Part 1

Buffy was bored, her attention wandered while the history teacher talked. 'This is all so weird,' she thought. 'New house, new school, new people. A fresh start, huh?' She tried hard to convince herself. 'Oh well. At least there are no creepy Watchers and no vampires.'

'Still not sure whether today goes in the good day column, or the bad day column; Meeting that Principal Flutie guy wasn't much fun...but, what with my record, I supposed could have gone worse,' she thought. 'Of course, two minutes after that, I dump my bag all over the floor—which definitely falls into the 'not-so-good category'. So embarrassing. But, it did allow for the cute guy to come to my 'rescue'...what kind of name is Xander, anyway?' she wondered. 'Definitely cute, but kinda goofy.'

Just then the teacher's lecture filtered back into her head, "...If you'll look at the map on page sixty-three you can trace the spread of the disease into Rome, and then north,"

'Page sixty-three,' Buffy thought in a panic. 'That would mean a book, right?' Not having a book, she began to look around for help. The brunette sitting next to her noticed and shared hers.

Buffy whispered, "Thanks!" as she surreptitiously checked the helpful girl out. 'Very nice!' she thought. 'Almost perfect in fact...great body, great hair, great clothes, pretty face...probably completely homophobic, though.'

While the teacher read from the book, Buffy kept casting surreptitious glances up at the brunette. 'I wonder what it would be like to actually date a girl...I mean, at Hemery, there was no way, People would have freaked to see the head cheerleader date another *girl*!.' She imagined the differences, 'Not that boys are bad, I like boys just fine—when they're not being macho jerks, at least not to me—but...Hmmm, like that time with Tammy...so different! Sweeter, and much softer...I was always so afraid of what my friends would say, but I don't have any friends here yet...Maybe I really can have a fresh start here. Dating a girl can't be as weird as being the Slayer...'

The bell rang and Buffy joined all the other students in getting up to leave. As she stood up, the beautiful brunette introduced herself.

"Hi! I'm Cordelia," she said, offering her hand

Buffy accepted the handshake, answering, "I'm Buffy."

Cordelia smiled and said, "If you're looking for a textbook of your very own, there's probably a few in the library."

Buffy said, "Oh, great, thanks." She paused for a moment and then asked, "Uh, where would that be?"

Cordelia said, "I'll show you, come on." As they walked out of the classroom and into the hall, She said, "So you're from Hemery, right? In L.A.?"

Buffy suddenly worried that her reputation might already be known here. Trying not to let the fear show on her face, she mumbled, "Uh, yeah?"

Cordelia joked, "Oh, I would *kill* to live in L.A.! That close to that many shoes?!"

Buffy laughed as they walked down the hall. 'Friendly, funny, cute...' she thought. 'Not that I'm gonna jump right in here, after all she could be straight as and arrow—she could be dating someone already...lots of things. But, it's nice to have some options,' she smiled at the happy thought. Considering her day so far, she mused, 'Cordelia...Xander...Hmm, day's looking up!'

As they got a little further, Cordelia said, "Well, you'll be okay here. If you hang with me and mine, you'll be accepted in no time."

'Ok, obviously one of the 'popular' crowd...' Buffy thought, not really surprised but suddenly just a tiny bit wary. 'No real surprise there.'

Cordelia continued, "Of course, we do have to test your coolness factor. You're from L.A., so you can skip the written, but let's see. Vamp nail polish?"

'Great!' Buffy thought sarcastically. 'A test on my first day!' Out loud she said, "Um, over?"

Cordelia rolled her eyes, saying, "So over! James Spader?"

Buffy thought 'Ooo *so* fine!' She gushed, "He *needs* to call me!"

Cordelia continued, "Frappaccinos?"

Buffy warmed to the test, thinking, 'this is actually kinda funny!' She answered with a smile, "Trendy, but tasty."

Cordelia said, "John Tesh?"

Buffy quickly answered, "The Devil!"

"That was pretty much a gimme, but...you passed!" Cordelia said with a smile.

'Ok, that was a joke right? I mean, no one's that shallow...right?' Buffy thought. When nothing further seemed forthcoming, she put on what she hoped looked like a sincere smile and said, "Oh, goody!" while thinking, 'oh my God!'

They turned toward a drinking fountain where a girl with long auburn hair—wearing a rather unflattering dress—was leaned over taking a drink. The redhead straightened back up but froze when she saw them coming.

Cordelia said, "Willow! Nice dress! Good to know you've seen the softer side of Sears."

'Ouch!' Buffy thought as she stared at the redhead.

Willow looked at Buffy for a moment before dropping her eyes and turning back toward Cordelia. Her tone was clearly uncomfortable as she said, "Uh, oh, well, my mom picked it out."

Buffy was captivated by the girl's innocent beauty. 'Clearly not too happy with the whole 'being around Cordelia' thing...and that dress is pretty unflattering, but...'

Cordelia said, "No wonder you're such a guy magnet. Are you done?"

'And again I say, Ouch!' Buffy thought, wincing internally. 'God, why is she being such a bitch?'

Willow looked at the fountain, then back at Cordelia as if she wasn't sure what she was asking. Then she got it, saying, "Oh!" Without another word, she turned and walked away.

Buffy watched her go for a moment, feeling a pang in her chest at the sad resignation she could see on Willow's face. She then looked back at Cordelia as she started talking again.

Cordelia said, "You wanna fit in here, the first rule is: know your losers. Once you can identify them all by sight," she glanced after Willow, "...they're a lot easier to avoid."

Buffy let out a nervous laugh and nodded, but she was thinking, 'God, how cruel!' She looked at Willow again, who had gone through the door at the end of the hall.

Willow looked back at them, mostly at Buffy, before continuing away.

Buffy felt bad. 'Jeeze, and I didn't say anything. Some hero I am, I can't even stick up for one innocent girl...one shy, beautiful...'

Looking back to Cordelia, who was still yammering on about something inconsequential, Buffy thought, 'Oh God! Shallow, abusive, popular...That used to be me!' She followed Cordelia down the hall to the library, her stomach rumbling in turmoil. She no longer liked the person she'd been back then very much.

It was lunchtime, and Buffy walked out onto the quad at school. She'd avoided Cordelia, and she was still dealing with the fact that that weird librarian who somehow knew about her and vampires. 'I *so* am not getting involved with the undead in any way—not ever again!' she silently vowed.

She was looking for Willow Rosenberg—the redhead from the fountain incident earlier. She'd asked around in her last couple of classes about who could help her catch up, and Willow's name had been one of those brought up. "Which works out very nicely!' she thought. 'I want to, well...not really apologize, 'cause I didn't actually say anything wrong...but maybe I can convince her that I'm not the cruel bitch-type. I was just an innocent bystander...yeah right!'

'Plus there's just something about her...she makes me feel, well, kinda all warm and tingly...' she thought while rubbing her hand down low on her belly over her skirt. Any thoughts of Xander or Cordelia as potential dating interests had flown out the window the moment that she saw Willow. "I just want to get to know her," she mumbled to herself, trying to justify her desires.

Willow was sitting on a bench taking her lunch out of a paper sack when Buffy saw her.

Buffy approached her, saying, "Uh, Hi! Willow, right?"

Willow looked up and said, "Why? I—I mean, hi! Uh, did you want me to move?"

'Oh my God! She's so adorable!' Buffy thought, instantly smitten with the self-conscious girl. She said, "Why don't we start with, 'Hi, I'm Buffy,' and then let's segue directly into me asking you for a favor."

Willow had a surprised look on her face, but remained silent in the momentary pause.

Buffy continued, "It doesn't involve moving, but it does involve hanging out with me for a while," she added in her thoughts, 'Oh-please-oh-please!' feeling unaccountably nervous.

Willow's glance darted around for a moment, as if to see if anyone was watching, then she said, "But aren't you hanging out with Cordelia?"

Buffy frowned, once again embarrassed by Cordelia's unprovoked attack on the obviously shy girl. She asked—somewhat jokingly, "I can't do both?

Willow said, "Not legally."

Buffy was momentarily nonplussed at the seriousness of Willow's answer. After a short pause she exhaled loudly and said, "Look, I really wanna get by here—new school...and, Cordelia's been really nice...to me anyway," she qualified. "But, um, I kinda have this burning desire not to flunk all my classes, and I heard a rumor that you were the person to talk to if I wanted to get caught up," she finished with a hopeful look.

Just like that, Willow's face went from worry and confusion to happy and excited. "Oh, I could *totally* help you out! Uh, if you have sixth period free we could meet in the library?"

Buffy's amusement at the transformation in Willow's face was wiped away by the suggestion. 'I have, like, zero desire to ever set foot in there again,' she thought, picturing the library and her encounter with the weird librarian.

She quickly answered, "Or not." Trying to backpedal, she began to babble, "Or we could meet someplace quieter. Louder."

'Way to go Buff! Insane much?!' she berated herself. Shaking her head slightly she tried again, "Uh, that place just kinda gives me the wiggins."

Willow nodded and said, "Oh, it has that effect on most kids. I love it though, it's a great collection, and the new librarian is really cool."

'Danger, Will Robinson!' Buffy shouted in her mind. She asked, "He's new?"

Willow, obviously missing Buffy's wariness, continued to gush, "Yeah, he just started. He was a curator at some British museum, or, or The British Museum, I'm not sure. But he knows everything, and he brought all these historical volumes and biographies and," suddenly Willow's happy face dropped away and she looked upset as she continued, "...am I the single dullest person alive?"

'Ok, that's just too cute. Pretty much gushing with the shy sweetness and innocent beauty here!' Buffy quickly reassured her, "Not at all."

Suddenly two boys invaded their space. Buffy recognized the one who jumped up onto the wall behind them, insinuating himself between her and Willow. Another, much taller boy moved to stand in front of them and dropped his bag. 'Oh look, it's Xander and friend. Just when I was making progress!' she thought, suddenly annoyed.

The tall boy displayed his keen wit, saying, "Hey!"

Xander interjected, "You guys busy? Are we interrupting?" he looked back and forth between the two girls, then continued, "We're interrupting," as he tossed his bag to the tall boy.

'Yes! You're interrupting!' was Buffy's aggravated response in her mind. Out loud, she just responded, "Hey!"

Willow also gave the horse-trough greeting, "Hey!"

The tall one repeated himself, saying, "Hey there!" as he dropped Xander's bag next to his own.

Buffy looked at Willow and saw her frown for just a moment before putting on a happy face, and then she did the introductions, "Buffy, this is Jesse and that's Xander."

Xander said, "Oh, me and Buffy go waaay back, old friends, very close. Then there's that period of estrangement where I think we were both growing as people, but now here we are, like old times, I'm quite moved."

Everyone looked at Xander like he was an idiot. Jesse said, "Is it me, or are you turning into a bibbling idiot?"

A look of realization came over his face and he sheepishly said, "No, it's, uh, it's not you."

'I wanted to talk to Willow!' Buffy thought with a brief mental pout before she resigned herself to the encounter, saying, "Well, it's nice to meet you guys, I think."

Suddenly Xander jumped down and grabbed his bag, retrieving something from inside.

Jesse said, "Well, you know, we wanted to welcome ya, make ya feel at home, unless you have a scary home."

Xander added, "And to return this," as he turned around holding a wooden stake.

Buffy's eyes widened and a cold thrill of fear shot through her as she realized she must have dropped it in the hallway earlier.

"The only thing I can think is that you're building a really little fence," Xander joked as he handed it to her.

'Crap!' she thought, scrambling to come up with a plausible explanation as she took it back. "Hah, no, um, a-a-actually it was for self-defense. Everyone has them in L.A. Pepper spray is just so passé."

Xander seemed unconcerned, saying, "So what do you do for fun, what do you like, what do you look for in a man, let's hear it."

Jesse added, "If you have any dark, painful secrets you'd like us to publish?

'And it just gets more uncomfortable...' Buffy said, "Gee, everyone wants to know about me. How keen."

Xander said, "Well, not much goes on in a one Starbucks town like Sunnydale. You're pretty big news."

Buffy shook her head. "I'm not. Really."

At that moment Cordelia walked up and interrupted. "Are these guys bothering you?" she asked haughtily.

'Oh oh, bridges burning here...' Buffy thought as she blurted, "Uh, no!"

Willow sounded uncomfortably nervous as she said, "She's not hanging out with us."

'How cute is that?!' Buffy thought at Willow's somewhat sad attempt at being helpful.

'Oh, he's got it bad!' Buffy thought with amusement as she watched Jesse move next to Cordelia. "Hey! Cordelia!"

Cordelia rolled her eyes and gave Jesse a half-glance, saying, "Oh, please!" She turned her attention back to Buffy, saying "I don't mean to interrupt your downward mobility, but I just wanted to tell you that you won't be meeting Coach Foster—the woman with the chest hair—because gym was canceled due to the *extreme* dead guy in the locker."

Buffy said, "What?"

"What are you talking about?" Willow asked.

Cordelia clarified, "Some guy was stuffed in Aura's locker!"

'Oh no, not again!' Buffy thought as she mumbled, "Dead."

Cordelia waved her hands dramatically as she expounded, "Totally dead. Way dead."

Xander quipped, "It's not just a little dead, then?"

Cordelia shot him a withering glare and said, "Don't you have an elsewhere to be?"

Jesse, sadly still trying, said, "Y'know, if you need a shoulder to cry on, or just to nibble on."

Buffy interjected, "How did he die?"

Cordelia seemed surprised by the question. She said, "I don't know."

Thinking, 'And now; everyone look at the weird chick...' Buffy hesitatingly followed up, "Well, were there any marks?"

Cordelia's expression moved from 'surprised' to 'taken aback'. She rolled her eyes and exclaimed, "Morbid much! I didn't ask!"

'Well that's it, I'm officially gonna be know as the 'weird new girl...' Buffy thought as she nervously looked around at the others. "Um, I gotta book. I'll, I'll see you guys later," she said as she grabbed her stuff and left.

She heard Cordelia's annoyed "What's her deal?" comment as she left the group behind.

Later that evening, Buffy made her way to the 'only cool place in Sunnydale' as it had been described to her.

She walked into the Bronze in the midst of an angry mental rant, 'I don't know how, but somehow I'm all mixed up with the whole vampire thing again! I promised myself that was never gonna happen again! But, oh no, I've gotta check and sure enough, that dead guy was totally sucked dry...Oh, and the 'new librarian'? A Watcher. My Watcher! Instead of being a quiet, little—and most importantly—vampire-free town, Sunnydale turns out to be built on some kind of mystical whosits just chock full of undead! Oh no, my life doesn't suck!' she thought sarcastically.

'Then Mom's all, "we just moved to a new town, and it's hard, and basically you screwed it up for us in LA; don't screw it up here too!" Hey, thanks, Mom. You really know how to inspire confidence!' she thought.

'And, to top it off, there's Mr. Cryptic in the alley all with the vague warnings about The Harvest; whatever *that* is! And how he's a friend, but not my friend...whatever *that* means!' she thought angrily.

Buffy took a deep breath and tried to calm herself. 'Well, enough with the badness for today. I seriously need a little goodness to balance things out!'

She paid her cover and wandered into the club. 'Cool band,' she mused, bobbing her head to the beat as she walked around for a bit. "Of course I don't see anyone I know...Not that I really know anybody yet anyway.'

A guy waved in her direction and she thought, 'he's kinda cute,' and she started to wave back when she noticed that he was waving to someone behind her. Feeling her face heat up as she blushed, she mumbled, "Well that was nicely humiliating."

'Well I think today is going to end up with a definite check in the 'bad-day' column. I mean...wait a minute...' her thoughts trailed off when she spotted a girl at the bar. A girl with long auburn hair.

'Mmm, things may be looking up!' she thought, suddenly happy. 'Maybe I can turn this whole day around; cause one good thing did happen today...'

She walked up to the corner of the bar, where the redhead in question was sitting, and said, "Hey Willow!"

Willow looked up with a shocked expression on her face. "Oh, hi!"

Buffy walked around her and sat on the stool next to her.

Willow turned to face her, and again said, "Hi!"

Suddenly, self-doubt and fear crept into Buffy's thoughts, 'Uh oh, is she brushing me off?' Her stomach sank and she asked, "Oh, you're here with someone?"

Again Willow looked surprised as she answered, "No, I'm just here." She added disappointedly, "I thought Xander was gonna show up."

And, again with the stomach sinkage. "Oh, are you guys going out?" Buffy asked nonchalantly while thinking, 'Please say no, please say no!'

Willow's shook her head, "No, we're just friends. We used to go out, but we broke up."

'Yes!' Buffy shouted in her mind, and was immediately embarrassed at the relief she felt. She tried not to let the elation show on her face as she asked, "How come?"

"He stole my Barbie," Willow said seriously.

'Ok, Huh?' Buffy thought.

At Buffy's look of confusion Willow explained, "Oh, we were five."

'Oh, that's so cute...' Buffy half smiled and said, "Oh."

"I-I-I don't actually date a whole lot...lately," Willow said.

Buffy was confused. 'Sure, she's not the most confident...and she's probably considered a bit of a nerd...but she's so beautiful! I can't believe...don't at least the other nerds hit on her? They must! I mean, come on! Look at her!' she thought. She asked, "Why not?"

Again, in all seriousness, Willow said, "Well, when I'm with a boy I like, it's hard for me to say anything cool, or, or witty, or at all. I—I can usually make a few vowel sounds, and then I have to go away."

Even though she could feel the pain in those words, Buffy laughed and said, "It can't be *that* bad!"

Willow said, "No, i—it is. I think boys are more interested in a girl who can talk."

'Yeah, right!' Buffy smiled at that thought. "You really *haven't* been dating lately."

"It's probably easy for you," Willow sighed.

'There was a time when that was true. Before I became the 'Chosen One.' More like 'chosen to be a Freak!' she thought not a little bitter still. She echoed Willow's sigh and said, "You think so, huh?"

Willow said, "I-I mean; you're so pretty, and nice, and sweet...and you don't seem too shy."

'She thinks I'm pretty? That's a good sign!' Buffy thought. To Willow she said, "Well, my philosophy," she paused to ask, "do you wanna hear my philosophy?"

Willow smile eagerly, "Yeah, I do!" she said.

Buffy nodded and said, "Life is short."

"Life is short!" Willow repeated.

Buffy elaborated, "Not original, I'll grant you, but it's true. You know? Why waste time being all shy and worrying about some guy, and if he's gonna laugh at you. Seize the moment, 'cause tomorrow you might be dead."

Willow said, "Oh, that's nice!"

'Of course, here I am; not living up to my own philosophy...see me not telling you how beautiful you are, or saying that I want to get to know you better, or pretty much anything at all,' Buffy thought as she looked around, not wanting to get caught staring into Willow's eyes.

Looking up, Buffy saw the Librarian, Mr. Giles, on the upper level. She thought, 'Great, Watcher-guy is here, looking seriously un-blendy. I really don't want to deal with Slayer stuff right now...but I guess I should at least go see what he wants.' She said, "Um, I'll be back in a minute," as she stood up.

Willow said "Oh, tha-that's okay, you don't have to come back."

Buffy turned her attention back to the shy redhead, thinking 'God, you are just *so* adorable!' She unthinkingly reached out and covered the redhead's hand on the bar with her own for a moment. "I'll be back in a minute," she reiterated.

Willow looked into Buffy's eyes for a couple seconds, seeming a little dazed. "O—ok," she finally whispered.

Buffy suppressed a shiver of excitement at the feel of Willow's hand in her own, and then rushed off.

Part 2

Buffy was in the ladies room, holding a damp paper towel to her face. Any thought she had of going upstairs to talk to Giles evaporated with that one touch. 'What is it with me? Sure, she's sweet, and beautiful, and shy and innocent and damn sexy...Ok, so maybe that's what it is...' she thought.

'Why so damn strong though? I've never gone, you know, all the way...but I keep thinking how she'd look...all that mass of red hair, all spread out on my pillows while I...'

"Oh God!" Buffy whimpered, as the mental images she was having caused her to begin to feel a damp, heavy, swollen feeling in her panties. "Jeeze, Lust much?" she asked herself in annoyance. 'God, I've had serious make-out sessions that didn't make me this hot and bothered...One touch from Willow's hand,' she mused—amazed and a little frightened by the arousal coursing through her.

'Definitely gonna hafta double-click the mouse tonight; it feels like it's been weeks!'

Buffy closed her eyes and spent a few moments breathing deeply and trying to calm down. "Ok, Buffy." She muttered to herself, "You're going to put yourself together and go talk to her like a normal human being. Not some sex-starved maniac!"

'God I hope I don't look as much the freak as I feel right now!' Buffy suddenly thought. Immediately she opened her eyes to look at her reflection; unfortunately when she did, what she saw was Cordelia Chase and three other girls staring at her in shock. She shook her head and thought, 'This one definitely goes in the 'bad-day' column.'

"Oh My God!" Cordelia said dramatically. "You're GAY?"

Buffy closed her eyes and took another deep breath. 'Ok, how do I deal?' she wondered. 'There's denial, always a favorite...right, 'cause Cordelia'd buy that! Besides, I kinda am, and if I get lucky with Willow, I'm gonna get 'outed' eventually anyway, so...'

"Actually, Cordelia. 'Gay' seems so...limiting. I'm completely bisexual," Buffy said as she turned around. She ignored the pounding of her heart which seemed to have taken up residence in her throat at that moment.

Steeling her resolve before it crumbled, she maintained a calm, relaxed face as she went on, "And, before you embarrass yourself by asking; you are *so* completely not my type. I prefer a girl who's soft, and sweet. Not hard and bitchy. If I want a self centered jerk, I'll go back to dating Varsity Football players. Sorry!"

With that she walked out of the ladies room, head held high—hoping for the best, but feeling her gut churning. 'By the time I get to school, everyone's gonna know...' She did, however, smile at the dropped jaws her little tirade had caused.

Slayer enhanced hearing allowed Buffy to catch Cordelia's indignant, "Excuse me, I have to call *everyone* I've *ever* met!" as the door closed behind her.

'The only way to salvage this situation is to make it worth while!' At that moment Buffy Summers set a goal for herself, 'Ok self, the seduction of Willow Rosenberg is *so* on!'

Willow was still sitting in the same place, rubbing her hand and thinking. 'Gosh, she's so nice, and pretty, and...How come I thought that? I mean, she is pretty, really pretty. She is, isn't she? So it's not a bad thing that I thought that...but why do I keep thinking that? She is nice though, I can't believe she actually came up and talked to me!'

Looking down to where she was rubbing her hand, Willow wondered, 'Wow, her hand was so warm...when she touched me it was...I can still feel it! Is that strange? I mean, no one's really touched me like that before...gosh I kinda feel strange, all...warm and...'

Abandoning that train of thought as it became strangely uncomfortable, Willow looked around, hoping to see the object of her thoughts. 'Oh, I hope she comes back. She said she would, and, and why would she say that if she wasn't going to? I told her she didn't have to...' Willow suddenly felt very sad at the thought of Buffy not coming back. 'I shouldn't...I mean she's got to have better things to do than hang out with stupid old me. It's not like she couldn't find someone more interesting than me to hang out with...but she said she would...'

In the middle of these confusing thoughts, she felt a tap on the shoulder. She looked up and saw a nice looking guy, wearing a jacket with the sleeves rolled up.

"Hi there. My name's Thomas." He said, a big smile on his face.

"Hi," Willow replied, her mind suddenly blank.

A small frown suddenly appeared and then disappeared from the guy's face. "Uh, is this seat taken?" he asked, indicating the empty seat next to her.

Willow looked at the empty seat next to her and thought, 'She probably isn't coming back...But, she said she would...I guess it would be rude of me to not believe her...'

"Uh, yes," Willow said.

Thomas looked taken aback, he mumbled, "Oh, ok," and then walked away.

Willow felt a little sorry for the guy. 'Oh, he looks disappointed. I guess he really wanted that seat...' and went back to her contemplation.

Buffy made her way back to the bar and was strangely relieved to see Willow still sitting there alone. She stopped a moment before Willow saw her, and just stared. 'That sweater doesn't do a thing for her. But the dress is nice; a little conservative, but nice,' she thought. Moving on from her clothes to her hair, Buffy thought, 'Gosh, it's so long...it's really beautiful, actually—even just straight with a part. Nothing else, no curls, no bangs, no hairspray, no gel, no anything...it's so, so lustrous and shiny...'

The sudden urge to run her fingers through that long, gorgeous hair snapped her out of her daze. 'No! Bad Buffy! No hair touching—much too soon for that!'

After chastising herself, Buffy noticed that Willow was contemplating her hand, looking at it while lost in thought. 'What's going on in that head I wonder?'

She realized that Willow was stroking the back of her hand—the one she'd been touching a few minutes ago. 'Oh, she's not...she couldn't be...' Buffy thought, suddenly excited. 'She wouldn't be sitting there, thinking about when I touched her? Not the whole time I was gone, would she?

Buffy felt a warm-fuzzy feeling at the thought that Willow might have been as affected by that single contact as she was herself. "Enough looky, go talky now!" she muttered to herself. "Don't blow this!"

Willow was still contemplating her hand when Buffy sat down next to her. She started to look up as she said, "Oh, that seat's saved," but she stopped when her eyes met Buffy's.

Buffy raised a single eyebrow. "Saved? For me, I hope?" she said with a goofy smile.

Willow's eyes dropped to Buffy's mouth and she had a slight grin of her own as she stared at it.

After a moment, Buffy thought, 'Why is she still staring at my mouth?' She frowned slightly and suddenly Willow's eyes snapped back up to meet Buffy's. Her face started to turn deep red and she stuttered, "Oh, I...you...er."

Buffy tried not to laugh as Willow got tongue tied. 'Vowel sounds, I get it!' Buffy thought, understanding what the girl had meant when she had talked about 'making vowel sounds'.

'Oh my God, she's doing what she does when she's attracted to someone! She likes me!' Buffy thought excitedly. 'Plus—the blushing thing? *So* adorable!'

Buffy's smile faltered when she remembered the rest of Willow's explanation of what happened when she was with a guy she liked, 'Oh no, there's the whole 'then I have to leave' part!'

Seeing Willow's increased agitation, Buffy reached out and grabbed the redhead's hand before she could take off. "Please don't," Buffy said. "Don't go, ok?" She felt sick at the thought that Willow would take off. 'And then when she finds out I'm bi, she'll never wanna talk to me again!' she worried.

Willow seemed extremely skittish, but tentatively said, "Uh, ok?" and settled back down into her seat.

Buffy smiled at her, but then suddenly, visions of a certain Watcher, or worse—Cordelia prowling around—filled her head. 'Need to find someplace that's else; quieter and free of watchers and bitches.' She stood up abruptly and began, "Uh, Willow?"

Willow's head was hanging and she mumbled, "Oh, that's ok, don't worry about it," so quietly that Buffy wouldn't have heard it without enhanced hearing.

The apparent non-sequitor threw Buffy for a loop, until she realized Willow was trying to reclaim her hand, 'Oh my God!' she thought as she figured it out. 'She thinks I'm bailing!'

'God, I can't imagine how much your life must suck,' Buffy suddenly thought, feeling overwhelming pity for this obviously damaged girl. At the same time, she became extremely angry, 'That bitch,' she thought, picturing Cordelia Chase, and anyone else who had helped to tear this girl down so badly.

She also felt a momentary pang of shame as the thought, 'She'll be easy to win over,' floated through her mind.

Willow was surprised at the gamut of emotions that ran across Buffy's face. She was also confused as to why Buffy wasn't letting go of her hand. She tried to ignore it, but she felt warmth creeping up inside her at the prolonged contact. 'This is wrong! Buffy's a girl, she's not interested in me that way, and why am I even...I'm not interested in her that way!' she thought, her mind and heart both in turmoil from this experience.

'I mean, she's a girl and I'm a girl and so why did I even think about that? And how could I be interested...I mean I'm not interested...am I? And why is she still holding my hand and just looking at me like that, and why am I suddenly thinking that maybe I wished she was interested in me like that and how sad is my life that I'm thinking these things at all."

Willow was so lost in her internal babbling that she missed what Buffy said.

"Willow!" Buffy exclaimed, giving her hand a little shake.

"Oh! What?" she asked, confused again still.

Buffy smiled widely and said, "Ok, I asked you if there was somewhere we could go. Somewhere that's else? Where it's not so loud?"

She would have blushed at missing the question, if she wasn't still blushing from Buffy holding her hand. "Oh, I...uh, there's an, uh ice-cream bar that's, uh, not too far."

Buffy's smile brightened even further, and she said, "I like ice cream."

Willow couldn't help but smile back. 'Wow, that smile!' she thought, then she suddenly realized 'Oh, a—a question, and she probably expects an answer, so I should, uh, answer...' and stuttered, "Uh, me too. I—I like ice cream too."

