The Whole Pack
I felt her coming down the hall as I sat in the Papasan in the corned. The room was dark, lit only by candles, with a few bits of herbs thrown in to scent the air. Not the usual air, but what I had in mind for the evening wasn’t usual. Far from it, in fact, I had a damn good chance of loosing my lover, not to mention having the Slayer come down on me like a ton of bricks. It was going to be an interesting night far all of us.
A bold knock on the door announced her presence. I knew who it was even as I crossed over to the door and opened it. Buffy stood, dark and powerful, her presence all the louder as we stood face to face. I suddenly understood the attraction that I suspected, as a slight taste of guilt drifted from her aura, noticeable only to those sensitive enough to catch it. Like I was.
"Hello!" I brightly said as I motioned her inside.
She nodded and looked about as she entered. She stood, hands on her hips, unknowing reacting to the threat in the air. Usually well lit, the room had a different air to it with the lights down. She didn’t quite seem to know what to do. No attackers, no enemies, just an unusual situation, alone with Tara. Her aura screamed unease and her nervousness in my presence only made my suspicions stronger.
"Where’s Willow?" she said, finally turning to me.
I smiled and gave my slight, shy grin and readjusted my bathrobe about me. "She’ll be back in a moment. She just went down to get some coffee."
Her face paled slightly. I put that away for future reference. Coffee? What could possible be wrong with that? Perhaps she’d had more than her fill while she was cro-Buffy. I mentally shrugged. Who knew cavemen didn’t like coffee? It was news to me.
Besides, we’d have a few moments to ourselves. Willow would be gone a while as the coffee machine downstairs was "temporarily" broken. Willow would figure out the spell eventually and "fix" the machine, but not soon enough to save Buffy from telling me the truth.
I sat down back in the Papasan and slowly leaned it back till it touched the wall. I adjusted the robe about my ankles and studied her as she stood in the room, following my movements with her vision. I knew she could see in the dark, her powers being what they were, and I knew she was still wondering about everything.
"Have a seat on the bed." I said. "It won’t bite."
She raised an eyebrow and quietly sat on the bed. She seemed lost and unsure. A first for me. I wondered how many others had seen that part of her. It made her look, well, human for once. A smile touched my lips.
"So," I said with a slight grin "does it feel the same as before?"
"What?" She seemed confused.
"The bed." I sighed. "Does it feel different?"
She hesitated then answered slowly "I’ve never slept over."
"I didn’t ask that." I smiled as the sudden guilt rolled off of her in a thick wave that washed over the room. I was right. Goddess, I didn’t want to be right, I wanted to be wrong.
I wasn’t wrong.
"But you have." I said, tilting my head to the side a little. "Astronomy night. Field trip for Tara. Remember?" I was guessing, but it was the only night that made sense.
Buffy sputtered. "I don’t... What? No."
"What happened?" I said innocently.
"Nothing. We talked, we cried, I slept over." She nodded like she believed the lie. "All platonic." she held her hands up. "No harm, no foul."
I shook my head, all disgust and unhappiness. I looked at her like a parent would when their child lies to them. I could see she wasn’t expecting that from me.
"You really believe that? No harm," I murmured. "No foul? Is that what you call it?"
"How?" She gaped and stared at me. "You shouldn’t, you couldn’t - how do you know? Did Willow tell you?"
I shook my head with a half-feigned sadness. Her unknowing confession was half of what I needed. Willow would supply the other half, and I could feel her returning. Now things would start to get really interesting.
The door clicked open softly as Willow returned. She entered and looked about.
"It’s nice. What’s the occasion?" Willow said as she handed me my coffee.
I grinned. "Thanks, hon. Buffy and I were just..." I trailed off with a look at Buffy.
"Chatting" Buffy stammered. "Girl talk. You know. Bonding."
Willow rolled her eyes as she sat on the bed next to Buffy. "Boys bond. Girls don’t. Something to do with not enough snips. Or is it snails?"
I grinned. She sipped her coffee quietly, ignorant of the panicked looks Buffy was shooting her.
"So," I said as I shifted to get more comfortable on the Papasan, "I was just about to ask Buffy if she was aware you keep saying her name in your dreams."
Willow sputtered and covered her mouth with her hand. Buffy looked as stunned as Willow.
"I just was wondering if it meant anything." I gave Willow a calm look. "Is it platonic?"
