TITLE: Guess Who's Coming To Dinner
CATEGORY: Dramatic comedy or comedic drama (also known as fluff and filler)
RATED: PG-13
CHARACTERS: The usual suspects
DISCLAIMER: All BTVS characters are owned and operated by Joss Whedon & friends
SUMMARY: Story takes place right after Who Are You? Speculative ramblings by a frustrated BTVS fan bored by endless repeats during the month of March. Feedback welcomed, even anticipated.
SPOILERS: Anything up to Who Are You? is fair game. This was written between that episode and Where The Wild Things Are.

"Riley, are you sure you're ready for this?," asked Buffy.
"I think so. I don't want to wait any longer," answered Riley. "When you're learning to ride a bicycle and you fall off, the best thing to do is to get right back on and ride. You don't mind, do you?," he asked, hoping not to get rejected.
"Of course not, silly!," giggled Buffy. "I usually prefer to do it alone, but there are exceptions for every rule."
"Shouldn't we go somewhere where there's fewer people around?," asked Riley.
"Maybe that's a good idea. I'm just worried that your side isn't healed enough yet. So if we get into something that's more than you can handle, I want you behind me. It seems like a slow night for patrolling, but you never know in this town," added Buffy.
"Slow is one word you might use for this night," commented Riley, looking around the almost deserted park. "But I was thinking romantic might be a better description for it," he suggested, offering his hand to Buffy. She hesitated, but then smiled and placed her hand in his.
"A distracted Slayer gets sloppy in her work," warned Buffy with a smile.
"You don't like being distracted?," asked Riley, smiling back.
"I didn't say that." They stopped walking and looked into each other's eyes.
"We should...," stammered Buffy. "We should get to the cemetery. Might be more action there. This place is too quiet for Adam," said Buffy, letting go of his hand.
"Yeah, no action here," muttered Riley as he turned away from her.
"What was that?," asked Buffy.
"Nothing," answered Riley sharply. "Only in Sunnydale is a public park quieter than a cemetery," he added, walking away.
"Riley, wait! What's wrong?"
"What's wrong?," repeated Riley, turning back to face her. "I don't know. But I feel like you've been avoiding me ever since Faith left."
Buffy flinched at hearing Faith's name spoken but if Riley noticed he didn't comment on it.
"No. I haven't been avoiding you. It's just been hectic lately, what with looking for Adam, patrolling, schoolwork and...and...well, stuff."
"Stuff?," asked Riley, not convinced. "Buffy, why won't you talk to me about her? There was no way that I could've known it wasn't you."
"I know."
Riley hesitated at first, but pressed on.
"I shouldn't have to apologize to you for sleeping with you, or her, I mean...but if that's what you need to hear, I will," said Riley, placing his hands on Buffy's shoulders.
"Riley, no. Of course you don't have to apologize," said Buffy, placing her hands over his. "This is my problem, not yours."
"Wrong. It's our problem," said Riley firmly.
Buffy took a deep breath and smiled sadly at her boyfriend.
"No. It's all me. Of course you couldn't have known. It's just...there's some part of me that's mad at having to share you that way with someone else. That, and I keep seeing you with her, in her body, not mine."
"I don't have an answer for that," said Riley, shaking his head. Buffy hugged him and he held her tightly. "Buffy, what can I do? We have to get past this."
"I'll work it out. I promise," answered Buffy, not looking at him.
"I regret what happened. Especially that..."
"That it was Faith," finished Buffy, pulling back from him and looking up. But she realized that wasn't what he had meant.
"Uh-oh. That's not it, is it?," asked Buffy nervously.
"Not entirely. Oh, that's a big part of it. But..."
"But?"
"I told you that Faith asked me what I wanted from you. Actually, I think she said 'what do I want from her?', meaning you. Should've picked up on that. Especially after she broke down after..."
"Riley," interrupted Buffy, "we already covered the psychobabble. She has big time intimacy problems."
"Buffy, I told her that I love you. I told her, not you. It seemed the right thing, at the time. It was the first time I said it and you never heard it. We can never get that back. That's what bothers me the most about what happened."
Buffy turned around so Riley couldn't see her face.
"So now I find out that she took another thing from me. Great!"
Riley put a hand on Buffy's shoulder and she stepped away from him but immediately turned to face him.
"I'm sorry. I know this hasn't been easy for you, either. You know, there was some part of me that still hoped that she was a friend, that I could help her. That somehow she might change. Get better. That can never happen. I see that now. And Riley, you know that I feel the same way. I...I...I think you should duck!"
"Huh?"
"Vampire!," yelled Buffy, pushing Riley down and drawing a stake in the same motion. The vampire crashed into Buffy but was dust before she hit the ground, landing hard on her back. She winced and turned her head to see Riley looking up at her with concern in his eyes. He was holding his side.
"Oh yeah, you're ready for that bike ride."
"It's nothing," replied Riley, grinding his teeth.
"Come on, cowboy. Let's get you back to the ranch," said Buffy firmly, standing up and offering a hand to help him up. He looked at her and stood up on his own. They didn't talk for a long time on the way back to the dorm. Riley broke the awkward silence first.
"I think Adam is still in the area. The Initiative is getting fewer and fewer sightings of Hostile Subterrestrials. Since there's no logical reason for them to leave the Hellmouth, we can assume they're afraid of him. Maybe they're not leaving the area, but they're laying low."
Buffy didn't speak up so Riley continued.
"We did have one interesting case. Captured a werewolf."
That caught Buffy's attention and she looked at Riley as they walked.
"It's interesting because now that he's been neutralized and can't harm anyone, he wants to join the Initiative. We don't know what to do with him. He is human, not demon, after all. Well, except for three nights a month."
"Did you capture him around here?," asked Buffy.
"No. I'm not sure where, but he was brought in from somewhere else. Dan says he can help us track the bad guys with his heightened senses," laughed Riley.
"Dan?," repeated Buffy as she stopped walking. Riley stopped walking as well.
"Yeah, that's his name. Daniel something. Wants us to call him Dan, not Danny."
"Daniel Osbourne?," said Buffy timidly.
