Ch. 1 - Welcome Home
Timeline Clarification: I’m not sure my original description was sufficient, so here’s a bit of a clarification. Buffy is canon up through Willow’s arrival back in SunnyD (I guess that was 7.2). Then Wills hung around for a few months and helped avert the latest non-specific apocalypse. Then she took off and wound up in Seacouver. She left to get a little space and re-group. I’ve noticed a theme in some fanfic where Willow leaves because all the Scoobies reject her after her brush with the dark arts. That is NOT what happened here. They may have been a little nervous at first, but they do trust her. Willow’s sojourn in Seacouver was really about her journey to trust herself again. She’s been away from the Hellmouth for about six months, so it’s been roughly a year since Tara’s death.
*indicates emphasis* /indicates thoughts/
Methos pulled over to the curb and stopped the car halfway down Revello Drive. He glanced at the redhead next to him.
“You ready for this?” he asked.
Willow gave him a slightly shaky smile and nodded.
“Yeah, I don’t know why I’m nervous. They’re my friends, my family. And it’s not like my last homecoming when I didn’t know if they’d accept me. This is a happy welcome home kind of occasion, not a returning-from-magic-rehab-turning-invisible-and-having-my-skin-eaten-by-a-demon kind of thing. And you can see me, so I haven’t mojoed myself invisible again. Unless I made you invisible too! Or, what if only you can see me? Buffy would freak if some strange guy just walked into her house, and she wouldn’t know that you’re not some strange guy because I’m all invisible-girl. And I really don’t want to start things off with her trying to slay you, and . . .”
She took a deep breath and let it out slowly. “Nervous babble-fest, I know.”
Methos reached out for one of Willow’s hands and gave what he hoped was a reassuring squeeze. “It will be fine. You said that they were excited that you were coming home.”
“You’re right. You’re right. I know you’re right.” She paused for a minute. “But on the off-chance that I wind up invisible try not to provoke the Slayer, ‘kay?”
They got out of the car and started pulling suitcases out of the trunk. Methos groaned a little on the third one.
“Can’t you just wave your magic wand and shrink these, Red?”
Willow rolled her eyes. “You’ve been watching too many movies. You know that I don’t use a wand, and do I look like Harry Potter to you?”
Methos turned and gave her an appraising look – top to bottom. “Definitely not.” He said with just a tiny bit of a leer.
Willow blushed and smacked him lightly on the arm. “Behave! Or I’ll . . . I’ll shrink *you* and leave you locked up in the glove box.”
“I though you said that was just movie stuff?” He teased.
“Well, I could do it, but shrinking requires a small ritual, and I really don’t want all of my clothes to smell like stinkweed, ‘cause, you know – stinkyness.”
Methos stepped closer to Willow, snaked his arms around her until his hands met at the small of her back, and pulled her against him. He bent down and placed a soft kiss on her cheek and gently sniffed her hair.
“Yes, that would be a tragedy.”
Willow grinned and pushed him away. “Come on, let’s go in before I remember that I’m nervous.”
They each gathered up luggage and headed toward the house. Willow tried the doorknob and found it locked. She eyed the lock for a moment, glanced at Methos, and then sighed. /I’m never gonna live this down./
“Alohamora!” The door swung open. The Immortal stared at the witch in astonishment.
“What the hell was that? First you make fun of me, and then you go around using spells from . . .”
“It wasn’t actually a spell.” Willow interrupted. “It was a password. I set it up so that we could unlock the door if we needed to get inside quickly or if someone had lost their key. Both of those situations happen a lot around here.”
“But you said . . .”
“I know, but any word could have been the password. Dawn chose that one.”
“Hmm, I see. Of course, since you just denied all connections with movie magic I’m afraid . . .”
“You’re going to have to tease me unmercifully?”
Willow turned and pushed the door all the way open, determined to ignore the gloating Immortal behind her.
“Buffy? Dawn?” She paused for a moment. “Anybody home?” There was no
answer. She turned to Methos with a worried expression on her face. “It’s not just me, right? You don’t see anyone either?”
/And we’re back to the invisible thing./ Methos shook his head.
“No I don’t see anyone, Red.” He said in his best placating voice. “Did it ever occur to you that maybe they just aren’t home? Did you tell them what time you’d be here?”
“Not really, I wasn’t sure how long it would take us to drive . . .”
“Willow! Ohmigod! You’re back!”
Methos winced as a high-pitched shriek assaulted his eardrums. A young woman with long brown hair flew through the open doorway and grabbed Willow in an exuberant hug.
/Dear gods, that must be Dawn. She certainly has a healthy set of lungs. She looks like an ordinary girl. I can’t believe she’s actually a mystical inter-dimensional garage door opener. /
Dawn finally released Willow and noticed the other person in the room. “As Cordy would say, hello salty good . . .”
“Don’t say it!” Willow interjected. “He’s . . .” She searched for something to disqualify Methos as eye candy for Dawn. The object of teenage appreciation just stood there with a slight smile and expectant look. /He’s no help whatsoever. That’s what he is./
“He’s *way* too old for you, Dawn.”
Methos harrumphed and then held out his hand. “I’m Adam Pierson. It’s a pleasure to meet you.”
Dawn started to shake his hand, but Methos turned her hand over and brushed a light kiss across her knuckles. Dawn’s eyes widened and her lips formed a shy smile. “Um, wow, I mean, I’m Dawn Summers.”
Willow shook her head in amusement. /There’s nothing quite like the old man when he turns on the charm./
“Hey Wills, you better tell your friend to stop tempting my sister. I might have to get all over-protective and violent.” Buffy’s serious words were mitigated by her mocking smile.
The two friends rushed to hug each other. After a few seconds Willow gasped for breath. “Ooo, Buffy, careful of the Slayer strength.”
“Sorry, I just missed you so much . . .” Buffy stopped talking abruptly and looked quickly at Methos and then back at Willow. She continued in a forced casual tone that was totally unconvincing. “What’re you talking about? I’m not strong – just a weak little girly-girl.”
Willow laughed, “It’s okay Buffy, I told Adam all about the things that go bump in the night. Since you’re She Who Bumps Off the Things that Go Bump in the Night you got a mention as well.”
“Oh,” Buffy appeared mollified for a moment, then she looked concerned again. “And why was that? I mean, why did you have to tell him about . . . stuff?”
Methos took Buffy’s hand and repeated the courtly greeting he had previously bestowed on Dawn. “She saved my life.”
“I don’t know if I’d put it that way,” Willow protested, “I just mediated a truce between Adam and a rather irate witch.”
“Old girlfriend?” Buffy asked.
“In a manner of speaking.” Methos answered smoothly.
Willow broke into the conversation before it could progress any farther. “So, Buff, when do I get to see the rest of the gang?”
“Everybody’s coming over for a dinner-and-demon-research double feature.” Dawn volunteered.
“Research?” Willow asked warily.
Buffy’s expression turned serious. “Will, I didn’t want to say anything before, because you sounded so happy when we talked on the phone, and you were coming home anyway, but there’s more than one reason why I’m glad you’re back. I’ve been having some freaky dreams again. We think that there’s a new Big Bad.”
“Maybe, Giles isn’t sure yet.”
“An uncertain apocalypse – my favorite.
“Sorry Wills, what can I say, except – welcome home.”
NB: Arg! Getting back into this writing thing is harder than I thought it would be. I’m rusty. Do you hear that creaking? That’s me. Anyhoo, thank you to all the folks who sent feedback. It’s very much appreciated. Also, bonus points exist for the person who recognizes the line I lifted from When Harry Met Sally. It’s a bit of a homage, since Aly will soon be playing Sally on the London stage.