EIGHT: 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: Buffy got drunk... again... and spent the night in Chris's guest room, where she had her first slayer dream in the new reality. Just before leaving his house, she kissed him and decided it was a good thing. Willow told Tara how upset she was that Buffy offered to "take one for the team" and get Kennedy off her back. Faith, back in Boston, had a slayer dream as well, and then made plans to join Kennedy in Atlanta.+++++
EIGHT: Buffy, Willow
"You know you're in love when you can't fall asleep because reality is finally better than your dreams." -Dr. Seuss
Chris’s cube didn’t have a guest chair, so on Monday morning when Buffy came down she settled for hitching her hip up onto his desk. “You’re going to get me in trouble,” he said, smiling.
“You’re Willow’s secretary. People are going to start thinking I’m important around here, and then they’ll never leave me alone.”
Buffy laughed, trying not to be too loud; someone was hard at work in the office across from Chris’s desk. “I needed that,” she said. “It’s been a rough day so far.”
“You feeling okay?”
“No, it’s not that.” She ducks her head a little. “It’s Willow. She really doesn’t like that Kennedy woman.”
“Really. And she’s getting all pissy, which makes my life more difficult.”
“Oh, yes, because the company totally revolves around Buffy Summers.”
She gave him a dirty look, but there was something in his eyes that made her smile at him. “No one told me,” she said.
“Well, now I’m telling you.”
Buffy scooted over a little and glanced across the way -- the woman in the office wasn’t looking. “I have something to tell you, too.”
She nodded and leaned down, one hand on Chris’s shoulder. They hadn’t talked about what happened in his kitchen, even though all day Sunday she kept making up scenarios in her head about how she’d get to kiss him again.
But before she could, the woman in the office leaned back and stretched, and Buffy realized this wasn’t the place. The time was right, but the place? Not so much. Instead, she placed a finger on her lips, and then touched his with the same one. “For later,” she said.
He raised his eyebrows. “Promise?”
The way he said it -- no leering, no presumption -- made her cheeks go warm. She slid off the desk and ran her hand across his shoulders. “Promise. I have to get back upstairs, though.”
“Shame.” Chris turned in his chair as Buffy smoothed out her skirt and twisted one of her bracelets. “After work? Just for a few minutes? I know you have to go get Joy.”
“I know.” Sweet of him to think of it. “I’ll meet you here.”
“Then here’s where I’ll be.”
Buffy favored him with one more smile and then headed to the stairs.+
Kennedy and Willow were arguing in Willow’s office, the door closed, when Buffy got to her desk with two cups of tea. She almost got caught watching when Kennedy suddenly opened the door and sauntered away, a self-satisfied smirk on her face.
Buffy picked up the tea and went to Willow’s door, but she stopped at the threshold. Willow was on fire -- not literally, but her face was red-hot, nearly the color of her hair, and her hands were in fists on her desk.
Buffy immediately took a step back, heart jumping into her throat. But she needn’t have worried; Willow immediately calmed down and rubbed one hand over her face. “I’m sorry,” she said. “I didn’t mean--” She swallowed. “Come in.”
Buffy took several slow steps forward, until she was in front of Willow’s desk. She set the cup of tea in front of her boss. “Are you okay?”
Willow gestured to the guest chair Buffy usually sat in, and then took several deep, slow breaths before speaking. “That woman,” she said, her voice softly hoarse, like she’d been shouting. “That woman is evil.”
“Evil,” Willow said with a nod. She sipped the tea. “Thank you for this, by the way.”
“No problem.” Buffy smiled slightly. “You want to talk about it?”
“Not really. Just, we were talking business, and then she ran her foot up my leg.” Willow nodded in the direction of her little conference table, where paperwork was strewn about. “I swear I wanted to grab it and wrench it wrong-way around.”
Buffy winced; she’d seen her share of ankle injuries -- to other people, not to herself -- when she’d been a cheerleader. They weren’t pretty, but none of them were as graphic as Willow’s threat. “I think it’s probably good you didn’t.”
“Yeah, no fooling. I just stared at her, and when she didn’t stop, I came over here. I was willing to let it go, but then she came to my desk and sat on it, and too many of her buttons were open, and you saw the skirt she was wearing, and...” Willow trailed off and looked upward, and Buffy saw her eyes glistening. She blinked hard a few times, then wiped her eyes with her fingertips before pressing hard against them. “God, is that what it feels like for someone to not take no for an answer? Because, I mean, it was just... awful.”
Buffy sat very still. There had been a time, in high school gym class, when a guy had copped a feel of her ass. She’d punched him so hard in the mouth that she still had a scar on one of her knuckles -- his teeth had cut her deeply -- but she’d made her point. Still, for those two or three seconds, feeling his hand on her in a place it had no business being, she’d felt the worst fear of her life. Even Tony, for all his failings, had never forced himself on her.
