The characters of BtVS belong to Joss Whedon, M.E. Production & other suit types I don’t know. The original characters in this piece do belong to me. A/N:
This story was orginally posted on IKOLY.com (now IKOLY2.com) It's being posted here because this will eventually be part of a series. The second portion of this story arc is being worked on and is the actual cross-over.
This is a repost. The story has been worked over, steam rolled, red inked and re-edited to bring it up to a livable standard. When I first started writing, I didn’t have a beta or a clue as to what the hell I was supposed to be doing. I’ve learned. I’ve grown. And I’ve gotten LOTS of help. I’m also still learning. So… =0)Thank You’s:
Dirk for being my wonderful primary beta. Dennis for the moral support and the humor. Thumper for allowing her minion some alone time. Howard Russell for his spit and polish on the final touches. Lastly, Valyssia, who when this is all said and done, should probably get writing credit on it as well. Feedback:
Good, bad, I usually take it all…leave it here or drop me a line: firstname.lastname@example.orgOne Last ShotChapter 1 – American Heartbreak
A chilly breeze whipped through the city that night, so Buffy pulled her knees up to her chest to guard against it. High above the streets on a roof ledge, she sat reflecting while the city lights glared all around her. She watched the steady stream of traffic moving along a nearby expressway and a soft sigh passed through her parted lips. New York is pretty at night, but I miss the quiet streets of Sunnydale. Of course, I was responsible for the town’s destruction, but hey, it was that or let the world go to hell. Some choices aren’t really choices at all. Like, who I am? I had a choice to either reject my destiny or embrace it, but the rejection would have meant the annihilation of the human race and, with it, everyone I hold dear. So, choice? Not so much.
It’s been two years since we took out my home. The Watchers’ Council is up and running, there are over two hundred active slayers through out the world and another one-hundred-sixty-three in a school designed to teach them to slay and have a life. I guess I’m not the Chosen One anymore. It’s been hard to reconcile that fact. For years it was me and me only, even with Kendra or Faith. They didn’t live on the hellmouth, but now, I don’t either. Two years is a long time to drift through life.
I hardly see anyone anymore. I go to work, patrol a few times a week, and at night I try to cry myself to sleep, but the tears won’t come. I haven’t cried in over three years. You’d think that something would trigger some tears, but no. The last time I cried was in the arms of my friend’s dead lover.
Since I’m being ‘thought gal’, I might as well be honest. I moved to New York to get away from the people I consider family. I look at them and all I see is failure. Xander, my sweet wonderful Xander, I look at his glass eye and I get nauseous. I can’t seem to look at Giles either. He just makes me feel disappointment. He was like a dad to me once. Then, in the end when I needed him the most, he left. Don’t think I can do the ‘forgiveness’ thing with him. Too hard.
Then there’s Willow. That’s why I’m here in the chilly night air and not in my warm comfy bed. She’s coming to visit tomorrow. And sleep? What’s that? Wish I could. She didn’t say how long she’d be staying, but I hope it’s not long. I’m not sure how much I can take. I don’t know where to start. I see her and seven years of pain hit me. The first day I saw her, I think I loved her, but then there was Angel. Which at first was an excuse but then there was love. College proved to be too much for our friendship. I see my failure and inability to connect whenever I look into her eyes. After that, my fourth year in Sunnydale, I think of Willow and would rather die again than have to live through any of it again.
So yeah, she’s coming to visit and I’m not sure how I’ll deal. I guess I just will...somehow. There could be beer and narcotics involved. ’Kay, so…maybe just the beer…and probably not nearly enough… Jimmy would kill me. Suck it up, Summers…you’re the one that wanted to be a cop. Totally weird, after that whole ‘Career Day’ nightmare, but—helping people—there was sense there.
I just hope Will doesn’t bring anyone with her. She didn’t say she was, but with her you never know. The last time I saw her was in Paris. The original gang met up there for a Christmas party. It was supposed to be the five of us, but she brought her current honey. Sara, Sally, Susie? Some ‘S’ name, that’s all I remember. I never was one to remember names even when I wanted to. That’s not the point though. I was excited that last Christmas to see her; that was before she introduced the girlfriend.
