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The Rewards/Side Effects of Slayer Inner-Growth

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Summary: Post Season 8. Buffy has some personal issues to work out. Maybe too late, her responsible for the death of magick and all. Neverthless, when she does, she sees it ain't quite dead yet. So she turns to the only person she can...{EDITED.}

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
BtVS/AtS Non-Crossover > Romance > Buffy/WillowPatKFR1849,1635143,82823 Oct 1110 Mar 12Yes

Part Three

"Stop being sexy!" Willow accused with narrowed eyes.

The reply to her accusation was a small, brief growl. Willow instinctively jerked backward, but managed to refrain from jumping off the bed. Pressing a hand to her own throat, Buffy did some internal tinkering, got her vocal chords back, and tried again.

"Stop...stop thinking I am," Buffy spoke unsurely, not knowing what she'd sound like. Her voice seemed lower and somewhat altered by how it bounced off her canines. "I'm not being anything—except a furrier me."

"That's the sexy!"

Buffy went from lying prone, to sitting back against her hind legs. Willow tried not to look, but her eyes kept getting drawn to the soft nudity. This wasn't exactly how those dreams neither of them had went, but a lot of it was pretty close.

"This part was whose idea again?" asked the slayer pointedly. "I come here for innocent, helpful knowledge, and you drag me up to your bedroom, make me be naked," she was enjoying this, "then when I am, because I trust my best friend totally and completely, you're all mix-y with the signals."

The last time Buffy had seen Willow this flustered, they'd been in high school. It was oddly reassuring. But it wasn't her objective. Well, only objective.

Silent minutes came and went, until Buffy ended the teasing and placed a handpaw on Willow's shoulder, smiling gently. She was nervous, but more confident than she'd been. "But if you're still my Willow...I'll deal. Are you?"

The redhead immediately pulled her into a hug despite the nude catness. "We made a pact, remember? We're gonna have squeaky, matching walkers, and live in the same retirement community. You're gonna make sure I don't mix up Wednesday's pills with Tuesday's, and tell me I forgot to put my dentures in, an-and that my glasses are on already.

"Oh! And we'll complain about how filthy TV is, and how people didn't even know words like that in our day."

No, wait, that was reassuring. Also reassuring was Willow's constant, soothing, backrub. So soothing that Buffy purred. Honest-to-god purred. Then she realized what was going on.

"Rule being broken!" she exclaimed, but made no move to escape. "And I think I...shed, so...I-I'm gonna be...all over..."

As Willow used her fingertips more, pressing deeper, Buffy wrapped her tail around them both. Guess where Willow headed next?

"Whoa'kay, this feels...did I 'wow' yet? 'Cause I'm wowing." Her tail held tighter.

"Sorry, I have to," Willow insisted, words blowing against the fur in the slayer-cat's ear. "C'mon, stroking a real, whole, pussy-person? Especially your person? Gay heaven over here! This is my 'once in a lifetime chance,' chance."

Head planted into Willow's shoulder, eyes shut, Buffy couldn't tell how much was joking and how much wasn't. Nor was she in the right headspace to grab her clothes and flee, just in case. She simply exhaled another unabashed purr, and gave in while her friend giggled.

Fine, she'd let Willow do this. The only person. She was putting her paw down.

For a few minutes down on the floor, the room might have felt confining—like a cage—until Buffy reminded herself that Willow was there. Willow was safe, Willow wouldn't hurt her. Somewhere instinctually, she understood.

So she tested out limbs and paws and tried thinking of a way to get Willow back to Aluwyn and make up for what she'd done. If she helped Willow, she could help the others. Helping was the "Whole Buffy" motto. Though if it worked, she worried about afterward.

Buffy didn't want to worry. Not yet. They were good, in this room, in this moment, and despite having this primal desire to run for the sake of running, for space and freedom, she didn't want to leave.

She told herself that, strange as it might seem, it'd be infinitely stranger and awkward if she were her human-self in this situation. She had to tell herself that.

"Um, can I...? asked Buffy hesitantly, uncurling her tail and trying to pull back.

Willow took her hands away like they were on fire. "I'm making this uncomfortably sexy, aren't I? And after I was all grr and Snyder-like too," she berated herself. "I'm sorry, Buffy, really. But it isn't like I get to come up with brand-new blue every day. But I did. Me, Willow Rosenberg."

