AN: This was posted on ikoly2 a few years back but hasn’t been on that site for quite some time. This version is a bit different than the one that had been posted previously but not hugely so.
Preread: Whedonist, Valyssia
Main Pairing: Willow / Buffy
Disclaimer: Joss Whedon, Fox Television, and Dark Horse Comics own all. I play for my amusement.
Why’d I ever pick a castle for Slayer HQ? And on the Scottish moors no less. Dumb move Buffy! I shiver almost uncontrollably as I walk down the dimly lit hall, wishing the stone wasn’t seeping the warmth from my body. Wishing I was still in bed with…her.
As I walk through the main corridor of the castle, my mind wanders. The scythe is gone, but that isn’t dominating my thoughts. It should, but I just can’t focus right now. Doesn’t matter anyway, nothing I can do about it till Xander and Renee get back with Dracula. There’s a reunion I’m so looking forward to…not! Having to rely on another vampire for help, it gets old, tired even. I dread the very idea, but do I have a choice?
What just happened? Satsu and me…? I mean, why?
I know the what…with the sweaty and the sticky. And the nakedness. And the way everyone just…
Willow fell through the freaking ceiling–come on!
I didn’t even have time to process…does it even mean anything…? And everyone knows. Everyone knows!
I’m so damn lonely! Can that be all it means? Suppose it means more? How the hell do I tell? Do I want it to mean more? No? Maybe? I sigh and scrunch my eyes together. If it means nothing, everyone’ll still think I’m…
Am I gay? Bi? Does it matter? And if I’m not?
Does that make me just a slut?
That’s me, slutty Buffy. I’ll sleep with girls, guys. They don’t even need a pulse.
I don’t do confusion well, I get angry and defensive.
I want to cry!
Maybe I need a good wall to stare at, or even better, some feature creature to hit. Hitting things usually gives me some clarity. Or at least it makes me feel better. Those dumb vamps! How the hell do you make mist into bloody putty? That was so unfair!
I know I like Satsu but I’m just as sure that’s pretty much all I feel for her. Could I love her someday? Again with the no…maybe? Whatever. I pretty much took advantage of her. I acted just like…oh god, I’ve turned into Parker! Would I have been that awful to her in the morning? I hope not. No, I know I would have been nice…er?
I’m so lost in my own head, I fail to notice Willow standing in front of me till I bump into her.
Stepping back, I flash her a quick grin. I open my mouth to say something, ‘cause I so
need to talk right now about these big…how the hell should I know? I jumped off the cliff this time. Like that’s new for me. I close my mouth, remembering how things are between us, the things she said the last time we had a serious talk.
She chose to leave after we came back from killing Sephrilian, instead of staying and trying to fix the badness that’s settled between us. I want to sigh, instead I bite my tongue. I’m not even sure why she’s here.
“We need to talk, Buffy,” she says, trying to put her hand on my shoulder. I shrug her off and step back.
“Why now, Willow?” I ask in a sharp tone. Bitterness makes it worse than I meant. What she said to me in Sephrilian’s lair, the words that came after, they hurt so much. I’m not sure if she was trying to make this distance that’s grown between us smaller or bigger. Bigger’s most definitely the result. “So you can tell me again how Tara’s death is my fault?” Willow’s eyes widen. “Or are you gonna go all the way this time and tell me how much better off you’d be if I’d stayed dead? You know, like it’s my fault I’m even here!”
Why am I doing this? I don’t want to fight with Willow. I need my best friend back. My solution’s so brilliant. I push her away. And she does the same with me. When did it all go so wrong? Why…?
“No, Buffy, it’s not like that. I…”
“Isn’t it, Willow?” I try to keep the acid from my tone but I fail miserably. I can’t keep from glaring at her either. I hate this distance that’s grown between us. I love Willow more than anyone else in my life right now. She’s supposed to be my best
friend, the one person I can count on above all the others. Least that’s the fantasy I tell myself when I go to bed at night so I don’t cry myself to sleep. But the reality…
I tell her the reality. “We’re not friends anymore, Will. We haven’t been for awhile.” I try to blink back my tears but I can’t stop them. “It’ll be so much easier if we stop pretending we are.” Really, it’s my fault, not hers. She’s been there for me since the day we met. And what did I do when she needed me the most, when her pain was unbearable? I hit her when I should have hugged her. Our relationship spiraled ever since.
She stands there looking at me like she’s perplexed. I’m a puzzle for her to figure out and fit the pieces back together. I wipe at my eyes with the back of my wrist. Her face, her presence…no complex emotions at all. Like…do I even mean anything to her? I don’t blame her if I don’t.
