SIX: Buffy, Willow
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 and Tara did some yoga and then made love in the bathtub. Buffy and Chris made plans to go to lunch on Friday, and Willow told Buffy that she needed her to work Friday night.+++++
SIX: Buffy, Willow
"I have had dreams and I have had nightmares, but I have conquered my nightmares because of my dreams." -Jonas Salk
Throughout the week, Buffy and Chris exchanged e-mails. Vi, as he’d suggested, had been willing to compromise on the extra day, and Thursday night at Chris’s house with Joy and Amanda, while short, had proved to both parents that the two girls could get along. In fact, they even looked kind of like sisters -- both had blond hair and blue eyes, and they were about the same size. “Amanda defers to whoever’s in charge,” Chris had said while they’d sat in the kitchen, watching the girls playing with some of Amanda’s Polly Pocket toys. “If Joy wasn’t so assertive, though, Amanda would lead. She’s funny that way.” Buffy had been kind of worried Joy might throw a tantrum or even try to hit Chris’s daughter -- she’d been having some behavior issues at school -- but the one time things had gotten heated, Amanda had backed down almost instantly. “She’s definitely my kid,” Chris had said at that, and Buffy had seen the look in his eyes -- the same blue as his daughter’s -- and let it go.
On Friday, Buffy joined Chris and his friends for lunch. It was mostly the same crowd as the happy hour, and thankfully no one was bringing up how tipsy -- okay, drunk, I was drunk
-- Buffy had been. While they waited in line to pay for their pizzas, she overheard Matt quietly ask Chris if he thought Buffy was single.
Chris shook his head. “I think she just got out of a difficult marriage,” he said, keeping his voice low. “We’re friends, but she doesn’t talk about any of that.” It wasn’t a lie, Buffy knew -- she hadn’t really told Chris much about Tony, or about his cheating.
“Well, if she seems like she’s interested, send her my way, huh?”
Chris shrugged at that and seemed to shrink back just a little from Matt. Buffy found that endearing -- Chris had found the guts to ask her out, but he clearly hadn’t told his friends yet; he could easily have said something to Matt about their date for tomorrow, but he hadn’t.
The comment Chris had made the night before made a lot more sense after seeing that little interaction.
Once they got to the table, Matt contrived to sit across from Buffy, and the slight leer on his face made her wish she’d opted for a button-down blouse instead of a scoop-necked shirt. Not that she had a ton of cleavage or anything -- in fact, until Joy had been born, even Dawnie had been curvier despite her height and dancer’s build -- but Buffy had a feeling that Matt would leer at her even if she was an A-cup.Charming. Really.
But on the plus side, Satsu was sitting next to Matt, and Buffy could easily steal looks at the elegant, beautiful Asian woman. If Chris hadn’t asked her out, Buffy thought she might have considered agonizing over making a move on Satsu -- except that Satsu was married to a guy named Cal, and anyway Buffy didn’t swing that way anymore.
She wondered why she was so attracted to Satsu, in that case -- I mean, Willow’s out and proud, and I don’t think of her like that. Why Satsu?
The pizzas arrived and Buffy managed to talk to Satsu about surfing -- she’d spent a year at the pro-am level before going to college, and Buffy herself had surfed a little in high school -- instead of dealing with Matt. Chris kept glancing at her, almost protectively, although most of his conversations were with Jeremy and Leo, the latter being one of the most driven people Buffy had ever met. And that was just when it came to getting a good value out of a Friday lunch.
In the lobby, Buffy decided to break away from the group and use the restroom before going back upstairs; the eighth floor bathrooms never seemed clean enough, but in the lobby the maintenance people did a much better job. “I’ll see you around seven, okay?” she said.
“Sounds good,” Chris said. “I’ll have dinner ready for the kids.”
Buffy nodded and pushed the swinging door. She glanced back at Chris and saw Matt give him a look that she recognized. Tony’s friends used to get the same look on their faces whenever he said something about “bangin’ my baby all night long” -- which, for him, had been about ten minutes, tops, and then rolling over and snoring for eight hours.
She decided she didn’t like Matt. But Chris’s flustered expression...
That she liked. Very much.+++++
“Baby, you sure?”
“I’m sure.” Tara tugged at the front of her tank top, as if to get cooler air underneath it. She’d been sick since Wednesday, and Willow had hoped she’d feel well enough to come to the event tonight. “I just can’t get cool. I certainly can’t get all pretty for you.”
“Oh, Tara.” Willow slid into the bed, little black dress and stockings and everything else, and cradled Tara’s head against her chest. Her partner’s skin was hot and a little damp. She kissed Tara’s hair anyway. “Baby, I’ll stay home if you need me to.”
Tara shook her head and squirmed out of Willow’s grip. “Sweetie, it’s too hot, no matter how nice it feels. I’m sorry.”
“It’s okay.” She kissed Tara’s forehead, then got out of the bed and adjusted her outfit. “So, how do I look?”
“Gorgeous,” Tara said. “Now, you need to get a move on if you’re going to be there on time.”
Willow nodded. “I’ll have my phone. Call me if you need me for anything.”
Willow noticed Buffy sticking close to her. She didn’t mind it so much, but she hoped no one thought the two of them were together. Not that most people in the business didn’t know Willow Rosenberg, former CEO of TechnoPagan, was absolutely, positively gay, but mistaking Buffy for her partner would lead to all sorts of annoying explanations.
She did wish Buffy had dressed a little more formally. Willow hadn’t been overly specific, and Buffy certainly looked professional, but this was more of a schmooze-fest than a business dinner. Still, she had to admit that Buffy pulled off the pale pink jacket and pants, white blouse, and pearls in true California-girl style.
