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"My Future's So Bright –"

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This story is No. 3 in the series "Retroactive Justice". You may wish to read the series introduction and the preceeding stories first.

Summary: Buffy is taking definitive actions to make sure that the world she dreamt about can never come to exist. Story No. 3 in the 'Retroactive Justice' series.

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
Harry Potter > Buffy-CenteredGreywizardFR18310,834139018,48611 Jan 1023 Apr 13No

Chapter Three

Rosenberg residence
Sunnydale, CA

July 14, 1996

(approximately an hour and a half following the previous scene)


With both Amy and Jesse having been picked up by their respective parents at the hospital and taken home to recover, and the remaining trio of teenagers dropped off at Willow's home by Mr. McNally, Buffy found it hard not to notice the guarded looks both of her companions were giving her as they made their way into the Rosenberg house. Willow’s home had almost immediately been selected as the place where all of the Sunnydale natives' questions would be answered, since the Rosenberg parental units were currently absent (as had been the norm, Buffy recalled from her supplemental pseudo-memories of the future).

The looks Xander Harris was giving her, in particular, since Willow Rosenberg was apparently more absorbed in an intense contemplation of everything she'd observed earlier, were very guarded indeed. The Slayer noted how Willow currently seemed to be having a very intense silent conversation with herself, and she was undoubtedly mentally compiling a list of all the questions she wanted to ask about what had unquestionably been a *very* strange and unsettling evening, especially considering what had almost happened to two of her friends.

Unfortunately, Buffy lamented to herself, as she settled into one of the overstuffed chairs which filled the clearly professionally decorated living room making up the front half of the house, the stares Xander was sending her way weren't the sort of looks that a teenaged guy usually gave a teenaged girl.

It was the sort of not-exactly-hostile, but also not-completely-friendly, type of eyeballing you might give somebody who you weren’t quite sure about.

The kind of stare one person might give another person whose sanity they weren't completely sure was completely present. If it was there, at all.

In fact, they were the stereotypical 'Is this person possibly an axe-murderer who's going to chop me up into bite-sized pieces and then dispose of the evidence in the trash?' kind of looks you saw on TV and in the movies, not long before the leading female began screaming loudly and then all sorts of on-screen nastiness started to happen.

And it was especially unsettling if the person thinking those thoughts wasn't all that certain about their own sanity at that particular moment, based on what they'd seen just a little earlier on the evening, Buffy reflected to herself.

Although, they weren't *totally* hostile – or even unfriendly – looks, either, the Slayer decided a moment later, repressing a self-satisfied smirk as she noticed the tall brunet giving her yet another quick glance of male appreciation, when he was thought she wasn't looking.

And *this* time, the look was *definitely* a 'checking out the hottie' one, Buffy was pleased to note.

Be that as it may, an awkward silence prevailed for a couple moments as the three of them all stared at each other, with no one wanting to be the first to broach the subject they all needed to discuss

"Okay then, looks like I’m the one who’s gotta get the ball rolling here. So, Miss Buffy Summers, Vampire Slayer, the one girl in all the world that you were starting to tell us about, right before we had to go rescue Amy and Jesse from that psycho that you turned into a pile of dust," Harris said, finally breaking the stillness enveloping the trio from one of the other overstuffed chairs filling the room.

"Why don't you tell us a whole lot more about this whole Slaying vampires and demons thing you mentioned, huh?" he suggested as he focused an almost uncomfortably intense gaze on the diminutive blonde.

"And why, exactly, you thought you needed to come down here from the big city to tell us about it."

***

"Uh – wow," were the first words out of Willow's mouth, breaking the silence which had reigned for several semi-uncomfortable moments, once Buffy had finally finished her explanation/narrative concerning the initial series of events which had led her to this particular moment, and this meeting with her not-really (at least, not yet) best friends in the world.

"That's – that's really – uh, really –" Willow stammered, clearly uncertain of how best to express her feelings about everything she and her best friend from childhood had just been told by this unquestionably strange girl for the first time, earlier this evening. All of it seemed completely unbelievable, but on the other hand, she had actually witnessed the guy who'd assaulted Amy and then seriously hurt Jesse when he'd tried to stop him from attacking Amy, get beaten up by the tiny blonde sitting across from her and Xander.

