Walking After Midnight by Janine

Disclaimer: All the characters, Buffy, Willow, Giles, Xander, etc. belong to Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy Inc., and Warner Bros. I'm just borrowing their brilliant creations. I intend no copyright infringement from my use of their characters, and will receive no monetary or any other compensation for their use, in any form, of the story that succeeds. Lia and Lyndon are mine however so I can do whatever I want with them:)
Genre: Buffy/Willow (romantic)
Synopsis: It's the summer and the what's left of the gang are planning on a summer of fun in the sun. Giles however has other ideas and they are all whisked away on a tropical adventure.
Rating: PG-13
*NOTE* Unlike the two preceding stories, Walking After Midnight, is written from Buffy's POV.
E-mail: jbstories@hotmail.com

Part Five

Giles's room was covered in books, some were open some were closed, but when we arrived all were forgotten and I was herded into a corner while he and Willow huddled in a corner on the opposite side of the room. Once again I was given the distinct impression that they were talking about me. Truthfully I was getting tired with all the secrecy, I mean it was my life that they were talking about, plotting about and I had a right to be involved in it.

"Alright, STOP!" I demanded walking over to them.

"Pardon me?" Giles asked looking over at me.

"I said STOP," I told him not backing down. "As in stop talking about me like I'm not in the room. As in cease and desist with protecting me from god knows what," I continued.

"Buffy…" Giles started to say, but I interrupted him.

"No, don't Buffy me. Something is obviously going on, something has been going on from the moment I woke up in that cave. There's the first clue…a cave, I woke up in a cave for christsake!" I said, my voice was rising and I didn't care. "You people are suppose to be my friends, but all you've been doing since you found me is having little powwows and I gotta tell you it's not helping with the anxiety factor which is already unsurprisingly high in cases of amnesia. For all I know you could be getting ready to ship me off to Vietnam as a mail order bride. So here's the deal…you give me the real deal, or I'm out of here," I concluded looking him in the eye.

"Where would you go?" Willow asked taking a step towards me.

"Anywhere, somewhere, at least it would be up to me," I answered. "I don't WANT to go anywhere, but I don't want to be left out of the club house anymore. I won't be." Willow looked over at Giles questioning and he took of his glasses and rubbed his forehead before sighing, and nodding to her.

"You'll want to sit down for this," Giles said taking a seat on the edge of the bed. I pulled a chair over from the desk and sat down as he instructed. Willow took a seat next to him. "We haven't meant to insult you with our secrecy, we simply felt that it would be in your best interest if we eased you in. You may have sensed this, or may not have, but your life…our lives are not ordinary," Giles continued once we were all seated. "There is so much more to the world than people are aware of, and underbelly they are ignorant to, and we are a part of that other world."

"We're drug dealers?" I asked alarmed.

"No," Willow answered quickly. "We most certainly are not."

"Pimps?" I asked next. It seemed like a logical progression.

"What have you been telling her?" Giles asked accusingly turning to face Willow.

"Nothing," Willow answered quickly. "You're the one that started with that separate world, underbelly talk."

"We are not drug dealer or pimps," Giles said turning to face me again. "As fantastic as what I'm about to tell you might sound, I want to assure you right now that it is all truthful. In every generation a Slayer is born..."

"Slayer?" I asked. "Like someone who kills things?"

"Yes exactly. One girl in all the world. She alone must fight the demons, and vampires…"

"And general forces of darkness," Willow added.

"Yes, and general forces of darkness," Giles said. "She is the Slayer, she is you."

"Okay," I started. "I was wrong. You don't sell drugs, you're all ON drugs," I continued standing up.

"Everything I have told is true," Giles responded calmly.

"I can't be true, it's crazy…in fact it's more than crazy, it's insane. Can you hear yourself? I mean are you aware of the words that are coming out of your mouth? Vampires, demons, Slayers…hello? Come on, seriously. Buffy: The Vampire Slayer, there's a scary title. Really…" I said incredulously.

"He's telling the truth Buffy," Willow said coming over to stand by me. "I know it sounds nuts, but it's true. Nobody wants to believe it at first, but it's true. You are the Slayer, you're the best…and the world needs you. Needs you to believe," she said taking my hand. I looked over at her after a minute, looked into her eyes. I had known her for less than a day, but already I knew that her eyes never lied. In her eyes was truth, and that's exactly what I saw when I looked in them then. The truth.

"You're serious aren't you?" I asked though I already knew the answer.

"You know it's true," Willow said. "I can see it in your eyes. It's how you broke that ketchup bottle, and how you beat up that man. You are built to battle demons," Willow answered still holding my hand. "And we are here to help you."

"Oh god," I said stepping away from her and moving over to the window. I rested my head against the glass and just looked out it. I could see the ocean. The waters were rough, troubled, just like me. I didn't want to believe what they were saying, it was too fantastic. I could walk out of the room right now, tell them I didn't believe and nobody could have blamed me. Nobody could have blamed me for not believing them when they told me that I was some Superchick destined to save the world. But I wouldn't walk out of the room, I couldn't walk out of the room. Because I knew. I knew that they weren't lying, I knew that despite how insane it all sounded it was true. I could feel it, in my blood, in my marrow, in my heart. I could feel it, I knew it, I knew it all along.

"So now what?" I asked finally turning around.

"Now…you train," Giles responded.

"Train?" I asked.

"Tomorrow you'll start training with Lia. Even without your memory you are still the best Slayer that we have. You've always been very instinctive, you've always had your own way. I never had much to teach you that way," Giles answered. "I would rather you not have to do this, but there is a powerful demon on this Island, the same one that took your memory, and it must be stopped. You must stop it, it's…"

"My destiny," I responded smirking a little. I didn't know why but the answer seemed so familiar. I saw Willow smile too and I knew it must have been something I used to say. "Question," I said a moment later. "Before you said that the Slayer was one girl in all the world, but just now you said that I was the best Slayer you've got even sans memory which means that there are lesser Slayers out there. But if a Slayers one girl, then how can there be others?"

"A Slayer becomes a real Slayer when they are called into duty, but there are other girls who are being trained so that when they are called they will be ready. Most of the girls in this colony at the moment are Slayers in training," Giles responded.


"Lia is the next in line, yes," he answered.

"So how does one move on up in this line?" I asked.

"When one Slayer dies the next is called," Giles answered.

"Oh," I said. "So right now there's only one real Slayer, that's me?"

"Actually there…." Willow started to say.

"Willow," Giles said quickly cutting her off.

"Hey, don't shush her," I said jumping to her defense. "I want to hear what she was going to say."

"Once a couple of years ago you were…well you were…see you kind of…you sort of died, and another Slayer was called in," Willow responded.

"I sort of what?" I asked. Could this conversation have gotten any weirder?

"You were drowned…but we got your heart started again," she responded.

"That's nice to know," I muttered. "So where's this other Slayer?"

"She's in a coma," Willow answered looking down at the ground. Apparently the other Slayer was a sore spot.

"Demon?" I asked.

"No," was the only response. I waited for a second expecting more, but no more came so I moved on.

"So tomorrow I train?" I asked Giles.

"Yes, we need to ascertain exactly what level you are at. We're not going after the demon unless I'm absolutely certain that you can handle it," he answered.

"Alright then, tomorrow," I said heading for the door. I waited until Willow joined me then I opened the door and we headed out.

Later, once we were back in my room and passed out on the bed I looked over at Willow who was staring at the ceiling.

"So this is really real?" I asked still kind of dazed.

"Yep," she answered looking over at me.

"And I'm good?" I asked looking her straight in the eyes.

