April's Fools

Disclaimer: Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy and Fox own these characters. Lucky ducks.

Author's note/Summary: Not much to tell, really. Frame story set post season seven's "Chosen". Framed story set Season 2. Both deal with Buffy & Willow's relationship now and then. Anyway, read away, hopefully it'll amuse. Or not.

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April's Fools

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Buffy was sorting through her stuff, trying to decide what to keep, what to give away, what to just trash.

Buffy was starting on her 'new' life. Her post Sunnydale life. Post Hellmouth, post First Evil. Possibly, post slayer.

She never thought she would, or even could, think that way. Post slayer. What did that mean, exactly? No more patrolling. No more worrying about the next Big Bad that would come to town, and try to destroy the world. No more sacrificing your life for a destiny you never chose, but was chosen for you. A new beginning on life? Something other than what she'd known for 7 years? It was hard to get her head around it.

Less than a year ago, this wasn't even a possibility. Then she'd been the Chosen One, the Only(ok, well, not counting Faith, but she was in prison doing time for her crimes) Slayer. THE Slayer. But, Willow had cast that spell, making the potentials… full slayers. Thing was, it didn't stop with the girls living in Sunnydale at the time. Every girl in the world, every potential, became a slayer. Instead of one slayer, there were hundreds… no, thousands,  worldwide. It had changed things radically for the Slayer. She no longer HAD to be the slayer. It was a choice now, an option. That's what Will had given  her… options.

So, if she was so set and determined to leave her destiny behind her, why had she moved to Cleveland? The home the other active Hellmouth in the U.S.? Surely not the weather, she thought, as she shivered in the cold. Maybe, just maybe she wasn't quite as ready to leave it all behind as she thought. But, no matter, she did have options now. And that gave her an unfamiliar freedom. Frankly, she wasn't sure how to deal with it yet. But she'd learn, she knew that.

Buffy looked around the apartment, and she got saw an emptiness; it didn't have her 'stamp' on it yet, her presence. It was still just a place, not home. She wondered if it ever would be home for her. Even when she got her stuff settled in, even after she'd decorated it, made it suit her style, she sensed it would still lack something. Something important. Her friends, her family wouldn't be here.

It was odd. After 7 years of closeness, of being such a big part of each other's lives, they had all just drifted apart. Like, leaves in stream. The forces of life had carried them away, separately. She was still trying to figure out what happened. She was still trying to accept it all.

After the First, and Sunnydale becoming Sunny-hole-in-the-ground, they'd traveled to L.A. to recuperate. Angel had helped, setting up a place for those who had managed to get through the fight uninjured, or only slightly wounded. And in arranging for hospital for those who'd been more seriously injured. One by one, the potentials( Damn, I've gotta stop thinking of them that way, they're slayers now) drifted away, back to their old lives and places, or onto a new life. That was to be expected. What she hadn't expected is what happened to the gang, the Scoobies.

One by one, the gang drifted away. First it was Xander. Losing  Anya in the battle with the First had really cut a hole in his heart. Xander, ever eager Xander, had lost his taste for the fight. For 7 years he'd been part of it, an original Scooby since the first. He'd for the longest time crushed on the slayer. But Buffy had never had those kind of feelings for him. In some small way, she almost regretted that. He'd turned into a fine man, one she'd be more than happy to love. Over the years they'd shared a lot. At times, he'd said things that annoyed and hurt her. But never in a mean way; his intentions had been to point out a truth that she'd missed, or at least, what he thought was a truth. It was sometimes hard to take, but she knew that she could count on him in the crunch. When he decided to revisit his long defunct "road trip to discover himself", she knew she'd miss him. Terribly. She only hoped he'd find what he was looking for, and have a happy life.

Next to go was Giles. With the destruction of the Watcher's Council, and the wealth of new slayers, he felt it imperative that he return to England as soon as possible, to restore the council. Buffy had to grin to herself. Heaven forbid that a slayer stake a vampire without council approval. But she realized that Giles would make changes to the council, for the better. The days of the Bad old council were past, and she hoped he would be successful in bringing it at least into the 20th century( she knew the 21st century was out of the question). He offered her a seat on the council, but she politely declined. The idea of joining the Tweed Gang gave her a major case of the wiggins. At this stage of her life, she wanted to explore the idea of NOT being a slayer, at least not full time. Right now, she had a delicious sense of freedom, and she wanted to keep it.

But the hardest parting to take was when Willow left. Almost since the first second she met Will, there had been a strong simpatico between them. They'd been best friends and confidants for 7 years. Most of the years of Buffy's little adventure into slaying. They'd shared good times, they'd shared pain. They'd been together when each other's hearts had been broken, picking up the pieces, trying desperately to glue them back together. They'd had their fights, often over silly things. She remembered the time when she'd realized Willow was in love with Tara. She had to admit, at the time she'd been a little wigged, which of course Will picked up on immediately. She quickly got over it, and came to accept, and in the end, love Tara( like a sister, of course). Privately, late at night, sometimes, Buffy had to wonder if it was the fact that Willow was in love with another girl that had wigged her, or if it was the fact that Willow was in love  with another girl that wasn't named Buffy that had freaked her.

