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With this Ring.... by Lilachigh
Chp 2 Just Come Home
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With This Ring... by Lilachigh

Chapter 2 Just Come Home

“But Xander, they couldn’t have just vanished!“ Giles was sounding thoroughly exasperated. He was polishing his glasses so hard, the others were afraid the lens would fall out.

“Giles, believe me - not a joke - in the cemetery, watching them, then big flash, all orangey-purpley with fizzing sound effects and then poof, they’d gone.”

Xander had stumbled back from the to Giles’ house to tell a horrified Scoobie gang what had happened. Willow’s face was whiter than pale. “It must have been some reaction to the last spell. Maybe it was too soon to mix it with the first one. I thought it seemed a bit unstable towards the end. Maybe one of the penguin eggs was bad. It can happen. They don’t travel well.”

Giles was almost tearing out his hair in exasperation. “But where have they gone? Was it a time warp of some sort? Have you sent them, I don’t know, back a couple of centuries, perhaps?”

Willow shook her head doubtfully. “I don’t think so. I wasn’t moving time at all; you know I can’t do that yet, Giles. This was just a spell to make them dislike each other again. Wipe the slate clean of the getting-all-cosy effect and bring them back to what they ought to feel for each other. But something’s gone wrong, obviously.”

“So what do you do to get them back?” Anya asked. “I’ve had a lot of experience of these sorts of spells. They always have nasty consequences if you’re not very careful. You might have turned Buffy into a fish, or a toad, or something slimy.” She went very pale. “Oh no, you might have turned Spike into a bunny. You didn’t see any white haired, blue eyed bunnies in the graveyard, did you Xander?”

“No, Ahn, no bunnies, no toads, no fish. Nothing. Nought. De nada. Just a great big empty nothing.”

Willow jumped to her feet. “I’ll hit the books again. What we need is a locator spell. If I can see where they are, I can probably open a portal and then work out how to get them back.”

Giles’s face was grim. “I just hope you can, Willow. I keep telling you how dangerous it is to play around with witchcraft when you’re not very experienced. I just hope
Buffy is OK. And Spike, too, I suppose, although I must admit, if he’s lost in the past, he’ll feel quite at home! He might want to stat there.”

“Oh, no,Spike has to come back, too. He went with Buffy; I don’t think I can bring one back without the other.”

Xander looked gloomy. “Well, Giles, there is a bright side to all of this. At least we don’t have to worry about them getting married! Let’s just wait until Willow magics them back. And let’s hope that wherever they are, they’re not in any danger.”

* * * * *

Buffy came downstairs in her pyjamas, yawning widely, her blonde hair tousled, tied back loosely in a ponytail. She stretched luxuriously as she came into the kitchen. She was tired. Well, it had been quite a night! She vaguely wondered if it had all been a dream, but then she remembered quite clearly the marks she’d spotted on her body when she woke and knew that it had been no dream.

She poured herself a glass of juice and perched on a stool, wondering what to do with the rest of her day. Suddenly there was a loud sizzling noise and a bright purple and orange flash and Willow appeared in the kitchen, her face screwed up, eyes shut.

As the sizzling stopped, she opened her eyes, saw Buffy and gasped. “Buffy! I’ve found you! Where have you been? Oh, it’s your kitchen. You mean you’ve been here all the time? I just sent you home? ”

Buffy’s lips twitched. When her friend went into rant mode, nothing made a lot of sense. “Will. Slow down. Yes, my kitchen. My home where I have been in bed all night. And why are you transporting when you could just walk down the road or pick up the phone and speak to me?”

“We couldn’t find you, Buffy. We were so scared. Well, I was scared. Xander is just upset because he saw you go and Giles is angry, in that dreadfully British, stiff-upper-lippy way he has.“

Buffy stared at her as if she’d grown two heads. “Willow, have any of Oz’s weird friends been giving you anything odd to eat or drink? You haven’t tried any peculiar looking cigarettes, have you? You’re out of it.“

“Oz?“ Willow’s voice trembled. “That’s mean, Buffy. You know Oz has gone. ”

“Oz has gone? Gone where? He was sitting in your family room playing his guitar yesterday. He didn’t say anything about going anywhere.”

