DISCLAIMER: These characters belong to Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy, et al.
SPOILERS: Buffy Season Seven, Angel Season Five. If you haven't seen these yet, get thee to the dvds!
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
Willow woke up several hours later, conscious of a warm body laying next to her on the bed. Instinctively, she reached out for Kennedy, then jolted awake, remembering that her girlfriend was gone. In a flash, she realized that the woman sleeping beside her was Fred, and breathed a sigh of relief. She peered over the slender body of the physicist. All vital signs appeared normal. She seemed to be breathing alright. Her eyelids were blinking in an REM state. Willow smiled. The spell must have succeeded.
She glanced around the room. Spike and the sarcophagus were gone. Spell casting debris was strewn everywhere - circle sand, drained crystals, gemstones, etc. She looked at Fred's sleeping form, covered with a heavy blue blanket that Spike had brought. She thought about how happy Fred had looked for the few moments she had been conscious last night, and smiled. It felt nice to wake up next to Fred. It felt nice to smile. Suddenly, she remembered Illyria's commentary on this subject, and frowned. Fred was going to be totally dependant on her while she regained her strength. This was no time to take advantage of a gorgeous hottie scientist, newly restored to her breath-taking body.
Willow chastised herself for even thinking about such things, as she slowly got out of bed and began to clean up the room. Once most of the magical detritus had been cleared away, she headed downstairs to begin making breakfast. She wasn't sure when Fred would wake up, but chances were she'd be hungry.
Willow returned half an hour later with a tray of food, and an enormous Watcher-style diary which she opened eagerly to begin recording the results of her spell casting. She wrote a few lines, then abandoned her pursuit in favor of staring at Fred and wondering when she might wake up.
When Fred opened her eyes again, the first thing she saw was Willow sitting in a chair near the bed with an eager expression on her face. Feeling a little shy, due to all the trouble Willow must have gone through to bring her back, Fred gave her a small wordless smile.
"Hey," Willow said softly. "I brought you some water."
Fred grabbed the water and drank thirstily. She was surprised by how heavy the water bottle seemed.
"How are you feeling?" Willow asked.
"Like I've been hit by a bus," Fred replied. "But a good bus. The kind of bus that that resuscitates you after you've been killed and had your body taken over by a mystical force."
Willow grinned. Fred felt her stomach do a little flip.
"Well, you're probably going to be really tired for the next several days," Willow explained. "Since you don't have slayer healing, all of your body's energy is going to be focused on repairing the damage to your internal organs and making sure they function properly. I did a mystical repair job on them during the second spell, but it's up to your body to get them running right again."
"You're amazing," Fred told her. "You know that, right?"
Willow smiled back again. Fred's stomach flipped back.
"I have some Heart of Palm soup for you now, plus some mystical vitamins to speed the healing process, and a glass of refreshing coconut milk to wash it all down." Willow explained as she placed the tray on the bed. She sat down next to Fred and began to spoon some of the soup for her. "You're probably only going to be awake for about an hour at a time today, followed each time by seven hours of deep sleep while your body restores itself. You should spend as much of your waking time as possible eating nourishing foods to help your body through this process, but I want to start with mostly liquids for now, so we can let your digestive system readapt slowly."
Fred obediently swallowed the soup that Willow was feeding her. Having not eaten in at least six months, she was starving. "This soup tastes very healthy," she sighed.
"Well, if your body is up for it, we might have tacos for dinner tonight."
Fred's eyes lit up at the mention of her favorite food.
"Also, while you're sleeping, I'm going to be performing some tests on you. Nothing major, just need to see how your sensory perception is working whether you're responsive to music and light, things like that. And I'm hoping that a shaman friend of mine will stop by to do some reflexology work on your feet."
"A shaman doing acupuncture?" Fred asked skeptically.
"It's a part-time gig," Willow explained. "Plus, I think it'll really help with your internal organs."
"You're very concerned with my insides," Fred told her, already feeling sleepy again.
"Well, your muscles didn't atrophy at all, being that Illyria kept in good shape with the punching and kicking and all. But your heart muscle and your other organs haven't been used in the last six months. The spell I used is one I recovered from an ancient text, and was last used in a time of pretty limited medical knowledge about the body. So I just want to make sure we're on top of all the effects." Seeing Fred was tiring quickly, she handed her the vitamins and milk.
Fred took them slowly and closed her eyes again. "You're so smart," she mumbled. "Thank you." And then she drifted back to sleep.
Willow looked at her watch. It was almost 3pm. They had crashed for hours after the spell was complete. So Fred should be waking back up at around 10pm. Smiling at the sleeping form on the bed, Willow put in a call to her shaman and began the basic light and sound tests that she'd designed.
Willow spent the rest of the afternoon and evening preparing a taco feast for the sleeping Texan, reviewing Dawn's most recent Sumarian translations, and checking on Fred every half hour. Eventually, she settled herself in a chair near Fred's bed to record her progress in her spell casting journal.
"Subject regained consciousness approximately twelve hours after the healing and reunification spells were performed. Subject verbalized understanding of the events that led to soul's initial separation, and exhibited extreme urges of hunger and thirst. Sense of self is intact, as recognized mention of favorite food, and intellect is certainly present as subject indicated a high level of interest in process for healing and restoration. Subject has always exhibited a high level of intellectual curiosity as well as a gentle beauty when the foyer window sends a breeze rustling through her hair ." Willow broke off her writing. The last sentence was heavily crossed out as Willow chastised herself for losing the objectivity necessary to properly record the effects of her spells. She planned out some of the questions she would have to ask Fred next time she awoke. Which, according to her cycle predictions, should be any minute now.