A week prior to leaving for Paris, I’d resolved myself to be ‘action gal.’ I was going to woo her. I was going to finally remove my head from my ass and tell the witch how I felt. I had bought this nice, black cocktail dress. It accentuated all the right parts of my body and I was going to make her fall madly in love with me. Then she showed up with what’s-her-face and popped my balloons. I spent the week in Paris alone and frustrated. We haven’t talked much since. I went back home and stayed the hell away from everyone.
Buffy twisted her wrist to view the face of the watch she had worn since joining the NYPD. Wow - look at the time. I gotta at least try the ‘sleep’ thing. I have to be at JFK at eight a.m. Why she had to pick a redeye is beyond me. She knows I’m not a morning person. I wonder if she’ll finally see me?
Sighing, Buffy hopped down off the ledge and landed gracefully on the fire escape. Making her way down three flights of stairs, she climbed back into her window. Lying down, she turned off the bedside lamp and eventually drifted off into a fitful sleep.
Too many hours spent waiting had taken their toll on Willow. She was anxious and it was beginning to show. An impatient sigh left a haze on the small window as she peered out over the vast city. How many times have I seen this same view? Paris, Rome, London, Rio, Panama, Sydney—all of these names mean nothing to me. I’ve spent the last two years of my life filling out three passport books rather than really seeing what’s around me. I don’t know if that’s a good or a bad. Sure, traveling has its advantages, but I miss home. I miss Sunnydale.
Goddess, I thought I’d never say that, but it’s true. I miss waking up in the morning to make breakfast with Dawn and Buffy, or when Tara was there, watching her make pancakes. I miss Tara. It doesn’t seem to go away, this ache that started the day I pushed her away. I miss waking up and feeling her body curled into mine and the way she would tease me to wake me up. No one’s ever done that except her.
I miss Xander. I haven’t seen him in almost four months and I need him. He keeps me grounded. Instead, he’s off with Faith training slayers in Cleveland. Buffy—jeez, I haven’t seen Buffy in a year. Of course, it’s to be expected. She really hasn’t wanted anything to do with me for over three years. I try to remember why I insisted on the resurrection spell and I can’t remember. Sure there’s regret that I killed Warren Meers, but it’s like a distant second anytime I’m around Buffy. I failed her more than anyone, even Tara. Regret is a hard thing to live with.
Of course thinking about Buffy always brings up more. If I’m honest, there’s some longing. Pain, love, desire too, but it’s not like I’ve expressed most of those emotions with her. I couldn’t. Not when I was around her. There was always a role that she needed me to play. Ever the dutiful Scooby, I gave her what she needed.
The thing I can’t really figure is when my love for her changed. It morphed along the way to a ‘more than friends’ type of feeling. Now, there’s this physical pain whenever I see her and, after so long, it’s hard to be around her for extended periods of time.
I’m not sure why I decided to visit. A break? A chance to reconnect? Can I really let her into my world again? Will she push me away and turn her back on me like she has in the past? I probably should call and tell her I can’t come and go someplace else. Maybe Fiji? It should be nice this time of year.
Willow twisted in her seat and exhaled a tired breath. The man next to her gave her an annoyed look which she returned with a small, half smile. Great, annoying the other passengers. Suck it up, Rosenberg. You can’t go anywhere.
She placed her head back to its position against the small window and stared down at the Earth. Small. From this high up, that’s the only thing that comes to mind. The world looks so small. Fragile even, but it’s not. I know. I wish… No, I don’t wish. No wishing here. Wishing leads to granted requests and fucked up realities. Not that this reality is any less fucked up, but I’m used to it. So I guess it’s okay to be fucked up as long as you know it and are used to it? That doesn’t make sense. Maybe it’s good to recognize your screwed upedness and then try and fix it. That makes more sense. I’ll have to ask Giles, maybe he can figure out. Goddess knows I can’t.