When Tara had died by Warren's hand(may that creep rot forever in hell…sorry, but that's how I feel!), when Will, in her grief, gave herself over to the dark side for vengeance, and nearly destroyed the world, the one lasting regret Buffy had was that she hadn't been enough of a friend to pull her friend back from the edge. It'd taken Xander…her lifelong friend, and former crush, to pull her back. He was able to reach her, find the humanity that still lurked there beneath the surface. In a way, Buffy blamed herself for Will's flirting with evil. If she'd only been more aware of what was happening in the months leading up to Willow's change, if she'd only been more there for Will, maybe a lot of the pain and aftermath could have been avoided.

 She remembered their last night together, so many months ago. Will was leaving the next day to go to San Francisco with Kennedy. What had started as a passionate night between the two had blossomed into a relationship. Buffy tried to be happy for them, for Will( oh, Will, can't you see you can do so much better than Kennedy? C'mon, Buffy, give Kenny a break. Obviously, if  Will can see something good there, something must be there…something). In her heart, however, she was feeling the loss of an important…maybe the most important, piece of her life. She was selfish, she knows now. She should have been happier for Will being happy. Regrets, Buffy?  You betcha.

She was wandering around the front garden of the hotel where they'd been staying since fleeing Sunnydale( Or, as I now call it, the pit formerly known as Sunnydale) after it's destruction in the battle with the First. She was working up her courage to say goodbye to Will. All day she'd been avoiding her, knowing that if she'd run into her, she'd probably break down, or something stupid like that. The last thing she wanted Will remembering her doing was crying. She wanted to put on a happy face, letting Will know she supported her  in her decision to go away. Not that she really felt that way. Nope. What she felt was…like that first moment when They brought her back to life, after defeating Glory. She felt lost, and confused. Everything seemed too hard, too harsh. She really, really hated feeling this way. It was totally selfish. But try as she might, she couldn't help it. As the moment grew closer, her heart grew colder. Like all the life, all the blood had been drained from it. This is so wrong, she kept scolding herself. Will is happy, you should be happy for her.

Lost in her thoughts, she nearly jumped out of her skin when the hand descended on her shoulder. Turning quickly, ready to fight, her fist raised…she was face to face with Willow…whose eyes had turned to saucers when she saw Buffy's fist poised. She backed off a bit, her own fright palpable. ( aw, crap, Buffy thought. Nice way to start this)

"Sorry, Will" Buffy apologized." I …I've been kinda edgy all day. Don't know why. When your hand touched my shoulder, I was kinda lost in my thoughts, and instincts took over".

" It's ok, Buffy" Willow said, recovering from her fright." I didn't mean to startle you. Just saw you out here, thought I'd come by and say goodbye"

Goodbye. God, how Buffy hated that word at the moment. At that second, she thought it the vilest word in the English language.

"So…ummm… you and Kenny, huh?" Buffy said, stalling for time. Trying to find something nice to say. So failing at that.

"Uh-huh" Willow replied, a small smile on her face." Kenny and me".

"Well, that's great, Will" Buffy said, not really feeling that way." I'm happy for you,. Will.  For you and Kenny, Will. I'm glad , Will, you found someone to make you happy. It's really wonderful, Will. I couldn't be happier for you, Will". (liar, liar, liar).

Willow gave Buffy a look. " Ok, Buffy, what is it?"

"Huh?" Buffy replied, perplexed.

":C'mon, Buffy, after 7 years, I know you too well. When you use my name 6 times in two sentences, I'm kinda knowing you're freaked." Willow said." Last time you did that, was when I told you about me and… oh my god, Buffy? You're not still freaked that I'm gay, are you?"

"C'mon, Will. You know me well enough to know that's not true" Buffy replied, maybe defensive?

"Then what? What is it, Buffy?" Willow said, trying to get into her best friend's mind." Is it Kenny? And me? Is that what's doing it?"

"No, Will. Of course not, Will. I'm happy for you and Kennedy, Will. I mean, she's the one you love, right, Will?" Buffy said, realizing the second after it was out of her mouth she was sooo busted.

"You're lying , Buffy. Dammit" Willow said, losing her patience. This goodbye was tough on her too. She hadn't realized how tough 'til right now. Buffy had been in her life forever, and now it seemed, was disappearing from her life all too fast. She'd hoped Buffy would come with her to San Francisco. She'd asked her to, as a matter of fact. Buffy had said no. Now she had an inkling why.

"I'm not lying, Will" Buffy insisted. She was watching carefully what she said, and how she said it.

" Yes you're lying Buffy. Please, I'm not an idiot" Willow replied, more harshly than she meant. She softened her tone. " I know it's hard for you to accept I love Kenny, but I wish you'd try. I love her, Buffy.  She loves me. I wish you'd just be happy for us."

" I'm happy for you , Will" Buffy declares. She sees the look Will gives her. "What? I'm happy for you, Will!"

Willow sighs, and frowns." Stop it , Buffy. Please? Don't insult my intelligence, ok?"

"Alright, Will" Buffy says, starting to wind up. " I … " then she stops. She looks at Willow, and realizes that her friendship is more important than expressing her feelings. She knows the words she would use would hurt Will, maybe end that friendship. So she backs off, and changes course. " Will. I'll admit it. I don't like Kennedy. Never have. Don't think she's right for you. But that isn't the thing here, is it? She's your choice. What I think about that doesn't matter. What matters Will, is that I support you in your choice. If you love her, then I'm with ya. My feelings about the whole sitch are not important."

