Okay this story needs a bit of a background before it's read, just to set the time and context.

This BTVS story is timeline set long after season 7, when the main characters, Buffy et all are around 25 years old. However in a universe that Tara never came to Sunnydale, and never met Willow at university. Willow did however have a problem with her magics, and did go to England to get help.
Through it all she did stay with Oz and married him and the two of them took on the care of a 7 year old boy' who they found during yet another apocalyptic episode imprisoned in 'bubble' being drained as a power source for the 'big bad's' nefarious plans.
Little is known about Zack, as Willow named him but him, Willow and Oz had a good thing going helping Buffy, Giles and Xander run the 'slayer academy' built in 'New Sunnydale' that was built literally next to the crater. Dawn also helped out whilst attending university in New Sunnydale - living in dorms, but like her sister spends a lot of time at the Summers house with her sister.
Then about five months from the start of this story, things changed, Oz decided he had to control the wolf inside him because he may be a danger to both Willow and Zack, and so he left leaving Willow with their son and a broken heart.
NB - This is not edited - it really is a work in progress.
This work is M rated it contains graphic scenes of sexual activity, violence and coarse language as well as other mature themes.



A deeper understanding.


As Willow shuffled through the very large accordion envelope of paperwork she had, this was one of the times that she again cursed Oz and his incredibly bad sense of timing.  Yes, she understood all of his reasons for having to ‘go deal with the wolf’, yes she was reasonable and loved him, but come on, she had an eleven year old who was supposed to be enrolled in a certain curriculum at the new Sunnydale middle school and only now had she remembered Oz was supposed to have dealt with this months ago. 

“Zack’s father dealt with this back in June…” She shuffled another paper and then was happy to finally find the carbon yellow copy she was looking for; handing it over to the secretary who seemed also pleased something could be done.  “We’re exercising the partial homeschooling program so he’ll only be here for math, English, sciences and history.” She realized now she was talking to herself and waited patiently to get all the confirmation documents she needed before she snaked her way back through the hordes of other registering parents to where Buffy was waiting outside for her furiously texting on her ‘slayer twitter’. “This morning I want to kill Oz again.” She added to her ongoing fluctuation of her mood against her ex.  The slayer had started to refer to it like a weather report: the morning was hating Oz, with the afternoon being clouded by a little poor Oz where he is and then melting into a cold I hate Oz he ruined my life evening.

“Why this time?” Buffy turned her attention away from the small screen in her hand to her best friend. “What did he do or not do as the case may be?”

“His paperwork and wasn’t here to do this. It was his big push that Zack only did partial schooling, I didn’t think a Sunnydale education did any of us any real harm.”

“Fear of snakes, falling debris and demon teachers aside of course.” Buffy reminded her of the past with a gentle smile. “I mean this as nicely as I can Will; you’re going to be finding ‘Oz debris’ for a while.” She gentle soothed, “And for the record I think he was right about schooling, I mean Zack has special…” She paused, “needs that need to be catered for, and a Sunnydale elementary,” she glanced at the cheerful looking street sign for the school, “Probably isn’t a great launch pad for him.”

“I know, he prefers reading books with Giles and watching you abuse the slayers.” Willow sighed and packed away her paperwork into her shoulder bag.  “So, you said you had meeting set up with new slayers? There are still new ones?”

“Apparently.” Buffy rolled her eyes and glanced back at the small electronic notepad in her hand, “Want a run down?”

“Obviously.” Willow urged her as they began to walk down the street of what was technically new Sunnydale, replicated a few miles over from the big flaming pit of old Sunnydale.

“Okay, well we have Lianna, nineteen, from Uzbekistan she’s a Giles special, in that she’s about as ready for slayerhood as I am for sainthood. It’s taken her this long to be found because no one from her village actually seemed to know if she was alive anymore.” Buffy read the first character profile.

“Wonderful.” Willow quirked an eyebrow.

“Then there’s Candy, enough said, she’s from Kentucky, she’s twenty, and she included her personal measurements as well as her specific hair colour, ‘Vivid Silver Ash Blonde’.”

“I think Giles is really scrapping the bottom of the slayer barrel now, maybe a few should have stayed hidden with their goats.” Willow took a deep breath; this was going to be a long lunch.

“There’s still two more Will, don’t deep breathe on me yet.” Buffy threw her best friend a smile, “Tara, from North Carolina, don’t know much about her, she’s 25 slipped through the net so far because she’s a roamer apparently, had more addresses in the last three five years than I have had boyfriends.”

“Potential Faith you mean.” Willow nodded.

“And the one I thought you’d take for me,” Buffy looked at her friend with a bright smile, “She’s seventeen from Berlin, Katrina, she talks in…” Buffy paused, “Teen talk, OMG, so xited to b C’n U.” she flashed Willow a copy of the girl’s text message to her that morning.

“Oh my God, I don’t get paid enough for this.” Willow gave her best friend a strained grin.  “Seriously wasn’t killing the first enough, can’t I retire now and be an old cat lady with lots of pictures of Zack?”

Buffy laughed brightly and shook her head. 

“No can do, you signed up as a Scoobie when you were sixteen, I have the original document.  Giles filed it under sucker, Willow Rosenberg, got another one. It’s right behind Xander’s.”

“Of all the things that survived the explosion.” Willow shook her head.  “By the way, me and you have to have a chat about martial arts and Zack…” She looped her arm into her best friend’s as they continued down the street.


Of all the things Willow had expected from their luncheon with the newly indoctrinate slayers the last thing was to be still completely and utterly stunned by the blonde who had been dropped off by tall dark haired tank of a woman with whom she had shared the most wonderful kiss goodbye. 

Of all the things she had expected from the short run down Buffy had given her, she had never for some reason expected this and didn’t really even take a moment to actually think about why she was reacting so strongly.

“Okay so that possibly explains why she moves around so much.” A cryptic whisper came into Willows consciousness as Buffy leaned in to whisper in her ear.

“What?” Willow turned to look at her. “Why would it?” She was more confused for a moment then anything as to what Buffy could be inferring.

“Well come on her boyfriends obviously in the army.” The slayer pointed out surprised by her best friends’ confused retort.

"Buffy...." Willow's eyes widened as she looked at her best friend leaning in closer.  "Her boyfriend is a girlfriend."

"Oh." Buffy's cheeks turned a slight shade of red as the 5ft9 curvy blonde made her way over to them.

"Hi, you must be Tara." Willow stood up when the newcomer arrived, making Buffy rise up not long after her.  With the others already there early, the oldest of the newcomers had been the last to arrive still very much on time.  "I'm Willow Rosenberg, this is Buffy Summers."

"I'm pleased to meet you, very pleased in fact." Tara replied reaching out her hand in greeting to Willow, whilst all the while looking directly into the redheads green eyes.

Willow smiled back, feeling almost looked over in and through by the woman's blue eyes, and she didn't even think to hide the flare in her owns when their hands met and she felt a warm electrical jolt past between them.

"I can't really begin to tell you how," she paused, "confusing the last few years have been." she moved her glance to \Buffy as she shook 'The' slayers hand to. "Am I late she suddenly worried seeing the three other young woman who were watching the table from the bar. She turned her attention back to Willow with her concern once more blue eyes looking to green for information and assurance.

"No, not at all." Willow assured her offering her a chair.  "This really is just a very informal meet and greet, we both like to have met everyone who is brought into the Council now for help." She assured more.

"Right." Tara breathed out and gave a more genuine and relaxed smile as she slide elegantly into her seat.

"You've settled in okay, your accommodations are suitable?" Willow checked the usual first moment issues.

"Yes, the academy is lovely." The blonde nodded enthusiastically, "Regan is complaining about there not being 'family rooms' but I tried to tell her this wasn’t a holiday camp or anything." She gave an apologetic frown to both Willow and Buffy, "And I totally understand that you don’t want partners on site, please don’t think that was my way of trying to get an exception or anything because it wasn’t. She's just fine in the holiday Inn, she's only staying until Monday, and I promise it won’t be a problem." She underlined quickly catching the edge of her lip nervously with her top teeth as she stopped talking

"Tara..." Willow gave her a soft smile knowing that for a million different reasons the blonde was probably worried.  "The rules about Slayer's only and staff at the academy is mostly to try and make everything we're trying to tell you easier... Trying to explain it to people not going through this on a personal level is hard, she can stay in Sunnydale as long as she likes.  No one here has a problem with that, you're allowed to date anyone you like."  She tried to offer the unspoken comfort wishing almost Xander had been there to quirp about how you can even date vampires, but she didn't think Buffy would see the humour from her.

"Right," Tara released the lip caught on her tooth and smiled, pausing for a moment to let silence fall between the three of them.

"So, Tara.” Buffy glanced at her PDA and then at the other blonde. "Is there anything you'd like to ask, anything you want to know or that you don’t quite understand?"

"Everything." Tara admitted with a quirky smile

"Actually Buffy..." Willow didn't know what quite possessed her but she turned in her seat.  "I think Candy is eying for your attention again, I can probably answer most of the basic questions for Tara if you want too..." She looked to where the other three seemed to be en mass staring at the blonde.

“What?" Buffy turned quickly to Willow and then followed her best friends glance to the other new slayers, "Oh right," she pushed up and smiled at Tara again, "You'll see me around and in the academy." She excused herself before moving over to the others.

"I am late aren’t I?" Tara frowned as Buffy left and glanced down at her lap, letting her hair fall a little over the side and front of her face.

"No." Willow shook her head. "They were insanely earlier and want to talk about what shampoo a slayer should use, what she should eat, will she put on huge amounts of weight." She smiled softly. "Not to say you might not legitimately want to know those questions but I have a feeling yours are more about legitimate stuff like do we have a benefit plan, can we look after having your girlfriend moved near the compound, can I get refunds on equipment I already bought."

"She thinks’ I’m here for a conference on Women’s self defense." Tara admitted "It's not that I want to lie to her, it's just I need to know what to tell her before I tell her." She tried to explain, "If you see what I mean." she added with a nervous smile.

"Completely." Willow nodded.  "What you are simply is a slayer, a woman chosen to be given special super powers in order to hold back the forces of evil."

Tara smiled as Willow spoke, though only the left side of her mouth rose and her eyes sparkled with amusement.

"You say that like you're outlining a job at Home depot, just this one come with added Evil." She teased lightly.

"I know, I told Giles it was a horrible line." Willow laughed with her.  "It's a lot to explain, it needs a lot of hands on examples sometimes, but everything you are and everything you can do is normal." She assured her honestly. "I've been around Buffy forever, being a Slayer is a very normal thing, just with the added Evil."

"That added thing that everyone talks about but no one really believes in, till they see it." Tara put forward her version of the statement, the one the last few years had taught her.

"Unfortunately it's everywhere." Willow dimmed a little.  "Every time you think you've beaten the worst something else pops up, but that is the reason you are what you are, and Buffy is what she is, to stop it, to help and to make the world better."

The blonde opposite Willow nodded but then looked up,

"I think you should amend your statement to added Supernatural Evil, it might discourage your slayers from you know forming rampage units against people who mistreat animals, or club baby seals you know?" she offered with a soft shrug. "Just to be clear that it's the pointed teeth, horned varieties of bad guy that you like to focus on."

"See, I could tell right away you were past the shampoo questions." Willow rewarded her as she reached out and patted the woman's hand again without thinking about it until the little jolt struck her.  "Have you had many encounters already?" She asked seriously.

"A couple of dozen." Tara gave an uneven frown, "At first it was just creep out session type things, you know shadows in alleyways, the feeling of being followed and that." She gave an uncomfortable shiver, "But then came the flying pointy teethed shadows that tried to eat me..." she gave a soft shrug, "I have to admit, scream and run was my first reaction at least the first five times."

"You have nothing to be ashamed of, in the past there was only one slayer at a time, the Watcher's council tried to be there to help introduce them to the supernatural evils of the world but since the mass awakening we haven't been able to help everyone. I apologize for that." Willow was as always very upset for that general failing, since she had that moment been the one that had done this to all of them she felt responsible.

"No, I mean I wasn’t looking for sympathy or anything, just admitting my initial failure at rising to the challenge I suppose." Tara put her hand quickly on Willow’s and squeezed it slightly, "I know better than to insult the people who can help me." she seemed to suddenly become aware she had kept a hold of willows hand and then pulled her own back to rest on her lap

"Please, fundamentally it was me who did this to you. I know you've been sent the 'story, and I’m sure you have lots of questions about it but bottom line your life was yours until I used the scythe to pick you out of the universe and thrust you into your maybe destiny." Willow sighed knowing her general depressed mood of late wasn't helping her residual guilt over this but at this moment she felt so truly sorry for changing Tara's world. "Running away is a great reaction and not a failure." She underlined in the necessary Scooby way.  "Any encounter with pointy anything you get away from is a good one."

