DISCLAIMER: All non-original characters herein belong to persons such as Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy, UPN, WB, etc, etc, etc, rather than me, myself and I. No compensation is received by me, only the pleasure I take in writing it. Copyright © 2006.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: Written for Elisabeth's and Kallie Kat's Which Witch Ficathon. The premise: What if Oz never cheated on Willow? In this story, Buffy slayed Veruca during the first night of the wolf moon and Oz didn't escape his cage.
DEDICATION: This is in memory of Karma, whose very existence enhanced our own.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
SPOILERS: S4: Hush. After that it's AU.

Chances Are
By Susan L. Carr


Part 1


The banging from the hallway startled Willow awake, a small part of her mind chastising herself for drooling on her desk again, the rest of her on alert for danger. Without hesitation, she opened the door to investigate.

Stepping outside the door, she was suddenly bowled over by a larger, but soft body, her ankle twisting painfully under their combined weight. The pain blinded Willow a moment and when her eyes cleared, she found herself being helped up by a vaguely familiar face. She glanced down the corridor to see two of the Gentlemen grinning evilly and a couple of their minions shuffling toward them. She turned and allowed the blonde to lead them to the fire exit.

Desperate to escape, Willow tried to ignore the pain shooting up her leg and leaning heavily on the other girl as she hopped down the stairs. The urgency emanating off of her companion prompted her to ignore the sharp pain as they reached the basement and crashed through the doors of the laundry room with the demons hot on their heels.

The two women slammed the door and flipped the lock only moments before the minions caught up with them. Willow looked around and hobbled to the soda machine with the other girl close on her heels. They tried to move the machine, but pain shot up Willow's leg and she collapsed on the floor clutching her ankle. From the way the door was shaking Willow knew it would only be a few moments before the latch gave and both her and the girl would be unwilling heart donors – without the anesthesia.

You can do this, Rosenberg, she thought. Just like a pencil, only big…and rectangular…and metal. Concentrate!

With all her effort, she focused her mind on moving the heavy machine, but it only twitched a bit. Disappointed, Willow slumped back against the washing machine. She tried to control her panic by breathing deeply when she felt a tentative touch on her hand from her almost-forgotten companion. She glanced down as the girl intertwined their fingers and then up to look into incredibly blue eyes.

Magic…and power, she thought in ecstasy as she felt the girl's energy begin to combine with her own, building to a crescendo. As one, the two girls unleashed the power at the machine which crashed against the shaking door. A moment later the pounding stopped.

Breathing heavily – this time from excitement rather than fear – Willow looked back at the other girl. She's from the Wicca group, she suddenly remembered. What was her name again?

Tara Maclay, Willow heard in her mind and she dropped the girl's hand in astonishment.

Sorry, Tara mouthed blushing furiously. She motioned to their hands and Willow nodded, understanding it was the magical connection they'd just shared which allowed the thought transference.

The blonde stood up awkwardly and began rummaging through the lost laundry pile in a corner. She returned with a long crew sock and began tending to Willow's injury, keeping her head down.

Willow watched as the girl gently bound her ankle with the makeshift bandage. Her movements were sure as she completed the first aid, but Willow noticed she kept her face hidden with her long hair. To her surprise, Willow wanted to push the hair back so she could get a better look at Tara's face.

Finally, the blonde finished and with a sigh sat back against the washing machine, this time – to Willow's disappointment – with more distance between them.

"That should hold you for a bit, b-but you better get some ice on it before it swells up more," Tara said and then her eyes widened as she realized she had spoken aloud.

Willow laughed at Tara's surprised expression and then gave her a wide smile. "Thanks for the help, it's just a sprain…I've had worse."

Tara smiled in return, but then she frowned. "I'm sorry about knocking you over, I'm not c-c-coord…well, I'm kinda clumsy."

"Hey, I totally get it," Willow said. "Besides…running from demons…best strategy in my book."

Tara glanced down at the floor. "Do…do you think it's safe to go? You really should get ice on that ankle."

Willow nodded and grabbed the top of the washer. Tara quickly moved to help her stand and the two girls stopped as they turned to the door to find it still blocked by the heavy machine.

