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Summary: Answer to Whispers of Willow challenge. 8th-season Willow decides to change the past; 3rd-season Willow decides to join a university in DC. Before the move, Ira informs her of a different parentage, in which Gibbs is her biological father.

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
NCIS > Willow-CenteredDarkenedShadowsFR183272,18917209109,96929 Mar 1127 Oct 14No

Chapter Eight

Willow turned in her computer chair when she heard the tapping on her French doors. It was similar to a scene from over a year ago that she almost thought it was Angel again. But he had no reason to come here now. Shaking her head of the memory, she moved the curtains aside to reveal a smiling Faith.

The redhead grinned slightly and opened her doors, glad to see the Slayer. She was proud of herself for having talked to her biological father today and Oz had called earlier to inform her that they had a gig in San Diego. He had to leave tomorrow evening. Willow had quickly informed him of what had transpired since Friday night, carefully removing the bits involving Faith and the Mayor. That would wait until later.

Of course, Oz had been worried in his own seemingly noncommittal way. She had immediately dismissed his concern, telling him she would see him when she returned from the Capitol. After that, the conversation was brief but punctuated with loving comments.

Currently, Willow couldn’t think of a way for Faith to apologize to anyone else. In the back of her head, she realized much of it would have to wait until the Ascension had passed and they would deal with it then, for good or ill. Despite their long friendship, she knew that Buffy would probably be the most difficult. The blond Slayer had her own way of seeing things and sometimes not even impending apocalypse could sway her opinion. Turning her mind away from the negative thought, Willow was unaware that she had echoed Angel’s thinking from the night before.

“I come bearing goodies,” Faith announced as she entered Willow’s room. She looked around with wide eyes, this being the first time she was actually in the redhead’s bedroom. Turning around, she began to realize from her time in the lower part of the house that weekend that much of Willow, the essence of who Willow was, was confined to this room. She didn’t know if it was because this was Willow’s space or because she couldn’t encroach on the rest of the house.
Willow, on the other hand, merely took the items from Faith’s hand. Setting the papers aside for a moment, she gazed at the necklace almost suspiciously. In her experience, you only got jewelry right before bad news of some kind. “Why…?” she trailed off, not entirely clear on what she was trying to ask.

Faith laughed, the sound a little hollow to Willow’s ears. “He does that, the Boss. I think…” She paused, not sure she wanted to tell the other girl her suspicion, before she tossed aside the hesitation. “I don’t think he had children of his own. Or maybe they’re all dead.” She smiled a little and looked pointedly at the delicate necklace. “I don’t know if it’s bespelled or enchanted or whatever you want to call it.”

At that comment, the witch focused on the piece of jewelry in her hand, feeling an inner sense reach out and wrap around the stone and chain. After a moment, she released her focus and smiled, having not felt anything other than taste of earth and metal. She felt herself gentle against the idea of the Mayor almost unwittingly. Sure, the guy was evil and wanted to destroy Sunnydale in a demonic grasp, but he was really nice.

“No,” she murmured just loud enough for Faith to hear her. The Slayer looked up to see the small, gentle smile, the same expression she could feel on her own face when the Mayor did something especially nice. But it was just a necklace, right? Surely, Willow had to have loads of jewelry. “It’s just a necklace.”

Shaking her head of thoughts to which she didn’t know the answer, Faith plucked the necklace from the redhead’s hands and pointed vaguely at the paper she had set aside. “That’s supposed to be the ritual.”

A smile of a different kind brightened Willow’s face and she immediately began reading the instructions carefully printed on the paper, the focus completely undivided. Meanwhile, Faith set the necklace gently on the computer desk, smiling slightly at the screensaver. It was running through a series of photos, probably on some sort of slideshow. After about a minute of watching, she realized she was looking at family photos. While Xander and another gangly boy that Faith had never seen before were in some of them, they were mostly pictures of Willow with her parents.

“This is almost simple.” Willow’s voice broke Faith’s concentration and the Slayer look over at her. “It’s mostly meditation.”

Faith smiled slightly. “So, you don’t have to do that thing where you don’t eat?”

Willow shook her head. “Nope, just some incense and heavy-duty thinking. Plus,” and here she quoted from the paper, “ ‘one must relieve the body of all binding’.”

The Slayer frowned, her mind attempting to make sense of that particular instruction. “What does that mean?”

“Oh, no jewelry or tight clothing. Usually, it will mean skyclad preferably.” Willow looked up to see the confusion on Faith’s face deepen at that word. “Um, nude. But I have a robe that I use.”

Faith arched an eyebrow. “Magic is weird.”

Willow shrugged. “You going to patrol tonight while I do this?”

A smile stretched across the Slayer’s face, her eyes crinkling slightly. “You need the quiet, don’t you?” At the redhead’s quick nod, Faith finally laughed. “Yeah. I’ll be back later to make sure the magic hasn’t taken you captive.”

Willow mock-scowled at Faith, causing the younger girl to laugh louder. “All right, I’ll leave the doors unlocked.” With that said, she turned away from the Slayer to begin her preparations. Faith took that as her cue to leave, fingering the stake in her jacket pocket.

Disappearing into her closet, Willow tried to analyze the emotion that had filled her at Faith’s idle remark. Something about magic taking over? Even thinking about it made her shiver a little. The apprehension (yes, that’s the word) brimmed a little before settling heavily in her mind.

