EIGHTEEN: Buffy, Faith, 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.+++++PREVIOUSLY: The spell didn't work. Everyone dispersed. Buffy went back to Chris's house, where Joy was already asleep. They talked about their relationship, and then Buffy asked Chris to take her to bed. Faith realized that she cared for Kennedy more than she expected to. Tara reassured Willow that she would love her forever, and that nothing -- not even death -- could keep them apart. Xander got an e-mail from Rupert Giles, a curator at the British Museum, that contained useful information about the spell.+++++
EIGHTEEN: Buffy, Faith, Willow
This chapter contains sexual content, and is rated FR-21. Reader discretion is advised.
"The longer that dreams remained mere dreams, the more difficult it was to mold them into reality." -from Dune: House Atreides by Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson
The week progressed slowly; that was the only way to describe it. Buffy and Satsu made it a point to check on each other a couple of times a day, and a simple touch or a smile made things just a bit better. Xander and Faith spent their time doing research at Willow’s house, or out and about talking to locals who claimed to know about “magic”. Kennedy seemed to be doing better, and to Buffy’s surprise, she and Willow were getting along. It was almost as if they were old friends now.
On Thursday morning, Willow put an appointment on everyone’s calendar -- hers, Buffy’s, Kennedy’s, and Satsu’s -- telling them to take Friday off. Buffy decided her boss must have used her pull as CTO to get Satsu out of the office again. A few minutes later, Willow called her into her office.
“What’s up?” Buffy asked.
Willow waved her to the table, and Buffy sat beside the place Kennedy had cracked with her fist. Willow took the chair across from her. “I’ve been working on a speech,” she said.
“About this weekend.”
Buffy had had her notebook open, pen in hand, but she set the pen down; this wasn’t going to something she’d been writing down. “Why do you need a speech?”
“Because...” Willow sighed and put both hands on the table, as if she was going to push her chair away. She didn’t, though. “Because this is killing us. All of us.”
“No. You’re not.” Willow peered at her, and Buffy couldn’t help but look away. “See? It’s bothering you.”
Buffy put her hands in her lap. “Yeah. It is. But not because I’m scared of being Supergirl.”
“I know. It’s because of Joy.”
She felt tears prickle her eyes and screwed them shut tight until the feeling went away. When she opened them, Willow had moved from the chair across from her to the chair beside her. She held out her hand and Buffy took it. “She’s the best thing in my life,” Buffy said, her voice suddenly hoarse. “I don’t... I’m afraid...”
“Of losing her.” Willow’s face was paler than it should have been, her lips thin. “I know what you mean. If what Xander says is right, then Tara’s dead over there.”
“So why are we doing this?” Buffy asked. “Why not just let it go?”
“Because the dreams are getting worse,” Willow said. “At least, Kennedy’s and Faith’s.”
“Mine too,” Buffy admitted. “I’m seeing the... the bombing... more and more.”
Willow nodded. “We have to know,” she said, stroking the back of Buffy’s hand. Her dream-memories made it feel right, made her want to hug her friend, but here in the real world Willow was her boss, and hugging the boss just wasn’t done. Not on company property, anyway. “But this is too much. That’s why we’re giving it one last try this weekend, and then we stop.”
“Stop,” Willow echoed. “No more analysis, no more fake magic spells, no more pretending this is anything more than some coincidental dreams. We go back to our lives -- Kennedy and Faith go to Boston, you and Joy stay a family, and I don’t--” Buffy heard Willow’s voice break, but the other woman soldiered on. “I don’t lose Tara.”
“What about Xander? I don’t think he’ll just give it up.”
“He will,” Willow said. “Tara and I talked to him. If we all agree not to push the issue, then he’ll let it go. He’ll go back to Nebraska, back to his life, and we won’t talk about it again.”
Buffy was afraid of what might happen to her if they didn’t figure it out -- if the dreams didn’t stop -- but that would be a bridge to cross once they got to it. “Okay,” she said. Then she said it again. “Okay. Lay your speech on me.”
