Title: The Switch
Disclaimer: I do not own any of the characters. Joss Whedon does.
Distribution: Http://www.emiliekitten.com & OzMIA and anyone else I have given permission to.
Note: This is the answer to Jaime's Challenge. I hope its what she wanted.
Willow sat in the center of the small living room she shared with Tara. Tara sat across from her, staring off into a deep trance. They were trying perhaps the hardest spell they had ever done, a spell much like what Anya had tried to retrieve her amulet. They would conjure a bracelet Tara’s mother had lost last year before Tara had come to UC Sunnydale, bringing it to their time.
The bracelet had the power to track down the newest ‘big evil’ to face the slayer. It was in desperate need since Giles and Xander had been captured last week. They’d tried every spell they could think of, and then some.
Nothing had worked, so they had resorted to the bracelet.
"Bring it to us, oh goddess. Bring us what we desire, eye for a eye, hand for a hand, bring it to us." They chanted in unison, holding up a duplicate of the bracelet they had found in a old antique shop. It had no power, but it looked enough like the bracelet to switch. They held up the blue-tinted herbal mixture they were to use. Tara began to pour slowly, holding their hands close to their bodies.
The door exploded, Tara screamed. The water spilled all over Willow’s shirt and she blinked out. Buffy ran in, blood spattered and huffing. Followed by a huge demon.
"Oz. I think that we should take the final step in our relationship." Oz blinked and turned to his girlfriend, her face was completely serious. They were standing in line for a movie that would be forgotten the next day, Oz just hoped the popcorn was good.
"Final step." Oz said, handing the young girl with too much glitter on her eyes a twenty. She handed him two tickets and waved him into the warm theater that smelled of popcorn and cheap perfume.
"Yeah. You know, I um. I think we should. . . well. Since you come over so much, and I go over so much. . . maybe we should. . . have one place to go. Rather then just, going to each others. Consolidate the space." Willow was staring straight ahead, he could tell it was awkward for her. They’d been a couple for nearly four years and she still had her little moments. She took a deep breath. "I think we should move in together."
Oz stood in line for some popcorn, thinking. He’d actual pondered on the subject of getting a apartment together for a while. It had just seemed like a rather huge step, even if they were sophomores in college. Plus Devon would kill him for pulling his part of the rent on the dingo house. "Okay." He said finally, taking the full bag of buttered popcorn and huge cup of doctor pepper from the lady at the counter. He grabbed two straws, Willow was staring at him dumbfounded and he steered her toward their theater.
"Really? Okay? Because. . . if you think its moving too fast. . . I mean. . . I can wait! I just thought. . . y’know. Saving space is good for the environment. . . and since Buffy is moving in with Riley and all. . . I just thought. . . " She sat down heavily in the chair, avoiding a sticky spot on the floor with her orange and yellow sneakers. Oz sat down next to her, setting their drink in the drink holder between them and the popcorn on the floor. He pulled her to him and kissed her softly.
"I think its moving at just the right speed." She grinned and planted her lips against him as the credits started to roll.
"I really think this will be for the---" She was cut off mid-sentence, and blinked out of the theater. Her seat empty.
The wind howled past her ears, for one terrifying moment Willow didn’t think she could feel her body. She seemed translucent and climbing through time itself. She opened her mouth to scream but no sound came from her throat and then, as quickly as it had started, it all stopped. She was standing in the middle of main street, cars screaming past her honked their horns angrily and she dove out of the way of a white van going way too fast with laughing teenagers paying no attention to the road in it.
She blinked, staring around her. She had just been in her living room with Tara, doing a spell and now she was here. On main street. What could have happened? Her heart stopped as her memories flooded back, a crashing sound. The feel of the water hitting her shirt. She’d switched herself rather then Tara’s mothers bracelet, she was somewhere else, in another time.
She stood up, glaring down at her wet t-shirt. "Great, I step into a alternate time and I have a wet t-shirt that just *happens* to be white." She mumbled and turned abruptly as she heard her name being called.
