Making a Plan
When Willow woke up the next morning she was snuggled up against Tara, and they were both wrapped in a red blanket. For a moment all she managed to do was stare at the beautiful blond woman next to her. Her chest was rising and falling, indicating that she was indeed alive. Her face looked peaceful and almost angelic, but that was probably just Willow’s own rather biased opinion.
As she kept watching Tara’s sleeping form, Willow realized why she was lying next to her in the first place, and what happened the previous night. After they had stopped the collision of universes and the demons were dealt with, their aid really had introduced themselves as Thor, the God of Thunder, and the Hulk. Under different circumstances Willow probably would have thought that they were crazy. Ore maybe not… she had seen way too much in her life already to think that anything was impossible. But still, comic heroes
? Well, she was a witch who was lying next to her supposedly dead girlfriend, or possibly an alternate reality version of said dead girlfriend, who happened to also be a witch. Her friend, who was sitting up next to her at that moment, was sharing her body with an ancient demonic goddess. So, who was she to say that comic heroes couldn’t be real?
Willow took a deep breath, inhaling Tara’s familiar scent, which almost brought tears to her eyes, then sat up and looked around. They were on a meadow and the sun had just started to rise. Next to Fred the God of Thunder himself extinguished a fire before looking towards the rising sun with a sad and worried expression. To his right a slightly dishevelled looking man yawned. Where had he come from? And where was the Hulk? Oh, right
, Willow thought. The Hulk wasn’t always huge and green. He was a regular human most of the time, wasn’t he?
“Morning,” Fred said. “How are you feeling?”
Willow glanced at her and shrugged. Worried because of the collision and the disappearance of Buffy, Dawn, Angel and Faith, unsure about the future of the world, slightly weirded out because of the comic heroes, happy and hopeful because of Tara
, she thought, but said instead: “Better… less exhausted than last night for sure.”
“Good,” Fred replied with a small smile. “Me, too. Illyria is still asleep though. She was exhausted after fighting the demons and whatever you did to stop the merging of realities.” Since Willow had noticed that she was still around in her own body and helped her to get Illyria to let her take control of her body from time to time, Fred had learned to use and understand some of the ancient demon’s powers, but most were still a complete mystery to her. What Illyria did last night fell under that category, but it also showed her, that she could be glad that Illyria was with her now. Having to share her own body might be weird and often annoying, especially because Illyria wasn’t the easiest person to get along with, but what would they have done without her and her powers last night? On her own Fred would have been powerless.
“I completely understand,” Willow said. Then she turned towards the men. “Thank you for your help.”
“You’re welcome,” Bruce Banner answered. “The other guy had a blast.”
Willow smiled slightly when she realized, that he meant the Hulk. So he had a sense of humor. Xander would totally love to meet him. That reminded her of something.
“Have you called the Slayer School yet, Fred?” she asked.
“I tried, but something must be up with the phone lines. It said the number isn’t registered.”
“The same happened when I tried to call the other Avengers, Stark Industries and S.H.I.E.L.D.,” Bruce said.
“Weird,” Willow mumbled, lost in thought.
“Maybe that’s because the people you were calling aren’t in this world,” Tara offered with a yawn and pushed herself up into a sitting position.
Willow glanced at her and couldn’t help but smile. “Morning.”
Tara returned the smile. “Hey,” she whispered in that shy kind of voice Willow knew so well.
“What do you mean by that?” Thor wanted to know, looking at Tara, who reluctantly tore her eyes away from Willow and turned to the man.
“Remember, last night I told you, that different realities crashed into each other. I don’t know how or why, but I could feel it happening. It’s hard to describe, but I think that during the collision parts of one world were pushed into others. Since I am pretty sure that we…,” Tara started and gestured at all of them in turn. “…are from at least three different realities, it is pretty safe to assume, that not all of us can still be in their own universe. The ones of us who aren’t might not have anyone to call,” she finished, then looked down, when she noticed that all eyes were on her. She had never really liked to be the center of attention.
“Great,” Bruce muttered. “If we don’t have Stark Tower or S.H.I.E.L.D. resources, how are we going to solve this mess?” If it can be solved
, he added in thoughts, but didn’t say it out loud.
“Magic,” Willow said automatically. “The same way we stopped the collision.”
“Magic is real, Banner,” Thor told his friend. “As real as science. To Asgardians they are one and the same.”
