Thanks to Leigh for beta J
Property of Mr. Whedon and Mr. Lucas. I borrow for my own amusment. Chapter 3
Why won't they let me have a light saber? When I asked, I got some vague non-answer about needing to build my own. My arms cross over my chest and my pout grows a little. Like I'm not already the best person here with a blade. I uncross my arms and start drumming against the bench rhythmically with my fingers. Where is this guy? I've been itching for a good fight since I lost the last one and the one guy who's supposed to be good enough to take me on won't even bother to show up on time. Glancing down at the bench, I see four small indentations where my fingers have been tapping. I scowl at the tiny marks and stand up. I could sit here and keep on tappin' away, or I could try not to destroy the training room. I stand and start pacing back and forth in the tiny area. Five minutes. That’s all the time I'm giving mister 'challenge' before I'm outta here.
They haven’t even let me see this planet, Dantooine. We landed in the temple compound and all I’ve really been able to experience of the place are the deep blue skies streaked with thin wisps of white clouds and the clean, warm air. Such a disappointment. Being cooped up like this is starting to fray at my nerves. Restless.
Another disappointment? Space flight…definitely not what I expected. Nothing at all like what astronauts do on the shuttle. I was so looking forward to weightlessness when they first told us we’d be taking a space flight to the planet where we’re to train. Nothing but disappointment there, I hadn’t been able to find a single place on the ship without gravity.
I stop pacing and spin around as the door whisks open, cautiously facing the mountain of muscle lumbering through the door. He’s gotta be close to eight feet tall. And bald, his bare skull covered in very silly looking block tattoos. I assume they cover the top as well as the sides of his skull, but I’m too short to see. I’m tempted to jump up and take a look, but I get this image of me as a little girl dressed in ruffles, doing my best to bounce up high enough to see…whatever. Ah, what the hell, it’s not like I’m going to intimidate him in anyway till we trade blows. I jump high enough to see…disappointment. Just the triangly ends of the box kinda things.
The most ridiculous thing about him is the cape draping his shoulders and back. The brown training robes I wear are bad enough--ugly might be a better word—but this guy looks like a loser reject from a very bad vampire movie. Even his pasty complexion screams vamp.
“I’m Alec,” he says, bowing a bit in my direction, failing to hide a smirk at my antics.
“Buffy,” I say, returning a brief bow. Not quite the effect I wanted but it’ll be so worth it to see the look on his face when he realizes he’s got it all wrong about me.
“Shall we begin?” he asks, gesturing at the center of the room with a wave of his hand.
“The masters?” I ask. The whole purpose here is for me to show my skills, what I’m capable of. It’s been a week and I’m already bored senseless. I’m eager to move on and intensify my training. And then there’s Willow. They’ve been keeping us apart, forcing us to spend our time in very different pursuits. If I move up, I’ll have a little more free time and maybe I can spend some of it with her.
“Next door, monitoring,” he says with a shrug.
I answer by drawing my sword free and waving it toward the center of the room. Drawing his blade, he holds it at his side as he slowly circles me. I watch his feet, ignoring his blade for the moment. Timing is critical if I’m gonna pull this off. I need to hit him as he springs. A toe flinches and I move, leaping to plant my boot in his chest as his momentum leaves him exposed.
He gasps as he flies backwards and lands on his back. I’m on him before he can catch his breath and rise. As I ready to land my next blow, he raises an arm and pushes a hand toward me. I fly backwards, my back slamming into a wall. Sliding down to land on my butt with a hip jarring thud, I gasp for air as he leaps to his feet in one smooth motion and closes in on me. Is he trying to kill me? I’m not sure. That last trick of his came pretty close to putting me down for good.
