And It All Became So Clear by jbstories@hotmail.com

By Janine

Disclaimer: All the characters, Buffy, Willow, Giles, Xander, Faith etc. belong to Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy Inc., and Warner Bros. I'm just borrowing their brilliant creations. I intend no copyright infringement from my use of their characters, and will receive no monetary or any other compensation for their use, in any form, of the story that succeeds.
Synopsis: Willow's feeling for Buffy are starting to overwhelm her but she can't tell because she's not sure if Buffy feels the same way. Oh�and there's a new clan of vampires in town with some very interesting powers. What's going to happen? Read on�
Rating: PG-13
Genera: Buffy/Willow
Note: This story is told from Willow's POV--E-mail: jbstories@hotmail.com

PROLOGUE

Chemistry, I used to find this class interesting, I really did. The problem I guess wasn't so much chemistry as it was that I seemed to having a lot of trouble concentrating recently. I mean I couldn't follow a word the teacher was saying, and these lapses in concentration seemed to be happening more and more frequently. To tell you the truth I kind of felt like I was becoming lost in a dense fog. Everywhere I looked nothing was clear and things I used to see were disappearing. To be quite honest it was really a royal pain in the ass, after all I had a life to live, one that had just been thrown into turmoil and really did need my undivided attention.

Shaking my head in an attempt-which failed miserably-to clear it I looked up and at the back of the head in front of me. This may sound strange but I knew it well. It, the head that is, was bowed down slightly. At least somebody was able to concentrate. The reason I knew this head so well was because it belonged to my best friend, Buffy Summers.

Buffy, was actually the cause of a lot of the haze surrounding me. I'm not blaming her for it, but since she came to Sunnydale and into my life a few years ago she's turned it upside down. My life was now remarkable, scary, exciting, confusing and much more. To be certain things hadn't been boring since Buffy arrived in town. It was just that as a result the last two years and perhaps who I knew myself to be where all up for debate.

I was sure about one thing however, and that thing was perhaps a bigger problem than all my other ones put together, and let me tell you my other ones were considerable. Anyway when I finally moved out of la la land I saw Buffy staring at me. Her lips were moving but I couldn't exactly be sure what she was saying. The word "Chloroplast" came out of my mouth in response to her question. I can't be sure why I said it but the answer seemed to satisfy her and she turned back around. Once her back was completely towards me once again I let out a tiny sigh them propped my head on my hand and turned to look out the window. It was sunny as usual. Sunny Sunnydale.

Buffy shot looks back at me throughout the rest of class. She was worried about me, I knew that. Truthfully I had been avoiding her for quite some time, I really had. A few times when she looked back at me I saw pain her eyes and I knew it wasn't because of being the Slayer, or because of Angel but because of me and how I was acting. I was hurting her by avoiding her. She would never say that but I could tell that it was true. That in turn hurt me because the last thing I ever wanted to do was hurt Buffy. She was probably the most important person in my life. She really was, and that was part of the problem.

Anyway what I decided was that I was going to take off again today after school before she could talk to me but that this would be the last time. I was going to go home and deal with what I had to deal with and I was going to come to school the next day and be my old babbling self. If there happened to be any residual stuff to deal with then I would pretend to be my usual babbling self. Either way I was going to stop hurting Buffy by avoiding her. And while I was at it I was going to have to think of a convincing lie to tell her about why I was acting so strangely. I didn't want to lie to her but I wasn't ready to tell her the truth yet. Once I got all of that settled I was able to concentrate, a least a little bit.

I sat on my bed with a carton of ice-cream, butterscotch ribbon, in front of me and a picture, framed, off to my side. I was eating the ice-cream straight from the carton, I looked like the cliched troubled teenage agonizing over her adolescent woes, and I was, I really was. In the framed picture was a photograph of Buffy. I can't tell you how long I lay there looking at that picture, only that it was quite some time. I was mesmerized. I always was by Buffy.

People say your teenage years are the best and hardest of your life. I think that's true, but if you want to know a secret it's even harder when you're in love with your best friend! You see there it is. I'm in love with Buffy. I told you it was a big problem. I've known crushes, I can deal with crushes. After all I had one on Xander for years.

My immediate and biggest problem was my love for Buffy. And it is love, let me assure you of that. People are always quick to dismiss teenage love as lust or hormones and truthfully most of the time it is. Case in point: Xander and Cordelia. But other times it really is love and that's how it was for me. Who would have guessed that a little Jewish girl would have such big problems? Not me, that's for sure.

A lot of the trouble lay with the fact that I was so unaware, or perhaps in denial of my feelings for quite some time. It's not just a river in Egypt you know. I had never recognized at least consciously an attraction to other women, and my attraction to Buffy was intertwined with out friendship allowing me to deny it. How you may wonder did I finally see the light? I'll tell you, it was a visit from the little green-eyed monster. Yes, jealousy. When I learned the reason Angel lost his soul was because he and Buffy had been together, I was consumed with an intense mixture of anger and jealousy. I pushed it aside at the time because Buffy was hurting and needed me but I felt it, boy did I feel it, and boy did it confuse me.

I managed to push it down, squash it and hide it away after that. Sure I started looking around a bit more in gym class but that didn't mean anything. At least that's what I told myself. Then there was Oz. He swept me off my feet, he really did. Nobody had ever looked at me before, boy or girl, and I was charmed. He was funny, and smart and a musician, and cute, and things went good for us. I mean I even got over the whole werewolf thing. But then my feelings for Buffy started surface again. I would watch her practice with Giles, watch how she moved, think about how beautiful she looked, and then I would think 'Shut up brain. You like boys remember?' And so would go the internal debate, over and over.

Then more trouble. I know, I know, it's something about living on a hell mouth. It follows you around. What was this trouble? Xander. Finally after years of indifference he decides he likes me. What do I do? I internally debate more, but finally after years of want and a need to prove myself as a member of the heterosexual family, I give in. What happens once I do? We get caught making smoochy, smoochy, and Oz won't talk to me, and Cordelia impaled herself. But the worst part about it was that after it all happened, and I was all sad, Buffy declared that we were having a slumber party. That's not the bad part, what is is that in the middle of it I started crying. I mean I was really bawling, I couldn't stop even though I wanted to. And Buffy, she came over to me and wrapped her arms around me and kissed the top of my head and held me telling me that everything would be alright. And I believed her. Sitting there in her arms despite all that had happened I felt alright. What I realized was that I was exactly where I wanted to be. After I got the crying under control I continued to kind of fake shake because I didn't want her to let go. I never wanted her to let go. So sitting there wrapped in my best friends embrace supposedly crying over my two lost men I let go, and I embraced my feelings and let the love I felt for the woman holding me flood though my body.

I haven't been able to put it back since. So sitting on my bed eating my ice-cream I was left with one question. What do you do with a woman who has no love for you? Or more accurately, what do you do with a woman who can never love you the way you love her?

PART 1

I was sitting at one of the tables in the library cataloguing some ghoulish facts when the doors opened and Buffy walked in. She was wearing cargo pants and a tank top, casual wear for her. She looked fantastic. I'm not sure but I think I smiled when I saw her. She glanced at me then went towards Giles's office to look for him.

"He's not in there. There was an emergency staff meeting or something. He said he'd be back in about half an hour." I told her looking at the clock to verify. She turned around and walked towards me then dropped into the chair beside me.

"Who are you are you and what have you done with Willow?" she asked fixing me with a stare.

"Willow is I and we...I mean I am fine," I responded.

"Why are you so chatty today? You've directed two whole sentences at me and waited for the response," she said. I sighed. I knew I had been a jerk and I really had hurt her. She uses the wit to hide the hurt. I was being bombarded with the wit.

"I'm sorry," I said.

"Sorry? About what exactly?" she inquired. I actually had quite a list to choose from. They say variety is the spice of life.

"For being so scarce. Scarce isn't what I planned on being but then I got a headache and all the fog started to come, and I had a lot to deal with. I'm new at the dealing and when I tried to deal the scarce came," is what I said to her. We were all used to my babbling but usually they were more coherent than that.

"Talk to me Will, we're friends. Let me help you with whatever has got you. Dealing is a lot harder alone. Believe me, I know." Her voice was gentle, and concerned. Some time during her speech she had placed her hand on my knee and I could feel the heat radiating from it. I wanted to tell her so much, but I was afraid. The truth was that I needed her to be in my life. I really did. Even if it was just as my friend. I could learn to get my feelings under control, I already had. I simply couldn't risk telling her and have her walk away from me forever. The thought of that happening scared me more than any vampire or demon. So I did the only thing that I could. I lied. Well told a half truth.

"There's nothing to tell really. I mean it's just everything that's happened recently. It's all just really confusing. So much has happened in the last two years. I guess I'm just trying to deal with it all now. I'm sorry." I told her. She nodded but didn't say anything. She lowered her gaze and I could tell that she was blaming herself. How she manages to work everything out to be her fault I'll never know. "It's not your fault, Buffy. You can't blame yourself for me going through adolescence." I told her placing my hand over hers, which was still on my knee. I felt her body tense, I knew it wasn't because I put my hand over hers though I kept it there.