"Yeah, that's it. Why? Do you know this guy?," asked Riley, surprised.
"Riley, I have to see him. Okay?"
"Sure. I'll make the arrangements. What's up?"
"We know him as Oz," said Buffy.
"Oz? Wasn't that the name of Willow's boyfriend?," asked Riley, confused.
"Welcome to my world," replied Buffy, turning and walking away from him. Riley stood there for a moment and then had to run to catch up with Buffy.

"Willow, are you sure you wanna do this? We can slow things down," said Tara.
"No. I'm ready. Just a little nervous, ya know?," replied Willow, giving Tara that little smile that she had quickly grown to love.
"I can wait if you're not ready," hinted Tara.
"Now who's nervous?," giggled Willow, taking her hand into her own. "Come on. Before I change my mind."
Willow led Tara down the hall and stopped in front of her door.
"I need to tell her. Buffy's my best friend and I want her to know. Besides, I'm a little obvious in the lying department," pouted Willow.
"You got that right," laughed Tara. "Oh, don't be that way. It's that honest face of yours that gives it away."
"That. And guilt. Not big on guilt trips, either," added Willow. "Ready?"
Tara nodded.
Willow knocked on the door three times, waited a few seconds and then opened the door with her key.
"Hi."
"Hi yourself," answered Buffy. She was sitting on her bed. "Is that a new code or something? Knock three times...oh, hi Tara. I didn't see you."
"Hi, Buffy," smiled Tara.
"Well, I didn't know if you were with Riley or not. We do need a signal or something. In case, well, you know, Riley's here or I have a guest over," suggested Willow.
"Little chance of that," smiled Buffy. "We gave up on patrolling early. Too quiet. Lately Riley's been zigging when I've been zagging. We're still working on some Faith issues."
"Oh. Sorry. Want to talk about it?," asked Willow as she pulled a chair out from the desk for Tara. Willow sat down on the edge of her bed.
"Not yet. There's something I have to tell you first," said Buffy.
"Really? Me too," said Willow, smiling and glancing at Tara. Tara looked down at the floor but sneaked a peek back up at Willow.
"Wait a minute. You might have a guest over?," asked Buffy, grinning. "Have you been holding out on me? Willow! Are you seeing someone? What's his name?"
Willow stopped smiling.
"Uh, why don't you go first, Buffy," said Willow coyly.
"No way. Who is it?"
"No. You first. I'm giving you my resolve face, see?"
"Okay. I know what that means. Oh. Oh, this is bad timing," said Buffy, her face suddenly serious.
"What is it?," asked Willow.
"Uh...," began Buffy, looking away.
"Oh. Buffy! What is it?," asked Willow again, concerned this time.
"It's Oz. He's back. In Sunnydale."
Willow's mouth was open but she couldn't speak. She looked away from Buffy and slowly raised her eyes until they met Tara's. Tara stared down at the floor and rubbed her hands together.
"I didn't know how to bring it up. Especially after what you started to say. Riley just told me. The Initiative...uh, does Tara know about Oz? All about him?," asked Buffy.
"Yes. I don't keep any secrets from her," said Willow, leaning forward and rubbing her chin with one hand.
"The Initiative captured him and put a chip in his head. Just like Spike. So now he's a harmless puppy dog three nights a month and...and he wants to join them. The Initiative, I mean," added Buffy.
"When?," asked Willow.
"When?," repeated Buffy. "Oh. I don't know. I didn't ask. When was the last full moon?"
"Thirteen days ago," answered Willow instantly.
"Still keeping track?"
"It's just a habit. A stupid old habit," replied Willow defensively. She got up and started to pace around the room.
"Will, what are you going to do?," asked Buffy.
"Do? I'm not going to do anything! Why should I? If he wants to talk to me, let him come crawling back like the snake that he is and, and let him...do something! It's not up to me!"
"Willow."
"What!?"
"Take a breath," suggested Buffy.
Willow stopped pacing. She looked at Buffy and wrapped her arms around herself. And started crying. Buffy and Tara both stood at the same time. Willow took a step as if she was going to fall and Tara was there to steady her before Buffy could move. Tara put her arm around Willow and sat her down on the bed.
"I'm sorry. I don't know why I'm crying," said Willow, covering her face with a hand.
"Willow, it's okay," said Tara. "Come on, let's go for a walk. The fresh air will help."
Willow nodded and stood up. Tara brushed the hair from Willow's eyes.
"Buffy, we'll talk later," said Willow.
"Of course. You know I'm here for you."
Willow and Tara left the room and Buffy sat back down on her bed. She looked at a photo on the nightstand, one of her and Willow standing together.
"I'm supposed to comfort you, Will. That's what best friends do."

"Well, that went well," said Tara.
"Oh yeah," smiled Willow. "I'm sorry. Boy, over-react much?"
They were walking around the campus with no particular destination in mind.
"Willow, you must've thought that this day would come. That Oz would come back."
"I guess. But in an abstract way, you know? Actually, I tried not to think too much about it. Part of the healing process and all. I think I'm more mad now than hurt. But it's like what Buffy said about the time she went to visit Angel in L.A. She was overwhelmed with pain. You just react to it. I can't lie to you, Tara. I don't know what's going to happen or how I will react. I might not be a lot of fun to be around. Oz was just so much a part of my life for so long." "Nice speech," smiled Tara. Willow smiled back.
"That was a little long winded."
"Since we're being so honest with one another, I have a confession to make," said Tara, not looking at Willow. They stopped walking.
"What you said before, to Buffy, about not keeping secrets from me. I like that. But I've been keeping one from you," said Tara nervously, still looking down at her feet. Willow reached out and touched her face, gently raising her chin so that Tara would look at her.
"Don't be nervous. I won't be mad. I trust you. You can tell me anything."
Tara smiled.
"That time we tried that spell, the one we used to try to find demons? It didn't work. Because...because I threw my sand under the chair behind me. I was afraid. I didn't realize how involved you and Buffy and the others were into this...well, whatever you do. I'm sorry. I didn't think we were ready for something like that spell. Not then, anyway."
Willow put a finger over Tara's lips.