It had been a hell of a fight to get Tony to swap weekends, and she’d had to concede Joy to him for an extra day, but he’d finally agreed. When she’d gotten to Chris’s house Thursday night, she found him putting Amanda to bed. After, she asked him why his daughter was there. “Vi’s been having trouble sleeping,” he said. “She asked me to take Amanda this weekend.”
“Oh.” She was on his lap again, straddling him, being held by him. Though she often complained about being short, dating someone so much taller than her, as Chris was, gave her leave to be in this position without making either of them uncomfortable. Regular couch-snuggling had nothing on this. “What’s wrong with her? Did she say?”
Buffy tensed, but Chris’s hands under her blouse, on the bare skin of her lower back, comforted her. “Do you think she’s like us?”
“I think it’s very possible,” he said. “We could bring her in, if you think--”
But Buffy was shaking her head. “Too many people at this point,” she said. “Either whatever Xander is planning works out, or it doesn’t. Adding your ex to the mix will just make things...” She smiled against his shoulder. “Un-mixy.”
“That isn’t a word.”
“I know.” She kissed his neck. “But it’s all I’ve got.” His hands shifted to her hips, urging her closer. “I envy you,” she said.
“Because if the world ends tomorrow night, when we do this, then you’ll be with the person you love. But I can’t be with Joy.” She forced herself not to cry, finding herself breathing harder than she should have been. Her heart ached; her fingers went cold and tingly. “Damn it,” she whispered. “Damn it!”
Chris moved her so she was looking at him. He kissed her forehead, then smiled at her. “It’ll be okay,” he said.
“How can you know that?”
“I just do.” He slid his hands up to rest against her sides; his skin was very warm. “Besides, I can’t believe that the girl I’m falling for is going to just blink out of existence.” Every time he said that, Buffy found her heart fluttering and things low in her stomach going all gooey. “If by some stretch of the imagination this works the way that Xander person hopes, I’ll still exist. Probably.” He added that last bit with a wry grin. “And I’ll come find you.”
“But in that other world,” Buffy said, “I’m with Satsu. Like, with
with Satsu.” She sighed. “Chris, I’m right there with you. Being with you is the best thing that’s happened to me in the past year -- at least, that wasn’t Joy-related.” The expression on his face told her just how that made him feel, and the gooeyness turned nearly molten, spreading through her chest and making her feel like she was about to burn up. She took a moment to enjoy the sensation before speaking again. “My other self... she’s bisexual.” Why am I blushing? What’s wrong with that? Hell, I messed around with girls in real life too, didn’t I?
“But Satsu... she isn’t. Not that Satsu. And I wouldn’t want to hurt her--”
“Then don’t. Buffy, I’d be happy just being your friend. And, hey, maybe over there I’m married, or maybe I’m gay. I don’t know, and I don’t care. I just want to be with you.”
Now the tears came in force, and Buffy didn’t bother to hide them.+
Buffy was tired, scared, more than a little sore, and more than a lot satisfied when she kissed Chris goodbye on Friday morning. They hadn’t gotten to sleep until almost two -- just thinking about it made her blush fiercely as she drove out of his neighborhood. She’d been needy, needful, taking as much from him as he could give her -- and then some -- because, if this worked, she had no idea what would happen to him.
When she picked up Satsu, the other woman was looking haggard. “You okay?” she asked, watching Satsu holding her travel mug close to her mouth. Steam rose from the tiny opening in the top.
“I’ll be fine.” She sighed and slipped on her sunglasses. “I told Cal.”
“Oh.” Buffy turned out of Satsu’s complex and headed southward toward the perimeter. It was almost ten -- rush hour was just about over -- and there wasn’t much traffic. “How’d he take it?”
“Shitty.” Satsu sipped her coffee. Buffy chanced a glance at her, and saw how closed-off her face was. “He couldn’t believe it, and when I gave him the details, he just started ranting. I had to get out of the apartment, and I ended up coming home late and sleeping in the guest room.”
“I’m sorry,” Buffy said.