"It is my fault that you're going through it with vampires trying to kill you on a weekly basis. It is my fault that you've been hospitalized more in the past two years then in your entire life before that. It's my fault that--" I stopped her there not being able to stand her berating herself like that.

"None of those things are your fault Buffy. If you weren't here I would probably be dead now."

"No you wouldn't, because I wouldn't have been here to place you in danger." She countered.

"You wouldn't have been here to save me either. I live on a hell mouth. I'm always in danger. You protect me, and give me a chance to make a difference, and if I get hurt it's my fault. I make my own decisions. You've taught me about courage, and character, and friendship and lo� you've taught me and given me so much Buffy and I am thankful everyday that you came to Sunnydale. Please stop blaming yourself for everything. It's too much weight to carry on your shoulders. You've already got the fate of the world on them, you don't need Willows pre-mid-mid life crisis' up there too." I told her. I said more than I had planned on and nearly gave it all away but I was glad I said it.

"I�" She started to say something but then just shook her head and smiled. "I was suppose to be giving you the pep talk," she said after a moment. I shrugged, I felt better after letting that stuff out. "You're a good friend Will, the best. I don't know what I'd do without you," she said then stood up. "Giles will be here soon I'd better get things set up," she said then walked over to the cage and started dragging out equipment. I however just sat there feeling my knee tingle where her hand had been and thought that despite everything that was going on I was pretty damn lucky.

I stayed and watched them spar, clapping when Buffy made a particularly good move and laughing when Giles was dumped on his butt. Mostly I just watched Buffy though, no internal debate, no worries, just love. I had fallen hard and I knew it, boy did I know it.

Things settled down over the rest of the week. I rejoined the group, babbling as usual, we were all without significant others and Cordelia hated us again. I didn't so much like the fact that Cordelia hated us again though. Firstly I had started to like her a little bit. I mean she could be nice--sometimes--and she helped me accessorize. But now that the bitch was back, I was fair game again and, unlike Buffy, and to a certain degree even Xander, I didn't have any stinging remarks to hurl back at her.

Currently we, that being myself, Buffy and Xander were at the library. We were always at the library.

"You patrolling tonight Buffster?" Xander inquired in his uniquely charming way.

"Yes Xand-man," Buffy replied, rolling her eyes. It was Friday, Buffy patrolled every Friday and Xander knew it.

"Well if you get done early Will and I are going to be watching some of the classics, and the more the merrier," Xander told her picking up his backpack. "Spartacus, Buff, you can't miss Spartacus."

"I'll keep that in mind, Roger," Buffy said with a smirk.

"Try and stop by if you can. We'll be at my crib," I said. Things had been a little weird with Xander since the incident and Buffy acted as well, sort of a buffer to the weirdness. I wasn't worried about something happening with Xander, that was way over, but weird was weird.

"Will, I hate to break this to you but you're a white Jewish girl, you don't have a 'crib'," Buffy responded. My attempts at cool were usually the exact opposite. "We'll see if the ghouls co-operate. If I can I'll be," she continued.

"Ready?" Xander asked. He was talking to me. We were going to try to do some math homework before the vid-fest and it was getting late. I nodded. "Later." He called to Buffy as we headed out of the library.

* * * * * *

I yawned and snuggled further into my blanket. Xander had left a few minutes ago and I had returned to the couch. Jerry Springer was on but I wasn't really watching it. I supposed I should get up and go to bed but I really didn't feel like moving. Finally, I clicked off the tube and stepped over the empty the popcorn bowl with every intention of going to my room and to sleep. Things didn't work out that way however. As I exited the family room I heard a knocking at my door. I figured it was Xander coming back because he forgot something so I wasn't to worried. Still, years of parental nagging forced me to look through the peephole first. It was Buffy. Smiling I yanked open the door. When I did I was shocked by what I saw. Buffy was covered in blood and slightly hunched over. She looked pale and literally stumbled into the house. I shut the door behind her and looked her over, a gasp escaping my lips.

"Things didn't go so well," Buffy said. She tried to smile but failed.

"Buffy," I said in a whisper. I reached for her, I couldn't believe it. "We've got to get you to the hospital," I continued.

"No," she said forcefully. Her voice almost sounded normal.

"But Buffy you're bleeding. You need to see a doctor," I said. My hand was now covered in her blood too.

"No. It's not so bad Will. Really. It'll be alright, we can clean it up. If I go to doctors, they'll want to run tests and draw blood and stuff. Not to mention wonder why I'm completely healed in less than 48 hours. I don't need that. Do you understand?" she asked. I nodded as I carefully led her into the kitchen. I understood the need for secrecy, it was just hard seeing her in pain.

"What do you need me to do?" I asked once I had her seated in a chair.

"Get a bowl of warm water, a needle, some thread, aspirin, and a couple of towels. Make sure they're not white." She instructed. Her breathing was labored and I could tell that talking to me was taking a lot out of her.

I rushed to get all of the items she requested. When I returned she had taken off her jacket. There was a rip in her shirt, that looked like it was caused by a knife or possibly a sword. She tore the area of the shirt around the wound until it became visible. I gasped again when I saw it, and again she smiled weakly. It was a large gash, twenty, maybe even twenty-five centimeters long.

"Aspirin?" She requested. I handed it over. After she popped a few in her mouth she carefully washed the area around the wound with the hot water and one of the towels. When she finished she had me thread the needle. I knew what she planned on doing and it made my hands shake. When I finally got it thread she took it from me and again told me not to worry. I felt bad, I was supposed to be helping her.

I watched as she carefully stitched up the wound. Every time the needle punctured her skin she winced slightly but it didn't stop her from making the small careful stitches necessary to ensure that there would be no scaring. When she was done she dropped the needle and rested her head on the back of the chair. She looked exhausted. I carefully cleaned the area she had just stitched making certain not to hurt her anymore. I worked in a state of quiet awe. I had seen her save the world, and battle demons, but it was the not so simple task of treating her wound which showed me just how strong she was. How many people pass out from pain when on real drugs and having it performed by a professional? No doubt some of it was being the Slayer, but a big part of it was Buffy, and just Buffy. As I worked, I wished I could do more, that I could stop the pain, but all I could do was make her comfortable.

"Will?" she asked softly as I started to clean up.

"Yes," I answered immediately returning to her side.

"Can I stay here to tonight? Mom's out of town on a gallery thing and I don't�" I didn't give her a chance to finish.

"Of course. Yes," I told her.

"Your parents?" she asked.

"At a funeral out of town. Don't worry, Buffy, I'll take care of you, I promise," I told her with absolute conviction. She smiled. "Come on."

"Where are we going?" she asked as I maneuvered her into an upright position.

"To bed."

Getting up the stairs was quite a challenge. I considered trying to make a make shift bed out of the couch, but Buffy insisted that we trek on. When we got to my room, she sat on my bed while I searched through my drawers for something for her to wear. I could feel her eyes on my and I wondered what she was thinking. Finally I found a T-shirt and shorts that she could wear and handed them over to her before turning around so she could change. After a few moments she spoke.

"Will, a little help here?" she asked. Turning to face her I realized that with the injury getting dressed and undressed would be difficult, not to mention painful, and might actually cause her to re-open the wound, which neither of us wanted. Slowly I walked towards her taking the shirt out of her hands. "Go ahead it's okay," she said when she saw me hesitate. Taking a deep breath I reached for her shirt and started to pull it up. I stopped quickly and moved away however when she placed her hand on my shoulder stopping me. "Will, get back here." She ordered softly. "I'm not that scary am I?" she asked. I shook my head to indicate a negative. She was the exact opposite of scary. She was a goddess.

"I thought you wanted me to stop," I told her.

"No, it's okay. I was just going to say that it would be easier if cut or ripped off the shirt." She explained. "It really doesn't matter since the thing is seriously deceased," she said gesturing to the tattered shirt she was wearing. I nodded my head and went over to my desk to get a pair of scissors. I didn't feel right about actually ripping her clothes off of her, especially since I had had a dream about that the night before. Once I had the scissors I made another trip to my drawer and pulled out a button up shirt that would be easier to put on her.

Once I was standing in front of her again I started cutting away the material. As I was pushing the shirt off of her shoulders she started to laugh quietly. I looked at her quizzically.

"Could you imagine Xander's face if he walked in and saw this?" she explained. Despite my discomfort and rising body temperature, I had to admit it made for a pretty amusing image and started laughing too. We would probably have had to surgically re-attach his jaw.

I carefully put the other shirt on her after the remains of her blood encrusted one had fallen to the floor. As I buttoned it up I had to concentrate on stopping my hands from visibly shaking. She sighed as the cool clean material replaced her old blood laden shirt and my hand, which had been reaching for her waistband, stopped as I attempted to gain control of hormones which were racing out of control. Once I figured I had control again I reached down and unbuttoned her pants, then pulled the zipper down. Kneeling down I took hold and yanked them down around her ankles so she could step out of them. Grabbing the shorts I placed them on the floor so she could step into them then pulled them up. My head was level with her abdomen and I had to force myself into an upright position.

