FOUR: Buffy, Willow, Buffy
Disclaimer: I do not own any of the characters or worlds used in this story, including (but not limited to) Angel, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Dollhouse, Firefly, Supernatural, and Twilight. No harm is intended toward any of the copyright owners. This story is intended for entertainment purposes only.+++++PREVIOUSLY: Buffy started work as Willow's secretary/assistant. While having lunch in the cafeteria, she met a guy named Chris Frost who seemed pretty nice.+++++
FOUR: Buffy, Willow, Buffy
"I think we dream so we don't have to be apart so long. If we're in each other's dreams, we can be together all the time." -Bill Watterson, in Calvin and Hobbes
“Willow Rosenberg’s office, Buffy Summers speaking.”
“Oh, hi. This is Tara.” A brief pause. “Tara Maclay.”
“Tara... oh!” Buffy felt herself blush. “Hi, Tara.” They hadn’t met yet, but Buffy had seen the photo of Willow and Tara on the CTO’s desk and Willow had explained her relationship with the veterinarian. “Willow’s out right now; can I take a message?”
“Sure.” Tara sighed. “I’m going to be stuck at work tonight. A dog got hit by a car and I’m going to stay to do the surgery. I left her a voicemail, but I wanted to make sure she got the message because I know sometimes she doesn’t check--”
“Believe me, I know.” Already Buffy had been on the receiving end of frustrated phone calls from people who’d fallen victim to Willow’s bad habit of completely ignoring voicemails. “Anything else I should pass on?”
“That’s it,” Tara said. “Also, that I love her.”
Buffy caught herself writing down ‘I love you’ at the end of the message. “Got it. And good luck.”
Buffy clicked off her headset and transferred the message from her notepad to what Willow called ‘TP-CloudNotes’, a program that synched messages from Buffy’s laptop to Willow’s phone and computer. She didn’t understand how it worked, but that didn’t matter. She just had to click ‘new message’ and type away.4/13/12, 4:30pm, Tara Maclay -- working late tonight due to surgery. Dog hit by car. Loves you.
Buffy looked up; Willow had her phone in her hand as she walked back from the hallway that led to the meeting rooms. Buffy undocked her laptop and followed Willow into her office. “Is everything okay?”
“Well, no, not really. I had big plans for tonight.”
“Yeah.” Willow sighed. “I was going to take her out tonight. It’s been too long since we’ve done dinner and dancing.”
“Oh.” Buffy opened her laptop and set it on the end of Willow’s desk. “Um... I’m sorry.”
“Don’t be; I blame the poophead who ran into a dog with his car.”
Buffy felt herself making a confused face, and saw that Willow had noticed it. “You okay?”
“I guess.” Buffy was still a little uncomfortable with the idea of her boss being in a committed relationship with another woman -- not that Buffy herself hadn’t experimented a few times in college; one time in Boston, at a cheer competition, still made her blush -- but that wasn’t what was bothering her. Not right now. “It’s Tony’s weekend with Joy. I always get a little depressed when I’m away from her.”
Willow smiled. “I’m sorry to hear that. I’m sure it must be tough.”
“It is.” Buffy swallowed hard and squared her shoulders. “Okay. What else do we have for today?”
“Y’know what?” Willow said.
“Why don’t you take off?” Willow reached over and pushed Buffy’s laptop closed. “There’s not a lot of time left in the day anyway, and I was going to get out of here at four if I hadn’t gotten called into that last meeting. Why not just head out early, beat some of the traffic?”
“Really really.” Willow grinned. “Go on. Get out of here. I’ll see you Monday.”
Buffy smiled. “Thanks, Willow. Have a good weekend.”
Buffy went back to her desk and put her laptop into her bag, then shouldered it along with her purse and made her way to the elevator. She stopped in the lobby to call Tony’s cell phone and see if Joy wanted to talk, but he didn’t answer. “Ass,” she murmured.
Buffy’s head snapped up. Chris was standing a few yards away. “No one important,” she said. “Heading home?”
Chris shook his head. “We’re doing a happy hour tonight. You want to come?”
“I really shouldn’t,” Buffy said. “I need to get home.”
“Picking up Joy?”
She shook her head and blinked hard. “She’s with her dad.”
“So, hot date?”