"Think we can do it again?" Willow asked.

Tara nodded. "Just like before," she said and shyly held out her hand.

Willow eagerly took it and as before exhilarated at the feeling of Tara's essence flowing through her body. With barely a thought the vending machine slid away from the door. Willow gave Tara a sly grin and with a thought unlatched the door and opened it.

Show off, Tara thought and Willow felt the other girl's amusement through the link. Then she reluctantly let go of Tara's hand and allowed the girl to help her up the stairs.

Willow heard Buffy enter the dorm room later that night. The Slayer tried to be quiet, but with a clatter dropped her crossbow on top of the weapons pile in the chest.

"Sorry…" Buffy whispered.

"It's okay," Willow mumbled, turning over and facing her friend even though she couldn't see much through the darkness. "Do you need some light?"

"Nah, I'm good," Buffy said and began to strip.

"So, the baddies all go boom?" Willow asked.

"Totally boom," Buffy said. "Really gross in fact. But the Gentlemen won't be bothering us again."

"Slayer Saves Sunnydale…Again. News at Eleven," Willow quipped and yawned. "Good job, Buff."

"Thanks," Buffy replied as she donned her robe. "I'm gonna hit the shower. Night Will."

"Night," Willow turned over and again tried to fall asleep, but her thoughts were on the evening's adventures. Not on the Gentlemen…she had known the moment their voices returned that Buffy had taken care of them and they were no longer a threat. Instead, her thoughts focused on the blonde witch she had shared the adventure with. Tara Maclay her mind whispered and she remembered how it resonated when Tara herself had projected the thought into her head. There was something about the woman that drew Willow. Must be the magic, she thought. I wonder if she'll want to practice spells with me. She is a part of that stupid Wicca group, but maybe she was just there looking for someone…like me.

By the time Buffy returned from her shower, Willow was fast asleep, content with the knowledge that she'd be meeting the intriguing witch the following day.

Willow smiled at the compliment from the other witch. She was elated. Tara was a real witch and had been practicing for forever and she did seem to be looking for someone to partner with.

"I don't think I'm that special," Willow replied. "But I did stay in Sunnydale hoping to meet other witches. I knew two in high school. One ran off to Seattle and the other…well, she has some rat issues."

"Rat issues?"

"Long story," Willow said. "I'll tell you later."

"O-okay," Tara replied and looked down shyly again. "I…I came to Sunnydale to find other witches to practice with, too. But with the Hellmouth here, m-most of them are on the dark side and that's not a path I want to travel on."

"You know about the Hellmouth?" Willow asked excitedly. "And you know about vampires and demons and all that?"

Tara nodded. "Of course," she said. "It's one of the reasons w-why I came here. My mother told me about it and before she died she said I should come here."

"If your mother knew about Sunnydale, I'm surprised she didn't tell you to run the other way."

Tara chuckled. "Evil exists everywhere," Tara said. "But my mother was…well, I guess you'd call her a seer. She said my destiny was here and I should come as soon as I was able."

"Wow," Willow said and thought a moment. "You know, I kinda feel that way too…like I'm supposed to be here. I mean, sure I was born and raised here, but when I had the opportunity to leave I decided to stay. I knew that I had to stay and fight on the side of good."

"With the S-s-slayer," Tara stuttered.

"You know about her too," Willow exclaimed.

"I've been in Sunnydale over a year now; it's hard not to know who Buffy Summers is. When I looked you up in the directory and saw who you roomed with, I knew you could probably help."

Willow sat in thought gazing at the other girl. Tara blushed under the look and looked away uncomfortably. She's so pretty, Willow thought. And she's so shy just like I was before Buffy and I don't think she even realizes how pretty she is. And she knows about Buffy and vampires and wants to help fight evil. With that thought she came to a decision.

"Tara," Willow said and waited until the girl looked up. "I'm glad we met and if it's okay, I'd like…well, I'd like us to be friends and maybe even more than friends."

Tara looked stunned. "M-more?"

"Yeah, I'd like to learn more about magic from you. Last night, I felt a strong connection when we touched and I think you felt it too. So…whaddya say? Want to be witchy buddies?"