Wiser, mature, and probably still grieving her loss, yet some things hadn't changed.

She was so proud of her semi-dirty joke.

Buffy could've told Willow she had the wrong idea, could've spoken. Instead, before she knew what she was doing, her lengthier tongue licked the side of Willow's face.

During the expected, abrupt silence she said, "I just wanna lay back down."

Now that was uncomfortably sexy. Or not. It was hard to tell.



"Yay," Willow eventually said, "but, stay? Just for a sec?"

Buffy did, but was awful disgruntled about it. "Dogs stay! I'm so not a one of those, and so not domesticated, either. You-you could be my dinner. I am gettin' hungry."

"You mean it? Gosh, it sure is nice in gay heaven," replied an unperturbed Willow as she left the bed with pillows and put them up against its side.

She sat back against them, legs outstretched, on her carpeted floor.

"There. More room. Come on down, the carpet's fine," she giggled again, patting beside her.

Willow was trying to remain neutral-lipped, no grinning. In a matter of an afternoon, magick had helped bring her and Buffy closer than they'd been since, what? When they both matriculated at a now-buried college?

And it didn't get much closer than licking someone's face. Well, maybe a little closer. But she was just as happy to stay in the moment as the slayer was.

To her, this wasn't weird. Magick was meant to be as natural to the world as say, a mountain lion. Or a petite (bottle) blonde. That all three existed together felt right.

Nature and humans typically didn't get along so well, but here, two, beautiful members of the animal kingdom were bucking the trend, melding and co-existing. Sexiness was unavoidable. Willow compromised with her lips and settled on a smile.

Buffy rolled eyes at her, but hopped down off the foot of the bed, springs squeaking in relief. Which was rude. She had the same, healthy body-weight no matter what form.

Willow may have over-Google'd during her Miss Kitty mourning period.

Walking around, Buffy laid down at Willow's right, took a wide-mouthed, teeth-showing yawn, and placed her head on a ready lap.



Willow looked down, playing with (bottle) blond hair. They used to do this a lot; this comforting/touching thing. Sometimes after having their hearts broken, sometimes while just watching TV and not even realizing. Holding hands was also popular.

Once Tara entered the picture, it suddenly felt a little like cheating, and so Willow gradually pulled away from Buffy. It began subconsciously, with dwindling touches. She didn't want Tara to doubt how hard she'd fallen.

It was a huge choice in retrospect. Buffy needed connection more than most, and Willow denied her physical proof of one she'd relied on. What Buffy went through in the years following, that choice didn't help any.

Everything went wrong. Rather than be there for her, she tried to "quick fix" her. Rather than be her friend, she became her misfiring, big gun.

The past eighteen months were no improvement. If it wasn't for Aluwyn telling her to go back, back to Buffy, Willow honestly didn't know if she would've. And when she did, she drove the wedge deeper, using Kennedy and Tara as painful excuses.

It wasn't right.

She wouldn't have pursued magick without Buffy. She wouldn't have found her backbone, her confidence. Heck, she'd probably be dead. Or worse, a virgin who didn't think she had a body underneath unflattering clothes. Buffy saw what nobody else ever bothered to notice.

Yet Willow kept hurting her. So in the wake of the Seed's destruction, she had another choice: hate, or relate. She chose the latter. Grief that led to rash, angry decisions? No one related better.

But until today, they'd still been tense. Today, the woman she remembered holding hands with walked into her house—albeit pleasantly softer than before, extra touchable, and very at peace.

Willow brushed a few wayward strands across this woman's awesomely-shaped left listener as she was asked, "Um, can you...? No—I shouldn't even ask, because...I shouldn't. So I'm not. Yep. Doesn't even matter."

Beat. "Unless you don't, y'know, mind—and swear you'll be absolutely in no way wigged—scratchingbehindmyears. Not that m' asking."

Buffy still trusted her. On a pretty intimate level. That was why the slayer was still a cat, why she was still here sharing this, and why Buffy dared speak that question.

Willow's smile grew. Thank goddess for today.



They must've stayed like that for at least an hour, talking and petting. She'd never seen her best friend more relaxed. Behind the ears, Buffy said it felt like a full body massage all from one spot, and said it while being scratched. She could hold a coherent conversation now.

