By Norwalker

Part 6 of

Summary: A little tale of Buffy and Willow post "Chosen" (like about 10 years after). Really don't like writing too much about the story in the summary, but it's been a long time since the old best friends have seen each other. What happens? Read on.

Rating: R probably for language, adult themes, and some sex stuff.

Category: It's Willow and Buffy… you gotta ask? Ok, Angst/Romance/Drama.

Disclaimer: Joss Whedon and Mutant Enemy own the characters. I get nothing from this except the pure satisfaction of telling a story. Don't blame them if the story sucks.

Warning: Adult themes, suggested violence, sexual situations. Lovemaking between members of the same gender. Not for children… if you're ten, you really shouldn't be reading this!

Author's note: Ok, I think I've tortured the two enough. Some of the stuff below is gonna stretch credibility a bit, but hey…lets have some fun, ok? I wanna see them together in the worst way! Forgive the extra long length, but the author got a bit carried away….

Willow is in total panic mode.

She's up in her room, after just leaving Buffy downstairs to contemplate the mysteries of Willowosity. The problem is, at least from Willow's perspective, is that she doesn't understand WHY she just did that.

What the hell am I doing? Willow scolds herself, pacing around her room. I've so blown this! What's with the "hard to get" act, Will? God, like that's so gonna drive her away! What do I think? This is high school? We gotta play games or something? "Chase me Buffy, Woo me Buffy. Make me feel important, Buffy!" Am I going totally insane? What makes me even think she's gonna give a rat's patootie. Ok, she said she had feelings for me, big deal. That means she gonna go around like some lovesick puppy and sit up and beg? Not that begging would be bad. Buffy begging, and panting … and oh… WILLOW,STOP! Get a grip. Buffy's not gonna beg. She's not gonna woo. She's probably gonna just write me off, and then go find someone else. And I want that? ARE YOU NUTS? I get her delivered into my lap, she's obviously changed in her feelings towards me, wants ME, and what do I do? Throw her out of my lap and say " Not good enough, skywrite it for me now, ok?". Dumb, dumb, dummy! Maybe if I go back downstairs, plead temporary insanity, we can get to the smoochies. We can get to hugging and yummy parts!

But is that what I really want? I mean, ok, I'm not a little Jewish nun, here. I want smoochies, lots and lots of smoochies, followed by hugs and petting and lots of yummies. But is that really all I want? Don't think so! I want Buffy, but I want her to be more than a one-nighter. I want her to be an every-nighter. I love her so much, I get butterflies in my tummy when I think about her for too long, my heart gets all achy and pitty-patty and it gets really hard to breathe. God, you'd think I was still 16, the way she makes me feel. But it's a good feel, too. And I don't want it to be ruined by hopping in bed with her, and then finding that she only wanted me because she was lonely. God, I'd die if after we touched, she decided that there wasn't anymore to it. As it is , it's tough to take. But at least if we don't get all hot and sweaty, I can deal. Sorta. But if I give her everything now, before I really know how she feels, and It goes blewy, I think I'd just die.

So, I gotta know. She's gotta prove to me that she really wants me. Not just for now, but forever. That I'm the one she really loves, really wants. For her sake, too! I mean, if we do it, and it's… wrong, don't you think she's gonna be weirded, too? And… what'll it mean to our friendship? God, no matter what, I don't want to lose that! NOT AGAIN!!! No, gotta be tough girl here. Gotta make her earn it. It'll be good for both of us. I gotta hang in there, not get all melty when she looks at me with those sweet hazel eyes. Not get all tingly when she touches me. Not get all nervy when she looks at me. Shoot this is so gonna be tough. I'm ready right now to strip naked and call out " Take me Buffy". How'm I gonna act cool when she starts putting on the press? When she gives me that lost puppy look she's so damned good at? Why the heck am I made of marshmallow, and not steel?

Why can't they make it easy? Why does love, being in love, gotta suck so much?

Willow lies on the bed, half pouting, and half sighing. Knowing it's gonna be another lonely night. And it's probably gonna be that way for awhile.

You so better get that cute lil butt of yours in gear, Buffy, Willow thinks, I'm not waiting forever, you know. I'm giving you one, two years tops. Got it?

God Will. You're too easy!

"What have I gotten myself into?" Buffy mutters out loud as she climbs the stairs to her room. She reaches the top of the stairs, and makes a left, passing her own room to look in on Joy. The young girl is sleeping, clutching her favorite( at least, this week) stuffed toy. A smile tugs at her lips; she remembers how long she slept with Mr. Gordo clutched under her arm. She walks in, and adjusts the little girls covers. She leans over, and softly kisses her forehead. She pads quietly out of the room, not to wake her.

In her own room, she sits on the bed, not bothering to undress. She just stares out the window, lost in thought.

She has to admit it to herself: She's at a loss here.

Buffy's a slayer. Her 'natural' instincts make her a hunter. But in the romance department, it's different. She's the one pursued, not the pursuer. She's the woo-ee, not the woo-er. Now, in the blink of an eye( or the throwing of a kiss ), she finds the tables turned on her. Suddenly she has to be the one chasing after the elusive, wily Willow, and she's at a loss of what exactly to do. She feels dumb; Clem the slack-jawed yokel has nothing on her at the moment. C'mon, Buff. This is like slaying. Find the target, pursue the target, slay the target? No…that's not right… but it's gotta be the same idea. She wants you to chase her, catch her. Make her feel important and sexy and wanted. Kinda I guess like the nymph, being followed by that goat legged guy…what is that? Satyr…right… ummm… dunno 'bout that image though. Hairy legs? Ewww… growing horns? Ewww… Ewww. Buffy shudders.

Buffy sighs. So I guess it's like, dating and flowers and stuff. But… isn't dating about getting to know someone? Aren't we kinda past that? I mean we've been friends forever. Best friends, right? So, what's more to know? Duh! Like, you've been out of touch what? 10 years, girl? Don't you think she's changed, just a little. I mean, look around. Obviously not only is she like, super smart. She's so … business gal too. Who're her friends now? Does she still like old movies? Somehow I can't see her tossing popcorn at the screen anymore( God, I know I can't… Joy would so bust me for it, after I get after her to be neater!). She still has her own language that sometimes defies the laws of English. I know she liked puppies… used to, anyway. But when she and Tara were together, they had a kitty. Maybe she likes cats better now? Does drinking coffee still make her a little goofy? What kinda music does she like now? Face it, Buffy. There's lots you don't know about her now. She's changed, you've changed. Maybe…

No… don't want to think that. I really can't believe that after all our years together, we've grown too far apart for us to be an us . I know we gotta still have some common ground. Sure, we change, but the core person, the stuff that makes us …well, us, that doesn't change, does it? What we believe, that stays pretty much the same. The important stuff I'm thinking, that's gonna be the same.

Buffy gets up and paces a little. She knows she getting close, but there's more. 'k , I'm starting to get it a little, I think. I need to learn more about who she is now. See if we still fit somewhat that way. Also, I need to make her feel important. As if she's not, but she has to know I feel that way. But how'm I gonna do that? how do I let her know that she's the one, the only one? I mean, I kinda dropped anvils… but I'm thinking she's thinking that's only about sex and comfort. She wants proof of more. How do I do that? Buffy makes a whimpering impatient noise. This is senseless… it has no sense! Why can't it be easy? Like when you were a kid. And a boy, if he liked you, came up and punched you on the arm… then ran back to his friends Then you knew. Easy.

Well, Buffy, you did this to yourself, you know, don't you? Huh? Maybe, all those years ago, if you hadn't run away, if you'd turned to your friends, and especially Willow, for help, she wouldn't have these doubts now. Buffy sits on her bed, starting to undress, almost not realizing what she's doing. She's finally gotten to a kernel of truth, and it's dominating her thoughts. She thinks that you don't need her. That when the chips are down, you won't turn to her with your problems. You'll run away again, leaving her alone and worried … like you did before. Buffy slips into her bed, pulling the covers up to her chin. Not because she's cold, but because she wants to hide. How do I do that? How do I get her to trust me again? Buffy sighs miserably, feeling discouraged. Moron. I'm such a total moron. I can't do that. I can't make her trust me. I've totally blown it big time. Stupid. I'm so stupid.

But, I gotta try. I gotta try. I've got no choice, I gotta try.

Buffy lies in her bed, trying to sleep. But sleep doesn't come.

Her mind just plays the same phrase over and over again.