Not to mention, she'd also seen the guy abruptly transform into a cloud of dust when the new girl – Buffy – had stabbed him with what looked like a wooden stake. Almost exactly like pretty much every cheesy vampire horror movie she'd ever watched with Xander and Jesse during their sleepovers, when they were younger.

"I think what Will’s trying to say is, that's really completely unbelievable," Xander broke in, completing the redhead's unfinished comment, and making Buffy's spirits drop like the proverbial lead balloon as she heard his response to her explanation.

"Of course, seeing the guy who attacked Amy and then beat up Jesse without any trouble, turn into dust after you stuck a wooden stake into his chest is also completely unbelievable. But we both saw that with our own two eyes, too," the dark-haired youth immediately added, even as he gave the blond Slayer a somewhat more reassuring smile.

"Although, if we didn't see that with our own two eyes, whose eyes would we have seen it with?" Xander added as an aside with a puzzled look on his face, the apparent derailment and re-routing of the tall brunet's thought processes bringing a smile to Buffy's face as it reminded her of other, similar occasions which had occurred in her future pseudo- memories. Needless to say, it was an act which would have definitely confirmed Xander’s identity to her, had she harbored any doubts regarding who he really was.

"Anyway," Harris continued, ignoring his non sequitur of a moment earlier and returning his thoughts to the more important subject they'd come there to discuss, "you've told us all about your being Chosen by some sorta mystical 'Higher Powers' –" here the youth used finger quotes as he hesitantly referred to the Powers That Be – "and that you had this really freaky-deaky dream, which apparently gave you some kind of pseudo-memories describing what happened to you in this alternate future you told us about, and also another block of these pseudo-memories about your apparently being a witch, in addition to being this vampire Slayer-type person you already told us about.

"But what you haven't told us," Xander pointed out as he gave Buffy an incredibly intense look, "is that if you really *do* know what's gonna go down for the next seven years, then why did you show up here in Sunnydale, looking for us?"

Willow's tight-lipped nod when Xander finished speaking corroborated her agreement with what her childhood friend had just spelled out in exceedingly comprehensive detail, thus leaving the next move up to Buffy.

{ Just like in my memories, he cut right to the heart of the matter, } Buffy reflected to herself with a hint of a smile as she took a moment to consider the situation.

Deciding to address the crux of the issue which had brought her here, rather than possibly spend endless hours of discussion circling around the truth she knew she'd eventually have to admit, Buffy took a deep breath in a rather futile effort to calm herself down. Then she told both of her maybe-possibly-hopefully friends, "I came here to find you guys because I wanted to make sure that we become friends, like we were in these weird-ass pseudo-memories I have of the future.

"Because I don't think that I'd want to have a future anything like the one in my head right now, if I didn't have both of you guys as my friends to share it with," she blurted out in a seeming rush of words.

Her plain-spoken words seemed to stun the pair of teens, and they simply stared at Buffy in what seemed to be a combination of skepticism and incredulity, along with what might be a slight dash of hope and wonder at the implications her words carried.

"Look, guys, we could spend hours and even days in here talking about what these pseudo-memories I got are like, and what I know is coming, but if you're willing to take a chance and trust me? There’s a way I can share them with you, so you can see exactly what it is I have, and why it is I've done everything I've done, up to this point," Buffy informed the other two adolescents, as the silence stretched on and the two Sunnydale natives considered everything they'd been told.

"What – what, exactly, would you have to do, to-to share those memories that you've told us about – with us?" Willow asked, both curiosity and skepticism in her voice.

"I'd have to cast a spell that would allow me to connect your minds with mine," Buffy replied, while biting her lower lip and reminding herself that, while she did have the memories of Hermione Granger successfully casting the "Legilimens' spell any number of times in order to share her memories with her friends, *she*, as Buffy Summers, had never actually cast this particular spell on anyone before this.

Which didn't mean that she couldn't do it, since she'd cast any number of other spells she'd known from Hermione's memories before this, it just meant that she was a little more – concerned – about doing so, that's all.

Before she could think of any additional things to be concerned about, Willow interjected, "And that would give us those same memories of the future you received? But, but don't you think that seeing all that stuff just from your point might give us a kinda biased viewpoint about everything that happened in the future?"