“Buffy, what are you talking about. Oz left Sunnydale because of the wolfy business. You know he did. And what family room?“

Buffy was beginning to get irritated. “Look, Will. Is this some sort of game, because if it is, then I don’t know the rules. Oz has never left Sunnydale. And never owned a wolf, as far as I know. You and Oz are engaged, living together in your parents’ house while they’re touring Europe.”

Willow sat down abruptly, as if her legs wouldn’t hold her up. “Buffy, it isn’t true. I’m not engaged to Oz. He left town. And he’s a werewolf. I think...Buffy, in my world - that is our world - I did a spell because I was unhappy that Oz had left me. Then I reversed it, but it didn’t work and I think I must have sent you into an alternative reality. But it isn’t too late. I’ve done a spell to open a portal. You come through it with me, then I can just do the reverse magic and this reality will disappear and things will be back as they ought to be. All we need to do is find Spike and take him with us, because, well, he was there when I did the spell in the first place...and you do know where he is, don’t you?”

“Someone talking about me?”

Willow spun round. Lounging in the doorway, wearing tight dark jeans and a red shirt open to the waist stood Spike. His hair wasn’t gelled back as normal, but rioted over his head in tight blond curls. Bare-footed and yawning, he looked as if he‘d just rolled out of bed.

To Willow’s horrified astonishment, Buffy walked across and wrapped her arms round the vampire. “Sweetheart, Will’s got the weirdest ideas about alternative reality thingies and Oz being a werewolf. Can you understand what she’s talking about?”

Spike dropped a kiss on her forehead. “Doubt it, pet, never can on a good day, but after last night – ” He gave her a slow, lascivious smile and Willow felt she should glance away, because this was an emotion that wasn’t for a third party to witness.

Oh god, no, she thought. In this reality, Buffy and Spike were still in love. She had to get them back and fast. “Buffy, you both have to come with me. You don’t love each other, not really. It’s all down to a spell I did – ”

“Not love each other? That’s an odd thing to say about a husband and wife,” Buffy broke in.

“H-husband and - what?”

“Wife. You know, trouble and strife, the old lady, the old Dutch, the old chain and ball, whichever saying you like,” Spike drawled, sounding very English.

“You’re married?” Willow’s voice hurtled up several scales to an unbearable squeak.

“Will, this is getting silly. Of course we’re married. It was magical. Midnight under an arch of white roses. You were there, you and Oz and all the Scoobies. You wore your green and brown outfit and Oz and Xander were ushers. Xander got very drunk, as usual - we’re going to have to do something about his drinking, you know - and Giles gave me away and Mum caught my bouquet when I threw it and got all giggly about it. You can’t have forgotten the wedding!”

“Buffy, there hasn’t been a wedding,“ the witch whispered. “Not in my reality.”

Spike pulled Buffy closer still and nuzzled her neck. “Seems like a damn boring one to me, Red. Can’t be any better than what we’ve got here.”

“What about Riley?”

Buffy looked puzzled. “You mean Riley Finn, the psych guy at college? He left to join the Marines. You know he did. There was a big party and a load of demons invaded the room and we had a marvellous fight. Remember?”

Willow shook her head. “Buffy, none of this is true. You’re not married to Spike. You hate him. He’s your arch enemy. This is not how things ought to be.”

The Slayer reached up and ran a finger across her husband’s lips. He sucked it into his mouth and she giggled, remembering.... “It all seems very true to me. How can I not be married to the man I love?”

“So, are you saying you won’t come back? I can’t dissolve this reality unless you do.“

“Look, as far as I know, my Willow is a quarter of a mile away, in bed with her fiancé. We’re going shopping later today, to the Bronze tonight, then Spike and I are going to patrol until very late. Then supper and bed. Lots of lovely bed. A good day all round. Why would I trade that for a place where you say Spike and I hate each other?”

And as Willow watched them, entwined, their bodies melting together, she knew she would never win. And for a long moment she wondered about her other self, living with Oz, being happy. All that would vanish at her command.

“But what about your Mom,” she said at last. “She’ll be frantic when you don’t come home.”

Buffy hesitated as if she didn’t know what to say, then, suddenly, the strange sizzling noise started again and little purple and orange flashes began slanting through the kitchen.

“It’s the spell working, taking me back,” Willow cried. “Buffy, please come home. Look, I’ll leave the portal open for another hour, but that’s all I can manage. Then it will be too late. Just - come - home - ”

And with a brighter orange flash, she’d gone.