"The best," she answered with absolute certainty. Our gazes held after she finished speaking, and as we looked at each other time seemed to slow. I couldn't actually remember watching a movie, but it was like we were in a movie and it was moving in slow motion. Something passed between us in that time, something special. Nothing that I could put a name to, maybe something that didn't have a name to put to it, but it was something special I knew that.

I didn't know why exactly but I trusted this girl completely. She could have told me that the sky was purple and the grass blue and I would have believed her. She could have told me that I had gills and could swim with the fishes and I would have believed her. I couldn't help but be drawn to her, I couldn't help but to trust her. It was like an elemental force. I could try to stop it sure, but I would have failed, and truthfully I didn't want to stop it. When I was around her my emotions were all over the place, like a compass gone mad, but I craved it. I craved that fluttering excitement that I got in my stomach every time she was near, and I craved that safe protected feeling that blanketed me when she was around. Simply put, I craved her.

Shortly after that Willow headed to her room to go to sleep, and continued my musings until I literally passed out.

Warm, wet lips, kissing my mouth, smiling as I moan. Moving down, kissing my jaw, kissing, licking, sucking, my neck playfully as they move down. A warm tongue licking my shoulder, nipping at it as a hand moves to my breast, squeezing, teasing gently. I arch into the touch begging for more, needing more. The other hand moved down, caressing the insides of my thighs, lightly brushing the skin. Tormenting and exciting the hand was. A warm mouth descended upon my nipple sucking, licking, loving. The hand between my legs moves upwards, closer, yes almost there…yesssssssss, moving, pumping…

"Willowwwww!" I screamed as my hips jumped off the bed.

My eyes popped open at that exclamation and I sat up. My heart was racing, my body covered in sweat, and my hand…between my legs. I sighed and let my head fall back onto the pillows, hoping to god that I didn't scream out for real. Willow. I could still hear the name ringing in my ears. As I stared at the ceiling I was beginning to realize that that name was starting to encompass my world. I craved her, in more ways than one.

* * * * * *

"Remember, don't think…feel," Lia said as we stepped away from each other and entered a ready position. That suggestion was alright by me, the last thing I needed to do was think considering what direction my thoughts had been going in.

I managed to block a few easy punches before I ended up on my back on the floor. I stood back up and we fought again with the same result. This continued for a while longer until finally Giles stood up and put a halt to it. He instructed me to go take a seat then started to talk to Lia.

"It's not the amnesia, it's her. The skills are still there, I can see them, she should be kicking my ass. It's something else entirely," I heard Lia say before I sat down next to Willow.

"I'm filling the room up with suck," I muttered brushing some hair out of my face.

"If it makes you feel better, even in this lesser state of Buffness you could still kick my ass," Xander offered.

"Xander, my four year old cousin beat you up," Willow said turning to face him.

"I still say that kid was seven maybe even ten years old," Xander said defensively. "And he went for shins which way, way below the belt no matter what grade you're in," he continued. Willow just smirked and turned back to face me.

"Don't worry I'm sure you just have to warm up," Willow said resting a hand on my thigh. "Once you're warm you'll be kicking ass again. Buffy the ass kicker we'll call you…well we won't call you that, but that's what you'll be doing," she continued squeezing. I looked up at her and felt my heart constrict.

"You think?" I asked.

"I know," she answered smiling. I smiled back then looked over to the side to see Lia staring at me. Actually it was like she was staring through me. A second later she turned back around and said something to Giles. They argued for a moment then Lia took her position again and Giles came back over to us.

"Let's try it again," he said to me. "Just concentrate on what you're doing, be in the moment," he continued. I nodded then stood up and headed over to where Lia was.

"What'd you say to him?" I asked her.

"Nothing of consequence. He disagreed with my interpretation of the text," she answered with a shrug. "Shall we?"

The results that time, and the next few times we fought were the same as before-me on my ass. Finally Lia looked over at Giles.

"Come on Giles," she implored. "If I'm wrong what harm could it do?" He nodded then turned to Willow and spoke to her for a moment. She glanced at me then turned her attention back to Giles and nodded. She then got up and headed across the room, only stopping to wish me good luck, then she was out the doors. Xander said spoke briefly to Giles then he headed out after Willow who looked distraught. I started to head out after her too, but Lia restrained me.

"Your place is here," she said in response to the look I shot her.

"What the hell did you tell him to say to them?" I asked her menacingly.

"The truth," she said simply.

"Which is?"

"The truth is, that right now I could beat you standing on one leg while reciting Shakespeare. The truth is, that there are white belts out there that wouldn't fight you because it would be unfair. The truth is, that you are not fighting like a Slayer, you're not even fighting like a fairly competent sissy," Lia said looking down at me both literally and figuratively. "In a few days we have to go up against a demon that beat BOTH of us not to long ago, and you can't seem to keep your ass of the ground. You want to know why I told him to get rid of them?" she asked her eyes boring into mine.

"I know you're going to tell me," I said with barely controlled rage.

"So that when they follow you blindly back into that demons lair they won't know it's a suicide mission. I've known your friends long enough to realize that they'll follow you in there no matter what, they're loyal that way…like dogs, nothing's going to stop them. So I figured it was best for them to go in there thinking that there was the possibility of victory instead of knowing that with you fighting like crap we're all going to die, or be mind fucked," Lia explained calmly. "But I think they already know what the deal is, Willow sure did. They've seen more action than I have and they know what it takes to win, because you used to be it, now you're shit and they know it. I just hope that Xander can…'comfort' Willow enough…" I don't know why exactly, but when she said that last sentence I snapped. The anger I had been holding onto since she opened her mouth for the first time ten minutes ago rushed out. She would not talk about Willow that way, I would not stand for it. The things she had said before about my being crap angered me, but this latest insinuation in her barrage of insults infuriated me.

I charged her. Before that moment I didn't know it was possible for someone to move so fast. I wasn't thinking, I was just feeling, reacting, and I was winning, I could feel it, I could sense it. Then she was down on the ground, and I was above her looking down. Looking down at her.

"Behold the eighth wonder of the world," she said smiling. I stepped back from her confused. "I knew it," she continued. "Didn't I tell you," she said looking over at Giles. "All she lacked was motivation."

"You planned that," I said tempted to go over there and kick her again.

"It was the only way," Lia responded looking at the ground. "You should have been whipping me. I should have been putting up a fight, a good one, one that would win against anyone but you, but you should have been beating me. But you weren't, you weren't even coming close. So, I told him, I told him that you weren't because of one of two reasons. Either you were distracted, or you just didn't care. So I got rid of the distractions, and made you care," Lia finished finally looking up.

"That stuff about Xander and Willow?" I asked. It was important that I know.

"Pure fabrication," she responded. "No doubt they care for each other, but Willow's heart lies elsewhere."

"With who?" I asked darkly. My tone even surprised me.

"No one," Lia answered smiling a bit.

"But you said…"

"I said elsewhere, as in not with Xander. It doesn't mean someone else has it, just that he doesn't. You dig?" she asked.

"Yeah," I responded. "Her heart lies someplace that is else." 

* * * * * *

I spotted Lia walking across the patio with Lyndon and hurried over to her. She had left about ten minutes before I got out of my meeting with Giles and I wanted to talk to her.

"Hey," I called falling into stop beside them.

"Hey," Lia greeted.

"Can I talk to you for a minute…in private?" I asked.

"I'll just be going now," Lyndon said taking the hint. "I don't really have any place to go but…" he said then started off in the other direction.

"Listen, if this is about the stuff I said earlier, I'm sorry. I know that I was down right mean, and not only did I step over certain lines but jumped on them before making my way across, but I really was just trying to help," she said as we made our way over to a table.