Willow was confused for a moment as a brief look of disappointment passed over Tara's face, but then the classic features broke into a smile so bright Willow thought she must have imagined it. "I'd love to practice with you, Willow."

"Great," Willow said and then bit her lip as she thought a moment. "Um, where do you live? Do you have a roommate?"

Tara shook her head. "No, I took summer classes so I secured a single room which I refused to give up when the fall semester started." She tore off a piece of paper from her notebook and jotted some numbers. "Here's where I live and my phone number."

Willow glanced at the paper and then crumpled it up. Tara frowned in consternation and Willow grinned sheepishly. "Photographic memory," she said with a pink blush on her cheeks.

Tara smiled brightly. "Knew you were special," she said and then glanced at her watch. "Gotta run to class…c-call me if you want to get together, okay?"

Willow nodded and smiled as she watched Tara head off. Her head tilted in appreciation as she watched the movement of Tara's voluptuous behind in the worn, but obviously comfortable jeans. Not a twig like Buffy, she thought. Nice to see a woman who looks good with curves in all the right places.

She picked up her books and was heading to her class when she realized she had just been ogling her new friend. Oh gods! I'm channeling my vampire self again! Except I don't think it's her blood I want to suck. Willow pushed the thought from her mind and nearly ran from the building.


Part 2


Willow was studying for her physics test and contemplating heading to the after hours café for a sandwich and mocha when the phone rang.

"Hello, Willow and Buffy's residence," she answered brightly.

"Hey Will," her boyfriend said.

"Hi Oz," she replied. "What's up?"

"The guys and I got a call from Shy's manager…you remember, that band with the werewolf? They haven't found a replacement lead singer yet so they had to cancel their gig in Los Angeles for tomorrow night. They were going to open for Blue October and the promoter agreed to let us fill in."

"Oh Oz!" Willow exclaimed. "That's wonderful! When do you leave?"

"Pretty much now," he said. "We need to get set up and learn a few new chords to cover for Shy's originals. I'm sorry about our date tomorrow. Do you wanna come to the show? I can spring for a bus ticket and a taxi to the venue if you want."

Willow thought a moment and an image of a glowing face with high cheekbones crossed her mind. "No, save your money. I'd like to…really, but I've got a paper due Monday…and so do you, Mister!" The last part was said sternly.

"I know…and I promise I'll work on it between sets," he said. "Thanks for emailing me the research."

"You're welcome," Willow said. "But you owe me."

Oz chuckled. "I promise I'll make it up to you in the best way possible."

"Oh yeah? How?" Willow said in a flirtatious voice.

"Well, remember that thing I did the last time you stayed over?"

"Oz!" Willow giggled, blushing.

He continued, "I've got some new ideas for places I haven't tried yet."

"Bad boy," she laughed. "Give the guys my love and go break a leg in L.A., okay?"

"Okay, baby," he said. "Love you."

"Me too," she said and hung up the phone. She glanced at her physics text a moment, but then turned and headed for the café.

Willow hit the coffee stand before ordering a grilled cheese from the short order cook. She paid using her student debit card and looked around for a seat. A pretty blonde sitting with a group of young women caught her eye and her heart thumped when she recognized Tara. She stood there undecided if she should just approach the group. Tara, as if sensing her presence, turned around and immediately saw Willow, a big grin breaking over her face. Tara waved her over and pulled an empty seat close to her.

Willow sat and shyly looked around the table as Tara introduced the other women.

"Sophina, S-stefanie, Mia and P-paula," Tara said pointing out each woman in turn. "Guys, this is W-w-willow, f-from the W-wiccan group."

There were a smattering of 'heys' and 'how ya doings' and 'wassups' as Willow busied herself sugaring her mocha. Of the group, Sophina was the most 'feminine' in her dress, makeup and hairstyle, but Willow noted that even with her clunky boots and heavy skirt Tara was far prettier than any of the girls. The one named Stefanie had short-cropped hair, but wore a size-too-small T-shirt that showed off her bountiful bosom and she sported a caduceus tattoo on her inside forearm. Paula, a short Hispanic girl with black hair, sat quietly and sipped her soft drink, but the eldest of the group – Mia, tall and lanky with long hair – eyed Willow with a look combining curiosity and appraisal.

