Disclaimer: The Characters of Buffy, Willow, and Cordelia all belong to Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy, and Warner Brothers, but since I have no money for them to sue me for, and am not making any money on this effort, I'm guessing they won't bother. There are some pretty strong suggestions of girls liking girls in a more than "just friends" way, so if this offends, is illegal, or you're not old enough for such things, please leave now.


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Thwocketa, thwocketa, thwocketa.

The coke bottle careened 'round and 'round on the tabletop before finally coming to a halt, the narrow neck pointing toward Willow Rosenberg.

Cordelia Chase sighed dramatically. "I can-not believe I'm doing this with you two," she complained.

Buffy Summers looked up from the fingernails she was patiently buffing--a killer bustup with a punk vamp the night before had left three shattered to the quick--and grumbled softly. "We could go back to studying," she pointed out, "since that is supposed to be the reason for this little get together�at least it was until you decided you were bored."

"It would be different if there were some guys here," Cordelia continued as though Buffy hadn't spoken, "but please�spin the bottle with three girls�where's the fun in that?"

Willow, who always tried to make the best of things, no matter how pointless the effort was, felt the need to insert, "W-well, it could be interesting�if we just approach it with the right attitude."

Cordelia raised an eyebrow. "Oh boy, Willow, and what sexually charged question am I supposed to ask you? Have you optimized your hard drive this week?" She snorted impolitely. The cheerleader was in a bitchy mood--after all, once upon a time she would have spent a Saturday night with the cool crowd instead of this version of geeker heaven--and feeling the need to punish those she felt responsible for her fall from grace. "Yeah, right, that should make for some exciting moments�not."

Buffy continued taking the jags off of her nails. Truth be told, she couldn't really argue with Cordelia's point, though she wouldn't have phrased it quite that way. Still Willow was her best friend, whereas Cordy was�. What was Cordy? Certainly not her friend�exactly�she was just sort of there. "It was your idea, Cordy," she pointed out blandly, noting Willow's grateful look out of the corner of her eye. Willow was getting better at standing up to the cheerleader, but after a lifetime of being stepped on by that clique it wasn't natural just yet.

Cordelia's mouth opened, then snapped shut again. Fine, if it was her idea then, "All right�" she exhaled before following the direction of their impromptu pointer. "Willow," she said too sweetly, her voice sharp and her eyes sharper.

Willow cringed inwardly. Cordelia always got nasty when she got that look.

"Since the boys aren't here and the point of the game is�titillation�" she drawled suggestively.

Buffy continued her buffing. She really wished they'd get back to the studying. With her mom gone for most of the night, setting up a show at the gallery (and hence, not interrupting with her Mom-ish efforts to help), patrol on hold for midterms, and both Willow and Cordelia to help (there was something incredibly unfair about the fact that Cordy always seemed to do well in her classes), she'd had some small hope of actually passing a test for once�at least she had until the uber-cheerleader decided she was bored. Now, it was Buffy who was bored. Asking Cordelia about her first kiss, or daring her to do something Buffy had no desire to see her do, was hardly her idea of an exciting evening.

"Maybe you could tell us�when you're staring so adoringly at Buffy during fourth period�is it because you want to be her�or do you just want her?'

Buffy's head snapped up. Now this was interesting. She was going to have to decide whether to tear Cordy's head off, or simply strangle her with her own tongue. She silently clucked her tongue. The decisions one had to make as the slayer.

Willow went pale and her brain completely blanked out for a brief moment. "I�I�uh�" she stammered.

"Well," Cordelia prodded. "Lust�much? Or dare?" Cordelia knew exactly how easily the other girl could be embarrassed and she was suddenly enjoying herself. Maybe this game could be fun with only girls after all. "I'll have to think of something really nasty," she added for good measure, pleased to see a familiar light of fear in Willow's eyes. She hadn't seen that look in quite a while now, and she decided she'd missed it.

"You might want to rethink that strategy," Buffy growled in warning.

Willow swallowed hard. She'd made a pact with herself months before, not to let Cordy intimidate her anymore, and, aside from a few slips, she'd mostly managed to stick to it. She was damned if she was going to chicken out now. Cordelia Chase had always had a way of hitting her jugular that was ominously accurate, but she couldn't let that paralyze her anymore. "No, Buffy, it's okay�" she insisted, and if her voice cracked, well, it was only a tiny squeak. Hardly even noticeable. You can do this, she reminded herself.

The Slayer saw her friend's chin come up, her eyes full of determination, and grinned. When Willow got that look, she could be downright lethal. Her eyes flicked over. By the look of it, Cordelia had noticed as well and was starting to look a little uneasy. The Slayer leaned back in her chair, standing down�for the moment.

Willow offered a saccharine smile. "Gee, Cordelia, I was just wondering what it would be like to be the Slayer."