"That's totally yester…forget about it," I said waving it off. I had been quite pissed at the time but I understood what she was doing, and why she doing it.

"That's a relief. I don't really want you pissed off at me," she said rubbing her arm. After that little bit of theatrics, things had gone the way they were suppose to and she was the one on the ground most of the time.

"Can I talk to you…about something important. I mean, will it stay between us?" I asked her looking around the patio area.

"I realize I probably haven't made the best impression, but I promise you that anything you say will remain confidential. I'm much like a lawyer that way…well that and I'm a terrific liar," she responded.

"Okay, good," I said meeting her gaze finally. "Well, it's about me. Well me before I lost my memory," I said.

"Okay, but like I said before, I had only known you for a few days before that," Lia responded.

"Yeah, I know. That's okay, I mean this thing I want to ask you about would be kind of obvious," I said wondering if this was a mistake. "Besides the reason I want to ask you is because you don't know me as well as they do, and I think that you'll give me straight answers when they won't."

"I'll listen, but if I feel that a question is out of my sphere of knowledge, I won't answer it," she said seriously.

"Okay, that's fair," I agreed, then paused momentarily. "Um…do I bat for the home team?" I asked.

"Well, if you are playing at your home diamond I believe you would bat for the home team. But if you were the visitors then that's the team you would bat for, because they would be your team. That makes sense cause it would switch depending on who's diamond you were at. Sorry if that's not much help, but I'm not really a connoisseur of the baseball," she responded.

"No, that's not what I meant. I mean…well…I think I'm kind of gay," I said.

"Oh that. Sorry, I wasn't expecting to have to play 'Guess this Analogy'," she responded. "Why do think I would know?"

"Well, I just figured that…well you know you're good looking and everything and I figured that if I was I might have…you know…like made a pass at you or something," I said while mentally kicking myself in the ass. That was lame, that was very lame.

"Sadly no pass was made…by you at least," she added with what could only be described as a rakish grin.

"Does that mean you are?" I asked.

"I'm ambi-sexual, let's leave it at that," she said. "Back to you…"

"Well, am I?" I asked.

"Can't you tell?" she asked looking over at me. I just stared at her. "Okay, a straight-and I hope you see the irony in my choice of words-answer. To my knowledge you do in fact hit for the home team."

"Okayyyy," I said drawing the word out. "Was I hitting with anyone?" I asked, those images of Willow and I playing out in my mind again.

"Not in my sphere," Lia responded. "Alter your query."

"I keep having these flashes, where I see Willow and myself, and we are in situations that are decidedly more than friendly. We're…"

"G-rated show here," Lia said putting up her hand. "This is really something you should discuss with Willow. I'll tell you this though, if I know that you like girls, then they know too and have accepted it. From what I saw it was clear that you cared for Willow very much, and that she cared for you just as much as you did for her. As for what exactly that caring detailed, you'll have to ask her."

"But I can't," I said.

"Why not?"

"I can't just go up to her and ask how her day went, then smoothly work a question about whether or not we were lovers into the conversation. If we weren't it could make her very uncomfortable around me, and I don't want that," I explained.

"So you want me to make it easier. Well, I can't do that, it's not right. If you want to know you have to ask her, or wait and see if something happens, but you're not going to get it out of me, or Giles, or Xander, or Lyndon…if he knows what's best for him. This is your life now, time to start making the tough calls," Lia answered. Despite her absolute refusal to help me she actually looked sympathetic to what I was going through. "You probably need some time to think, and I need to go baby-sit my brother, so I'm going to be going now. Before I do, I'll tell this…follow your heart Buffy. Trust your instincts, we're Slayers, they never lie," then with that she headed back in the direction of the main compound.

* * * * * *

I remained out there for what had to have been hours, just staring out at the ocean, thinking and trying not to think alternately. Should I risk it? Should I risk telling my best friend, the only person I had any real connection with since waking up that I was in love with her? Did I even know how it was possible to fall in love in a matter of days? Lia was right though, whether I decided to tell her or not to tell her it had to be my decision, based on my life and feelings now.

Finally the stiffness in my shoulders started to bug me, I decided to head back to the room and lay down for a while. I wasn't making any sense anymore anyway. The decision whether or not to tell Willow probably wouldn't have been made sitting outside on a patio anyway, I wasn't like that. If I told her it wouldn't be planned, it wouldn't be something that I orchestrated, it would just happen. I would look at her, or she would look at me and I wouldn't be able to hold it in any longer, and afterwards what would be would be. I just hoped that my heart would be intact after I followed it.

Kicking off my shoes I flopped down onto the bed and stared at the ceiling. I had been doing quite a bit of that, and I wondered if it was something I always used to do, or if it was a new adaptation of this life I was living now. After a few minutes I heard footsteps coming towards me and knew that it was Willow making her way into my room from hers.

"Buffy?" she asked tentatively.

"That's my name," I said lazily not moving.

"Are you okay?" she asked taking a seat on the edge of the bed. I looked up at her and shook my head.

"No," I responded. "I hurt…hurt covers me," I continued rubbing my shoulders.

"Your shoulders always get tense when you're stressed out," Willow said looking down at me.

"Well, how did I fix it before? Cause I want some now," I said meeting her eyes. She was looking at me oddly and I wondered what she was thinking.

"I could…I could massage them for you," she said still looking down at me. "It worked before." I watched her debating the wisdom of letting her touch me like that considering the direction my feeling for her were heading in. The smart thing to do would be to politely turn down the offer, to tell her that I was just tired and needed some rest then send her on her way thus keeping our friendship intact and my feelings hidden. That would have been the smart thing to do which is probably why I ended up doing the exact opposite.

"Okay," is what I said. That wasn't what I had meant to say, but there it was and I wasn't going to take it back.

"Turn over, onto your stomach," she requested. I did as she asked and soon deceptively strong hands started stroking my back, working out the kinks. I started to feel the effects immediately and had to forcefully contain a moan that wanted to make it's presence known. "How's that?" she asked a moment later. "Heaven on earth," I responded unable to stop the cheesy reply. I heard her make a noise in her throat and I instinctively knew that she was smiling.

"I need to get better access," she said a few minutes later, and I felt her hands drift to my waist where they rested.

"Go ahead," I told her. My lips and my brain didn't seem to be communicating efficiently at the moment, because that response and others I had made since she came in the room were not at all what I had been thinking.

I felt her start to pull the shirt up, her hands running along my side as she did. Putting my arms out in front of me I allowed her to remove the shirt completely. After that she tried to resume her motions but my bra kept getting in the way of her motions.

"That, ah, usually goes too," she said resting her hand over the clasp. Before answering I wondered if all best friends gave each other topless massages. Somehow I doubted it, and that feeling that we had been more than friends seemed to be plausible all of a sudden, very plausible actually.

"Well then, by all means," I responded. "Take it off." She didn't verbally reply, she just started the removal process. I was unnaturally aware of her hands as they undid each clasp and then slid around to pull the garment off. I was even more aware of the way her hands brushed against my breasts as she pulled the bra off. Once it was off I laid my stomach flat against the bed again resting my head on my arms, then she started her movements once more.

I could feel her weight on me as she straddled me hips. Could feel the heat radiating off of her body, could feel her bare legs brushing against my naked sides. I could feel her hands caressing my skin, and I realized suddenly that they were caressing. Sometime during my musings she had gone from massaging my back to caressing it. She was moving her hands up and down my sides, stroking them. I realized that this massage was having as much of an effect on her as it was on me. That's when I felt it, warm lips pressed to my shoulder blade, placing butterfly kisses on my back.

"Willow…" I whispered huskily, and she stopped. The moment the last syllable of her name was out of my mouth she stopped. More accurately she froze.

