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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)ListenerFR182256,28613114,3346 May 128 Jul 12Yes

THIRTEEN: Buffy, Willow

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 told Chris about her dreams and he *ahem* made her feel better. Xander got a dream download and wrote it all out before falling asleep in Willow and Tara's kitchen. Willow read Xander's notes, confronted him, and then went to Tara for *ahem* comfort before breaking down, afraid that Xander's dream would come true and she would somehow lose Tara for real.

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THIRTEEN: Buffy, Willow

"Reality is wrong. Dreams are for real." -Tupac Shakur

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Buffy


Chris slid an omelet out of a pan Buffy hadn’t even known she’d had, and sprinkled a pinch of salt on top of it. He added two pieces of toast and three strawberries before setting it on the kitchen table in front of her. “Chris, you didn’t have to--”

“I wanted to,” he said. “And anyway, I like to cook.” He prepared his own plate and put it at the place next to Buffy’s before sitting down. “Go ahead.”

Buffy took a bite -- it smelled as good as it tasted -- but didn’t really feel hungry enough to eat very much.

“Is it okay?”

“It’s great,” Buffy said quickly. “I’m just... I mean, I don’t feel...”

“The nightmare, huh?”

She nodded. “It’s not the first -- or even the tenth. Honestly, I’ve been having them since the beginning of the year.”

“Did something change? Other than your divorce?” He spread butter and jelly on his toast, then took a crunchy bite.

Buffy just cupped her mug of coffee in her hands and breathed in the steam rising from the top. “I don’t think so. That was when Dawn started giving me a little more help -- financial help,” she clarified, her face flushing with embarrassment, along with the ache to her pride that she felt every time she thought about it. “But otherwise, I don’t know.”

Chris drank some of his own coffee. “The only thing I can think of is that Willow’s official first day was January 3.”

“I don’t know,” Buffy said. She put the coffee down and forced herself to eat a strawberry. Her body wanted food, even if her brain didn’t. “It’s probably a coincidence.”

“Except that Willow’s partner was in your dream. And now Kennedy, too.”

She sighed and nodded. “I wonder how long Satsu’s been having them.”

“Satsu..?”

Buffy swallowed hard. She didn’t know if Satsu would be okay with her telling Chris, but Chris was Satsu’s friend too. At the very least... “Don’t say anything to her until I tell you, but Satsu told me she’s been sleeping kind of rough the past week or so. Bad dreams, similar to mine.” She thought about it for a moment. “I just thought of something else in common with the dreams.”

“What’s that?”

“Well, you know I was a cheerleader,” Buffy said. Chris nodded. “I also did youth gymnastics, and won a couple of competitions when I was a kid.”

“Satsu was a champion surfer,” Chris said. “She grew up in Hawaii.”

“She told me some of that. I don’t know what ‘pro-am’ means in regard to surfing, but I looked her up on the internet after we talked about it. I think she still has a record in her name.”

Chris took his phone out of his pocket and started tapping at it. “Vi was an athlete too. I wonder if she’s been having the dreams.”

“There’s a lot of athletes around -- good ones, too. I mean, we’re a football factory state.”

“But neither me nor Satsu are men.”

Chris shrugged. “I just asked her if she’s sleeping okay.”

“Won’t she wonder why?” His only response was another shrug. Buffy ate another strawberry, then asked, “what kind of athlete was she?”

“She made it to the junior Olympics in archery and judo. In college, she almost got on the U.S. team for the summer games, but missed the cut by two or three points.”

“Damn,” Buffy said. Then she grinned. “What was she doing with you?”

Chris gave her a dark look. “I’ll have you know that I won five baseball trophies when I was a kid, thank you very much.”

“How old were you?”

He had the grace to feign embarrassment. “Eight. Nine. Something like that.”

“So, the ages when everyone got a trophy?”

“You’re a brat,” he said.

“Yeah, well, you try and spank me and I’ll hit you so hard that--”

He’d leaned over and caught her in a kiss by that point. Buffy surrendered to it.

If his phone hadn’t buzzed, they might have done more, but she gently pushed him away. “I think that’s for you.”

Chris nodded and touched the screen. “‘Nightmares all week. Why do you ask?’”

“What are you going to tell her?”

