Some Velvet Morning When I'm Straight
Author's note: this was originally part of the much longer ensemble fic "The Hardest Walk", yer basic doom'n'gloom-everybody-almost-dies thing dealing with the events immediately after Buffy's death. I just thought this bit was way too cute to be stuck forever somewhere in the middle of that, and with a few rewrites and a different ending it stands quite nicely on its own, I think. Perhaps even better. OK, so I'm recycling, but hey, it's not like Joss Whedon never used the same idea twice...
Linda had spent the last two weeks and the first four hours of today's shift cursing her own decision to work at a half-deserted motel, her boss-from-hell Mr Henley and humanity in general. Two months and 26 days until college. Just keep repeating that. Two months, 26 days... There's no telling how long she could have kept this up if it hadn't been for the sound of the bell ringing as two people walked into the reception hut. Wow, whaddyaknow, customers. Actual, real-life customers. Actual, real-life young female non-trucking customers, even — that's a first.
"Hi, welcome to the Henley Motel, I'm Linda, how can I help you?"
"We kinda need a room... for a couple of days."
"Yeah, 'cause we're really really tired, what with the driving and the... more driving and so on. Looong drive. Head heavy. Sight dim. Yawn."
"Sure, I think we can swing that", Linda gestured at board behind her, all but three of its hooks holding a room key, and got out a registration form. "OK, let's start with... names?"
"Tara Maclay." "Willow Rosenberg."
"...Rosen... is that with an e or a u?"
"E. Um, the sign says you have rooms with king-size beds, would one of those be free?"
"Sure... hey, wait a minute." Linda looked up at her new guests, read the body language (it was in large print) smiled and ripped up the registration. "Tell you what we'll do. You two pick one last name, I'll tell my bible-thumpin' boss you're sisters, and he won't want to know any different... that cool with you?"
Willow was puzzled for a minute, with an option on offended, but didn't have time to reply before Tara did.
"OK, put down Willow and Tara Maclay."
Tara leaned in close. "Hey, we can do whatever we want, remember? It's just us, and as long as no one else wants to bother us, anything's fine with me. What do you say... think you could be Ms Maclay for a few days?"
Willow hadn't seen that wicked, lopsided grin on her girlfriend's face for a long time, and certainly never with another person in the room... the way those blue eyes lit up, that tilt of the head... Oooo boy... I think I'm going to melt right here and disappear into the floorboards. Or possibly explode. Did she just ask me to... she didn't, did she? I don't think so, not like this... but she might... oh holy everything, Tara, do you know how much I love you, what I'd do if I lost you...? She didn't dare open her mouth, so she tried to squeeze it all into one smile. Basking.
The mood was broken somewhat by an embarrassed laugh from behind the desk. "God, you two, get a room!"
Willow pouted, too happy to tell Linda to mind her own business. "I believe we're trying to."
"Sure. Just let me fill this in. Where were we... place of residence?"
Tara opened her mouth to answer, then frowned and looked at Willow who looked just as confused as she did.
"Look, if you don't wanna tell me, that's fine, but I gotta put something here."
"No, it's OK, it's just... it's on the tip of my tongue..." Tara rubbed her temple. "Um... Sunnydale, that's it. Sunnydale, California."
"Huh. Weird. Never heard of it. Must be a pretty small place."
"I... guess so."
"Anyway, will that be cash or credit card?"
"Right. Aaand... here's your key, there's someone at this desk 24 hours a day so you can check out anytime you like, but if it's after 11 you'll be charged for another day. Oh", she winked, "and there's a 'Do not disturb' sign in the folder on the desk."
And they were back outside, walking towards room number 19, trying to not look too coupley before they got in. "Well, she was... nice, wasn't she? Almost not at all... too pushy." Willow was still a bit loopy, she supposed sleep depravation was finally catching up to her... that and the feeling of being free of something. She looked at Tara, striding across the parking lot beside her, and realised she wasn't the only one who'd had a weight lifted off her shoulders. For starters, she'd never seen Tara stride before — not like this, confidently, proudly, smiling at her like a cat about to eat a canary. As Willow put the key in the door and got her first look at the brown-and-green 70's style room they'd rented, Tara stepped up behind her and whispered.
"Do you have any idea what I'm going to do to you...?"
"Well," Willow was trying to sound as if she was racking her brain, "I seem to recall you saying something about the tip of your tongue..."
(Sorry, guys. Let's give'em some privacy.)
Tara loved watching Willow wake up. It was a gradual thing accompanied by mumbling, some incredibly cute grimacing and twitching before one eye — usually her left — would open just slightly and she'd smile. "Good morning..."
"Morning... 'Mrs Maclay'."
Willow grinned at the one-last-name thing. "Would that make you Mister?"
