Falling Leaves, Twisting Prophecy Pro-3
like the series.
pairings: mention of Buffy/Spike, Willow/Tara these pairings will change.
disclaimer: I own nobody from Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
plot in response to a challenge from Vaberella, hope you like my twist on it.
Set in season 6, will rapidly become Au. Willow brought Buffy back from the dead. Buffy and Spike are shagging.
Rupert Giles sighed, one thumb rubbing at his temple. Sometimes, being a Watcher could be incredibly dull, and this was one of those occasions. There was no current crisis that they were aware of, no imminent master plan, no would be Master that had come to their attention, no impending apocalypse to avert.
Which was why he was sitting in the library, searching through old volumes of obscure prophecy. The simple fact that there was no crisis today didn't mean there wouldn't be one soon. Wouldn't it be better to have some warning, some idea how to prepare for it? Or perhaps to have a guideline for solving a problem when it did show up.
He opened another book, flipping it to a section near the middle, just to try a bit of variety. There was a photograph of a fragment of old pottery, Greek Archaic period if he wasn't mistaken, the dark shape of a tree, branches curling around and down in a way that suggested it had been painted on the bottom of a bowl. It was a bit pretty, actually. Certainly not the sort of thing he expected to see near an old... well, it looked like part of a song.
Behold the Tree! Over the Mouth of the Underworld it flourishes
No Storm or Trial has broken it's Mighty Boughs
No Tribulation or Test has stripped the Flowers from it's branches
Beneath the branches of the Tree is Light mingled with Dark
Eternal Twilight reigns, neither Light nor Dark in Pure Form
Protect the Tree, let not it's Support Crumble
For none that are Granted Shelter beneath it's Branches shall Fall.
Looking at the verses, Giles almost expected it to continue into the tale of some Greek hero battling dark forces, attempting to win honor, renown, and marriage to a wealthy princess. But it didn't. There were careful notes, translated from the writings of long ago Watchers that claimed the author of that particular set of verses had some renown in the area as a prophet. That the odd man had been making verses about Guardians of the Mouth to the Underworld, not for interesting songs, but 'to get the visions from my mind'.
Some later speculation had been that he spoke of a Hellmouth, or some sort of portal to another realm, one of the Hell Dimensions. With a sigh, Giles looked over it again, confident that if he didn't, it would become a matter of great importance. That was how things generally worked over the Hellmouth.
There was another section that spoke of the Tree, and this one seemed a bit more ominous. It sounded as if the Tree gave power to it's guardians, that they were stronger simply because they protected this tree. But that protection wasn't automatic, nor was it permanent. Especially troubling was the idea that forces of Darkness could gain control of this powerful tree.
Deny not the Support of the Tree of Flowers
For even it's Mighty Boughs can not stand Alone
Let not it stand Unguarded, least Shelter be Denied
For if the Guardians of the Tree Fail,
Then Others shall Gain it's Protection and Strength
Betrayed and Abandoned, the Tree Will Become
New Guardians to Call from Shadows of Darkness
The Support of the Tree Gives Power
If the Tree is not Protected by the Forces of Light
Darkness shall Claim, and Enshadow the Tree
The Tree's Chosen Protector will not be Defeated.
He sighed once more, sipping at the cold tea in his cup. He had a niggling feeling that these two fragments of verse were linked, that they spoke of the same Tree. He also suspected that the Tree was symbolic, and they weren't looking for a large growing plant, possibly with flowers. No, it wouldn't be that simple. Things were never that simple.
The good news was that this Tree was some sort of defense. If it was protected by the forces of Light, that meant it was a thing or person of good, and therefore, should they find it, their role would be... well, to protect it. He shook his head, appalled at the circular pattern of his thoughts.
"Lord, I need to go home and get some rest. I'm thinking in circles... next I'll be pondering why Americans still claim that they speak English..." He carefully marked both sections with bits of green ribbon, closing the books and putting them inside his office.
It certainly didn't help that whoever had translated the verses had capitalized words by whim, not following any sort of pattern or rule that he could determine. Symbols everywhere, bizarre capitalization, sentence structure... He could understand why it was frustrating to work with prophecies.
Willow stood by the window, eyes unfocused as she faced the outside. She didn't see the pretty lawn, didn't see the small children playing across the street. Her eyes blinked occasionally, feeling itchy with tears that she was trying not to shed. It hurt to breath, from the pain inside. She'd fought with Tara, again.