"All done," I said completely unnecessarily.

"Thanks," she said.

"No problem," I responded walking towards the bed to pull the covers down for her. "After all if you can't trust your best friend to disrobe you who can you trust?"

"I guess I don't have to worry about that," she said with a grin as she slipped into the bed.

"I guess not." I agreed moving towards the door.

"Where are you going?" she asked sitting up.

"I'll be in my parents room," I told her. She was silent for a moment before speaking.

"Stay here?" she requested. "Please. It's been one hell of a long night and I don't want to be alone," she continued. I looked at her for a moment before nodding. Buffy didn't often admit weakness or ask for anything. I couldn't refuse her this very reasonable request.

"Alright," I said slipping in on the other side of the bed.

"Thank you," she said once I was settled.

"It's not a problem," I told her.

"You're the best, Will," she said through a yawn.

"No you are," I whispered once her breathing was steady in sleep. It was hard but finally after tossing and turning for what seemed like forever I feel asleep.

I awoke to a warm feeling on my right side. It felt good, new but good. Opening my eyes I looked down to see Buffy curled up at my side. She was half lying on top of me with her head on my shoulder. Her face was relaxed, and the morning sun bathed her in a warm glow. She looked absolutely beautiful. I think I actually stopped breathing for a minute. I knew that I should get up but I couldn't see a way to do so without waking Buffy, so I lay there staring at the ceiling thinking about how completely wonderful, and right it felt to be lying there with her.

I was startled out of my reverie when Buffy mumbled something and snuggled closer to me. My heart seized again but this time in pain. I wondered who she was thinking about. Angel? Scott? Some other mystery man who wasn't me? My mood changed after that. I actually brooded.

A little while later Buffy shifted again allowing me room to slip out of the bed. She groaned at the loss of contact but then snuggled into the pillow not seeming to miss me at all. I crept out of the room quietly and headed down stairs to make breakfast. Buffy would probably be hungry when she woke up, and seeing as how this was the last time I would probably wake up with her in my arms I decided to make it special.

Half and hour later I heard footsteps on the stairs. Bringing the food out to the table, I waited for Buffy. It all seemed so domestic it broke my heart.

"Will?" she called out.

"Yeah, I'm in the kitchen," I told her. She showed up in the doorway a few seconds later, shirt askew and hair tousled. She looked absolutely adorable.

"I thought I dreamed it all," she said heading towards the table. "Did you make this? It looks good. I can't cook at all. If mom even sees me in the kitchen she freaks," she continued sitting down.

"Yeah, I just finished," I said joining her. "Dreamed what?"

"Everything. I thought the injury was a dream until I tried to stretch and the stitches made their presence known," she said making a face. "And I thought I dreamed you until I realized I wasn't in my bed," she continued, snagging a few pancakes.

We ate in relative silence. I was depressed, and Buffy was packing it away like a banshee. You would've thought that she hadn't eaten in weeks. I guess there were some advantages to being a Slayer, one being that you could suck down as much food as you wanted and still be buff. I watched her eat, watched her lips wishing I could kiss them, getting more and more depressed with each lustful thought. We ended up watching the movies from the night before after breakfast and I was even quieter than while we were eating, which was quite a feat. I had already seen them so mostly I watched Buffy. She was better than some movie anyway. Why watch a film about a hero when you have a real life one sitting in your family room.

"What's the matter?" she asked me once the movies finished.

"Are you okay?" I asked her. I was avoiding her question but I also wanted to know. She seemed to be moving better since waking up.

"I'll be as good as new by tomorrow. I don't think you can say the same thing though." She looked directly into my eyes now. "What's up Willow? You've been quiet for weeks now, very un-Will like. You snap out of it for a few days then go back. It's like being around wicca Jeckle and wicca Hyde." She paused then, seemingly thinking. "It seems to get worse when I'm around. Did I do something?" she asked genuinely concerned. I hated myself for doing that to her.

"No," I responded emphatically. "You haven't done anything except be the best friend anyone could ask for."

"Then what? And I'm not buying the Xander/Oz thing anymore." I didn't respond right away because I didn't know what to tell her. I didn't want to lie, keeping it inside was tearing me apart, but I was still afraid to tell her. "Please, Will. Don't you know you can tell me anything. I love you, I'll always be here." I looked down at her when she said 'I love you'. I know she meant it as a friend but maybe it was enough. I decided that I would tell her. Even if she didn't feel the same way I was certain she would still be my friend.

"I love you too, Buffy."

"Good, I'm glad we're agreed," she said with a smile. "Now, what's bothering you?"

"That's it," I told her.

"It bothers you that you love me?" she asked semi-confused.

"No, you don't understand. I don't just love you, I'm in love with you," I explained.

"What?"

"I am in love with you," I said looking her in the eye, enunciating every word. She started at me for a moment, I could see her processing the information.

"Really?" she asked softly.

"Yes," I said. I watched as a myriad of emotions played over her face. Then she stood up suddenly and looked out the window. Startled I sat up. "Please don't leave," I said. "I'm sorry," I added, hanging my head.

"Don't be sorry, Will," she said softly as she turned to face me. "It's a beautiful thing."

"It is?" I asked her, wanting to believe what I was hearing so much.

"Yes it is," she said. She moved her hand to cup my cheek, and continued to look at me. Study me. "When Angel�turned, do you know why he went after you?" she asked after a minute, her eyes boring into mine.

"No." I answered confused by the change in subject.

"It was because he knew that you were the one. That you meant more to me than any other. When he told that, I thought he was nuts, I mean he was nuts, but he was right." Her thumb was stroking my cheek and I leaned into the touch. "I thought about it afterwards and realized he was right. You are the one I turn to, the one who comforts me, the one I feel safe with, the one who makes me laugh. You are the one. The one I love more than any other," she finished, then she slowly leaned forward and our lips met in a soft kiss. When I didn't pull away she moved her lips over my bottom one and sucked gently, stroking across the smooth softness with her tongue. I exhaled against her lips then pressed my lips to hers as she slid her hand across my back and I moved mine up to hold her close as she parted my lips with soft strokes. Passion rose between us, both of us drawing in breath deeply as it seared us-within seconds we were kissing deeply, hungrily, mouths open and tongues tangling. I pressed into Buffy's taut, strong body, eyes closed, trying to absorb every sensation that washed through me. Buffy's mouth was insistent, demanding, soft moans melting into me as her hands held me closely to her, pressing us together even more firmly. From my knees upward I was pressed tight against Buffy's body, were devouring each other now, kissing so very deeply, taking and giving, holding tight and letting go. Our breathing quickened, synchronizing as we sought to consume one another utterly, no thought remaining except this sweet, breathless, fluttering excitement sweeping us up and pulling us together. Buffy releasing sweet sounds from deep in her throat, her tongue sliding over my lips softly exploring, withdrawing, stroking, feasting� until at last those lovely strong hand slid to my shoulder and we drew away slowly, only for Buffy's mouth to seek out mine again and again, in short hungry kisses as if she couldn't bear to let it end.

For several euphoric seconds, I stood motionless, eyes closed as I savored the sweetness of it, the passion. It was so good, so incredibly passionate, just like I thought it would be, and completely new and wonderful at the same time. Finally we pulled away each struggling for breath but still holding each other close not wanting to break the connection between us. Buffy's face was flushed and I knew that mine was as well. I had never before in life experienced anything as wonderful and fulfilling as the kisses we just shared.

"Wow," Buffy said softly after a moment. She sounded surprised. "I've never done that with you before."

"Yeah," I said in response. I'm usually more articulate than that but the blood wasn't exactly rushing to my head at that point. Buffy looked at our joined hands and smiled. I mirrored the action unconsciously.

"We� ah, should probably talk about this huh?" she asked after a moment.

"Talk is good," I agreed, though all I could really think about was repeating our former aerobics.

"Okay, talk then," Buffy said gently pushing me down onto the couch.

A knock at the door startled us and I jumped, literally, off of the couch. We had had every intention of talking, I had put on my serious talking face and we had even gotten out a few sentences, but her lips looked so inviting that I couldn't resist planting a tiny kiss on them, and she of course had to retaliate, and I back and so forth, and before we knew it we were engaging in full body groping. Her hand had just started to creep under my shirt when I heard the knock and jumped up.

"Are you going to answer it?" Buffy asked. She was sitting up now and looking at me.

"Answer it?" I asked distractedly. Then I remembered the knock, "Yeah!" I said trying to engage my brain.

It was Xander, he had coffee and donuts and as soon as I opened the door the bust in.				

"Sleep in much Will?" he asked. I was still in my pajamas and it had to be around one in the afternoon.

