The Gypsy and the Slayer
See Part 1. It still applies.Warnings:
See Part 1 also. No change there.AN:
Sorry folks, still couldn't find a way to fit in Buffy's monologue on the effects of man-in-the-moon marigolds on sex-starved blonde slayers. Maybe in the epilogue?Words:
"Shhit..." Buffy hissed as she leaned back from Jenny, her hands sliding down to rest on her shoulders. She could feel Jenny tensing. Looking her in the eyes, she whispered "Sorry."
"Buffy?" her sister repeated, her voice going up another octave in disbelief. Completely releasing her hands from Jenny's shoulders, Buffy turned around and faced the door.
"Yes?" She said, keeping her voice calm even as she felt a hand gently pressing against her back. The clock next to the door was not showing the time she'd expected. Somehow, she'd lost track of the time. Which would explain Dawn's appearance, but not Faith's.
"What were you doing?" Dawn asked.
"Have you forgotten already?" Faith said with a slight smirk. "It's something the old fogies call kissing. Maybe I should remind you?" Dawn squealed as Faith grabbed her around the waist and pulled her into a kiss that had Buffy blushing.
"Faith!" Buffy said. "Enough. I'm sure we all get the point."
"Just following your example, B," Faith grumbled good-naturedly. "Though I think my hottie is a bit younger than yours, you have to admit brunettes kiss better." She winked, turning Dawn around so they both faced in the same direction.
"I don't have to admit anything," Buffy said. "Aren't you supposed to get here tomorrow? And calling my sister a hottie? Not collecting the sister points on that one."
Faith shrugged, giving her a mischievous wink over Dawn's shoulder. "Hottie, babe, twinkie. All good. If you can't admit how hot Dawn is... not my problem."
"I asked her to come early," Dawn said quickly, in an obvious attempt to avoid a fight. "We didn't know we would be interrupting anything."
"You weren't interrupting," Buffy snapped peevishly, not quite able to contain her disappointment at their appearance.
"I think your sister wants us to go away so she and her friend can get back to what they were doing," Faith told Dawn.
Buffy tried to suppress a slight shiver as Jenny continued to rub her back in a circular motion.
"I think I should go to bed," Jenny told her quietly. "We can talk in the morning."
"Faith?" Buffy said. "Jenny has the spare bedroom. You can have the couch."
"I've got plenty of room in mine," Dawn added quickly. "It's much more comfortable than the couch."
"Okay," Buffy agreed, quickly adding maliciously, "Dawn, you can have the couch and Faith can have your bed."
"Buffy!" Dawn whined.
"You know the rules," Buffy said, winking at Faith after Dawn had stomped past her into the kitchen.
Faith stared after her, sighing. "Did you have to do that?" she asked Buffy, obviously not expecting an answer.
"If you could introduce us?" Jenny asked, standing up and gently moving Buffy to one side. "Hello. I'm Jenny Calendar," she said, holding out her hand.
"Ooh, a civilized chick. Are you sure you want to hang out with Buffy?" Faith said, winking and shaking Jenny's hand.
"This is Faith," Buffy said, frowning at her fellow slayer. "The slayer called after Kendra." She paused for a moment to think. "Did you ever meet Kendra?" she asked Jenny. "Drusilla killed her after you died."
"It's possible her name was mentioned," Jenny said. "I don't remember if we were introduced."
"The rude one was my sister, Dawn," Buffy told her. "You definitely wouldn't have met her."
"Calendar? Jenny Calendar?" Dawn blurted out from the kitchen door.
"Yes," Buffy said.
"I know I wasn't really there," Dawn said, clearly puzzled by something, "but aren't you supposed to be dead?"
"She got better," Buffy said under her breath. She ignored Faith's laugh at her comment. "Willow kind of accidentally resurrected her," she explained. "It's a long story."
"She should have more accidents like that," Faith said. "Maybe she'll bring back your mom or her Tara."
"No," Dawn said firmly, walking back over to Faith. "We can't ask her to. It's too dangerous and never turns out okay."
"Looks like we have two examples of it working right here," Faith said, pulling her down onto the couch across from Buffy and Jenny.
"No," Dawn repeated, her face grim. "You know how I feel about this. We don't try to bring people back. And I bet things didn't go perfectly for Jenny either."
"It went better than my little adventure in resurrection," Buffy told them. "It was more like a Sleeping Beauty kind of thing."
"So, that makes you the prince who woke up Sleeping Beauty?" Dawn giggled, the grimness gone. "Wait till I tell Giles."
"You can't," Buffy said quickly.
"Can't what?" Dawn asked.
"Tell Giles," Buffy said, look at both of them. "Not yet."
"Why not?" Faith asked, curious.
"Willow has it all under control. She thinks we should wait until after the wedding," Buffy said. She could sense Jenny tensing next to her at the reminder.
"So you and Giles had a thing?" Faith asked Jenny.
"Ooh... it was one of those romantic, lost love kinds of things," Dawn said excitedly. "I'll tell you all about it." Standing up, she grabbed Faith's hand, dragging her off of the couch and into the hallway.
"Dawn?" Buffy yelled, trying not to laugh at Faith's dismayed expression. She didn't think Faith had ever been romantic but Dawn more than made up for it. "Don't forget what I said. You've got the couch tonight."
"Buffy!" Dawn whined.
Buffy waited for a minute until she'd heard Dawn drag Faith into her room, slamming the door behind them. Turned back to Jenny she asked, "Where were we?"