Willow searched her brain for something they might have in common and then she flashed on Tara's introduction. After she took a sip of her mocha, she asked the group, "Are you all Wiccan?"

The one called Stefanie chuckled. "Just Paula…and Tara of course. The rest of us are active in another group on campus."

"Oh yeah, which one?" Willow asked. Out of the corner of her eye, she noticed Tara blushing again and with a passing thought noted how adorable she looked.

Mia seemed about to answer when Sophina elbowed her and pointed her chin at Tara and widened her eyes in warning. Mia glanced at the blonde and took a long look at Willow. As if coming to a decision, she shrugged. "I've got to get to the library…see ya gals later. Put more flyers out if you need to. Nice meeting you, Willow." She stood up and with a wave left. The other girls, except for Tara, all stood a moment later and with a round of 'see yas' and 'laters' and 'ta-tas' they left, leaving the two girls alone at the table.

Willow looked confused. "Okay, what'd I miss?"

Tara gave a half-smile, half-smirk that caused Willow's stomach to flip-flop. "The girls were checking you out on my behalf…before you came in, I was telling them I met someone."

Willow was pleased that Tara's friends cared enough to appraise Tara's potential friends – or mates, her mind chipped in – and also that they found her acceptable enough to leave Tara alone with her.

"So how'd I do?" she asked Tara with a grin.

"Pretty good so far," Tara said. "Mia's tough…if she didn't like you, she would s-say so."

Willow asked, "So did you meet them at that mysterious group?"

Tara's face turned pink again. "I met Sophina in my Freshman English class last year. She encouraged me to join the group. I figured why not? Part of the whole college experience is exploring who you are."

Willow face brightened as several clues and her own wishful hopes finally came together. She said knowingly, "Ah…you all belong to the Lesbian Alliance."

Tara nodded. "It's kinda fun, not all serious like the Wiccan group. At least the dances are a b-blast." She pulled a flyer out her pack and slid it over for Willow to look at. It was an announcement for a Meet & Greet event taking place the following night. "And no-one b-brings an empowering Bundt cake."

Willow burst out laughing at the joke. Tara smiled serenely as if happy at giving Willow joy.

Finally Willow stopped laughing and took a bite of her sandwich. "I haven't joined any groups yet, except the Wiccans…too busy fighting evil in between classes and study sessions," Willow explained. "And to be honest, I don't think I'll be going back to the Wanna Blessed-Bes."

"Me either," Tara chuckled at Willow's jibe. "I just stuck around hoping to find someone to practice with." She blushed again.

"And now you have!" Willow said brightly. Then she fingered the flyer thoughtfully. "Uh Tara…do you, um…are you going?"

"To the dance?" Tara said. "Yeah, I was planning to hang w-with the girls."

Willow bit her lip. "I kinda meant…um, are you going to the dance with anyone?"

"Willow, do you want to know i-if I have a girlfriend?" Tara smiled.

It was Willow's turn to blush. She looked into Tara's enchanting blue eyes and took a deep breath. "I want to know if you want to go to the dance with me, but I'm afraid of stepping on any toes, ya know?"

Tara's smile seemed to light up the room. "It's okay, Willow…I don't have a girlfriend and yes, I'd love to go to the dance with you."

Willow beamed. "That's great…wow, cool."

After asking Tara out, Willow's boldness fled and she changed to a more comfortable subject. The two girls chatted about different magical texts they had read while Willow finished her sandwich. Then realizing how late it was getting, Willow offered to walk Tara home. The evening was warm and pleasant and strangely free of creatures of the night. Outside Tara's door, Willow hesitated while Tara unlocked it. After she swung the door open, the blonde turned to Willow.

"Did you want to c-come in?" she asked. "Maybe for a soda or something?"

Willow's stomach did flip-flops again at the thought of or something. She smiled and shook her head. "I'd love to, but I've got some more studying to do."

"I understand," Tara said.

"But…tomorrow night, right?" Willow asked hopefully.

