Author:  Meltha

Rating:  I'll go with PG-13, but it's a rather naughty PG-13

Feedback:  Yes, thank you.

Spoilers:  Through the end of Buffy and season 4 of Angel

Distribution:  The Blackberry Patch,, and the Willowficathon.  If you're interested, please let me know.

Summary:  Post "Chosen," Willow visits Fred in L.A. to discuss the joys of quantum physics and hot fudge brownies.

Author's Note:  Written in response to the Willowficathon, answering Tess's challenge for a Willow/Fred or Willow/Cordy fic with ice cream, no angst, and no PWP.  Title taken from Sarah McLachlan's "Ice Cream" song.

Disclaimer: All characters are owned by Mutant Enemy (Joss Whedon), a wonderfully creative company whose characters I have borrowed for a completely profit-free flight of fancy.  Kindly do not sue me, please, as I am terrified of you.  Thank you.

Better Than Ice Cream

Laughing in girlish silliness, Willow and Fred flung open the door of the ice cream parlor and were bathed in its welcoming, air-conditioned coolness.  After the tremendous heat of L.A. in July, the green and pink striped shop was an oasis of delectable relief.  The quiet hum of the freezer display cases filled with brightly colored ice cream, ices, and frozen yogurts made Willow feel like she was seven years old again.  She smiled at Fred.

            "So, whatcha gonna get?" she asked, grinning at the other girl. 

            Fred's nose was almost pressed against the glass in her search for the perfect flavor, and she smiled back at Willow.

            "They all look so good!  Sometimes, I wish I was a cow and had four stomachs so I could just keep right on eatin'," she said happily.  "What about you?"

            Willow tilted her head thoughtfully.  "I'm not sure.  It's a big decision.  After all, I'll be wearing it on my hips forever, or so my mother endlessly tells me."

            "Aw, you don't have to worry about that!  You're a tiny little thing, not that I'm not a tiny little thing, and not that you're too tiny or tiny in a bad way, just that you're small and all that and I just really need to stop babbling," Fred said, laughing at herself.

            "Are you kidding?  It's nice to hear someone besides me be the brook for once," Willow said.  "Oooh, they have chocolate cookie dough fudge mint chip!  That always used to be Buffy's favorite, but she stopped eating it about three years ago.  I never really got why."

            "Looks good, but it's a little too fussy for me.  I like things kinda plain so I can taste everything without getting too distracted," Fred said.  "The strawberry looks pretty good.  Mister?  Can I get a taste of the strawberry?"

            The white-coated man behind the counter handed her a tiny plastic spoon with a dollop of pink ice cream on it, and Fred licked at it thoughtfully while Willow forced herself not to become mesmerized by her apparently quite agile tongue and purposefully directed her gaze at the price board above the man's head.

            "Hey!  An ice cream hot fudge brownie sundae!  Probably about a trillion calories and enough fat to make Kate Moss into the Blob, though," Willow said, eyeing the tempting enlarged photograph of the confection over the counter.

            "Well, we could split it?  Half the calories and all?" Fred suggested tentatively, and she gave Willow a shy smile that made her heart go several beats faster per minute.

            "Okay," she squeaked out.  "I'll have the chocolate ripple on my part and you get the strawberry on yours?"

            "Sounds real good," Fred agreed, "just no sprinkles, 'kay?  They get stuck in my teeth."

            "Gotcha," Willow said, turning to the ice cream man again.  "We'd like one hot fudge brownie sundae, one scoop strawberry and one chocolate ripple, hold the sprinkles, and two spoons?"

            "Right," the man said, giving Willow the eye.  "I'll have that out to you in a second.  You two just take a table."

            The parlor was practically deserted, which was an odd thing on a sunny summer afternoon, but Willow decided not to question her good luck.  Fred and she sat down at a little white table underneath a large plastic ice cream cone, reaching the same decision of where to sit without having to discuss it all.  Willow had noticed that this seemed to be a trademark of her visit.  At first she'd worried that she might accidentally be doing magic on Fred, getting her to comply to her will without realizing she was doing it, but she'd come to the very pleasant realization that the two of them were simply in simpatico about many things.  Even though they'd only talked on the phone a few times and met once during the infamous Angelus problem, she felt as though she'd known Fred forever.  It was a very comfortable feeling.

            As they waited for their sundae, they sat in a companionable quiet.  It wasn't the awkward, heavy silence that could hang like a storm cloud, but rather a simple, pleasant absence of noise. 