I think I hit my head because my vision stays blurry and the ringing in my ears intensifies. I barely manage to block his sword stabbing at my tummy. No time to let my vision clear. He’s way too serious for sparring. I feel a little dumb as I give up on my vision and fall back on the last week of my lessons. The little gnome insisted I’m more perceptive than I let on. I just need to focus. And I finally get it. Look inside and give my senses over to the force. Everything focuses as my senses guide me. I make a sudden sweep of Alec’s legs. I can hear the tendons snap as my boot connects with his knee. He screams as he teeters on his remaining good leg. Before he can blink, I leap to my feet, sending a quick, hard jab to his jaw. Blood splatters everywhere as bone shatters. As his pain fueled howling fills the chamber, bile rises, burns my throat. What have I done? He’s not…
I drop my sword as the door springs open and several bodies rush in. The masters? I still can’t see. Probably, though. Closing my eyes, I scrunch them tight and will them to focus. I open them, kinda surprised it worked. I can see…disappointment on a few stern faces and prideful, knowing smirk on Arren’s. The coppery stench of Alec’s blood knots my tummy.
“You broke his jaw?” Willow mutters frantically, pacing back and forth in the main chamber of our quarters. As she turns toward me again, she raises her hands to shoulder height and repeats the bit about me breaking Alec’s jaw as she waves them for emphasis. It’s at least the tenth time she’s asked the sort of
question. Finally, she stops pacing and stands in front of me.
Should I look up and face her? I don’t really wanna. I shiver. I’m so cold my teeth chatter. I know I screwed up big time, but everything happened so fast and the slayer part of me took over and reacted to the threat when he pushed me with the force. I didn’t know what else to do. I wanna keep my eyes glued right where I’m looking, her left hip. If I look there, I won’t see the shame she must feel for me reflecting back as me.
I can’t stop smelling his blood, even though none got on me.
She touches the bottom of my chin with the tip of her index finger and pushes up, forcing me to look up at her face. I focus on her nose. Never having hurt a person before, I’m clueless how to cope, but I know I don’t want Willow thinking I’m a monster. My gaze wanders to her green eyes and I’m lost.
“I..I,” I begin, unsure what to say.
“Buffy, it’s ok…” She gives me a reassuring look.
“No it’s not,” I whisper, interrupting her. “I hurt him bad. There’s no way it’s ok”
“Did you mean to?” Do I imagine a hint of impatience in her voice?
“What? Oh no, I didn’t…Everything was just happening so fast and when he slammed me into the wall instinct just kinda took over.”
“He’ll heal, Buffy. If you learn from your mistake then everything will be ok.” The reassuring look again, like she really believes what she says.
I nod ‘cause she’s right. If I can learn to control my powers I won’t hurt anyone like that again. But I have to apply myself and fight past my boredom. I know I can do it if she helps me. “I need your help,” I say.
“Absolutely,” she says, not even knowing what she’s agreeing to. I want to tell her but I have no idea either. I just know I can’t do it by myself. I need her, in more ways than I’m willing to admit to her. She gives me a toothy grin and says, “Come on, you need to get out of here and stop moping. Let’s go for a walk outside the temple.”
“Are we allowed out?” I ask. I try to smile back at her but end up forcing a grin.
“Pmft,” she huffs in jest. “There’s not a lock here that’ll stop me.”
“True.” This time I do smile as I let her pull me to my feet.
Whoever decided to computerize the locks here never saw Willow coming. She has a way with computers that’s just amazing and the locks are a snap for her. Maybe five seconds and we’re free of the temple, finding ourselves standing on the beginning of a wide, cement sidewalk in the midst of endlessly rolling, grassy plains. The burnt greens of the tall grass and the deep blue of the sky give the place a very idyllic feel.
The walkway hugs the temple enclave, running from corner to corner. We stand at one end of the walkway. Willow takes my hand and slowly leads me over to the knee high wall separating the walkway from the grass. She lets go of my hand and sits on the wall with her back to the plains, her shoulders and head turned so she can still take in the panorama spread out before us. I quickly follow her lead.
I want to take her hand in mine again but I think better of it. Not that I think she’d mind, ‘cause I’m pretty sure she wouldn’t. I’m just scared. The situation is just way too romantic in my mind. I hate the moments when I’m not with her, but I’m so fearful and nervous, totally uncomfortable when I’m around her. And awkward. Can’t forget awkward. What am I afraid of? Ten seconds ago, I still thought my fear was all about us both being girls.