"Yes," Tara answered with a smile. "Shall we meet there or…?"

"I'll pick you up around seven, if that's okay?"

"More than," Tara answered. "I'll be looking f-forward to it all day."

"Me too," Willow said. She reached out a hand and ran it softly down Tara's arm and gave her hand a light squeeze before letting go. "Night, Tara."

"Good night, Willow," Tara said and waited until Willow turned the corner before closing her door.

Willow positively skipped back to Stevenson Hall, her hand still tingling from Tara's touch and bounced into her room. Buffy was sitting at her desk and studying for a change. The Slayer watched in amusement as Willow threw herself down on her bed and squeezed her stuffed teddy bear in happiness.

"Hey Willow," Buffy said with a laugh. "Good night?"

"The best," Willow sighed with joy.

"Special date with Oz?" Buffy asked.

Willow sat up and froze as she looked at her roommate in horror. "Oh god, Oz! I totally forgot all about him!"

Buffy stood up in alarm, immediately on Slayer alert. "What's wrong? He okay?"

Willow nodded numbly and whispered. "Yeah, he's with the Dingoes in L.A."

Buffy looked at Willow in confusion and asked, "Is everything all right?"

Willow nodded. "Yeah, I just forgot I was supposed to email him some research."

"Ah, okay then," Buffy said and then returned to her books.

For once Willow was glad her roommate leaned toward the self-absorbed side. She didn't have any idea how'd she explain to the Slayer about Tara. As the image of the blonde formed in her head, Willow felt her heart race. I've got a date with the prettiest girl in Sunnydale! she thought happily. Then her stomach churned in fear. I've also got a boyfriend. Can this get anymore complicated?

Jumping off the bed, Willow headed for the shower, her thoughts a mass of confusion.

What am I gonna do?


Part 3


After waking up, Willow tried to study, but couldn't concentrate. She downed three mochas one after the other, and spent the next two hours flinging clothes around the room, trying to figure out what to wear to the dance. Then she put them all away again.

What am I thinking? I can't go out with Tara. I'm in a relationship with someone else. A monogamous relationship! That kinda means no dating other people. I'm gonna call her and cancel.

As she hung up a khaki colored pair of slacks, she wondered idly if Tara would like her in them. She looked at it a moment and tossed it on her bed and began to rummage through her closet to find a blouse to match the pants. She started pulling clothes out of the closet again.

I wonder what Tara's gonna wear? Whatever it is, I'm sure she'll be gorgeous in it.

By midmorning, Willow was a wreck and needed to talk to someone. Buffy was off who knew where and that only left her other best friend. She hesitated because of his involvement in the last time she strayed, but she knew he would understand more than Buffy.

Throwing on the jeans she wore the night before and a peasant blouse, she made her way over to Xander's. She found him reading a comic book in bed.

"No one answered the door so I used my key," she explained after she greeted him. She took a seat on the arm of his pull-out bed. "Spike was lying on the couch watching television. He barely grunted a hello."

"That's Mr. Personality for ya," he said with a grimace. The sound of the television filtered through the floor.

"Where are the folks?" she asked.

"Sleeping off a righteous hangover, I imagine…although how they could sleep through that racket I have no idea," he answered. "I finally gave in and paid my rent so of course it was spent at the liquor store rather than on basement improvements as promised."

"I'm sorry, Xander," Willow said with a pout.

"Don't worry about it," he shrugged. "I don't. So…what brings you the dark and dank?

Willow frowned. "Things are a little weird right now and it's not something I wanna talk to Buffy about. I thought maybe a translator from the 'Y' side of things would be more helpful."

"You're in luck, then," he replied. "I fit the bill. Hit me."

Willow bit her lip. "Well what if a couple is in a relationship…"

"What kind of relationship?" he teased.

She blushed. "You know…an intimate relationship."

"Will, if you're doin' it, ya oughta say it."

"They're lovers," she said, her face turning even redder. He just smiled gently and indicated for her to continue. "And say that one of them is noticing someone else – another woman."

"And is this chick noticing back?"

