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Dreaming of How It Was Going to Be

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Summary: (AU) When a terrorist bombing claims Tara’s life, Xander changes the entire world to heal Willow’s broken heart. But then dreams of their old lives start infringing upon their new ones, and the Scoobies must re-form to figure out how to stop it.

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
BtVS/AtS Non-Crossover > Romance > Multiple Pairings(Current Donor)ListenerFR182256,28613115,1556 May 128 Jul 12Yes

NINE: Buffy, Willow, Tara

Disclaimer: I do not own any of the characters or worlds used in this story, including (but not limited to) Angel, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Dollhouse, Firefly, Supernatural, and Twilight. No harm is intended toward any of the copyright owners. This story is intended for entertainment purposes only.

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PREVIOUSLY: Buffy flirted with Chris. Kennedy pissed off Willow... again. Buffy admitted to Willow that she spent the night at Chris's, and Willow called Dawn to see how Buffy might handle a new relationship. Later that afternoon, Willow confronted Kennedy and they had a little altercation, which Willow won.

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NINE: Buffy, Willow, Tara

"Far, far away, there is a beautiful Country which no human eye has ever seen in waking hours. Under the Sunset it lies, where the distant horizon bounds the day, and where the clouds, splendid with light and colour, give a promise of the glory and beauty which encompass it. Sometimes it is given to us to see it in dreams." -Bram Stoker

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Buffy


Buffy carried a large cup of coffee into the cafeteria and plunked herself down at one of the tables. Joy had been impossible that morning, refusing to get dressed or eat her breakfast, and it had taken almost all of Buffy’s willpower not to just give up and spank her -- something she’d sworn she’d never, ever do. That, plus road construction causing all the lights to be off-kilter, plus having to deal with Willow and Kennedy yesterday -- two people who rubbed each other so wrong that it wasn’t even funny -- and a terrible night’s sleep with the most insane dreams she’d ever had left her feeling like death warmed over.

And the coffee tasted burnt. Great. No amount of creamer would solve that problem.

After a couple of minutes, she saw Satsu come out of the cashier line with her own cup of coffee. She waved her over. “Wow,” Buffy said. “You look like I feel.”

Satsu sat across from Buffy. “Is it that obvious?”

“Only to me, because I’m about as covered in concealer as you are.” She smiled. “And also you look kind of pale.”

“I know.” Satsu sipped her coffee and sighed. “Weird dreams last night.”

“No kidding?”

“Yeah,” Satsu said. She brushed a lock of hair behind her ear; Buffy’s eyes were drawn to her elegant cheekbones and perfectly-shaped lips. She wondered what it would feel like to kiss Satsu. She wondered if it would be as good as it was in her dream.

“Want to talk about it?”

Satsu shrugged. “Nonstop fighting. Swords, martial arts, that sort of thing. At the end, I killed this four-armed monster thing by slicing it in half.”

“Were you... with anyone?”

“Yeah. Couple of women I didn’t recognize. Both brunettes. They were fighting alongside me, and I felt like I knew them. Like we’d been friends for years.”

Buffy let out a mental sigh of relief. Her dream had been similar to Satsu’s -- fighting monsters, longtime friends -- but in her dream last night, Satsu had been the longtime friend, and the two women had been much more than just friends.

There had been a lot of kissing. And maybe a little groping. And Buffy remembered making some sort of quip, which was weird because Dawn was the quipper of the Summers sisters. Buffy’s sense of humor was a little more straightforward and a little less sarcastic.

“So, what was your dream about?”

Buffy quickly drank some of her coffee so she could take a moment to come up with a convincing lie. But she couldn’t, and settled for noncommittal instead. “Relationship stuff. Working out. I couldn’t run in the direction I wanted to.” That, at least, had been true -- Buffy had wanted to run, wanted to get the hell away from whatever she and dream-Satsu had been fighting, but there’d been nowhere to go. So she’d fought back. “And then, after, there was kissing.” Satsu raised an eyebrow. “Hey, I told you it was about relationship stuff.”

“Are you in a relationship?”

She shook her head. Technically it was true -- she and Chris hadn’t qualified what they were doing, not just yet. “How about your husband? Did he have weird dreams? Maybe it was something you guys ate?”

Satsu shrugged again. “I don’t think so. No stomachache, not for either of us.”

“Hmm.” Buffy glanced at her watch. “What time do you have to go up? I still have a few minutes.”

“I can hang if you can hang.” Satsu offered a small smile.

“I can hang.”

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Willow


Willow felt good. Relaxed. Refreshed. And really, really satisfied. She loved how Tara always knew when she just needed to let go, to have a night like last night, and how Tara always put aside her plans to make Willow feel better.

Ugh. That thought has the potential for ickiness. She quickly texted Tara -- nothing special, although I love you always felt special when she said it to her partner -- and got up from her desk. She had a meeting with the new vendor.

“Good morning,” she said to Buffy. “You ready?”

Buffy turned bleary eyes up to her. “As I’ll ever be.” She undocked her laptop and tucked it and her notepad under her arm.