But I start to get it as I turn my gaze from the scenery to look at Willow. Her toothy grin with the tip of her tongue peeking out between her teeth captivates me. Her long, auburn hair, tied atop her head in a loose bun, shines such a pretty red in the sun’s bright light. I wish I knew how to deal with my feelings for her. Not make them go away, they’re way too wonderful in so many ways for me to not want to feel this way. I just wish I wasn’t always so nervous. It’s not like me. Not one bit. Seize the day because tomorrow you might be dead is more my style. Something I try to live up to most of the time. Why can’t I now? Maybe because I’m in love for the first time ever? But there’s more to my feelings than being in love with a girl. If I’m honest with myself, there’s something about her that called to me the first moments I saw her at the school water fountain. She’s really my best friend. I’ve never had that kind of connection to another person before. My so-called best friends of the past were fake, as superficial as I was. That she won’t be my best friend anymore fuels my fear, keeps me a nervous wreck.
Turning to face me, she says, “Picnic!”
“Huh?” Actually, a picnic sounds like a wonderful idea to me. I need to tell her how I feel. She’s my best friend, she’s supposed to know everything. I owe it to her to tell her, even if…well, I don’t really want to think about the if.
“I’m sure we can find someplace to get some food and a blanket. Come on,” she says, leaping off the wall and grabbing my hand, pulling me from my perch and dragging me off with her. She’s so much more confident since we got here. Thriving. In her element. While I flop around like a fish out of water. It’s almost like our personalities switched places during our trip through the portal. She leads me away in a search for picnic supplies.
“What are…we don’t have any money.”
She turns to me and sends me another toothy grin. My heart flutters a moment.
“Atris gave me a credit chit,” she says.
“Atris?” I question, hopefully keeping the jealousy I’m suddenly feeling out of my voice. I have no reason to be jealous. But I can’t help myself. A very pretty woman giving my Willow gifts. My Willow? Now I’m being super possessive. Enough to creep myself out. Willow’s her own person and I highly doubt a Jedi Master is trying to get into her pants. “Not Master or Mistress?”
“See, I explained to her how Master is way too masculine and Mistress way too sexual. It’s just icky,” she explains.
She finds the idea of something sexual with another girl icky? Not surprising, but so disappointing. I force a smile, trying not to look as let down as I feel. My voice betrays me as I manage to stutter out, “Oh, yeah. I guess that makes sense.”
Suddenly, her gaze is a lot more intense, a lot more probing. Letting go of her hand, I stop walking and hug myself while looking down at my feet.
“Buffy,” she says.
I’m frozen, unable to move, to look at her even. Not that I really wanna, ‘cause the way she said my name, she knows. I don’t know what to do as I feel her invade my space. My instinct is turn and run as I feel her fingers touch the bottom of my chin, pushing gently upward. Once I finally build the nerve to look at her face, what I see is stunning. Her smile and gleaming eyes radiate warmth and love. I want to kiss her so badly. But I don’t because the love she’s offering isn’t that kind. But it’s enough. I give her a genuine smile back. My fears aren’t gone, not by a long shot. But they’re no longer paralyzing. She’ll always be my best friend.
“Come on,” Willow says. “Let’s go get the stuff for our picnic.”
We sit under a cliff that’s part of a grass-covered knoll, sprawled atop a plastic like picnic blanket. Red and white checkers. Maybe not plastic, but it’s hard to tell in this place what anything is made of. I’m cross-legged, leaning back on my hands. Willow has her legs tucked in under her and off to the side as she supports her body with her right arm. I still marvel at how the sunlight reflects of off her hair, casting a fiery halo. I consider reaching out and running my fingers through her hair.
