Luck of the Draw Part 1 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, Buffy and the gang deal with the new dimension to the girls relationship, while at the same time battling a new, deadly vampire foe.
Rating: PG-13
Genera: Buffy/Willow
Note: This story is told from Willow's POV--E-mail: jbstories@hotmail.com
Parts: 1-3

PART I

By the time Buffy and I made it over to them, Xander was hyperventilating, and Faith was just standing there watching us with a smirk on her face. Buffy and I were just starting to get used to the whole idea of 'us', and while we always knew we were going to tell our friends, we just didn't plan on doing it so soon. I was expecting at least a couple of months of 'us' time, not merely the forty-eight hours of it that we ended up having to share with demons. We had hardly had anytime to sort anything out, yet here we were.

"You saw?" Buffy asked, though it was really more of a statement. It would really have been a miracle if they hadn't seen.

"Ohhhh, yeah!" Faith responded, her eyes flickering back to the bench for a moment before settling back on us. She actually looked excited. There was a glint in her eyes, I was sure of it.

"In that case, this Slayer votes two thumbs up for a change in local," Buffy responded after glancing at me briefly. "Anyone want to bang the gavel?" She asked. She knew that wouldn't feel comfortable having what was soon to turn into a very private discussion in the middle of the park, and I was glad she suggested we leave. The time it would take us to re-locate would also give me some time to gather my thoughts, and they did need gathering. When no objections were voiced she continued. "We can go to my house, moms not due back 'til tomorrow." Once we all agreed we started towards Summer's manor.

The beginning leg of the trip was very quiet. I wasn't even aware that my legs were moving really, it was just an automatic. I knew how I felt about Buffy, that wasn't even a question, and I knew how she felt about me. The problem was that I wasn't sure if I was ready to talk about it with other people. This wasn't exactly a subject that people were eager to discuss, it was more like something that was to be avoided at all costs.

Once we were on our way Buffy dropped back from the lead to walk beside me letting Xander and Faith lead the way. Once we were side by side she took my hand in hers and squeezed it.

"Are you alright with this?" she whispered, indicating to our joined hands. I simply nodded my head. It felt good to feel her, to know she was there, it helped anchor me, bring me back to reality. Something that I desperately needed. "How're you doing?" she continued, this time she was referring to the whole situation.

"You mean being caught in the act?" I whispered back. She nodded an affirmative but continued to look at the ground. "I'm not sure, I'm kinda just here. You know? I wasn't expecting this so soon. It's like getting hit with a spitball�you knew it was coming, but it's still a surprise when it smacks you on the side of the face," I told her shrugging my shoulders helplessly.

"Yeah," she responded probably choosing to ignore the spitball reference. I knew I would if I was her. As we walked her gaze continued to be locked on the ground and her hands were sweating slightly. Despite the calm demeanor she was putting forward I knew that she was as nervous about the prospect of talking to them as I was. "Faith seems to be handling it rather well," she commented softly a moment later scuffing her boot against the ground.

"Faith has probably done this before," I responded derisively. I wasn't just being a smart-ass either, I actually had something in mind that resembled a fact when I said it. A couple of times when we were out getting mocha's at the Expresso pump, I had noticed Faith checking out the pump girl. Not to mention she was always way to eager to go get us coffee. That and the fact that the girl had gotten around.

"Picked up on that too, huh?" Buffy asked with a lopsided grin. I smiled back and it kind of lessened the tension for the rest of the trip.

Once we neared Buffy's house she took the lead again so that Xander and Faith wouldn't have to wait outside the house for her. We headed to the family room once we were inside and kind of scattered around the room as Buffy headed into the kitchen to get us something to drink. Faith was idly playing with a stake, and Xander was looking everywhere and at everything in the room except for me. Either he was avoiding my gaze, or the trim around Buffy's walls were very captivating. When Buffy finally came back with the drinks--that none of us really wanted-- we sat there in silence for a long, long, long time before it was broken.

"So is this why you two wanted my room last night?" Faith asked in her usually subtle way. Truthfully, I couldn't say that I was surprised that she broke the silence, or at the question she asked.

"Tact, Faith, look it up," Buffy said fixing her with a stare.

"I thought there was suppose to be discussion. So, let's discuss," Faith said, wriggling a little deeper into the couch. She was obviously ready to talk, and I knew that Buffy just wanted to get it over with like I did, which only left one person.

"Xander?" I asked quietly. He hadn't said anything since his jabbering in the park, and I was starting to worry about what he might be thinking. Quiet usually never meant anything good with Xander. Even when he was bleeding and dying he was talking away. He looked up at me when I said his name with an unreadable expression on his face. Even after I said his name he remained quiet for a moment.

"This," he said motioning between Buffy and I, "has been going on for how long?"

"Not long," Buffy responded carefully. Then the silence came again, and stayed that way for a few minutes.

"So are you two, like, serious?" Faith asked, making a totally inappropriate hand gesture that implied sex. Once again, I couldn't say that I was surprised.

"It's serious," Buffy responded before I could say anything. "Which doesn't necessarily mean�" then Buffy repeated the hand gesture made a moment before.

"So you haven't�" and Faith made the gesture again.

"What I said was, that the fact that what's happening between us is definitely more than a 'thing' doesn't mean that we must be�" and Buffy repeated the gesture yet again.

"Can you please stop doing that?" I asked, cutting off whatever reply Faith was going to make. I didn't appreciate having what Buffy and I shared reduced down to vulgar hand motions, hand motions that had the subtlety of a battering ram.

