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The Lost Time

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Summary: After Tara’s death, Willow struggles to recover. But when a mysterious puzzle box is opened the situation changes. Now, if Willow can’t face her demons, it could cost her the lives of everyone she loves. (Buffy/Hellraiser)

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
Movies > HellraiserAshJFR713,446181,37926 Jan 0326 Jan 03No
 

Title: The Lost Time 1/?

Author: Ash Jay (AKA Jay. ;)

Crossover: BtVS / Hellraiser

Disclaimer: Buffy doesn't belong to me. Neither does the Hellraiser
universe. All in all, I think I'm getting off lucky.

Summary: In the time after Tara's death, Willow struggles to deal with
the aftermath. Things are complicated by the introduction of a mysterious
puzzle box.

Dedication: To Charibob, because I've already started the next part
of Potential. So leave France at home. :)

Note: I'm going to write this so that you don't need to be familiar with Hellraiser,
just Buffy. I think it's going to be a blast to write, so I hope you stick
around and enjoy it with me. *g*

WHITE = signifies a white flash. Think of it like a strobe light effect. If
you're still not sure what it means by the end, there's a note. :-)

------------------------------------------------

Chapter One

The Magic Shop was a disaster area.

"All I'm saying," Buffy said to Xander as she rifled through the
wreckage. "Is that you're the one with the construction experience. I'm
better at the destruction end of things." She picked up a round black
ball and examined it.

"Be careful." Anya said without looking up from the inventory list.


"Why?" Buffy turned the ball over in her hands. "I think it's
an onion or - ow!"

"That's why." Anya frowned. "Don't drop it! Look, it's getting
away!"

"I've got it!" Xander said, doing a sideways dive that ended with
him flat on his back in debris, clutching the black ball like a trophy.

"Now put it in the cage. Move quickly, it's just stunned!" Anya
made shooing motions at Xander and returned to her inventory list. She put
a black check by one of the entries and smiled.

"You're welcome," Xander said in Anya's general direction. He wiped
his hands on his shirt and walked back to where Buffy and Willow were sitting.
"That was just wrong."

"I know." Buffy gave him a sympathetic smile and handed him a book
of dried flowers. Maybe flowers. Definitely dried. "It's best not to
think about it."

Xander took the book and looked down at it. "Right. I can do that. Xander
Harris, King of Denial."

Willow looked up for the first time and smiled faintly. "You'd better
put that book somewhere dry, Your Grace. It absorbs moisture."

"All moisture?"

She nodded.

"Okay, I'm going to put this down over here now." Xander said carefully.
"Before I end up on an infomercial advertising those things that can
shrink a watermelon down to the size of a grape."

"See, this is what I'm talking about," Buffy said. "Why do
we have to reopen the Magic Shop? We could open a different kind of store
and sell harmless things. Fluffy things."

"Like puppies," Willow said, putting enthusiasm in her voice. "We
could open a pet store."

"Great idea, Will!" Buffy smiled at her just a little too brightly.
"A pet store would be perfect."

Xander looked back and forth between them. "Oh yes. Perfect. I hate to
burst your bubble, ladies, but would you really want to run a pet store on
the Hellmouth? Was I the only one who saw 'Cujo'? I'm not even going to bring
up the hyenas..."

Willow bent her head forward to look at the title of the half-burned book
she'd found, her hair sliding to fall like a curtain between her and her friends.


"Hyenas?" Buffy said with that slightly off cheerfulness still in
her voice. "What kind of freaky pet stores do you go to?"

"The Hellmouth kind!"

There was a moment of silence. Willow could imagine the type of pantomime
going on over her bowed head. Buffy would be doing strange hand gestures and
mouthing the words *Be nice*. And, because Xander was bad at lip reading,
he'd be making strange hand gestures and mouthing the word *What?*

The moment stretched and stretched; Willow felt her patience start to fray.
Maybe she should get Buffy one of those sign making programs. Or a set of
cue cards.

It wasn't like the message varied. It was always along the lines of be nice
to Willow, act like everything's normal, act like she's normal, don't comment
on the silences, don't get worried, don't make her feel like we blame her,
don't get angry, be nice to Willow and everything will be fine.

"On second thought," Xander said, "A pet store sounds like
a great idea, Will. Very wholesome.

Right on cue, Willow thought.

"Maybe not," Willow said. She sounded normal, she thought. Good.
She lowered her voice to a whisper. "You know... the bunnies."

