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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)ListenerFR182256,28613114,7276 May 128 Jul 12Yes

SEVEN: Buffy, Willow, Tara, Buffy, 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.

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PREVIOUSLY: Chris introduced his daughter Amanda to Buffy's daughter Joy, in advance of Joy spending the evening at Chris's while Buffy was at a work event with Willow. At that work event, Kennedy Richardson hit on Willow -- a lot -- and Buffy volunteered to flirt with Kennedy to give Willow a reprieve. Willow said that would absolutely not happen.

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SEVEN: Buffy, Willow, Tara, Buffy, Faith

"Yet it is in our idleness, in our dreams, that the submerged truth sometimes comes to the top." -Virginia Woolf

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Buffy


“I still don’t believe it,” Buffy said. She had a glass of wine in her hand, though she had only taken a sip or two -- Chris had drunk most of his already. “Turns out this Kennedy woman is the technical director for the project we won the bid on, and she’s going to be here for a month, working in our office. With Willow. And here she is making a move on her like every article about Willow doesn’t say ‘lives with her longtime partner, veterinary surgeon Tara Maclay, in Atlanta’s Kingswood region’.”

“How did Willow take it?”

“She drank. A lot.”

“Really?” Chris’s eyebrows went up. “Was she okay after?”

“Oh, fine,” Buffy said. “Clearly she holds her liquor better than I do.” She saluted him with her glass and drank half of it. “This is good,” she said. When he held up the bottle, she nodded, and he poured more of the sweet red wine into her glass, as well as his own. “So, anyway, I offered to step in for her--”

Chris coughed and put down his glass. His face was suddenly flushed. “You... you did what?”

Buffy shrugged and drank. “It’s not a big deal. I offered to flirt with Kennedy, to keep her off Willow’s back.”

“Wow.” Chris rubbed his chest -- must have swallowed wrong, she realized -- and blinked at her. “You really love your job.”

“Well, I like it,” she admitted, “but it’s more a matter of needing it. Tony’s hours were cut, and he’s having trouble making his support payments.”

“I’m sorry,” Chris said. He’d told her that his agreement with Vi was pretty fair, and that she made about as much as him; there was relatively little support to pay. “Are you... okay?”

“Oh, I’m fine.” Buffy didn’t tell him that her sister was still helping out, albeit less than before; of course, when Dawn found out about Tony and the child support, she’d force Buffy to accept more money. Buffy’s pride itched every time she saw a transfer from Dawn’s account to hers, but she wasn’t too proud to realize that she couldn’t do it alone. Still... “I just don’t want to lose my job, and if Willow needs me to do something I might not agree with, then I’ll do it.”

“You don’t agree with her being gay?”

“I don’t care if Willow is gay,” Buffy said, adjusting her position on Chris’s couch. “But I’m not.”

“I guessed that, since we have a date tomorrow.” He looked worried. “We still do, right?”

“Of course we do.” Buffy finished her glass; Chris refilled it. “So, how were the girls?”

+

“I don’t think waking her up is a good idea,” Buffy said with exaggerated seriousness. Chris shook his head and closed the door to Amanda’s room. “Cute, though.”

“Uh-huh.” Joy was asleep in the bottom bunk in Amanda’s room. “She wanted Amanda in the bed with her, but I convinced her otherwise.”

“Cute,” Buffy said again. Then, for some reason, she decided to open the next door in the hallway. “What’s this?”

“Guest room,” he said. “Yours if you want it.”

Buffy looked up at him -- why did he have to be so tall? -- and smiled sheepishly. “I swear I don’t get drunk every Friday night.”

“I don’t mind,” he said. “At least I’m here to look after you.” By the light from the hallway, he guided her into the guest room and she plopped onto the bed. Chris knelt at her feet and slipped off her shoes. “You’re a little shorter than Vi, but I might have some of her clothes in my room if you want pajamas.”

“That... that sounds like a good idea.” She eased herself into a prone position on the bed. “‘Night, Chris.”

“Good night, Buffy.”

+

She is powerful. She is fast. She is kicking and punching, fighting like a martial arts expert. She is up against some evil thing with a horrible ugly face. It calls itself the Master, and a prophecy told him she would die.

But she didn’t die. Not for very long. She drowned, and her friend brought her back to life. She likes this friend, depends upon him, but can’t see his face.