“You look like hell,” Willow said quietly. “Everything all right?”

Buffy shook her head. “I’m okay. Just didn’t sleep well. Coffee isn’t helping, either; it’s just making me feel queasy.”

She put her hand on Buffy’s arm. “If you need to take the day off, that’s okay. I don’t want you to work yourself until you’re sick.”

“No,” Buffy said. “No, but thanks. I’ll be okay. I took something for it.”

Willow searched Buffy’s expression, but found nothing she could call her assistant on.

At least, not right then. But she did notice, during the meeting, that Buffy wasn’t taking notes quite as diligently as usual, and that her usually-neat penmanship kept getting worse, occasionally trailing into EKG-looking lines on the page. “Buffy,” she whispered, “are you sure--”

“I’m okay,” Buffy whispered back. “I can’t go home anyway.”

Willow realized what Buffy meant: she was on contract, which meant no sick days and no vacation time. Any time not spent in the office was unpaid. Willow hated herself for not just making Buffy full-time right away, but HR wouldn’t have gone for that, not with her lack of experience. At least this way Willow would be able to say she and Buffy had established a rapport and she needed continuity with her assistants.

For now, though, she’d just have to worry. She really hoped Buffy was all right.

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The meeting ended five minutes late. Willow watched Kennedy stand up -- the other woman was all the way across the table, clearly staying far away from the CTO -- and noticed she was moving stiffly, as if she’d exercised too hard the night before. That, and her eyes had been kind of red. Not the red-eye of marijuana use -- Fred indulged in that enough for Willow to know the look -- but the red that meant lack of sleep.

And that drew Willow’s eyes to the area around Kennedy’s. Once she knew what she was looking for, it wasn’t hard to see: concealers, extra makeup, ostentatious earrings that drew the eye away from Kennedy’s face...

Weird.

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Tara


“I don’t get it,” Willow said. She and Tara were in the living room, Tara with a copy of the latest AVMA journal and Willow with her iPad.

“Don’t get what?”

“Buffy. Kennedy.” Willow had her feet in Tara’s lap, and one of Tara’s hands slipped down to stroke the sole of her left foot. “Baby, that’s distracting.”

“I know,” Tara said. “Don’t want you thinking about other women when you’re with me.”

“It’s not like that.”

“I know.” Tara smiled and flickered her fingers along Willow’s stockinged foot. Her partner squirmed. “What’s on your mind?”

“Well, Buffy said she had a bad morning, and, I mean, that happens to everyone, right?”

“Right.” Tara put down her journal and moved her hands to Willow’s ankles. Willow sighed and leaned her head back against the arm of the couch, resting her iPad against her chest. “You like that?”

“You know I do.” Tara felt her heart beat a little faster at the tone in Willow’s voice. “But Buffy looked really rough. And so did Kennedy.”

“You don’t think--”

“Oh, God, no, of course not!” Willow grinned a little. “Actually, Buffy might be sort of dating this guy down on seven. I don’t think she’s into girls anyway.”

“Fair enough,” Tara said. One of her hands was on Willow’s knee now, and Willow had scooted her backside closer. Tara just kept running her other hand over Willow’s leg and the top of her foot. “But you know Kennedy is.”

“Uh-huh.” Willow set the iPad aside and undid the top button of her blouse. “I wonder if they all ate at the cafeteria. I know sometimes it messes me up.”

“Could be. Or maybe you’re just thinking they both got laid good and hard.”

“Tara!”

Tara laughed softly. “What? Too much?” She gently pushed Willow’s legs apart and moved between them, holding herself up above her partner, looking straight into her eyes. She pressed her lower body downward, pushing Willow’s skirt further out of the way. The heat bled through her scrub pants and straight into her flesh. “The Willow I know says stuff like that all the time.”

“But not about work people,” Willow protested. Tara lowered her head and kissed Willow’s ear. “Baby...”

“What?” Tara whispered. “Like you didn’t used to make up stories about couples you see, and then act them out with me.” She smiled, kissing Willow again as she felt her partner wrap her legs around Tara’s waist. “Oh, see, there’s my girl.”

“I am,” Willow sighed, crossing her arms above her head.

Tara picked up on Willow’s mood instantly and reached up to hold Willow in place where her wrists touched. “You are what?”

Willow arched her body against Tara’s. “Yours.”

Tara moved her face to where she could see Willow again. “I love you,” she said.

“Love you too.”

Then there was no more talking. Shortly after, there were no more clothes.

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Your reviews and/or e-mails are, as always, greatly appreciated.

Ever since the episode of
Angel where it was revealed that Fred was a pothead when she was a teenager, I've wanted to work that into a story. Achievement unlocked, I suppose.

Also -- what Willow was thinking about Buffy being a contractor? That's
exactly what it's like to be a contract employee. Some people like it. Me? Not so much.

Next time: the final player this new universe arrives (although by now I'm pretty sure you know who it is, solely by process of elimination).
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