Title: Beer Very Bad
Author: Golden Waffles
Rating: T. For minor language and mentions of sex. But not in this chapter.
Description: It's kind of an alternate ending to "Something Blue." That night Willow gets drunk at the Bronze, something a little different happens, involving a certain blonde girl.
Disclaimer: Of course I don't own the characters or settings of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Just the situations I put them in here.
A/N: I don't love this chapter either. To be honest, though, I was looking back at other chapters I didn't like and I think they're better in hindsight, so maybe I'm just getting annoyed with chapters because they're tricky to write and I'll like them better later. I almost didn't get this on done in time because of a… plot bunny? Is that still a word? Anyway, if I ever want to write a Willow-and-Tara-meet-at-a-murder-mystery-party fic, I now have a ridiculously thorough outline.
A/N2: I'm going on a trip this weekend, so the next chapter will be late. Again. Sorry. I'm less than a month from graduation, so things are heating up around here. Next chapter will either be up Sunday or next Wednesday. I'll have to see how things go.
It was the first voice Willow had heard in days, and it rang like a bell in her head. She finally tore her eyes away from their interlocked fingers and gazed up at the mysterious girl who broke the silence.
"Tara?" she attempted to say. For the first time in days, it worked, and her voice cut through the room. They both smiled uncontrollably at the sound, even giggling softly, just to prove that they could. Relief flooded Willow's veins. It was over. They had survived. They had won. Their voices were back. The Gentlemen were dead.
"Are… Are you okay?" Tara asked, her smile fading as she lay her free hand on Willow's sore leg. Willow blinked. Oh. Right. My ankle. My leg. My self. Ouch.
She attempted to move her foot and winced a little as a jolt of pain jumped up her leg. Gritting her teeth, she tried again. The pain was stark, but tolerable. It definitely wasn't broken. Still, it hurt, and she felt exhausted all the way to her bones.
"I think so. I think I just twisted my ankle a little. And I might have a few bruises tomorrow." A lot of bruises. "Otherwise, I'm fine." But really, really tired.
Tara nodded, frowning at the offending appendage.
"We should get your shoe off in case it starts to swell," she advised. Willow nodded her ascent, and the blonde began very carefully unlacing the sneaker while its owner watched.
"What about you? Are you okay?" the redhead asked as Tara eased the shoe off with surprisingly minimal pain. The blond set it to the side and gave the ankle a quick inspection. She didn't seem to find anything wrong. Satisfied, she finally sat back against the dryers, only a few inches from her injured companion.
"I think so," the powerful witch answered. Her attention flickered back to the barricaded door. "Do you think those… things… are gone?"
Willow nodded emphatically without thinking.
"Yeah. They are. Trust me." As gone as gone can be. I wonder if they turned to dust, like vamps. I hope they aren't slimy. I hate slimy. Slimy is my least favorite kind of demon. Tara looked only slightly reassured, and she relaxed just a bit against the cold metal machines.
"I wonder what they were. And how they took our voices. And why they gave them back." She looked distantly towards the door. Willow gave her her full attention. Okay, so she knows they took our voices. And that they're probably not human. I wonder if she knows about the Hellmouth. Or maybe she just knew they were magic. They were floating, after all. And she can read energies.
"Um… How much do you know about Sunnydale?" Willow tried to ask casually, gauging the blonde's reaction. Tara looked a little startled, but returned her gaze with a suspicious glance of her own.
"Enough…" she answered cautiously, watching Willow carefully. "Why? How much do you know?"
"All of it," Willow said seriously. Tara's suspicious expression faded into an interested look. "Really, though, what do you know?"
"I know… it has a mystical epicenter. And that attracts d-d-demons… and vampires… and magic stuff." She turned her eyes back to her shoes as she responded in an almost sad tone. Willow nodded grimly.
"Oh." Tara looked back up, her eyebrows knitted together. "Is that what the locals call it?"
"Some of us." Willow smiled wryly. "Most people don't know the specifics."
Tara continued watching her, seeming to puzzle her out. When she spoke again, her voice was slow and careful.
"So… I take it you know what happened? W-with the silence?"
"Yep," Willow agreed. I guess I've already said too much. Might as well keep going. We could definitely use a super-powerful witch like her as an ally. "I'm kind of mixed up in the Hellmouthy stuff here. On the anti-demon side of things, of course."
Tara paled and clenched her skirt nervously. Willow barely noticed, already imagining how Tara might take care of a vampire. Maybe she could set him on fire. Or fry him with a ball of sunlight. Or magic a stake through his chest.