As one, they looked over to where Anya was sitting. And shuddered.

"That's a big 'No!' on the pet store then." Xander dropped to a
crouch and stared at the mass of the debris that covered the floor. He looked
at the two girls picking methodically through the wreckage. "Let me show
you guys a little something I learned on the site. You can't just go through
things one by one, you have to... mix it up a little."

He thrust his arms into the pile and started tossing things around. Charred
books and mystical ingredients flew like chaff before the wind.

"Watch it with that stuff!" Buffy scooted back out of the way. Something
was tossed clear by Xander's stirring and landed on her shoulder. She made
a small whimpering noise and peeled it off, rubbing at the slime trail it
left behind. "Okay, that's it. I'm officially against this plan."

Xander grinned and stirred faster.

"Xander!" Buffy ducked a flying piece of occult debris. "Fine,"
she said, and tossed her head. "If you summon something doing that, I'm
not fighting it."

"That's fine with me." Xander said. "If I unearth a hellbeast,
I'll kill it by myself."

"Fine."

"Fine!"

Willow watched them and wondered why this wasn't making her smile.

A second passed and then:

"Just so we're clear..." Xander said. "That was an empty threat,
right?"

"Pretty much."

"All right then." He resumed mixing. Buffy got up and wandered over
to another pile. Willow stared at the book on her lap and wished they'd keep
talking. It was dangerous not to have something to listen to. That could lead
to thinking. Thinking could lead to thinking about things she wasn't supposed
to think about.

Because those thoughts were like the elephant in the room that nobody mentions,
the black hole that had taken over the centre of her mind. There was only
a narrow trail around the edges of her mind that was still safe, an endless
loop of trivial thoughts that blocked out the screaming.

She couldn't listen to the screaming, had to keep her eyes on the path, her
mind on the road, her back to the wall. She couldn't look into the black hole
or picture that face that she'd lov-

WHITE

Willow blinked.

"I could keep my earrings in it." Buffy was saying.

Not again, Willow thought. She looked up and saw that Buffy was trying to
open a small golden box. Xander and Anya were looking on, obviously amused.


Okay, Willow thought. Everyone has moved around so it lasted more than a second.
But nobody seems to have noticed so I couldn't have been out for that long.
She sneaked a look at her watch. Two minutes. She was very aware of the pounding
of her heart, like she'd been running hard and fast. That was the longest
one so far.

Buffy pushed the box away. "I give up. Xander, you try."

"All right," Xander accepted the box cautiously. "You're sure
this isn't magical, right?"

"Yes," Anya said forlornly. She sighed. "Giles bought it along
with more junk for much too much money. He just wanted one book, but they'd
only sell it as a lot. And then he took the book with him and left me all
the junk. Very unfair."

"More stuff?" Buffy said, perking up. "Any other boxes?"

"No," Anya said. "But there was a moose head. The eyes are
extremely realistic!"

"I think I'll pass on the moose head." Buffy said quickly, giving
Willow a conspiratorial smile. Willow smiled back, and felt the movement of
her lips with something like surprise.

Xander smacked the golden box down on the table floor with a sharp crack of
sound. "This isn't a box. This is a lump of wood! We might be
able to open it with an axe. Do you want me to get an axe? I'm going to get
an axe."

"No!" Buffy said, snatching up the box and holding it protectively.
"No axes! I'll take it home with me. I'm sure I'll get it open sooner
or later."

"Sure," Xander said. "Just let me know when you want that axe."



When Buffy and Willow got home, Dawn was in the hallway putting on her coat.


"How did the clean up go?" Dawn said.

"Slow." Willow said.

"Messy." Buffy said. "But look!" She held the box up.

"Very shiny," Dawn said approvingly. "But hey, you got to take
stuff? No fair! I would have helped if I didn't have to go to class."

Buffy shook her head. "Once again, summer school gets in the way of perfectly
good looting opportunities. I feel for you."

"Can I have the box?"

"No."

"You could probably get a moose head." Willow put in.

"A moose head?"

Willow nodded. "I hear the eyes are very realistic."

"Ew." Dawn said feelingly. "I think I'll settle for extra butter
on my popcorn."

"A wise choice," Buffy said. "Just let me change my shirt and
then we can go."

"What is that, anyway?" Dawn poked tentatively at the large stain
that covered Buffy's once white shirt.