“Buffy, if that’s the way you feel, I’m sorry. But don’t you think you’re being a little…” Dramatic? Please don’t say dramatic. Or over the… “…over the top? Being melodramatic isn’t going to help. Of course…”
…We’re not friends anymore I fill in as I interrupt her. Oh, god, I…I can’t breathe! “Do you regret bringing me back?” I manage to ask as my tears turn to sobs. My heart breaks into a thousand shards.
Why did she…?
“Buffy, that’s hardly a fair...”
No, nothing. How do I handle this? I can’t. I turn and run off before she even finishes.
The castle feels so much colder now than it did a couple hours ago. So warm and cozy, so wow when me and Satsu were in bed together. Before everyone…
Now…every moment brings me more coldness. I storm into my empty bedroom, slamming the heavy, solid wooden door shut it with an angry shove.
I feel so small.
My feelings for Willow are beyond jumbled. One word jumps out at me from my inner hurricane. A word of clarity and power, a terrifying word. Hate! I hate her!
Sticky tears run down my cheeks. I sit cross legged on the corner of my unmade bed. I must look bad. I briefly consider getting up and cleaning my face or wrapping myself up in the thick, plush, sky blue comforter bunched up in the middle of my bed. I decide I like the pain of the coldness better because it matches the pain in my heart. And I should look as ugly as I feel. The walls close in on me, suffocating. My tears turn into spastic sobs as I lie down and curl up.
A hard and insistent banging against the door. “Go away!” I yell, pressing the palms of my hands tightly against my ears. I try to hold the rest of the world out, at least for a little while longer. Relishing my misery, I don’t want to share it with anyone, especially not Willow. I don’t want to talk to the witch at all anymore and I don’t want to see her. I want her to go away…and stay gone this time.
The knocking stops, a moment of relief. I just need to be left alone. Hell, that’s all I want—for so damn long—just to be left alone. No luck with that. The old rusty hinges squeal as the door slowly swings open. Xander. He’s the only one with a key, so it has to be him. Did I even lock my door? Please don’t let Willow be with him. Lifting burning eyes toward the now open door, I watch Xander enter the room. I try to read his face, figure out what’s going on behind his one beady, brown eye. I’m not good at reading him anymore. I haven’t been able to read him very well since he lost his eye.
“Buffy, it’s me,” he says, shutting the door behind him. “What the hell happened between you and Will?” He stops beside the bed, looks down at me.
I look away from him and stare straight at the wall. “She didn’t tell you?”
“She won’t talk to me,” he says. “She just stares at the wall and cries. Kinda like you are right now.”
“It’s complicated,” I say in a small and quiet voice.
“I’m not going anywhere,” he says, sitting on the bed beside me and putting a hand on my shoulder in an attempt to offer comfort.
“What about Dracula?” I ask.
“Dealing with his fancy dirt,” he answers.
I shrug his hand from my shoulder and sigh. “She thinks she chose me over Tara and that caused Tara’s death.” I stay quiet after that.
“What…?” He smiles uncomfortably.
“That bullet, it was meant for me, Xander. We all know it.”
He sighs. “Buffy, I know it’s hard right now, but I don’t…”
“I’m supposed to be dead,” I interrupt. “She had to pay a price for me. Tara.”
“I don’t think Willow sees it that way, Buff,” he says, trying to reassure me.
I drop her bomb. Well, it’s probably not a bomb to him. Maybe…Sure as hell was to me. “She told me she sees it that way. In Sephrilian’s lair.”
“Oh,” he says. “Why…?”
“There was a vision,” I begin. He sighs. There’s always a vision. And it usually hurts. “My dying body…betrayal from the least expected. I asked her if it was her.”
“Buffy, I don’t think Willow would betray you. That’s simply not her,” he says.
I mostly agree with him. In my heart, I know she’ll never turn on me like that. I was the one that turned on her. But the night they all kicked me out, threw me under the bus…that was the worst night of my life…well as bad as the day mom died anyway. And it left doubts.
“The first thing she did, Buff, when she went all black haired and veiny, was save you.”
“The night you all kicked me out of my house gave me doubts Xander. Willow went along to prove to herself that she loved Kennedy more than me, that she wouldn’t pick me over Kennedy like she picked me over a life with Tara.” I bang the side of my head into the bed repeatedly, never lifting it far before slamming it back down into the mattress. Why won’t the pain make the pain go away?
He grabs my shoulder with one hand and places the other one on top of my head, trying to keep me from hurting myself anymore than I already have. He calms me down by stroking my hair in a soothing manner. After a few moments, I stop banging my head.
“That was the worst night of my life, Xander. Do you have any idea how much that hurt ?”
“Buffy, we all did things that we regret.”
“She knew Xander, she had too.”
