I can't believe it's the end of our freshman year of college already. It seems just like yesterday that Willow was sitting in the graveyard with me on patrol, trying to get my procrastinating butt in gear and pick my classes. How can that be 9 months ago? So much has happened since then, and I've been counting my lucky stars this past week for not losing Willow in the process of it all. But I came pretty close, and that thought scares me more than almost anything.
I pick up Mr. Gordo and stick him into one of the packing boxes that litter our dorm room. I didn't know I had so much stuff! Between the two of us there must be close to 20 boxes in here. I guess we're both just big pack rats. Because I know we didn't move all this in here last fall.
I've been wondering about something the last couple of days, and I haven't had the mind, or the courage if I really want to be brutally honest, to bring it up with Willow. I think I'm afraid of the answer. But I can't put it off any longer, we're almost done packing and I promised Mom I would have her Jeep back in an hour, in one piece.
She turns away from the box she was packing her bed sheets in and gives me her undivided attention. "What's up, Buff?"
I fidget a bit and pick up a packed box to keep my hands busy, carrying it over to the door and adding it to the pile ready to go downstairs to the car. "Well I was sorta, well curious about something."
"About what?" Willow's eyes sparkle with curiosity.
"About next year. Actually, the living arrangements next year." I look up from the new box I was packing hesitantly.
She seems just as confused and unsure as I am, so I decide to bite the bullet. "I know we didn't start off as roomies, but I've loved sharing with you . And I also know that this year wasn't the best for us, I mean I know you felt like we weren't even really room mates anymore. But I'd like to try and make up for it. Next year." I took a deep breath and looked up to meet her eyes. "Will, would you maybe want to room together again in the fall?"
She looks a little hesitant and I take that as a bad sign. "Buffy, I'd really like to, but well, I mean, Tara kind of already asked me."
"Oh." I had actually forgotten about Tara. Which is hard to imagine considering her and Willow have been locked at the hip the last few months. At first I didn't think anything of it, with the exception of being a tad bit jealous that Willow had found a new friend that she seemed so close to. But I was so wrapped up in Riley and the Iniative stuff that I didn't stop to notice what should have been really obvious to me. When Willow told me that Tara wasn't just her friend, but something a whole lot more complicated, my jealousy actually spiked tenfold. I should have felt relieved that I wasn't being replaced in the best friend department. But for some reason I felt I was losing Willow anyway.
"Well I didn't actually say yes yet, I thought it seemed like a big step, living together. We've only been dating for a few months. Lets just wait and see, is that ok?" I must not have been hiding my disappointment well because she was awfully quick to try and reassure me.
"It's ok Will, I understand, she's your girlfriend, she should come first." I tried not sounding too bitter. Willow has this gentle sympathetic look on her face, one that I've seen on more than a few occasions, and she quickly crosses the room, navigating her way through the mess, and wraps me up in a strong hug.
"I've known her for 6 months, you've been my best friend for 4 years. Nothing is more important than that." She pulls back and looks at me with a hesitant smile. "But I do have to think about it ok? I'm not saying no, but I can't say yes just yet. Can you understand that?"
Well as long as she's not saying no flat out I can live with that. Besides, it gives me the summer to try and convince her just how good a best friend I can be. "Sure Will, take your time and decide."
"Ok, now that it's settled for the time being, we better get a move on. Didn't you promise your Mom that you would have her car back by 6? By the way, how in the world did you convince her to give it to you in the first place?" She gives me this curious look, and I know she's thinking about the last time I managed to get my mother's car keys. It honestly wasn't that bad, I mean, I might have gotten into one minor little accident, but it wasn't my fault, and she knows that. I think she just likes to tease me.
"It wasn't that hard Will, SOME people don't hold that one tiny little fender bender against me forever you know." I give her an exasperated look, but I know I'm none too convincing, because I can't help but smile at her. She has this way about her, every time I look at her I can't help but smile, even if I'm in a terrible mood, taking one look at her, even if it's just for a moment, cheers me right up. I've spent 4 years wondering how in the world she does that.
"I don't hold it against you Buffy, I know it wasn't your fault. But I can't say I was enjoying the ride all that much before that. I think it took a couple of days for the feeling to return to my fingers after holding on so tight." She sticks her tongue out at me, and I think I should be really worried about the reaction it seems to have had in me. Desire? No, no way, that's not it, nuh uh, she's my best friend, that certainly was not any kind of lustful feeling.
So why do I not sound convincing even to myself?
"Huh?" Uh oh, I must have really spaced out there, because when I look up and refocus Willow is standing right in front of me with her hand gently resting on my shoulder.
There's that feeling again.
But it's not a naughty one, not in the least bit.
"Are you ok, you look kinda spooked. Spidey sense isn't going off or anything is it?" She looks around the room quickly, apparently checking to make sure there aren't any hell beasties suddenly ready to munch down. I can't help it, she looks so adorable that I just have to pull her into a hug. She stiffens for a second before relaxing and draping the arm that was on my shoulder around my back and returning the embrace. "Ok, now I'm really starting to get worried." She tries to sound like she's joking, but I can hear the nervousness in her sweet voice.
I pull back reluctantly and release her, but she doesn't step back far, returning her hand to my shoulder and meeting my gaze. "Sorry Will, just got a lot going on up in here." I tapped the side of my head for emphasis.
She smiles warmly at me and takes the hand that was resting on my shoulder and gently brushes away a few tendrils of hair that escaped from my ponytail. "Aww, poor Buffy's brain. Anything I can do to help?"
Well considering where my runaway thoughts just took me, I'm thinking letting Willow in on them isn't the best course of action. "No, don't worry, I'm fine. I guess I was just getting sentimental that's all." Ok, so that's not a complete lie, just half of one, which means I'm kind of telling the truth right? Because I absolutely hate lying to her.
"Yeah, I know what you mean. Our first year of college, I can't believe it's over already. Time just seemed to fly by, didn't it?"
Sure it did, time that I could have, scratch that, *should* have been spending with Willow. The same time that she was spending with Tara and slipping away from me. Hindsight is always 20/20 isn't it? If I would have known back in October that Willow would fall in love with a girl this year my first guess would have been that it would be me. I mean we've been best friends for almost 5 years now, I'm closer to her than I am to anybody else, most certainly Riley. We know everything there is to know about each other. So why not me?
Wait a second, why do I want it to be me anyway?
Great Buff, first you're having lustful and completely naughty thoughts and desires in the best friend department. And now you're complaining that Willow didn't fall in love with you. Oh this is gonna be the best summer ever. Lets see how long it takes you to jump her bones.
Could things get any worse?
"Hey Buff, my parents rented this condo out in Malibu for a few weeks this summer. They said I can have it for one of the weeks while they're at some convention in Philadelphia. So I was thinking, maybe we could take them up on the offer?"
Willow. Me. Beach. Malibu. I think the odds are definitely against me on the jumping her bones deal.
"Yeah that sounds great Will, I'm sure Xander would love that, checking out all the beach bunnies, it would be like heaven for him!" Of course he would go straight to hell once Anya found out about it.
"Actually, Xander has a construction job in Monterrey for most of the summer. His company is footing the hotel bill for him and everything. And Anya's going with."
Oh god! Xander isn't coming. Xander, the buffer, the man who makes it not just me and Willow all by ourselves. He isn't coming!
"What about Tara?" Ok, why did I say that? I mean the last thing I really need this summer, what with my little naughty best friend thoughts and all, is to see said best friend smooching in the sun with her girlfriend.
"Tara left for the summer. Back east to visit family and everything." Huh, funny, Willow didn't sound all THAT upset, considering the fact that she won't see her girlfriend for 3 months. "So I guess it's just you and me Buff."
Willow. Me. All alone for a whole week. With the possibility of bikini's playing a big role.
Things just got a whole lot worse!
Buffy and I got loaded up and out of the dorms a lot quicker than I had anticipated. Of course Slayer super strength and all that played a significant role, what with the 3 boxes at a shot that she carried down the 2 flights of stairs to the parking lot. I swear sometimes she does that just to try and impress me. Flashing me a sweet, almost cocky grin before grasping up another heavy pile and heading out into the hallway. Doesn't she realize that no matter what, no matter how strong she is, how many piles of clothes and other knick knacks she can carry, she's just Buffy to me.
Sure she's the Slayer, and believe me, that fact has saved my keister on more than one occasion, not to mention the entire known world. But it's the complete package that makes her my best friend. I guess she's just so used to having to pretend being someone else with Riley that she doesn't realize she doesn't have to do that with me. She never used to, I knew her better than I knew myself at times. When did all that change?
