Shadow of a Dream By D.M. Evans Rating - R Spoilers - None, this is season three and completely AU Pairing - plenty of them Distribution - if you want it let me know Summary - Anya manages to make a wish that greatly effects Sunnydale, Buffy and her friends Disclaimer- Not mine. Joss et al owns all rights. I don't make any money from this. I just have fun. Concetta, Swanne and other invented characters are mine.

Chapter One - If Wishes Were Horses

Anya breathed out deeply. Success tickled her. She had been living for this moment ever since that awful Watcher had destroyed her amulet. She and the redheaded witch had failed the first time they tried to restore her to her demon hood, but this time Anya's pain must have been deeper or her magick better. Either way she had managed to call for D'Hoffryn. She gazed at the ugly demon with something close to worship.

"Anyanka, I never thought I'd see you again." Amusement trickled through his voice.

Anya swallowed hard. She knew well he could just as easily destroy her as restore her. "I want vengeance."

He seemed pleased. "Yes, I can feel your pain but after what happened last time why should I help you?"

Anya's pretty features twisted into something uglier than should have been possible. "I was a good demon for centuries. I wrecked vengeance like none had ever seen. You always told me I was your favorite. I never thought that I could be defeated." She paused, looking up at him cautiously. "It made me overconfident. I know better now. I can't live like this. I want to be a demon again."

He was silent so long Anya began to fear he'd just leave without responding. "And if I grant this wish?"

"I'll be better than before," she assured him vehemently.

D'Hoffryn sighed. "Your replacement managed to get herself killed, silly creature. One of the girls she aided wanted everyone in town to die for making fun of her."

"And the fool forgot to get out of town before granting the wish," Anya finished for him.

He shrugged. "Not all vengeance demons are as smart as they could be. Very well, Anyanka. I'll bring you back into the fold on a contingency basis. If you disappoint me, I can strip away the gift as quickly as I gave it." He took an amulet from the dark folds of his robes.

Power flooded Anya like water through a broken dam. With trembling fingers, Anya took the green, glowing amulet from D'Hoffryn. It felt good against her skin as she put it on. "My first wish if for myself. That damn meddling Watcher needs to pay. If he never became a Watcher, I'd never have gotten into this mess."

"Done," D'Hoffryn said.

Anya's lips quivered. "Wait. That wasn't my wish. I had something much better than that in mind," she argued, her eyes gleaming with anger.

He held up a hand to ward her off. "Too late. Besides, you never know how much more interesting this can be. Sometimes life is worse than a quick death." D'Hoffryn's lips twitched into an unaccustomed smile.

Anya thought about that. It was true. For all she knew, Giles was now a homeless man roaming London. Or something equally pathetic. First, she'd visit Sunnydale and then she'd hunt him down just to see what happened to him. Restored and feeling content, Anya returned to Sunnydale's reality, however altered it might be. She honed in on something that thrummed with power and intrigue, hoping for excitement.

* * *

Ethan filled his lungs with fresh air, resting his lean buttocks on the cherry red fender of his '70 Cuda. He stared at the "Welcome to Sunnydale" sign. "Can you smell it? That's power, my friends. And it's just waiting for us to use it."

A man sat astride his Harley Dyna Super Glide, smoking. He sent his cigarette arcing away in a glittering shower of light in the gathering dusk. It hit the sign, exploding into orange sparkles. "Let's do it, then."

Ethan waved at the brunette with hair like a Brillo-Pad. "You heard, Ripper, love. Get in the car. We're home."

She snorted at him and folded her tall body back into the car. Ripper let them go before him. Their car, his bike, were designed for power and speed. They liked it that way, needed it on occasion. He didn't doubt they'd need it here on the mouth of hell. Ripper's lip curled thinking on how his entire life had been leading to this point. He, Ethan and Concetta had been living in the States for several years, cutting a magical swath across it, getting rich in the process. He missed England, but the Watchers had made it uncomfortable for them there. It had been his father's dying wish that the Council make sure Ripper and Ethan couldn't hurt anyone else, the old fool.

And to think he had almost become one of them. It embarrassed Ripper to remember the time after Eyghon had killed one of their band. The group had fallen apart. He had almost went running back to his father, licking his wounds and begging to become a Watcher to make up for what he had done. Luckily, Ethan had talked sense into him and the elder Giles' ire and complete lack of sympathy had sealed his son's fate. They delved more deeply into the dark arts, growing in strength and becoming more and more in demand for those who could use their special talents.