"No�I�it's�" I started to say but he had already moved past me and was heading into the family room.

"How come no one invited me to the sleep over?" Xander asked once I was in the room.

"It was more like an episode of ER," Buffy said running a hand through her disheveled hair.

"Buffy was hurt patrolling last night," I supplied in way of explanation.

"Are you okay?" Xander asked, concerned.

"Yeah," Buffy said with a dismissive wave. "I wasn't in such hot shape when I showed up but Willow's been taking really good care of me," she continued with a smile. The double entendre was lost on Xander but it made me blush which caused Buffy's smile to grow.

"I told you you should have watched Spartacus," Xander said taking a seat in the recliner beside the couch. He looked like he was settling in. There was to be no settling.

"Yep, she should've listened but didn't and blood ensued. What can you do? I know get dressed. Yep, we've really got to get dressed, the taking off and putting on of clothes, and the nudity you can't forget the nudity. You better go, we'll call," I said trying to usher him off of the couch.

"No problem I'll wait for you gals down here," he said reaching for a donut. "Don't take too long though, I might start to get ideas involving the nudity." He continued as we walked out of the room. When he said that I turned to Buffy and smiled, she laughed and we headed up the stairs quickly.

Buffy sat on the bed as I looked through my drawers for something for her to wear. The irony of it all didn't escape me. Finally I decided on a pair of hospital pants and a tank top for her. We dressed in silence, Buffy had more range of movement today which was a good thing considering recent revelations. Playing strip tease after our morning activities probably wouldn't have been such a great idea. As I finished with my earrings I looked over to where Buffy was. She was sitting in front of the mirror trying to brush her hair only she looked like she was having a spot of trouble. I walked over to her and took the brush out of her hands taking over the job myself. When I was finished I reached over her shoulder to place the brush down and she kissed my neck briefly before taking my hand.

"Thank you," she said. She had said that phrase quite a bit in the past few days.

"It was my pleasure," I told her truthfully. There was something wonderfully erotic about brushing her hair, running my fingers through it's length. She watched me for a moment trying to decide on something then smiled and pulled me down onto her lap.

"Buffy," I protested. "You're going to hurt yourself. More," I added as she continued to hold my hand.

"No I'm not," she said. "There are some advantages to being a Slayer." She was still smiling. She seemed to be bemused by my protests. "I want to�" she started to say after a moment then paused. She seemed to be struggling with something so I didn't say anything. "I want to make love to you so much Will," she continued, her voice lowering. She was looking directly into my eyes and I could see the desire shimmering there. It caused my breath to quicken, and it took entirely to much concentration for me to get my next sentence out.

"I want that too Buffy. So much," I told her. She looked up at me then raised her hand to the back of my neck bringing our lips together. "We have to stop," I told her when I finally managed to break my lips away.

"I know," she said regretfully. She looked towards the door with disdain. When she turned back to face me I saw a pout on her lips. It was absolutely too cute for words. "We better go. Xander and ideas, especially those involving nudity is not a good combination." I got off of her lap and straightened my clothing. Once standing up as well Buffy followed suit. As we headed out the door she turned to me.

"I promise we'll talk about this. All of it once he's gone," she said sincerely. "For real next time." She added with a smile. I nodded, for despite our enthusiasm we really did need to talk. I was almost glad for Xander's interruption, I wanted things to be clear between us about what we were feeling before we took it to the next step. There were things I needed to ask her. If Xander hadn't showed up there would have been little clearing and lots of stepping. Mostly I needed to be sure that she was feeling what I was feeling, because I didn't think I could handle it if what was happening ended up being some rebound thing.

So side by side we headed down the stairs preparing to face the world.

 

PART 2

We headed to the library after Buffy and I rejoined Xander. Giles always liked to get after-patrol reports and this time Buffy actually had something to report. With everything that had happened over the past 24 hours or so I had neglected to glean any real information about the attack from Buffy, so I was actually looking forward to the meeting because I would get to hear all of the good stuff. Sometimes Buffy would try to soften things up for me when recounting tales, avoid all the blood and guts and what have you. I would tell her not to I know she still did it. She wouldn't do that with Giles though so I knew I would hear the real thing.

The walk to the library was quiet. Buffy and I were each lost in our thoughts and, presumably, Xander was wondering what was up with all the quiet. When we arrived Giles was re-stocking the cage-o-weapons. I'm still not sure how he got away with installing that thing. As we took our usual seats around the table he approached.

"Good of you to make it," he said in greeting. It was his repressed British way of saying 'what the hell took you so long'. After we all gave him suitably chastised looks he continued, "How did it go last night?"

"There was trouble and it found me," Buffy said with a sigh.

"She was sliced and nearly diced," Xander chipped in. We all gave him the look of shame and he was quite again.

"When I was patrolling around the playground this vamp jumped out from behind the teeter-totter. He had long hair and funky tattoo on his face, and the clothes he was wearing, my God! He looked like the Miami sound machine exploded all over�"

"Buffy," Giles interrupted, trying to get her back on topic.

"Sorry. So he jumped out from behind the totter and I was like 'GREAT!' So he comes at me like I'm meals on wheels or something and we tangle. Kick, punch, block, jab, twirl, yada, yada, yada. So after a while of that he pulls out this bigass knife, and I'm like 'fan-freaking-tastic'. So he starts slashing away and I'm jumping around trying not to be ginsued. So this one time I didn't turn quick enough and he cuts me on the side. So I was really pissed off by then and I was like 'That's so it' and I kicked the knife out of his hand and staked him." She continued making a little stabbing motion when she got to the staking part. "I was kind of bleeding by then so I headed over to Willow's because it was close by, and we stitched me all up. No biggie."

"I see," Giles said. His brow was creased so you could tell that he was thinking. "What exactly did this tattoo look like?" he asked Buffy after a moment.

"It's kind of hard to describe. It was over his right eye, and was like a bunch of lines joining together," Buffy replied.

"I can't be certain but that sounds familiar," Giles said still wearing his thinking face.

"To the book trolley?" Xander guessed. Giles simply nodded, and Buffy and I laughed.

We had been at it for a few hours and still nothing. We decided that an extra pair of hands couldn't hurt and Xander was sent out to get Faith seeing as he was the least research inclined out of all of us. Giles was in his office and Buffy was on the upper level. I had just finished with my book so I headed up to where Buffy was.

"What are you looking at," I asked, joining her.

"Big, ugly, useless red book that won't fit on the shelf," she said.

"Ah volume twelve," I responded. I had had the pleasure of dealing with that one before.

"Find anything?" she asked turning to face me.

"Besides dust-balls?"

"Besides dust-balls," she confirmed.

"Nope. You?"

"Nada," she responded closing the book up. After trying to put it on the shelf and watching it fall a couple times she shrugged and left it where it was on the floor. "How many books have you sped through so far?" She asked stepping over it.

"Three," I responded waiting for the shocked response I knew I was sure to get. Usually I would have gone through twice as many in the same amount of time. She took a step so that she was standing directly in front of me and looked at me, scrutinizing me from head to toe.

"You look like Willow, and sound like Willow but�"

"I've been having some trouble concentrating," I said cutting her off. She laughed.

"I hope I didn't have anything to do with that."

"Actually�" I started to say but I never got a chance to finish. She pushed her lips against mine, and as seemed to be the norm our breathing soon quickened as our tongues moved with each other hungrily. She moaned into my mouth and I moved my hand up to the back of her neck bringing us closer to together.

"Wow," she said when we finally broke apart. "I've never�it's not usually�it doesn't�" She stopped speaking and just looked up at me.

"I know," I said smiling. "Me either." I know what she was trying to say because I felt the same. Never had I responded to a kiss the way I responded to hers. So passionately, repeatedly. I was glad I wasn't the only one feeling it, that she was as overwhelmed by it as I was.

"It's�" She started to say but was interrupted by the library doors opening. Quickly grabbing a book we moved out from behind the shelf. It was Xander and Faith. Moving down to the lower level we dropped our books on the table and waited for them to join us.

"Heard you got gashed B, you okay?" Faith asked looking Buffy over. She was obviously trying to find the wound.

"Better than he is," Buffy responded.

"Can I see it?" Faith asked. She sounded excited which bugged me. Buffy could have been seriously hurt.

"Morbid much?" Buffy asked her.

"Come on B," Faith implored. "I'll show you mine if you show me yours," she added with a grin.

"Keep it," Buffy responded as she lifted up her tank top enough for Faith to see it.

"How many?"

"Fifteen."

"Not bad," Faith said clearly impressed.

"Are you two going to arm wrestle next or can we get on with it?" I asked suddenly. Three pairs of startled eyes regarded me.

"On with it," Buffy responded for all of them. Xander and Faith then moved away to find books but Buffy stayed by me. Once they were out of earshot she turned to me and raised her eyebrow in question.

"Sorry," I said. She continued looking at me though, obviously wanting a better answer. "I guess I'm feeling sort of territorial," I offered. She continued to stare at me for second before smiling and shaking her head.