"Hey, no big! And you know, with all the demons in Sunnydale, that map would've lit up like a pinball machine anyway. You've should've told me. I would've understood."
Tara nodded.
"I know. It was wrong to..."
"It doesn't matter," interrupted Willow.
"Thanks," smiled Tara.
"Hey."
Willow jumped. She recognized that voice immediately. Oz was standing behind them, dressed in military fatigues not unlike the ones Willow had seen Riley wearing once.
"Oz."
Willow took a deep breath and sighed, puffing out her cheeks.
"You look great," complimented Oz.
"Thanks. So do...so you're back in Sunnydale," replied Willow.
"Will, we need to talk."
"Oh, Oz, this is Tara. Tara, Oz."
"Hi," whispered Tara. Oz just smiled and nodded.
"She's a real good friend," added Willow.
"Willow I thin...th...think I sh...should go," said Tara.
"No, I don't want you walking home alone. It's not safe."
"It's okay. It's not far."
"Tara, we could walk you home," suggested Oz.
"No. Willow, I...I'll see you later."
"Yes, you will," reassured Willow. She took a step closer to Tara and gave her a quick kiss on the lips. Tara's eyes grew wide and her face turned red.
"Be careful," said Willow.
Tara tried to smile and waved goodbye to Oz. Willow turned back to Oz and saw the look of surprise on his face. She answered him by tilting her head just a little and raising her eyebrows.

"Xander, is there a supermarket open at this time of night?," asked Anya.
"Maybe. Why?"
"I think we need strawberries, some whipped cream and maybe chocolate sauce."
"Sounds good. Are you planning on baking a dessert?," asked Xander, food being a favorite hobby of his.
"Who, me? Don't be silly. You know I can't bake. Or cook, either."
"Oh. Well then why do you want...oh!," said Xander, realizing where this conversation was going.
"For sex, silly."
"Silly sex?"
"No. To, you know, spice things up a little," said Anya.
"You want more spice? We're already in Cajun country here," complained Xander.
"Hmm. Cajun. That's not a bad idea."
"No, that's not what I meant. Anya, do you have a complaint about our sex life?"
"No. I'm just trying to keep an open mind about trying new things."
"Let me guess. You read that in a magazine," said Xander, frowning.
"Well..."
"Anya, I'm not complaining here, but I think you're missing something. The sex is great, but it's supposed to be more than just...well, sex."
"Huh? What do you mean?"
"Not to sound like a woman, but we should be connecting on a more intimate level."
"We connect just fine," answered Anya.
"No, I don't mean the fitting together part. I'm talking about an emotional bond between us. God, did I just say that? I'm going to be picking out furniture next."
"Oh, you mean like mirrors?," asked Anya excitedly.
"Anya! Are you listening to me at all? Hey, wait a minute. Isn't that Willow and Tara over there talking to...Oz! When did he get back in town? Man, nobody tells me anything!"
Xander and Anya watched the group for a moment.
"Uh, did I just see Willow kiss Tara goodbye? On the lips?," said Xander very slowly.
"Well, at least someone is keeping an open mind on trying new things. Xander, close your mouth. You're drooling."

"So, were you headed back here or is the only reason you're here the fact that the Initiative captured you?"
"Huh? You know about that?," asked Oz, surprised.
"Oh, Buffy's dating Riley. He's one of them. So yeah, we're down with the whole Initiative thingy," answered Willow.
"So you know what they did to me?"
"Yes. Do you know what you did to me? And you didn't answer my first question," demanded Willow.
"I was captured on my way back here. Will, every second we were apart I thought of you. I left because I was so scared that I was going to hurt you."
"You did that and more and you weren't even here! We needed to talk, to work things out. What was the big rush to leave? It's not like you were making a movie or something!," yelled Willow.
"If you felt even just a little the way I felt, the way I still feel, then yes, I know what I did to you," countered Oz.
"I know," admitted Willow. "But Oz, it's more than what you did with Veruca. Or even whether you remember what you did or not. You were attracted to someone else. You chose her over me. Do you know how deep that cuts?," begged Willow, her eyes getting moist.
"It was the wolf, not me," said Oz.
"Not during the day it wasn't!," yelled Willow.
"But that's what you don't understand. The reason that I left. The wolf is in me almost constantly, not just during the full moon," answered Oz. "And more so every day."
"Oh, so I have to worry about the next Siberian Husky that walks by and wiggles her bushy tail in your face?," shouted Willow. Oz looked away from her and swallowed hard.
"I'm sorry. That was just plain mean, even by Cordelia's standards. Are you telling me that you have no control anymore? That you have no free will?"
"I don't know," said Oz softly. "But I promise you that I will never hurt you again. Ever."
"Oz, you still are hurting me. I'm not over you. I can't get past the pain to reach out to you, no matter how badly I want to."
Oz extended his hand. Willow stepped back and looked at him, tears on her cheeks now. He extended his other hand, holding his arms out to her. Willow broke down crying and hugged him. Tightly.
"Oz, I'm so sorry. I've missed you so much. You have no idea...," sobbed Willow.
"I've missed you more," answered Oz, fighting back his own tears. "I never thought that I would hold you again."
"Do you have any idea how much this complicates my life right now?," cried Willow. Suddenly she felt him falling but she didn't have the strength to hold him up. Oz lay on the ground in a fetal position, both hands holding his head.
"Oz! What's wrong!?," yelled Willow, kneeling down next to him but not knowing what to do.
"Nothing," Oz managed to say.
"What do you mean nothing? What's happening?"
"I'll be okay soon. It'll pass."
Oz reached out a hand and Willow took it with both of hers. He rolled onto his back and looked up at her, his breathing shallow and quick.
"It's an unfortunate side effect of the chip in my head. It wasn't designed for humans," explained Oz.
"But you didn't try to hit me," said Willow, confused.
"Pain is pain, Willow. Are you going to tell me that I'm not hurting you now?," asked Oz.
"Oz! You can't live like that! They have to take that thing out."
"Why? So I can kill someone during the full moon?"
"But you cage yourself. How..."
"I remember more every month, both in wolf and human form, " interrupted Oz. "Last month I was able to unlock the cage. I knew the combination even in wolf form."