"I was going to bed," Jenny said. "And we're going to have a long talk tomorrow."
"Okay," Buffy mumbled, disappointed. "I won't keep you up then. Have a good night."
"Good night Buffy," Jenny said, squeezing her hand and kissing her on her cheek before leaving the room.
Buffy stared after her for a minute, sighing before flopping down onto the couch and grabbing the remote. She still had several hours before she could work off enough excess energy patrolling so she could sleep herself.
"Well?" Buffy said, staring over her steaming cup at her oldest friend as she placed several scones in the middle of the table.
"You're forgiven," Willow said, sliding into an empty seat. "Where's Jenny?" she asked, looking around the small coffee shop.
"Back at the flat," Buffy grumbled.
"Doing what exactly?" Willow asked curiously.
"This morning's shopping trip exhausted her," Buffy said morosely. "So she's taking a nap.
"You can't expect her to be in perfect health. It's only been a couple days," Willow said. "You need to take it easy on her until she can handle the excitement."
Buffy pouted. "But I was right back into things after I was resurrected."
"Were you?" Willow asked skeptically. "Physically maybe, but that's because you're a slayer. You bounce back quickly. But what about emotionally? How long did it take you to feel like you fit in again?"
Buffy looked down at the table, not saying anything.
"Oh... Buffy," Willow said, grabbing her hands. "It's been over five years."
Buffy looked up at Willow, drawn by the sadness in her voice. "Hey. I'm doing better." She took a slow, deep breath. "I can go days without thinking about it."
"Well, I think this'll be good for both of you. But you need to take it easy on her. It doesn't seem like she remembers being dead but don't forget she's older than you were then, and she's human." Willow gave her a firm look.
"Okay. No need to bring out the resolve face. I'll tone things down. For now." Buffy frowned. "Not that we've done anything other than kiss."
"So, no longer in Denial-land?" Willow asked, bouncing excitedly in her seat.
"Maybe," Buffy mumbled, blushing. "I might be at the 'enjoying the eye-candy' phase of things."
"She's certainly easy on the eyes," Willow said, grinning and taking a sip from Buffy's cup.
"Hey! Get your own!" Buffy said, grabbing it back.
"Why? We both like it the same way," Willow said, wiggling her eyebrows.
"Very funny," Buffy said. "But you're assuming a lot here. What if I can't get past the eye candy stage? What if she wants more than I can give her? Or she doesn't like me that way."
"What did I say about rushing things?" Willow said, shaking her head. "Get to know her as an adult. Let her get to know you."
"But..." Buffy whined.
"No buts," Willow said. "At least you already know you have a connection. Don't take it lightly. A lot of people never find someone like that."
"I'm not," Buffy grumbled, "but I still think you're wrong about that whole soul-mate thing. I think anyone could have kissed her."
"It's too late to find out now," Willow told her. "Though, we could always set up a kissing booth in the London office the next time we have an open house. I'm sure I can find a kissing spell so Jenny can find her real soul-mate if you're sure you aren't it."
"Don't 'Willow' me!" Willow told her. "Jenny obviously didn't object when you kissed her that one time."
"Twice," Buffy mumbled, blushing again.
"Twice?" Willow pouted. "And I missed it?"
"Faith and Dawn didn't," Buffy said.
"Oh! Is that what Dawn was talking about this morning?" Willow laughed. "She wasn't happy with sleeping on the couch last night."
"Her own fault," Buffy said, smirking. "She tried to pull a fast one."
"If you say so," Willow said, giggling. "But I think you could be nicer tonight."
"And ruin my fun?" Buffy said.
"Sisters!" Willow muttered under her breath, grabbing one of the scones.
"So, Lady Penelope isn't angry anymore?" Buffy asked hopefully a few minutes later, staring at the bottom of her empty cup.
"No. But she expects you to behave at the wedding," Willow said. "I did have to explain everything to her."
"How much of everything?" Buffy asked curiously.
"Well... I left out my crush on Jenny, and your whole Faith thing. But mostly everything else she now knows."
"What about keeping Jenny a secret from Giles?" Buffy asked.
"She agreed. Sort of."
"And by 'sort of' you mean?" Buffy asked.
"She and I are going to tell him about Jenny tomorrow."
"That's not much of keeping a secret. I did better when you guys found out I was the slayer," Buffy said, not really upset. Keeping Jenny's presence a secret had been Willow's idea, not hers. As long as Giles still married Lady Penelope, it didn't matter to her.
"She didn't think it was fair to spring this on him after the wedding."
"You know, for a secret agent, she's very considerate of other people," Buffy said.
"She's British," Willow reminded her.
"And so was Quentin Travers," Buffy retorted. "What, exactly, aren't you going to tell him tomorrow?"
"Well... the whole soul-mate thing is kind of important. That'll keep him from going all noble on us," Willow said. "But he doesn't need to know who her soul-mate is right away."
"That's it?" Buffy stared at her best friend.
"Lady Penelope thinks it would be best if Jenny doesn't go to the wedding," Willow said. "But she can go to the reception if you promise to behave."
"So she's nervous that we might be wrong about Jenny's soul-mate not being Giles?"
"Very much," Willow said. "But wouldn't you be?"
"Me?" Buffy laughed hollowly, staring down at the table to avoid Willow's eyes again. "So, reception? I can do that. Not sure what Jenny will say..."
