SIXTEEN: Faith, Buffy, Xander
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: Later that day, at Willow's house, Buffy's therapist hypnotized Xander and he learned exactly what he had done to change reality. He was horrified. While he dealt with that, Faith showed up and it was revealed that, back when Buffy was in college, the two of them had a one-night stand.+++++
SIXTEEN: Faith, Buffy, Xander
"When we are dreaming alone it is only a dream. When we are dreaming with others, it is the beginning of reality." -Dom Helder Camara
“You know I can break your arm, right?”
Kennedy pushed Faith away from her and pushed the door shut with her ass before rounding on Faith. “You... you...”
“Yeah, me.” Faith stalked over to Kennedy, caught her by the arms, and walked her backward until she had her against the closed door. Then she lifted her up and pressed her mouth to the other woman’s.
That was all it took for Kennedy to soften. It was nice having that kind of power over people.
When the kiss was over, Kennedy held tight to Faith and rested her cheek against Faith’s breasts. To Faith’s surprise, she felt Kennedy’s tears dripping onto her skin, and even more surprising, she found herself stroking Kennedy’s hair. “Hey, don’t do that,” she said. “It’ll be okay; they’re just dreams.”
“It’s more than that,” Kennedy whispered. “Baby, if the dreams are true, then... then you and me, and Buffy and Satsu and Willow’s girlfriend... we’re all dead.”
“That’s why I’m not scared,” Faith said. She realized they were in the laundry room; she lifted Kennedy up and set her on the counter, then ran her hands down Kennedy’s sides and urged her to wrap her legs around Faith’s waist. “See, Ken? Those are dreams. This...” She cupped Kennedy’s breasts with both hands and grinned as the smaller woman arched into her body. “This is real life. This is you and me, hanging out in this huge house your friend Red seems to own. And, later,” she continued, bringing her face close to Kennedy’s, “later, it’s going to be you under me, and me making you scream.”
Kennedy put her arms around Faith’s head and pulled her closer. “Hey, Faith?”
“I know the answer’s still probably no--”
“Don’t even ask,” Faith said, cutting her off. Kennedy wasn’t the first client to want to date Faith for real. Faith wasn’t sure the answer would actually be in the negative, but better to not even let Kennedy think about it. “Let’s just... let’s just have fun.” She reached down, between Kennedy’s legs, and cupped her. “You want?”
Kennedy pressed hard against Faith’s hand. “Oh, God, I need... I need so bad... but...”
“You’ll just have to be quiet,” Faith said, going down onto one knee. “Very quiet.”+++++
Kennedy looked a lot more relaxed when she and Faith finally joined everyone else at the dinner table. Tara was home now, and Xander had shuffled his way into the dining room when Willow had called up to him.
Unfortunately -- in Buffy’s mind, anyway -- the only empty seats left were next to her. She should’ve planned that better. Especially since Faith sat down beside her and looked at her sidelong. “What?” Buffy asked, her voice sharp.
“Cool your jets, blondie,” Faith said, and she actually sounded normal, not like she was being sexy on purpose. “I just wanted to apologize.”
“You... what... why?”
“Because I like getting a rise out of people. It’s fun.” She offered Buffy her hand. “I’m sorry if I embarrassed you or whatever.”
Buffy decided to accept and shook Faith’s hand. There was a lot of strength in her grip, and Buffy couldn’t fail to notice the definition in the other woman’s arms and shoulders. She wasn’t overly muscular, but it was clear that she worked out more than Buffy did. Or,
said the nasty part of her brain, maybe being a hooker is better exercise than sitting in an office all day
. “So,” Buffy said, “what do you know about me? Besides, you know... that
.” She couldn’t stop the blush; Faith had been the last girl she’d experimented with, and it had been great, but Buffy had been afraid she could like it too much. That wouldn’t have lined up with her life goals -- at least, not at the time.
She wondered how things would’ve been different if she’d tried to be in a relationship with Faith, instead of going back to California and ending up with Tony. She wondered if it would’ve been anything like what her dreams told her she’d had with Satsu.
“I fought a lot of evil stuff,” Faith said, serving herself something that looked like shrimp curry. She grinned as she added several shots of sriracha sauce to it. “I like spicy things.”
“Got that right,” Kennedy said under her breath.