“I understand,” Buffy finally said. “I’m sorry.”
“Oh, don’t be. You didn’t do it. And I would never cheat on Tara. Not to mention the fact that if I’d kissed her and caught whatever disease she has that makes her a bitch...” Willow’s voice trailed off, and Buffy caught her staring. Buffy realized her hand was on her mouth, and had been since Willow had mentioned kissing. “All right, you. Spill it.”
“Spill?” Buffy said quickly. “Spill... spill what?”
“You got kissed,” Willow said, her voice amused and accusing at the same time. “Sometime this weekend, someone kissed you.”
“Well,” Buffy said, looking down at her lap. “Technically it was me that did the kissing.”
“You go girl!” Willow grinned. “What’s his name? What’s he like?”
“He’s nice,” Buffy said. “He’s sweet, and funny, and he has a little girl the same age as Joy.” She paused. “He’s the first guy I’ve even thought about dating since after the divorce.” And that, Buffy realized, was the first time she’d put words to that thought.+++++
Willow smiled, seeing the relief on Buffy’s face -- she knew that feeling well: the thought that, after someone breaks up with you, you fear you’re not good enough for anyone. Oz, without meaning to, had made her feel that way, and although Willow had gone on a couple of dates post-Oz with a fellow geek named Jonathan, it wasn’t until Tara that she’d felt good enough about herself to feel that relief, to have that knowledge that, yes, I am good enough.
Through all of that thinking, the analytical portion of Willow’s mind made a leap. “It’s that Chris guy from the art department, isn’t it.”
Buffy’s mouth opened and closed a couple of times, soundless, before she found her voice. “How did you know?”
Willow gave Buffy the wrinkled-nose grin that Tara loved so much, and Buffy chuckled. Good; it had been intended to put the other woman at ease. “Really, I just guessed. But I saw the way he was around you, and you did mention on Friday that you were going to pick up Joy from his house.”
“Oh. Right. I guess I did.”
Willow drank a bit more of her tea. “I’m happy for you,” she said. “As long as you’re happy, anyway.”
“I am,” Buffy said without hesitation. “He’s really nice, and he wouldn’t have done anything if I hadn’t kissed him first. And he let me sleep over.”
Willow pushed back in her chair, just a bit. “You did what now?”
Buffy blushed. “That’s not what I meant. I mean, after I got to the house and the kids were asleep, we had some wine, and--”
“No!” she said. “I mean, we didn’t do that
.” The tightness in Willow’s chest went away; she wasn’t a big fan of jumping right into bed with anyone. If she had been, maybe that bitch -- Kennedy, not Buffy, of course -- would’ve had a chance. “I had too much wine,” Buffy continued, “and he let me sleep in his guest room. He lent me some of his ex-wife’s clothes, and made me coffee, and we were supposed to get together on Saturday anyway for a play-date for the kids but since the girls had a sleepover we thought--”
“Buffy,” Willow interrupted.
Willow couldn’t stop smiling. Usually she was the one who got caught with her mouth going a mile a minute. “I’m glad it’s working out so far,” she said. “Just, don’t get caught making out in the mail room or anything.”
Buffy raised an eyebrow. “Do people still call it ‘making out’?”
“I do. Tara does.”
“Oh,” Buffy said again. “Well, that’s all right then.” She picked up her tea, but Willow guessed it was too cool to drink because she put it down again. “You’re not going to tell anyone, are you?”
Willow mimed locking her lips with a key, and then throwing the key across the desk to Buffy. “Should I give him the shovel speech, just to make sure?”
Willow flashed her a grin and shook her head. “Just something from high school. I started dating this guy Oz, and my friend Xander, who was really protective, told him he’d hit him with a shovel if he hurt me.” She shrugged. “A vague disclaimer is nobody’s friend.”
“If you say so.” Buffy glanced at her watch. “I think you have another meeting coming up.” And, just as she said it, Willow’s computer and phone chimed. “Yep. Definitely a meeting.”
“Great.” Willow knew her voice didn’t match her words. In her short time here, she’d been to far too many meetings. “All right. Give me a few minutes to get composed in here, and then we’ll go.”
Buffy nodded and carried her teacup out of Willow’s office, closing the door behind her as she went. Willow took her phone off her desk, dialed Tara’s number, and leaned back in her chair, closing her eyes. Tara wouldn’t answer -- she never answered during working hours; if there was an emergency, Willow knew to call the office instead -- but she just wanted to hear her voice.
After four rings, Tara’s voicemail picked up. “This is Tara Maclay. Sorry I missed your call. Please leave a message. Thank you.” Then the beep.