She fights the Master.

She defeats the Master.

She is strong.

She is...

“I’m Buffy,” she says, suddenly in another part of the dream, talking to friends whose faces she cannot see. “Buffy Summers.”

A pause.

“Buffy the Vampire Slayer.”

Yes. She is a vampire slayer.

She is ready to be strong.


+++++

Willow


It took a very long time in the shower to get the icky feeling of Kennedy Richardson off her skin. After Buffy had left for the night, Kennedy had cornered Willow on the way to the ladies room and, in no uncertain terms, offered Willow a place in her bed.

Willow hadn’t deigned to respond, and she’d left soon after.

Following the shower, Willow had climbed into bed with Tara. Her partner’s skin had been only slightly warm, instead of feverish, and while Tara hadn’t stirred, Willow had still spooned against her, holding her close.

It had helped.

Now, in the morning, they shared toast and tea, sitting at the kitchen island. Willow had blown off yoga -- promising herself to do it later -- in favor of being with Tara. “You sure you’re feeling better?”

“Better enough,” Tara said. She smiled and laid her hand over Willow’s. “Are you okay, sweetie? You have that line again.”

“Line?”

Tara reached up and smoothed her fingertip in the space between Willow’s eyebrows, then tapped her nose. Willow grinned. “There’s my girl.” Willow caught Tara’s hand and kissed her fingers. “What’s the matter?”

“Just something stupid that happened last night,” Willow said. She nibbled at her toast. “The tech director who’s working with us on this rollout was pretty much falling out of her dress, and trying to play ‘how much of my boobs can I show the redhead before she comes back to my hotel room?’”

“What?”

“Yeah, she was all, ‘oh, I’m all hot and skanky in my little black dress, don’t you want to do me?’”

“And you were all..?”

“Tara!” Willow felt her face go hot. “I would never... never, ever, ever--”

“I know, sweetie.” Tara smiled. “I know you wouldn’t, no matter how pretty she was--”

“She wasn’t.”

Tara folded her arms. “Tell the truth, Willow.”

Willow sighed. “Okay, fine,” she said. “She actually pulled it off pretty well. If I was single, I probably would’ve thought about it.” At Tara’s widening grin, Willow added, “but when have I ever gone after someone who threw herself at me?”

“I don’t know. When?”

“I haven’t!” Willow drank some of her tea, which was still too hot to drink that fast, and she had to clamp her lips together to avoid spitting it back into the mug.

Tara just kept on smiling.

Until Willow could talk again, she had to settle for giving Tara her grumpy face. “You know very well that you’re the first woman I was ever with, and you’ll be the last woman I’m ever with. And I think I was the one who threw myself at you.”

“Really?”

“Really.” Willow was not about to budge on that one -- she’d never say it out loud, but she knew that if she’d waited for Tara to make the first move, she’d probably have gotten back together with Oz instead of moving forward to be with the woman she loved. “Anyway, that’s not the worst of it.”

“Please don’t tell me she grabbed your butt.”

“What? No! Ew!” But Willow saw Tara’s face go serious when it was clear that Willow wasn’t playing around. “It’s about Buffy.”

“What about her? Did she... you know... with Kennedy?”

“No. But she offered to flirt with her, to get her off my back.”

+++++

Tara


Tara was silent for a long moment. Willow picked at her toast.

“Sweetie?”

“Yeah?”

“Why is that bad?”

Willow’s mouth dropped open, and for several seconds Tara could tell she couldn’t speak. When she was able, she said, “Tell me you did not just say that.”

For a brief moment, Tara considered pushing the whole thing off as a poorly-conceived joke, but she so rarely did that that Willow would know she was just trying to avoid the situation. “I’m sorry,” she said. “I didn’t mean to upset you. But I don’t understand.”

“Don’t understand what, exactly?” Willow slipped off her chair and paced across the kitchen. When she turned around, her eyes flashed sharp and green, and Tara felt awful... although she wasn’t quite sure why.

“Look, Willow, I’m not saying that Buffy sleeps around or anything. I mean, I met her once, for about a second. But she’s your assistant, and she saw you needed... well... assistance. Why is it bad that she offered?”