"I guess you are," she agreed. "You don't have to worry about Faith invading this territory though," she continued teasingly.

"Do I need to worry about anyone else?" I asked regretting it the moment it came out of my mouth.

"No. No you don't," Buffy said regarding me seriously. "I promise we'll talk about this soon, work it all out. But I want you to know I meant what I said this morning." I nodded not really knowing what to say.

"We should get back to the research thing," I said gesturing vaguely towards the table. She nodded and moved over to seat where she had dropped her book. I sat down beside her and a few minutes later we were joined by Xander and Faith.

Surprising us all, it was Faith who put a halt to research fest '99 with a call of eureka. After having Buffy confirm that the guy in the book had the same markings as the vamp she slayed we called Giles in. He took the book from Faith and looked at it for a few seconds before taking off his glasses and rubbing his eyes. A gesture which never meant anything good.

"I was afraid of this," he said shortly there after. Sometimes I hated being right.

"What does it mean?" Buffy asked.

"Approximately six hundred years ago there was a caste of vampire who called themselves 'The Children of the Dark'. They were extremely powerful and lethal. Their secret power lay in being able to force their opponents to re-live past experiences. If at sometime in the past you happened to break your leg they could make you re-live that pain in conjunction with others. They could kill without ever laying a hand on someone, human and demon alike." Giles related pausing momentarily.

"Fun," I interjected during the silence.

"Finally a Slayer by the name of Paladar was able was able to defeat the cast by challenging their leader on a spiritual plane. Paladar defeated the master and the caste lost its power and were banished to an alternate dimension where they were suppose to remain until the end of time," Giles continued, ignoring me.

"Apparently being banished until the end of time doesn't mean what it used to," Xander commented.

"How'd they escape?" I asked.

"That remains to be seen," Giles responded.

"Well, what do they want?" It was Faith who asked this.

"Their powers back I would imagine," Giles responded.

"And how would they go about doing that?" Buffy inquired. Giles rubbed his eyes and shifted his position before responding.

"By performing a ritual at one of their sacred grounds and sacrificing then consuming the blood of a Slayer," Giles said. We were all silent as we absorbed what he'd just told us.

"I don't know about you B, but I like my blood in my body. I say we impale these guys and pronto," Faith declared, standing up and looking a Buffy expectantly.

"How many are there?" Buffy asked Giles.

"It's impossible to know for sure. I appreciate your enthusiasm, Faith, but we don't have enough information to go slaying as of now. My advice would be for you all to go home and get some rest," Giles responded.

"Maybe we should pair off. Buffy and Faith shouldn't be alone if there's a price on their heads," Xander piped up moving closer to Buffy.

"That's a good idea," Giles said slightly disconcerted that it had come from Xander. "Buffy and Willow you stay together. Xander you go with Faith." Giles instructed.

"Why do I get stuck with dumb and dumber?" Faith complained as we made our way out of the library.

"Hey your not exactly a prize petunia yourself,Elvira," Xander shot back. Buffy sent me a look as we followed the bickering duo out and I had to smile. Even though I wondered at the wisdom of sticking those two together, I had to admit that I was glad because Buffy and I would finally have some time alone.

Since Buffy's house was closer to the school, we headed there once we left the library. I left a message on my voice mail telling my parents where I was in case they called, then I joined Buffy in the family room.

"Why do they call it 'The Pretender'? I mean he's not really pretending because he actually becomes a doctor or a firefighter or whatever," Buffy asked once I entered the room.

"I guess it sounds better than 'The Actualizer'," I said sitting down beside her.

"Well it's either this guy or the weather network. And the weather network in Sunnydale never has much to report. Sun, sun, sun, and more sun," Buffy responded.

"This guy," I said settling into the couch. Neither of us new quite how to start the talk so the talk was delayed. When the show ended however we turned to look at each other.

"That Miss Parker's a bitch," Buffy commented.

"Yeah, she reminds me of Cordelia," I added. We both laughed at that before settling into an awkward silence.

"I said we would talk and I meant it I really did, I just�I don't know where to start," Buffy admitted with a sigh.

"I know," I said softly. "Angel," I told her after a moment. I decided that we could as well start with the big guns.

"Angel," Buffy repeated, looking down at her hands. "Okay. It's over between Angel and I, it has been for a long time now. We were really saying goodbye from the beginning." She started again, "What we had at first, it was good. I loved him, but there was always this distance between us, this palpable distance. We could feel it. Slayer, vampire, Buffy, Angel, whatever the dynamic even when things were good it just never had the feeling of�rightness. But we wanted it to so badly, neither of us liked the distance. I think that was one of the main reasons we�you know," she said. I did know. "And you know how that turned out. When he came back and I was hiding him I guess I was hoping that things could go back to the way they were before, but it soon became apparent that they couldn't. The time he spent as Angelus had changed me, how I perceived him, and us." She paused the looked up at me. "I care about him still, love him, but I'm not in love with him, and I haven't been for quite some time. I love him like I do Xander, or Giles, that's all. That's all I think it was meant to be," she continued, taking my hand in hers and bringing it up to her heart. "It would be an understatement to say that things have been crazy lately and I don't know exactly when my feeling for you changed, but believe me when I tell you that I love you and am as sure of that as I am that my name is Buffy Summers," she concluded. After that I couldn't resist placing a soft kiss on her lips. Pulling away Buffy looked at me. It was my turn. "Oz." Was all she said.

"Oz." I repeated. He was my one true regret in all of this because I really did care about him. "I care for him, maybe even love, but I'm not in love with him. He makes me laugh and I like being around him but he doesn't make my knees weak or my head swim. Only you do that. He doesn't make me feel whole. Only you do that," I told her. There were all sorts of other things floating around in my head, but what I said basically summed it all up.

We sat staring into one another's eyes for many long moments, both caught up in an impossible yearning, aware of one another's desire, yet seemingly unable to do anything about it. My eyes lowered to take in Buffy's slightly parted lips, as well as the exquisite line of her throat. Finally I raised one hand to her cheek and stroked it slowly with the backs of my fingers, smiling as Buffy tilted her head to meet my caress. I cupped Buffy's face acutely aware of the warm breath on my hand as Buffy moved against me gently. Shifting closer I raised my head feeling her warm breath now on my lips, Buffy's eyes closing as we migrated towards each other.

Carefully, in the precarious fits and starts characteristic of a first kiss, our lips brushed, exploring gently, softly, repeatedly. We kissed sweet, lingering kisses, tasting one another, consuming each other gently, cautiously. Buffy pulled away briefly to stare into my eyes, her own stare darkened to a deep blue. Her hand came to my cheek mirroring my hand on hers and we kissed deeply again, more passionately, Buffy's breath coming in trembling sighs as I tugged gently, her tongue moving delicately over my lips, tempting me, seducing me with warm breath and soft lips, quiet moans of desire.

"I want you," Buffy moaned into my mouth. I kissed her fully, leaning forward to lay her back onto the cushions of the couch as my arm slid across her shoulders to hold her tightly. I could taste her need, could hear the beautiful soft sounds of pleasure that spilled into my mouth as she pulled me closer as our kiss deepened further.

Buffy moaned and moved to kiss me over the spot just above the juncture of my neck and shoulder. I groaned softly in response, almost a growl, and then Buffy was pulling me up, nipping at my bottom lip playfully, smiling. She managed to shift us so that she could stand, then held out her hand to me. Standing there, in front of the couch Buffy kissed me deeply again before she pulled away and led me unprotesting up the stairs and to her bedroom.

We stood at the foot of the bed, the starlight coming through the window the only source of illumination as Buffy slowly revealed her body to me. I could only stand mesmerized and stare as she undressed herself, smiling all the while. I watched intently as she lifted her tank top up over her head, the muscles of her arms unmistakably defined in the starlight. Then her hands slid up her stomach, and her bra was unclasped and fell to the floor. She looked into my eyes, her lips curved upward in an utterly sensuous smile as her hands moved to her waistband, pushing her pants and underpants down her hips allowing them to fall to the floor, straightening and running her hands through her hair as she stepped out of them.

Then she was naked, her body the most delicate porcelain I had ever seen, just as I had imagined; slim and soft, perfect in its lines, unique and graceful and so very beautiful. For long moments I simply gazed at the long, graceful lines of her body. She moved toward me then, her hands reaching out and sliding beneath my shirt pulling it up and over my head. Soon my bra, skirt, and underwear joined the rapidly growing pile of clothes on the floor. Then I too was naked open to Buffy's heated gaze as she inspected me slowly.

"Willow�" She whispered softly. Then she moved so that we were together and we gasped as our skin touched for the first time, pressing into one another, our lips meeting again and again in increasingly hungry kisses. Buffy's hands were warm and gentle, her fingertips tracing the line of my jaw and the curve of my throat, sliding over my body with quiet determination. I buried my face in her neck, seeking out and finding her pulse point sucking on it gently.