“Hi, baby,” Willow said. “Just thinking about you; wanted to tell you I love you.” She swallowed hard, feeling tears come to her eyes again. “I love you so much. And don’t think this is some sort of bad message or anything,” she added quickly. “I just had an argument with that Kennedy woman, and I wanted to offset it with something good. And you’re the most good thing that’s ever happened to me.” She paused. “I love you, baby. Can’t wait to see you tonight.”
She clicked off the phone and slipped it into her pocket. It always felt better to talk to Tara, to tell her she loved her. She felt herself smiling as she got to her feet and went into the little private bathroom attached to her office to wash her face and redo her makeup. Wouldn’t do to face the meeting if she wasn’t at her best.+
At lunchtime, Willow grabbed a sandwich and bottle of juice from the cafeteria before going back up to her office and closing the door. She put on her headset and dialed her old office number.
“This is Dawn Summers.” She sounded a touch out of breath.
“Hey, Dawnie, it’s me.”
“Willow! Hi!” Dawn chuckled. “You literally just caught me coming in the door.”
“Lucky me.” She checked her watch. “It’s a quarter after nine; is my protege turning into a slacker?”
“Of course not. But you remember the traffic here.”
“Do I ever!” Willow was glad her house in Atlanta was close enough to the office that traffic was a non-issue; driving into downtown LA every day had been no picnic. “How are you?”
“I’m good. But you never call me at 9:15 on Monday morning just to check up.”
“No, you’re right.” Willow sighed. “I need to ask you something, and I need you to keep it just between us.”
“Of course,” Dawn said, completely serious now. “What is it? Is Buffy okay?”
“Buffy’s fine,” Willow said. “She’s actually working out really well, and if she keeps this up, I’m going to hire her when her contract ends.”
“That’s great.” Willow heard Dawn’s keyboard clicking -- multitaskers
, she grumbled internally. “Thank you for that, by the way. And for taking a chance on her in the first place.”
“For you, Dawnie, anything.”
Willow could practically see Dawn’s light-up-the-room smile. “So, if everything’s okay with Buffy, then what is it?” She paused. “It’s not girl trouble, is it?”
“No, everything’s fine with me and Tara, although... have you ever heard of Kennedy Richardson?” She told Dawn what company the woman worked for. “We’re doing a rollout with them and she’s coming onto me pretty strong. She actually ran her foot up my leg in a meeting!”
“Yeah, no fooling.” Willow took a slow breath. “Actually, I am calling you about Buffy, but don’t worry, it’s nothing bad.”
“Then what is it?” Dawn sounded suspicious. “Just come out and say it, Willow. I promise not to be mad.”
“You shouldn’t be mad anyway.” Willow steeled herself. “Buffy’s met someone.”
“That’s great!” Dawn said. Then her voice changed tenor. “I mean... is that great?”
“She looks happy, and she says he’s really nice and she really likes him. He works here, in the art department. Seems pleasant enough.”
“Then what’s the problem?”
“I need to know what she’s like on the rebound.”
Dawn was quiet a moment. “She falls hard,” she finally said. “Not just on the rebound, but for any guy she’s serious with. She falls hard, and if he’s not there to catch her, she gets hurt, and hurt badly.”
“Poop indeed,” Dawn agreed. “Are you afraid something will happen?”
“I’m more worried that she’s dating someone at the office--”
“Well, sort of. I mean, I don’t know if they’ve actually been on any dates, but she did sleep over at his house, and--”
“She did what
“Dawnie! Dawnie, calm down, I said that wrong.” Willow quickly explained to Dawn what Buffy had said happened on Friday night. “I think I can tell when someone’s lying, and she wasn’t lying.”
“You could tell anyway with Buffy. She could never lie her way out of trouble with mom, not like I could.”
“Fair enough.” Willow sipped her juice. “I just don’t want to lose her if things go south. I don’t want her to end up not wanting to work here because he works here too.”
“I think you’ll be okay,” Dawn said. “One thing Buffy doesn’t do is back out of commitments, no matter how tough they get.”
“You two have that in common, then.”
Willow practically heard Dawn blushing. She was quiet for a few seconds. “So... when do I talk to her about it?”
“Let her tell you. I know they’re taking it slow, and I think that’s good. She said he’s the first guy she’s dated since the divorce.” Willow thought of something. “Her ex isn’t going to get all angry-face and make her mad, is he?”
“I don’t know. Maybe. But Buffy can handle him. And if she can’t, well...” There was a smile in Dawn’s voice now. “Well, Buffy always could throw a punch. She’ll put him on his ass.”
“Good,” Willow said. “He sounds like he’s all ass anyway.” She chuckled. “All ass. What the hell am I even saying?”
“Got me,” Dawn said. “Hey, I have to get going -- morning huddle and all. Text me if there are any new developments, okay?”
“You got it. ‘Bye, Dawnie.”