"Will! What are you doing out here?" Her best friend came skipping up, holding a vanilla ice cream cone in one hand and a bag filled with what appeared to be clothes in the other. Her long blonde hair was braided into childish pigtails around her face and Xander was standing next to her smiling. Willow resisted the urge to grab her two best friends into a huge hug, they were happy and safe here.
"I. . . "
Xander gave her a odd look. "What’d you do to your hair?" Willow’s hand shot up to her short locks.
"Wait, arint you supposed to be on your movie date with Oz?" Buffy interrupted Willow’s response, frowning. "Did it go that badly? Did he say no?" Willow’s mind seemed to freeze.
In another time, another Willow was spit out of the vortex of time. Landing on her back on the UC Sunnydale lawn outside of the dorm she had shared with Buffy freshman year. She lay there, the breath knocked from her. Her shoulder length hair tangled with leaves and her clothes grass stained.
She took a few deep breaths, all she could remember was kissing Oz in the movie theater. Now she was outside, in the cold. Staring up at a midnight blue sky and wondering what the hell had happened. She sat up, staring around her. People were wandering about, no one seemed to notice that she had just appeared out of no where.
She got to her feet slowly, unsteadily, and began walking. As she reached main street she felt a odd sense of deja vu, "Matrix must of messed up." She mumbled under her breathe with a quick laugh. It was nice to have something comforting to say in this crazy situation. She had no idea how she’d gotten outside.
The streets were somewhat abandoned, less busy then usual. There were Christmas decorations on the windows of the stores which made Willow pause. It was March and people still had up Christmas decorations? Why would they put them back up? As she continued walking she stared blearily around her, wondering what exactly was going on. She felt someone grab her forearm and her hand went automatically to her pocket for a cross as she was spun around.
She stopped dead as she took in the sight before her. Spike. "Red what are you doing out here? Arint you supposed to be with the other witch working some mojo?" He seemed puzzled. Willow bit back a scream, yanking the cross from her pocket she thrust it into his face and backed away. Spike hissed, changing into his game face. "What the hell?" Came his pain filled growl, his forehead smoking where the cross had touched.
"Spi-spike. What the heck are you doing here?" She managed, trying to keep a good distance between them and the cross up. Her hand shaking slightly, she hadn’t seen Spike in over two years, since he’d last been nearly killed by the Slayer and the Slayerettes. They’d all bet he wouldn’t be caught in Sunnydale ever again.
Spike was looking at her as if she’d gone insane, anger emanating from his body. "What in bloody hell is wrong with you? I live a block from here. I was just coming to get you and your little witch lover to help the Slayer and this is how you repay me?"
Willow stared. "Witch lover?"
Xander and Buffy stared at Willow. "Oz? Yeah? Oz, your boyfriend, love of your life? Whom you were seriously considering moving in with? Oz?" Xander tapped her lightly on the head. "You in there Will? What’d you do to your hair??"
She glared. "My hair is just fine thank you!" Xander took a step back. His face startled with her outburst.
"Willow," Buffy’s voice was soft. "Is everything okay? What did Oz say?"
Willow could feel tears welling up in her eyes. She was confused, this couldn’t be a year ago. She hadn’t heard from Oz in over three years, since he’d left because of Tara. "Tara? Where’s Tara?" They both blinked.
"Who’s Tara?" They both said, faces blank.
"Tara? The blonde chick that you are currently banging?" Spike said as if it were as plain as day.
Willow felt tears spring to her eyes, "I’m not a lesbian!" She gasped indignantly.
Spike rolled his eyes. "And I’m not a vampire. C’mon Luv, I’ll get you home." He made a grab for Willow’s arm and she backed away, tripping over a curb she fell into the street with a cry of pain as her knee hit the asphalt. "This is getting really old. . . " Spike growled, grabbing her arm and pulling her to her feet. Willow could see that he had wanted to rip her arm from the socket.
"Let go!" Willow screamed, a few people across the street turned to stare at them. She yanked her arm away from him. Tears were streaming down her face, where was Oz? Where was Buffy? She was going to get killed by *Spike* and nobody would be there to even find her bloody and mangled corpse that she cared about, just strangers.