The cheerleader looked annoyed that Willow hadn't remained cowed the way she was supposed to, but it was occurring to her that maybe she'd overstepped her bounds.

"But there's one thing I don't get," Willow admitted with mock innocence. "Buffy sits right in front of me, so watching her is really easy�in fact it's kind of hard to avoid, but you sit next to her, which means I sit�behind you�for you to watch me would be really difficult�so why are you paying so much attention to what I'm looking at?"

Buffy almost choked on her tongue, while Cordy just choked, her face turning an interesting shade of purple. The cheerleader's eyes flashed and Buffy found herself wondering if her friend hadn't bitten off more than she could chew. Still, it definitely wasn't dull anymore.

Suddenly, Willow reached out and spun the bottle with an elegant twist of the wrist. She'd practiced this one for years in the vague hope that she'd be playing with Xander one day. Well, that wasn't gonna happen anytime soon, and if Willow was honest with herself, she didn't really want it to anymore. That particular emotion had fallen by the wayside somewhere over the past year.

Thwocketa, thwocketa, thwocketa. And the bottle came to a halt.

"Oh�look, Cordy, it's pointing at you," Willow commented with wide-eyed innocence.

The cheerleader was smart enough to be worried.

Buffy straightened in her chair. Interesting and more interesting.

"Soooo," Willow drawled knowingly, her eyes threatening Cordy more eloquently than words. She was gaining confidence from the uncertainty in her childhood tormentor's eyes. The two teens had known each other a long time, and while Willow might not have traveled in Cordelia's circle of friends, she knew secrets. Whoa boy, did she know secrets. She leaned forward, a faint smile tugging at her lips. Cordelia must have sensed her impending doom because faint nervousness was fast turning to extreme tension. "Truth or dare, Cordelia, have you ever kissed a girl?" Willow asked sweetly. If Cordy wanted to attack on that particular front�well, she could do that too.

Buffy sat straight up. Very, very interesting. Her eyes swung back and forth between the other two teens. Willow was smiling triumphantly, while Cordelia had gone from purple to stark white.

"You swore you'd never�" the cheerleader started to say, then fell silent abruptly as she realized how closely Buffy was watching the encounter. It had only happened the one time, and it was pure accident that Willow had been there, already in the restroom, when Harmony told her cute she was and kissed her�and she hadn't liked it at all�well, not that much, anyway. Okay, so Harmony knew how to kiss, and maybe she had responded, but they'd both threatened the smaller, far less cool girl into total submission, and Willow had sworn she'd never tell anyone. So as long as nobody else knew, Cordelia could pretend it had never happened. It had never occurred to her that Willow might not honor a promise made under that kind of duress. Actually, it had never occurred to her that she might not always be able to put the other girl under that kind of duress.

Willow was still smiling triumphantly. "Truth or dare?" she repeated the challenge.

Cordelia's eyes narrowed. She really hated it when it looked like someone else might win a confrontation. So, fine, if Willow wanted to play truth or dare�. "Dare," she said, her voice raw with provocation.

Buffy's gaze swung back, wondering how her friend would react. These two were so locked in combat, she had no idea what they'd do next.

It was Willow's turn to flinch. She really didn't have a plan for that contingency. This was why she'd learned to be a mouse in the corner. Whenever her temper got the better of her, it just got her into trouble. She saw triumph flash in her opponent's eyes and felt her temper flare anew. She didn't know what she was going to say next. It wasn't a plan. She just opened her mouth and the words came out. "Why don't you kiss a girl now." Willow couldn't believe she'd said the words, but there they were, hanging on the air between them all.

Buffy leaned back in her chair, both brows threatening to hide in her bangs, while she folded her arms across her chest in a distinctly, "It's your problem, now, guys" posture. She considered putting a stop to the game--it was bordering on getting really nasty--but she wasn't sure she wanted to get in the middle of things. Besides, she was about as far from boredom central as it was possible to be without falling off the edge of the world.

Cordy didn't move.

"Well?" Willow prompted, uncertain what demon was making her push so hard. Maybe it was the fact that Cordelia was with Xander now, maybe it was the years of petty torments, or maybe it was the fact that once upon a time she'd had a few fantasies of being Harmony and kissing Cordelia until she couldn't see straight. God, she'd hated that; feeling turned on by her worst enemy.

Cordelia stared at Willow for a long moment, then suddenly rose from her chair, stalking around the side of the small card table they'd been using for the studying�and other things�.

Willow's head tipped back as she peered up at the taller girl. For some reason she'd just assumed--if she'd thought anything, which seemed doubtful at that moment--that Cordelia would kiss Buffy if she kissed anyone (and truthfully, she hadn't thought Buffy would allow it anyway). Somehow, the thought of Cordelia Chase getting that close to computer geek, Willow Rosenberg, was just beyond consideration. Her heart literally stopped for a brief second as a slender hand came down, hooking under her chin. Another hand found the nape of her neck, curled into her blouse, pulling her up.