The frown on the redhead's face was quite reminiscent of the ones Buffy remembered, courtesy of the aforementioned pseudo-memories, and she decided she needed to give the redhead a fuller description of the memories she'd received, for whatever contrary reasons Fate, or whatever unknown power who'd decided to interfere in her life might have.

"Well, all of the memories I've been telling you about aren't actually memories from *my* point of view," Buffy informed Willow and Xander with a bit of a frown. "They're a lot more like comprehensive video summaries of everything that happened to me, and to you guys, and to various other people who also helped us out in the future.

"Actually," Buffy noted after thinking about how best to describe the knowledge she'd received, "the best way to describe them would be to say that they're a lot like the History Channel documentaries my Grandmom Sullivan likes to watch. Except they're a whole lot more detailed, and they also show things that the people involved didn't know about, when the shit hit the fan at least once or twice a year.

"Anyway, like I was saying, I can cast a spell which will let me share all of these memories with you, so you can see them for yourselves. And then you'll understand exactly what I've been trying to tell you," Buffy repeated her earlier offer to the pair of them.

Before the Slayer could say anything further regarding either the situation they currently faced, or her offer, Xander took a deep breath and said, "Okay, I'm game. What do I need to do?"

Glancing over at Willow as she exclaimed, "Xander! What are you doing?", the founding member of the Scooby Gang in an unrealized potential alternate future gave the redhead an attempt at a reassuring smile and said, "C'mon, Wills, chill out. And don't get mad at me, okay?

"You know that, deep down, both of us are hoping that what the Buff-meister here told us really is true," the dark-haired youth said to his best friend as he indicated Buffy with a nod of his head, "because it would mean that we'd both eventually end up being heroes, and not zeroes, like Cordelia and her minions and all of those asshole sports jocks and preppies keep telling us we'll be, right?"

Waiting until Willow finally nodded her head in reluctant agreement with what he'd just said, Harris went on, saying, "Well, there's no way I'm letting you risk your genius-type brain if things don't work out right with this spell the Buffster's told us about. So that leaves me as the guinea pig, to see if this memory transfer thing-y really does work, and that it won't turn my brain to tapioca or whatever.

"No offense, pretty Slayer-type witch lady," Xander quickly added as he glanced over at Buffy and gave her one of his typical half-assed grins, before continuing his explanation to Willow.

"And besides, if this spell thing does work out okay, then I'll actually get to know more about something than you do," Xander went on in his usual semi-rambling manner as he flashed a wide grin at the redhead. "Which isn't something that happens very often.

"Or, ever, actually," he added a moment later, before turning to Buffy and saying, "So, let's get with the abracadabra-ing, okay, pretty lady?"

"Okay," Buffy nodded her agreement as she slid her wand out of its disillusioned holster on her right forearm.

"Just make yourself comfortable, right there, and then don't move, all right?" the Slayer/witch directed him, indicating the overstuffed chair he currently occupied.

"'Cause this really isn't something you want to risk having any mistakes happen with,
and you're probably gonna want to just relax , afterwards, because it's gonna take you a while to look through all of the memories you'll be getting," Buffy warned, as she took a moment to focus her concentration.

"Legilimens!" Buffy intoned a moment later, as she looked Xander directly in the eye and cast the spell.

As she focused on sharing with the dark-haired youth the enormous blocks of information she'd received on the night she'd been Called as a Slayer, Buffy could almost *feel* the knowledge flowing between their two minds, during an instant of time which seemed both exceedingly long and breathtakingly short.

"Ughhhhhhh," Xander groaned, falling back against the back of his chair once Buffy finally broke the connection linking them, and automatically reaching up to check on his left eye. Harris then glanced over to check Willow's reaction; and it was just as worried as he’d known it would be.

{ The Buffster didn’t warn me just how intense this would be, } Xander thought to himself, his mind now full of memories spanning the next seven years. And since he was a teenage guy, it was hardly surprising what knowledge he examined first. { Oh my God, what is with me and my choices in women? The Preying Mantis Lady, Ampata, Anya, Lissa...and Cordelia?! }

"That – that was – good Godfrey Cambridge, I don’t even have the words," Harris breathed as he looked over at the tiny blonde, again, marveling at the staggering amount of information he'd received in those brief instants. As well as the truly mind-boggling amount of detail describing the events he now 'remembered,' even though they had never actually taken place.