“Not your fault.”
“I know. But I still am.” Buffy felt kind of bad about having such a good night, given what Satsu had gone through. Without thinking, she reached out and took Satsu’s hand, which was resting on the side of the passenger seat. Satsu’s head turned quickly, but Buffy didn’t let go.
Holding Satsu’s hand felt good.No, not just good. It feels right, like we belong together.
Well. That brought up some conflicted thoughts. Buffy didn’t know if Satsu had had any sex dreams about her, and it hadn’t come up in conversation -- because saying “oh, yeah, and I dreamed about sleeping with my co-worker” is totally the thing to do
-- but Buffy didn’t really care. Satsu was her friend, and Satsu looked like she could use the comfort.
After about fifteen minutes, they arrived at Willow’s house. Buffy pulled in behind an old-ish looking blue Chevy -- probably Xander’s -- and shut off the car. It took her a moment to get her stuff together, and when she opened the door, Satsu was standing there. “You okay?” Buffy asked again.
Instead of answering with words, Satsu reached for Buffy, her hand sliding into her hair, and pulled her into one of the most searingly-sweet kisses she’d ever experienced.Yep. She definitely had dreams too.
“Cinnamon,” Buffy said when she could speak again. She flicked her tongue over her lips. “You taste like cinnamon.”
Satsu smiled and slipped a tube of lip gloss out of her purse. She reapplied it, and then gave Buffy a look she couldn't quite read. “We should go inside,” she said.
“Yeah.” Buffy wanted to wait for her heart to stop hammering -- as amazing as last night had been with Chris, there’d been something... something so very perfect... about that kiss from Satsu. No, not ‘from’
, she amended. I was definitely kissing her back.
Buffy locked her car and followed Satsu up the path to the front door, and if she took her time so she could watch the other woman’s backside in jeans that looked painted on, well... she figured Chris could forgive her.+++++
Kennedy was walking a little crooked as she came out of the bathroom, still naked, toweling her hair. Faith hadn’t bothered to get out of bed yet, or even put away the toys. Her own personal kinks were pretty well-defined -- that little spanking she’d given Kennedy a few days ago didn’t even scratch the surface -- but what she and Kennedy had done that morning had been unexpected.
Satisfying, yes, but unexpected. “You okay, Ken?”
“I’ll be fine,” she said. She tossed the towel back into the bathroom and padded across the thick carpet to the bed. Faith watched as her lover -- after the past few days together, and after all the revelations that had come with them, she just couldn’t think of Kennedy as a client anymore -- put her hands on either side of Faith’s hips and eased the toys away from her body. “You smell good.”
“I smell like you,” she said. “Like I just fucked you.”
“You did just fuck me.” Kennedy grinned and leaned over Faith; Faith felt the brush of lips and grabbed Kennedy by the hair, forcing her to kiss her harder. After, Kennedy was breathing hard again. “We’re going to be late if you keep that up, and you still need a shower.”
Faith sat up, turned so she was on the edge of the bed, and pulled Kennedy’s body against hers. She nuzzled Kennedy’s breasts, running her lips over her curves. “Maybe I don’t want to go at all.”
“Faith,” Kennedy said, putting her hands on her hips -- which, Faith decided, didn’t really work given that all Faith could concentrate on was just how sexy Kennedy looked when she was determined. “Faith, we have to. We promised.”
“Fuck ‘em,” she said. She reached around Kennedy, grabbing her ass and making her squeak and squirm. She knew Kennedy still had to be sore, and she was counting on it as a distraction. “Why do we have to, anyway?”
Kennedy put her hands on Faith’s shoulders and pushed hard, hard enough that Faith fell back onto the bed. She watched as Kennedy straddled her waist, holding her in place. Faith knew she could get away, knew at least four ways to flip her lover or toss her across the room.
But she didn’t.