Buffy and Willow traded worried looks.
"Don’t look at her." I hissed.
Willow and Buffy both looked at me, alarmed at the tone on my voice.
"Tell me. I know something happened." My eyes bored into Willow.
"But," Buffy sputtered "You said Willow.."
"I didn’t say anything about Willow, you did."
Buffy clenched her fists and growled. Willow slowly got up from the bed and set her coffee down on the nightstand. She started to back away toward the door with an uncertain expression on her face.
"Stop." I said, "You can’t leave. I spelled the door and the room. You can’t leave, scream, or use your power. You’re stuck here." I said firmly. I almost convinced myself it was true. "Now sit down."
Willow meekly sat down on the bed a noticeable distance away from Buffy.
I sighed. "Sit next to Buffy. You don’t have to hide your true feelings anymore."
Willow dropped her eyes to the floor. "It’s not like that."
I ignored her response and growled. "Sit next to Buffy."
Willow didn’t move. I sighed as Buffy slid over to Willow with a worried glance in my direction. I nodded and Buffy closed the gap. I was a bit surprised at this. Willow was usually so strong, why was she breaking down? Was it a play for my benefit? I scowled as I realized that’s what it must be. I had to end the charade.
"Willow!" I snapped.
Her head slowly rose from her chest and she looked at me with red-rimmed eyes. She was actually crying! I almost lost my composure and rushed over to her, so strong were my feelings for her. Buffy saved me by putting her arm around Willow. My eyes narrowed again, all thoughts of comforting my lover forgotten as Buffy reminded me of my goal.
"Why did you do it?" I put on a neutral face even as I simmered within. "Don’t I mean anything to you?"
She snuffled and wiped her nose. "Of course you do."
Buffy spoke up protectively, "It was my fault. I took advantage of her. She’s innocent."
I turned my gaze to Buffy. Something must have shown in my eyes and she flinched.
"Doesn’t it take two?" I asked
Willow nodded. Buffy just looked at me and I could see the anger she uses so well lurking just behind her eyes. She looked like a cat, ready to pounce and I was her mouse. It was time to turn the tables.
"Tell me about it." I softly said.
Buffy jerked as if I’d struck her. Willow’s eyes blinked in confusion as well. I just looked blandly at them, waiting for them to make a sound. Buffy spoke up first, Willow uncharacteristically silent at her side.
"It was a night the week after Riley left." She offered.
I nodded for her to go on. She seemed emboldened by my permissiveness. Then again, she seemed relieved to get it off her chest.
"I came over to talk. I swear I didn’t know you were gone."
Willow snuffled, "She didn’t. It wasn’t something we planned."
"Naturally." I murmured.
Buffy ignored my sarcasm and continued. "I was torn up and came to Willow and you for help. I needed someone to talk to, but you weren’t here. Just Willow."
"So what caused it?"
"Nothing," Willow interjected. "It just happened."
"Really?" I said with a disbelieving look. "I wonder. The way you look at her, I wonder if it really was an accident."
Willow shook her head. Buffy’s eyes narrowed.
"Hey," Buffy said, "There’s no need to be rude. She said it wasn’t planned."
"Oh, I believe her." I looked at Buffy with a withering stare.
Buffy’s brow wrinkled and I could see the anger flare up in her as she responded. "Bull. I wouldn’t do that to you two."
Damn, Buffy was quick to anger. I had to shut her down and fast. I had hoped to throw a bit more guilt into the mix before I made them re-enact the whole thing. Only Buffy wasn’t biting. I’d forgotten she reacted with anger when confronted. I didn’t know if I had time for any more emotional manipulation. Time to switch to phase two.
"Willow. Touch Buffy’s face," I said quickly.
Buffy’s anger drained away and they both paused in shock again.
"What?" Buffy stammered.
Willow just shook her head.
"Willow. Touch Buffy’s face," I said quietly.
Willow shook her head. "No. I – I can’t. I don’t want to hurt you again."
"You did it once."
"I have enough guilt already."
"You dream about her every night. I wouldn’t call that guilt."
She snuffled again and I smiled inside. I had her.
"I want to know what it is about Buffy that caused you to forget about us, to forget about me. I want you to show me," I said, resolve showing in my face.
Willow shook her head and tearfully cupped Buffy’s face. Buffy grew angry again and snapped at me.