“How much it hurt that the only one who gave a shit enough to actually go check on me was Spike
.” There’s so much venom in my voice. He stops stroking my hair as he draws in a sharp breath. I don’t mean to feel this way, I don’t. But sometimes I just can’t help it. Willow and Xander, the two I was supposed to be able to count no matter what. And they weren’t there for me. Spike
was. He was a monster. He even tried to rape me. And they left me with nowhere else to turn.
I forgave Xander practically the next day. Why can’t I forgive Willow? I desperately need to, but I can’t seem to let it go.
He’s so tense if I said boo, he’d spring back across the room and smash into the wall. I’m tempted, I could so totally use the giggle. I restrain myself.
“Relax Xan, I forgave you the next day.” He lets out a deep held breath. Almost like a sigh. His hand leaves my head.
“I don’t get it,” he states. “If you forgave us…?”
“Just you,” I whisper.
“Huh? Why not…”
Why not Willow? I don’t have an answer. I wish I did. She hurt me so much that night, the pain worse than when Angel turned evil. Can I explain why it still hurts so much, why I can’t seem to forgive her? Do I even want to? How much more will I hurt if I look that deep into myself? My eyes get so sticky they’re almost sealed shut as I try to breathe.
I know the reason. I have to be honest, at least to myself. The possible complications terrified me. I’m not gonna lie to myself anymore, not now. Keeping my feelings buried, hiding them even from myself…pain and misery the result.
“I’ve been in love with her since the first moment I saw her.” There, I admitted my feelings to myself. I can’t breathe any easier and my pain gets worse but it’s a start.
“What?” Xander asks, his voice unsteady.
Oh wow, I said that out loud. Uhm… “I’m in love with Willow…”
“Since when?” he asks, standing up. I halfway expect him to start pacing, but he just stands there looking at me. His turn to see me as a puzzle.
“Weren’t you listening?” I ask. His eyes bug. “Since the moment I first saw her.” I almost giggle. My mood’s still too sour though. “But I never told her. Hell, I even kinda kept it from myself most of the time.” I sigh. Seems to be a theme today. “There was lots of fear, and she needs to live her own life and not be destroyed by the bottomless well of despair that is mine. Things would be just too complicated. Do you understand?”
He nods. “No I don’t, tell ya the truth, Buff.” He shrugs and sighs. Like I said, theme.
“I want to be alone now,” I whisper.
My bedroom door opens and quiet footsteps enter. I expect Xander telling me Dracula’s settled in, but it’s Willow. I can smell her, the faint muskiness of her natural scent under the slightly stronger lilac of her perfume. Oh, god! Did Xander tell her anything? She closes the door gently. I hear her softly approach my bed. Should I open my eyes? Opening my eyes would probably be a really great idea. I sit up on the side of my bed and sigh. I need to look at her. I have this feeling if I don’t, something bad’s gonna happen. I force my eyes open and look up at her.
Willow’s ready to bolt. She fidgets with anxiety, nearly hyperventilating. One of her hands plays with the ends of her shoulder length red hair. Her other hand reaches back for the door she just shut. She looks right into my face, never taking her eyes from mine.
“I need you to stay.” I say my words so quietly I’m not even sure she can hear me. But she must’ve ‘cause she relaxes immediately and takes her hand from the knob. She walks quickly to me. As she sits beside me, I hold out my arms. She holds out hers and we hug. When I pull her tighter against me, I sob. I let all my pent up emotions out, everything I’ve held in for years. All my pain, all my joy. My disappointments and regrets. My love.
I cry myself out. I’m a mess, I know that. Unrequited love is the least of my problems. But it’s the one that hurts the most. The loneliness and isolation…I never could handle that part of the job. So I’ve acted incredibly selfish over the years and kept my friends down in my hell. I need them to survive, literally. Both of them have brought me back from the dead. Willow…
“I’m so sorry, Will,” I choke out. She rubs my back, her palm pressing with a soothing circular motion. A few moments pass till I calm down enough to speak. “This is too much…” She looks at me, her darting eyes betraying her nervousness. That’s how delicate our relationship is, we’re best friends afraid to speak to each other. I can’t let the badness between us continue. More than anything, I need my best friend back. I’m not gonna survive without her. “I can’t do this without you. This distance thing that we’ve been doing since college? The distance has gotten too big…” Her green eyes grow wide. I take her hand in mine. “I feel like I’m dying a lot. Most of the time, I can’t breathe.” My turn to be nervous…she hasn’t said anything. I need to tell her something soon. She’s looking a little unsure. “I need you to be my best friend again, Will. I need you here with me and I need to be your best friend again.”
She wraps me in her arms and hugs me tightly for an answer.
“I need that too, Buffy. I was so afraid you hated me.”
My tears start flowing freely again.
“Buffy, what’s wrong…?”
