A/N Just more strangeness from my mental filter. As always, I have no proprietary claim to BTVS or any other recognizable property, but I sure wish I did.
THE WITCH’S TALE
Willow turned off her television and sat back in her favorite chair, her feeling were very jumbled at the moment. She’d just watched a fascinating documentary on a mountain climbing expedition up the second highest peak in the world. She’d been floored when she immediately saw that the subject of the documentary was none other than one of her best friends. That Buffy could climb mountains didn’t really surprise her, the fact that she had been climbing mountains for some time and no one had told her about it did. They were friends, good friends; didn’t friends tell each other everything? Well obviously not, she grumped to herself. Actually, as she was watching, Willow had accepted that Buffy, like Xander, had wanted something that was totally removed from slaying. She relaxed a bit and enjoyed the show, that is until the very end when she saw in the credits that the film-maker was none other than Jesse Snyder; someone that Willow knew better as Xander Harris. ‘OK, that’s it,’ she thought. ‘Is everyone in on the truth except me, how could these things be going on in my friends lives and I not know anything about it?’ Willow sat back and thought; her mood oscillating between being angry at her friends for not telling her what was going on in their lives and being angry at herself for being a bad friend. After a while she got tired of beating herself up and went to bed. Snuggling with Kennedy helped, but not as much as she hoped.
The next day found Willow sitting in the front room of Slayer House Rio and thinking about her life. For the most part it was a pretty good life; she had work that she enjoyed and excelled at, work that gave her life a purpose and she had someone she loved to share it with. But the more Willow thought about it, she realized that her life somehow wasn’t complete, there was something missing that she couldn’t seem to lay her finger on it. It was a conversation that two of the baby slayers were having as they passed the room that clued Willow in on what wasn’t there in her life. One of the young girls had suggested doing something and the other had asked her friend why they should do that. The first had responded that it was fun. It was then that Willow realized what wasn’t there, it was fun. Sure she enjoyed herself, she certainly enjoyed Kennedy’s tongue stud, but to simply do something because it was fun; well it had been a long time since she’d done anything like that. Even going out dancing had the ulterior motive of hunting up vampires and humanoid demons.
So now that the problem was defined, Willow felt that she could get a handle on it. How to put fun back into her life was what she had to figure out. The one thing she realized was that she couldn’t just spontaneously do it, she was a lot of things, but spontaneous wasn’t one of them. So, Willow looked to a time when she’d had fun in her life for inspiration; what had been fun when she was younger? Well there was always hanging out with Xander and Jesse. Sadly, that wasn’t possible any more, and even hanging out with the folks from Rio House wasn’t an option. As the person in charge, she had to remain a bit distant. This made casual friendships impossible within the whole Slayer/Watcher structure. There had been hacking, that was something she’d spent loads of time doing. The problem was that now she was so used to doing things with magic, that Willow honestly doubted she could successfully hack a DMV anymore, the technology had advanced and she hadn’t advanced with it. Her other great love, when she was younger, was reading. Willow had spent hours reading for fun and as she thought about it, she couldn’t remember the last time she’d read something just for the heck of it. ‘Well,’ she thought ‘that ends today.’ Energized and determined, she gathered up her essentials and headed out for the nearest bookstore.
Two hours later she was sitting in the same chair, a look of dejection on her face. It would appear that books had changed a lot since Willow had done any pleasure reading. She couldn’t recall ever seeing some of the currently popular subjects covered in anything she’d read before, even in the quasi-smutty romances she’d read when in the thrall of her Xander crush. Now anything popular had to be soft core (or not so soft core) porn with just enough plot to justify the book’s existence. Willow had picked several books off the shelves and then scanned through them; her overall conclusion had been ‘I could write better than this’. Suddenly Willow perked up from her moping, writing; that’s what she’d do. She would try her hand at writing a novel. If what she’d read had reflected the general level of talent out there, it shouldn’t be too hard. Energized again, she picked up a pencil and a notepad and tried sketching out an idea, but nothing was coming to her. “Write what you know”, was a quote she was familiar with, but what did she know that could be turned into a story. Willow thought back to the bookstore. She had noted that there were quite a few novels and even series that had some basis in the occult; well the occult was something she was familiar with. And romances never went out of style. So now that Willow had found her genre, she again went back to sketching out ideas. Very quickly a devious smile lit her face and she started writing furiously; ‘this will be perfect,’ she thought.
It was Christmas a year later and the whole gang was re-united at Watcher HQ in Scotland. The core group, minus Giles, who was entertaining a researcher he was rather smitten with; was gathered around a fireplace and generally basking in each other’s presence.
“It’s just driving me crazy,” Buffy blurted out into the silence.
“Not again B,” Faith complained.
“Yeah Buffy,” Dawn chimed in. “We’ve already heard about it twice, give it a rest.”
“That’s easy for you guys to say,” Buffy fired back. “You guys don’t have some half baked version of your teen years on the best seller lists.”
“Hey,” Xander spoke up. “I meant to tell you all that there’s talk about turning the first book into a movie already. The production company wants me to work up a bid and a tentative cast.”
“Just great,” Buffy wailed. “Now all of my stupid teen age bullshit will be smeared across the silver screen.” Buffy put her head in her hands, “this couldn’t get any worse.”
“Actually,” Willow said; “I just read the other day that the publishing company had offered at least five million a book to the author if she turns it into a series.”
“I stand corrected,” Buffy moaned.
“Who is this chick anyway, Red?”
“Marie Maclay,” Willow answered. “I checked her out because of her last name, but there’s no family connection to Tara.”