"Gotta try"

Willow loves Saturday mornings. She can sleep late, waiting for the sun rather than the alarm to wake her. Even though she's more than half awake, she keeps her eyes closed, enjoying this time in the morning when there's no rush to wake up. She stretches under the covers, enjoying the feeling of laziness. Sighing contentedly, she rolls over.

Her hand brushes against something unexpected, and she opens her eyes. On the pillow next to where she's lying, there is the most beautiful red rose. It's a hothouse long stemmed rose, no thorns. Tied around its stem is a red ribbon with a note attached. Smiling, she picks up the rose, and opens the note.

My darling Willow,

This rose symbolizes my love for you. Mature, in bloom, with no thorns. The petals are soft, like your lips. They're smooth, but not as smooth as your skin. They're red, like the fire burning in my heart. I pray you grant me but two wishes, my delightful one. That you accept this small gift of my love and affection, and that you'll join me for romantic dinner next Saturday night. If you say yes, my heart will beat for another day, my love will last forever.

I breathlessly await your answer

Yours always,


(Sealed with a kiss)

Willow brings the rose to her nose, her lips bowed in a soft smile. Her cheeks are nearly as red as the rose itself. She sighs quietly, and a tiny little thrill rushes through her. Oh, my. Oh my, oh my. Willow giggles to herself. She catches a scent that is not the rose, and brings the note to her nose. She inhales the soft perfume sprinkled on the paper; it's Buffy's scent. Sitting up, she reads the note over and over, each time feeling her heart go pitty pat in her chest. She brings the note to her lips, touching Buffy's lip mark with her own. She can almost taste Buffy's sweet lips, and she's feeling things she hasn't felt for a long, long time. She brushes the rose against her cheek, pretending it's Buffy's lips pressing against her. Oh my goddess, you little vixen. Already you've got me in your spell. Who's the witch here, anyway? Hmmm… just enough naughty, just enough nice.

Willow jumps out of bed, and looks around her room. She finally finds a box of stationery, and taking one of the lavender sheets, she writes three words on it. Walking over to her dresser/vanity, she picks up a tube of lipstick, and applies it to her lips. She brings the stationery to her lips, applying a kiss to the paper. Folding it carefully, she opens the door to her room, and walks into the hall. Seeing the hall empty, she quickly moves to Buffy's room. Seeing the door closed, she slips the note underneath the door. Giggling to herself like a schoolgirl, she runs back to her own room, and dives into her bed. Picking up her rose, she clutches it to her chest. Sighing happily, she smells the soft sweet scent of the rose, and the subtle hint of Buffy's perfume. Feeling warm, and ah so loved, she drifts quietly into a gentle sleep.

Buffy, still tired from a long almost sleepless night, hears the note being shoved under her door. Lying there, she feels tremors of fear and thrills of anticipation. Curiosity is nagging at her to go get the note, fear is holding her bound to the bed. Yes or no? Yes or no? She's almost afraid to know. Finally curiosity wins, and she slips out of bed, grabbing the folded sheet of stationery. She quietly returns to the bed, holding the letter in her hand. Waiting. Her heart beating frantically in her chest, her anxiety building. Her fingers nervously slide around the edge of the fold, picking at it, but not pulling on it. Oh, c'mon, Buffy. You've faced all sorts of monsters in your life. Don't tell me a little red-headed witch is gonna make you lose it! Yeah, well… none of them meant what this means, either! Well, then, stop acting like a kid, and open it! Geeze ok, ok, doing it! She opens the letter.

Three words appear on the page




Ok, one word, three times. But Buffy feels her heart even out, her breathing return to somewhat normal, and she feels… giddy. She sees the kiss Willow put on the paper, and she brings it to her lips, almost tasting Willow's soft lips. She falls back in her bed, sighing happily, and for the first time that night/near morning, she feels herself drift into a peaceful sleep. She knows she has lots to do today, and Joy will be up in a couple of hours. But for now, she can just lay back and enjoy the sleep….

You would've thought it was high school, all over again. At least watching the way a certain blonde slayer and red-headed witch were acting.

They set the 'date' for the following Saturday, giving them each a week to prepare. And being rational, reasonable adults, they kept it all in perspective, acting with mature calm as the day approached.


Buffy tore through her entire wardrobe( Still prodigious, even if she wasn't the clothes horse she once was) and declared she had ' absolutely nothing to wear'! Taking Joy firmly in hand, she hit the malls. Going from store to store, they searched for 'the perfect dress'. Joy was having a ball, because she got to help her mom pick out the dress. Buffy would retreat to the dressing room, and do a fashion parade for her. Joy sat straight in her chair, as Buffy would come out in a dress, posing with a hopeful look on her face. No. Shake of the head. Thumbs down. An expression that said ' you're kidding, right?'. Sometimes she'd give a thumbs up, but Buffy would check herself out and just go " No!" " No Way" " Hi, I'm selling bibles" " Hi, looking for a date, mister?" When they both agreed on a dress, Buffy took a look at the price tag, and blanched.

" But mom, you look great in that!" Joy said, when Buffy started to return a cream colored three quarter length back to the rack.

" I know honey, " Buffy said wistfully, " But even if we didn't eat for a month, moved into a cardboard box, and I took out a bank loan, I still couldn't swing it" Buffy looked at the dress, sighed, and returned it to the rack.

" But I got money, mom!" Joy said. She pulled out her purse, dug around a little, and pulled out some bills. About 10 dollars. Buffy smiled, and hugged her little girl close.

" You hold onto that honey. We'll find something, just gonna have to get a little more creative" And she did. She left the malls, and started hitting the smaller retailers in the little out of the way stores that dot San Francisco. They lowered their sights a few notches, and went to the less trendy, more… discount stores. Pretty much the same results, except no 'winner', at any price. Buffy was getting a little desperate. Ok, a lot desperate. What she could afford on her budget … well, awful was a kind word for it. And the dresses that she really liked? Just no way she could afford it. She was about to give up, try to make something she already had at home work. She and Joy were walking to her car when they passed a tiny little shop, and in the window was " THE DRESS!!!"

It was an iridescent pearl gray knee length dress. It had a sleeveless bodice with thin straps which crossed over on the back, giving it a low scooped back look. It was accessorized with a matching shawl, thin silver rope belt, and silver clutch, and high heeled silver gray sandals. Mother and daughter just stood outside the window, and stared.

"It's beautiful" Joys said, finally.

" Uh-huh," her mother agreed, then came back to reality, " And we so can't afford it!"

"How do you know that? " Joy asked, " We haven't even been inside!"

"Joy, sweetie, " Buffy says, " Anything that pretty is … priceless. Trust me, we can't afford it."

"Aw, mom!" Joy said, " You won't know 'til you ask!"

" Joy, we can't afford it, " Buffy replied, but still has a hard time taking her eyes off the dress. She turned to her daughter and said, " Let's go home…." But she saw her daughter entering the shop. " Joy! Joy! Joyce Marie Price… you get your …" but Joy was already in the shop. Sighing in exasperation, she follows her in.

Maggie James, owner/ proprietor of the shop, looked down over her glasses at what must be the cutest little girl she'd seen in awhile.

"Hi, honey, can I help you?" She said, putting down her paper and smiling.

" My mom likes that dress," Joy replied, pointing to the dress in the window.

Buffy, looking more than a little flustered, runs up and takes Joy by the hand.

" Joyce Marie? Didn't you hear me calling you?" Buffy scolded.

Joy, feeling a little scared, nonetheless sets her jaw.

" You wouldn't have come in if I didn't" She said, firmly.

God, she looks so much like Willow when she does that! Buffy thought, then, straining not to smile, took Joy's hand.

"Let's go home, Joy, " Buffy said. She then addresses Maggie, " I'm sorry, I don't know what got into her". She frowns down at her daughter.

" It's ok," Maggie chuckled, " She certainly is a cutie".

" Well, Ms. Cutie is going to find a time out waiting for her at home," Buffy said. But she knew she probably wouldn't punish Joy too much.

" She said you liked the dress in the window?" Maggie asked." It probably would look great on you," She continued, giving Buffy the once over.

"It really is pretty, " Buffy said, wistfully, " but I so can't afford that!"

"How do you know?" Maggie countered, " You haven't even asked the price."

Buffy, looking embarrassed, replied, " I just know." She turns to Joy, and takes her hand, " C'mon, munchkin. Time to go home." She looked at Maggie again, " Sorry we bothered you. Thanks for being so nice to Joy." She turned to leave.

"Wait a minute!" Maggie said, " I've had that dress in the window for months. People love it, but no one ever tries it on. I'd really like to see it on a living, breathing human being." She sizes up Buffy again, " it looks to be your size… would you try it on for me?"

