World Without. There is a revised version of World Without on my website, http://realitiescollide.com, but unfortunately I won't have time to add it to Tth until next week. If you've read World Without, you won't need to read the revised version.
Willow’s story will continue at greater length in the sequel to both World Without and New Beginnings. (Both stories can be read independently of each other.)
Thank you all for your support and feedback. And well done to all you geniuses out there who guessed that this was the story of the ‘Willow in the Middle’. I left what I thought were heaps of hints but I don’t think I was as obvious as I thought I was…