"Xander! Are you okay?" he heard Willow frantically demanding as she crouched beside him

"Yeah, Will, it’s cool. I'm fine," Xander assured her as he turned his head and gave the worried schoolgirl a wan, slightly tired smile. { And almighty Zeus, you’re in love with me! As in till-death-do-us-part, I-wanna-be-Mrs.-Willow-Harris, type of love. And I cheated on Cordy with you? Ohhhhh... }

Quickly burying that particular piece of trivia with a mental shudder, Harris said, "There's absotively nothing to worry about – my mind, such as it is, is working just as well as it was before the Buffster, here, did her spell-type thing-y on me.

"But one thing I gotta tell you is, you're definitely gonna have to get Buffy to cast that mojo on you," Xander stated somewhat distractedly, as scores of confusing and disorienting memories assailed his mind. "'Cause you're simply not gonna believe most of the stuff either of us could tell you, unless you see it for yourself."

Glancing over at the third member of their little group, Buffy saw Willow biting her lower lip and staring at Xander with a mix of concern and worry – and possibly, the tiniest smidgeon of jealousy, too, considering the vast download of knowledge which the guy had allegedly just received.

"You ready to give it a shot, Will?" the blonde Slayer witch asked her, hopefully, and smiled with relief when, after a long moment, the redhead slowly and reluctantly nodded her head, 'Yes.'

"Great!" Buffy nearly whooped with relieved happiness at this indication of trust which Willow was showing her.

"Like I told Xander, make yourself comfortable where you're sitting, and then hold still," Buffy commanded, as she nervously pushed a strand of hair back behind her ear.

Leaning forward to stare into the redhead's eyes, just as she'd done with the other half of the pair of Sunnydale natives, Buffy commanded, "Legilimens!"

***

Rosenberg residence
A while later


"So, what do you think, guys?" Buffy asked, more than a little bit nervously, as she sat on the couch and looked at the two teens she'd met for the first time earlier this evening, and with whose help she'd saved the world multiple times over the course of the seven years of one possible timeline.

"It's kinda hard for me to think, Buff. I mean my head's been stuffed with so much crap, it feels like a Turok-Han took a dump in it," Xander groaned his response, as he turned his head to glance over at the two women in the room with him.

Seeing the disapproving frown Buffy directed at him for his admittedly juvenile remark, Harris recognized the expression from his new memories and quickly added, "Other than that, though, it’s not all bad."

"My – my head feels all filled up, too," Willow admitted with a frown different from the one Buffy had given Harris, since this one was mixed with confusion, disbelief and, perhaps, revulsion at what she'd learned from just a short perusal of the memories she'd been given.

"And I – I can't believe my life turned out like that!" the redhead said, her eyes suddenly wide with shock as she shook her head, as though in denial of the information she'd learned.

"I’m a cheater. I’m a magic addict. I’m a traitor to Judaism. I'm – I'm a murderer!" Willow quickly blurted out in a mixture of surprise and horror, feeling her stomach churn with revulsion over the choices she would have made over the next seven years. "And I'm gay, too!"

"That wasn't you," Xander instantly contradicted her as he pushed himself up and out of the chair he'd been slumped in a moment earlier and hurried to her side.

"Okay, not saying anything about the whole gay thing, 'cause it’s actually kind of a turn-on visualizing you and Tara that way – but seriously, Will, you haven't killed anyone!" Xander declared loudly and firmly as he pulled her into a supportive embrace, while not even considering touching the other topics his female friend had mentioned.

Buffy had likewise hurried to Willow's side, too, just as Xander had, although the petite blonde appeared to be somewhat hesitant to actually reach out and touch Willow, mostly since the redhead hadn't really offered her any clear indication that she would be receptive to any gesture of friendship from their visitor.

"Xander's right, Will," Buffy added her own voice to Harris' as she sought to comfort the girl she had fervently hoped might become one of her best friends, just as it had happened in the alternate future chronicled in the memories they all now shared. "The Willow in those memories isn't you. Not at all!"