Actually I don't really need to ask myself that question, I already know the answer. Riley. Oh who am I kidding, Riley AND Tara. I didn't think that when we started dating people that weren't within our little close knit group that we would drift so far away from each other. But that's exactly what happened. And I can't help but curse both Riley and Tara a bit for that. Even when I know it's my fault more than anyone's.
I hid Tara. I hid our relationship away from everybody who matters the most to me. And as much as I'd love to say I don't know why I did it, I know with certainty the reason. I was scared. Completely and utterly terrified.
Of Buffy's reaction.
I always had suspected there was more to Faith and Buffy's relationship than Buffy let on. Not that I think they slept together or anything, because the fleeting thought that they did would be enough to make steam come out of my ears. No, it was more the fact that Faith had this sensuality about her, she oozed sex appeal. And more than once I could have sworn I saw Buffy's eyes glazing over when all of us would be out at the Bronze. Of course it was a rarity in and of itself that Faith would actually hang out with all of us at one time. She usually either spent all her free time with Buffy, or with none of us at all. I remember asking Buffy about it once and she gave me this rather disgusted look and shot down the notion that she could ever be attracted to Faith. It had calmed my fears that Buffy was interested in Faith. But it didn't make me feel any better about my own feelings for my best friend. Because when she brushed away the thought of her and Faith together so brusquely I took it to mean all woman in general, including myself. And given the fact that Faith was walking sex appeal, even if it was of the skanky variety, if Buffy wasn't attracted to her, she wasn't attracted to any woman at all, myself being at the very bottom of that barrel.
I remember being so nervous when I told her about Tara that all I could do was clutch onto my pillow and very barely meet her gaze. And at first, I thought for sure she was going to run out screaming into the hallway. She had looked confused , then when realization set in about what I was telling her, I swear I saw a thousand different emotions play across her gorgeous green eyes. Hurt, confusion, but the one that really caught my attention at the time, was the jealous green spark that flashed for longer than any of the others. And it both raised my curiosity and my hopes. And then the guilt set in. I was with Tara, yet I couldn't help but have a little bit of hope that my new girlfriend was the key to winning Buffy's heart.
How horrible am I?
And my guilt just gets worse, because I'm actually rather glad that Tara left to go back East. Things weren't all that great at the end of the year anyway, I think she was beginning to pick up on the fact that my emotions were divided between her and Buffy. And as wonderful as Tara is, and as much as I do love her, it's not the same kind of connection that I have with Buffy.
It's not the same kind of love I feel for Buffy.
And therein lies my problem. For 4 years I've been completely in love with my best friend.
And now we have the entire summer to spend together. Tara is back home, 3000 miles across the country, and Riley is off getting debriefed who knows where. Not that it's that unusual for Buffy and I to be together a lot during the summer. Last year we spent a ton of time just hanging out. With Xander gone on his little road trip into the great unknown, and with Angel in LA, we had plenty of girltime. But with Oz's presence constantly in the background, even if he did manage to make himself rather scarce with all the gigs Dingoe's managed to nab, it kind of put a damper on things. Not that I would have ever worked up the courage to come clean to Buffy in the first place. Especially not right after what had happened with Angel. She was heartbroken that day in her bedroom, and I was not about to add to her emotional stress by admitting that I've been hopelessly in love with her for almost the entire time we've known each other. Nope, that was a definite thing of badness in my book. But last summer had been fun. We really had some good times, movies in the afternoon followed by tons of summer shopping. Then even more movies at night, with lots of slumber party sleepover goodness.
Last summer was probably the best of my life. And now that I think about it, I know exactly why. It was the first summer I had ever spent with Buffy. So I must be trying to press my luck, because Buffy and I alone together in Malibu on the beach is bound to kick my hormones into high gear. Which around her, is never the best thing. Sure I adore the feeling of pure and unadulterated love and passion that courses through my veins whenever I'm in her presence. Suppressing it so she doesn't realize is a completely different story. But I can't help hoping that this summer brings us together as lovers, the way last summer brought us even closer as the best friends that I hope no matter what happens, we always will be.
And as much as I have guilt for leaving the thought of my girlfriend in the back of my mind, I can't wait until Malibu. Buffy in a bikini is more than enough to send me running for a cold shower. But it's the thought that I might finally work up the nerve to tell her how much I really do love her that has me the most excited. Visions of Buffy holding me close, as we sit on the beach under a star filled sky dance in my head as I drift off to sleep.
"Buffy, my god, how much stuff do you have down here?"
"Come on Will, it's not that bad! Besides, I have a very good excuse, I've been gone all year long, how am I supposed to clean out my closet when I don't even live here most of the time?"
I crawl out of the back of Buffy's closet for a moment to shoot her an exasperated glare, but the second I turn to look at her my heart stops beating in my chest. She's modeling one of the new bikini's she bought when we went to the mall last week in preparation for our week of sun and sandy surf fun. She had showed me the small, barely there purple iridescent number on the hangar and I immediately loved it. But on her, words can't accurately describe how incredibly gorgeous it looks. I have to actually shake my head to clear my vision, I honestly think I was seeing doubles of her out of repressed desire or something equally naughty.
At the present moment Buffy has me digging through her closet for her duffel bag and beach towels. But I think I'm fighting a losing battle, because all I seem to be up to my waist in is shoes and the occasional stuffed animal.
"Well when was the last time you used it? Because I can't seem to find anything in here besides shoes and plenty of bunnies, both of the dusty and furry variety." And the fact that some of the dust ones are bigger than the stuffed ones really should worry me I think.
"Umm, I think probably the summer before last. When I left after.................." She stops because I imagine she saw the pain flash across my face. The summer between our Junior and Senior year of high school isn't one of my favorite topics. I spent dozens of sleepless nights wondering, praying to any deity that would listen, that Buffy was safe. That she wasn't in a ditch somewhere, or worse yet, sucking the life out of someone as an immortal Vampire Slayer. The emphasis always on the vampire part. That entire summer I felt like I was completely lost without her, like part of my soul was taken along with her on her journey, and I didn't find it again until that night I saw her alive and well in that alley. It sounds melodramatic even to me, but that's exactly how I felt. So every mention of the summer we spent apart like that just opens the wound a small crack and lets the hurt seep in just a bit. And Buffy knows that. Hence the contrite look she's sending my way.
"Will, I'm sorry, I know, really sore subject. You know how my mouth has this tendency to not cooperate with my brain sometimes." She stops adjusting herself in the mirror, and quickly crosses the distance between us and grasps me up into a warm, loving hug.
Ok, normally Buffy hugs are the most soothing thing in the world to me. This time is a tad bit different. Cause you see, she still has on the purple string bikini. And her very barely covered body is now squishing into me in all the wrong places. Actually the real problem is, she's squished into all the right places. And it's suddenly gotten extremely hot in her bedroom. I can feel the blood rush to my cheeks as I wrap my arms around her hesitantly, searching for a spot that won't add any more friction to my already electrically warm body. I settle for the middle of her back, but I quickly spring my hand up to her shoulder the minute the thought of just simply untying the knot she has keeping her bikini top in place crosses my hormone induced mind.
"Will, are you ok?" Huh? Oh man, she must have noticed how strangely I've been acting. Just great, I'm ruining everything before we even get out to Malibu. Funny, I didn't even realize she had pulled away to look at me. And why not, I'm staring at her, why shouldn't she be looking at me too. Of course she's not looking at me the way I'm looking at her, cause well that would mean she wants me the same way that I want her, and I'm pretty sure that's not the case.
Oh god! Somebody please, just shut me up! I even babble internally!
"Yeah, I'm ok Buffy."
"Are you sure, because it kinda felt like you tensed up when I hugged you?" She has this subtly hurt expression floating across her eyes and I kick myself mentally more than once. I hate that look, it's a cross between wounded puppy dog and confused. Separately I think that she's adorable wearing them. But combined it just tugs at my heart.
"No, no, I'm fine Buffy, I was just surprised I guess. I think I'm just getting readjusted to your hugs again. I mean this past year we weren't really all with the huggies and I really kind of missed it, and you, and well you know this already, and it's not like you haven't hugged me recently, cause you have, but that was for the first time in ages. And I guess I just need to get used to you hugging me more often again. Not that it's a bad thing, cause it's way up there on the goodness scale, top of the charts really. And can you just shut me up now?" Oh god, what's happening to me? I haven't babbled that much in ages. I'm reverting back to my high school self. What happened to cool confident college girl? Buffy turned her into a pile of hormonal mush with one hug, that's what. Scratch that, one bikini clad, almost naked Buffy hug.