'Nice, Rosenberg. Good one! That was about the most inane thing I could have said right then!' she thought, embarrassed and angry at herself all over again.

Buffy just continued to smile and said, "Good!" and began walking toward the exit, leading the redhead by the hand.

'Wow,' Willow thought in wonder, feeling strangely fluttery and nervous.

Xander Harris was eagerly strolling toward the Bronze. 'God, I hope that new girl is there!' he thought, images of the petite blonde running through his head. 'Ok, sure...there were a couple less than suave moments today, but she didn't blow me off...And there was the whole thing with weird librarian guy...Vampires? Slayer? What's the up with that...' More images of Buffy, especially as she was bent over picking up her stuff in the hall earlier, ran through his mind. 'So she might be a little...insane,' he thought. 'But, God she is hot!'

When he approached the one and only club in Sunnydale, his heart soared as he saw the object of his latest fantasies come walking out of the Bronze. He stopped walking for just a second to savor the sight. 'Mmm, Buffy. What a total hottie.'

Suddenly he frowned, 'And she's holding some guy's hand. Jeeze, that was quick! I mean...wait a minute...'

Xander's eyebrow's shot up when the identity of the person with Buffy became evident. 'Ok, not a guy, a girl. A Willow. Ok, that's cool, right?' he asked himself rhetorically. 'I mean, girlfriends hold hands and stuff...Friends that are girls I mean, not the other kind; it's not like they're...'

A new fantasy image began showing in his head and Xander hummed in appreciation. 'Mmm, Buffy and Willow. Buffy kissing Willow...'

It took him a moment to snap out of it. As he changed his direction to follow the two girls, he saw another guy step out of the Bronze, look around and see the girls, and start walking after them. 'Hmm, something definitely off there,' Xander thought. He started to walk a little faster.

Buffy was listening to Willow describe all the different subjects and stuff that she was going to help Buffy with in order to get her caught up at school. 'It's amazing, like a completely different personality. You sound totally confident when you're talking about school-work stuff,' she thought with a smile.

'Which, is, like, totally cool, cause I'm not so good with the learning and schooling thing. I could help you with, like, social life stuff, and you can help me with school-life stuff!' Buffy imagined happily. 'Of course, the whole social life thing is gonna be a little tough until everyone gets over 'us being girlfriends' thing.'

Buffy blushed as she realized she was getting ahead of herself. 'Whoa Buffy—it might be good to actually get to the girlfriends thing before you worry about how people were gonna deal with the girlfriends thing...' she chastised herself.

Buffy's thoughts and Willow's explanation of Plank's Constant were suddenly interrupted by an arrogant male voice, "Well, this is perfect. Two little lovebirds. You'll make a nice gift to the Master...

Buffy and Willow turned around, Their hands pulling away from one another for the first time since they left the Bronze—not that Buffy had noticed that fact until they actually let go.

"Thomas! W—what do you want?" Willow's voice sounded nervous.

Buffy took one look at the guy and thought, 'Arrogant, sneering, and who dresses you?' She immediately concluded, 'Vampire!' and began to move towards the undead menace, her stomach sinking at the same time her body began to amp up to face the confrontation.

'Well that's just great! Here we...hold on, Thomas?' Buffy's mind whiplashed back as she realized Willow had called this thing by name. She felt unreasonably jealous suddenly and turned back toward the redhead. She raised one eyebrow archly and said, "Thomas? You know this guy?"

Willow blushed strongly and began to babble, "Know? No, not know. He...while you left," she gestured towards the Bronze. "Before you came back...he said he was Thomas, and I told him no, your seat was taken, 'cause, you know...it was...and...ok, shutting up now." She trailed off, her voice getting smaller even as her body language was screaming embarrassment.

'I'm about to get outed as both the Slayer, and as a bisexual, all in the same night, and all I can think about is how adorable you look right now!' Buffy couldn't help but grin at the babbling redhead.

"You're so cute when you babble," Buffy said under her breath as she turned back to the vampire.

Xander got close enough to hear what was going on just as Buffy began to verbally lay into the guy that had followed them. 'Aha!' he thought. 'Here's my chance to be Debonair Xander—I'll swoop in and save the day!'

"God, could you get anymore obvious? That outfit isn't just dated, it's carbon-dated!" Buffy said contemptuously.

Thomas appeared to be taken aback by the unexpected sartorial assault.

"Hello?! Miami Vice is calling; Sonny Crocket wants his wardrobe back!" Buffy said, just getting warmed up.

'This is fun! I get to release my inner bitch, but no guilt for hurting an actual person.' Buffy mused before landing another strike. "l mean, come on! You look like DeBarge!"

At that moment, Xander entered the fray, saying, "Hello ladies. This clown bothering you?"

It would have been a great line in other circumstances. His delivery was just right—very smooth, very stylish; just not appropriate in this particular situation. Instead of fulfilling his apparent fantasy by welcoming his help, followed by throwing herself into his arms in appreciation, Buffy yelled at him!

"Xander! Get away from him!" Buffy shouted urgently.

Xander chuckled, apparently oblivious to the danger he was in, and quipped, "Oh, I hope he isn't a vampire! Then you might have to slay him!"

The joke fell flat when Thomas, apparently deciding the jig was up, put on his game face and spun around and growled at Xander.

Xander's face went from smooth amusement to wide-eyed, jaw-dropped shock. He yelled, "Gaahh!" and fell back on his butt, looking up at the demonic visage in terror.

"Seriously, God—could this get any worse?" Buffy growled as she ran up on the vamp and distracted him with a roundhouse kick to the side of the head before he could attack Xander.

Her attempt at distraction turned out to be quite successful, as Thomas was flung across the alley and into a brick wall with a meaty-sounding smack.

Buffy took a moment to help Xander up and said, "Find me something wood! Preferably pointy."

She had to give points for quick recovery, as he said, "Where's your self-defense stake?"

Buffy spared him a glance and said, "Where am I going to hide a stake in this outfit?"

Xander's eyes raked up and down her body, taking in the snug tank-top and short skirt, and his eyes became glazed as he muttered, "Right, wood."

Buffy heard Willow let out a loud "Eeep!" and spun around to see that Thomas had climbed back to his feet and was menacing the redhead with his frightening features.

Before he could take more than a step towards Willow, Buffy was on the vamp like a frat-boy on a drunk coed. She laid into him with a flurry of kicks and punches, grunting out as she beat on him, "Don't...you...dare...even...*think*...about...tou ching...her...you."

Xander's voice interrupted, "Buffy, Here! It's not pointy, but it's all I could find," he shouted.

Buffy caught the thrown board without even looking. "Not a problem," she said. She used both hands to twist the wood along its length, loudly shattering it into splintery shards. Taking the biggest remaining piece, she shoved it neatly through the vamps' unbeating heart."

As the guy exploded into dust, Buffy turned around to see both Willow and Xander's jaws dropped in shock.

Her eyes locked onto Willow's wide stare. 'I have a crappy day, then I'm outed by Cordelia—and now this!' Buffy thought, feeing frustrated and upset and afraid of the consequences of this little scene. She furiously brushed the dust off of her hands and turned back to Xander. "Is there anybody in this town who doesn't know I'm the Slayer?" she demanded. "Was there, uh, a school bulletin or something?"

"Thomas is a vampire?" Willow was in a daze.

Xander said, "Was, Will. I think the operative term is 'was a vampire'...and I can't believe I'm having this conversation." He shook his head. He turned to Buffy and said, "I only know that you think you're the Slayer. I was in the library today when you and the English guy were arguing about it."

Buffy didn't respond to Xander, she noticed that Willow seemed a little dazed still and went over to her, "Willow, are you gonna be ok?" She took hold of Willow's hand when the girl didn't answer. "Willow?"

There was fear in Buffy's voice. She pleaded, 'Oh God, please don't let this ruin everything! It would've been bad enough if she'd found out later, once we got closer maybe...now she's gonna have to try and deal with me being bi, and the Slayer...and—oh yeah, I've got a huge crush on you too, wanna date?'

Willow seemed to snap out of whatever she was focused on; she whispered, "Yeah, I think so."

'Well, she isn't pulling away...maybe...' Buffy thought. She asked, "Willow? I don't know if you still feel up for ice cream? Or did you just want me to walk you home."

'oh please, oh please say ice cream!'

Willow looked into Buffy's eyes silently for a moment. "Uh, I don't know? Ice cream seems kinda weird after," she gestured toward where the vamp was now dust on the asphalt.

The blonde's smile dimmed; even though she tried not to be hurt by Willow's words, her stomach tightened, and she thought 'Dammit! Can't I get just one break!?'

Buffy sighed and was about to say, 'ok I'll take you home,' when Willow continued, "But still...ice cream is pretty good under almost any circumstances," she half-smiled at her 'savior'.

Buffy's smile lit up the alley like a floodlight. "Excellent!" she said, happily. She then remembered Xander was there with them. 'Oh...damn. I guess I can't really be rude, not this early on at least...' "Xander, do you want to go with?"

Xander's face stretched into a knowing smirk. "Nah," he said. "I'm gonna see if I can go find Jesse, maybe watch him get shot down by Cordelia again."

Buffy could feel her face squinching into a sour look at the mention of the über-personable Ms. Chase. She immediately forced a bright smile onto her face, and said "Ok, cool."

'Thank you Xander!' Buffy thought as happier images drove out the lingering bitterness against the bitchy cheerleader. 'It's sweet, beautiful Willow time!' she thought, turning to the redhead in question.

"Uh, Buffy?" Xander asked.

Buffy wrenched her attention away from Willow once again, saying, "Yeah?"

"Um, could I talk to you privately for just a second before you guys go?" Xander asked nervously.

Buffy looked at Willow, and saw an unhappy look on her face. She looked back at Xander, saw the pleading look on his, and decided 'I owe him at least that much, seeing how he's letting me have Willow to myself...and, he is being pretty cool about the whole vampires and slayers, thing...and I do want to be friends with the guy...'

"Ok," she said after a few seconds of convincing herself. She turned to Willow and said, "Be right back."

Xander took her aside just a few meters, and said, "Three things:"

"Ok, shoot," Buffy said.

"First, I've known Willow since before kindergarten...I'm pretty sure she's straight."

Buffy's eyes widened as her stomach sank. She had to look away and dropped her eyes, and muttered, "God, am I that obvious?"

Xander's voice was teasing as he said, "Pretty much, yeah."

Buffy blushed mightily, but thought, 'At least he isn't freaking out...'

Xander laughed and said, "I don't think she's figured it out yet, if it's any consolation."

"It's really not." Buffy muttered, causing Xander to laugh again.

"Look, Maybe tomorrow you can explain more about this vampire thing?" he asked, changing the subject.

"Yeah, ok. Why don't you meet us in the library before school? Giles will probably explain it better than me anyway." Buffy said.

"And Giles is the librarian guy?" Xander asked.

"Yeah, sorta." Buffy muttered, still pissed off about the whole thing. 'Dang Watcher person...'

"Ok." Xander said.

"You said three things," Buffy reminded him, eager to get back to Willow.

"Right, number three; I love Willow. She's my best friend. So...whatever happens, or doesn't," he said, gesturing towards Willow and back to Buffy. "If you hurt her, I'll kill you."

Buffy suddenly felt a lump in her throat when he said it. "Aww," she said, thinking 'How awesome is it that Willow has a friend like this?' She couldn't help but hug him, briefly.

"That's so sweet, Xander!" she gushed. "I've never been threatened like that before! Don't worry—hurting Willow is not on my list of things to do, in fact—it's now on my list of things never to do in a million years!"

Xander seemed bemused by her reaction. "Well, uh, ok. Just so long as that's clear...I guess," he said. Looking over her shoulder at Willow, he waved and said, "Have fun Will! See you in the morning."

Buffy, who had already made it halfway back to the redhead, spun around when she heard Xander quip, "Don't do anything I wouldn't do!"

"Xander!" she said, outraged.

Xander just laughed and Buffy felt her face flushing even harder.

When she turned back, she saw a very confused redhead looking back and forth between herself and Xander.

"What was that about?" Willow asked when Buffy made it to her side.

Buffy rolled her eyes and said, "I'll tell you later." Her voice betrayed her eagerness as she added, "Right now there's some sweet creamy goodness waiting for us!"

'Yeah, If I'm lucky...Oh, bad Buffy!' she thought with a giggle as she once again claimed the redhead's hand in her own.

Part 3

Buffy was watching Willow eat ice cream.

The two girls had been talking for almost an hour; their comfortable conversation punctuated with the occasional pause as they took time to work on their enormous desserts. Pauses during which Buffy found herself fascinated with watching Willow eat.

'Sure, that sounds relatively innocent, right? I'm watching her eat ice cream. Of course, it's pretty much the sexiest thing I've ever seen in my life...' Buffy thought as she squirmed in her seat. She'd been squirming more and more with each passing minute.

'God, she's driving me insane! Oh, Buffy you are such a bad girl!' she chastised herself as thoughts of Willow's mouth used on something other than ice cream caused a minor shiver.

'But it's not my fault! I mean...look at that!' she argued with herself as the redhead in question once again slowly scooped up a spoonful of her chocolate chocolate-chunk with strawberries sundae, making sure to get both a chunk of chocolate, and a little of the strawberry preserves in the spoon before bringing it to her mouth and consuming it with a blissful sigh.

'I love how you watch the spoon all the way up to your mouth, how your eyes cross a little at the end...and then your tongue kinda darts out to meet the spoon, like you're worried some of the ice creamy goodness will try to escape...' she mused. She hastily dropped her gaze, blushing as Willow's eyes rose to see Buffy staring at her. 'Oops. Busted!'

'I can't believe it —this is, like, the best date I've ever had! Well except for it not being an actual date...' Buffy thought.

'You're just so...I don't know...comfortable to talk to, I guess. I mean, we've talked about all kinds of stuff; slaying, how I got chosen, what it was like before that...I haven't been able to talk about any of that stuff with anyone,' Buffy mused happily. 'You told me all about you and Xander and stuff, and how Cordelia has been such a bitch to you guys for, like, forever. And, how sweet is it that you refused to believe that I was ever that bad? Believe me, I *so* was just like that!'

'Now if I could just tell you about the other stuff...' Buffy thought, her good mood dimming slightly as she anticipated that conversation.

A question suddenly burst forth from across the table, "Buffy? Why are you still here?"

Buffy's eyes widened, and her smile fell dead away. "I—I thought...aren't you enjoying yourself?" she asked, the surprise and hurt evident in her voice.

Willow blushed fiercely, and reached over to grasp Buffy's hand. Her tone was contrite as she blurted, "Oh my gosh; that came out way different that I meant it. I'm sorry Buffy."

"I thought we were..." Buffy was still recovering from the emotional equivalent of a slap in the face, and the terrible sinking feeling in her stomach.

Willow began to babble, "Gosh, Buffy...I must have, I mean what I meant was you could be doing anything and I'm just nerd-girl Willow and why are you wasting your time with me? You're like a superhero or something and I didn't want you to feel like you had to, you know, I mean I'm like a nobody and you could be with somebody...or—or *a* somebody I mean."

'Ok, say hello to my heart as a yo-yo!' Buffy thought as Willow babbled.

"Breathe, Willow," Buffy said, trying to follow her own advice as a hesitant smile grew once again on her face.

'I get it now—you're not unhappy to be with me, you thought I might be unhappy or bored or whatever. How adorable is that?' Blinking at the sudden moisture in her eyes, Buffy thought, 'But that's so sad. Hello? Self-esteem issues much?'

She squeezed Willow's hand reassuringly. "Willow, are you having a good time, spending time with me?"

Willow nodded her head really fast, "Oh yes! I just thought," her voice was breathless as she answered.

"Willow! Relax," Buffy interrupted before the redhead could begin babbling again. 'Your babbling is adorable, but I'd like to move forward here,' she added silently.

Out loud Buffy said, "I'm having a good time too. With you, I mean."

Willow blinked twice, rapidly, and seemed a little stunned by Buffy's statement. Then the redhead began to smile really big, and her eyes got shiny with unshed tears.

She quickly reviewed what exactly she had said, 'I'm having a good time with you...God! *that* gets the big smile and almost tears?' she thought. 'Oh Willow, you must have been sadly neglected...'

"I—I like you Willow. I like being around you," Buffy said, mentally bracing herself. 'Ok, I'm just gonna do it. I can do this. If I can slay vampires, I can face...and Willow's still just sitting there, smiling...

"Willow? Say something, please?" Buffy asked, worried when Willow didn't respond after a moment.

"Wow!" Willow breathed. "I mean...I like you too! Friends is good, especially."

"Willow!" Buffy interrupted. 'Not wanting a 'friends' speech right now Will, I'm making 'more than friends' plans here.'

'Ok it's crunch time...' Buffy steeled herself. Taking Willow's hand in both of hers, she gazed into Willow's hazel-green eyes and said, "Willow, I don't just like you...I *like* like you."

Willow frowned, and Buffy's heart skipped a beat.

"I...like you too," Willow said slowly, clearly not understanding Buffy's point.

"Aargh," she sighed heavily in frustration. "This is hard!" she lamented under her breath.

'I could just drop it, for now. Maybe try another day...Yeah, and not be able to sleep tonight, or eat tomorrow or do anything else until I at least tell her. God, why do I feel like this!? I just met you!' Buffy raged as hope and dread warred inside her head and heart. 'Jeeze, I don't know if I'm gonna cry or throw up here. It's like I can feel my heart trying to bust out of my chest!'

"Buffy, are you ok?" Willow asked tentatively.

Seeing the look on Willow's face, Buffy thought 'Good! Now I'm freaking her out. Just perfect. God! Hopefully, you'll at least be willing to be friends.'

'Calm, be calm...' Buffy thought, taking a deep breath. She said, "Willow, do you remember how I told you life is short, and that you should seize the moment?"

Willow nodded, "Sure, I remember."

Buffy smiled at her tone of voice—bouncy and happy. 'I just hoped you stay that way when I finished what I'm gonna tell you.'

"Well, I meant it," Buffy explained. "But, it can be hard to live up to that philosophy. Right now, I'm gonna seize the moment. I'm gonna tell you something...and I—I'm...scared that...you won't like me."

Willow shook her head as if surprised. She exclaimed, "Oh, Don't be! Scared, I mean."

Buffy couldn't help smiling, even though her gut was tied in knots. 'Ok, I think the butterflies are all grown up; more like condors, or—or maybe pterodactyls...' "You are too adorable!" she said.

Willow blushed furiously; apparently not used to compliments.

"Ok. Here it is." Buffy took another deep breath, closed her eyes and just said it. "Willow, I'm bisexual."

After a couple of heartbeats, and a mantra of, 'Please don't be freaked, please don't be freaked...' Buffy cautiously opened one eye to see Willow's response.

After a moment, Willow's eyes went wide. "Oh. You mean you like boys and girls?" Her voice was quite high-pitched.

Buffy slowly nodded, looking for any signs of rejection.

'Oh God, my head's gonna explode,' Buffy thought when Willow didn't say anything else for several moments.

Finally Willow just said, "Uh, ok?"

The adrenaline pumping in her veins had Buffy feeling light-headed. "Ok, subtle is *so* not working here," she muttered. She let go of the redhead with one hand and began gently stroking the skin on the back of Willow's hand. 'Your hand is so big next to mine, but so soft...so delicate,' she marveled.

Buffy looked back up at Willow's face and thought, 'I don't know why I'm so attracted to you, but I am. I—I'm smitten, that's it! Man-o-man, I am in deep smit.'

Willow looked down at where Buffy was touching her and shivered. She looked back up into Buffy's eyes, clearly not comprehending what was happening here.

"God! You are so beautiful!" Buffy blurted out, unable to keep the thought inside. She smiled once again at the way Willow's skin flushed dark pink from the compliment. "A little dense," she teased, "but amazingly beautiful."

Willow's voice was like a little girl's; high and breathy and echoing the deep confusion that was practically written on her face. "Buffy? I...what do you mean?" she asked.

'Ok...' she thought. 'When a knife won't cut it, I guess you gotta use an axe...' She waited until Willow was once again staring directly into her eyes, then she said, "I like girls, Willow. Specifically, I like *a* girl. I'm attracted to this one girl. She's beautiful, and smart...and I barely even know her...but, every time I look at her, I...I want to kiss her."

"Wow." Willow breathed.

It was clear that Willow still wasn't making the connection. Buffy was going to have to do it for her.

'Oh please, oh please, oh please!' Buffy thought furiously as she choked out, "That girl...Willow...is you."

"Willow! Please! I'm Sorry!" Buffy yelled as she chased the redhead down the block. 'Oh God, Why? Dammit Willow! Why did you run? I coulda took a minor wiggins...I was even ready for a 'Buffy I don't like girls that way' letdown...' the blond lamented as she chased the crying girl into a grade school playground area.

'That's it, I must be some kind of...of...I don't even know! But it can't be good! I have to fight vampires until I die a tragically young death, and I can't even tell a girl I like her without her running screaming! I'm just some kind of freak or something!' Buffy thought, growing even more despondent.

"Willow, please! I'm sorry!" she repeated herself as she caught up to the girl she'd become so attracted to in such a short time. 'I'm not gonna cry, I'm not gonna cry!' she thought miserably as she slowly approached the redhead from behind. She scrubbed the moisture angrily from her eyes and wrapped her arms tightly around herself as she stopped a few feet from the shaking girl.

"Willow, I—I'll leave you alone, I promise, but I can't let you...it's not safe by yourself out here," she began, refusing to give in to her own emotional pain and run away. 'not until she's safe!' Buffy promised herself. 'Then I can have my breakdown...'

"Please Willow, let me walk you home at least," Buffy whispered hoarsely.

The shaking body before Buffy suddenly fell to her knees and began to wail, "How could you? I-I thought you l-liked m-me!"

Buffy, already emotionally raw, rocked under the sudden slap of confusion. "How...how could I what? Willow, I *do* like you! I just told you."

"Stop it!" Willow shouted. She spun around on her knees to face the blond, shouting "Stop saying that! I get it, ok? Make fun of the nerd-girl, ha ha."

Buffy was stunned beyond words. 'Oh my God...' She thought, feeling a ball of ice form in her stomach at the look on Willow's face. 'She looks like she just watched someone kill her pet kitten...'

"Go on. Go tell Cordelia her little plan worked. I'm sure you'll all get a big laugh out of it," Willow said, her voice laden with bitter defeat.

The hatred and self-loathing in Willow's voice slammed the air out of Buffy in a big whoosh—like a vamp had landed a lucky punch. She collapsed to the ground, slamming down painfully on her butt and struggling for a moment just to breathe.

Willow looked down and plaintively cried, "Why? What did I ever do to you to make you be so mean to me?"

'I'm going to hurt her *so* bad!' Buffy thought as the sudden image of Cordelia's smirking face appeared in her mind. "Oh God! that...Bitch!" she whispered. She sat up onto her knees and moved closer until their legs were almost touching and raggedly said, "Willow! I-I swear to you; Cordelia Chase had nothing to do with this!"

Willow looked up through her veil of red hair, meeting Buffy's gaze momentarily.

Buffy went on, "Oh, God Willow, you have to believe me! This isn't a game; I was serious. I *am* serious—I'm attracted to you, Willow...I want you!"

Willow obviously still didn't believe her. She started shaking her head, whispering, "No."

'Oh Willow, I'm so sorry,' Buffy thought, feeling Willow's pain like a shard of ice through her heart. She lost all control and began bawling her eyes out as she pulled the redhead into a hug.

Willow screamed and started beating on the Slayer's back as the heartrending grief came pouring out of her. "No!" she shrieked. "Stop it! You can't want me! You can't!"

Buffy ignored Willow's pounding fists as she rocked the girl in her arms, over and over saying, "I want you Willow! I do! I *so* do want you."

Willow dropped her arms, her body collapsing against the slayer. Her voice was raw and she was still crying as she whispered, "How could you want me? You're everything! I'm nothing!"

Buffy pulled back enough to look into her eyes, puffy and red from crying. 'Still beautiful...' she thought.

"Don't say that Willow!" she said quietly but sternly. "You...you're not nothing. You're," Gulping mightily to try and get past the lump in her throat, Buffy continued softly, "Look, I know this sounds crazy...I just met you, but...You're not nothing, you're something to me; something...*someone* special. Someone I want to be close to; someone I want to be...with."

Thinking, 'Oh, God, please...not again, please don't...I couldn't handle another rejection...' Buffy shifted closer to the redhead.

Willow's eyes widened as Buffy's face moved closer to her own.

Carefully watching for any sign of pulling away, Buffy slowly moved in to kiss Willow's tearstained mouth. Not seeing any; she gently pressed her lips against Willow's, and began to softly, slowly move across them—not seeking to deepen the kiss, just to feel. 'Oh Willow...I've been dreaming about doing this all day long!'

Buffy pulled back enough to focus on Willow's face again, looking for some reaction that would tell her what to do next. 'Ok, definitely shocked...but is that 'Yay, she really does want me' shock, or more like 'oh my God I just got kissed by a girl' shock?'

"Uh, Willow?" she finally said. "Look, I...it's ok if you don't want me. I mean, I hope you know that I was completely serious—I want you, really, *really* want you...but you don't have to...I mean I hope we can at least be friends."

"You kissed me," Willow said, interrupting Buffy's babble.

"I-I...Yeah, I did, didn't I?" Buffy stammered. "Well, you weren't listening to me, and you thought I was just saying I liked you as some kind of cruel joke—which I would never do!—and..."

Willow raised her eyebrow as Buffy trailed off.

"...and I've been wanting to do it since I saw you this morning," Buffy finished sheepishly, dropping her eyes.

"You really want me?" Willow's voice squeaked as she vocalized her question.

Buffy nodded her head, still looking down at the tearstains on her shirt. "I...look, Willow, I don't know you well enough yet to say that this is more than it is...but I feel something—like a connection? Something strong, emotion and desire, and need, and...I'm sure I'm not saying this very well."

'Could I sound more like a dork?' Buffy wondered. 'Come on, Buffy! Don't blow your only shot here...Think!'

"Ok...When I got to school today, I met Xander...and I thought, 'Hey, he's cute. I could date him.' And then in class I met Cordelia, which was before I knew what a complete and utter bitch she was—and I thought, 'Hey, she's pretty, I wouldn't mind dating her.' And then I saw you...and...it was like, Xander who? Cordelia who? I couldn't think about anyone else all day but you."

Buffy shook her head, returning to Willow's question, "So, yeah I want you. I want you more than," she closed her eyes and took a deep breath, 'Ok, reign it in, Buffy, don't need to scare her any more, here!'

Buffy opened her eyes and continued, "But, it's ok...if, if you...don't like girls," she tried to keep the pain out of her voice as she added, "or, don't like me...that way...I mean not everyone does...girls liking girls, I mean," she stopped there, before she became any more incoherent.

"I've never...that was the first...my first k—kiss," Willow stuttered.

Buffy said, "First kiss with another girl," Seeing Willow shake her head, Buffy's eyes widened and she thought, 'Boys in Sunnydale—total idiots!'

"First kiss...ever?" Buffy whispered.

Willow nodded in affirmation.

"Uh, was it ok?" Buffy asked, and then immediately chastised herself. 'Way to sound cool! Idiot!'

"It was," Willow trailed off as she apparently gave the question serious consideration.

'And has the jury reached their verdict?' Buffy thought as though hearing the judge on one of those television courtroom dramas. 'I think I know how those defendant guys feel...'

"It was nice...I think?" Willow said, sounding unsure. "Mostly, I think I was kinda too surprised to really."

Though still nervous, Buffy suddenly became extremely aware of Willow's body against her own, 'Oh God, I can feel Willow's boobs smushed against me!' At the moment of that realization she felt her nipples grow uncomfortably hard.

Buffy heard her voice saying, "You know...it's better if you kiss back."

'That's it, I'm possessed! She's gonna freak for sure!' the Slayer thought in a near-panic.

Rather than seeing fear or revulsion, however; Buffy saw Willow's eyes dilate and her cheeks flush. 'Oh, hands! Hands in new places!; she though as Willow's hands—which had been just hanging at her sides—started to move up Buffy's back. 'Holy cow!' Buffy thought as she shivered with arousal.

Willow's voice was breathy as she asked, "So, that one didn't really even count, cause I didn't kiss back?"

'Oh God!' Buffy thought, barely restraining a whimper. 'Be cool, be cool, don't spaz out...Oh, God, I can feel her...her nipples!' She had to force herself to breathe deeply lest she start panting.

"Well, technically," Buffy managed to say without completely losing control.

She was surprised when the shy girl took the initiative and moved forward for a kiss. 'Wow, you really never have been kissed before,' she thought as Willow didn't move beyond pressing her lips against Buffy's. 'Oh, too bad, I guess I'll just have to teach you!' She thought happily as she smiled and began showing Willow what to do.