" I couldn't!" Buffy said, feeling totally embarrassed. She knew if she tried it on, she'll fall in love with it. Better not to.

"C'mon, mom, do it! Please?" Joy whined.

Aw, what's it gonna hurt to try it on, huh?

"Ok, ok, " Buffy said, sounding reluctant. But she really wants, just for a second, to see what she looks like in it.

Maggie fetches the dress, and Buffy retires to the tiny dressing room in the back of the shop. She tries on the dress. It's a perfect fit! She thinks, and then looks at herself in the mirror. God, it's gorgeous! She twirls around checking herself out from all sides. Perfect, just perfect She sighs. She knows she can't afford it, but it's so pretty. Let's get this over with. Sooner I get it off, the better! Pulling back the curtain, she walks to the front of the shop.

" Wow!" is all Joy said, seeing her mom in the dress, " Wow!"

" It's like it was made for you, " Maggie agreed with Joy's assessment.

" It's gorgeous, isn't it?" Buffy gushed. Then reality returned, " Well, thanks for letting me try it on."

" So, what's it for?" Maggie asked, " I mean, if you don't mind me asking?"

"Kinda special date, you know?" Buffy smiled, already liking this woman.

" Serious?" Maggie inquired.

" Oh, yeah, " Buffy said, then blushed, " hopin' so, anyway"

Maggie gazed at her with a knowing smile. Buffy blushed deeper, and Maggie just chuckled a little.

" That dress is perfect on you," Maggie said. " You know what bothers me? I can't sell that dress to anyone. Either it's the wrong size, or they think they can't afford it… just like you." Maggie looked at Buffy , weighing it over . "Look, I really need to get rid of that dress. I mean, I really want to clear the space in the window for something I can sell. And you've got to admit, it's perfect on you!"

" I know, but I can't afford it, " Buffy said, a little sadly.

" You still haven't asked the price, have you?" Maggie asked, " So, how do you know?"

Buffy sighs, " Ok, what's the price?" She asked, bracing herself for mega sticker shock.

Maggie walked over, and quietly whispered a figure to her. Buffy looked at her as if she's gone mad.

" Get out! There's no way!" Buffy said.

" You in the trade?" Maggie said, gently mocking her.

" No… but I've bought enough dresses to know that there's no way you can sell this at that price!"

" Look… I've been stuck with that dress for months. I can't sell the silly thing, and I've already lost money on it, " Maggie says, " Believe me, I can afford to sell it at that price. I get a lot of the tony trade in here. They pay a premium. So, when I get a non seller like that one, I don't mind losing on it, " Maggie paused, " Ok, I mind, but better than having to give it away, you know? At least this way I get back part of my costs". She looked Buffy over again, " And you did say this was for a special occasion, right?".

" Yeah, " Buffy said. Despite herself, her voice got a hopeful note in it.

"So, you wanna help me out here, and stop telling me my business?" Maggie chided her gently.

Buffy looked at the dress. It's just so beautiful! She looked at Joy, who's nodding eagerly, then back at Maggie, who'd crossed her arms, with an expression of " Make up your mind, ok?".

"Sold" Buffy says, not believing her luck. Impulsively, she hugs Maggie.

Maggie, looking surprised, gently pats her on the back. And then gently disengages her.

" Ok, princess, enough!" She chuckles, " Better go change before you wrinkle it."

Buffy, as eager as a schoolgirl, rushed back to the changing room. A few minutes later she reemerged, carrying the dress on a hanger.

Maggie, all business now, sold her the accessories to go with the dress, but insisted the shawl is part of the original dress. Buffy's still a little in shock, but happily so. She handed Maggie her credit card, and stood there, looking dazed. After the sale was completed, and Buffy gushed thanks about 10 times more, She and Joy left the shop.

Maggie watched them go, and then walked over to the telephone. She dialed a number, and waited.

" Hello, this is Maggie James calling for Willow Rosenberg, " Maggie said into the phone, " Yes, I'll wait." She waited for a minute or two, then continued, " Hi, Willow, yeah, it' s me, Maggie. Yeah… she came in, just like you said. How'd you manage that?… Oh… the little girl… Joy? Right! She is a charmer. You got her in on it…. You sly cat!… oh…yeah, she loved it. Goddess, she nearly died when I suggested she try it on, so I could see it on a " living breathing human being"." Maggie laughed. " Well…so, is she the one then? C'mon, Willow, don't be playing coy with me. I don't care how much money you're making, you don't go buying every girl a thousand dollar dress just for giggles… yeah, she was a little suspicious, but I came up with a pretty good story to cover. No…she doesn't have a clue you're involved. Yes, I'm sure. I didn't mention you at all! Geeze, what do you take me for?… Oh, yeah…she was gorgeous in it, trust me. If I weren't in a committed relationship, I might date her myself… Uh-huh … yeah… yeah, I think she's serious. She got all blushy when I asked what it was for…and she said she wanted it to be serious… oh yeah… you know you owe me big time for this, Willow. Yeah, well, I'm saying I want you to teach me that spell I've been bugging you about. No more excuses, ok?" Maggie laughs, " I promise, I'll only use it for good. I swear you take the fun out of everything!" She listens for a second," no… I'm only kidding. Yeah…so, see you in Wicca group next Wednesday? Good… yeah… ok, honey, take care. Blessed be". Maggie hung up the phone.

That Willow. What a sweetie. I hope this one works out for her. She's been alone way too long now.

Maggie, feeling like the matchmaker, returned to her counter, and her paper.

Late Friday afternoon, Jana Gray slips into Willow Rosenberg's office.

Willow, on the phone, waves her into a chair. Jana sits, quietly waiting for Willow to finish her call. As she waits, she looks around her boss's office, and for the first time notices something odd. Its neat and efficient, decorated modestly but stylishly, very modern and high tech. The furniture is… well, useful, but doesn't really scream comfort. But what she finds odd is that nothing in the office really says "Willow". The art on the wall, very nice, very trendy, but very sterile. It reflects no one's taste in particular… except perhaps the decorator's. The office has all the necessities of a modern office: computers(well, duh), printers, phones, and the usual office supplies. But there's no odd notes stuck here and there, no knick knacks, gauche or tasteful, anywhere. No pictures on the desk, no " Kiss me, I'm a geek" coffee mugs. In short, the office looks as if no one in particular uses it; rather, anyone one could be occupying it. It's all very professional, and in a way, very sad.

Jana wonders why, in all the years she's worked with Willow, she's never noticed it before. It's not like she's never been in here, just that in all that time, she's never come in here except really for a purpose. Then her full attention is focused on Willow, and she's never really let herself absorb the space around here. If she didn't know Willow as well as she does, she would think the person in this office was driven, efficient and cold. But you can say a lot about Willow( and Jana has, to her face), but cold is not an adjective you could fit to her. She takes a keen interest in her employees, and not just their work. She's interested in them; in their lives, their families, and the whole nine yards. She can't count how many times Willow, on learning someone is having financial difficulties, has taken money from her own funds to help them out. Or has lent an ear, or shoulder, to someone hurting. Or a thousand other little kindnesses she's done over the years. All the books say she spoils her employees, she should distance herself from their personal lives, but she can't do that. She thinks of them as family.

That's why Jana is here. It's not about the business, but Willow herself. Something is bugging her, and Jana can't get to the bottom of it. It's not as if she's changed towards anyone, it's more as if she's distracted. Her focus just isn't in the business like it's always been. She's not slacking or anything. She does her job as she always has. But her heart doesn't seem to be in it anymore. It all started in New Orleans, with that Buffy Summers woman. That night when she found Willow crying her heart out on the floor, Jana had been shocked. She'd never seen Willow react to anyone or anything like that before. It was obvious to anyone with eyes that Willow cared deeply for that woman, and was hurt terribly. Even after Willow explained it all, it puzzled her, but she kept quiet. When she brought the woman and her child back from New Orleans with her, Jana had expected something to happen between them. But nothing did. That was even MORE puzzling.

And now, thing seem to be getting worse. Lately, Willow has been delegating decisions she used to reserve for herself. She still meets with clients initially, and does her bit to sell the services, but she no longer seems to have interest in the accounts beyond that initial stage. Her interest in the business as a whole seems to have waned. Even planning doesn't seem to interest her; she's offloaded most of that to Jana. Not that Jana minds, but it… it's creepy. It's so not like Willow.

" Jana? Was there something you wanted?" Willow asks, intruding on Jana's thoughts, " Or did you just want to sit there and let me ogle you for awhile?" Willow teases her.