Spike started dragging her toward the end of the street, growling as she beat at him with her fist. She’d dropped her cross into the street and scolded herself for leaving her holy water in her purse at the theater with Oz. Everyone on the street was staring, no one was helping.
"If you don’t let me go I’m going to turn you into a frog!" She screeched, panicking.
Spike turned to glare at her, his face had reverted back into human and his eyes were steely blue. "If you don’t stop making a fuss, so help me, chip or not, I’m going to break your neck."
Willow stopped. "Chip?"
Oz walked out of the Sunnydale Rialto theater, holding Willow’s small knit purse. Glancing around, trying not to panic. People didn’t just disappear out of theaters every day, he needed to get to Giles. As he turned to go toward Giles apartment building he caught something on the wind, Willow. Her scent, cinnamon and vanilla with a hint of tangy fear. There was something else there, a scent he’d never smelled on her.
He turned and began to run toward her scent, trying to keep cool. If she was being hurt. . . he was prepared to do what he had to do. As he rounded the corner her scent hit him full on, it was different then it had been only minutes before.
"Willow." He said as he jogged up next to her. Taking in her changed hair and face which had on far more makeup then she generally wore.
Her eyes were huge as she looked at him. "Oz. . . what. . . I. . . " She looked like a trapped deer, ready to run at any moment. He touched her arm and she winced, flinching away. He composed his face not to look hurt. Buffy and Xander were staring at them, wide eyed and mouths hanging open. Vanilla ice cream was dripping down Buffy’s arm and she didn't seem to notice.
"This isn’t Willow." Oz said in a calm voice. Knowing it was only the half truth. "At least not. . . our Willow."
Buffy and Xander didn't say anything for a second, and then in unison said. "Huh."
Willow listened intently to Spike’s exasperated explanation of the chip in his head. He didn’t seem to realize that she was different, she couldn’t blame him. She wanted to go home, this place confused her.
He continued dragging her toward a small apartment building that had been a empty lot last time she’d looked. He took her up to the fourth floor and then stopped outside of room 66. He looked at her. "Well?"
"Arint you going to go in?" She stared at him.
"I don’t even know where I am! Why would I just barge in on someone?" She said backing away slowly from the door. He rolled his eyes and banged on the door. A girl with blonde hair that was bloodied stood at the door, a gash above her eye still oozing blood. Tears streamed down her face and when she saw Willow she seemed to take a step back.
"Do I know you?" Willow asked, the girl started crying again and Spike growled low in his throat, pushing the girl aside she slammed into the doorframe. Willow let out a muffled scream as the corpse of Buffy Summers came into view.
Buffy and Xander stood somewhat away from Willow. They were wary of her, this girl that was Willow but not *their* Willow. She was confused and silent tears were streaming down her face. She ran a angry hand through her hair as Giles scuttled around them, trying desperately to figure out just what had happened.
"So you say, this girl Tara and you, were performing some kind of. . . conjuration spell to bring back a bracelet to track. . . ah, Xander and myself? Because we were captured?" Willow let out a frustrated sigh, pitching her voice low and child-like.
"I don’t know what happened. . . I heard a loud noise, felt the water hit my shirt and here I am. I had thought that I was conjured to a year before, but I got sent to a alternate universe. We must have messed up the Latin, oh I need to go home. . . Buffy can’t hold out much longer with out getting some kind of help. . . " Oz lay a hand on her shoulder.
"It’ll be alright." She tried not to shudder, Oz. It was so confusing seeing him. . . he. . . he had left her. Again. Because she’d rejected him. This Oz didn’t know about any of that. Was there even such a person as Veruca in this Universe? There wasn’t a Tara.
"You know its kind of ironic," Xander started. His chocolate brown eyes darting from one face to another. "That both of the alternate reality Willow’s are gay--" A elbow connected with Xander’s stomach and he was abruptly cut off. Buffy glared at him. "What? Its true."
Giles rolled his eyes to the ceiling and then back at his book. "What exact kind of spell did you and err, this Tara do?"
"It was to the Goddess. . . to find what had been lost."