"I'm sorry," she whispered starting to move off of me. It was just like I had thought, unlike me she wasn't aware of what she had been doing. It had been an automatic for her, completely natural.

"No," I said turning around quickly and grabbing her hand. We were now lying side by side facing each other. "It's okay…I promise," I added when she still looked worried.

"I shouldn't have…you're…" she started but trailed off. She was avoiding my gaze, looking at the wall behind me, but I desperately needed to see what was in those eyes. I needed to know what she was feeling.

"Willow," I said gently still holding her hand. "It's okay," I continued bringing her hand to my lips and kissing the palm, then each finger tip. "Please, don't ever apologize for that."

"Buffy," she said finally meeting my eyes. What I saw there almost broke my heart. There was pain, arousal, confusion, longing, loneliness, love. In that look I had the answers to all of my most pressing questions. We had been lovers, but we had been more than that. We had been in love. I didn't know what to say to make her understand that I understood, I didn't know what to say to make her understand that while my memory may have been stolen the love I felt for her never went away, never dimmed. I didn't know what to say to make her see that I still loved her, that I still needed her, that she was still my world, so I did the only thing I could. I leaned forward and I kissed her. Slowly, gently, I kissed her. "Buffy," she said again when I pulled back.

"I love you," I said simply. I was no poet, those were the only words I had to express what I was feeling, and they did so wonderfully. For whether I said it in a thousand words, or three, it came down to that. "I don't know what my address is, I don't even know when my birthday is, but I know that I love you." She looked at me for a moment, then the tears started to fall and I reached out for her. "Don't cry," I said.

"I've missed you so much," she said tightening the hold she had around my waist. "I…"

"I know," I said her stroking her hair, and as unbelievable as it sounded I did know.

She released me then, and brought our lips together. This kiss was firmer, more confident, more passionate than before, and this time I moaned freely. I had almost forgotten that I was topless until I felt her hand move it's way up my side and cup my breast. I arched into the touch momentarily before I lowered her unprotesting to the sheets draping my body over hers as we continued to kiss, sweetly, passionately, our lips moving against each other in a gentle hunger. My hand had slipped under her shirt lifting it up and over her head before I moved down to kiss her neck, to nip at it gently as my right hand moved to her breast, squeezing it through the fabric, as my left moved up and down her side.

And then the next thing I knew we were naked, and my lips were covering every square inch of her body, kissing licking, biting, before raising to the top to start again. Every moan, every movement of her body was like air to me, a necessity of life. Then our lips were pressed together again and our bodies pressed so tightly together that it was hard to tell if were two people or one.

I moved by thigh between her legs and felt her start to move against me. It was a dance older than time, the steps etched into our DNA from the moment we were conceived, and I realized that I had been waiting for this, needing it since the moment I woke up. Then her hand was between us, moving down until she slipped inside of me. Then it was my turn to moan, to move against her. We moved together and away, together and away, for long moments, our motions becoming increasingly focused. Then I felt her start to tremble and I knew the dam was about to burst. She arched off of the bed a second later, her head thrown back and her body on fire as she called out my name. The past few days had been a time of rediscovery for me, and of all the things that had been re-born for me-the sun, a blooming flower, the moon-she was the most beautiful sight of all. And then I was gone too, my body reduced to a mass of quivering flesh and fiery nerve endings. In her arms my body became a conduit for pure ecstasy, and all that I could do was let her hold me as we rode out the waves together.

As our bodies began to calm I dropped my head to her shoulder and exhaled. I wasn't aware of anything but the beating of her heart, the rise and fall of her chest, and the warmth of her body. For the first time I could remember I felt completely at peace. I felt free.

Then just as I had finished processing those thoughts, a bright white light exploded behind my eyes and I felt the flood gates open. My mind was saturated with images, images moving by at a dizzying pace. I almost expected to hear an announcers voice saying "Buffy Summers this is your life". I have no idea how long these images flashed through my mind for, but I know that afterwards-when the storm had passed-that Willow was holding me tightly and stroking my hair.

"Will?" I asked my voice shaky and barely audible. My mind was still spinning.

"Buffy?" she asked in an equally unsteady voice using her hand to tilt my head up so that she could see my face.

"Yeah," I said smiling. "It's me."

* * * * * *

Part Six

At a moment like that there were no words for what we were feeling, so we simply lay there holding each other.

"I'm so happy I can't even think," Willow whispered breaking the silence.

"I know, my brains not functioning on the higher levels right now either," I responded nuzzling my face against hers. I wanted to get closer to her, but there was no space between us already. We were so close you couldn't have slipped a piece of paper between us.

"The past few days have been so surreal. It's like I was dreaming it all…but I knew that I wasn't. I knew it was real," she said.

"I know," I said. "That's how it is for me now."

"How are we going to explain this?" she asked. I knew that she was referring to the sudden return of my memory.

"Simple, we'll just tell them that you brought you me to mind blowing orgasm and that…"

"Buffy," she said slapping me on the arm. She was the same old Willow and I loved her.

"What?" I asked innocently. Ten minutes back and I was already being beaten.

"We can't tell them the truth, I mean….wait…mind blowing, huh?" she asked suddenly as a smile worked it's way across her face.

"A mind blowing, earth shattering, re-birth," I confirmed.

"Well, we still can't tell them the truth," she responded a moment later. Despite her answer she was looking mighty pleased with herself.

"Alright," I said in a tone that left no doubt I still thought my first idea was the way to go. It would have been worth it for the shock value alone. "How about the good old knock to the head explanation?" I asked.

"Okay," she said. "What if they ask how you hit your head?"

"Easy, we'll just tell them that we were in the shower and you were bringing me to a mind blowing orgasm when…

"Buffy," Willow said interrupting.

"What?" I asked again.

"Find a new theme," she instructed. I smiled. It was good to be back.

* * * * * *

We decided that the best thing to do would be to just get everybody gathered in one room and tell them all at the same time. That meant less grunt work of us, and only having to conduct one question and answer session, both of which couldn't be interpreted as anything but good. We called the front desk and asked them to deliver the messages out when they made the wake up calls. At 9:00am we all meet in the lounge of the main compound like we had before.

"There's news…news that wants to be shared," Willow started once everyone was seated.

"Does this news have to do with the difficulties at yesterday's practice session?" Wesley asked. My first response to give him the evil eye, then I progressed from there.

"Oh, look," I said looking at the ground before tilting my head up to regard him. "There's a spider. Shouldn't you be running away screaming like a little girl?"

"Merciful Christ!" Xander exclaimed excitedly standing up. "She's back!" he continued. Then when Willow and I looked over at him with amused expressions he sat back down and asked "You are back, right? I mean 'you' you."

"I'm back," I confirmed smiling at him. There was silence for a moment then as everyone in the room looked at everyone else visually asking each other 'what the hell'.

"When did your memory return?" Giles asked me finally.

"Last night," I said. I didn't see any need to volunteer lies.

"How'd you get it back?" It was Lia who asked this question.

"I fell, hit my head and…BOOM," I said clapping my hands together.

"Really?" she asked leaning forward.

"Yeah…really," I answered leaning forward and meeting her gaze. She looked at me for a moment then smirked and leaned back against the back of the couch.

"Okay," she said. "I had just thought that maybe you hurt it playing baseball," she continued, that smirk making an appearance again.

"Sorry to disappoint," I responded leaning back in my chair as well.

"How are you feeling?" Giles asked once the mini-match between Lia and I had ended.

"Like a million bucks," I responded. "I was a bit disoriented right after it happened, but I'm one hundred percent now."

"That's good, because I've been doing some research on our friend in the cave and there's more to this than we suspected," Giles said addressing the entire group.