Tara again gave willow that uneven smile

"I've gotten away from them all so far." She admitted with a certain amount of pride, "And you're right I read the story about what you did, why you did it, perhaps I need pulling out of what my life was before this." She added, once again looking up into green eyes

"Do you want to see what Buffy does on patrol?" Willow made the offer without even thinking of clearing it with the blonde, after all officially the first of the Slayers didn't do patrol patrol anymore. Unofficially she still kept a good close eye on the stinking hold of old Sunnydale and the things that crawled out of it, every night, and she probably would until the day she died and didn't come back. At least two nights a week Willow still went with her, old habits were hard to break.

"Of course, at the earliest opportunity, though I imagine that the waiting list is a little long." Tara replied with a nod.

"Don’t worry about that, I'm Willow I have special privileges." The redhead shrugged.


"Don't be mad."  Willow turned the corner with Tara in tow to meet Buffy outside of the gates to Resthaven Cemetery. She smiled that 'Willow' smile that only she could to the blonde slayer who would have otherwise been very cranky and upset to have her private patrol invaded.

"Will, tell me you didn’t bring a freshman." Buffy crossed her arms and leaned her weight onto her right hip

"No, I brought Tara, remember Tara?" Willow beamed back knowing the body shift hadn't been a good sign.  "You were so busy with the other three; I thought she deserved something special."

"Tara, right," Buffy looked at the other blonde, stood beside the redhead who was typically willowly dressed in purple jeans and a black pretty shirt, with a knee length green jacket over the ensemble, Tara on the other hand was dressed in slightly over sized black cargo fatigues, with a black tight turtle neck on, and black leather gloves, not to mention a utility belt that was slung over her his. "Or should I say Ninja Tara?" Buffy eyed the other slayer for a moment. “Will..." she stepped closer and eased Willow away from the other blonde for a moment, "I don't do patrol remember, did you forget that you and I jump on ATV's and go over to the crater that used to be home and slay bad guys for a few hours round about now, not pull half assed newbie’s from fresh graves for shits and giggles." She glanced again at Tara who was alert and keenly glancing around the streetlamp less gates.

"Buffy..." Willow glanced back.  "She needs help, now call this me being weird witchy me as Xander does but she's got a special energy about her and apparently bad things have been seeking her out extra often, which means maybe something you need to look into?" She tried to list the legitimate reasons she'd made for her offer.

"SO you're suggesting I just lead her on over to crater table number one and see if any bad guys want a nibble?" Buffy blinked at Willow "If I don’t accidently stake her myself, I mean please how is anyone supposed to see her when she's dressed like that?" she hissed a little quieter

"Just humour me." Willow tried the last possible angle, after all she was the long standing gone to have cookies on the dark side and back witch that had weird hunches on things the slayer just couldn't ignore.

"Okay but this is a favour I’m not going to forget as easily as being Zacks god mother." Buffy smirked.

"It is Zack that uses that against you, not me." Willow smiled at her best friend, knowing how in so many ways it had been the aloof solitary Slayer herself that had helped get through to the very traumatized frighteningly quiet little boy.

"Some times I think you put him up to it." Buffy laughed as she strolled back towards Tara. "Okay Tara, now tonight you're going to learn a few things, the first being that as the oldest and most experienced Slayer ever, I can do and say what the hell I want." she outlined as she began to lead the slightly confused slayer away from the cemetery gates, towards what looked like a utility vehicle car park

"Remember she can do this, you normally can't." Willow put in as she moved to catch up to them, edging towards her awaiting bright blue ATV.

“The second thing is that unlike you may have been led to believe, I do not spend my time double checking your work in and around Sunnydale each night, I have bigger fish to fry." She flashed Willow as smile as she pointed to a camouflage coloured ATV, "The third, is that that is yours for the evening, damage it and you have to answer to Xander." she left Tara just standing by the ATV when she herself crossed to a red one, picking up the matching red helmet off the seat.\

"It's not as hard as it looks." Willow assured her as she pulled on her own blue helmet.

"The fourth," She laughed before pulling on the helmet, "Is what the hell are you wearing around your waist." Climbing on the ATV THE slayer had left Tara standing in a plume of dust before she could even think of answering.

Hurrying to catch up, Tara put on her own matching helmet and gunned the ATV into life, pleased to see that at least Willow seemed to be waiting for her.

"Tara, it's rude not to answer." Buffy's voice suddenly filled her ears, and Tara realized that the helmet had a built in microphone and earphone system

The redhead then only went off after Buffy, using the elevated cement entrance into the 'restricted' zone with less flourish then the legendary slayer.

"It's a utility belt." Tara replied as she somewhat cautiously followed the lead.

The guffaw that followed from the slayer briefly made her earphones buzz.

"What? What did I say that was funny, It's a practical way of carrying the things I need, a stake, a small spritzer bottle of holy water, some garlic, a cross.." Tara's pout was more than evident in her reply

"It's practical but makes you stick out and can be used to detain you if you're arrested by cops." Willow yelled to her trying to explain.  "We'll get you a coat fitted; you'll learn best ways to conceal stuff at the academy."

"OH right." Tara sounded a little disappointed at herself for the obvious cons to her 'revolutionary' idea.

"Buffy she gets points for having the right gear through?" Willow called to the slayer knowing that they'd had worse 'revolutionary ideas'. Broccoli did not affect vampires, no matter how much a 17 year old from Nebraska hated it.

"And looses one for being losable in the dark." Buffy commented.

"Did I do anything right?" Tara checked trying not to seem as put down by this as she felt.

Willow tried to glare at the slayer but the effect was lost due to the vantage between them and the loud machines made subtle communications impossible, mostly the effort was lost as she felt, as the others did, the very ground seem to shift with a large thump thump underneath them, almost like someone was drilling.

Slightly ahead |Buffy's ATV stopped and the slayer held her hand upright. Willow drew her four wheeler up level with Buffy’s and stopped as did Tara.

"Will, can you throw a quick demon scan out for me." Buffy asked Tara noted there was a new level of focus and tension to the slayers tone, one that hadn’t been there before, when she was obviously 'teasing' her, this was serious Buffy.

"I have no rumors of the Government doing any more excavations." Willow admitted instantly as she stepped off the bike and moved in front beginning the short incantation and taking a powder from the bag she carried full of various necessary ingredients.  Personally she'd tried to create a utility belt for Buffy years ago and like the new one Tara had. "Something..." Willow looked out into the miles of darkness with her eyes bleaching out as they did now since the scythe event.  “Not familiar... and it's not trying to get in... it's trying to get out..." She bent down and put her hands onto the dirt the government had piled into the empty crater. “Did Giles mention anything to you about dates?" Willow continued her sweep letting her senses spread out further, not letting the empty vastness of the universe engulf her mind as it did her body.

"No, there's next month’s trial of the five to contend with, but usually that's more show than anything," Buffy stepped a little backwards opening up a box on the back of her ATV; she pulled from it the scythe, and glanced at Tara. "Arm up.” She called as she pulled off her helmet

"Definitely this direction." Willow pointed knowing Buffy would lead even if she was scanning.

Tara pulled off her own helmet and glanced at her vehicle, seeing that it too had a small weapons box on the back. She tried the doors and found them to be open, the contents of it slightly overwhelming her briefly as she stared at the array of pointy things, both metal and wooden, double handed and single, not to mention long distance, short and intermediate, after a quick look |Tara selected two short shorts, one a little larger than the other, there weren’t two that matched in the case.

With an almost surprising flick of her wrists, she twirled them both 360 in the air,  caught them in opposite hands and then slid them into two loops on her belt that were obviously used to holding similar things

"What do you normally carry?" Buffy looked at her, her eyes narrowing a little.

"Daggers." Tara replied not daring to glance up at Buffy yet still feeling that she was in some way being vetted by the experienced slayer

"Why didn’t you bring them|?" Buffy asked not giving the other blonde an inch

"Because..." Tara paused, she hadn’t brought them because if she was honest she hadn’t been expecting to actually 'do' anything, she was thinking this was going to be more of a show and tell than I get in and get dirty deal and also she had noticed the distinct lack of daggers so far in the academy especially ones as small and ornate as hers.

"Because?" Buffy prompted her when she didn’t finish her answer.

"Because I didn’t want to presume that you wanted me in your way." Tara decided upon her answer trying to stand up to the strangely daunting slayer

"I don’t want dead weight either Tara." Buffy turned to her seriously "You have to be assertive |Tara, you're a slayer, this is your calling, your destiny, you can help, you can save lives, it's about you, and it’s all about you.” Buffy underlined seriously

Willow the whole time, though turned to them both as they 'worked it out', backed up a little more each moment trying to figure out the distant buzzing she could hear. "Buff...” Willow's voice tried to call to her best friend, or even really just a slayer she reasoned as the buzz seemed to engulf her in both physical and supernatural ways so that by the time the very fast moving creature streaked out of the deepest part of the dark and literally snatched her off her feet taking her with it as it continued to run away.

"Fuck..." The curse was out of Buffy's mouth the instant Willow was caught up off her feet into the darkness

IT was Tara who was moving before the slayer, having not had the moment of angry cursing that the blonde had had she had instead just taken off after what had taken willow, reaching around her utility belt, she snatched a flare, cracked it and threw it on the ground as she ran illuminating the inky blackness with a bright amber glow that revealed two  long vivid green and black patchy legs, that covered the ground with great speed, offset only a little by a long reptilian looking tail that  added momentum as the tall creature tried to turn into a darker area away from the light of the flare. Pulling another from her belt Tara threw it forward into the direction that the tall demon was turning bathing the area again in orange light forcing the demon to rethink its chosen path.

Tara by this time had cut diagonally across to where the new trajectory would take the demon, and was waiting for it, when it arrived in a swirled of sun baked dirt.

"Put her down." Tara said in a low voice, both swords drawn crossed over her chest

Buffy skidded up behind it to make sure it couldn't retreat immediately.

"Now." She snarled when at first the demon didn’t react at all to the request, With a flash of her hand Tara sent one of the swords in a hard direct arc, hitting the demons shoulder just as the momentum from its run pulled that arm with willow back enough to clearly revealing the joint, With a hiss of pain, and the shink of metal on skin and cartilage, the limb holding willow fell from the demons body to the dusty ground below

"I did ask." She replied evenly when the thing turned to her its face full of teeth and tongue as it hissed demonic curses at her, flailing its remaining arm towards the blonde who deftly jumped over the low arcing swing landing in a tucked roll that brought her to the creature’s hip which she swung at with her remaining sword

The blonde watched the quick accurate strike and then acrobatics, indeed impressed

Unfortunately the hefty swing resulted in the light short sword becoming wedged in the thick thigh muscle of the demon, so Tara had to release it and instead used it as a foot-up, giving her the launch she needed to jump high onto the scaly back getting a good hand grip on the open wound of its missing shoulder, she gripped her hand into the deep flesh, and wrapped her other arm around its neck in a classic strangle hold, she then gripped her own arm by the wrist

Buffy in the meantime wasn't completely useless as she grabbed Willow and moved her back away from the demon.

Happy with her position Tara began to squeeze, inch by inch closing the triangle whilst holding on as tightly as she could with her legs taking every opportunity to tighten her grip each inch of air that seeped out of the creatures lungs, mentally noting as the breaths became fewer and lighter.

Buffy waited until she had completely strangled the life out of demon before she spoke.  

"Rip it's fangs out, I think it bit her." She put her hands on Willow's face observing the tooth like slash in her cheek.  "Giles will need to make an anti venom."

"|Okay." Tara dropped from the limp body as it crumpled onto the ground; she skirted quickly around, pulled a short bladed flick knife out of her belt and dug each front fang out of the demons mouth, down to the root. She then dropped each of them into test tube like holders on the far right of her belt

Buffy watched her for a moment and then moved to pick up the redhead and drape her over the back of the ATV.  Without another word Buffy led them back to ‘new’ Sunnydale.


As soon as they breached the city limit Tara knew they weren’t as she was expecting them to, heading towards the academy. Instead Buffy lead them through a series of backstreets to a rather impressively sized suburban detached house. In the large driveway was filled by a jeep and a family sized sedan, the trim neat front garden made it look like every other in the surrounding area.

Buffy brought the ATV’s up around the back of the house, that had a broad gravel path that was obviously used for just this, whenever the occasion demanded. The instant the original slayer’s tires hit the gravel, the back garden was flooded with light from two different proximity lights and just seconds later the large back door was flung open by all tall brunette that Tara didn’t recognize.

“Big lizard thing snatched her, cut her with a tooth, Tara has the teeth.” Buffy was off the rig and picking up Willow and motioning to the other slayer with her head. 

“I’ll call Giles and Xander.” The brunette gave a nod as she stepped out of the way to let Buffy into the house. “I’m Dawn.” She walked up to where Tara was stood pulling off her helmet.

“The teeth.” Tara clipped the two test tubes off her belt and held them out, “Hi Dawn.” She added.