“It’s okay, Willow.” I smile as I look into her blurry eyes. Stupid sticky face. “I started too. But it…”
Her turn to cry. I sit up and wipe at her tears with my thumb. “No, don’t cry. I can never hate you. It hurts too much.” I smile for her. Maybe even for me.
She grasps my free hand between both of hers and holds them to her chest. “Really?” she asks, her voice smaller than it’s been in a long time. She sounds so unsure of herself.
I pull my hand free and take her in my arms, pulling her to me. Another wonderful, loving hug. It’s been so long. “Absolutely.”
I hate planes. And I hate that we’ve been so busy, moving so fast that me and Willow haven’t been able to finish our talk. We shared enough to know we still matter to each other, we still care. She’s willing to be my best friend again.
She sits in the seat next to me. Turning to her, I take her hand in mine and smile for her. When she returns my gesture and my smile, I close my fingers over hers and hold her hand up.
“Buffy, we should maybe talk some more,” she says.
I pull her hand against my heart and hold her there. “Can we just sit and hold hands?” Holding Willow’s hand’s all I want to do right now. A long denied comfort. I should have never stopped touching her. But I was scared of so many things back then. Willow doesn’t answer me, but she doesn’t press me to talk either. After about ten minutes of comfortable silence between us, I say, “I’m sorry, Willow.”
“Buffy, we don’t need to start this…”
I interrupt her. “I need to say this.” She smiles and waits expectantly for me to continue. “I’m sorry I was afraid of you.” If you think she looks perplexed now… “You’re the most amazing and beautiful human being I know. I should never have been afraid of you, Will. You mean too much to me, more than anyone else.”
Willow’s eyes glisten. “Buffy, that’s, uhm, wow…”
I wanna kiss her so bad. I don’t. Instead, I press the index finger of my free hand softly against her lips. “No matter how this turns out, I need to talk to Satsu before I go on.”
I smile as her eyes get very wide.
I near the back of the cargo plane. Supposedly, Satsu’s back here somewhere checking on our equipment. Making sure it’s secure for the long flight ahead. She sits atop a nearly head high crate. I have no idea what’s in the large wooden box, but I’m sure she does. She has the team’s sat phone pressed against her ear…I should announce my presence. I keep quiet and listen.
“Yeah, she totally fell for it.” What…? “Uhm, yup. Once she thought it was me…she puddled.” …the… “Last night right after patrol. No kidding. She was really enthusiastic.” …!
I feel a lot more hurt than I…Wow. I was…My eyes glisten, but I don’t cry. “I was worried I was treating you bad, that I was using you, ya know?” I say, announcing my presence and stepping into her line of sight.
She puts the sat phone down atop the crate and drops to the floor. Putting a hand on my shoulder, she says, “Buffy, please. We’re not like that, I swear!”
Shrugging her hand off of me and taking a step back from her, I say, “I heard enough of your call. If you and…You took…” I sigh. I’m making a big deal over not much. Considering I used her for the same thing she used me for, I have no room to be mad. But I never lied. I was pretty up front before and after that I was just looking for sex. Fight off my loneliness for a night. I latch onto that sentiment.
“Buffy, I’m sorry that…”
“Don’t worry about it,” I say. “I get it, you’re a liar.” I give her a feral grin. Her face darkens. She doesn’t like being called a liar. “No big…At least I was honest about us just being…whatever.” I wring my hands toward her. Turning, I move away from her and back to Willow. I ignore Satsu’s pleas to wait.
Willow loves me! I’d been about to blow everything up into a huge and ugly fight, but then the idea firmly sank in, Willow loves me! She’s the one who kissed me, she has to be! After that, the rest was all nonsense, unneeded and unwanted drama. Willow and I have enough drama to deal with already, too much really. More, definitely a bad.
Clarity. My insight may just be working for me for a change. I have the strongest feeling that I only have one shot coming up, that if I blow my choice, I’m gonna be stuck where I’m at for the rest of my life.
When I get back to Willow, I sit next to her. My hands are sweaty. Too much nervous energy burns in me. I wipe them on the sides of my jeans.
“Buffy?” she questions expectantly.
What do I tell her? I don’t really have a choice anymore. I have to let her know how I feel. I need her to understand. Caressing her jaw with a fingertip, I lean in and kiss her. Cinnamon! Our kiss is chaste at first. She has to understand though, so I put in all my feelings, my wants and desires. All my longing. I hold back nothing, not even my fears and regrets. And I give her all of my love.
I panic when she just sits there and accepts the kiss. Just when I was about to do something monumentally stupid and break the kiss, she kisses me back. As our kiss ignites with shared passions–deepens–I feel her emotions, her desires and regrets, but mostly I feel her love. We hold each other.