Willow instinctively tried to escape, backing into the wall a foot or so away. Cordelia kept her grip solidly in place, following her, pressing close. "What's the matter, afraid to finish what you started?" the cheerleader challenged. "Afraid you might like it. "Then she ducked her head. It was a kiss designed to conquer, one she'd perfected with a series of quarterbacks, star forwards, and other assorted big men on campus, and utilized with considerable effect to keep Xander thorougly in line. So far, none of the boys had managed to even remain firmly on their feet when she resorted to the big guns. She had complete faith it would do the same to anyone else she chose. Gender was irrelevant. It was a no-holds-barred, take-no-prisoners oral caress that promised every kind of sensual pleasure available to a human being. She didn't have to demand entry; Willow's lips opened on a gasp, inviting her deeper, while she instinctively clawed a hand into a silky shirt front, dragging elegant curves even closer to her own body. How long it lasted, she didn't know, but her body was fast melting into a puddle of thick, hot arousal. Suddenly, Cordelia braced her hands against the wall on either side of Willow, pushing away from her with a soft sigh. "Was that good enough for you?" she demanded huskily near a delicate ear.

As far as Cordelia was concerned that was match point.

The computer geek could only shake her head in confusion, her brain misfiring as she felt her knees buckle. Groaning low in her throat, she slowly slid down the wall at her back into a sitting position, leaning her forehead onto her upthrust knees. God, she couldn't believe this had happened, couldn't believe she'd responded the way she had. She just wanted to crawl into a hole and pull it in after herself.

"That'll teach you to play with the big girls," Cordy said triumphantly and Willow withered a little more, hiding her face more deeply in her knees. How did Cordelia always manage to make her feel about two inches tall?

Thwocketa, thwocketa, thwocketa.

"Oooo�looks like it's my turn," Buffy said as Cordy's head came around in response to the sound. Her eyes went wide as Buffy caught the bottle and calmly spun it the rest of the way around until it was pointing at her. Their gazes locked and held, each challenging the other in some perverse way.

Cordelia folded her arms across her chest, silently waiting. What had begun as a silly game to relieve the boredom of an overnight study session had become something else entirely.

"Soooo�.have you ever kissed a girl�excluding this little display�which I would have classed more as an assault than a kiss," Buffy demanded, her look warning the brunette just whose side she was on in this little game. "And believe me, you do not want to hear what the dare will be," she warned.

Cordelia looked away, not wanting to admit the truth, but knowing that she was cornered. If she quit, then Buffy--and by proxy, Willow--won. And that would not do. Dare? Buffy was right, she didn't want to hear what that would be. Cordy was blessed with a considerable sense of survival after all. "Yes," she admitted grudgingly. "I was fourteen. It was Harmony, and the geekerette," she nodded her head toward the still sitting Willow, "saw it." She reached out. She had no intention of losing.

Only one thwocketa this time, and it was a slow one as Cordelia deliberately turned the bottle so that it pointed at Buffy.

"Truth or dare; why is it always Willow you worry about first?" she demanded. "Just good friends, or was your psycho boyfriend onto something when he listed her up there with your mom as one of those you love most in this world?" When Buffy didn't immediately answer, Cordelia pressed the taunts a little farther. "Or maybe you decided to try the girls�since your efforts with the boys left such a high body-count."

"Over the line, Cordelia," Buffy said tightly, rage glittering in her eyes.

The cheerleader only offered a brittle, victorious smile. "Truth or dare?" she repeated.

Buffy swallowed hard, eyes narrowing just as Willow looked up, her expression wide-eyed and still a bit dazed. "Dare," she snarled. She wasn't going to dignify that one with an answer, but she also bloody well wasn't going to let the cheerleader get the last word in.

Even Cordelia was shocked at her own behavior. It was like someone else had taken over her body, but she just couldn't seem to pull back. "Why don�t you kiss her, Buffy. See which one she likes best."

Willow snapped to her feet as though she'd had a thousand volts put through her. She ran a shaky hand through her hair, pushing it back from her face. "I-I think we need to stop this," she croaked raggedly. It was all spinning out of control, and she was frankly scared. It was like she was the only one of the three who sensed a huge cliff looming ahead and was trying to divert away from it.

Cordelia's smile broadened. God, she loved to win, even when she knew she shouldn't.

That's what did it. That damn smug smile. Buffy stepped around Cordelia. "It's okay, Will," she whispered, then reached out, brushing the soft skin of her friend's cheek, feeling the flutter of silky red hair against her fingertips. "We won't let her win." The kiss was intended to be a tiny, nonsexual peck on the lips, the sort of thing she might have shared with an aging uncle or a boy who was just a friend. Was intended�except it didn't work out that way. The first brush of their lips was soft, delicate, sweet...and not nearly so innocent as Buffy had intended. After Cordelia's Alexander the Great impression, it was twice as erotic as anything else she might have done.