"Sorry," Buffy said quietly realizing what she had been doing. We looked at each other for a moment and I knew that she really was sorry. She had only been trying to help.

"Ditto," Faith mumbled. Tearing my gaze away from Buffy I looked at her, studying for expression for a moment. In the entire time I had known her I didn't think that I had heard Faith mutter anything that could be interpreted as an apology and I wasn't quite sure what to make of it. After a careful analysis I could tell that she meant it, which surprised me, but I decided to keep that to myself. Then the quiet came once again.

"When'd you like�you know�start-having-feeling-of-a-sexual-nature-that-were-the-result-of-a-stimulus- caused-by-a-person-of-the-same-gender-as-yourself?" Xander asked, rushing the question off at such a speed that I couldn't compute. He was speaking at, like, warp factor five.

"I don't know about the lovebirds, but I completely lost you after '�you know�'," Faith said. "Think you could repeat that so that those of us who weren't drinking coffee for an hour previous to this conversation can understand?" she continued.

"A summation of the last part would be: get gay?" Xander explained after a moment, turning slightly red. I looked over at Buffy, we had yet to talk in depth about this. Talking a breath I figured I would take the plunge first. After all, I had known him the longest.

"I didn't 'get' gay," I started. "You can't just 'get' gay, like you 'get' herpes, or athlete's foot, it's more like it's there, but there's like pillows and stuff on top hiding it�like at Easter, it's like an egg. Then you find it sooner or later�like�like a scavenger hunt," I responded realizing that I probably should have thought about that response before saying it out loud.

"Well�.when did you find it? Where you just looking for keys and, BAM?" Xander asked, clapping his hands together.

I decided to ignore the last part of Xander's statement, and answered his first question, about when I found it. "What month did you come to Sunnydale?" I asked Buffy, turning to face her.

"September," Buffy said softly, smiling as she looked at me. We held each others gazes and I was overtaken by a tingling fluttery warmth that started in my toes and settled in my heart. It was an effect that only she could produce in me, something that I only wanted her to produce in me.

"Excuse me, I've got to throw up now," Faith said, sticking a finger in her mouth and making a gagging motion.

"He asked," Buffy responded flatly.

"What's your story B? Does it involve sleep away camp?" Faith asked, smiling. She was doing that a lot tonight, smiling. At least someone was enjoying themselves.

"Oddly enough sleep away camp doesn't figure in. Except to explain my fear of meatloaf," Buffy responded, looking at Faith before continuing. "More along the lines of detention. I developed a crush on Ms. Mitchell my English teacher in eighth grade. She must have wondered what I did to get sent to detention so much. Anyway, I just didn't really think about back then, the way my life was it didn't really matter. It hasn't really mattered until now," she finished with a shrug. Faith seemed satisfied with that answer, and Xander just kind of sat there stewing or brooding or whatever it was he had been doing all night.

"Did you forget that both of you have boyfriends? Boy, being the operative word," Xander piped up a moment later as if he was reminding us of something that had just slipped our minds.

"Actually we don't," Buffy pointed out. She and Angel hadn't actually been dating since he came back from hell, and Oz wasn't talking to me. Xander didn't have anything to say to that right away, so in the pattern of the evening, the quiet came again.

"Is that a hickey?" Faith asked, studying Buffy's neck intently. Looking where Faith's gaze was directed I saw a slight discoloration and realized that it was, and if I was the swearing type, I would've. Stupid Californian heat, if we lived in Michigan Buffy would be wearing a turtle neck and we could've avoided the conversation I was sure was going to ensue.

"Can't you get your mind out of your pants for five minutes?" Buffy asked Faith irritably. She obviously knew where this was leading as well.

"You're awfully cranky," Faith commented. "Did we interrupt you two finding the fun, when we crashed your party on the love bench? " Faith continued making a voice when she said the 'love bench' part. It was said mockingly, and it reminded me of the way kids used to sing the k-i-s-s-i-n-g part of the song about people in a tree.

"Shut up Faith," Buffy responded defensively. I knew that Faith had a way of hitting Buffy's buttons--which usually resulted in Buffy being pissed off almost to the point of no return-- and Faith was off to a brilliant start at the moment.

"Well that settles it. You two must have boinked or B wouldn't be all 'I'll huff and puff and blow your house down'." Faith said with self-satisfied smirk as she crossed her arms and leaned back. You would think that she had just solved the mystery of the Sphinx or something.

"Unlike you Miss 'Get 'em drunk, get 'em in bed and get 'em out', I don't boink. This isn't like one of your seedy motel liaisons," Buffy responded, glaring at Faith. If looks could kill the other Slayer would have been Dust-Buster chow.

"I'm not the one who was uncorked last night, in a motel," Faith shot back, making sure to stress certain words to get as much kick out of the sentence as she could.

"Shut up," Buffy repeated. I could practically feel the anger rolling off of her in waves. This was not good, not good at all.

"You looked pretty tired this morning so I'm guessing it was good," Faith continued, not backing down.

"I mean it Faith, shut the hell up or get the hell out. Either, or. I personally don't care," Buffy said, standing up.

"Fine�.bygones," Faith muttered after a long moment before holding up her hands in the universal sign of peace. Buffy continued to stare at her for an instant then finally sat down when I placed my hand on her arm, tugging slightly. Faith was holding a white flag up-tattered as it may be-and we were going to take it.

"So, are you two�dating?" Xander asked once things had settled down. When he asked this I looked over at Buffy, we had never really put a name to what we were. In fact when I thought about it we hadn't really discussed a whole lot.

"Yeah, I guess. Yeah," Buffy answered looking at me to make sure it was okay that she answered affirmatively.

