FIVE: 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: Willow spent an evening alone at home, since Tara had to stay late at work. Buffy went out after work with Chris and his friends, and drank a bit too much.+++++
FIVE: Willow, Buffy
"A dream has power to poison sleep." -Percy Bysshe Shelley, in "Mutability"
Willow made it a routine of hers to get up at sunrise every morning and do her yoga. Weekends were no exception. It didn’t mean she couldn’t go back to bed around nine and sleep until noon, but for years she’d been waking up before the sun, and just because Tara hadn’t come to bed last night didn’t mean she was going to change her routine.
Of course, when Tara opened the solarium door, Willow heard the tiniest creak in the hinge. “Good morning,” she said without looking.
Tara sounded awful. And exhausted. Willow slowly brought herself out of the dolphin position and took a final cleansing breath before turning to her partner. Tara stood in the doorway, hands cupped around a mug of tea. “What time did you get in?”
“Two,” she said. She lifted the mug to her face and breathed in the steam rising from it. “I didn’t want to wake you, so I slept in the guest room.”
“Baby, you didn’t have to do that.” Willow went to Tara and cupped her cheek. “You can wake me up anytime.”
“I know. But I was grungy and icky and didn’t want to take a shower and everything. I’ll change the sheets later, when I’m more awake.”
“I’ll do it,” Willow said. She held Tara’s hands and sipped the tea, and then brought the mug to Tara’s lips. After she drank, Willow kissed her.
“I love you,” Tara said.
“Love you too. Did he make it?”
Tara nodded. “It was tough for a while, but he did. I stayed for the first watch, to see if he’d get through the night. Dr. Elliot took over for me halfway through.”
“Nice of him.”
“Uh-huh.” Willow smiled. “You want?”
Willow gestured to her yoga mat. “It’ll help you feel better.”
“Trust me,” she said. “I’m not a doctor, but my wife is.” They weren’t really married, and Willow was pretty sure they’d be old and gray before they were allowed to be -- unless they moved to Canada or something -- but they often joked with each other about being wives. “Come on, baby.”
Tara didn’t resist when Willow took her hand and led her out into the sun. While Tara put down the tea, Willow unrolled the other yoga mat, and they mirrored each other’s position, sitting lotus-style. Willow knew she’d have to back off some of the more advanced poses -- Tara was certainly flexible, but not in this context -- but that was okay. It was nice to just be together, to have a quiet morning in the sun.
It almost made up for last night. But then, that wasn’t Tara’s fault, and Willow wasn’t going to hold it against her. Besides, Tara had saved a life, and that was important too.
“You ready, baby?”
“As I’ll ever be.”
Tara had opted for a bath, which Willow had drawn for her while her partner had pinned up her hair. Willow preferred to shower anyway -- baths, in her mind, were for special occasions. Plus, from the shower -- a large, three-walled cubicle with no door, just a divider upon which they collected their hair and body products -- Willow could watch Tara relaxing in the bath. Always a plus.
Only a few bubbles remained by the time Willow finished up. “Baby?”
Tara made a quiet, contented sound. Willow wiped her eyes and realized that Tara had been dozing off.
“Sorry,” she said. “You okay in there?”
“Fine,” Tara murmured.
Willow had an idea. She stepped out of the shower, not bothering to dry off, and walked carefully across the rough Spanish tile of the bathroom floor. Tara’s eyes opened wide when she felt the water rise. “Hi, baby,” Willow said, sliding in across from Tara. She adjusted her position until her legs rested atop Tara’s, her backside between her partner’s feet. “You looked so relaxed that I thought I’d join you.”
Tara’s hand found Willow’s left foot; her thumb pressed Willow’s arch, and Willow shivered. “I won’t get much relaxing done with you in here.”
“Beast,” Willow teased, poking Tara’s side with her toes. Tara squirmed and smiled, then reached for Willow’s other foot and held her by her ankles. Tara was definitely the stronger of the two, although Willow wasn’t going to fight her. She liked when Tara held her like this. “I didn’t think you’d join me in the shower, so I made the best of things.”
Tara hummed and moved her hands higher up on Willow’s legs, leaning forward so she could pull her closer. Willow obliged -- like I ever would say no to her!