Sitting at the table in the apartment's small kitchen, Janna watched curiously as Buffy and Willow wandered into the room, exhausted just by seeing the energy they both seemed to have. Before she'd died, she'd thought she was in good physical shape, though certainly not like Buffy or even any of Rupert's other 'kids'. The shopping expedition Buffy had taken her on that morning had proven to both of them that she really hadn't recovered from the effects of the resurrection.
The early afternoon nap she'd taken had helped a little but she still felt tired. A hot shower, her first in longer than she cared to contemplate, had briefly revived her, but it hadn't lasted. And she knew she really needed to get herself together. The mixed messages she'd been getting from Buffy since leaving the hospital were leaving her confused but she didn't have the energy to do the heavy thinking she suspected the situation required.
"How are you feeling now?" Buffy asked her, hesitantly reaching over and lightly resting a hand on her shoulder.
"Old," Janna told her. "I'm sure I'm imagining it but I think I can hear my joints creak even when I'm not moving."
"It makes sense," Willow said, dropping down onto the chair across from them. "It takes a lot of energy to resurrect someone. Your energy is going to be low for a few weeks, at least."
"I thought all of the energy came from you," Buffy said. "And that's why you couldn't complete it. The non-soul-mate part anyway."
Janna looked back and forth between the two women, sensing a strange undercurrent. They clearly hadn't told her everything. In fact there were large gaping holes in their story of the last ten years. She supposed that eventually she would have enough energy to be curious and ask questions, but right now just sitting there and listening was good enough.
"It depends on the spell. Most of them do require energy from the person doing the spell but they also require something from the person it is performed on." Willow shrugged. "That's why so few of them are successful."
"Huh?" Buffy seemed confused by that. Janna suspected she knew the answer but waited to see if Willow would explain it.
"I don't have a large sample," Willow said. "But the only successful resurrections I know of, you, Jenny, Darla, and a few others, involved either witches or others with their own large internal cache of magical energy."
"Huh?" Buffy repeated, shaking her head. Releasing Janna's shoulder she hopped up onto the nearby counter. "A slayer, a witch, and a vampire?"
"I'm not a witch," Janna protested faintly. "I'm really not."
"You're a gypsy. In some quarters that makes you more of a witch than most practicing Wiccans," Willow told her. "And you do have a small amount of power. Anyone sensitive to magic would be able to feel it. If you studied, really studied, you could be a fairly powerful witch in less than a decade."
"Who's Darla?" Janna asked, after a few minutes of quietly watching Willow make tea.
"She was Angelus's sire," Buffy said, taking a cup from Willow. "Somewhere along the way he dusted her. I think it was before you died. A couple years later, some evil lawyers brought her back."
"It is one of those 'only in Sunnydale' kinds of things," Willow added, placing a cup in front of Janna. "Except they were in LA."
Janna shivered, not so much from the cold, damp air, but at the thought of Angel still running around. Taking a sip from her own cup didn't help.
"And then it gets weird and a long story for another day," Buffy said. "With more than enough angst and high-jinks for anyone."
"You'll have to tell me at some point," Janna said. "Without leaving out anything. Which I'm sure you've been doing already."
"Sorry," Buffy whispered. "We just don't want to overwhelm you."
"I'm fine, Buffy," Janna said. "And speaking of overwhelming..."
"There's a person you keep avoiding talking about," Janna said, deciding she'd avoided the topic long enough herself.
"Who?" Buffy gave her a puzzled look.
"Giles," Janna said.
"Oh... that person."
"Other than the wedding, you've said almost nothing about him," Janna said.
"He didn't take your death too well," Willow said.
"Ya think?" Buffy said sarcastically. "He suddenly developed a case of 'suicide by vampire' and tried to kill Angelus." She hopped down from the counter and started pacing.
"But he didn't," Willow quickly said. "I think part of it was the whole taunting thing."
"Taunting?" Janna asked.
"Angelus was very creative with the mental torture. For a vampire anyway," Buffy said.
"Fortunately we don't run into many like him." Willow visibly shivered.
"He did this whole romantic evening scenario thing to Giles. Roses and everything. With you as the centerpiece. In Giles' bed," Buffy said.
Janna could feel herself becoming nauseous at the image that appeared in her head, her hand reflexively covering her mouth. "That must have been upsetting," she said, after taking a deep breath.
"Yes," Willow said. "It took a while for all of us to get over it." Janna wondered about the sympathetic look Willow gave Buffy.
"Giles blamed me," Buffy murmured, sliding into the closest chair.
"No he didn't," Willow protested.
"Yes, he did!" Buffy said.
"Why would he?" Janna asked. "Angelus was dangerous. You're lucky he didn't kill anyone else."
"Angelus killing you was personal. And Giles knew I was still angry about the whole curse thing. About you knowing about it."
"You don't seem angry at me now," Janna said.
"It's been a while," Buffy said, reaching over and grabbing her cup from the counter. "And Angel came back. It was very traumatic at the time but it's just a minor event compared to other things that have happened since."
"And there's the whole soul-mate thing," Willow smirked. "She couldn't stay angry at you if she tried. You have a permanent 'Forgive anything' card with her."
"Willow!" Buffy huffed. "You're making that up."
"Nope," Willow said, laughing. "I did a little research on soul-mates. Hogwarts has an impressive library."
"Is that where you went the other night?" Buffy raised an eyebrow at her friend. "With a certain witch we met this week?"
"Maybe," Willow said, blushing. "Not that anything happened. Or will."
"You were going to explain soul-mates?" Janna prodded her, hoping to get an answer before the topic went off on too much of a tangent.