After that, things calmed down and the four of us sat talking for awhile longer, actually managing to have what resembled a mature conversation. In total Xander and Faith were there for about an hour. As we had observed on the way over, Faith didn't seem to give a rat's ass that we were together other than to find out if we had slept together--or as she so delicately put it "had done the horizontal cha cha"--, and that nearly resulted in her and Buffy trading blows again. Xander on the other hand was having more trouble with it, which was understandable considering that we had had a thing, and that he had had a thing for Buffy and probably still did. All things considered it could have gone worse. It would take time for everyone to get used to the change in our relationship, we were still getting used to the change in our relationship. It would be awkward at the beginning, but it would be okay.

* * * * * *

"How'd it go?" Buffy asked as I walked back into the family room.

"They say they're starting to forget what I look like, but that if I feel I absolutely must, I can stay," I related, smiling. She was referring to the phone call I had just made to my parents. They had gotten back to town about an hour after we had.

"Good," Buffy said, relieved, as she took a seat on the couch. "Are you tired?"

"Yes and no," I responded. The talk with Xander and Faith had taken a lot out of me emotionally but I wasn't really ready to go to sleep yet. I was in one of those annoying states that's a mix between being really tried and really pumped up simultaneously.

"That's not really a big help," Buffy said, motioning for me to sit beside her. "The way I figure it, we're suffering from 'post-conversation stress syndrome'. However, we're in luck since the cure for this unique syndrome is the Jerry Springer show which just happens to be on right now."

"How do you figure that?" I asked. It was bad form to question a physician's advice, but I was curious.

"Simple, whatever we're going through, demons included, will seem like a cake walk after we watch this. Sure I hunt demons for a profession, but at least my mother didn't have the child of my father's bisexual lovers brother," Buffy answered as I sat down. Once I was seated Buffy put her arm around my shoulders and pulled me closer to her so that I was almost lying on top of her. "Is this okay?" she asked once we were settled.

"Better than okay." I answered with a smile. I could feel the tension draining out of my body as I spoke. It was amazing what being in her presence did to me. I was wound up so tightly by the time Xander and Faith left, I was literally a tension ball, but the moment she put her arms around me it all melted away. It was actually a very interesting phenomenon that deserved extensive scientific study.

"How are you doing?" she asked, kissing me on the forehead.

"Actually, I'm doing quite well right now," I responded playing with her hand which resting on my stomach. We were snugglers, I could tell already. "Before good and I were not together, but I think that everything will be okay. I mean it's not going to be kid's day at the ex, but it should work out. Right?"

"It'll work out. Xander, we just need to give some time. He's still in the militant 'but they'se be my women', other wise known as the Cro-Magnon stage," Buffy answered thoughtfully as only she could. "As for Faith, she's not going to give it rest until we make videotape and send her a copy a la Pam and Tommy Lee." 

"We're not going to do that though?" I asked.

"Well�" Buffy said thoughtfully as she scratched her chin. I gave her the look of shame as only I can and she smiled. "Okay, okay we'll have to come up with another plan," she relented. "However, I would like to note that a recording would have been the most expedient not to mention fun way of eliminating her interest," she continued, wiggling her eyebrows.

"Or generating more," I commented snuggling in closer. I wasn't sure I wanted Faith that interested.

"True, that could create a whole new set of problems. Problems that would probably involve the internet. The Watcher's council would probably frown at nudie pictures of their Slayer and her girlfriend being posted. It would contributes to a lack of credibility amongst my demon foes," Buffy agreed. "Tired yet?" 

"Yes," I responded sheepishly forcing my eyes to stay open. They had started to drift shut as she was speaking.

"Okay, your sleepy, that's good. I thought that maybe I was just frightfully boring� like Geraldo," she responded. "Let's go upstairs," she continued, poking me in the ribs so that I would get up.

"Hey," I muttered slapping her hand away. Once I was up I turned to her again, "Is it okay if we don't�" I didn't get a chance to finish the sentence.

"Yeah," Buffy said gently taking my hand. "It's like I told you this morning, I'm not a machine. I can kill evil ones blindfolded but I'm not part of the family," she continued trying to make me smile, which she succeeded in doing. Once that was taken care of we continued up the stairs hand in hand.

* * * * * *

Despite the fact that we spent the entire weekend saving the world from a clan of vampires who had a disastrous special power that could have brought down Western civilization as we knew it, it was a Monday morning and we had to go to school. Buffy and I tried to worm our way into staying home--which I must say Mrs. Summers was game to after hearing the edited version of our story-- however my parents who remain in dark about pretty much everything involving me would hear nothing of it. I got an ear full of, "You spent the entire weekend 'partying down' and if you think you're going to miss school because you and your friends thought it would be 'cool' to go gallivanting around then you are sorely mistaken young lady," from my mom. Needless to say that it was a very pleasant way to start off the morning.

Anyway, one thing was for certain, school would be an interesting experience today. I had math with Xander first period which would be a trying experience if he was still wiggin. I wasn't expecting him to have an immediate coolness with everything, but the awkward silences were, well, awkward.

* * * * * *

"I called this morning, your mom said you weren't home," Xander said, leaning over to look at my paper once the teacher had finished with the lesson for the day and gone to get coffee.

"I was at Buffy's," I whispered back.

"You slept over?" he asked. He sounded as if I told him I had ate a can of worms. In fact if I had told him I ate a can of worms he probably would have taken it better.

"Yeah," I confirmed, looking over at him.

"Do you think that's proper? If I was your mom�" he started, but I interrupted before he could finish.