"Padlock! I can lock you up and only I would have the key," offered Willow.
Oz sat up, still obviously in pain.
"We're getting ahead of ourselves. You said that I would complicate your life. Is there someone else?," he asked.
"No. Wait. I can't lie to you. Yes, there is someone. But the relationship is new. And I'm a little confused about it right now," said Willow sadly.
"Do I know him?"
"Let's not talk about that," said Willow, looking away. "I'm not ready for that yet."
Oz stood and helped Willow up. He held her hands in his and stood close to her.
"I should go. Will, I only ask one thing of you. And that's to give me one more chance. I love you. I can't live without you. Please."
Willow couldn't help herself. The next thing she knew she was kissing him, deeply and longingly. And then she pushed him away.
"No! I can't do this. It isn't fair!"
Willow turned and ran into the darkness.
"Willow! Wait!"
Oz shook his head and ran after her.

Tara knew that she shouldn't have spied on them, even if she couldn't hear what they were saying. But she couldn't resist and had hid in some nearby bushes. And watched. And when Willow kissed him she turned and walked slowly away, trying not to cry. Trying very hard. But not succeeding. So she wasn't watching when Willow ran away. And she wasn't watching where she was going when she bumped into someone. Tara looked up, ready to apologize.
"Hi. My name is Adam. What's yours?"
Tara fainted but Adam caught her before she hit the ground.

Buffy was still sitting on the edge of her bed when three knocks on her door snapped her out of her daydreaming.
"Willow, we've got to get a better signal than that."
She got up and opened the door.
"Riley!"
"Hi. Who were you talking to?"
"No one. Come on in."
"I know it's late, but I couldn't sleep. Buffy..."
"I know. We need to talk."
"Yes. But not about Faith. At least, not yet," added Riley.
"What do you mean? What else..."
"Buffy, we have to be honest with one another. There's so much that I don't know about you."
"Okay. Twenty questions. You go first. And I'll even give you a bonus answer for free. My middle name is Anne. There's something that you didn't know about me."
"Buffy..."
"No. You want honesty? Go on, ask away."
"Alright," agreed Riley, standing up a little taller. "Why didn't you tell me that Willow's boyfriend was a werewolf?"
"Why? So you could lock him up in that zoo of yours? He's human!"
Riley walked past Buffy and sat on the edge of Willow's bed. Buffy began pacing around the room.
"Want some more? Fine. Willow's a witch. Okay, not a very good one, but if she wanted to she could, well, do something nasty to you. Maybe make you bark like a dog. And Tara's a witch. Powerful, too, from what I hear. Maybe you should lock them both up with Oz? Oh, and Willow's pet rat Amy? She's a witch too! Yep, we have a whole freakin' coven here! Right under the collective noses of your crack Initiative team. Don't believe me that Amy was once a student at Sunnydale High? Well, guess why I like cheese? Right again! I was once a rat! And Anya, she was once a demon but, well, she's better now, so no funny stuff from your commando friends with her or...or...or nothing!
"Want me to go on? Maybe you'd like to hear about my old boyfriend Angel? And when I mean old..."
Buffy stopped when she saw the look in Riley's eyes. He was past hurt. He was scared.
"Welcome to my world," whispered Buffy.
Buffy had a sudden urge to run to Riley and hug him, to apologize for the way she had been treating him. She took one step towards him when, once again, there came three knocks on the door.
"Willow, we gotta talk about this signal," sighed Buffy. She opened the door.
"Xander!"
Xander forced his way into the room.
"We spotted Adam on campus. Oz and Tara are hurt."
"What about Willow? Where is she?," demanded Buffy.
"Oh, sorry. She's fine. Anya's with her."
"Riley, mobilize the troops. I'll meet up with you later."
Without waiting for his reply, Buffy grabbed Xander's arm and ran down the hall.

"Xander, go call an ambulance," yelled Buffy.
"Gotcha."
Oz was lying on the ground about ten feet from Tara. His eyes were open but he wasn't trying to get up. Blood ran from one ear and his nose. Anya knelt beside him, one hand on his shoulder. She was talking to him but Buffy couldn't hear what she was saying.
Willow was sitting behind Tara, her head in Willow's lap. Tara's eyes were closed and she was gently stroking Tara's hair. Buffy wondered why Willow wasn't with Oz. And then she understood. Buffy knew.
Willow looked up and made eye contact with Buffy.
"He's going to be fine. Probably just a concussion. Nothing serious," said Willow as if reading Buffy's mind.
"And Tara?," asked Buffy.
Willow shrugged.
"She's breathing okay. I just hope...she's unconscious. But I don't think it's serious," said Willow, showing that she was upset for the first time.
Buffy knelt down beside her.
"Maybe I can help you with a healing spell?," suggested Buffy.
Willow smiled.
"Thank you. Maybe later. Buffy, there's something you have to know."
"Will, we can talk later. Now isn't the time or place."
"About Adam?"
"Oh," said Buffy, a little embarrassed.
"Spike can fight demons but not humans because of the chip in his head. Right?"
"Yeah. So?," shrugged Buffy.
"Oz couldn't fight Adam. Couldn't even defend himself. So that means..."
"That Adam has a soul," finished Buffy.
"Thought you might want to know. Does it make a difference?"
Buffy just stood there, ignoring the question.
"Buffy, I said that Adam has a soul. And you have a big no comment for that?," asked Willow.
"It doesn't matter. He still has to die."
Willow didn't say anything in answer to Buffy but slowly nodded her head. Buffy walked over to Oz and knelt down next to Anya.
"Hey. How you doin'?," asked Buffy.
"Been better. You're a little blurry. And I can't take a deep breath. Must've cracked a rib or two," winced Oz. "How's Tara?"
"I think she's going to be alright. Just relax, help is coming."
Oz nodded and closed his eyes.
"I don't get it," said Oz.
"Get what?," asked Anya.
"Why am I alive? He could've killed me. Easily."
"Oz, what happened? Fill in some blanks for me," said Buffy.
Oz opened his eyes and looked at Buffy.
"Sorry. It's classified."