Buffy reaches up and pushes a errant strand of my auburn hair back behind my ear and gently smiles at me. Melting again here. "Actually Will, I kind of like it when you do that. You get the cutest expressions when you go into one of you little spree's there. In fact, the first time I saw you do that I had to fight such an urge to just wrap you up in the biggest hug. It was the most adorable thing I'd ever seen."
Awww. She's so not helping my melting condition. Because that was one of the sweetest things she's ever said to me. "Well now you know I'm a big fan of your hugs, so no need fighting the urge anymore, right?" Ok, well that was not subtle in the least bit. Hey, look at me, I just asked for Buffy huggies, yay on me!
She laughed a little before sobering up a bit and just gazing at me through sparkling green eyes. No way did I just see a spark of desire flash in those eyes, no way. "Well Will, you know I'm not the most restrained person on good days, so glad to hear." She leaned forward and took me into her arms again, turning her face into the crook of my neck and softly nuzzling my hair. Ok, wait. Nuzzling!? Buffy is nuzzling my hair? She sighed contentedly, or at least I think so, and tightened her hold on me.
"Buffy?" I was getting rather confused, because the way she was holding me, so lovingly, so.......possessively, certainly seemed to be going out of the best friends ballpark. And as much as I was enjoying all the closeness, I didn't have a clue what was going through her mind. She pulled her head up from my shoulder and caught my gaze in her own. For what seemed like forever we just stood there, wrapped in each other's arms, gazing into emerald green depths.
"Will........" She leaned closer and closer, her forehead now resting against my own, both our breathing becoming somewhat labored. I was positive she was actually about to kiss me, when I heard Joyce's loud voice echo in through the open bedroom door.
"Dinner's ready girls! Don't want it to get cold, come on!"
We snapped apart like someone had shocked us and just stared at one another for a brief moment before Buffy turned back around to her closet and grabbed a white t-shirt and a pair of cutoffs and quickly slipped them on. She turned back around to face me, gave me a shy sweet smile and grasped my hand, pulling me along with her downstairs to dinner.
And I'm sure the goofy grin stayed on my face throughout the entire meal.
"So girls, you're sure you have everything you need?"
Mrs. Summers was in full parental mode at the moment. I don't know if she was worried that we would get into trouble by ourselves out in Malibu, or she just missed Buffy this past year and didn't really want her to go. I had a feeling it was the latter, because even if Joyce thinks Buffy isn't the most responsible person in the world, she knows that I wouldn't let anything get out of control. No, no, that's not an ego. I just know that Mrs. Summers trusts me. During the summer that Buffy was gone I spent quite a lot of time with Joyce. I don't know if being with her made me somehow feel closer to Buffy, or if I just felt a duty to my best friend to watch out for her mother until she came back. But in any case, Joyce and I had more than one heart to heart, most of the time it focused around our relationships with Buffy. I used to try and get her to forgive herself for what happened and not hang onto the guilt that was eating away at her. It was horrible seeing her like that, so broken and hollow because of her fight with Buffy. I could relate too, because I had similar feelings. Not because of a fight with my best friend, but her mere absence from my life was making me feel all kinds of depressed.
Joyce in return for my support and I guess just my general company, repeatedly kept telling me how thankful she was that I was in Buffy's life. She told me that before Buffy met me that she was a somewhat selfish, self absorbed person. But I helped make her a sweeter, kinder human being. I tried to dissuade Mrs. Summers, because it's very hard for me to believe Buffy as being anything other than the incredible, caring, loving girl that I know. Besides the fact, that even if Joyce was right, I seriously doubt that her change in personality had anything to do with me. Being the Slayer, having all that responsibility, was definitely the more likely candidate. But she wouldn't budge, insisting that I was what kept Buffy grounded. And that on more than one occasion Buffy would talk to her about me, and how lucky she was to have met me.
And you would think that information would have warmed my heart to the core. But it only made me miss Buffy more. Made the cut in my soul feel deeper. Because it just made me love her all the more, knowing that she really did value our friendship so much.
"Yeah Mom, we're all packed. By the way, thanks for finding my duffel bag. Where was it anyway?" Buffy peers curiously up at her mother, simultaneously trying to zipper up the last bag of her luggage. I don't know how in the world we're gonna fit all this stuff into the trunk of the car I rented. Buffy has 6 bags, plus the 3 of my own. A Mustang trunk only holds so much. I guess I should have known Buffy would over pack. Last summer we went out to the beach for the day, and she had two bags just for that. I guess the idea of us cruising down the Pacific Coast Highway in a convertible over rode my practicality.
"It was up in the attic actually." Mrs. Summers is shifting from foot to foot. Which is rather odd, because she only does that when she's nervous about something.
"What was it doing up there? The last time I saw it was right under the foot of my bed." Buffy doesn't seem to pick up on her mother's strange behavior, she just sounds confused.
"Well remember when the Gallery was doing inventory and I brought some of the things home and stored them in your room?" Buffy blandly nods her head, picking up one of the heavier bags and carrying it to the door in the process. "Well I took some of your stuff up into the attic so it wouldn't get all messed up. I thought I had brought everything back down, but I guess not." Joyce casts a curious glance in my direction and then continues. "Did you go through it and make sure everything was still in it?"
"There wasn't anything in it to go through, Mom." By this time Buffy has all but one of her 6 bags at the front door. Joyce gives her daughter a curious look, but then an almost smug knowing one replaces it. This conversation is getting stranger by the minute.
"If you say so Buffy." Now the smug smile has turned into a genuine one, leaving me completely baffled.
"Will, I'm gonna take these out to the car a while. You've got everything else all ready and packed to go right?"
"Yep, we're all set. Although I'm thinking one of those bags of yours is gonna have to go in the backseat instead of the trunk." I smirked at her, making her glare at me in the process, before tossing the keys at her. "Come on, hurry up slowpoke, we want to beat the rush hour traffic." We had decided to leave in the afternoon for who knows what reason. I think Buffy just wanted to sleep in actually. I didn't mind though. I kept picturing driving down the coast just as the sun was setting over the ocean. With Buffy sitting right next to me, her golden hair blowing in the sea breeze. I turned around to say goodbye to Mrs. Summers but before I could she grasped me up in a tight hug.
"You take care of my little girl Willow."
"I will Mrs. Summers. We take good care of each other, so don't worry." It was nice, being wrapped up in a maternal hug. I can't remember the last time my own mother hugged me, if ever actually.
"And remember to have fun. You and Buffy need to reconnect on this trip, remember how much you both mean to each other." Before I had a chance to contemplate and question her comment Buffy came bouncing back through the front door.
"Ready to motor Will?"
"Yep, lets go." I gave Mrs. Summers one last curious look before joining Buffy in the doorway. Mrs. Summers followed and grabbed her up in a warm hug as well before forcibly pushing us out the door, telling us to have a good time, and more importantly, to behave ourselves.
Buffy and I hopped into the car, and surprisingly enough I didn't have to fight her for the driving privileges. That was one less thing for me to worry about. As much as I love Buffy, driving is not one of her finer skills.
"So, ready to start the fun or what?" Buffy cast me the sweetest smile as she slid on her sunglasses.
"Definitely." Yep, I was definitely ready to start the weeklong Buffy goodness.
"Wow Willow, you're parents really go all out!" Buffy sounded so in awe. Me, I've gotten to the point that materialistic type things don't impress me so much anymore. Being Buffy's best friend for 4 years, seeing all the things she's accomplished, all the things she's had to learn how to deal with, that's what really impresses me. But I'm glad that I can seem to make her happy, even if it is with my parents buyoff's for never being around. And I do have to admit, the condo really is spectacular. A spacious living room, with a tan leather couch, and what had to be at least a 60 inch TV tucked away into a cabinet on the far side. A kitchen area with bar seating and the biggest refrigerator I've ever seen, well, next to the commercial one that we found Dr. Gregory in back in 10th grade that is.
Eww! Bad visuals Willow, bad bad visuals! Although I do distinctly remember sitting behind Buffy on the stairs of the library later on in the day, gently massaging her shoulders trying to calm her down and ease the tension out of her taut muscles a bit. If I really think about it now, I'd probably guess that I was already head over heels for her, even way back then. Which is actually a rather scary realization.