"You're not my mom. If I wanted to be lectured and 'do you think that's proper'd' I would talk to my mom, but I don't want to be lectured and 'do you think that proper'd' which is why I don't talk to my mom. That and she thinks I'm a witch, which I am, but she thinks that I'm a bad naughty witch, which I'm not. Now the real question should be, do you think it's proper to be copying my work?" I said, eyeing him.

He didn't respond to my little speech, he simply straightened his chair around and muttered under his breath as he sharpened his full sized pencil until it was about the size of his pinky. After watching him for a few moments, I started back on my own work. I figured things would be what they would be and that there was really no use thinking about it, or worrying about it for that matter because it wouldn't change anything. Things would be what it would be.

* * * * * *

As I was waiting in the courtyard after school for Buffy my eyes were constantly drawn to the woman who was leaning against a tree about 20 meters away. A part of the reason I kept looking over at her was because every time I turned my head away I could feel her eyes on me, but when I looked over at her she was just leaning against the tree playing with a stupid yo-yo. The other part of the reason I keep looking over at her was that I was inexplicably drawn to her presence.

"What's with the frownie face?" Buffy asked, sitting down beside me.

"Do you know if there's a young supply teacher in today?" I asked her distractedly.

"You didn't just say the words 'young' and 'supply' in the same sentence, did you? All of the supplies in Sunnydale are over sixty, dead, or giant preying mantis's," Buffy responded. "Why?" she asked curiously.

"You see that woman over there?" I said, looking back over to where she was standing.

"The beauty queen playing with the yo-yo? Yeah, I see her. I have to admit I'm surprised, those things are making a comeback and anyone over nineteen usually only catches up when the fads are on their way out. Maybe she's a student," Buffy suggested. "Come on�"

"I passed her on my way out here, she's like twenty-three, she can't be a student," I responded, standing up nonetheless so Buffy would stop poking me in the ribs.

"Should I be getting jealous about your growing obsession with this gorgeous mystery woman?" Buffy asked. She was smiling though, so I could tell she was just joking around.

"Well no, since I'm not the one that thinks she gorgeous," I responded. "She's just�it's�oh, I don't know, never mind. I've been living on the hellmouth for to long, it's made me weary of new people�and bright colored clothing," I said, shaking my head.

"Well, at least we don't have to worry about you taking candy from strangers," Buffy commented as she dragged me towards the library.

Buffy had just joined me at the table when I noticed someone emerging from the corner of the library near the door. Buffy and Faith had just finished a rather heated workout session that ended in Faith storming out of the room, and Buffy grumbling about something as she sat down. Whenever Giles had disappeared into his office for a few moments Faith would stay something to Buffy and Buffy would get mad and speed up her motions. I figured Faith was saying something to her about me, but I couldn't hear what she was saying and I didn't really care. Buffy was beautiful when she was angry and I was concentrating on that.

The person coming out the shadows was the woman from the courtyard. I was about to show her to Buffy, but she started clapping. At the sound Buffy looked up and over at the woman before trying her gaze to me and then back again.

"That was very entertaining," the woman said happily. "You're quite talented, your dark- haired friend too. I must admit though that it's a rather interesting game to be playing in a library," she continued, leaning against the counter.

"Whatever floats your boat I guess," Buffy responded non-committally. The woman smiled and nodded vigorously. She was far too amused by the comment and it left me feeling like we were missing something.

"It's still very dangerous to be doing, all of these obstacles," she said finally, gesturing towards the table, the counter she was leaning against, and the cage--which she stared at for an inordinate amount of time. "Do you like to play dangerous games?" 

"The best games usually involve a little danger," Buffy answered looking at her. "What's a game of truth or dare without the chance that you might have streak across your neighborhood naked, or eat dog food? Answer = Boring."

"What about you?" she asked, directing the question to me. She was staring at me intently and I found it unnerving.

"Me? I like Hungry Hungry Hippo's, and if I'm feelin' really rebellious I've been know to play a game or two of Gin Rummy," I told her. I could see Buffy smiling in my peripheral vision, but my attention was focused on the woman who was still staring at me, though she too was smiling.

"Interesting," was the only comment she made. There was silence for a few moments and I found myself studying her. Buffy was right, she was gorgeous, deep blue eyes, full lips -- the kind people would pay good money for only to have them come out looking half as good as hers-- and shoulder length brown hair. She stood at what I would guess to be around five feet, eight inches, and had a trim yet muscular build. I would more have expected to see her on the cover of Vogue than in a school library. Actually I wished she was at a photo shoot someplace far away, like Milan, rather than here.

"You mentioned truth or dare," she said, finally breaking the silence. "That's a risk taker's game. But that's what you relish about it isn't it? The uncertainty of the outcome, having a challenge set forth and quelling it. That appeals to you, doesn't it?" She continued looking at Buffy.

"Yeah. Why play something if you know how it's going to end, or if it's so boring you wish it would end? Which would you rather play, go-fish or poker? For me that's pretty much a no-brainer," Buffy responded. "What about you?"

"I lean more to your way of thinking, but I think your friend would rather play go-fish," the woman answered, looking at me as she spoke the last few words. It was hard to tell what she meant by that comment, but before either of us could respond Giles came out of his office.

"Can I help you?" he asked the woman as he polished his glasses.

"Yes," she said, turning around to face him. They spoke momentarily before she nodded and headed out of the library.

"You were right, there's something off about her, and I don't mean off as in she likes to wear men's underwear, or she talks to taxidermied animals. There's something �hellmouthish about her," Buffy said to me in a hushed tone.

"What do you think it is?" I asked having tried to come up with something myself and drawing a blank.