"Oz! It's me, Buffy. I know about the Initiative. Hell, I'm part of it! And I know about the chip in your head," protested Buffy.
"I got my ass handed to me. I couldn't protect them. I'm sorry. I tried."
"Oz, it's not your fault. You know that," said Buffy. Oz closed his eyes again. Buffy sighed and looked at Anya. She just shrugged.
"Stay with him. Xander will be back soon."
"Buffy!," yelled Willow.
Buffy turned and saw that Tara was awake. She ran over to them. Tara was trying to stand up and Willow was trying to hold her down.
"Tara, stop! It's okay! He's gone," said Willow. Tara seemed to realize where she was and calmed down. Buffy knelt down beside her.
"She's right. You're safe now," said Buffy.
"Are you hurt?," asked Willow, concerned.
Tara shook her head.
"I...I must've fainted," said Tara.
"Good. Playing possum may have saved your life," added Buffy.
Willow still had her arm around Tara's shoulder. Tara looked at her and leaned her head against Willow. Buffy looked away and Willow noticed how uncomfortable she looked.
"How's Oz?," asked Willow, trying to get Buffy's attention. Tara lifted her head and sat up.
"Okay, I think. Maybe some broken ribs to go with his concussion. Want to tell me what happened?"
"We ran into him. Tara decided to walk home alone so we could talk. Last time that's happening, by the way," said Willow, lowering her head and looking at Tara. She eagerly nodded her head in agreement.
"So...we talked. And then Oz fell down with this pain in his head. The chip thingy, you know?"
"He tried to hit you!?," said Buffy, raising her voice and looking over at him.
"No! Of course not! It was...I got upset. Started crying. And I think that set it off."
"Oh. Wow! That's...wow," blinked Buffy.
"Yeah, the about sums it up. Anyhow, we, uh...had a disagreement...and..."
"Will, I don't need details. Just the big picture."
"Thanks. I got upset and ran away. He followed me. Next thing I know I'm eyeball to eyeball with Young Frankenstein and he's got Tara in his arms. Hey, you didn't go right home, did you?," asked Willow, eyes narrowed at Tara. She rolled her eyes up and looked away.
"Thought not," reprimanded Willow. "Buffy, the next part is weird."
"Huh?"
"I mean, I already told you about Oz trying to fight Adam. But every time he tried to hit Adam he doubled over in pain. Adam hit him once or twice, but after that he just watched Oz. He seemed to be fascinated by what was happening. Oz kept coming at him, kept trying to fight, and Adam just stood there and let Oz hit him. Eventually Oz collapsed from the pain caused by the chip."
Willow paused as if recalling the scene again.
"And?," prodded Buffy.
"Oz was crawling towards Adam. And then Adam looked at me. He seemed so confused. I think he wanted to know why Oz was trying to protect us, even if it meant...well, that he knew he would be killed in trying. And then Adam just walked away."
"You're right, weird nails that one. Maybe that's his weakness. That he has a soul," said Buffy, thinking out loud. Hearing voices, the three girls turned to see Riley and several other members of the Initiative running towards them. They all stood up, Willow helping Tara when she seemed a little unsteady.
"Is everyone okay?," asked Riley. Buffy glanced in Oz's direction.
"Besides Dan...I mean, Oz. We'll take care of him."
"Your taking him back to..."
"We take care of our own. You know that, Buffy. We'll help him."
Riley didn't see the frown on Willow's face as she turned and walked towards Oz. Tara looked at Riley and then followed Willow. Forrest saw Willow coming and blocked her way. Riley caught his eye and nodded. Forrest stepped aside, clearly not pleased.
"Buffy, where's Adam?," asked Riley.
"Long gone," replied Buffy, staring at Willow.
Oz was being helped up by two commandos. Willow didn't know one but thought she recognized Jay from the Bronze.
"Oz."
They paused for a moment and Oz looked up at her.
"Thank you. As soon as you feel up to it, come find me," said Willow, giving him a little smile. He only nodded in reply.
"Riley, I..."
"Not now, Buffy. We're going to find Adam while he's still in the area," interrupted Riley.
"But..."
"Sorry. I have to go," answered Riley coldly.
"Want me to come with?," offered Buffy.
"No. You should make sure your friends get home safely." Saying that, Riley turned and walked away.
"Hey," said Willow, getting Buffy's attention. "We should get going."
"Right," agreed Buffy in a distant voice.
"You okay?," asked Willow. Buffy didn't answer her.
"Will, I'd feel a lot better if you and Tara stayed in our room tonight. She can...I'll sleep on the floor," added Buffy quickly.
Willow smiled.
"What?," asked Buffy innocently.
"Nothing," replied Willow, still smiling.

Buffy lay on the floor between the two beds, staring at the ceiling.
"Can't sleep?," whispered Willow, looking down at her.
"No. What time is it?," asked Buffy, keeping her voice low.
"Almost four thirty. Not comfortable? Do you want to switch?"
"No. I'm not falling asleep anytime soon and it's not because of the hard floor," complained Buffy.
"Watcha thinkin' about?"
"Lots," sighed Buffy. "Riley and I got into this big fight. Well, I got us into it. He just wanted to talk. Guess I was a little too honest with him."
"So what's wrong with being honest?," asked Willow.
Buffy frowned.
"Oh. You want to talk about me or Riley?," asked Willow, glancing over at the other bed to see if Tara was really asleep.
"I didn't mean...it's just that Riley and I were right in the middle of everything. I said some harsh stuff and...and everything is so...unresolved."
"How honest were you?," inquired Willow.
"Well, he knows you two are witches."
"Oh. Well, that's...oh."
Buffy started smiling.
"You find it amusing?," asked Willow, starting to smile herself.
"Let's just say that if you want to shake him up, bark like a dog next time you walk past him," said Buffy, hiding her face in her pillow because she was laughing.
"What!?," said Willow, a little louder than she meant to. Buffy kept laughing.
"Overtired much?," asked Willow, throwing her pillow at Buffy's head.
Tara rolled over and looked at Willow.
"Oops. Sorry, did we wake you?," asked Willow, frowning.
"Nah. I couldn't sleep either. But I have a question."