Willow went off on the perils of weeding and the importance of gloves, and Buffy shared "believe it or not" tales of the coffee shop. She was finishing the tale of meeting Abby. Abby cooked at the diner across from the coffee shop and had big, deep blue eyes and a nice smile and was a perfect inch taller.

She didn't notice, notice these things. Because of course she didn't.

"So she's a cutie?" Willow asked knowingly and curiously.

It took a second for Buffy to answer. "How would I know?"

The redhead scratched the underside of her muzzle before tapping her on the nose. "'Cause you have eyes, ya hairy doofball."

They were being "them" again, she and Buffy. It was great.

"But not lesbian ones," Buffy pointed out, sounding lame to Willow's not as sensitive ears. "Not since the phase that's over. More than over." Her problem was trying to explain. "Yes, I slept with Satsu, and yes, it was nice—"

"Nice enough to do it twice. Hussy," reminded the redhead, playful.

Buffy whined out a growl. "That was just goodbye."

"You bet it was," Willow was suddenly agreeable. "Like when I rode Oz's...littler Oz, goodbye; even though I already said 'boooo!' to my John Cusack posters. A hearty boo."

That wasn't agreement, it was sarcasm.

She dropped it for sincerity, telling the slayer, "Just because Satsu didn't make birdies appear, doesn't mean you aren't kinda bi."



Considering Willow's words, Buffy realized she was in a comfortably sexy, sort-of-nude situation. She liked that it was a little sexy. She liked that Willow found her sexy, and Willow was not un-sexy herself, and she wouldn't mind if it got sexier still. She had Satsu to thank for busting that mental barrier.

She wished she could have loved the Japanese slayer, because they would've had a fun relationship, but emotional-investment-wise, it wouldn't have been an equal one. Buffy didn't need that lesson again. Satsu deserved better.

Yet none of that wisdom stopped the second time from happening. With Buffy playing a substantially more active role no less. Hmm.

Increased participation during goodbye sex? Seeing sexiness and being open for more? Fuh.

She was kinda bi. Except she wasn't freaking out. Wasn't cornering the nearest Xander, wasn't imagining her opportunities for rejection and doom doubling.

"Fine. Possibly kinda maybe." Buffy saw Willow stare in disbelief. Disbelief at her admitting it, and that she was so calm. "I think this is how the new me is. No leaping slayer-style to the worst possible place, just going with whatever things...become a thing. And accepting 'em so they're really not."

Willow looked happy teary, clearing her throat. "Well, we don't usually bring part-timers up this early, but what the hey—welcome to the team! There's a uniform in your cubbyhole. Careful, it shrinks in the wash."

Buffy laughed, guttural. And then she kept being honest. It was sort of catchy once you got started. "Can I tell you something? It's...you should know. If we're teammates now."

"Teammate or no teammate, you can tell me anything. Always could." Willow was apologizing for giving off the opposite impression lately.

"Guess today's proving that," Buffy smiled, and came out with it. "Before Satsu, I always thought if I ever—"

"Pal'd around with Sappho?" Willow suggested.

"—that, I was gonna with you. My best friend who I already kind of love. But then I didn't want to because we're best friends, and if it was only the once, it would've been like using you. And the scariest door was...what if I saw birds?"

It would've been so easy. It was Willow. An amazing person who, behind that pretty flame of a smile, could be a little dark, a little dangerous...and was a little damaged. Over the years, she'd definitely become Buffy's type.

"What if I saw when you had Tara? Then Kennedy? Then your snake-lady?" Buffy frowned. "Even sizing fantasies, reality always butts in. It's my head, damn it."

"Dumb reality," supported Willow with an impressive non-reaction. At first. "Know why you're not on my list? I love you way too much is why. I couldn't just take a No. 2 pencil and say, 'Crossed-off now.'

"There woulda been flocks, Buffy. Think of all the sky poop."

Did they just say what it sounded like they both said?



Did they just say they couldn't have casual sex because it wouldn't be casual?

"Gotta pee," Buffy announced jarringly.

Either her bladder had horrible timing, or Willow had quickly found the limits of the blonde's "taking things in stride" attitude. Sigh. Nothing mixed about those signals.

Willow wasn't able to exactly blame her. Why'd she say that? Because she wanted Buffy to know they had ground in common? She loved the openness, the sharing—felt like old times—but maybe she should've at least forgone that last "bird" metaphor.