"But, but I could become her," Willow protested, her voice somewhat muffled as she cuddled against Xander's chest, seeking assurance and comfort from the nightmarish future they now all desperately wanted to prevent from ever coming to pass.

"No way. The Willow who did all that is someone completely different from you, Will," Buffy reassured the redhead as Xander rubbed his hands soothingly along her back.

""And now that you know about her, you can be sure you won't ever become her," the golden-haired Slayer told the trembling redhead.

"She isn't you, just like that Buffy you saw in those memories isn't me, Will," Buffy promised, her words prompting the other teen to look up at her from her embrace in Xander's arms, an embryonic, hopeful but questioning, expression in her emerald green eyes.

"Because there's no way in *hell* I'm going to become someone like her," the petite blonde repeated herself. "*That* girl was seriously disturbed, and she was obviously suffering from a lot of emotional problems," Buffy declared emphatically.

"I mean, sleeping with two of the creatures she was supposed to kill? Treating everyone around her like she was some sort of queen, and they had to obey her every command? Ignoring her own sister-that-doesn’t-exist-yet, in order to focus on a vampire that was a clear and present danger to everyone around it? And deciding to activate every Potential Slayer in the world, after she'd spent seven years constantly complaining about being Called herself? Maybe it’s just me, but I say that girl had pretty much gone crazy!" Buffy declared vehemently, as she reiterated what she considered were the main failings of the woman she'd allegedly become in that horrible future she was determined would now never come to pass.

"That’s kinda harsh, Buff. Still, after everything that had happened by that point, I’d say pretty much everyone in the Scooby Gang had ended up nuts. Well, to different degrees," Xander chimed in with his own opinion about the future. "I mean, look at the choices that *I* made over the years!

"Lusting after a girl who could never love me back, because she only had eyes for an older guy I could never compete with – no offense," Xander added hastily, after seeing Buffy open her mouth.

"Being blind to the affections of a girl that was always there for me – and then acting like an idiotic jackass, after I was no longer the belle of the ball where she was concerned," he added, as Willow blushed and looked away.

"And then there’s all the other romantic disasters in my life – Ms. French, the Inca Mummy Girl, leaving Anya at the altar, my demon date bleeding me to unleash that Turok-Han... I swear, all that’s enough to make a guy seriously consider becoming a monk!" Harris finished up with an adult-looking grimace, one that simply didn’t belong on his teenage-aged face.

"Cordelia," Willow said under her breath as she coughed theatrically. Sure, it was rather catty of her – but she was simply unable to help herself. The Rosenbergs' daughter was also unable to help remembering a certain ‘incident’ in the high school library; the night when she had caught the object of her affections and the bane of her existence eagerly sucking face, and destroying all her romantic fantasies in one fell swoop.

"But like you said, Buff, now that we know what could possibly happen, we can make sure that most, if not all, of that crap *doesn’t* happen," Xander reiterated the Slayer's words, before giving Willow a resigned look about his choice of high school girlfriend.

"We'll all make sure that we all keep our heads on straight, and that none of us goes gonzo," Xander stated firmly as he hugged the redhead closer to him. Along with Willow, he then held out his other arm towards Buffy in an unmistakable offer of support and acceptance.

One which was eagerly accepted by the teary-eyed blonde, who happily embraced both of her simultaneously new-and-old friends.

***

"Not that I'm saying that there's anything at all wrong with me lying here, snuggling up with two gorgeous women like this," Xander announced a short while later as they all slouched together on the couch, "but I figure we really need to talk about exactly what we're going to tell Jesse and Amy, when we met up with them tomorrow at Jesse's place."

"Yeah, you're right, Xand," Buffy agreed, also not wanting to interrupt the undeniably warm and comforting feel of his arm around her shoulders.

"But I guess now we have to decide what – and how much – we tell them," she said as she reluctantly conceded as she pulled away from Xander's cuddly embrace and sat up straight.

"Why do we have to discuss how much to tell them? Why don’t we just tell them everything?" Willow suggested from her position on Xander's opposite side as she mimicked Buffy's actions. "They've both got just as much to lose as we all do.

