The Buffyverse and its inabitants belong to Joss Whedon and a bunch of suits. I'm adjusting their realities for fun, not profit, as I own nothing and have the credit report to prove it.

Want To by Sugarland from their CD Enjoy the Ride. Check them out. Jennifer Nettles rocks! Lyrics are in italic, are the property of their creators, and are also used without permission.


I've packed a cooler and a change of clothes
Let's jump and see how far it goes

A couple days away from Sunnydale will do us both some good. Xander's gone on his road trip, Oz and the Dingoes are moving from bar to bar. Willow's parents didn't even bother to come home for her graduation, and Mom is so thrilled that I actually graduated that I can do pretty much whatever I want. Giles even said it would be okay for me to take a little time off from patrolling because it's quiet, like it is after we avert an apocalypse, as if all the demons ran for their lives. Probably a good plan. I mean, what is this, the third time we've stopped some idiot from opening the Hellmouth or doing something equally stupid and dangerous? And why do they always do it right before finals? I'm not sure I passed, but I got the diploma, so I don't care. And the high school's gone. It isn't like they can make me go back. Plus, I'm all ready to start college in September. I think I'm ready.

I hear Willow let herself in the front door, and scramble off my bed to meet her at the bottom of the steps.

"Buffy, hey."

"Hey, Wills."

"Patrol tonight?"

"Yeah, later."

"All right. What'cha wanna do until then?"

"Don't care."

"I need some stuff from the magic shop. Wanna come with?"

"Sure."

Next thing I know, we're walking down the street, holding hands, laughing and talking. Well, Wills is talking, mostly. I thought she'd be mopey about Oz being gone for the summer, but she seems fine.

At the magic shop, I try not to fidget too much as I follow her around. Nothing in here is giving me the wiggins today, although the clerk or whoever she is keeps watching Wills with a look I don't like. Willow is completely oblivious to it, though, so I hold my tongue. We go from there to the Pump, get mochas and a snack, and sit at one of the sidewalk tables. I make sure Wills is in the shade, because she burns so easily.

"You up for a road trip of our own?" I ask her when our conversation fades into people watching.

"You aren't running away again, are you?" Willow asks cautiously.

I laugh. "If I was going to run away, which I'm not, why would I drag you along?"

"Cause you were lonely last time."

I laugh again. "I'm serious. I got it all cleared with Mom and Giles. Dad sent a huge check. Graduation gift combination guilt for not bothering to try to come. We can go somewhere for a week or so. Pretty much anywhere. If you want to." I realize I'm babbling and shut up.

"Where do you want to go?"

"Away from here."

Wills smiles and nods, once. "I'm in."

You got my heart and your daddy's boat
We got all night to make it float

A week later, Wills is behind the wheel of a cool convertible. That was her only condition, that if we were going by car, she was driving. It was only one little accident, well, three, but nobody got hurt, and I'm so glad to be leaving Sunnydale, even for a little while, that I don't care.

We decided to go to Santa Fe, New Mexico, because it sounds cool, and there's a museum there for some painter Will wants to see. I don't really care about the museum, but she was so excited when she suggested it, I agreed, just like she agreed we could go to Las Vegas. We stop by the gallery to say bye to Mom, and promise again to be careful.

Riding is boring, but I brought a mess of CDs, and Wills brought a couple books on CD, and she even lets me drive through the desert. I guess she figures there's nothing to hit, so it's all right. There's miles and miles of nothing, and my heart sings, cause nothing means no vampires, either.

When we get tired, we stop at the first motel we see. It's one of the chains, anonymous and clean, and we have time for a shower before dinner at the restaurant next door. Will looks great in a simple navy dress, and I have a lavender sundress. We are nearly alone in the restaurant, sit by the window and ponder the light when we aren't talking. Dinner is good, and afterward, we decide to take the car to find someplace to watch the sunset.

We don't have to go far before there we are surrounded by nothing. The light fades, and we talk intermittently while the sky darkens and more stars than I ever saw appear overhead. We lay the seats back and while Willow tells me about the stars, we hold hands and I feel peaceful. It's been so long since I felt like I could take a deep breath, and here, now, with her, I do.

"You all right?" Will turns to me and asks softly.

I smile. There are advantages to great night vision. One is that I can see her clearly, see the concern in her eyes. "I'm great," I tell her, and squeeze her hand.

I raise our joined hands and point to a part of the sky that she hasn't described yet. "What's that?"

"You aren't usually interested in astronomy, Buff." Willow scrunches her brows together. "You sure you're all right?"

"I'm fabulous, and when do I get to look at the stars? There's usually some ugly that wants to fight." I squeeze her hand to reassure her.

"Okay," she answers uncertainly, but doesn't say anything more, so I turn toward her. The atmosphere between us has changed, and I don't know why.

"What's wrong?"

"Nothing," she says, but doesn't look at me.

She doesn't say anything more, and I take my free hand to turn her toward me. There are tears in her eyes, and I ask again, gently, "What's wrong."