Willow nodded. "Most definitely," she said. A flash of happiness came and went so fast, Xander never noticed. "And say that one of them…kinda sorta made a date with her for tonight."

"Will, I've deciphered your code," he held up a hand to stop her from continuing. "I'm sorry, Willow…how did you find out that Oz is dating someone else?"

Willow looked at her friend, a guilty look on her face. "It's…it's not Oz."

Xander blinked. And then he blinked again. "You met someone else?"

"I didn't mean to," Willow said with a pained expression. "She literally knocked me off my feet."

"Yeah, you said she was a she," he nodded.

"You're not freaked?" Willow asked with a worried look.

"Willow, you're my oldest and bestest bud," he said. "I'm not freaked…I mean, after we met vampire you I kind of suspected that you might also like girls, and sometimes I noticed you checking out the same girls I was checking out."

"Yeah," Willow admitted. "That's when I started thinking about the Sapphic side of things myself. Vamp me was a real eye-opener, wasn't she? Who could ever have imagined I'd be that skanky?"

"And totally hot in leather, I might add" Xander laughed, but then sobered. "But I'm just surprised that you'd cheat on Oz again."

"I haven't cheated on Oz," Willow defended.

"Willow, you've got a date with someone else…that's heading in the direction of Cheatsville," Xander pointed out. "And what kind of girl is she anyway, going out with someone already in a relationship?"

Willow's cheeks burned hotly and she simply hung her head instead of answering

"Oh Willow," Xander said. "So you've got a date tonight with someone who thinks you're kinda gay and that you're single?"

Willow nodded. Xander sighed and lifted her chin with a finger and asked softly, "What's her name, Will?"

"Tara," she said the name almost reverently. "She's so sweet and nice and kinda shy and a goddess, and she's so beautiful! I met her at that stupid Wicca group, but she's a real witch like me and she saved me from the Gentlemen the other night and I just felt an instant connection with her and she said her mother told her that her destiny is here and that's why she came to Sunnydale even though she knows about slayers and vampires and the Hellmouth and…"

"Will!" Xander interrupted. "Calm down and breathe." Willow took a breath and he continued. "You really like this girl, huh?"

Willow smiled. "Yeah, I do. I can't explain it, but the moment she touched my hand and we cast the spell together that saved us from the Gentlemen, it was like…"


Willow looked at her best friend and whispered, "Like I touched the other half of my soul."

"And this is just not another fluke"

"I don't think so," she said. "But what do I know? Not like I'm all experienced when it comes to girls. But…I think she likes me, too."

"And now for the big question…what about Oz?"

"I don't know," she admitted. "He's in L.A. with the guys."

"Conveniently out of town," he noted. "Have you guys been having problems – going from high school to college changes people and they start to drift apart. And what about, ya know, in the bedroom? Things okay there? Not that I'm looking details…well, maybe a few details."

Willow rolled her eyes. "No problems, but…" She paused a moment. "Things have been good, but…"

"That's the second time you've butted, Will. What's going on?"

Willow again paused. She had known Xander all her life – they had learned about life together, everything from how to tie their shoes to the birds and the bees. Add to that he was currently sleeping with an ex-demon obsessed with sex. He probably could give her some advice.

"We haven't been seeing as much as we were before…we've both got heavy schedules and most of his almost non-existent free time he spends with the band. And his habit of skipping class to practice with the guys really worries me…I'm afraid it's like his senior year all over again, but flunking out of the university is not like being left back in high school," she bit her lip as if to illustrate her worry.

"And the other?"

She blushed again. "Things were really good at first, but with all the precautions we have to take because of his wolfiness, it kinda takes the spontaneity out of things," Willow said. "It's hard, ya know…to feel really close to someone with so many layers of protection between you."

Xander nodded in understanding. "But you guys manage, right? I mean you…"

"Oh yeah," Willow assured. "Oz makes me happy and I love him, but – I don't know…I guess I expected more passion. I always feel like Oz is holding back somehow…that he's afraid if he lets go his animal side will come out and hurt me. He's always gentle and caring, but sometimes…"

"Sometimes a girl wants to get a little wild," he finished. "Believe me Will, I understand."

Willow grinned. "I knew you would."