Buffy began to once again move her mouth against the redhead's, lightly tugging at Willow's lips with her own. 'Soft, oh God, so soft...' Buffy thought, buzzing with happiness after the horrible feeling of rejection just a few minutes earlier. 'Thank you, thank you, thank you!' she chanted silently, not sure who she was thanking, just knowing in that moment that she felt grateful and happy.

When breathing finally became too great an issue to ignore, Buffy pulled away slightly and opened her eyes as she caught her breath. 'You are so very too adorable for words!' she thought, taking in the picture of Willow, her eyes still closed, her lips still moving in a simulation of the kiss as she panted open mouthed. 'How do you make me feel like this?' Buffy thought in awe of her deep desire.

After a moment she watched Willow's eyes blink open. 'Oh, so not fair!' Buffy thought with her lip twitching between a smile and a pout. 'You're even cuter cross-eyed! I am in *so* much trouble!'

Buffy felt her face bathed in Willow's warm breath as the girl sighed heavily "Wow!"

Buffy nodded her head slowly, her own voice breathy as she agreed, "Oh, yeah!"

Willow's mouth drew back into a smile for a moment, then pursed in apparent worry, and she said, "Was that...was I...?"

"I think that one definitely counts!" Buffy quickly reassured. She felt her own lips pull back into a grin to match the one that swiftly returned to Willow's face. 'Hey, we're kinda exposed out here...' Buffy realized suddenly.

She pulled away from Willow just enough to pull them to their feet, while maintaining her loose embrace. 'Can't let you go yet...' Buffy thought, somewhat abashed by just how true that was.

Willow, in her adorable way, suddenly said, "Oh! You know what?"

Buffy, amused by the sparkle in Willow's eyes, said, "What?"

In an excited, but completely sincere voice, Willow said, "I think I must be bisexual too!"

Buffy thought, 'Oh God, that's like the sweetest thing...'

Willow might have said more, but Buffy immediately leaned in and kissed her again. This time she sought to deepen the kiss, sucking on Willow's lower lip and licking her teeth as she tried to open the girl's mouth.

'So, good! Oh God, so good!' Buffy thought, feeling utterly happy. 'Oh God yes! Willow!' She thought, whimpering just a little as she felt the redhead's arms tighten around her, and her fingers digging into her back'

'Strawberries and ice cream...Mmm...' Buffy hummed in contentment as her hands twined in Willow's silky hair. 'Oh Willow you taste so good!' she thought as she hungrily explored the girl's mouth; encouraging her to do the same.

Willow suddenly whimpered loudly, causing Buffy to pull away.

"Did I hurt you?" Buffy asked, concerned.

Willow shook her head, breathing heavily as she answered. "Wow! Pretty much the exact opposite, I think!"

'Thank God!' Buffy smiled broadly, once she figured out what Willow was saying. "Come on, we shouldn't stand out here," she said, releasing her embrace and taking Willow's hand.

Willow pouted, "Why? I was liking it right here pretty well!"

Buffy laughed, relief and happiness making her giddy. "Me too, but we don't want any nasty vamps interrupting our fun, do we?"

Willow suddenly seemed to agree that walking away was a very good idea indeed. "No, thank you. Once was enough tonight."

'You have such a beautiful smile...' Buffy thought when she laced their fingers together, bringing out Willow's big grin as they walked down the sidewalk together.

The walk back to Willow's house had been full of happy conversation, and periodic stops for smoochies. God, I must look like an idiot, I'm smiling so much!' Buffy thought. 'I mean, my cheeks are actually tired!'

Suddenly Willow stopped walking, pulling Buffy back toward her by the hand.

'Mmm, more smoochie time!' Buffy thought with a smile, moving to embrace the redhead once again.

"I'm sorry Buffy," Willow said quietly.

'Wha...oh no,' Buffy thought, feeling cold panic pour into her stomach, pushing her heart into her throat. "Willow?" she asked with a voice filled with fear.

"I was such a spaz back there," Willow began, gesturing back to where they had come from.

"Huh?" one syllable was all Buffy was able to get out.

The redhead looked Buffy in her eyes and frowned. "You know, at the ice cream shop."

"Oh God!" Buffy huffed out, feeling the panic drain out of her, leaving her weak in the knees. She wrapped Willow in a fierce embrace and harshly whispered, "Oh please don't *do* that Willow!"

Now it was Willow's turn to, "Huh?"

Buffy pulled away a little bit, still holding Willow in a loose embrace. "I-I thought you...meant the other stuff," she explained.

"You thought I meant..." Willow trailed off, her voice still sounding confused.

'Ok, now I feel stupid,' Buffy thought, shaking her head at her own anxiousness. "I thought you were...saying you were, like, sorry that we...you know."

"Kissing?" Willow finished the thought for Buffy with a surprised lilt.

Buffy nodded, not meeting Willow's eyes. "Yeah, I'm kinda dumb sometimes."

When Willow didn't respond, Buffy looked up to see confusion still in the redhead's eyes. 'Such beautiful eyes...how can I be so lost in you so fast?' she wondered once again. "I'm just so happy that you're giving me a chance, Willow." she said, her voice choked with emotion.

"Ouch!" Willow suddenly yelped.

"What happened?" Buffy exclaimed, startled. She pushed away from the redhead to look her up and down for any injury.

"What the...?" Buffy muttered with a confused frown when she saw what had happened. Slowly meeting Willow's gaze once more, she softly said, "Willow? Did you just pinch yourself?"

The light-skinned redhead suddenly flushed bright pink and stuttered, "I-I...I t-thought..."

Feeling emboldened, Buffy cupped Willow's cheek to try and calm her. 'Oh, so warm! Loving the blushing thing...'

Willow closed her eyes and leaned her head into Buffy's touch, humming in evident pleasure. After a moment she whispered, "I was afraid I was dreaming."

'How did no one ever notice you Will? You're...perfect' Buffy thought warmly. "Willow, look at me." She instructed gently.

Willow's eyes blinked open, displaying a mix of joy, desire, and a little anxiety.

"This is all new, and kinda strange, and wonderful, and a little terrifying," Buffy grinned at Willow's nod of agreement. "But, I promise you...it's real." Smiling big, she added, "I never have dreams this good."

Willow laughed out loud at that.

'Oh, I even love your laugh. Deep, deep smit.' Buffy thought with happy resignation.

"So, we should get you home now?" Buffy said, ready to walk.

"Uh, we did," Willow said.

'And again with the huh?' Buffy frowned slightly in confusion.

"Uh, it's right there. My house." Willow said gently.

"Oh. Ok, then." Buffy said. 'I was kinda hoping for more walkie/smoochie time...'

They walked in silence up to the porch, and then hesitated again. 'No lights on...' Buffy noticed. "Uh, are your parents in bed already?" she asked.

"Oh, they're in Belize until the end of the month," Willow said like it was completely normal.

Buffy's eyes widened, "Wow. Belize?"

Willow paused as if in thought for a moment, then said, "Actually...I think last month was Belize, this month it's Belgrade...I don't really keep track. It's written down on the calendar somewhere," she said, gesturing toward the house.

"They're gone a lot?" Buffy asked.

"Mmhm," Willow said.

'So, absentee parents...That can't be good for the whole self-esteem thing...' Buffy thought sadly.

Buffy felt a shaky squeeze on her hand as Willow asked, "Do you, uh, wanna come in?"

'Oh God, Willow. I'm so worked up right now...I just want to kiss you everywhere!' Buffy thought suddenly. Her mind began to spin away from her. 'Mmm...Bad Buffy! Not supposed to be having naked Willow images! Oh, but they're so...No! Bad Buffy!'

"Oh, uh, about going in...I'm not sure it's a good idea...if I," Buffy began, her voice hoarse.

Willow's smile deflated into a pout, "Oh, I."

'Unh uh! No negative thoughts Will!' Buffy thought, quickly moving to counteract Willow's dejection by pressing her up against the door and catching her lips in a ferocious kiss.

Buffy pressed herself against the redhead, going for maximum body contact as she kissed her. 'God, Willow! This is so, so good! Mmm, new favorite flavor...Willowlips.' She thought excitedly.

When Buffy finally broke off the kiss, she rested her forehead against Willow's while they caught their breath. "Never think I don't want you, Willow!" she whispered passionately.

"Wow!" Willow sighed heavily.

"Willow," Buffy began, "I think I shouldn't go in because...I don't think I could..."

Buffy felt her face flushing hotly. 'How do I say this? Sorry Will, can't go in, too horny?! God, I'm pathetic...'

"you could..." Willow said with a frown. Then she apparently figured out what Buffy had meant, because her eyes opened really wide and she blushed brightly too. "Oh! You mean...?"

Buffy closed her eyes and nodded her head. 'So embarrassing! Buffy the horny vampire Slayer.'

"Really?" Willow asked, sounding shocked. "Because of me?!" she squeaked loudly.

Buffy smiled. "You are too adorable, Willow." She cupped her cheek and added, "And, yes. I mean...Really."

"Wow!" Willow exclaimed.

'Tell me about it! Ok, gotta go!' Buffy stepped away and said, "I...Can I come over in the morning and walk you to school?"

Willow got a huge smile on her face, then ducked her head and looked up through her lashes as she quietly answered, "Okay."

Buffy couldn't help but smile at the coy look on Willow's face. "You are *so* cute! I'll be here early, ok? I told Xander we'd go to the library and let Giles talk about vampires."

Willow nodded, apparently at a loss for words. She unlocked the door to her house and stepped through.

Buffy walked backwards down the walkway, keeping an eye on Willow until she waved and closed the door.

As soon as the she heard Willow lock the door behind her, Buffy pumped her fist in the air, hissing "Yes!" and then danced around in a circle. 'Willow Rosenberg likes me! Yay!'

She took one last look at the Rosenberg's house and then ran down the street as fast as she could. 'Oh God...time for shower massage...must have soon or I'll explode!'

Part 4

"Well, I have to say, this is unexpected!" Joyce Summers said as she came downstairs into the kitchen. She made a show of looking at her watch and noted, "It's almost a full hour earlier than Buffy's normal wakeup time, and yet; here she is, showered, dressed and rapidly consuming a bowl of cornflakes!"

Buffy rolled her eyes, thinking 'Jeeze, Drama much?' She finished her mouthful and couldn't help the fact that her mouth stretched into a huge grin as she said, "Morning, mom!"

'And now begins the interrogation,' she thought, but even so, Buffy just couldn't keep the silly grin off of her face.

Buffy felt absolutely giddy this morning, even though she hadn't gotten a lot of sleep. She'd had the most wonderful dreams last night. The vampire nightmare that had been waking her up every night for a week was blissfully absent. All of her dreams had been about a certain redhead. Some had been sexual, but not all. Some had just been sweet and romantic.

Joyce echoed her daughter's smile. "I haven't seen that smile in a while!" she said.

Buffy shrugged her shoulders. "I'm happy today!" Inwardly, she added all the things she couldn't say aloud, 'No scary vampire dreams...many, many happy Willow dreams...how could I not be happy!'

Her mom gave her a look that said she knew there was more to it than that. "And happiness made you wake up over an hour early?" she asked with a smirk.

"I'm walking to school with somebody this morning. We're supposed to get there a little early and meet up with some people in the library," Buffy explained.

"Oh?" her mom asked, feigning nonchalance. "And this 'somebody' you're walking to school with...Does he have a name?"

Again Buffy rolled her eyes, 'You're so not fooling anyone, Mom!' she thought. 'time for a little fun...' Buffy grinned even harder and answered cryptically, "No, and yes."

Joyce put her hands on her hips an raised a single eyebrow. "Buffy," she mock-growled.

'Gotcha!' Buffy laughed and got up to rinse out her bowl. "No, it's not a he, and yes, she has a name." She paused for a moment until she though her mom was just about to growl again and then continued, "Her name is Willow Rosenberg."

"Hmm, I could have sworn that was a 'new boyfriend' smile," her mom said.

Buffy coughed suddenly, blushing furiously. 'Oh, God, you have *no* idea how close you are!' she thought with a sudden thrill of anxiety. Desperate to cover, she stammered, "I uh, I have a 'new boyfriend smile'?"

Her mom took a turn at the victory smile before saying, "Well, I haven't seen it in quite a while, but I distinctly remember such a thing."

'Oh this is *so* not a conversation I'm ready to have right now. Maybe later...like when I'm fifty...' Buffy thought apprehensively.

Joyce walked over to the sink, taking the bowl Buffy had rinsed and putting it in the dishwasher. "Whatever the reason, I'm just glad to have Happy-Buffy for once rather than the Sulky-Buffy," she said.

"Mom!" Buffy exclaimed indignantly.

Her mom just stared at her silently, raising one eyebrow.

Buffy's shoulders slumped, "Ok, so maybe I haven't been all joyful and frolicky lately."

"You think?" her mom asked with no little sarcasm in her voice

"Well," Buffy dragged out, casting for something to say. "You said it yourself, right? New town, new Buffy," said with her smile back on her face. 'And, new Willow! New to me, anyway,' she gleefully thought to herself,

"So you don't need a ride to school then?" her mom asked, apparently satisfied to return to mundane topics for the moment.

"Uh, no thanks Mom." Buffy answered. 'Yeah, not if I want any opportunity for a good morning kiss!' "We're good with the walking thing this morning. Thanks anyway!" she said as she grabbed her bag and headed for the door.

'Mmm...Willowlips!' was the prevailing thought on her mind as she exited the Summers home.

"Did it really happen?" Willow Rosenberg asked her reflection in the mirror. She was standing in the entryway to her home, looking at the full-length mirror that adorned the wall by the front door.

"My first kiss!" Willow squealed excitedly. 'Ok, I so need to stop saying it like that!' she chastised herself, feeling embarrassment dim her excitement slightly. 'Oh God, I'm such a spaz!' she thought as her reflection showed her deep blush.

"It's just, my first kiss!" she huffed. 'I was starting to think it'd never happen! And with a girl...' Willow saw her reflection's smile dim slightly as her mind began to wander down a path she'd been shying from.

"Is that so wrong? Is everyone gonna hate me cause I like a girl?" she whispered.

'Doofus! No one likes you now, what's the difference?' she thought darkly.

"That's not true! Buffy likes me!" Willow said, as though arguing with her reflection. "And Xander and Jesse! They like me too. And, well maybe that's all, but who cares? Not me, that's for sure."

'Yeah right.'

Suddenly Willow's eyes widened in horror, "Oh God! Xander and Jesse! What're they gonna say?" she cried softly.

'What if they don't want to be my friends any more?' she worried. Willow wrapped her arms around herself, feeling her stomach sink at the thought.

She quietly stared at her image in the mirror until she saw a tear well out of her eye and threaten to come down her cheek. Angrily she clenched her jaw and scrubbed at her eyes, wiping away the potential tears. "No! That's not gonna happen! Xander and Jesse *are* my friends, even if Xander's too dumb to notice that I was in love with him for, like, ever...they're just gonna hafta deal!" She nodded her head, as if it was settled.

"Besides, they're gonna be too busy staring at us kissing to be mad," She smiled this time as she saw her reflection's face grow red once more. 'Oh boy, can that girl kiss! I mean, maybe I don't have anything to compare to, but...whoo!'

Her face transitioned again, becoming contemplative as she thought, 'This is all so strange; I've got all these...fluttery feelings...for another girl. And I don't think I ever looked at girls like that before! It's just...'

After struggling for a moment to come up with an adjective adequate to describe her feelings, Willow whispered, "So good!" She closed her eyes and hugged herself again, but not in fear this time. 'Oh God, that kiss...' she thought of Buffy's goodnight kiss last night. 'she was all pressed up against me...and...and...'

Willow groaned when she felt her nipples tighten into hard little points, suddenly sensitive against the cotton fabric of her bra. Her nether regions began to feel heavy and moist, 'Oh God, just like last night...I wish I could just...just."

She growled in frustration, "God! I am so pathetic! I can't even think it, let alone say it!"

'And I certainly can't do it! I'm such a spaz!' she thought, remembering her fumbling attempts at relieving herself the previous night. 'I know how it's supposed to work, I know where everything's at...I practically memorized that part of Gray's, not that it had a how-to section or anything...'

"I bet Buffy doesn't have any trouble...Oh gosh! I wonder if she...last night," Willow trailed off with a whimper, now even more aroused and frustrated.

"Argh!" Willow shouted, turning from the mirror and stomping off to the powder room to splash water on her face. 'Calm down Willow! You're gonna freak Buffy out if you don't get a hold of yourself!' she thought as she brought handful after handful of cold water against her hot skin. 'Thinking about Xander never made me feel like this!' she griped, annoyed with her body's reactions.

Finally, when her face was almost numb from the cold, she grabbed a towel and blotted her face. Looking in the mirror over the sink, she grumbled, "I have to be the biggest geek in Sunnydale...so what does a superhero see in someone like me?"

Buffy Summers came to an abrupt stop in front of the Rosenberg house. 'Note to self, don't sprint to girlfriend's house anymore!' she thought as she ran her fingers through her now-windblown hair.

After she rearranged her hair, Buffy was about to move toward the house when a sudden thought stopped her. "Girlfriend. God, I have a girlfriend!" she breathed out in awe, her face stretched into a broad smile.

'Oh, school should be fun...' she thought, her smile dimming. It dropped away entirely as she added, 'Ugh! My mother! So not a conversation I'm looking forward to!'

Buffy stared at Willow's door for a moment, lost in thought. 'This is gonna be really hard, isn't it? Not just for me, either...'

'Oh, Willow...God, the sounds you made, your lips on mine...you body against mine...' Buffy whimpered as the feelings from last night returned to her. "I am not giving this up!" she growled suddenly. She began to walk up to the house, muttering, "Unless you change your mind, I am *not* letting you go, Willow Rosenberg!"

Buffy strode up to the front door and rapped loudly upon it. 'Easy, no breaking down doors today Buffy!' she thought with a wry smile.

Buffy was bouncing on her toes slightly as she heard footsteps approach the door. When it swung open, Buffy froze, staring at the girl before her. Willow's hair was pulled back in a high ponytail, emphasizing her widow's peak, and leaving her delicate ears exposed.

'And since when am I turned on by ears!?' Buffy shivered at the sudden mental image of nibbling on one of those earlobes, hearing the sound of Willow whimpering in pleasure. 'God, it's gonna be a long day,' she thought ruefully.

Willow stared back at Buffy, not speaking for several seconds. Then suddenly she seemed to snap out of it, giving her head a little shake and saying, "Uh, good morning! Hi! Uh, you...wanna come in?" The last was delivered with an audible gulp.

'Want. Want Willow' Buffy thought in a daze as she entered the house.

Willow's voice was a little unsteady as she asked, "Urm, are ya hungry?"

'Yes, hungry for Willowsmoochies!' Buffy's eyes were focused on Willow's pink lips as she just nodded her in response to the redhead's question.

Willow closed the door behind her and said, "Uh, I've got raisin bran," trailing off when Buffy shook her head and stepped closer to her.

Buffy backed the redhead up against the door—from the inside this time—and softly spoke, "I had something else in mind."

Willow got out, "Oh!" before Buffy's cut off any further speech—suckling Willow's lips for a moment before her tongue sought entrance to the redhead's mouth.

Buffy barely noticed Willow's hands twining in her hair, her attention was focused on devouring the girl's mouth. 'Mmm, minty mouthwash...and...and...Oh Willow...you taste so...you make me feel so...'

Buffy broke off the kiss and rested her forehead against Willow's. "Gotta stop!" she whispered between deep breaths.

"Mm, donwanna!" Willow whimpered as she too sought to catch her breath.

'Oh God!' Buffy thought, images of what could happen in the next few moments if she gave in to her body's desire. 'No, no...way too soon, don't...can't...take advantage of you like that...God you make me so...so!' She forced herself to pull back just far enough to focus on Willow's eyes. 'So green...green...means go...No! Bad Buffy!' she chastised herself.

Still breathing hard, Buffy licked her lips and smiled. "Now *that's* 'good morning'!" she exclaimed.

Willow smiled, still breathing deeply herself, nodded her head, and agreed, "Oh yes! Very, very good morning that was."

'Ok Slayer, back away from the redhead!' Buffy giggled at the thought, making it sound in her head like it was a police bullhorn. She dropped her hands from around Willow and stepped back, letting the girl move.

Willow pushed away from the door, then half turned, looked at the door, looked back at Buffy and said, "I'm sensing a pattern."

Buffy blushed when she realized what Willow was implying.

Willow giggled, "You like doors...or is it just this door?"

Buffy laughed out loud at that. "I'm not prejudiced, Willow. I'd like you up against walls, counters, doors."

The blonde suddenly channeled an x-rated Dr. Suess, thinking, 'I would eat you against a door, I would eat you on the floor. I would eat you on your pillow; anywhere you want to, Willow...' She felt her whole body grow flushed and castigated her self, 'Bad, bad Buffy! No more sex thoughts!'

Buffy dropped her eyes in embarrassment, but couldn't help thinking, 'Yeah, right. That's gonna last...oh too late!' as more naughty images played in her head.

"Uh, Buffy? C—can I, uh, ask you something?" Willow's stuttered question broke Buffy's reverie.

'Uh oh...' Buffy looked back up at a nervous Willow's face and said, "Uh, sure," she answered.

When Willow's question wasn't immediately forthcoming, Buffy took the redhead's hand in hers and pulled her over to a couch in what was obviously their living room. 'Nervous, I get that. It's all new, but we'll make it work!' Buffy thought. Sitting down, she pulled the redhead down next to her and said, "Willow, you can ask me anything you want, any time you want."

"What are we?" Willow blurted out, and then she blushed and dropped her eyes. "I mean...I've never...I don't know...We," Willow's free hand was gesturing wildly as she was apparently having trouble explaining what she was thinking.

Buffy smiled at her, realizing, 'Babbling...going to be a big part of the Willow-experience, I'm thinking. It's ok, It's kinda cute!'

Willow stopped and let out a frustrated sigh. Looking up at Buffy again, her voice was high and soft as she said, "I don't know how this works. Us, I mean. Together."

Buffy dropped her eyes to their joined hands and fretted, 'What exactly are you asking here?' She stroked the back of Willow's hand and hesitantly asked, "You mean, because we're both girls?" .

"Uh, that too, but I mean...I never, um...I've never been an 'Us' before. With anybody," Willow admitted, sounding sheepish.

"Oh!" Buffy got it. "You've, uh...never gone out with a boy either?" she asked. 'God, how did no one ever see what I see in you? You're, like, amazing!'

Willow sounded ashamed when she quietly replied, "Uh, no."

Buffy cupped Willow's face in her palms and tilted it up till she could meet her eyes. "Willow, you have nothing to be ashamed of!" she leaned forward and softly kissed the shamefaced redhead. "Willow, seriously, I have to tell you; I *so* don't understand how the boys in that school could have missed you! I knew from the second I saw you at that water fountain that I wanted you."

'Oh yes, I love your smile!' Buffy thought happily. 'Mission reassure the girlfriend is a success!' Buffy thought, her mind playfully making it sound like some kind of control-tower chatter. 'Like NASA!' she thought with a smile. 'Roger, Houston, we have smile!'

"Oh, ok...good...Um, so...what happens now?" Willow asked, looking nervous again but still smiling.

'You mean other than the part where I jump you right here and now on the couch?' was Buffy's immediate thought. 'Jeeze, lust much!?'

"Well, um," Buffy stalled, trying to think beyond her hormones. "Well, some of this is new to me too, Willow. I've always, well, you know, liked other girls...but I've never officially dated a girl before."

"Are we dating?" Willow asked, sounding pleased at the thought.

"Well, we could kinda consider last night at the ice cream shop a first date," Buffy began. "I'd like to think we'll go on some more regular dates." She laughed and added, "We kinda skipped the dating step and went right for emotional trauma, followed by smoochies."

Willow blushed again, obviously embarrassed about the night before.

'Dang it! I hate the taste of shoe leather!' Buffy rebuked herself as she caught the look. "Hey now! It ended good, that's what matters!" she said firmly. As she continued, her voice was less sure, and she could feel her heart beating fast. "Anyway, I was kinda thinking...we could skip the 'just dating' part and move to...girlfriends?" She quickly continued before Willow had a chance to say anything, "I know we both have a bunch of 'getting to know you' stuff to get to, and...and I want to...but if it's ok...I just wanna be able to tell people...that you're my."

"Girlfriend?" Willow whispered.

Buffy nodded her head slowly, looking for a response. 'Say yes, please Willow, say yes...'

Willow's face lit up, "Wow! Buffy Summers is my girlfriend," she said, as though trying it on for size.

'Thank you God!' Buffy's smile lit up the room, "Willow Rosenberg is my girlfriend!" she said happily.

Buffy moved in for a celebratory kiss, and was delighted to find Willow meeting her halfway.

'Oh Willow...so good!' Buffy thought happily as she kissed her girlfriend. She savored the redhead's lips, nipping them with her own, tangling her tongue with Willow's, exploring her teeth and gums...'smells like heaven, tastes like heaven, feels like heaven...wanna stay here forever!'

"Buff-mff...Mgffy...Buffy!" Willow finally got out.

Buffy felt Willow's hands on her face, stilling her movements, and opened her eyes. 'Oh God, you're so beautiful!' Buffy thought, feeling her heart squeeze in her chest at the look of returned desire on Willow's face.

"Buffy, we...we have to go." Willow panted out.

Buffy pouted, "Don't wanna!"

'Hey when did we lay down?' the Slayer wondered when she finally noticed her position. She was laying on top of Willow who was laid out on the couch. "Oh, sorry Will," she mumbled as she sat back up.

Willow looked confused, she asked, "Sorry? Why?"

Buffy gestured to the couch next to them, feeling embarrassed. "I pushed you down," she mumbled.

Willow smiled and said, "Oh, good."

'Ok, officially confused now...' she thought. "Good?" she asked.

Willow giggled, "Yeah, cause I though I was the one who pulled you down."

'Wha?' Buffy's eyes widened in surprise, "Willow! Are you teasing me?"

At Willow's bold grin and nod, Buffy huffed, "Why you...you...beautiful, sexy, adorable girl" Buffy felt arousal coursing through her as she thought, 'Want you so much!'

Buffy was pleased to see Willow's eyes dilate in arousal to match her own lust. Just as she was leaning forward, the redhead interrupted.

"Ah, Buffy? If you do that we're gonna be really, really late," Willow said in a breathy voice.

"Uh huh...not seeing the problem here Will," Buffy whispered, her eyes focusing on her girlfriend's tantalizingly moist lips.

Willow smiled indulgently, "I know...but, uh, you told Xander we'd meet him at the..." her voice trailed off and her face took on a look of fear.

Buffy stiffened in fear of her own at the look. "What?" she asked, alarmed. 'Please don't be having second thoughts...I'll just die!'

Willow's voice was hesitant as she answered, "Uh, when you said...you want to tell people?"

"That you're my girlfriend?" Buffy asked, her voice squeaking the question. 'You have feelings for him, don't you?' Buffy asked silently, suddenly afraid again.

Willow dropped her eyes, causing Buffy's fear to ratcheted up a notch. 'You do! Oh God!'

"Is this about Xander?"

Willow nodded, still not meeting the blonde's gaze.

Buffy's voice was a pale shade of her normal vivaciousness as she said, "You...you don't want to tell him about us?"

Willow's head snapped up and she looked shocked. "No! Buffy, I can't hide this from him! He's been my best friend, like forever! Xander and Jesse are, like, my only friends...period. We have to tell them, it's just."

'Whazzahuh?' Buffy's brain suddenly fried, confusion overwhelming the fear. "I...huh?" she sputtered.

"Oh Buffy, what if they hate me?" Willow cried.

'Oh thank God!' Buffy began panting like she'd just run a marathon. "You're afraid they will be mad because you're with another girl!" she stated for confirmation.

Willow nodded miserably, her lip pouting fiercely.

Buffy felt a cool shiver or relief pour through her. She wrapped the redhead in her arms and cried, "Oh God! You scared me!"

"I scared you?" Willow questioned, clearly bewildered.

Buffy let go and clasped her hands together in front of her. "I...well, I kinda got the impression that you had a crush on Xander and...I thought you might be...having...second thoughts...or something," Buffy said, her eyes down and her hands clenching and unclenching.

It was Willow's turn to be the reassuring one. "Buffy, Xander doesn't want me," before Buffy could protest, she added, "And, even if he did...it's too late for him." She grabbed Buffy's clenching hands and held them between her own. "I'm with you, Buffy. As long as you want me I'm yours," she added softly.

"I feel so stupid Willow," Buffy said, chagrined.

"You're not stupid!" Willow responded.

'I'm so lost in you Willow Rosenberg!' Buffy thought with a pang in her chest. She looked up into her girlfriend's eyes and whispered, "I don't think you get it Willow, I've known you, like, two days, and...and I already couldn't do without you."