Then it happened. The unimaginable. The catastrophic. The phone rang, and rang and rang, and rang until finally, regretfully Buffy let go of me moved to pick it up.

"What?" she demanded irritably. I almost felt sorry for the person on the other line, what with having to deal with a very horny, very pissed off vampire Slayer. Almost. "Xander? Is that you?" she asked. Her expression changed to one of concern. "Slow down I can't understand what you're saying," she said into the receiver. "Alright, alright. Stay put we'll be there as soon as we can," she said. "No, just stay where you are, we'll get Giles. Okay�it's not your fault�believe me�okay�be careful," she said then hung up the phone.

"Trouble?" I asked already reaching for my clothes, while cursing the unpredictability of my life, and the just wrongness of this interruption. I'd already waited two plus years. This was just�mean.

"They've got Faith. Xander's at the motel now," she told me, reaching for her clothes as well.

"Is he okay?" I asked.

"They whacked him over the head. He'll probably have a killer headache but he'll live," Buffy said now fully dressed and moving over to the side of her bed to pull out the trunk-o-fun. Knowing the drill I grabbed her bag and handed it to her so she could start to load it up. "Call Giles and tell him what's up while I finish here?" she asked, shoving a few stakes into the bag.

"Yeah," I said moving over to the phone. I talked to Giles while Buffy finished packing the bag. "He's going to pick us up. He should be here in a few," I said when Buffy moved over towards me. She nodded and together we headed out the door to wait in the foyer.

"Will�" she started once we were down there. There was a look of deep regret in her eyes.

"I know." I told her with a gentle smile though my body was tingling, crying out for her touch. "Duty calls."

"I'm sorry," she said taking my hand in her free one and squeezing it.

"Don't be." I told her. "Somebody's got to save to world."

"Couldn't doom and death have waited for an hour?" She asked, with a slight smile.

"I guess they have a schedule to maintain. Besides we've got plenty of time for�things," I volunteered. She smiled that sweet smile that always broke my heart then looked through the peephole.

"The cavalry has arrived. Let's jet," she said a moment later. I followed her out the door. Another day, another demon.

PART 3

Buffy dumped her bag in the front seat of the chair then joined me in the back. The ride to the motel was silent, all of us lost in thoughts that ran along similar and different lines. As Giles pulled into the parking lot of the motel we could see Xander standing in the opening of one of the doors. As we got closer and Giles parked the car I could clearly see that the door had been knocked out of its hinges. Moving out of the doorway Xander opened the passenger side door. Sending Buffy's bag into the back seat he got in. There was a bruise on the side of his face but other than that he seemed to be okay.

"Are you okay?" Giles asked once Xander was safely in the car.

"I think half of my face is still in there, but other than that hunky-dory," he responded giving a big thumbs up then wincing. Giles nodded then put the car in reverse backing up and heading out of the parking lot.

"Do we know where they've taken her?" Buffy asked seeing that Giles was heading out of instead of back into Sunnydale.

"Yes," Giles responded. "After I sent you all home I started a deeper investigation into 'The Children of The Dead'. It took a while to locate more than rudimentary reference of them in the texts but shortly before you called I was able to ascertain some more information about the ritual. It was really a very difficult process of cross-referencing..."

"Giles..." Buffy prompted. He too sometimes had a habit of droning on. What he seemed to have trouble grasping sometimes was that we didn't so much care how he found something, just that he found it.

"The ceremony must be performed on the first night of the crescent moon at one of the clans sacred grounds."

"That means we've got a day to find them," I said after looking out window. Tomorrow night the moon would be crescent.

"So where are these scared grounds and how do we get at 'em?" Buffy asked.

"Most of them are in east and western Europe. The majority of the clans population seemed to reside in France during the years of their dominance." Giles answered.

"Ah, G-man, the airports that way," Xander said jerking his thumb in the opposite direction before Giles could continue.

"The cast was also kind enough to provide us with detailed maps to of all of their sacrificial grounds in the known world," Giles continued, ignoring Xander's comment. "According to the map which I'm afraid to say is severely out of date they had...properties, shall we say, all around the new world. And if I have deciphered the maps correctly they should have a site about a day out of Sunnydale in the Newik forests. I believe this is where they are most likely to take Faith," Giles concluded turning onto the highway.

"Yay, road trip," Xander said clapping his hands together.

"So, who are you going to be, Thelma or Louise?" Buffy asked with a smirk.

"Which one was Geena Davis?" Xander asked. Giles sighed, and the rest of us laughed. It was going to be a long night for the Watcher.

We drove for hours on a road that seemed to go to nowhere. Tree, lamp post, road sign, over and over again in that order, for hours. An hour or so into the ride the motion of the car and the monotony of the view started to lull me to sleep. At first I tried to stop it by reciting binary codes in my head but that only made it worse, then I tried to count the cars we passed until I realized there were none, then I started flicking Xander in the back of the head but he got mad and I had to stop that too. Eventually seeing that my eyes were barely staying open Buffy told me to go to sleep and rested my head on her shoulder. At first I tried to stop her motioning to Xander and Giles, but she told me not to worry and put my head back where it had been.

When I opened my eyes again it was still dark. Giles had pulled the car over to side of the road and was rubbing his eyes. Looking up I saw that sometime during my little nap Buffy had fallen asleep too. Up in front, Xander seemed to be waking up as well. He had probably been jarred out of sleep by the motion of the car stopping like I was.

"Ahhhh, isn't that cute?" He noted as he turned around to look in the back seat. At first I was confused as to what he was talking about then I realized that Buffy and I were kind of curled up together all cozy. I simply stuck my tongue out at him, after all it was kind of cute.

"Giles I don't think you should drive anymore tonight." I said turning away from Xander and looking at the Watcher. He looked tired.

"Yes, you're probably right but we can't stay parked on the side of the road." The Watcher responded placing his glasses back on.

"I'll drive, just tell me what direction and where to stop." Xander volunteered. Giles nodded and took out a map of the area from his glove compartment. After trying to open it in the car with less than stellar results the two men got out of the car and placed the map on the hood. After a few minutes of discussion which I couldn't hear they swapped sides, and Xander started the car up.

The next time we stopped was a seedy road side motel-not unlike the one Faith was kidnapped from. It was just past sunrise and Giles said that we could all use a few good hours sleep before continuing, and not to worry because we would still be ahead of the vampires anyway because they couldn't drive during the daytime. I wasn't so sure about that since Spike seemed to be able to drive around day or night, but Xander said that before he passed out he had seen their car and the windows weren't blacked out like on Spike's party-mobile.

We weren't exactly planning on a road trip when we left Sunnydale, so Giles ended up paying for the rooms we used. It was okay though because as long as he got a receipt the Watcher's council would pay for it. I asked Giles if he wanted any help with the map that would lead us to the sacrificial grounds, but he told me that we could work on it after we rested, so we unloaded the k-car and brought the equipment into our respective rooms. Buffy and I were assigned to room 11 while the boys took room 12.

In a perfect world Buffy and I would have picked up where we left off when we were interrupted earlier, but if there was one thing living on a hell mouth taught you, it was that the world was far from perfect. In reality we were both tired and stiff from the long hours spent in the car, and were kind of freaked out by the idea that Xander and Giles were next door. I was pretty sure we could keep it quiet enough that they wouldn't hear anything, but knowing they were mere inches away, separated from us only by crappy insulation and dry wall didn't sit too well with me.

"Will?" Buffy asked looking over at me. We had walked in the door, dumped the equipment on the floor and collapsed onto the beds. The only movement either of us had made was to take off our outer clothing so we were left only in our underwear. Seeing as how we would be wearing those clothes for at least two more days, it didn't seem wise to sleep in them. So I lay on the first bed by the door and Buffy, who made it a little farther into the room, took the one by the washroom.

"Willow's not here right now, please leave a message at the sound of the beep," I responded.

"It's Buffy... and I'm lonely. When you get this... come over 'cause I need you near me," Buffy said as if she were speaking to an answering machine. Quickly I got up and walked over to her bed and lay down beside her. "That was fast," she said with a smile. I just smiled, I could be fast when properly motivated. "Come on, get under the covers, let's go to sleep."

"What about..." I said looking at the wall to Xander and Giles' room.

"We really are going to sleep. That wasn't an analogy for anything," she responded amused. I slapped her on the thigh and gave her a look. "What?"

"That wasn't what I meant," I told her.

"I know. Don't worry, they won't come in. I have the key and Giles at least is a gentlemen, which means he'll keep Xander out as well." I smiled at her and climbed under the covers. Like in all motels, the air conditioner was going full blast so we would actually be able to make some use of the blanket. Climbing in behind me Buffy wrapped her arms around my waist and snuggled in. "I like this." She commented.

"What? Spooning?" I asked with a smile she couldn't see.

"Yes. Spooning," she acknowledged peevishly, but I could feel her smiling against my back. "But only with you."

"As it should be." I told her with a nod.