"Oh my god Will, you have got to see this view!" Buffy comes rushing back over to me and grabs my hand, dragging me back towards the sliding glass doors that lead out onto the deck. We continue through the doors and I involuntarily gasp, fully absorbing the view Buffy is so crazy about. She's right, it's absolutely amazing. The deck itself leads down onto the sandy beach, and about 100 feet out is the shoreline. And with the moon reflecting off the water, and the star filled sky glistening above us, I don't think I've ever seen anything more beautiful. Buffy pulls me into a sideways hug, wrapping her left arm around my shoulder and grasping me around my waist with her right, and finally settling her chin on my shoulder. "This is like paradise isn't it?" She looks up at me, the moonlight dancing in her excited green eyes, and I can't do anything but stare at her and nod my head in agreement.
It IS paradise. My paradise.
The sound of the waves crashing against the shore, the moon and stars shining brightly overhead, and Buffy's arms wrapped around me. I can't think of a more perfect utopia.
"So, are you up for a little naughty fun?!" I blink my eyes a few times to refocus, caught up in my own Buffy centric world for more than a moment. Ok, did she just mention naughty fun? I think my hormones are definitely in control again, because a thousand different scenario's are playing out in my mind, and I'm sure they're all 10 times more naughty than what Buffy had in mind. Before I have a chance to ask her just what exactly she meant, Buffy pulls away from me and starts taking her shorts off
"Uh, what?" Oh yes, very coherent there Willow. Of course I do have extenuating circumstances. Namely a half naked Buffy in front of me, for the second time in under a week.
"Come on Willow, tell me you've never skinny dipped before?"
Oh. My. God.
She is so not doing this to me! I have plenty of self control. But if she honestly thinks that I can control myself with both of us naked and dripping wet she's completely out of her mind. Of course the fact that she has no clue how much I desperately want her probably has a tad bit to do with her driving me completely crazy.
Before I ever realize it she's completely stripped down to her bra and thong. Wait a second, since when does Buffy wear thongs? Not that it's really important, because I'm sure as soon as we get closer to the water that's gonna go the way the rest of her clothes did. And I'll be in just as much trouble either way.
"Come on Willow, you can't go skinny dipping wearing all that!" Buffy starts tugging on my shirt, trying to pull it overtop my head. That's the last straw, Buffy trying to undress me snaps me out of my naked Buffy induced haze.
"Buff, I really don't think this is such a good idea. I mean, uh, well, what if someone sees us?" Somehow while I desperately tried to reason with her she managed to get my shirt over my head and now I'm standing there in nothing more than my shorts and bra. I quickly realize what the sea breeze is doing to my exposed top half and cover myself up. Yep it was just the cool ocean air, it had absolutely nothing to do with the fact that Buffy's gaze has turned into an even more mischievous one.
"Well too bad Will, because I've got your shirt, so you're just gonna have to come and get it!" And with that she took off sprinting towards the water, waving my shirt behind her like a war prize. She reached the shoreline and turned back around to grin at me, sticking her tongue out, challenging me to try and retrieve my stolen T-shirt. And honestly I didn't really need to, I mean I had at least 15 other tops I could have put on, 20 feet away in my suitcase. But there was something about the way Buffy was acting, the playfulness, the..................flirtation in all her actions of the past few minutes. So yet again, my hormones took control and I took off after her down the beach.
By the time I reached the shoreline she had already waded about 10 feet out into the water, still waving my shirt above her head triumphantly. "Come and get me Will!"
I tentatively dipped my foot into the water, making sure that it was warm enough. Even in the middle of July I still figured that it was best to check. How much of a wussy am I? I carefully wade out to where Buffy was standing and just as I was about to reach her I lunged, grasping for my shirt in the process. I must have caught her off guard, because before I know it I'm completely wrapped around her and we're falling backwards under the water. As we resurface I find that Buffy's arms are wrapped tightly around my waist and I've somehow managed to bring my legs up to encircle her hips. She reaches up ever so slowly and brushes a few wet tendrils of hair away from my eyes. Her touch is so gentle and soft that I have to actually follow her hand to realize she's really touching me. She keeps tracing my hairline for a moment before trailing her hand down my cheek and ever so softly over my lips.
"Will........." She trails off breathlessly, inching closer with every passing second. After what seemed like an eternity to me I feel her sweet lips ever so softly brush against my own. Before I even have a real chance to fully respond to her embrace I feel her pulling away. Great. She regrets it, I just know it. Buffy raises her eyes to mine, still tracing the contour of my jaw with gentle fingertips. Wait, is that a smile? Her eyes are twinkling in the moonlight, and I swear I see them visibly darken with desire. Uh, desire? For me? Ok, yeah, I think I'm having another Buffy induced hallucination.
I give her a small tentative smile, not really knowing what exactly is going on. I guess that was all the incentive she needed, because her lips are once again upon my own. This time though she's not quite as hesitant, taking gentle control over my lips and ever so slightly running her tongue across, demanding entry into my own mouth. I grant it to her, not caring if I'm imagining things or not, if I am, I hope I never come out of the dream. Our tongues greet each other in a sweet gentle duel, neither one overpowering or seeking dominance, just sweet caresses with the other.
"Oww!" Buffy pulls away from me suddenly and I'm scared to death I've done something wrong. But the thought quickly escapes me when I see her slowly bring her foot up out of the water, cradling it gently.
"Buffy, what's wrong?" Well I figured it was something with her foot, because, well, duh. But I didn't know what she could have done just standing there kissing me. Unless of course I stepped on her, but wait, no, that can't be the case, because my legs were locked around her waist the entire time.
"Something bit me I think. Ugh, stupid little critters!" I can't help it, I start to giggle. I mean it's not funny that she's hurt, but just the sight of her standing there, groaning about sea creatures is too funny. Buffy has fought 60 foot long demon snakes, and she's all upset over a crab or something just as harmless. I immediately try and stifle myself when I see the hurt glare she's shooting in my direction. "And what is so funny?"
"Nothing, nothing at all really." Uh huh, yeah, she's gonna leave me alone with that explanation.
"Riiiight" she drawls out. "So you were just one step away from hysterical laughter for no reason at all?" She has this subtly hurt expression crossing her features and I suddenly completely sober up.
"I'm sorry Buffy, it's just that I've seen you fight how many hundreds of evil disgusting demons, and you're all upset over a little crab or something." She pouted a bit, tugging at my heart strings, so I decided to push it a little. "If you really want to know, it's kinda cute." And I hope to god the darkness covers my blush. She looks up and again I see that lust filled gaze directed at me. Totally at me! She starts to lean in again, and even though every fiber of my being just wants to stand out here in the ocean with her forever, wrapped in her arms, with her lips permanently sealed with my own, I reach my hand out gently and stop her. I know she's the Slayer, but if something really did bite her, she should at least but some disinfectant on it. Plus, with the breeze and being in the water, I am getting a bit chilly. She casts me a confused gaze and I impetuously lean down and take a quick sip from her sweet lips once again. I think I really could get addicted to kissing her. Which makes this even harder to do. "You need to put something on your foot. Besides, I'm getting kinda cold out here." She smiles a bit and then pulls my soaking wet T-shirt from behind her back and dashes towards the shore. Of course I managed to catch up with her fairly quickly, considering the fact that she had a pretty noticeable limp. I came up behind her and wrapped my arm around her waist, guiding her right arm around my shoulders, helping her hobble into the house. I sat her down on one of the leather reclining chairs, neither one of us really caring if we were getting the upholstery wet or not.
"Did you bring any first aid stuff, or should I run up and see if the bathroom has anything?" I called to her from the foyer as I dug through my suitcase for a dry top.
"Yeah, I put some antibiotic ointment and some bandages in my duffel bag."
I grabbed a new shirt, slipping it on as I headed back into the living room to grab her duffel bag that she had thrown onto the couch. I waded through all her vamp supplies, which I had insisted we bring just in case there were surfer dudes that just happened to have no tans and only caught the waves at night. She had reluctantly agreed with my idea that we could never be too careful. But she must have really thought to appease me, because the bag is jam packed with all the essentials, stakes, holy water, garlic, even 4 of her wooden crosses that she keeps in her bedroom. In fact, there's so much stuff that I can't seem to find the first aid supplies. Just as I'm about to ask her if she's sure she actually did pack the kit I see a small compartment in the bag closed with a zipper. That has to be where she put them. I slide it open, but there's nothing at all in there except for a few sheets of what looks to be writing paper. My curiosity getting the best of me I turn my back to Buffy just a little bit more and gently slide the folded notes out of the bag and glance over them. But the first line I read catches me more than a little off guard and I'm momentarily stopped in my tracks.