I’m lying when I say I don’t know why I decided to visit. I came to visit because I miss her. Simple, but not. I miss her more than I miss Tara, or Dawn, or Xander. She was my rock. Then my rock was crushed and I stumbled. I want her back. I want to rebuild and I want to hope. I haven’t hoped for anything in what seems like forever. I want to hope that maybe, just maybe, I can lean on her while she leans on me. I’ve resolved myself to be ‘action girl.’ Buffy would appreciate that. She understands action. I’m ‘think it through’-gal, she’s ‘must get it done now’-gal, and Xander’s joke-guy. I could use a joke right about now.
“This is your captain speaking. Please return you seats and tray tables to their original and upright position. We will be landing in John F. Kennedy International Airport in ten minutes. The ambient temperature is fifty-six degrees and the local time is 7:45am. Thank you for flying United. Have fun in the Big Apple.”Why do they call it ‘The Big Apple’? I need to look into that. Who in their right mind would nickname a city that? It’s like naming a city ‘The Fuzzy Peach.’ Dumb, dumb, dumb. Why did Buffy have to pick New York City to live in? Couldn’t she have picked Boston? It’s a nice city—of course, it’s colder then hell in the winter, but hey, it’s only three months out of the year. It also doesn’t have a stupid nickname that pilots use to annoy their passengers with.
I wonder how she’ll look. Did she grow her hair out? Are there any lines around her eyes or mouth? I hope she’s doing well. The last email I got seemed to indicate all arrows to the positive, but she’s cut us out of her life so much that I won’t know until I see for myself. I wonder if I’ll have the guts to see this through and reconnect with her like I want. Wonder if she’ll finally see me?
Willow pushed her seat back up and made sure that her seat belt was fastened as she watched the ground rise up and meet the plane. It took twenty minutes to taxi in and then another ten to depart the airplane. Walking down towards the baggage claim, Willow groaned, squared her shoulders and resolved herself to do what she had intended to do on this trip. Walls, emotional baggage, and regret be damned. Hope you’re ready, Buff. The metaphory gloves are off.
Buffy shifted anxiously in her seat as the cab crept forward through the traffic approaching the huge airport. Stupid taxis! It’s a well known and on-going joke in New York. You can never get a taxi when you need one. Then when you do, you have to haggle with the driver to get six blocks from where you need to be. It’s damn stupid.
Figures that I would get up this morning with extra time and still be late. I showered, had some coffee, and I even left myself time to find the non-existent taxi that needed to take me to the airport. But—and I mean ‘but’ with a capital ‘B’—my time table was based on finding a cab in under ten minutes. It took me fifteen just to flag one down.
It has to be the most annoying thing in the world to stand with your arm in the air like your waiting on the teacher to call on you. And you know that said teacher sees you, but their doing that ‘ignoring you ’cause they can’ thing.
Buffy growled softly as the cab driver allowed himself to be cut off by a Super Shuttle. The traffic picked up mildly and finally the cab came to a rest outside the Baggage Claim Terminal.
“You going in?” asked the driver.
“Yeah, keep the meter running and I’ll be back,” replied the blonde as she started to exit the cab. She saw the cabbie acknowledge the request. Shutting the door with gusto, she stepped onto the busy sidewalk. So, here I am, twenty minutes late getting to the airport. Hopefully, Willow will be late getting off the plane.
Her phone played a melody from inside her jacket pocket; she pulled it out and flipped it open to read the display. Text messages. These you have to love. I was never one to get into computers, so I missed the instant messaging craze, but this text message stuff is pretty damn neat.
Okay, so…Will’s here in New York waiting on me. I’m nauseous. I’ve got butterflies and everything in my body is telling me to hightail it out of here and say, ‘I got called in’. No! Bad brain! Can’t do that to Will. We’ll get through this; she’ll go away; I’ll continue my time-honored custom of pining, loneliness, and burying myself in my work. I’m good at that. I’ll stick my head in the sand of the dead and the indigent and ignore everything else. Jimmy calls it ‘focus.’ That’s a nice word for ‘avoidy.’
Let’s go, Buffy. Let’s go meet Willow. Your oldest friend. Move. Stupid legs. They actually moved. Here goes nothing.