Willow paused for a moment, taking a sip from her cup and playing with her spoon. "When we think about soul-mates we usually think about the whole romantic love, forever kind of thing."
"Like you and Tara?" Buffy asked.
"Yes," Willow said, nodding sadly. "But there are actually different kinds. It can mean two people who have a deep connection of some sort. It isn't always about love. It can mean a very deep friendship."
"For example?" Janna asked.
"Well... the non-love kind of soul-mate is even rarer than romantic soul-mates. But it happens," Willow said. "You haven't met them, but Hermione has that kind of connection with both of her friends, Harry and Ron."
"Is that why you thought they 'belonged' to her?" Buffy asked.
"Yes. And they do. But not in a physical or romantic way," Willow said. "You don't ever want to bet against them in a contest. If they work together they should be almost unstoppable."
"Do they know this?" Buffy asked.
"Well, Hermione does. Now. I don't know if she'll tell them. And you won't." Willow looked at them firmly before she took another sip of tea. "She said it explains so much though."
"Like what?" Janna asked.
"Er... mostly personal stuff that we don't really need to get into," Willow said. "But it does bring up an important point."
"Once you meet your soul-mate you won't have much interest in the same kind of relationship with anyone else." Willow patted Buffy on the hand. "So I guess you're stuck with each other."
"We don't really know each other," Janna said. "A kiss or two doesn't a relationship make. Or soul-mates."
"You're correct," Willow said. "And, all kidding aside, being soul-mates doesn't mean instant relationship. It just means that at a meta-physical level you fit together in a way you'll never find anywhere else."
"What about Angel?" Janna asked. She ignored the wide-eyed, almost frightened look Buffy gave her. "Why is this happening now?"
Willow looked at them both. "Let's take care of the important issue first before I answer that."
"Important issue?" Buffy squeaked.
"Proof that you two are soul-mates." She looked at them. "You do want to know that, don't you?"
"How?" Jana asked.
"We could do this in a dramatic way," Willow told them. "I have this spell that you have to do under a full moon. Which just happens to be tonight. It's guaranteed to work."
"But?" Buffy said.
"There are several disadvantages," Willow said. "You have to do it skyclad, in the middle of a stone circle like Stonehenge. And it's kind of flashy and would attract attention."
"Okay, not wanting to appear naked on the BBC just to let you prove a point," Buffy said. Janna nodded in agreement. "Can't you read our auras instead?"
"I could but it wouldn't help with this," Willow told her.
"Why not?" Buffy asked.
"For the same reason I gave you the other day." Willow shrugged. "Sorry."
"Is there any other way?" Buffy asked.
"Yes," Willow said, placing two small, delicate looking silver rings on the table. "You put one of these on each other, I say a little spell, and we'll have our answer."
Picking one up, Jana noticed that a clear crystal lined the inside of the ring. "Sounds simple. How does it work?"
"The rings have a charm on them. They change if they are worn by soul-mates." Willow handed the other ring to Buffy. "But there is no effect otherwise."
"It's a one-shot kind of deal," Willow said. "The spell can only be done once with a set of rings. And they aren't easy to find."
"Where'd you get them?" Buffy asked.
"You remember Professor McGonagall?" Willow asked.
"The woman with the Sappho spell collection?"
"Yes, her. She gave them to me," Willow said.
"Why?" Janna asked curiously.
"Well..." Willow paused. "She had them made for herself years ago but she decided at the last minute that she didn't really want to know."
"Why wouldn't you want to know something like that?" Buffy asked, obviously confused.
"Would you want to have a relationship with someone if you knew there was someone else out there for them?" Janna asked her, thinking about her first love who'd left her when a tribal Elder had predicted that Janna would not find her heart among the Kalderash.
"No." Buffy looked at her so intently that Janna shivered. She sighed in relief when Buffy didn't ask what she so obviously wanted to know.
"So, we just put them on and you do the mumbo-jumbo and we find out?" Buffy asked.
"Yes." Willow rolled her eyes. "You put that one on Jenny and she puts the one she's holding on you."
"Okay," Buffy said. "Any specific finger or will any one do?"
"Well, since it will sort of bond the two of you if it works," Willow said nonchalantly, "ring finger might be appropriate."
"Whoa! Bond us? Like marriage bond us?" Buffy dropped the ring, pushing back from the table so quickly that it shook. "You didn't say anything about that."
Janna gently placed the ring she'd been holding back on the table like it was a loaded weapon. "Willow? Why?" she asked quietly, trying to keep her anger at the attempted manipulation to herself.
"It's just a formality," Willow muttered.
"I'm thinking not," Buffy said. "Otherwise you would have said something before now."
"Anyone can see the two of you have already started to bond," Willow said, getting up from the table.
"Says who?" Buffy asked.
"I do. You're constantly watching each other, and sitting really close. And lots of other signs," Willow said, hugging herself and turning away from them. "I think it started when you kissed. The ring just finishes it. And is it such a bad thing?"
"It is if it isn't our choice," Janna told her, standing up. Stepping around the table, she grabbed Willow by the shoulders and turned her back around. "And that doesn't really answer why, does it?"
"No it doesn't," Buffy said, standing next to her. Janna looked at her in surprise when Buffy put an arm around her waist. Blushing, Buffy dropped her arm.
"See?" Willow said to Jenny, having noticed the movement. "It's like you two are on automatic around each other."
"You're avoiding the question," Buffy told her, still blushing.