Bruce raised an eyebrow, but didn’t say anything. He was talking to an alien after all, one who happened to be the God of Thunder. Was magic really that big of a leap?
“So, if magic
can fix this mess…,” he said in a sceptical tone of voice. “…any idea how to actually do it?”
“Not really,” Willow answered. “I need to examine the world. Maybe that will help me figure out what caused this and what needs to be done to fix it.”
“Are you strong enough to do that yet?” Fred wanted to know.
“I don’t know,” Willow admitted.
“I’ll help you,” Tara offered. “But first we should try to find something to eat, get our strength back.”
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Willow sat down on the ground cross-legged and took a deep breath. They were back in the meadow, where they hopefully wouldn’t be interrupted by strangers. The trip into the closest village hadn’t been fun. Most of the houses were damaged or completely destroyed in the earthquake. A lot of people were wounded. In addition to that a lot of things had been… misplaced. Willow didn’t manage to come up with a better word for it. It weren’t just people who ended up in other worlds, it were objects, landscapes and buildings, too. Sometimes even halves of buildings. Sceneries changed abruptly, streets ended suddenly or led straight into houses. People couldn’t find loved ones or their homes. It was chaos. No cafés or restaurants had been open. Luckily tough, they had found a nice old woman who had insisted on sharing her breakfast with them. Willow had a feeling that she was a little disoriented and believed Fred to be her granddaughter, but they couldn’t be picky in their situation. They needed to eat to be strong enough to do the kind of magic that might save the whole world… or better worlds,
in this case.
Tara followed Willow’s example and sat down opposite her. When they joined hands she looked at the redhead.
“If we figure this out,” she said silently. “If we manage to restore everything, get everyone back home…” She sighed and looked down. “What I mean is…”
“… that we won’t be able to see each other again,” Willow finished. It had occurred to her as well. Here she was sitting, with Tara’s hands in her own. It might not be her
Tara, but it still felt like she was. Part of her wondered how she could even think about trying to reverse what had happened. She would probably never be able to see this version of her girlfriend again, the only version she had left. She wanted to be with her so badly, and she was sure that Tara wanted the same. They had talked a little while on their way to the village. Apparently Tara’s reality wasn’t that different from her own, but instead of Tara, Warren’s bullet had killed Willow there. This Tara wasn’t just another version of her girlfriend, but also knew exactly how Willow felt. If things stayed the way they were right now, she might have another shot at being with the woman she loved more than anything in the world. But if they did nothing, if they stayed together and left the world as it was, so many others would suffer. What she saw in the village surely happened elsewhere, too. People were lost, families and loved ones separated. How could she put her own happiness before theirs?
A tear started to run down Willow’s cheek. She quickly wiped it away and saw Tara do the same. Then, without even thinking about it, or making the decision to do it, she leaned forward at the same time as Tara. Their lips met in a desperate kiss as they both pulled each other closer. Willow’s right hand got tangled in Tara’s hair, while her left arm wrapped around her, holding her close.
Seeing their kiss Fred quickly looked down with a sigh. She was happy for Willow that she had this chance, this opportunity, to be with another version of the woman she loved, but she also felt a little jealous. Was there another Wesley out there? Was he maybe even in this world right now? She wished he
had been there after the collision. A part of her wanted to go look for him, but she knew that they didn’t have time. They needed to try and fix this as soon as possible.
When the two witches suddenly kissed Thor averted his eyes and tried not to rush them, even though he was more than impatient. He needed to get back to Jane! Every second he was away from her meant one more second in which he was unable to keep her safe. He knew very well, that Loki already had had enough time by now to kill her, if the other Avengers did not manage to rescue her, but he needed to go back and find out what happened. Wasting time in another reality was the worst kind of torture he could imagine right now. On the other hand he could understand Willow and Tara as well. He overheard them talking earlier and knew enough about their past. In addition to that it was written all over their faces how they felt for each other. They had every reason to run away together and leave the world as it was, maybe even fight to keep it that way. Yet they were planning to try and fix things themselves. The least he could do was give them a few moments together. Still, it was extremely hard. He had never been a patient man. Sighing he started to pace, which earned him a glare from Bruce. Then the witches finally broke apart.
“If I see a way for me to come with you I will take it,” Willow whispered while wiping Tara’s tears away.