Willow’s expression softened and, when Tara stood up and took a tentative step forward, Willow crossed the room and pulled her partner into her arms. “I’m sorry, baby,” she said into Tara’s hair. Her fingers were tight against Tara’s back, but she wasn’t going to complain. Something was bothering Willow, and if a little rough hugging was what it took to get her to talk about it, then Tara would gladly accept it. “It’s not really the offer, although I wouldn’t wish Kennedy on anyone. Even Cordelia.”

Tara smiled against Willow’s shoulder. She’d met Cordelia, and the woman hadn’t exactly been the paragon of sweetness and light. Tara also still didn’t quite believe that her partner had gone to high school with one of the stars of Firefly. “So what is it, then? About Buffy, I mean.”

Willow nuzzled Tara’s temple until she looked up. The kiss was a little bitter from Willow’s tea but sweet all the same. All of Willow’s kisses were sweet in that way. After, Willow gently pulled away and sat back down; Tara followed suit.

“You know about my parents,” Willow finally said. Tara did; she’d met them a few times, but they’d died in a car accident a couple of weeks after Willow’s graduation. “Well, it’s like that. Like she’s constantly seeking approval. Which is ridiculous, because she had a great mom. At least, Dawnie says their mom was great, and I trust her. Plus, Buffy was an athlete, and won some cheerleading championship or something, and she got married and had a kid, and if she’s divorced, so what? It’s not like fifty percent of--”

“Willow!”

“What?”

Tara smiled. “Breathe, sweetie.”

Willow sighed, did as Tara said, and continued. “It’s just that she’s afraid I’m going to disapprove of something she did, or that she’s not going to go the extra mile, and I’m going to fire her.”

“Are you?”

“What? Going to fire her?” Tara nodded; Willow shook her head. “No! No, she’s doing really well for someone who hasn’t done this before. And I like her.” At Tara’s slight smirk, Willow added, “not in that way, and you know it.”

“I know,” Tara admitted. “Honestly, Willow, I think you should just let it go. You made your feelings on the matter clear, and I’m sure Buffy understands. She was just trying to help, right?”

“I guess so.” Willow sighed again. “I just got so mad when she did that, y’know?”

“I know.” Tara leaned forward and rested her hand on Willow’s. “Don’t think about it, okay? Think about something else. Something good.” With her other hand, Tara unhooked the little button at the top of her nightgown. “Let me help you get last night off your mind, okay?”

Willow’s cheeks went pink and she smiled. “Baby, I’ve already forgotten.”

+++++

Buffy


Buffy woke with a start, in an unfamiliar bed. She sat up straight but immediately regretted it as the clanging began in her head.

She groaned. She fell back onto the bed.

“Not again.”

+

When she could stand, Buffy looked around Chris’s guest room. Most of the shelves were empty, except for a bookcase next to one window. An unused desk held two piles and a note in handwriting that started out neat but got messier as it continued. I brought you some clothes and towels. Feel free to take a shower if you’d like. I don’t know when you’ll be up, but you can sleep in as long as you like. Joy and Amanda and I will be downstairs.

Buffy rifled through the clothes -- on top was a casual denim dress that was about the right size through the waist, although she’d probably need to keep an eye on the buttons; she was definitely curvier than its previous owner. Under the dress, a pair of sweat-pants and a t-shirt, although the pants were way too long -- she guessed Vi was about four inches taller. The dress, then. The other pile had two towels, a washcloth, and a toothbrush still in its packaging.

To her surprise, Buffy felt her eyes well with tears. Why was Chris being so nice to her? He could’ve pushed her last night and she probably would’ve said yes; he could’ve taken her home and made her deal with Joy on her own when she woke up at seven -- as Joy undoubtedly had done, as she did every weekend morning. He could’ve not invited Joy to stay with him and his daughter.

Buffy sniffed hard and wiped her eyes on the washcloth. Maybe she just wasn’t used to men being nice to her. Or maybe she’d been with Tony so long that, subconsciously, she thought all men were like him.

Well, whatever. She picked up the towels and sweats and went out into the hallway. The bathroom door was open; Buffy went inside, found places to put everything, and figured out the shower. Not that it was complicated, but the last time she’d stayed at Dawn’s, her sister’s bathroom had required the services of a rocket scientist to get the temperature correct. At least here it was just the standard three knobs.

