This story is a BTVS/ATS/Charmed crossover. It starts at approximately the same time as season seven BTVS. Everything is canon up to the end of season six. Everything thereafter is subject to change.
The timeline in Charmed is a little vague and somewhat inconsistent with the series. Prue is gone and Paige is part of the family. Cole is gone and there are no babies or pregnancies. Piper and Leo are married and Leo is not an elder.
The story links up with ATS season four just after Angelus has escaped but Cordy is not evil and is not therefore the Beast Master. There is no Cordy pregnancy and no Cordy/Connor.
Warning for Spike fans: Spike does not appear in this story. He left Sunnydale at the end of Series 6. In this story he does not return. The story mainly centres on the many female characters of the three series.
Disclaimer: This is a fanfiction and not written for profit. No copyright infringement is intended. The characters are owned by their various authors and networks etc.
Thanks: There are a few places in the story where I have used dialogue from the Buffy and Angel shows. I have obtained the wording from Buffy World.
Chapter One - The Quest
Buffy Summers, vampire slayer, was patrolling. She hadn't seen any vampires or demons for several nights but good old Buffy, good old reliable Buffy was still patrolling. I should go away during the summer she thought. I've done it a few times and nothing much happened while I was gone.
The problem was that going on holiday took money. Slaying might keep the vampires and demons down but it didn't keep the wolf from the door. Now why would a wolf turn up when you're short of money she thought? A wolf I could handle, just ask Oz.
Things don't really start stirring until...well in fact right about now. As if on cue Buffy became aware of two figures, two male figures, walking towards her. They were both well dressed and had a Latino appearance. Unlike the usual Sunnydale "instant kill" vampires these two tried the casual approach.
"Excuse me Senorita, are you local?" asked the taller and older of the two vampires. "We're looking for somewhere to eat."
But as usual with vampires casual didn't last long. By now the two vampires, walking forward had closed the gap between them and her. "Or somebody to eat," said the younger vampire, lunging forward in vampire face, expecting the change to horrify his intended victim into immobility as it probably had many times before.
Buffy stepped aside and grabbed the vampire. She tossed him ten feet hard up against a nearby tree and immediately turned to the other vampire. Slipping the stake from her sleeve into her right hand she stabbed forward as the second vampire leapt upon her. He never landed but immediately disappeared in a puff of dust.
Buffy turned back towards vampire number one who was now back on his feet. He clearly had not seen what happened to his companion as he stood up and looked about him.
"Miguel?" called the puzzled vampire.
"Miguel's right here," said Buffy pointing to the dust scattered at her feet. "He's not hungry anymore."
The vampire uttered what Buffy assumed was a foul Spanish oath and came at her. This time, instead of sidestepping she moved forward herself. She staggered the vampire with a left hook and followed up feinting with the stake in her right hand. With the vampire's eyes on that she quickly staked him underarm with the stake slipped into her left hand from her sleeve.
"The old one-two-three, works every time," she muttered to herself, at the same time looking around her for any witnesses or any other dangers. Seeing none she continued on her way.
About an hour later Buffy approached her home. She was still fretting about the unfairness of it all. Even Willy's shuts down during the summer months she thought. She'd once asked Giles about the lack of summer activity (or should that be Summers activity). He'd hummed and harrumphed, cleaned his glasses and pondered but he had no more idea than she did.
Perhaps it's the extra sunshine or the extra daylight or something she thought. Or perhaps the vampires and demons get special discount package holidays. Roll up roll up, show your fangs and get ten percent off. Yeah, that's probably what Willy does during the summer. Anyway, summer's over now she thought. Something really bad will turn up before long. Then I'll want it to be summer again.
"Still up?" said Buffy as she shut the front door behind her. She could see that Dawn wasn't in her bedroom but was still up and watching the television in the front room.
"School starts tomorrow," said Buffy as she walked into the front room, somewhat surprised. Dawn had been sensible about going to bed for a long time now. "You should be in bed."
"I need to talk to you," answered Dawn. "I didn't get a chance earlier and I wanted to speak to you when Willow wasn't about."
"OK," said Buffy flopping down in the armchair opposite Dawn. "What's up?" Summer's definitely over she thought.