Willow moaned very softly, the tiny sound an open invitation. When she'd realized Buffy was going to kiss her, there was a moment where she fully intended not to respond at all, but that determination drained away all too quickly. She was aroused, achingly, desperately aroused--certain in the knowledge that this kind of contact would never happen again--and she simply couldn't refuse the opportunity. Her mouth slipped open, tongue darting out to tease soft lips. Almost instantly, she heard Buffy's low answering groan and felt her lean closer.

Maybe it was just experimentation, frustration, her own confused emotions, or maybe Angelus really had seen something she wasn't aware of yet. Buffy didn't know and in that instant, she didn't care. She pressed forward, deepening the kiss, tasting the softness of her friend's mouth with sudden hunger. Her hands slid into silky hair, holding Willow close as their bodies instinctively strained to get nearer, sweet curves molding together from hip to chest.

Cordelia stood perfectly still, her face a shocked mask. This was not what she had expected--not at all--and it left her with the oddest sense that she'd just lost a whole lot more than some silly confrontation over a game. Okay, so she had enjoyed Harmony's kiss, but kissing Willow had been about winning, not kissing. Her two friends--oh God, they were friends--and just when had that rather nauseating little detail happened--were pressed hard against the wall, mouths and bodies blending together with desperate passion, reminding Cordy once again of that incident more than two years before. It had all been Harmony's idea, and later she'd had more ideas, laughing as she lamented all the things they hadn't done to their smaller classmate�sexy, dangerous things. At the time, Cordelia had been faintly appalled, though she'd hidden it well--Harmony was no gentler with her friends than her victims--but secretly, a part of her had been excited. She'd lain in bed that night--and other nights--trying to imagine all of the things Harmony had whispered about, uncertain exactly how the mechanics worked, but aroused all the same. During the days, she'd teased and tormented Willow and her friends, enjoying an almost sexual charge from the ongoing displays of power, while the nights were reserved for more intimate fantasy displays of power. A few months later, the nighttime fantasies had faded away, forgotten in the wake of time and her own awakening awareness of her power as a beautiful young woman, but now she remembered them all.

Lost in the kiss, Buffy had all but forgotten Cordelia. Her entire focus was on the taste of her best friend's mouth and the feel of her body�and the effect they were having on her own body. Her muscles were taut, heart hammering in her chest, a thin sheen of sweat on her skin, arousal thick and sweet moving through her veins. She remembered another moment; Willow on the stairs, dressed like a hooker for Halloween. It was the first time she'd noticed her friend's body--the soft supple curves and well toned muscles--though she'd ignored the flash of unwanted desire that had burned through her even then. She'd been both disappointed and oddly relieved when the redhead had panicked and thrown a ghost costume over the ensemble. "Willow," she groaned through the meeting of their lips, hesitantly breaking away, leaning forehead against her friend's. She slid a hand down, curving it to Willow's slender waist, well aware of the way she was trembling gently. They were both breathing hard, gasping like marathon runners at the end of a race.

Cordelia watched them--the gentle tenderness that flowed between her friends, despite the situation--and she found her teeth gritting against hot jealousy. Nobody was ever like that with her, not even Xander, her supposed boyfriend. He worried more about--cared more about, if she was honest--Willow and Buffy than he did her. Sometimes she thought he was downright ashamed of the desire that heated the space between them whenever they were in the same room. "Well, I guess that answers the question about who prefers the girls," she jeered. It wasn't even something she cared about normally. Truth be told, she'd always figured it made a certain amount of sense; boys weren't nearly as a good company as girls, and if you had good taste and picked someone who was more or less the same size, a girl could double her wardrobe for free. But, with teenage accuracy, she understood that it was something they'd all be raised to fear and be ashamed of, something that Willow specifically had always feared, knowing it would just be one more thing to make her a target for her lifelong tormentors. One more way in which she would be different.

Buffy heard Willow's soft whimper and felt the tremor that rattled through her narrow frame. "Bitch," she snarled as her head came around. She was really angry this time, not just the usual frustrated irritation that came with dealing with Cordelia Chase, but genuinely, furiously, out of control angry. Not a safe place for any of them. "Must be really hard on your ego, Cordy, to know that everyone cares more about the class geek than they do you." They were words she normally never would have used--she knew how they hurt Willow when others used them, even in teasing--and she regretted them the moment they were past her lips, but they were out and that was that. And judging by the way the cheerleader paled, her eyes narrowing with rage, they'd hit home there as well.

Cordelia drew breath, dark eyes flashing as she got ready to unload all over both of them. She'd just had enough of playing the nice tag-along to the bottom of the barrel crowd. Now, it was time for the real Cordelia Chase to make an appearance.

