FIFTEEN: Willow, Xander, Willow, Faith
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 met Buffy and Buffy realized that all this was really, really real when he gave her details of her life he couldn't have known. Buffy told Xander (and Willow) that she didn't care about the other world, because in this one, she's a mom, and that's all that's important to her. Then everyone met in Willow's office to lay everything on the table, and when Faith needled Kennedy too much, Kennedy hit the table so hard it broke.+++++
FIFTEEN: Willow, Xander, Willow, Faith
"Dreams feel real while we're in them. It's only when we wake up that we realize something was actually strange." -from Inception, directed by Christopher Nolan
“Being the CTO has its advantages, especially when weird stuff happens,” said Buffy.
“Yeah.” Willow put the last glass on the tray and Buffy picked it up. “You don’t have to do that, you know.”
“I know. But I don’t mind.”
“You’ve already done so much,” Willow said. “You got your therapist to come, and you’ve been so strong through all of this--”
“I had to be.” Buffy inclined her head toward the living room, where everyone was waiting. “For them, and for Joy, and for me.”
Willow nodded. She had arranged things for Buffy so that she could leave the office without a penalty -- Chris had agreed to pick Joy up from school and watch her at his house until Buffy got there -- and Willow had also personally spoken to Satsu’s supervisor about getting the rest of the day off. Buffy was right; when the CTO said jump, most people asked how high.
She did wish she could have influenced Tara’s boss as well, but she didn’t have much power over veterinarians, and anyway what if Tara came home and someone’s sick pet didn’t get the help it needed? No; she wouldn’t take that chance -- what if it was Miss Kitty Fantastico?
she asked herself.
So she texted Tara instead, just to tell her she loved her. It would have to be enough for now.+
Buffy’s therapist was named Bill Torrey. He was older than all of them -- probably in his fifties -- and had a truly-terrible fashion sense, one that rivaled hers and Xander’s from back in high school. He was pretty put-out over the whole thing; Buffy had said that he didn’t usually see patients on Mondays, but Buffy had done some pretty impassioned pleading.
“Look,” he said, “I know this is important to you all, but hypnotherapy is a very serious and difficult form of therapy. Having everyone else in the room might make it difficult for Mr. Harris--”
“Call me Xander,” Xander said. “Mr. Harris is my asshole father.”
Willow didn’t like the expression on Dr. Torrey’s face; she had a feeling he’d rather be analyzing Xander’s feelings about his father instead of doing the hypnosis, but he didn’t say anything about it. “Xander, then,” Torrey said. “Are you sure you don’t want to do this somewhere more private?”
“They need to hear whatever we find,” Xander said. “This isn’t just about me.”
Dr. Torrey sighed. “Okay. Get comfortable, then.”+++++
Xander closed the door of his room and clicked the lock, then went to sit on the bed. He put his elbows on his knees and his head in his hands.Why?
he asked himself. Why... why would I ever..?
But he already knew the answer.
Willow’s happiness was more important to him than his own. And, ever since they’d met, ever since the Yellow Crayon incident, it always had been.
Maybe that was why he’d never had a serious relationship. In his mind no one could measure up to Willow. He knew he’d never have her; she was in a committed relationship, and even if she hadn’t been with Tara, Xander still had the wrong parts for the job.No. Better not to think about that. She’s my best friend in the world, and I changed the entire universe for her. I made a wish on behalf of someone else -- I wished for Willow to live a happy life, free of magic or supernatural crap -- and D’Hoffryn did it.
I did it. I did it for Willow.
When he closed his eyes, he could see it all: Willow’s depression, his own hopelessness, the spell he’d done -- but magic doesn’t exist, except in my dream world! -- and the wish he’d made. It was all so clear now.
And so was the person he’d been before all of this. He’d been strong, and happy, and surrounded by friends, and he’d lost that too. He’d not only lost Buffy and Faith and the others -- at least, until his dreams had started -- he’d lost the memories of them too.