Buffy dropped her gaze again, thinking, 'Great, emotional wreck much? She's gonna run screaming, and that's if I'm lucky!'

Again Buffy felt her girlfriend's warm hands on her face, gently nudging her upward till she met the redhead's gaze. "I get it. I so get it, Buffy!"

Buffy searched the redhead's eyes for a moment, then closed her own and leaned her forehead against Willow's. "Thank you Willow! Thank you so much. I...I'm sorry for being such a goober."

"Shh," Willow said, and Buffy once again felt the redhead's lips on her own.

The kiss was soft and sweet, and loving. When it ended, Buffy smiled and said, "You're picking that up really fast, Will!"

Willow giggled, "Well, I'm a quick study."

'Duh, here I am getting all weepy, and I completely spaced it that Will's worried about Xander!' Buffy suddenly thought with a groan.

"What? It wasn't that bad," Willow said with an exaggerated pout.

"Huh?" Buffy asked, momentarily confused. Then she shook it off, "Oh! No, not that, baby. I was thinking about the Xander thing."

Buffy hurriedly explained before Willow could get upset, "He's not gonna be angry, Willow."

Willow sighed and picked up her book bag. Swinging it over her shoulder, she said, "I'm sure you're right Buffy," she said, sounding less than convinced.

Scrambling to grab her own bag, the Slayer hastened to reassure the redhead, "No, Will. I mean I know he won't be upset."

Willow stopped and turned to stare disbelievingly at Buffy. "What? How can you be sure?" she asked.

"Remember last night when he wanted to talk to me alone for a minute?" Buffy asked.

Willow nodded, "Between the vampire and the ice cream...and I feel weird just saying that out loud."

"Yeah, I get that, believe me," Buffy agreed bitterly. "Anyway...Xander figured out I was crushing on you."

"He did? How?" Willow interjected, taken aback.

'Maybe because I couldn't keep my eyes off you for two seconds?' Buffy wondered silently. "Apparently I was pretty obvious to everyone who wasn't you or me."

"I...I," Willow stammered.

Buffy put her arm around her girlfriend's back and led her through the front door. "Doesn't matter, we know now," she said happily. "The point is, he was really cool about it."

"Oh," Willow said. She locked the door to her house and they began to walk to school.

After they had reached the sidewalk, Willow said, "That's kinda too bad."

"Huh?" Buffy asked.

"Well, it might have been kinda fun to surprise him," Willow said with a grin.

"Well, he seemed to think you were pretty straight," Buffy said. "He might still be surprised...Plus there's Jesse."

"Oh, Xander won't be able to keep from telling Jesse all about it." Willow said, sounding very certain.

"What else did he say?" Willow asked after another moment, sounding curious.

"Well," Buffy began, trying to remember the exact conversation. "Oh! He threatened me," she said.

Willow's eyes widened in shock, "Xander Harris threatened you? Why?" Willow asked. "And why'd you hug him if he threatened you?"

"Well," Buffy started off. "He told me that he thought you were straight, then he said that he loved you and you were his best friend and whatever happened between you and me, if I hurt you, he'd kill me."

Willow stopped walking and turned to face her girlfriend. "That is so..."

Buffy interjected, "Sweet?"

Willow nodded her head vigorously, "Yeah! Gosh, I didn't know he had it in him!"

Buffy nodded as they started walking again. "Yeah, he seems like a really good friend."

"Yeah, he is!" Willow said.

They walked in silence for a few minutes, hands clasped and smiles on their faces.

"Hey, Buffy?" Willow asked, breaking the silence.

"Yeah Will?" Buffy replied.

"When you were telling me about you and Xander's talk last night," Willow started.

"Yeah?" Buffy answered, thinking back to that conversation just a few minutes ago.

"Did you call me 'Baby'?"

Giles slowly descended the steps from the stacks into the library proper as he lectured, "This world is older than any of you know. Contrary to popular mythology, it did not begin as a paradise. For untold eons demons walked the Earth. They made it their home, their...their Hell. But in time they lost their purchase on this reality. The way was made for mortal animals, for, for man. All that remains of the old ones are vestiges, certain magicks, certain creatures."

"And vampires," Buffy added from her seat at the table next to Willow.

They'd arrived at the library and Buffy told Giles everything that happened, vampire-wise anyway. He had expressed surprise at her revelation of the informant—'tall, dark and annoying' she'd called him. Xander had come in just at the end of it, and in time for Giles little speech.

Xander grabbed a chair and spun it around, sitting down and leaning forward against the back of the chair. "Okay, this is where I have a problem. See, because we're talking about vampires. We're having a *talk* with vampires in it," he said, gesturing forcefully.

Willow asked, "Isn't that what we saw last night?"

'Poor Xander...there really are things that go bump in the night,' Buffy thought sympathetically. She said, "No. No, th-that wasn't a vampire, that was just a guy in dire need of a facial. Or maybe he had rabies. It could have been rabies. A-and when he turned to dust? Just a trick of light."

Xander gave her a dirty look.

"That's exactly what I said the first time I saw a vampire," Buffy explained. "Well, after I was done with the screaming part."

Xander asked, "So vampires are demons?"

Giles said, "The books tell that the last demon to leave this reality fed off a human...mixed their blood; he was a human form possessed or, or infected, by the demon's soul. He bit another, and another, and so they walk the Earth, feeding...killing some, mixing their blood with others to make more of their kind. Waiting for the animals to die out, and the old ones to return."

"And Buffy's the Slayer," Willow said.

Giles nodded his head.

"And that means...what exactly?" Xander asked.

"As long as there have been vampires, there's been the Slayer," Giles explained. "The chosen one."

Buffy leaned over to Willow and stage whispered, "He loves this part."

Giles frowned at Buffy and abbreviated his rendition. "Right. She's the Slayer, it's a secret. Don't tell anyone."

"So, What can we do?" Xander asked.

Giles appeared taken aback. "Do?" he asked.

Xander suddenly got upset. "Hey! You can't come in to our town, our school, and tell us the town's full of vampires...and then just say 'ok, have a nice life'!"

Willow squeezed Buffy's hand and added, "Xander's right. We have to help somehow. I can't know that this stuff is going on, that you're risking your life, and just not do anything."

'Your eyes...that is just so adorable!' Buffy thought, seeing the concern in Willow's eyes. Buffy smiled at her girlfriend and turned back to Giles, saying, "Ok."

Giles was, again, taken aback. "Um, yes, well...The Slayer works alone. That is the way it has always been," he began.

Before Xander or Willow could interject, Buffy interrupted. "Not anymore." Though she was looking at Giles, she squeezed Willow's hand as she said it.

Giles floundered for a moment, and then said, "Um, well, I suppose you could help me with research, on, on this 'Harvest' event."

"What's the matter Xander?" Willow asked as she and her best friend walked down the hall together. "You wanted to get out of the library, but you're awful quiet." Silently she added, 'and you're never quiet for very long...'

Xander appeared to be lost in thought. He took a moment before responding, shaking his head and saying, "Nothing, just, you know, trying to deal with this whole thing...I mean, Vampires! Like life wasn't hard enough, now we have Vampires!?"

'Uh huh...you're hiding something Xander...of course, so am I—no, not hiding, just, uh waiting. Yes, I'm waiting until the uh, right moment. So maybe I'll just...just...uh...Oh! the list!' Willow's mind wandered.

Looking down at her yellow pad, on which she'd neatly written 'Signs of the Impending Apocalypse: The Harvest' in bold black letters. "So, um, Murder, Death, Disaster," she began listing signs. "What else?"

"Huh? Oh, right...the list," Xander said, apparently thinking of something else. "Let's see, there's Paranormal, Unexplained, did you get natural disasters?"

Willow nodded, adding, "Earthquake, Flood."

Xander interjected, "Rain of Toads."

Willow wrote it down as she nodded and said, "Right...Toads"

Xander exclaimed, "Rain of Toads! Do you think they'd have anything like that in the paper?"

Willow said, "Well, I'll put it on the computer search. If it's in there, it'll turn up. Anything that'll lead us to vampires."

"And I, in the meantime, will help by standing around like an idiot," Xander lamented, shoving his hands in his pockets and hunching his shoulders.

Willow said, "Not like an idiot, just...standing."

They stopped in front of Willow's next class.

Xander said, "This is just too much. I mean, yesterday my life's like, 'Uh-oh, pop quiz.' Today it's 'Rain of Toads'."

"I know. And everyone else thinks it's just a normal day." Willow commiserated, hugging her books and list to her chest tightly.

Xander nodded his head, "Nobody knows. It's like we've got this big secret."

Willow said, "We do. That's what a secret is, when you know something other guys don't."

After another moment in which Xander sighed heavily and stared at the floor, Willow sternly said, "Alexander Harris! Tell me what's wrong, please?" she finished with a pout.

Xander grimaced and quietly said, "It's dumb, Will."

"I-if it's bothering you so much, it's not dumb!" she answered earnestly. 'I may have finally stopped crushing on you Xander, but I still love you and I hate to see you depressed!'

"It's just...Jesse. He wasn't at the Bronze last night, and I haven't seen him around the lounge this morning either."

"Oh, but that's," Willow started.

"I know, it's not like it's the first time he's ditched or anything but," Xander trailed off as thought unable or unwilling to continue.

'I think I get it,' Willow realized after a moment. "You're worried cause of the vampire thing, right?" she asked gently.

"It's dumb, I know. It's just...now that I know they're there...it's kinda freaking me out!" Xander lamented, managing to sound both embarrassed and worried at the same time.

Willow hastened to reassure her best friend. "Oh Xander. He probably got turned down by the wicked witch of the west...again."

"Willow Adena Rosenberg!"

Willow smiled broadly at Xander's wide-eyed exclamation, and continued, "...and went home to pout. You'll either see him after first period, or, or he's just ditching again and you'll see him at the arcade after school."

Xander sighed again, but he had a small grin on his face this time. "You're probably right Will." He transitioned into a sly voice, adding, "So, speaking of hooking up...How was your Ice Cream date last night?"

'Oh so busted!' Willow thought, feeling her face grow hot. Her voice was breathy and high as she said, "Oh, look at the time, I'm gonna be late to class!" just before bolting into the classroom.

Xander laughed and called after her, "You know you're going to tell me all about it, Will. You never could keep a secret from me."

'That's no lie!' she thought ruefully. 'Well, Buffy was right, he doesn't sound upset or anything...Now, if Jesse will just be ok with it...'

'Wow, there's really a lot of wiggy stuff that happened in this town!' Willow thought as she scrolled through old news stories.

She was sitting in the computer lab, doing her assignment. Her Hellmouth assignment, not her class assignment. 'Please, how can this be so difficult for everyone?' she wondered about the class assignment. 'I know I'm a computer nerd and all, but come on! That program's so simple a monkey could do it...' The shy redhead couldn't keep the catty grin off of her face as she thought, 'Explains why Cordelia is having such a hard time!'

'I really shouldn't listen...' she thought. 'I should focus on what I'm doing. I should, but it's too fun to listen to them struggle!' Willow listened in on Cordelia and Harmony as they muddled through their computer assignment.

Cordelia whined, "No! It's supposed to find the syntax and match it. Or wait."

Harmony asked, "Are we going to the Bronze tonight?"

"No, we're going to the other cool place in Sunnydale," Cordelia said, derision clear in her voice.

After a pause, Cordelia continued, "Of course we're going to the Bronze. But you should have been there last night. 'Cause I ran into Buffy."

Willow frowned, thinking, 'Buffy didn't mention anything about that...'

Cordelia continued, "...and can she be any weirder? She was in the bathroom, Talking to herself about hitting on some *Girl!* Do you believe it?"

Harmony sighed loudly and griped, "I think we did this part wrong."

Cordelia complained, "Why do we have to devise these programs, isn't that what nerds are for?" She added in a whisper, "What'd she do?"

Willow had to restrain a chuckle as she thought, 'I can still hear you! You wish you could copy off of me, you mindless cow!' Her humor turned to a pout as she added, 'God, I wish I could say stuff like that to your face!'

Harmony's tone clearly displayed her cluelessness as she answered, "Uh, she's doing something else."

Cordelia made a grumbling sound and said, "Okay, and then pattern run, right? Or go to end? That's it!"

Harmony, apparently trying for 'helpfully supportive' said, "Maybe!"

Cordelia continued her story, saying, "So anyway, I walk into the bathroom, and she's all 'ok just go talk to her, she doesn't need to know you're a sex maniac...' I swear!"

Suddenly another voice joined the audioplay and Willow heard a surfer-dude voice question, "Who?"

Cordelia exclaimed, "Buffy!"

"The new girl," Harmony added in her best 'duh' voice.

Surfer-dude asked, "What's her deal?"

Cordelia said, "Well, she's a crazed lezbo."

'Hey, that's my girlfriend you're talking about!' Willow thought angrily. 'I should say something! Yeah right, cause I'm brave like that...' she added glumly.

"Did you hear about her old school?" Harmony asked with a dramatic pause. "Booted!" she crowed.

Cordelia haughtily stated, "Well, I exhibit *no* surprise."

'You wouldn't talk like that if Buffy was here!' Willow fantasized, 'God I'd love to see her take you down a peg or two. I wonder what that means? How much is a peg?'

Surfer-dude asked, "Why was she kicked out?"

Cordelia said, "Uh, because she's a psycho loony!"

"No, she's not!" Willow exclaimed suddenly. 'Oh God! Did I say that?'

Cordelia said, "What?"

Willow finished sending what she was working on to the printer as she thought, 'Come on Willow, this is your girlfriend, you can't just not say anything! Feeling incredibly nervous, she turned around and said, "She's not a psycho. You don't even know her."

Cordelia's expression was spiteful, and her voice dripped with scorn as she said, "Excuse me? Who gave you permission to exist?"

Willow dropped her eyes. 'You are so mean! I hate the way you make me feel so bad about myself...Jeeze! Why do I let you get to me?'

Cordelia continued, "Do I horn in on your private discussions? No. Why? Because you're boring."

Still unable to meet Cordelia's eyes, Willow stood up and walked over to the printer. 'And, once again, pathetic little Willow retreats from the big bad Cordy,' Willow thought, humiliated and angry with herself as she gathered her printouts.

Harmony acted like Willow hadn't ever interrupted, saying, "Okay, I think the program's done."

Cordelia melodramatically gushed, "Finally the nightmare ends! Okay, so how do we save it?"

"Deliver." 'Oh God, I did it again!' Willow thought, quickly walking out of the classroom.

"Deliver? Where's that?" Cordelia asked as Willow left the room.

The last thing Willow heard was Cordy's "Oh!" as she apparently found the key; followed by silence.

"Oh gosh! That was so bad of me!" Willow whispered with a giggle as she entered the restroom. 'Oh but it felt so *good*!' she thought.

Willow considered herself in the restroom mirror as she washed her hands. 'I should feel bad about that, it was kinda mean...' she thought. The broad smile on her face lost not a bit of its wide glow however. 'I *so* don't though! I've cried myself to sleep way too many times and this is like the first time I've ever done anything back!'

She suddenly felt a cold tendril of anxiety run down her back as she thought, 'Oh she's gonna be furious!' Willow saw her smile dim at the realization. Then it grew again a little as she added, 'Eventually. If she ever figures out what just happened.'

Despite her humor, Willow's stomach felt unsettled. 'I'll splash a little cold water, that'll help.'

A few moments later she opened her eyes from wiping her face with a paper towel and squeaked out a startled "Eeep!" when she saw the cheerleader walk in.

Cordelia wasted no time and immediately began to lay into the redhead. "Ha ha! Very funny. Look, loser, a social retard such as yourself might have so much free time on their hands that they could spend a Friday night making up a computer project!"

'I'm not going to let her do it again!' Willow initially thought, wanting to stand up to her, or at least to maintain eye contact.

Cordelia continued her tirade, "Those of us who matter, who have, oh, say...*A Life* have better things to do with their time. And where do you get off even speaking to me?"

'Dang it,' Willow thought with bitter shame as her body betrayed her, bowing her head beneath the withering invective the tall brunette was hurling at her.

"...You are a computer geek. You exist to do school work and stuff, not mix with your betters, and certainly not to rudely sabotage my hard work."

'No, please!' Willow thought; humiliated as she felt her eyes well up. 'No, God, please don't let me cry in front of her!

Cordelia kept on, "...Who told you to defend little lesbo Buffy anyway? What's the matter Willow? Got tired of being rejected by every guy in the school, so now you thought you'd try your luck with the girls?"

'God, of all the days to wear my hair up! I can't even hide,' she thought miserably, wrapping her arms around her torso and hugging herself tightly. 'Oh Buffy! I wish you were here right now!'

Buffy was walking down the hall briskly. 'I hope she hasn't left class already! We can walk together...Mmm, more Willow time!' she thought happily as she went.

As she rounded the corner and started down the hall toward the computer lab, Buffy noticed a group of four girls clustered together, blocking the entrance to the girl's restroom.

'Huh, that's interesting,' she thought as she noticed other girls trying to go into the restroom and being turned away by the group. 'Hey, they look...I've seen them before...with Cordy! Last night at the bronze!'

As Buffy approached the group, they all turned their glares on her.

'Oh please! If vamps don't scare me, you sure won't' she thought derisively. 'Now...why would they be guarding Cordy in the bathroom? Unless, she's doing something she's not supposed to...'

Treating them just like vamps, she walked right up to them, smiled brightly, and asked, "Hey Guys, What's going on?"

They all snorted or scoffed at her, apparently deferring to one vapid-looking blond in particular to respond, as she was the only one who spoke. "Well, if it isn't little miss dyke."

Just then Cordelia's voice carried out of the restroom loudly enough for Buffy to hear. 'She's really letting someone have it...' the Slayer thought, becoming angry at the thought of the mean-spirited cheerleader verbally abusing someone.

"...What's the matter Willow?," Cordelia's spiteful voice drifted out.

'No way!" Buffy thought. Icy chill flowed through her veins and she looked up at the airhead who had just called her a dyke with the same look she reserved for vampires who really pissed her off.

"Is Willow in there?" Buffy asked in clipped tones, trying not to explode.

Obviously the blond socialite wasn't too bright, because she chose to display an attitude. "None of your business, lesbo. Run along and go find some other girls to stare at, we aren't interested," she finished with a haughty air.

'It's not worth it, it's not worth it,' Buffy repeated to herself, trying not to give in to her desire to lash out. Her voice was a low growl as she spoke, "You can get the hell out of my way, or I can move you!"

Some latent self-preservation instinct must have kicked in, because the airhead suddenly lost her smug attitude and flinched away from Buffy. Her parting shot of, "Jeeze, PMS much?" lacked the confidence she'd been displaying to that point.

Buffy left Cordy's clique behind her without a thought. She rushed into the restroom with every muscle tensed for battle. As she pushed through the second door, the scene was laid out for her. Cordelia, facing away from Buffy, hands on her hips and body leaning forward aggressively; and Willow standing in front of the cheerleader, head down and arms tightly crossed in front of her.

"...going to fix my program for me, and then you're going to do all my work for the rest of..." Cordy's voice was harshly instructing the redhead.

"Hey!" Buffy snapped, not yelling, but projecting her voice loudly enough that both of the other girls jumped in shock.

Cordelia wheeled around to face the Slayer, a cruel, predatory smile gracing her face. "Well if it isn't little miss dyke herself," she decried.

Buffy snapped, "Shut up Cordy!" and walked over to get a better look at her girlfriend.

"Are you ok, Will?" Buffy's voice was soft, belying the angry stiffness of her gait.

Willow barely nodded her head, to Buffy's question—not looking up.

Buffy continued to ignore Cordelia as she walked to her girlfriend. "Willow, look at me," she pleaded. 'Come on baby, let me see you!' Buffy mentally willed the redhead to meet her gaze.

Cordelia apparently put two and two together because she suddenly quipped, "Why Buffy, that's so sweet! Did you make the little nerd-girl your puppy?"

'If you've hurt her...' Buffy thought, furious at Cordelia; more for browbeating Willow than for her taunts now.

When Willow finally looked up, and Buffy saw the hot tears running down her face and the look of shame in her eyes; the burning ball of fury in her chest collapsed in on itself and shrank down to a leaden ball of icy wrath—sunk deep into her stomach. 'You are so dead, bitch' Buffy thought, turning to the source of her anger.

"That is just *soo* cute," Cordelia said, continuing her attack.

Famous last words.

'I hate her, I hate her!' Willow thought as Cordelia made her puppy comment. 'God, I'm so ashamed...I can't even look at you, Buffy!' Willow was mortified. 'Why do I let her do this to me?'

"Willow, look at me." Buffy's voice rolled out once more.

'I'm sorry Buffy! I'm sorry I'm so weak,' Willow cried silently as she fulfilled her girlfriend's request. 'Oh Buffy!' Willow thought, her tears flowing even faster at the concern and caring she saw in the Slayer's eyes.

The blonde blinked one time and just like that, the soft emotions in Buffy's green eyes were hidden behind a glittering, flat hardness. 'uh oh!' Willow thought, feeling a chill at the violence she saw written on the Slayer's face. 'She's gonna kill her!' Willow suddenly realized, unsure of how she knew that.

Time suddenly seemed to warp oddly. Buffy appeared to be moving in slow motion as she turned to the malevolent brunette, yet Willow never even saw the Slayer's hand move.

*CRACK*

Willow flinched violently at the gunshot-like sound of Buffy's hand against Cordelia's cheek. As she dragged her eyes to the brunette's face, Willow was startled to see the back of her head, and her hair flying out from her scalp. Cordy's head whipped around so hard that she actually stumbled, and would have fallen if it weren't for Buffy's hand grasping the front of her blouse.

Willow's eyes widened at the sight of her petite girlfriend using just her left arm to lift the much larger girl into the air, as though she weighed nothing at all.

'Oh God, Buffy No!' Willow thought, suddenly shaking off her paralysis and rushing toward her girlfriend.

The impact against the wall seemed to bring Cordelia around and her eyes blinked and then widened in fear as she apparently realized her situation.

Buffy's right arm cocked back and her hand clenched into a fist.

Grasping Buffy's free arm in both her hands, Willow pled, "Don't kill her Buffy! Please, she's not worth it!"

Buffy didn't seem at all fatigued by holding Cordy in the air against the wall, or by Willow practically hanging off of her free arm. 'She—she's like a living statue or something!' Willow thought. 'Oh my God, she's so sexy right now! Oh, and I'm so bad for thinking that!'

"Buffy, please?" Willow begged.

The glittering madness in Buffy's eyes softened once again into warm emotion. "She hurt you baby!" Buffy argued softly.

Willow nodded her head, agreeing, "She did. She's a bad person." Looking up at the brunette, finally able to meet her eyes, Willow went on, "She's been constantly mean and hurtful to me my whole life...and she deserves a horrible, painful death."

Willow looked back at her girlfriend and saw her once again shooting a death-glare at the malicious bully. Letting go of her arm with one hand, Willow cupped the Slayer's cheek and turned her face back to meet her own. "But, if you kill her then they'll take you away from me! I—I can't lose you...Buffy, please...I just found you!" she whispered earnestly, tears again falling from her eyes.

Willow let go and stepped back from Buffy. 'Oh please do the right thing Buffy!' she thought. 'Dammit! Quit thinking how amazing she looks!' she raged at herself. 'this is so not the time to get all...warm and tingly...'

Buffy once more shot a hard-eyed glare at the frightened girl in her grasp before lowering her cocked fist.

Cordelia opened her mouth and inhaled, as if to say something, when Buffy again moved faster than the eye could see.

*CRUNCH*

Willow again flinched hard as the silence was shattered. 'Oh my God!' she had to blink several times. 'But, but...that's impossible!' she thought, needing another few moments to resolve the sight before her.

Cordelia's face was squinched up, as thought anticipating the blow. A moment later she must have realized she hadn't been pummeled, and she opened her eyes hesitantly.

'Oh, wow!' Willow thought as she finally realized her eyes weren't playing tricks on her. "Buffy...your hand," she whispered in awe at the sight of her girlfriend's hand, buried to the wrist in the wall. 'In the concrete block wall!'

'This isn't funny. I shouldn't be enjoying this! Oh, I am so bad!' the redhead thought as she couldn't help grinning at the abject terror that returned to Cordelia's eyes when she looked to her left and saw what Buffy had done.

"Holy Cow!" Willow heard the shocked gasp from behind her. Whirling around, she saw that Harmony and the rest of Cordy's little clique had come into the restroom in time to witness Buffy's feat.

"You, Cordelia, are a real bitch. I probably can't change that, short of killing you. However; If I *ever* see you treating Willow badly, if I ever even hear about it, if I even think it might be happening...That's gonna be your face." Buffy growled in a low, threatening voice.

Willow turned back to see Cordelia nodding frantically. 'Oh, oh my...' Willow thought as she looked down and saw a rapidly widening yellow stain appear in the crotch of Cordelia's white Capri pants.

"I'd make you apologize, but Willow's right. You aren't worth it." Buffy dropped Cordelia, causing her to stumble and nearly fall. If she hadn't been braced against the wall, she would have.

The slayer turned her back on the brunette bitch and walked over to Willow. The redhead melted at the feel of Buffy wrapping her in her strong arms. "I'm sorry Willow," she cried.

Willow stiffened when Buffy move to kiss her.

"Willow? What's wrong?" the blond asked, sounding confused.

"They're staring at us!" Willow whispered. 'God, Buffy. I want you so much...but she's starting to creep me out!' she thought uneasily.

Buffy didn't loosen her embrace, but she whispered back, "Is she still here?"

Willow nodded, not trusting her voice yet.

"When I turn around, the only people in this room had better be me and Willow!" Buffy said loud enough for Cordelia and her flock to hear. The sound of scrambling feet put a smile on her face.

"Now, where were we?" Buffy asked as Willow pulled her tight.

"I'm so sorry," Willow started to say.

"Don't you dare apologize for this Willow!" Buffy said, not angry—but definitely sternly.

Ashamed, Willow dropped her eyes and whispered, "I'm so weak, Buffy. I know I shouldn't let her get to me, but I do; every single time!"

Buffy dropped her arms from around Willow and cupped the redhead's face, gently lifting it to meet the Slayer's eyes. "Willow, that...that is not your fault!"

The deep affection in the Slayer's eyes caused a burning sensation in Willow's chest as her heart swelled with emotion.

"...she's a mean, spiteful bitch," Buffy continued. "And you...Baby, you don't have a mean bone in your body."

'Oh...I think I love you Buffy!' Willow thought, afraid to say it out loud. Instead, she just kissed her girlfriend with all the passion she was feeling.

When Buffy broke the kiss a minute later, Willow licked her lips and quietly said, "I think I like being your Baby."

A smile slowly grew on Buffy's face until it lit up her features. She rapidly blinked her shiny eyes and then said, "You are just *so* adorable!"

Willow grinned widely and ducked her head in embarrassment from the compliment. 'Oh, Buffy...this is so nice.' As she enjoyed both the emotional and physical support from her girlfriend, she wondered, 'Is it wrong to think about having sex in the girl's restroom?'

Part 5

The rest of the day was blissfully Cordelia free. By the time Buffy had finished kissing Willow's tears away and they left the restroom, Cordelia's troupe of followers was long gone as well.

After school they met up once again with Xander and Giles. Surprisingly, Xander hadn't brought up the subject of Buffy and Willow, being more concerned with Jesse's continued absence. The three were discussing where they could go to look for him when they were interrupted by Buffy's Watcher

"Good Lord!" Giles had exclaimed.

"What?" Buffy had asked, exasperated as Giles silently re-read the passage in his book without explaining himself.

Things moved rapidly as Giles explained his discoveries regarding The Harvest. He'd figured out the who, what, and when; Willow's historical research gave him the why; and it was Xander who had figured out the where. They saddled up, stopping by Buffy's for supplies, where she'd been accosted by her mother, who wanted to meet her new friend. She'd had to promise to bring Willow by after they were done 'hanging out' at the Bronze.

'If only she knew...' Buffy had thought longingly, afraid of revealing her calling but at the same time fatigued by the double life.

Finally, they made it to the Bronze, only to find it closed up and locked.

"Aargh! It's locked!" Buffy groaned.

Giles voice was rife with disapproval as he said, "We're too late!"

Buffy defended herself, "Hey! I didn't know I was gonna get interrogated!"

"Can't you just, I don't know, break it down or something?" Xander asked.

Buffy turned around and notice Willow's hopeful look. 'Great, now she thinks I'm supergirl!' Buffy thought. Embarrassed, Buffy muttered, "No, not that thing. Big thick steel doors are a little too tough, even for me." Thinking quickly, she said, "Um...You guys try the back entrance, and I'll find my own way."

Giles looked at Willow and Xander, "Right. Come on."

