beer_good_foamy: (Willow-death)
[personal profile] beer_good_foamy
Title: The Pieces That Prevailed
Author: Beer Good ([personal profile] beer_good_foamy)
Fandom: Buffy, mid-season 7
Rating: PG13
Word count: ~1200
Characters/Pairing: Willow, Xander, Giles, Buffy; nods to Willow/Tara and Willow/Jenny
Summary: As logic stands, you couldn’t meet yourself from the future. But logic broke and Willow bumped into her high school self.

The Pieces That Prevailed

"Ooops! Sorry."
"Ooops! Sorry."

Main Street was more crowded than usual, and Willow was in a hurry with an armful of shopping bags full of Potential food. And maybe she wasn't really paying attention but obviously the teenage girl she ran into wasn't either, and suddenly there were heads colliding and groceries and textbooks all over the sidewalk. They both hurried to pick up their stuff, the girl ducking her head as if mortally embarrassed by the whole thing. As soon as she had her books back, the girl apologized again and took off running down the sidewalk, leaving Willow to pile in the last of the groceries and... a high school science book? That couldn't be right. "Hey!" She called out. "You forgot your book!" The same one she’d had back in high school, too. Huh. The exact same... What the heck? She quickly flipped through the book, past the all-too-familiar notes and underlines to page 1, where the girl had dutifully written her name like she always had. "...Willow?"

She looked up and saw a flash of long, straight, dull reddish-brown hair disappear around the corner. She hurried to her feet and ran after her, but the crowd was already thinning out and the other girl was nowhere to be seen.

* * *


"I'm telling you, Giles, it was me! Fifteen-year-old me!" Willow paced back and forth in the living room, trying to explain it while waving the book around. "This is my book. And before you say that it's, well, my book, see?" She held it open. "She-slash-I is, or was, just halfway through it. And I did not flake out of tenth-grade physics."

"It's not that I don't believe you, Willow. This is Sunnydale, after all. I'm just not sure that it's a sign of any additional impending doom. I take it you've done a locator spell?" Seeing the look on her face, he quickly added, "I'm not saying you shouldn't have. If I ran into a teenaged version of myself, I'd want to know for sure too."

"Well, sure, but teenage you would be more of a threat than teenage me."

Giles cleared his throat. "Quite. Thank you."

"Sorry. But yeah, I did. And it said there was only one me here now, and no one else doing big portaly magic either. I mean, even I wouldn't know how to do that.”

“And you don’t remember this happening to you back then?”

“No. But maybe I, I mean present-day me, was the one who time-travelled for a few seconds, which I think I would have noticed, though I did see someone in a Rachel Green haircut but I sorta assumed they were being ironic, and..."

* * *


"...So now I'm thinking maybe it wasn't a spell," Willow said as Xander continued fixing the front porch from the latest demon attack. "More like a quantum event of some kind. Two timelines just happened to overlap somehow. You know, kind of like how every oxygen molecule is constantly moving randomly and theoretically every molecule in a room could spontaneously move into one corner and everyone in the room would akkch." She punctuated the sentence by wrapping her hands around her throat.

Xander blinked. "Wait, that can happen?"

"Theoretically. It's just very very very very unlikely. As in, it might happen once in the entire age of the universe."

"And it happened to you, just this afternoon. 1996 and 2003 just sort of blended together for a minute on a sidewalk in Sunnydale. A big cosmic freebie.”

“Uh-huh.”

“And the odds of it happening again are…?"

"...astronomical is probably a good word." Willow sat down. "Even with the First messing with the hellmouth and the nature of reality and the world about to end and so on, that was probably it."

"And now you're all hyper because..." Xander paused. "Yeah, I get it. But what would you even have told her? Uh, you? Because you know, in every single time travel story, the one thing you’re never supposed to do is mess with the past."

Willow shrugged. "What I’d tell me, right before Buffy came to town? Dunno. Haven't really had time to think about it. Y'know, trust tiny blondes, avoid cemeteries, stop freaking out about those dreams about Miss Calendar..."