"So what are you gonna do?"

"I'll go out with Tara tonight and see how it goes," she said with determination.

"You have to tell her about Oz," he urged.

"I will," Willow said. "Eventually. I just want to see what it's like spending some romantic time with a girl…at least once and with Oz out of town, it's perfect timing." Xander looked at her until she started squirming uncomfortably until she said almost angrily. "Don't look at me in that tone of voice, Xander Harris. I'm not out to hurt anyone."

"No matter what, Willow, you will hurt someone," he said. "We didn't set out to hurt anyone during the fluke, but we did. Didn't you learn anything from that?"

"Well, it's not like you've learned anything from your demon magnet past," she retorted. "I mean, do you feel anything for Anya or is she just a convenient bed partner? Won't that end up hurting her in the end?"

"Let's leave Anya and I out of this," he said, jumping off the bed as if to put distance between them. "This is about you two-timing one of my best friends and, from what you said, someone who sounds like a really nice girl and who has no idea what she's getting into."

Willow also rolled off the bed and headed for the stairs. "I came here for your advice, Xander – not your judgment. I thought maybe you would understand, but I guess I was wrong."

"Wait…" he called, but Willow had already disappeared up the stairs. "Oh damn."

By the time Willow reached her dormitory hall, she had calmed down. Once in her room, she reached for her phone and dialed Xander. To her disappointment, his answering machine picked up.

"Hi Xander," she said into the phone and paused. "I'm really sorry. I was totally off base. You're right and I will tell Tara, I promise. I just…I just want this one chance to see what it's like, ya know. I mean, am I just kinda gay or all the way gay? And I don't mean I have to sleep with her to find that out, I think I'll just know if I spend some time with her. I'll call you tomorrow and please…don't mention any of this to Anya. I know you have feelings for her and I'm sorry for what I said, but she does have a tendency to blab and no matter what happens, I'm just not ready to…'come out'…I guess. Anyway, I'll talk to you later."

Willow hung up the phone and looked at the mess of clothes still lying on her bed. On top of the pile was a note.


What's with the scatter? Not like you, O Organized Friend-of-Mine.

Out with Ri tonight, then patrol. Back late, don't worry.


At least she didn't have to worry about Buffy tonight, Willow thought. She glanced at the clock and grabbed her robe and headed for the showers to start getting ready for her date.


Part 4


Willow nervously checked her appearance in the mirror for the last time. She had finally decided on dark slacks with a pair of low-heeled shoes comfortable for dancing in and a bright green tank top with a darker green wraparound over it, allowing for freedom of movement. She had kept her makeup to a minimum and wore only some amber fragrance and a simple necklace.

After checking her hair, Willow looked into her eyes and froze.

"What are you doing?" she asked. "This is crazy."

She headed for the phone, but as she touched the handset she shook her head and paused.

"Who you gonna call?" she asked aloud.

Tara Maclay, a warm voice replayed in her mind. Willow remembered the feel of Tara inside her mind. It made her wonder how Tara would feel inside her body.

"Oh goddess," she moaned, the fantasy sending jolts of arousal through her body. She shook her head and grabbed her coat off the bed, consciously not looking at the Dingoes poster pinned to the wall.

Willow walked up the steps to Tara's dorm, the butterflies in her stomach turning back into caterpillars, nauseating her even more. She paused at the door and was rudely bumped aside by a muscular guy in an athletic jacket. She sent a scolding frown in the jock's direction, but he ignored her.

"Jerk!" she called.

"Nerd!" the guy tossed back over his shoulder and that's when she belatedly recognized the guy she had to tutor in high school.

A wave of depression washed over her. She was a nerd so why would someone as special as Tara want to go out with her? After her conversation-cum-argument with Xander today she'd realized some things she had been ignoring. She and Oz were growing apart. In high school, they had a lot in common, but even in a small university, they were starting to lose each other. Her interest in magic and his interest in music were at two opposite ends of the spectrum and while couples with different interests could maintain healthy relationships, their common bond – school – was a source of contention between them. Willow was, and always had been, driven to academic success; Oz treated school as a way station to his musical career. However, Willow knew that while he was good, success was a fickle lover in the music industry. Even if he made it, he could become a has-been in a flash and without an education to fall back on, Oz could find himself on hard times.