Giles sighed. "It looks like we’re going to have to find the spell and try to reverse it. If not. . . I . . . it was so much easier when Anya knew exactly what to do."
Xander shrugged. "Too bad she’s in New Orleans."
"Yes, well, we can try."
Willow fell back, Spike caught her as she struggled to get away from the blank unseeing eyes of her best friend. Her throat contracted and she couldn’t breath, her eyes burned with tears and she tried desperately to get away from Spike’s strong grip. Finally her throat opened and she could speak. "Oh my god! Buffy, oh god. . . let me go! Please let me go?"
Spike spun her around in his grip, forcing her to look into his eyes. "Willow." Tara was behind them, she touched Willow on the shoulder and Willow shrunk away. Spike let her go as soon as he was sure she wouldn’t run. "Somethings wrong with her."
Tara nodded. "T-the spell. This isn’t o-our Willow."
"Huh?" Spike was trying to hide the pain in his eyes, the worlds longest lived and most famous Slayer was dead.
"This is. . . a d-different Willow."
"Can you fix it?" Spike asked finally, absorbing this. It explained a lot.
"No." Willow burst into the tears she had been barely holding back and walked past Tara into the room. Kneeling down and cradling her best friends still head in her lap.
"That’s it." Willow said, placing her finger on the page. The spell she and Tara had used stared back up at her, she shuddered. Would it work?
"Oh, ah. . . " Giles stared at it. "This will take at least two days to prepare for."
"Two days!" Willow exclaimed. "It took me and Tara two hours!"
"Yes, well, you and this Tara . . . have more magic in your blood then we do obviously."
"You can stay with me." Oz said automatically. Willow’s eyes got huge. Buffy and Xander exchanged glances.
"Maybe that’s not the best idea Oz. . . " Buffy started. Willow cut her off.
"No, its okay. I’ll stay with Oz. . . I mean its not like I never knew Oz . . . " The tension in the room seemed to split. It was obvious that Buffy and Xander had not wanted to take her in, somehow this hurt her but she didn’t say anything about it.
"We’ll be back tomorrow morning Giles."
"Alright Oz, take care." The words had a hundred different meanings but Willow decided he had only meant ‘take care’ about the vampires.
"How in the hell could you let this happen?" Spike was yelling at the blonde girl who was cringing back. Willow was still holding Buffy, she’d closed her friends eyes. She had the most empty feeling she’d ever had in her life. Even more so then when the ‘fluke’ had happened in High school. If the air had gone out of the room thinking about not being with Oz then someone had put poison in the air when she thought about Buffy being dead.
"They just. . . came in. We spilled the water for the spell and it went all over Willow. S-she was gone before I could do anything." Tara shuddered. "The demons came in and Buffy started fighting. . . I-i ran into the backroom before they could see me to g-get a axe or anything. I wasn’t thinking. . . about anything B-but W-w-w-illow."
Spike raised his hand and backhanded Tara, she flew into the doorframe. Spike stood there, waiting for the pain to happen. It didn’t. "You liar." He growled, attacking Tara. He quickly grabbed her head as her face began to twist into that of a demon, flesh fell from her face as things began to shoot from her. Willow screamed and there was a crack as Spike quickly broke the things neck.
"She was a d-demon?" Willow asked, her voice shaking. She held Buffy closer as if to protect her.
"They must have killed the real Tara." Spike shook his head.
"Killed her?" She squeaked. "How did you know that it wasn’t. . . Tara?"
"When I hit her I didn’t feel pain. I don’t feel pain when I hit anything that’s not human."
"We have to leave here Willow."
"We have to go. Find whoever killed the Slayer. Find Giles and Xander."
"Giles and Xander?" Spike nodded.
"They were taken hostage. We have to get them." He came, grabbing her arm and pulling her up to stand on her legs. She stared down at the lifeless body.
"We can’t leave her." Her whole chest seemed to have a great weight on it. Giles and Xander hostage?
"We can’t take her."
"When did you come back Oz?" Oz glanced over at the Willow that wasn’t his Willow from the drivers seat of his van.
"Yeah. You. . . left me. In my time. Because of Veruca and because. . . of Tara."