"I never knew you were so territorial," she commented pulling me even closer which was no easy feat.

"I've never had anything worth being territorial over before," I told her seriously. She was quite for a moment and I had said my piece so we just lay holding each other.

"I think that's just about the nicest thing anyone's ever said to me," she said finally as she kissed the back of my neck. Slowly I turned around so that we were face to face.

"If that's the nicest thing anyone's ever said to you, you must have been hanging around some real morons," I said as I looked into her eyes.

"That's the second nicest thing," she said meeting my gaze. Then she leaned forward and kissed me. It wasn't a kiss designed to arouse passion, but one meant to convey the love she felt for me and I intercepted it and returned with equal strength. "Sleep. We're suppose to sleep," she said as if she was trying to remind herself.

"Sleep." I repeated turning back around. Once I was settled she pressed up against me and I could feel her breasts pressing into my back causing sleep to sound not so important just then, but exhaustion overcame hormones and soon I was peacefully asleep secure in the knowledge that my Slayer would protect me.

When I awoke I was wrapped in a delicious warmth, surrounded. I could feel Buffy drawing shapes on my arm and I turned around so that I could see her. She smiled when she saw that I was awake and I smiled back. She looked pensive though, worried and I wondered how much sleep she had gotten, if she got any. I had seen this look before, too many times. Nobody as young as we were should have been able to produce a look like that.

"What's wrong?" I asked her gently. It was a tossup whether she would tell me or not. Sometimes she just kept it all inside bottled up because she didn't want to worry anyone with her problems. What she didn't realize was that her problems were our problems, and that whether she told us or not we were affected.

"Nothing. I was just thinking," she responded distractedly. "We should get dressed and go next door." I nodded, deciding to drop the subject for now.

We were back on the road by two p.m. Buffy and I had joined Giles and Xander shortly after we awoke and, together, the four of us had gone over the maps Giles brought with him. We determined that the site was around five hours away and located near the Newik verge. According to the map, if we followed the Currier stream, it should lead us straight to the site. Once there, Giles and I would recite a incantation from the book of Tiraynes. That would, in theory at least, re-open the gateway to the alternate dimension from which the vampires had escaped and send them back for good this time. While Giles and I were doing our thing, Buffy would do her thing holding off the vamps, and Xander would find and free Faith. On paper it was a good, relatively simplistic sounding plan which meant that at one time during it all one of us was likely to have near death experience. That's how it worked on the hellmouth, the easier it seemed the more likely we were to end up dead.

So with all the details settled we loaded up the k-car once again and headed out. The ride was spent mostly listening to depressing country songs. It seemed to be the only thing they played out in the middle of nowhere, country and Celine Dion. They played an inordinate amount of Celine Dion, as well as lots of Patsy Cline which oddly Xander seemed to know all the lyrics.

It was just past 7:00 p.m. when we pulled into the rest station. Giles drove the car into the brush a ways then we disembarked. The Currier stream was about fifty meters in front us so once we had all of our gear we headed in its direction. It was excessively dark out and the only light we had was being provided by the moon and a small pocket flash light. We Rosenbergs weren't exactly the outdoorsy type, so I'd never been camping before. I imagined it would be somewhat like this, only without the stakes, and Latin chants, and vampires-and I was glad I hadn't been because the silence was creepy. Really creepy, and this is coming from a woman who sees unholy monsters on a weekly, sometimes daily basis.

We proceeded carefully, trying to make the least amount of noise possible so as not to alert them to our presence. Assuming of course that they were out there which we weren't entirely sure they were, but it was best not to think that. We had been hiking for just over half an hour when we came to bend in the river. As we prepared to follow it Buffy put her hand up and stopped us putting her other hand up to her lips calling for silence. After a moment she motioned for us to follow her and headed in the opposite direction to the bend. We walked for a few minutes in silence before Buffy stopped once more. Carefully she parted the bushes that were in our path and looked through.

"Found 'em." She whispered moving aside so that the rest of us could see what was going on.

There was a large circular clearing. In the middle of it was a stone dais with carving all along it. Faith was on top of the dais tied down and struggling. She was saying something, but I couldn't make out what exactly it was, only that it had something to do with their mothers. The dais was surrounded by a ring of fire, consisting of blue and green flames, and around the fiery ring was a circle of vampires. There were ten of them, and they were dressed in brown cloaks and were chanting quietly.

"How do we bust up this giggle fest?" Xander asked quietly as we moved away from the bushes.

"How close do you two need to be to the party, or does it matter?" Buffy asked addressing Giles and I.

"We must be in sight of the dais and positioned at the north and south ends of it," Giles responded.

"Alright, this is what we'll do," Buffy began, now in full Slayer mode, "Giles will quietly circle around them so that he's on the north side, when he gets there he'll make a bird call. You can do that right?" Buffy asked the watcher suddenly.

"Of course," Giles said sniffing slightly as if he were insulted.

"Alright. So once Giles gives the sign I'll move out into the clearing on the west side and draw their attention. Once they're all focused on me, Xander will move in behind them from the east and get Faith, while Will and Giles do their 'um shanty' thing," Buffy said.

"Ah, Buff? I hate to be a party pooper but how do I get through the ring-o- freaky fire over there?" Xander asked.

"Just run really, really fast," Buffy told him. "Are we all set?" Giles and I nodded while Xander repeated 'really fast' over and over again. Once we were decided on what we were going to do Giles, Xander, and Buffy all moved to their positions.

There were a few minutes of silence after that--well, except for the colorful phrases Faith was hurling at her captors. The wait seemed like forever, though in reality it was only a minute or so. Finally, however, I heard an owl hoot and grabbed the my book ready to head into the field. Seconds after the call Buffy burst into the clearing.

"This isn't the GAP!" Buffy exclaimed, clearly incensed. It had the desired effect as all the vampires turned toward her. One of the vampire yelled "get her", or "stop her", or something equally clever and they rushed her. Seeing this Giles and I stepped inside the clearing and started in with our chants. Once we were in sight, Xander left his position and started running, really fast, towards Faith. Buffy had already taken down two of the vamps by the time Xander made it through the ring of fire.

A few of the vamps seemed to realize that there were more people in the clearing and stepped up their attack. Realizing we didn't have much time, Giles and I quickened our pace, watching as a swirling purple and white vortex started to appear over the clearing. Xander had Faith untied by then and they both moved to intercept the vampires who were heading for Giles and I.

The fighting continued as Giles and I neared the end of the incantation. Gold was now mixing in with the purple and white and the wind was starting to blow violently. When we reached the end, there was a thunderous cracking, like the very particles in the air surrounding us were exploding one by one, then suddenly lighting bolt like rays of energy shot out from the center of the vortex and interfaced with the vampires who were still whole. The energy rays struck them in the back forcing them to their knees and for a few seconds they stayed like that, almost frozen in time, then one by one they started to separate into millions of tiny molecules and were sucked up into the vortex. It was like watching a giant dust buster at work. Then BOOM it was gone, and the silent forest we entered over an hour ago returned, and the ring of fire slowly dissipated.

"I'd like to see Spielberg do that!" Xander declared. We all just kind of looked at him and laughed, even Giles joined in. We were alive, and the world was saved from one more gang of evil demons, but most importantly we were alive.

The ride back to the motel was quiet, not uncommon after events like that. Facing death always seemed to make us a little introspective afterwards. I suppose it's some sort of built in survival mechanism, your brain going "Why the hell did I just do that?", and most people would say never again, but not us, we seemed to have the "Why not?", mentality. However our brains still wanted to have their say, hence the introspective quiet. I really didn't mind the ride though, with Faith in the back, Buffy and I were squished together and I couldn't really find any fault with that, that is to say it was all good.

Still five hours is a long time and my mind started drift trying to catch up with the events of the last two days or so. It was actually quite a lot to catch up on. At the beginning of the week I was just starting to come to terms with my unrequited love for my best friend, and was barely able to concentrate on anything for more than a few seconds, and was being a 'brooding, depressed, running away from her emotions and hurting her friends' type of gal. Now a mere six days and a whole lot of country songs later, I was heading to a Motel 6 where I was going to go to sleep and wake up in Buffy's arms, content in the knowledge that she loved me. I still couldn't concentrate on anything for more than a few seconds, but this time in a good way. The brooding was gone, the running had stopped. Okay, so maybe there wasn't a whole lot to catch up on, but it was still a big change from at the beginning of the week.

When we got back to the motel, all of us were beyond exhausted. We still had our rooms from earlier that day, so after getting Faith set up, we headed to them. By the time we got to the motel, it was pretty booked up and the only other room we could get was at the other end so Faith got our old room and Buffy and I got the new one. Buffy had the room key so I followed behind her, watching, as I have been known to do. She was walking a bit stiffly, but otherwise seemed alright. I imagine it was mostly because she hadn't completely recovered from the wound she had gotten two nights before. She was talking to me, but to be honest I wasn't quite sure what she was saying, something about some move Faith had done during the fight or something.