"You don’t have to do this!" Buffy spat.
"I do. I have to know. I have to see the why in your aura," I said calmly.
"Stop. Please stop." Willow said quietly. "I am sorry." Her eyes dropped again. "So sorry. Don’t make her do this."
"It doesn’t matter," I said. "Consider this punishment."
Tears leaked from her eyes. She seemed so unhappy, but I knew different. A small fire was being lit in her and her aura told all. An ember, fanned by anger and passion was churning away inside her, slowly driving out the blues and greens of her anguish. She was growing angry enough to try and hurt me. She was also turned on by Buffy’s proximity. It was just what I wanted.
"Run your hand along her chin." I shifted position on the Papasan and rested my chin on my hand.
Willow complied, looking at me fearfully.
"Watch Buffy, not me. It wouldn’t be good if you put her eye out."
Buffy was still glaring at me.
"Buffy, look at Willow. Pretend I’m not here."
"No," she said defiantly. "I won’t. I won’t hurt her again so you can feed your sick fantasies."
Willow jerked back from Buffy. Buffy looked at Willow with surprise.
"What?" Buffy asked, "She’s being a freak.."
Willow placed a finger over Buffy’s mouth and silenced her.
"No. Don’t ever say that," Willow said softly.
"But..." Buffy stammered.
"No. You don’t have the right." Willow stared determinedly into Buffy’s eyes.
Buffy nodded and dropped her gaze from Willow. Willow responded by softly running her hand along Buffy’s face.
"Hey, you just don’t know her as well as I do." Willow whispered, "She’s a beautiful soul, she just needs us to get this out of our system."
Buffy nodded again.
"I know what she’s doing, and she’s right." Willow looked at me, telling me with her eyes that I was doing the right thing.
Buffy turned her face up from her lap and looked at me with an odd look. Revulsion and wonder drifted from her aura at the same time. She knew something was up, but not just what.
"If we don’t do this now, it’ll haunt us for a long time." Willow turned Buffy’s head and kissed her softly, almost reverently.
Buffy responded slowly, but hesitantly, as Willow continued. I watched, fascinated and stunned, as the two slowly tumbled into my, our, bed and began to make love. I was getting what I wanted and I had a sinking feeling I wasn’t going to like it.
I didn’t, not at all.
The next hours were like watching a train wreck for me. The fascination, and the horror, and the hurt, and the sheer eroticism of the whole thing turned my stomach and entranced me at the same time. I didn’t want to watch but I had to show strength. If I left, it would be a sign of weakness, a sign that I didn’t have the gumption to go through with it.
Every sigh and moan twisted my soul and caused pain in my heart, in places that I didn’t know existed. Watching their auras flaring and ebbing, tugging and mingling was an exquisite torture of gargantuan proportions. My own jealousy choked me at times, but I still continued to watch in the end. I had to see the results of my labor.
After a long time, far too long for me, they finished. They were quiet on the bed, still in each other’s arms, as sweaty as I was, but for very different reasons. Slowly they started to move, with Buffy rising and gathering her discarded clothes. She dressed quickly, her aura betraying her feelings with a sickly purple glow. She was vulnerable and I had to reach out now.
"Tomorrow morning," I said, breaking the sudden quiet of the room, "meet us in the Student Union. For breakfast."
She continued dressing and responded spitefully. "Why? Is there something else you want me to do?" There wasn’t much anger behind her lashing tongue, just anguish.
"Yes. I want you to meet me and Willow there at seven," I said firmly. "Don’t forget."
"How could I?" she muttered, every jerk of her dressing a testament to her useless physical strength.
I watched in silence as she finished dressing. She rose and walked out with none of her customary presence. She seemed almost normal, except for being cowed and tired. The door shut quietly behind her and I watched the door for a moment, relishing my victory as her aura faded from my senses.
I could feel Willow watching me from the bed so I turned my gaze slowly from the door to her.
"Happy?" She said.
I got up from the Papasan and rotated the kinks out of my neck and back. Hours of watching with my knees pressed into my breast made me sore. I was also tired of the bathrobe. It was like sitting on a towel for too long, I was sure I had robe burns on my butt.
"No. I hurt." I stretched my arms out and over my head.
"I’m sorry," she said.
"Not your fault," I responded.
She seemed unsure at that.
"I should have picked a more comfortable chair. That one is murder."