Tara had tried to say that she was using too much magic, that she ran the risk of becoming addicted. That the magic was controlling her, not the other way around. She'd tried to convince her otherwise, to say that it wasn't like that, that she wasn't addicted, that she wasn't abusing the power. Tara had claimed that all addicts denied the problem existed at first. And the look in her eyes, it had been so cold, so angry...
How could the person that she loved doubt her like that? How could Tara say such things if she loved Willow? How could she face the rest of them, wondering if they agreed with Tara, if they were watching her for some artificial dependence, a secret urge to use magic for everything... It hurt to wonder if everyone else doubted her as well.
They hadn't been worried about addiction when she'd resurrected Buffy. Then, it had been 'we need Buffy' and 'we can't handle this without a Slayer' and 'we can't do this without you, Wills'. They'd wanted Buffy back so badly...
Had they wanted her back badly enough to ask Willow to do something that frightened them? Had they asked her to do things, perform a ritual that they all despised just to get Buffy back? What were they willing to sacrifice to get back their Slayer?
But they didn't have their Buffy back. They had someone that looked like Buffy, and she was definitely a Slayer, but... it wasn't the same. She wasn't the same person anymore. This Slayer was so cold, so distant. The only person that she'd let have any idea what was going on inside was Spike. That hurt almost as badly as Tara's words...
She stood there, unmoving, a part of her mind taking idle note of the shadows changing their angles as the hours passed. It wasn't important enough to move. It was the voices that brought her attention back to the physical world instead of her own tangled emotions. Familiar voices, echoing from the shaded porch.
"...don't know why you insisted on coming anyhow. It's still daylight outside, you could get burned." Buffy's voice, showing hints of worry, traces of anger. More emotion that she'd used in a week of talking or not talking to Willow.
"I missed you." There was a sound of fabric moving, sweeping over the porch. "Maybe someone can help you."
"Help me? Who could I talk to about THIS? Who would even believe me? How would I even begin? 'Well, I'm having some problems right now... oh, they started when I made a swan dive off a constuction set and died. Then I got dragged out of heaven to come back here until I die again...' God, Spike, I can't tell anyone that. Nobody'd believe me." Buffy's voice shook slightly.
"Maybe your friends could listen." Spike sounded almost doubtful.
"I was in heaven, Spike. Ultimate peace and joy, and they ripped me away from that. Dragged me back here. Willow ripped me away... nobody else could have done it. Nobody else would be powerful enough." Buffy's voice sounded almost flattened, as if she was trying not to care. "I could hate her for it, if I let myself."
Willow felt as if something inside had been slashed open, leaving her bleeding, weakening, vulnerable. Numb, her limbs stiff and prickly from not moving, she made her way upstairs, slipping into the room where she'd been staying before the resurrection. She collapsed on the bed, trying to understand how things could have gone so wrong. Heaven... she'd been so afraid that Buffy was in Hell, that her spirit could have been pulled into the portal... But they had been wrong.
Buffy hated her, Tara thought that she was addicted to magic, Xander... Xander was too caught up in the upcoming wedding with Anya to notice her. And Dawn was so caught up in being a teenager, in having friends and pushing at the boundaries that she didn't have time for Willow either.
Silent tears burned their way down her cheeks, soaking her pillow before they slowed to a halt, before she fell asleep. Willow's dreams were full of tangled images, broken bits of memory from every argument, every snub, every time that her friends had somewhere else to be, something more important than her in their lives. It wasn't that she wanted to be the center of their world, she just... still wanted to be in their worlds.
end part 1.
Gasping, she came awake in the darkness, her blankets tangled around her, trapping her, smothering her. Something had been... hadn't there? No, just a terrible dream. And there was nobody here to chase away the dreams tonight. She fell back against the pillow, noticing the dampness as her cheek brushed it, warm and humid. It took a while before sleep returned to her.
When it did, she dreamed of Angel. Not an erotic dream, but... in the dream, she was Angel, moving through the streets of Los Angeles, talking to Wesley and someone that she barely recognized, more from these dreams than the one time she'd seen him with her own eyes. A man called Gunn, although she wasn't quite certain why he was called that. They were looking for a nest of ghouls, and talking about a search for a missing heirloom that had the power to prevent violence in a building, stolen from an oriental restaurant. They'd been hired to track it down and return it to the family...
It was actually a bit reassuring, although she wasn't certain why. She was there as Angel fought the ghouls, felt the pain when one of them bit into his arm, felt the flesh tear under it's jagged teeth... And felt his demon's satisfaction when he sliced it open with his sword, it's entrails spilling onto the ground as it keened and twitched. She should be disturbed, for so many reasons... but she wasn't.