Fred woke up at exactly the time that Willow had anticipated, and Willow stood next to the bed with a mouth-watering tray of homemade tacos in front of her. Fred let out an excited shriek of happiness before grabbing the tacos and digging in ravenously. Briefly, Willow wondered how a girl as thin as Fred could put away such an incredible amount of food, mystical healing process or no.
"How did I do?" Fred asked as she wiped some sauce from the corner of her mouth. "On those tests? I like to do well on tests."
"Perfect," Willow assured her. "You were sensitive to music and light, and the shaman said that your reflexology went really well. Although you were mumbling in your sleep about alien space probes at one point."
Fred grinned, as she started in on the last of the twelve tacos that Willow had prepared. Willow sat down next to her on the bed. "I have some questions to ask you," she began. "But if you're not ready to answer them, just let me know. I'm not going to press you."
"Willow," Fred said, "After everything you've done for me, I don't think I could refuse you much of anything. Whatever you need to know. You don't have any more tacos, do you?"
"No," Willow said, "but you can take your mystical vitamins and water."
"Hmph." said Fred. "But I'll answer your questions, if you want."
Remembering how tortured Buffy had been after being pulled out of heaven, Willow worried that this would be a difficult subject for Fred. She laid her hand over Fred's as she asked softly, "Do you know where you were?"
To her relief, Fred didn't seem at all upset by this question. She squeezed her hand and answered.
"Just floating around. In the Nether Realms, I think. Adrift and lost, but not really happy or unhappy about it."
"Ooh, the Nether Realms!" Willow said excitedly, "I've been there!"
"You have?" Fred inquired. "It's pretty nice, I guess. A relaxing vacation compared to the five years in Pylea. I had a lot of time to think about the more volatile laws of physics and how they apply to Tran dimensional holding realms. It seemed to me like the best way to access the Nether Realms was through a burst of energy. Especially because all the living beings who were passing through seemed like they had to get there through Oh!" she exclaimed, realizing how Willow must have reached the Nether Realms.
Willow turned as red as her hair. "Well, like you said, a burst of energy is required. I bet you got there from the burst of Ilyria taking control of your body."
"Uh-huh," Fred replied absent-mindedly, thinking of Willow experiencing an orgasm so intense as to propel her into transdimensional subspace. Wondering who her anchor was.
"Just in case you're wondering, Ms, Burkle, I had to access the Nether Realms because Faith had switched bodies with Buffy and the world was in peril from a hybrid demon called Adam," Willow explained. "It was a totally legitimate reason."
Fred glanced out from under her eyelashes. "Did you like it?" she asked.
"Oh yeah," Willow answered. "Definitely one of the better ways of saving the world."
"Minx," Fred said playfully.
Willow smiled a half-seductive smile. Only half-seductive as half of her mind was still chastising her . I shouldn't be taking advantage of Fred in her current condition, she told herself. She's going to be totally dependent on me until she gets her strength back, which could be weeks. I shouldn't be thinking seductive thoughts about her. Bad. Bad, Willow.
Fred noticed that Willow seemed to be having kind of a mixed reaction to her comment. Rats, she thought. Maybe she's not interested. Maybe she's still seeing her someone. I mean, she did pull me back from the Nether Realms, but maybe she was just being polite. Then she felt the sleepiness sneaking up on her again. "Is it night time here?" she asked.
"Mmm-hmm," Willow confirmed. "It's about 11pm. But before you fall back asleep, are you feeling any side effects from the spells?"
Fred felt a girl genius lightbulb go on over her head. "Well " she said, "I have noticed one thing "
Willow's face was a mask of concern. "What is it, is anything wrong?"
"No, no," Fred assured her. "It's just that I feel a little bit chilly. Kind of cold. Especially during the deep sleep."
"Hmm that could be a sign of trouble for your circulatory system," Willow commented worriedly.
"No, I think everything is circulating fine," Fred told her.
"Do you need more blankets?" Willow asked, "It's usually so warm here, but I could find some for you, I'm sure."
Fred felt like Willow was being a little slow on the girl genius uptake.
"Maybe if there was a way for you to share your body heat," she suggested, suppressing an enormous yawn.
"Oh!" Willow said, suddenly getting the idea. "You want us to sleep together? I mean, not as in sending one of us to the Nether Realms sleep together, especially as hello, you've already been there very recently and probably that's not what you had in mind anyway, but like sleeping sharing the bed together even though the house isn't full of slayers right now and "
"Willow," Fred muttered sleepily, "You're babbling."
"Right!" Willow agreed. "Yes, I am babbling. And I would love to sleep with you. I mean not "
"Shh " Fred smiled. "Just get under the covers with me."
Willow walked to the closet and quickly changed into a loose white robe. She returned to the bed and crawled in next to Fred. The Texan snuggled right up next to her. "See," she said quietly, "nice and warm."
Willow's body relaxed against Fred's. This would be good, she thought. Like when Buffy lent her strength during her healing meditation. It would be like lending Fred some of her strength. Idly, she ran a finger through Fred's hair.
"Willow " Fred murmured, fighting against the sleep that she knew would take her in a few moments.
Willow waited to hear what she would say next.
"What are we having for breakfast tomorrow?"
"There's nothing wrong with my circulation. You know that, right?"
"Yes," Willow tightened her arm around Fred's small frame.
Fred snuggled closer to the red head.
"I love pancakes." she said, and then fell back into restful slumber.
"Minx." Willow whispered into the darkness.
To Be Continued
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