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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)ListenerFR182256,28613115,1526 May 128 Jul 12Yes

TWELVE: Buffy, Xander, Willow, Xander, 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.


PREVIOUSLY: Xander brought Willow and Tara up to speed on what he'd been doing with his life -- investigating weird stuff with his friend Jesse, who was killed by a girl hallucinating that he (Jesse) was a vampire. Buffy invited Chris into her apartment and sexytimes occurred.


TWELVE: Buffy, Xander, Willow, Xander, Tara

This chapter contains sexual content. Reader discretion is advised.

"All the things one has forgotten scream for help in dreams." -Elias Canetti



Buffy jerked awake, gasping, heart pounding, and pushed hard against the person holding her--

Holding her? What the hell..?

“Buffy, it’s okay,” he said.

He. Chris. Right.

She grabbed onto him, clutching him tight, pressing her cheek to his chest. He put his arms around her and rubbed her back. “Buffy, it was just a dream,” he said. His voice vibrated through his chest. “It’ll be okay.”

“I know,” she murmured. “Sorry to wake you.”

“It’s all right.”

Buffy shook her head and pulled herself out of his arms, then pushed herself to a sitting position with her back against her pillows. It felt strange sitting on her nightgown with nothing underneath, but -- and here she blushed hard, thankful that the lights were out -- they’d gone to bed following her last turn, when he’d caught her after brushing her teeth, walked her backward until she was against the wall, and supported her with his hands under her backside and one leg on his shoulder until she swore the entire world was vibrating.

Until the dream had woken her up, it had been an absolutely blissful few hours of sleep.

Chris sat up beside her and put his arm around her shoulders; she leaned into him. “You want to tell me about it?”

Buffy opened her mouth to say no, but didn’t actually do it. She thought for a moment -- it couldn’t hurt to tell someone about her dreams, right? The truth about them? Except for the whole sex-with-Satsu part, although she had a feeling that he would be the kind of guy to at least pretend he wasn’t turned on by it. No, she’d leave that out, at least for now, and just tell him the rest.

Besides, this was the first dream where she’d died.

“I told you I’ve been having these dreams all week, right?”


She snuggled in closer to him, her hand on his stomach. “Well, there had been a big fight. Me and my friends kicked a lot of ass. Strangely, Satsu and Kennedy were both in it -- work dreams, right?”

“Right.” He chuckled. “Although lately my work dreams have been about you.”

Buffy smiled and kissed his shoulder. “You’re sweet.” A pause. “Anyway, everyone survived -- me, Satsu, Kennedy, this other brunette, and for some reason Willow’s partner, who was a witch.”

“A witch?”

“Uh-huh. Not the bitch kind,” she clarified. “The kind that casts magic spells.”

“Interesting. And is she a Wicca in real life?”

“Tara?” Buffy shook her head. “As far as I can tell, they’re agnostics. I think Willow used to be Jewish.”

“So what happened after the fight?”

“We went back to the airport -- I think we had a private plane, or at least a small one. We were all dressed in burqas or whatever they’re called, so I think maybe we were in the Middle East? Which is even stranger because I’ve never even been to Canada, let alone off this continent.” Buffy bit her lip; the next part still unnerved her. “We were on the plane, about to take off, and I heard this gigantic explosion.” She swallowed hard. “And then I was on fire.”

Chris didn’t speak -- Buffy was pretty sure he just didn’t know what he could say. But his arm tightened around her, and she felt him tense up under her hand.

“I was screaming,” Buffy said, her voice soft. “It hurt so much, and I couldn’t stop it. And all around me, the others were screaming too. I wanted to run, to get away, but the shock from whatever blasted our plane slowed me down. I wasn’t as strong as before. And I knew, deep down, that I was going to die this time.” She considered her words. “I actually thought it that way -- ‘this time’ -- like I’d escaped death before. Which I’ve never done. Not in real life.”

“You were super-powered in your dream,” Chris said. “Maybe your dream-self had been in tough situations, but always got out.”

“Maybe.” Buffy ran her hand over his stomach, back and forth, and he tensed again -- this time, she had a feeling it was for a different reason, and that made her smile. Sweet as he was, he was still a man. “Anyway, I remember reaching for the other brunette, the one I didn’t recognize, like she was my sister. It wasn’t Dawn,” she added, “but I still felt that same pull, like I was more scared for her than I was for myself.” Buffy felt tears prickle her eyes as the last bit of the dream unfolded in her memories. “But that was it. I never made it.” A long pause. “I died screaming in pain.”