"What?," asked Willow. Buffy's eyes appeared over her pillow and she was still giggling.
"What kind of dog?"
Buffy burst out laughing and hid her head in her pillow again. Willow got an evil look in her eyes.
"You know, I bet two bad-ass witches can take the Slayer in a pillow fight," challenged Willow.
Buffy stopped laughed and again peered over the top of her pillow.
"Oh, you two are in so..."
Buffy was interrupted by Tara's pillow hitting her in the face.

"Hi," said Buffy, sitting down at a picnic table outside the cafeteria.
"Hi," answered Xander and Anya at the same time.
"Anya, are you thinking about taking up jogging?," asked Buffy. Anya was wearing a gray sweat shirt and matching sweat pants, both a size too large for her.
"No. I've just been thinking and have agreed with Xander that our relationship should be more than just sex. I wearing this so as not to tempt him," answered Anya, taking a bite of her sandwich.
"It's better than what she had on this morning," moaned Xander.
"But you were right. The sack cloth and ashes look is so five centuries ago," said Anya.
"Sack cloth and ashes? Are you into religion now Anya?," asked Buffy.
"More like a cult. Maybe the Vestal Virgin fan club," sneered Xander.
"Huh?," managed Buffy.
"Don't mind him. He's just in a bad mood," replied Anya.
"Xander, you're the one who brought up this issue? Getting in touch with our feminine side, are we?," smiled Buffy.
"He might be right, though," said Anya before Xander could reply. "So I'm holding out on him."
Buffy stifled a laugh.
"This isn't exactly what I meant," complained Xander. "I was talking about two people connecting on a certain...level."
"We were connecting just fine. Especially when we tried that new..."
"Can we not go there?," interrupted Xander.
"We're not. You're not putting your..."
"Please!," yelled Xander.
Anya looked at Buffy and shrugged, taking another bite of her sandwich.
"Buffy, how about a little help here?," begged Xander.
"Xander, there are few places that a Slayer fears to tread, but this is one of them."
Xander just stared at her with a blank look.
"Let's listen to some music," said Anya, turning on a small transistor radio. "Maybe that'll cheer you up."
Buffy and Xander both stared at the radio as the song came on.
"You got your mother in a whirl, she's not sure if you're a boy or a girl...hey babe, you're hair's alright...hey babe, let's go out tonight..."
Xander and Buffy both reached for the radio at the same time.
"It's a nice day, why don't we just listen to the birds," suggested Xander as he turned the radio off.
"Good idea," agreed Buffy quickly.
"What's wrong? You don't like David Bowie?," asked Anya.
"No. I mean yes, I like him," answered Buffy, opening a soda can and taking a sip.
"Nothing's wrong," added Xander.
"Oh, I get it. Xander's still wigged because he saw Willow kissing Tara last night."
Buffy was able to turn her head to the side before she spit out here soda and started coughing.
"Buffy, are you alright?," asked Anya.
"Fine," she managed to say, holding up one hand. "Just went down the wrong way. You saw what?"
"It was nothing," laughed Xander. "Just a quick peck goodbye between two close friends."
"On the lips," added Anya.
Buffy and Xander looked at one another.
"What's wrong with you two? You think there's something wrong with it?," asked Anya, still working at her sandwich.
"No, of course not," answered Buffy in a serious tone. "It's..."
"It's nothing," said Xander. "I've known Willow all my life. She's not gay. Just ask Oz."
"Well, there's that," agreed Buffy.
"You think it's always left and right, black and white, male and female?," asked Anya. "Isn't it a little more complicated than that? I mean, Willow's not my type but I find Buffy attractive."
Buffy opened her eyes a little wider when she looked at Anya.
"Oh, don't worry. I like interlocking parts."
"Hence the baggy, gray sweat suit," mocked Xander.
"Absence makes the heart grow fonder," replied Anya. "Or in your case, makes the..."
"Anya!," yelled Xander.
"You know, I really have to get going," said Buffy, standing up to leave.
"Did you hear how Oz is doing?," asked Xander.
"I'm heading over to Riley's right now. He didn't answer the phone this morning. Bye."
"Bye," said Anya. Xander nodded. He ran a hand down his face, covered his mouth with it and looked at Anya.
"What?," she asked.

"What?," asked Tara.
"I said you'd better hurry. You're going to be late for class," said Willow.
"Oh."
"You know, there's this new morning drink that's all the rage. Maybe you've heard of it? It's called coffee. Want me to get you a cup?," asked Willow.
"No. I should go. Willow, what's that?," asked Tara, pointing to an object on Willow's desk.
"Oh. That's a Pez Witch. It was...a present. From Oz. You know, 'cause I'm a witch? He gave it to me just before we broke up. Uh, the first time, not this last time. You see, I..."
"It's okay. I don't nn...ne...need to know."
"Yes, you do," insisted Willow. "I want you to know."
"But..."
"Tara!
Tara looked at Willow but then looked away.
"Xander and I had this, this thing for one another. I can't explain it. It was...I don't know, some kind of forbidden lust thing. But we were seeing other people. Oz and Cordelia. Oh, that's who Xander was seeing, see? Well, they caught us kissing. Cordy broke up with Xander and Oz was so, so hurt. And mad. And hurt. I said that already, huh? And I was so lost without Oz. I didn't realize that I could feel that way about someone."
Willow noticed that Tara was looking at her now.
"That Pez Witch was the only thing I had to hold on to. Well, Oz took me back. I guess I should just throw it out. It doesn't seem that important now."
"No. Don't you dare. Nn...no...not because of me," said Tara, sitting down on Buffy's bed. Willow sat down next to her.
"Willow, how can I compete with a Pez Witch? I mean, there's just so much history between you two."
"Between me and Oz or me and the Pez Witch?," asked Willow deadpan.
Tara smiled.
"You're wrong. There's no competition here. We're comparing apples and oranges. Boy are we comparing apples and aren't you going to be late for class?," asked Willow, putting her hand over Tara's.
"I saw you kissing him," said Tara softly, looking down at the floor.
"That was a mistake. I was...it was...didn't you see me run away after that? Did you?"
"No. I left right after you..."
Willow put her arm around Tara.
