SEVENTEEN: Buffy, Faith, Tara, 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: Buffy and Faith had their first meeting in this reality since Buffy was in college. Tara told Xander exactly what would happen if he tried to take Willow away from her. Then Xander tried the spell.+++++
SEVENTEEN: Buffy, Faith, Tara, Xander
This chapter contains sexual content, and is rated FR-21. Reader discretion is advised.
"Dreams that do come true can be as unsettling as those that don't." Brett Butler
Willow and Xander shared a look.
“Are you sure you said it right?” Kennedy asked.
“I think so. Let me try again.” He did, but there was still no response from D’Hoffryn. “Well, that sucks.”
“It more than sucks,” Faith said. She moved behind Kennedy and put her arms around her waist, hugging her. “If this isn’t going to work, we’re going to get out of here.”
“We should all call it a night,” Willow said. “It’s getting late, and I think we need to do more research. How about we all meet here this weekend and see what we’ve come up with?”
“Fine by me,” Faith said. “Come on, Ken.”
“I might be a little late tomorrow,” Kennedy told Willow. Then sotto voce
, “woman troubles.”
Buffy blushed again. “I have to pick up Joy,” she said. “Satsu, you going to be okay?”
Satsu had been very quiet since Xander and Tara had returned with the spell materials. “I’ll see you tomorrow,” she said. “Good night.”
By the time Buffy got to her car, Satsu had already driven off. She texted Chris to let him know she was on her way.+
Buffy and Chris again stood in the hallway, watching Joy sleep in Amanda’s bottom bunk. “Was it strange?” Buffy asked, her voice almost a whisper. “Amanda not being here, I mean?”
“Joy understands parents who don’t live together,” he said, closing the door. They went down to the living room, and Buffy watched him sit down on the couch. “Was it bad?”
“It was... weird.” She knelt on either side of his hips and pressed her body against his. He figured out what she wanted and hugged her close; she nestled her face against the bend of his neck. “Thank you.”
“Always,” he said. Then: “do you want to talk about it?”
“Not really,” Buffy admitted, “but I think you should know anyway.” She gave him a Cliff’s Notes version of Faith, dinner, comparing notes, and the failed spell. “I think the four of us together was a good thing, though -- me, Faith, Satsu, and Kennedy. We filled in a lot of the blanks.”
“Like what?” She tensed up, and knew he felt it; he kissed her hair. “I promise not to be mad,” he said. “They’re just dreams -- strange, shared dreams, but just dreams.”
“What if I told you that, in them, I...” Buffy swallowed hard. “I was with someone else.”
He shrugged. “In real life, right now, you’re here with me.” He ran his hand along her side, then up under the hem of her blouse to stroke her spine. She felt her skin tingle under his fingers. “But it’s like the butterfly effect, y’know? The events that led us to be together?” He paused. “A butterfly flaps its wings, and Tony doesn’t get the job here in Atlanta, and we never meet. Or maybe I don’t let my parents convince me that I should pursue my art, and I get that MD I’d been thinking about. Then I’m a doctor, and we never have lunch together that day.”
“I guess you’re right.” Buffy touched her lips to his neck and he made a pleasant little noise low in his throat. She could tell he was trying to control his reaction for her sake, and appreciated it. “What if it’s a woman?”
“So it’s a woman,” he said. “What if I’m gay in the dream world you all are sharing? Or an asshole?”
“You could never be that bad.”
“Gay equals bad?”
“Of course not!” Buffy protested quickly, but when he chuckled, she knew she’d been had. “Okay, maybe you can be bad. Sometimes.” She kissed his neck again. “We all figured it out together, though. I know who I’m with in that other world.”
“Oh? Anyone I know?”
“Yes.” She took a slow breath. “But you have to promise not to say a word.”
“I promise,” he said without hesitation.
Buffy sat up on his lap and took his face in her hands. “Satsu.”
Then, before he could react to that, she kissed him. And he kissed her back.+
Several minutes later, Buffy was being held by Chris again, but this time it was skin-to-skin. His hands on her breasts had made her pour even more into the kissing, and she knew she’d left scratches on his back as he’d worked his lips from her earlobe down to her throat. God, how had she found someone who could take such joy in making her feel good? She’d never had that before, except with Faith, and to her mind Faith didn’t count because, hello, one-night stand at a cheer competition.Well, two nights. Same thing.
“I’m in love with her,” Buffy said.
Chris was quiet for a long moment. “Oh.”
“In the dreams, I mean,” she clarified. “In the dreams, I’ve been in love with her for years. We’ve been together for years. It’s a good relationship.”
He just said “oh” again.
“But here? Now?”
She put her arms around his waist and pulled herself close to him. “Here and now, I think I’m falling for you.”
Buffy heard his heartbeat quicken -- with her ear against his chest, it was easy. He smoothed one hand over her hair, and rested the other one on her hip. “You have to do what you have to do,” he said.
“What do you mean?” She kept her voice quiet, tried to stay neutral. What the hell was he going to say?