"Veruca?" Willow sighed. There wasn’t a Veruca in this universe, not Tara but no Veruca. She and Oz were happy.
"Yeah. You. . . cheated on me with her. Veruca. She was a werewolf like you. You killed her, and couldn’t deal. You left me. . . I met Tara. You came back, tried to eat her in wolf form, the initiative took you and tortured you. . . again you couldn’t deal. . . and left me."
"Why would I leave again if I came back for you?"
"How did you know you came back for me?"
"Why else would I come back?"
Willow felt tears prickle at the corner of her eyes. "You saw that I was happy. . . and stepped away." Oz took a deep breath.
"You are happy then? With Tara?"
"Yes. . . I. . . she’s like my sister, Oz. I miss you so much sometimes. . . I can’t tell anyone. They all forgot about you. They all. . . they don’t even. . . if I say your name around Tara she cries. If I think about you and spend one second remembering our past. . . I feel so guilty. . . "
"Oh! Don’t be sorry." She felt little trails of tears running down her face, she hadn’t realized she’d been crying. Oz pulled over and looked over at her. Moving over he wiped the tears from her face. She leaned into his touch. "Its not your fault I couldn’t see what was love for a sister and love for. . . real." She leaned in and kissed him, Oz pulled back instantly.
"No. I can’t." Willow opened her eyes, staring at him. "Its. . . your not my Willow."
Spike had basically dragged Willow from the apartment where Buffy’s body was. Willow had managed to stop her crying and was currently just sniffling and following Spike as he babbled to himself, making out plans that he wanted her to follow. She wasn’t listening and he half recognized that. ". . . then you’ll just go in, make them think that your attempting to save Xander and Giles on your own. I’ll come in the back way and get them out, then you run."
This perked Willow’s ears up. "Why are you helping us?" She said, he continued walking.
"Who the hell is going to pay me if I don’t have your bloody gullible watcher around?"
Willow made a little hmm sound and they continued to walk in silence. "Spike, whats to stop them from killing me?"
Spike stopped and turned around. He stared at her for a good minute before shrugging his shoulders. "Nothing."
Before Willow knew it they were standing outside of the tall building. She pulled cross and stake. Spike turned around, something like concern flashing in his eyes. He was so different here. "I want you to keep away from them if you can. Just distract them, scream, wave your arms. Anything. If it gets to heavy. . . don’t try to help me, run. Its not worth loosing everyone. Try and get home." Willow nodded, trying desperately not to cry. She wished Oz was here, or Buffy.
Spike moved away from her and around a corner, Willow assumed going to the back. She waited a few minutes, putting off going in.. Giving Spike a chance to find his entrance. She then moved forward slowly, taking a deep breath and preparing herself for the worst. She opened the door slowly and slipped in, following the sound of voices into a huge auditorium. A girl was screaming at a group of vampires and they were cringing away from her.
A blonde suddenly came in front of her. "Willow?" She recognized the voice.
"Willow! What are you doing here?" The blonde hissed. Willow wanted to slap her, the vampires would hear!
"Harm, what are you doing here? Those are *vampires*!" Harmony looked confused for a minute.
"Duh?" Her face morphed and Willow cut back a scream, throwing the stake into Harmony’s body the vampire looked shocked as she puffed into ash.
"HEY!" She screamed, glancing around and spotting Giles and Xander changed to a wall on the right of the huge room. She caught a glimpse of peroxide blonde from the side. As the vampires turned to take her in she heard Xander call her name before she let her anger take over her. She was here to do business. "Come and get it you ugly blood suckers!" She screamed, pushing her feet apart and planting herself solidly. She watched as the first of the vampires rushed her and prayed for a miracle.
In the alternate universe of the Willow’s the Willow with Oz was sitting on Giles’ floor, staring at a large musty book. It was comfortable and familiar, everything about this setting was. It was just like high school all over again. . . except she wasn’t in High school anymore, and she wasn’t with Oz anymore.