Willow looks at Buffy and feels a combination of deep affection, and just a little frustration. She admired Buffy's restraint. She'd seen how she was ready to blow off, and had pulled back from the edge. She'd done what the good friend does. Accept what her friend wants, and sublimates her own feelings about it. It's hard not to like Buffy. So, how come she doesn't like what just happened?

Maybe Willow was hoping for something more. Maybe she hoped that Buffy would lose it, express what she really felt. If she really felt more than she was saying. Willow sensed something more was there; maybe because secretly she wanted more to be there. Maybe she was just reading her own feelings and putting them onto Buffy. It was frustrating, 'cause she didn't know.

There was no doubt in her mind that there was a definite something with Kenny. She had feelings for the girl, and knew the feelings were returned. She thought it might be love, or become love. But in her heart, she knew the love wouldn't , couldn't be like the love she held for the woman standing next to her right now. And she had to admit – it hurt – because she wanted those feeling returned. She thought something was there with Buffy, but she couldn't be sure. Buffy played it way too close to the chest for her to figure it. So, she had to settle for what they had, and just accept that she's a friend… nothing more.

All this flashed through her mind in a second. She smiled at Buffy, and said " Thanks, Buffy. It means a lot to me".

They talked for awhile longer, about various things What they'd do, what they wanted to do, etc. All the usual stuff friends talk about. But they both knew the time to say goodbye was drawing near. And neither wanted to say it. They'd been so close, for so long, they were more than friends. They were, at the least, like sisters. That just made it harder. After spending so long together, their lives running parallel, separating their lives was painful, at best. They made the usual " We'll get together, right?" noises, but they knew it'd probably wouldn't happen. The truest friends you have in life are those you make when you're young, before you build all the defenses around your heart. Losing such a friend is like losing a part of yourself. Losing a best friend, is like losing the most important part of you. Buffy and Willow both sensed the beginnings of that loss, even though they hadn't yet parted.

"I'm gonna miss you, Will" Buffy said, her eyes wide and shiny. But she promised herself she wouldn't cry, wouldn't make this sad.

" I'm going to miss you too, Buffy" Willow replied. She made no such promise to herself. A small tear leaked down her cheek.

"Shhh, shhh, shhh. It's ok, Will, we'll keep in touch. Promise" Buffy said, finding it harder and harder to hold back her own tears.

"Of course we will, Buff" Willow said, not sounding too convinced. Reality was setting in.

Buffy hugged Willow, thinking in her mind that this may be the last time she gets to hug her. She held her close, not wanting to ever let go. Her lashes grew wet from the tears threatening to fall down her cheeks. She gently pulled back, and kissed Willow chastely on the cheek. She broke the embrace, and turned away so Will couldn't see her face.

"Goodbye, Will. Love ya. Have a great life" Buffy said. The words were so wrong, so not saying what she wanted. But she had to go, now. It was starting to hurt too much. She got up, and not waiting for a reply, nearly ran out of the garden and into the Lobby.

" Buffy…Wait!…" But she spoke to the air. Buffy was gone. Willow, to herself more than to anyone " Goodbye, Buffy. Love ya back". She sat, looking at her hands folded in her lap. She didn't even try to stop the tears.

Buffy pulled herself back to the reality of the now. She had so much to do now. She'd gotten a job with a small law firm as a receptionist. Not great money, but paid the bills. She had to check into local schools. She really thought maybe she'd try to complete her degree in psychology. She wanted to be a counselor. One of the best jobs she'd ever had was the part time counseling job she'd had at Sunnydale High. She'd really felt she gave something to the kids. And she wanted to pursue it. How she was going to do it, with her job and slaying duties(ok, I'll do that part time, too. Not like there aren't others around to take up the slack). She didn't know how yet, but somehow she'd juggle it all.

But first, she has to get these things put away. She looks around the room, at all the stacks of boxes, and sighs( When, Oh, When am I gonna learn to pack light? ). Oh, well…sitting here, daydreaming isn't gonna make it happen. She reached into a box, and started to pull some stuff out. Something sharp nicked her.

"Ow! Ow ! Ow!"  She whined, pulling her hand back. "What the hell… ?" She pulled her hand back, and saw a small scratch. She looked in the box, and saw the culprit. She gingerly reached in, and pulled out a lapel button. She'd scratched herself on the sharp, and slightly bent, pin. She turned it over, and a small grin came to her face. On it was emblazoned the legend " You're an April's Fool!". A  small, bittersweet memory came back to her, and her mind was off to the races, once more….

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Buffy stood in the Sunnydale High corridor, arms crossed, with an amused and slightly mocking look on her face.

The banner stretched across the hallway read " Dance the night away like an April Fool. Don't be a Fool, fool, be there!"

She wondered what moron came up with this idea?

"Hey, Buff" Xander called out to Buffy. He and Willow caught up with the slayer. " So, whaddya think?"

" I think" Buffy said, her tone mocking." Gee, swell! God, kinda eighties 'to the max' ? I mean, whoever besides Mr. T. ever said " Don't be a fool, fool?" Buffy makes a sardonic noise." Just another way for the school to try to rip some money from the students".

"Hey!" Xander exclaims, but is blushing furiously" It could be for a good cause, and all!" He moves off. Buffy looks at him, puzzled.