“With this dream stuff; you have to do what you have to do. And if it turns out you have to... and I can’t believe I’m saying this... but, if you have to make the dream-world the real world, then I won’t be upset.”
She pulled out of his arms to look straight into his eyes. They were intense, and glimmered just the slightest bit. No
, she thought. He can’t be...
“If things get changed back,” he continued, “I’ll probably never know what we had. You might; you might not.” He smiled at her and cupped her cheek. “But in the meantime, I want to have as much time with you as I can. Whatever’s happening with your dreams, that’s not you and me.” Now both hands were on her, first her cheeks and then her shoulders. “Right here, right now, that’s you and me. And that’s what matters.”
Buffy felt her heart melt. She took several long, shuddering breaths, trying to keep herself from crying. When she trusted herself enough, she said, “Chris?”
She climbed off his lap and held out both hands. He took them, and she gently pulled at him until he stood up. “Take me to bed, Chris. Please?”
His smile was all the answer she needed.+++++
Faith rolled onto her back, sweating and breathing hard. Kennedy collapsed on the bed, turning her head to look at Faith. “You are amazing,” Kennedy said.
“Not so bad yourself.” Faith removed the toy they’d been using and tossed it over the side of the bed. They’d both come hard, and multiple times -- it didn’t always happen that way, especially when Kennedy wanted Faith to top her, but tonight had been something special. “Must be the stress?”
“Hmm?” Kennedy pulled a pillow under her chest, propping her cheek up on it.
“The dreams and shit,” she said, scooting back so her head was up. She didn’t like the way this position made her breasts look, all shifted to the sides and such, but right now she didn’t care. She’d just had her way with a sexy, powerful woman who’d willingly given it up, and now she was feeling no pain. Well, almost none
, she added mentally, thinking of the pleasant next-day ache in her thighs that that position always gave her. “You okay?”
“With you? Always.” Kennedy flashed a quick smile, though she went serious just as fast. “But the dreams are scaring me, Faith.”
“Not me,” Faith said. “I mean, yeah, it’s a different world, and I got glimpses of some seriously bad shit I did, stuff that hurt me. Fights, attacks, lots of pain. But some of it was the same -- family stuff, y’know? And, after I got out of prison--”
“Prison?” Kennedy’s eyes widened. “You didn’t tell us--”
“Yeah, well, no one needed to know, and if they already did, they weren’t telling.” She reached for Kennedy’s hand, squeezed it tight. “After that, though, things got better. And hey, you and me, right?”
“Right.” She and Kennedy together, in both worlds. Kennedy squeezed back. “I’m still scared.” Her voice was small. “I don’t want to be dead.”
“I don’t want you to be dead,” Faith said, and she was surprised to hear it was her real voice this time -- no character, no teasing, no Southie brat. Just real, honest Faith. “I like you, Kennedy. A lot. If I didn’t do what I did for a living, I’d absolutely be head-over-heels for you.” She watched Kennedy’s cheeks go pink and pulled her hand away, then rested the back of it on Kennedy’s exposed cheek. “You’re beautiful, and you’re smart, and you’re fucking amazing in bed. Why wouldn’t I want to be with you?”
Kennedy got up on her hands and knees and moved on top of Faith. Faith put her hand in Kennedy’s hair and pulled her down for a kiss. Kennedy hummed into her mouth, and Faith couldn’t stop a chuckle. “Again? Really?”
“What can I say?” Kennedy grinned, her forehead against Faith’s. “You bring out the bad girl in me.”
“Definitely.” Kennedy turned, draping herself across Faith’s lap and throwing a sly smile over her shoulder at her lover. “And what do you do to bad girls?”
Faith laughed out loud at that. So did Kennedy.
Then Faith brought her hand down hard on Kennedy’s backside, raising a bright pink handprint, and Kennedy moaned. “You like that?”
“You know I do,” Kennedy said. She was still looking at Faith. “And, baby?”
“I know you’re scared too.”
Faith’s eyes widened a little; she thought she’d covered it up pretty good. Apparently not. “Yeah,” she admitted. “I don’t want to be. I want to be that awesome girl who kicks all kinds of monster ass.” She ran her palm over Kennedy’s ass, then smacked her again. Kennedy hummed and pressed herself against Faith’s thigh. “But I’ll make you a deal.”
“What’s that?” Kennedy asked, her voice almost hoarse -- Faith knew that meant she was very turned on.
“Whatever happens, we’re there for each other.”
“You got it.” Kennedy bit her lower lip. “Now, I think someone was teaching me a lesson for being so naughty?”
Faith smiled and spanked Kennedy again.
And again.Y’know something? I think I really do like this girl.+++++
After everyone had left, Willow had gone out into the solarium and locked the door. Tara didn’t want to talk to Xander, so she went upstairs, took a shower, and got into bed with her Kindle. That was where she was an hour later, when Willow burst into the bedroom, kicked the door shut, and practically dove into bed with Tara. She was cold, and shaking, and the moment Tara gathered Willow up into her arms, she began to sob.
It took a moment for Tara to puzzle out what Willow was saying. “I don’t want to lose you, baby... I’m so scared... I don’t want to lose you...”