“It is kinda spooky how she seems to know all about what happened to us,” Xander mused.
“I think it’s mostly coincidence,” Dawn said. “Vampires are popular subjects for fiction, and everyone likes a romance.”
“Great,” Buffy chimed in; “good publicity, just what evil needed.”
“I don’t know,” Xander said. “They’ve got so many of the details wrong that no one who reads the book would actually have any idea about how to find a real vampire. I mean vamps that sparkle in the sunlight, give me a break.”
Everyone chuckled and silence once again descended on the room. Buffy fidgeted for a moment, then finally reached behind her and pulled a book out from under the sofa cushion. “Half-Light, a novel by Marie Maclay”, it said. ‘I just can’t get away from it,’ Buffy thought; then flung the offending book onto the fire.
Willow was having a ball. As Marie Maclay, she was meeting interesting people and traveling all over the world, and not worrying about the end of the world when she was doing it. Before she appeared in public as Marie Maclay, Willow had placed a Glamour spell on a necklace, which altered her appearance so that no one could connect Willow with her alter ego. Marie Maclay, so far as the public was concerned, was a brunette in her early thirties; was deeply tanned and she had Kennedy’s body, with Cordy’s smile and Faith’s hair; there was nothing there that resembled Willow Rosenberg. What Willow had discovered after a while, though; was that Marie had a very different personality than Willow. Marie was outgoing and earthy with a rather ribald sense of humor and was able to tell jokes and stories that would have Willow blushing and spluttering. She was worldlier, and way smarter with money than Willow had ever been. It worried Willow at times, but she would always flash back to Giles/Ripper; how two facets of Giles’ personality could be so different, and in the end, figured she was just playing a part.
Willow was currently playing her part in Jamaica; she was meeting with the representative of a production company that was pitching her a movie deal. She’d been shocked when the representative turned out to be Xander; but decided to go through the thing in her Marie character. It was fun talking with Xander as though they’d just met, to flirt with him and not have all the baggage of their past in the way.
“Now, Miss Maclay; I’ll leave the proposal with you. I’d suggest you have a lawyer go over it carefully, and if you have any questions, well you’ve got my number.”
“And you’d come back to personally negotiate with me again?”
“Of course, and I might even bring my wife along to help.”
“That could be fun.”
“It could be indeed,” Xander replied with a bit of an eyebrow waggle. “Now before we go our separate ways, I did have one more question.”
“Did you really think I wouldn’t know it was you there Wills?”
Willow was stunned, how had he known. “I beg your pardon.”
“Come on Wills, this is me. You remember what that bastard Caleb called me?”
Willow remembered her friends title as ‘The One Who Sees”, and folded her hand. “Poo, and I was having so much fun thinking I’d even fooled you.”
“Sorry to rain on you parade Wills.”
“That’s OK, I should have known better than to try and fool you.”
“You should have, but it was a great effort.” He looked around, “is it just you, or is Kennedy around?”
“She’s back in Rio, keeping a lid on things.”
“Cool, then you want to get some dinner and catch up?”
“Sure,” Willow replied, then; “are you going to tell Buffy?”
“That the bane of her sanity is actually her best friend?”
Willow blushed but nodded.
“Nahh, it’s too much fun watching her rant whenever a new book comes out. It’s even more fun watching Dawn wind her up when a new book comes out.” He then got serious; “you do realize that you’ll have to tell her some day.”
“I know,” Willow replied with a nod. “But for right now I’m having too much fun being Marie.”
“I know what you mean,” Xander said with a grin; and Willow realized that he did indeed know what she meant. Then the two friends got up and headed for the nearest restaurant.
Willow spent some quality Xander time and then went back to Rio. Kennedy was glad to have her back and demonstrated this to Willow; repeatedly. Afterwards, they lay there talking and Willow got on the subject of her writing. “You know, I’m really thinking seriously about finishing the series and retiring ‘Marie’.”
“You sure about that,” Kennedy replied.
“Yeah, I’ve taken it about as far as I can, and I really want to try something else.”
“Good,” Kennedy said, “I thought you’d pretty much run out of plot two books back.”
“Yeah, but there’s still a lot of stupid things to have them do. I mean, these are some of the most illogical characters I’ve ever seen, I could probably have them screwing up their lives for years to come. Plus everyone seems to want to read about them.”
“So, you write for you, not anyone else.”
“True,” then she looked over at Kennedy. “Alright, one more book and then they’re retired, but I reserve the right to make them as dumb as possible. So, any ideas for a new direction?”
Kennedy turned to Willow with a truly wicked grin on her face. “How about a mystery series, and your protagonist could be a librarian, a British librarian with a checkered past; and he keeps calling on that past to solve the crimes.”
Willow matched her lover’s grin. “I can hear Giles spluttering and polishing his glasses into a new prescription already.”
“One thing though.”
“What is it Ken?”
“I think writer you should be a guy this time. A young but stodgy New-Englander who can trace his ancestry back to the Mayflower.”
“OK, but why do I have to be a guy?”
Kennedy blushed and looked away, but after a moment turned back to Willow. “Because I’ve been thinking about trying out guys, alright. But the only one I’d trust is Xander and Faith would kill me. So I figured if you were a guy from time to time, well that would work too.”
“So I’ll be the repressed mystery writer, and you’ll be my arm candy, is that what I’m hearing?”
Kennedy sat up, the sheet pulling away from her body as she leaned over Willow, her naked body frosted by the moonlight coming in the window. “Yeah, that’s what you’re hearing, you got a problem with that,” she asked playfully.