"I have absolutely no idea.That's what we have a Giles for," Buffy said standing up and looking at me expectantly.

"I'm coming," I told her, rising to my feet before she could start poking me in the ribs.

"Not here I hope," she said with a smirk before heading over to where Giles was. I, being me, just blushed and followed after her. Speaking of playing games.

* * * * * *

We talked to Giles about the bad vibes we were getting from the woman after she left and he said that he would do some research and keep his eyes open, but with the information, or more accurately the lack of information, we had there was nothing that we could really do. Currently I was walking home from a tutoring lesson to meet with Buffy to study. She was falling behind in English and needed me to help, or so she said. Buffy was actually quite proficient in English- which baffled Giles because of how she abused the language while speaking. I think she just wanted an excuse to get together tonight and that was just fine with me.

As I turned onto Fawndale Street, I could feel somebody watching me. I had gotten frighteningly proficient at sensing people following/sneaking up on/trying to kill me, over the past few years. It was just like in the courtyard this afternoon only there weren't tons of people around now and I felt considerably less safe than I did this afternoon. It was around dusk though, not dark yet, so I ruled out vampires as a possibility.

* * * * * *

I waited until I could feel the other person near me then flung around to face them. It was the woman from the courtyard and the library. She smiled when she saw me turn around and started walking beside me. After a few moments she asked me where my friend from earlier was, which branched out into small talk, which we continued to do- her doing most of the talking- until we crossed the street and I spoke.

"Who are you?" I asked her trying to keep my voice from trembling. The woman was dark, and mysterious, beautiful, and actually charming, but there was also something very disconcerting about being in her presence.

"Rio," was all she said looking across the street at the same time.

"De Janeiro?" I asked, thinking that perhaps she thought I asked where she was from. She looked like perhaps she could have been from that region, she had an exotic quality about her, but it was hard to pinpoint exactly what heritage inspired it.

"No thanks," she responded as she watched a child across the street playing with their ball.

"What?" I asked, completely losing track of this conversation.

"Is on second," she replied, looking down at me her lips curving up into a smile.

"You're playing with me," I said rather unnecessarily a few moments later.

"I enjoy games," she said, still smiling, "They're fun. The only way to stave off the tediousness of everyday live really. I mean if all we did was eat, sleep and work, things would be very boring wouldn't they? Games, well, games provide the entertainment that delay insanity."

"You know, I hear scrabble is quite entertaining, and the best part is that if you play on a computer you can play it alone. Not that I want to get rid of you or anything, it's just that at some point everyone has to be alone, or in other words solitary�hey there's an idea, solitaire. That's fun too�" she interrupted me before I could finish however.

"Do you always talk so much or is this a reflection on me? I mean, I've been watching you and your mouth is always moving. I just figured you chewed a lot of gum or something," she said.

"Um�yeah," I said really wishing that I was at home.

"Yeah you talk a lot or yeah you chew gum?" she asked, looking down at me.

"The first one," I said, stopping at Old Edith's house. My house was down the street but I really didn't want to talk to this woman, Rio, anymore. She was really starting to freak me out. Old Edith was a little strange herself, but she would let me in, and she wouldn't kill me. She would make me eat rock candy but that was definitely better than talking to Rio any longer. "Anyway, this is my stop, the place where I live and must enter now," I continued looking at the house.

"No, it's not," she said, looking at me intently. "You live down the road," she continued, pointing in the direction of my house.

"No I don't, I live here, which is why I said that I lived here, because I do," I said. "You hear that meowing," I asked as one of Edith's cats started to meow, "that's my cat�Petey's his name, he's a tabby, he likes tuna."

"Now who's playing games?" she asked, stepping into my personal space. That made me even more uncomfortable because it was MY space, that's why it's called personal space and she was violating it big time.

"Listen lady," I said, getting tough. I'd had enough of this, "I didn't want to say this before because my mother taught me manners, but you have got to go. Following people around, and telling them where they live and generally acting like a psychotic isn't going to win you any friends. Unless you meet another psychotic, which I'm not. So why don't you go tell whoever put you up to this that it didn't work," I continued.

"What if nobody put me up to it?" she asked still standing close. "What if I am a psychotic? 'Cause if I was I wouldn't care what you say, would I? 'Cause I'd be the type of lunatic who makes baskets out of rat tails. What would you say then?" She asked a moment later a smile working it's way across her face as her hand dipped into her pocket.

"Please�don't cut out my tongue," was what came out of my mouth. I was too busy wishing that Buffy was there to concentrate on what I was saying. Buffy would kick her ass.

She looked at me for a minute then started to laugh heartily throwing her head back and everything. When she was finished she removed her hand from her pocket to reveal a pez dispenser, Taz I believe. She then tipped the head back and took one out.

"I like you, you're funny," she said chewing on the candy. "We'll have to play again sometime�for longer. Games are better when they're long. You get more� involved," she continued. "You take care of yourself okay Willow. We can't play if you go out and hurt yourself," and with that she continued down the street turning to wave before she walked off.


PART II

Buffy arrived at my house about an hour after dark having had to make a quick sweep before coming over. My parents were at the exhibit Joyce had been working on so I had been alone in the house and was very glad when Buffy finally got there.

"It's the soloplays, no wait sillibays�that's not it either, it's�it's those long boring S things that nobody understands anyway," Buffy said as we sat around my kitchen table.

"Soliloquy's?" I guessed.

"That's the thing. I mean what does he want to be? Or not be? Or sling? And why do I have to hear about for like four pages?" She asked, making a helpless gesture.