“No!” But Buffy did smile up at him -- he had to be six feet tall, though he kind of slumped a little bit. “No date.”
“So come out with us,” he said.
Chris jerked a thumb over his shoulder. “Them.”+++++
Without Tara around to make sure she ate a decent meal, Willow was more likely to find whatever likely leftovers were in the refrigerator and eat them standing at the kitchen sink. Tonight it was leftover honey-garlic chicken, eaten cold with her fingers. Of course, then she had to wash off the sticky sauce, which was no fun.
Sated -- at least for the moment -- Willow brewed a pot of ginger-peach tea and poured herself a cup. She carried it into the living room, curling up on the couch with her phone and Miss Kitty Fantastico, who nudged her with her head until Willow made room for her on the cushions. “You’d never leave me hanging, would you,” she said, stroking the cat’s soft black fur. The cat purred and snuggled in with Willow. “Yeah. That’s my baby.”
Willow set her tea on the low table beside the couch and moved her phone to her right hand. She opened her e-mail and started composing a message to Dawn.Hi, it’s me. But you know that. How are you? How was your week? Everything going okay?
Buffy’s doing fine, even though you haven’t asked. I know you’re trying to let her do the job on her own merits, and that’s good and all, but I thought you might want to know. She was a little slow on some of the computer things, but she learns fast, and she’s always on time. I liked my old assistant a lot, but she came in late way too much.
Is everything going okay with her and her ex? She was down this afternoon because your niece is with her father for the weekend, and I get that, but I feel like something else was going on. Maybe it’s nothing. Maybe it’s just me being me. But is she okay? It’s only been a week but I care about her and I don’t want her to be unhappy.
Anyway, I’m on my own tonight. Tara is stuck in surgery. Give me a call if you’re not too busy, or if you don’t have anyone new in your life. Do you have anyone new? Is he (or she!) treating you all right? Because you really should. There’s no need to stay single if you see someone you like.
Okay. No more babbling.
Willow skimmed the message and felt herself frown at the phone. Then she hit the ‘discard’ button and went for the simpler route instead: a text.Hi Dawnie. Hope you’re doing well. On my own tonight; call if you’re not busy. Love.
There. Much better. If Dawn called, maybe Willow would tell her about Buffy. Maybe not.
Willow set the phone on the table and took another sip of tea, then exchanged the tea for the remote control. Tara hadn’t been able to get into Dollhouse
, which was just about to end its fourth season, so Willow only watched it when her partner was out. The internet said last night’s episode was supposed to be a good one; might as well get it watched before Tara came home.
Plus, she wanted to find out if Cordelia’s character was going to survive. Call me petty
, she thought as she scrolled through the DVR menu, but I still like watching her die.+++++
Chris’s friends turned out to be an eclectic bunch of colleagues. Jeremy and Satsu worked in Sales Support, Matt in Ad Operations, Leo in Inventory, and Amber with Chris himself in the art department. Of all of them, Satsu was the most interesting -- something about her elegant Asian features and slender, precise movements seemed to draw Buffy’s eye -- although they all seemed like nice folks overall. Matt appeared to be taking a little too much of an interest in her, but Buffy stuck close to Chris and tried to give off a ‘no thank you’ vibe. Not that Matt was unattractive -- objectively, he was better-looking than Chris, except in the smile department, but there was something odd about him that she didn’t like.
She also didn’t really care for Leo. Although she’d just met him, he had all these weird stories that happened to ‘my friend’. “Just ignore him,” Chris whispered. “And laugh. That’s why he tells the stories anyway.”
Buffy shrugged and finished her drink -- her third, which surprised her. She didn’t drink much to begin with, hadn’t really done much drinking since she’d gotten pregnant with Joy, and definitely wasn’t the kind of girl who went out for drinks with friends on a Friday night. But they just kept ordering more rounds, and then there was food, and now when she got up to use the restroom she was a little more unsteady on her feet than she was used to. Fortunately, Satsu was going with her, and she caught Buffy’s elbow. “Thanks,” Buffy said.
“No problem.” Satsu let Buffy link herself to her arm and they navigated their way to the ladies room. While they stood at the sinks, freshening up, Satsu asked, “what’s it like working for Willow?”
“It’s good,” Buffy said. “She’s nice.”
“She seems kind of driven.”