"It's Willow," said Dawn. "She's says she's not going back to college, too many memories of Tara."
"But Tara would want her to go back to college." said Buffy knowing it to be true. Buffy had hoped that getting back into the college routine would do something to help Willow get her life back together. More than anybody she had ever known Willow enjoyed going to classes.
"I told her that but I couldn't get through to her." said Dawn. "I know Xander's tried. You're her best friend. I thought you might be able to persuade her."
"Has she said what she intends to do?" asked Buffy. She had a sudden alarming thought. "She's not doing magic again is she?"
"I don't think so," said Dawn. "I think it's just that she's still grieving and doesn't want to move on."
"I'll talk to her tomorrow," said Buffy.
The next morning Willow found herself sat at the kitchen table. Buffy had gone off with Dawn to the newly rebuilt Sunnydale High School. Buffy just wanted to see Dawn "settled in," a statement that had outraged Dawn until Willow had pointed out that Buffy really just wanted to nose around the new school.
Willow had agreed to be there when Buffy came back as Buffy wanted to chat over a few things with her. Where do I go to these days anyway thought Willow? Everywhere reminded her of Tara. Willow knew very well what it was about. She'd already had Dawn and Xander tell her she should go back to college. Now it was Buffy's turn.
Willow knew what she wanted to do, what she had to do, but she was feeling a little guilty about it. She would have to go away. Willow's contribution to the household budget from her parents' allowance had kept the Summers/Rosenberg household's head above water in recent months. How would Buffy and Dawn cope if she left?
There really was no point in going back to college at the moment. She wouldn't have any interest in studying. In fact, she thought, she just didn't have any interest in anything mundane at the moment. She stared gloomily at the uneaten bowl of cereal that Dawn had put in front of her before she left.
Willow stood up and wearily picked up the bowl. She threw away the cereal, being careful to hide it under other garbage in the bin. She didn't want Buffy or Dawn fussing about her not eating properly all over again.
Suddenly a figure appeared in front of her. Willow jumped in alarm but immediately relaxed again. It was Anya. Anya could materialise somewhere else nearby and then ring the bell like a normal person but that of course meant pretending to be a normal person. Anya wasn't good at pretending, not unless she was doing business as a vengeance demon. Besides Anya still had issues with Willow over the destruction of the Magic Box and Willow was sure she took a perverse pleasure in making her jump.
"Hello Anya, what do you want?" asked Willow. "Buffy's not here, she's gone with Dawn to school. First day of the new High School."
"Is that the one Xander's been building?" asked Anya.
"Yes, it's in the same place where the old school was destroyed," answered Willow. "You know, the one where we went to school and blew up the mayor." Anya had assumed the persona of a High School pupil during her previous stint as a vengeance demon and had then been stuck with it when her amulet/power source was destroyed and she had reverted to human.
"It's stupid, building a school over a Hellmouth," said Anya. "Buffy should have told them. Not that they would have taken any notice I suppose."
"Is there a particular reason for this visit?" asked Willow. "Because I...
"Have got to get back to brooding about Tara," completed Anya. "Yes I know that's a full time job but don't worry, I won't take up much of your time and anyway it's about Tara, in a way."
"What about Tara?" asked Willow quickly.
"You asked me about other realms, other planes," said Anya. "You remember you wanted to know how to travel to other places."
"And get back again," added Willow.
"Yes, and get back again," said Anya. "You remember I said that only higher beings, basically angels, could travel to and from higher realms."
"Yes," said Willow
"Well, it seems I was wrong," said Anya. "Some human witches have done it recently. They probably had help from some sort of angelic being. I don't know how they managed it but they did."
"Do you know who they are?" asked Willow, "where they live?"
"Perhaps you'd like autographed photos as well," replied Anya sarcastically. "All I know is they did what they did in San Francisco. I don't know who they are, whether they live there or if they were just visiting. You'll have to track them down yourself. Just don't get your hopes up. I can't see any angelic beings helping you after what you did."
"Thanks," said Willow. "I owe you."
"You certainly do," said Anya, "after destroying my shop. I can tell you exactly how much, including added interest. When you become one of those computer millionaires I'll let you have my bill."
"If that magic I did for you works out OK..." said Willow.