"He's contemplating suicide. During�the soliloquy he's�.basically�just weighing the pros�and cons�of it..." I said distractedly. Buffy was running her foot up and down my leg gently and it was distracting me, in a very good way. Of course it didn't take much to distract me in that way anymore.

"If he's gonna do it I wish he would get on with it already," Buffy said, biting on the tip of her pencil as she continued her leg motions. "Who talks to themselves for four pages anyway?"

"Hamlet?" I offered. Buffy smirked and turned her head so that she was looking at me.

"You okay? You're looking a little light-headed?" She asked, scrunching her brow up in an attempt to look concerned, but a smile was slowly making it's way across her face.

"Now that you mention it something is making me kind of �distracted," I responded.

"I might know of a way to help," Buffy offered, leaning forward so that her lips were almost touching my ear. "If you want it that is."

"If you think it would help then go right ahead. Because help is good. Help is a good way to elevate distress, because help by definition is�" I didn't get a chance to finish that thought though and I can't say that I'm sorry. Buffy leaned over and kissed me softly. Within moments we were kissing deeply causing Buffy to raise her hand to my cheek to steady us. She had the most wonderfully soft lips and I was sure that I could spent and eternity kissing them, licking them, sucking on them. "We're suppose to be studying," I said when we broke apart. What we were suppose to be studying I couldn't really remember, but it was something, I was sure of that.

"I know," she said smiling, "but sometimes it's good to be bad," she continued, running her tongue along my bottom lip before capturing them again. "See�doesn't this feel good?" she asked, sliding her tongue over my lips, softly exploring. It felt like we sat there kissing, trading soft caresses for hours, until Buffy finally pulled away. Once we parted she looked up at me sheepishly then moved her chair to the side a bit. "Just a precaution," she said in response to my questioning look.

"You're mean," I told her, glaring at her as she picked up her pencil and started to write.

"Me? What did I do?" she asked innocently.

"That didn't help," I said, "I'm worse off now than before. I don't have a hand book but I'm sure that there's a rule in it about working up your girlfriend then just stopping�to do homework," I said, face still flushed.

"But you said we were suppose to be studying. So I'm studying," Buffy answered, holding up the book as evidence. She was a tease, a big 'ol tease and I was loving it.

"Alright then, I've got an idea," I said, dragging my chair back close to hers.

"A studying idea? Because those are the only kind I'm accepting," Buffy said as I settled in.

"Oh, it's a studying idea alright. But I think we should study biology. We've done enough English for one night, and biology is an important subject."

"What about biology?" she asked.

"The human body, more accurately motor responses. The best way to study this is for you to introduce a stimulus to my body, then assess the response and try to repeat the effect if it was a positive one," I said. "Just to make sure it wasn't an aberration of course," I explained. "Now since I'm the teacher I think that we should start at the top then work our way down. Our first lesson will be�" I said then I leaned forward and brought our lips together again. I rested my hand on her knee and shifted even further forward in the chair so that I was practically sitting in her lap.

"I'm probably going to need extra help, a lot of extra help, tons of extra help," Buffy mumbled between kisses that were becoming increasingly passionate as her hand made it's way to my back stroking it softly.

"I think I can fit you in somewhere," I responded breathlessly as my hand started to creep under her shirt.

* * * * * *

I'm not sure how we actually managed to make it all the way to my bedroom, but we did. On top of that, we actually managed to make it to the bed without breaking anything, which was pretty impressive considering that neither of us were looking were we were going. Sure the phone got knocked under the bed, but it was for a good, great, wonderful, exceptional reason. If all biology lessons went that well there would be much higher marks in the course, I was sure of it. That and there would be a lot of teachers in jail. As we lay post-coital bliss I found my mind drifting back to my encounter with Rio. I had planned on telling Buffy about it when she arrived but I didn't want to start off our evening that way, and afterwards I got a little distracted.

"Send me a postcard from wherever you're vacationing?" Buffy asked finally.

"Sorry," I said, shifting so that our faces were only inches apart. "My mind drifted."

"Drifted? You were in another time zone," Buffy commented softly as she regarded me for a minute with concerned eyes. "You know that if�we didn't have to�I mean I know last night you didn't want �if," she stopped talking for a second and sighed. "We didn't have to make love, it's alright if you're�"

"That's not it," I said, stopping her before she could finish. "Biology 101 was my idea, remember? I wanted this, I want you," I told her never wanting her to doubt that her love was anything but a godsend to me. "I was just thinking about�" I started to say but then trailed off.

"Thinking about what?" she asked moving a little closer and placing her hand on my hip stroking lightly with her thumb. "You don't have to tell me if you don't want to, but know that you can tell me anything and I'll listen," she continued, watching the movements she was making with her hand.

"When I was walking home from tutoring that woman from the courtyard and the library sidled up to me on the street," I responded.

"Who? Tall, dark, and crazy?" she asked, surprised.

"One and the same. Buffy�she's not�I mean I think that maybe she's just nuts. She said that she had been watching me, and she knows where I live. I tried to tell her that Old Edith's house was my house, because she was really freaking me out and I didn't want to talk to her anymore, but it didn't work. Old Edith would've made me eat rock candy and that stuffs pretty bad, but if I had to chose between rock candy and Lizzy Borden, it would be rock candy all the way, but she knew that it wasn't my house and pointed to where my house was. Then she invaded my personal touch bubble�"

"Did she�"

"No, it wasn't like that, she just stood really, really close. Almost as close as we are now, only I didn't want her this close. So I kinda told her to go away and stop acting like a lunatic, and she was all 'how do you know I'm not a lunatic', and I was like, 'please don't cut my tongue out', and she found that really funny, then she started talking about how we were going to have to play again sometime, because games are fun, and she likes games, and�Buffy, I think she's really unbalanced."