Willow says to Buffy, sotto voce " Xander kinda designed the banners"

It's Buffy's turn to blush now. She walks over to Xander, and puts a hand on his shoulder.

"Hey…they really are…ummm…colorful. Full of colorfulness. And…ummm… the lettering? It's …so straight!" Buffy stammers, trying desperately to find nice things to say about the signage.

Xander gets his little crooked grin going, all is good in Xanderland. Hey, how can he like be mad at his major crush for more than two minutes, anyway?

" Its totally ok, Buff" Xander says, grinning." So, what? You gonna dance like a fool?"

" I dunno, guys" Buffy says, her face falling maybe just a little. God, she'd like once to be able to go to something without worrying about some evilness threatening the world. That's so gonna happen , yeah, right." I mean, with Angel being all evil now. What? I'm gonna drag him along and announce " Hey, hope ya don't mind. My date's gonna suck all your blood". Don't think so!"

"Hey, you don't have to go with Mr. Snarly-face" Willow pipes up." I mean, you could go with someone else."

" Yeah, I mean, like…lots of fish in the sea, Buff" Xander adds, trying to be helpful." Lots of places in the sea. To fish. For…" Xander trails off, even he realizing he's sounding kinda lame.

" Nawww. I better not, guys. I mean, with Angel out there, being all threateny, I  better be out on patrol, keeping an eye out. See what he's up to." Buffy says, giving up any hope of going, or a normal life, or any life, period.

"C'mon, Buffster." Xander says, trying to perk up her flagging enthusiasm." There's gotta be someone out there you could go with". Hope springs eternal? No…better not, Cordelia, you know. Could get ugly…for him.

"What about you, Will? You gonna go?" Buffy says, trying to deflect the topic a little.

" No, I don't think so" Willow replies. Her face has a little frown of disappointment." Oz has a gig that night, can't take me"(hint, hint?)

"Really? The brute!" Buffy says, sympathetic." He definitely gets an F in Willow!"

"It's not his fault" Willow says, pouty voice. Then more clearly, insisting" It's not, really"

Buffy sees that Will is disappointed. She knows that Will wanted Oz to take her. Oz, though a nice guy, is kinda thick at times. Will wants him to get a little more…advanced, but he seems stuck in neutral. Sometimes, you can take cool too far! She comes to a decision.

"Hey, you know what? Why let some guys tell us if we can have fun or not? What say, Will? You, me? We go to the dance?" Buffy asks, brightly. She sees Willow's startled expression…and adds. " Hey, not like a date or something. We'll go stag…stagette…whatever. But together. Ok?"

"What about Angel, Buffy?" Willow asks.

"He hasn't made any real moves lately. I'll make a sweep before and after the dance. And I'll carry my cell, in case. No big, Will. So, whaddya say?" Buffy asks again.

"Hey, yeah, why not?" Willow says. " Why should some GUYS tell us when we can have fun?" Willow giggles, and raises her hand into a high five." Grrl Power!" Buffy laughs, and slaps Will's upraised palm. Xander, long suffering, looks at his buds like they've gone bonkers.

Buffy catches Xander's look, and teases him. " Get over it, Xan-man. Some day you're gonna be workin' for us" She giggles.

Willow walks over to Xander, and coos" Yeah, if you're real nice, maybe we'll make you our chief Boy Toy" She giggles. Xander is just getting more and more bewildered.

Willow looks at Buffy, and Buffy looks at Willow. " NAWWW" They giggle, and walk away, arm in arm. Xander just stands there, really confused now.

Cordelia Chase, The Queen C, walks up to Xander " So, Xander, when're you going to pick me up for the dance?" She asks. He doesn't answer right away, and she notices his puzzled look. "What?"

Xander explains about Buffy and Willow going to the dance together, and the silliness after.

Cordy says " Really? Who woulda thought?" Her meaning obvious. Xander looks at her, giving her a disgusted look. " Hey, only kidding" Cordy smiles at him, laying on a little extra charm. Geeze, he can be so touchy about Will and Buffy. But what he said gave Cordy an idea.

Cordy was still a little pissed at Buffy for various reasons. First of all, she picked the loser patrol over her, though she went out of her way that first day to let her get a spot on the Cordettes. Loser! Ok ,so Xander turned out to be not such a loser, but Willow?  And hey, how dare she pick Willow over her for Best Friend, anyway? Like, what's that about? Does she realize how insulting that was? And she's definitely gone down on the popularity meter since Buffy Summers arrived. And she's such a fashion victim. The girl is from L.A,. for Christ's sake. Don't they have any standards down there? Nope, since Buffy Summers arrived in Sunnydale, Cordelia's life has definitely increased in unpleasantness. Time for a little payback, she thinks.

And Cordy has just the way to do it. A little grin plays over her face as she walks with Xander to class.

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It's the night of the dance.

Buffy has been strangely elated all day. Go figure. I mean, it's not like she's got some studly date for the dance, its just Willow. And it's just a dance. So why has she been on pins and needles all day? She shrugs, chalking it up to just for once not having everything weighing down on her shoulders. Feels nice, for once.

She finishes her sweep through the graveyard. All's quiet. That's good. Didn't really feel like a battle tonight. She heads back home, and hops in the shower. Buffy luxuriates under the feel of the warm water, loving it after a patrol. She hops out, wraps herself  up in a towel, and blow dries her hair. Finishing up, she leans over the sink, applying her make-up. Geeze, Buffy. Going to a lot of trouble for Will, aren't you? She thinks to herself. Hey, might be some cute guys there. What's the big, huh? She giggles a little anyway, feeling a touch silly about it all.