“Until last night -- and this morning,” Kennedy added with a grin and a flicker of her tongue over her lips, “I felt like I was in a fog. Except when we were together, making love.” Faith thought it was sweet that Kennedy called what they’d done that morning ‘making love’ -- to Faith’s trained mind, it had been fucking, pure and simple. “And this morning, I finally broke through.” Kennedy leaned down, sliding her arms under Faith’s shoulders and into her dark hair. “Baby, what we did... the pain... was exactly what I needed. I needed to feel like this world might not be perfect, that it could still hurt me.”
“Why?” Faith asked. Kennedy’s mouth was close enough to kiss, but she didn’t do it. “Why did you need to be hurt?”
“Because ever since we’ve been here in this room together, things have been too good. I...” Kennedy swallowed hard, and a tear dripped from her cheek to land on Faith’s. Kennedy kissed it away. “I don’t want to go back.”
“Then let’s not,” Faith whispered. She moved her arms around Kennedy, holding her closer. She smelled like spicy soap and sweet woman, and Faith loved it.
No. That wasn’t enough. Holy shit,
she thought, feeling her muscles tense and trying to make it go away. I can’t possibly...
She shook her head. “Let’s not go to the other world,” Faith said. “I don’t care if it’s what was supposed to be. I finally figured out...” A deep breath. Another. Kennedy’s eyes were intense, and this close up Faith could pick out every shade in her irises. It was distracting; almost distracting enough. “I finally figured out some things,” Faith finally said, deciding not to drop any bombs. Not yet. “I need some time to sort it out, and if we go over there... I get nothing.”
Kennedy nodded, and Faith saw that she understood. “If we go over there -- if this works -- then we’re dead.”
“We’re dead,” Faith repeated.
“But at least we’ll have had each other.” Kennedy kissed Faith again, warm and gentle, and Faith let her. God, can she kiss!
Then Kennedy was sliding down her body to kneel on the floor beside the bed. Faith propped herself up on her elbows to see her lover’s face. “If you don’t take a shower after I’m done with you,” she said, smiling, “then you’re the one who’s getting spanked next.”
Whatever reply Faith might have come up with never got said -- once Kennedy’s mouth was on her, she forgot how to do anything but react.+++++
Faith and Kennedy finally showed up. Willow had asked if Kennedy was okay, and Kennedy had just blushed. Well, all right then, I guess she likes it rough.
Willow smiled to herself. She wasn’t the only one who got laid last night, either.
She found Tara in the solarium and slipped her hand into her partner’s. Tara squeezed it gently, reassuringly, but Willow knew she most definitely was not okay. They’d made love several times last night and again in the morning, and even though Tara was putting on her strong face -- she’d always been the stronger of them, and Willow knew it -- it was clear that she was as scared as Willow. Their lovemaking had had a sense of desperation to it, the feeling that each time could be the last time.
Willow hated hurting Tara that way. She hated how scared she was, and how scared Tara was, and, hell, how scared Kennedy was. Buffy and Satsu had gone to pick up donuts, and both of them were pale -- Satsu more than Buffy -- but at least Buffy had had a sense of quiet strength about her, a determination that, no matter what, she was ready for what happened.
Faith, in fact, was the only one who seemed her usual self. But Willow saw the nearly-unreadable look in her eyes every time she and Kennedy were close together. Even Faith was worried.
Willow went back into the kitchen and started washing the breakfast dishes. Of course, if the world changed, this house wouldn’t exist -- Tara will be dead
, warned the little voice inside her head -- but on the off chance that none of this worked, someone would still need to clean them. Might as well be her.
She felt a pair of arms around her waist and leaned back into Xander’s hug. He’d been doing that all morning -- hugging her, telling her everything would be okay. It was nice, having Xander around; it was nice to have him hugging her again, like he used to do. It almost made up for how afraid of him she was.
Not that Xander would ever hurt her on purpose -- he wouldn’t hurt anyone on purpose; it just wasn’t who he was -- but it was Xander whose research they were depending on, and Xander whose dreams had brought them all together like this, hoping to change reality itself.And if it works, then Xander will be the person who took Tara away from me.