"Oh God, I hope not." Tara peeked under the covers. "Phew." Giggles, and more cuddlage.
"What time is it?"
"Um... late." Tara glanced at the windows, where the heavy red drapes were letting in a soft light which seemed more like daylight than dawn. "I'm not even sure it's technically morning anymore."
"Oh." Willow thought about it. "I guess we should probably get up then, huh...?"
"Oh no. I'm definitely prescribing some more bedrest for both of us."
"'Kay." Willow didn't exactly seem unhappy about it. She gave Tara a quick kiss and then scooted over to rest her head on her girlfriend's chest. "You know, I had the weirdest dream..."
"You always have weird dreams, sweetie. Do I have to bring up the one about the dancing apples?"
"But these were... they just seemed real. And kinda creepy. You were in them..."
"... and there were some other people, and we were, like, saving the world from monsters. Vampires and werewolves and Frankenstein and, you know, stuff like that. There was even a vampire who looked like me. Oh, and you and I could do magic, and... and then suddenly you weren't there and I was alone and I couldn't find you again..." Willow grimaced at the half-memory and cuddled up tighter. Tara played with her hair. "And then there was an apocalypse and a lot of people died and the rest of us got on, uh, a schoolbus or something and drove away..."
"And then what?"
"Then I woke up and you were here." Willow looked up at Tara with a big grin on her face. "And now would probably be the part where you're supposed to tell me I'm not crazy."
"Um... maybe we should put the whole crazy-not-crazy thing on hold for a while. I think I've got something in my bag you should see."
Tara wriggled out of bed despite Willow's protests and reached for her bag, pulling out a video tape.
"Aww, baby, you brought some porn."
"It's not porn." Tara struggled with the room's ancient VCR. "How does this thing work?"
"Don't know. Don't care. Come back to bed."
"Just a minute, I really think you want to watch this. I found it in the bargain bin at the gas station, and... uh..." Tara managed to start and pause the tape and started flipping through the channels on the TV looking for the VCR signal.
"Fine", Willow pouted. "We'll watch your stupid porn."
"It's NOT porn. At least I hope so." Tara read the text on the back of the case. "Have you ever heard of an actress named Alyson Hannigan?"
"I think I'd remember a goofy name like that."
"Right, Willow Rosenberg." Tara grinned as she found the channel with a freeze-framed FBI warning. "And you've never seen a movie called 'American Wedding'?"
"Never heard of it."
"OK, this might be kinda weird." Tara pressed play and got back into bed to watch the movie.
- Why do you think, uh, Michelle, they call it "making love"?
- I don't know. I just call it "boning".
- Boning? Well, when-when you're doing other things with Jim, when you're not... um... boning, how does he make you feel?
- Horny, like I wanna bone.
- Love isn't just a feeling. It's shaving your balls.
- Oh, Jim... you gotta stop masturbating... it's melting your brain.
About an hour and a half later, the credits rolled. As did Willow's eyes. "OK, now that... that... that was just... wrong. On so many levels. Wrong with a capital Wruh."
Tara was a bit creeped out herself, but the look on Willow's face was just priceless. "Sweetie, you never told me I was dating a movie star."
"But that wasn't... that couldn't have been... I would never..." Willow's mouth kept moving, but for a while she couldn't find anything else to say. "I mean... OK, so at least it wasn't evil vampire me..."
"I dunno about that... I mean, there was the bit with the... um... sucking..." Tara collapsed in giggles as a pillow hit her straight in the face.
Tara stopped smiling when she saw that Willow was really seriously freaked by watching herself in a movie. "Hey, relax. It's not you, it's just some weird coincidence... I mean, if you had starred in a multi-million dollar movie, surely you'd know?"
Willow calmed down a bit and settled back into bed. "I guess..."
"Sweetie, I'm sorry if I creeped you out. It's just... I've got this feeling that whatever's happened before is behind us and we're free to just be together and do whatever we want for as long as we want. So, OK, the last two hours were probably not the best illustration of that, but... there'll be a lot more of those."
Willow smiled and put her hand to Tara's chin, pulling her into a kiss. Still a bit too upset to think about heading into NC-17 territory; just cuddling up.
"So do you wanna get out of bed?"
Tara laughed at Willow's insistant tone. "So what do we do? Watch some more TV?"
"OK. Just make it something fluffy and brainless. Without scary doppelgangers."
"OK, let's see what we got." Tara looked over the TV schedule. "Here, this looks good. 'How I Met Your Mother', sitcom with... Neil Patrick Harris? That sounds familiar..."
"Oooooh!" Willow sat up straight. "Doogie Howser! Let's watch that!"
Linda was just starting her shift when she heard the scream from number 19. She smiled to herself; those two should probably keep it down a bit, but she didn't have the heart to interrupt them and tell them. Give'em some privacy.