"No more," Willow broke in suddenly. She felt Buffy's loose hold start to tighten and shoved her hands aside. She was trembling violently, but she wasn't going to let this go on any longer. She wasn't going to be a damn bone they dragged back and forth between them, each trying to win some perverse argument that had grown out of a stupid game.

Buffy's head swung back around, taking in her friend's pale face, the way her eyes seemed to dominate her whole face; liquid green pools of hurt. She started to reach out to her. "Oh God, Will, I'm--"

"Don't," the redhead cut the apology short and knocked her hand aside before it could make contact. The gaze that met Buffy's was bitterly accusing, making the slayer ashamed of the way she'd lost control and unintentionally used words guaranteed to hurt a friend.

Even Cordy seemed to have pulled up short, her expression uncertain. Unfortunately, desire, jealousy, anger, and the need to win were still pulsing through her veins; a dangerous mix at the best of times�which this definitely wasn't. "Does that mean Buffy wins our little competition?" she asked, her expression a mimicry of genuine interest.

Buffy started to reply, inhaled to begin her tirade, then held back as she heard a tiny sound, no more than the softest of whimpers. Her breath caught, chin coming back around to take in delicate features.

Sharp nails dug into small hands as Willow faced her friend's piercing gaze. Sometimes it seemed as though Buffy saw everything, and others she would have sworn the slayer couldn't see what was right in front of her. The redhead's knees were close to buckling and she wanted to dissolve into a puddle of tears, though she controlled it well enough that only one or two edged her eyes in silver. Willow hated these things, the nasty confrontations and bitter words. She hated them and had too soft a heart for them. Even when she won--which wasn't often by any means--she felt like she lost.

The look in green eyes was like a blow to Buffy's midsection. "Get out," she snarled without looking back at Cordelia.

A heartbeat later, sensing the cheerleader hadn't moved, she swung her head around, spearing the other girl with a dangerous look. "I don't care if it's out of my room, out of my house, or out of my life, but get out!"

Cordelia was standing perfectly still, pale, her eyes huge brown saucers in her face. In that instant, that tiny moment when she'd heard Willow's small cry and finally really seen the look in her eyes, it had all come home; exactly what she'd done�and why. She didn't move�couldn't move. "Willow," she whispered, her voice a rough creak. She hadn't apologized many times in her life; she barely even knew how. "I-I�"

Willow's teeth dug into her lower lip and she couldn't hold the tears back any longer. With anger to bolster her, she'd just barely been able to keep things together. Without it, her knees turned to water and the world was suddenly awash in a field of blue. She felt Buffy's arm tighten on her waist, cushioning her slide and barely heard her angry shout.

"I said get out!"

The sound of the bedroom door slamming shut echoed through the small room only a moment later. A second or two after that, the muffled sound of the front door followed.

"Will?" Buffy's voice was low and worried, so close to her ear that soft hair fluttered with her breath.

Get it under control, Willow's inner voice snapped impatiently, you don't have time for self-pity. She drew a deep breath and let it out slowly. Without Cordelia there to aggravate the situation, things were still salvageable. "I'm fine," she mumbled at last. Not entirely true, but the only thing she could think of to say that wouldn't make things a whole lot worse.

Buffy curved a hand to a slender shoulder, giving it a light squeeze, well aware of the warmth of her friend's body through the thin fabric of her blouse. "If this is fine," she said dryly. "I don't think I want to be there when you have a bad day."

Willow let out a deep, shuddery breath as she reached up to massage her eye sockets, sniffling back on the no longer quite so imminent tears. She pushed to her feet abruptly, stepping away from Buffy to stare out her bedroom window. Her shoulders were shaking, but she managed to keep her voice reasonably calm as she muttered, "I don't know why I let Cordelia get to me like that." She pushed the window open to lean out into the chill night air, letting it cool overheated emotions in hopes of clearing her head. Goddamn Cordelia for finding her Achilles heel one more time.

Buffy pushed gracefully to her feet, following close behind her friend. "Because you have a soft heart�and things affect you�" Buffy started to say something else, then changed her mind. She leaned close, but didn't touch, uncertain how welcome physical contact would be at that moment. Besides, her own nerve endings were still jangling and she didn't think it would help that situation. Thank you, hormones--she thought sarcastically--you just had to be in overdrive tonight, didn't you. Now, Willow probably thinks I'm going to jump her. "I'm sorry �about what happened�I hope you know, I wouldn't intentionally hurt you for anything�" Buffy trailed off, not knowing how to express herself under the circumstances. How does one apologize for shoving one's tongue down one's best friend's throat?

"I know," Willow croaked. Damn, the tears were trying to make a showing again. She made a soft disgusted sound in the back of her throat and wiped at one that threatened to spill onto her cheeks.