"Does she know who you are?" Buffy asked.

"She knows my name. She called me Willow. I never told her what my name was though," I answered. "I think her name's Rio, but she may just have been playing around."

"Were you even going to tell me about this?" Buffy asked. Her voice was steady but when I looked into her eyes, I could tell she was hurt.

"Yes, of course," I answered. "I was going to but�but I got a little sidetracked," I continued, causing Buffy looked down at our current state of undress.

"Oh," was all she said.

"Yeah," I agreed, and we were silent for a moment.

"Tell me if she bothers you again, okay?" Buffy asked, reaching up to stroke my cheek.

"I will," I agreed. "I think she needs help,"

"What she needs is a good ass kicking," Buffy replied. "Nobody messes with you."

"Cause I'm your girl?" I asked, smiling.

"That's right," Buffy confirmed. "Now�go make me a sandwich woman!"

"What was that?" I asked, reaching out for her.

"No�don't�.Will don't, I'm sorry," she pleaded. "It was a joke, please�noooo," she continued as I started tickling her. If the demons of the world knew this little secret we could all be in big trouble, but as of yet I was the only to find this Slayers Achilles heel, and I would use it as I saw fit.

Finally, I stopped when Buffy had turned beet red and was wheezing for air. Half of the reason I even tickled her was because she looked so cute afterwards. All mad but not able to do anything about it because she knew I would tickle her again if she did. I got a certain amount of pleasure from making her impotent with rage that I didn't want to analyze.

"And you said I was mean," Buffy said once she had caught her breath. She was holding her sides and watching me carefully. "Oh, no you don't," she uttered jerking away as I reached my hand out.

"Don't be like that, I'm not going to tickle you," I said trying to coax her back over.

"That's what you said last time, but there was more tickling. You said no more tickling but I distinctly remembering tickling�and laughing." Buffy responded eyeing me suspiciously.

"I'm sorry I shouldn't have done that," I said in a suitably apologetic voice. "Let me kiss it better," I continued, trying out my new sexy 'come hither' smile.

"Okay, but if there's tickling, I'm going to have to introduce you to Mr. Pointy," Buffy responded, sliding back over.

* * * * * *

The next morning I met Xander at our lockers. I hadn't seen him since lunch the day before, and was surprised to find him waiting for me. A week ago it wouldn't have surprised me, but I didn't think that I was on his favorite people's list at the moment. At the moment we had 'issues'.

"Hey," I said as I arrived and reached for my lock.

"Hey yourself," he responded. "Did you have a nice night?" he continued. I had to consider how to answer that question because certain elements were very nice, due entirely to the strong Buffy factor, and other parts were not so nice, due to their loony fringe factor. I suppose I took to long deciding how to answer because he began to speak again. "Why don't we start with an easier question," he said. "Did you spend the night at your own house?" I stopped what I had been doing when he asked this question. It wasn't so much the question he asked but how he asked it that got me. I hated it when my parents said that but sometimes it was just true.

"Why are you acting like this?" I asked, turning around to face him.

"Acting like what? Can't a guy inquire as to his friend whereabouts? Some people would be touched by the display of concern," he responded.

"My night was fine, and I was at home, my own home," I responded, turning back around to get my math book out of my locker. I didn't want to start a fight with him.

"What were you doing? It must have been verrrry engrossing," Xander continued as I zipped up my back pack.

"What are you talking about?" I asked.

"I was calling you for most of the night and there was no answer. Whatever you were doing must have been very interesting for you not have heard the phone ringing. Repeatedly," he answered. At first I as confused about what he was taking about then I remembered that when Buffy and I entered my room we knocked the phone of off the dresser and under the bed. It was a portable so it was probably ringing under there--for awhile--and I didn't hear it.

"The phone must have gotten knocked under the bed. I didn't hear it, that's all," I responded. It was mostly true.

"Sure you weren't just otherwise occupied? I know of a certain Slayer who cut patrol short last night," he continued, not relenting. I stopped walking and turned to look at him for a moment before ushering us into a quiet corner.

"I know you're having a hard time with this, but that's no reason to act�to act like a big stupid jerk," I told him once we were away from prying ears and eyes.

"Who's having a hard time with anything? I'm not having a hard a time with anything, I'm not even having an anything with anything, and I'm not acting like a big stupid jerk," Xander responded, rubbing the arm I had used to drag him over.

"If you're not wiggy then why are suddenly concerned with when, and where, I'm with Buffy? It never mattered before," I shot back.

"Yeah, well before the two of you weren't�"

"Weren't what Xander?" I asked when he trailed off. We stood there for a few seconds staring at each other before he responded.

"Nothing," he muttered then pushed his way past me and continued down the hall. I watched him go until he was out of sight then leaned against the wall and sighed. I loved Xander, but he could be a real jerk sometimes, usually when he was hurting and didn't want anyone to know. It was a defense mechanism he had developed over the years. I knew that he was hurting now, but the problem was he was a really proficient jerk and I just didn't have to energy to deal with that currently.

* * * * * *

I ended up in the library during lunch time doing some cataloguing for Giles. Buffy was in having a 'talk' with her history teacher, and things with Xander were just as tense during lunch so when the opportunity arose we both took off. Giles had noticed things had been a little tense over the past few days and had tried to get to the bottom of it, but I shrugged it off, and luckily he had to go on lunch duty before he could prod anymore.