Quickly stripping out of her clothes and reaching for the dark cloak she had often used during rituals with Amy and Michael, she thought about this new spell. There was a warning at the bottom of the instructions – believe in your power, the dimensional magic can tear an uncertain soul asunder – that had chilled Willow a little. Giles would kill her if he knew she was performing a dimensional ritual.

Backing out of the closet and dragging her altar with her to an open space on her floor, she filled her mind with Oz’s face. Yes, he worried about the magic sometimes but no more than he worried about her patrolling or if the lasagna they served in the lunchroom would give her food poisoning. He was confident in her power and if he could be, then so could she.

She completed the circle and blessed it with the end of a silver dagger, trying to follow the rules of solitary magic to the best of her ability. She arranged the bowls of the elements around her in their proper places before lighting three sticks of incense to create a heavy scent to surround her. Recalling the instructions with her impeccable memory, she thought only about the feeling she received when those not-memory flashes occurred. It was the sickly, repulsed feeling, like she was seeing something that not only hurt her but also didn’t want to be seen.

This feeling swirled in her chest, solid and real, and now she knew that it was always there, waiting to spring on her consciousness. Cocking her head internally at it, she watched it come into focus and realized it was a dark red gnarl of tension. Slowly, she relaxed her focus and pulsed calm but curious intent at the knot. In response, it relaxed as well, its angry shades fading into light greens and yellows. She watched in interest as it began to untangle itself, knowing in the back of her mind that the scent of the incense was relaxing her stress and that this gnarl was responding to that.

When the untangled string began to wrap around her, she couldn’t find it in herself to be worried. This was a part of her. It couldn’t hurt her.
How very wrong she could be.

{Buffy was sobbing so hard that it was all Willow could do to hold her. How could Angel do this?

Oz and that… There wasn’t a word horrible enough. Why? What had she done? Beyond that, what could she do now?

Dawnie. Cute, sweet Dawnie was the Key? But she was so real…

Angel’s so devastated. He should be! Where was he when she died? He didn’t need to know what she planned to do.

The pain of the resurrection ritual… It was almost a good pain, matching wills with Osiris and winning.

Blood… everywhere. Her girl’s life completely snuffed out. What was left? Then, so much darkness and she didn’t want to leave. It was safe here, calm and black and numb.

Watching Buffy yell at… well, everyone, she could feel bile rise in her throat. She would never get it. What would she risk of herself now, just to please a girl she could kill with a thought?}

Willow could feel herself starting to gag as the flashes ran through her mind faster but managed to create a complete picture just the same. Everything had gone so completely wrong. Would go completely wrong?

Suddenly, there was a hard jerk and Willow could feel herself being pulled… somewhere else. She was nude in a dark place, indescribable terrain obscured by wisps of fog. Mere yards away waited a snake-woman that Willow remembered from the not-memories. It was Sage Vasuki, Aluwyn. Her chosen spirit guide.
Swallowing the nervous lump in her throat, Willow walked briskly to Aluwyn. “Sage Vasuki!” she called out, sounding a lot more confident than she felt.

The snake-woman smiled gently at her. “Dear Willow, the Unraveling took longer than I expected.”

For a moment, the witch’s face went blank in confusion but then she remembered how that knot of emotion buried in her chest had responded to her will. “What was it?”

The guide reached out to touch the girl but Willow took a quick step backward. Aluwyn’s arm fell back to her side. “You know what it was, sweetling. Despite your age, you are still quite intelligent.”

Willow stopped and thought, tracking most of the memories. Slowly, she realized she had already changed some of the earlier memories, befriending Faith and choosing to attend a university far away from California as she had. “I…” She paused, looking Aluwyn in her shifty eyes. “I sent this to myself, didn’t I?”

The woman bowed her head slightly. “You were angry.”

“But I’ve already changed it, these memories. Some of them won’t happen, right?”

Aluwyn smiled, the expression gentling the woman’s face. “Some things have disappeared from potential for your reality but many things may still come to pass. My advice is to tread carefully in the future.”

Willow gazed at the snake-woman openly. “But I remember you wanting me.” She blushed, various images from the not-memories rushing to the forefront of her brain. “You’re just going to let me follow a different path?”

Aluwyn nodded her head, an infinitely wise expression on her face. It was then that the not-Willow inside her head reminded her of aspects of spiritual guides. As such, they were not bound to realities and dimensions as mortals were. “I have accepted you as a student in a few different realities. I have what I need. To divert you for my own purposes would be against the rules.”

“So…” Willow trailed off, searching her mind for another question. However, there were none left. “We’re done here?”

“We are.” Aluwyn nodded and, as if the movement was a cue, everything faded away. The mist, the indescribably rough terrain, the frightening snake-woman all slipped away like a bad dream.

“Oh,” Willow exhaled, her breath expelling as she noticed the incense smoke thinning to almost nothing. “That was deep.”

She stood and broke the circle, beginning the process of cleaning and storing the altar. She never noticed the tears leaking out of her eyes or the sobs that would break out of her mouth at various intervals. Her mind was locked in replaying the memories of a Willow that she would never be, feeling the strong emotions that she couldn’t seem to shake.
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