Buffy saw Faith gently elbow Kennedy in the arm. “Yeah, well, spicy food.” She added a scoop of white rice. “Just in case.”
“Right.” Buffy had gone for the honey-sesame chicken and a couple of eggrolls. “So you fought evil. In mine, you fought it with me.”
“Yeah. In the dreams, you kick almost as much ass as I do.” She popped a piece of shrimp in her mouth, chewed thoughtfully, and then Buffy saw her cheeks start to flush. “Oh, that’s just about right. Hey, Red, you have to get me these guys’ number.”
“I don’t think they deliver to Boston,” Willow said.
“Suppose not.” Faith swallowed. “So, yeah, you and me, fighting a lot. But also, I remember fighting against you.”
“Against? Really? I didn’t get any of that. Just a feeling of sisterhood, like we’ve been friends forever.” Buffy cut into her eggroll. “It’s funny; when you were over me like that, it was surprising, sure, but my dream-self was telling me ‘don’t worry, it’s just Faith being Faith’.”
“Yeah, well, it sure as hell was.” Faith ate a little more of her food. “I do remember you winning the fight, stabbing me in the stomach. Almost killed me, too.”
Buffy set her fork down. “How... how could I..?”
“I think I was a bad guy. I think I deserved it. I don’t have all the memories, but--”
“She poisoned your boyfriend,” Xander said. When Buffy turned to him, she saw his eyes were still puffy from crying, and his knuckles were bruised like he’d been punching something that punched right back. “She was working for an evil mayor, but it wasn’t her fault. He manipulated her. A few years later, she came back to Sunnydale and helped us fight the worst thing we’d ever gone up against.”
“Cool,” Faith said. “Yeah, I’ve got some dark stuff in my past. Spent some time in juvie, done a bunch of community service. But not anymore. Not for a long time.” She sighed. “What you were saying, B, about us being like sisters?” Buffy nodded. “I got a little of that too. Like we used to spar pretty hardcore, like we were the only ones we trusted to go all-out on each other. Even this one here--”
“This one?” Kennedy echoed, and Buffy saw the small smile on her face. “This one what?”
“This one,” Faith repeated, “always pulls her punches.” She looked at Buffy, her dark eyes intense. “You never do.”
“I’m...” Buffy swallowed hard. “I’m glad that works for you.”
“Oh, believe me: it definitely does.”+++++
After dinner, the four former athletes -- Buffy, Satsu, Kennedy, and Faith -- sat together in the living room, comparing notes on their dreams. Tara was with them, acting as a sort of scribe. Xander wasn’t sure how she felt about everything that was going on, but there’d been a brief whispered conversation between Willow and Tara and he guessed Tara had given in.
Good thing, too; if she hadn’t, he didn’t think Willow would’ve gone along with any of this.
Now he and Willow were at the kitchen island, working on her computer. She was using her IT skills to try and figure out how to call up D’Hoffryn. Xander remembered some of the ritual from the hypnosis, but all his research on amnesia and memory repression told him that the moments just before the catalyst -- in this case, D’Hoffryn changing the world because Xander had wished it so -- often never came back in full.
“Hey, check this out,” Willow said. “Have you ever heard of a Rupert Giles?”
“You assume I would have just because I’ve been doing research on this stuff all this time.”
“Hey, I just thought--”
“Well, you thought right.” Xander grinned at her. “He says that, in the 80s, he actually conjured up something called ‘Eyghon’ using magic.”
“Really really.” Xander reached for the laptop, and Willow slid it over to him. He logged into his cloud drive and opened up one of his files. “Check this out.”
Willow quickly skimmed all the notes Xander had compiled on ol’ Rupert. “I don’t watch paranormal shows, but it looks like he’s been on all of them.”
“Almost,” Xander agreed. “Anyway, I’ve been e-mailing him on and off over the years. He never replies, but I know he’s getting the messages -- or, at least, I’m getting return receipts. Everything I’ve read says he’s technophobic, so I doubt he’s faking them.”
“Well, we should e-mail him about D’Hoffryn.”
“I’ll take care of it.” Xander pulled up his Gmail and composed a message before pushing the laptop back to Willow. “You want anything to drink?”