Her expression reflected determination as she walked along the sidewalk in front of the massive glass-front terminal building. She paused to scan the people waiting in front. A familiar face stood out in the crowd. Plastering a smile on, she made her way to the witch.
Okay, so…you’d think that with all of the technology we have that somebody somewhere would invent a better, more efficient way to claim baggage at the airport. For Goddess’ sake! Three geeks sat around in a musty basement and made an invisibility ray back home. How hard could it be? I hate, and I mean hate, those stupid rotating tracks. They go too fast and people are way too pushy. Some old lady nearly beaned me in my head with her purse as I stepped up to grab my luggage. I only brought two medium sized suitcases. Jeez!
I messaged Buffy let her know where I was. She’s late, which was to be expected. Some things never change… Buffy’s punctuality is definitely one of them. I remember Dawnie saying that Buffy would be late to her own funeral. Which under the circumstances is quite funny and true. I hope she put in for some vacation time. I want to be able to hang out and not see dead bodies. As a general rule, I don’t like dead bodies, they smell and it’s freaksome if they start to move.
Willow exhaled a deep, apprehensive sigh and rocked back and forth on her feet. I’ve been standing here for five minutes. I should probably move. You know, go meet Buffy at the entrance. I’m not sure if this was the best idea. I could call her and tell her that Xander called me and needed me in Cleveland for something. Nope, can’t do that. Bad Willow! Get a move on. It’s going to be okay. Here goes nothing.
Willow grabbed the cart that held her luggage and moved towards the doors. She stepped out into the tepid spring morning and saw Buffy coming to her from the left.
Wow. Let me just say ‘double wow!’ She looks better than I remembered. Her red mane is just that: a mane. It’s down to the middle of her back now. She looks stunning. Damn it. Why can’t she look homely? Why does she have to be standing there with that Willow-like grin and that body I could study for hours? Damn it!
Moving up to the redhead, Buffy extended her arms and drew Willow into a gentle hug.
Shit. And let me add, poop. She looks amazing. Her hair is a good shade of blonde for her complexion and she still hasn’t lost her California girl tan. She’s Buffy. This is going to be hard. Look, she’s smiling. That’s a definite good. Smile face, smile now. Hmm…Buffy scent. I will never forget what she smells like. Lavender, sandalwood, and her own unique fragrance. Gods, I’ve missed that smell. Buffy body pressed into mine. Don’t move, just enjoy.
Willow squeezed a little tighter and let the moment wrap around her.
Realizing that they were both hanging on to each other, Buffy broke away and stepped back, nervously jamming her hands into the pockets of her jeans.
“Buff…Goddess, it’s good to see you.” Willow smiled.
“I missed you too, Will.” Buffy returned the smile. Looking around at the crowd, she tugged on Willow’s arm and said, “I vote we motor. I hate the airport.”
Willow nodded then grabbed her cart before following Buffy to the waiting taxi.
A vacant, worried expression sullied her face as Buffy looked out the window of the cab. Gee, can silences get any more uncomfortable? I think not. Not now. This was a bad idea. I should have just turned around and gone home. She looks amazing though. The two years off the Hellmouth have been good for her. Maybe it was the travel. I wonder if she would freak if I grabbed her hand. We always touched digits. Would she think it’s weird? Oh well…here goes.
She cautiously slipped her left hand over Willow’s. When the redhead didn’t pull away, she closed her grip.Soft—criminy her hands are soft. Mine never are. It used to be from holding stakes and weapons, now the calluses are from the firing range. Personally, I don’t like guns for more-than-obvious reasons. Have to carry it even though I’ve never used it. Jimmy’s surprised by this, but he doesn’t know much about my past. I intend to keep it that way.
Willow hand. Hand of Willow. She likes it. She squeezed my hand back. Turn, smile, look away. God I’m a doofus. We’ve known each other for nearly nine years; it shouldn’t be like this. If you only knew, Willow. I’m sorry.