Buffy said, "Uh, wait! Guys! Here!" She handed Giles her weapons bag. 'God I want to kiss you right now!' she thought as she looked at Willow. She tentatively reached out to the redhead, and then dropped her hand as she shot a glance at Giles and Xander.

Trying to ignore the Watcher's confusion, and Xander's smirk, Buffy whispered, "Be safe!" It could have been taken as a statement to them all, but her eyes were communicating urgently to Willow alone.

"You too," Willow replied, her emotions evident in her voice. The fair-skinned girl blushed brightly upon noticing the two men looking at her.

Buffy turned back to the guys and said, "You get the exit cleared and the people out. That's all! Don't go Wild Bunch on me."

Giles nodded and said, "Uh, see you inside, then."

Buffy made her way to an upper window, broke it open and crawled in. She could hear a deep voice booming, "I feel the Master's strength growing!"

Buffy moved in and looked down, seeing a big ugly vamp on the stage. She could see the mark Giles had described on his forehead.

The big ugly said, "I feel him rising. Every soul brings him closer! I need another!"

Feeling her heart pound, Buffy whispered to herself, "The Vessel."

Buffy immediately noticed another vamp on the upper level with her. He noticed her as well and growled at her, attracting the attention from the big ugly on the stage.

Buffy saw that The Vessel was holding Cordelia Chase, preparing to bite. 'Oh, to be just a minute later!' she thought. She felt a pang of guilt and ran over to quickly dust the vamp on the catwalk with her. The Slayer then shouted, "Oh, I'm sorry, were you in the middle of something?"

The big ugly shouted, "Who are you?"

"I'm the one who's gonna kick your ass!" Buffy said, knowing that would piss him off and distract him from killing Cordelia while she made her way down to him. 'Bad Buffy!' she chastised herself at the continued mixed emotions. 'Can't let the vamps kill a human, not even that one!'

She jumped over the railing, spinning though the air and landing on a pool table. A vampire attacked from her right and Buffy did a handstand, grabbing a pool cue on the way, and then flipped over off of the table onto the floor. As she landed, she thrust the cue into the attacking vampire and dusted him.

Buffy said, "Okay, Vessel boy." She paused to remove her jacket before continuing, "You want blood?"

Big ugly said, "I want yours!" he dropped Cordelia as he continued "Only yours!"

Buffy shrugged and said, "Works for me." She did a series of cartwheels up onto the stage, and immediately spin-kicked the big ugly into a pile of chairs. Big ugly growled as he came back at her, swinging for her head, but she ducked the punch and popped up behind him. He tried a backhand punch, but she grabbed onto his arm and kicked him three times in the stomach before he pulled away. She pulled out a stake and lunged at him, but he blocked the lunge, knocking the stake from her grip. He grabbed her and lifted her up into the air, throwing her into a pile of boxes.

At that point, Giles, Willow and Xander finally managed to break in through the back door.

Giles said, "Hurry!" and Xander ran in to see what was going on. He saw Buffy get up from where she'd been thrown, and then turned his attention to the crowd.

"C'mon! Let's go! C'mon! C'mon! C'mon! C'mon!" Xander called out to the people in a low voice, gesturing to the back door.

Giles guided the people to the back door, whispering, "Hurry up! Come on! Through this door! Come on! This way!"

Back on stage, Buffy landed a backhand punch on Big Ugly's face, knocking him into another pile of stuff and dazing him. She turned to the back of the club when she noticed the people were leaving, and saw a vampire grab Xander. 'Oh no you don't!' she thought quickly and then grabbed a cymbal from a drum kit. She threw it at the vampire like a Frisbee.

Xander saw the cymbal coming and ducked just in time for it to decapitate the vampire.

Even in this situation, Xander apparently couldn't resist a joke. He said, "Head's up!"

Buffy heard the joke and couldn't resist a chuckle. Just then, big ugly grabbed her from behind.

Obviously realizing who and what Buffy was, Big ugly said, "I always wanted to kill a Slayer!"

In the back, Giles and Willow were still guiding people out, when Giles said, "We're going to have to open the front as well!"

At that moment a blond Vampire leapt onto him from behind, knocking him to the floor.

Back on stage, Buffy heard Big ugly intone, "Master! Taste of this...and be free!" Feeling the vampire's cool breath on her neck, Buffy threw her head back—smashing his face and knocking him away from her and back to the wall. She turned around and quipped, "How'd it taste?"

In the back, Giles was struggling with the blond vampire. Xander's attention was on the fight on stage. Willow grabbed a jar of holy water out of her pocket and shouted, "Get off of him!"

The vampire looked up at her, evil laughter on her face as though she thought she was unstoppable.

Willow threw the jar of water right in the vamp's face.

The vampire screamed as the water burned her flesh. She jumped up and ran out of the club, screaming all the way.

Back on stage, Buffy grabbed a microphone stand and held it like a javelin.

Big ugly laughed and taunted her in his deep, booming voice, "You forget, metal can't hurt me."

Buffy said, "There's something you forgot about, too. Sunrise!"

She threw the stand at the window behind Big Ugly. He ducked as the window shattered. A bright light streamed in through it and Big ugly shielded his face with his hands, obviously fooled by Buffy's ruse. He dropped his arms when he noticed that it was only a bright lamp.

In the meantime, Buffy found the stake she dropped on the stage and picked it up. Buffy lunged at him from behind and rammed the stake home, saying, "It's in about nine hours, moron!"

Big ugly staggered off of the stage, falling to the floor below and exploding into ash.

Buffy stared down for a moment at Big Ugly's ashes.

Peripherally, the Slayer noticed when two vampires grabbed Xander. 'I am your worst nightmare!' she thought as she lifted her gaze to meet theirs.

The vampires panicked and ran.

Giles walked over to Buffy and said, "I take it it's over."

Willow approached Buffy, asking, "Did we win?"

'Don't care who's watching!' Buffy thought gruffly. 'Need Willowlips now!' Ignoring Giles' question, the Slayer grabbed her girlfriend, pulling her into a hug, and began to kiss her soundly.

When she came up for air Buffy looked tenderly down at the blissful face of her Willow. 'Adorable!' she thought giddily.

Turning to Giles and Xander, she glared at them, thinking, 'I dare you to say something!'

Giles gapped like a fish out of water, the shock clear on his face. Xander stared vacantly as well, but his eyes radiated lust, rather than shock.

Buffy's attention was drawn back to her girlfriend as Willow cupped her face, sliding her fingers into Buffy's hair and drawing her back into a series of tender, loving kisses.

Buffy barely noticed Giles stuttering, "W—well, we averted the, um, the Apocalypse."

Xander voice was wistful as he answered, "Well, we should get points for that." His voice sounded slightly more attentive as he added, "One thing's for sure: nothing's ever gonna be the same."

'Oh, so wow!' Buffy thought as she finally broke the kiss. "That's for sure," she said to Xander's comment as she looked deeply into Willow's half-lidded eyes.

Willow blushed and dropped her gaze, however, her enormous grin was clearly visible to all.

"Buffy, may I speak with you please?" Giles asked, sounding very formal and stiff.

"Kinda busy at the moment," Buffy said, still staring at Willow. 'It's too soon to say it...you probably wouldn't believe me anyway...Oh God, I am so falling for you Willow!' she thought; her whole body churning with desire and her heart overflowing with adoration for the redhead in her arms.

"Please, I really must insist," Giles persisted.

Buffy growled in annoyance. She would have made a rude comment except that Willow smiled at her and whispered, "It's ok Buffy, I'm not going anywhere."

'Chill out Slayer! Don't make a scene...' Buffy thought to herself as she restrained her knee-jerk desire to snap at the older man. "Sure," she answered unenthusiastically. Turning back to Willow, she whispered, "Be right back!" and dropped her arms, following her Watcher across the room.

If her hips happened to sway a bit more than usual, it was purely unintentional.

'Oh...oh Buffy!' Willow watched her girlfriend follow Giles away. 'Did I just not notice how sexy a girl's behind is? Maybe it's just Buffy's...' Willow thought; unable to keep her eyes from focusing on her girlfriend's derrière.

Xander's voice suddenly broke the redhead's reverie, "I never want to hear another complaint from you about how I watch girls' butts, Will!"

'Oh no!' Willow lamented, feeling her face grow hot. 'I totally forgot!'

Willow turned away from her retreating girlfriend and looked at her best friend since childhood. "Oh God!" she squeaked, dropping her gaze to the floor upon seeing his teasing smirk. 'I am so busted!' she thought, embarrassed.

"So...Will. How's things?" Xander asked. "Anything going on? Any news for your bestest bud?"

Xander's voice sounded casual, but Willow knew better. Still blushing profusely, she stammered, "Ah, um...that is."

Xander continued without pause, "You know, little things...like, didja get a new goldfish, or maybe...I dunno...start making out with other girls!?"

"Xander!" Willow exclaimed, smacking him on the shoulder.

"Geez Will, I didn't know you were French!" Xander said, grinning like an idiot.

'Huh? French? Oh!' Willow blushed even harder when she 'got it'.

"Come on Will! You're holding out on me! So spill already!" Xander said, laughing.

'Well, at least he's not freaking out!' Willow thought, attempting to master her bashfulness.

"Ok, well...last night," Willow started, and then got hung up. 'I never talk to you about this stuff, Xander. Mostly because I had a crush on you, I guess...so I of course couldn't talk to you about it, cause it was about you...so...'

The pause was apparently too long for Xander, and he jumped to the wrong conclusion. "You, you didn't! On the...not on the first date! Will!" he stuttered, shocked.

"Huh?" Willow blurted, her train of thought derailed. Her eyes widened and her jaw dropped as she figured out what he was implying, "No! No, we didn't...No! No, just kissing and...Of course I wouldn't! No we're just girlfriends! I mean not *just* girlfriends; more like boyfriend-girlfriend girlfriends, except without the boyfriend part, of course...like more than girlfriendly, girlfriends I guess. Is girlfriendly a word?"

"Whoa, breathe Willow!" Xander exclaimed.

"I...Huh? Oh." Willow snapped herself back into focus as she felt Xander grabbing her shoulders

"I think I get it Will—you guys are lesbian girlfriends," Xander said. A look of surprise appeared on his face and he shook his head vigorously for a moment before continuing. "Ok, so when did you become a lesbian? I mean, not that I'm not ok with it or anything, but you never seemed interested in girls before Buffy."

'No, I was too interested in you, you big butthead!' Willow thought, still feeling a little annoyed with his cluelessness. "I dunno...Buffy's different, I guess. She's not like other girls," she said in answer to his question.

"You can say that again," Xander agreed softly.

"I don't think it's *girls*, just *girl*. Just Buffy," Willow said, her mind wandering back to their last kiss. "She makes me feel...warm...and all fluttery, down in my tummy." Desire laced her voice as she added, "She's so, so...sexy!"

Xander's voice was filled with not a little lust as he agreed, "Oh yeah!"

Willow's eyes narrowed at his tone. "Hey! You keep your mitts...mental mitts—or whatever—off of my girlfriend!" she snapped, punching him on the arm.

"Hey!" Xander exclaimed, rubbing his arm with the opposite hand. "That hurt!" he pouted.

Shaking her finger at him, Willow admonished Xander, saying, "You just watch yourself mister! 'Less you want me to lay a smackdown on ya!"

Xander smiled, "Threats, huh? You are *so* smitten on her already!"

Willow smiled broadly, even though she was blushing furiously. She nodded her head in delighted resignation, saying, "I am. Oh I *so* am, Xander!"

Xander wrapped her up in a hug, saying "I'm glad for you Will! Congratulations!"

'Thank God!' Willow thought, relieved. 'He's really happy for me!' Willow hugged back, thinking, 'I love you Xander. Even if you are a clueless idiot!'

They broke their embrace, laughing.

Willow was about to tell him how glad she was that he was cool with this when she noticed Buffy returning.

"Ok Giles, what's the what? What's so important that it couldn't wait?" Buffy asked with annoyance.

Giles' motions were jerky as he yanked off his glasses and began to clean them on his handkerchief. His voice was low, but rife with censure as he said, "Really, Buffy; what exactly do you think that you are doing with that girl?"

'Huh?' Buffy thought, taken aback by the sudden attack. "Uh, it's called kissing. Don't they have that in England?"

"This is hardly the time for jocularity, young lady. You have a calling. There is no time for this nonsense!" Giles said, disapprovingly.

A sudden shiver of apprehension tingled through Buffy. "Ok, I don't even know what chalky Larry tea is, but if you're all worked up 'cause Willow's a girl," she started.

"What?" Giles asked suddenly surprised. "What does that have to do with it?"

'And again I say, Huh?' Buffy thought as her brain tried to switch gears. "Ok, see; you're having a conversation, and I'm having a conversation...and I don't think my conversation is the same as your conversation," she said, confused.

Giles slipped his glasses onto his face and sighed heavily. "Buffy, I understand the feelings you must be having, but the Slayer cannot afford to be involved in emotional entanglements," he began, sounding almost sad.

"Hold it!" Buffy said firmly, anger once again rising up to push aside any confusion she was feeling. "Anything you're about to say that boils down to 'I can't see Willow anymore...' I strongly suggest you forget about it."

"Buffy, the Chosen One," Giles tried to interject.

"Un uh! No 'Chosen One' crap!" the Slayer said forcefully, stopping Giles in his tracks. "You understand? Avoid emotional entanglements? You don't understand jack! I'm already entangled, and happy to be!" Throwing up her hands in a gesture of exasperation Buffy chided, "God! Were you always this stiff? Try taking the stick out of your-"

"Now see here!" Giles rebuked angrily.

"No Watcher...You see here!" Buffy again cut of the older man, feeling herself on the verge of lashing out. Her voice was low and dangerous, and her eyes held the same look she gave Cordelia in the restroom earlier that day as she laid it out for him, "You keep telling me I'm the Chosen One? Well, you'd better back off on the Willow thing, or you can go choose someone else! Got it?"

'Dammit!' Buffy thought, feeling a pang of guilt at the sudden fear she saw in Giles' eyes. 'No! I will not feel guilty for scaring the Watcher!' she raged as she turned and walked away, heading back to her girlfriend and Xander. 'This is *his* fault! Not mine!' she seethed, feeling more and more angry with each passing moment.

When she reached Willow, the redhead's response wasn't good.

"Buffy! What's wrong?! Are you ok?" Willow asked, shock and fright on her face.

'Ok, scaring the girlfriend a bad thing...' Buffy realized she was broadcasting her rage. 'Smile Buffy, chill...'

"Willow, baby? Could you and Xander wait here just a minute? I need to take care of something outside really quick and then I'll be right back, ok?" Buffy asked, working hard to sound calm and cool.

"Uh, sure, Buffy," Willow said, still looking confused.

'At least she isn't afraid...' Buffy thought regretfully.

"Buffy?" Willow asked in a shy, little-girl voice. "Are you ok?"

'Damn you Giles!' Buffy raged silently. She cupped Willow's face gently and softly said, "I will be in a minute, promise!"

The Slayer turned and walked out the front door quickly, before she lost control in front of her friends.

"Ok, that was...weird," Xander said, sounding confused.

"She looked really mad," Willow said, a cold feeling still rolling around in her stomach. 'Why would she...'

Willow turned to look at Giles. 'How come he's still over there...' That feeling of cold in her stomach suddenly spread out, running up her back. "If you hurt her," she growled.

"Uh Will? What's wrong with you now?" Xander's surprised voice faded into the background as she strode over to the Watcher.

'Won't look me in the eye, huh? You did something!' Willow fumed mentally.

Stepping right in front of Giles, Willow put her hands on her hips and looked up at him. "What did you do to her!" she demanded angrily.

"I...nothing...it's nothing," Giles stuttered, avoiding the redheads gaze.

"Look at me!" Willow snapped. Upon receiving the watchers shocked attention, she continued, "Tell me what you said to her!"

At this point Willow felt Xander at her back, but he remained silent. 'Thank you Xander!' she thought, feeling a momentary warmth that her friend was backing her up.

"What goes on between a Watcher and his Slayer is really none of your concern, Ms. Rosenberg." Giles said stuffily.

'Why you!' Willow felt her jaw sag open and she sputtered in outrage for a moment. "What happens between you and my girlfriend is *completely* my business! Especially when whatever it is makes her upset like that!" she loudly exclaimed.

Giles sighed loudly and said, "I only warned her of the dangers of becoming emotionally entangled. The Slayer cannot afford the luxury of such a relationship."

Willow dropped her hands from her hips and crossed them in front of her.

"Uh, emotional entanglements?" Xander asked, his voice sounding confused.

"Me." Willow explained. 'Not gonna cry...not in front of them...course I might scream!' Willow's thoughts and emotions churned as her lips quivered.

"You?" Xander asked, still apparently unclear.

"He told her she can't see me any more," Willow said, the pain clear in her voice.

Just then a series of hollow metallic booms, coming from outside, grew loud enough to divert everyone's attention.

"Buffy?" Willow worried suddenly. Immediately forgetting the Watcher, Willow ran for the front door.

There was a momentary silence, and then a loud metallic crashing sound as something apparently struck the building they were in.

"Oh God! Buffy!?" Willow shouted, instantly fearing the worst.

Just before she reached the front door, it flew open and the object of her desire and concern came rushing in.

"Willow! What is it!?" Buffy exclaimed, sounding alarmed.

Willow skidded to a stop right in front of her girlfriend, suddenly feeling foolish. "Oh, I...uh I heard...and I thought you..." she mumbled, looking down in embarrassment.

"Oh!" Buffy responded. "I, uh..."

Willow's eyes widened as she noticed the Slayer's hands were bloody. "Oh Buffy! Your hands!" she exclaimed, reaching gently to take them in her own.

Buffy pulled her hands away quickly, moving them around behind her back, stuttering, "Oh, I...it's nothing."

Willow looked up at the blonde's face in confusion. "Nothing? Buffy, you're hurt! It's not nothing!"

Buffy just dropped her eyes and turned her head away.

'You look like a little kid who got caught doing something wrong...But what?' Willow wondered as she considered her girlfriend. "Come on," she said, grasping the Slayer's shoulder and leading her toward the women's restroom.

"Uh, where are we going?" Buffy asked, her voice reflecting Willow's line of thought as she was led away.

Willow didn't say anything until they reached the restroom. Leading Buffy to one of the sinks, the redhead released her and started the faucet running.

'Oh no...she really looks pissed!' Buffy thought fearfully. 'Oh please don't be angry with me Willow! I couldn't take it right now...'

"Willow? Are you mad at me?" she asked, her voice high and filled with trepidation.

Willow looked up from the sink, meeting Buffy's eyes in the mirror.

Before the redhead could respond, Buffy's inner fears rose to a head, and she began to nervously babble, "Cause, I know I shouldn't have thrown a temper tantrum like that...I mean, it was silly and, and juvenile and...he just made me so mad! And, I know I should have just dealt with it, but I was kinda worked up from the slaying and sometimes it's hard to turn off the whole fight-mode, and of course I couldn't hit him, even though I kinda wanted to, and so I didn't want you guys to see me lose it, so I."

Buffy's rambling died away as Willow turned and brought her fingers up to Buffy's lips, shushing the blonde. "Shh. Buffy, I'm not mad at you," she said with a sincere smile. "I was just worried!"

Feeling Willow's fingers trail over her lips to cup her cheek, Buffy's eyes fluttered shut and she let out a shuddering sigh. The tightness in her chest loosened a bit and she pressed her face against Willow's hand, whispering, "Oh, sorry."

Buffy had to suppress a whimper when Willow pulled her hand away. She opened her eyes and watched with rapt attention as the redhead took one of her arms by the wrist and moved her hand toward the sink.

Willow cupped her free hand under the stream of warm water and gently poured it over Buffy's scraped knuckles. Buffy couldn't quite bite back the moan that escaped her lips at both the feel and the sight of the redhead's careful attention.

"Sorry," Willow winced.

'Oh my God! You're killing me Willow!' Buffy screamed mentally, her body suddenly buzzing with arousal while her heart ached with tender adoration. 'You are so...so...wonderful!' she thought as a single tear escaped her welling eyes.

Willow didn't look up; she just continued to carefully and gently wash the grime and dried blood from the Slayer's right hand. "So much power, such little hands, so lovely," she whispered so quietly that only Buffy's augmented senses allowed her to hear it at all.

By the time the redhead finished her task and gently patted Buffy's hands dry with a paper towel, the Slayer's face was wet with silent tears. 'I love you!' Buffy's mind exulted. 'Too fast, too soon, but, so *so* true! Oh, how can I love you so much?'

Willow's gentle smile fell away when she looked up at the Slayer's tearstained face. "Buffy?" she asked, sounding deeply concerned.

"What did I ever do?" Buffy choked out, on the verge of sobbing. "How did I ever deserve you?"

The fear that had momentarily bloomed in Willow's countenance dissolved into an embarrassed smile. She looked away and tossed the used towels into the trash.

"I—I," Willow stammered for a moment before meeting the Slayer's gaze once again. "Buffy, you saved the world!" She once again looked away and her insecurity was evident as she dropped her voice to a quiet whisper, "You deserve way better than me!"

'No, no, no, no, no, no!' Buffy's mind spun at Willow's self-doubt. She cupped the redhead's face in both hands and pressed a gentle, emotional kiss upon her lips. When she pulled away a few moments later, she stared into her girlfriend's wide, slightly crossed eyes and forcefully whispered, "There *is* no such thing!"

Buffy could almost see Willow's mind working out her meaning for several seconds before she got it. When she did, the smile that graced her face was radiant.

'Oh God! If I kiss you right now, I don't think I'll be able to stop!' Buffy thought, feeling powerful desire coursing through her veins. She took Willow's hand in hers and pulled her toward the door. "Come on! Lets get out of here before Xander comes looking for a free show!"

Willow laughed and followed closely behind.

"Thank God!" Xander said with overdramatic relief in his voice as Buffy and Willow exited the ladies-room at the Bronze.

Buffy looked at Willow only to see her confusion mirrored on the redhead's face.

"I thought something might have happened...I was just about to go in there and make sure you were ok!" Xander went on to explain.

'Oh yeah, I bet!' Buffy thought, laughing as she remembered her comment to Willow about the 'free show'.

Willow obviously remembered as well, because she also burst into laughter.

Buffy's laughter only increased as she turned and saw Xander's face tighten in confusion. 'We are going to have so much fun teasing you Xander!' she thought.

The laughter died as she remembered why she was there in the first place. She began to look around, searching for the source of her ire.

"Don't worry, Buff!" Xander said. "Bad Watcher-man took off pretty much as soon as you and Will went in there.

"Did he say anything?" Willow asked in a voice that was at once both irritated and apprehensive.

"Only that he wanted to see Buffy in the library tomorrow...I believe his exact words were, 'Please ask Ms. Summers if she would do me the courtesy of joining me in the school library sometime when it's convenient for her tomorrow.'" Xander reiterated, using a bad English accent when quoting Giles. "Boy, does that guy use way too many words, or what!"

When she felt Willow give her hand a squeeze, Buffy looked at her and saw concern in her eyes. 'Sorry Will' she thought, realizing that she was glowering. She deliberately put a grin on her face and said, "Let's forget Mr. Needs-to-mind-his-own-business for tonight, 'K?"

"Absolutely!" Willow said with quiet passion.

"I'm down with that!" Xander said more animatedly. "So, whaddawe do now? I'm not really up on post-almost-apocalyptic celebration etiquette."

"Well," Buffy began. "I'm supposed to introduce you guys to my mom?" 'Not sure that counts as a celebration...'

"Whoa, Buffy! Slow down the party train!" Xander said with a laugh.

"Xander!" Willow huffed.

'My defender,' Buffy thought with a genuine smile at Willow's protective posture. "S'ok Will," she said, giving her girlfriend a squeeze. She began to walk towards the exit as she explained, "Well, I had to promise my mom I'd introduce you guys before she'd let me leave to come here and stop the world from ending."

"Well, it's good to know that your mom's got her priorities in order!" Xander said, moving ahead of the two girls to open the door.

"Well, it's not like she knew about the 'end of the world' part." Buffy explained as she led Willow through the door.

"Holy shamoly!" Xander shouted suddenly.

"What?" Willow asked as she jumped at his shout.

"That!" he answered, pointing to the left.

'Oh...darn,' Buffy thought as she looked at Xander and noticed where he was looking.

"Oh my God! Buffy?!" Willow gasped when she saw what he was pointing toward.

Buffy slowly looked up toward the object of their attention. 'I really should have thrown that down the alley or something...' she thought, embarrassed by the evidence of her tantrum.

Lying at the base of the Bronze's wall was a crumpled mass of metal. If you didn't know what it was, it would have been difficult to identify. Upon further examination, you'd probably notice the large castor wheels. An even closer look and you might be able to make out the 'Sunnydale Sanitation' sticker, though it was distorted and out of shape due to the crumpled sheet steel to which it was attached.

"Uh...Oops?" Buffy offered embarrassedly after a moment's uncomfortable silence.

Willow's voice was stupefied as she squeaked, "You slayed a dumpster?"

Willow sat down at her desk, still bouncing with energy after being walked home by her girlfriend. 'Gosh, I haven't made a journal entry in days!' she thought as she booted up her laptop. 'Good thing I keep it encrypted...mom or dad would definitely put me in an institution if they ever read about the yesterday and today!'

As she opened her journal file and was prompted for a password, she suddenly felt hot with embarrassment. "Oh gosh, I'm gonna have to change that!" she muttered as she typed 'ilovexander'.

'Ok, so I'm a hopeless nerd,' she thought, blushing even harder as she entered the new password: 'ilovebuffy'

Thursday February 5, 1997:

Gosh, I feel like I'm not even the same person who made the last entry! I'm not sure where to begin. Everything changed yesterday. I guess I'll start with the biggest change, for me anyway...I finally found a cure for my complete obsession with Xander Harris! That's right I actually met someone! Oh, and I had my first Kiss! It was only last night, but I've already had like my second through my hundredth kiss since then!

Her name is Buffy Summers!

Yep that's big change number two; she's a girl. Well, that's not a change, she's always been a girl as far as I know, but it's a change that I'm liking a girl like that, cause I never have before, at least not that I ever noticed. I think I would have.

She's so amazing! She's really, really beautiful. I can't believe that she'd want anything to do with me! Cordelia was already all like, "You should hang out with me and my friends" and Buffy totally blew her off to spend time with ME! That was before she even knew anything about me!

Xander so has the hots for her, but I put him in his place! She's mine and he's not allowed to touch! Speaking of Xander, he was so cool about it! I was afraid he'd wig out, but he was all 'I'm glad for you Will!' so I know it's gonna be ok. I really do love that boy, even if he was always too stupid to notice. Now it's too late for him even if he did notice.

I hope Jesse is as cool about it, but he ditched school again today, so he doesn't know yet.

I'm not gay. Ok that was kinda abrupt and all, but I'm not. Not that there's anything wrong with someone who is or anything, I'm just not. I still think boys are nice and all, and I have to admit that I still kinda get a little fluttery in my tummy when Xander smiles at me, but that's nothing like what I feel with Buffy!

I'm *so* in love with Buffy Summers!

Gosh, I think I blushed just typing that. It's so soon, too soon. I can't tell her cause she'd freak for sure! I mean I know she likes me—yeah, hard to believe, but when she kisses me...definitely much liking there! Last night she didn't want to come in and I kinda started to wig, cause, you know; it's like it was a dream, and here I was about to wake up and find out it wasn't real, but she pushed me up against the door and kissed me...and then she told me that she couldn't come in cause she was afraid she would...like lose control. She wants me! Like, in a naughty-touching kind of way!

When she said that, and I looked in her eyes...

I think I ruined those underwear.

I am so blushing right now! I never ever felt like that before! Even though I didn't want her to leave, I was kinda relieved she did, cause I had to take a shower! I didn't even know you could get like that...I mean sometimes when Xander would hug me...I felt something, you know...down there. And, I know a girl's body is supposed to...stuff's supposed to happen during...you know. But this was...God! It's so embarrassing. It was wet! I mean really, really wet and...I can't even write it here!

Suffice it to say, Buffy has an affect on me that's way more than I ever felt about anyone else before.

But, that's just physical. I know love is more than that, but I feel way more than that too! I can't stop thinking about her, and my heart feels like it's gonna bust open cause it's so full! But, not in an icky blood and gory kind of way. I mean in a metaphorical way.

Just want to clear that up.

So anyway, I'm totally in love with this girl, but I can't tell her yet cause it's way too soon and I don't want to freak her out, cause loosing her would...I can't even...

New subject!

So, big change number four; Buffy's a Vampire Slayer.

I guess that should be number five, cause 'Vampires are real' kinda deserves it's own number. Yes, I know. I didn't believe in vampires either, cause, who would? But I saw one! In fact, I almost got killed by one last night, and then there were a whole bunch tonight, but I'll get to that.

