Pairing: Willow/Giles, mentions Willow/Tara
Summary: After the battle with Glory, Willow ends up somewhere she never would have imagined.
Timeline: starts during The Gift, goes AU from there
Word Count: 3,016
Disclaimer: I claim no ownership over these characters. I am merely borrowing them from Joss et al. Dialog borrowed from the episode "The Gift".
Distribution: my site, my LJ, anyone with previous permission. Anyone else - just ask.
Feedback: Yes please! It makes me happy and keeps me writing.
Thanks to velvetwhip & kallie_kat for looking this over.
Author's Note: I didn't consult any medical experts, so some liberties may have been taken to suit the story.
Author's Note 2: Happy 5th Anniversary Hairy Eyeball! (tomorrow)
Willow followed a dozen feet behind Tara, using every ounce of restraint she had to stop herself from dashing forward and stopping Tara from joining the rest of the people Glory had brain-sucked. It pained her to watch her lover so mindlessly helpless, but it would all be over soon.
Tara picked up a brick and continued her blind walk towards the rickety tower. She stumbled a bit as a hand landed on her shoulder.
"You," Glory fumed, recognizing Tara. "What are you doing here?"
'Showtime,' Willow thought to herself. Mustering all her courage, she stepped in front of Glory. "She's with me."
Reaching for her connection to the Earth, Willow placed her hands on Glory and Tara's heads. Blue lightning flashed around them, all three women screaming as the spell took effect. Willow focused harder, feeling the magic working, barely seeing the light passing from Glory to Tara. With a final blast of power, the three were flung apart and Willow blacked out as she landed on a pile of wood.
There were bright lights on the other side of Willow's closed eyelids. 'Is the spell still going on?' Willow wondered.
She blinked, briefly catching the sight of a dimpled ceiling, much like the ones in the hospital. Another blink revealed Giles sitting worriedly beside her bed.
"Willow?" he called to her, but it was too much effort to open her eyes again.
Tara recovered first and crawled to Willow's prone body. "Willow?" she cried, hands hovering over the redhead's body, afraid to touch. Finally, unable to resist any longer, she reached out and caressed Willow's neck, relieved to feel a pulse beneath her fingers.
Willow's eyes fluttered open. She breathed a sigh of relief upon seeing her girl and not a hospital.
"Did it work?" Willow asked, groggily.
Crying, Tara hiccupped and smiled. "It worked." She laughed. "You did it, baby."
"Go me," Willow sighed, closing her eyes again.
"Nurse, she's awake." Willow heard Giles call out the door.
Her head was fuzzy. She slowly opened her eyes to find herself back in the hospital room. Wasn't she just with Tara at Glory's Tower of Doom? She must have hit her head harder than she thought.
Giles returned to her side. "Hello, darling. Welcome back."
Darling? Since when did Giles call her darling? Did he hit his head too?
"What happened?" Willow asked, trying to sit up. She winced as her belly protested the movement.
Giles leaned forward to brush a kiss against Willow's lips. She was so startled that she couldn't react.
"The doctor warned me that the drugs might make you a little confused for a while," Giles said, smiling fondly, running a hand through her hair.
"There were drugs? Why does it hurt to move?"
"I'm afraid there were some complications with the delivery. You passed out while the doctor was performing an emergency Caesarian." Willow's eyes bulged, and not for the reason Giles expected. "Don't worry, the baby is fine." He took a deep breath, pride swelling his chest. "Our son is just fine."
"Our son?" Willow gasped before fainting.
The next time Willow awoke, she was still in the hospital. Giles was still by her side, worry once again darkening his features.
"Giles?" Willow whispered, drawing his attention to her.
He smiled fondly at her. "You haven't called me Giles for a long time."
"Yeah, about that... I don't know if I'm in Kansas anymore."
Giles frowned. "Willow, darling, what's the matter?"
"See, that's just what I'm talking about. What's up with you calling me darling all the time? And did you say before that we have a son?"
"You're my wife, why wouldn't I call you darling? And yes--"
"Did you say wife?" Willow squeaked.