"Puh-lease!" Jana retorts, her wit reasserting itself, " Like you don't ogle me enough already, you lech"

" Nice way to talk to your boss!" Willow, getting into the game, pretends hurt, " After all I've done for you, you won't let me drool a little?"

" That sexual harassment, you know" Jana says lightly, " Gee… I'd love owning the company. Go ahead, keep it up!"

" Bite me!' Willow retorts, the giggles.

" In your dreams, girl!" Jana replies.

" In my nightmares, you mean!" Willow ripostes, then turns half-serious, " Ok, now, I know you too well. What're you in here to scold me about THIS time?"

Jana takes a second to look at Willow straight on, then she asks, " Are you ok? I mean, is everything ok in your life?"

Willow looks at Jana as if she's a newly discovered species. " Ok, who ARE you, and what've you done with Jana?" she jokes, fending off the question. But something in Jana's expression tells Willow she's serious, and it kinda wigs her. Jana, as caring den mother? She shudders internally.

" I mean it, Willow, " Jana says, as if confirming Willow's suspicions, " Is everything ok?"

"Well… yeah, " Willow says, lightly, " I mean, what shouldn't be alright?"

Jana scrutinizes her. Something's not right, something just doesn't fit, she thinks to herself. She's out and out lying to me!

" You're lying to me, " Jana declares, " You're good at a lot of things, but honey? Lying aint one of them!"

" You're so wrong, it's hardly funny, " Willow says, " I mean, c'mon, what reason would I have to lie to you? Are you my mommy, and I did a naughty or something? Geeze, Jana, get real here!" Willow says, feeling a little irritation rising, " Who do you think you are? Comin' in here, pretending to be all concerned, then telling me I'm a liar?"

" I'm not pretending to care!" Jana says, stung by Willow's comment, but holding her temper, " I do care Willow. Something's bothering you, eating at you, and it's been going on for awhile now. But lately, it's been getting worse. So, yeah, I want to know what's bothering you!".

" Ummm. As I remember, you're not boss of me, " Willow says, defensively, " matter of fact, I'm boss of you. So, I'm telling you in no uncertain words, nothings wrong. So let it go!"

" Yeah, you're my boss, " Jana says, " but you're also my friend. And I don't like to see my friend hurting. So, get a clue, Willow. I'm not letting it go, and I'm not leaving 'til you tell me what's up!"

"Nothing's 'up', Jana, " Willow says, using a dismissive tone, " So if you don't mind, I've got a lot to do…"

" I do mind, Willow, " Jana says, firmly, " I mind a lot that you don't come to me with your problem, but rather try to tell me I'm nuts, and that nothing's wrong, when it's obvious something IS wrong! I don't like you doing that!"

" Well, gee. Sometimes you gotta do things you don't like. Life sucks, right?" Willow says, her tone edging towards sarcastic, " Bye now. Don't forget to write, 'K?"

" Not going anywhere, " Jana says firmly. She sits.

" You so are going, " Willow insists, standing up. " Get out, please!"

" Nope," Jana refuses, stubbornly.

" Ok," Willow says, getting red faced," You're fired"

"I'm what?" Jana says, disbelieving

" Fired. Terminated. Payday the last" Willow says." Get out!"

" You can't do that!" Jana says, " What's the cause?"

" Insubordination, " Willow says," Nice knowin' ya. Don't let the door hit ya on the ass on you're way out."

" What the HELL is wrong with you?" Jana says, now getting angry too," If you were in your right mind, you'd never do this!"

" Probably just getting into my right mind, " Willow says, "probably should've done this a long time ago".

" For what?" Jana says

"For being a nosy, pushy bitch!" Willow growls." Now get the hell outta my office!"

" Fine!" Jana, thoroughly mad, starts for the door. Stops. Turns around and sneers." Hey, you fired me. You can't do squat to me now. Aint goin' nowhere!"

" I'll have you thrown out!" Willow threatens.

" Try it!" Jana says, arms folded, " Just try it!"

Willow backs off. She's just fired the best employee she's ever had, and is losing a good friend. She doesn't want this, but why can't Jana just back off?

" What's your problem, Jana? Why do you gotta know every goddamn thing that goes on? Why can't you just leave me alone?" Willow barks.

" Because I hate to see you this way, " Jana says softly.

Willow doesn't know if it's the tone, or the words, or the sincere look in Jana's eyes, but something inside breaks. She sits down, leans her head on her hands, and starts to sob.

Jana immediately comes around and holds her, letting Willow sob on her shoulder. After awhile, Willow regains control, and gently pushes away from Jana.

" I dunno what to do, " Willow says, her voice low but for now, in control, " I'm an idiot, I know I'm an idiot, " She laments, " but I love her so much, it aches. It hurts so bad. But … I don't know If I can trust her again. She… just left, left me alone for so long… why didn't she trust me? God. Now I've made her 'prove' her love to me, and I don't want that! I want her! I want her now! I want to touch her so bad, … and I can't because of this stupid thing, this stupid " Woo me, chase me". God, am I a teenager still? I too old for games! But what if I let myself love her , really love her, give in and let it start… and she leaves me again? God I couldn't take that. I'd wanna die. God I wanna die anyway. What the hell is wrong with me???"

" It's pretty serious, Will," Jana teases her gently, " You got it bad. You're in love."

" Not funny," Willow grumbles," Not funny at all!"

"No, it's not funny," Jana agrees, turning serious.

"what'm I gonna do?" Willow looks at Jana hopefully.

" You're asking me?" Jana asks, surprised, " me? Who doesn't do relationships? Queen of the one -nighters? Do I look like Dr. Laura?"

"Please?" Willow begs, looking so sad." Please? Tell me what to do?"

"Oh, god, " Jana replies, not liking this, " Ok, I'll say this, but if it blows up in your face, don't you dare come after me about it, " Jana looks at Willow sideways, then continues, " I figure, you gotta ask yourself two questions. First, can you trust her? I mean, over your whole relationship, everything. Yes or no? If Yes, then nothing to worry about, if No…then is she worth worrying about?" Jana looks at Willow pointedly. To herself, what she knows about Buffy, her answer would be in the negatory. But It's not my decision. She continues, " Ok, the other question. Does she make you happy? When you think about her, do you have a happy, or is it anxiety time? I don't think I need to tell you which one you want."

" So, depending on how you answer those questions, " Jana adds," I think you'll know what to do."

Willow looks at Jana, then away. What she said made sense. She knows she's gotta lotta thinking to do before tomorrow night. And she has to come to a decision… because it's not fair to either Buffy or herself otherwise.

"You know you're not really fired, right?" Willow says, contritely.

" Oh yeah, I know. Only one moron in this office, " Jana replies, " And she has red hair".

They both stand around, awkwardly, not knowing what to say to each other.

" Goodnight, Willow," Jana finally says. She turns to go.

" Goodnight, Jana, " Willow says. " Thank you".

" Yeah, whatever," Jana says, feeling burnt. For the first time ever, she just wants to get far away from here. She leaves.

Willow follows her to the door, and shuts it. She leans against the doorjamb, and sighs.

When did life get so damned complicated?

It's Saturday night. The night. Date night.

Buffy is sitting at her vanity, putting the finishing touches on her make-up. She wants everything to be perfect tonight. She steals glances at her dress, and thinks how hot she'll look in it. She smiles, thinkin' Willow's eyes are gonna pop when she sees Buffy in it. She smiles to herself, hoping that's not the only thing she makes pop on Willow tonight. She giggles a little to herself. She checks herself in the mirror again (Perfect!) and is ready to stand up and get dressed when her mind shifts gears, and she's feeling a bit less confident.

Face it, Buff. This is just a skirmish in the battle to let Will know your serious girl here. No 'popping' is gonna be happening tonight. Just hope she'll be charmed enough to want to make a second date, third date, etc. If I screw this up, I might as well pack it in. Not getting anymore chances. I hate this, I really wish I could read her heart… have a clue as to what she's feeling. But God, she's so cool about it all. Kinda scary that. I dunno if I can win her over; let's face it. My history in the romance department? Pretty darn crappy. Either they leave me, or die. God, why would she want to be with me with that hanging over it? " Gee, Will," I'd say, " You gotta choice… don't love me, and live, or love me, and die". Oh, yeah, now that's gonna sway her… uh-huh. Yup, Buffy, you got her just where you want her. Uh-huh.

Buffy just stares at her reflection, not really liking the woman staring back at her.

Willow Rosenberg has clothes strewn all over her bed. She just can't make up her mind.