So, vampires are real, and Buffy is the one girl in all the world who is chosen to fight them! Which, I guess isn't really so much fun for her, but it's so cool at the same time! Buffy kicks butt! She totally dusted this vampire named Thomas that tried to kill me last night. Oh, dusted is what happens when they die—they just go poof! And all that's left is a pile of dust!

I couldn't believe it when I saw it—one minute he's there...Oh, and their faces go all grr and ugly with ridgy foreheads and fangs and stuff! It's so gross!

Anyway, he's there, all grr—and then Buffy breaks this board all apart with her bare hands and stabs it in the heart with this big pointy piece and poof!

So then tonight, a whole bunch of vampires took over the Bronze! It was this thing called the Harvest. There's this really powerful vampire called the master, and he's stuck underground by some kind of mystical energy thing, and this other vampire called the vessel was supposed to go kill a bunch of people and suck their blood, and the energy somehow would go to this master guy. Like harvesting souls I guess. Anyway, he killed the bouncer at the bronze! I didn't see it, but I saw the body after...that poor guy. I'd never seen a dead body like that before—like, not all made up and in a casket. Just dead, sprawled out like a doll someone had thrown away.

I hate vampires!

But anyway, Buffy totally kicked these vampire's butts! Oh! And I helped! This skanky blond vampire girl jumped on Giles—he's Buffy's Watcher, which is like her boss, sort of—anyway she was totally all over him and I dumped a jar of holy water on her! She screamed and ran! I totally kicked her butt! Yay me! Of course I was completely terrified too...but still!

Then after the rest of the vampires ran away, and all the people were gone and it was just me and Xander and Giles and Buffy, and I was kinda dazed and I said, "Did we win?" and Buffy just pulled me up against her and kissed me! Right in front of Xander and Giles! I was so lost that I didn't even get embarrassed. It wasn't a little kiss either, it was so hot I thought I was gonna melt right there!

Then, of course after, I got all embarrassed cause Xander was all smirking at me. He knew, even though I didn't tell him yet. He figured out Buffy was interested in me before I did. How he can be so observant to figure that out, but never...oh well. That doesn't matter any more anyway.

So, everything is going so good, and then Giles goes and spoils it. He doesn't approve of me and Buffy. He said she can't afford to be "emotionally entangled". Meany Watcher man! Anyway, Buffy got really mad, even though she didn't show it, she walked outside and took it out on a dumpster! She totally smashed a big steel dumpster like it was a milk carton, it was completely flat! Oh, and her hands were all banged up when she came back inside. I took her into the bathroom and washed them, and she was so sweet! She was worried that I'd be mad or something and she said she didn't deserve me, and I was like, 'You're a superhero! You deserves way better than me', and she said there was no such thing!

God, I'm crying right now just remembering it! How could I not love her?

Xander kinda freaked out a little about the dumpster. He'll get over it though. Just like I told Buffy; he's a guy, she's a hot, sexy chick. Oh yeah, he'll get over it! Of course, I couldn't stop blushing when I said she was a sexy chick...but I got more smoochies right after!

I'm definitely addicted to Buffysmoochies!

Then we met her mom, and that was a little uncomfortable. I mean, she was super nice, and she even made hot cocoa! It's just...I think she caught me staring at Buffy. I really tried to be cool and stuff, but...I just couldn't help myself! She is so, so beautiful! Anyway, I noticed I was staring, and when I looked the other way, I caught her mom giving me a weird look.

I told Buffy, but she said I shouldn't worry about it. I don't know though...I don't want to get her in trouble with her mom! I'd feel terrible!

We walked Xander home, which he laughed about. He said it was very gentlemanly of Buffy to walk us home, but he stopped laughing when I pointed out that, if Buffy was the gentleman, that made him the lady.

He didn't think that was as funny as Buffy and I did.

When we dropped him off, I could tell he wasn't really happy to be home. I could hear his parent's fighting, like they always do. They're really not bad people, except when they're drinking. Anyway, he said something about trying to call Jesse again, I hope he does. Xander's really worried about him, and I kinda am too, cause even though he's done this before, usually he's just at home, or at the arcade, and Xander couldn't find him either place. Normally it'd be like no big deal, but with the whole vampire thing...I don't even want to think about that.

So Buffy walked me home and I think there's something about my front door, cause she did it again tonight. Not that I minded! By the time we were done kissing, I couldn't think straight! I've got to figure out something though, I was all...well, messy again—even worse this time! Plus, when she told me she couldn't come in cause she really, really wouldn't be able to keep her hands off of me? I almost said 'Ok!' That's what I was thinking, which is the same thing I've been thinking pretty much since she put her fist through the wall and made Cordelia pee her pants!

Ok, so that's the last two days all caught up, I think I'm going to go to bed now.

I hope I have more sexy Buffy dreams!

Willow started to log off of her computer when a thought struck her. 'I bet I could do some research and find something to help me...figure things out.'

Her face grew very warm as she mulled the idea over. "I'll never go to sleep feeling like this anyway," she whispered her justification to herself as she came to a decision, opening up her web browser and starting a search.

Part 6

"I'm afraid I'm going to get used to this if you keep it up," Buffy's mom quipped as she came into the kitchen.

Buffy looked up from the bowl of cinnamon Life she was wolfing down. 'Huh?' she thought, seeing the smirk on her mother's mouth. "Eating breakfast?" she mumbled questioningly through her mouthful of food.

"Don't talk with your mouth full," her mom reminded her. She walked over to the counter and began to set up the coffee maker before continuing, "No, I meant the whole getting up before me thing. Frankly I don't know how you do it, staying out as late as you do."

Finishing her mouthful, Buffy shrugged and said, "I just want to get over to Willow's so we can walk to school together." A smile grew wide on her face as she silently added, 'Of course, that's after I kiss her breathless first!'

"Buffy, I," her mom started, then paused.

Buffy looked back to see that the elder Summers was wearing her 'concerned mom' look. 'Uh oh...that's never a good sight!' she thought with sudden trepidation.

"I need to talk to you about Willow," Joyce said, her posture seeming awkward and uncomfortable.

Buffy's eyes narrowed slightly and it took an effort to keep her voice neutral as she said, "What about her?"

Something must have come through in Buffy's voice, because her mom was instantly solicitous, "She seems like a very nice girl."

"She is," Buffy couldn't help but interject. "She's great!"

'Whoops!' she thought when her mother's eyes narrowed thoughtfully. "What about her, Mom?" Buffy said, deliberately looking down and resuming eating her cereal.

"Well, I don't want to create any problems, but I think...Willow may...well, she seemed like she might have a little...crush. On you."

'Oh God!' Buffy thought, choking slightly but managing to avoid spraying the countertop with cereal. 'Oh God, oh God, oh God! What do I do?' her mind rambled in a panic.

"Uh, why...what...um," Buffy sputtered. She had to stop and breathe for a moment before she could get her mouth to work properly. Glancing back up at her mother's face, Buffy said, "Um, what makes you say that?"

The thoughtful look on her mother's face was wavering into confusion. "Well...it's the way she was staring at you last night when you weren't looking."

'Just be cool, Buffy' she told herself. Striving for nonchalance as she carried her bowl and spoon over to the sink and rinsed them out, she said, "Staring at me?"

Her mom's voice had a note of suspicion in it as she expounded, "Yes, she stared at you with puppy dog eyes."

'Oh, that's so sweet!' Buffy thought, thankful to have her back to her mother, as she couldn't keep the smile off of her face. "I, uh...ok?" she stammered, not certain how to respond.

"Well," It was clear from her tone that this was not how she had expected Buffy to react. "I just wanted you to be aware of it."

Buffy put the milk in the refrigerator, still not meeting her mother's gaze. "Oh, well...I don't think it's gonna be a problem," she said. 'See, didn't even have to lie! 'Cause, Willow crushing on me? *So* not a bad thing!' Out loud, Buffy added, "Gotta go, Mom. Don't wanna be late to school!" She grabbed her pack and started for the door.

"Buffy!" her mom exclaimed.

'Dang! Almost made it!' Buffy lamented. Schooling her features into as placid a mask as possible, Buffy turned around.

Arms crossed and a look of suspicion in her eye, Joyce Summers said, "Buffy...is there something you want to tell me?"

"Nope!" Buffy said, forcing a smile onto her face. 'Nothing I *want* to tell you, at least not right now!' she added to herself.

Her mother didn't lose the look of suspicion, but it was clear that she couldn't immediately come up with anything further to say. "Ok...well, have a good day at school then."

"Ok, bye Mom!" Buffy said, feeling a little relief as she beat a hasty retreat through the front door.

Buffy's relief was short lived though. 'I have a feeling that this was just part one of the interrogation,' she thought.

Buffy mulled over the issue as she sprinted to Willow's. 'I should just tell her, 'cause she's gonna figure it out eventually, and she'll be pissed at me for not telling her, and I don't wanna hide anyway. Plus, if Willow can't stop staring at me...not that I want her to stop! Puppy dog eyes! How adorable is that?' Images of Willow's sexy eyes staring at her with longing rolled through Buffy's mind.

Less savory thoughts came to the fore as she turned onto Willow's block. 'What if she freaks out that I'm bisexual? She didn't seem all upset that Willow might be interested in me, just wanted me to know, right? But what if she was...What if she...No! She got over me burning down the gym at Hemery...she can get over this!'

As Buffy slowed to a stop in front of Willow's house, she decided, 'I'm gonna tell her. She'll either be ok with it, or she freak, and just have to get over it. 'Cause no way am I giving up Willow!'

Buffy grinned happily when the door opened just as she raised her hand to knock. "Were you standing there watching for me?" She asked happily at the sight of her girlfriend.

Willow blushed and ducked her head slightly. "Um, yeah." she asked, sounding embarrassed. "Pathetic, huh?"

"I was gonna go with 'adorable'," Buffy said, reaching out and cupping the redhead's flushed cheek.

Willow sighed, closing her eyes and pressing against Buffy's hand.

Buffy stepped forward as Willow stepped back into the house. She moved her other hand to the redhead's waist and held her in place as she stepped close. Buffy slid her fingers into the silky red locks, cupping the back of Willow's head and drawing her forward into a gentle kiss.

"Good morning!" Buffy whispered fervently, pulling away just enough to say it.

Willow nodded ever so slightly and her warm breath bathed the Slayer's face as she agreed, "It is now!"

Buffy felt a seeping warmth throughout her body as her girlfriend initiated a second, much more passionate kiss. 'I love you, I love you, I love you!' her mind exulted as the redhead's tongue pressed her lips apart gently twined with her own.

Long moments later when Willow had finished plundering her mouth, Buffy gasped, "You've gotten really good at that!"

"Mmm, I've got such a good teacher!" Willow replied with a saucy look on her face.

"Willow! You sassy thing, you!" Buffy said with a delighted grin.

'I love to look at you. You are so beautiful!' Buffy thought with blissful joy. 'I so don't want to hide this, not that we're hiding it from anyone in school, not after that little tiff with the wicked witch of the west yesterday...but I don't want to hide it from Mom either...'

After a moment of Buffy staring at her, Willow's eyebrows furrowed and she tilted her head to the side slightly. "Buffy?" she asked, her voice sounding curious rather than concerned. "What is it?"

Blinking as she ended her reverie, Buffy shook her head slightly and said, "Nothing. I'm just really happy right now. I don't remember being this happy before."

Willow's smile widened even further, before contracting into a strange grinning pout sort of thing. Her lower lip trembled and her eyes were shiny with moisture as she spoke. "I lo," she started. She paused to gulp loudly, and take a deep breath before continuing, "Me too...you make me so happy Buffy!"

'Oh Willow! I want you so bad right now!' Buffy though with both excitement and shame. 'Why can't I even look at you without wanting to jump your bones!'

With a deep breath of her own, Buffy stepped away from the redhead and reached for her hand. 'I don't trust myself to be alone with you Willow. I'd never force anything, but right now, I don't think you'd stop me!' she thought, seeing her desire reflected in her girlfriend's eyes. "Come on, we don't want to be late for school," Buffy said, opening the door behind her. 'And I never thought I'd hear myself say that, like, ever!' she added silently.

Willow's voice sounded reluctant as she answered, "Right...don't wanna do that."

'I'm gonna have to start getting up even earlier!' Buffy thought as they walked out to the sidewalk, hand in hand. 'One of these mornings we're not gonna make it out the door if I don't start taking the edge off before I get here!'

Buffy had initially breathed a sigh of relief when she walked into history class and found a certain brunette to be conspicuously absent. 'She musta been too freaked out from almost getting eaten last night. Needed her beauty rest!' Buffy snickered to herself unkindly.

Now the class was halfway over and Buffy was ignoring the lecture, lost in Willow thoughts. She didn't even notice the first time the teacher called her name.

"Buffy!" his voice rang out.

'Oops!' Buffy thought as she focused her attention on the teacher. 'Great, everyone stare at the dumb blond!' she thought with chagrin as she noticed all eyes in the class turned on her. "Um, sorry?" she said, blushing.

"Buffy, you need to collect your things and go with Ms. McClurg, please," the teacher said dispassionately.

"Um...ok," Buffy mumbled, stuffing her textbook and unused notepad back into her bag. 'Oh crap, what am I in trouble for now? It's only my third day of school! I haven't done anything!' her mind whirled nervously as she stood up.

Seeing the empty desk next to her, she was struck by the thought, 'Cordelia!' Her teeth grated as she realized, 'It has to be her, that's the only possible thing I could be in trouble for...'

Searching the sea of faces in the room, Buffy spied two of Cordelia's little followers. 'Oh, yeah, it's Cordelia!' she thought upon seeing their smug grins. 'I shoulda let that vamp drain the bitch!' she growled bitterly to herself.

"Miss Summers! Let's not take all day, shall we?" the teacher's voice snapped sarcastically as Buffy stood there staring at the two girls. She gave them her patented I-am-your-worst-nightmare! glare and had the momentary satisfaction of seeing their smiles falter and drop away before she turned and walked to the classroom door.

The rolly-polly school secretary didn't say a word to her. She just turned and walked away, clearly expecting Buffy to follow.

'Oh boy, something tells me that this is not going to end well!' Buffy thought apprehensively as she shuffled down the hallway.

The ride home was agonizing for Buffy. 'I thought it was gonna be bad when I walked into Flutie's office and she was there...I was wrong. It was way worse than that!'

Her mom had been icily silent while the principal explained that she was being suspended. '...Death threats against other students will not be tolerated!' Buffy repeated his words in her mind, furious with Cordelia, now more than ever.

'Oh, he didn't say her name, but it was her...her and her little flock of followers!' Buffy thought. 'Five signed witness statements, Cordelia, Harmony, and the other three. I never got their names, but it doesn't matter. It was them.'

'Oh, God, they had better *not* even *speak* to Willow while I'm not around!' she thought, afraid that Willow would be their next target, and mad at herself that she couldn't be there.

Her mother had remained silent while Flutie explained that a hearing would be held in a week to determine whether or not she would be expelled. When he was done, Buffy wasn't allowed to speak. "You'll have your say at the hearing," he had mumbled, not meeting her eyes at all.

When they had walked out into the hall, Buffy had tried to explain, but her mother had cut her off, "I don't want to hear it!" she had exclaimed in a brittle voice. "Get in the car, I'm taking you home," was all she said before turning and walking away.

'God, I feel like I'm gonna puke!' Buffy lamented. The fear, anger, worry, and longing she was feeling were all churning up in her guts. 'It was bad enough when I was just thinking about telling her about Willow...That's not gonna happen anytime soon now!'

Buffy looked at her mother as she parked in the driveway. 'You can't even look at me?' she thought, feeling tears spring to her eyes at the coldness her mom displayed—opening the door and walking toward the house without even a backward glance.

Buffy got out of the Jeep Cherokee, feeling like she was leaving the proverbial frying pan, and slowly trudged toward the house.

She barely got the door closed behind her when her mother, still turned away, said, "Go to your room. You're grounded."

'What?' Buffy thought incredulously.

"Mom!" she started to argue.

Her mother whirled around, shouting, "Three days! Three days, Buffy! You aren't even in school a week and it's all happening again!"

Buffy felt like a vamp had landed a lucky punch in her stomach. "I already wasn't looking forward to this talk, but at least I thought you'd listen to my side!" she said with tearful quietness, stunned by her mother's outburst.

"Your side?!" her mom shouted, clearly about to lose control. She closed her eyes and breathed deeply several times before continuing. "Go to your room. I can't talk to you right now," she said in a small, defeated voice. Her eyes remained closed as she spoke.

Hot bitter tears poured down Buffy's face as she turned and walked to the stairs. Looking back at her mom before starting up them, she saw that the elder Summers had turned her back towards her daughter once again. 'She hates me!' Buffy thought, her chest hurting as she restrained the sobs that were threatening to erupt.

Buffy ran up the stairs and into her room. She slammed the door and threw herself on her bed, weeping uncontrollably. 'Oh Willow! I wish you were here right now!' she thought, utterly bereft of hope or joy in that moment

Willow strode into the library and frantically scanned the area for her missing girlfriend. "Buffy!" she cried out. Her voice echoed in the empty room mockingly. "Buffy, are you in here?!"

The redhead spun around to see Xander just now coming through the doorway, following her. "Oh, Xander; she's not here either! Where would she have gone? We were supposed to meet in the lunchroom, she wouldn't miss lunch, not with me! She'd tell me for sure, I just know it!" She could feel her heart pounding in her chest as her thoughts spun incoherently in her head, leaving her on the edge of full-blown panic.

Xander's reassuring smile hardly even registered with her. "It's ok, Will. We'll find her, I promise!" he said in a calm and even tone.

'Calm down, calm down Rosenberg. She's ok, you'll find her...' Willow thought, trying to regulate her breathing. She nodded and met Xander's gaze, feeling her face flush a little. She winced at her own outburst and said, "Right, sorry, sorry. I just kinda spazzed out for a minute there."

Willow jumped and squeaked, "Eep!" when Giles voice boomed out from behind her.

"Good lord, what's all the racket...Oh, it's you two. Of course," he said with disappointment ringing clearly in his voice.

Willow turned around as the frowning Watcher continued. "You do, of course, realize that this is a library? Generally a place where shouting and the like are not acceptable," he finished on a sarcastic note.

Willow felt her face flush even hotter at the acerbic tone, but was more worried about her girlfriend than she was embarrassed. "Mr. Giles, have you seen Buffy?" she asked hopefully.

"No. Ms. Summers apparently decided to disregard my request that she meet with me." His eyes moved away from her and focused on the boy next to her as he continued. "You did pass on my request last night, Mr. Harris?"

Willow could feel Xander stiffen next to her, and his response sounded extremely defensive, "Hey! I told her exactly what you said, stuffy British-guy-speak and everything!"

Giles looked like he was about to offer a scathing reply when Willow interjected loudly, "Hey, let's focus people!" She immediately felt embarrassed at her outburst, but pressed on in the stunned silence that resulted. "Mr. Giles, Buffy told me she was going to come and talk to you before lunch."

A mildly surprised look and raised eyebrow graced the Watcher's face before it returned to its disapproving mask.

Daunted, but not dissuaded, Willow continued on, "She was supposed to meet me in the lunch room and then we were both gonna come and see you, but she never showed up! And I went to her next class and she wasn't there either, and then Xander talked to a bunch of people and heard that she was taken out of class first thing this morning by Principal Flutie's secretary, and I know we're supposed to call her the administrative assistant, but everyone knows she's his secretary, and that's not important right now, but I was thinking about it the other day and I thought it was stupid that they would just change the name 'cause it's the same job, and what's wrong with being a secretary? It's not like anyone looks down on Madeline Allbright, and she's a secretary, and ok, that's-"

"Willow!" Xander exclaimed loudly, breaking into the redhead's tangential rant.

"Huh?" Willow asked, shaking her head slightly. Glancing back and forth between Xander's smirking face and Giles stunned look, she once again felt her face become hot with embarrassment. "Oh, sorry. Right, there was a point to be made there, and that point is; Buffy's missing and we need to find out what happened to her!" she finished loudly.

Giles removed his glasses and pinched the bridge of his nose with a pained look. "If I understand you correctly," his tone indicated doubt. "Buffy was taken from her first period class by Mrs. McClurg, I believe?"

Xander quipped, "That would be the rolly-polly in question," while Willow nodded exasperatedly.

Giles didn't comment on Xander's quip, to Willow's surprise. His face drew into a thoughtful look for a moment and then he muttered, "I'll just give Eddie a call," and walked back toward his office.

Turning back toward her best friend since kindergarten, Willow asked, "What are we gonna do, Xander? First Jesse disappears, and now Buffy's missing!" She clenched her hands together over and over as the worry ate at her.

She flinched slightly when Xander grabbed her hands and began pulling her toward the large table in the center of the room.

Xander pulled out two chairs and pushed her back into one, seating himself in the other, facing her. "Will, I'm sure Buffy's fine. She can definitely take care of herself, Right?" Before she could respond, he went on, "She probably had to go home for some reason, and once G-man finds out, you'll call her and it'll all be ok. Ok?"

'Oh God, I hope you're right!' Willow thought, wanting to take comfort in his words, but not feeling very reassured. "What about Jesse? He's never taken off for this long before."

Xander's face crumpled, and his voice sounded hollow as he replied, "I dunno, Will. I'm really worried about him."

Willow felt a tear slide down her cheek as she whispered, "Me too!"

'Buffy, Where are you?' Willow thought anxiously as she gripped Xander's hands tightly.

At that moment, the sound of the librarian's office door opening and closing diverted Willow's attention.

'Oh, that doesn't look good!' she thought apprehensively at the sight of Giles frowning face and darting eyes.

The Watcher took a seat across the table from the teenagers by his gaze seemed more interested in anything but them.

"Mr. Giles! What is it?" Willow asked fearfully.

The Englishman sighed deeply and removed his glasses. "I'm afraid it isn't good news," he began, removing a handkerchief and polishing the lenses of his spectacles. "Buffy was suspended this morning."

Xander's strangled "What?!" barely registered with Willow as she felt her heart sink and an icy cold sensation take up residence in her stomach.

"...pending a hearing to decide on her expulsion from school," Giles continued.

'Oh no! This is my fault!' Willow lamented silently, peripherally noticing that Xander was standing up and demanding to know what the hell was going on.

Willow didn't need Giles' explanation. 'Cordelia. It has to be 'cause of Cordelia...when Buffy slapped her and pushed her around in the bathroom yesterday...'

Willow felt her face grow hot, and her eyes began to stream burning tears. 'Oh God, this is all my fault! If I could have just stood up to Cordelia, Buffy wouldn't have had to rescue me!'

"Willow!" Giles shout penetrated her fugue state.

She looked up to see Giles confused and worried look. She glanced over to her left to see Xander posed in an angry stance several feet away—with his arms crossed and his jaw clenched. Giles question drew her attention back to the Watcher.

"Willow, do you have any idea what this allegation is all about?" Giles asked.

'Allegation?' Willow thought, confused. 'I must have missed that part...'

Willow shook her head a little bit and softly answered, "Sorry, Mr. Giles. Could you go over that part again?"

The Watcher's annoyance was clearly communicated as he huffed and replaced his eyeglasses. "A complaint was filed—apparently by several students—alleging that Buffy Summers had made death threats against them. Can you shed any light on this?"

Willow nodded her head sadly and explained the bathroom incident.

By the time she finished the story, Xander was rolling with laughter, while Giles was furiously polishing his glasses and frowning with disapproval to equal Xander's delight.

"Oh! I *so* wish I could have seen that!" Xander crowed. "Tell it again, Will, how she peed her pants! That's my favorite part!"

"This is not funny, Xander!" Giles stated loudly.

"Oh, I beg to differ. I know funny, and this is definitely it! You haven't had to put up with Cordelia Chase for the last ten years. Believe you me, you'd be making with the merry too!" Xander replied.

"This is a bloody disaster, that's what it is!" Giles said angrily. "Bad enough that you two had to find out, now this Cordelia person is using it to stir up trouble...The Slayer is supposed to be a secret!"

Willow tuned out the brewing argument, concentrating on something else. 'How do I fix this? It's my fault Buffy's in trouble, I need to fix it!'

Xander Harris was hunting.

'That's my Willow! Putting that big brain to good use!' he thought. 'I am so going to enjoy putting you in your place, Cordelia Chase! Hey, I made a rhyme!'

Xander began to engage in a little fantasy role-play as he walked. 'Undercover agent Harris stalks the halls of Sunnydale high in search of the enemy—Cordelia and the Cordettes! His mission? To trick the enemy into giving evidence that can be used to discredit them...not as satisfying as beating an admission out of them would be...' he thought wistfully.

'Oh, it shut up Watcher-man though!' he chuckled. 'He looked pretty funny with his mouth flapping like that when Willow stood up and yelled at him!' A shiver of embarrassment went through him when Xander remembered that she had been yelling at himself as well. 'Never thought I'd see the day when Willow yelled at anyone! Let alone me!'

The teenager smiled as the memory replayed in his head. 'I think G-man was embarrassed that a high school kid came up with a plan while he was still busy complaining about stuff!'

'I just hope this works...' he thought, sobering. 'God, please don't let me screw up! Will might never speak to me again!'

He found his targets hanging out by Cordelia's locker, laughing and giggling.

Xander's eyes narrowed as he focused on the leader of the clique; Cordelia Chase. 'God, you piss me off! You think it's real funny, huh, trying to hurt my friends?' Xander seethed. 'You of all people should be bowing down and kissing Buffy's feet! You'd be vampire chow right now if it wasn't for her!'

The smiles and laughter were replaced with sneering contempt as Xander closed in on the group. "What do you want, Harris? Looking for your little lesbo buddies?" Cordelia demanded haughtily as Xander came to a stop directly in front of her. It was obvious that she was feeling extremely pleased with herself at the moment.

"Yeah, I heard you guys made up a bunch of lies about Buffy so you could get her expelled!" Xander said.

"So what if we did! We don't need freaks like her around here! What do you care anyway? You obviously aren't her type!" Cordelia said witheringly.

"Is that why you're doing this? Because she's into girls?" Xander asked, trying to remain calm.

"There's no room at this school for her kind Xander," The cruel brunette said as though she were explaining the obvious to someone too dumb to understand.

"Yeah, Harris," Harmony chimed in. "We have a strict 'No Dykes' policy here."

All of the girls tittered at Harmony's clever remark.

'Be calm Xander, follow the script...yelling now will just ruin everything...' he told himself as the rage built up in him. 'you can enjoy fantasies of strangling them later, right now do your job!'

Growling through clenched teeth, Xander said, "So that gives you the right to pick on Willow, 'cause she's gay? That makes it ok to try and get Buffy kicked out of school?"

"Well, duh! What's it to you anyway, Xander? Two more girls you'll never have a chance with," Cordelia snapped, her eyes narrowing at him.

'Get 'em all Xan!' he thought. "Stefani, Tiffani, Aura? You guys on the gay-bashing bandwagon too?"

The three sheep seemed stunned at being directly addressed. However, after nervous glances toward Cordelia, all three gave muttered affirmatives.

Xander let slip a little of his fury, stabbing his finger toward Cordelia and stating, "You're all just like her! You make me sick!" he shouted and then turned and walked away quickly before he started screaming, or even worse.

As he strode down the hall, his rage coalesced into grim satisfaction. 'Oh we got you, you bitch,' he thought, patting his pocket and the tape recorder that Willow had set him up with. 'We got you all!'

Willow sat at the table in the library, fidgeting with apprehension. 'I wish he'd stop that, it's driving me bonkers!' she thought as she glanced up at Buffy's Watcher.

Giles was pacing back and forth with a sour look on his face

Willow tried to ignore the impatient Brit, concentrating on other, more important things. 'Come on Xander! I'm counting on you! Get Cordelia to confess on tape and we'll be able to get Buffy out of this mess...I hope!'

A pang of sorrow made Willow frown as she thought, 'Gosh, it must have been horrible for her! Being accused of something like that...I bet her mom was furious! Oh, I hope she's ok!'

Giles apparently tired of his pacing, because he abruptly sat down in the chair across the table from her, his scowl still firmly in place.

'I didn't mean to make things hard on Buffy...' Willow lamented guiltily. 'I know I'm probably being selfish...I don't think I can give her up though. Not as long as she wants me, 'cause I know that would hurt her almost as much as it would kill me, and I love her...and I need her...and who am I kidding, I know it's selfish and I don't care!'

Willow's melancholy lessened slightly as she stiffened her resolve. 'We are going to get her out of this, and she and I will make this work!'

"Ms. Rosenberg," Giles said, breaking into her thoughts.

Her face and mind still locked into 'resolve mode,' Willow responded hastily, "You know, Mr. Giles, I didn't mean to make things harder on Buffy or anything, and I'm sorry this happened because of me, but I don't think it's right for you to try and break us up! I mean, who's to say that Buffy wouldn't have done exactly the same thing even if I wasn't her girlfriend? I don't think she's the type to just let someone get away with bullying someone, whether she's dating them or not, and I mean the someone, of course; not the bully."