Willow woke up, feeling comforted. Then, she remembered the conversations last night, the one between her and Tara, and the one that had been between Buffy and Spike. How could she... What could Willow do to prove that her magic wasn't running wild?
There was a slight metallic squeaking, and Willow looked over to the dresser, seeing the familiar cage that held... Amy. Maybe if she turned Amy back to her real self, that could help? She stepped out of the bed, walking slowly towards the cage.
"Morning Amy. I think... I want to try to make you human again. Would you like that, Amy?" She had a small smile as she opened the cage, lifting Amy from it's metal confines carefully.
Amy crouched on Willow's hand, trembling slightly, but her dark eyes fixed on Willow's face with intensity. Willow put her down on the bed, feeling more confident than normal. She always felt more confident after dreaming the life of Angel.
The words poured forth, not a specific spell, but phrases in Latin, Greek, Hebrew and French, asking that Amy be restored to her true shape, that the damage to her be undone, that she have her life once again. The power began to build, swirling around Amy, growing thicker and denser until it pulsed. A noise that started as a tiny squeak ended as a gasp, and a woman crouched on the bed where moments before there had been a rodent.
Her hair was longer now, dark and dull, hanging around her naked form. Glimpses of muscle hinted that the exercise wheel had done more than alleviate boredom. Slowly, she lifted one hand, running her fingers over it with a look of amazement and delight. "I'm... human again..."
With a blur of motion, Amy was hugging Willow, laughing, smiling, tears of joy running down her face. "human again..."
"Umm... also sort of... naked, Amy." Willow pointed out that little detail, uncertain if Amy had noticed or if she'd forgotten about clothing in her time as a rat.
"Err.... naked. Yes, naked. Is me. I am. Umm... should I put something on? Is there something.... the things I had on before... burned?" Amy frowned slightly, trying to puzzle out her thoughts. "Things are all complicated again..."
"Maybe you'd like a shower while I try to find you some things to wear?" Willow smiled at Amy, feeling amazed and relieved that her friend was finally back.
"Shower..." A blissful look settled onto Amy's face. "Yes, I want a shower."
Willow nodded, tugging at her hair, tucking it behind her ear as she considered what might fit Amy. Her friend certainly wasn't fat, especially not now, but she was a bit taller, with wider hips than Willow had. "It's down the hall, the first door on the left."
Amy turned, walking out the door and turning left, still naked. She had a focused look, one that said she wasn't going to be bothered by inconsequential things like nakedness.
"oh dear... this is going to be... something." Willow sighed, still smiling a bit as she tried to figure out how to explain this to everyone. Moving to the closet, she found a baggy dark green shirt, and a wrap around skirt that was patterned in green and blue, so there was something in the way of clothing, but... no underwear. Eeep. Maybe she should look for some sweat pants instead... But hers would be too small, and Buffy's were smaller that hers, and as for Tara... wait, that might actually work.
Her ponderings were interrupted by Amy's slightly embarrassed sounding voice. "Willow? ummm a little help?"
Walking to the bathroom, she found Amy standing in the shower, with soap, a washcloth, shampoo and conditioner all readied, but no water. She wondered exactly what was wrong. "Amy?"
"I forgot how to turn the water on." Amy sounded a bit embarrassed, more about forgetting than the fact that she was naked.
"Oh... well, it's pretty basic, like door knobs. Turn this one for cold, this one for hot... adjust them to get the right temperature. And remember not to get the soap in your eyes."
Amy smiled, eyes grateful. "Thank you, Willow. So many things to remember... You'll help me?"
"Of course I will." She wondered why Amy had any doubts at all.
end part 2.
Predictably enough, things got worse. Not instantly, but fairly close. Amy came back into the room after the shower, a fluffy towel wrapped around her body and a comb in one hand. Willow was helping her comb out the tangles, when there was a brief tap at the door, immediately followed by it being pushed open. Dawn walked into the room, and looked at the two of them, Willow perched on the edge of the bed with Amy clad only in a towel sitting on the floor in front of her, obviously just finished in the shower.
Dawn gasped, her hand flying to cover her mouth as she became pale, her expression shocked and angry. "Tara's upset about something you did and now I find you up here with some other girl? Oh God, Willow, how could you do this to her?"
"Wait, Dawnie, it's not" Willow tried to explain, but it didn't work.
"NO! I don't want to hear it!" Dawn spun around, bolting from the room, slamming the door behind her.