It meant something. Past-tense or not, they couldn't stride on by.

"Okay," she sighed for real, not picking up on the reluctance with which four paws stood.Buffy picked up on Willow's, however. "I'm just goin' down the hall."

The redhead looked into her eyes and saw it was true, but got reinforcement anyway. Buffy licked the other side of her face then gently nuzzled it, with no obvious embarrassment. Willow brightened considerably.

"Okay." Giving Buffy's neck a two-handed scratch'n'rub, she watched her rise onto re-readjusting hind legs. "With a little practice? Somebody'll have a long and productive future—on our team. It's such a natural."

Her eyes went large at reducing Buffy to a tongue. "Uh, you're...you're such a natural. Super talented."

Since Buffy was trying not to fall, Willow got away with that one. She rose herself, and grabbed waist from behind. "Gotcha."

"Haven't figured out how to not do that," Buffy explained.

It had to be disorienting, switching from four-pedal to two-pedal.

"As long as you're a good kitty," Willow grinned, "next time you can go in the yard. But only where the stones are, 'kay?" And then in a very different tone— "Who's a good kitty?"

This was not how she pictured her day going. And her best friend was right. She started it.



Aluwyn was right, too.

Willow wouldn't have spent the final two months of her walkabout doing more laying than walking, had she loved Kennedy. She wouldn't have spent the two months after that in Scotland, and only reunited with Kennedy in New York on a mission. She wouldn't have spent nearly a year apart from her girlfriend and been okay with it.

Aluwyn saw everything she wanted and who she didn't really.

The astral deity saw everything she was—the girl she pretended she'd moved beyond, the woman, the witch, the dark, chalky evil—and forced her to see as well. To not be ashamed. To embrace and love the whole her.

The very thing Buffy was working on alone.

Buffy helped her become who she was, while Aluwyn taught her that without who she'd been (and remained at her core), there'd be nothing. Willow often learned that lesson pleasurably, so it was inevitable, falling for teacher. And when she graduated, the control she'd been searching for became like breathing.

Those were months as wonderful as they were difficult.

But every piece of herself Willow confronted, she was reminded that the slayer had supported her through firsthand. Aluwyn always knew Willow's place was at Buffy's side, just like she knew their time together wasn't forever. Willow couldn't have stayed, nor could the goddess have gone.

Begged the question: did she also know about Twilight, the Seed...that Buffy would get more sexually bendy? That there would be a day like today, where Willow wouldn't feel lonely because her arms were full?



Willow held Buffy close. Sexy close. Intimate trust in action. Her chin was perched on Buffy's right shoulder. Buffy's whiskers tickled her nose.

Why had holding hands felt like cheating a lifetime ago? Because as much as she loved Tara, Buffy came first. She'd loved her first. And you didn't stop loving Buffy, nobody did.

Now she didn't have to try and escape it. If there was ever a time to seize the moment...

Willow tilted her head and kissed the edge of Buffy's ear, causing it to flutter against her lips. She bit back a whimper, kissed it again. Buffy meowed quietly.

Mountain lions could do that? Goddess.

"Need to change. Back," said Buffy, desperate, as if it'd make Willow let go.

No, if Buffy changed now, the magick would leave. And if the magick left, Willow was afraid Buffy would leave, and...

"So there can be kissing with lips and no risky hairball danger?" Willow asked hopefully. "Aww. I was wrong, Buf, you are bright...as-as you are sweet."

"Bathroom."

"Oh." How quickly she'd forgotten. "But, then lips? Or...do you wanna go out first? We could get churros. You know you love churros. Powered-sugary kisses. Yum."

"Y—no. I know you miss her, and I'm so..." The slayer trailed off. It sounded on purpose. "But I'm gonna fix it, I am. I couldn't save Tara, but this is different. We can—"

Buffy wasn't trying to run and play this off as some, magickal version of a clothes fluke, she was trying to be a good person, a good friend, and apologize by making things right. Willow's happy tears returned.

She sniffled. "I wanna get magick back for the world, not for me and Aluwyn. We were sorta like Xander and Anya once I came home. We still cared about each other, still naughtied once in a while, but, we were over. Then today, guess what? I finally got over her."

"But she—"

"Nope, you," Willow refuted. "And we're gonna stand here snuggling 'til I say so, so you better just go right ahead and change. A girl doesn't need a tail to turn me on."