"Nothing," she says again.

I can tell it's a lie, but I let it slide. "You want to go back and watch TV?"

"No." She forces herself to change her mood and looks away from me, up toward the sky again, and begins talking about the stars.

I watch her, and for the trillionth time since I saw her, I want to trace her lips, am transfixed by their irregular movement, and again I push it away. 'You're acomplete perv, Summers. Just because all those other Slayers were that way doesn't mean you are. She's your best friend. Leave well enough alone.' I bring myself back to her voice, and she says something so ridiculous that I stop her. "You totally made that up."

"So you are listening," she says.

"Guilty."

"I thought you wanted to know about the Pleiades."

"I like listening to you."

She smiles, and I know I'm off the hook this time. "Let's head back," she says, and pulls our hands apart.

I whimper, and she turns to me again. "What?"

We could sit on the shore, we could just be friends
Or we could jump in

"Nothing," I say. It's my turn to lie, but the truth is, my hand feels empty without hers.

She seems to know this, and after our seats are adjusted for the ride, she finds mine again and squeezes it gently before returning it to the steering wheel. I move my hand to rest on her shoulder. The ride is brief, and I send her to our room while I get sodas from the machine. I get there in time to see her come from the bathroom in shorts and an old shirt, holding the small pile of today's clothes, neatly folded.

We ignore the second bed and find a bad movie and sit in the dark to watch it. We keep getting closer to each other, finding any excuse to keep skin against skin. When the movie's over, I turn off the TV and we lay down, holding hands.

In the morning, I wake first. During the night, we've shifted, just like we do when she stays over at home. I have her mostly on top of me, and I'm holding her there. My nose is in her hair, and again I push back all of the feelings this intimacy brings. She is my best friend, the only one who stood by me on every step of this sometimes awful life, and I cannot risk losing that. I practice breathing slowly, trying to halt these feelings.

Whole world could change in a minute
Just one kiss could stop it spinning

"Mmmm, Buffy," Willow murmurs.

I know she's still asleep, but my body doesn't really care. I keep my breathing slow and even, strain to stay still, to let her rest, even as she moves to cover me fully, and says my name again. I can't help myself. I kiss the top of her head, settle her weight over mine. Her thigh falls between mine, and I whimper for real at the heat of her body. It sends chills through mine, and I hope I can just stay still.

When she turns her face into my neck, and her breath tickles my skin, I wonder whether I can just die from wanting her. I've wondered that so many times, and haven't yet. Her lips move against my neck, and I hear my name again, and I have to wake her up somehow.

It seems like a good idea to do it gently, to not frighten her, and move my hands gently along her back and lay kisses along her face. She turns into my lips without opening her eyes, and we are kissing. Her lips are the softest thing in the world, and it is her tongue that slides forward first.

This isn't fair, and I make myself stop kissing her, and her eyes pop open. She says my name again, and all of the hair on my body comes to attention.

We could keep things just the same
Leave here the way we came, with nothing to lose
But I don't want to, if you don't want to

"I love you, Willow," I tell her, and kiss her for real this time, sliding my hands up her body to cup her face. She kisses me back, and I feel her hands, one in my hair, one on my cheek. We are able to slow them, and finally separate.

"I'm sorry, Buffy," Wills says, and tries to pull away. "It won't happen again."

I can't let her leave. "I'm not sorry." One arm wraps around, keeping her on me, and the other hand stays on her cheek.

I got your ring around my neck
And a couple of nights I don't regret

She's still panicking, eyes darting everywhere, and I use that nifty command trick that Kendra taught me. "Look at me, Willow." She doesn't though, until I add, "Please."

Her eyes are bright with anxiety, and her voice quavers as she repeats, "I'm sorry."

"Don't be sorry, Wills." I keep my voice soft and gentle. "I'm not. I love you."

"I love you, too," she answers automatically.

"Not just like that," I say.

"Buffy?" she asks, uncertainly.

"I love you, Willow," I repeat, and move to kiss her again.

After half a second, she kisses me back. I know we need to talk, and we will, later. First, she has to believe me. I don't know why she wouldn't. She knows I don't lie, especially not to her. So maybe I haven't been completely forthcoming about how I love her, but I haven't lied.

You got a dream of a degree
And a shirt that smells like me

This time, when our kisses taper off, she lays her head down on my shoulder. She doesn't try to leave this time, but doesn't say anything, either. This is the most perfect moment in my life so far, and I don't want it to end. It does, of course, because as soon as my arm relaxes, Willow slips away, and I let her go.

She's in the bathroom a long time, and I sit on the edge of the bed and wait. It's nearly ten, and we have to be out of here in an hour. When she comes out, it's just to grab clothes and duck back in, and the next time she appears, she's fully dressed. While she's putting things in her bag, I go to her and put my hand on her shoulder. She freezes, and I feel her gather herself.

"We have to leave soon, Buffy." She resumes putting her things in order.

"We need to talk."

She zips her bag and stands up. She doesn't look at me, but says, "We have all day to talk."