She gave a small snort. I caught her eye and gave a small, tired smile. She smiled wearily back and relaxed against the covers, stretching her naked frame out the length of the bed. I raked my eyes over her, relishing the view, and cocked my eyebrow when our eyes met.
"You think you’re forgiven?" I asked, all business.
She nodded quickly and hopefully. I slowly shook my head and sighed. Her face fell and I had to snort in amusement. She looked up at this, uncertain.
"You think this is funny?" she quietly asked.
I nodded. "I thought you knew me," I said as I walked to the edge of the bed.
I slowly pulled the robe apart and let it drop to the floor, revealing my nakedness. Her eyes widened as I crawled under the covers next to her. Her eyes held a look of pleading and I nodded and raised the covers. She scampered under them, grateful and happy. She reached out to hold me and I embraced her gladly.
I ran my fingers through her hair. Her body started to shake and tears poured from her eyes. I held on to her and she clung tightly to me.
"Hey," I said, lifting her tear stained face to mine, "You trying to flood the place out? It’s tough trying to get a new room this late in the year."
She blinked and laughed, a welcome sound. She suddenly grew serious. "I thought you’d turn me away, make me leave."
I smiled at her. "Never. I love you, I couldn’t tear my own heart out like that."
"But I cheated on you."
"Yes, oh god yes." Tears started to leak from her eyes again.
I kissed her eyes in turn and sighed. "No. Not in my book. It’s not like you planned the whole thing. It was an accident. Besides, Buffy’s way too butch for you. I know you wouldn’t chase her."
She sniffed. "Oh no? She’s cute."
I rolled my eyes. "Yeah, she’s blond, that’s all it takes for you I guess."
She slapped my shoulder in indignation "Not fair!" She protested.
I knew I had her back. I pulled her closer and sighed softly in her ear. "You’re forgiven."
"I’m still sorry," she whispered.
"So am I," I whispered back.
She relaxed in my arms and drifted off to sleep. I grinned to myself, content to know there’d be no dreaming of a blond slayer for her and no waking up with an aching heart for me.
Just a stiff neck.
Buffy came to us slowly, surprisingly timid and unsure, as she sat down next to Willow and I in the Student Union. It was a bright morning, with high clouds, almost perfect. A seemingly timeless morning with time enough to put the last pieces together.
I turned to Buffy and sipped my coffee. "How do you feel?"
She gazed back with suspicious eyes. "Ok, I guess." She paused and looked Willow.
Willow gave her a small smile and placed her hand on Buffy’s. Buffy looked panicked for a moment, until I reached out to Buffy’s other hand.
"It’s OK," I said, "there’s no hard feelings here. I know why it happened and it doesn’t matter anymore."
"You’re forgiving me?"
I nodded. "Yes. You weren’t trying to hurt me or Willow. It was just an accident."
"What about last night? What was that about?"
I smiled softly. "How does the thought of making love to Willow strike you? Do you feel good about it?"
She thought a moment then nodded. "Smoking the whole pack. I get it."
I grinned and took my hand from hers and reached to grab an unclaimed cup next to me. I offered it to Buffy.
She nodded and took it gladly. "Anything to keep me moving. I was up all night killing things. I had issues to work out."
I nodded. "Understandable. Cream?"
She shook her head, almost violently. A quick swipe gathered her a half-and-half which she poured in. A quick packet of sugar and she drank it immediatly after stirring.
"I guess being super-strong allows one to drink super-hot stuff as well." I remarked.
"Yup, just one of the many perks." She sighed, satisfied and looked me in the eye.
I smiled. "I can’t stand cream either, it has a funky aftertaste."
She nodded appraisingly. "Looks like we have something in common after all."
"You don’t like cream?" I asked.
"Not really. But what I mean is we both love someone very much, too much at times. But it’s enough that we’ll do things for her we’d never do for ourselves."
I raised my glass in a mock toast. "Indeed."
Buffy raised her in return and we drank.
"Hey! If you’re going to talk about me, then do it when I’m not here!" Willow weakly protested. "Really, I could get a complex or something."
Buffy and I looked from Willow to each other and started laughing. It was a sweet release and I knew I had Buffy back as well. Things would be tense at times, but we’d end up closer than before, united by a common bond: respect and a mutual affection.
The fact that the object of our affection was mine, well, I’d gladly live with that. Forever.