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122 Roses

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Summary: There's a surprise waiting for Willow at home...

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
Anita Blake > Willow-Centered > Pairing: NathanielVampiressFR1512,766122,4775 Jun 065 Jun 06Yes
Title: 122 Roses

Pairing: Willow/Nathanial, mention of Faith/Jason

Rating: FR-15 to be safe

Summary: There's a surprise waiting for Willow at home...

Disclaimer: All Anita Blake characters belong to Laurell K. Hamilton, all Buffy the Vampire Slayer characters belong to Joss Whedon and his team. No money being made.

Authir's Note: Thanks to me Beta Kat for sending it back so quick. Just a sweet little stand alone fic, needed a respite from my long philosophy essay about the Spuffy relationship. Hope you like!

122 Roses

Willow sighed as she got out of her car – a nice blue Sedan – after a long day of teaching teenagers how to use computers at the local Junior High School. Thank God it was Friday; she wouldn’t have to be surrounded by all the hormonal kids for two days.

Honestly, had she been like that when she was fourteen? No, she couldn’t recall that she had been. Cordelia and her sheep maybe, but not Willow. She had paid attention in class; she hadn’t talked about boys and make-up…that had come after she had met Buffy. With a small smile gracing her face at the thought of her best friend, Willow locked the car and walked the short distance from the parking place to the apartment building she lived in.

It was full dark outside, it being December and after seven o’clock on a Friday night. She didn’t normally come home this late, but the Christmas holidays were drawing ever closer and the teachers needed to discuss the new term and reports and such. That usually took up a few hours. Thankfully, she was able to spend that time sitting next to her good friend, Richard Zeeman. He taught science at Seckman Junior High School. He was one of her best friends here in St. Louis, tall and handsome and a werewolf. It had taken almost two years of friendship for him to confide in her, by which time she had kind of figured it out. Poor Richard, he had been so afraid that she would cut all ties with him, just because he was a werewolf. In a way she could understand his fear, but in a way she was hurt that he would think so little of her. But they were still good friends and he was a constant guest at her apartment, where she and her boyfriend spent every Saturday watching movies together. Just the three of them. It was fun.

But back to it being dark. If it were Sunnydale, Willow would probably be carrying a stake and half jogging to the front door. Here though, where vampires were legal citizens and she was friendly with almost all of the undead, it was not necessary. It had come as a shock to find out that the creatures that she had spent the last few years fighting were thought of as humans with long teeth. It was against the law to kill them, so Slayers were not needed. If you wanted to slay a vamp, you had to be a legally appointed Vampire Executioner. So, after much discussion, Faith had decided to become an Executioner and Buffy was free to travel the world and round up the new Slayers. That’s how it came to be that Willow ended up in St. Louis. She and Faith had come here after hearing that the best Vampire Executioner in the country lived here. They wanted to meet her and ask her a few things. A tentative – from Anita’s side at least – friendship had sprung up and the two women had decided to stay in Missouri.

Faith was a happy member of RPIT. She was currently dating Jason and had been for nearly half a year now. This was, by far, the longest relationship in the history of Faith’s love life. It had started out as a typical use’em and loose’em mission one night, which had turned into another night and another and another. Before she knew it, she was staying at his house more often than she was in the apartment she had shared with Willow and after three months, she had stopped denying the fact that this time, it was different. It wasn’t just about the sex, though from what Willow had heard and from what Faith had told her, the sex was amazing. She was slowly, but surely, falling in love with the young werewolf and she had never been happier.

Willow was also dating someone. Nathaniel was his name and being a wereleopard was his game. She had met him few months ago, when Faith had dragged her to Guilty Pleasures with a lame excuse of Willow needing to have some fun, when in fact she was just looking for an excuse to watch Jason strip. Willow had reluctantly joined her friend and had even enjoyed herself. She had especially enjoyed herself when Nathaniel had come onstage. He had been the most beautiful creature she had ever seen. One look into those gorgeous lilac eyes of his and she was a goner.

He had maintained eye contact with her throughout most of his performance, making her flush with embarrassment and a good portion of arousal. He hadn’t talked to her until two weeks later, when she had gone to visit Anita and he had opened the door, clad in nothing but a towel, his long hair and body still wet from his shower. After much stammering and blushing, she had walked inside and sat on the couch, waiting for Anita to come back from whatever assignment she had been on. Nathaniel had kept her company and they had got to talking. Before she knew it, she had a date for a Friday. That date had been followed by another one next Tuesday.