"Yes, of course. Willow, this really isn't funny."
"I'm not the one pulling legs, mister."
"I-I think I need to find the doctor. Amnesia was not one of the side effects I was warned about."
"How could I have amnesia? I know what happened. I was restoring Tara's mind in the battle with Glory when I was knocked out. I woke up here. You're the one who's delusional."
"Dear Lord," Giles gasped, stumbling back. Regaining his composure, Giles hurried back to her side, taking Willow's hand in his. "Don't worry, we'll figure this out. We'll find a way to restore your memories. I promise you." He brought her hands to his mouth, kissing her knuckles.
"Restore my... What memories are there to restore?" Willow asked, not understanding why Giles insisted on keeping up this charade.
"Willow, it's been two years since the battle with Glory. We've been married for the past year, and you just gave birth to our son," Giles calmly told her.
"B-but, what about Tara?" Willow whispered.
"What about her? I imagine she's at the Magic Box, minding the till," Giles said, wondering why Willow would be thinking of the quiet shop girl at a time like this.
"She's still around? What happened? Did she dump me after the whole Glory thing?" Willow was near tears now.
Giles looked at her, confused. "Willow, what on earth are you talking about? Tara's a friend of yours, granted, but the two of you were never, um, involved, romantically."
Willow began to sob.
When she could breathe again, Willow told a distraught Giles, "I don't think this is my Sunnydale."
Before Giles could ask her for clarification, there was a knock at the door as it was pushed open.
"Hey there, Mommy," Buffy greeted her friend.
"Is the little guy ready to meet his Uncle Xander and Aunt Buffy?" Xander chimed in.
Seeing their friends' moods, Buffy and Xander exchanged a look.
"Oh, no, did something happen to the baby?" Buffy asked, assuming the worse.
"N-no," Giles quickly assured them. "He's perfectly healthy. This isn't about him."
"Then what's it about?" Xander asked. "Those look like upset tears, not happy tears, if I know anything about Willow tears, and I think that I do."
"I-I'm afraid that Willow is suffering from some memory loss," Giles awkwardly stated.
"How much memory loss?" Buffy warily asked.
"She thinks it's just after the battle with Glorificus."
"No!" Willow objected, speaking for the first time since her friends entered the room. "There's no memory loss. I'm pretty sure that this is some kind of alternate reality."
"Why do you think that?" Giles asked, his tone indicating that he was humoring her.
"Well, for starters, there's the 'us being married with a baby' thing. Plus, you said Tara and I were never together. In my world, she's my everything," Willow explained. She was trying very hard not to cry again.
Xander couldn't help it, he giggled. "You and Tara? Together? As in a couple?" Willow glared at him. "I mean, don't get me wrong, she's a sweet girl, but way too mousy for you. If you were into girls, that is. Which you're not. Are you?"
"I wasn't," Willow agreed, "until I met Tara. She turned my world upside down."
"Apparently," Buffy muttered.
Buffy waited for Xander to chime in, but noticed he was staring off into space with a glazed look on his face. She pinched his arm, hard.
"Ow, hey, careful with the slayer strength," he objected. "What was that for?"
Buffy smirked. "Don't even try to deny that you were just imagining Willow and Tara getting naked together."
Xander flushed and looked at his shoes. "Couldn't help it."
"I'd appreciate it if you wouldn't imagine my wife naked," Giles requested.
Wrapping her arm around Xander's waist, Buffy turned his face towards her. "Yeah, I'm the only one you're allowed to picture naked." She kissed him lightly on the lips.
Once again, Willow's eyes tried to escape her head. "Okay, now I know I'm not in my Sunnydale. There is no way you two would ever get together in my world."
"I don't think I like your world," Xander said, his eyes still on Buffy.
"Well, I did," Willow sniffled.
"Alright, I think Willow's had enough excitement. Why don't you two come back later to see the baby? I'm sure Willow would appreciate some more rest," Giles said, shooing Buffy and Xander out the door.
"Yeah, okay. We'll see you soon, Will," Buffy said.
"Maybe after some sleep you'll feel more like yourself," Xander added.