Giles stiffened and his eyes widened acutely. "I, um, well...that is," he stammered for moment.

'Now how come I can't talk like that when it's Cordelia?!' Willow wondered, annoyed with herself.

After pinching the bridge of his nose for a moment, Giles said, "What I was going to say...was that I think you've come up with a sound plan. So long as Xander is able to achieve his objective, I believe it has a solid chance of success."

"Oh," Willow said, nonplussed. "Oh!" she repeated as the hard look on her face softened and she winced in embarrassment.

She felt uncomfortably guilty at her outburst and immediately apologized, saying, "Sorry! I'm sorry Mr. Giles; I didn't mean to be so mean to you like that!" Willow leaned forward and laid her head on her arms upon the table. "I'm not handling things very well today."

"Actually, I'm rather impressed with your behavior, surprisingly so." Giles said, sounding as though he was somewhat anxious himself.

'Why would he be nervous?' Willow wondered with a frown.

The Watcher removed his glasses and took a handkerchief from his pocket. Willow watched, fascinated as he began to carefully polish each lens. 'Huh!' she thought surprised. 'It's like that calms him down.'

As he put his glasses back on and looked back at her she blushed, embarrassedly realizing that she was staring at him.

'Great! Xander, please hurry back, I'm *so* spazzing out here!' Willow bemoaned, returning her gaze to the table top.

"Ms. Rosenberg...Willow," Giles said in a soft voice.

Willow darted a look at the older man, and saw, if not a smile, at least not a frown either. "Um, yes Mr. Giles?" she responded tentatively.

Giles did smile for just a moment as he began speaking, "I want to assure you that—In spite of yesterday's rather unpleasant conversation—I bear you no ill will. I don't for a moment believe that you had any intention of causing difficulties for either Buffy or myself. Indeed, the issue of emotional entanglements had nothing to do with any action on your part. Rather, I brought up the subject because, of its very nature, the roll of the Slayer simply does not allow for such things. The Slayer...works and, and lives apart from society."

Though loath to interrupt, Willow's innate curiosity got the better of her. "Why? Why apart?" she asked, both surprised and disturbed. 'That's just wrong! How can someone expect a sixteen year-old girl to live like that?' she wondered.

Giles appeared to be confounded by the question. "I, it simply is the way...the way it is," he stammered. "She alone is chosen to fight the forces of darkness. That is the way it has always been."

"But that's dumb!" Willow blurted out. 'Smooth Rosenberg!' she thought, kicking herself.

Blushing once again, she hastened to explain, "Buffy lives with her mom, she goes to school...she's a part of normal society. It's unreasonable to expect that she could be a part of that, and not form attachments to people; family and friends...girlfriend...It's inevitable!"

Willow huffed and threw up her hands as she grew impassioned about the subject. "You can't just say 'La la la, she works alone,' and expect it to happen that way! She's gonna have feelings for people and 'emotional entanglements' that could interfere with stuff. We all do, it's called life! And, I—I think that if you try to force her, it's not gonna work, except to push her away," her voice trailed off. 'Great, I'm channeling my mother!' she thought, abashedly.

"Yes, well," Giles muttered sounding flustered.

'Bad Willow! Shouldn't yell at the teachers," Willow thought guiltily. 'Even if you're right and they're wrong,' she thought with just a bit of smugness tempering the guilt.

"Sorry, Mr. Giles...I kinda got carried away," she said self-consciously.

Giles voice was firmer as he replied, "I have to admit, Willow, that you have made several cogent points. Under normal circumstances, a potential Slayer is identified at a young age and a Watcher is assigned to begin developing and training her. As such, she is routinely separated from her family and is brought up in a much more formal environment—apart from society at large."

'That's terrible!' Willow thought sadly. 'I can't imagine Buffy...having to grow up like that...it would be terrible!'

Giles continued, "I fear you may be correct, Willow. Buffy is the first...wild card, as it were, to be called in several decades—that I know of. Unfortunately, we believe that most such slayers are killed before they can be identified. Slayers are naturally drawn to vampires. Not understanding the nature of their calling, or benefiting from the training and education that a Watcher provides, these Slayers would be unlikely to survive their first such encounter."

Just the thought of Buffy being killed without ever having had a chance to learn to fight back brought Willow nearly to tears. 'Jeeze I feel like my heart is doing yo-yos up and down in my chest! Hurry up Xander!' she thought fervently.

They sat in silence for nearly five minutes as Willow's mind flitted from subject to subject. 'Darn it! I can't think of anything not-depressing to talk about!' she realized with annoyance.

'That's it, I've gotta go find that boy!' Willow thought, standing up and turning to the door just as Xander came striding through it.

Startled, she dropped back down into her chair with a huff, muttering, "Or not."

'Gosh, he looks angry...Oh no! Please don't tell me they didn't fall for it!' Willow fretted. He was mumbling to himself as he approached her and she was just about to ask the question when he suddenly stopped and threw his arms out in an angry gesture.

"I can *not* believe her! I mean, I knew she was a bitch, it's not like that's a surprise...but, Dammit! Buffy saved her life last night, and she pulls this crap?" Xander loudly exclaimed. "And where do they get off talking about you guys like that? So you like girls better than boys! Hey, I can sympathize, I do too!"

Giles beat Willow to the punch, tersely interrupting, "I take it you were unsuccessful then?" His voice conveyed both disappointment and sorrow.

Xander stopped mid-rant and said, "Huh?"

'I'm gonna scream! Or bawl, not sure...' Willow thought as her heart once again did its yo-yo dip into her stomach. "The tape Xander!" she shouted.

The dark haired boy flinched away from Willow, obviously not expecting to be yelled at. "Jeeze Will! You trying to give me a heart attack?" He fumbled at his pocket and pulled out the mini recorder, cajoling, "it's right here...It's not like I was going to lose it or something."

'I...you...arrrghhh!' Unable to formulate coherent thought, let alone speech, Willow glared at him so hard that her eyes bugged out.

Giles sounded as exasperated as Willow felt as he slowly and deliberately spoke, "Did you, or did you not succeed in getting the required recording?"

'I think I'm going to die!' Willow thought as Xander once again paused, looking confused.

Before Willow could leap up and strangle her childhood friend, a wicked smile sprang up on Xander's face. "Oh yeah, I got it. I got 'em all!"

The tension release left Willow weak and panting as though she had sprinted all the way to school.

'Poor Mr. Giles!' Willow thought, seeing the look on his face. 'He looks like I feel...'

"Give me the tape, Xander." Giles said in a quiet, restrained tone.

'He sounds like Mom when she's trying to keep from yelling at Dad in front of me," Willow thought with a melancholy smile. "I want to hear it," she said.

Giles sputtered for a moment as he took the recorder from Xander. "Ah, perhaps...that is, given the nature of the."

"Give it up Giles," Xander interrupted as Willow glared at the watcher. "You can't fight resolve face!" the teen instructed his elder.

Giles blinked his eyes rapidly for a moment and then commented, "Yes, she does seem rather determined, doesn't she?"

Xander plopped unceremoniously into a chair and retorted, "Yeah, when she gets like this she won't budge. She's a non-budger."

"Hey!" Willow exclaimed, pretending outrage, even though she had to fight off the smile that threatened to blossom on her face. "Sitting right here, you know!"

Xander grinned, and even Giles had a slight smile on his face for a moment. Both men sobered though, as Giles rewound the tape and then hit 'play'.

Willow's heart began to beat a little faster as the slight hiss sound of the tape started. The moment the sound of Cordelia's voice played out, acerbically questioning Xander, Willow felt her skin crawl. 'She's so mean!' the redhead thought.

The vague feeing of shame that Willow felt at being referred to as a 'lesbo' was wiped away when she heard Cordelia calling Buffy a freak. 'Why that...She'd be dead if it wasn't for Buffy last night!'

'Oh poor Xander!' Willow thought, feeling sympathy for her best friend as Cordelia's recorded voice taunted him, saying he wasn't 'her type.' She looked over at the dark-haired boy that had been the subject of her fantasies for years, and saw that he was staring at the table, his jaw clenched and his face red.

Willow flinched at Harmony's hateful 'no dykes' comment. 'What did we ever do to make them hate us so much?' she wondered sadly.

'You're such a great guy, Xander!' Willow thought when the anger in his voice as he questioned them about picking on her was clear even on the tape. 'Always looking out for me!'

'Don't believe her Xander!' Willow thought ardently as Cordelia again taunted him about two women that he'd never have a chance with. 'You always had a chance with me, at least before I met Buffy. And, she was interested in you when she first saw you! Of course, she was interested in Cordelia, too...until she got to know her...' her mind wandered.

As the tape played out Xander's diligence in getting admissions from the other three girls, Willow thought, 'Those three aren't even smart enough to have an opinion of their own. They just do what ever Cordelia or Harmony do...very thorough of you though, good job Xander!'

Xander's furious shout about them making him sick played out and the teen spoke up, "And that's it. Then I came back here."

"Yes, well...good work, Xander," Giles offered. "I must say, they seem...well, rather spiteful."

"No, no! Spiteful is, like, way, way away from them. They're more like...well I can't think of anything evil enough," Xander said. "But that's what they are!"

"As much as I could so get into a good 'Cordelia's an evil monster' discussion right now...we need to go see Mr. Flutie," Willow interjected, standing up.

A thought struck her, and she suddenly added, "Oh, first, we need to make some copies...Just in case."

"I must say, this is highly irregular, Mr. Giles." Principal Flutie said, looking flustered.

Willow looked everywhere but at the principal as she sat across the desk from him in his office. 'Easy to say we have to go see Mr. Flutie, but now...' She shot a sidelong glance at Giles, who was sitting next to her, hoping he would say something. 'My stomach's all twisty!' she thought, shifting in her seat uncomfortably.

"Mr. Flutie, I assure you I wouldn't have asked to meet with you immediately if it weren't of the highest importance," Giles said, projecting a measure of confidence and certainty that bolstered Willow's flagging morale a bit.

'That's right; just remember this is for Buffy!' Willow reminded herself. 'Ok Rosenberg, you can do this!'

"Well, alright Mr. Giles," Flutie said, sounding unconvinced. Glancing back and forth between Willow and Giles, Flutie said, "I can't believe you had a problem with young Ms. Rosenberg here though. She's one of the best students at Sunnydale High!"

Willow frowned in confusion. 'Huh? Me, a problem?' she thought, looking to Giles, she noted that he seemed as confused as she.

"Mr. Flutie, Willow is not in any trouble...at least not with the faculty. We are here, because Willow has been targeted by some of the other students, as has Buffy Summers."

Flutie interrupted Giles at that point. "Buffy Summers is a troublemaker, and has been making threats against other students."

"That's not true!" Willow interjected, unable to sit by and let her girlfriend be slandered. "Cordelia and Harmony made all that up just to get her!"

'Is he more shocked at what I said, or that I yelled at him?' Willow wondered at the look on the principal's face.

His face flushing, Principal Flutie blustered, "That is a very serious allegation, Ms. Rosenberg!"

Willow shrank back in her chair as he leaned over his desk and sternly continued, "Why would two of our most socially prominent students do something like that?"

'Because they're a couple of bitches from hell?' Willow thought immediately, and then blushed hotly. 'Ohh, bad Willow!'

Struggling to verbalize an appropriate answer, Willow finally managed, "Um, 'cause they're homophobic?"

Flutie's eyes widened and he sat back with a huff. "What?" he cried in a strangled scream.

Willow sighed in relief as Giles chose to answer the question. "It would appear that Ms. Chase and her group of friends are harassing Buffy and Willow because they disagree with their choice of sexual orientation."

Willow almost smiled at the blush on Giles face as he spoke. 'I know Xander will get a kick out of this when I tell him later!' she thought incongruously.

Willow's momentary amusement faded away when Flutie's baffled gaze once more dropped heavily upon her. "I don't...Orientation?" he stammered questioningly.

Willow deliberately sat upright and, in as strong and even a voice as she could muster, she said, "Buffy is my girlfriend."

"You're gay?" Flutie asked, still not showing full comprehension.

Willow could feel her face glowing with heat. 'Don't really want a long explanation here...' she mused as she decided not to correct his statement. "Yes. And, that's why Cordelia and Harmony and their friends are harassing us."

Giles took that moment to pull out the tape recorder and set it on the desk.

Flutie stared at the device with the same shock and horror one might have for a live grenade on one's desk. He visibly flinched at the sound when Giles pressed 'play'.

'Oh God, I think we broke him!' Willow thought as she watched the principal listen to the tape. 'What with the flat, glassy eyes, and his mouth is kinda hanging open...' Willow tilted her head and frowned slightly as another thought struck her, 'Actually, he looks kinda like Xander when he watches cheerleading practice. Except without the smile.'

Flutie flinched again when Giles stopped the tape. His eyes moved fearfully toward the watcher as Giles quietly spoke. "Mr. Flutie. Clearly this is something that must be handled with the utmost discretion."

The principal nodded dumbly, muttering, "Discretion...right."

Giles continued in a soft, even voice, "Should the media get a hold of this."

Flutie twitched like he'd been shocked. "Media?" he squeaked.

"...and what with the rather lurid stories in the papers of late regarding hate crimes," Giles continued, not varying his tone.

"Hate crimes!?" the principal jerked back in his chair as though Giles had slapped him. He jumped up and began furiously pacing back and forth behind his desk.

'Gosh, it's like watching pong,' Willow thought as Flutie took three quick steps, pivoted and then took three more steps back the other direction. He repeated this pace over and over as he rambled, "Hate crimes! We can't have hate crimes at Sunnydale High! It—it would destroy the school! I'd be ruined! This...this...this just can't be happening! What am I going to do?"

Giles interrupted at that point, suggesting, "Clearly, an immediate response is essential, Mr. Flutie. The only way to salvage this situation is to take swift and decisive action against the perpetrators."

Flutie stopped his manic pacing, his attention once again completely focused on Giles. He nodded his head and repeated, "Decisive action."

Willow shuddered slightly at the smile on Giles face. 'He's really, really good at this!' she thought. 'Scary good...He's, like, totally threatening him...but not...'

"Of course, I imagine your first course of action will be to dispose of the ridiculous allegations that were brought against Buffy Summers." Giles rubbed his chin in a thoughtful pose, adding, "Perhaps if you were to call Mrs. Summers and offer your sincerest apologies, they won't decide to take any legal action against the school."

'I wonder if that's really what a deer looks like in a car's headlights...' Willow thought, watching the principal's face contort. She scrambled to her feet as Giles rose from his seat.

"We'll just leave this copy with you, then. For your investigation," the watcher said smoothly as he ejected the tape and set it on the desk.

The snapping sound of Giles shutting the tape player seemed to shake Flutie out of his daze. "Yes, yes, thank you!" he said. "I, um, I have some calls to make if you'll, um, excuse me please."

Willow remained silent as Giles tucked the tape player in his trouser pocket and answered, "Of course. Thank you for your time Principal Flutie."

Willow quietly followed the watcher out of the office. Somehow she managed to remain silent as they walked back to the library together.

The quietude lasted just until the library door swung shut behind them, and then Willow squealed, "We did it!" She immediately wrapped Giles up in a hug, chanting, "Thank you, thank you, thank you!" She released him and stepped away, leaving him flustered and blushing.

Willow quickly ran to the table, where Xander had just stood up, and wrapped him in a similar hug, thanking him ardently as well. When she released him, Xander had a goofy smile on his blushing face.

"Buffy! I gotta go see Buffy!" Willow exclaimed suddenly. She ran over to the library doors and turned just before passing through them. She looked at Giles and Xander, thinking, 'You guys really came through! I'm gonna have to think of something really nice to do for both of you!' Aloud, she once again said, "Really, thank you guys! Thank you so much!"

Willow turned and ran out of the library before either man could respond.

Part 7

"You love me, don't you?" Buffy asked morosely.

The slayer was sitting on her bed, leaned up against the headboard. She was quietly stroking the pink fur of her favorite stuffed animal, Mr. Gordo.

The stuffed pig gave no answer to Buffy's question.

'This is like the worst day in the history of bad days!' Buffy thought. She reached up and wiped her face as more tears ran down her cheeks. The great heaving sobs had finally abated, but the flow of tears had only diminished, not stopped.

'My chest hurts,' she thought as she tried to take a deep, hitching breath. 'Some tough, super-hero chick I am!'

'I wish you were here, Willow," the tearstained blonde whispered for the hundredth time in the last few hours. "I wish I was holding you right now. I know everything would be ok if I could just look into your eyes...kiss your lips...smell your hair."

She closed her eyes and recalled the sensations from this morning as she had her good morning 'greeting' with her girlfriend. 'God, Willow I am so in love with you. I still don't understand how it happened so fast! It's like you were made for me or something...we just fit so perfect.'

'And I want you so bad!' Buffy's loving thoughts turned a little more carnal. 'It's practically all I can think about half the time! I want your skin on my skin, I wanna touch you everywhere...' she felt a wave of warmth through her body. 'I wanna taste you...everywhere! Oh God! Bad Buffy! Jeeze you'd think I was a teenage boy as much as I think about sex lately.'

Unfortunately, thinking of Willow without thinking of sex brought up unpleasant thoughts. "That bitch Cordelia better not even come within a hundred yards of you Willow! If she hurts you I'll," Buffy ground her teeth as some rather terrible imagery played out in her head.

"You better hope you just get killed if some vamp gets to you...cause if you get turned, you and me are gonna party bitch!" she growled.

The ringing of the phone snapped Buffy out of her violent daydream. "Oh gosh! Sorry Mr. Gordo!" she cried as she realized she'd compressed her stuffed pig into a little ball. She tried to fluff him back out into shape as her emotional state flip-flopped from anger, back to sorrow and self pity.

"Oh no, look what I did! You're all lopsided, Mr. Gordo!" Fresh tears began to roll down her face as she thought, 'God, can this day get any worse!?'

"She what!?" Buffy was startled as her mother's strangled cry from downstairs. She'd been distracted by Mr. Gordo's dilemma, and had forgotten the phone entirely.

"Well, I guess that answer's that question." Buffy said as she heard her mother completing her phone conversation in a much quieter tone. "I wonder what I did now?" she muttered dejectedly.

After several minutes of silence, Buffy said, "Maybe she's not—"

The slow tread of feet coming up the stairs cut Buffy off.

"I gotta quit saying stuff!" the younger Summers muttered darkly.

'This is so unfair!' she thought, building up the worst case scenario in her mind as she listened to the doorknob turn. 'I didn't even do anything! Oh, except save all their lives! Huh, that'll teach me!'

Buffy hugged Mr. Gordo tightly to her chest, unconsciously drawing her knees up in front of her. Tears welled in her eyes again, and she dropped her gaze down.

'I can't...I just can't stand to look at her face and see that angry, disappointed, 'You're a terrible daughter' look, not again,' she thought as she remembered the expression on her mother's face when she sent Buffy to her room earlier.

Her chest ached with angst, and it was all she could do not to begin crying again as her mother entered the room.

She might be the bane of vampiric existence, but right now Buffy was a sixteen year old girl who, already feeling abandoned by her father, was in a very fragile state. She was furious with Cordelia and her little clique, worried about Willow, and terrified that her mother now hated her for something that she didn't even do. Plus, there was the pressure of holding the very survival of the world on her shoulders—and being thought of as a freak by those who she was supposed to protect. To top it off, there was the fear of maternal rejection for being in love with another girl,

"Buffy?" her mother's voice was deceptively soft.

Unable to lift her eyes up to meet her mother's gaze, Buffy drew herself up even more tightly and whispered, "Please don't be mad. I...I don't mean to make things hard for you."

"Oh Buffy!" her mom said.

Taking her mother's tone of voice as disapproving, Buffy began to bawl. Something in her snapped, and all her fears, recriminations and self-doubts came surging out of the deep, dark recesses of her mind. Hot, bitter tears poured down her face, and anguish poured out of her as she wailed, "I'm sorry!" Buffy collapsed onto her side, curled into a tight ball of pain. "Please don't hate me, mommy!" she sobbed.

'I hate this! I hate this! I hate this!' Buffy thought as she wept uncontrollably. 'Oh God, please let me stop crying!' On top of all the other terrible feelings, she could now add bitter shame at her loss of control.

"Oh, Buffy! I don't hate you!" her mother cried.

Buffy felt her mother's hands pulling at her, trying to lift her up. She pushed herself up to her knees and was immediately drawn into a tight hug.

"I could never hate you!" her mom said.

"But, but I got kicked out of Hemery...and we had to move. And now they're gonna kick me out of Sunnydale," Buffy began babbling.

"Oh, sweetheart, no they're not. That was Principal Flutie on the phone."

Buffy sniffled back a sob and pulled back from her mother's arms. Wiping her eyes, she said, "Huh? I thought...I don't understand. What happened?"

"I don't exactly understand either. He wasn't speaking very clearly. He did say that the charges had been dropped, and that the suspension had been dropped. He said something about one of your teachers...a Mr. Dial?"

"Giles?" Buffy interjected with a frown, still trying to wipe her face dry.

"Ok, it could have been Giles. Anyway, he said something about Mr. Giles, and your friend Willow, and not tolerating discrimination or hate crimes."

At the words 'hate crimes' Buffy felt icy cold running down her spine. She shot to her feet, demanding, "Did they hurt Willow? Oh God! Did he say if she was ok?"

Joyce looked startled by Buffy's sudden change. "Uh, he didn't say anything about her being hurt."

"Oh, God, I gotta call Giles!" Buffy snapped and booked out of her bedroom at full Slayer speed. She only touched one step on the way down the stairs, in her haste completely ignoring the effect her departure might have on her mother. 'Oh, God please let Willow be ok!' was the only thought on her mind.

She had the phone off the hook and the number dialed before she even knew it herself. "Come on, answer the phone!" she was muttering before the first ring even sounded. The plastic of the handset was beginning to creak under the pressure of her tightening grip by the third ring.

"Hello?" came the cultured British voice of Buffy's watcher.

"Giles! Is Willow ok?" Buffy said without preamble.

"Ms. Summers?" Giles replied, sounding surprised. "I take it Principle Flutie got a hold of your mother."

Buffy interrupted, "Giles! Is Willow ok? Did anything happen to her?"

There was a pause, during which Buffy felt like a chasm was opening up inside of her. 'If they hurt her...'

"As far as I know she's just fine," Giles said, sounding like he was confused by the subject.

'Thank you God!' The tightness in Buffy's chest—which she hadn't even noticed to that point—loosened and Buffy suddenly could breathe again.

"In fact," Giles went on, "You just missed her. I believe that she is on her way to your house as we speak."

'Willow's coming!' Buffy thought, basking in an inner-warmth that was very like standing in a ray of sunshine. 'Everything's going to be ok.'

"Buffy! How did you," Joyce's voice was filled with shock as she descended the stairs.

The fact that there was about to be an interrogation wasn't enough to dampen Buffy's spirits. She pulled the receiver away from her mouth and beamed at her mom. "Willow's ok!"

Joyce seemed flummoxed. "Ah...that's good. Buffy, please explain what is going on here!"

Buffy gave a happy shrug. 'Willow's ok, and Willow's on her way here!' she thought. 'That's all that really matters.'

To answer her mother's question, Buffy said, "Dunno, I'll ask." Putting the receiver back to her mouth, Buffy said, "So, what happened with Flutie?"

Buffy listened with ever-increasing admiration as Giles explained Willow's plan, and its execution. 'God, I love that girl!' she thought as Giles finished the tale.

"Wow! I—I don't know what to say...Thank you! You and Xander both. I owe you guys, big time!"

"Yes, well," Giles harrumphed a bit. "May I expect to see you tomorrow? To discuss...things?"

"Tomorrow?" Buffy asked, thinking 'But it's Saturday! Still...'

She covered the receiver and asked, "Uh, mom? Am I still grounded?"

"Well, no, I don't-" Joyce replied.

Buffy uncovered the receiver and said, "Ok, but not before noon! It's Saturday, you know. I gotta explain things to my mom now, so I'll see you then."

Buffy ignored Giles' sputtering and hung up.

Looking at her mother, Buffy thought, 'Ok, this is gonna suck. But, Willow's coming, and if I don't tell mom about us, she's gonna freak, cause there's no way in hell that I'm not *so* going to be kissing her the moment I see her! Plus, mom seriously looks freaked right now, so I'm guessing we'd be talking whether I want to or not...'

"Buffy! What is going on?" Joyce demanded exasperatedly. "First you're crying, then you jump up and I blink my eyes and your gone! I didn't even hear you run down the hall, you were just gone!"

The emotional rollercoaster Buffy was riding suddenly left her feeling very tired. "Can we go sit down? I'm kinda wiped all a sudden," she said. She trudged over to the couch and dropped onto it, her back to the corner of the arm and the back. She grabbed one of the throw pillows and clutched it to her chest, unconsciously looking for a shield against the upcoming conversation.

Buffy was grateful when her mother sat down on the opposite end of the couch, facing her but giving her teenaged daughter a little space. "Talk to me Buffy. Tell me what's going on here...please?" Joyce said in a quiet voice.

'Poor mom,' Buffy thought. 'I hate that I don't have a normal life...that I have to dump all this crap on you...'

Buffy took a deep breath, nervousness eroding some of the calming warmth that she'd been feeling, knowing that her Willow was on the way. "Um, you remember when you said you could never hate me?"

"Buffy! Of course I don't hate you. Nothing you say is going to make me hate you!" her mom said in a chiding tone. "Just tell me."

Buffy looked down, 'I don't think I could take it right now if this goes bad...'

Another deep breath and the Slayer began, "Ok, remember this morning when you thought that Willow might kinda be crushing on me?"

"Yes."

"Well, you're not wrong. See, but it goes both ways...cause I have feelings for her too," Buffy said softly.

"So, you and Willow," her mom started.

"Girlfriends" Buffy clarified.

"And, not in a 'just girls that are friends' way, I take it." Joyce said in an even tone.

"No, not just friends," Buffy said, feeling much trepidation.

Joyce was silent for a moment before saying, "So...you're telling me that you're gay? Since when?"

'This just gets harder and harder...' Buffy thought as she risked a peek at her mother's face. 'I can't tell if she's freaking or not!'

"Um...not gay, exactly," Buffy answered.

"How not exactly?" her mom asked, her voice sounding very unsure.

"Well...I'm kinda...bi...exactly," Buffy answered, wincing in anticipation of her mother's explosion.

"Bi?"

'It's like waiting for the other shoe to drop, except more like a bomb than a shoe...' Buffy thought, still tensed up.

"Um, you know...I like boys too," Buffy quietly explained, wincing even harder now.

"How long?" Joyce asked, her voice still not giving anything away.

Like walking through a minefield, each step was building Buffy's stress until it was becoming an even bet on whether she'd step on a mine, or just blow up herself first.

"Um, kinda forever," she answered her mother's question. "I mean I've liked both since I liked either, does that make any sense?"

"Why didn't you ever tell me?" Now Joyce's voice showed some emotion. She sounded a little bit hurt.

Buffy swallowed past the lump in he throat. "I was scared that you..." much to her consternation, Buffy's eyes began to well up with tears yet again. "I didn't want you to be disappointed in me."

"Oh Buffy!" Joyce cried.

Buffy found herself wrapped up in her mother's arms for the second time that day.

"Daddy always said bad things about gay people...I was afraid," Buffy said, her breath hitching and tears falling.

Buffy felt her mom kiss her on the forehead and when she looked up, the expression on her mom's face was one of sympathy.

"Buffy, your father's an asshole." Joyce said.

Buffy's eyes flew wide open in shock. "Mom!"

"Well, it's true!" Joyce protested, a half-smile on her face. "Why do you think I divorced him?"

Buffy had smiled along with her mother, but her face crumpled with the question. 'Because of me!' she thought morosely.

"Buffy, look at me," her mother demanded.

Buffy forced herself to look into her mother's eyes, part of her expecting that she'd see recrimination there, even though she knew better.

"Buffy, your father and I had problems that had nothing whatsoever to do with you. Yes, we fought about things that had to do with the difficulties you were having, but those fights were just surface tension. The real issues we had were about us...believe me Buffy. You could have been the most perfect student—straight A's, never in trouble...we still would have gotten divorced."

Buffy dropped her eyes. "Ok," she said, trying to sound convincing. "Still, I didn't help matters."

Her mom interrupted her moping with another hug. "Oh, sweetie...you'll just have to trust me...nothing you did, or could have done, would have mattered.

Breaking the embrace, her mom said, "Ok, now explain what happened at school."

Buffy sighed and sat back. "Well...there's this girl at school. Cordelia Chase. She's a real," she looked up to see her mother's arched eyebrow. "...witch. Except, not the 'casting spells' kind, more of the 'I'm going to make everybody-who's-not-me's life miserable."