She must've changed outfits a dozen times, and still can't find something she likes. She is getting close to panic mode. C'mon, Will, you gotta decide on something here, she chides herself, you're beyond pathetic now. Lots of good stuff to wear here, just choose something!

It's not the clothing that's making her crazy. That's just a symptom. It's what she and Jana talked about yesterday. What Jana said to her. Do you trust her? Well… yeah. I trust her with my life. I know if I were in trouble, she'd be right there with me. And no, I'm not sure. Because, she ran away twice when she was in trouble. Ok, so once she was 16 and totally hurting about Angel and that whole mess. And the second time, she says she was 'trying to keep us safe'. Sounds good on paper, but the… pain she caused. Doesn't she get it? Does she really think I'd rather be safe, and think her dead? How could she think that? Maybe a little harsh, Will? She was scared and confused. Yeah, ok, why not turn to your best friend? So how do I know, if things get rough, she won't bolt again? I don't! I wanna believe she'll stick it, but so far, no real proof on that. I wanna believe in her. Or is it she doesn't believe in me? That she feels she can't share everything in me. Maybe I got it wrong. Maybe it's not a matter of me trusting her; rather, it's maybe her trusting me.

Or maybe I haven't forgiven her yet. Maybe I can't forgive her. Not for all of it. I just don't know. I just don't know!

Buffy is still contemplating herself in the mirror when a pair of green eyes, a mop of strawberry blonde hair, and mischievous smile appear in the mirror beside her. A small pink tongue appears between the lips, and Buffy laughs, her blue funk broken. She hugs Joy close.

" Hey, punkin, whatcha up to?" Buffy asks, turning to her daughter. Mock seriously, she asks, " Or do I want to know?"

" Just wondering what you were looking for, " Joy replies," thought maybe you found hidden treasure behind the mirror".

" Naw, I got my treasure right here!" Buffy says, squeezing her. Joy giggles. " So, kiddo, you ok with Mrs. Burke comin' over and staying with you while Willow and I go out?"

" I guess, " She says, her voice a little petulant. " I still don't know why I can't come".

" Joy , honey, we talked about this, " Buffy said, " sometimes grown ups want a little alone time together. Willow and I are kinda going on a date".

"What's a date?" Joy asks.

" Well, honey , sometimes when two people think they like each other, they go out and share an evening together, to get to know each other better," Buffy explains, " If they do, they'll go out again. Sometimes it leads to … well, them really liking each other, and maybe even falling in love and stuff."

" ' And stuff' ?" Joy asks.

" Well, like getting married" Buffy says.

Joy looks confused and excited at the same time. Buffy sees her expression.

" What is it, sweetie?" Buffy asks.

" Are you and Willow gonna get married?" Joy asks.

Willow has yet shed and tried on another outfit. She checks herself in the mirror, then shakes her head as if thinking What the heck am I thinking with this? She starts over to change yet again, when she stops herself.

Stop it, Will. You know what you're doing! You can't decide if you want to go through with this date, and you're putting off the decision. Make up your mind!

Think. Being with Buffy makes you happy, right? And… thinking about her makes you happy, right? Well.. yeah…but sometimes it makes me crazy too. And sad… and when I think about her running away, it makes me mad. But I guess most of the time, she give me major happy. Ok, that's good, right? Yeah, that's good. So, what's the deal? Why're you making yourself crazy?

I can't do this. I just can't do this. I can't risk it. I mean, right now sure she wants me. Or she thinks she wants me. But what if she changes her mind? What if she decides it's wrong, and she can't face telling me? Is she gonna run again? What if she finds… she doesn't love me? Can I take that? Do I wanna know that? Face it, Willow. You're scared. You can't deal with the fact that Buffy might reject you. Why don't you just admit it? You don't think Buffy really wants you. Well, does she? I might just be something to cling to. I mean, she might just see me as … well, like a life preserver. Something to hold onto. She might not love me at all. I mean, not that way. Ok, Will, truth here, if we're gonna do this truth thing. You don't think she could love you, do you? You're afraid of opening your heart to her, cuz you think she's gonna just step all over it. Don't you?

No! Buffy wouldn't do that! She wouldn't hurt me for the world.

Oh… I get it! You think if she really starts getting too close, she's not gonna love you. But she'll be so afraid to tell you, that she'll hang in anyway… until it gets so bad, you wind up hating each other. That's it, isn't it?

No, that's not it!


Ok, ok… that's it. Happy?

So, what're you gonna do?

I gotta call this off. This is just wrong. I don't know what the hell I was thinking. I gotta stop this before it gets bad.

That's what you want? Really?

No! I want Buffy. But, I … no, I gotta stop this now!

Good one? You couldn't have thought of this earlier? What she gonna think?

Don't care. Better she think I'm…nuts now, then everything go to hell. Nope. Never shoulda done this in the first place. Bad idea. Bad. Bad idea .Really bad idea. Let's just end this now!

Willow, while she's still has the nerve, leaves her room and head's towards Buffy's.

" No, honey, Willow and I aren't getting married, " Buffy chuckles, " Where'd you get that idea?"

" Well, you said…." Joy protests.

Willow stops, hearing the conversation. I'll come back later. She starts to leave when the next line stops her.

" Honey, that was just one thing dating can lead to. Anyway, even if I wanted to marry Willow, we couldn't" Buffy says.

See? Told ya. She doesn't want long term… not really! But Willow decides to eavesdrop, at least to find out why.

" How come?" Joy asks, not understanding.

" Well… first of all, Marriage is a sacred commitment. You don't just marry anyone. You gotta really love that person, want to spend your life with them". Buffy says.

Well…what more do you need, Willow? She just said it. She doesn't love you. You're an idiot! Willow bites her lip, hoping not to cry.

" Don't you love Willow?" Joy asks.

" Yes, I love her," Buffy says. Only with everything I got.

Huh? Willow can't believe what she just heard. She loves me? No… only like a sister, idiot. But Willow moves a little closer.

" Doesn't Willow love you?" Joy asks.

"I think so… I don't know, honey, really, " Buffy says, " I know I wish she did".

Huh? Willow moves closer. I musta heard wrong. Did she say she wished I loved her?

" Well… why don't you ask her?" Joy says, not understanding why her mom hasn't.

Buffy smiles at Joy, " It's not that easy, baby." Buffy says, sighing a little to herself, " There're all kinds of love. I love you, but it's not the same kind of love I feel for Willow," Buffy tries to explain," She might love me, but like … well, like a sister loves another sister. You know?" Joy shakes her head… the concept is just a little beyond her, " Ok, sweetie, maybe we can talk about this when you're older. For now, the love I have for Willow is probably different than the love she has for me."

NO! No, no, no, no! Willow thinks, So not true!

Joy, still looking confused, says, " What if it were the same though. Would you marry Willow then? " Joy asks.

"Oh yeah, honey. If she felt the same way I do? I would marry her in a second, " Buffy says, wistfully, " But … I still couldn't, even if we both wanted to."

" Why not? You love her, she loves you… why not?" Joy asks, bewildered.

" Because two women, or two men, can't get married. Only a man and woman can get married, honey" Buffy says.

" Why?" Joy asks.

" Because a lotta people think it's wrong for two women or two men to be married, I guess, " Buffy says.


" Because they think it's wrong" Buffy says, a little sadly.

Joy thinks about that for awhile.

" Well, that's dumb!" Joy pronounces.

Buffy smiles. Out of the mouth of babes.

" Ok, well… say they got smart, and let you get married. And you loved Willow, and she loved you" Joy struggles over this, trying to understand all that she's heard. " Would you marry her?"

" In a second, Joy" Buffy says. Then she looks at her daughter, " that is, if you are ok with that?"

"Well…sure. I love Willow too!" Joy says, without reservation.

Willow stands in the hall, biting her lip harder, keeping the tears at bay. But why she wants to cry is so different now.

"Well, I'm glad to hear that, Joy, " Buffy says, " because… well, I need you to want Willow to be part of our lives. It's important."

"How come?" Joy asks.

"Well, I want you, me and Willow to be family, you know?" Buffy says, " Do you understand?"

" I think so, " Joy says, " Kinda like my friends? Like that? Their families?"

" Yeah, like that, " Buffy says, " Would you like that?"

Joy nods eagerly.

" Me too, " Buffy says, hugging her daughter. " You know, I kinda love you, kiddo!"

" I love you too, mom, " Joy says, hugging her back." So when do we get to be family?"

Buffy smiles, a little sadly, " It's not that easy, honey. Even though you and I want it, not sure Willow does".

" Why not?" Joy asks, sounding upset." Doesn't she love us?"