“You’re not going to lose me,” Tara said, holding the woman she loved, cradling her as best she could. “I promise you’re not going to lose me.”
Willow brushed her hand over Tara’s left shoulder. “I almost did, once.”
Tara’s heart jumped into her throat. It had taken more than a year of therapy, both with and without Willow, to get over being shot. It hadn’t even been her fault -- or Willow’s. They’d just been walking to the car from a nice dinner and an SUV full of gang-bangers had driven past. A ricochet, the police had called it; a lucky shot, one in a million. The bullet had ripped through Tara’s shoulder -- thankfully she was right-handed, and even more thankfully she hadn’t lost any motor function, which could’ve been disastrous to her career, and--
And nothing. And Willow had been terrified that Tara was going to die then.
She was terrified now.
“I lived for you,” Tara said. “I lived for you then, and I’m going to live for you now.”
“But...” Willow sniffed hard and wiped her nose on her wrist. “Sorry,” she said.
“Don’t be.” Tara snagged a tissue from the box on the nightstand and handed it to Willow. “Here.”
“Thanks.” Willow daubed at her eyes and blew her nose, then sniffed again. “I’m just... I’m going to lose you,” she whimpered. “If Xander goes through with this... God, this stupid magic spell... I’m gonna lose you!”
“Oh, Willow...” Tara pulled Willow close again and kissed her forehead. Then her cheeks, salty with tears. Then her lips. “Willow, listen to me,” she said. “Are you listening?”
“I’m listening,” she whispered.
Tara caught Willow’s green eyes and held them. “Whether we’re together in this world for another seventy years, or in that one for another seven seconds, I will love you forever. Do you hear me, Willow Rosenberg?” She felt her eyes prickle with tears of her own. “I will love you forever.
“I’m not finished,” she said. “I will love you forever, and if somehow we are separated, I swear to you I will move heaven and earth to find you again.” She grinned. “You’re stuck with me, Willow Rosenberg.”
Willow wiped her eyes again and bit her lip. “That doesn’t sound so bad.”
Tara cupped Willow’s cheek and brought her face closer. Then she kissed the woman she loved -- would love forever, no matter what.
And nothing could ever change that. Not even death.+++++
The icon on Xander’s Gmail changed from 0 to 1. He jumped tabs and his eyes widened. Finally.
From: Rupert Giles (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Subject: RE: Vengeance Demons
I have to admit that I find myself surprised to be contacting you. I realize you have spent many years sending me messages, hoping I would correspond, but it was not until recently that I felt the need to reply.
Unfortunately, rituals to summon demons are not as simple as drawing a few symbols on the ground, and saying magic words is not enough. Magic is about intent, and if you are not fully behind the actions that will result from your spell, then it will fail. It is as simple as that.
However, your latest message concerns me greatly, and not because you wish to summon a vengeance demon -- in fact, the king of all vengeance demons. What is on my mind is that, if you are correct, you have actually created an alternate reality, one in which nothing supernatural exists. YOU HAVE FUNDAMENTALLY ALTERED THE LAWS OF OUR UNIVERSE. And, having done so once, you do NOT have the right to do so again. I have not shared your dreams, and frankly I am quite surprised you are having them at all. But then, you are the focal point of this universe. For all I know, when your life ends, we will all snap back to the reality you and your colleagues are seeing in your dreams.
Regrettably, I know from your previous messages that you will continue to pursue this. I am therefore including scans from several books in my possession regarding alternate universes and parallel realities. Additionally, I recommend that you consult a specialist in quantum physics. I can tell you that scientists of that stripe are more than willing to discuss their theories with anyone who will listen and cannot offer informed dialogue -- no offense intended, but unless you are a physicist, you are not on their level.
I do not wish to know if you succeed or fail. I do not wish to know if your alternate reality exists, or is simply a series of dreams that, by wild coincidence, are shared with young women of your acquaintance. Whatever the answer, I hope you find what you are looking for.
Associate Curator, British Museum
Please consider the environment before printing this e-mail.
Xander took a moment to reflect upon Mr. Giles’s final paragraph. Though it was just an e-mail, the vehemence was very clear. And, Xander supposed, he deserved that. Especially since Xander had told him some of what he was in the dream world -- how well-respected he was, how important he was to so many people. Of course, that meant he had grieved for the deaths of women he considered his family, but Xander had felt Mr. Giles should know the whole truth about what Xander had done.
Then he clicked on the first attachment and started to read.
+++++Your continued readership, reviews, and support are greatly appreciated.
My apologies for posting this chapter a day late. I'm on vacation, and got home so late last night that I totally flaked.
Also, please do not e-mail either of the addresses in this chapter. I don’t own them. I don’t know who does. They just seemed logical.
Brett Butler is the only comedienne who has literally almost killed me. She was telling a joke/story about dog-sitting an un-neutered Great Dane, and I thought she was finished so I took a drink. She was
not finished, and I nearly choked.
Next time: The calm before the storm. Or spell. Something like that.