"Let's have it," I told him. Usually there was always more to it than we expected. Basically, the unexpected was all we could expect…which made it expected, right?

"This particular demon only surfaces once a decade, and only for 60 days in order feed. As you probably figured out it feeds on memory enzymes. After that feeding period it returns to the bowels of the earth where it hibernates until it is time for it to feed again. According to the texts the beast will continue in this fashion for three centuries until it has stored up enough energy to rise permanently. We do not want that to happen. According to the last astrological charts it has been above ground for 58 days, which means that we have two days to kill it," Giles responded. Sometimes I really dreaded it when the man opened his mouth because he usually brought nothing but bad news.

"What happens if we don't get it?" Willow asked.

"It will return to it's liquid state and seep into the ground where it will remain hidden for the next sixty years. Then when it rises the next time it will be at full power," Giles responded.

"So killing it is pretty much a must," I said looking at him.

"Pretty much," he agreed.

"Is life always like this for you guys?" Lia asked a moment later.

"Well if I were to consider that question on, say a weekly basis, I would have to say…yeah, pretty much," I answered.

* * * * * *

Considering everything that Giles had learned about the demon we decided that the best way to eliminate it was to torch it. The only problem was we had nothing to torch it with, and the only supplier of the flame-throwers we needed was not willing to sell us the goods. So, Lia and I were cruising the streets of downtown looking for the store to see if we could…negotiate with them.

"Can you feel that breeze?" Lia asked excitedly as we walked down main street. "It's such a lovely night to commit multiple felonies."

"Multiple?" I asked. "Calm down there Bonnie, we're here to commit one little crime and one little crime only."

"I still say it's a lovely night," she responded. "You think we're going to get a chance to test our 'get away' skills? I've always wanted to jump a fence. Not just in practice, you know, but like in a real confrontational situation."

"It's not as glamorous as it sounds," I told her. "Nobody warns you about the lacerations due to barbed wire, and ripped jackets that result. Not to mention that most of the time when you come across a fence you're being tossed up against it, not jumping it."

"Good with the bad," she responded. "If you want the rainbow, you gotta put up with the rain," she continued. "This is it," she said stopping in front of a store.

"So, what do you say, trash can or one of my personal favorites, the window jump?" I asked reviewing our options.

"That's a tough choice, they're both classics you know," she responded. "I'm gonna have to go with the window jump though."

"Everybody always picks the window jump," I said backing up onto the street to get a running start.

"It's a staple of the American film industry. We've been conditioned to pick the window jump," she said joining me on the road.

"On three," I said bouncing on my toes a little. "Three!" I said then took off. It took Lia a second to catch on but soon we were crashing through the window together.

"Kickass!" she shouted as we made it through. "Yeah, baby," she continued as we made our way further into the store. I could hear the alarm and knew we didn't have much time.

"You check out here, I'll check the supply room. We don't have much time so if you don't see them come back and help me. You dig?" I said to her.

"Got ya," she said saluting before heading off in search of treasure.

* * * * * *

"I got two here," I heard her call a moment later.

"Two more back here," I said grabbing them. "That's good enough, let's get the hell outta here," I said joining her in the main room.

"I'm all for that," she said jumping out of what remained of the window. We started to head in the direction we had come from but we saw sirens not rounding the corner and turned around.

We headed straight down the street for a few minutes before ducking into an alleyway. There was a fence, it seemed like Lia was going to get her wish.

"How far back are they?" I asked.

"Not far, minute maybe," she answered.

"Give me your stash, then jump over. I'll throw them over to you then follow," I instructed. I could hear their footsteps getting closer. Lia handed me the two throwers she had then jumped the fence in a fluid motion. Once she landed I threw the throwers over then jumped the fence.

"Let me guess, now we run?" Lia asked handing me back my two throwers.

"You're catching on kid," I said, then we headed down alley. We were out of sight, if not out of mind by the time the officers made it over the fence.

* * * * * *

When Lia and I returned from our escapade we all headed down to the beach for a bonfire. Xander had raided the kitchen and gotten us marshmallows and other bonfire goodies to snack on, so all we had to do now was get the fire lit.

"I would really advice against that," Giles said to Lia as he slowly backed away from where she was standing.

"Oh don't get your knickers in a knot," Lia responded. "this is a great idea. Not to mention fast. Good, fast ideas are rare and not to be wasted."

"Hey, Lia, let's try not to have a repeat of the Snake Hill incident," Lyndon goaded from the sidelines.

"That was a good idea on Snake Hill, mother said that it was very impressive," she responded.

"Yeah, before you hit the tree," Lyndon said in response. By now all of us were standing what we hoped was a safe distance away from her.

"Where's everyone going?" Lia asked looking around. "Nothing is going to happen, this is perfectly safe," she said looking at us all imploringly.

"Miss Grayson, I implore you," Wesley started. "Surely you've broken enough laws for one evening."

"Wes my boy, you can never break too many laws in one evening. There are a lot of them you know, so you'll never run out," Lia responded with a smile. She ignited the flame thrower and headed towards the pit walking slowly so as not to have the flame blow into her face she carefully lowered it into the pit we had dug. Willow and I exchanged a look then turned our attention back to Lia.

The flame was now at full power and the fire was starting to grow. There was brief moment then where everything seemed to be going according to plan. Then it happened, the fire licked up really high and make a popping sound. Seconds later Lia dropped the flame thrower and backed away from the pit. That's when I saw that part of her was on fire. She was waving her arm around in the air trying to get the flame to go out.

"Yeah, alright, this was a BAD idea," she said in a loud voice as she tried blowing on her arm to help.

"That's not going to work stupid," Lyndon said not making a move towards her. "Spit on it or something," he continued now moving towards her.

"You are not spitting on me," Lia said waving her arm in front of her to ward of Lyndon. Then she brought it back in and started blowing with renewed vigor. "Okay, this is really starting to hurt!"

"Stop drop and roll," Xander said moving towards her. "Dirt in the skirt," he continued.

Lia looked at him for a split second then dropped to the ground and started rolling in the sand. Being the good Samaritan that I am I picked up my towel and went over to her to try and help beat out the flame.

"It's out, good god woman it's out!" Lia said rolling away from me and out of range. Standing up she began to survey the damage done to her. The sleeve of her shirt had completely burned away and she was slightly sooty but that seemed to be the extent of it.

"Well," Willow commented a moment later as Lia continued to inspect her rag. "At least the fire is going." Lia looked up at her. "And it was fast," Willow hastened to add, "it was really, really, fast."

"That's true," Lia said brightening up a bit. "I just didn't foresee the living flame part of it."

* * * * * *

"Are you worried about tomorrow?" Willow asked from her spot beside me on the bed.

"No," I responded in what I thought to be a suitably unaffected tone.

"I'm sure everything will be alright," she continued as if I hadn't said anything.

"I know. We're going to open up a can of whoop-ass on it's behind," I told her picking up her hand and taking it into my own.

"Buffy," she said seriously looking down at me. "You'll do it this time, we'll be there to back you up."

I looked up at her.

"Does this mean that you're not buying my 'Cool as Oz' routine?" I asked smiling.

"I was for a minute…but then you made an expression and the jig was up," she responded resting her head down on my shoulder. "What are you worried about?" She had been working on me about talking about what I was feeling over the past months, and I'd been trying. I had gotten better about actually telling her what was bothering me, but it was still hard sometimes, because I didn't want to burden her with what I was going through. She had enough to worry about without me dumping all my crap on her. It was a lose, lose situation because I ended up hurting her whether I told her or whether I didn't tell her. However, I had come to realize that the hurt that came from me shutting her out was worse to her than actually knowing what I was thinking, so I tried to do my best to be honest with her.