"It's your turn to have someone of your own," Willow said, looking down at the floor as she talked. "I had my chance with Tara, Giles has Lady Penelope, Xander had Anya, and your sister has Faith - if they can get past their issues. The two of you are perfect for each other. I just wanted to make sure no one would be able to break you up," she admitted. "I need you to be happy again."
"You can't force things like that, Willow," Buffy told her softly. "Weren't you telling me that the other day?"
"Yes. But this is different," she protested.
"How?" Buffy asked.
"It's more like a protection spell," Willow said. "If you do this, no one can interfere in your relationship in any way, however it works out."
"Isn't bonding like this the same as getting married?" Janna asked.
"More like being betrothed," Willow told them. "If you both agree the bond can be broken but if you have sex... then it's kind of permanent. Like a handfasting. Though, curiously enough, being handfasted used to mean being betroved and now it means the same thing as marriage, so you go from being handfasted to being handfasted. I wonder if there's a ceremony we would have to do and who we should invite and do gypsies have similar practices or does it matter since Jenny is a techno-pagan..."
"Willow. Stop and breath," Buffy said, putting her hand on top of Janna's where it rested on Willow's shoulder.
"So this bonding thing isn't permanent?" Buffy asked. "If we find out we hate each other we can break it?"
"Yup. It's permanent only if you want it to be," Willow said. "It gives you a chance to figure things out on your own."
"Jenny? It's up to you," Buffy said. "I thought I'd done the whole soul-mate thing before with Angel and it wasn't much fun at the end. I don't know what is going on between us but it feels different and I would like to find out."
Janna stepped back from the two friends, sitting back in her chair. Silently waving at the other chairs, she waited for them to sit down. "You both are placing a lot of faith in the idea of soul-mates. I still can't believe you're both adults. It's all a lot to take in."
"The lesbian thing isn't a problem is it?" Buffy asked. "I'm not too sure about that myself. But the kissing was great."
"Don't look at me," Willow said, shaking her head. "As the only resident lesbian around here I'm biased. I think you two make a cute couple. The gypsy and the butch slayer. And, with all of the dying and coming back, you are both the same age, more or less."
"Aren't your sister and Faith lesbians?" Janna asked Buffy, looking at her in surprise. They'd certainly given that impression the night before.
"When it comes to sex, Faith is equal opportunity," Buffy said. "The jury is still out on Dawn."
"Buffy, you know they love each other," Willow said.
"Maybe. I know Faith cares for her but they haven't convinced me yet that it is any deeper than that." Buffy giggled. "Maybe we should make them do that skyclad soul-mate spell. It isn't like this one is it?"
"No. I've heard of it being used as part of a handfasting but it doesn't have any affect itself, other than telling you if someone is your soul-mate."
"What does that make us?"
"Based on the evidence?" Willow smirked. "You're like Faith. Jenny will have to speak for herself."
"I'm not anything like Faith!" Buffy protested.
"If you need a label, try bisexual," Janna told her. "It's worked for me for years. Why limit yourself to half the population?"
"Guys, if you go all the way with this... it won't matter what you call yourselves," Willow told them. "You'll be practicing lesbians."
"Does it require a lot of practice?" Buffy asked, mock frowning.
"Much," Willow giggled. "So... are you going to do it?"
"Yes." She reached over and picked up the ring she'd been holding earlier. She looked at Buffy for a moment, trying to see if something in her face would tell her if this was a good or bad idea. What she saw was a beautiful, nervous young woman with the oldest eyes she'd ever seen, but nothing bad. Nodding to herself, she picked up Buffy's left hand and slid on the ring, marveling at the feel of her small hand in her own. So delicate but firm. Not rough like she expected, but not overly soft.
Letting go, she held out her own hand and watched Buffy place the other ring on her ring finger. When she'd finished Janna turned to Willow and asked "What do we do now? Do we need to be touching for this to work?"
"You're just fine the way you are, though the hand fondling is a bit distracting," Willow said, looking pointedly at Buffy.
"Sorry," Buffy mumbled in embarrassment, letting go. "Can't seem to help myself."
Janna watched intently as Willow held her hands above theirs and whispered something. She couldn't quite make out what she was saying, though she imagined she heard the Greek words for heart and love.
A light breeze blew through the small room, bringing with it the faint scent of apples, peaches, bubble-gum and cinnamon. Surprised, Janna looked up at Buffy to find her staring back, her open lips forming a small oval, her eyes wide. A thin purple mist formed between them that began to rapidly rotate before splitting up and appearing to soak into the rings they were wearing. A low, rich note rang through the room when the mist was completely gone.
"Is that what was supposed to happen?" Buffy asked after the breeze had faded away. "Does that mean it worked?"
"Well, the special effects were unexpected," Willow said. "The instructions for the spell just said the rings would change if it worked."
"Change how..." Buffy muttered, taking hers off and examining it.
Removing her own ring, Janna examined it closely. "The crystal was clear," she pointed out. "I'm not sure what it is now. Light red?"
"Mine's changed also," Buffy said, "but it isn't the same as yours. It's almost bluish."
"Birthstones?" Willow said. "Jenny? Is that garnet?"
Janna shrugged. "Possibly. Why?"
"That's Buffy's birthstone."
"So this one is Jenny's birthstone?" Buffy asked eagerly.
"Yes," Willow said.
"No," Janna corrected, taking a look. "It should be topaz. I think that is something else."
"Huh." Willow picked up the rings and stared at them for a moment. "They changed so the spell worked. But why does the one have Buffy's birthstone and the other doesn't have Jenny's?"