"Dreams, huh?" Xander's grin implied he was still in touch with his inner 15-year-old. "Was Willow a bad girl? Did she get detention?"

Willow gave him an amused smirk. "If you must know, Willow was a very good girl who deserved a gold star. But - uh, Xander? Hello?" She snapped her fingers in front of his face.

"Oh. Right. Sorry. Where was I?"

* * *


"...and then Xander gave me this whole spiel about Ray Bradbury and butterflies and dinosaurs and how changing even the tiniest thing in the past can snowball and make huge changes to the future, or present, and possibly cancel out reality itself since if you change the past you won’t remember changing it so you can’t decide to change it, and..." Willow trailed off and took another sip of wine as she and Buffy watched the sun set. "And of course we wouldn't want that, because the present is so perfect, right?"

Buffy wrapped her arm a bit tighter around her friend's shoulder. "Well, think about it. Even if you'd managed to tell yourself every little thing that would happen, would you even have believed you?"

"Hey, I like to think I'm very gullible." Willow took another gulp. "O-or at least that if some weird old woman came running after me on the street screaming that I had to yell 'DUCK' to someone named Tara at a specific time and place a bunch of years later, y'know, I... I might at least remember that."

"Willow..."

"I know. Probably for the best that I didn’t. And it's too late anyway. I just sort of wish I'd had just five seconds to decide not to do it, y'know?"

* * *


Long story short, Willow got very drunk, and woke up with the theory that hangovers are nature's way of giving us something tangible to regret, and aspirin and Moulin Rouge! are society's way of making us think we can do something about it while we learn to accept the things we can't change. And she was getting a lot of practice at that. Once the hangover passed, it did almost start to seem like one of those. Life is a never-ending series of might-have-beens, paths untrodden, etc.

It's just...

It's three days later, and she's been looking through her collection of high school textbooks and notebooks (neatly sorted by year, alphabetized by subject) and can only find the one copy of Science Probe that she holds in her hand now, the half-read one some version of her dropped on the street in another reality. Of course there's a very simple explanation: At some point over the last six years, she must have lost her own copy. Because really, what sort of geek would keep every scrap of paper from 12 years of school?

She must have lost it. Because in her past, she’d finished it. She’s sure of it. She never ran into an older version of herself when she was 15. She’d remember that. Wouldn’t she?

Is this who she was supposed to be?

Date: 2015-01-13 08:54 pm (UTC)
frayadjacent: Buffy looking to the side in black and white (BtVS: Willow scary; !angry)
From: [personal profile] frayadjacent
This is great and timey-whimey! It was a lot of fun to read, and you packed in some great character stuff to boot. Especially here:
Willow got very drunk, and woke up with the theory that hangovers are nature's way of giving us something tangible to regret, and aspirin and Moulin Rouge! are society's way of making us think we can do something about it while we learn to accept the things we can't change. And she was getting a lot of practice at that.

That is S7 Willow in a nutshell. Awesome.

Also now I want to go back and re-read your fic about Willow and the coven. (Which I loved and I don't think I ever commented on! /o\) This fic and that would go well together; I like how they explore a lot of the same character themes but with such a different tone.

Date: 2015-01-15 05:02 am (UTC)
frayadjacent: Willow smiling enthusiastically (circa S3) (BtVS: Willow grinning)
From: [personal profile] frayadjacent
Same here, though I do wish she got more attention in S7. (Though I don't know what I'd sacrifice to get more Willow! I guess I wish the season was longer? I like the potentials!) Still, that is where excellent fic like this comes in. :D

Date: 2016-03-31 07:10 pm (UTC)
brunettepet: (Default)
From: [personal profile] brunettepet
This is a terrific, in voice story. It makes me wish that Willow had caught up with herself and had those five minutes. Screw Bradbury, Miss Calendar and Tara deserved better.

This exchange made me laugh out loud: "Well, think about it. Even if you'd managed to tell yourself every little thing that would happen, would you even have believed you?"

"Hey, I like to think I'm very gullible."
Willow would totally have believed herself.
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