He typed on his screen. “Just that I had a dream about her. She’ll be okay with that.”

“If you say so.” Buffy nibbled at her toast. “Should we have them come over? Vi and Satsu?”

“I think perhaps my beautiful blond girlfriend--”

“Girlfriend?” she asked, her mouth dry.

Chris’s cheeks had a bit of a pink tinge to them. “If you’re okay with that. I didn’t mean to say it, but it’s something that I’m hoping you’ll say yes to.”

Buffy lowered her eyes. “Yes,” she whispered. Then she cleared her throat and smiled at him. “Yes. But I’m not calling you my boyfriend. That just sounds juvenile.”

“Fair enough.” He reached over and took her hand. “Anyway, I don’t think that my beautiful blond girlfriend and my martial-artist ex should be in the same room at the same time. Just, you know, to be on the safe side.”

“We can call Satsu, though,” Buffy suggested. “We should compare our dreams, at the very least. Do you have her number?”

Chris did something to his phone, then slid it across the table to Buffy. “Go ahead. I’m really curious to see what’s going on.”

“And you’re not even having the nightmares.”

“There is that.”

Buffy hit the icon to call Satsu. This was going to be weird.

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Willow


“Hey, Dawnie, it’s me.”

“Hi, Willow.” Dawn sounded surprised -- Willow knew she rarely called her protege and friend without texting first, but after this morning Willow hadn’t wanted to take the chance that Dawn might not want to talk. “What’s up? Is everything okay?”

“I’m not sure,” Willow said. She was sitting at the desk in her home office, Tara standing behind her with her hands on her shoulders; Xander was slumped in one of the other chairs. “Do you remember my friend Xander?”

“I... think?”

“I’m pretty sure you met him once when he and my other friend Jesse came down to LA--”

“Oh, yeah, right. He was the goofy one, right?”

“Yeah, he was definitely goofy.” Jesse had been a little edgier -- it hurt to think about him being dead now, but time and distance and the fact that Willow hadn’t seen either of them in years made it a little easier. Only a little, though. “Anyway, he drove into town last night--”

“To Atlanta?”

Willow nodded -- she always did that on the phone, even though the other person couldn’t see her. “Yeah. He was in Vancouver and... and some stuff happened... and then he came here.”

“What’s he doing now?”

“Research, mostly. He lives in Nebraska, but he and his boss and the boss’s daughter check out weird occurrences.”

“So, like Supernatural.

Willow laughed. She couldn’t help it. “Yeah, except, there’s no such thing as Leviathans or demons or any of that stuff.” She put her hand over the bottom part of the phone and mouthed, “are there?”

Xander half-shrugged. Willow felt Tara’s hand squeeze her shoulder. “Okay, Willow, so, what’s going on? Why did you call me at 8:30 in the morning?”

“Oh, jeez, I’m sorry. I totally forgot to do the time change math.”

“It’s okay,” she said. “I was up. Now, no more interruptions.” Dawn’s voice lost the thread of humor she almost always had. “Tell me what’s happening.”

“First, do you think Xander ever met your sister?”

That made her pause. “I... I doubt it,” Dawn said. “I mean, I was a senior when Buffy graduated, and you and I never hung out with her. You didn’t meet her until a few weeks ago, right?”

“Right. Well, Xander says he never met her, but I wanted to make sure you hadn’t heard anything.”

“You should just ask her.”

“We probably will.” Willow sighed. “Has anything... you know... weird... happened to you lately?”

“Define ‘weird’.”

Willow thought about that. “Strange dreams. Urges to do things you wouldn’t normally do.”

“Well, I did go to this karaoke bar last night. It was dress-up night, and the emcee was this guy made up as a green-skinned thing with horns and red eyes.”

“That’s pretty weird, but I don’t think it’s what I meant.” She sighed. “Any pains? Aches? New abilities?”

Dawn made a sort of ‘hmm’ noise. “Remember that robbery?”

“Yes.” Willow heard her voice go very quiet. In 2002, Dawn had been walking to her car on campus and had been held up. The two guys had knives, and for some reason, even after she’d given them her purse and phone, one of them had stabbed her in the abdomen. She still had a scar there, to the right of her navel; it kind of looked like a badly-done appendectomy, despite the plastic surgery she’d had to fix it.