Amy was looking at the door, her fingers tapping against her knee. "I think that went badly. Who was that, anyhow?"
"You don't remember? Oh, wait, that's right, you were never very close to Buffy." Willow paused, trying to figure out how to explain the whole Dawn-Key Glory mess. Shaking her head, she decided to simplify. "That was Dawn, Buffy's younger sister. Umm, you remember Buffy, right? This is her house now... oh, I've been living here at Buffy's house trying to help take care of Dawn after their mom died."
"Tara's the... your girlfriend, right?" Amy sounded hesitant, as if she was trying to sort everything out.
"For the moment... or maybe it would be more accurate to say that she was my girlfriend, especially after this gets twisted into me having an affair with you right here. Umm... other changes... Xander's not dating Cordelia anymore, Cordelia moved to LA, we blew up the school, Angel left, I don't think Buffy's dating anyone, and Xander's engaged to a girl named Anya now." Willow combed through Amy's hair, wondering how she could explain the past three years without Amy wishing that she'd stayed a rat.
Finishing her combing, Willow moved, getting the clothing that she'd found for Amy. "Here, these should fit. I figure that someone will be up soon trying to get answers, and maybe you shouldn't be naked for that."
Amy was just dropping the shirt over her head when the door was flung open again, this time by Buffy, here eyes gleaming with fury, Xander, Tara and Spike trailing behind.
"What is going on in here!?!" Buffy's angry shout was directed at Willow.
Taking a breath, Willow gestured towards the silent figure of Amy, who was looking with curious eyes at the gathering of people. "Remember Amy Madison? I finally managed to de-rat her. But she didn't have any clothing with her, something that YOU should remember all about, Buffy. She wanted a shower, and she'd just come back in here after that when Dawn came in, jumped to some sort of conclusion, yelled at me, and left."
Xander spoke, looking at Amy. "Uhh... Amy? Nice to see the less furry you."
Spike grinned, leaning against the dresser that still held the empty cage. "Red, you never mentioned that your third room mate looked quite so shaggable. Definitely a step up from the Mutt."
Tara kept glancing from Willow to Amy and back to Willow. "You... you used magic again? What are you going to do with her now?"
"You aren't having an affair?"
Buffy's question caused Amy to start laughing, even as she collapsed onto the floor, shaking her head as the laughter continued, one hand waving towards the crowd of people.
Willow smiled, not noticing the way that Spike's eyes hadn't left Amy. "I told her that by the time Dawn finished, you'd think I was up here having wild monkey sex with someone. Which I wasn't. She didn't believe me. And of course it took magic to de-rat her, how else could you reverse a spell like that?"
"Well, to give the Dawnster a little credit, there's generally something up when there's a mostly naked woman in a room with someone else." Xander's comment didn't quite calm the tension.
"There was a lot of magic in here." Tara's voice still held suspicion.
Willow felt another stab of betrayal at that suspicion. Just because she and Tara generally got very close after any large magical working, did she think that sex always had to follow any serious spell casting? "It was a hard spell to undo."
"Well, since you've brought her back, you'd best figure out what to do with her." Buffy scowled at Amy, reverting to her cold and grumpy behavior as she left the room.
Amy looked at Willow, the laughter finally over. "Well, cranky Buffy."
"That was... a recent change." Willow felt as if something had shattered in the last couple minutes. "For now... how about we pack everything up here and head over to the Rosenberg place. There won't be anybody there."
Amy looked up at her, and glanced over to the dresser, where Spike still lurked. "Willow? Who is he?"
"How could I have forgotten... That's Spike. He's been helping us for a while now." She wondered if now would be a good time to explain about the Initiative, and the chip.
Tilting her head, Amy continued to stare at Spike. "He's not reflecting... A vampire?"
"True enough. I AM a vampire, the big bad." Spike's voice sounded almost confident, but was he trying to hide something?
Amy glanced at Willow, her eyes twinkling. "Did we trade Angel for him? He's much cuter."
Ignoring the slight choking laughter sound that Spike made, Willow just grinned. "That's a long complicated mess of a story that can wait until later. But no, we didn't trade Angel, Angel just left. Then we got Spike."
"He's cute. Can we keep him?"
Amy's teasing comment made Willow smile, and Spike left the room, muttering something about possessive witches and demented birds.
Amy stared after him, her eyes lingering on his backside. "Birds? What?"
"He's British. I think it's some sort of slang." willow sighed, wondering how to explain to Amy that lusty thoughts about the vampire were probably unwise.
"Let's start packing some of this stuff."
end part 3.