Buffy raked slender fingers through her hair, scraping it back from her face, her expression a mask of frustration. "Look Will," she began again. "It's not that big a deal�. I-I think Giles would just say that some teenage hormones got out of control and a little�experimentation�resulted..." Willow didn't respond and Buffy found herself feeling the need to fill the uncomfortable silence. "It doesn't mean any--"

"Don't," Willow snapped, cutting her off as she spun around. Delicate fingers landed on Buffy's lips, silencing her. "Don't say it doesn't mean anything," the redhead whispered huskily. "Just don't."

She pulled away, leaving a startled, silent Buffy behind. A long moment later, the slayer pivoted on one foot to watch as her friend plucked her stuffed pig, Mr. Gordo, off a freestanding bookshelf. Willow enveloped the toy in a tight hug. "Okay," Buffy exhaled cautiously at last. Willow was turned partially away, her cheek pressed against the fake fur toy. "Can you tell me what's happening here?"

The redhead shook her head without looking up. Buffy eased closer to her friend, carefully reaching out to catch a few strands of red hair between her fingers. It was cool and silky against her skin. Willow's new hairstyle looked good, made her look older and highlighted her delicate bone structure, but Buffy found herself missing the way she'd worn it so long before. More than once, she'd lain playing with it--braiding the long strands, or just toying with them--while they watched a movie on tv, or listened to music. It had been safe then, with Xander sitting only a foot or two away, to explore and take pleasure from the texture�just like it had been safe for the three of them to dance together�or go clubbing�and if was Willow's hand that she held, or her arm she hooked in her own when they walked down a dark alley�well, that was only so that Xander wouldn't get any more unwelcome ideas than he already had�. Wasn't it?

Oh�God�Willow was right, Buffy realized in a flash. It wasn't nothing. The knowledge made her want to crawl into a dark cave and hide. God, she had enough to deal with in her life. Her relationship with Angel had been so overwhelming that she somehow hadn't noticed that she'd responded to her friend on more than a just a friendly level.

But Angelus had seen it. That was why�.

She stopped right there, shivering as though someone had walked over her grave. She didn't realize she'd moved her fingers from silky hair to a narrow shoulder until Willow tensed under her hand. She started to yank her hand back, but froze. She didn't know what demon it was that made her ask, but she suddenly had to know. "Do you do that, Willow�watch me?" And what do you want the answer to be, Buffy Summers--her internal voice demanded wryly--because either way, you've got some serious things to attend to. The muscles under her hand tensed to marble solidity.

No answer.

They were standing a scant foot from the card table, still surrounded by the books and half eaten snacks that were a testament to how the evening had begun. Buffy glanced back, noting the bottle still sitting there, taunting her with the results of the night's game. She wasn't going to do it�but somehow�she did.

Thwocketa, thwocketa, thwocketa. The sound echoed through the small room with eerie intensity.

"Truth or dare, Willow," she whispered when it came to a halt. "Do you watch me during fourth period?"

Willow buried her cheek deeper in pink fake fur. If she answered, that made it real in a way their game hadn't. Up till now, it was all something that could be ignored, forgotten, chalked up to youthful hormones, and shoved safely into the backalley's of the mind where denial was king. She had a wonderful boyfriend, one who genuinely cared about her, and wouldn't hurt her for anything, so why had a kiss on dare from Buffy made here body react on a level that far exceeded anything she'd ever felt with Oz?

"Willow?" Buffy prodded very gently. She was almost as scared as her friend, but her personality wouldn't let her put her emotions back in cold storage. "Truth�or dare?"

Lie. Just answer no--Willow's inner voice insisted--it's the coward's way out, but it's safer in the long run. Her tongue brushed against the roof of her mouth, preparatory to beginning the n sound. "Yes," she answered instead, wondering where that had come from even as she said it.

Buffy let out a breath she hadn't been aware of holding. Willow was trembling faintly as the slayer lifted her other hand, cupping both of her friend's shoulders in a firm but gentle grip. Her heart was pounding violently in her chest. "It's okay," she whispered as much to soothe her own jangled nerves as to calm her friend. She massaged taut muscles with the pads of her thumbs, tugging Willow back until they were pressed back to chest. Her breath ruffled soft red strands of hair. "We'll be okay." She lifted a hand, petting the other girl's hair tenderly, sifting through the silky threads. "Look at me," she whispered very softly.

Willow slowly lifted her head from the comfort of the stuffed toy, gingerly turning her head to peer over her shoulder at Buffy. Huge green eyes stared out of delicate features, reflecting Buffy's face back at her.

Buffy reached out, brushing a gentle fingertip along Willow's cheek, amazed by the velvet texture of her skin. "You're beautiful," she breathed, her tone startled as though she'd noticed it for the first time. It was true. The gawky teen she'd first met was fast being replaced by a stunning young woman. Why hadn't she noticed that before �or had she and just not wanted to see?

Willow shook her head. "No�you�you're the beautiful one," she whispered, unable to believe what was happening. "Beautiful�and brave�and-and�you've saved my life so many times�."