Oh…Buffy hand. It’s still callused, but boy, is it nice and—oh…tingles. I know mine are a stark contrast to hers, but it’s not my fault. Even when I would help whittle stakes, my hands were always soft. It’s a thing. Oh, she’s smiling. Smile back, goof.
Willow returned the smile. Woot! Doing internal happy-dance. It’s going to be okay. I can do this. I can turn our relationship around. It’s time. It’s been too long. I hope she understands. I hope that she can help me. I need her in my life. But saying anything? Way too scary. I didn’t want to ruin ‘us,’ but there isn’t much of an ‘us.’ More ‘a her’ and ‘a me.’
Let’s see what she does if I rest my head on her shoulder. Ah, much better. Oh…hair petting. That’s good. Kennedy was right…about the flirting. With girls it’s always in code, unless you’re Faith. Then it’s more like, ‘I want to screw. You want to screw? Cool. Let’s go be five-by-five together.’ I still have yet to figure out what that means. What the hell is that? I’ll have to ask Xander.
I’m still trying to convince myself this’ll work. So much time—nothing’s been said. Dawn told me she loved me, but I didn’t believe her and then I asked Ken. We still talk. She’s a good friend, but she left because of Buffy. Who knew? She told me later that was why. Let’s hope Dawn and Ken were right. If only I knew. I’m sorry, Buff…sorry I took so long.
When they arrived at her apartment, Buffy gave Willow a quick tour and left her in the guest bedroom to unpack.
Coming back from the restroom, Buffy knocked on the guest room door and asked, “Willow?” in a tentative tone.
“Yeah, Buff. Come in.”
Buffy slowly opened the door and stepped inside before asking, “I was just wondering what you wanted to do tonight. Or for that matter, the rest of the week. I had a gargantuan amount of vacation time, so I took the next two weeks off. Is there anything you want to do?”
Willow grinned. After shoving her empty suitcases under the bed, she took a seat on the bed and motioned Buffy over. “Well, let’s see. There’s like a bazillion plays that go on nightly. I bet someone, who shall remain nameless—not me, but someone who could be in this room—hasn’t taken one day to see the sights of the city in which they reside.”
As she spoke, Buffy crossed the room and took a seat on the bed. “Guilty. But that’s why you’re here, right? To help me find the fun, or maybe force me to… Speaking of the ‘why’—not that it’s not good to see you—but umm…why the visit?”
Turning to face her friend, Willow replied, “It seemed like the time. I talked to Dawn and Ken last week and they both said that you needed a vacation and what better way to force you to take a vacation than for me to take one myself?”
Nodding her head in understanding, Buffy laughed. “So this was all Dawn and Ken’s idea?”
“Yes and no. I wanted to come see you. It’s been—what, over a year since we saw each other? I know it’s more my fault ’cause of being travel-girl, but still I should have made time. I didn’t. I’m sorry about that, Buff,” Willow answered in a guilty tone.
The silence somehow lapsed into uncomfortable.
They both chimed together, “Sorry.”
Willow put her hand up to stop the second apology and fell quiet again.
Buffy stopped talking and let Willow start.
“You talk, Buff. Then I’ll go.”
Buffy sighed then offered feebly, “It’s just I don’t know. It’s strange for me with you here. I don’t know what to say or how to act, but I think it’s cool that you’re here.”
Willow scooted back on the bed resting against the pillows. Goddess I’m dumb. This big, gapping, gappy thingy that’s here, between us. Where do I start? It’s treacherous and I’m not—no, no more hiding. I need her. She needs me. Now, how do I get her to get that with all of our history? Lots to say and no words for me to say them with. I’d laugh if it wasn’t so damn sad that babbler-extraordinaire Willow Rosenberg is unable to find the words.
Willow looked up and met her friend’s gaze. Locking eyes with Buffy, she saw everything in them. What was it about faith I read? ‘Faith is the presence of belief in the absence of proof.’ I need that right now. I need to have faith in Buffy. Goddess, why am I such a doofus? We worked so hard at trying to protect each other that, in the end, we both shut each other out. The one person I needed the most I pushed away. Someone’s gonna have to take the first step. I can’t force her to do it...so here goes everything…
Scooting up so that she and Buffy were knee-to-knee, Willow grabbed Buffy’s hands and held them in her own. “Buff,” Willow whispered. It wasn’t meant to be said so soft, but that’s how it came out. “Buffy, I need you to listen to me and you can talk when I’m finished. Okay?”