"I'll see you guys later," Willow said, relaxing against the pillow.
Giles closed the door behind the couple and then returned to Willow's side.
"You truly believe that you're in some kind of alternate universe?" Willow nodded. "Then what do you think happened to my wife?"
"I... I don't know," Willow admitted. "Do you think we could have just switched places? Oh Goddess, what if she wakes up in the middle of the battle with Glory? And Tara… She won't understand when Tara is all touchy feely with her. Assuming the spell worked and Tara's herself again."
"Willow, breathe," Giles instructed, squeezing her hand. He watched her take a deep breath. "Let's try to figure this out. It's what we do, after all."
"Right, right," Willow agreed, nodding. "Okay, we'll be rational about this."
"Good. Now, you said you were doing a spell. Can you describe it to me?"
"It was an energy transfer. Glory had sucked on Tara's brain a few weeks earlier and I figured out how to restore what she'd taken back to Tara's mind. I had my hands on both of them and I could feel it working. I could feel the energy moving from Glory back to Tara. Then I blacked out."
"Hmm..." Giles sat back, taking all of that in. "What of the portal? Did Glorificus succeed in opening it in your reality?"
"I don't know. She hadn't yet when I was doing the spell, but I don't know if she succeeded after I blacked out. What happened here?"
Giles thought back. "What you just described also happened here. Tara works in my magic shop, and Glorificus did feed on her mind. You restored it during the battle. Buffy fought Glorificus on the ground, but one of her minions went after the girl they were sacrificing to open the portal."
"Dawn," Willow interjected.
"Yes, I believe that was the girl's name," Giles dispassionately agreed.
"Hold up. You mean that Dawn wasn't Buffy's sister here?"
"Buffy is an only child, Willow, you know that."
"Yeah, in my world too. But these monks created Dawn so that Buffy would protect the Key with her life."
"Yes, that would have worked marvelously," Giles mused.
"Yet another difference. Sorry, go on," Willow requested.
"Right. Yes. Um, this demon, Doc, cut Dawn so that she would bleed. By the time Buffy got to the top of the tower it was too late, the portal was opening. She unbound Dawn and before Buffy could stop her, Dawn jumped off the tower, into the portal, closing it."
"Maybe that's when it happened. While I was unconscious, my consciousness got sucked into the portal and I ended up here. Although, I thought it only opened hell dimensions. Aside from relationship and time differences, this world seems pretty normal to me. Buffy's even still the Slayer."
"And with the portal closed, there's no way to send you back. Or to get my Willow back to me," Giles sadly stated.
"Oh, Giles. I'm so, so sorry. As confusing as this is for me, I keep forgetting that you lost your wife, and the mother of your child."
He grimaced at the reminder. "I-it is rather hard for me to believe that this is real," he admitted. "After all, my eyes tell me that you are her, my Willow, my wife. Aside from your memories, you are her."
"And yet it's my memories that make me someone completely different," Willow reminded him.
"I have a suspicion that you're not so different when it comes to what matters."
They drifted into a comfortable silence as the severity of the situation began to sink in.
Eventually, Giles said, "I-if when you wake up, and if you're still here, would you consider trying to live my Willow's life? My son will need a mother, and this is the body he was birthed from, after all."
"Me?" Willow squeaked. "You want me to be your wife?"
"You are my wife," Giles retorted. "At least, your alter was. If she can love me, why not you?"
"B-but I don't remember loving you," Willow protested. "Besides, I just lost someone, too. I was, am, very much in love with Tara."
"And you don't think you ever could love me?" Giles pressed.
"Well, now I didn't say that. There was that crush I had on you in high school." She smiled fondly at the memories. Sighing, she relaxed into the pillows. "It's all so much to take in. I'll think about it. After some sleep. I'm exhausted."
"You've had a busy day. We'll talk more later," Giles promised.
As Willow drifted off to sleep, Giles pressed a kiss to her forehead. "My love," he whispered against her skin.
Willow was awakened by an apologetic nurse.
"I'm still here," Willow groggily mumbled, looking for Giles.