" I know she loves you, sweetie," Buffy says, trying to soothe Joy's ruffled feathers, " That's so obvious. But, I'm not sure she loves me".

"Why not?" Joy asks, not understanding.

"it's really complicated, sweetie, " Buffy replies, trying to think of a way to make Joy understand. " A long time ago, before you were born, Willow and I were really close. But I made a big mistake, and well, it really hurt Willow", Buffy says, " I didn't mean to, but that doesn't matter, cuz I did. It took a long time for us to get back together, but that's my fault, not hers, " Buffy explains, " But were not as close as we were. I'm not sure she can ever forgive me for hurting her."

" I've done bad things, " Joy says, " You forgave me!"

" That's different. You didn't know any better, " Buffy says, " I did."

"Oh," Joy says. "We're not going to be family then?"

" I dunno. Like I said, it's up to Willow, " Buffy replies. " I've gotta prove to her that I really mean it. That she's the one I love. I don't know how, honey, but I gotta do that".

Willow no longer tries to stop the tears. She's standing in the hall, quietly crying.

"Sweetie? Can you run downstairs now? Wait for Mrs. Burke? I've gotta finish getting ready", Buffy says, her voice low…trying to hide her feelings. She can feel the tears threatening, and she doesn't want Joy to see her cry.

Willow retreats to her own room.

" Ok, mom, " Joy says, starting to leave. She stops and turns around. " Mommy? Don't worry… it's going to be ok!"

Buffy, near tears, gets up and hugs her daughter. " You bet, punkin. As long as I got you, it's ok" She smiles. She kisses the tip of her daughter's nose, which always makes Joy giggle. "Now don't forget, you do what Mrs. Burke tells you, and no trying to stay up past your bedtime like last time, ok?"

" Aw mom!" Joy cries out impatiently.

" No 'Aw, mom' s , young lady " Buffy tries to be stern, but it's hopeless. She softens her tone, " just be good, ok?"

" I will ", Joy says. Looking as if the burden of the world has just been placed on her shoulders, her eyes partially rolled up, she leaves the room.

Buffy walks over to where her dress is hanging, and stares at it. All the little nagging fears come back to her. What if I can't do this? What if I can't get her to believe in me again? I know I'll go on, I'll raise Joy, and be happy in her happiness. But am I so wrong to want Will with me? Sharing it with me? Sharing her life with me? Maybe I'm just asking too much. Maybe I just gotta accept it's not going to happen. Call this whole thing off, and just … No, dammit, no. There's gotta be a way for this to happen. I gotta stop running, and face things square on. If I want her in my life, then dammit, I gotta fight for her. Make my case to her, lay it before her feet. Otherwise, it's just a life time of " Shoulda beens, coulda beens" ! I don't wanna be alone anymore! I love her, and dammit she's gonna know that before she turns me down! Taking off her robe, she hangs it on the hook on the door, and starts to take the dress off its hanger. She hears a faint knock.

Turning around, she holds the dress strategically to hide the fact she's just wearing a half slip and stockings. Willow, dressed in a long red silk robe, is standing at her door.

" Hey, Will, " Buffy says, reaching back for her own robe(feeling strangely shy…not like it's something she's never seen before!). She notes that Willow looks a bit … off, and that she doesn't seem near ready. This isn't good Buffy thinks to herself, as she manages to get back into her robe. " C'mon in".

"Hey, Buff." Willow says, " Can we talk?"

Buffy, who's turned around to hang her dress back up, feels an icy knot in her stomach. Oh God, the ' can we talk?' speech. Now I know this isn't good!

"Sure, Will," Buffy says, keeping her tone even, "What's up?".

Willow, looking nervous, looks around the room for somewhere to perch. Buffy waves towards her bed. Willow goes and sits, hands folded on her lap. Buffy goes and sits next to her on the bed.

"Buffy, I really don't want to do this tonight", Willow says, looking at the floor, her hands, anything that isn't Buffy.

"Oh, " Buffy says, trying to hide her disappointment, and not really succeeding. " Why not?" She asks, hesitantly. She's not really wanting to hear the answer.

"When I got your note last Saturday morning, I was all jazzed. I thought, I really thought this is what I wanted," Willow says, " I've been thinking about it all week, and I've been torn. But I think now, I don't want to do this. You see…" But Buffy interrupts her.

" No, that's alright, Will. No need to explain, I get it" Buffy can't quite hide the hurt in her voice, try as she might. She gets up, because sitting next to Willow right now is… just wrong.

" Buffy, no, I don't think you understand…." Willow says, getting up. She puts a hand on Buffy's shoulder, but Buffy shrugs her off.

"What's so complicated, Will?" Buffy says, moving away, her voice getting a touch frosty, " You thought maybe you … well, had feelings for me. But I guess you didn't, not really. Not when you thought about it".

" No, Buffy, that's not it at all, " Willow exclaims, a little taken aback at the conclusion Buffy drew, " I just meant…"

"What, Will? What did you mean? What ELSE could you mean?" Buffy says, her temper rising, " I get it, ok? Whatever the reason, you don't want to be with me. Ok. So, how about you go now?"

" Dammit, Buffy! Would you listen to me?" Willow says, her temper hitting a rare peak. " Why are you so darned touchy?"

"Touchy?" Buffy says, not believing what she's hearing, " You come in here, tell me you don't want to be with me, and then when I get upset, I'm touchy? Well, excuse me!". She turns her back.

" When did I say I didn't want to be with you?" Willow shoots back, " When did I say that?"

" Not those exact words," Buffy retorts, " But " I don't want to do this" kinda gets the message across, don't you think?"

" Maybe if you listened to me for one second, Buffy," Willow said, exasperated, " You'd know what I meant, rather than jumping to wrong conclusions".

"Fine, " Buffy says, still with her back to Willow. She folds her arms, and waits. When Willow doesn't start, she adds, impatiently, " Well? I'm listening!"

" Would you please look at me when I'm talking to you?" Willow says, " Kinda rude talking to your back!"

Buffy turns around, arms folded across her chest. " Better?" She asks, sarcastically.

" Much!" Willow says, her tone withering, " I swear Buffy Summers, you're the most pig-headed, stubborn woman I've ever met!"

"Oh, thanks, Will, that clears it all up. I'm so much happier now, " Buffy says scathingly, " If you're done insulting me, think you can leave now?"

"Fine by me!" Willow says, her ears turning red. She starts to storm out, stiffens, and turns. Her face is set in resolve mode, " No way! I'm gonna say what I came here to say, and you're gonna listen to me for once, Buffy Summers!" She marches back to Buffy, and stands looking at her, eye to eye.

"What? Not tired of hurting me yet? Well, go ahead, then. Shoot" Buffy says, glaring back at her.

"I'm not trying to hurt you, Buffy!" Willow says, " Goddess, that's the LAST thing I want to do!"

Buffy's temper breaks, and with it, her defenses fall.

" I know, Will, " Buffy says, her voice getting low, " You were trying to let me down easy. But it hurts to think you don't want me. I'm sorry."

"There you go again," Willow says, but not unkindly, " you're putting words in my mouth. I never said I don't want you. You nut, I want you so bad … Goddess," Willow sighs, a little frustrated " you're awfully dumb!".

"Yeah, pretty dumb thinking… huh? What'd you say?" Buffy's face is classic.

"That's my girl. Sweet, not too bright" Buffy chides her gently." What I don't want, Buffy, is to play games anymore. I finally figured that out. Guess I'm kinda dumb, too". Willow smiles a rueful smile.

" Is this just a game then?" Buffy asks, clearly hurt. " It's so not a game to me!"

" I'm doing this badly, " Willow sighs," Buffy, how I feel about you isn't a game. But, I told you I wanted you to "chase me , woo me". That was a game. I guess I was… well, heck, I wanted to feel like I was important to you. I wanted you to prove you needed me. That you weren't going to skip out first sign of bad times. You've gotta admit, I've got a right, you know, considering."

" I know, Will, " Buffy says, ruefully, " I've screwed up bad in the past. Run away from my problems. But, you gotta believe me, Will, I want this to be different. You and me, I want it to be different" Buffy looks at her, a pleading look in her eyes.

" I know Buffy," Willow says, " I wasn't sure until tonight. But now I do know."

Buffy's expression is bewildered.

" I heard you talking to Joy earlier," Willow confesses.

"Willow!" Buffy cries, " You weren't supposed to hear that! That … that was private!" Buffy blushes.