“Nice to meet you.” Dawn took the offerings, impressed they weren’t a, broken off and mangled, b, not dripping goo everywhere, c, in manageable containers, with lids. “Nice belt.” She added turning to disappear inside after Buffy.

“You can come in, help Buffy.” Dawn’s head reappeared and encouraged her with a smile.


When Willow finally felt well enough to open her eyes, she found that the previously milling room seemed to only have the newest slayer sitting in a chair flipping through one of Giles antiquity magazines uncomfortably.

“Let me guess they kept barking orders at you, and then once they fed me some strange goo seemed to all have better things to do so you got nurse duty?” Willow tried to sit up finding now she could move her limbs but they were still heavy.

“Buffy mentioned having to go and assure Zach that everything was okay and relieving Xander of babysitting duties.” Tara listed off the reasons she had been giving for basically being abandoned. “Giles had to go back to the academy to get more books, Dawn had a date.” Tara gave the now familiar uneven smile. “So I think the answer to your question is yes.” She summed up, “I have a list of things to do when you do wake up, and if you don’t, I have more goo.” She added pointing to a kiss the librarian mug beside her on the coffee table.

“Zach is my son in case they didn’t explain.” Willow slowly sat up and swung her legs over the side of the slim cot.  “And no the goo has a very ugly aftertaste.”

“They didn’t explain anything actually.” Tara admitted, “Point number two says I must ask you to lay down again.” She pointed at her letter sized page of instructions

“It must have taken them along time to write that out.” Willow didn’t immediately listen but didn’t move any further as the world wobbled in her view.  “Thank you by the way, I was immobile but not out of it when you cut it apart. Wow.” She smiled at the blonde.

“If Buffy hadn’t needed to pep talk me it would have never been able to take you in the first place.”  Tara shook her head and looked at the floor.  “So don’t thank me for scrapping together a solution to a problem I created.”

“Wow, you are the only self deprecating slayer I have ever met.” Willow smiled at her softly.  “I mean, you had flares I remember, and running and then the slice and dice and now you’re apologizing for missing a demon running faster then I’ve seen in along time.  Really Tara…” She moved over along the cot and reached out happy when the blonde put her hand in reach.  “Thank you, you did really great. Now, can you drive me home I have to see my son?”

“That I’m allowed to do but only after you’ve been conscious for a full half an hour. Point four.” Tara held up the paper with her free hand.  “I have to get you to drink something, I’m taking it they didn’t mean alcohol and assure you that Mr. Giles is confident that the goo will work but it might take a good day or so for you to feel 100 percent again.”

“I’m just glad we don’t have to worry I’m turning into one or something.” Willow leaned against a nearby wall and smiled.

“No, no worries about that and I have officially added my first specimen to the Watcher’s council demonology department.” Tara grinned proudly.  “They even kept my test tube.” She pointed at the hole on her belt.


Very deliberately careful of the seams in the carpet, Willow pushed the small cart she had in front of her down the hallway of the residence area until she was at the right door and then knocked.

There was a brief pause before the door was pulled open, to reveal Tara, her hair piled up on her head, held there with an unevenly placed clip, though most of it had spilled out of it and was draped over her shoulders and back. A rainbow coloured pencil was pushed behind her left ear and she had another in the hand she opened the door with.

“Hello, delivery.” Willow smiled waving her hand at the cart with a new laptop and various other electronics.  “Upgrades are me.”

“Upgrades, ooh tell me more.” Tara smiled brightly and backed up slightly to give willow room to get the cart and herself inside.

“Well I thought you might enjoy bigger access to the databases, the archival project and the specimens library.” Willow explained her reasoning. After all not many of the slayers actually cared at all about her end of things enough to carry test tubes, Buffy included.

“Definitely.” Tara nodded enthusiastically, “To be honest I’ve always been a bit of a knowledge girl if you see what I mean.” She admitted.

“Tech Geek here.” Willow put up her hand as she moved to install the new network booster.  “Which is why I end up doing most of the computer stuff, Giles prefers books.”

“I’d noticed.” Tara motioned over her shoulder at the pile of photocopied notes she’d already gotten from the five ‘information sessions’ the watcher had shared with her. “My mom would have agreed with him though, she had hundreds of old books too, I couldn’t even pronounce the titles of most of them.” She chuckled as she just leaned against the side of the dresser watching willow work.

“I don’t mean to pry but how are the explanations with your girlfriend going?” Willow asked after a short pause.

“Well…” Tara put the pencil down she had in her hand and cupped both of her hands in front of her. “Not so great.” She admitted. “She wants me to go home with her Monday.”

“Ouch.” Willow grimaced as she played with wires. 

“Ouch is about right.” Tara nodded with a sigh. “It’s not that I don’t think that she’ll understand, more that I know she wont understand.” The blonde moved and sat down on the bed. “She’s twenty nine, she’s already bored with living at my aunts and we’ve only been their five months, she’s about fast crazy living doing something only long enough for it not to become routine.” She sighed again and released her hair from the clip. “She’s not going to understand a life destiny thing no matter how I dress it up.”

“Sometimes being the slayer is the hardest thing in the world.” Willow admitted the downside to the galatically important destiny.  “I’m sorry, I hope it does work out, you deserve to be happy.”

“Well you give me hope you know, you’re like the most famous key Scoobie ever and here I am learning you have a kid, a husband, a life.” She gave Willow what could only be described as a tender smile.

“Who told you that?” Willow tried to keep the instant reaction off her face.  “I’m not… Oz left, a little over a year ago.” She found herself for some reason wanting to ignore and acknowledge the finality of it at the same time.

“Oh God, I’m so sorry, oh well done Maclay, open mouth insert foot. I am galatically sorry.” She frowned so hard that it looked like it might hurt, “IT’s just the other day you mentioned your son, and your ring and everything I just assumed…”

“It’s not your fault, I guess I forget myself sometimes, just stay focused on slaying and Zach.” Willow put her hand in her pocket suddenly feeling the weight of the small ring.  “He was a werewolf, is a werewolf, good one, he needed to try to figure out what he was to control it better.”

“There are good ones?” Tara blinked blue eyes innocently.

“Yes, the lycanthropy is a virus, you can give into it and the bloodlust or take measures to subdue the wolf.  Oz had it down to even changing at will or not changing but then it got harder, apparently I made it harder with Zach and everything and he needed to sort it out.” She found herself admitting things she’d barely admitted to herself in trying to explain her reality.

“I guess I can understand that, I mean having you both, wanting to protect such precious things must have made the drive to do so the ‘wrong’ way really hard, I mean I find it hard when people are being you know, phobic to Regan and I not to go slayer on their ass.” She gave a smirk. “So I kind of understand but…” she stopped and met Willow’s eyes for a moment, “I’m not sure I could have given you up.”

Willow looked up to catch blue eyes again and what her logical brain wanted to wash off as just a statement to make her feel better, her heart seemed to easily find more than enough evidence to further support.  Not that she was at all sure what that meant, or what she was supposed to do about it, or indeed could do? But still it made her feel somehow better about her honest admittances.

“Thank you, Regan is a lucky girl.” Willow admitted.

“Actually she’s more like a single girl right about now.” Tara looked down again. “I… I left her a note at the hotel, she’s probably read it a couple of times by now, cursed me more than a couple of times and is probably getting drunk as we speak.” |Tara admitted her chest tight just with the admittance. “But she won’t understand, I know she won’t, so this way it’s all my fault, it’s all me, I’m being unreasonable, I’m ending it, I’m the bad guy. It’s better.” She looked off to the side sadly.

Willow slowly stood up from where she was and moved the short distance across the room to where the blonde was standing. 

“I’m glad I know the truth then, that you’re doing it for the right reasons even if she can’t understand.” The redhead’s voice was soft and supportive, as if she really did truly understand that sometimes there were choices to make that didn’t leave a good outcome but they left the best of what you could get. 

“Thank you.” Tara looked the short distance to Willow with a genuine smile. “This is probably against the rules…” she said moving closer, “But,” She shrugged and then closed her arms around the red head, holding her loosely but tenderly in a close embrace. “Really, thank you.”

“Sometimes being the slayer means being that girl, the one that makes the hard decisions for people who can’t.” Willow reminded her as she hugged her back, closing her eyes to the honest emotional understanding.

“I guess that’s something that takes more getting used to then the rest of it.”  Tara said her voice heavy and tired sounding.  “Sorry, I didn’t mean to distract you from your work.” She apologized and broke the embrace taking two steps backwards she reclaimed the pencil from behind her ear and pointed to the stack of photocopied notes.  “I suppose I should be working whilst you are.”

“Actually if you read any of that you will be the first slayer who ever did.” Willow grinned as she moved to finish plugging in wires.

“So wait…” Tara’s face turned into a bright smile.  “I’m the one that supposed to make the decision but I don’t read the stuff that gives me the information that informs my decision?”

“As Buffy would pipe up now, you rarely have time, that’s why I’m there to give it to you in quick fun bite sized portions at important times.” Willow offered the reasoning.

“Every slayer gets a willow?” Tara grinned.  “Do we get to chose which?”

Willow just blushed a little and poked at the laptop.


“Yes, okay I invited you, and I made you make time and now I’m not telling you why I needed you in the first place.” Willow huffed and babbled as she tried to yet again evade Dawn’s attempt to find out what this secret coffee shop meeting was about.  “Okay, you’re going to think I’m silly and old fashioned but…”

“Wait!” Dawn put up her hand.  “Did Zack meet a girl?”

“No! He’s eleven, he’s in junior school, he does not need to meet a girl.” Willow looked horrified.  “Should he have a girlfriend?”

“With those telekinetic powers are you kidding? Her panties might be off before we know it.” Dawn teased.

“You are so unhelpful.” Willow scowled at her. “Now I am not going to ask my lesbian question.” She stuck out her tongue.

“You’re what?” Dawn’s face dropped its amused visage.  “Did you just say the L word?”

“It is an L word, Dawn please I just know you are so up on these things.” Willow pleaded with her to not overreact.

“It’s a TV thing.” Dawn shook her head.  “And you were there when I had my I’m a lesbian just add beer conversation with Buffy.  It wasn’t a joke, after about seven girls look good, I can’t help it I think it’s a key thing.”

“No that’s why I called you.” Willow pulled apart her paper napkin.  “When you say they look good? What do you mean?”

“I mean they look like I want to kiss their faces off.” Dawn spelled out.  “Willow, is Kennedy pressuring you again?”

“No.” Willow shook her head.  “No… it’s just… there is someone, I met and… it’s confusing.” She chugged her chai latte.

“Confusing how?” Dawn asked slowly all trace of humour vanishing.

“Because she is a woman.” Willow explained with a huff of finality.

“Will, you’re twenty six years old, I’m not your mother, you don’t need to keep telling me that I got it the first time.” Dawn made clear as she sipped her coffee.  “Now what I need you to tell me is what has you confused, for example is she is a confusing woman as in a woman who looks like a man?”

“No, no you’ve met her.” Willow shook her head.  “It’s just… she disarms me.” She settled on the idea.

“I’ve met her.” Dawn seemed distracted by the first half of Willow’s sentence more than the later.  “She’s a slayer?”

“Yes.” Willow admitted.  “Her name is Tara, from the lizard incident.” She tried to narrow it down.

“The one with the utility belt.” Dawn nodded.  “Should have known that was so gay.  Good gay not bad gay.” She clarified.

“She is very gay.” Willow nodded that she’d at least confirmed this. “And I think she’s been flirting with me.”

Dawn’s eyes went wide as saucers.

“She likes you?” She asked in a high pitched voice.

“I don’t know, I think she might.” Willow was very unsure.  “How do I know these things? I had Oz, and well Oz.”

“Um hum.” Dawn nodded. “To be honest Will it doesn’t matter how much she likes you, if you don’t like her.” The younger woman gave her best answer.

“I know but it’s not like Kennedy, she doesn’t make me think eww run away she makes me think mmmm she smells like rosewood.” Willow thought of the scent for a moment.

Dawn raised her eyebrow.

“Willow, I’m going to ask you to do something just answer honestly without scanning the answer through that immense brain of yours.” Dawn encouraged her seriously. “I’m going to ask you a series of questions about Tara, I want you to just answer okay?” Willow nodded immediately.  “What colour are her eyes?”

“Pacific ocean blue on a sunny day.” Willow answered.

“Are her hands bigger or smaller than yours?”

This one took Willow a moment then she thought of a day a week or so ago in the communications room when they’d been going over equipment.

“Bigger.” She finally answered.

“What is the most bodily contact you two have shared?”

“Hugs, friendly.” Willow looked into her coffee.

Dawn paused before asking anything else mentally calculating that the redhead had only known Tara a total of eleven days.

“Okay final question.” Dawn urged. “When was the last time you had sex?”

“Two weeks before…what does that have to do with it?” Willow went to answer and then stopped.