She walks into her bedroom, and goes through her wardrobe trying to select what to wear. After nearly a dozen choices, ranging from " Hi, I'm a total slut" to " Hey, mister, want to read the bible with me?", she finally settles on a royal blue dress with a loose collar. She accessorizes with a thin silver belt, silver clutch( just enough room for a stake) and  picks up the cross Angel gave her and starts to put it on. For a minute all the bad stuff comes back. Angel changing,  Jenny's death, Angel's threats against the rest of her friends. For the first time that day, her mood deflates a little. She closes her eyes, and thinks this is all my fault. If I hadn't… then she shakes herself . STOP IT!!!! Buffy, enough! One night, just don't beat yourself up over it. Plenty of time for that later, 'k?  Instead of the cross, tonight she decides to wear a little silver drop necklace. She puts on a smile, and checks herself out in the mirror. Not bad, Summers, not bad ! She grins. On impulse, she sprays just a little perfume behind her ears. Heck, might as well go all out, huh? She slips into some comfy sandals for dancing ( Buffy wants to DANCE!) and heads out of the room, and downstairs.

"Buffy!" Joyce Summers greets her downstairs." You look very nice this evening"

"Really?" Buffy colors a little in the cheeks. She twirls around for her mom. " So, do I pass?" She grins.

Joyce doesn't know what inspired it, but she is very happy with Buffy's change of attitude. She's been really happy for like the last couple of days. So much better than before. She was all mopey and miserable. She's glad she broke up with that college fellow. What's his name? Angelo?…no, Angel. He gave Joyce a case of the shivers, sometimes. She's too young to be dating college guys, anyway. This is much better.

" You definitely pass, daughter of mine" Joyce smiles. "So, is your date picking you up soon?"

"Actually, I'm picking up my date" Buffy says. She didn't mention that she was going to the dance with Willow. Mom thought she was strange enough already. Going with Willow would do a major freak on mom. Better this way.

Joyce is a little bemused by the idea of Buffy picking up her date. But oh, well, these are different times.

"Well, ok, Buffy." Joyce says. Buffy catches her tone.

"Mom, my date lives close, and we both live close to school. We're gonna walk. You know, do the environment a favor. Clean air, save a tuna , that kinda thing?" Actually, since neither she nor Will drives, walking is mandatory, not an option(darned DMV!!!).. But it's close, a nice night, and they can chat and gossip on the way. All good.

Buffy is headed towards the door, but is stopped by Joyce's voice " Don't I get to meet the boy, at least?" Buffy rolls her eyes. God, that'd be weird. She calls back " Another time mom. Gotta motor or gonna be late!" She almost makes it when Joyce calls out " What's his name, at least? He has a name, right?" Joyce is getting a little suspicious. What's going on here? " Will, mom, the names Will!" She's out the door, and shuts it quickly. Not mentioning the last name is Rosenberg.

She heads for Will's house.

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Cordy watches the preparations with a small smile on her face.

This is going to be perfect, she thinks to herself. The planning committee, to make this a new 'tradition' has decided to have a little contest for the dance. The King and Queen of Fools. They are called up and given a Jester's cap and bells to wear. To keep it fair, so the nerds don't always get it, everyone is given a button at the door with the legend " You're an April's Fool" , each with a number. The numbers are thrown in bowl, and drawn towards the end of the dance. But Cordelia has arranged for Buffy's number to be pulled.( Having money is sooo good, sometimes , she grins to herself). She and her date(Willow, god) will be crowned the King and Queen of fools. Mildly amusing, but there's more. She arranged for a little 'wet' surprise. When they come onstage, and are in position, the bucket being hung right now will be dumped on them. It's full of pigs blood. It's going to be sweet. But the sweetest is that she gets to do the pulling. It's arranged so she will announce the "winners". Once they're in place, she'll pull a hidden cord, and boom. They're so covered. It's gonna be sweet…too sweet.

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Buffy stands in front of Willow's door, feeling…nervous?

C'mon, Buffy. This is Will. You're bud. What's with the nervous? But somehow, try as she would, she still felt butterflies doing their thing in her tummy as she knocked on the door. She waited patiently for it to open. When it did, she received quite a surprise.

Buffy did a double take…then another. Was this WILL?  Will was dressed in a rust colored dress, form fitting with a skirt …well, for Will, it was almost scandalously short. Her stockings were matched to the dress, and she had on low heels( Will, heels? Buffy couldn't EVER remember Will wearing heels before). Around her neck was a black ribbon choker, with a small cameo at the throat. Her hair was swept up and styled to the side. She wore red lipstick(red, Will?) and her makeup emphasized her sparkling emerald colored eyes. She had a russet colored shoulder clutch purse, and her sash belt, black, was tied over her hip. She was…gorgeous! Without realizing it, Buffy gulped. God, every guy at that dance was going to be falling over themselves to get at her. Buffy felt her nervousness go up about 1000%.

"Wow!" was all Buffy managed to get out, to be followed by "Wow!"  Willow blushed a little.

"You like?" Willow asked." You look very nice, Buffy" She smiled at Buffy.