Beat.

"Bring it back later, though?"



Buffy looked at "herself" in a mirror for the first time since this morning. She stood at the sink in Willow's bathroom, her gathered clothes on the toilet lid. She was thinking again.

She was thinking she almost didn't make it in here. As she'd become tinier-framed and lost useful insulation, Willow's hands touched her stomach. Touched skin.

They were hot, the hands. Mouth and hands. Willow had kissed her ears until they shrank away, and moved onto her throat.

Who needed fur?

There was a knock on the door. "In case you fell in and lumped your head and forgot I love you? Then I wantcha to know...that I do. Love you. Buffy Anne Summers.

"That's-that's your name. In case you have other amnesia."

Buffy smiled small at her reflection.

Willow was coming into the coffee shop on a lunch break, and buying a mocha with a kiss (but then money, so she had a job).

Another knock. "Every way 'love.'"

Buffy smiled bigger.

They were cooking dinner and being flammable at it and ordering Chinese.

Another knock. "So much I wanna adopt you."

Buffy giggled because it was funny and insane, not for any other reason.

She was coming home from patrol to find Willow asleep at the table, because the redhead was stressed over taxes...in May.

But the teapot Willow left on for her whistles, and Willow startles half-awake, mumbling about German frogs invading the neutral, Swiss chocolate monkey house. Buffy carries her to bed, then doesn't feel like getting a shower, so she just gets insulated, and lays over Willow's feet atop the covers.

Another knock. "But I think I hafta buy a permit. You'll be an exotic pet...exotic! Isn't that so much cooler than when you were a rat that time?"

Buffy saw a life with her best friend. She saw a Life. Ten years after she last dared. Like she said, she didn't go to the worst possible place anymore.

This morning Buffy wanted "them" back—she was getting far more. She wanted more. She wanted Willow, and to still fix her mistake. Magick had won her over.

Maybe if they worked together, she wouldn't have to worry about bringing the Seed back, or about their kids.

It was Buffy who spoke on the final knock. "Me too, Will. Every way."

She took a deep breath. "Come—" Her friend burst through the door. "—in."

"Are you okay? You weren't going blind without me, were you? Do you need seeing-eye fingers?" Willow held up hers in offer. "They're trained, and...pokey."

The dirty jokestress got silenced by chest. "Did Andrew make another invisibility ray? 'Cause he swore he didn't keep any of Warren's blueprints, and whatever he's using as his power source, it obviously isn't strong enough.

"Oh. He didn't..." She frowned, eyes darting nervously around as she whispered and covered herself, "Did he make a naked ray?"

"If he did, you really think we're who it's for?" Buffy asked, pointing out that thing nobody ever talked about, and then pointed out her clothes.

Willow looked to the toilet. "Oops. There they are. All...off, still."

"Uh huh. Opposite of 'on'," Buffy nodded.

"We can't have churros if your clothes aren't doing what clothes do. How're we supposed to when...when the sexiness keeps spinning out of control? It's out of control, Buffy!" Willow pleaded, eyes drifting lower of their own accord.

"I know," Buffy concurred breathily. "It's a demon...a 'sexiness demon.' Don't worry, it's as slayable as the rest of 'em. Got a plan." Pregnant, dramatic pause. "Kissing. With lips. Never, ever stopping, Willow lips."

She'd assumed they would crash together in heated, passionate kisses like in the movies and her mother's trashy novels that she pretended her mother never actually read. But instead, Willow got the green light, picked her up, and sat her on the sink.

Ooh. Marble was cold.

"Wha...?" Buffy was confused until her legs spread.

Ooooh. It was like in the movies. The late, late, late movies.

"Lips," Willow shrugged, confident again.

The redhead suddenly looked past her, to the mirror. Buffy felt why. Her tail, fleshy and inches in size, fwapped frantically on the counter.

It picked when to listen, she had to accept that.

"Well? Gonna eat your pussy?" asked Buffy, coy and shy at the same time.

Hah. Willow wasn't the only one who blue.It lost some power when they started laughing. Only soon they weren't, and it stopped being funny. Willow grinned her too-big grin, neck flushing with telltale arousal, and showed off her equally super talent.

"Holy...mother of..." The slayer disheveled long, red hair as she instantly held Willow against her. It was sort of like petting. "...Mouth!"

Churros-schmoros.

The End

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