“I was just curious.” Dawn teased sticking the tip of her tongue out.  “Willow…” She said unlike her sister her voice dropped when becoming serious after being jovial.  “I do my own research on the new slayers, even though Buffy likes to think I’m completely university focused. You can’t have been me and suddenly drop the slayer thing.” She paused and rolled her eyes.  “Everything I’ve read and seen about Tara is good, she seems like a nice person, and Will…” she paused again and looked at her old friend.  “Even if you just fuck each other’s brains out and never speak of it again who is it hurting?” The university senior gave her honest advice.

Willow just laughed and shook her head for a moment. 

“Sometimes I still see eleven year old you and hear that mouth.” Willow continued to giggle and sip her latte.  “So, you’re taking Zack to see the new Disney movie after dinner eh?”

“No, what are you talking about?” Dawn scrunched up her nose.  “It’s weekend at the campus-arama.” She gave a bright smile. “I’ll pick him and his overnight bag up at six.”


Willow stood outside of the doorway in the relatively quiet and empty residence area of the academy and took a deep breath realizing that after her conversation with Dawn she was well and truly nervous.  After all she’d actually admitted to another human being how confused and downright curious she found herself about the blonde and how overwhelmed she was right now at the idea of spending time with her again.

She hadn’t looked forward to spending time like this with anyone in… well along long time she realized sadly.  Giving herself a momentary pep talk she finally knocked on the door. She had decided on a pair of tailored brown pants, with a light orange button down that if you looked closely enough actually had a pattern made up of little intertwined fish that Zach had decided was cool for a design so she hoped it would bring her luck. The young boy had seemed strangely excited not only for his invitation to stay over at the university with his Aunt Dawn but at the idea that Mama was going out to have her own fun night. Sometimes despite his age and obvious gifts, he was an incredibly sensitive little boy.

Stepping back after the knock she waited checking her bag for all the necessary things in case she’d forgotten anything.

What Willow didn’t know about the blonde on the other side of the door, was that ever since the redhead had asked her, Tara had been in turmoil over just what Willow had actually asked. Were they going out for a ‘date’ were they just spending time, was she just feeding her something other than cafeteria food, some sort of two week treat? And just who was she asking out anyway, for this maybe date thing? |Was it Slayer Tara, in her cargos and tighter than tight shirts, or was it regular Tara and everything that came with that.

It had in short been the longest and yet shortest two hours of Tara’s life, and with just minutes to before the redhead was due, Tara was stood in front of the closet mirror in just her briefs and bra, still worrying and undecided about who was going where and for what. In  a last minute panic she had thrown on a white and blue summer dress, with and elasticated strapless top that clung to her breasts and torso, and then flared out in layers of printed light cotton dropping down to her mid calf, some white strappy sandals, and a white cardigan.

Still looking slightly flustered, her blonde hair down, flowing over her bare shoulders, the cardigan folded over her left arm, ready for when it was chiller, Tara |Maclay opened her door.

Willow just stood there for a moment when the door opened, completely unprepared for the beautiful woman who opened it and was waiting for her.  Her entire conversation with Dawn and all the natural worries it had caused seemed overwhelmed in that moment by her own natural emotion and instant undeniable arousal.

“Hi, wow, you look beautiful. I should have dressed up.” She felt absolutely drab now in her simple outfit.

“No.” Tara’s eyes flared slightly as she shook her head quickly, “You look great.” She assured the redhead, “Really great,” she added with a sincere smile, “Should I change if I make you feel under dressed somehow?” She checked back over her shoulder at the dresser on the far wall.

“No.” Willow said and then laughed.  “Let’s just agree that you look beautiful and not worry about dress code.” She offered with a smile.

“Perfect.” Tara nodded and picked up a small clutch purse off the desk near the door. “I’m all yours.” She announced with a smile.

Willow managed to keep the small noise the announcement caused deep in the back of her throat but as she hovered in the doorway she couldn’t keep the smirk off her face. 

“I have to admit, I like the dress better than the army commando look, you seem more relaxed.” The redhead offered.

“It’s funny, when I know that I’m going out to patrol, when I’m focused on Slayer things, it feels okay, but any other time.” She shook her head, “Give me something free and flouncy.” She grinned, “Or at least without over sized pockets.”


Willow carefully carried the cute little red and white handled bag with the leftovers of their meals as they walked down the brightly lit main street of town.

“If you’d known Old Sunnydale you’d know just how creepy it used to look, and then the replicated it perfectly.” Willow laughed lightly.

Tara giggled.

“Well the quick look I had of old Sunnydale needed a little re-modeling to resemble this I have to admit, but I guess I believe you, you have trust worth eyes.” She gave willow a bright smile.

“Thank you.” Willow fluttered her eyelashes.  “So as I had tried to explain this is still fundamentally Sunnydale, so we have one of three movies, bowling or strolling in the well lit areas approved for strolling.”

“You mean cemeteries are off the menu.” Tara giggled again, “But they’re the only places I know around here. There’s one with a nice big Mausoleum, lots of candles.” She winked at the redhead

“If you start giving me the evil eye I’m going to get worried you’re trying to lure me somewhere for evil purposes.”Willow laughed back.

“The evil eye, is that a charm, or a pendant, or a squishy thing that should be kept refrigerated until use?” Tara quizzed.

“Usually it’s just the look of someone trying to lure you to your death at a mausoleum.” Willow smirked softly.  “Unless you’re luring me for other purposes and then I’d suggest something other than a mausoleum.”

“Actually it would be really nice not to see so much as a tombstone for a full 24 hours.”  The blonde was honest.

“Then the night is young, what would you like to do?” Willow offered stepping to walk closer to her as they passed another group of people on the sidewalk.

“Well I think I have an unfair advantage in the bowling department.” Tara admitted, with her ‘goofy’ smile as opposed to her genuine one.

“You do, and I’m the admitted tech geek.” Willow laughed at the slayer joke and without thinking linked her arm into Tara’s.  “Dawn would suggest drinking but she’s a uni woman at the moment.”

“So that leaves strolling, a movie, or maybe coffee.” Tara listed as they passed the revamped espresso pump. “Or did the tech geek rule out the movie because you’ve seen all of them already?” she checked

“I like strolling or coffee, movie is… you can’t talk.”  Willow offered her response for the choice.

“Then show me the brightly lit highlights of Sunnydale.” Tara gave willow another smile, one that the redhead hadn’t yet seen, one that lit up the whole of her face and made her look both young and yet somehow cheeky at the same time.

“Is this when I admit that the sights are few but the new improved rose garden near the town hall is pretty well lit and well patrolled.” Willow admitted suddenly herself becoming aware of their linked arms and realizing she both liked it and wasn’t sure if Tara was comfortable with it made her worried.

“Flowers are pretty, even at night.” Tara reasoned, “So the rose gardens it is.” She looked at Willow to lead them in the right direction, not in the slightest giving a hint that she wanted her arm back from the contact.

“Yes, apparently the weather is perfect for them.”  Willow remembered the piece she’d read in the paper when the official opening had taken place.  “Buffy liked the rose choice because vamps by issue of thorns don’t hide in them.” She chuckled as she shared the insider slayer humour.

“A good reason to plant one’s front and back yards with them.” Tara pointed out, and possibly a reason there’s none around the academy? You want the vamps to congregate there.” She grinned again. “Less leg work for the old timers.”

“Well Buffy is getting up there.” Willow chuckled again. “And would you believe not long after it was first built we actually had a group try to ‘attack’ it.” She rolled her eyes.  “First all you know is they were beating down the door to get in, then the girls attacked and they were beating down the doors to get out again.”

“Really do brain cells die during the act of vampirifcation? Wait is that even a word?” Tara’s nose wrinkled as she contemplated her own vocabulary.

“Official Webster no, but it is used around the office a lot. Xander made it up.” Willow snorted remembering his big dictionary of Scooby words he was working on.  “You can also shorten it and just say his brain cells died when he vamped up.”

“Right.” Tara nodded a little slowly, “So they’re stupid because of the vampire thing, not before it? Just checking because you know, most that I’ve encountered, well some at least I doubt were barely literate.”

“My experience is that the process seems to magnify traits, if the person wasn’t bright to begin with other traits get highlighted so they appear dumber.” Willow led them down a side street towards the garden.  “Which is striking me now because vampire me from another alternate reality was kinda gay.”

“There’s a kind of gay vampire you?” Tara pulled them to a halt and just stared at her.

“Wow I said that out loud and now realize how out of context it seems.” Willow blushed furiously and stammered over how to start her explanation.  “In high school, a friend of mine made a wish to a vengeance demon that Buffy had never come to Sunnydale which would theoretically resulted in Xander and I being turned into vampires, and me as a vampire being a very evil, very smart and manipulative rage and violence filled, very lesbian vampire. I hit on me, when vamp me was sucked into our dimension, promise long story this is just the sum up.”

“Willow that doesn’t make vampire you a lesbian, it makes her incestuous.” Tara pointed out eying her a little strangely, “I don’t know many lesbians that want to hit on their twin sisters.”

“No, other me from an alternative reality.” Willow made a sheepish face as she tried to explain. “This is totally out of context, but there were other things that stated she was gay… boys were only to be rode like ponies, and I mean with bridles and whips.” She shuddered.

“You know what Willow, stop, please just stop.” She held up her free hand, but didn’t take the one still looped with Willows, “I get it, vampire you was a dominatrix bisexual bitch who was into S&M.” She shrugged sending blonde hair cascading over her shoulders, “Which is a viable life style choice I suppose, if you’re a vampire.”

“Vampire me was extremely weird.” Willow underlined pleased to see that the blonde at least understood in principle even if the facts did muddle things.  “And how did we get here? Roses, I like roses, pretty things.” She began to lead her again towards the garden.

“Perhaps we got here because you were subtly trying to underline to me without actually having to address the point that vampire you was gay, revealing that unvampire you isn’t.” Tara offered with a sideways smile, “It’s okay Willow I’ve been told already, I like friendship too.” She gave the redhead that same tender smile that she had the night of the lizard demon attack.

While Tara continued to explain a myriad of different responses, each in turn, crossed Willow’s face.  First she was started and embarrassed as she too remembered why she had blurted out the gay vampire reference, then she was horrified at Tara’s understandable leap to nice way to tell me to back off crazy hetero girl, and then even more horrified and now confused tried to figure out who had told something to Tara she was about to admit being well confused about generally at the moment. 

“Who told you what?” Willow asked the easy focus settling in front.

“Kennedy,” Tara replied, still with that gentle smile, “It’s okay Willow, you don’t have to be gay to be my friend, it’s not a prerequisite or anything.”

“Kennedy?” For the first time ever Willow’s expression held a hint of something almost angry and enraged for a moment and then she seemed to calm it down as she pulled them to another stop.  “Okay… whatever Kennedy told you she knows nothing…” She stepped around in front of Tara, even though she had to look up the distance in their height to blue eyes, people occasionally passing around them in the early evening hour.  “Nothing about me other than what she has assumed for herself or made up in her fantasies.  Yes she hit on me relentlessly during the whole first thing, but I wasn’t interested and I think that made her even more intrigued, she’d never heard no before.”

“You don’t have to explain anything to me Willow.” Tara assured her in a low voice, “Whatever she assumes, whether it be right or wrong, I still want you to know, there’s no prerequisites for me at all Willow,” She looked straight back into green eyes, “None.”

Willow almost felt herself fall into a long maniacal babble about how she was feeling, how she was trying to figure out how she was feeling, hell how she was trying to figure out how Tara was feeling, how all of this was new, in so many ways. 

“Okay.” She said finally smiling as she let the ‘easy’ but honest answer to it all stand as Tara had intended it too.  “But for the record, she is so pushy.” She squeezed Tara’s arm and started their walk again.  “Dawn was going to introduce her to a shovel if she didn’t tone it down at one point.”

Tara chuckled slightly.

“Weren’t you still married at that time?” she asked with a crooked frown.

“Yep.” Willow shook her head.  “Apparently I was being delusional and wasting my life.”

“Right.” Tara nodded again slowly, “pushy isn’t the word.” She also pointed out in a lower more comical tone.

“She couldn’t also believe that I had only ever been with Oz, have only.” She corrected herself wanting to be honest.

“Real love can be like that, even if sometimes it doesn’t work forever.” Tara’s frown melted back into a soft smile. “I can’t honestly say I’ve been that virtuous, but…” she smirked more, “But then…” she smirked even more, “I had to be sure I liked girls, right.” She winked.

“Of course.” Willow winked back at her.  “Don’t worry you haven’t met Faith yet, but your number can’t beat hers.”

“That would be THE Faith, like THE Buffy right?” Tara checked, “Because believe me I’m like a tiny percentage of that deity like position. Oh God not that I’m suggesting the other ‘huge-o’ slayer is a slut or anything.” Tara’s cheeks went pink.