Well. That had been somewhat reassuring. Willow picked up her nearly-forgotten sandwich and took a bite. The lettuce crunched loudly; she wondered why crunchy lettuce made sandwiches better.
Now she just had to keep an eye on the whole Buffy-and-Chris thing. Hopefully he was as nice as she’d said, or else she might just have to go down to the seventh floor and have words with him.
And maybe the shovel speech would be a good idea. Just in case.+
Willow gave Kennedy a dirty look as the younger woman stalked out of the conference room five minutes early. Although the meeting was being run by someone on Kennedy’s team, and neither she nor Willow really needed to be there, it was still bad form.
But it was nothing compared to what Willow overheard as she passed the stairwell alcove on her way to the restroom.
“It doesn’t matter what I dreamed,” Kennedy was saying. Willow made a show of getting some hand sanitizer, and then started checking her e-mail on her phone, just so she could stand there and listen. It was petty and silly, she knew, but if Kennedy was going to do something so un-businesslike, then so could Willow. “Yes, fine, I did... No, we weren’t...” Kennedy lowered her voice. “We weren’t fucking,” she whispered. “We were fighting... Yes, something huge and ugly, with four arms, and it spat fire, I think... Some Asian chick killed it -- chopped it in half with a sword... Maybe once or twice...”
Willow cleaned her hands again, just for something to do. Kennedy must have been listening to her friend on the other end -- she assumed it was one of Kennedy’s friends, given the embarrassed way the woman had said “we weren’t fucking”, but she couldn’t be sure.
Then she heard something that, if she was the type to let her jaw drop, would’ve let her jaw drop. “Of course I’ll pay you. I always pay you. Isn’t that the point of our relationship?”Oh... my... God!
Kennedy was talking to... to a hooker! A hooker she was apparently sleeping with often enough to say “always”!
Kennedy was still talking. “Just get your ass down here.” Another whisper: “I need you, Faith.” Faith? A girl
hooker? Willow bit her lip and tried not to react. “It’s crazy here, and this Willow chick and her airhead assistant are driving me crazy.” Airhead?
Willow frowned. Buffy wasn’t a genius, but she wasn’t stupid. Not even close. “No, I haven’t slept with her. But hope springs eternal.” Kennedy let out a little laugh; Willow felt her hands close into fists, felt her nails press against her palms. “Look, just call me when you’re on the way. I can’t wait to see you.”
Willow smiled and cleared her throat. Kennedy actually squeaked. “Gotta go,” she said, and came around the corner of the alcove, slipping her phone into her pocket. “What?”
“You left the meeting. I wanted to make sure everything was okay.”
“Everything’s fine.” This was the shortest Kennedy had ever been with Willow; she must really have been upset. “Just talking to a vendor.”
“Is that what we call our girlfriends now? I don’t think Tara would let me get away with that.”
Kennedy’s olive-toned face went as pale as Willow guessed it would ever get. “I... I mean...”
“It’s okay,” Willow said, her voice so cold that ice wouldn’t melt in her mouth. “Booty calls are important. I just hope you’re paying her enough that-- eep
!” That last bit was because Kennedy had grabbed her by both lapels and pulled her into the alcove. “What the hell are you doing?”
Kennedy’s dark eyes were hard and sharp as she stared up at Willow, who was too stunned to push her off. “Not... a... fucking... word
,” she snarled. “You say one word about this, and I will fuck this deal so hard you’ll wish you’d just given it up to me when I asked.”
Willow reached up and cupped Kennedy’s cheek, then leaned down so her face was very close to the smaller woman. Close enough to kiss. Kennedy’s grip loosened, and Willow shoved, forceful enough that Kennedy hit the other wall. “Touch me again,” Willow said, keeping her voice all sweetness and light, “and you’ll be lucky to work in this field when I’m done with you.” She smiled. “Maybe your friend Faith will give you some pointers on her line of work.”
Then Willow turned and walked away, in the direction of her office.
Something was very wrong with Kennedy Richardson. Especially if she could make Willow react the way she did. She decided it would be best to stay as far away from that woman as humanly possible.
Then she decided she didn’t want to be at work anymore. Not today. Not after that. And anyway, Monday was Tara’s early day this week, which meant that if she left the office now, she’d be home just in time to...
Willow was up in the bedroom when Tara came home. She’d already changed into something more comfortable, and the look on Tara’s face as she stood in the doorway, completely adorable in her yellow scrubs with the frolicking puppies, was one hundred percent worth it.
Willow propped herself up on her elbow and, with one finger, beckoned Tara toward the bed.
Tara smiled her sweetest, most intimate smile and sauntered toward Willow, her hips swaying like she was moving to music only she could hear.
Oh, yes. Tonight she would make Tara sing.
Over and over again.+++++
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Next time: more slayer dreams, and more W/T goodness.