Summary: Willow takes measures to put one of her demons to bed.

Rating: FRAO (mild): Adult Content: Sexual Situations.

Word Count: 3,019.

Commas Brought to You By: Howard Russell.

Pairing: Buffy/Willow, Willow/Tara.

Disclaimer: Another day, another…they don't pay me anything at all. I just do this to amuse myself and you. That's what allows me and mine to slip under the radar while playing with characters created by those more fortunate than us.

In the Mourning

"I love you," she whispers, her voice tight, gravelly, filled with regret. It's the most beautifully wonderful, horrible thing anyone has said to you in a long, long time…since the last time. She moistens her lips with her tongue. They brush yours, warm, slippery and impossibly soft, like steamy silk.

You love her too. It'd be nice to say so, but the lump that rests heavy in your throat refuses you when you try. You lay there mute, dazed, her body crushing against yours. For a moment the only sounds you hear are the frantic patter of your heart resonating in your head and the labored billow of your breathing. Her hazel blue eyes, reduced to dark drowning pools by the dim light, glimmer with an unsettling mixture of mischief and intelligence. As usual, she has the better plan.

There's too much between you, too many clothes among other things. You clutch the hem of her nightshirt, wadding the soft, fuzzy cotton in your hands. She moves with you, counter, in accord. The clothes are a problem. Peach fabric so light it's almost white with sprinkles of faded pink and azure hearts like polka dots peels away, over her arms and head in one fluid motion as you pull.

Crouched between your legs, she rolls back, turns, straightens her legs and slips her sleep shorts down, shedding them away. The bunched peach fabric falls to the floor as you lay there, still clutching her nightshirt, stunned too senseless by her grace to do anything except stare.

You'd almost forgotten how beautiful she was. It all comes back to you as her weight shifts forward. She crawls up the length of your body, treading over the rumpled bedclothes without touching you. Her expression is pure radiance, a beacon in the twilight of the room. Her full breasts hang, gravity and motion causing them to sway within the frame of her arms as she glides closer. Just her cleavage is enough to make you swoony.

Her long chestnut hair is swept around her head in a spiraling crown. It flows over her right shoulder partially blocking your view. You want to reach out, to brush it away, to run your fingers through it, to take hold and feel its silken texture in your hands.

She stares down at you. Her lips curl in a crooked smirk, matching the impishness reflected in her eyes. Her dimples are just too cute for words.

It's over and you know it. Any fight you might've had in you—any taste for the chase and its thrill—is gone, not that you had a heck of a lot to begin with, but a hint of playfulness from your camp might've been encouraging to you or her or both of you. Too bad the window of opportunity has passed. Her power roils over you, bathing you, caressing you deeply as only a lover can. It's really her. If there was ever any doubt…

You want to break down again, to cry, to weep her name, to tell her how very much you've missed her. Lump that you are, you lay there, unable, but not unwilling to move or speak or anything else.

"Your turn," she declares in a soft, throaty voice, almost a purr. Her upper body lifts and twists. In that moment you remember how very catlike she was. Like a clumsy kitten sometimes. Other times so very, shockingly confident. She looks over her shoulder, tugging at the hem of your nightgown with the tips of two fingers, raising the cloth from your thigh.

Her spell is woven. Going along is your only option. Good thing that isn't really a bad thing. You allow her guide you, lifting up, moving with her as she strips all of your barriers away. She settles her weight on top of you. Your bodies mold together.

And of course, just because, your voice picks a funny time to return. "I've missed you." Or not so much a funny time, but a funny way. What with the weightiness and the lump, you sound like a box full of frogs.

For just a moment it makes her grin. That fades to the sweet taste of her mouth, her touch, the smell of her hair. Her hips roll. Tingling pressure builds low in your body, cascading up, warming you to your core. She knows just how to touch you, just how you fit, two mated pieces in the same puzzle, neither one whole without the other. Feeling that again causes tears to well in your eyes.

Every movement, from the top of her head to the tips of her toes, feels so visceral, so natural, so perfect. She flows over you like water. Though supine, you float on her surface, conforming to her—with her, feeling her splash over you. She laps at your skin. Her lips tease yours. She kisses your cheeks and chin.

The water analogy is a good one. As with water, you know you can't hold on. She'll slip away, but for now, for just this moment, you try.

She undulates in your arms, returning and receding. As her moisture streaks your skin, portions of your thigh stand naked, while others are bathed in her. That one part of you warms then cools in waves. The chill comes with the rush of air that swirls gently in her wake. You tune everything else out. This is the most intense of the mundane things that are happening to you. It makes a marvelous focus.