“Officially you wouldn’t be the first but I have to say Miss Tara… words like that.” Willow teased her seeing the pink in her cheeks.  “I think your slayer side is showing.” She bumped her small body into Tara’s playfully.

“I could bump you off your feet so easily.” Tara tsked back and tapped her body back into Willow’s hip, “so don’t tempt my slayer side to show itself.”

“Oh now see that is just tempting me extra.” Willow bumped her again.  “Take me off my feet eh? You can’t even try.”

“You know you’re being unfair right? The first lesson any of us learns in the academy is don’t touch the Willow.” She made quotation marks for her words.   “This could be a set up, a trap for new recruits,” she pointed out wiggling her eyebrows and chuckling.

“Oh a set up… then we wouldn’t be in a well lit area.” Willow glanced around and then grabbing Tara by the hand she led her back into the dark side alley.  “This is better for a set up, dark and out of view, no go place for sure, isn’t that rule two? And I am not rule one.”

“There are two of you?” Tara looked confused briefly.

“No.” Willow laughed and stepped closer to her again.  “I mean yes Buffy is touchy about people kidnapping me, or dawn or Xander, it’s more a core Scoobie’s are hers and bad people take us to make her angry.  There is no official willow rule.”

“Right.” Tara nodded, trying to lose the frown caused by the replay of Buffy she had playing in her mind, tapping a large rotating black board, each of its viewable sides saying ‘don’t touch Willow.” In block capital letters. She also tried to erase the play back of her rolling the board around at least ten times, underlining exactly how far and what ‘don’t touch willow’ meant, it included verbal harassment, overly friendly overtones, passive aggressive behavior, or anything else that may or maybe not cause discomfort for the red head, including frogs, ponies or mentions of werewolves who’s names rhymed with Snoz.

“You look like you don’t believe me?” Willow appraised her curiously seeing the look going across her face. “I mean if you had a don’t touch Willow rule, wouldn’t this get you in trouble?” Without thinking she looped her arms around Tara’s neck playfully.

“I could try and persuade her it was you who touched me.” Tara offered loosely closing her arms around willows waist. “Though really Willow.” Tara suddenly reached up and removed Willow’s arms and stepped back a little, “It mightn’t be a good idea to do that.”

“Oh.” Willow visibly deflated, the rebuff making her instantly start to edit through things to see what she had done to overstep her mark.  How silly could she be to detach the big brain for awhile and just be with Tara? The woman must think she was crazy, if not scattered at the least.  “Sorry, the rose garden.” She swallowed and looked back out at the street a few feet away past the shadows.

“Willow.” Tara didn’t move and instead reached for the redhead’s hand, taking it lightly in both of hers, “I want to break the don’t touch Willow rule, I just…” she made she held the smaller woman’s eyes, “I just need to be sure you want the rule to be broken too.” She tried to explain. “I…You…I know you’ve only known me for fifteen days, and I know that we both know so little about each other, but…” she gave the small hand in her own a soft squeeze. “But you’re special Willow and I don’t want… I can’t mess with that.”

Willow looked at the other woman, really looked and for at least a brief moment understood a little more how from her side of this, if she was feeling the same attraction and pull that Willow was the worries about protocols both slayer and just in terms of approach must have been overwhelming, add to that apparently Buffy’s still near psychotic over protectiveness, adding a dash of what she could only imagine was long Kennedy ramblings about her ‘ice queen’ nature, well it was a wonder Tara had even opened herself up to the craziness of going out for dinner with her.  An open ended dinner invitation that she had never taken at least the honest initiative to clarify as a for real maybe date if the blonde wanted. 

Lastly as her brain whirled and twirled, Dawn seemed to pop in from nowhere and stun her back into reality instead of her brain.

She wanted to say a lot, she wanted to try explain how she did understand how hard it must be from Tara’s side, how hard it was in ways that had nothing to do with the ‘gay’ issue on hers.  She was used to being reserved and cut off, she was used to thinking there was only Oz and now someone had come along and started to make her feel things again, want and anticipate things. Yes she’d thought about the ‘but she’s a woman’ issue but what was really tripping her up more was the ‘not oz’ factor, but at this moment standing here with him so very far away, she realized the most important thing.  She didn’t want to do what she wanted to do right now because of him, despite of him or even to spite him, she wanted to do it for her.

And for that reason fully and completely sure of what she was doing, Willow stepped the short distance forward, pressed up onto the toes of her orange sunset sneakers and kissed Tara firmly on the lips.

The slayers eyes instantly dipped closed, and one hand slipped from covering Willow’s up to cup Willow’s cheek, tilting her head up a little more so she could kiss her again more comfortably and evenly. Her other hand shifted against the redheads, pressing her fingers between each of hers till their palms touched as their lips did.

That instant any of the soul splitting magic she had ever engaged in seemed small and insignificant to the hot flush of emotion that waved over her as they increased the intimacy between them.  Everything that she may or may not have been worried about melted away, as the universe became about nothing but Tara and the contact between them.

Tara briefly pulled their lips apart, only to press them together again, this time the blondes open and urgently meshing with the redheads, her tongue tracing over where her lips touched, followed quickly by teeth that lightly grazed the still kiss hot lips. Tara’s hand slipped back along willow’s cheek to her neck, angling her head a little more as she pressed her longer body closer for contact.

Any invitation that the redhead was given was quickly taken, as she pressed her body back against the blonde’s, seeming to desire the contact just as much as she surrendered into the kiss, savoring every soft and enticing moment.

 However in the next moment the hot breath on willow’s lips was replaced by a cool evening breeze, one that made the redheads unfocused, glazed eyes open. When she managed to blink them into focus, she became aware that though Tara had indeed moved a little distance away from her, the blondes hand was still on her neck, and the other was still entwined with her own fingers. The only thing different was the slight distance between their lips, and the bright blue eyes that looked at her.

“This isn’t the place for this.” The slayer whispered.

“You’re right.” Willow agreed almost silently as she registered where they were.  “We could…” She hesitated catching that maybe her desire fueled brain was speaking out of turn but she couldn’t quite keep the words from leaving her lips.  “Go back to the academy, I have a suite or your room.” She tried to slot out choices.

“Your suite.” Tara quickly narrowed the choices further, after all she didn’t want whatever happen to be notice board news before either of them had even woken up for breakfast. “I’ll flag us a cab.”


Willow entered the security code and then led them into the large but not overdone suite that was reserved for the redhead or other dignitary at the academy. She fumbled with the light on the end table in the small sitting room and giggled when she almost knocked over a crystal candy dish.

“You can see I come here a lot.” She giggled again as she slipped off her sneakers.

“Yes.” Tara nodded as she checked the lock on the door and slipped of her cardigan, tossing both it and her clutch purse onto the table right beside it. “It’s nice though. I mean it’s good that you have a place like this, a safe place within the academy.”

“Surrounded by 200 plus slayers who couldn’t be safe.” Willow smiled as she leaned against the back of the leather couch and watched Tara as she put down her things.  The entire ride over they had been seated as close as they could be in the car and Tara had been ever so distractingly rubbing her neck from her ear down to her collarbone.

Tara slipped off her sandals and left them neatly under the small table too before padding across the beautifully polished hard wood floor over to Willow, stopping just a little short of her.

“Where were we?” She asked with a soft smile.

“Well more about…” Willow stood up from her lean, closing what was left of the space between them and moving a little urgently to press her lips back to Tara’s.

The blonde made a mumble of agreement into the kiss, her hand sliding right back up into Willow’s hairline, breaking the open lipped kissed to breath the words, ‘you’re beautiful.’ Against the moist lips that she then kissed again.

The small stop to make the proclamation made Willow’s lips pull up into a bright smile between kisses as she enclosed her arms around Tara drawing their bodies closer together. Her hands pressing into the light material of the summer dress and feeling instantly on fire with the privilege of touching as she let one roam up, her fingers skimming along the upper bodice’s outline as her mouth met the ever more urgent kisses.

“Tell me this suite has a double bed, please.” Tara breathed out in a whisper against the skin on the redhead’s cheek.

“King.” Willow whispered back not sure if the fact would be better of disappointing, in fact she didn’t think thinking was much possible as she realized most of her attention was focused on the hot breath against her cheek and the cute tracings she was making of Tara’s spine through her dress.

“Don’t worry, I won’t lose you.” The blonde assured her as with a final kiss she pulled back, but not before interlacing their hands together and urging Willow to follow.

Willow couldn’t have objected to being led off to anywhere let alone the bedroom at that moment.  It had been right of Dawn to remind her of how long it had been since she’d allowed herself to feel like this, even if she noted to herself this didn’t feel like anything she had ever experienced though the tone of it was familiar. 

Though their hands didn’t part, Tara fumbled to find the light switch for the bedroom, and with a little effort there was a table lamp and the closet light to give the room a soft glow.  Standing beside the bed, she felt their hands finally part as Tara moved to fix some of the elaborate bedclothes and the redhead began to fumble with the buttons of her shirt.

“Don’t.” |Tara’s voice came from beside, the sheets now folded back ready, “Don’t do anything, just stand there.|” She urged as she moved around in front of the other woman. Gracefully she then eased down onto her knees and reached her hands up to the top button on Willow’s shirt. “I want to do this, I want to be a part of every second of this.” She explained as she eased the small plastic fastener through its hole, revealing the light freckled skin of willow’s lower throat. “Okay?” she asked

A squeaked tone of agreement came as a visible shiver of pleasure rushed through the redhead’s body.

“Good.” Tara made the word sound like thick warmed honey as her fingers began to loosen the next button down, revealing the top of the practical white bra beneath the shirt. “I want to remember, each…” another button was unfastened, revealing more of the bra, “And every…” the next once more bring to view heavily freckled skin, “Second ..” the next button revealed skin that was now in a directly line to Tara’s lips, which were the next instant pressed against the warm skin on Willow’s abdomen. “Of this.” The last button was open and the shirt hung aside, and |Tara’s hands were on the naked sides, whilst her lips traveled over every inch of visible tummy.

Without any agreement by her brain, the redhead gave a low moan of pleasure at the intimate deliberate kisses and actions.  She could feel her knees weakening more and more and she threaded one hand into silky blonde hair as lips traced over her skin in ways that made her have to close her eyes and focus on it.

Still kissing from freckle to freckle, Tara’s hands pressed up and pushed the shirt from Willow’s shoulders, hardly hearing the soft noise that it made as it landed on the thick plush carpeting. The kissing then briefly stopped as the blonde hands came to rest against the button on the redheads pants.

“May I?” The words were whispered onto Willows stomach.

“You can do anything.” Willow whispered back dreamily as the knot in her stomach moved lower with Tara’s exploring hands.

Tara answered with a kiss to the material that met between willows breasts as her fingers flipped open the button below with ease, pressing the zipper down with the next motion, the next easing the warm material off slender hips to pool liquid like around Willow’s ankles.

Without really thinking about it, the redhead stepped out of the material, vaguely kicking it back to the now growing pile with her shirt.  Though every nuance of her attention was completely captured on Tara’s lips and where she would next feel them press against her skin.  She had to admit that with the relative non-existence of her breasts, that particular focus had never compelled the reaction that she was feeling as the blonde’s lips traced out the edges of the cotton barrier.  Now that her shirt was gone, the small usually comfortable bra seemed confining and unwelcome.

Willow’s silent question on the path of Tara’s exploration of her partially clothed body was answered more fully when light finger tips danced over her left nipple, which was actually the distraction for the warmth and wetness that then pressed out over her right one  as Tara’s blue eyes dipped closed and her tongue curled around the now wet see through material, under and around the now hard nub of flesh.

“So beautiful.” Tara purred as she let her tongue wind around and over the cotton barrier against the sensitive skin teasingly.

All Tara had probably needed as indication of the redhead’s enjoyment was the tense within the hand that played with her hair, as the small pale body tensed under the roll of arousal.  Even if Willow had possessed the confidence to decide on how she wanted this to play out, she didn’t have nearly the focus or conviction as Tara’s exploring mouth locked its control over her and she was left to merely enjoy the ride.

The blonde gave a moan of appreciation at the slight increase in pull on her hair, as drew her tongue in a line across Willow’s bra to begin lavishing the same attention on the other side, her hands this time slipping around the other woman’s back to release the simple hook that held the bra in place. Pulling back just briefly from her enjoyment, Tara let the damp cotton fall to the ground before opening her eyes and taking a long look at the redhead’s body.

“Can I?” Tara made sure that Willow had opened her eyes enough to now see that her eyes were focused on the only other article of clothing the redhead was wearing.

Willow gave a little nod as she bit her lip trying to quell the added roll of want that splashed around in her lower belly.

Tara slid her hands along the top of Willow’s panties, dropping lower on her legs, she let her fingers loop around the elastic across both of Willow’s hips, bringing her mouth closer, breathing light warming breaths against the apex of Willow’s legs, before breathing in deeply, closing her eyes and then pressing her lips against the simple white cotton barrier that kept her from Willow’s most intimate place.