"Yes, you're still in the hospital," the nurse confirmed. "Your husband went home to get some sleep, but he said he'd return soon. I'm sure he would have liked to be here for this, but I'm afraid I couldn't wait any longer."
"Be here for what?" Willow asked. It was then that she noticed the bassinet holding a fussy baby beside her bed. Her baby, she supposed, or, at least the other Willow's baby.
"This little guy is hungry, and it's best to get him started on the breast as soon as possible. Your chart said you planned on breast feeding, correct?"
"Oh, um, yeah, I guess so. It's best for the baby, right?" Willow nervously agreed.
The nurse gently lifted the baby and placed him in Willow's arms. She helped to lower Willow's gown enough to expose a breast, ignoring Willow's blush. Instead, Willow tried to focus on the bundle in her arms.
"Hey there, little guy," Willow cooed at the baby. He really was precious, blinking up at her with the most gorgeous green eyes she'd ever seen.
"Um, what do I do?" Willow asked the nurse. "I've never done this before."
"Of course you haven't. Bring his mouth to your nipple and brush it against his lips. With any luck, he'll latch on and nature will take its course," she instructed.
"And if he doesn't?" Willow worried that the baby would sense that she wasn't really his mother and he'd reject the nourishment she had to offer.
"Let's worry about that later," the nurse said encouragingly.
Thinking hungry thoughts, Willow shifted the baby until his mouth was against her breast, doing as the nurse instructed. "C'mon, little guy. I know you want this." After what felt like ten minutes, that was really more like ten seconds, the baby caught her nipple between his lips and began to suckle.
"Woah." Willow stared at the baby, completely in awe of the fact that he was feeding from her. Not to mention how strange her body felt being used like it was. It was like nothing she'd ever felt before.
Giles knocked softly on the door as he entered and he was stopped in his tracks by the sight before him. He couldn't remember a time Willow had ever looked lovelier.
Upon seeing him, the nurse excused herself.
"Willow?" Giles asked, unsure of which Willow he was addressing.
"Yeah, it's me. The other me," Willow quietly acknowledged.
"Are you okay with this?" he asked, torn between wanting to share in the moment and wanting to give this Willow who wasn't his wife some privacy.
"As you said yesterday, this is the body he was birthed from. It's what he needed. How could I refuse him?" Willow met Giles' eyes and motioned for him to join them.
"I'm so relieved to hear you say that. Does that mean that you'll accept my offer?" he asked, hopefully.
"Yes, I accept. I mean, you can't expect me to fulfill all of your wife's, um, duties, but I'd like to be a part of this family," Willow admitted.
"Thank you," Giles gushed. He leaned forward to kiss her, before he could stop himself. "And I was thinking about this last night. Buffy and Xander already know the truth, but I believe they are the only ones who need to know. If anyone else notices any differences between us, we can say that it related to the trauma during the birthing process, but we'll be fine."
"And you'll have to woo me," Willow added, shifting the baby a bit.
Giles smiled. "Of course, darling. Just as you'll need to start calling me Rupert."
"What do we call him?" Willow asked. "Did you have a name picked out?"
Giles reached over to stroke the baby's cheek, careful not to touch Willow.
"We decided to call him Ian Jacob, after your father and Buffy's mother, in the Jewish tradition of using the first letter of the deceased's name, as you'd requested."
"M-my father's dead?" Willow stuttered.
"I'm sorry, is he still alive in your world?" Giles asked.
Willow nodded. "We weren't close. I mean, we hardly ever saw or spoke to each other. But yeah, he was alive. My mom?"
"Traveling, but alive," Giles confirmed.
"So not that much has changed," Willow acknowledged.
"When you're both home, we'll go over our lives and sort out what may be different between the life I've led with my Willow and your life," Giles promised.
"When will that be?" Willow asked. "When can we get out of here? I don't much care for hospitals."
"At least you have that in common," Giles muttered. "I believe you both need to be here for another day or two before we can all go home."
"I like the sound of that," Willow said, watching the baby in her arms a moment longer, before looking up at Giles - Rupert - and smiling.