Willow waited until she saw a subtle nod, then continued, “What I said about needing a vacation was true, but I need to be totally honest and let you know that I came here with ulterior motives. I did talk to Dawn last week and she said some things that got me thinking. Then I talked to Ken, and she said some things that made me think more.”
“So, here it goes,” Willow said, drawing in a deep breath. “Back in Sunnydale, we—you and I—tried so hard to be better for each other. I tried to protect you just like you tried to protect me. And doing that, we….we ended up pushing each other away. Then there was other stuff, you know? Like ‘people’ and ‘saving the world’ that—like our freshman year. After that, the you and I that was ‘us’ got damaged.”
Willow sighed, struggling to find better words. “Until today, I thought it was irreparable. That ‘we’ couldn’t be fixed. I’ve been—well, everywhere really and you’ve been here. What I want to do is, or what I came here for, is to try and fix ‘us.’ I need your help to do it. And I know this is probably a conversation that we should have had over some type of fermented beverage, but it seemed right to tell you now.”
A sentimental smile warmed her features, and then Willow finished the thought, “I’ve missed you, Buffy. I’ve missed you so much and for so long that I’ve got this huge, Buffy-shaped scab over my heart where you’re supposed to be. Dawnie, for some reason, ripped it off last week. I needed to heal it. I need you, Buff. I think you need me too, but you need to let me in.”
Wiping a tear away, she shrugged her shoulders and concluded, “You don’t have the world on your shoulders anymore. Remember? We had the retirement party for you. Faith baked the stake-shaped cake that said ‘Happy Trails, Chosen One.’ We had hats and kazoos and we got you Silly String. You’re just Buffy Summers. You’re the Buffy that befriended the shy, geeky Willow back in sophomore year. I know we’ve both changed, but the way I feel about you hasn’t and it won’t. There hasn’t been a day that’s gone by that I haven’t thought about you at least once. So what do you say? You want to help me?”
The question hung in the air between them. She pulled Buffy’s hands up to her mouth and placed light kisses on each one. Lowering them down to her lap, she looked up and locked eyes with a tear-stained slayer. Her friend’s hazel eyes were magnified by unshed tears. Willow placed her hand on Buffy’s cheek and caressed away one that trailed down her delicate cheekbone.
Tension settled thick over them, lingering with the unanswered questions. Willow felt compelled to act because of the promise she made when she stepped off the plane. She leaned in and placed a soft kiss on Buffy’s lips then slowly backed away, awaiting a response.I…she…wow. She looks scared. Do something…anything. Damn it, Will! Run…I should run away. What the hell do I do? Well, Summers, it’s not like you haven’t been kissed before…and this is what you’ve been wanting.
Buffy pulled back to feel the wetness on her face. Her lips burned from the contact. Safe bet, she’s not gonna wait all night for you to grow a spine.
Smiling she leaned in capturing the lips again. Applying more force, she pushed forward and lay on top of Willow using her arms as support.
Willow gave into the sensation, letting the slayer follow her impulses. Breaking for need of oxygen, Buffy pushed away slightly and looked into Willow’s eyes. They were a shade darker than normal and magnified by the tears yet to make their way down the witch’s cheeks. Buffy’s own tears rained down as she was unable to keep a lid on them.
Willow leaned up and kissed away each one that fell, then whispered, “So Buffy, will I take that as a yes? You need to know I love you. I always have. I’m sorry it took me so long to see. Forgive me?”
Buffy shook her head yes and sniffled. “I’m sorry too, Will. I should have said something years ago. God, Will, I….I do I love you, but I’m scared. What does this mean? You’re not going to leave are you? Stay, please.”
Willow pulled Buffy down on top of her, enveloping her in a hug. “I’m not going anywhere, Buffy. You want me; you got me. We’ll work it out. I promise.”