In response the redhead gave out a long raspy breath, her hips flaring a little even as she stood there transfixed by Tara’s touch.  The slowness and deliberateness of everything the blonde was doing mesmerized her and while she was definitely desperate for more, she found her body settling comfortably into the growing ebbs and waves of harder arousal.

Slowly, very slowly, Tara eased Willow’s underwear from the tiny hips, sliding her hands around to press with her thumb the cotton away, whilst her fingers splayed over the soft skin of Willow’s ass. With a gentle pull Tara pressed the newly revealed patch of soft red hair against her lips, this time nothing separated her from the heat and the scent that was in essence, Willow. Closing her eyes a little tighter, Tara placed kiss after kiss on the hot skin, her hands stroking the subtle curve of Willow’s ass over and over in time with the heated kisses.

“I think…” Willow’s voice was a little cracked as she found that the sudden flush of passion lower had led to her mouth drying out rather suddenly.  “I need to lie down.”  She admitted finding it harder and harder to stay focused on the small effort it took to stay upright.

“Of course.” Tara opened her eyes and smiled softly, she took both of Willow’s hands in hers and encouraged her to ease her ass down onto the bed. When willow had indeed done this, Tara let her hands go and stepped back a little, giving her the space to find a comfortable position on the large bed. She took the moment to pull off the light summer dress, drop her lacey French knickers to the floor and release her double D’s from the white lace bra they were held in.

Fundamentally no matter where Willow had settled, comfortable was lost immediately as her eyes were left to freely roam over the blonde’s newly exposed body. 

“You’re beautiful.” Willow said her voice soft and almost shy as she enjoyed the ability to actually look as she wanted.  As Tara leaned down to her on the bed, she let her hand reached out to settle over the one Tara had planted on the mattress and let the other traced up the soft skin of the blonde’s arm up to her shoulder in awe of the flushed warm feeling it gave back to her.

Tara tilted her head to the side, ensuring her hair slipped off her shoulder to give Willow ample skin to explore. She smiled slowly at the redhead.

“Thank you.” She said in a whisper as she put one knee on the bed on the far side of Willow’s legs, leaning her weight on it and the hand she put down to balance herself, before nudging her other knee against willow’s legs easing them apart. The instant they did indeed slide open, Tara’s other knee pressed against the mattress directly between them, and in the next moment the slayers longer body was pressed tight against Willow. Her thigh resting directly against the heated centre between the redheads thighs. “I seem to recall already tell you you are.” She added leaning down she kissed below Willow’s ear.

If the redhead was supposed to actually vocalize any response to the sudden full body press of the blonde against her, she didn’t live up to the expectation and only managed a mumbled groan of ‘oh god’ or ‘goddess’ it was hard to tell, as her hips pressed firmly back against the new offered pressure of warm skin and her legs shuddered a little as they dared to clench firmer around the body tangled to hers.

“That’s it sweetie.” Tara encouraged, again kissing the pulse point below Willows ear. |Carefully she slid her hands under Willows ass, cupping it lightly and pulling her up a little off the bed to press the thigh more tightly to Willow’s core. Initiating a gentle press and rock to the clench as she turned the soft individual kisses into a new round of kissed exploration of the redheads jaw line and mouth.

Willow felt herself overwhelmed a little, almost to her usual point of panic, but just when she feared the intense overwhelming feelings would push her there, everything settled into the slight rock between their bodies that the blonde introduced which gave her a focus and somehow intuitively allowed her to settle into the intensity of what she was feeling.  As she regained more control over herself, Willow’s arms came more deliberately around Tara again, exploring her back, one hand drifting down over her ass and urging her closer as the threat of overwhelming pleasure was replaced by the heated urgency to somehow press their bodies closer together.  She craved somehow for all of them to be touching, for there to be no space between them, and as the blonde’s lips played over the soft skin of her throat she squirmed a little to lock her body even closer to the blonde’s thigh.

For a second it seemed like Tara was going to breath something, a word, maybe a sentence against the soft skin she was kissing,  but the moment passed with the slayer instead doing everything she could to keep their bodies in as much contact as was possible, whilst at the same time keeping the friction and pressure of her thigh against what was becoming a hot slippery surface, constant.

“Let it go sweetie, let me feel how it feels inside you right now.” Tara’s words pressed lightly against the skin below willow’s ear as she peppered it with fast kisses, “Show my skin how wet you are, how much you want this.|”

If Tara had been worried that her honest words were going to be too frank or somehow to vulgar in the circumstance, she needn’t have been as the sheer intuitiveness of the words the blonde chose resonated within Willow and made her react far more directly and strongly then even she thought was possible.  Her hips were pressing and moving against Tara’s thigh without any of the hidden worry and question about what she was doing, the fears of her own inadequacies long smothered out by the sheer overwhelming honesty of the blonde’s requests.  Direct and unquestionable, they didn’t leave Willow’s doubting brain any options other than to obey in the way she’d been wanting to all along anyway.

Not willing or even truly feeling in control of her response, her body arched further off the bed and into Tara’s as the contact point between her legs ached and swelled to overtake her until her small hands were gripping against Tara’s back, as her breathing hitched more and more her body rising into the requested peak of pleasure, the redhead moved with and against her fully allowing herself to be overcome by it as the first pulses of her orgasm washed over her.

Moving with and against Willow as she let herself experience all that was being offered was easy for Tara, the feedback from it already pushed her so close to her own peak that the new slayer was suddenly aware that maybe she needed to interject a little self control because she suddenly found her hand sliding a little from Willow’s ass to her hip without direction to do so as her internal head space had already slipped into ‘need to be inside’ mode. As alert and yet darting blue eyes glanced over Willow’s flushed body as she writhed and pressed up against her, Tara felt herself focusing on the slim distance that each press and pull created between their bodies, just enough space… the drive force teased her enticingly. Her hand slipped another inch closer around Willow’s waist.

“Yes.” Willow’s agreement was out of context and breathless as she managed to find the blonde’s mouth with her own and kiss her hotly.

As Tara’s eyes closed into the kiss, so did the control on her restraint system. The very next slight pull back of Willow’s hips saw her hand flatten and slip effortless into place between thigh and heat, remaining flat there only two presses before the slayer pressed two fingers up and into Willow’s hot body.

With a bolt of sudden intense direct pleasure, Willow’s body went hard and stiff in Tara’s arms, her eyes opening in the kiss as she fully registered where the blonde was.  Before Tara could think that the press of her fingers had been unwanted or was being rejected, Willow body sunk into an angled arch against the pressure, as she let out a long involuntary moan as the unspoken need she had was somehow identified and filled by her new lover. 

It was Willow’s intense and instant reaction that completely shattered Tara’s barely reigned in control over her own orgasm, as she eased her fingers a little out with the movement between them, and back in deeper this time with the next press, the sound of her heart pumping blood faster than ever before through her heated body filled the blonde ears and head as her own back spasmed slightly, shuddering in the motion as she was unable to quell the rise inside her.

“Oh god, oh god…|” Tara’s voice was breathy against Willow’s lips as she couldn’t focus on anything other than how amazing Willow felt, and in turn how that was making her feel. “Oh god…|” She moved her head slightly to the side of willows pressing her forehead against the pillow as she just pushed and pressed her thigh and fingers back and forth against and inside Willow’s body.

With the added rush of Tara’s obvious peaking pleasure, Willow’s body pushed more against the internal pressure of the blonde’s fingers as her internal muscles tensed in turn with almost her whole body.  As Tara’s continued to rock them both, in addition to the rush of her blood Willow’s ever increasing ragged breath began to be broken by what could only be described as small hiccups of noise just as internally the tight flex of muscles finally pushed into involuntary spasms of a seemingly endless orgasm.

Tara’s free hand moved round willow’s back, gathering the smaller woman to her more completely as she pressed her fingers inside deep and held them there, keeping every muscle in her thigh taut and firm to let Willow push against her as and how she wanted to, to ride out and enjoy every last moment of her pleasure. Each small noise of almost surprised pleasure made Tara’s core ripple and pulse with add desire and conviction that what they were doing was good, and right and well, everything it should be. With the hand around the redhead’s body, she felt both inside and out each spasm and flare that rushed through Willow’s body, and in turn pressed through her own.

Willow wouldn’t have been able to tell anyone with any degree of accuracy if one or a hundred minutes passed before their bodies actually stopped heaving from the exertion but when she was finally more aware of anything other than Tara pressed inside her she blinked heavy eyes and limply used a hand to stroke over the blonde’s hair.

“Wow.” She said softly but with emphasis.

“You are very wow.” Tara gave her that loving smile again as she managed to ease her forehead off the pillow beside Willow’s head enough to actually look at her.

“Actually I was referring to you.” Willow corrected her with an almost goofy smile.  “Who is full of the wowness.” She blew up to her forehead as her hand more deliberately sweep over Tara’s back.

“Really, you know, you are beautiful.” Tara’s smile mellowed slightly into more of a look of just complete contentment of being here, with willow in this moment of post bliss intimacy.

The redhead immediately blushed and then seemed to be going to dismiss the comment before her eyes, which had held blue ones the whole time seemed more decisive on something.

“When you say it I feel it.” She admitted almost shyly.

“Careful, that may encourage me to say it a lot more.” Tara warned with a soft smirk.


Tara's first instinctual guess about the time when she opened her eyes after losing the fight to stay in her very comfortable dream about strawberries, cream and freckled skin exploration, was that she probably had less than half an hour to get back to her room, shower, dress appropriately and be there for 7am roll call. As her eyes focused on the small but bright alarm clock on the bedside table nearest her she discovered she had been out by ten minutes, not in her favour. Whereas normally the first thing to escape her lips would have been a soft curse, no such anger, or even annoyance was there instead, as soft strand of red hair slightly tickled the sensitive skin on her sleep warm cheek, all Tara could do was smile, and wish that roll call was something she could just skip.

Especially as the pair of them had actually only fallen asleep asleep, rather than just energy napping between love making, at four am.

"Willow. Willow sweetie." It wasn’t that the slayer wanted to wake up the sleeping red head sprawled over most of her body, it was more that she simply couldn’t think of leaving without some sort of communication passing between them.

Despite her attempt it still took another moment or two before Willow's green eyes fluttered open and Tara could feel her body squeeze itself almost to check everything was okay with itself before the blonde's slayer sense was overwhelmed by an almost identical stretch of magic into the room that engulfed her gently and tickled her attunement to the supernatural world in so many unthinkable good ways.

"I don’t want to wake wake you it's just its six thirty and I have roll call..." Tara's voice was a warm whisper as she explained why she had made the gentle interruption

"Give me phone." Willow's still trying to be asleep voice answered immediately.  "I will text you a note.:

"You have no idea how tempting that is." Tara's soft amusement was more than evident in her voice.

"Then please let me abuse my underwhelming authority, I mostly only get to sign big invoices for stationary." Willow turned her head, so she was still sprawled on her lover but was now able to see her through sleepy eyes.  "You're on day 15, which means the others are being introduced to Faith and the talk." She laughed lightly.  "But you've already figured out how sexuality is intrinsically linked to slayerdom."

"Are you sure, I didn’t know if you might need you know, contemplation time and or space." Tara revealed her other big concern gently.

"Oh right." Despite her articulate manner Willow's brain was slow to wake up, proving to the vast Einstieness of it as she realized that they actually had only gone on the one date last night and was she being nutty super suddenly stalker girlish.

"It's okay to need it, less than a day ago you were happy with your separated heterosexual woman status, if last night threw you off a little calling time out for regrouping is more than okay." Tara's voice was filled with compassionate care and understanding

"And I supposed to be worried about that?" Willow questioned blinking green eyes as her brain could almost be seen now evaluating all that Tara had said.

"I don't know, I've never been a separated heterosexual woman," Tara replied with a soft loving smirk.

"As the only one then I think at this moment I am more than happy not thinking about it and just being happy like I feel." Willow admitted cuddling against her.  "Though if you don't want a note and actually want to go meet the Infamous Faith, I understand."

"Where's your cell?" Tara's smile turned into a bright smile.

"My purse, way in the other room." Willow grinned back.

"But to get it for you to text I'd have to move." The blonde pouted.

Willow gave a huff as well understanding before she brightened and then without letting at least one part of Tara still touch her, she rolled over and grabbed the phone off the nightstand. She dialed down to their front reception and explained that the slayer with her wouldn't be in regular schedule today but was accounted for and doing field work, which ensured them no one was going to come looking for the blonde.

When she was done she rolled back the short distance to be fully leaning against Tara.

"I can introduce you to Faith later." Willow acknowledged knowing that meeting the so called 'other' slayer was a regular rite of passage. "But I don't want her corrupting you with her sex talk, that's my new job."

"My perfect morning just got a little more idyllic." the blonde replied, but was interrupted then very next moment when the phone that Willow had so recently hung up began ringing.