I’m more at ease than I’ve been since Amy’s mom’s bloodstone vengeance spell made me all loopy. Even with Willow sitting right next to me making me sorta nervous. I need to tell her how I feel, hopefully before we leave. Clueless if that’ll make things easier or harder, but I’m pretty sure she already knows. She has to. I’ve been acting all love sick whenever I’m around her, always getting lost in her eyes. She lets me though, that has to mean something, right? She doesn’t look away or act like I’m making her uncomfortable so I’m hoping my fear of losing my best friend is unfounded. Rejection never frightened me before, but liking another girl who happens to be the first real friend I’ve ever had adds a whole new level, leaves me completely unsure of myself. Awkward and hesitant.
Basking in the sun’s warmth, my face turned up to the sky, I close my eyes and take deep, calming breaths. I’m not cold for the first time since I hurt Alec. Savoring the clean, grassy smell clinging to the air with each breath. Not that I need them now, just wanna make sure I stay calm. My heart flutters a little, not enough to make my chest tight though. More like thrilling than fear. Oh, I have plenty of fear. The thought she might reject me when I tell her how I feel tugs at the back of my mind, but I’m not usually afraid to take chances. I refuse to be now. Just won’t focus on it. I know I’m not going to lose my best friend. These plains are too serene for fear to win the day.
Willow giggles as I let out a happyish sigh while rubbing my tummy. Kinda stuffed on some kinda bird and fruit that reminds me of blood oranges but isn’t. I feel, not content, but close enough. In this moment, nothing’s wrong with the world. I find my first moment of peace since we got here.
Taking advantage of the calmness, I focus on centering myself. The moments I can are so few and far between--upsetting to the masters, no doubt--that I cherish them, relish the brief time when every part of me is in balance, at peace with the rest. There’s another me trying to get out, but I’m not sure if it’s the little girl or the demon’s heart. Considering how I was before I became the slayer, My guess is the demon’s heart is dominant in my personality now. And I’m so much a better person for it. But in these moments, the heart and the girl are one and the same. This is when I can feel with certainty that I’m just me. Just Buffy. Never lasts though…
My eyes pop open as she enters my personal space, her lips grazing mine. Confusion freezes me a moment, my heart pounding. I don’t return the kiss. But her lips are cinnamon flavored heaven and I miss their taste and their gentle caress the second she starts pulling away. Did I blow it? Does she think I didn’t want the kiss? No way, I’ll make her understand. Just gotta tell her. As her face pulls back far enough for me to focus on her features, I see a mischievous gleam in her eyes and a grin to match.
“Surprised ya, didn’t I,” she quips then leans back in and kisses me again, vigorously this time. I can’t breathe, but that doesn’t really matter as I return the kiss, trying to match her passion, mashing our lips together. This can’t be real, but it is. I don’t even need to pinch myself. Cinnamon flavored heaven. I need to ask her where she found cinnamon flavored lip gloss. As the tip of her tongue darts out and licks between my lips, I moan into our kiss. My heart thunders against my chest. Willow’s kissing me and she started the kiss! I shoot the tip of my tongue between my lips to spar with hers.
No place I’d rather be. Here, with her, it’s all perfect. All the politics and secrecy back at the temple are momentarily forgotten. I reach up to touch her face, caress her cheek with the tips of my index and middle finger. Overcome emotionally, I try to pour what I’m feeling into the kiss. Let her feel my love, my desperation, my fears. All of it. She returns an equal amount of love, desperation and fear. And we both know it’ll be ok.
We kiss for several minutes before we finally pull apart, each of us wearing similar silly grins. Estatic? Happy? Both! I can’t believe she kissed me. But she did and it really happened. And I don’t even have to pinch myself because I can still feel the tingle her lips left behind.
She wipes away tears I didn’t even know I cried from my cheeks with the pads of her thumbs. “Are you ok, Buffy?” she asks softly.
I nod and smile at her. “I’m great. I love you.” There, I said it. Even after our kiss, I still feel like a weight’s been lifted.
She grins at me. “I know. I think I can feel the same about you.”
Well, not quite the declaration I was hoping for, but I’ll take it.
We both stand up at the same time and hug each other tightly. Her chin resting on my shoulder, her moist breath tickles my neck.