"Do they have to be birthstones?" Janna asked. "Could they mean something different?"
"Yeah. How about that astrology stuff," Buffy asked. "I know you aren't really into that but Giles is always saying that every superstition has some basis in fact."
"Very profound Buffy," Willow said, laughing. "We'll turn you into a watcher yet."
"No thanks." Buffy visibly shuddered. "I prefer what I am now. Killing evil, not pontificating about it."
"This must be your day for big words and deep thoughts," Willow said. "I'll have to mark it down on the calendar."
"Willow!" Buffy pouted in what Janna thought was a cute way.
Willow winked at Janna, but otherwise ignored Buffy's outburst. "Let's assume it worked," she told them, handing the rings back. "That makes you officially handfasted soul-mates. You should put these back on. I can research the meaning of the rings later."
"So we have to wear them all the time?" Buffy asked.
"What would happen if we didn't wear them?" Janna added.
"Nothing, I suppose," Willow said. "But just in case, why don't you wear them for now."
Buffy looked at Janna and shrugged. "Okay."
"You were going to tell us about Angel?" Janna reminded her. "Now that we know you were correct about the two of us being soul-mates."
"Oh yeah," Buffy grumbled. "An explanation of that would be very helpful. Sure, finding out Jenny was my soul-mate in high school would have been very creepy and wigg-worthy, what with the teacher, age and woman thing all at once but I'm sure things would have worked out much better than the way the whole Angel thing did."
"I think there was outside interference," Willow told them, gauging her words carefully. An invisible presence had entered the room just before she'd begun the spell. She had her suspicions about who it could be.
"From who?" Buffy asked, her expression hardening.
"And why?" Jenny asked.
"I don't know why," Willow said. "But I know someone who might be able to tell us." Reaching into a pocket, she quickly grabbed a pinch of powder from a bag and threw it towards the sink. Before reaching the sink it hit a large invisible object. The object shimmered briefly, revealing an annoyed Cordelia. "Isn't that right Cordelia!" she said.
"Geeze, Willow. Dramatic much?" Cordelia grumbled, attempting to brush away the sparkles now sticking to her clothes. "What is this stuff?"
"Pixie dust. The real kind," Willow said. "You could have knocked."
"And miss the fun?" Cordelia said. "Though I was kind of expecting them to seal it all with a kiss."
"Voyeur..." Buffy said. "You're worse than Xander."
"Oh, please!" Cordelia said. "I've seen you watching Faith and your sister. You can't tell me that you weren't getting off on the hotness of those two."
"Ewww..." Buffy turned pale. "I don't even have the words to describe the badness of that. Though I don't think you can comment - didn't you have a little episode of cradle robbing with Connor a few years back?"
"Hey! That wasn't even really me." Cordelia shuddered. "I'd rather sleep with Willow."
"Don't bring me into this!" Willow said, glaring at them. "Can we just skip the snark fest this time?"
"Sorry," Buffy said meekly.
"I'm good," Cordelia said, turning around and poking around in a cupboard. Producing a glass, she looked around. "Anything better to drink than that stuff?" She waved at the cups of tea on the table.
"No," Willow said. "Now spill."
"Feeling the love in this room," Cordelia said morosely, plopping gracefully down onto the remaining chair. Leaning over, she sniffed Willow's cup before picking it up and cautiously taking a sip. "Ick!"
"Get your own cup!" Willow sputtered.
"You should be nice to me," Cordelia told her haughtily.
"Why?" Willow asked.
"Because I'm going to stop you from making a big mistake," Cordelia told her with a smirk.
"That witch? Her-whats-it?"
"Hermione?" Willow asked.
"Yeah, her." Taking another sip from Willow's cup, Cordelia made a face. "Don't let things get too serious."
"What do you mean?" Willow said.
"The guys upstairs have plans for her that don't include you," Cordelia told her. "You can play all you want but don't get too attached."
"Yes, oh wise and wonderful whitelighter," Willow muttered. She'd had fun researching with Hermione the other night but there's been no sparkage, and she was sure Cordelia was well aware of that.
"White-what?" Jenny asked.
"TV show, bunch of witches with a guardian angel. Tara and Dawn were into it," Buffy explained. "He was called a 'whitelighter'"
"So... Angel," Willow prompted, trying to bring the conversation back to the original topic. "Who did the interfering and why?"
"The Powers that Be had orders from higher up," Cordelia said. "That whole Angelus thing was planned from the beginning. Kind of creepy."
"So they wanted my 17th birthday to go like that?" Buffy said. "Gee, thanks. Glad I could help."
"No, Angelus getting his soul was the beginning. What happened to you wasn't anything personal," Cordelia told her sympathetically. "They had plans for him. They needed a vampire with a soul to fulfill a prophecy or two. And then the stupid vampire had to fall in love with a certain blonde bimbo and get distracted."
"Hey!" Buffy squeaked.
"Cordelia, do you mind?" Jenny said.
"Oh. Hi Miss Calendar." Cordelia sighed, giving her a glance as if she'd forgotten she was there. "Okay, I won't insult short blonde. It's too easy."
"Love you too, Cordelia," Buffy said menacingly.
Cordelia winked at Willow, who just barely managed to suppress a laugh. Buffy and Cordelia might act like enemies but it was obvious to Willow that they actually liked each other. "Anyway... he falls in love with her, they send him to help her out, she falls in love with him and that shoots all of their plans to hell."