"Ugh, I forgot to tell them I was on hiatus." Willow groaned reluctantly rolling back over to pick it up.  "Hello?"

"Will?" It was Buffy's slightly panic filled voice on the other end of the receiver

"Buffy?" Willow began to pull herself into a sitting position when she heard her best friend's voice.

"Do you need a med team? I'm taking it that it was Tara who was injured, not you, it wasn’t you right?" Buffy didn’t wait for a response before she continued, "What happened? Was is something to do with that lizard demon? What research are you doing, what do you need to help? Charlene was so sketchy with details when she patched through to me that you'd called from the academy safe house. I'm getting in the car as we speak but I want to know what I should bring."

"Buffy!" Willow tried to interject to get her to stop.  "I'm fine... no Tara is not hurt, we're both fine.  No demons, no anything, I was just helping her play hooky from Faith's sex lecture."

"What..." Buffy was obviously completely side railed by the revelations that her best friend made

"There's no demon?" she double checked the point

"No demon." Willow confirmed slowly and clearly.

"And you're fine, no injuries or concerns with the you?" Buffy continued her checklist of recaps.

"I'm actually really great." Willow underlined wanting to get her best friend to understand.  "So can you lower your defcom and I'll talk to you later?"

"You're just helping a rookie play hookie?" Again she checked the specifics.

"Yes, Tara is playing hookie with my help." She grinned as she reached out and ran her hand over Tara's leg as she rolled her eyes to show how crazy the slayer on the end of the phone was being.

"Bad, bad you." Buffy berated with a light laugh suddenly, "I almost lost my only recently eaten wheaties when Charlene beeped me."

"Sorry, I should have specified don't beep you, I forgot Charlene recently got your insane pep talk, oh and before I let you go, what is the Willow rule?" She smiled brightly at Tara who seemed to blush realizing she'd given away an inner slayer secret.

"It's just a sharing of need to know basics with the new recruits, who told you there was a rule?" Buffy replied sounding suddenly cagey

"Mmmm, go get another bowl of wheaties, I'll talk to you later bye." Willow realized the question had had the effect she wanted and as soon as she could lose the phone in the bedclothes the bottom of the oversized mattress she moved to cuddle back against Tara. 

"Wow word travels really fast here huh?" Tara made the observation as she more than happily took willow back into her arms

"Buffy likes to know everything." Willow admitted.  "If she knows where we are, what we are doing, what are usual habits are she can manage damage control. She's never turned off."

"She’s 'THE' slayer." Tara replied trying to show that she understood what it was that the petite redhead was trying to convey. "By the way, good morning beautiful.\' \She added with a beatific smile.

"Great morning." Willow smiled back, the genuine emotion showing on her face.

"How are you doing?" The blonde asked softly as she tucked a red curl of hair behind willows ear.

"Mmmmm so good." Willow brushed her hand over Tara's bare hip with her hand.

"Really." Tara gave her the completely goofy grin.

"Really." Willow leaned in and kissed her softly

"Good," Tara said honestly, "ME too." she added kissing the red head back a little more passionately.

Willow felt the easy slide back into the full body attention the blonde's kisses gave her, Enjoying so much the instant comfortableness that had developed where normally she'd be running to get dressed long before no.

"It sounds horribly cheesy I know but," Tara paused as she stroked her hand down the full length of Willow’s back, "Last night was amazing."

"It doesn't sound cheesy." Willow shook her head to the idea, her body arcing slowly to the touch.  "It was amazing."

"It’s probably too early for us to be awake, you know that right?" Tara whispered stroking down over willows spine again.

"Mmmmm but I'm feeling so less sleepy." Willow's body again moved through the hard arch.

"Really?" Tara grinned sliding her hand slower this time, resting it on the small but oh so perfect ass at its base.

"Mmmmm yes, you?" She asked the muscle under Tara's hand flexing.

"Wasn't sleepy the instant after I woke up under sexy you." The blonde replied

"You so don't need Faith's talk." Willow grinned and leaned the short distance to kiss her full on the mouth


It was only when the sound of the room phone ringing pulled Willow from her exhausted sleep, that she realized that for the first time it was her that the disruption had woken and not the slayer sleeping spooned against her back.

“Hello?” Willow picked up the phone groggily wondering what anyone could want.  In the back of her mind the check that Zack was okay sounded but as he was with Dawn there was no reason to think anything was remiss.  Unless it was Buffy.

“Will, where are you?” The voice was Xander’s, “I’m sitting here in the espresso pump with Ella, Marie and Chris, wondering where the hell the woman who puts the witch in the witchy meeting is.” He berated, “I called Buffy who said on the off chance to try here as this was your last recorded position, but not even she truly thought you’d still be there. Have you even been to your office today?” The young man sounded annoyed and just a little frazzled at her no-show.

“Xander…” Willow’s voice was still actually sleepy sounding to her oldest friend.  “You know I love you right?”

“Yeah, oh god did something happen?” Xander’s voice lost its annoyance and flooded with concern.

“Yes, something good and wonderful and for that reason I am taking a hookie day.  You know the ones you are famous for, so order a double expresso on me and tell everyone the meeting is cancelled.” Willow instructed him,  “But I can’t explain right now but I will later I promise.”

“Yeah, right, I can do that.” Xander quickly agreed, “Will, did you meet someone?” his brain went through the usual reasons for him playing hookie, having a beer day was out, Willow hated the stuff, New Release day, again unlikely, willow’s video game type was incredibly specific and not the kind that warranted the need for free time and so the only other one that made any sense was the good old fashioned, I just got lucky day.

“Yes, I love you remember this when I hang up.” Willow laughed and did just that stretching her body again and then chuckling to herself when she realized what time in the afternoon it must be for Xander to have called looking for her.  She turned a little to see the blonde was ‘faking’ sleep, in that way only a slayer could.  Completely relaxed but more ready to pounce than anything else.  “As you can see this place falls apart without me.” She boasted comically.

“Apparently.” A of smile spread across Tara’s features as blue eyes eased open and she tucked her hand behind her head comfortably looking at Willow. “I’m guessing you’re about to make you apologies and disappear?” She added, wanting the redhead to know that she understood that their post amazing euphoria had to end sometime.

“Actually I blew off the meeting.” Willow turned over to mirror her position close to the blonde.  “It was more an excuse for coffee and I don’t need one today.” She admitted softly. 

“Oh, right, good.” Tara’s smile grew brighter. “So you’re still mine for a while?” She checked.

“If you want me.” Willow checked with a smirk.

“I do.” Tara confirmed easily and then caught a glimpse of the time on the alarm clock, “Though God when did it get to that time? You’ve not eaten or anything.” She frowned more at herself than at anything else. “I should go get you things.” She added.

“We could go out for lunch?” Willow offered.  “Or would not leaving bed be better?” She giggled rolling onto her back again.

“I’m not sure if I can slip out and slip back in again un-noticed, so maybe out for lunch is best.” Tara hated to admit the fact that nothing would look more suspicious that her trying to slip out and then back in again, after all the whole area CTV covered and monitored 24/7 in the security room. “Not that I want to get out of bed.” She admitted.

“But food is necessary.” Willow agreed.  “Shower first?”

“Together could be dangerous.” Tara admitted



“What do you mean Xander said she was playing a hookie day, she told me that she was helping Tara play a hookie day?” Buffy followed her sister around the kitchen as she continued to make the kraft dinner Zack had chosen for dinner.  It would accompany a course of pizza, which should be arriving in a minute and peanut butter shakes for dessert.  “Is something going on with the magic that no one is telling me about?”

“No.” Dawn shook her head as she shooed Buffy from out of the way of the freezer. “Buffy Willow is a twenty seven year old independent woman, she’s allowed to play hookie.” The young Summers sister rolled her eyes at Buffy as she pulled out the overly large tub of peanut butter ice-cream.

Buffy seemed to stand there stunned for a moment as the information filtered through years of her knowledge of Willow and suddenly her eyes went wider.

“She met someone.” She underlined realizing it was the only possible cause.

“Oh God, Buffy do you think it’s possible?” Dawn blinked stupidly at her sister before tutting and scooping three big servings of the ice-cream into the blender.

“No, you’re right.  She’s still not over Oz, she hasn’t taken the ring off or signed the papers.” She sat down.  “Can I have one?” She realized what ice cream it was.

Dawn put another serving in the blender and added ice and milk.

“Maybe she just wanted to sit around in pj’s, eat sundaes and slob.” Dawn offered, “I already had Zack plans so she figured why the hell not.”

“Because this is Willow, she doesn’t do this. She hasn’t done this, she’s always reachable and always working mostly.” Buffy underlined the anomaly that was tweaking her senses.

With another heavy sigh Dawn stopped blending the shake and turned to look at Buffy.

“Okay, I guess I better fess up.”

“What? Oh god, tell me, who kidnapped her?” Buffy stepped closer to her sister figuring for some reason not telling her was part of the evil sides deal.

“No, no it’s not, she met a Mongolian mystic, who wants her to birth his supernatural love child, the whole thing shouldn’t take more than 24 hours.” Dawn turned back to making the shakes with a shrug.

“I hate you.” Buffy growled and stalked out of the kitchen towards the living room.  “Zack, remember Aunt Dawn is evil.”

“Hey, hey hey, I accosted a man with a large pizza on the way in here and I just had to replace him.” The front door open and Xander had barely made it through before Dawn and jogged in and stolen the pizza from him to put together Zack’s ‘Dawn Special Supper’. “And there it went before I even got a sniff of the red sauce.” He laughed more and pulled off his bomber jacket. “I see that there is a young man here in need of male support to ensure his manly divit of pizza is appropriated.” He dropped down on the couch beside the average sized child, ruffling short red hair as he did so. “What ya’ been up to sport?” he asked of the quite young thing.

“We went swimming at the Aquatics centre, studied fossil composition in the geological department exhibit and then decided we need to get away from campus.” He flopped back on the couch exhaustedly as Dawn had done earlier.  “Did the pizza smell good?”

“I think so in the fleeting interaction I had with it before it was stolen by the Big Girl on campus.” Xander nodded, “Do I smell that somewhat indescribable aroma of KD too?” He sniffed the air dramatically, “Was there a party organized and no one called me?”

The playful question from Xander seemed to spark something within Zackary who contemplated it for awhile and then jumped up heading for the kitchen.

“Aunt Dawn, we’re having a party!” He literally bounced through the dividing door.


“I’ll exchange a kiss for your thoughts.” Tara softly interrupted Willow’s glazed chase of a baby carrot around her more or less empty plate, by placing her hand over the one willow had on the fork and suggesting her trade in a whisper. The nearly empty French restaurant that they sat in was lovely, having been lured, despite the dangers into a shared shower that had delayed their leaving the apartment by two hours, which had put them at a horrible time to try and get food, so they had ended up booking a table for seven thirty, spending the hour and a half between those two times apart, as Tara went back to her academy room to change, and Willow had gone back to her house also to get new clothes.

They had met back up at the restaurant and now at eight forty had eaten their way through a delicious mixed appetizer platter, and a main course each, it was only as Willow had come round to nearly finishing their entrees that the redhead had grown a little quieter than she had been all day.

“It just struck me, you have patrol soon and I suddenly realized I hate the Hellmouth extra today.” Willow admitted the reality of their lives, not matter how much they wanted and indeed could stop the world to enjoy this new relationship, being who and what Tara was meant that sometimes you had things to do and places to be that you could not avoid or put off. 

“I’m sorry.” Tara apologized softly, indeed she had to admit things felt a little weird for her right now, they had from the moment the pair had met up again, the redhead arriving in a long red skirt with a pretty short sleeved top, whilst she, out of necessity was now in light grey cargos and a deep brown tight turtle neck. Just the simple thing of a wardrobe change had somehow seemed to have shifted everything just slightly.

Willow seemed to stop time almost as she looked at the blonde across the small table.  Her heart ached for a moment as she saw so clearly the heavy burden that seemed to have settled again on the slayer’s shoulders. 

“The world has this way of always being there.”  Willow admitted softly.  “Especially when you want it to just go away and leave you to live.”

“I just…” Tara began but stopped as she realized she was probably about to spill out all of the worries and thoughts that had literally just bubbled up out of nowhere.

“Just?” Willow leaned ahead quickly and so very obviously wanting to hear whatever and however much Tara just wanted to tell her, how desperately she wanted to understand what was going on in the slayer’s head, even if it was just about being the slayer and not about ‘this’.  Though in many ways she hoped that Tara was about to say something that would help her believe ‘this’ could actually survive the reentry into reality.

For a moment Tara just looked over to green eyes and oddly found her own blue ones well up with tears.

“It’s just that the last 24 hours have been so good…” she blinked as a tear slipped down onto her cheek, “And now I have to leave and I don’t know if I’ll ever have that again, ever be able to be with you again, and I don’t know why that scares me so much.” She blinked another tear onto her cheek, “But it does…” she sniffed and tried to force herself to stop this whole messy confession.