"Actually, Jesse's got a whole lot *more* to lose than any of us do, since he's going to die in less than six months, if we don't prevent it," she pointed out.

"Yeah, you're right, Will," Xander immediately agreed as a determined look, which Buffy now easily recognized, slid across his face.

"You don't even have to ask, guys," Buffy preemptively declared, as she saw both of her friends' heads begin turning towards her, a pleased smile at their near-simultaneous agreement lighting up her face.

"I don't have any problems sharing the memories with Amy or Jesse either," the petite blonde declared preemptively.

"After all, he’s not a vampire – and she’s not that evil witch who put a hex on Willow, after that Warren guy ended up dead. The only thing I'm not sure about, right now, is what we should do about Amy's mom," Buffy went on. "If we don't do something fairly soon, Catherine Madison's gonna try to steal Amy's body, and I definitely don’t want to have to fight that crazy witch in her daughter’s body again.

"We were all really, really lucky that Mrs. Madison was trying to avoid attracting too much attention the last time around," Buffy reminded her friends, frowning as she again considered the unquestionably insane older witch's actions in the previous timeline.

"I still don't have any idea of what that last spell she tried to use on me when we were fighting her in the school was," she said as she contemplated that particular set of memories, "but considering what happened to her when it got reflected back on her by that mirror, I think we're all very lucky that none of us got hit by it."

"Right there with you on that, Buff," Xander enthusiastically agreed with the blonde's comment. "Crazy people on the Hellmouth, whether with or without magic powers, is something I vote we try to avoid wherever possible."

"Uh, Buffy, do you think that maybe you could just use that 'Obliviate' spell on Mrs. Madison?" Willow suggested somewhat hesitantly as she chewed on her lower lip.

"I mean, if she doesn't remember that she’s a witch and that she can do magic, then she won't start thinking about taking Amy's body for herself," the redhead pointed out reasonably.

"That’s a fantastic idea, Willow!" Buffy exclaimed, turning to favor the other girl with a wide, pleased smile. "You see? That's just exactly the sort of brilliant idea that that alternate you from our memories would come up with, whenever the other versions of us needed one!"

"Yeah, Wills, Buffy's right," Xander chimed in with his own smile.

"This Hermione Granger might be the brightest witch of her generation, but you're definitely the brightest witch in *ours*!" he declared unequivocally, while Willow blushed a bright red listening to her friends' compliments and enjoying the sincere praise she was hearing.

"Okay, now that we've got that potential problem solved, what do you think we should do about this Master guy that Buffy's supposed to face off against next year?" Xander asked, turning his mind to the most significantly immediate problem they were going to be facing in the coming year. "Any chance we can get Deadboy to play double-agent, or something?"

"Angel – isn’t a factor anymore," Buffy said immediately, recalling that brief meeting they’d had in Los Angeles, and how the ensouled vampire had been convinced that his destiny lay elsewhere than with her. "So don’t call him that, okay, Xand? With any luck, you two will never even meet this time around, so gimme a break with all the juvenile name-calling, okay?"

"Damn. Does that mean I can’t even call Spike ‘Captain Peroxide’?" Xander asked with a grin, again using finger quotes.

"Hopefully, you’ll never get to meet him either," Buffy declared, considering the slayer of two Slayers who, at this point in time, was still the self-proclaimed Big Bad and proud of it. "Him or that crazy 'ho of his, Drusilla."

"Uh, weren’t we talking about, um, the Master? One vampire problem at a time," Willow interjected hesitantly, recalling that immutable prophecy that Buffy would die at the Master’s hands and wondering whether Xander would have to give her CPR, like they’d all seen in the future pseudo-memories.

"You’re right, Will," Xander nodded. "Okay, from what I can remember, he was kinda depending on his minions a lot, what with him being trapped in that underground church and all. So if we can get rid of that Luke guy and that bitch, Darla, that would really put a cramp in his style," Harris pointed out, reviewing the memories they all now shared for more details of their enemy's behavior and habits.

"Yeah, Xand, that sounds like another good idea," Buffy agreed.

"Y'know, if we can just…"

~/~/~

The End?

You have reached the end of ""My Future's So Bright –"" – so far. This story is incomplete and the last chapter was posted on 23 Apr 13.

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