"Usually because I'm the one who put it in danger," Buffy sighed, but Willow shook her head.

"No," she disagreed simply. She shook free of Buffy's gentle hold and pivoted to face her. "You protect us all...do something no one should have to...you're so brave...."

The Slayer stared deeply into green eyes, amazed by the intensity glowing in their depths. "You're the brave one," she said softly. "You don't have to get involved, but you do." She reached out, brushing her fingertips along a smooth cheek, dusting a few stray strands of red hair aside. Her eyes dropped, touching on full lips, and she felt her body respond to the memory of their earlier kiss. Still staring at Willow, she reached back, finding the bottle by feel.

Thwocketa, thwocketa, thwocketa. This time, the sound had an oddly friendly feel to it.

"Truth or dare," Buffy whispered, her voice hoarse with tension. "Would you like me to kiss you again?"

Willow looked away, feeling shy again, though a faint nervous smile touched her lips. "Shouldn't it be my turn?" she deflected the question.

"So�you can have two turns in the next round," Buffy promised, desperate for an answer that had nothing to do with the game anymore.

In answer, Willow reached past her friend, giving the plastic bottle a quick spin.

Thwocketa, thwocketa, thwocketa. The rumbling rattle suddenly became downright erotic.

"Truth or dare," Willow husked. "Do you want me to want you to kiss me?"

It took Buffy a moment to sort out the convoluted sentence and decide for certain that Willow was asking her what she thought. "God, yes," she breathed at last. She was startled a brief moment later when Willow's fingers touched her lips, outlining the soft cupid's bow. A second later, she was the one being kissed as the redhead darted forward, just barely dusting her mouth against her friend's.

It was a tiny kiss, soft and brief, the contact seemingly too fast to send such a powerful jolt through the slayer. Foreverafter though, Buffy would think of those tiny caresses as Willow-kisses. Sweet and innocent, but sensual and tenderly-erotic at the same time. A low groan slipped from her parted lips as the tiny caresses ended. Buffy blinked and found she was gasping for air. "Truth or dare," she gasped, "can I kiss you now?"

"Dare," Willow challenged. Now that she knew Buffy was interested, she was actually feeling surprisingly confident.

The slayer's lips quirked at the provocation. "Feeling brave are you?" she whispered.

"A little," Willow admitted.

"Kiss me again�" Buffy dared, "but slowly this time."

No other part of their bodies touched as Willow leaned forward, tasting warm lips. The first touch was faint, moving slowly against the slayer's mouth, then it grew like a whirlwind. It wasn't really one kiss, but dozens of kisses blended into one; brushing, caressing, moving away until contact was almost broken before returning to deepen the heady caress. When it finally broke, they leaned their heads together, red and blond hair blending where their foreheads touched. Buffy took a deep breath and let it out slowly to clear her head. "You�uh�do that well," she groaned. She was still catching her breath when Willow reached past her.

Thwocketa, thwocketa, thwocketa. Buffy was amazed to find that sound fast becoming the most sensual thing she'd ever heard.

"Truth or dare?" Willow's voice was right next to her ear, her soft breath playing with soft blond strands.

"Dare," Buffy exhaled. If Willow could do it, so could she. Willow's breath tickled her ear as she laughed softly, and Buffy felt an answering surge of heat move through her veins.

"You kiss me this time."

Buffy's head came up, eyes studying Willow with careful intensity. A second later, she trailed her palms up her friend's chest, just barely brushing over the soft curves before sliding on up, brushing her fingertips lightly up the slender column of Willow's throat and cupping her face in strong hands. Where Willow's kisses were incredibly soft and gentle, Buffy's were firmer, more authoritative. Her tongue danced over soft lips, then pressed inside, running over sharp teeth then tangling with its mate. She tasted Willow's soft groan and deepened the kiss. "I want to feel you," she admitted when their lips parted. She reached back without looking.

Thwocketa, thwocketa, thwocketa.

"Dare," Buffy whispered, without even offering any other options. "Lie down with me." She felt Willow stiffen, knew that maybe she'd gone one step too far, and wished she'd kept her mouth shut, wished she'd...waited.

"I've never�" the other girl started to whisper only to trail off.

"I know," Buffy whispered and smoothed her hands along the breadth of Willow's shoulders, "and we won't�" Tension rippled through her muscles, "do any more than we're ready for�." She was startled a heartbeat later, when Willow dragged her close, lips meeting the slayer's in a hungry kiss. Buffy lost track of everything except the body pressed against her own. When they finally tumbled onto the bed, rolled on top, straddling slender hips as she tasted her lips hungrily, pressing her into the sheets with the force of her passion.