"Why didn't the whole soul-mate thing protect Buffy from that?" Willow asked. "Unless Buffy and Angel were soul-mates also, once she met Jenny I would have thought she would have fallen in love with her instead of him. Isn't that how it works?"
"Well... if they were normal people it would have. But the rules get thrown out the window when it involves any of the Power's champions. They manipulate them like crazy," Cordelia said. "They especially don't want slayers having soul-mates. They thought it would make them impossible to control so the original spell to create slayers turned off the whole soul-mate thing for them when they were born."
"Then how'd it happen?" Willow asked. "How'd Buffy end up with a soul-mate?"
"Somehow, her soul-mate thingy wasn't turned off like it was supposed to. Don't ask me how it happened, I'm just the messenger. I'm surprised they let me tell you this much." She gave them an annoyed look, as if it were their fault. "There's probably some prophecy that requires it. But someone 'up there' fixed that little problem as soon as they found out. They turned off her 'soul-mate' detector when she became the slayer so she wouldn't know."
"What about Jenny?" Buffy asked. "Wouldn't she have known?"
"It takes two. With you out of the soul-mate sweepstakes, she lost her chance."
"That doesn't seem fair," Willow muttered.
"The 'Powers that Be' are never fair," Cordelia told them. "They're still arguing about whose fault it all was that Angel lost his soul, setting back their plans by years. Some of them have charts and everything."
"So, basically, the Angelus thing happened because they wanted a vampire with a soul for a special project, he fell in love with someone he shouldn't have, and it blew up in their face?" Buffy asked.
"Pretty much," Cordelia said, giving her a sad look. "It had almost nothing to do with you. He wasn't your soul-mate in the first place, no matter what he thinks."
"Who gets to tell him?" Buffy asked them.
""Not me!" Willow said. "I like all of my limbs still attached, thank you very much."
"It's all taken care of," Cordelia said. "Don't worry about it."
"That doesn't exactly inspire any confidence," Buffy whispered loudly to Jenny.
"So... other slayers don't get to have soul-mates?" Willow asked, thinking about Faith and the new slayers.
"That spell you did in Sunnyhell to make all those girls slayers? You remember that one, right?" Cordelia said, grinning at some private joke. "That messed things up really good. If a slayer has a soul-mate the Powers can't stop her from finding out like the rest of us anymore."
"So, what do we do?" Willow asked.
"You stay away from Hermi," Cordelia said bluntly. "These two get with the program and start behaving like soul-mates. Let the Powers worry about Angel."
"That's it?" Buffy asked.
"Pretty much. Consider this your reward for being a good little champion over the years. And it's as close as they'll ever get to apologizing for the whole Angelus fiasco and letting Willow yank you out of heaven."
"Thanks, Cordelia," Jenny said.
"Don't thank me," she said, standing up. "I give them five years before they find a prophecy or apocalypse with your names on it. So enjoy the vacation while it lasts." Leaning over she kissed Willow on the cheek before disappearing with a small grin.
"I don't think Cordy is just a messenger," Buffy muttered. Jenny nodded in agreement.
"I have to go think. In private," Willow mumbled, getting to her feet. "Let me know what you want to do about dinner."
"Okay. Have fun," Buffy said with a wink.
Willow gave her best friend a blank look before heading towards her bedroom. The kiss from Cordelia had been strange and she really needed time to think about it and the warning about not becoming too attached to Hermione.
"I think we need to work on this kissing thing," Buffy said, not saying anything until Willow had slipped out of the kitchen.
"You do?" Jenny raised an eyebrow.
"Yes," Buffy said. "If we're going to 'get with the program' we need to start somewhere."
Grabbing the back of Jenny's chair, Buffy turned it around. Giving the surprised Jenny a wink, she straddled her lap in a quick, effortless motion. Squirming until she was comfortable, Buffy wrapped her legs around Jenny, effectively pinning her into the chair, and bringing them within an inch of each other.
"Willow!" Xander yelled, his face turning red. "What's going on in here? What's that?"
Looking at the clock above her desk, Willow sighed and went to see what the problem was.
"Umm..." She cautiously stuck her head through the kitchen door. Sitting on Jenny Calendar's lap was a blushing blonde slayer. From their flushed faces they'd obviously been busy becoming better acquainted. "Looks like a Buffy."
"What's she doing?" Xander asked in the same tone of voice he used when he was chastising one of the younger slayers for not cleaning their weapons after a fight.
"Girl stuff," Willow said, waving at Jenny and Buffy. Dragging him into the hall, she grabbed the door knob and pulled it shut.
"That didn't look like 'girl stuff' to me," Xander protested, standing in the hall, staring at the door.
"You've been watching too much of Faith's porn collection," Willow told him, attempting to keep a straight face at his horrified squeak. "Some of us like a little foreplay first."
"Buffy.... foreplay?" Xander stuttered. "With a girl?"
"Woman," Willow sternly corrected him, grabbing his arm and dragging him down the hall. "Buffy and Jenny are grown women. What they do with each other is their business."
"Jenny?" Xander gave her a puzzled look.
"Calendar," Willow added.
"She's dead!" Xander protested as they entered the living room.
"It's this whole accidental resurrection thing," Willow said, blushing slightly as she nodded to Faith and Dawn.
"You didn't!" Xander gaped at her, grabbing her by the shoulders.
"Chill blame-boy. She said it was an accident," Faith told him, getting up and prying his hands loose from Willow's shoulders. Wrapping an arm around her waist, she directing Willow to the couch, sitting her next to Dawn. Shaking her head, Faith sat back down on the other side of Dawn.