"I don't really know," Buffy said, looking down and spreading her
shirt for a better view of the purple and green blotches. "I'd burn this
shirt, but I'm kind of afraid that it'd seek revenge. I'm going to dump it
in the laundry basket and hope for the best."

"Good idea. That'll kill it." Dawn said.

Willow realised that she was just standing there watching them. That wasn't
smart; they might notice that.

She turned around and wandered into the living room and sat down on the couch.
The blankets were folded neatly beside it, just where she'd put them that
morning when she got up. She picked up the book she'd left there and opened
it at random.

She could still hear Buffy and Dawn talking in the entryway, but only half-listened.
After a while she heard them going up the stairs. She put the book down and
turned on the TV.

Some kind of cartoon show was playing, vivid and cheerful with a bright blue
sky and a bright yellow sun. She left it on that channel and settled back
on the sofa, arranging herself so that her back was to the entryway. She heard
footsteps on the stairs and tried to focus on the screen.

"Willow?" Buffy called softly. "We're going now."

Willow waved back at them without turning around. "Bye! Have a good time!"

She could feel them looking at her, wondering if she'd be all right alone.
Go, she silently urged them. Leave me alone with the razors and the pills
and the knives. And when you come back and find me alive and un-bloodied,
maybe you'll stop worrying.

"Okay," Buffy said finally. "We'll be back in a few hours."

"Bye, Willow!" Dawn chirped.

She heard the door close behind them and let her head fall back to rest on
the pillows. She stared at the ceiling.

Alone.

She fumbled for the remote, found it, shut the TV off.

Silence.

Willow smiled at the ceiling. She felt a loosening inside her, as if she'd
been tied up with string that was now coming undone. She made a wriggling
movement against the softness of the couch.

She sat up and swung her legs off the couch. She felt driven towards motion,
unobserved motion, knowing that she could do whatever she wanted without anyone
judging her. Oh - Willow looks angry. Be afraid. Oh - Willow looks sad. Hide
the spell books. Oh - Willow looks normal. Good.

Worst of all, someday they might notice that every so often she stopped and
stared off into space. She couldn't stand it if they knew that just thinking
about - the things she shouldn't think about - snapped something in her mind
and then she was gone. And when she woke up, people had moved. She
had moved.

It's just disassociation, she repeated to herself as she had done so often
over the past few weeks. It sometimes happens after trauma. It can't hurt
me. She'd looked it up. She didn't need a doctor to tell her about it. She
didn't need a doctor at all.

She moved to the bookcase and started to straighten the books, tucking them
in carefully so that there was no space between them. When she was finished
she stood there with her head on one side and looked at them, lined up side
by side like soldiers.

Willow put a finger on the first book in the line and pushed until it toppled,
knocking the rest over in a domino-line. She picked up the books that had
fallen out onto the floor and stacked them on top of the leaning books.

That began a long, slow wander through all the rooms of the house but one.


She lit candles one by one until the dining room was ablaze with light. In
the kitchen she rearranged the silverware and built a small tower from glasses.
She snuffed the candles in the dining room and waved away the smoke. She put
the silverware where it belonged. The glasses went back in the cupboards.

In the upstairs bathroom she stopped and looked at herself in the mirror.

"I hurt." She said to her reflection, a statement of fact. The sun
is bright. Water is wet. I hurt.

Willow went into Dawn's room and opened her jewellery box. She pushed her
hands into it and drew out a great sparkling double handful. Spreading her
fingers, she let it fall like metal rain back into the box.

The golden box was on Buffy's dresser, next to her hairbrush. Willow picked
it up. In her mind's eye she could see Buffy smiling and the box open on the
dresser with earrings shining inside.

She sat down on the bed and stared down at the box, turning it over in her
hands. It was beautiful, she knew that intellectually. Flashing golden light,
designs like magnified circuitry etched deeply into every side. It must be
beautiful.

Her fingers moved over the patterns, looking for any bump or line that might
lead her to a catch. It was smooth and cold under her fingertips. She cupped
it in her hands and pressed her palms against the sides. She used to be good
at puzzles, she remembered.

Click.

She looked back down at the box and a piece of it had slid away. Now wasn't
that clever of her. She must still be good at puzzles.

Running her finger around the circle in the centre of the square, she felt
something move. She used both fingers then, moving them in opposite directions
around the circle.

Aaah....

