A/N Here it is, the end of the tale. I'd like to again thank everyone that has read my story. For those of you who reviewed it, many thanks. I kinda like how it ended, although I really didn't see it coming when I started, so I might think about a series. Who knows, I certainly don't. Anyway, enjoy and thanks again for reading
The sun was bright, the sand was warm, the ocean was beautiful, the scenery (both natural and human) was unsurpassed and Willow Rosenberg was miserable. Well, miserable might be too strong a word, but she certainly wasn't happy. She was sitting under a beach umbrella, a semi-trashy paperback in her hands, watching the people walk past her and wishing she could find some way out of her emotional doldrums.
When she had come out here six weeks ago she had been determined to get on with her life, to start again with a new plan. But her old plan had been pretty much 'Tara' and without that foundation to build on, Willow was floundering. She had tried different ways to move on, the party scene, the drinking and dancing scene, even the one night stand scene but nothing had broken her out of her rut.
She looked out at the ocean again. Buffy was out there on her board talking to the other surfers. Less than a week after they had arrived Buffy had tried surfing on a dare, her slayer agility, strength and reflexes had made her a natural; the fact that the guys were buff and pretty didn't hurt either. Buffy had found her Zen; somehow surfing had calmed the slayer, had made her life more centered. Willow couldn't remember Buffy ever being this content with her life.
On the beach Dawn was hanging out with a group of archeology students from Arizona State University. They were here excavating a Polynesian village and Dawn using the opportunity to learn another language. Willow smiled to herself; leave it to Dawn to end up learning something major while vacationing in paradise.
'Odd girl out or not, at least I can catch up on my relaxation' Willow thought. She adjusted her bikini a little and leaned back for a nap. She had just closed her eyes when she heard Dawn's voice call out "Xander". She looked up to see Dawn sprinting towards two brunettes. After taking just a second to appreciate the fact that 'Little Dawnie' was quite grown up, Willow stood up and headed towards the little group that had formed by the water's edge. Dawn was still hugging Xander, who was wearing a very nice yellow bikini that had electric blue highlights and Buffy had paddled in and was talking to Faith who was decked out in a bikini as well but true to the slayer's color scheme of choice, it was black. Willow had a momentary thought of Faith looking for a leather bikini, but she banished it to the darker regions of her brain. "Hey guys, what brings you two here?"
"We just got done with a pretty hairy job" Faith replied "Jeeves said we'd earned some down time so we thought we'd swing by and see how you guys were doin'; if that's cool with you?"
"Great" Buffy replied, come on back up to the house and we'll get you settled and make some plans for tonight."
"Cool. So how'd you get to be all 'surfer girl' there B" Faith asked with an impudent grin and the five of them headed back for the house. Willow noticed with a falling heart that Faith and Xander held hands the entire way.
Willow got up early, turned the coffee maker on and as soon as it was ready she poured herself a mug and headed out to the beach, she needed to think; OK she needed to brood. Last night hadn't been restful for many reasons, the main one was that Xander and Faith hadn't been very quiet, but then neither had Dawn or Buffy with their guys du jour. All the noise and the reasons for it had gotten Willow thinking about her life now, wondering if she had blown her only chance at happiness and was now doomed to be this loveless hanger on for the rest of her life. She was gazing at the ocean and really starting to get the pity party rolling when a voice in her ear shocked her back to the here and now "how'd you sleep last night Red"?
"Not very well" she snarked at the new arrival "it was kinda noisy."
She looked over and saw Faith blushing, she had to look again because she really didn't believe what she was seeing, Faith never blushed. "Sorry about that, it's been a while and well . . . . sometimes we get a bit carried away."
"Sounded like more than a little" Willow said, still being snippy, but then her voice changed "so why had it been a while?"
Faith looked over at the girl "has anyone told you what me and X are doing these days?"
"Well Jeeves put me and X together as kind of mobile trouble shooters, we're stationed in Cleveland, but if something comes up anywhere, well that's where we go. You know, if someone needs some extra muscle or there's like an apocalypse on the horizon that kind of thing. Anyway, this last job was kinda rough."
"A couple of dead slayers and a dead Watcher rough" Faith said looking away. "We were up against this Warlock guy and neither me or X are real big on the mojo, so we had to take him out the regular way, but it took time, too much time."
"I'm sorry" Willow said and for a change she didn't feel any of the usual animosity she held for the dark slayer "are you two OK?"
"I'm OK, but X kinda blames himself for what happened, figures if he'd have come up with a better plan or something; I try to tell him that death and slayers go together, but I don't think he'll ever accept that. It's kinda great, but it's also kinda scary, you know what I mean?"
"I think so" Willow said, she turned away from Faith, letting the silence come between them as they both stared out at the ocean, lost in their thoughts. Finally Willow broke the silence "is there any way I could help?"
"Actually you're why we're here."
"Couple a reasons, first both B and Baby D called about you still feeling down and out about what happened; you know how X is about one of his girls. Second is after this last job we both figured that we could really use someone that's good with the books and the mojo on our side, so we both thought of you."
"But I quit."
"Yeah, I know; but X figure you might just need to get back on the horse kinda, so he was gonna ask you to come back to Cleveland with us and join the team. We got our own place so you wouldn't have to deal with a lot of mini Slayers or nosy Watchers in your business or anything."
"You'd want me to live with you two?"
"Yeah, or you could find your own place if ya wanted but there's plenty of room, there's even a couple of rooms you could convert for your mojo work and stuff."
"But, I . . . well, it's like this; I . . . ."
"Have a thing for X, especially now that he's in the Cheer Girl's bod?"
Willow tried a couple of times to answer, heck to form coherent words; but in the end all she was able to do was blush and nod and look miserable.
"I know, so does X; but the way I figure it is this, you don't wanna do the cheating thing all over again, cause ya already did it once and it blew up on ya and I know X feels the same way; I'm not stupid, I know ya got a jones for him, but I trust both of ya."
"But to have him that close and know I can't touch, that would be torture."
"Who said ya can't touch?"
Willow just stared blankly for a second as her brain re-booted; there was no way she could have heard Faith correctly. "WHAT?"
"All I'm sayin is that if me and X are havin a good time, no law says you can't join in. Only rule though, if you do come over for some 'playtime' it's always the three of us, hopefully we'll avoid all that jealousy crap along the way. Me and X figured that doin that would help you relax, plus hangin out with a couple of kickin brunettes would make sure you get seen if you're interested in finding someone for a one on one or even something long term. So whadda ya say, you in or out?"
"I…I…..I" Willow stammered, her brain currently was flickering like a strobe light; there was just too much information to process.
"I think you broke her" Xander said with a laugh, coming up behind the two women.
All the while Willow just stood there stammering, trying desperately to speak, when all the sudden she felt a pair of lips on hers. She relaxed into the kiss and when it was broken she was surprised to find that it was Faith and not Xander that had kissed her, but that didn't change her answer. "In" she said, then snaking one arm around Faith's neck and the other around her waist she said "more please" and dove in for another kiss. Behind them Xander just smiled and pulled his two favorite women into a warm embrace.