"If I need it," interrupted Anya, "and it works, then all debts are paid."
With that Anya disappeared leaving Willow thinking about a trip to San Francisco. San Francisco she thought, only San Francisco. It might have been Arabia, or Patagonia or, or anywhere. Maybe somebody's helping me. Maybe this is a sign that somebody up there's on my side.
No! Willow told herself. Don't do this. Don't hope. This is just one small step. One of many steps and it may not lead to anything. Just take one step at a time. No hopes, just one step at a time.
Buffy arrived home from the High School and looked around for Willow. She was in the kitchen working at her laptop. Good sign thought Buffy. Perhaps she is starting to come out of it.
"Hi Will," said Buffy. "Whatcha doing?" As she said this Buffy looked over Willow's shoulder and saw that she was looking through flight times. "Going on holiday?" she asked.
"Not exactly," replied Willow. "How's the new High School?" she asked, deliberately changing the subject.
Buffy flopped into the chair opposite and sighed. "Exactly the same as before," she answered.
"You mean they have a Snyder and a Giles and their own Cordy?" asked Willow. "Ooh, do they have a Willow and a Xander because I could give them a lot of good advice."
This really sounds like the old Willow thought Buffy. She is starting to come out of it. I haven't heard her this cheerful since, since...I don't know when.
"No, or not as far as I know anyway," laughed Buffy. "But it does have the Hellmouth. I had to help Dawn out with some ghosty things in the basement."
"She's all right isn't she?" asked Willow.
"She's fine. Somebody was using some sort of amulet to stir things up and I suppose the Hellmouth being nearby didn't help. All the bad guys just winked out when Xander broke the amulet," Buffy explained.
At Willow's insistence Buffy went on to give a full account of the whole incident, including Xander's part in it. Buffy put the broken amulet on the table in front of Willow but to Buffy's disappointment Willow showed no interest in it. OK she thought. Not yet fully back to normal. Research Willow would have gone straight to the books with that.
"Oh, I nearly forgot. I've got a new job," Buffy said suddenly. "The new principal wants me to be a school counsellor."
"A counsellor, as in giving people advice and all that?" asked Willow. Not entirely successfully Willow tried to mask her astonishment that anyone would think Buffy was counsellor material. A new job for Buffy, she suddenly thought. That'll make it easier for me to leave. Willow once again had a small encouraging thought that perhaps somebody was helping her.
"Yeah, three days a week and I'll be earning more than I did for a full week at the Doublemeat."
"That's great Buffy. In fact I couldn't be more pleased," Willow advised. "That'll make it easier for you and Dawn."
"Yes, it will," replied Buffy. "Err Willow, There's something I need to talk to you about."
Buffy explained how she thought Willow should go back to college, how everybody felt the same, how Tara would want her to and how she'd enjoy it like she did before. Willow listened in silence until Buffy finished.
"I know that you all mean well," replied Willow, "and I do intend going back to college, just not yet."
Willow explained that she was going to find Tara. She knew she mustn't pull somebody out of heaven again like she did with Buffy even had she still been able to do so but she felt sure she'd be able to talk to Tara somehow. She was convinced that she could do it. She knew where to start and that was why she would be leaving in a few days.
"I know it sounds crazy, but I'm not crazy Buffy. I just know that we're meant to be together for always. Nothing can keep us apart," Willow said in a rush. "I've just got to go."
Buffy realised that it was the idea of this journey to find Tara, this quest, that had brought back something of the old Willow. Her immediate response was to try to persuade Willow not to do it. Not to waste her time only to be disappointed again and again. She quickly changed her mind.
"Who am I do say what's crazy Will?" said Buffy. "We've seen a lot of things that nearly everybody else would think was crazy. If you think you've got a shot at this then go for it. You're certainly right about Tara. She must be in heaven. If I qualified then she qualified ten times over."
"But how can I talk to somebody in heaven after what I did?" asked Willow. "That's what you're thinking isn't it?" That was certainly what Willow had been thinking again and again. She knew she should be with Tara but she couldn't even be sure they would find each other after she died. That was one of the reasons why she knew she had to do something now and not just assume that all would be well after she was dead. Truth to tell it was how she'd persuaded herself not to commit suicide in the really bad days after she came out from under the influence of the dark magic.