God! What was I thinking?! I mean here we are, alone, together for the first time in what seems like forever, and I have to go and jeopardize it all by putting the moves on her. I mean I chalked the near kiss we almost shared back in my bedroom last week to a fluke. Something reminiscent of Willow and Xander's fluking back in high school. Of course my mother's dinner call interrupting us really was for the best, at least I thought so at the time. But all week long it's all I've been thinking about.
The way Willow's eyes kept trailing along my body while I was wearing that bikini. The way they seemed to glaze over when we were standing mere inches apart, just within a hair's breath of jumping over a huge precipice into a place so much more complicated. It's been driving me nuts since, wondering, hoping if she wanted it just as much as I did. As much as I still do. And the fact that I do have a boyfriend couldn't mean less to me at the moment. Because all I want is her. I've finally realized it, after all this time. After all the near misses, moments in time where I had almost told her, only to shrivel up and hide. Locking away my feelings, my desire for her, in a place that I never thought I would find again. And yet here we are, both involved with other people, and I can feel that lock in my heart slowly being turned every time she smiles at me. And I wonder just when exactly she stuck the key in to begin with.
I don't love Riley, I don't. If there's anything I'm completely certain of, it's that. Sure I like him, sure I care about him, but I don't love him. And maybe that's making it easier for me. I used Riley as a distraction, as someone to take my mind and heart off of my best friend. But only now do I realize it. For the longest time this past year I couldn't figure out why I had chosen to cut Willow so far out of my life and let Riley so far in. Not that he'll ever understand me the way she does, I don't think anyone could know me and understand just exactly what it's like to be the Slayer except for her. And it's suddenly striking me as the most absurd thing in the world. Staying away from someone because you love them so much, so much that it actually makes you ache inside. Because that's exactly what I did, I completely know that now.
And yet here I am, chastising myself for actually showing her. But the problem is, I may not love Riley, but I'm pretty sure Willow DOES love Tara. And that's my sticking point. Because even though I want her, love her with every cell in my body, I want her to be happy, even if it's not with me. I don't want to put her relationship with Tara in jeopardy on the off chance that she wants me just as much as I do her. I'm willing to let Tara have her, because I couldn't stand the thought of me being the cause of any unhappiness Willow has. And I'm scared to death that telling her would cause just that. Things would be awkward and strange between us, and I would hate it. I'd lose my best friend just because I couldn't settle for having her as nothing more than that.
When we were out there in the ocean, just the two of us, our bodies wrapped together like we were two perfect matching pieces to some intricate puzzle, I wondered if maybe I wasn't the only one feeling it. Sure I was the one that leaned in and kissed her, but she certainly didn't stop me, in fact she responded with just as much fervor. She kept her legs wrapped tightly around my waist and kissed me back like there was no tomorrow. And if I hadn't been such a baby and pulled away because some stupid little ocean critter decided to turn my toe into a snack, I honestly don't know how far we would have gone. But the fact that she kissed me on her own without me initiating it sparks so much hope in me that I know I have to be dreaming.
I turn around to look at her, wondering what's taking so long for her to find the first aid supplies in my bag. I know it's a bit of a mess in there, but it's her fault that stuff is packed anyway. But a jolt of fear and anxiety shoots through my body when I see her slowly sliding down onto the floor, fresh tears glistening in her emerald eyes, a small stack of papers in her hands.
"Willow, what's wrong?!" I start sitting up to go to her, wondering just what exactly she's reading that's making her so upset. She glances up at me, her beautiful face smudged with salty tears, wearing wet tracks down her porcelain cheeks.
"Buffy?" She holds up the stack of letters to me, but I'm too far away to see what's written on them. I get up and hobble across the living room floor and slide down next to her, slowly taking the papers out of her hands, her eyes watching my every movement, yet she won't meet my gaze.
I look at the first words written across the top of the paper.
With every single syllable I read I become more and more confused. Love letters. Buffy wrote me love letters when she was in LA the summer after she killed Angel. Three of them to be exact. Each one more heartfelt and raw then the one before it. I know I probably shouldn't have snooped and read them in the first place, but it's too late now. Knowledge is a powerful thing. And I've pretty much been knocked off my feet with the words contained on the crinkled notes. I can see the smudges of ink where she must not have been able to stop her tears from falling onto the crisp white paper. Every letter scrolled in her delicate handwriting, forming words that have left me in a complete state of emotional upheaval.
I don't know what to feel. Hurt that she never told me about her feelings. Confused that she actually feels that way about me. Scared that she might not have those same feelings anymore. I can't seem to come to a stop on any one of them.
I mean in all fairness, what's a girl to do when she finds a stack of love letters from her best friend, stuffed away for two years in an old black duffel bag? Is there some kind of standard for this sort of thing, because if there is, I wish I was aware of it. Because I honestly don't know how to broach this subject with Buffy. And I can't figure out if our kisses out in the ocean not more than 10 minutes ago make this all that much easier or even harder than it normally would be.
I decide to read back over each one, I honestly don't know why. Maybe to convince myself that I'm not imagining things, that my wishful thinking hasn't taken one step too far towards the crazy.
Ok, well I don't think I've honestly ever written a letter to anyone before. So keep that in mind when you read this. Of course that's not entirely true. You and I have passed so many notes around in class that I had to buy new shoes just to have a box to put them all in. Yeah, it gave me a good excuse to get some new boots, I can't help that, so thanks!
But I bet you didn't know I kept all of our notes did you? Yep, every single one. I have the one we scribbled back and forth in Ms. French's biology class from hell. Two full pages that we managed to sneak past her, using Xander as our aisle buddy. I have to admit, I was so tempted to ask him on more than one occasion to switch seats with me. I really wanted to be your lab partner. And not just so I would actually pass Biology. But just think of all the fun we could have had, passing notes back and forth all period long. Of course I should know better than to try and corrupt you into not paying attention in class! I've come to realize just how bad an influence on you I really am!
Do you remember the note we went back and forth with right when Ford and Drusilla came to Sunnydale? Or the one during 7th period English when we had that substitute teacher that was more boring than one of Giles' musty old books? I have every last one of them. I cherish them if I want to be brutally honest. Every word you wrote to me I have safely tucked away here in my shoe box. And I brought it with me. I couldn't stand the thought of not at least being able to live our friendship vicariously through all those words we've written back and forth to each other.
And that brings me to my main point of this letter. I'm so so sorry Willow. I'm sorry I left you the way I did. I'm sorry I left period. But I couldn't stay in Sunnydale after everything that happened. Your spell worked Will. In the last moments before I was about to plunge a sword into my lover's chest, it worked. I saw a flash of purple light in his eyes and suddenly he was Angel again. But it was too late, and behind his shoulder I saw the vortex open. So I'm sure you know what I had to do. I mean the world is still turning so I know you can figure it out. After all, you are the one that wears the smarty pants in our little family. And I know what you're thinking, you're blaming yourself. Whether it being for not casting the spell in time, or just doing it to begin with. It doesn't matter to me though Willow. I don't blame you. God, I could never ever blame you for trying to help me like that. So please don't blame yourself, I couldn't stand it knowing you're blaming yourself just because of my screw ups.
I honestly hadn't made up my mind to leave for certain until I saw you the morning after. Yes, I had went home and packed a bag, left my mom a letter saying goodbye. But I wasn't completely sure until I saw you. In a wheelchair. Because of me. I know you didn't see me, I was standing behind the tree over across from the courtyard out in front of the school. But I saw you and the gang, looking around, waiting for me. And seeing you like that, so hurt, it completely made up my mind. I put you in that wheelchair Willow, maybe not technically, but everything that's happened to you in the past 2 years, all the roads lead back to me. And I figured that the only way to protect you was to leave you. And as much as it killed me to do it, your safety and happiness is the most important thing in the world to me Will.
I'll never be able to thank god enough for gracing my life with your presence, even if I've cut our time together shorter than it might have been. But I could never have asked for a better friend than what you've been to me. And as long as I live I'll never forget what you mean to me. I love you Willow. Please, if anything, remember that. Try not to be angry with me, the thought of that cuts through me like a knife. And try not to worry about me. I'm ok, really, I just miss all of you so much. Take care of yourself, and each other.