Willow sighed and, after Xander moved away, finished the washing-up. Then she dried her hands, drank a cup of water from the faucet, and went into the living room.
“Hi, Fred.” Fred, who had taken the red-eye on Wednesday morning and spent all day at Georgia Tech using her influence to borrow the equipment she needed, had stayed at the house for the past two nights on the pull-out sofa in Willow’s office. Yesterday, Xander and the physicist had set up everything in the dining room, moving the table and chairs into the garage and packing up the china and keepsakes. The room was almost completely empty. “Everything set up?”
“Yeah.” Fred truly didn’t look afraid of what was going to happen -- she’d told them that, if this worked, it would prove almost all of her theories on quantum realities. “I got all the equipment in place last night, and I ran a quick test on it this morning before everyone woke up.” The slight flush in Fred’s cheeks told Willow that her friend had heard them having sex, but she knew Fred didn’t care about that when science was involved. “I’ll go over what everyone has to do, and then as soon as it gets dark, we’ll try it.”
“Why darkness?” Kennedy asked. Faith had given up prowling around the room and was sitting on the couch, her arm around Kennedy. “Why can’t we do it at noon, or four, or whenever?”
“Because D’Hoffryn, as nice as he can be,” and Xander’s voice went hard on the word ‘nice’, “is still a demon. Demons are more powerful at night. One of the documents Mr. Giles sent me suggested that, if we did it during the say -- or if I’d done the spell during the day when I was in the dream world -- it wouldn’t work.”
“Well, that’s great,” Faith said. “So, what do we do all day? Sit around and wait for our world to change? Count down the hours to our deaths?”
At that, Willow heard a choked sob and turned to see Tara, mouth pressed into a thin line. She went to her partner and took her by the elbow, and once they were in the kitchen, pulled her into a hug. “I’m so sorry, baby,” she said, tears in her eyes. “I wish we didn’t have to do this--”
“We don’t,” Tara said, her voice dull and dry. She’d made her arguments, but Willow refused to be swayed. Like Xander, she simply had to know. And, if it turned out all of this was a false reality, one that had been created just because Xander wanted to make Willow feel better, then Willow wouldn’t be able to live with herself. “We don’t have to do it,” Tara said again. “We can just leave, you and me. We can break Fred’s machines, or steal Xander’s ingredients, or just not be here.”
But Tara just shook her head and pulled away from Willow. “I’m going for a walk,” she said, moving to the French doors that led out to the backyard.
“Tara, what about the spell?”
“I’ll be back,” she said without turning around. “I’ll be back to die for you.”
She didn’t even slam the door on the way out.+
Tara didn’t return until dinnertime. Willow had no idea where her partner had been, and Tara wasn’t saying. She just sat down at the table and served herself some of the lasagna Willow had made. Buffy and Satsu had spent most of the day together on the couch, just holding each other; Faith had remarked how right they looked together when they’d both fallen asleep. She and Kennedy, meanwhile, had made use of the room Xander had been sleeping in -- Willow still couldn’t believe how foul a mouth Kennedy’s lover had, or how high-pitched Kennedy’s screams were when she...
Willow blushed and reached for Tara. The movement was strained, as if Tara was merely allowing Willow to brush her lips against her cheek.
What Tara had said... it had hurt. She and Willow had always promised to die for each other if necessary, but this... this was just unfair.
It had almost shaken Willow’s resolve.
After dinner, they gathered in the living room, and Fred and Xander explained exactly what they’d have to do to complete the spell.+++++
+++++Your continued readership, support, and reviews are, as always, greatly appreciated.
I'm particularly proud of Tara's parting shot in the kitchen, and the way I set that up. Hope you enjoyed it too.
Next time: Will the spell work, or will it fail? Will Xander's new world, the world he made for Willow, still be around the morning after? Will things go back to the way they "should" be, leaving Tara, Faith, Satsu, Kennedy, and Buffy dead, and Willow forever broken? All of these questions (and more) will be answered on Wednesday July 4, in Chapter 19 of "Dreaming of How It Was Going to Be". See you then.