"No, I wasn't thinking that," said Buffy stretching the truth just a little. "Without forgiveness I think heaven would be pretty well empty. You're a good person Will. No, what I was thinking was does this mean going back to the magic?"
"Um," replied Willow with a guilty smile. "I've already um gone back to the magic." Seeing the expression on Buffy's face Willow hastily explained about her chats on the phone with Giles in England and with his friends from the witches' coven. ''So you see I don't really have the option of giving it up completely. I need to use it to control it otherwise it'll just build up and, and...well it won't be nice."
Buffy nodded, gave Willow a supporting hug and wished her well. She made Willow promise to call if she needed any help. "We'll always be here for you Will." she assured her friend.
A few days later Willow said her goodbyes to Buffy and Dawn at the house. They both needed to be at the High School at the time the plane took off. Dawn, like Buffy was in two minds. She was delighted to see much of the old Willow back but at the same time worried that Willow was setting herself up for a big fall that would take her right back down again.
After Willow left with Xander who was driving her to the airport Dawn turned to Buffy. "Do you think she can find Tara? Do you think she can bring her back?"
"How can I doubt her?" asked Buffy. "Willow's the only person I've ever heard of who brought somebody back from heaven. I think she'll find Tara but I don't think she'll bring her back."
Buffy saw the look on her sister's face and hurriedly continued. "I think she'll find Tara and they'll be together again but I don't see them coming back here."
"You mean you think Willow and Tara will be together again after Willow's dead," said Dawn. As she spoke she realised the implications of what she had just said. "You think Willow will die? You don't think she'll kill herself to be with Tara?"
"If Willow thought she could be with Tara by killing herself she'd already be dead. You know that," said Buffy. "I just think Willow will find some way to join Tara, whether it involves dying or not."
"I'd love to see Tara again," said Dawn. "But if they don't come back together I hope they let us know they're happy."
Xander had spent a large part of the previous night working out what to say to Willow. Now he remembered nothing of what he had decided on. Like Buffy and Dawn he was worried but was putting a brave face on it.
"Tell Tara we miss her pancakes," he said, "and her smile...Hey, I never saw somebody off on a trip to heaven before." Well not like this he thought sadly but he was careful to remain outwardly cheerful.
Willow knew Xander too well to be upset by his light banter. In fact she knew Xander better than anybody else in the world, certainly better than his parents. She knew that Xander, well Buffy and Dawn as well, didn't believe she was doing anything but wasting her time. She knew they were humouring her because they felt that any activity, even a quest like this, was better than the way she'd been for the past few months.
A part of Willow agreed with her friends, but only a part. That part disappeared completely when she woke up in the night after dreaming about Tara and knew, just knew, that Tara was watching over her. Sometimes she had been certain that Tara's spirit was with her. At her darkest moments there was always the feeling that she wasn't alone. That she'd never really be alone.
The call came to board the plane. Willow picked up her hand luggage ready to go. "Stay safe Will," said Xander. "Look after yourself and when you see Tara ask her if she's got some good looking angel friends who're looking for a date. I've dated enough demons. It's about time I dated an angel."
Xander and Willow embraced and then Willow turned away towards the departure gate. Xander called after her, "a girl angel, make sure it's a girl angel."
Anya sat at the table of the coffee shop and looked at her friend Halfrek. She wondered if even Hallie was really her friend anymore. Hallie hadn't changed, Hallie never changed but Anya certainly had.
Never go back they say, whoever 'they' are. Well now she knew why 'they' said it. She wasn't the same person she'd been when she was a vengeance demon before. Hallie had just spent the past half hour telling her just that, as if she needed to be told.
If you don't buck up you're going to be in big trouble with the master," said Hallie. "They're taking bets on how long it'll be before he deals with you."
I've been doing vengeance thought Anya but Hallie's right. I've not been doing the big jobs, the ones with lots and lots of death and suffering. I've been doing justice, not revenge. Small pains for small transgressions, not like the old days when I'd disembowel somebody for missing a date. When I had somebody who'd left a girl at the altar I used to...better not go there she thought. Nothing's black and white anymore, it's all shades of grey.