Love, your best friend,
If she would have stopped with that one letter I probably wouldn't have thought anything of it. We've said I love you to each other plenty of times in the last 4 years. Well not so much in the last 4 years. If I really think about it, we never said it to each other until right before high school graduation. Almost a year after she wrote these letters. Not that it really matters, because knowing now that she felt it even back then is enough to give me all sorts of warm and tinglies. I've cherished our friendship, in fact, if I really want to be honest, it's the most important thing in my life. Her friendship is even more important to me than Xander's. And that's really saying a lot, because I've known Xander, even if we haven't always been close the way we are now, since I was a scrawling infant. Ok, well maybe not an infant, more like toddlers, but the difference is the same. But I've only known Buffy 4 years, and I feel closer to her than anybody, my parents and Xander included. I couldn't imagine her not being in my life, the brief thought that she wouldn't be my best friend any longer is the most chilling thing I can imagine.
I can live without Xander. I can live without my parents. And I've learned this year that I can live without Oz and Tara. But I honestly don't think I could live very long without Buffy. And after reading the last two letters, it's glaringly apparent that Buffy feels the exact same way about me.
It's me again. I know I haven't sent the other letter yet. I'm just not sure whether to send them all at once or not. Ok, yeah, I'm actually not all that sure whether to send them period.
Just in case you're curious, it's the fourth of July tonight. I'm sitting here in this dingy low rent apartment and listening to the streets below come alive with the sounds of bottle rockets and poppers and all sorts of other fireworks that the denizens of LA are reveling in at the moment. I just got done pulling a double shift at the diner. Yep, another shocker for you. I'm a waitress at a seedy grease trap. Aren't you just so proud. I go from saving the world to serving undercooked burgers to slimy, unwashed truck drivers. The mighty have fallen, that's for sure.
But that's not what's really bothering me. You are, Willow. God how much I miss you. I never realized just how much I took your presence for granted, but not being near you, not just being able to walk through the halls of Sunnydale High and talk about anything and nothing in particular with you, I can't stand it. I feel like I'm just completely drifting farther and farther away. And my anchor, my Willow, isn't there to pull me back in. How pathetically dependant am I? I wonder what you're doing right now. Did you and Oz take a blanket out to Weatherly Park and sit and watch the fireworks?
I was surprised last year when you told me that Sunnydale actually had a Fourth of July show. Vamp playground I figured. Who would have thought they would be too scared of errant fireworks dusting them! I really wish I hadn't gone off to LA with my father last summer. I missed out on all that time with you. We could have gone to the fireworks together. Oh, of course we would have had to share the blanket with Xander. But that would have been ok, we would have at least been together. I can only imagine what the tint of the fireworks do to your already fiery hair. It must look beautiful. I'm so sorry I won't have a chance to find out for myself. But Oz better appreciate it, or I might just have to come back and knock some sense into him. He better realize that he's the luckiest guy in the world to have you. So many times I felt like smacking Xander upside the head for not seeing what was right in front of him all those years. I hated seeing that disappointed look in your eyes every time he decided to pay more attention to everything else in a skirt instead of you.
I mean, how can anyone ignore you? You have this way about you Will, it just draws me completely in and I never want to find my way back out. That's exactly what happened the first day I met you. I caught one look of your sharp emerald eyes and I knew, just knew with everything that I am, that I needed to be your friend, needed to be in your life, someway, somehow. So yeah, now you know, that old excuse of getting me caught up on my school work was just a ruse. It worked though didn't it? Because here I am, 2 years later, and I can't imagine what my life would be like if I never would have gone out to you in that courtyard and sat down.
And now I'm getting all weepy. I'm sure you can probably tell, if you can even read this thing with all the splotches on it. So I guess I'll say goodnight Willow. Maybe I'll dream about you, us dancing together at the Bronze, or walking through the cemetery on patrol, a mocha in one of my hands, your own warm palm in the other. I love you Will, and God, I miss you so much. Please take care of yourself.
By the time I get done reading that one, I have a few tears sliding down my cheek. It's almost like I can feel all the emotion she put into her words, every pen stroke like she was bearing just a little bit more of her soul.
But it's the last one that really has me reeling.
Another month has gone by, and it's just getting worse and worse. All I think about is you anymore. I dream every night of you, of us, together. I wonder almost every single moment what you're doing, who're you're with, and if you're safe. If anything other than that, please god I hope you're safe. That's always in the forefront of my mind. That you might be hurt or even worse. And I can't even begin to describe the panic and fear that grips me when I think like that
And over the last two months I've started to come to realize some things. Some scary things. About myself, about you, about our friendship. I've re-read over the other two letters I wrote you. I know, I know, I should have sent them. If anything it would have just let you know that I'm not lying dead in a ditch somewhere. For being the Slayer, I'm an awfully big coward when it comes to matters of the heart, aren't I? But in reading over the letters, I realized just how much of my heart I poured out onto the pages. And in realizing that, I've come to know just how big a piece of my heart you really do own.
Willow, over the last two years you've unknowingly, to both of us I think, become the center of my universe. Everything that's happened to me since arriving in Sunnydale, you've always been there right beside me, literally from day one. I've always come to you when I needed comfort. And you've always been right there, offering it to me unconditionally. God, even when Angel turned you were willing to do anything to help me. Even after he almost killed you.
And since I brought up that subject, I might as well get more to the point. I'm being beat around the bush Buffy, and it's not helping either of us.
A few days after I had gotten out of the hospital last spring I had an encounter with Angel that I never told you about. I still wasn't up to full strength, but I had enough in me to tire him out so that I didn't have to go running. But what he said to me, I can still hear his words echoing in my ears as I write this.
Let me ask you something Willow. Did you ever wonder why Angel sent Xander away that night in the hallway ? Why he came after you first and foremost? And even later with your fish. He went after you first again. He told me that night that he knew right where to hit me. That he didn't need to bother taking out Xander and Cordy and Giles and everyone else first, because he knew that the second he took you away from me, the moment he killed you, it would have killed me too. He said it was almost too perfect. That I let myself love someone that much that all he had to do was snap your neck and he would have killed me with you. And of course I denied it to him. Besides the fact that if I admitted anything it would have just given him all that much more pleasure, and made you even more of a walking target for him. So I beat his face till it was barely recognizable, until he finally managed to throw me off of him and race back into the sewers. But his words have haunted me ever since.
Because he was right. I do love you that much Willow. If something were to happen to you, it would kill me too, I have no doubt at all about that. But it's not just his words that have me writing this. It's the dreams I've been having too. Dreams of us Will. Holding hands and walking down the beach together at sunset. Dreams where we're lying in my bed, watching bad foreign soap opera's together, you curled in my arms with your head resting gently on my chest, my fingers playing through your silken auburn hair. Dreams of us walking through the middle of Sunnydale, our arms wrapped around each other's waist, goofy smiles permanently plastered onto our faces. Dreams where I scoop you up into my arms and impetuously kiss you like there's no tomorrow. Dreams where we make tender sweet love for hours, holding each other close and hearing the rhythmic beat of each other's heart.
I love you Willow.
And I'm in love with you too.
And that is the reason I've decided to come back home to Sunnydale. Back home to you. Because to me, you are home. Whether I ever give you this letter or not, whether I ever tell you how much I really do love you, you forever will be home to me Willow. And I need to come back to you.
In love forever,
There aren't enough words to describe what reading that letter has done to me. My legs have turned to Jell-O and I find myself sitting on the floor with my back against the sofa. If the soft leather wouldn't be holding me up, I know I would be flat on my back, I'm that bowled over. Reading it the first time didn't affect me as much as this time. I think the shock factor is starting to wear off, the real meaning behind her words slowly seeping into my consciousness.
Buffy loves me. Buffy is in love with me.
Or at least she was two years ago. A lot has changed, for both of us. I can't be sure she still feels the same way. But oh Goddess I hope she does. Because with those few pieces of crinkled paper all my dreams of the past four years have suddenly come to life. And the thought that it's too late is paralyzing me with fear. Tears are working their way down my cheeks in a constant river of salty wetness.
"Willow, what's wrong?!"
Oh god, I forgot that Buffy was waiting for me to get the first aid supplies. But in my own defense, I think I have a very good excuse for being preoccupied. I slowly look up at her, meeting her gaze timidly. "Buffy?" I barely more than whisper, while shakily holding the stack of papers up so she can see. She gets out of her chair and limps over to where I'm sitting on the floor and slides down next to me. I watch in rapture the way her strong muscles ripple underneath smooth tan skin. But I refuse to meet her eyes as she takes the stack of letters out of my hand and looks at them closely for the first time.