She shook her head; Xander went to the kitchen. He wanted a beer, but he didn’t think Willow and Tara had any. He settled for a bottle of cream soda.
The tone of Willow’s voice brought him to her side in an instant. “You found something.” Not a question.
She nodded and turned the laptop to him.
She’d found something, all right.+
“Okay,” Xander said to the others. “We’ve found what we think is a spell to call up D’Hoffryn.”
“Really?” Faith folded her arms under her not-insubstantial breasts; Xander couldn’t help but appreciate her cleavage. Too bad she was sleeping with Kennedy; why were all the hot women in his life always playing for the home team? “Just one problem, Xander: magic isn’t real.”
“Not here, no,” he said. “But there’s something going on, and he’s part of it. In the dream-world, he’s the one who can grant wishes.”
“I remember that,” Buffy said. “Not him, exactly, but something someone told me, like an almost-memory. He’s the king of the... vengeance demons? Does that sound right?”
“Got it in one,” Xander said. “I called him up because I wanted to take vengeance on the people who killed my friends. I worked really hard on the wording. I wanted to make sure he couldn’t say no.” He sighed. “The ritual we found looks like the one I used. We just need some supplies.” He looked over at Willow. “I suppose it would be too much to ask to find a magic shop around here?”
“There’s a Wicca store near my office,” Tara said. “It’s better than nothing.”
Xander shrugged. “Can you show me where it is?”
And that was how he ended up in Tara’s Mercedes, watching her face in the light of the setting sun. “Hey, Tara?”
“What?” Her voice was sharper than he’d have liked.
“Are you happy with Willow?”
She glared at him for as long as possible before she had to put her eyes back on the road. “What the hell kind of question is that? I love her!”
“I know you do,” he said. “I just wanted to ask. I mean, the life you two have, it’s a good life, but in my dreams you two were happy as well. Witches, working together, saving the world, and you had this great love -- the kind of love I knew I’d never get to have.”
Her expression softened. “I’m sorry,” she said. “But that doesn’t make me any less mad at you.”
“No,” Tara said. “I don’t think you do.” She pulled to a stop at a red light, and then turned to Xander. “If this is true, if these dreams you and the others are having are... I don’t know, echoes or whatever... of a life we were supposed to have, then that means I’m dead. I lose Willow, and she goes practically catatonic. How can I want that?”
The light changed. Tara turned left and accelerated.
“Honestly, Xander,” Tara said, “I don’t mind if we learn how true or false these dreams are, but if you all try to turn it back... I’m going to stop you.”
Xander thought about that as Tara pulled into the parking lot. Finally he said, “I’m sorry.” When it looked like she was expecting more, he added, “in my dreams, you and Willow love each other, and you found each other in this world too. You guys are meant to be, and I would never want to hurt Willow.” He paused. “But this is about more than Willow. This is about those four women back at your house, and all the people across the world who’ve had dreams, who’ve gone crazy or hurt people they care about.”
He sighed. “I have to know, okay? I just... I have to.”
“Xander, I’m a doctor. I know what kind of drugs to give you to stop you.” Her voice was soft and deadly serious, and it scared the hell out of him. “You will not take Willow from me. I lost her once,” she said, almost whispering, “even if it was just in the dreams of some random people. I’m not going to lose her for real.”+
Xander mixed the ingredients according to the instructions Willow had printed out from the internet -- his hand still ached from the little cut he’d given himself. He felt bad about painting on the floor of the solarium, and he hoped that this stuff was washable. He combined the herbs with the sand and lit candles at the points of the pentagram he’d drawn.
The others stared at him. It was, predictably, Faith who broke the ice. “Well? Now what?”
He read the words of the spell once more, then chanted them, and on the last word, threw a handful of the sand-and-herb cocktail across the pentagram.+++++
+++++As always, your continued readership, support, and reviews are greatly appreciated.
I tend to write a lot of meal scenes because they allow me to dump exposition and dialogue on the readers while also having the characters do something.
Did anyone catch the not-so-subtle foreshadowing in this chapter?
Please recall that the phrase "Tara's Mercedes" should evoke the image of an older, well-cared-for vehicle, as mentioned in the early chapters, and NOT the fact that she shelled out $80,000 for a new one. The car's 25 years old.
Next time: Xander gets an important e-mail.