Buffy walked around Will, and it just seemed to get better. Man, she felt downright dowdy next to her.

"Will…you're HOT!!!' Buffy exclaimed, in open admiration." The boys are gonna be droolin' all over you tonight!"

"Buffy!!!" Willow blushed, but she was loving it. The one person she wanted to 'drool' over her seemed to be doing that, and it sent little thrills through her. Willow has had a major crush on Buffy since she first met her last year when she transferred to Sunnydale. She hadn't told anyone, heck, she hadn't written it in her diary, it was so secret. When by fortune or fate, she got asked by Buffy to the dance, she decided she was going to go all out. She'd had her hair styled, she'd gone shopping, she'd done the whole nine yards. It wasn't cheap, but Buffy's reaction was worth it, tenfold.

Not that Buffy was any hag. Geeze, she looks so pretty tonight. That dress brings out her eyes so well… and  her hair frames her cute face just so nicely… and is she wearing perfume? She smells so…STOP WILL!!! Get a grip. Ok?

Buffy was still a bit in shock, but was recovering nicely. She grinned at Will.

"Will, when you go all out… Oz is so gonna be kicking himself for missing this!" Buffy smiled at Willow." And I can't wait to see Xander's reaction" She giggled.

"Xander had his chance" Willow smirked. She was feeling great this evening. " And as for Oz? Well, teach him to take a gig over me!" Willow said, then burst out giggling. God, she's so cute when she's like this, Buffy thought. Damn, she just cute! Buffy?  This is Will, remember? Best bud. And we play in boys town, right? (Don't we? Ok, Buffy, stop now!).

" Milady" Buffy says, goofing around. " May I escort you to the soiree?"

"But of course, milady" Willow replies, doing a small curtsey. Damn,. if that dress rides up much more… Buffy blushes at the thought.

Buffy holds out her arm, courtly like, and giggling, Willow rests hers on Buffy's. They walk off, hand in hand, to the dance.

~~*~~*~~*~~*~~*~~*~~

Buffy was by the punch bowl, watching Willow and Oz as they danced.

No, she wasn't wallflowering it. Actually, Oz had been a late arrival. This was only their second dance. Well, one and a half. Oz had cut in on the last dance. She was resting a bit, and enjoying watching them. They looked so nice together. And Buffy had been right. Oz was kicking himself for not being here. of course, you had to look for the signs. Oz was too cool to like, go agape or drool or anything. But she definitely saw his eyebrow shoot up, and his smile get larger when he saw Willow. Willow looked mahvelous, dahlink. Buffy was feeling pretty damned pleased with herself.

Actually, Buffy had a great time tonight, and except for now, she'd spent the entire evening with Willow. When they walked in,  all eyes had turned to Willow, and Buffy had felt strangely pleased and proud. She'd been sooo right about Xander. She thought his jaw was going to drop off when he saw Willow. She had to giggle. For once, Xander hadn't EVEN noticed her. She'd seen Willow blush, but it was obvious she enjoyed the stare. Revenge could be sooo sweet, sometimes. Xander had come over, and whispered something into Will's ear. He then returned to Cordy, and stuck with her for the rest of the night. But Buffy caught him looking at Will every so often.

Willow and Buffy had danced a lot. Mostly fast dances, and Willow was shaking it down with the best of them. More than once a crowd formed around them. When you're hot, baby, you attract heat.

But there had been a slow dance, too. When it started, both girls had been…well…blushes were had all around. But they shrugged, and went for it. Buffy was still a little confused over that. It had been…wow…having Willow in her arms. As the dance progressed, Will had leaned her head onto Buffy's shoulder, and Buffy had …god, she smelled so nice! And felt so nice in her arms. Buffy had closed her eyes for a few moments, and frankly she'd felt like she was floating. Then she felt Will's body next to hers…and…felt her warm breath on her neck. Buffy had felt her heart start beating faster in her chest. She was …god, this was just so weird. But she held on, somehow, til the end of the dance. But she had to excuse herself, and go outside. She needed to cool down!!!! What was THAT about, anyway?????

Anyway, after that one, she kinda avoided the slow dances. She begged off, telling Will she needed a breather. That was so right. God, being that close to Will had made her nearly stop breathing!!! Somehow, she just couldn't get the dance out of her mind. C'mon, Buffy. Obsess much? Geeze, it was just a dance with your friend. So, how come my body wasn't acting like it was my friend? That scared her a little. Her emotions scared her a little more. And the fact that she wanted to do it again? Scared her most of all.

But all was back in balance. Oz was here, Will was dancing with her honey again. And Buffy was safe. So, how come she felt the tiniest itsy bitsy bit jealous? Stop! No jealous. Just wish I were dancing too….ouch!!  Damn this pin.

Buffy looked at the button on her dress. Everybody was given one when the entered the dance. They said " I'm an April Fool" and had some number on them. There was some contest before the last dance. If you're number is called, you win. Big whoop. What, an all expense trip to anywhere but here? Wearing them was required to stay at the dance. She almost bolted right then, but Will gamely put hers on, and her dress was tighter than Buffy's( Damn, she looks so HOT in that dress…Buffy, will you STOP????)/ So Buffy played along. Well, it's almost over now, anyway. Then I can chuck the stupid thing. Not like I ever win anything anyways.