"Oh God." I look up into her face, her delicate beautiful face, and see it clenched in complete fear.
"Buffy.....what, uh, what exactly......" I trail off not really knowing how to broach the subject. I'm hoping she'll start, because I really want to know if she still feels that way about me, everything seems to have come to a standstill waiting to know if there is finally a chance for me to be with her.
"Will, where did you find these?" Uh oh, she's becoming defensive Buffy, definitely not a good sign. She always gets like this when she's afraid to face something.
"I was getting the bandages and ointment for your foot and I found them in a compartment in your bag." I tried to keep my voice as steady as possible.
She doesn't elaborate, all she says is 'Oh'. Which tells me absolutely nothing, except maybe for the fact that she doesn't want to talk about this. Which means that I guess I'm going to have to take the iniative.
"Buffy did you mean it?" Straight to the point. Where's my babbling when I need it? She turns her head to look at me, finally our eyes lock and for a split second I feel like I can see straight down to her soul. She hesitates before answering, but finally she sighs a bit and breaks my gaze.
"Do you still mean it? Do you still feel that way?" I don't remember ever being so forward and straight to the point about something this intense. But I needed to know. With every fiber of my being, I needed to know if she is still in love with me. She brings her eyes up to meet mine again, the green windows to her soul misted over with unshed tears.
I heave a huge sigh of relief, my shoulders sagging forward like a giant weight has just been lifted from them. My tears start coming even faster, the joy of knowing Buffy loves me completely overwhelming my senses.
"Oh god Willow, I'm so sorry. Please, just forget what you read, please! Just don't hate me ok?"
Buffy must have taken my relieved sigh as a bad signal, because the look on her face is enough to break my heart.
"Buffy, no you..."
"God, why did I even keep those? I mean I should have known that eventually you would find out. But I didn't want it to be this way! Can you ever forgive me Will?" She cut me off before I had a chance to finish telling her that everything was alright. That everything was perfect.
"I mean I probably would never have even told you in the first place. I mean Oz, hello, I definitely wasn't about to try and break you guys up by telling you." She cut me off again, babbling away, her face becoming more and more distraught with each word that passed her lips. She's apparently picked up at least one of my bad habits, who knew babbling was contagious?
"Buffy would you stop, please?" She turns her head back around to look me square in the eyes, tears marring her gorgeous features. Once I'm sure I have her undivided attention I slowly lean in and capture her silken lips with my own, reveling in the sweetness of her mouth for the second time tonight. I don't deepen the kiss, just try to convey all my love through the connection. I slowly break away and rest my forehead against hers. "I love you."
"What?" she asks me, barely whispering.
"I love you Buffy. I love you the same way you love me. I always have." I lean in again and bring our lips together for yet another sweet, wonderful kiss. Then I pull back to look into her sparkling green eyes.
"You love me?" Again she asks barely above a whisper, almost like she's too afraid to hope. And Goddess I know how that feels.
"Yes, I love you. I'm so in love with you that I can't see straight." Can't say that was my best choice of words, but it will have to do, puns aside.
"I love you too Will, so much. God, I love you so much!" The smile that lights up her face would be enough to outshine even the brightest of stars. And before I know what's happening she tackles me into the tightest embrace I could ever imagine. She's holding onto me for dear life, like she's afraid if she lets go, even a little, that I'll disappear and all of this will be a dream. And if it is a dream I'll be plenty happy to stay in Morpheus' arms with her for the rest of eternity. I honestly can't remember ever feeling so happy, so safe, so...complete, than I do right now. It's the most incredible feeling I could describe and then some. But the spell breaks when I feel her start to pull away from me. No! Where'd my Buffy snuggles go?
"Will?" Uh oh, she has that hesitant look and I'm just waiting for the other shoe to drop.
"Buffy, what is it?" I reach up and tenderly stroke away a strand of blonde hair that's come undone from her ponytail. I'm a little less worried when I feel her lean into my touch.
"Well, uh, what exactly does this mean? Are we, like, you know, a couple now?" She's blushing. Buffy is actually blushing. But she does have a good point. I mean I would love for us to be a couple. Love for us to do couply type things. I mean, that would make me Buffy's girlfriend. Just the thought of that sends tingles down my spine. But the problem is, I'm already Tara's girlfriend. Not a good sitch really. But the choice is easy. If Buffy wants me, I'm hers. I care about Tara, I really do. But Buffy's my heart, she's my everything really.
"What do you want?" Yep, better to find out how she feels first before I just come right out and tell her I'm willing to break up with Tara. Because I still have this overriding fear that this isn't really happening the way I think it is. Buffy slowly brings her hand up and cups my cheek in her palm, stroking ever so gently with the pad of her thumb.
"I want you. All I've ever really wanted is you Willow."
And that's all I needed to hear. Buffy wants me, I'm hers. It's really that simple. I think I've started crying again, because her fingers suddenly feel wet against my cheek, and she seems to be rubbing a tad bit more than she was. But hey, a girl has every right to cry when her biggest dream just became the best reality she could imagine. "I want you too Buffy. You have no idea how much." I lean in and place a soft kiss on her slightly parted lips once again, reaffirming my confession. Buffy starts to giggle though and it breaks the mood somewhat. "What's so funny, baby?" That just makes her laugh harder. Ok, I'm totally lost.
"I was just thinking, you're my girlfriend now, right Will?" I nod my head in an emphatic yes, but I still don't see what's so funny. "And you just called me baby, did you notice that too?" Actually, I hadn't realized I called her that. It just sorta slipped out. Can't say I'm sorry though. I really like the way it feels to call Buffy 'baby'. It's intimate, sweet, and I never realized how much I wanted to say that to her until this very moment. How much I wanted Buffy to hold me in her arms and just gaze into her eyes and call her romantic nicknames. I think I've become a total sap. And I honestly really don't care less right now! But now that I think about it, my calling her 'baby' made her laugh. That can't be all that good can it?
"Uh, well, I mean, it just kind of slipped out. I know, it's really soon and all, I can make sure not to do it again if it bot..." She shushed me with a gentle fingertip to my rambling lips.
"Will, don't ever apologize for something like that. I wasn't laughing really, I just couldn't believe all this is really happening. And just the thought of you being my girlfriend, it's amazing, and well I think I reverted back into the little girl that was such a hopeless romantic she could've put Danielle Steele to shame." And again Buffy blushes, it's so incredibly adorable. "And I swear if you ever tell any of the gang how you managed to turn me into a big old cornball..." She trails off, trying to give me her threatening 'Slayer stare', but it doesn't really carry the effect she was hoping for, because I can see the sweetest smile underneath it. Besides, I know she'd never do anything to me, not like I really am considering sharing everything that's happened tonight with the rest of the gang. No way, nuh uh, no siree. I can't even begin to think of the visuals Xander would start getting, or how many handkerchiefs Giles would go through cleaning his glasses. Or worse yet, how many crude none too subtle comments Anya would spout out. I think I actually shuddered at that thought, because Buffy is wrapping me up in another tight hug.
"Will, what's wrong?"
"Umm, what ARE we gonna tell the gang exactly? I mean, well I've had some time to adjust to certain things that go with all of this. But you haven't. Did you not want to tell them?" As much as it would pain me to have to show restraint with Buffy when we're around our friends, I'm willing to do pretty much anything to be with her. Even if it means keeping our relationship secret. Besides, hopefully she would come around after a few weeks and there wouldn't be a problem.
"Well I figured we could just wait and let them pick up on it themselves. I mean they're used to seeing you and Tara hold hands and..." She trailed off the moment Tara's name came out of her mouth. And I know I'm going to have to reassure her that it's just the two of us from here on out. "Will, what about Tara?"
I take her hand softly into my palm, tracing little circles along her lifeline and up through her fingertips. "Buffy, I'm not going to lie and say that I don't love Tara, because I do." She casts her eyes downward away from my gaze, and her whole hand tenses up within my own. "But I'm not in love with her. I tried, I really did, to love her like that. I just couldn't. And if I really want to admit it, I'm not sure if I ever really was totally in love with Oz either. It's always been you Buffy. Since that first day I think. You've always been in the back of my mind whenever I was with someone else. And because of that I think I never fully opened my heart up to either of them." She's looking at me now. So intensely that I feel like our gazes are sealed permanently together. "Buffy, I want to be with you. Just you. I hope you believe that." I know the next words to leave my mouth are going to be the next obstacle. "But what about you? Do you love Riley?"