It whirred softly, a sound like small wings, and slid apart. It was moving
by itself now and Willow smiled. A puzzle box - not for jewellery at all.
Buffy would like that. The box moved smoothly as it unfolded. I wonder how
it works, Willow thought. No visible gears, but maybe it uses a series of
interlocked bolts?

She could take it apart, just like she'd done with the clockwork man they'd
found in a thrift store. He wouldn't walk and she'd taken him apart and put
him back together. Tara had clapped when Willow had sent him walking in through
the bedroom door with a chocolate balanced on his head. Willow had heard her
laughter and peeked around the edge of the door and Tara had smiled so wide
and sa-

WHITE

Willow looked down and saw that the box was closed. She'd been thinking about
Tara again. She had to stop that.

She raised her head and drew in a sharp breath. The box fell from her fingers
and bounced on the coverlet that wasn't white and smooth anymore. She bent
forward and wrapped her arms around her legs, squeezing her eyes shut.

Why here?

She brought her hands up and pressed her palms against her eyes and pushed
until it hurt. The bed felt obscenely familiar under her, and she knew that
if she opened her eyes and looked at the pillows there would be red hairs
on one and dark blonde hairs on the other. She made a sound low in her throat.

Why would she come here?

Still holding her eyes shut, Willow moved her legs off the bed. There was
a dull thud as the box hit the floor. She had to take her hands away from
her eyes to get her balance and she squeezed her eyelids tightly shut to block
out the light.

She made her way blindly towards the door, keeping her hands tight to her
side. That was good, because then all she could feel was the floor under her
feet. And that could be any floor, not the one stained with Tara's blood.


But she misjudged the distance and banged her hip on the corner of the dresser.
And her hand came out automatically to catch herself when she'd been better
off to fall. Because her hand came down on fabric, cool and soft and empty
and wonderfully, horribly familiar. Tara's shirt, she thought, and remembered
how it had felt to touch this shirt when it was full of warm laughing girl.
And then she'd slid her hand under the edge -

WHITE

Willow blinked and she was leaning back against the closed door and looking
down the length of the hallway. Her heart was fluttering in her throat and
when she raised her hand to her face it came away wet. I must have been crying,
she thought. I'm glad I don't remember. I'm glad. I'm glad.

She walked away from the door. Buffy and Dawn would be home soon.

Inside the room, he listened to her footsteps moving away.



(5 Minutes Earlier - Inside the Room)


Willow bends forward on the bed and wraps her arms around her legs and squeezes
her eyes shut. The closet door opens silently. He steps out.

She brings her hands up and presses hard against her eyes. He's standing beside
the bed now, looking down at her.

She swings her legs off the bed and knocks the box to the floor. He watches
it fall. She stands up, swaying slightly, and has to use her hands for balance.
Her eyes are squeezed tightly shut. Behind her, he picks up the box.

He follows close behind her, tossing the box from hand to hand, as she stumbles
blindly towards the door. If he had dropped it, she would have heard. She
would have turned. He doesn't drop it. She doesn't hear.

She bangs her hip on the dresser and he reaches out to steady her, but stops.
His hand hovers over her shoulder for a moment before he withdraws it.

Her hand brushes a shirt draped across the dresser and she stops. Her eyes
open. He smiles at her. Her face is blank, as pale and smooth as wax. Tears
run down her cheeks and fall to the floor.

He reaches out and strokes her tear-streaked face, his thumb brushing across
her lip. When she doesn't react, he turns his hand around and runs his nails
down her cheek, leaving thin red welts.

Clear eyes staring at nothing, she moves around him and walks away. He watches
her go until the door closes behind her. He walks to the door and leans against
it, his hand coming up to rest on the wood. Two inches away, she wakes.

Inside the room, he listens to her footsteps moving away.



Tell me what you think?

Seriously, I'm curious. Did I over-explain? Did I under-explain? Want to know
who he is? Think you already know? Tell me. ;-)

Disassociation:

Often described as "losing time", dissociation occurs when your
conscious mind stops controlling your body, and some other part takes over.
Behaviours may vary during dissociate episodes. Some people become catatonic,
others walk and talk in an apparently normal fashion, others may act in ways
quite different from their normal behaviour. When the event is over, the person
typically doesn't remember what happened during it.

The End?

You have reached the end of "The Lost Time" – so far. This story is incomplete and the last chapter was posted on 26 Jan 03.

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