+

Twenty minutes later, Buffy came downstairs, unable to shake neither the scent of Amanda’s strawberry-scented shampoo nor the bubble-gum toothpaste with Dora the Explorer on the tube. The dress, at least, fit better than she’d expected it to, although still a little too tight around the hips.

“Hi, Mommy!”

“Hey, you,” Buffy said as Joy ran up for a hug. She picked up her daughter and shifted her to her hip. “You have a good time?”

“Yeah! We played Wii, and ‘Manda let me be Blue Toad, and we’re drawing stuff.” Joy stared at her with intense hazel eyes. “You smell like strawberries.”

“Yeah, I know. I borrowed some of Amanda’s shampoo.” She went into the living room. “Good morning.”

Amanda didn’t look up from her table, but Chris gave her a wave. “Hi. Sleep okay?”

Buffy nodded. Chris got up from the couch. “Come on. I’ll make you some breakfast.”

But Buffy shook her head. “It’s almost ten. We have to get to gymnastics.” Joy made the sad, sorry “aww” sound that all kids seemed to learn from birth. “Go on,” Buffy said. “Get your stuff together, okay?”

“I don’t want to go to that,” Joy said, pouting. “I wanna stay here with ‘Manda!”

“Well, honey, we have to.” She lowered Joy to the floor, and Joy stomped over to Amanda’s table. “Come on, do what I said, please?”

“Daddy, can Joy come over and play again?”

“I don’t mind,” Chris said. “But maybe you can help Joy get her things? She has to go home for now.” To Buffy, “coffee?”

“Please.” She watched Joy plop herself down at Amanda’s table. “Joy, please don’t make me ask you again.” Joy glared at Buffy for several seconds, but relented and stood up. “Thank you.”

In the kitchen, Chris poured Buffy a travel mug of coffee, then took out milk and sugar. “Here you go. How’s your head?”

“The shower helped.” She sweetened the coffee, added a splash of milk, and clicked the lid in place. “I’ll be okay. I just feel silly.”

“Silly? Why?”

“Because that’s twice now I’ve gotten drunk on Friday night, and both times it was around you.”

He chuckled. “It’s okay, Buffy. I don’t mind. Besides, Amanda had a good time. So did Joy.”

Buffy nodded and sipped the coffee. It was better than the stuff she usually drank. “Aren’t you having any?”

He shook his head. “I don’t drink coffee.” When she wrinkled her brows, he added, “I get migraines.”

“Sorry.”

“Why? You didn’t cause them.” He glanced past her, into the living room, but when Buffy made to turn around, he shook his head. “They’re almost done. Don’t spoil the moment.”

Buffy looked up at him, at the small smile on his face, and couldn’t stop herself. She reached up to cup his cheek, urged him to look down, and kissed him.

+

Kissing someone other than Tony, especially after all these years, was possibly the weirdest thing she’d felt in a long time. Chris’s lips were softer, and his mustache tickled her lip, and the height was all wrong, and...

And it was nice.

Despite everything, it was nice.

And, Buffy realized, right now, I could use a little nice in my life.

“Well,” he said, taking her hand in both of his, “we’ve had the sleepover. We’ve had the first kiss. Now we just need to actually go out on a date.”

Buffy blushed. “I’m sorry,” she said. “I didn’t mean--”

“Don’t apologize,” he told her. “Please.”

“Okay.” Buffy pulled her hand away and went back to the living room. “You ready, honey?”

“Ready.” Joy didn’t sound happy, but she had her shoes on the right feet and her backpack over her shoulders. Just how long had the kiss gone on for?

“Bye,” Amanda said. Then she hugged Joy, and Joy, to Buffy’s surprise, hugged her back.

Chris walked them to the door. Buffy wanted to find a way to kiss him again, but the kids were definitely watching, and she wasn’t ready to get a call from Tony about “mommy’s new friend who she kissed”.

“I’ll see you on Monday,” he said.

Buffy nodded. “See you then.”

She could see in his eyes that there was more he wanted to say, but they’d already done their farewells.

But she could certainly call him later.

It would be... nice.

+++++

Faith


Faith jerked awake, gasping. The dream had been so real, so powerful, that for a minute she just let herself lie there in the hotel bed, reliving it. She’d been fighting alongside a blond woman, and just thinking about the dream-girl made her heart race a little more. Not in the sexy way, but in the longing way -- it was like the blonde was a friend she’d had for years, had ripped away, and had just gotten back.