“Me, too,” Tara promised. “And if not now, I will try to find one later.”
Willow smiled faintly, sat back down and reached for Tara’s hands. It was time to examine the damage and try to fix it, no matter the costs for her fragile heart. She had gone evil once and selfishly tried to destroy the world. She could not allow herself to go down that road again. She wouldn’t deserve Tara otherwise anyway.
“What do you think they are doing?” Bruce asked silently, after the two witches were motionless for at least twenty minutes. They had started to float above the ground shortly after joining hands. A breeze came out of nowhere, making their hair fly behind them, in opposite directions, then they started to glow faintly. If he really needed proof that magic was real, he had it now. Still, nothing seemed to happen.
“I do not know,” Thor answered and went back to pacing.
Fred rolled her eyes. Apparently the Norse God wasn’t good at waiting and doing nothing. Not that she could blame him, but walking up and down didn’t do much besides make her nervous. She was just about to tell him to cut it out, when Willow and Tara suddenly floated back to the ground. They stopped glowing, then moved and looked up.
“Well?” Bruce asked.
“There is a lot of damage, and not just here. The walls between worlds are very thin and fragile right now. I can feel the damage and destruction echoing back through them,” Willow answered.
“Can you repair it?” Thor voiced the question that was on everyone’s mind.
Willow and Tara both shook their heads.
“There is no easy way to undo what happened. The only way I can see is to try and push everything back by force,” Willow said. “Which would need an incredible amount of power.”
“Plus, if we tried to push the parts of universes back where they came from, people would have to go back to where they were when they arrived, or they would be left behind. Not to mention that we would have to undo what we did to stop the merging, which means that in addition to trying to reverse everything we would have to work on preventing another collision. If we failed we might make everything worse instead of better,” Tara added.
“So you are not going to do anything because you might fail?” Thor demanded.
“We’re not saying that we might
fail. There is no way we could possibly succeed right now,” Willow answered. “We simply aren’t strong enough. We would need a whole lot more power to pull this off, and trust me, I considered tapping into each of you for strength. It still wouldn’t be enough, and that even though you are pretty powerful.”
Tara nodded in agreement. “If we want to try this we will need to find help, a lot of help.”
Thor looked at them and sighed. He did not doubt what they said. The whole world still felt wrong
to him, and he had seen the damage in that village. To expect that two humans could fix everything had been stupid. He should have known that it would not be that simple.
“The tesseract,” he then said silently, lost in thought.
“What?” Fred asked.
“The tesseract is an asgardian artifact of great power. I am certain it could be of help in restoring order,” Thor elaborated.
“But Loki took it,” Bruce objected. “And last time I checked he wasn’t here. He disappeared during the collision,” he added in explanation for the women.
“So this artifact is in another reality right now?” Fred asked. “That doesn’t really help us, does it? We can’t actually go there.”
“I wouldn’t be so sure about that,” Willow said. “Like I said, the walls between universes are very thin right now. Travelling between them shouldn’t be that hard.”
“Then what are we waiting for?” Thor wanted to know. If they could go to wherever Jane was right now, they had to do it!
“The problem is that we don’t know where we need to go. There are a lot of realities. We could search for the right one for the rest of our lives and still don’t find it,” Tara said.
“Is there no way to narrow the search down?” Bruce asked. “Maybe sense the tesseract’s power?”
“If it is powerful enough to be of use to us, I am certain that we would be able to feel it, but only if we are in the same universe with it,” Willow said. “If I could find it right now, I would have while we examined the world’s structure, but I didn’t sense anything useful.”
“Sounds like all we can do is randomly chose a world and once we are there, see if you can feel that tesseract,” Fred said. “Right?”
Willow and Tara nodded. “Right.”
Thor was not too fond of that plan, but if it was the only option they had, they should leave as soon as possible, and it would be better than staying in a world without the tesseract, and without Jane.
“What do we need to do to cross to another universe?” Thor asked.
“You? Nothing. Tara and I will do it,” Willow answered. “But depending on how hard it gets, we might have to tap into your strength a little, if that is okay with you?”
“Whatever you need,” Thor quickly assured her.
“Okay, then I guess there is no need to wait any longer,” Tara said and held out her hands.
Once they were all holding hands and standing in a circle Willow took a deep breath. “Alright, hold on tight, everyone.”