“I’m sorry,” he said, pulling her closer. “It sounds scary.”

“It was.” Buffy adjusted her position again, moving to kneel on either side of his hips. Part of her said it was so that he could hold her closer, and so that she could hold him, but the moment the cloth of her nightgown became the only thing keeping their bodies apart, she realized she was lying to herself.

After a dream like that, she just wanted to feel good. She just wanted Chris’s lips on hers, wanted his body holding hers, wanted him to make the dream go away and never come back.

Fortunately, Chris figured that out. The dreams were more frequent, and they were scarier than ever, but as long as she could wake up to him and oh God what were his hands doing oh God--

Her brain wisely told her inner monologue to shut the hell up and just feel.



Xander’s eyes snapped open. All the years traveling had given him the ability to go from asleep to fully awake in only a couple of seconds, and he quickly got out of the bed and pulled on his t-shirt. He had to find something to write on, and he had to find it right fucking now.

Nothing in the guest room, though. Nothing in the bathroom -- he so wanted to stop there for a moment, but he didn’t have time. He had to get this down. The office was too neat, and there was no time to search it. Down the steps, through the living room and the dining room and the kitchen--


The kitchen had a little desk, something Willow or Tara probably used when making grocery lists. His grandmother had had something similar, he remembered, and he’d sat there all the time when he was little.

The desk drawer was home to a barely-used legal pad and a collection of pens.


By the bluish glow of the night-light, Xander sat down at the desk, clicked open the pen, and began to make notes.


Fifteen minutes later, Xander set the pen down, leaned back, and let out a sigh of relief. But that was cut short by his urge to use the bathroom. As quickly as he could, he got up and sought out a toilet.


Xander found the cabinet with the glasses and filled one with water from the sink. He added a small handful of ice cubes from the freezer, then carried it to the desk.

Last night’s dream had been the most vivid of any he’d experienced. It had also been, by far, the most painful. Not physically, but when Xander had woken up, he’d felt his heart clenched tight. He’d never seen anyone die in his dreams -- except for Jesse, but that was understandable, given that that had actually happened right in front of him -- but he imagined that, if someone had died, it wouldn’t have felt as bad as what he’d experienced only a few minutes ago.

Xander tore the pages with his notes off the pad and set them aside, and then began to write out his dream.



Willow had set her internal alarm clock for six -- she’d skipped yoga the day before, and didn’t like doing that two days in a row. She stopped in the kitchen for a glass of orange juice, and that’s where she found Xander, head down on the little desk where she and Tara composed their grocery lists and sorted the mail. “Are you awake?”

No answer.

Willow smiled and went to Xander, running her hand over his dark hair. Asleep he still looked like his younger self, like the only thing he cared about was chasing after girls and watching Star Trek. She missed that Xander; last night, as he’d told his story, his face had been hard, eyes haunted.

Under his hand, Willow saw a piece of paper covered in Xander’s tall, spiky handwriting. She was going to ignore it, but then she saw her name and decided perhaps she ought to take a look. Gently, Willow picked up Xander’s hand and eased the legal pad away from him. She flipped it to the front page and began to read.



The sound of Willow dropping something on the kitchen floor jolted Xander awake. “Whoozawhatzit!” he said, practically jumping to his feet. He blinked a couple of times. “Willow?”

“Xan...” she whispered, pointing out the legal pad on the floor. “Xander... why?”

He moved to where she was sitting at the kitchen island and pulled her into a hug. The tears he’d seen in her eyes turned to full-body sobs, and Xander held her as she cried. “Will,” he said after a minute or so. “Willow, it’s going to be okay. I promise, it’ll be okay.”

She turned her tear-streaked face up to him. “But how... how can you know?”

“Because I do,” he said. “Because I’m Xander, and I always make you better when something happens, don’t I?”

Willow nodded. “But, Xander, this... this is...”

“This is a dream, Will,” he said, brushing tears away from her cheeks with both his thumbs. “It’s just a dream, and--”

“And what if it’s not?” She pulled away from him and got up, stalking across the kitchen before turning back to stare balefully at him. “What if all this crazy vampire stuff that all these girls are dreaming about... what if it’s real?”