The dream started to fade quickly, though, the vivid colors and sounds floating out of her mind. She threw off the blanket and padded naked across the thick carpet to the dresser. The envelope was still where she’d left it, tucked in her purse in the top drawer, and all the cash was there. “Wicked.”

In the shower, she tried to remember more about the dream. The blond chick was in charge, which was kind of weird -- Faith never let anyone be the boss, not without paying her first -- but it felt right. At least, the memory of it felt right. They’d been kicking the crap out of this bunch of guys for trying to... to bite a girl? Was that it? Had they been biting them? “Fuckin’ vampires,” Faith said, rinsing the shampoo out of her hair. Of course, vampires weren’t real, and anyway no movie she’d seen had them looking like Star Trek rejects, all bumpy-headed.

Fun dream, though. Two girls strong enough to beat the hell out of some supernatural creatures and save the day.

Faith tried to get a better mental look at the blonde, but all that came back was short and well-dressed. She shrugged. It wasn’t the girl’s look that intrigued her.

It was the feeling of sisterhood, like the blonde was her best friend in the world, but more so. Faith didn’t have any family -- no sisters, no brothers, just a dad who split and a mom who hit until Faith finally ran away when she was thirteen. Faith had never needed anyone like that, but put a gun to her head and she’d admit that it’d felt good to think of the blonde that way.

She sighed and shut off the water, then dried off -- no matter how expensive the hotel, and this one wasn’t cheap, the towels were always too damn small -- and threw on a pair of jeans and a t-shirt. All her stuff went into a backpack, and just before check-out time she was in the hall, waiting by the elevator, checking her texts.

There was one from Kennedy, though, and just seeing her name made her smile. She treated all her clients equally, but Kennedy... Kennedy she actually liked.

In Atlanta for the next couple of weeks. Want to come down?

Faith grinned. The elevator doors opened and she stepped in, nodding politely to the older couple as she stood to one side. She considered Kennedy’s offer while the elevator descended.

Faith catered to a very specific but surprisingly popular subset of the escort service: men who wanted a girl that was ‘just one of the guys’. Faith liked sports, and she was good at them. The GED program hadn’t given her much of a chance to play on teams, but one of her foster parents had owned a karate studio and she’d been doing martial arts since she was fifteen. Even won a trophy once or twice. That had led to meeting people who played pickup games in the park or at the Y. It hadn’t taken long for Faith to understand that guys didn’t mind when a hot girl made a fadeaway jumper and called them names, as long as they got to fuck her afterward. She made a good living at it, and anyone who tried anything, she’d kick him in the nuts so hard he’d taste ‘em for a week.

But Kennedy was something different. Kennedy gave Faith the chance to put on a dress, to look like the dream-hooker Julia Roberts had made all those stupid middle-aged businessmen think they could buy for a week. Kennedy took Faith to society events, and Faith let her say “this is my lover” to all the guys trying to get into Kennedy’s pants. And, when it was time to go to bed, Kennedy was positively a nympho.

And she paid really, really well. Not that Faith would’ve charged her extra or anything, but Kennedy always put more in the envelope than she needed to.

The elevator finally pinged; Faith let the older folks step out first, then made her way through the lobby to the taxi stand. While she waited, she tapped in a text to Kennedy.

Paypal me the plane fare. I’ll be there when I can get there. See you soon, kittycat.

She smiled and hit send. Kennedy liked the nickname, and Faith liked the scratches Kennedy put on her back.

It gave Faith an excuse to play rough. And Kennedy definitely liked that.

A taxi pulled up. Faith opened the back door, tossed in her bag, and sat down. Time to go home, get ready for tonight’s “date”.

As the cab navigated the streets of Boston, Faith wondered when her mind had taken Kennedy out of the “work” box and put her in the “fun” box. Then she realized that she really didn’t care.

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As always, your reviews and e-mails are welcomed, appreciated, and responded to.

"Blue Toad" refers to multi-player New Super Mario Bros Wii, which for a while was my daughter's favorite video game.

I only have one more major player yet to hit the board. I'm sure you already know who it is.

Next time: Willow finds out about two different relationships going on around her.
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