It had hurt her more then she’d like to admit when Oz had refused her. She knew it was the right thing to do, she HAD a girlfriend after all. But still. . . he was Oz. He was her first love, nobody ever forgets or. . . stops loving their first love. Not when its true love, and not when its as pure as her and Oz’s love had been.
"Willow?" Someone was saying her name, Willow jerked out of her little monologue of thoughts and looked up to see Xander. They were starting to get a little more comfortable with the fact that she wasn’t there Willow.
"Giles says he thinks he found it." Giles was standing in the small library in the back of his apartment. Willow jumped up and moved into the room.
"I believe I’ve found your spell." Giles said, handing her the book.
Her eyes got huge. "That’s it! That’s it Giles!" She hugged him and felt him stiffen, it hurt that her friends still rejected her, even if they weren’t *her* friends.
"Yes, well, erm. We shall perform the spell as you two did and. . . reverse it." She pulled back.
"Right. And then I’ll get to go home and help you and Xander and. . . Buffy. . . and be with Tara. . . " Why did the thought of home make her sad? Why didn’t she want to leave? "We’ll do it tonight."
It was a statement. Tying her to her fate, a fate she wasn’t sure she wanted.
Light exploded in the room as Willow felt the first vampire hit her. There was a collective scream and then there was dust all around her. Her arms were red and she felt like she’d spent too long in the sun. The blonde girl from the dorm was standing in the doorway. She lowered her hands and stared in awe.
"W-w-ow, it worked."
Willow got to her feet. "You killed them all! How did you do that? Magic?" Then it dawned on her. "Your a demon! Spike killed you!" She started backing away.
"N-n-no. Willow. I’m not, t-t-he demons broke into our a-apartment and I ran. B-buffy told me to go find you." There were tears on the girls face. "W-we didn’t know what had h-happened to you." Willow couldn’t tell if the stuttering was from emotion or if it was real.
"But. . . I . . . Spike!" Willow whipped around, staring at the side of the building where Spike had been heading toward Giles and Xander. "Spike! SPIKE!" She ran, toward her friends. They were both red and sunburned, Xander was bloodied and naked from the waist up. Giles still had his shirt on but it was nearly soaked in sweat and blood. "Did you guys see Spike? Where did he go?"
Both of them stared at her. "He was up there! Didn’t you see him?!"
"You mean through the blinding light? Yeah, he was doing the hula Will." Xander looked annoyed and tired and in need of a hospital all at the same time.
"No. . . he helped me! He was going to help rescue you!"
"He probably skipped out on you. Left you for dead."
"No. . . Spike wouldn’t. . . he wanted to help us--"
Willow didn’t finish her sentence before there was a blip and she was gone. Her space empty. Xander and Giles stared at the air where she had been.
Willow fell through time and space, the feeling was familiar but something you could never get used to. She hit the ground again with a thud that took her breath away. As she climbed to her feet she realized she was outside of Giles apartment. A familiar blue van was sitting outside of it. She started out at a run as she entered Giles’s apartment the gang looked up from where they were seated around candles and chanting. There was a space in the circle.
She practically leapt into Oz’s arms. "I’m home!"
Oz kissed her on the forehead. "Thank god."
Willow Rosenberg hit the floor of her apartment. The first thing she noticed was the blood, and then as she looked up and into the dead eyes of her best friend she began to scream.
~*~Six Weeks Later~*~
"Oh Oz! This is the best place ever! I love it!" Willow exclaimed spreading her arms wide, taking in their newly rented apartment.
"It is nifty." Buffy said from the doorway, holding a box marked "Willow’s books". Xander was standing behind her with three more with the same labeling.
Oz came over and hugged her. "Its perfect."
"No, we’re perfect." She said, putting a kiss on his lips.
Willow sat in the floor of her single apartment. She’d moved out of the apartment she and Tara had shared three weeks earlier. They had broken up. Willow had decided she was going in search of Oz. With Buffy gone, there was nothing to hold her back. . . not that Buffy had been holding her back, just that she didn’t feel the need to be in Sunnydale without her best friend. Xander had agreed to accompany her. Although she hadn’t asked.
Since being in the alternate universe, Willow had realized one thing.