Wow, I didn't expect her to be that quick and decisive about it. Not that I really thought her and Riley were that totally solid. But I thought she did have feelings for him. I mean you don't sleep with a guy that often if you don't like him all that much, do you? Yeah, jealous and bitter about that damn frat house haunting. All that trouble just because Riley and Buffy couldn't come up for air. Oh yeah, super jealous. And the whole time before they scampered off upstairs to his room I was trying to distract her away from his roving eyes. Even sliding in a little trick question knowing she was unfortunately so wrapped up in Riley that she wouldn't even notice. But I had hoped that I could get her attention away from Dudley Do No Wrong, even for a few minutes. Nope, never spilled anything on her peasant top. I was just willing to do or say anything to get her mind off of that corn fed soldier idiot. Don't get me wrong, I like, er, liked Riley. Until he started taking Buffy away from me. I know, I know, we both had parts in it. But he was the reason I was without my best friend. Maybe if he hadn't come into the picture we would have been together right from the time Oz left. There was a couple of weeks right after the big breakup with my wayward boyfriend and before Buffy and Riley started dating that one of us could have said something. At least that way I wouldn't have to hurt Tara now. But I have to believe that I was meant to find those letters. That it was meant to work the way it did tonight. Maybe the cosmic powers are finally working for us this time instead of always against.
"Ok." That's all I really needed to know. She doesn't love Riley. That's plenty good enough for me.
She smiles at me, a genuine Buffy smile that lights up the entire living room. I can't help but smile back, the warmth, the love in her grin, it's contagious. "You're amazing, do you know that Will?" And her lips are upon mine once again. But this time is a bit different. I can feel the fire in her kisses, the passion, the desire, flowing straight from her eager mouth into my own. I gently part my lips, allowing her own roving tongue access to the deep caverns of my mouth. I return her gentle oral caresses with just as much desire, eagerly sucking her hot tongue into my mouth, deepening the kiss as much as possible. Buffy pulled away from me suddenly though, and for a brief moment I'm worried, until I feel her sweet lips start to trail a path of moist fiery kisses along my jaw line and down to my collarbone. Each kiss so soft yet passionate, igniting a fire within my body that I never knew could be started. It never felt like this with Oz and never with Tara. It's like my blood has turned into molten lava, racing through my veins, burning me in the best way imaginable. Every nerve ending in my body feels like it's coursing with static electricity. The feelings Buffy is causing with each sweep of her tongue on my bare skin, each soft kiss at the hollow of my throat, I've never imagined anything in my life could feel this wonderful, this perfect. I run my fingers through her hair as she ever so softly nips and sucks her way along my now bare shoulders and neck. I gently dig my fingers into her scalp a bit, bringing her head up and pulling her lips back into my own, crushing them together in 4 years of built up passion, love and desire. "I want you so much Will." Buffy huskily whispers, our lips still sealed together in a heated kiss. Her hand comes around from my hip where she had been holding our bodies in place, locked together like pieces of a jigsaw puzzle, and lazily starts to trail it up my sides, first over my ribcage and slowly around to the front of my stomach, just barely lifting my shirt up with her fingertips to ignite the already over sensitized skin of my abdomen. Her hand ever so slowly starts creeping farther and farther up my shirt and just as she's about to send me into a total hormonal tail spin, the phone rings. The damn phone rings!
"Oh you have got to be kidding me!" I think Buffy actually growled, literally growled, in frustration. 4 years of waiting just to get interrupted by the phone ringing. Yep, I'm pretty sure the Hellmouth has cursed us. Because this is downright mean. Buffy turns back around to face me after glaring at the still ringing phone for a few seconds. "Should I get it?"
"I think you better." We've already been interrupted, might as well make it worthwhile, at least as much as possible. Besides, only three people have the number out here, Giles, my parents and Buffy's mom. So whoever is calling, there's probably a pretty good reason. Which means smoochies are gonna have to be put on hold. Grumble Grumble. She heaves a very disappointed sigh, snatches another quick kiss from my swollen lips and hobbles over to the kitchen counter.
"Hello?" I can't remember the last time I heard Buffy sound so cranky. If ever actually. I really pity the poor person on other end of the line if it isn't something extremely important. "Mom?" Oh this can't be good. We've been gone for six hours and Mrs. Summers is already calling us. I'm only able to hear one side of the conversation, and Buffy doesn't seemed alarmed at all, just answering with a 'we're fine',. 'not much traffic', the standard 'how was your trip' replies.
As Buffy finishes up her conversation I slowly tiptoe over to the sliding glass door again and stare out into the moonlit, star filled sky, thanking each and every one of those stars for making my greatest wish come true. Buffy and I are together, finally, at last. Something I never really thought would ever happen. And now it has. Thank whoever it was that made me look in that compartment and find those letters. And thank Joyce for finding the bag to begin with. And not for the first time in the last half hour do I wonder if Joyce knew exactly what was in that bag, and THAT'S why she was giving both of us those strange little smiles before we left. I'm gonna have to give her a great big hug when we get back, because I'm starting to really think I'm on the right track with that theory. And if I AM right, that makes this even easier, because if she knows, she apparently approves. One less rather large hurdle to worry about. I guess I'm so wrapped up in my musings that I don't even notice that Buffy's hung up the phone, that is of course until I feel her slide her arms around my waist from behind and bury her face into my neck, causing the heat of a few moments before to start raging within me once again. She nuzzles my ear with her nose and then moves lower to plant a soft delicate kiss on my neck. I turn around within the circle of her arms to bring our lips together again, anxious to pick up where we left off. But as I lean into to capture those sweet silken lips, still slightly swollen from our previous activities, Buffy pulls away a bit.
"Shhh" Buffy silences my forthcoming protest with a gentle finger to my lips as she guides me over in front of the fireplace. Which just so happens to be burning brightly. Must be one of those remote gas things, because I didn't even have a clue she had started it up. She pulls a blanket from the back of the couch and settles it in front of the hearth, pulling me down with her and settling me in front of her and spooning me from behind. I sigh in utter contentment, staring into the flames a few feet in front of me, luxuriating in the feel of being completely wrapped up in Buffy's arms.
"I think we should wait."
Ok huh? That's definitely not what I was expecting from this little romantic fire setting. I have to wonder if she's having second thoughts. "Why?" Simple question, one word, so many answers could spring forth from it.
Buffy loosens her hold a bit and turns me around in her embrace so that we're facing each other. She still has her arms wrapped securely around me, but now we're within a hair's breath of each other's lips. She reaches up with one hand and ever so tenderly strokes my cheek. "I want the first time we make love to be the most special thing in the world. For both of us Willow. And it can't be, at least not for me, until you break things off with Tara." I start to protest, to tell her that it doesn't matter, that I'm not going to change my mind, that I want to be with her and only her, for the rest of our lives. But I realize she has a point. Even though I'm lying here in Buffy's arms, I'm technically still in a relationship with Tara. If we do this, no matter that my heart has forever belonged to the woman who holds me this very second, I'd still be cheating on Tara. "Willow, if we do this before you tell her about us, our first time together will always be tainted by it. I don't want that, and I know you don't either. Trust me, I want to do this more than I can tell you." I think I have a pretty good idea just how much she does, if the hand on my back that keeps inching it's way further and further south is any indication. "But I want you to tell her first. Can you understand that?"
"I understand Buffy. I know you're right. And I want everything to be perfect too. Just not sure how long I can wait though!" Oh boy, this is gonna be such a test in patience and willpower, I can tell already.
"Well then, just more incentive to get things settled with Tara as quick as you can." I shudder a bit at that, because I know that's not one conversation I'm really looking forward to. But the faster I do it, the faster Buffy and I can move ahead with our relationship. And I won't be having as much guilt about stringing Tara along that I'm starting to feel. I think Buffy must have felt the small tremor go through me, because she looks a bit hesitant. I lean in ever so slowly and catch her delicate lips in a sweet soft caress.
"Can you hold me? Just hold me like this. I know you want to wait, and you're right, but I can't bear not to feel your arms around me anymore. Not now." Yes, I've become addicted to the feel of her body pressed into mine, even if it won't lead to anything more right now. Just being in her arms, it's the most perfect feeling I've ever experienced.
"Always. You never have to ask again Willow." I nuzzle my cheek into her shoulder, burying my nose into the crook of neck as I feel her arms lock strongly around me once again. It may have been a long road from those letters, but it's finally led us home. To each other.
Read the Sequel: For the First Time