" I know, and I'm sorry I eavesdropped," Willow apologizes, " but hey, no I'm really not that sorry!" Willow corrects herself. " Buffy, frankly, I was in the hall cuz I was coming to cancel the date, but for a different, far different reason," Willow explains, " see, I've been going back and forth on this whole dating/ relationship thing all week. Frankly, Buffy, I've been running scared as a bunny, " Willow pauses, cuz this is hard, " Frankly, Buffy, I just didn't believe you."

"What?" Buffy says.

" When you said you loved me, I … I just couldn't accept it. I couldn't believe that you loved me," Willow says, beginning to feel really foolish, " I know, really dumb, but … I guess I just couldn't believe that you … really wanted me … me… you could have anybody, Buff, " Willow says, " and frankly, lets admit it here. You've never really shown any … gay feelings before. It's always been guys for you. So, you tell me you want me… what'm I supposed to think?"

" Ok, who's the' sweet girl, but not too bright' one now?" Buffy says, not sure if she's angry or what, " God, Willow, have you been paying attention? Did you get a look at my picture of the guy I was thinking of marrying… Joy's father? Did you notice a strange resemblance to a certain red-haired person who'll remain nameless but is named after a little tree? Do you really think it was coincidence that he happened to look enough like you to be your twin brother?" She gets right into Willow's face, literally. Her nose is scant inches from Willow's, " And exactly what is this happy crap about 'someone like me' not wanting 'someone like you'? Have you checked a mirror lately, Will? You're an attractive, funny, sweet, loving and frankly, beautiful woman. Who the hell's been telling you different?".

"Buffy!" Willow cries, turning about 6 shades of red, but oh so loving it.

" I thought we did this already, Will. God, what do I have to do to make you believe I love you? I don't get it, I …" Buffy trails off. She's out of words, out of ideas. She feels it's hopeless. Willow is just going to never believe I really, truly love her. What does it take? " Will, maybe I was wrong. Maybe I just can't make you see how I feel. I don't know what to do. You're the smart one here, help me out a little, ok?"

" Buffy, let me finish, then you can decide what you want to do, ok?" Willow asks.

Buffy nods, maybe hoping she can find some way to convince Willow of her love, once and for all.

"After Tara, I was lost. I didn't want to feel anything anymore. I didn't know what I wanted to do anymore, but love? No, not what I wanted. Then Kennedy came along, " Willow says, " and she blew right through my rather weak defenses. So, I fell again. I really wanted it to last with her. But I should've known better. She was young, she was a little wild, and she wasn't ready to settle down. The harder I tried to hold her, the harder she pulled away, and then one day, it was over, and she was gone! After that, I just stopped caring, " Willow, feeling uncomfortable, stands up and paces, " I admit, one part of me so wanted you to come, to comfort me. But another part? Glad you didn't."

Again, Buffy is a study in confused girl.

" The part of me that wanted you? That wanted you as more than a friend? Knew I wasn't ready for you to be there… not really. Frankly, if you'd come, we probably wouldn't have remained friends." Willow, feeling ashamed, can't look at Buffy.

" Will! How could you think that? I'd always be your friend, " Buffy protests.

" Not you, Buffy. I know you would do your best to comfort me. But the way I was feeling, the hurt I felt? I would've lashed out at you, because you're the one person left that I really, really … goddess, even in the depths of my misery, I loved you. And I wanted someone to hurt like I did." Willow still is looking away from Buffy, not wanting to see her reaction. " After that, I just shut down. Built walls to protect myself. Threw myself into my work, and kept a distance from everyone."

"Then you disappeared. I thought you were dead, I died a lot inside, Buffy. I can't tell you what I felt, only tell you that I withdrew more. Life, living, didn't interest me. Nothing really interested me. I was going through the motions of living."

" And then, like magic, you're back. And I got crazy, because of how you hurt me. Sorry, I tried to make it like righteous anger over hurting all your friends, but it was ME I was thinking of when I went postal. I wanted to hurt you so badly to just make you feel a little of what I'd felt all those years. And dammit, half that anger was self directed, did you know that?" Willow finally looks back at Buffy.

"No, " Buffy says simply," I was pretty convinced it was all meant for me."

" Thing was, while I was so angry I couldn't see straight, my heart was doing leaps in my chest because damn it you were alive! I was angrier than hell at you for what you did, but … fuck me, I was happy!" Buffy does a double take… Willow uses a serious swear word once every 5 years or so. " the blood was surging through me, I felt …something… and I, for the first time in 10 years, I felt alive!" Willow turns, and walks over to Buffy, standing in front of her. " I accused you of running away from your troubles, but damn me if I wasn't doing the same thing. I was running from life, because it scared me. I was afraid to live, Buffy. Afraid to do anything but exist."

" Then you start hinting, and not so hinting, that you wanted me. Loved me. Wanted to be with me. Everything I ever wanted, you were handing me on a platter. And I panicked. I … I couldn't take being hurt again. I couldn't take opening my heart to you, and then … well, you finding it was a mistake, and leaving me. Or worse, trying to stick it out, fake it, until you ended up hating me."

"So, I went to your room, to cancel the date. To stay safe. Better safe than sorry, huh?" Willow says," And I heard you talking to Joy, so I waited for you to finish… and I heard what you told her". Willow kneels before Buffy, putting her hands on Buffy's knees. " It was everything I ever wanted to hear, Buffy, " Willow says, her voice low, " It's everything I wanted. I knew then what an idiot I was being."

" Buffy, I know that … we've still got a lot to work out. I know that trust has to be built between us again. I know all that, " Willow says, " And… all I can think is… can we skip all that and just get to the kissing?" Willow's eyes are wide, a little shiny with tears. But more than that, her desire and her love shine through.

Buffy looks into Willows face, and a whimpering sound emerges from her. And suddenly, they are kissing

And kissing, and kissing. They fall on the floor, their lips locked together. Too many years of pent up love, need, and desire are being expressed in a kiss. It lingers, going on and on, little mewling whimpering noises coming from each of them. Finally, out of breath, needing to breathe, they part lips, reluctantly. They look deeply into each others eyes.

"Ummm… Will?" Buffy pants.

" Yes?" Willow replies, panting right along with Buffy.

" Exactly how stupid are we?" Buffy asks, giggling softly.

" Uhhh… well, I think we broke the stupid-o-meter" Willow giggles.

" too much talk, kiss now" Buffy says, and she does.

The kiss is more intense, yet there is an underlying gentleness to it, a sweetness. Both women's lips explore the others, and they move together, their arms going around each other. They can feel their hearts beating together. It's a warm, lush, sensual kiss. Lingering as they exchange feelings they can't express with mere words. They finally part again, each smiling a soft, hungry smile.

" mmmmm" Buffy murmurs.

" me too, " Willow sighs, so hating that Buffy's lips are so far away. Like, inches.

"need more, lots more" Buffy says, hungrily.

" me too" Willow says, matching Buffy's hunger.

" Oh, no!" Buffy cries, sitting up.

"What?" Willow says, panicking right where she is on the floor.

" Joy. Mrs. Burke. Downstairs, now. Gotta fix that!" Buffy breathes out… so not wanting to leave those soft Willow lips.

They get up, losing a few more minutes in a kiss that just COULDN'T be put off, then go downstairs, only stopping twice to kiss again. Finally, downstairs, they dismiss the confused Mrs. Burke( whom Willow pays double for not babysitting… much to Mrs. Burke's delight). After she is gone, they scoop up Joy, and over her protests, put her to bed. After both give her lots of hugs and good night kisses(which the girl laps up like honeyed milk), she settles in. They stand for a little while, hand in hand, watching her drift off to sleep.

They walk down the hall to Willow's room, Buffy slipping her arm around Willow's waist, leaning against her a little. They enter Will's room, and quietly shut the door.

They stand facing each other, and a tiny bit of shyness lingers. Especially for Buffy, as this is her first time with another woman. It's rather weird for her. Not in a bad way, just… she's never really contemplated it…except in her fantasies. She's had lots and lots of those; but this is real life now… and she's feeling more than a little nervous.

Willow, more experienced, realizes Buffy's hesitation. She walks over, and takes Buffy into her arms. They kiss briefly, then kiss again, this one lingering on. When the kiss ends, she looks into Buffy's eyes, and smiles.

" Baby, if you're feeling too nervy, we don't have to do this right now. We can just kiss and hug", Willow says, trailing her finger down Buffy's sleeve. Buffy finds that sooo sexy, " Nothing has to be rushed, we have lots of time."

"No… I want to. I just, " Buffy blushes, " Well, I'm afraid I'll do it wrong".

Willow chuckles softly, and reaches out, untying Buffy's sash.