"S-so what were those things?" the subject of her thoughts asked, drawing her attention back to the present.
"They're called 'The Gentlemen.' They're fairy tale monsters. They steal voices because the sound of a human voice is what kills them," she explained. She decided that talking was a much faster way of explaining things than slide shows.
"And they steal hearts?" Tara checked, swallowing nervously.
"So w-what do you think happened to them? If our voices are back, does that mean they're dead?"
"Oh, yeah. They're definitely dead now. Buffy probably slayed them," Willow responded automatically. It was just so easy to talk around this girl.
"Buffy?" Tara's forehead creased in confusion. "Y-you mean your roommate?" Oh shoot. Did I say that out loud?
"Uh. Yeah." Well, she is a witch after all. And she doesn't seem that freaked, all things considered. Especially for a non-native. And she already knows the basics. And she would never tell anyone if we asked her not to. She's good. I trust her. I can just feel it. Maybe the others wouldn't be mad if I told her… Tara interrupted her thoughts.
"Wait… did you say 'slay'? Y-you don't mean… She's not…" Tara's eyes were wide with shock. Shock and recognition. Willow frowned deeply.
"You know about the Slayer?" This baffled the amateur witch. She knew the Slayer was well-known in vampire and demon circles, but couldn't remember if it was supposed to be common knowledge for witches.
"Well, a little. I-I knew there was one here. I didn't think she'd be a student, though," Tara mumbled, looking down with her still-shocked expression.
"Yeah. She moved here in high school. She kind of got us into the evil-fighting biz."
"Buffy, her Watcher, me, my friend Xander, and… a few others."
Tara's eyebrows rose further.
"Wow." She blinked several times, and looked at Willow's form. "I… I, um, didn't realize it was a group thing."
"It's not, usually. Usually, Slayers slay, Watchers watch, and everyone else runs away. We're kind of a special case. We like to think we help each other survive. Sunnydale's not an easy place to live."
"I can imagine…" Tara trailed off, looking contemplative. Willow nudged her gently, causing her to focus again.
"How did you know?" the redhead questioned curiously. Tara's lips curled halfway up into a smile, like she was trying to repress it but couldn't quite manage.
"Well, it's kind of why I came here. The magical epicenter thing, I mean. I thought there'd be a lot of w-witches and stuff here. And the energy from the… Hellmouth… makes it really easy to do magic." She blushed. "A little unpredictable, though." She gave a slight chuckle. "I don't think I could have moved something that heavy back home. Even with help."
Willow perked up at the mention of the magic. Her fingertips were still tingling from where they had touched Tara. Actually, now that she thought about it, she realized they hadn't actually let go of each other yet. Tara had managed to finagle her shoe off one-handedly, and now they sat side-by-side with comfortably entwined fingers, like it was a perfectly normal occurrence.
"How did we do that, anyway?" she blurted out, gazing down at their still-linked hands. "Work together, I mean. What was that?"
Tara squeezed her fingers in recognition.
"Haven't you casted with other people before?" she asked, turning pink. Willow shook her head slowly.
"Never like that," she emphasized. Amy, Michael, Giles, Anya… "It never… felt like that."
Tara's face darkened further.
"Yeah. Me neither. Not really," she practically whispered.
"How did you know it would work?"
Tara shrugged helplessly.
"I guess I just… felt it," she explained uncertainly. Willow nodded.
"I think… I think Ifelt… you. Like your energy or your aura or something."
"Yeah. That can happen."
"It was nice." Better than nice. Wonderful.
"Yeah." Tara smiled shyly. Her fingers twitched restlessly against Willow's. "D-do you think we could do it again? To move the machine back? To get out?"
Willow took stock of herself. It had been a rough few days. Lots of work, not much sleep, a tumble down the stairs, and a magic explosion of sorts. At this point, even her hair felt tired.
"Right now? I don't know. I feel kinda like a wrung-out sponge. I don't know if we could just move it back."
Tara nodded, looking back between Willow and the soda machine.
"Maybe… Maybe we should rest a little first. Try again later?" she asked. Her voice had an almost hopeful edge to it. Willow nodded gratefully.
"Yeah. That sounds good." Yes. Good. Rest. Rest with Tara. With Tara. Tara. Good.
Tara settled back against the machines, a few inches closer. Willow scooted over, closing the gap, and rested her head against Tara's shoulder. The similarly sleepy blonde didn't seem to mind. Their hands lay entwined in her lap and they sat silently, taking comfort in each other's presence. They both soon drifted off, warm and safe on the cold, hard floor of the dorm laundry room.