That works for mere moments until she lifts up, slides down, crushes harder. You plant your foot. She grinds against your thigh, then tenses. Her hips shudder. The press of her breasts against yours lessens. For the first time you register the sensation while mourning its loss. Her head bows, brow resting against the slope of your shoulder as she breathes in one long gasp.

She stills for a time, long enough to collect her wits. You wish she'd collect yours too. That might even work considering her intense, affective empathy. That is if you'd had any wits to start with. The point's debatable.

As her arm snakes between you, barely brushing your skin, she latches onto your neck. The way she touches you is more than just a kiss, less than a bite, but still possessive. It snaps you to your senses. And away from them. Your body bows, your lower back rising from the sheet. The crown of your head squishes your pillow. Your hands go to your sides. The sheets wad in your fists. You make fair show of taking part of the pillow-top mattress with them.

This is all reflexive, all so intense that you continue to react past the point where her fingers touch you in the tenderest of spots. Past the gentle teases, swirling caresses. Past the point where her tease turns abruptly decisive. Past the point where your body opens to her, stretching around her, fitting her like a tight, wet sheath.

The rush of sensation so raw and powerful you barely register her teeth at your throat. Not that she's doing bad things. These are good things. They're very good, very bad, very brain crippling things, mind muddying things. They cause snow to stipple in the near perfect darkness behind your closed eyes. They make you gulp for breath like you're drowning. They cause your muscles to tense so hard your bones threaten to chatter. The pitter-pat of your heart has been spurred to a gallop by these things.

No big.

Yeah, riiigght…and the Sierra Nevada are just a few measly hills.

All of the fun physical stuff aside, a thick, crippling fog hangs over you like a wet blanket. A blanket bathed in something like pounding static. Tension builds low in your belly. As those muscles begin to twitch, causing your hips to buck, she slides down, no doubt planning other nefarious things to do with her mouth, starting just below your clavicle.

The wad of sheet falls from your aching left hand. You catch her by the chin, the back of your hand brushing flesh, probably your breasts, but things are just too muddled to tell. She stops. With a single finger, you persuade her to face you.

The night is slipping away. You feel the press of dawn as surely as you feel her. One last chance to say all of the things that you couldn't. All of the things that were stolen. You meet her eyes and tell her you love her. You're breathless, mouth and throat parched. It translates, making your voice a ragged tangle. Enough talk. Words lose out to a kiss.

Her arm still lies trapped between you. It always feels weird having something hard pressed against your belly like that. With the naughty petting, it's a trade off. That definitely doesn't feel weird. She breaks the kiss. A bright, cheerful smile reached her eyes, causing them to sparkle. All is forgotten with a curl of her fingers and a swirl of her hand.

A new problem emerges. She lifts up and looks down, one eyebrow cocked, not disguising her lechery. It's so hopelessly cute, your chest aches.

She slides down and you just let her. Your eyes flutter shut as she kisses her way to your breasts. A little chance to reciprocate might be nice, but you give in. This is what she wants. Stopping her would be wrong on so many levels. It might even be cruel.

The problem is you. It always was. Deep down you didn't believe you were worthy of her affection. Now as she spends her last few moments bathing you in warmth, you see the truth. You only half believed her when she told you she loved the way you felt—that she took more pleasure in your pleasure than her own. The rational part was fine, but your personal issues denied that her actions could be anything more than self-sacrifice. That simply wasn't true.

Or it could just be that she enjoys hearing you squeak. You're certainly doing plenty of it and some gasping, even a little whimpering. Each time you get noisy, she stops kissing long enough to smile.

She dances over your skin. Beneath your skin other things dance, some tangible, some not so much. You track every movement, very aware, yet vaguely aware. The building pressure is so intense. It dulls your senses, tearing holes in your perception while prying it wide open. Things slip your grasp as they happen, the next touch, the next new thing, overwhelming the old. Layers of awareness strip away, yielding to her touch, leaving behind an insatiable need.

She reaches your tummy before you find the will to release your death grip on the bed and reach for her. When you move, her nightshirt trails along tangled in your fingers. You shake it off and give them a wiggle to loosen the stiffness. She falls still as you touch the side of her face. Of course, hair being the unruly stuff it is, you touch more of it than skin. She looks up, puffing and sputtering. You smile and stroke the curtain of hair that covers half of her face aside. When she sees your eyes, you both move together—you sitting up, her shifting forward—to meet in a kiss.

Mutual decisions don't get much easier, though moving doesn't change much. You're still the neediest one in the room, maybe in the entire state. She fills you, but rests motionless. A gasp slips past your lips, interrupting the kiss when she breaks the stillness. She eases you back, settling on top of you.