"What? What's so funny?" Buffy protests.

" You, you silly goose, " Willow says, softly and seductively, " Whatever you do, it won't be 'wrong'. " Willow pushes Buffy's robe off her shoulders, letting it puddle onto the floor. She smiles when she sees Buffy's hardened nipples, her excitement pretty obvious. Kneeling before Buffy, she tugs at Buffy's half slip, pulling it off her soft flared hips, and it, like the robe, is pooled around her feet. Willow takes a second to breath in Buffy's unique womanly scent, and see feels her own excitement increasing.

Standing up, she takes Buffy's hand and leads her to the bed. She sits her down, and again, she kneels before her. She rolls Buffy's stockings off her legs, one at a time, slowly, letting her fingers caress over Buffy's firm thighs and calves. She hears Buffy make a soft mewling sound, and, looking up, notices a wet spot on Buffy's otherwise pristine white panties. She smiles softly, realizing that Buffy is very excited indeed.

"Somebody's been naughty" Willow says, low and throaty. Looking up at her lover's face, she sees Buffy is indeed flushed. Her lips are parted, and look very wet. Her eyes are looking down at Willow, and the desire is obvious. Seeing, and smelling, how turned on Buffy is, only increases Willows sexual excitement. She knows her own sex is probably even moister than her lover's. Feeling particularly wicked, she reaches up, and strokes Buffy's sex through her panties. She feels Buffy shiver, and her smile turns wicked at all the delicious thing she can think of doing to her.

Willow stands up, letting her fingers trail up Buffy's thighs. Buffy, emboldened by Willows touches, and feeling naughty, reaches out and undoes the sash on Willow's robe. Willow smiles at Buffy's bravado, and kicking away her slippers, shrugs, causing her robe to fall at her feet. She stands proudly before Buffy, totally nude.

Buffy takes a minute to take in the sight of the sensual, nude Willow. Willow has in the years since she was a teen, filled out a bit, her curves more filled. Buffy, feeling a little shy, reaches out and touches her. She finds Will's skin incredibly soft to the touch, almost silky. Willow quivers under Buffy's touch, little chills running up and down her spine. When Buffy's fingertips brush over her nipples, she gasps audibly, and almost impossibly, they seem to harden even further, as if reaching out to Buffy's fingertips. She can't believe the fire that Buffy's almost innocent touches are building inside of her. Willow, as much as she's loving Buffy's explorations, has nasty little plans for her lover, and things might spin out of control way too quickly if she allows her to continue her explorations. She gently takes Buffy's hands in her own, and deposits them onto Buffy's lap.

Moving fluidly, almost snake-like, she glides around Buffy, letting her body caress against Buffy's as she moves behind her. Wrapping her arms around Buffy's waist, she pulls her close. Buffy can feel Willows hardened nipples pressing into her back, and can feel the softness of Will's body pressing against her own. Almost on cue, she leans against Willow, exposing her neck as her head rests on Willow's shoulder.

Willow gently rubs her hands over Buffy's tummy, and leans in, whispering softly in her ear," I want to be naughty. Do you want to be naughty with me?" She says, her lips almost caressing against Buffy's ear. Buffy, moans softly.

" Oh, god, yes, I want to be naughty with you, " Buffy hisses, her body starting to catch fire. Willow licks Buffy's neck, and Buffy lets out a low moan." Oh god, you're killing me here, " Buffy groans, " Kill me more, please"

Willow laughs softly then bites Buffy's neck , not hard, but enough to send streams of fire through Buffy. Her hands come up, and cup Buffy's breasts, her thumbs lightly rubbing over the achingly hard nipples. Buffy whimpers, her body shivering in increasing lust. She presses harder against Willow, her butt pressing hard against Willow's sex. Buffy's squirming manages to just make Willow more excited. Willow finds her own breathing becoming ragged. Buffy turns her head, and their lips meet in a fiery kiss. Their lips open, their tongues slashing in and out of each other's mouth. Moans come from both the women, lost in the kiss.

Willow's hand slides down Buffy's tummy, and under the elastic of her panties. Her clever fingers begin to stroke Buffy's sex, driving her to new heights of lust and need . Buffy's hips begin to buck, and Willow finds her bud, and strokes it lightly, causing Buffy to let out a low, deep groan. Willow cover's Buffy's mouth with her own, sucking in her tongue as her fingers work her magic on Buffy. Soon Buffy is thrusting down on Willow's fingers, her mouth sucking on Willows tongue. Her conscious thoughts are gone, it's all just feeling and fire and movement. Willow, knowing her stuff, teases her, slowing and increasing her pace, until Buffy is nearly wild with desire. She so needs release, and The Wicked Wily Willow is making her crazy with her nasty game. Her kiss becomes fierce as her need builds, her tongue moving in time with her hips. Then slowly, from the center of her being, a wave of pure fire shoots through her, followed by an icy storm. Willow gently squeezes her bud, and Buffy feels like she is exploding into a million pieces of fire and ice. She can feel nothing but Willow's hand sending into wave after wave of Orgasm. She feels as if her body has been pulled apart…drifting into space in all directions. Slowly, as Willow holds her, she feels herself come back together, the pleasure and pain from the intensity of her orgasm wiping out any other sensations.

When she can speak coherently again, no longer reduced to grunts and sighs and gibberish, she looks into Willow's eyes and says softly, " Oh god, what've you done to me? I've never felt like that before". She snuggles closer to Willow, who's pulled her around and is holding her in her arms, and her lips seek her lover's. The kiss is long and tender, tongues gently playing as Buffy floats gently back to earth.

But soon her lover's lips are not enough for Buffy. She wants to taste her all over. Her lips move down Willow's neck, and she gently bites and sucks on the skin. Willow sighs and whimpers her approval, loving the soft feel of Buffy's lips. Buffy kisses lower, covering Will's upper chest with tender wet kisses. Willow, already excited, the fires stoking in her belly, is pushed higher as her lover caresses her with her mouth. Buffy repositions herself, kneeling in front of her lover, and lowers her mouth to Willows breast. Willow gasps as Buffy's tongue gently teases her hard nipple and areola, sending shockwaves of pleasure through Willow. When Buffy bites her nipple, Willow moans.

Buffy, now in control, lifts Willow up, and inserts her thigh between Willow's legs. Cradling her in her arms, she returns to Willow's breast, as Willow almost instinctively begins to rub her moist sex against Buffy's thigh. Buffy moves her mouth from breast to breast, her lips doing sweetly naughty things that make Willow go crazy. Her pelvis rubs harder against Buffy's thigh, creating a hot friction that begins to shoot hot bolts of pleasure through her. Her head leans back in utter lust and craving, and her moans become louder and deeper. The friction and fire on her sex intensifies as she pushes harder against Buffy's thigh, her moisture beginning to flow. Her moans change to groans and grunts, deep and guttural, as her hips rock up and down against Buffy. When her orgasm comes, the first in a wave, her mind shatters into little fragments, her busy thoughts becoming nothing but intense pleasurable feelings. Wave after wave strikes her, tossing her this way and that, and she doesn't care, because the pleasure is so intense, it's almost painful. She cries out, and the largest orgasm hits her. She stiffens in Buffy's arms, and for a second everything in her body stops… everything is concentrated into a fiery center of pure pleasure and intense feeling. Then her heart starts to beat again, her breathing comes back, and exhausted, she falls back against the bed. Buffy comes to her, and encircles her in her arms and legs, holding her close in the aftermath of her shattering orgasm.

They rest for awhile in each other's arms. They hold on, looking deeply into each others eyes, their love shining brightly. The kisses they share are small, loving and soft. But they are like addicts, and soon the touches and kisses become more insistent, more probing, more exciting. They make love repeatedly that first night, passion and tenderness melding, their explorations and discoveries becoming more intimate, sweeter. Their bodies twine and untwine, they discover new ways to pleasure each other, new and exciting ways to touch, to kiss, to bite, and to tongue, which merely adds to the sensuality of their love. But on a deeper, emotional level, it's as if their souls merge, become one. Doubts, fears, uncertainties fall away, and are replaced with a deep, abiding love. Their hearts, sensing the union of their souls, seem to beat as one. They find a happiness, a closeness so long denied them; a peace so deep it invades the very core of their souls.

Finally, after hours of sweet love, their bodies give out, and exhaustion claims them. They move together, spooning tightly, as if the very thought of not touching is abhorrent. As sleep comes to claim them, they realize that there is still so much to do. So much that has to be worked out. But they know, somehow, they'll make it. That apart they're strong, but together, they're invincible.