I was so engrossed in what I was doing I didn't even realize Buffy had entered the office until she placed her hands on my shoulders and started to massage them.

"What's with the sad?" she asked, continuing her motions.

"Who's sad?" I asked, knowing that I wasn't fooling her for a second.

"You are. Why?"

"Xander," was all I said in response.

"What'd he say?" she asked, hopping on the desk beside me.

"Nothing," I responded. There was no sense in both of us being mad at him.

"He had to have said something or else you wouldn't have typed the same sentence over and over again for a paragraph," Buffy said looking at the screen. "Whatever happened, it was about us, right?" she asked when I didn't respond to her previous comment.

"Basically," was all I said. She sighed and hoped down off the desk moving behind me then wrapped her arms around me.

"He's in stage two now, otherwise know as the 'it hurts and I'm going to act like a big stupid jerk' stage. I think you can see why they changed the name," she said. "It'll work out, we just have to be patient, give him time," she continued, kissing me on the cheek.

"I know, I know," I said, leaning back into her slightly.

We stayed wrapped together like that for a moment before I started to get a bit to comfortable and decided to break up the snuggles.

"How'd it go with your teacher?" I asked. Seeing as how she was here instead of with Synder I figured things couldn't have gone too badly.

"It seems the director took some liberties with the film. Apparently, in WWI there was no underground city that housed the world's top scientists so they could conspire against the enemy," she responded

"Who was the enemy?" I asked. I, just like everyone else, had no idea who the 'bad guys' were in the first world war.

"I don't know, the French maybe," Buffy responded, unconcerned. "So, when you take the fact that the underground city was just a big lie into consideration, it becomes painfully obvious that I did no research whatsoever and that I based my essay on a sub-par movie. This revelation usually leads to chats with your teacher, and a zero on your essay, all of which were fulfilled," Buffy added, shrugging.

"I told you not to watch that movie," I said. The director was a no talent who liked to use rapidly changing camera angles to cover up the fact that he had no talent. I had gotten motion sickness watching some of his earlier work.

"I know�and you were right about that camera angle thing," Buffy said. "But you should also consider this. What kind of a world are we living in where a young woman can't turn to television and film as a way skip out of doing actual work? I remember a day when you use to be able to rent a movie and know that it was like the book, only shorter, which is of course why you rented it in the first place. But nowadays, well, you just can't trust Hollywood to present a story accurately. It's all about money these days, with their car chases, and underground cities. When you think about it, it's really a sad day. I mean, didn't anybody think of the children? Next time I'll just have be a sell out and get one of those internet essays like everyone else, but inside I'll be mourning the loss of better time, a time when you could believe in movies. A time when you could use them to hoodwink. I'll be mourning the passing of an era when you could turn on the T.V and say 'hey, I used that movie to cheat on an English paper'," Buffy said concluding her little speech with a shake of her head that was intended to show how truly disgusted she was with the state of affairs of the world today. Once she finished I simply turned around and stared at her. For a long time. "What?" she asked finally, "Is it so wrong to be nostalgic?"

* * * * * *

Mrs. Summers wanted our help later on dismantling the exhibit whose last showing had been the night before--the one my parents attended. It had actually been a lot of fun disassembling it, I had gotten to smash things, and was able to show Buffy how I could make things float. We were there until around nine before deciding sneak out and get some ice-cream. Smashing things was fun, but ice-cream combined with Buffy was better.

"Someone's following us," Buffy whispered as we passed by the playground on our way back from the ice-cream shop.

"I bet I know who it is," I whispered back.

"Our South American stalker," Buffy responded, placing her hand on the small of my back to change the direction I had been going in. "Three� two�one�" Buffy whispered, then she dived into the bushes and emerged a moment later with Rio in her hand. I saw her face as Buffy flung her onto the ground and she was smiling. She was about to get her booty kicked and she actually looked amused. Disturbing, very disturbing. She slowly picked herself up off the ground, then once she was upright raised her leg and kicked out a Buffy who jumped back out of the way.

Buffy rushed her after that and the two of them started trading blows. They were moving so fast it was hard for me to keep track of their motions. I watched as they fought and realized that Rio was holding her own against Buffy. As far as I could tell, they were pretty evenly matched, and for that to be true she couldn't have been human. Which we suspected all along, so it wasn't really a surprise. Finally, Buffy managed to get some leverage and kicked Rio in the stomach sending her flying over near where I was standing.

Rio stood up slowly, her head was down, her shoulders slightly hunched over, and her legs crossed at the ankles. They movement was very fluid and graceful, almost bird like. Once she was standing she flung her hair back revealing her true face to us. Now that, that was surprising. She was a vampire. Her eyes were glowing yellow, her features were distorted. Her fangs were visible through her smile.

Buffy and I traded looks not believing what we were seeing. We had both seen her in the daylight, in the middle of the afternoon no less. It wasn't possible. She couldn't be a vampire. We continued to stand there watching her in a semi-stupefied state as she growled softly before raking a hand through her hair.

"Not bad, not bad at all," she said focusing her gaze on Buffy. "This is going to be fun," she said her face returning to its human state. "but I've got to be going now. Don't you two be strangers, you hear," she added before winking at us and walking away.

"What the�?" I asked, turning to Buffy once she was out of ear shot. There was no doubt that she was a vampire, the transformation back had just happened right in front of us, but it just didn't compute. Vampires couldn't walk around in the day, that's just the way things were.

"I'm right there with ya, Will," Buffy said looking after her. Turning to face me she took my hand. "We've got to find Giles, this is way weird."

Continue to Parts 3-5 (the conclusion)

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