Willow's entire universe narrowed down to the woman above her; the feel her lips, her hands, the warmth of her body. Nothing else existed except the sensations running riot over her own nerve endings. Her blouse slipped open, followed by her bra, then she felt the warmth of human hands--other than her own--against sensitive flesh for the first time in her life. A low moan escaped her parted lips and she thrust her hands under Buffy's blouse, spreading them against the bare skin of her stomach, before slipping around her waist to her lower back.

More kisses and caresses followed as each teen experimented with their newfound power to arouse.

Clothes were tugged and pushed aside, expanding the boundaries of bare flesh making contact with bare flesh. Buffy heard a soft whimper, then realized it was her own voice she was hearing. Suddenly, she leaned forward on her elbows, burying her face in the curve of Willow's shoulder, while her fingers threaded through silky strands of hair. "We've gotta stop," she groaned, amazed by her own self-control. Her body was a giant, throbbing ache and if they didn't quit soon, she wasn't sure how much of an option it was going to be.

Willow groaned low in her throat, head falling back on her shoulders to rest against Buffy's spread hands. She was breathing hard, her skin damp with sweat and intensely aware of feel of skin and soft curves pressed against her own. "Oh, my God," she exhaled.

"Yeah," Buffy whispered near her ear, wondering if this was the torture Angel had gone through all those times he'd called a halt before things got out of control. Being the more experienced one was hell, she decided in a rush. She swallowed hard, moistening her lips. "It's too soon."

Willow nodded.

"We don't know quite what we're doing yet," Buffy added.

Another nod.

"And am I the only one who thinks being responsible really sucks sometimes?" the slayer asked rhetorically.

She got an answer even though she wasn't really asking for one. "Uh huh."

Buffy took a deep breath, uncertain how much that was going to help when the sweet musk of perfume mixed with human arousal touched her nostrils. She let her breath out slowly, feeling Willow shudder in response to the soft rush of warm air. "This isn't working," she groaned and pushed upright. Willow's blouse and bra were spread open, revealing her bare chest, while Buffy's own clothes hung askew, the front buttons on her blouse open, allowing the tails to dangle free on either side of her breasts. She quickly dragged them back together, though her hands were shaking too hard to even have a prayer of refastening the buttons. Holding the front of her blouse together, she reached down and tugged Willow's shirt front back together, hiding soft curves. Much better. "We need to take this slowly," she panted raggedly.

Willow nodded again and reached up to run a hand through her thoroughly mussed hair. "Slowly," she parroted.

Buffy stumbled to her feet, staggering ever so slightly as she stood and took a step back. There were a lot of complications to this relationship, not the least of which were the obvious gender issues, the fact that they were both seeing other people and the fact that her last lover had been a vampire who tried to slaughter everyone she knew. Not even Melrose Place had to deal with that one. Willow pushed up on her hands, the movement sending her blouse spilling away from her breasts again. Buffy felt her pulse pick back up�and just when she'd been starting to get it under control. She made a small gesture with one hand. "Umm�could you?"

Willow dragged the sides of her blouse back together. Responsible. That's right, they were responsible. "Maybe, we should�uh�try and get some studying done," she suggested. After all, sensual discoveries aside, they still had that test, and Buffy still needed some help if she was going to avoid flunking.

Buffy blinked. That wasn't what she'd expected to hear. On the other hand, it wasn't such a bad suggestion. Studying might just cool down some of the overheated hormones in the room without forcing them to call a halt to the evening. Something the slayer was in no hurry to do. She nodded shakily, already struggling to rebutton her shirt. "Yeah�.that would probably be�best."

Willow fumbled with her own clothes, straightening them and trying to restore some measure of sanity as she felt her pulse slow to something vaguely approaching normal. Finished, she looked up again, noting that Buffy also seemed to have gotten herself under control. "Did this happen?" she questioned suddenly, afraid that it was just a hormone induced bit of frenzy for her friend; that it would be buried and forgotten.

Buffy reached out, brushing her fingers over pink lips. "It happened," she assured her friend. She stepped close, standing toe to toe. "And I want it to happen again�but we need to take time�be careful." She dropped the smallest of kisses on soft kips. "I don't want to screw up our friendship."

Willow nodded. "Right�time�careful�no screwing up." She took a deep breath, let it out on a five count as she straightened her shoulders. Better, she was handling it now, though there was still a vibrating awareness in the air. It would be so easy...no...Buffy was right...slow....

Willow consciously turned her gaze to the stack of textbook. "Study," she exhaled, her voice only a little higher pitched than normal.

Buffy nodded.

"I think we were on page two hundred and thirty."

"Right�two-thirty�"

They sat, consciously focusing on the books, words, and dry facts contained within�and if they sat a little closer than normal, or found more reasons than usual for their bodies to make the tiniest of contacts, it didn't stop them from getting through the chapter. And as they finally started to close up the session, Buffy started to throw the empty coke bottle away, only to change her mind. She set it on her nightstand; a small token of the discoveries they'd made that night�.

 

The End

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