"Hey. I've only just put my big toe into this big pool of misery. I'm not pushing you away. You're going to have to be patient with me. I'm really trying here. I know it hurts. But I'm hurting more," comforted Willow.
Tara nodded.
"I can wait," said Tara, forcing a smile.
Willow leaned closer to Tara. And was interrupted by three knocks on the door.
"Buffy?"
Willow got up and opened the door.
"Anya! Hi. Come on in."
"And I better get to class," said Tara, getting up and leaving. "Bye."
"See you later," said Willow.
"Bye," added Anya.
"So, what can I do for you?," asked Willow.
"Oh, nothing like that. I just need to talk. Besides, I think Xander is the jealous type."
"That's an expression, not an offer!," answered Willow, rolling her eyes when her back was to Anya. "Here, sit down," said Willow, pointing to her bed. Willow sat cross legged on Buffy's bed across from Anya.
"Of course. I'm sorry, I'm just, well...distracted," said Anya.
"You do seem nervous. And cold," added Willow, noticing Anya's sweat suit. "Oh, maybe you want me to put my bunny slippers in the closet? I know you have this thing about bunnies. Which isn't silly. I mean, my thing is frogs. Okay, maybe not."
"No, that's alright. I just wanted to...you know, if you wouldn't mind?," asked Anya, pointing at the slippers. Willow got up and kicked her slippers into the closet. She turned and saw Anya still looking at her. Frowning, she turned around and shut the closet door. Willow sat back down on the bed.
"So, what's on your mind?," asked Willow.
"Xander. And males in general."
"So, is this a males in general bitch or a Xander in particular rant?"
"Actually, it's about relationships," corrected Anya.
"Oh. So why me? I'm no expert," laughed Willow.
"Ever met anyone who claimed to be and was truly happy?"
"Well, there's that," agreed Willow.
"Willow, all this is new to me."
"It's always new. Every time. And different with every person."
"I was afraid of that," said Anya. "I'm still figuring out how to deal with certain feelings, how to act on them. And when."
"Guess what? So am I. So does everyone."
"Really?"
"Really," smiled Willow.
"But you don't embarrass people by what you say. I sure seem to," frowned Anya.
"And I thought you just didn't care what people thought," teased Willow.
"I do," confessed Anya.
"Hey, I can think of things I do that embarrass people too," said Willow.
"Oh, you mean with Tara?"
"Uh..."
"Xander and I saw you kiss her last night."
"Uh..."
'"I wasn't embarrassed, but I think he was."
"Uh..."
"At least Buffy didn't seem to be when we told her."
Willow just stared at Anya with her mouth slightly open.
"Aren't you going to say 'uh'?"
"Xander! We were talking about Xander," said Willow.
"No, we were talking about relationships," corrected Anya. "So Tara is fair game."
"Uh..."
"That's better! Okay, about Xander. Every so often he says something that seems to make sense," said Anya.
"Even a blind squirrel...," began Willow. "Oh, I'm sorry. Please go on."
"Xander thinks that our relationship is just about sex. So I thought that if we didn't copulate for a while, we might explore other aspects of our relationship."
Willow shook her head to stop from staring again.
"Or maybe he might look elsewhere. For sex, I mean. Or, maybe not," added Willow.
"Oh, that's not good. I didn't think of that!," said Anya. "Ew. That's so not good!"
"Anya, Xander and I have been friends forever."
"And you don't want to see him get hurt."
"No. But I don't want to see you get hurt, either."
"Does that...does that mean that you're my friend?," asked Anya.
"I'd say so," smiled Willow.
Anya didn't say anything but wiped a tear from her eye.
"That's nice to know," sniffed Anya.
"Do you love him?," asked Willow.
"I think so. I mean, how can you be sure?," asked Anya.
"Well, is he the first thing you think of when you wake up in the morning? When he's happy are you happy? Do you feel like kissing him for no reason? Even when other people are around? Sometimes, during the day, do you remember what his hair smells like? I think you know the answer, Anya."
Anya raised her knees and placed her chin on them.
"That's good. Your answer, I mean," said Anya. Willow smiled.
"Yeah, you got a Love Jones alright," said Willow.
"Willow?"
"Yes?"
"Who do you love?"
Willow took a deep breath and exhaled slowly. She met Anya's gaze but didn't say anything.

"Giles, you won't believe the day I'm having!," said Buffy.
"Oh, I don't know try me," answered Giles.
"Riley! What are you doing here?"
"Hey," replied Riley, standing up from Giles couch.
"Not that I'm not glad to see you," said Buffy. She only hesitated a moment before running to him and almost tackling him. He returned her hug.
"I guess you are glad to see me," commented Riley.
"It's just...you weren't in your room...I thought..."
Giles announced his presence by clearing his throat. Buffy and Riley separated and sat down.
"Riley brought us something. From Adam."
Buffy shot Giles a puzzled look. Then she noticed the leather pouch on the table.
"Go ahead. Open it," said Giles.
Buffy loosened the leather strap and tilted the end of the bag upwards. Onto the table fell a pair of dice, a white rabbit's foot and a playing card, the queen of hearts. Buffy raised one eyebrow and looked at Riley.
"It was found last night. Along with this," explained Riley, handing Buffy a piece of paper. Buffy read it out loud.
"To Riley, my brother. Mother would have understood. I do not. Do you? Adam."
"Huh?," was all Buffy could manage, tossing the letter onto the table.
"Sorry. That's the best I can do as well," said Riley.
"Perhaps we could play twenty questions," suggested Giles. Buffy winced and looked away from Riley.
"Or," continued Giles, "I could offer my opinion."
"Please do," interjected Riley instantly. He reached out and squeezed Buffy's hand. She looked up and saw him smiling.
"Obviously all the objects here represent luck. Lucky rabbit's foot, roll of the dice, luck of the draw. Games of chance. Maybe he's telling us that he selects his victims randomly, by chance. That he kills but doesn't know why."
"That doesn't explain the note," said Buffy.
"No. We know Adam has been dissecting things, trying to understand how they work. Riley explained to me what happened last night when Oz fought him. Perhaps he wants to understand why he feels emotions. Feelings aren't easily explained scientifically," said Giles.