Cordelia Chase walked out onto the stage. She looked around, and smiled. Her little prank was all set, and now it was time to enjoy it! She walked towards the microphone , serenely smiling and enjoying the attention she always got when she got up in front of a crowd. Tapping the mike, She spoke into it.

"Excuse me. (beat). Excuse me( another beat, no one seems to be listening). HEY!" She said. Everyone turned towards the stage. " Is everyone having a good time?(Cheers). Thanks to the dance committee for coming up with our new traditional dance…The April Fool's dance( More cheers). Now, it's time to announce our contest winners for King and Queen of Fools( More cheers). Lets see…number 163….is number 163 here?"  Cordelia smiled to herself. She damn well KNEW 163 was here…she was leaning against the punch table. This is going to be sooo good .

Everyone checked their badges. Everyone except Buffy. She knew she wasn't it. She never won these things. But no one else seemed to be moving towards the front. Weird. They can't even get the contest right. She laughed to herself.

Oz moved towards Buffy. " Hey, Buff? I think that's you. I think you're 163" He called out.

"Huh?" Buffy said. She looked at her button again. Damn, so it is ! I'm 163! I won! I can't believe it!

Buffy started moving towards the stage. Wait a minute…that means that ….She turned back, looking at Willow. She walked back towards her. She took off her button, and handed it to Oz.

"Maybe you should do this? I mean, I'm just kinda here in your place tonight" Buffy said. But Oz put up his hand, and smiled his patented smirk.

"Nope, Buff. You won. And Will came with you. You two should do this" He smiled. Willow shrugged and put out her hand. Buffy took it, and they made their way to the stage.

" Ladies and Gentlemen, here are our Winners… Buffy Summers…and….Willow Rosenberg? Gee, Buffy, what happened? Couldn't get a guy to bring you?" Cordelia got in her little dig. While she did, she didn't notice Willow make a small hand gesture, and mumble a few words under her breath.

Buffy and Willow made for the mike. Standing there, Cordy came up behind them, and smooshed the Jester cap and bells on each of them, and handed them their toilet paper roll scepters. Buffy stood there, feeling a bit foolish, as did Willow. The crowd was quiet, but whispering, waiting for their reactions. Then a wicked little smile came on Buffy's face. She stepped up to the mike, and answered Cordy's snide little remark.

" Gee, I dunno Cordy. I mean, who needs a guy to bring me when I came with the hottest person here?" Buffy said. The crowd broke out in laughter, then cheers. " She certainly out – hottied you tonight!" More laughter. Cordelia frowned. This was so not supposed to happen! But she smiled inside. Still and all, the best was yet to come. She faded back towards the curtain, reaching behind her, feeling for the rope.

Buffy continued. " I don't know about you guys" She said, smiling." But I think my Queen…or am I the Queen, Willow?  Anyway, I think we've had a great time tonight. How about you?" Cheers and applause greeted her. Cordy in back pulls on the rope. Nothing happens .         " Being your King and Queen, as soon as we can decide which is who, we promise to be as big a fools as we can be!" More cheers. Again, Cordy pulls on the rope. Still, nothing happens. Her face is puzzled. Buffy calls out" So, how about you? Gonna be fools, too?" The crowd cheers yet again. Cordy, getting frustrated, pulls and pulls on the rope. But nothing happens. The bucket doesn't turn over. She's really getting pissed now. She's gonna get those idiots she paid to set this up!!!! " Ok, everyone, lets dance like fools!" Buffy yells, the crowd cheers, and she leaves the stage with Willow. She starts to lead her back to Oz, but Willow pulls her around.

"Uh-uh, Buffy Summers. You brought me to the dance. You owe me the last dance!" Willow says. Smiling,  Buffy obliges, and they begin to dance. Willow , not noticed by anyone, says a few word, and waves her hand in an open gesture.

Cordy, really pissed now, walks out toward the mike. She has the rope trailing behind her. Not thinking, working on anger, she pulls hard on the rope. The bucket, now released from Willow's spell, tumbles over. Cordy is drenched in Pig's blood. She screams.

The dancing stops, and everyone turns toward the stage. Cordy is standing on the stage, screaming, covered in pig's blood. Buffy and Willow stand in shock. Buffy gets ready to fight, dropping into her stance. But then realizes what happens. And what Cordy had planned for her, and Willow. She turns to Willow, and sees Willow smiling. Buffy looks at Cordy now, who has stopped screaming, but is cursing up a storm off- mike. She begins to giggle. Willow, standing next to her, starts giggling too. Soon, the giggling turns into full blown belly laughs, and their laughing like fools. And they aren't the only ones. Most of the people in the place are laughing at Cordelia. She might be popular, but most everyone has a little grudge against her…the way she treats them. It seems more than just that because she wanted to make fools out of Buffy and Willow, she became the biggest April Fool of all.

~~*~~*~~*~~*~~*~~*~~

The dance was over.

Buffy looked down at the pin that had jabbed her all evening. Just half an hour before, she'd so wanted to chuck it. But now, she wanted to keep it. She wanted to remember this night. It'd been one of the best she'd had in a long time.

She headed towards the Auditorium door, ready to walk home. She was stopped when a hand  gently grabbed her arm. She turned around, and there was Willow, smiling at her. She smiled back.

"Where you going, Buffy?" Willow asked.

"Home, Will. Gotta do another sweep before bed." Buffy said. " Thanks, by the way. It's been a great night!"

