Disclaimer: Yes, Joss Whedon and Mutant Enemy own these characters. I only borrow them.

Summary: Willow faces one of the most daunting challenges of her life

The Challenge

Willow looks nervous. Hands gripped in her lap, her throat dry, biting her lower lip, she is waiting.

In the time she has known Buffy, she has faced many challenges with Buffy. The master, a soulless Angelus on a rampage against all of Buffy's friends. The Ascension of the Mayor on their graduation from High School. Adam, the patchwork creation of the mad Maggie Walsh and the Initiative, Glory, Hell Goddess who nearly destroyed the world trying to get to her Hell Dimension. When she went over to the dark side, and nearly destroyed the world in her grief over Tara's death. And of course, the most dangerous to date: the First Evil, who tried to take over the world and realize a physical presence in this dimension.

But none of those challenges had prepared her for this. For this newest terror. This feeling of hopelessness in the face of mortal danger.

Her magic couldn't protect her. No magic she knew was powerful enough to counteract this latest threat.

No, she had to rely on her courage. Her wits. Her intelligence to try to survive this danger

There was nothing supernatural or otherwise that could protect her from:

Buffy's Cooking.

Willow sat at the dining table. It was a beautiful table. There were candles and crystal. A beautiful Irish lace table cloth . Silver dinnerware, and bone china. All in all, very romantic

 She could feel a small sheen of perspiration on her forehead. This is not good. This is so not good.

Why had she ever agreed to let Buffy prepare the holiday meal, anyway?

It is not like Buffy can't cook. Ok, she can't cook. Toast is a challenge to her. Boiling water is … a nerve wracking event.

So, why had she agreed to this again?

Because, Buffy had looked so sincere.

" It is no big, Will. Honest" Buffy had assured her. " I can do this."

" But Buffy" Willow had protested " Don't you think it would help if you could… ummm… I mean… If you had more experience in the kitchen?"

" Will. I have faced vampires, demons, The First… A Hell God." Buffy replied. " How hard can this be?"

"Bu- but Buffy… you don't know any recipes" Will pointed out. She had her. She knew she did." How are you going to do it if you don't  have any recipes?"

"Ahhh, Will. I'll just go into research mode" Buffy calmly stated. " There are like thousands of cookbooks out there. I am sure I can find one that will do the trick. Don't sweat it ,Will. It'll be great"


But before she could protest further, Buffy turned on that megawatt smile of hers. And she gave Willow …the Eyes. The soft, puppy eyes. Willow knew she was lost. She couldn't refuse Buffy anything under the power of the Eyes.

So here she was, sitting at the table. Gripping her hands, holding on for dear life… waiting for the event. The Challenge. How to get through this dinner without choking, and convincing Buffy that it was the greatest meal she had ever had. She knew it would take courage, all her wit and charm, and probably any acting skill she ever dreamed of having. She was so not looking forward to this.

Ok, lets check supplies. Healing herbs … check. Zantac-75… check… Immodium AD … check … Tylenol  … check. Ok. Ready

You can do this Willow, she assured herself. It'll be fine. Oh God, I want to run. No, this is important. She is really making an effort here. She is going all out. It is the least I can do to risk my life for her happiness. I am ok. I can do this….

At that moment, a loud piercing shriek emerged from the smoke detector. Followed by the smell of smoke. Panicked , Will jumped out of her chair and ran into the kitchen. The sight that greeted her made her heart sink.

It looked like Hurricane Andrew had run through the place, twice. There were dishes, pots, and pans everywhere. There was a coating of flour over everything. Various pans bubbled on the stove, ominous smoke rising from them. The Oven door was open, and what could only at one time be called a turkey was revealed…she had not seen anything like that except in depictions of Hell. This was not a pretty sight.

In the middle of it all, stood Buffy. She looked defeated. Her shoulders were slumped. She looked like Alice in Wonderland after having gone 3 rounds with the Jabberwocky. Big tears were rolling down her cheeks, and her bottom lip was quivering.

" Oh…oh… Will… I .. I am so sorry. I made such a mess of everything" She cried, her shoulders shaking

Willow came to her, and took her in a hug, and soothed her. " It is ok, baby. Don't worry, it'll be just fine" She patted her gently, like a child.

" B-B-But  I so wanted to make you a special dinner… and it is ruined" Buffy put her head on Willow's shoulder

" Shhh … shhh… don't worry. It is just fine. I will call The Thai Garden. We will have Thai. That'll be fine, right?" Will comforted her

Buffy nodded, too upset to talk

SAVED!!!! Willow rejoiced in secret glee… which was quickly replaced by dread when she thought of the cleanup project this Kitchen was going to be. But it was a small, very small price to pay.

She had done it. She had faced her most difficult challenge… and had emerged victorious.