"The usual," I said in a kind of half sigh. "You know," I said getting a bit off topic, "just once I'd like for someone who encountered a demon to write about how to kill it. Maybe if they didn't know for sure, they could just theorize to help a sister out a bit. I mean it would be so much easier to hunt and kill things if I KNEW how to kill them. That makes sense right? I mean imagine me…prepared, I could like kick some serious ass. But besides that everything is completely of the usual." Willow placed her hand on my cheek and stroked it with her thumb as she stared at me. Her face was contemplative and I knew what she was thinking.

She worried about me constantly. Not just about my physical health, but about my mental health as well. Frankly, I've dealt with the cards handed to me rather well, but every once in a while I do have a tendency to kind of snap and go all wiggy. I mean, over the years I suppose I've given her cause to worry about both.

"You don't need to hear this," I said not liking the sad look in her eyes. She always asked, then when I told her she always got sad. It was a vicious cycle and I hated it.

"Yes," she responded. "I do."

"But it just upsets you," I protested not for the first time. "It seems like every time I open my mouth I make you cry. It's…it's…it's like I'm Wesley or something bringing misery wherever I go," I continued avoiding her gaze.

"I get upset because I worry about you. I can't not worry about you. I'll tell you something, I worry more when I don't know what you're thinking, because that means that you're keeping it all to yourself locked away. That leads to festering and breakdowns, and unscheduled vacations," she responded. I winced at the last one, I knew that my disappearance that past summer was still a sore spot. I had really hurt her with that one, I had hurt them all, but it had hit Willow and Mom the most. I hadn't realized how badly I had hurt Willow until Xander had let me have it one night and let it all out. Xander was always there for Willow, I was glad for that. I had worried about the tension between them when Willow and I first started dating. Xander had always been there for her and vice versa, and I didn't want to come between that.

"The fact that I worry about you isn't a bad thing, it's just a thing, an unavoidable thing, or in other words a thing that can't be avoided," she continued. "You need to talk about what your feeling, and I want to listen. It's works out well for both of us, and helps avoid the need for pharmaceuticals."

"Why do you have to make so much sense all the time?" I asked with a smile bringing my hand up to her face.

"It's a gift. Sometimes it's hard, but then I just think to myself, 'Willow you were put down on this planet for a reason, and you must fulfill that reason', and then the tension eases," she responded with one of those beatific smiles that I absolutely thrived on.

"Thank you for sharing your gift with me," I told her sincerely.

"Thank you for sharing your heart with me," she responded leaning down. When we broke apart I smiled. The truth was I might not have a lot of life left, but I knew that as long as I was with Willow, the time I did have left would be extraordinary.

Part Seven

We stood outside the entrance of the cave looking at the gaping mouth like it was death itself. The gang and I had been in situations like this a countless number of times. Us against the end of the world, heading into the darkness with our heads held high and our knees shaking. But on this particular day there was a different quality about the air around us, it was tenser more desperate and I knew why. I had already stood at the mouth of this cave and I had faced the demon and lost. We were going in now not as predators but as trespassers who were being hunted as well as hunting.

"Stay behind me," I said tightening my grasp on the flame thrower in my hands.

"Yeah," Lia piped up. "Stay behind us." I looked back at her. The look in my eyes conveyed that she too was to follow my instructions. I was the first line of defense and she was the second. If it got through both of us I didn't even want to think of consequences.

Before submerging myself in the darkness of the cave I looked back at Willow. Taking that image with me I stepped into the cave. I had tried to get her to stay behind, that morning before breakfast I tried to convince her that the best thing for her to do would be to stay behind with Wesley and research other possibilities. It didn't work of course, it never did. It was futile to try, but I had to anyway, it was a compulsion. I knew it irritated her, made her feel like I didn't trust her or didn't think that she could take care of herself, but nothing could have been farther from the truth. It was me I didn't trust, but I could never quite get that across.

"You've got to love the décor," Lia said as we traipsed through the cave flash lights bouncing around. "It just reeks danger, like Tori Spelling reeks nepotism."

"Apparently we've got ourselves a demon with self-respect," Xander continued. "This is the way it should be, huh, Giles? All dankness, and filth. None of that condominium and Miata crap for this guy."

"Indeed," Giles responded from somewhere behind Xander. "It's nice to know that demons somewhere still have some values. I mean, really."

I smirked into the darkness then turned a down a passage. We had pondered our own mortality and were now bantering about the décor and the lack of respect demons seemed to have for themselves these days. So far everything was going according to plan.

* * * * * *

"Hey, I remember you," I said as we entered the fork in the cave where Lia and I had been ambushed on our previous trip.

"Yes," Lia agreed darkly. "I remember you too. I don't like you," she continued eyeing the space evilly as she rubbed her head unconsciously.

"Is this where your head got jiggled?" Willow asked Lia as she made her way up to the front of the procession.

"Yes, yes it is," Lia answered. "Can't you just feel the evil?"

"Luckily you for you didn't have much up there to get scrambled," Lyndon said cheerfully.

"We'll see if you're still Mr. Sunshine when that thing decides to play 'splatter brains' with you," Lia responded turning away from him.

"As much as I hate to do this, I'm going to have to ask you all to shut up now," I said staring at the tunnel directly in front of me.

"See, I don't know what Cordelia was talking about when she said that you lack people skills," Xander quipped in response to my request.

"Xand," I said looking back.

"Sorry, shutting up now," he said making a motion like he was zippering his lips.

Before entering the tunnel in front of me I heard Giles mutter, "Today we have witnessed a miracle".

* * * * * *

I felt it before I saw it. No one else seemed to be able to sense it coming so I knew it had to be my spidy-senses. It was coming for us right now. We were being hunted.

"It's here," I said raising my flame thrower. The others look confused but raised theirs as well.

"Where is it?" Willow asked.

"I don't know," I said shaking my head. "I can't tell. But it's here. It's here somewhere."

I closed my eyes and stood completely still. Listening, feeling the air around me, engaging all of my senses just like Giles had taught me. As a Slayer I was acutely aware of things others were not, could not be aware of. Even Giles though he taught me, and was skilled in his own right could not hope to achieve the level of awareness I was capable of. "It's what makes you the One," Giles had said to me. "It's my gift, it's my curse," I had responded quoting Frank Black.

A moment after I closed my eyes I felt it. In the blink of an eye I turned so that I was facing it and pressed the trigger. An eruption of fire burst from the apex of the thrower illuminating the room with a unpleasant glow. I hit it's left side and the beast let out a outrageous cry. It was high pitch, almost deafening, like listening to a bunch of whales mating with the volume way turned up. If I didn't need my hands to hold the flame thrower I would have clasped them over my ears which I was certain were going to start bleeding at any moment.

Finally the beast seemed to grasp the situation and contorted it's gooey body to avoid the blast by propelling the middle part of it's body off to the side. It looked like someone had taken an ice-cream scoop to it. I adjusted the blast when I saw what it had done but it was too late. For something that looked like the Kool-Aid guy on crack the thing sure could move like lightening. By the time I got it again it had almost reached us.

"Guys," I said continually adjusting my fire. "Now would be a good time to use those things!"

"Right." That was Giles

"Uh huh." That was Willow.

"I knew that." That was the Xand-man.

"You looked like you had it under control." That one was Lia.

"Where's the trigger?" Without a doubt that one was Lyndon.

Soon we were all firing at it. I had the mid section under control. Lia was being vicious and going for it's head, and Xander, Willow and Giles were altering limbs. I could see the black ooze bubbling where our fire was in contact with it. Bubbles were forming and popping all over it and an awful smell was released. It was like sulfur only worse, which was quite a feet cause sulfur really, really smells.