" Aren't you gonna take me home?" Willow pouted.

"Huh? I thought you'd go home with Oz." Buffy said, puzzled. She looked around, but didn't see Oz anywhere.

"No, I sent him home. I came with you , Buffy Summers. And it's only polite to go home with the person who brought you!" Willow smiled at her friend. And anyway, I want to go home with YOU!, silly girl!

Buffy gulped again. She hadn't expected this. All night she'd been with Will, and it'd been so fine. But once Oz showed, she expected Will to go with him. Now, she wanted Buffy to escort her home. Buffy already had a lot of confused and conflicting feelings about tonight. This wasn't helping matters any. But she couldn't like just leave Willow here. Anyway, something deep inside her, something as yet unacknowledged, wanted to do this. To take Willow home. More, but she didn't know that yet, or understand that yet.

They walked home hand in hand under the night sky. It was only a half moon, but it was still pretty bright. And there were stars visible in the night sky. They didn't say much, they didn't need to. Mostly it was just mild gossip, who was with whom. And silence. They'd stop every so often, and just look up into the night sky, not saying anything. Just holding hands.

 Buffy felt Will's soft, warm hand in hers, and it felt…right. She didn't understand it. She didn't try to. She didn't want to She just liked being here, in the now, not worrying about anything but being here with Will. As far as she could tell, Willow seemed to be just enjoying it too. She felt a warmth from Willow, more than  just her body warmth. She wondered if Will felt the same? She didn't know. She just kinda hoped she did.

The reached Willow's door, and Buffy felt a small pang. The night was over. That's just silly, Buffy. I mean, it was just a silly little dance, and we're just best buds. There's nothing more here. I know for sure Will doesn't feel the same. But, the surprises for Buffy weren't quite over yet.

Willow turned to Buffy and smiled. Buffy looked at her,  and realized that Willow never had looked so beautiful as she did at this moment. Then Willow did something that turned Buffy's world upside down. She put her arms around Buffy's neck, leaned in and kissed her. Buffy's eyes went wide, her mind panicked (NO, NO BEST FRIEND DON'T KISS BEST FRIEND LIKE THIS NO, NO) then surprised herself when she gave into the kiss and returned it. They kissed until they had to break for air. Willow's eyes shone in the moonlight, and Buffy just got lost. Willow touched her cheek, and smiled softly

"Goodnight, Buffy. I had a wonderful time!" Before Buffy could say anything, or react, Willow was inside, closing the door.

Buffy just stood there for awhile, touching her lips.

Feeling all the biggest of April's Fools.

~~*~~*~~*~~*~~*~~*~~

~~*~~*~~*~~*~~*~~*~~

Buffy stared at the button in her hand.

The memory of that night brought back all those feelings she'd had so long ago. She and Will had never talked about that night. They'd never kissed like that again. Over the years, they'd kinda gone separately into various relationships. Yet, sitting here, looking at the faded button from that night, bringing back all those memories, the feeling seemed as real and strong as they'd been that night. She wondered now what would have happened if they'd explored that side of their relationship. Would they still be together today? Would things be different? She didn't know. Playing " What if…" can be fun, but in the end is pointless. After all, they hadn't explored it and that was long ago. And Willow? She was with someone else now, in love. Nothing to be had in that direction. Time to get on with your life, Buffy. Looking at the button again, she smiled. She suddenly remembered what today was. April 1st , April Fools day.

Buffy sat there a while longer, and didn't do squat. Finally, she realized. She really, really missed her friend. Even if there could never be anything more than friendship, she need that. She'd been foolish to let Willow slip away. Willow, no matter what , was a big, big part of her life, and always would be. Buffy needed her Will. Badly.

Screw this, she said, looking at the boxes. She hunted around, and finally found her phone. She dialed information, and asked for a listing for Willow Rosenberg in San Francisco, California. She got the number, and dialed it. She braced herself in case Kenny answered the phone. The phone rang four times, then a voice answered. WILL!!!

Hi( long pause)

"Hey, Will, it's Buffy…how…" Buffy started but was interrupted

"Hey, sorry I can't answer the phone right now, but if you'll leave your name, phone number and a brief message after the beep, I'll get back to you as soon as possible. Blessed be!"

Damn. Tricky, Will, real tricky. Buffy thought as she started the message

" Hi, Will. It's Buffy. If you get this message, please call me. My number is 555-7231. Thanks. Miss you!"

There, done. Buffy sighed. I wish she'd been there. I miss her terribly. I didn't realize how much til now. You've been stupid, Buffy. Really stupid. Now, just try to make a small place for yourself back in Will's life. I hope she'll let me back in.

Buffy, lost in her thoughts, didn't hear the soft knock at first. She finally realized someone was knocking, and called out "  Just a minute!"  She wondered who it could be. Maybe it's the landlord with more papers to sign. Or, could be the cable guy…but I thought he was scheduled later. Well, he'll just have to help me set up the TV then.

She got up and went to the door. She opened it, and got yet another surprise

Willow stood in the doorway, looking back at her.

It'd been nearly 7 years since that night so long ago. Times had changed, and so had they. Yet, at this moment, Willow had never been more beautiful to her. Buffy felt her heart beating faster, looking at the woman that meant so much to her.

Willow smiled at her, and said :

"April Fools"

~~*~~*~~*~~*~~*~~*~~

 Fin.