-- and soon enough found herself straddling Tara’s lap. She leaned down and kissed Tara, gently at first, letting her partner set the pace.
Tara’s hand found Willow’s thigh and squeezed. Hard.
Willow groaned into the kiss and pressed her body against Tara’s soft stomach. She liked this pace.
Buffy was sitting on the steps of her apartment building when Chris pulled up. She fought down the urge to blush and got slowly to her feet. A liberal application of aspirin had taken care of most of the headache, but she was still moving kind of slow and had only eaten some toast for breakfast anyway, just to be safe. She got into the car and buckled her seatbelt.
“Hi,” he said.
“Hi.” She couldn’t look at him. “Sorry you had to drive all the way over here.”
“It’s okay.” He pulled out of the parking lot and headed south, toward the highway. “Better safe than DUI, right?”
She chuckled. “Right.”
Neither of them spoke much during the short ride to the office; Buffy told Chris where she’d parked, and he pulled in next to her little red Golf. “Well,” he said, “I guess this is it, huh?”
“What do you mean?”
“I mean, your car,” he said.
“Oh. Of course.” Buffy undid her seatbelt. “Is... everything okay? Did I embarrass myself last night or something?”
“No, not at all.” Chris looked to be screwing up his courage. “I was just wondering... if... um...” He took a breath. “Maybe we could go out sometime?”
Buffy hadn’t been expecting that.
No, that wasn’t right -- she kind of had been. Actually, she’d been expecting it from that guy Matt the night before, but she’d have turned him down on the spot. Chris, though... Chris she could consider.
“I’m really not very good at this,” he said -- now that he’d come out and said it, he seemed to be somewhat more relaxed. “I’ve only been out a couple of times since I got divorced. I still don’t know how to meet people. Plus, Amanda.”
“Right,” Buffy said. “I know how you feel.”
“Oh, damn. Sorry about that.”
“No, it’s okay, you didn’t mean anything by it.” She sighed. “I don’t have a lot of time to get Joy together with kids her own age, and you said Amanda is five, right?” Chris nodded. “They’re both in kindergarten. They’d probably enjoy it.”
“Well, I have Amanda next weekend,” Chris said. “Will Joy be with you?”
Buffy nodded. “How about lunch on Saturday?” she asked. “Someplace kid-friendly.”
“Sounds good.” His phone beeped, and he glanced at it. “That’s Vi. I have to call in, talk to Amanda for a few minutes. She always makes sure we get to talk.”
“That’s good,” Buffy said. She tried not to feel ashamed -- she made no such concessions for Tony. But then, maybe Chris and Vi -- odd name for a woman; she wondered what it was short for -- hadn’t had to deal with one of them cheating. She’d have to find a way to ask him. “Have a good weekend, okay?”
Buffy smiled and touched his hand, then got out of the car and unlocked her doors. She saw Chris watching to make sure she got in all right, and then she headed for home.+
On the whole, the rest of the weekend wasn’t that bad. At least, to Buffy’s way of thinking. And, on Monday afternoon, she’d pick Joy up from after-school care and have her baby back again.
Monday morning found Buffy and Willow meeting in the CTO’s office, going over e-mails and the week’s tasks. “Oh, and don’t forget to remind me, I have to get you that phone.”
“Thanks,” Buffy said, blushing a little. “I... I mean, you don’t have to--”
“Oh, pshaw.” Buffy felt her eyebrows lift -- who says 'pshaw' anymore?
-- and Willow grinned. “You’re doing a good job, Buffy. I appreciate having you here.”
“Thanks,” Buffy said again, even more quietly. “And I...” She took a deep breath and met Willow’s eyes. “I appreciate you giving me a chance. I’m sure there were other candidates who’d done this before, and--”
“And nothing, missy,” Willow said, her face turning serious. She broke the sudden silence with a smile that was just this side of goofy. “I take chances on people. I took a chance on you. So far, you’re working out pretty well.”
“Th-thanks,” Buffy stammered.
“Now go on.” Willow’s smile widened. “I don’t have any meetings until ten. Get yourself some coffee or something.”
“Do you want--”
“I’m fine,” she said. “Seriously, Buffy: when I offer you a break... take it!”
Buffy closed her laptop and stood up. “Okay. Taking it.”