Willow saw her opportunity to let Buffy talk to some people on her own when a couple of young men whose suits screamed ‘junior management’ sat down at their table and introduced themselves. Willow used the distraction to head to the bar and get another raspberry martini.
“Well, hello there, beautiful.”
Willow composed herself before turning around to see who had said that. It turned out to be an olive-skinned, dark-haired woman with intense eyes and a -- Willow had to admit it -- nice nose. She was a little shorter than Willow, but her hair was longer, in sort of a carefree eighties music video sort of way. “Good evening,” Willow said. She couldn’t place the woman’s name, although they’d been introduced. She was a technical director of some sort, maybe a few years younger than Willow, and clearly on her way up in the vendor’s company.
“Kennedy Richardson,” the woman reminded her.
Willow smiled and held out one hand. “Willow Rosenberg. But I’m guessing you knew that.”
“Yep.” Kennedy took Willow’s hand and turned it palm-up, then bent and kissed her wrist. Willow started, but managed not to yank her hand away. “Delectable,” Kennedy said.
Willow sighed and, when Kennedy released her hand, started back toward her table. Kennedy followed. “Kennedy, I don’t mean to be rude, but--”
“I’m forward. I know.” She’d also interrupted Willow twice in a row, and Willow was starting to get grumpy about it. “I just didn’t see a ring, and I wanted to make sure no one got to you before I did.”
“‘Got to me’?” Willow asked, not bothering to keep the incredulity out of her voice. “Look, I don’t know what you’ve heard, or what you think you’ve heard, but I’m not...” She searched for the right word. “Not on the market.”
“That your girlfriend?” Kennedy asked, inclining her head toward Buffy -- she must have seen them together. “Looks like she’s doing just fine with Thing One and Thing Two over there.”
,” Willow said, stressing the word more than was strictly necessary, “couldn’t be here tonight. Buffy is my--”
“Buffy?” Kennedy laughed, then covered it by downing the rest of a glass of what looked like scotch on the rocks. “Like, ohmigawd, y’all!”
Willow rolled her eyes. “Elizabeth, then. Elizabeth is my personal assistant. She’s here to support me.”
Kennedy’s eyes roamed over Willow’s body. Willow felt more than a little dirty at the open leer in the younger woman’s face. “You look supported just fine.” Kennedy reached into her drink and took out a piece of ice, popped it into her mouth, and then moved it around so she could hold it between her teeth as she grinned at Willow. “Little cold,” she said, her voice perfectly clear.
Willow resisted the urge to look down and make sure she wasn’t showing anything, and refused to give Kennedy the satisfaction of even pretending to care that the other woman was in an almost-indecently-cut black dress of her own. At least Willow’s covered her shoulders and collarbone; Kennedy’s had a v-neck down so far that she had to have glued it in place to keep it from coming off her chest. “Miss Richardson--”
“I told you, Willow; call me Kennedy.”
,” Willow hissed, but immediately composed herself. “Kennedy. You’re making me uncomfortable. I don’t think that’s the goal.”
Kennedy crunched her piece of ice. “Am I? I’m sorry.” She didn’t look the least bit apologetic. “I’ll let you get back to your...” She made air quotes with one hand. “Your assistant.”
Willow stalked back to her table. The men talking to Buffy saw Willow’s expression and got the hell out of there. “Are you okay?” Buffy asked.
“Ugh.” Willow sipped her martini, but then decided sipping wouldn’t cut it and drank half of it in one go. “That little slut,” she whispered. “You saw her?”
“Yeah. And I’ve seen lots of guys -- ours and theirs -- staring down her top, too.”
“Guys aren’t what she’s looking for,” Willow said.
“Oh.” Buffy drew her finger through the condensation on her tall glass -- just soda; Willow had told her it was okay to make use of the open bar, but Buffy had begged off, saying that she had to pick up her daughter when the event ended. “Can I help?”
“Not unless you want to go over there and flirt with her to get her off my back.”
Buffy’s face suddenly went the same color as Willow’s drink. “I... I mean, if you need me to, I can--”
“Oh, God!” Willow put her hand on Buffy’s arm. “No, God, no, don’t do that.” In that moment, she felt absolutely awful. “Buffy, I would never--”
“It’s okay,” Buffy said, although Willow saw the strain around her eyes. “If it would help you, I would do it. I mean, I wouldn’t let it go farther than flirting, but it’s harmless, right?”
Willow didn’t answer. She just downed the rest of her drink. How could Buffy think that she would ask her to... I mean, with anyone, let alone that...
Willow closed her eyes slowly, took a couple of slow, cleansing breaths, and then smiled at Buffy. “Come to the bar with me,” she said. “I’m going to buy you a drink. And you’re not allowed to say no.”
“Um. All right?” They slipped off the high chairs and started in that direction. “But it’s an open bar. You don’t have to buy me anything.”
“That’s not the point.” Willow took Buffy gently by the elbow. “I think we both need something right this second. And,” she added, “if you ever think I’d ask you to do that... well...” Willow sighed. “Just don’t, okay? Because I wouldn’t.”
“Willow, it’s okay--”
“No,” Willow said. “It really isn’t.” They got to the bar and Willow ordered two more raspberry martinis. “Buffy,” she said...
But she couldn’t think of anything else to say, despite the fact that her assistant was looking at her expectantly.
“Never mind. Just... just drink with me. Just this once.”
And, Willow decided, if Buffy didn’t drink the martini, Willow would do it. Because after what Buffy had just offered to do, Willow really, really needed another drink.+++++
+++++Your feedback (reviews and e-mails) are, as always, greatly appreciated.Next time: Buffy has a dream, and another slayer joins the story.I'd tell you what crossover story I'm working on right now, but you wouldn't believe me if I did.