He jumped to his feet and, in a fit of rage, kicked the door. It didn’t budge, but it felt good.
So he did it again.
And then he dropped to his knees, slammed his fists against the door, and screamed.+++++
Willow found herself pretty much on autopilot after Xander’s revelation. She reminded Dr. Torrey about doctor-patient confidentiality, paid his hourly rate, and escorted him out. Buffy found a Chinese food menu in the kitchen drawer and Willow gave her a credit card to order enough for everyone. She told Kennedy that Faith could come to the house if she wanted. She watched Satsu go out into the solarium and showed Buffy to her home office so she could call Chris.
And then, finally, she collapsed into a chair in the kitchen and allowed herself to feel the full impact of what Xander had done.
If he was telling the truth -- if his dreams, which corresponded in many ways with Buffy’s, Satsu’s, and Kennedy’s, were accurate -- then her entire life... was a lie. A good lie, with lots of wonderful parts, but a lie nonetheless.
And if it was a lie -- if the whole world was a lie created just for Willow’s benefit -- then how many other people’s lives had been affected? Not just Buffy, Satsu, and Kennedy; not just herself and Tara; not just Xander; what about the people she worked with? What about her parents and friends? What about Dawnie; what about Fred and Charles?
Willow put her head in her hands and closed her eyes. She didn’t know how long she sat like that, but at some point later, head still spinning, she heard the doorbell. “Must be the food,” she murmured, getting to her feet.
But it wasn’t the delivery person. It was a dark-haired woman wearing large designer sunglasses, a black tank-top, and leather pants. She had a tribal tattoo around her right arm and the most amazing lips Willow had ever seen. “Hey, Red,” she said. “I’m Faith. Kennedy around?”
“Yes. Come in.” Willow stepped out of the way and Faith sauntered into the house. “She’s in the living room, I think.”
“Cool.” Faith looked around and whistled softly. “Wow, Red, you’re pretty loaded, huh?”
“Ain’t no thing,” she said. “But, y’know, you look like you can afford my rates, if you know what I mean.”
“Thank... you?” Willow cleared her throat. “Um... right through here.”+++++
Faith grabbed Kennedy and pulled her into a kiss. She took control of it, like she always did with Kennedy -- but that was the way the lady liked it -- and soon enough Kennedy had her hands on Faith’s cheeks while Faith had hers on Kennedy’s hips.
She heard a polite throat-clearing sound and broke the kiss. “Oh,” she said, seeing the small blond woman standing way too close. “It’s you.”
“So it is.”
“Been a long time, huh, B?”
Kennedy got a hard look in her eyes. “You know her?”
“We’ve met,” said Buffy. Buffy’s voice was cold.
“Yep. I didn’t even charge her when-- whoa!” Faith ducked as Buffy swung at her, then grinned and shoved Buffy hard in the chest; Buffy fell back and bounced on the couch. “Naughty, naughty, little B,” she said. “You know I can kick your ass with both hands tied behind my back.” Faith swayed her hips extra as she walked over to Buffy and leaned over her, putting both hands on her shoulders and -- on purpose, of course -- giving her an up-close-and-personal view of her cleavage. Buffy’s face went red-hot. “You were good, B,” she said, making sure her voice dripped with sex -- as a professional, she definitely knew how to do that. “I might just give you a freebie if you asked me real nice.”
Faith felt someone grab her shoulder at that, and let that someone -- Kennedy -- pull her away. She blew Buffy a kiss as Kennedy caught her by the wrist and dragged her off to some other room, and had just enough time to see Buffy go even redder at that.God, I love doing that.+++++
+++++Your continued readership, support, and reviews are, as always, greatly appreciated.
Dr. Torrey is based on a therapist I had. He had the WORST toupee I've ever seen in person.
This chapter is only 1400 words, so stay tuned, because there's another one being posted tonight. (Of course, if you're reading this anytime other than June 24, 2012, you won't get the full benefit of HOLY CRAP TWO CHAPTERS, but ~shrug~.)
Next time: confrontations and incantations.