"What does Giles think about Miss Calendar coming back?"
"He doesn't know yet," Willow murmured.
"Are you going to tell him before he catches them doing 'that'?"
"Maybe." Willow laughed at the expression on his face. "Okay, okay. I'm going to tell him tomorrow morning that she's back."
"And are you going to fix Buffy?" Xander asked.
"What's wrong with her?" Willow asked, puzzled at the question.
"She's not gay," Xander said with utmost conviction. "You must have done something to her when you brought her back." He looked thoughtfully at her. "Or maybe when you were fighting her in the Magic Box?"
"I didn't do anything to her. Or Jenny," Willow said, feeling a pout coming on. "Why does everyone assume I did?"
"Because she's not gay, and you had the opportunity?" Xander said, sprawling out on the other couch. "And you were a little out of control at the time?"
"Ooh... one little attempt to end the world and you're branded a megalomaniac forever." Willow glared at him. "So not fair!"
"Well, you could have," Xander said, making himself comfortable. Willow looked at him and decided to ignore the tell-tale, slightly upturned lips of her best male friend. He obviously thought he was being funny.
"What's that?" She waved a hand at Dawn, who was now sitting on Faith's lap, her hands seemingly in places Willow was sure would make even Anya blush.
"I'm trying not to see that," Xander said, making a big production of staring at just Willow. "It's bad enough they have to do that in public. If Buffy knew I'd watched them she would kill me."
"So... do you agree that Dawn and Faith are a couple?" Willow asked.
"A couple what?" Faith asked with a smirk, earning a dirty look from Dawn.
"Yes..." Xander agreed reluctantly. Willow felt only momentary sympathy for him. He'd had plenty of time to get over Anya and it was time he stopped living vicariously through his friends, hoping that Buffy would finally notice him. It wasn't going to happen. Ever.
"So if Dawn likes girls..."
"Women," Faith interrupted in a stage whisper.
"Hush Faith," Willow snapped at her, before turning back to Xander. "Why are you surprised if Buffy does too?"
"Because this is the first time she's done something like that?" Xander said in what Willow was sure he thought was a reasonable tone.
"Yeah, right," Faith mumbled. "Buffy's a slayer. A yogurt ain't gonna do it every time. I should know," she said, smirking.
"You didn't!" Dawn jumped off of Faith's lap so quickly she fell on the floor.
"Didn't what?" Faith asked, looking up at her innocently from the floor.
"Have sex with my sister," Dawn said, turning an interesting shade of green.
"It was years ago," Faith said, looking around the room for support.
"And you owe me, mister," Willow crowed, holding out a hand in Xander's direction. "I was right!"
"Statute of limitations," Xander told her. "That's an expired bet."
"Says who!" Willow grumbled.
"What's going on?" Buffy asked, walking into the room, Jenny reluctantly following.
"He won't pay up," Willow said, pulling out her best pout.
"Ow!" The sound of Dawn's hand hitting Buffy's face echoed across the room. "What was that for?" Buffy gasped.
"For having sex with my girlfriend," Dawn said, stomping back to the couch where she sat down huffily on the opposite end from Faith, with Willow looking nervously between them.
Buffy looked around the room, obviously confused. "When did I sleep with Faith?"
"In high school," Dawn whined. "I bet it was your idea even."
"Dawn, you were twelve. She wasn't your girlfriend then. And you had a crush on Xander at the time," Willow reminded her, deciding that a peace treaty between Summers was more important than her glaring contest with Xander. "And I'm sure it was all Faith's fault."
"Wasn't any sleeping going on," Faith muttered in what Willow thought was a pathetic attempt to change the subject.
"Umm... actually..." Buffy blushed. "The few times we did anything there wasn't much more to it than a bit of heavy groping. Sorry Faith."
"That isn't what you said the other day," Willow protested.
"I don't believe I said anything about sex with Faith," Buffy told her.
"As much fun as we had, we didn't quite go that far. Faith was very considerate of my feelings at the time. Considering what she gets like while slaying, anyway."
"Faith?" Willow and Xander stared first at Buffy and then Faith. Willow quickly looked around for signs of an immanent apocalypse, Faith and considerate not being two things she could imagine ever going together, no matter how much Faith seemed to have reformed.
"You don't think I would let her date my sister if I didn't think she was a good person. Do you?" Buffy stared pointedly at Willow.
"Well, no..." Willow said. "But you let her hang out with Spike when he was evil."
"Faith was never evil," Dawn grumbled. "She just had issues."
Willow sighed. Issues was an understatement when it came to Faith's past. "I didn't say she was evil."
"You implied it," Dawn said, before getting up again and climbing back into Faith's lap where she glared defiantly at Willow.
"So... what's the plan for tonight?" Buffy asked.
"I think you should take Jenny out to dinner," Willow said, glad for a change in topic. "Just the two of you. She can wear one of those outfits you bought her this morning. You can meet us at the club later tonight. Wear something sexy and leave the butch at home tonight," she ordered, winking at her best friend.
"You went shopping and didn't take me?" Dawn whined, her expression changing to something Willow found a little disturbing when Faith whispered in her ear. Willow tried not to think about what Faith could have said to her to put that kind of expression on her face.
"What about me?" Xander asked, pretending to pout.
Willow shook her head at his antics. "You can come dancing too, if you want. Or you can go back to London and keep Andrew out of trouble until the wedding."
"Dancing it is," Xander said glumly.--- TBC ---