"I think I get it," her mother said with a smile.

"Right, anyway, I was going down the hall to meet Willow after class, and I saw Cordelia's little posse blocking people from going into the girls room, and then when I got close I heard her in there yelling at Willow. So, I went in."

"Her friends didn't stop you?" he mom asked, surprised.

The grin Buffy got on her face was the kind of smile that put fear in the hearts of the undead. "One of them, Harmony, thought she was going to, but she got smart and moved...Anyway, I get in there and Cordelia starts on me, but I ignore her and go check out Willow." Buffy got a lump in her throat as she remembered the sorrow and shame on her girlfriend's face. "Mom, she had Willow in tears! I was so mad at her."

"Buffy? What did you do to her?" Joyce asked, concern in her voice.

Buffy ducked her head and said, "I, um, slapped her."

"Buffy!" her mom said, shocked.

Gritting her teeth, Buffy looked her mother in the eye and said, "I'd have done worse, but Willow stopped me."

Joyce's eyes widened at the look on Buffy's face.

Buffy dropped her head once again and said, "Willow said she wasn't worth getting in trouble."

"Willow was right," Joyce said quietly.

"I know, I do really. But...She's picked on Willow since, like, kindergarten. Xander told me that Willow went home from school in tears almost every day of grade school cause of Cordelia Chase. And this time it was cause of me! She was picking on my Willow cause she defended me!"

Buffy looked intently into her mother's eyes. "Willow never defended herself against Cordelia her whole life, but she stuck up for me!"

"So, today this Cordelia and her friends all went to the principal and made complaints against you," Joyce said.

Buffy nodded, "Yeah, and they're totally not true! I never made death threats against any of them, not even Cordelia!"

Buffy saw her mother's eyebrow climbing, and protested, "I didn't! I mean, I kinda threatened to smash her face if she ever picked on Willow again, but I never said I was gonna kill her, and I never threatened the others at all...well I told Harmony that she could move, or I'd move her, but that's hardly—"

"Why did they drop it?" her mother interrupted her before she could begin ranting too badly.

"Huh? Oh!" Buffy smiled so brightly that is virtually lit up the room. "Willow."

"Willow?" her mom repeated, her mouth frowning in confusion.

"She came up with a plan, and Xander and Giles helped her, and they got Cordelia and her little gang on tape saying all kinds of bad stuff about us cause of the gay thing, and admitting that they lied on their complaints. So they gave the tape to principal Flutie, and pow! Knockout!"

"Oh," Joyce said. "Willow came up with that?"

Buffy gushed, "She did! Oh mom, she's so smart, and sweet, and kind, and beautiful, and funny, and sexy, and..." She trailed off as she noticed her mom's eyebrows climbing once again. "I'm over-sharing, huh?"

"Maybe a little," her mom said with a smile.

Buffy sobered and asked, "Does the 'me being bi' thing freak you out?"

Buffy felt a little trepidation as her mother sobered too. "It's surprising...Honestly, Buffy, it isn't the life I would have chosen for you."

'Oh no...' Buffy thought as her stomach sank. 'Don't make me choose...'

"That's only because I know it's going to be hard for you. I'm sure this won't be the first time you encounter people who won't approve of you because of it."

"What about you?" Buffy asked softly.

"Me?"

"Mom, pretty soon Willow's going to be here. She's going to knock on that door, and when I open it, I'm going to pull her into my arms and kiss her until we're both breathless."

Joyce blushed, but smiled slightly and said, "I imagine I'll survive somehow...Buffy, I love you. I'm not going to stop loving you whether you're kissing boys or girls." With a larger smile she added, "Though, I reserve the right to embarrass you terribly if I happen to find you making out on the porch late at night. Also, I plan on telling Willow all kinds of embarrassing stories about your childhood and possibly even showing her your baby pictures."

Buffy's eyes grew huge, and she squealed, "Mom! You wouldn't dare!"

"But Buffy," her mom protested, "You want me to treat her just like I would any boyfriend you brought home, wouldn't you?"

"But...but," Buffy sputtered. "You! You're just evil!" she mockingly accused her mom.

'Thank God she took it so well!' Buffy thought, feeling very relieved.

"Where do you think you get it from?" her mom asked with a laugh.

Buffy was about to reply when her preternaturally sensitive ears detected the slap-slap of sneakers hitting pavement. She closed her eyes and concentrated and could make out the deep and fast breathing of someone running down the street towards their house. Her face lit up in a smile and she whispered, "Willow!"

"Buffy?" her mother's confused and concerned voice broke her concentration. "What is it?"

Buffy's grin stretched her lips open, baring her teeth as she answered, "Willow's here!" The blonde scrambled up from the couch and skipped to the door.

"Buffy? What are you talking-" her mother's question was interrupted by the doorbell ringing.

Buffy pulled the door open and there she was. 'God you are so beautiful!' she thought, taking in her girlfriend's flushed skin and tousled ponytail.

"Buffy! Are you ok? I know about-" Willow was cut off as Buffy did exactly what she'd told her mom she would, pulling the redhead into her arms and kissing her passionately.

Buffy felt her girlfriend stiffen and make a muffled protest for about half a second, then Willow was wrapped tightly around her, kissing back with equal passion.

Buffy's mind reveled in the experience of kissing Willow. 'Soft, warm Willow-lips...Mmm, strawberry! Hard, smooth teeth...lemme in baby! Lemme feel...oh yeah! Gently...caress you, caress me...twining, twisting, turning...oooh! Love when you suck my tongue! Love you, love everything about you!'

The sound of her mom, exaggeratedly clearing her throat, registered in Buffy's awareness, and she reluctantly broke the kiss.

Willow's whimper demonstrated her dissatisfaction with the end of the kissing as well.

Buffy, eyes still closed, rested her forehead against Willow's, breathing deeply and enjoying the feel of the redhead's breath washing over her face. She whispered, "I'm so happy you're here, baby!" and then pulled away.

When Buffy opened her eyes, the sight that met her was not Willow's smiling face, but rather a look more reminiscent of stunned disbelief. She turned slightly to see what Willow was looking at and saw her mom, hands on hips, smirk on her face.

"Hello Willow," Joyce said, still smirking

"Oh, um...Hi Ms. Summers," Willow squeaked.

"Oh...yeah. I told mom about us," Buffy explained, slightly embarrassed.

'I wonder how long she was standing there...' Buffy thought.

Willow looked back at Buffy, and said, "Really?"

'My poor baby, she still looks shocked' Buffy thought sympathetically.

"Uh huh, hence the not wigging out," she said, answering Willow's question.

"I understand we have you to thank for taking care of Buffy's suspension?" Joyce said, her smirk transitioning into a more genuine smile as she moved to close the front door.

Buffy saw the confusion in her girl's eyes and elucidated, "Flutie called mom, I called Giles."

"Oh!" Willow said. "Um, well Xander and Mr. Giles really did all the work."

"But it was your idea?" Joyce asked.

Willow ducked her head slightly and said, "Well, yes, I guess."

Buffy almost cried when her mom stepped over and hugged Willow.

"Thank you." Joyce said as she released the flustered redhead.

"Oh, well...you're welcome," Willow said, a happy smile on her face.

'Bonus mom points for hugging the girlfriend!' Buffy thought; feeling pleased, relieved and happy.

With a look that said she'd come to a decision on something, Joyce said, "Well, I have to go in to the gallery for a few hours to make up for some lost time." She walked over to the entry table and grabbed her purse.

"Since I won't be here, why don't you take your girlfriend out for dinner, on me," Joyce said, handing Buffy some money.

Though touched by the gesture, Buffy couldn't help but smirk at her mother. "You still feeling guilty about this morning?" she said as she took the money.

Her mom's eyes narrowed, though she smiled as she nodded. "Yeah, a little. But I'm getting past it pretty quickly."

Buffy laughed and did something she hadn't done in years. She initiated a hug, saying, "I love you mom! You're the greatest!"

'Is that a tear in her eye?' Buffy wondered as her mom turned away and slipped her jacket on.

"Ok, you two have fun. I'd tell you to behave yourselves, but it wouldn't do any good, would it?" Joyce teased as she walked to the door.

"Mom!" Buffy laughed. "You know I'm a perfect little angel!"

Her mom just gave her an incredulous stare, then turned to Willow and said, "It was nice to see you again Willow."

"You too, it was nice to see you again too Mrs. Summers!" Willow said, still sounding a bit perplexed.

When the door closed behind her mother, Buffy turned back to Willow and drew her into an embrace.

"I can't believe you told your mom!" Willow said, still sounding surprised.

"Uh, well...I know I should have talked about it with you first, I mean I was gonna, but then Flutie called and, you know, what with the hate crimes thing, it was kinda out of the bag already and I had to explain it to her, and...are you mad at me?" Buffy asked.

"Mad? No, not mad. Just...Your mom...I can't believe she's not wigging out!" Willow said.

'Whew! Not mad is good. Don't need more fighting today!' Buffy thought.

"*I* can't believe how awesome a girlfriend you are!" Buffy said, changing the subject. "You totally saved me from getting suspended, and probably expelled and even worse, from my mom hating me for ruining her life!" Buffy stared into her girlfriend's eyes and willed her to feel the emotion she was feeling as she intently said, "Thank you Willow!"

Willow's lower lip quivered and she whispered, "I love you way to much to let anyone hurt you like that!"

Buffy's eyes grew wide. 'She loves me? She loves me?!' Her mouth flopped open and shut several times, but she was unable to make any words come out.

Willow's eyes widened as Buffy gaped. "Oh gosh, oops!" she said.

'Oops?' Buffy thought, taken aback. "Oops?" she squeaked out.

Willow began to babble, "Oops? Not oops, well ok oops, but not as in, oops, I didn't mean it; more like oops, I didn't mean to say it. Cause, I didn't mean to say it. Not that it isn't true, cause it is; I didn't mean to say it cause I shouldn't say it; I mean, it's too soon to say it, right? And I didn't want you to think it wasn't real, or that it's only cause you're the first person who liked me, I mean you are the first person who liked me, but I've had feelings before. I loved Xander, I mean I still do, but I love loved him, even though he never felt that way about me, and I love you more than that; that being how much I love loved Xander, and I'm saying this really badly but I'm scared that you won't believe me cause it's really important that you believe me when I say it's real; I love you, I really do."

Buffy gently placed her fingers on Willow's lips, stilling her hyper-babble. 'Ok, I think this is like the hundredth time I've cried today,' she thought as tears began their way down her cheeks yet again.

"I am...*so* in love with you, Willow Rosenberg!" Buffy cried.

"I...you are?" Willow asked, looking shocked again.

Buffy nodded, swallowing past the lump in her throat before she could continue speaking. "I was afraid to tell you cause it felt like it was too soon...and I didn't want to scare you away."

Willow nodded, tears starting from her eyes as well. Her voice was pitched like a little girl's as she agreed, "I was afraid I'd loose you, or you'd think I was just a stupid little kid or something."

"Never!" Buffy said, shaking her head before claiming Willow's lips once more.

'Want you! Need you! Love you!' ran through Buffy's mind over and over as she feasted upon her girlfriend's mouth.

The redhead was clutching at her back as though trying to press them together into one person. Buffy found her hands cupping Willow's rear, eliciting a gasp that broke their kiss. She didn't have time to worry if her touch was unwanted though, as Willow buried her face in the Slayer's neck and began nipping and sucking the sensitive flesh there.

Now Buffy gasped as her girlfriend assaulted her neck. Her response was to squeeze the denim-clad flesh in her hands. This spurred a loud whimper that resonated throughout her body, ending up at the junction of her thighs.

"God I want you Willow! I want you so much!" the words seemed to burst from her mouth of their own volition.

Willow was panting as she whispered in Buffy's ear, "Then have me! Please Buffy, I need you to have me!"

Shocked, and feeling her heart pounding in her chest, Buffy leaned back, searching in Willow's eyes for assurance.

Willow nodded her head and whimpered, "Oh Buffy, please?!"

Her higher brain functions began shutting down and the Slayer growled "Mine!" lifting the redhead up by her butt.

Willow cried "Yours!" and wrapped her legs around the Slayer's waist. She resumed devouring the blonde's neck as Buffy started carrying her up the stairs towards her bedroom.

Buffy's brain didn't so much stop, as it slowed down, or perhaps her body was just moving faster than she could think. The passing of time seemed to ebb and flow. Arriving in her bedroom and placing Willow on the bed went by in a heartbeat. Cupping the redhead's cheek and listening to her impassioned "I love you Buffy!" seemed to last for eons.

Another eyeblink, and Willow's shirt and pants were just gone, but she spent what felt like days looking over the pale, freckled skin that was revealed. 'Oh! Wanna taste!' she thought, and in the next moment she found herself stretched out on the bed alongside her girlfriend—similarly dressed in only a bra and panties and no memory of taking off her clothes.

Buffy started by kissing Willow, thinking, 'This I could do forever!'

At some point in the distant future, Buffy's lips moved away from the panting redhead's, traveling along her jawline and pausing for a while at the hollow just below her ear. 'So yummy!' she thought as she suckled and kissed that spot. 'I love the way you mewl and shudder when I kiss you here!'

"Baby, you're so sexy!" she whispered into Willow's ear just before she began to nibble on her earlobe. She felt her sex clench at the yip and whine sparked by her nibble. 'Oh, do that again!" she thought, nipping the lobe once more, and again feeling her insides clench deliciously at the resulting cry.

Filing away that erogenous zone for future reference, Buffy moved down the long column of her soon-to-be-lover's throat. Time was definitely moving slowly now as the Slayer marked her property—one high, just below where chin met neck, and one low, just above the collarbone.

Buffy became strangely fascinated with the tiny crease of flesh where Willow's arm met her chest. 'That looks so soft!' she thought. She rubbed her nose and cheeks there, catching the faint perfume of Willow's deodorant, and hidden below it the barely-there musk of her sweat.

"Buffy! Please!" Willow squealed.

Buffy found her self moving from that fascinating little crease and it took her a moment to realize that Willow's hands were guiding her head toward the redhead's chest. 'Impatient little thing, aren't you!' She chuckled low in her throat.

As she turned her head, the sight of Willow's erect nipple pressing through the white cotton fabric of her bra caught the Slayer's attention.

'Oooh! New toy!' Buffy thought, immediately rubbing her face over the fabric, circling it with her nose and then plucking at it with her lips.

"Ahhh! More! Buffy please!" Willow gasped and groaned.

Buffy felt Willow pushing her head and arching her back, apparently trying to get more sensation on her breast. Smiling, she nipped at the stiff nub through the white barrier. The startled yip that squeaked out of her girlfriend turned Buffy's grin into a lustful growl. 'Bra must go!' she thought.

Willow must have been of like mind because she began to pant, "Off! Off! Take it off!"

Buffy reached under her girlfriend's arched back and, in another time blur, found herself sucking Willow's bare nipple, the bra nowhere in sight.

For a time that lasted at least forever, she suckled the redhead like a newborn baby. Eventually, she expanded her attentions, alternating between sucking, licking, and even occasionally nipping at the stiff peak. Licks grew longer, and soon the blonde was laving Willow's entire breast, gently stroking the soft underside with the rough surface of her tongue—pausing to kiss or bite at the crinkled areola and erect nipple before continuing over the top and on to the soft flesh beyond.

After several minutes of this, Buffy almost became sad that there wasn't more breast to play with, when she noticed a whole additional breast off to her right. 'Ooh, haven't played with that yet!' she thought with a giggle.

Buffy found herself laying on top of the redhead's lower torso and legs as she treated her left breast to the same attention as the right, all the while serenaded by Willow's cries, groans, gasps and yips.

Eventually, Buffy lifted herself slightly to readjust her position, and when she laid back down, something new rolled through her awareness. 'What was that?!' she thought, suddenly excited. She inhaled deeply through her nose and caught it again. 'Mmm, musky...savory?' she couldn't identify it exactly.

Whatever it was, it caused the salivary glands in her mouth to let go, flooding her mouth with saliva. "Mmm!" she groaned. *sniff* *sniff* "Mmm, want!" she grunted. She began to follow the scent down her girlfriend's torso, kissing and licking as she went.

Willow's cries grew higher and louder as Buffy moved down her body. "Yes! Yes!" she began to cry, her hands in Buffy's hair again and pushing her down, down...

When Buffy's questing lips met the edge of Willow's panties, she realized what was happening, what was about to happen. 'Oh my God! That's Willow's...' a small part of her brain thought nervously. The larger part of her mind was inundated with desire as the aroma of Willow's sex saturated her awareness. She rolled off of Willow's legs and hastily pulled at the fabric sheathing the redhead's pelvis.

Buffy lifted Willow's legs up in the air as she pulled her panties up and off. When the redhead's legs came back down, Buffy was there, wriggling her way between them, spreading them wide with her shoulders.

There before her, framed by a wild thatch of auburn curls, was Willow's sex. 'Wow! I never saw anything like this before!' she thought in awe. The pink flesh was wet and glistening, and the scent was overwhelming. It made Buffy's mouth water fiercely as she breathed it in.

She looked up and saw that Willow had pushed herself up on her elbows and was looking down at her with a combination of fear and desire on her face.

The love and adoration, not to mention the desire, in Buffy for her girlfriend crushed the small voice in her head that worried about the ick factor of putting her mouth on someone else's private bits. Maintaining eye contact, Buffy slowly leaned forward and kissed Willow's sex.

The look on Willow's face was filled with questioning worry, as though she were silently asking for reassurance.

Buffy licked her lips and hummed in pleasure. "Oh baby! You taste so good!" she groaned, immediately backing up her words by running her tongue over the redhead's sex again and again. She lapped at it like a cat after cream, each stroke causing her girlfriend to shudder in pleasure.

Willow didn't last long before she dropped back on the mattress and started clawing at the sheets, crying, "Buffy! Buffy! Buffy!" over and over.

Eventually Buffy figured out where Willow's clitoris was and she alternated between teasing it with her tongue, and sucking it with her lips. Basically she treated it like she had the redhead's nipples, except for the nipping part. 'Teeth bad, too sensitive!' she thought, knowing from her own self gratification that this area needed a much gentler touch.

Buffy had no goal of making Willow cum, she was content to kiss her lover here forever, just as when kissing her mouth. She just reveled in the intimate feeling, and took joy and pleasure in the whimpers and cries Willow made. 'So good...so yum...so Willow!' she thought happily.

Eventually Willow's cries built to a fevered pitch and the next time Buffy latched on to the redhead's swollen clit, she screamed out her release, her body shuddering and clenching wildly.

'Oh, that was fun!' Buffy thought as Willow began to relax and calm down. 'Want more!'

The redhead arched like a drawn bow and screamed "Buffy!" when the Slayer slid two fingers inside her and latched on to her clit once more, sucking hard.

Willow was panting like a forge bellows as Buffy rapidly pistoned in and out of her slick core. The lewd squishing sounds from her fingers, and the loud slurping sounds of her mouth on the redhead's clit only served to inflame Buffy's lust.

Forever later, Willow was screaming her way through another orgasm, her inner muscles gripping and pulling at the Slayer's fingers. This time Buffy found Willow's hands in her hair, pulling the Slayer up and ravaging her mouth even as she panted for air.

'Love you! Love you! Love you!' Buffy thought over and over like a mantra as Willow assaulted her mouth and face.

'Oh my God!' Buffy thought when she suddenly found herself on her back, Willow's mouth latched to her throat. The redhead had one hand under Buffy's bra, grasping her boob and pinching and twisting her nipple. The other hand was buried in her panties, two fingers curled up inside her, and the heel of her hand banging over and over against her clit as her girlfriend pumped her fingers in and out of Buffy's dripping center.

"Oh Willow! Oh God!" Buffy cried hoarsely under the unexpected and overwhelming feelings running through her. 'I unleashed a monster!' was her last coherent thought for several minutes.

When Buffy came it was unlike any orgasm she'd given herself. She felt each contraction slowly tighten and release through her muscles. A tide of ecstasy undulated from her center, burning through each cell in her body. Even her cry of pure bliss seemed to be in slow motion. Every heartbeat was a century as she inhaled forever, and then cried out for even longer, "Wwwwwwiiiiillllllllllllooooooowwwwww!"

It was only when she collapsed back onto the bed that Buffy realized that she'd arched up so high that only her head and heels were touching the mattress.

Willow had managed to remain on board for the ride, and released Buffy's neck with a muffled, "Ooff!" when she bounced on the rebound.

Time returned to normal speed, and Buffy could hear and feel her heart racing as she sucked in great draughts of air. Each exhale was a single syllable, "Oh...My...God!"

Willow rolled off to the side, and both girls were sprawled out on their backs, legs and arms overlapping between them.

After a few minutes, Buffy's breathing had slowed to the point where she could actually formulate multi-syllabic words. She turned her head to look at her fiery lover and said, "Willow...that was...wow!"

Willow was still panting, but had calmed markedly. She managed to roll onto her side, facing the Slayer. She had a huge grin plastered onto her face as she answered, "So wow!" she agreed.

Willow's grin was infectious, and Buffy happily whispered, "Come'ere, baby," gesturing at her side.

Willow grinned even harder and snuggled up against the blonde, her head pillowed on the Slayer's shoulder, and one leg thrown over Buffy's.

'Oh, this is no good!' Buffy thought, suddenly realizing she was still wearing clothes. "Wait a minute," she muttered, disentangling herself from the redhead and shucking her bra and panties.

As Willow snuggled back against her, she said, "Much better!"

Buffy laughed, "Well! If *someone* hadn't viciously attacked me, I mighta had time to get naked!"

"Hey!" Willow protested, giving Buffy a gentle slap on her gracefully rounded tummy. "It was *totally* in self defense!"

"Huh? Self defense?" Buffy asked, confused.

"Uh huh!" Willow nodded against Buffy's skin. "If I hadn't stopped you, I'm pretty sure I'da spontaneously combusted!"

Buffy laughed out loud at that. 'She sounds so serious!' she thought.

"Well, I just couldn't stop myself, Will! You tasted so yummy!"

"Really?" Willow squeaked. "It wasn't...icky?"

"Believe me, it was, like, the complete opposite of icky!" Buffy reassured her lover. "I can totally see me doing that, like, all the time!"

As she spoke, Buffy noticed Willow's hand had started to move back and forth on her belly, straying lower with each stroke. "Hey Will?"

"Yeah Buff?" Willow replied in a very 'innocent' sounding voice.

"Um, what'cha doin?" Buffy asked.

"Oh, nuthin' really," Willow continued, acting like little Miss Innocent herself.

"Huh," Buffy said, feeling the muscles in her stomach twitch as Willow began to stroke the small patch of hair just above her sex. "Doesn't feel like nuthin' to me."

Buffy gasped as Willow ignored the comment and moved her fingers to stroke the smooth outer lips of the blonde's sex.

"I can't believe you shave down here!" Willow said softly in surprise.

"W-well," Buffy began, her breath hitching at her lover's gentle touch. "It, uh, it's for, you know...oooh!...bikini line."

One of Willow's fingers had strayed to the cleft between the lips, pressing in just slightly as she stroked. Buffy's flesh was very sensitive from the intense finger-bang she'd just gotten, and this gentle touch was extremely appealing. "Oh Willow!" she sighed. "That feels so nice!"

"So smooth...and soft," Willow whispered as she continued to stroke Buffy.

"Oh...well I...Mmm! I don't shave, ac—actually," Buffy stuttered out.

"No?" Willow asked, clearly surprised.

"Uh, no. I...oooh...wax," Buffy answered.

Willow stilled her hand and exclaimed "Really?! Ouch!"

'Hey! No stopping!' Buffy thought. What came out her mouth was more of a whine, followed by her arching her hips in an effort to continue the stimulation.

"Oh, sorry!" Willow squeaked.

"Aahhh!" Buffy gasped, then sighed heavily as Willow's finger delved even deeper into her cleft and then continued stroking. 'Feels so good!' she thought happily.

"MMmmm," Buffy hummed with pleasure. "You could keep doing that forever."

"Un uh!" Willow said, shaking her head, thought she didn't stop. "Don't wanna!"

"How come?" Buffy said in a little-girl voice.

Willow pushed herself up to a kneeling position next to Buffy's right hip. She had a mischievous look on her face as she said, "Wanna do *other* things too!"

"What oth...oooh!" Buffy was in the midst of responding when the finger tracing her cleft suddenly slid inside her. "Other...is good," she groaned, rolling her hips slightly in response to Willow's gently pumping finger.

"You're so beautiful, Buffy!" Willow crooned. "I'm so lucky to be with you!"

'I have to kiss you!' Buffy thought as she sat up quickly, being careful not to dislodge Willow's hand from the important task it was fulfilling. She embraced the beautiful redhead and began to nibble and suck her girlfriends lips with her own.

In between teasing kisses, Buffy spoke;

"You think you're lucky?"

*Kiss*

"I'm the lucky one!"

*Kiss*

"I get to."

*Kiss*

"...be with the."

*Kiss*

"...most beautiful."

*Kiss*

"...sweetest."

*Kiss*

"...smartest."

*Kiss*

"...sexiest girl."

*Kiss*

"...in Sunnydale High School!"

Willow whimpered and cried, "I love you so much Buffy!"

Buffy leaned back and looked into her lover's eyes; the adoration she saw was intense. 'Oh God I might just melt!' she thought.

"Love you too, baby! So much!" Buffy responded.

'Of course that's pretty meltworthy too!' Buffy thought, falling back to the mattress with a groan when Willow added a second finger inside her.

"Nghah!" the groan turned into a loud grunt when the redhead began making a 'come here' gesture with those fingers, rubbing strongly against the front wall of her vagina.

'Oh I so love this! this is...this is...' Buffy thought, searching for some description for the intense pleasure she was feeling.

Willow's movement caught her eye as the fiery redhead dropped down, laying between Buffy's legs. The feel of her girlfriend's tongue against her bundle of nerves elicited a hoarse cry from the writhing blonde.

'Heaven!' she thought the one word that described her feelings. 'This must be what heaven feels like!'

Buffy grunted and cried, making sounds that would have humiliated her to hear from herself, if she hadn't been distracted by the incredible pleasure and tension building up inside her.

Every muscle in her body tensed, Buffy shouted, "Gnnnnnaaaahhhh!" and felt herself letting go inside in a way she'd never before experienced. Hard shudders racked her body and she felt like she was cumming again and again in back to back orgasms.

When it finally ended, all Buffy could do was lie there, spent and panting. 'What the heck was that?' she wondered. 'If heaven's better than that, no wonder everybody wants to get there!'

"Buffy? Are you ok?" Willow's concerned voice filled Buffy's ears.

Buffy flopped her head to the side and tried to focus on her girlfriend. 'She's all blurry!' Buffy thought.

Still panting, the Slayer tried to speak, "I...what...happen."

"Buffy, your eyes are all crossed!" Willow said, leaning forward close to the blonde's face.

As Willow's face pulled into focus for Buffy, she noticed that the redhead's mouth and chin were dripping wet.

"You're all...wet," Buffy breathed.

"You sprayed me!" Willow said, sounding quite surprised. "At first I thought you peed on me and I was totally freaking out!"

Buffy's eyes widened in horror. "Oh God! Willow."

Willow smiled widely and continued, "But its not pee! It's so sweet!" She licked her lips in apparent relish.

Buffy was baffled. As she recovered her breath and noticed her lover's neck and chest she gasped, "Oh Willow! You're soaked! What happened?"

Willow bounced on her knees excitedly. "I think it's female ejaculation! I read about it online. Did it feel good?"

Buffy's eyes rolled up in their sockets as she remembered the sensations from moments ago. "Oh. My. God! It was, like, the most amazing thing ever!" She reached up and pulled Willow's face down to meet her own, kissing her fiercely.

'Oh wow! It is sweet!' Buffy thought, surprised. Breaking the kiss, she said, "I can't believe that came out of me!"

"I did good?" Willow asked with an excited grin.

"Oh God yes!" Buffy exhaled forcefully. "Of course, we're gonna have to take a shower, I think."

As she became aware of the seeping wetness under her butt, she frowned and added, "And wash the sheets." Looking at Willow once again, Buffy said, "But that was *so* worth it!"

Giving Willow a quick kiss, she climbed up and out of the bed, pulling the redhead along with her. "Come on, let's clean up. I wanna take my girl out dancing! I wanna celebrate the best day in my life!"

Willow laughed, and agreed, "Best day ever!"

Walking to the door, Buffy said, "You gotta teach me how to do that, Will!"

Willow nodded, saying, "I think we're gonna need lots and lots of practice!"

Buffy laughed out loud. "Oh God! I've created a monster!"

Willow said, "Aren't you lucky!"

Laughing some more, Buffy thought, 'I gotta be luckiest girl in the whole world!'

End Life is Short.

17-Jul-03

44,691 words