Things continued in this fashion for a few minutes until the beast let loose another one of those cries. Then just like before the beast moved like lightening. The gang had listened to me and stayed behind me and at that moment I was eternally grateful for it. I was closest to the beast and it headed straight for me, not that it had far to go. I re-aimed my thrower when I located it again but it was too late, it was on me by then. Sucking me up into it just like before, ready to suck my brain dry.

"Stop firing," it was hazy but I could tell that it was Willow. She sounded worried, not that that was an unreasonable reaction or anything. After all we all knew what happened last time the beast and I danced together. "Stop or you'll hit her."

I could feel it starting to enter my mind. The outside world was starting to fade away, I could no longer make out words or phrases, only sounds. I tried to move my arm. There was resistance but I could move it slightly. That was fine with me, I only needed to move it slightly. I shifted and tilted the flame thrower up so that the barrel was facing the beasts head. "Please don't blow me up, please don't blow me up, pleasedon'tblowmeup, pleasedon'tblowmeup…" I chanted as I pulled the trigger and let loose and stream of fire.

I could see the beast bubbling again. Even though I was only aiming at one part of it's body it seemed to be traveling all over, migrating from the inside out. The longer I fired for the more violent the bubbling became, but I didn't feel any of the heat that was the sure result of my actions. It was like I was in some sort of shielded pocket for which I was thankful, cause what was happening to it looked like it would suck. Like it would suck a whole lot.

Soon it started to glow orange, and where I was lodged inside of it started to become very hot. Even as I kept the trigger compressed I could feel my skin beginning to burn. The body of the thing started to expand creating a huge goo bubble around my body. It stayed like that for a moment thumping like it was breathing, trying to compress, trying to live, but it was not to be. Within moments the bubble burst spraying bits of goop all over the cavern we were standing in and white circular energy waves were cast out from where the beasts body had been filling the cavern with a hum and a blinding white light.

Then all was quiet again.

"Buffy are you alright?" Willow asked running over to where I had dropped when the tar-man exploded.

"I'm alright Will," I said with a slight smile. "Well-done, but I'll be fine."

"Your arm," she said reaching out but not touching it. "It's all burned."

"Hey, I planned on working on my tan anyway," I responded standing up and giving her hand a squeeze. "It's alright, I've had worse."

"Are you sure you're alright Buffy?" Giles asked concerned.

"Yeah, " Xander piped up. "It looked pretty hot in there. Not that you're not always on fire."

"I'll be fine. But I won't protest to getting the hell out of here," I responded.

"Hey," Lia said flicking a piece of black-brown goop off of her shirt before walking over and picking up the flame thrower I had dropped. "Does anybody else feel like pudding?"


When I was four years old I wanted to be a figure skater. When I was eight years old I wanted to be an astronaut. When I was fourteen I wanted to be an actress/model and be on 90210 and date Jason Priestly. When I was fifteen I wanted to live to see my eighteenth birthday. Now that I'm eighteen I'm praying to make it to twenty-one. It's funny how things can change so dramatically in such a short period of time. You find out you're destined to fight demons from hell and routinely save the world from unspeakable horrors, and your whole life goes to hell.

These were the things I was thinking about when I felt a hand come to rest on my face. Before opening my eyes I knew it was Willow. Not only because Willow was the only one who could get into my room, or because she was the only one, besides my mother, who would dare touch me when I was asleep, I knew it was her because she touched me in a way that was distinctly Will-like. I smiled and opened my eyes.

"Are you feeling better now?" she asked once my eyes were completely open. "I hope you're feeling better, although I doubt that you could be feeling worse, what with the being inside a demon that blew up thing, so you'd have to be feeling better or at least same…better or same," she finished.

"I'm happy as can be...like Robert Downey, Jr. in a crack house," I responded. "Now that I've got my Wiccan wic me that is."

"You're tried," Willow said brushing a stray strand of hair out of my face. "You never would have made a pun like that at full strength."

"Hmmm, maybe your right," I agreed thoughtfully. "Some bed rest should make it all better though," I continued pulling her down onto the bed so that she was lying down beside me.

"Somehow I don't think that what you have in mind is going to be particularly restful," Willow responded smiling. "And you know what? I'm okay with that," she continued before bringing our lips together.

"You know where this would look really good?" I asked her a moment later fingering the material of her shirt. "On the floor," I said answering my own question. She raised her head up above me and looked down at me for a moment. Then she bit her bottom lip and I knew that I had won. She released her lip and smiled then leaned down and brought our lips back together.

* * * * * *

"You are a bad, bad influence Buffy Summers. Bad," Willow said adding the extra bad just in case I had missed the other two.

"What I ask, what did I do?" I said in a voice like that Rooster from Loony Tunes.

"I had come here on a mission of the utmost importance, and then with your cute little smile, and your bar-style pick up lines you seduced me. Mission completely forgotten. Bad, bad, Slayer," she responded.

"I'm sorry, sometimes not even I fully understand the power of my feminine wiles," I said. "Why don't you tell me about the mission now."

"I would if I could but I can't," she responded refusing to make eye contact.

"Why not?" I asked confused.

"I forget what it was."

"You forget?" I asked. She nodded. "You mean you don't remember?…At all?" Another nod. "Can you remember if it was important? Because if it was that means that someone is probably looking for…"

I didn't get a chance to finish that sentence seeing as how the door to my room flung open. It was Lia and her gaze went straight to the bed. Willow pulled the sheet up.

"A little late for modesty don't you think?" Lia asked rhetorically. "We've been looking for you two. Giles has had us searching the entire compound." She paused for a moment then before continuing. "I knew we shouldn't have sent her to get you," she directed that comment to Willow.

"It's not her fault," I said bringing Lia's attention back over to me.

"No, I would imagine not. Takes two to tango and all that," she responded smiling. "Listen, if you two are finished, I assume you're finished since you both have the freshly fucked look…"

"Lia!" I said interrupting her about two syllables too late.

"What?" she asked. "Do I lie?" I didn't responded. "Alright, alright, sorry," she said. "We're meeting back at HQ in like ten minutes, so come on over cause Giles has some news for you," she continued. "By the way, you two really need to find a new a hobby," she said before heading for the door.

"You're just jealous," Willow said speaking for the first time since Lia entered the room.

"You know what, I probably am," Lia responded before continuing towards the door. "Oh, two last things. First, you might want to consider locking the door unless you want people like me to walk in or perhaps watch secretly. Second, clothes are your friends, please put some on. Okay, bye bye now."

With that she went the rest of the way out of the door and closed in behind her.

"Definitely got to remember to lock the door. Definitely," I said once we were alone again.

"Definitely," Willow agreed. "Uh huh."

* * * * * *

Willow and I were the only ones left on the beach. We had all come out there after our meeting for a game of moonlight volley-ball. The news Giles had wanted to give me was that both Johnny and Elizabeth had regained their memories. The doctors were confounded as to how it happened but they were able to tell Giles the approximate time they got their memories back, and he realized that they coincided with the destruction of Swamp Thing. Giles believed that when we destroyed it the ring of light that we saw was the synaptic energy the beast had stolen being released and returned to it's rightful owners.

Now that we were alone I was lying with my head in Willow's lap. We were just watching the waves lap at the shore, taking in our peaceful surroundings. Moments like that were rare in our lives.

Most people when they looked at us, as friends or as lovers it really didn't matter, always assumed that I was strong one. I am Buffy the Vampire Slayer after all, scourge to beasts and nasties everywhere, so assuming that I am the strong one would be logical. It would be logical, but wrong. Willow was really the strongest out of the two of us. She was the one that kept me whole, kept me sane and together through all of the madman stuff that my life consisted. She was my Slayer, the person who kept the doubts and the demons within me from taking over.