            The day had gone extremely well.  When Willow had called the Hyperion so that Angel and the rest of his people would know they had survived Sunnydale becoming a giant pothole, Fred had answered the phone.  What had begun as a quick message turned into a two-hour conversation on the appendices of the Roshmonah Compendium.  Weeks passed, and the calls became a habit, eventually winding up in Willow coming to visit for a few days.

            She was more than a little surprised to find them all living inside Wolfram & Hart.  When Willow had questioned Fred on the very strange change, Fred had shrugged and said that Angel thought they could "do more good fighting from the inside than the outside."  The witch was a little wary of that philosophy; she had first-hand knowledge of how seductive and powerful the darkness could be.  Still, for some reason, she had always trusted Angel… provided, of course, he wasn't Angelus.  Since there didn't seem to be a trail of corpses stretching across L.A., she though she could pretty safely assume Angelus was nowhere in the picture.

            Willow was staying in a small, rather overly modern guestroom on the same floor as Fred's apartment.  After her late flight in yesterday, she'd simply arrived and gone straight to bed.  This day had been spent in shopping and giggling, as well as gossip.

            "So Angel's really doing okay?" Willow asked.  "I mean, he's big with the self-loathing.  He's done so many guilt trips he has frequent flyer miles."

            "Oh, yeah, he's alright," Fred said.  "Well, mostly.  As 'alright' as Angel gets.  He's a real nice man."

            "Glad to hear it," Willow said, and for a brief moment she felt a strange little pang of jealousy.  "And Wesley?  Talk about a change."

            "Yeah, I guess he's really done a 180 since the old days.  When we were moving into the new place, I saw some pictures of him from a few years ago.  I can't believe his posture was ever that straight," she laughed.

            "And I don't think even a hurricane could have made his ties crooked," Willow said in agreement. 

            At this point, the arrival of the sundae brought twin gasps of delight from them.  The ice cream and fudge were piled high in the old-fashioned glass dish, and the sight was absolutely mouthwatering.

            "Yay!  Oh, and good, the brownie has no nuts.  I don't like 'em," said Fred enthusiastically as she grabbed a spoon and prepared to dig in.

            "Yeah… uh… I'm not a big fan of nuts either," Willow said, trying very hard to ignore what the two scoops of ice cream stuck next to each other in the same bowl rather resembled. 

            The whipped cream was decimated in moments, and the ice cream quickly followed suit.  As they ate, they continued talking almost non-stop, moving back and forth between discussing the finer points of chaos theory and nuclear fission to guessing how exactly Angel did manage to shave and why the apocalypse almost always struck on a Tuesday or Wednesday.

            At last, the chewy, fudge and ice cream soaked brownie was devoured, leaving only a few minute traces in the bottom of the bowl.  Both of them stared at the crumbs with a look that clearly stated each of them coveted the chocolaty remains but neither wanted to look too desperate.

            "Aw, what the heck," Willow said, surprised to hear the words out loud.  She scraped the bowl wildly with the spoon, and slammed the last bits of the sundae into her mouth.  Accidentally, unlike what had happened years ago, her haste had left a tiny dollop of ice cream on the tip of her nose.

            "Uh, Willow, you've got…," Fred started to say, before she impulsively leaned across the table and gently kissed the very end of Willow's nose, taking the ice cream with her.  She looked down as she blushed pinker than the strawberry ice cream.  "Looked too good to pass up.  I hope you don't mind."

            "I don't mind the least little bit," Willow said, grinning back at her before getting to her feet and paying the ice cream man behind the counter.  When she turned back to the table, Fred's blush had left strawberry and gone straight on into raspberry ice territory. 

            "So, you wanna go check out the bookstore the next street over?" Fred asked, stammering a little.

            "Is that the one where you found the second-hand copy of the fourteenth century magic texts next to Tales from Pooh Corner?" she asked.

            "Yup," Fred said, getting up.

            "Cool.  I'm always ready for a little Winnie,"  she said, winking at the joke.

            As they walked back down the street, contented bellies full of chocolate and fluttery feelings, Willow looked at the girl next to her, taking note of her eyes sparkling with zest for life, the blush still staining her cheeks, her long dark hair flowing in soft waves, and, glancing a bit lower for a moment, yes, very good bells indeed.  As the girls continued laughing and chattering, their hands automatically joined together of their own accord as they headed towards the bookstore.