They had hooked up with Concetta in Pittsburgh in the early 90's. She was a witch with big appetites for power and sex. She was mostly Ethan's lover but occasionally she felt the need to discipline Ripper. He didn't mind. He could be as kinky as the next guy. They made a good team. Three was always better than two. It was a mystical number, after all. And here on the Hellmouth he knew there was no limit to what they could do.

* * *

Buffy waved Willow past the library door. They had no choice but to pass it on their way to computer class. She just hoped they could sneak by without her Watcher catching her. The less she had to do with Wyndam-Pryce the better. She thought she had made it when the door flew open and his twiggy figure made a failed attempt to fill the void.

"Miss Summers, a moment of your time." Wesley stared at Willow. "Your presence is not required, Miss Rosenberg."

Willow gave Buffy an embarrassed shrug and hurried down the hall. Buffy brushed past Wesley and tossed herself onto the library table. Faith sprawled in one of the chairs. It didn't surprise Buffy but it didn't make her any happier to see her.

Wesley stalked over to her. "You know I require daily updates on your patrols, Miss Summers. Why do you have such a problem with that? Why can't you be more like Faith?"

'And put my knees alongside my ears for you?' she thought but held her tongue. She almost didn't blame Faith for using sex to get an easier ride. It hadn't taken long for Buffy to realize something was broken inside her fellow Slayer, something that Faith used sex to try and fix. It obviously wasn't working. "I patrolled, killed three vamps and a Fryal demon, end of story. Now, I have to get to class. Unlike Faith, I haven't dropped out of school." She winced. That came out snottier than she intended. She gained nothing by antagonizing Wesley.

"With as poorly as you're doing, I don't see why not," Wesley shot back and Faith smirked at her, her fingers drumming on the table.

"I have to go. Ms. Calendar won't like it if I'm late," Buffy said, more meekly.

"I don't like you talking to that woman," Wesley bristled.

"Well, she is my computer teacher," Buffy said softly, trying not to push it. She knew how much Wesley resented Ms. Calendar because she was the one Buffy turned to these last few months.

"And have you been meeting with that.filthy vampire again? If I catch you at it, I will send you to England for the Watcher's Council to rehabilitate you," Wesley said, his thin fingers digging into Buffy's shoulder. "And if Faith or I find Angel that will be the end of him."

"No, I haven't seen him. I've learned my lesson," Buffy said, not taking her eyes off Faith. The dark haired Slayer was mouthing 'the Bronze.' Buffy knew Faith had seen her with Angel. She didn't trust Faith not to rat her out but obviously she wasn't going to do it quite yet. She probably wanted something. Buffy's head jerked up when the bell rang. "That's it, I'm late." She ripped free of Wesley's grip and raced out of the library before he could stop her.

She ran down the hall, tears stinging her eyes. It wasn't supposed to be like this. She hadn't gotten to know Merrick well but at least he was kinder than Wesley. She couldn't believe she could hate anyone as much as she did her Watcher. The animosity had started with his coldness to her when she learned that the Master was going to kill her and she had wanted to quit. He couldn't understand that she was just a kid and wasn't ready to die. And if not for Xander, she would have. But her hatred really took flight when Wesley ordered her outright to kill Oz after they learned he was a werewolf. When he found out she had spared Oz, he had sent Faith after him. Oz managed to escape but to where they didn't know. It broke Willow's heart. Buffy had never forgiven Wesley for that. She wouldn't even think about what happened with Angel and Angelus and that whole mess.

Jenny gave her a sharp look as she snuck into class and took a seat beside Willow and Xander. Listening to Jenny talking about some code or another, Buffy's mind rolled over her pain, like kicking over stones looking for the bugs and snakes underneath. She looked around class. There were faces missing. Cordelia and Harmony were the most noticeable absences. After Cordelia had been injured running away from Xander who had been cheating on her - Buffy still couldn't believe that one - she had been slow to recover. She and Harmony had been picked off one night. Now they were vampires themselves.

Unable to get into the class, Buffy let her mind wander to Willow and Xander. They needed to be together even if they couldn't really see it. Buffy distracted herself from her pain by trying to devise ways to make her friends happy.