Her tone is normal, and all I can do is trust her. "All right," I say, and get my clothes and go into the bathroom to get ready for the day.

Half an hour later, we're back on the road. I rest my hand on her shoulder, and she lowers her cheek to it for a moment before returning her attention to the road.

"I love you," I tell her.

"I know. It's just, it's just, oh my gods, scary."

"I scare you?"

"We scare me."

"I don't understand."

Although there's no traffic, she pulls off, far onto the shoulder, and puts the car in park. She leaves it running, though, for the air conditioning.

"What's scary about us?" I ask.

She takes a moment before beginning to answer. "You're the Slayer, Buffy. I did my research. If we, um, get together, there's no turning back, ever. When you die, I die, too."

"I'm not going to die," I interrupt her.

"You all ready did once, and I felt it, it was horrible." She pulls in a huge, uneven breath. "I knew then, and I just couldn't deal. I don't know if I can deal now."

"I did my research, too," I tell her, and that admission shocks her into temporary silence.

"The Slayers who tell the Council to go to hell and do what they need to, the ones who live the longest, they're partnered. Did you know that, Wills? Did you know that the oldest slayer was nearly 40 before she died, and it wasn't because she did anything wrong, it was because the Council murdered her and her mate. Did you know that?"

"No."

"We can't live forever, no matter what we do. But we know the Slayer line doesn't run through me anymore, so the Council will have somebody they can warp to their specifications."

Yeah we both got dreams, we could chase alone
Or we could make our own

I take a deep breath. I know Willow, and as long as she's listening, she's thinking, considering. "I love you so much, Willow. If you don't love me that way, fine, you need to tell me. But I think you do. I think we want the same things. Nobody knows me better than you do. Nobody, not even Giles, not even Mom, takes care of me the way you do. I don't think anyone ever can. If you need to think, all right, you can have all the time you need. But think about this, Wills. If there was only one other person in the world with you, who would you want it to be?"

She looks at me. I see the wheels turning as she considers and reconsiders each thing I've told her. I know it's a lot, and I didn't mean to dump it all on her like this. I wanted it to be romantic and at the right time, whenever that might be.

After the longest time, she turns away and puts the car back into gear. I put in a CD and return my hand to her shoulder. She doesn't ask me to move it or try to pull away, and I smile to myself.

We don't talk about it any more that day. Willow drives and we listen to music for a while, and one of her books for a while, and I watch her. My hand alternately rests on her shoulder and knee.

The sky is still bright when we reach Santa Fe, and Mom gave us good directions to her friend's bed and breakfast. Our room is beautiful, and feels private. Again, we shower and change into something nicer than the shorts we wore in the car, and again, Willow is gorgeous in a simple dress.

We wander toward the Plaza, and find a restaurant, and order dinner. This is more like what I had in mind. It's quiet, and there's candlelight, but I won't push her. Well maybe a little.

Never waste another day
Wonderin' what you threw away

"Penny for your thoughts," I offer.

"Why didn't you ever tell me before?"

"I figured you knew." I reach across the table. She accepts the invitation and places her hand in mine. "You know everything else about me."

"Then what was all that with Angel?"

I blush and look at the tablecloth. "Stupidity, mostly," I mutter. Then I look at her. "Oz."

"Curiosity."

"Did you?" I ask.

"Yes. Because we were sure we were going to die fighting the Mayor. Faith?"

I laugh, and squeeze her hand reassuringly. "All talk. And I was keeping her as far from you as I could."

"She kissed me," Willow confesses. For a moment, I see red, but it slips away when she says, "She did it to be hateful, to hurt me."

"I'm so sorry she hurt you. I'll never let her do it again. I promise."

Willow shrugs. She's always been that way about what's over. It's done, move forward, because if you don't, the next thing will catch you unprepared. And Wills has never not been prepared.

Holdin' me, holdin' you
I don't want to, if you don't want to

Our dinner arrives, and we let conversation idle as I eat all of mine and half of hers. We order different desserts and share them, and as we leave the restaurant, our hands join like they always do when we're walking.

It's dark now, and the Plaza is crowded, and not at all what I want. I know that if we stay in a crowd, there will be something that I need to kill. I'm on vacation, damn it, and I don't want to have to track down some stupid vampire because someone's careless. I head us back to the B&B. It's cooler now that the sun is down, and Wills shivers a little, so I hurry us along.

In the room, I find that someone's all ready started the fire, so I move her close to it so she can warm up. I'm close behind her, and can't see her face when she asks, "Are you sure?"

We could keep things just the same
Leave here the way we came, with nothing to lose
But I don't want to, if you don't want to

It takes me a few seconds to understand her question. "It's the only thing I've ever been sure about," I answer, and she turns to face me. My hands go automatically to rest at her hips.

"All right," she says.

"Just all right?"

She blushes, and I move one hand to her face. So beautiful.

"Perfect," she whispers.

"Perfect," I answer, and she meets me halfway when I move to kiss her.

But I want to
But I want you

- 30 -