“Well, I’ve been a little achy there lately. It happens sometimes, usually if I exercise too hard, or after really good sex.”

“Dawn!”

Dawn chuckled. “Hey, like you and Tara aren’t totally doing it all the time. How often did I walk in on the two of you when I was doing my senior year at UCLA?”

“Fair enough.” Dawn, Tara, and Willow had shared an apartment that year; Dawn, a senior, had enrolled in a computer science program at UCLA and finished out her high school career there, instead of at Hemery, where her sister had graduated from and where she’d been going the previous three years. Willow reached up and touched Tara’s hand. “Anyway, so Xander said he saw you in at least one of his dreams.”

“How...” Willow heard Dawn swallow hard. “How did he know it was me?”

“I have pictures of us up on the walls here. Which you’d know if you came to visit, young lady.”

“Don’t you ‘young lady’ me, Willow Rosenberg.” The smile was back in Dawn’s voice. “So Xander dreamed about me, huh? I should be flattered, I guess.”

“I guess,” Willow said. “Anyway, I just wanted to check.”

“I think I’m okay,” Dawn said after a moment. “Yeah, the ache isn’t fun, but life’s good, y’know? I have a good job, and I have fun in my free time, and I even manage to get laid every now and then.”

“Dawnie!”

“Sorry, Willow. It’s the facts of life. Not all of us can be in the perfect relationship like you and Tara.”

Willow blushed. “Fine,” she said. “And thank you.”

“You’re welcome.” Dawn said something that the phone didn’t pick up. “Hey, I gotta go. Text me if anything else weird comes to mind, okay?”

“Okay. Love you, Dawnie.”

“Love you, Will.”

Willow put the phone down on her desk and leaned back in her chair. Tara massaged her shoulders. “Well,” she said. “Nothing dream-related there.”

“Do you have any other resources?” Xander asked. “Because something strange is going on, and it’s getting worse, and I don’t want anything to happen to you.” He looked up at Tara. “Either of you.”

“You say it’s all in dreams.” Tara was using her thoughtful voice. “Do you remember that article Fred tried to explain to us about a year ago, about alternate realities and quantum probabilities?”

“I remember that it made my head hurt.”

“Who’s Fred?” Xander asked

“A physicist,” Willow said. “Tara and I are friends with her and her husband. You can google her if you want -- Winifred Burkle, or sometimes Burkle-Gunn; that’s Charles’s last name.”

“What can a physicist do for us?”

“This isn’t science fiction, Xander,” Willow said, sitting up and putting her hands on her desk. Tara hitched her hip on the side of it and folded her arms under her breasts. “This is real life, and we can’t just expect that there’s a magic spell or super-powerful being that’ll help us figure it out. We have to use what we know.”

“And this Fred person knows science.” Xander nodded to himself. “Okay. How do we get in touch with her?”

“I’ll send her an e-mail, see what she can tell us. Can you type all your dream notes into my computer, just to make sure I get it right?”

“No problem.” He and Willow both stood up, and Willow moved out of the way as Xander took Willow’s chair. “And then what do we do?”

Willow sighed. “And then we get you to the store. If you want to meet Buffy and Kennedy, you have to look a lot nicer than this. I don’t want you drawing attention at the office tomorrow.”

“Office? You’re taking him to work?”

Willow reached for Tara’s hands, held them in hers. “Look, baby, this could be nothing. Could just be a bunch of coincidences. But I know Xander,” and she looked past Tara to see him already tapping away at the computer keyboard; he glanced up and gave her a tight, worried smile. “Xander wouldn’t have come all this way just to pull my chain. If he had, he’d have said he was doing it.” Willow shook her head slightly. “Something’s going on, and if it’s affecting Buffy, then I owe it to her to check it out. She’s my friend, kind of... or, at least, she might be. I like her, y’know.”

Tara nodded, but her face was closed off. “I trust you, sweetie. But this... this is a lot.”

“I know it is,” Xander said before Willow could reassure her partner. “But if I’m right -- if I’m really onto something -- then I owe it to Jesse, and everyone else who’s been hurt by what’s happening, to do something about it.”

That didn’t seem to mollify Tara, but Willow decided to just give her time. It was probably the best option at that point.

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