When we got into the room, we both stripped off our clothes and literally fell into bed. We just lay there on the covers for a few moments before dragging ourselves up and getting under the covers. We were lying so that we were facing each other and I saw that sad, contemplative look on Buffy's face again.

"What's wrong?" I asked her gently. I would get an answer this time. I'm not what you would call forceful, but when Willow Rosenberg makes up her mind about something, that something gets done.

"Depressing Slayer thoughts. You don't want to hear them," Buffy said trying to shrug it off.

"Yes I do," I told her. "Besides weren't you the one lecturing me one the up side talking no more than four days ago?" I asked her in my 'we both already know the answer to this and I'm right' voice.

"I warn you, major depress alert here. Could result in the mass consumption of chocolate, and chocolate like products," she said.

"There's a vending machine in lobby. Spill it."

"I don't want to hurt you," she said sighing softly. "I wish I could tell you that everything is going to be alright, and that this..," she said making a gesture that meant 'us', "is going to last forever. But Slayers, we don't have a long life expectancy, I mean if I reach twenty-five I'll be eligible for my pension plan. There's always going to be demons, and people trying to sacrifice us, and horned beasts that look like rejects from the movie 'Legend' coming after me. And one day I'm not going to be good enough, or fast enough to stop them."

"Buffy..." I started but she continued on.

"Call it the law of averages. I mean I've already died once, I'm not a cat here you know, I don't have eight more to go. I just...I don't want you to get hurt," she said taking my hand. "I don't want this to hurt you."

"I know the risks, Buffy. I know the stakes." We both ignored the poor choice of words. "But whether we're together like this or not I'm still going to be right there beside you," I told her. "This can only make us stronger."

"When we make love, any part me that isn't already yours will be. I don't think I could stand it if something happened to you because of me," she told me looking down at our linked hands.

"Whether we make love or not, I don't think I could stand it if anything happened to you," I told her honestly. Before our first kiss my heart was hers, and if she put a halt to the road we were traveling now it would still be hers. "I don't think we have a choice in this. Love isn't logical, it doesn't make sense, and it doesn't always last, but when you find it you hold on, you hold onto it for as long as you can, because it's special and beautiful and rare. We can't let 'what ifs' stop us from loving can we?" I asked her, hoping beyond reason that her answer would be no.

"No. I couldn't stop loving you if I tried. I just..." she said looking into my eyes.

"There's always the possibility it could end tomorrow. I mean someone could walk outside and be hit by a bus or something? With us it's more likely to be a flying stake or some variation on that, but what ever you do, whoever your with, there's always a risk," I told her. "I want to be with you and love you, and I'm willing to face the pain that will come if one day something happens. I'm willing to face the pain because being with you would be worth it. The worst thing in the world I could think of would be to not be with you."

"You say the sweetest things," she said with a smile. "You're worth it, without a doubt you're worth it," she added. "We'll be stronger?"

"We'll be stronger," I confirmed with a smile, then we moved together and our lips met in a tender kiss. Within seconds we were kissing deeply, hungrily, tongues tangling. I moved closer, pressing against Buffy's strong body, absorbing every sensation that flowed through me. Buffy's mouth grew more insistent, demanding, soft moans melting into me as her hands moved over my body, tracing, learning. I moved my hands to her back pressing us together even more, urging her on. Her hand slowly made it's way up from my abdomen to breasts, I moaned into her mouth as she cupped them feeling their weight, squeezing.

"Clothes have got to go." Buffy whispered heatedly as she removed my bra. Our breathing quickened, as we sought to disrobe each other of what little clothing we still had on, all the while kissing one another, no thought remaining except for the amazing sensations coursing between us pulling us together.

Once we were naked, flesh pressed together in the most delicious way imaginable we kissed sweet, lingering kisses, tasting one another, consuming each other gently. My hands roamed Buffy's body trying to memorize, learn every curve, while her fingertips traced the curve of my throat and slid eagerly over my body with quiet determination.

That night we made love to each other for the first time, slowly, tenderly, passionately, feverishly, we discovered each other. We talked, we kissed, we caressed, we laughed, and most importantly we loved and were loved in return. We completely immersed ourselves in our own private universe where the only things that existed were each other, and our love. It was the most incredible thing that I had ever experienced. I had never made love to a woman before, or anyone for that matter, but I knew exactly how to touch her, how to make her buck, make her arch, make her scream, and she knew exactly how to do the same to me.

When I first told her I loved her she told me that it was a beautiful thing, and it was, it was. The ancient Greeks believed that at one time all people had four legs, and four arms, and two heads, and one soul, but that one night in a fit of rage Zeus cast down a shower of thunder bolts which split all the people in two so that they only had two arms, and two legs, and one head, and half a soul. That night I knew without a doubt that I had found my other half.

 PART 4

Secure, warm, and loved. I felt all of those things as I opened my eyes to greet the morning. A smile spread across her face as I remembered the previous night. I was happier than I could ever remember being in my entire life and I knew that without I owed it all to the woman I was snuggled up against. Raising myself onto my elbows looked up so that I could regard the sleeping face above me.

"It's about time you woke up," Buffy said with a smile, her eyes still closed.

"I thought you were still asleep," I said watching her.

"I know what you thought," she said finally opening her eyes. She looked down at me and smiled. "Waking up like this makes morning infinitely more tolerable." She commented. I smiled back and shifted so that our faces were only inches apart then moved in and kissed her as my hands started to roam. "I think I've created a monster."

"That would be counter productive to you job don't you think?" I asked nipping at her neck.

"What was I thinking? Really Will, I'm a Slayer not a machine," she said laughing now. The object of stopping at the motel had been to get rest, however, we didn't much succeed at that. In fact I know for sure that I expended more energy once we arrived than before.

"Did I tire you out?" I asked with fake concern.

"Why don't we find out?" she asked flipping me over.

"I love the way your mind works," I said giving into the double assault of Buffy's hands and tongue. She laughed and mumbled something that I couldn't hear then we settled down for some serious loving.

* * * * *

Buffy and I managed to drag ourselves out of bed around noon when Giles came knocking at our door. As we exited our room, I accidentally bumped into the guy who had the room beside us. He looked down at me and kinda smirked, then started trying to look around me. When Buffy came out of the room, he shifted his gaze between the two of us, then started laughing saying "No way!!! No wayyyy", and headed back into his room yelling "I told you so!".

Once he was gone Buffy looked at me and said "We're going to have to work on volume control."

The ride back to Sunnydale was uneventful and torturous. It was driving me mad, being shoved up against Buffy for the entire ride and not being able to touch her. Not to mention the fact the Buffy and Faith kept getting in little fights about nothing, then tried to hit each other, the main problem with that being that I was in between them. The only thing that saved me from having to endure this for the entire ride was that I nearly got clipped in the eye and Buffy put a stop to it. At that point we still had about three more hours to go though so a game of twenty questions was started up. I'm not sure which was more painful, being the cream in a Slayer Oreo, or trying to find out what brand of tea Giles was.

Despite all reason, we went Bronzing later that night. Buffy tried to get me out there dancing with her and Faith, but I wasn't exactly 'gettin' jiggy wit it' and decided to just switch between watching them, playing pool with Xander and avoiding Cordelia. We stayed there for about two hours before Buffy and I decided to book. We just wanted to spend some time alone, and she still had to make a patrol so I went with her.

It was wonderful just walking around holding hands talking. Even though Buffy's attention was split between me and looking for vamps, just being out there with her felt really special, like we were a real couple. Except for one brief moment where I was inexplicably mad at society for making us feel like we should have to hide what we were feeling for each other, the patrol went wonderfully. Afterwards we went for mocha's then ended up at the park. We sat down on the swings while we finished our drinks, then Buffy pushed me on them. It was all ridiculously romantic, and I loved every second of it. After that we moved over to the bench and just sat there for a while, just looking up at the stars. We got bored of that after a while though, and somehow ended up kissing on the bench. I don't think that it was one or the other of us who started it, it just happened.

"Uh oh," Buffy exhaled a moment after we broke apart, which wasn't exactly the reaction I was expecting. Then I noticed that she was looking behind me. I figured that there was a vamp or something behind me and turned around so that I could see. It wasn't a vamp, however, it was Xander and Faith.

"Uh oh," I repeated.

"I think I covered that Will," Buffy responded, standing up. I joined her and we walked over to our stunned friends.

"I didn't know that you were a 'girlfriend' girlfriend." Faith said with a smirk winking at Buffy.

"Wil....Bu...ki...tongu..." Xander started then stopped settling on a stupefied expression. Buffy and I looked at each other, then back to Xander and Faith and sighed. It was going to be long, long night, but what else was new?

THE END?

 

Well there it is, please, please, please(yes I am as desperate as that sounds) let me know what you thought of it. I live on feedback. And if you'd like to know how the chat with Xander, Faith, Giles and Joyce goes, along with demons and death of course let me know that too:) Hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it. J.B Email: jbstories@hotmail.com

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