“Ohhhh…” Willow watched her instantaneous breakdown and felt herself ripped apart by the honest emotion of it.  “Tara, Tara…” She skirted her chair over so she was closer.  “I know.”  She said simply as she took one of Tara’s hands in her own and used the other to reverently brush away a tear.  “All of that and a 1000 million other worries.”  She tried to show she understood.  “Let’s make it simpler, I want to spend more time with you too, sooner than later.” She admitted.

“You do?” Tara swallowed slightly her tear filled eyes once again looking across the table to Willow. “Really?”

“Really, really.” She squeezed the hand she held.  “As in, time tomorrow?”

“Tomorrow, yes.” Tara agreed immediately, “Where, when?” she pushed, “You can message me, anything if you don’t want to commit now, or you can’t because you have to look at your schedule.” The blonde sat up a little more in her place.

“How about you call me to tell me about patrol and then we can work out time?” Willow offered the double reason for contact.

Tara didn’t reply for a moment, but instead leaned back slightly in the chair, her shoulders relaxing slightly as she took in just what Willow was saying both verbally and what it meant subtextually.

“I’ll call you.” She said, her somewhat somber tear eyed visage melting into a comforted and suddenly hopeful smile. “After patrol.” She worded it like a statement but her blue eyes still looked to the redhead for confirmation.

“Yes, I’ll be up waiting.” Willow underlined again.


“This is boring.” A tall dark haired woman of about 19 named Hannah, walked at the head of the pack as another small brunette kept her head in the route map they had been given at the start of the patrol.  The six academy slayers were assigned a simple ten by ten block area to sweep and clean by midnight, and all and all it seemed as unlikely a place as any to actually find anything supernatural evil.

“We have to be ready.” An overzealous blonde in an impossibly flimsy shirt and leather pants combo seemed to be able to talk the talk but hardly looked ready to walk the walk. 

Almost to punctuate the point, the scatter of metal on concrete down an alley to their left made them all collectively jump.

“We should check it out.” Hannah began to enter the area trying to shore up her confidence that it was likely an alley cat or something else harmless, when suddenly above but behind them in the main roadway there was the sudden screech of a cry drew all their attention one way, only to have a muffled groan make them turn back to discover that Hannah was nowhere to be seen anymore.

“Okay people,” The blonde, Lotta put her hand up to stop the now five strong pack, “head’s up.”

“What about Hannah?” The small brunette had abandoned her examination of the map and was looking up at the tall buildings around them for signs of fire escapes or anything that some demon or vampire could have gotten to her from. “We have to find Hannah.” Her eyes finding nothing changed to scan the darkness in front of them.

“But what about that other cry, we need to find out what that is, it could be an innocent.” It was Katrina, the young German girl from the group that had arrived with Tara who pointed out that fact.

“She’s right.” Candy backed her up, still for all intents and purposes looking more like a cheerleader than a slayer in a short mini skirt and matching strap top in a light shade of lilac.

“We don’t split up.” Was Tara’s only response to the whole event as she scanned more slowly the darkness of the area above and around them.

The blonde’s instruction was a good one as at that moment from the rooftops above them, dark robed figures with hoods all jumped down to encircle them.  The group of five seemed prepared and particularily focused as they almost immediately jumped, Katrina being taken off her feet with a kick from one and thrown into a dumpster.  Candy, who had barely had the time to even realize someone had come down right behind her, crumbled over as she was stuck. 

“Time to play.” A hoarse voice laughed as with an impossible split kick, two other slayers were sent to the sides of the alley, not unconscious but hurting. 


Willow was flicking through the impossibly large pile of papers that seemed to have appeared on her desk during her hookie day, shaking her head at the variety of tiny issues that they seemed to be noting her about. Her mind wasn’t truly focused on it and she was somewhat happy when the door opened and in the doorway stood her oldest friend in the world.

“Hey Will.” Xander gave a one handed wave, “You know you’re a tough cookie to track down when you’re playing hookie.” He smiled brightly.

“Xander.” Willow looked up surprised.  “I thought you were at the uni party at Dawn’s.” She laughed at the text she’d received earlier.

“Are you kidding? You know the Trail of the five is my favourite night of the month.” The one eyed man replied with a grin. “You think I’m going to miss that play out on the big screen?”

“Oh no.” Willow’s face went pale suddenly as she realized what he had just said and then grabbed at her desk phone to see the exact time.  “Oh no.” She fluttered again not sure what or if she could do anything.

“And here I was asking you if you wanted pop corn for the evening show, and you look like you’re going to vomit.” Xander’s expression crumpled into a frown. “Am I missing something?”

“Bring it up, bring it up.” Willow pointed to the screen as she got her blackberry trying to send off a quick text.

“okay.” Still confused Xander went to switch on and hook up the video feed to the large screen TV.


“And then there were two.” Another of the still standing five assailants encircled the only two newer slayers still standing. Lotta and Tara were stood back to back in the tight circle, shuffling around a little as occasionally one of the marauders flashed a fist or a blunt weapon at one of them or another.

“It doesn’t matter how many of us there are, you’re still going nowhere, we’re slayers.” Lotta mouthed off angrily, waving her now unsheathed hand axe in front of her in a random wiggle.

“Come and get me… Ssssslayer.” A gruff voice called as one of the hooded figures stepped closer to Lotta giving her more than amble berth to take a real swing, only when the tall blonde did the weapon was wretched out of her hands, bashed blunt side into her back and then sent skidding down the alley before the attacker hit the barely defending slayer with more kicks and punches.

Tara’s mind was flashing with information overload, her brain wrestling with the statistics and strategies that had filled her days over the last two weeks, whilst at the same time desperately trying to shrug of the distraction of the goodness of the immediate recent history, not to mention the usual struggle that happened about now inside her as her ‘inner slayer’ just wanted to kick in and get this done.

Suddenly with a rather loud, almost war cry like pronouncement of both frustration and anger, the shapely blonde jumped up, splitting her legs into a perfect box split, send the sole of a pair of army boots colliding with the side of two of the remaining for assailants hands, snapping them sideways, easily briefly interrupting the blood supply to the brain, in the majority of demons or once human enemies. Both slipped somewhat dramatically sideways with a grunt before slumping down as Tara landed back on her feet in a crouch, still in the centre of the now decimated ring.

“Mine.” The most talkative of the demon’s put up her hand, seeming to call off the other behind Tara, as the one who had beaten Lotta down held her by her hair and waited as well.

With what seemed like only a brief nod of agreement the two adversaries lunged expertly at each other.  Tara’s first few strikes being expertly struck away by the hooded figures arms and legs, slowly but surely breaking down her attacks with off speed strikes and what Tara’s brain could probably only tag as annoying exploratory kicks. 

Giving another grunt as one blow made her leg crumple a little, she surprised her attack with an uppercut and body punch, before she felt a overwhelming flurry of punches and kicks make her body seem battered between two imaginary walls of pain.

Desperate to make the pain stop, Tara’s arms swept out still dishing out whatever glancing blows she could and before the final sharp kick came to the side of her head she swore she heard a woman’s voice telling her ‘good job’.


“Time check.” Faith pulled off her hood as Tara’s unconscious form crumpled to the concrete and the others in her crew began to pull the other unconscious slayers into a deep blue van that was parked at the far end of the alley.

“9 minutes 35 seconds.” One of the now disrobed, jean clad older slayers informed her as she lifted Lotta into the back and dropped her on the mat covered floor of the truck.

“It was the blonde.” She hoisted Tara’s form up over her shoulder to bring her over to the truck.

“Which one’s that?” Another asked tipping her head sideways and looked at the unconscious woman. “Oh she’s one of the new newbies.” She informed the dark haired slayer.

“She nearly made you break the ten minute mark.” Another teased her as she came from out of the large warehouse that sided onto the alley, carrying what looked like a body bag over her shoulder, “And I’m pretty sure this one pissed herself when I went to get her, so I knocked her out again to marinade in it on the way back to the academy.”

“This is going to be a fun debrief.” Faith jumped into the passenger seat and let them head back to the academy.


“You still look like you’re going to chuck Will.” Xander glanced at his bestfriend as the screen went back to the regular security feed from the many ctvs on campus. “Wanna tell a guy what he’s missing out on?”

“Xander…” Willow didn’t really think to edit herself for the obvious reasons as she had just watched Tara get punked badly by Faith as part of her training.  “Tara… the last one Faith knocked out…” She stammered feeling like she wanted to cry, worried about how the blonde was.  “She… her and I… she’s my hookie.” She tried to explain.

“Your hookie?” Xander seemed to blank for a moment and then went the same sort of colour as Willow had. “And she just got…” He moved a little closer to the redhead, “You want to be at the recovery room for when they get in?”

“I… yes.” Willow nodded getting up and moving to where he had already moved to the door.


Willow had left Xander to explain not only why they were even there but why the redhead was pushing past them all into the recovery room towards where the blonde was laying down unconscious.  Of course fleetingly she hoped and was reassured that he would explain things without explaining everything, especially the part about Tara being a woman which he seemed to have not exactly struck him yet.

“Tara…Tara…” She began to try to assess how the blonde was doing, various bruises coming up on her cheeks and throat already.

A soft groan came from the unconscious slayer as she turned her head towards the voice, but her eyes didn’t open, one of them swelling closed with every second that seem to pass.

“Tara…. Oh god, I’m so sorry, I forgot tonight was the Trial of Five or I would have warned you.” Willow felt the tears coming down her cheeks.

“Willow?” Still Tara’s eyes didn’t open but her fuzzy brain responded to the voice that was so much a part of the comfort place she had retreated to in her head, to stop the overwhelming sensations of pain and self disappointment, after all wasn’t she dead, or at the very least about to be some weird cult demons supper. But wait, how was Willow talking to her if she was about to be ritualistically sacrificed or was already dead? “Willow?” She repeated trying to force her brain towards consciousness as for a horrible sickening moment the possibility that Willow had already been taken by former mentioned people eating demons and was with her about to be slaughtered.

“Yes, yes oh god I’m sorry, I forgot what tonight was.” Willow leaned in holding her hand and trying to make sure she was okay.  “I would have warned you.”

“What tonight was?” Tara’s unswollen blue eye barely opened when she further processed the fact that though Willow sounded distressed and upset, she didn’t sound scared for her life, or in any way injured.

“IT’s part of your training, it was Faith who attacked you, to assess your weaknesses and check your confidence levels.” She almost quoted the manual outline.  “Oh god I’m so sorry.”

“Lotta, Hannah and everyone is okay?” Tara’s pain broken voice checked immediately as what Willow was saying filtered through into the still function part of her brain that hadn’t retreated into pain management mode.

“Yes, bruised like you but it was an exercise, no life threatening danger.” Willow assured her stroking her hand the whole time.  “Apparently you gave Faith a hard time.” She said picking up the little bit from behind her, more able to monitor the multiple conversations around them.

“I thought she was a demon.” Tara easily confirmed she had hoped that at least she’d gone down fighting.

Before Willow could answer again the entire area of the infirmary was filled with a defeaning ringing sound and |Faith marched in, hitting a garbage can lid over and over with a monkey wrench.

“Okay ladies, both those conscious and unconscious, you are hereby on infirmary lock down until 11 am tomorrow morning when you will report to me and Buffy Summers in conference room 2 for a full and complete breakdown on your performance this evening. Here ends this public service announcement, have a nice medicated night and I’ll see y’all in the morning.” She dropped the can lid with a loud clatter to the tiled floor.

“That’s Faith some people think she is a demon.” Willow admitted to Tara as even her ears rang without being previously beat about.

“I think my head is exploding, might be imploding, not sure which.” Tara admitted as a younger female watcher walked up to the slayer in the bed beside Tara and began check her wounds, the tray she laid on the beside table laden with pills, swabs, steri-strips and two hyperdermics.

“Let the nurse take care of you, I’ll check on you when she’s done.” Willow reluctantly moved to let go of Tara’s hand.

Xander was hovering waiting for Willow as the medically trained watcher asked her to step completely away from the bed.

“She okay?” He asked quietly.

“Beat up, Faith is good.” Willow gripped her arms around her body.  “Xander…” She turned to him.  “I know how bizarre and out of left field and crazy it might all seem…”

“Stop Will, okay just stop.” Xander held up his hand and slipped his arm around her shoulder. “I don’t care who she is, I don’t care that she’s a slayer or even that she’s a she, does she make you happy?”

“Well it has only been the one date and then hours of…” She blushed and looked back over to the bed.  “Yes, I can’t explain it.” She looked down to her hand and then realized really consciously for the first time that the night before, before she’d left the house she’d taken Oz’s ring off.  “But she does.”

“Then that’s all that matters.” Xander summed up with a shrug and a shake of his head. “And being as it’s all so sudden and all I won’t rant at you for nondisclosure.” He added with a best friend smile.

“Thank you.” Willow leaned against him.