They shared their first kiss on their third date. It had been the best kiss Willow had ever experienced, one she would remember forever. Shy at first, but quickly escalating in passion. One thing led to another and soon they were groping in the middle of her hallway. It might have progressed even more, had Faith not come home the minute Nathaniel had started removing her shirt. Faith had just smirked knowingly and locked herself in her room.

But the moment had been broken, Willow reverted back to being her shy and ranting self and they hadn’t slept together until nearly a month later. That was also an unforgettable night.

Her cheeks red from the cold and the heated memories, Willow opened the front door to the building and was almost run over by someone quickly departing.

“Jason? What are you doing here?” Willow asked, smiling at her good friend.

“Willow, hi. Just leaving.”

“Well, duh.” She answered, rolling her eyes. “Did you need something? Do you want to stay for dinner?”

Jason just smiled mischievously and shook his head.

“No, no. Nathaniel just needed my expertise.” He answered cryptically.

“He needed you to strip? Because, really, that could have waited until I got home.” She said jokingly.

“Very funny, really. No, stripping wasn’t why he needed me. Why would he? From the way you girls go on about it, I doubt that he needs any pointers.” Jason answered, smirking when Willow blushed. She kept forgetting that just because the door was closed, did not mean that lycanthropes couldn’t hear what was being said in the next room.

“Ok, well, if it’s not the stripping, what-”

“You’ll see. You’ll love it, trust me.” Jason said cryptically, smiling one last time before he ran out the door.

Frowning, Willow walked to the elevator, got inside and pushed the fourth floor. What did Nathaniel need help with? And why had he asked Jason for help and not her? Didn’t he trust her?

Of course he trusted her. Nathanial didn’t give his trust easily, and the fact that they had moved in together proved to her more than anything that he loved and trusted her. Maybe it had something to do with Anita? She was his Nimir-Ra, after all. Maybe it was pard business? But if it was, wouldn’t Nathanial have turned to Micah instead? Jason was a werewolf, and therefore not a member of the pard. He was, however, Nathanial’s best friend.

Uncertain thoughts ran through Willow’s head as she waited for the elevator to stop at their floor. She knew Nathanial loved her, but she still had her uncertainties. She was a human; she couldn’t give him everything he needed. She knew he was extremely submissive, knew he liked it more than a little rough. She had tried to understand him, she had tried to be the woman he needed her to be, but she never felt completely comfortable hurting him, no matter how much he liked it. He never pushed her to do something she didn’t want to do, but she knew he craved pain. And it hurt that she wasn’t able to give him what he craved.

Steeling herself for the worst, Willow unlocked the door to their apartment. Without looking around, she dropped her bags on the floor, put her keys on the table and took off her coat. Only when she went to the hallway closet to put it away did she notice that none of the lights were on. Frowning slightly, she hung up her coat and turned to turn on the lamp on the table near the door. The sight that greeted her made her stop short.

Where the lamp usually stood, there was a vase of roses. Next to it was a single lit candle and a note with her name on it. Walking over to it slowly, all the while looking around the silent apartment, she picked up the note and read it:

Count the roses and follow the candles.

It was written in Nathanial’s neat handwriting, so she was pretty sure it was safe. Was this what he had needed Jason for? Turning their apartment into a treasure hunt?

Putting down the note, she turned to the flowers, inhaling their scent deeply. There were eleven of them, ten were yellow and one was blood red. She had seen similar arrangements at Anita’s house, only with white roses. If she didn’t know any better, Willow would say Nathanial was learning from Jean Claude. Smiling softly, she walked into the living room, still trying to find her boyfriend.

The living room contained not one but three vases, all with eleven roses. Each time, ten were of the same color and one was blood red. That made forty-four roses so far.

The trail led her through the entire apartment, and it ended at the door to their bedroom. There had been eleven vases, each with eleven roses, which came to a grand total of 121 roses. Willow couldn’t get over how much trouble Nathanial had gone to, to prepare all of this. She had figured out what this was all about by the time she reached rose number 77.

Tonight marked their four month anniversary. That was 122 days, which meant that unless Nathanial couldn’t count, the last rose was behind this door, together with her prize. Her hand reached for the door handle and just as she touched it, she heard the first sound since she had entered the apartment twenty minutes ago. "Can't Get Enough of Your Love, Babe", by Barry White, was playing softly in the bedroom.