"What you need to do is make a big splash, like you used to," said Hallie, "something to make everybody realise that the real Anyanka is back. I know just the thing."
"I can pick my own jobs thank you," said Anya. "Anyway, I've got a really big vengeance job coming up, something everyone will notice."
"Ooh," said Hallie, "do tell."
"I can't say anything yet," replied Anya. "You'll know about it when it happens." As she said this she realised that she didn't trust Hallie. Hallie was after all the demon who'd been quite happy to condemn her along with everybody else when she'd gotten Dawn to make that wish last year. For all that she wanted to be called a Justice Demon Hallie wasn't into justice. Plenty of innocent victims had always been her style.
Loyalty was not a strong suit with demons she thought, even ones you'd known for centuries. Just as well, we need some advantages...Anya broke off her train of thought. Whatever D'Hoffryn had done to turn her back into a vengeance demon she still thought like a human…she still had her soul. D'Hoffryn must know this she thought. He must be up to something.
Anya stood up. "Look, I've got to go," she said. "Nice seeing you again," she added. Anya left the shop. Once out of public view she teleported away.
Willow hadn't realised there were so many mystic and magic shops in San Francisco or she'd have come here before. Tara would have loved all this she thought and immediately amended her thought to Tara will love all this when I tell her or...Willow tried to think of something else.
The latest shop was almost the Supermarket of Magic Shops. The bookshelves alone rivalled Giles' school library, the whole library, not just his own collection of books. Willow was searching through all the local magic shops for books about San Francisco itself to see if she could find some clue as to where the local witches hung out and who they might be.
Aha she said to herself as she found the book she had been looking for, 'The Magical Nexus of San Francisco.' It had been listed in the shop's on-line catalogue and Willow hoped it would be just what she was looking for. At least it might provide some clue as to where to aim my search spells she thought.
As Willow began to flip through the book she noticed a young dark haired woman buying magic supplies at the counter. If I don't get anywhere in a few days I suppose I could go up to the nearest person in a magic shop and ask them if they're a witch. A lot of witches must shop here she thought. The trouble was most of them were probably like those at the Wicca meetings in college. Only witches in their imagination. Willow went back to flipping through the book.
Paige Matthews completed her purchases and left the shop without noticing the red haired young woman not ten feet behind her.
"Are you sure we can trust her?" asked Buffy. "We've never been close."
"We don't have to trust her," said Xander. "Either her coven can do what she says or it can't."
"Whatcha talking about?" asked Dawn entering the front room of the Summers house and sitting on the couch, "or rather who are you talking about?" A talk between Buffy and Xander thought Dawn feeling a little aggrieved. I guess that counts as a Scooby meeting now since there's nobody else. She still leaves me out whenever she can.
"We're talking about Amy," said Xander.
"Amy the rat?" asked Dawn. She didn't really know Amy but she wasn't sure she trusted her. It was Amy who'd taken Willow to see Rack.
"Better not call her that anymore," said Buffy. "She is a witch and there's no need to upset her."
"Yeah," said Xander. "We don't want it to be Dawn the rat next." Or Xander the rat he suddenly thought.
"So what is she going to do?" asked Dawn thinking that they didn't want anybody using magic again.
Xander explained that Amy's coven recently had been hearing the same phrase as they had: "From beneath you it devours." She was convinced that something bad was coming and had contacted Xander. She wanted her coven to do a spell to try to find out what was coming. However she thought that doing the spell might provoke an attack on the coven and she wanted the slayer to be present and on guard just in case.
"I don't like it but I don't see that we have any choice," said Buffy. "We need to know what's coming and I don't have any ideas about how else to find out." I've never been Amy's enemy she thought, well only when we were under that love spell. But Amy was a rat for years. Who knows how that's affected her? "What's Amy been doing with her life the past few months?"
"She's still living with her father last I heard," said Xander. "But she told me she's going to speak to Anya about buying the Magic Box. She thinks her father will put up the money to let her get it up and running again."
"So she plans on staying in Sunnydale," said Dawn. "It sounds to me like she'll want to keep the town safe. No profit in having all your potential customers killed off. The demons and vampires don't generally pay for what they want. I think we should trust her, until she gives us a reason not to." That all sounds logical thought Dawn. I hope it works out that way.