“That’s the girl.”+
Around ten to twelve, Chris stopped by, clearly on his way to somewhere else. “Good morning,” he said.
“Hi, Chris.” Buffy smiled up at him from behind her desk. “Good weekend?”
“It went all right.” He gave her a coy look. “I kind of got a date with someone.”
“Oh, did you?” Buffy felt herself blush, for real this time. “Anyone I know?”
“I think you probably do.” He grinned. “I wish I had time to flirt some more, but I have a meeting to get to. I just stopped by on the way to invite you to GTFO.”
“G-T-F-O.” He leaned against the cubicle wall beside her desk. “Every Friday, a bunch of us from the seventh floor get together and go out to lunch. It usually runs an hour and a half -- longer if there are a lot of us and they have to figure out all the checks and things. You’re welcome to join us, if your boss says it’s okay.”
“It’s fine,” Buffy heard Willow say. She glanced over her shoulder at Willow’s open door, and saw the CTO coming out -- so to speak. “Hi,” she said, holding out her hand to Chris, who was suddenly standing much straighter. “Willow Rosenberg.”
“Chris Frost,” he said, shaking her hand. “I’m down in the art department.”
“Cool. I guess you know who I am.”
“I guess so.”
“Cool,” Willow said again. “Buffy, I have to head down to the fourth floor for a while. Don’t worry about your GT thing on Friday -- I don’t have a problem with it. But I do need you to put something on the calendar for Friday night.”
“Friday night?” Buffy asked, picking up her pen and flipping to a new page in her pad. “What is it?”
“Vendor event. I know it’s kind of last-minute, but I have to be there. I’m hoping you can come too.” Buffy realized her face must have fallen and Willow’s expression went sympathetic. “I’ll pay for your babysitter. Don’t worry about that.”
“Okay,” Buffy said, but her heart wasn’t in it. Missing a night with Joy? That hadn’t been in the job description. “Friday night. Got it.”
“I know it sucks, but that’s the job. I need you there with me.”
“Okay,” Buffy said again. “I’ll put it on the calendar.”
“Thanks. We’ll talk when I get back.”
Willow walked quickly toward the elevator; Chris gave Buffy a sympathetic smile. “I never thought I’d hear a CTO say ‘sucks’.”
“Yeah.” Buffy opened Willow’s Outlook calendar and started putting the event in. “I don’t even mind the extra work. I just don’t want to be away from Joy.”
“I know how you feel.” Chris seemed to have a thought. “How about, instead of a babysitter, maybe she can hang out at our house? I’ll have Amanda with me, and I’m sure she’d appreciate the company.”
“I don’t know,” Buffy said. “Joy’s kind of clingy, and I know she’s having it rough, going back and forth.”
“Tell you what,” he suggested. “I’ll ask Vi if Amanda can come over Thursday night. You bring Joy, and we’ll see if they get along. And, here,” he added, taking out his phone and scrolling through what must have been his contacts. “Give me a piece of paper.” Buffy passed her notebook up to him, and he wrote down a name and number. “Sunny. Babysitter Vi and I used when we were still together. She’s great with kids. Tell her I referred you.”
“You don’t have to answer right now.” He put his phone back into his pocket. “Just think about it and let me know by the end of the day, okay? Vi’s pretty reasonable, but she likes to know about stuff at least a few days in advance.”
Buffy sighed. “Okay,” she said. “I’ll think about it.” Then she offered him a small smile. “But don’t think this is going to get you out of our date on Saturday.”
“Wouldn’t dream of it.” He waved. “I’ll e-mail you about GTFO. And I’m sure I’ll see you around.”
Chris grinned and went in search of his meeting room. Buffy turned to her computer screen, but she didn’t actually type anything for a little while. She was too busy enjoying the smile that Chris seemed so good at bringing out in her. And the fact that, for the first time in a long time, she was free to act on the feelings that came with it.+++++
+++++Your feedback (reviews, e-mails, smoke signals) is greatly appreciated. My birthday was last Friday, so if you forgot to buy me something...GTFO is a real thing we do at my office. If that clues you in to who I am... well, it's probably better if you don't tell me.Next time: a familiar face joins the cast. (It's not Xander, but I promise, he
will be along soon enough.)