"A pair of Prada boots for your thoughts," Willow said breaking the silence.

"New York or Milan?" I asked.

"New York of course," she responded smiling.

"I was just thinking about us," I told her.

"Good thoughts?"

"If they're about you they're always good," I answered. "Do you ever wonder?" I asked her a moment later. "I mean, I guess there's really been no time to think about, let alone talk about it, but how'd it happen?"

"It?" she asked. I realized that I was being vague again.

"My memory," I clarified. "How'd I get my memory back?"

"I don't know," Willow answered. "Like you said there really hasn't bee much time to think about it, but in the little time there has been to think about it I've thought about it, and still don't really know."

"We could always asked Giles," I suggested. "He usually knows stuff and when he doesn't he's nice enough to make things up and buy us ice-cream. Double scoop."

"No!" Willow answered emphatically. "Cause then we'd have to tell him stuff, stuff about what we were doing. Sex stuff," she said her voice dropping to whisper as she said the last part. "That means that he'd know about…stuff, and we'd know that he knew about…stuff…and…yuck!"

"I'm pretty sure he knows how we spend certain hours of our leisure time," I responded. "In fact he's the one who the found the evidence of your vampire impersonation on my neck," I continued watching the myriad of expressions that crossed her face. I was being bad, I wasn't actually going to ask Giles anything. It would have caused him serious mental distress. He was about as interesting in hearing about our sex life as we were in hearing about his. As in, not at all.

"But details Buffy, he doesn't know the details. And they're the most important part. Without the details it's all academic, it's all abstract. But with the details…it's…it's…pay-per-view resolution. We don't want pay-per-view resolution Buffy, we really really don't," she responded finally.

"Alright, no Giles," I agreed.

"Is it really that important to you?" she asked reaching down so that our fingers were intertwined.

I didn't answer right away, instead I titled my head up so that we were looking directly at each other and said, "Come down here."

"You want snuggles from your snuggle bunny?" she asked with that sexy, mischievous grin I loved so much.

"There are two things in life I can never get enough of," I said as she settle down beside me. "Snuggles form my snuggle bunny, and chocolate. Even better, my snuggle bunny covered in chocolate."

"Buffy," she said burying her head in my shoulder. I shouldn't tease her like that, I know it's mean, but she's so cute what she blushes.

"I love you," I told her placing a kiss on the top of her head.

"I love you too," she said lifting her head up to place a soft kiss on my lips.

"I love you more," I responded with a smile.

"No I love you more," she said grinning.

"I love you more than Mr. Pointy and Mr. Gordo rolled up into one," I said touching her check.

"I love you more than Mr. Laptop and Mr. Modem…they're alright one," she responded.

"Really?" I asked. Coming from a hacker that was probably the biggest compliment one could be given.

"Absolutely," she responded placing her head back down on my shoulder.

I tightened the hold I had on her and we lay there together in silence for a few moments.

"You never answered my question you know," Willow said softly.

"And what, I say what would that be?" I asked.

"If it was really important to you to know how you to your memory back?" she explained.

"Well, the question isn't going to plague me until I need to be checked to place with padded walls and high fiber diets, but I'd like to know," I responded. "In this line of work unanswered question have a way of coming back to try and kill you…or maybe torture and taunt you first just for kicks."

"What if maybe I had an idea how it could possibly have happened…hypothetically," she said playing with her fingers nervously.

"Will?" I asked shifting so that I could see her face. "Did you do a Wicca thing?"

"No!" she responded immediately. "Nothing like that, I would never do something like that without asking you first. I promise," she said with absolute conviction. I felt like a big stupid jerk for even asking.

"I didn't mean," I started to explain but she interrupted me.

"It's okay," she said. "It's a Wicca like result and I'm the only one that you know…at least that you know of…and that I know of, except for Amy, but she's still a rat and doesn't count."

"I'm still sorry," I told her.

"It's okay," she said again. She was drawing in the sand with her left hand.

"What is it Will?" I asked. I was starting to get concerned. Willow wasn't usually a vault when it came to sharing information unless she was concerned about something.

"When you and Lia were out playing cops and robbers I did some researching on the net," she said returning her attention to me fully. "I found some information on this thing called a Tarcon that fit the description of our baddie perfectly. I mean if they weren't the same thing, they had to be like first cousins or something. So, the information didn't say how to kill it, but…"

"But?" I prompted.

"It said that the beast didn't really steal memories, it just kind of made a Xerox copies of the enzymes then took that and blocked the pathway which makes it seem like the memories are gone."

"Self-defense, like a porcupine's needles." I said. "If you can't remember what happened to you, you can't tell anyone, and then you can't be hunted. Why are the ugly ones always the smartest?"

"It said that the barrier wasn't concrete, that it could be broken. The reason that it usually wasn't was because with their memories gone the victims were separated from the person who could save them," Willow continued when I had finished.

"Divide and conquer," I muttered.

"Exactly," Willow said. "Only we found you," she said moving closer to me. "It said that the barrier could only be broken by someone who had a bond deep enough with the victim that they were in a sense a part of the victim. Then that in a moment of closeness the two souls would join and the barrier would be broken," she finished softly.

"They'd have to be…"

"Soul-mates," she supplied.

"That means…" I said staring at her in a daze.

"Yeah," she said lowering her gaze. I watched the movement confused.

"Don't you…? I mean, why are you so…? Isn't this a good thing?" I finally managed to ask. "Big source for the happies?"

"I thought that maybe you'd…I thought that maybe you'd feel cornered, like you couldn't get away from me," she responded in a small voice.

"Will, I don't want to get away from you," I told her. "I love you, more than anything, more than life. I could only wish to be cornered with you for the rest of my life."


"Absolutely," I answered. "I'd never give up my snuggle bunny."

"Soul-mates," Willow said again in a breathless whisper as a smile worked it's way across her face.

"I definitely like the sound of that," I said as our lips came together.

When you know nothing you can see everything. All that was once commonplace and old, boring and tired becomes new again, becomes beautiful and miraculous. You see the world as a new and shiny place to be discovered, like a child, but with an adults ability to reason and understand. You comprehend how Columbus felt on that fateful day centuries ago looking around at the majesty of the new world, both alien and familiar.

Even with my memory returned to me, I still found myself looking around at my surrounding with a touch of reverence and awe. Having it all taken away from me had made me appreciate it all the more once it was returned to me. We all have a tendency to take what we have for granted, we start to think of it all as a right, a constant, rather than a precious gift. When everything is taken away from you, you come to realize how truly special what you possess really is, and you cherish it and hold on to it all the more tightly.

Despite all of the terrible pains which have burned and scarred my soul, if I had it all to do over I wouldn't change a thing. I wouldn't change a thing, because I know with absolute certainty that it has all been worth to be able to walk where I walk, which is heaven on earth, hell on earth, and everything in between all rolled into one package.

Undoubtedly, undeniably, I have loved and lost, and loved again. I have fought, and been defeated, and come to stand once more. I have not always been perfect, but I have always tried to do my best. I have made a difference in the lives of the people I cherish most, and people whom I've never meet. I have lived and live still.

I looked down at the expanse of red hair spread across my shoulder and smiled happily. No, I wouldn't change one damn thing. Not one damn thing.

The End

And here we are once again at the end of another tale of the dynamic duo. I hope that you've enjoyed their latest adventure, if so please drop me a line…I'm still not above begging:) Thanks for reading my story, hope you made to the end.

Bye, (for now) Janine jbstories@hotmail.com


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