“Willow,” he said, “what are the odds?”

“What are the odds some crazy girl is going to stab Jesse in the heart with a wooden stake?”

Xander didn’t have a good answer for that one.

“The thing I fear the most,” Willow said, her voice almost toneless, “is losing Tara and not being able to do anything about it. Accident, disease, crazy person stabbing her in the chest... whatever it is, I’ve thought about it. Thought about how I could possibly go on without her.”


Willow held up a hand. “And now,” she continued. “Now you tell me that you’re dreaming about her dying in a bombing somewhere in the Middle East, and what happened to me was...” She sniffed hard. “It was exactly what I thought. I just... I shut down.”

“But I was there for you,” Xander said. “I took care of you -- me and Dawn and everyone else, we tried to help you as best we could. We hoped that, with time, you’d at least try to heal.”

“I didn’t, though.”

“No,” Xander admitted. “You didn’t. But I’d like to think I kept on helping you until you did.”

“You mean... you don’t know?”

He shook his head. “I’ve had dreams like that before -- glimpses, little flashes -- but you and me, talking in your bedroom, is the last thing I ever get. The dream just... goes blank.”

Willow went to where she’d dropped the pad and picked it up. Sure enough, what Xander had written matched what he’d just said. And he could never lie to her -- had never been able to lie to her. It just didn’t happen, and the few times he’d tried, she’d caught him at it.

“So. What do we do?”

“I don’t think we do anything,” Xander said. “Not yet.”

Willow glared at him for several seconds, then slammed the pad on the island. “I can’t...” she said, clearly holding back more tears. “I can’t be around you right now.”

He opened his mouth, as if to ask her to stay, but she was already on her way out of the kitchen, heading toward the stairs.

Xander pulled out the desk chair and plopped into it. “Damn it.”

That had not gone the way he’d hoped.



Tara felt Willow kissing her before she could open her eyes. So she didn’t. “‘Morning,” she said between kisses.

“Hi,” Willow said.

Now Tara did look at her partner. The perfunctory way Willow had said that didn’t sit well with Tara. But then Willow moved her mouth over Tara’s breasts, kissing her through her pajamas, and Tara decided not to worry about it.

Good thing, too; Willow, Tara quickly determined, was definitely in the mood to be in control. Before long she was pulling Tara’s pajama pants off and spreading her legs. Willow’s fingers on Tara’s thighs were pressing almost too hard, hard enough that Tara actually moaned more in pain than pleasure.

And then Willow lowered her mouth to Tara’s body, and Tara submitted to her partner, her lover, the only woman she ever wanted to be with, “oh God, Willow... Willow...” Willow added her fingers to the mix and Tara arched up off the bed. “Willow!”


Tara lay exhausted in Willow’s arms, still barely able to catch her breath. Willow didn’t often get that forceful with her, and although Willow had brought her to several powerful orgasms, it still felt... strange, somehow.

Plus, there was the fact that Willow was still tense. Tara ran her hand down Willow’s bare stomach, resting it as low as was decently possible. If Willow wanted her to do more, she would give Tara more access.

But Willow didn’t. In fact, Tara realized, she just got more stiff.

“Willow? You okay, sweetie?”

Tara heard Willow choke back a sob and pulled out of Willow’s hug. Her partner needed it more than she did. Tara held Willow close and felt Willow’s body start to shiver. “Tara,” she whispered. “Oh, God, baby... baby, I’m so scared... I’m so...”

She ran out of words, and Tara didn’t have any to give her. She just kissed Willow’s hair, kissed her forehead, and when Willow looked up, kissed her tear-wet cheeks. “I love you, Willow. Whatever it is, I’ll be here with you.” She smiled.

Willow smiled back. “Promise?”


Willow took a couple of long, shuddering breaths, and then she told Tara everything Xander had dreamed about her. By the time Willow was done, Tara was in tears too. And, like Willow, she had absolutely no idea what to do.


Your support -- reviews, e-mails, and readership -- are, as always, greatly appreciated.

This chapter was slightly more explicit than the last, so again if you believe it should have been FR-21, let me know.

Someone commented on the other story that I'm posting that, in that one, Chris is "stupid". Hopefully that same reader likes him more in this one.

Next time: Breakfast, lunch, and Dawn.
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