“And the ocean is kind of wet and salty.” Buffy giggled. “She’s very intense, and doesn’t like to be interrupted.”
“Yeah, I know the feeling.”
“But she’s nice, like I said.” Buffy shook her head slightly to clear it. It didn’t help. “Nice, and she smells good too.”
Satsu’s eyebrows went up. “‘Smells good’?”
“Yeah. Like roses. Like she puts them in her bath. Bath bombs.” Another giggle. “Why do they call them bath bombs, anyway? They don’t make the water explode, right?”
Satsu guided Buffy toward the exit. “I think it’s time to cut you off.”
“Cut me off of what?”
Back at the table, Satsu sat Buffy down in her chair. “She okay?” Chris asked.
“‘She’ is just fine,” Buffy said. “Little tipsy, is all. Just got to go home and sleep it off.”
When Buffy started to get up, she felt Chris’s hand on her arm. “I don’t think that’s such a good idea. Why don’t you let me take you home?”
Buffy happened to be looking at Matt, and his eyebrows went up. She dipped her finger into the dregs of her drink and flicked the droplets at him.
“Okay, Buffy. I think that’s enough for one night.”
“Really? Okay, I guess.” Buffy let Chris help her to her feet. “Good night. Nice meeting you all.”
The chorus of goodbyes followed Buffy out to the parking lot. Chris gently guided her by the arm to a dark-blue four-door with a booster seat in the back. He opened the door for her and she plopped into the passenger seat. “Come on, Buffy. Feet in.”
“Of course,” she said. Like he wouldn’t know she knew where her feet went. Silly. She situated herself in the car and even managed to buckle her seatbelt; Chris closed the door and went around to the driver’s side.
“Are we going home?”
Chris chuckled. “I don’t know where you live.”
“Oh.” Hmm. “Oh!” She gave him her address; he put it into his GPS. “You’re sweet.”
Who the hell was talking to her?
“Buffy, wake up.”
She blinked a few times, then swiped a hand across her eyes. “Um...” She licked her lips. “Where am I?”
“Home.” Chris, that was his name. She didn’t remember drinking that much; was she really that much of a lightweight? “I brought you home. You were in no shape to drive.”
“Thanks.” She closed her eyes, and when she opened them, Chris was standing by her open door, looking down at her. “Hi again.”
“Hi. Do you need help getting inside?”
“I think... I can do it.” She made an abortive effort to get out of the car, then undid her seatbelt and tried again. Chris steadied her again on the way up. “Thanks.”
“Sure. Which one’s yours?” She told him, and then she let him help her up the stairs. “Keys?”
Buffy opened her purse and dug around for a moment, finding the keys more by touch than anything else. She unlocked and opened the door. “I think I got it,” she said.
“Do you want me to come in? Make sure you get to bed okay?”
Buffy looked him up and down: tall, glasses, beard, moustache, a little overweight. Nice smile. Nice hands. Overall, not bad. But not tonight, either. “I think I can do it.”
“Okay.” He held out his hand. “Give me your phone.”
“So you can call me tomorrow and we can pick up your car. You’ll need my number.”
“Oh. Good idea.” She handed him her old phone -- in the back of her mind, there was a memory of Willow saying she’d have a new one for her on Monday. But it was only Friday. He fiddled with the phone for a moment, then passed it back. “Here you go.” Buffy swayed a bit and put her hand on the doorframe. “Are you sure you don’t want me to help you in?”
She considered him again. It had been a long time since she’d been drunk enough to invite someone in. She wasn’t quite drunk enough for that -- even though one part of her wanted him to keep taking care of her and another part of her kind of wanted to get laid by someone who didn’t treat her like crap -- and she decided to just shake her head. “I’ll be okay. I’ll call you tomorrow, ‘kay?”
“All right. Have a good night, Buffy.”
“You... you too.” She stepped into the apartment and, belatedly, turned around to close the door.
He’d already closed it.
He really was very sweet.+++++
+++++Your reviews and e-mails are greatly appreciated.Next time: Willow gets up early, Tara gets up later, and Buffy gets up with a hangover.If you're enjoying this story, why not check out my "On" series, which features, in various places: Sarah Bailey, Anita Blake, Allison Cameron, and Ramona Flowers. The second story is currently being posted, with updates on Mondays and Thursdays.