As she digs in, pressing forward, the sheets slide beneath your legs, not much, just at little. Shocking that you feel it. Other changes are way more distracting. Her energy spills over you, moves through you, wraps around you. Your priorities change as you cling to her. The kiss slips into the background. You respond without thinking, without doing anything, just reacting is almost too much. She advances and recedes fluidly, almost languorously, her hips rolling smoothly, driving her hand, reducing you to a gasping, trembling heap.

That long, lingering, exploratory kiss dies to neglect, and to your shame, you barely notice. Your body's locked in one of those positions that only happens during yoga or sex. The human body really isn't meant to fold back on itself. Not that you notice. You're back to 'fleeting impressions' in the noticing department. In your body and around it, everything thrums with an energy that threatens to overflow. It rolls off of you as she slowly fades away.

She stops. Muscles give, like tension released from a spring. Far from relaxed, your body slumps to the bed. The energy siphons away. You lay twitching. The wisps of blonde hair you see when you look down confirm what you sensed. Tara's gone and the illusion with her. She even smells different.

As Buffy lifts her head to face you, she smoothes her hair back with her free hand. Her hand and forearm roughly match the curve of the crown of her head. "Do you want me to leave you alone?" she asks.

It surprises you that she doesn't seem upset. She hasn't even moved her hand. Things shouldn't have ended this way. It was a horrible idea. You should feel horrible. The last thing you should do right now is cry, so of course tears pool in your eyes.

Worrying her would be wrong. And you will worry her if you start to wig. You hold your eyes open, too open, so open that you actually notice, not just sense, the first faint light of day shining in through the sheer curtains. "No," you reply as she studies you, looking worried, of course.

You'd think you would've had enough of crying tonight, but no. Obviously not.

Her fingers slip free. She doesn't even ask, but she is remarkably gentle. It's like she senses that continuing would feel wrong. This whole thing should feel wrong. Very, very wrong. It should feel like cheating. It should bother you that Buffy even went along with being ridden like that—with being used like that.

No, what should really bother you is that nothing about that—that little part of this—bothers you at all. Even if she did seem okay with it, even happy to do it—even if you wanted it more than anything—there was still something about involving her that was wrong. Of course, without her it would've never happened. You needed her.

She gets up, sweaty skin sticking and pulling. Her breath comes out in a soft sigh as she sits on the edge of the bed.

You want something on. As if she senses that too, she stands and does the next best thing, pulling the covers up around you. She's so beautiful. So sweet. She gives you a weak smile as she tucks the blanket under your chin. You watch her go to the closet and don her robe. "I'll be right back," she says as she leaves the room.

Tears leak from the corners of your eyes when you blink. The worst thing about crying is the ache. That hollow feeling, like something's been scooped out of your chest. This isn't quite like that. It's been long enough that the sharp edges have worn from the pain. The pounding in your head is pretty unbearable, but you'll live.

Water in the bathroom runs. Silent tears stream from your eyes. The kind of tears that only happen when you're at the end of your rope. Instead of sliding down your cheeks, they trickle over your temples, threatening to run into your ears. That's icky, but somehow you can't find the strength to care. Misery, hot and thick enough to drown in, engulfs you and you wallow, which is sad because you got exactly what you wanted: forgiveness.

This must be the penance.

When the toilet flushes, you reach to grab tissues from bedside table. You played lump again and missed the sink shutting off. You race to pull some illusion of normalcy out of your hat.

It doesn't happen. Even with the little burst of panic when she touches the doorknob, you still come off like a rank amateur sniffling with tissues in your hand. She has the grace to walk to the bed and sit on its edge near the foot. She doesn't even ask if you're okay. She just reaches back without looking and places a hand over your ankle. That's it. A steadying hand is all the contact you get. It's wonderful. Perfect. You almost start bawling again.

Two hours wasn't enough, but in some ways it was too long.

What feels like ages slip past and numbness moves in replacing the emotional overload. The room lightens. The neighbor starts his car and leaves for work. Birds sing. People do their thing. The neighborhood comes to life just like it should. It's going to be another beautiful day. Yippy. Neither of you moves much, just enough to keep from stiffening up.

Out of the blue, she mumbles, "Thank you," without so much as a glance.

Your brow tightens because you can't imagine for the life of you what she means. "For what?" you ask, sounding truly terrible. Your head shakes a little with confusion. Your throat hurts from disuse. You swallow. It's less than helpful.

"I don't know," she replies, her tone soft and sort of dismissive, like she said something silly. She looks down at her hands, fidgeting. "I guess for sharing that with me. I mean, I knew that Tara loved you. It was kinda hard to miss. But feeling it—actually being aware of it was—" She falls silent.

More silence follows. You want desperately to it. You need to say something, but nothing comes to you. Finally, you find your wits and with them your voice. You say the one thing that might mean something right now, "I love you."