There was a long silence in the kitchen, then – “Do you reckon she bought it?” Spike pushed his bare foot against the small orange and purple flashing circle on the kitchen floor. “Hey, look, it‘s all squidgy!”

“Squidgy? There’s no such word! And don’t play around with portals from one dimension to another. You might get sucked through against your will.”

Spike raised his eyebrows but nodded and swung himself up to sit on the table. “So, I’ll ask again, luv. Did Willow believe we are just duplicates, living in this world, not knowing about her universe? Did she believe we were married?”

Buffy sighed and leant against his legs. “I don’t know. I thought our acting was pretty damn hot. Oscar type material. I wasn’t expecting her to arrive here so soon; I thought we‘d have, oh I don‘t know, a couple more days to....well, to...”

“Make mad passionate love all over this Sunnydale?” Spike asked hopefully and lobed a little cheese cracker through the portal.

“I said don’t do that!“ Buffy snapped. When they‘d found themselves transported to a parallel world, she’d freaked out for a while. She’d been desperate to get home.

But then, that first night, Spike had come to her room and - she felt her face flood with colour as she remembered what they’d done to each other - how they’d felt - what they’d said - well, in comparison the other Sunnydale seemed a hard, cruel place, one she didn’t want to remember. And here, strangely, their friends were quite comfortable that they were lovers. The Slayer and a vampire. No biggie.

“WillowTwo explained it pretty well,” Buffy said. “This universe was made when the second spell was cast. Time moves faster here, apparently. We have a week to their day.”

Spike grunted. “It bloody well turns my brain inside out. Two universes, two Xanders, two Willows. Hey, what about your Watcher in this world? We haven’t seen him since we got here.”

“He’s in England, apparently,” Buffy said. “Thank goodness. It’s one less person to worry about.”

“WillOne said she could only hold the portal open for an hour,” Spike said. “But WillTwo says she can hold it open indefinitely. Is she stronger in this reality?”

Buffy nodded and rubbed her head against his arm like a little blonde cat who needed to be stroked. “Yes, much. But then because time goes by so much faster here, she’s had months more practice.”

“Wish between them they’d put the portal somewhere less obvious than the kitchen floor,” grumbled Spike. “You’d think they could have put it in the spare bedroom, or the garage. What the hell do we tell people it is?”

“I don’t think anyone except Willow can see it,“ Buffy said thoughtfully and regretfully pulled herself away from him and his wandering hands to make some hot chocolate. “I’ll put a bucket on top of it so no one can fall in! And it’ll stop you chucking bits at it as if it’s a dustbin! Just think, all those crackers and candies are arriving unannounced in the other Sunnydale!”

Spike watched her. He loved looking at her; she was so graceful, even when doing something as prosaic as making a drink. Bloody hell, this was one of the weirdest situations he’d ever found himself in since Dru had turned him all those years ago.
He had a memory of hating the Slayer, knew somewhere in his head that he should want to kill her, must kill her. It was what he did. But he had the chip thingy in his brain, so couldn’t hurt anyone.

So, one minute, hating, then the next so deeply in love, he couldn’t even begin to put his feelings into words. They were engaged, about to be married, everyone hated it, except them, then bam! - they were here, in a Sunnydale they both knew wasn’t theirs.

Same house, but this Joyce was living with her sister, Xander was drinking too much, and Oz was still with Willow. And he and Buffy? He felt the silly smile he couldn’t shake off begin to form on his mouth again. Last night had been - well, fantastic was a very over used word, but bloody hell, it had been the best night of his life. He ached in places he didn’t know he had places.

The Slayer was amazing in bed; so innocent in lots of ways - oh god, what he could teach her! - so passionate in others. Like a little animal when she came, screaming his name, begging him not to stop, her head arched back, her legs wrapped so tightly round his waist that he was sure he’d got a couple of cracked ribs this morning! Yes, in this world they were together, in every possible way.

A knock at the back door heralded WillTwo’s arrival and Spike casually pulled a towel across his lap. There was no need to show anyone else how aroused he was!

“I stayed away as long as I could,” the red-headed witch said breathlessly. “But Oz is still asleep and I got bored just sitting waiting. Did I - I mean - me - I mean other Willow come through?“

“Yes, just as you thought she would, Red,“ Spike said. “Have you told Oz about all this?”