"No. They aren't," agreed Riley, looking at Buffy. That made her smile.
"Oh! Oz! How's he doing?," asked Buffy.
"Fine. He'll be up and around today," said Riley. Just then the phone rang. Giles got up to answer it.
"Riley, I have to apologize for last night," whispered Buffy. "I am so sorry. I..."
Riley interrupted her by kissing her. It only took a moment for Buffy to catch on and return his kiss.
"I...I forgot what I was going to say," said Buffy, catching her breath.
"You're not like other girls," stated Riley. "I like that."
Buffy closed her eyes slowly and then opened them.
"You're unbelievable. Why don't we go downtown and get a bite to eat tonight?," suggested Buffy.
"Sounds...unbelievable," agreed Riley.
Giles cleared his throat again.
"Just a salesman. Riley, anything that the Initiative could provide about Adam would be most helpful," said Giles.
"We're working on it," answered Riley.
"Good. It's best not to leave any door unopened when looking for answers."
"Maybe opportunity will knock first," added Buffy.

Someone knocked on their door three times. Buffy looked at Willow and shook her head. Willow just shrugged.
"Xander! Hi, come on in," offered Buffy. Xander entered the room and Buffy shut the door.
"I can't stay. I'm just doing Tara a favor," said Xander.
"Tara?," asked Willow.
"Yeah. She wanted me to give you this," said Xander, handing Willow a small brown paper bag. "She said it was for Oz."
"She said that with a straight face?," asked Willow, peering into the bag.
"Well, I don't think she's str...yep, straight face! No laughing. Not a laughing matter!," said Xander, getting a frown from Buffy.
"It's a Pez. A Scooby Doobie Doo Pez!," said Willow, apparently not hearing Xander.
"Actually, it's Scooby Doo. Scooby Doobie Doo is what you look for when you're hunting Scooby Doobies," said Xander with a straight face.
"Huh?," asked Willow. Buffy only rolled her eyes.
"Okay, so it's not original and, in hindsight, not funny, but I thought I'd throw that one out there. It probably has something to do with the Scooby Gang. And Tara did say something about them not making Pez Werewolves."
Again someone knocked three times on the door.
"Anya?," said Xander.
"Anya?," said Willow and Buffy at the same time.
"Oh, that's our signal when she comes over to my basement," explained Xander. "you know, knocking three times?," he continued, pantomiming with his hand three times in the air. Willow and Buffy gave each other a pained expression as Xander opened the door.
Anya stood there in a miniskirt and low-cut halter top.
"Anya! Why are you dressed that way? Is the fleet in? What's up?," asked Xander, obviously flustered.
"Nothing. Yet," smiled Anya. "Where have you been? Oh, never mind! It's good to see you're back. It's even better to see your front."
The other three people in the room did not move and did not say anything.
"Xander, why don't we...you know...we have some catching up to do," hinted Anya.
"Sorry, guys. Gotta go. Duty calls," said Xander, saluting as they left.
"Eewww!," said both girls at the same time.
"Major ick factor," said Willow.
"We have to sit that girl down and talk to her," complained Buffy.
"Been there. Believe me when I tell you we're better off letting nature take its course," countered Willow.
"So, Tara is buying Oz presents? What's up with that?," asked Buffy.
"It's a statement," grinned Willow, holding up the Pez Dog and looking at it.
"Huh?"
"Oh. She's...let's just say..." Willow looked at Buffy before continuing her sentence. She took a deep breath.
"She's telling me she's not afraid of a little competition," said Willow nervously. Buffy opened her eyes a little wider at hearing that.
"So. You and Tara," started Buffy. Willow didn't say anything.
"How...I mean...are you doing some new spells together?"
"Yeah. Learning new stuff all the time," nodded Willow.
"How's it working out? The new spells, that is."
"Good. She makes it all seem easy. Learning new spells, of course."
"Of course," agreed Buffy.
Willow and Buffy looked at one another.
"Are you happy?," asked Buffy.
"Yes. I think I am," nodded Willow.
"That's all I need to hear," smiled Buffy.
Willow felt tears beginning at the corner of her eyes. She hugged Buffy but didn't know what to say.
"Thanks," whispered Willow.
"Did you really think even for a minute that I wouldn't be there for you?," asked Buffy, squeezing a little harder.
"I...I didn't want to think about what I would do if you couldn't be there for me," answered Willow.
"There is one other thing we need to talk about," said Buffy.
"Oz?," asked Willow, pulling away from Buffy and wiping her eyes but still smiling.
"Okay, two things," frowned Buffy. "This signal thingy of yours. Three knocks just isn't going to cut it."
"Got that right. We'll think of something."
"Oh! I've got to find something to wear for tonight!," said Buffy, slapping her forehead. Willow flopped down on her bed, staring at the ceiling. Buffy stood in front of her closet, hands on her hips.
"Can't decide what to wear for your date with Riley?," asked Willow.
"No. I definitely want to catch his eye but I don't want my outfit to scream 'hi there, sailor'."
"Why don't you wear your leather pants? Your butt looks good in them," suggested Willow.
Buffy's head snapped around, her eyes very wide open. Willow instantly broke out in laughter and had to hold her sides.
"Oh, that look was priceless!," screamed Willow, kicking her feet. "Oh, I should've had my camera!," continued Willow, rolling on her side and almost falling off the bed. Buffy grabbed her pillow off her bed.
"Oh, you are in so much trouble," said Buffy.
"I don't care! It was worth it," laughed Willow, tears streaming down her cheeks. Buffy tossed the pillow back on the bed and covered her smile with a hand, her face turning red.
"You know, a pillow just won't work. I think I need to bring out the big guns. When was the last time you were tickled?," threatened Buffy.
"Don't you dare!," yelled Willow.
Buffy took one step towards her.
"Do you want to bark like a dog in the middle of your date tonight?," asked Willow.
"Oh, I don't know. Maybe Riley would like that!"
"Pekinese or Saint Bernard? This is your last warning," said Willow, trying not to laugh.
Buffy jumped over her bed and Willow screamed.

The End.