She pushed the door open and let her eyes adjust to the soft light coming from 122 candles. Now she knew why Nathanial had needed an extra pair of hands. Speaking of her honey bunny, there he was. An extremely nervous expression on his face, he stood in front of their bed, a single red rose in his hands.

He was absolutely breathtaking.

She was breathless.

She really needed to breathe.

Taking a deep breathe, she smiled at him and saw his expression relax a little. He was wearing a suit, which was a surprise in itself, because she had never seen him in one. It fit him like a second skin; something she hadn’t known was possible for a suit to do. His lean body looked even more muscular than usual, his extremely long auburn hair tied back in a plait. He looked absolutely amazing, while she looked anything but.

Sighing, she looked down at herself, a look of distaste marring her features. She was wearing plain jeans and a normal shirt. True, her dress sense had improved a lot since she finished High School, but standing in front of Nathanial wasn’t helping her feel well dressed.

Her waist long hair, the exact same color as the rose he was holding, hung in loose strands around her face. It was probably her best feature right now.

It took her a moment to realize that she had been standing and openly staring at her boyfriend for the past five minutes and the nervous expression was back.

Ok, think Rosenberg, think! Just say something. Anything.

“Hi.” She said finally, cringing slightly at how lame that sounded.

“Hi.” He answered softly, watching her every move. When she didn’t say anything else, his shoulders slumped sadly. “Are you angry? You don’t like it?”

“No!” Willow exclaimed and felt like slapping herself when she saw Nathanial begin to close in on himself. Nice going Rosenberg. “I’m not angry. Nowhere near angry. Just surprised. You went to all this trouble and you look drop dead gorgeous and I didn’t get you anything and I’m wearing jeans and shirt and I really don’t know what to say and I like this. I love it. This is the most romantic thing anyone has ever done for me and I’m not sure what to do and now I’m rambling and you must think I’m a complete goof…”

Nathanial smiled as Willow put her head in her hands, probably to hide the blush that was tingeing her cheeks. She liked what he had done, she wasn’t angry at him. In fact, she seemed to feel inadequate because she wasn’t dressed in fancy clothes. Didn’t she know he thought she was the most beautiful woman in the world, no matter what she wore?

Silently, he moved until he was standing in front of her and gently took a hold of her hands, pulling them slowly away from her face. She looked at him uncertainly, biting her lower lip. His eyes never leaving hers, he let the tip of the rose touch her forehead and lightly trailed it down her face, over her nose, her lips, ending when he reached the top of her shirt. Her eyes were wide, giving her an almost childlike look.

“You look beautiful. You always looks beautiful, Willow.” He said quietly, smiling at her. She smiled back and it was like heaven to him. Her whole face was radiant with happiness, her eyes shone with powerful emotions.

“So do you.” She mumbled before she stood on tiptoe and pressed her lips to his. She felt him drop the rose and put his arms around her, opening his mouth and tilting his head to deepen the kiss. Sighing into the kiss, she wound her fingers through his hair, her tongue playing with his. The kiss was long and unhurried; they had all night to celebrate.

She moaned when he pulled away from her, a sound that turned into a deep groan as he attached his lips onto her neck, sucking and gently biting her skin, sending tremors up and down her spine.

“I love you.” He whispered in her ear and she tensed slightly, but he noticed and tensed as well.

This was the first time he had uttered those words, he was very careful about expressing his true emotions. It had taken her a while to understand that it wasn’t because he didn’t love her that he didn’t say those words, it was just that he was always so very afraid of each and every one of her reactions. He was afraid that she would reject him, so had kept quiet. And judging from the way she had tensed up, she wasn’t very happy about what he had said.

He held onto her tightly, not looking up to see her face.

“Nathanial…look at me.”

He refused to move, just hugging her to him tighter.

“Please, look at me.”

Reluctantly, he looked at her and saw nothing but happiness. She didn’t seem in the least upset by what he had said.

“I’m sorry I tensed up, you just shocked me. I’m happy, because…I love you, too.” She said, kissing him again. The kiss started out as slow as the last one, but quickly escalated, until he was backing her up towards the bed.

The dinner that he had been preparing for the last three hours remained on the table he had laid out in the corner of the room, forgotten until the early hours of morning.

The End

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