WillTwo shook her head. “No, it’s so odd. How can I tell him that in an alternative universe he’s left me because he’s a werewolf! Even I don’t fully understand it.”

“Do we tell the boy any of this?” Spike drawled, pushing the little marshmallows he liked round his mug of chocolate.

Buffy frowned. “Spike, XanOne knows already, remember. But XanTwo, he’s - well - he’s different here.”

“You mean he’s permanently sloshed, sweetheart!”

Buffy bit her lip. “Well, he does enjoy the odd drink of beer, and yes, perhaps he does have too much, but hey, we’ve all been down that road! I went BC in a big way, remember?’

WillTwo pulled a face. “Buffy, Spike‘s right. We’ve always known Xander had a drinking problem. There’s no use in shutting our eyes to it. How could he avoid it with parents like his? They used to give him beer to drink at every meal - even when we were at nursery school!”

Buffy bit her lip. Even WillTwo didn’t really get it. There had been no nursery school, no parents, no beery Xander. This world hadn’t even existed until WillOne had cast her spell that had gone so very wrong. Or, of course, so very right, depending on your point of view! And remembering what she and Spike had been doing all night long in the privacy of her bedroom, there was no real contest as to which was right and which was wrong.

“XanOne avoided it,” Buffy said softly, catching Spike’s eye and shaking her head slightly. It was so difficult to remember not to compare the two worlds.

As soon as they’d arrived in this Sunnydale, they’d made a pact not to talk about their friends and family, except to WillTwo. But it was hard. WillTwo was very good and tried hard not to ask too many questions, but she’d been horrified to learn what her counterpart’s life was like. It had made her extra affectionate towards Oz, who’d been quite bewildered by this show of love from his girlfriend.

“You haven’t told me yet what you’ve decided?” WillTwo said, changing the subject. “Are you staying or going?”

Buffy turned away and gazed out of the window. She could feel the tension rising from her lover and knew Spike was waiting for her to speak as well. “The problem is my mom,” she said, fighting back tears. “Here in this world, she’s away living with my aunt, she doesn’t know anything about our lives here in Sunnydale. I ring her every week, but we’re not that close. But in the other world, she’s there for me all the time. I know she’d be desperately upset if I vanished completely. I can’t do that to her. I thought I could. I thought that if she knew I was happy, she would be too. But I was wrong. And I’m the Slayer in both worlds, too, don’t forget. And in that world there’s far more demon activity than there is here. I’m needed all the time.”

“So you’re going?” WillTwo said sadly.

Buffy spun round and reached out to Spike. He immediately pulled her into his arms and held her tight. “We have to,” she said, gazing into his bright blue eyes. “You do see that, don’t you, sweetheart.”

Spike buried his lips in her tangled hair. He couldn’t remember the last time he’d felt like this. In all his years with Drusilla, he’d never been this happy, this satisfied. He would have cheerfully stayed in this world, with her, but if she was going to be unhappy then there was no choice.

“I take it when we go back, we’ll be enemies again,” he growled. “You’ll still fancy that Riley wanker and the Initiative will still be on our backs. That really gives me something to look forward to.“

“I’m sorry,” she whispered.

“Will we remember this world at all, Slayer?”

Buffy looked questioningly at WillTwo who frowned. “I don‘t see why you shouldn’t,” she said. “I imagine it will seem like a dream.”

“So when do we go?” Spike asked quietly, lighting a cigarette and then stubbing it out with a puzzled frown when he realised he apparently didn’t like smoking in this world.

Buffy hesitated. She had a feeling that whatever WillTwo said, once the portal was shut, they wouldn’t remember anything. She gazed at Spike, the platinum curls, the slash of cheekbones that had grazed against her thighs so often last night. Oh god, she wanted him so badly. She could feel herself growing wet just looking at him. He could make her come just by one flick of a finger on her clit. She could feel her breathing growing ragged at the memory. If WillTwo hadn’t been there, she knew she would have pulled him down on the kitchen floor and begged him to fuck her.

How could that change? It was impossible to believe that in a few seconds she could be hating him, wishing he was dead. “I think....I think we’ll go back tomorrow,” she said at last. She looked up to find Spike gazing at her. He ran his tongue over his bottom lip and she felt the heat pour up and over her body.

Yes, she was going to have one more day and one more night with her vampire lover. And if that was wrong, then for once, that was what she was going to be.

to be continued

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