The Bronze was teeming, twenty-something-ish bodies crushed together as they tried to maneuver within the space. Willow and Amy pushed through, trying to reach the stairs to the second floor. After a third strange elbow jabbed her in the shoulder, and with a puff of frustration, Willow flung her hands in an outward motion. The magic created a divide between the crowd with a pathway straight to the stairway. She grinned at Amy, "Let's go."

"You couldn't have thought of that at the bar?" Amy teased, pushing up the arms of her deep burgundy shirt, her index finger momentarily caught in the slashes that ran down the sleeve. With it, she wore a brown mini skirt and a large belt with a larger round gold buckle.

"I was too busy showing the bartender our brand spankin new id's, years of aging at no charge." Willow grinned like a child, tongue peeking out between her teeth.

"Since when does the Bronze card, anyway?"

"New management," Willow shrugged and sipped her martini. She was showing, as Amy put it, "more skin than you were even aware of in high school." Her tight olive jeans rode low beneath an equally olive flowing tank with embroidered gold flowers and V-cut that revealed her slim stomach.

The upstairs was less crowded, but there were no seats available.

"Guess we stand," Willow pouted.

"Nah." Amy fixed her eyes on a couple against the back wall. She uttered unfamiliar words under her breath and the couple rose from their seats and left the area, wearing confused expressions as they passed the girls. "Look, two seats, just opened up." Willow smiled; this was the fun of magic.

"How was seeing your dad?" She inquired as they claimed their liberated land.

"Weird. He thinks I ran away. Or that I was dead."

"He didn't believe the rat thing?" Willow's tone was sympathetic.

"It's kinda hard to wrap your head around. And Sunnydale, missing teen capital of everywhere,so..."

"Wow, I had no idea."

"Yeah, he said he tried to find out more, but no one ever said anything to him again." Amy's words held no anger, but carried a distinct sense of regret.

"I'm sorry, Amy. I mean, I guess I took for granted that he accepted what had happened, since your mom was a witch an' all. Guess we should have kept him updated."

"Well, I'm sure you were busy." Regret was now laced with a fine, bitter, thread.

Willow immediately felt the entrenched sense of self- disappointment, "It's been pretty much non-stop crazy. But, I am sorry."

"It's in the past, right?" Despite the attempt to move on, that small thread remained. Visibly shifting moods, Amy pushed back her hair and leaned toward Willow, "So…. You date girls now?"

The question caught Willow and set her askew. The situation was too new, too raw, to allow more than a scraping of her voice. "Well, one girl, there's just been the one."

"What happened?" Amy matched the delicacy in which her friend moved.

"We, um, she was upset with me- for using magic."

Amy sat back in her chair, her look incredulous. "Did she not know you? I mean not everyone understands witchcraft but-"

"No, she does. Tara is a witch too."

"Then what's with the judgment?" Indignation pushed aside the delicate tone, forcing its weight onto Willow.

"She said I was using too much." The tone was meant to be easy but Willow felt, and fought, the urge to wrap her arms around herself and burrow into the soft chair.

"Wow, controlling much?" Amy asked honestly and in defense of her wronged friend.

"No! Tara's not like that." Willow protested. "She just- she grew up practicing, and she has all these rules and restrictions that she really believes in. And I think she didn't trust me enough to know what I was doing, what I had to do."

"Like what?"

Willow explained to Amy all about the last year. Glory. The horror of seeing Tara lost and in pain. Buffy's death. Willow taking the lead of the group out of necessity and because of skill. Of needing to basically be the Slayer, to keep them all safe. Bringing Buffy back.

"And yeah," Willow continued, a little too earnestly, "I used it to make party decorations, or to close the curtains sometimes, but that's like, super simple magic, it's easy peasy for me now. I use magic to save lives, shouldn't I be able to use it to make life easier too? I think it's more than a fair trade."

"Your ex sounds like a bore, Willow, move on."

"Don't." Amy sat back, eyes widening as she took in the Willow's terse demand. "Don't talk about her like that." Willow softened, tears pooling in her eyes. "She is the most amazing person I have ever met. We just didn't see eye to eye on this."

Willow sat stock still, fighting the tears and the trembling of her lower lip. Her heart pulsed deeply, sharp jagged pain piercing it with every breath. All she could see was Tara, her smile, those incredible deep blue eyes, those full lips that Willow loved to kiss, her talented, gentle hands. Falling into the pain, Willow ached for Tara's soft touch, her lovely voice that was just a notch deeper than most women's, so soothing and sensual.

Amy's voice, and a steady hand on her shoulder, pulled her back to the present. "Ok, Wills. Subject dropped. Look, what you need is some distraction." Amy stood, grabbing Willow by the hand pulling the reluctant redhead to look over the railing to the crowd below. "Come on, let's have some fun."

Amy searched the couples on the dance floor and at the bar. Finding what she was looking for, she smiled and turned to Willow, "Found just your style." A thin line of red mist made its way through the people, finally reaching its target. Willow followed its trail to see the mist sink into the throat of an attractive young woman with long brown hair; an attractive young woman who until now had been dancing intimately with a taller blonde. The woman stopped her dance, and looked directly up and into Willow's eyes. Her smile promised that no seduction was necessary as she pushed out of the bewildered blonde's arms and started walking toward the stairs, her gaze never leaving Willow's face.

"Amy, no, no! I'm not –" Willow frantically shook her head.

"Ok." Amy shrugged, and with a flick of her hand, the spellbound dancer stopped cold, a look of pure confusion on her face. Amy turned to see Willow's eyes flood with tears. She was shaking and Amy was sure there was a breakdown in sight. She knew Willow was trying to have a good time tonight and frankly, Amy did not want her first night back filled with anything but a celebration of walking on two legs again.

Willow looked to Amy just as the other woman pressed two fingers to Willow's forehead. A heady rush swept through Willow small frame, and she grinned as her thoughts melted away.

"Isn't that better?" Amy asked with a bright smile.

"So much," Willow practically swooned.