And as for their sex life, it seemed like it too was starting to fizzle out. They hadn't made love for weeks now. Between Oz's practice sessions and classes and her Wiccan group meetings and Scooby stuff, they hadn't had time to hook up. And Willow didn't like sleeping over at the house Oz shared with his band mates…with the exception of Oz's room, the place was none-too-clean and noisy with odd folks coming in and out at all hours – definitely not conducive to study or sleep or romance. Except for class, they rarely saw each other.

And lately, Oz was avoiding the Scooby meetings and patrols. The demons in town were all wary of the commando group and while Oz was human most of the time, he did turn into a demon three nights a month and common sense told him that any group who could shove a behavior-modification chip in William the Bloody's skull was best avoided. So he kept himself scarce and while they missed him, the Slayer and her Scoobies understood.

Willow noted that Oz did try to make up for his absence in different ways. He called her often and left her cute emails. He flirted with her, loving it when she blushed and he was caring and attentive when they were together.

So Willow had no reason to question her relationship with Oz, content that they could continue as they had and together make it over the rough patch. And while she had privately recognized her attraction to girls for what it meant a long time ago, she had never had any urge to act on that attraction – until now.

"Willow?" a familiar voice asked.

Willow looked up to see the door swinging behind Tara as the blonde walked toward her. "Oh, hey," she said.

"Are you okay?"

"Yeah, I'm fine," she answered, feeling lame, but noting how Tara's appearance was causing her heart to race. Tara had on a long-sleeved tie-dyed Henley and dark cargo pants along with her cute clunky boots. "Well, a little chilly, but good for me I wore my coat."

Tara frowned. "I saw you come up the walk from my window, but when you didn't knock I became worried."

"Oh," Willow said and bit her lip in chagrin. "Sorry."

"Come here," Tara said and gently pulled Willow away from the swinging door and passing students. "What's wrong? You're all scattered."

"You can sense emotions?" Willow asked.

"Just y-yours," Tara replied and looked down at their joined hands. "Can't you?"

Willow concentrated a moment and felt it. A low hum-buzz from Tara that she recognized from their earlier encounter in the laundry room. Through the connection, she could feel happiness, anticipation and stronger, worry.

"Yeah, I can," she said. "Wow."

"Are you okay?" Tara asked again.

"I'm fine," Willow said, realizing that all of her earlier worries were moot now that Tara was here. Then she remembered. "Percy called me a nerd!"


"Some jerk jock I tutored in high school," she replied.

"You're n-not a nerd, Willow," Tara said.

"Darn tootin'," she said with an emphatic nod. "At least…not anymore."

Tara added, "And someone named Percy s-should not be calling anyone a nerd."

They stood looking at each other for a moment, Willow entranced by how Tara's eyes glowed from the sodium-arc lights illuminating the sidewalk. Finally, she asked, "Ready to go?"

Tara nodded, then pointed back toward the door. "I just need to get my coat…it is a bit chilly. Wait here?"

Willow nodded and watched Tara rush away. She put her hands in the pockets of her coat and bounced on her feet in anticipation.

The dance was held in a large community room in Turner Hall. A table was set outside the open double doors. Willow recognized the girl who took her cash and gave back change and two tickets.

"That'll get you a free soft drink inside. After that they're fifty cents a can," Paula told Willow. "No booze…grrr."

"Thanks," Willow said. The two girls turned and as they went through the doors, Willow handed Tara her ticket. "Did she just growl at me?" she whispered to her companion.

Tara giggled and nodded. "She always does that, but only with people she likes. So consider yourself special."

The community room reminded Willow of the Bronze on a weekend night, and with the exception of a small group of guys hanging out near the DJ, the crowd consisted of women of every age, type and style.

"Wow!" Willow exclaimed. "I didn't realize there were so many…" She paused as she realized she was about to put her foot in her mouth.

Tara smirked. "Lesbians in Sunnydale?" she concluded.

"Yeah," Willow blushed but smiled at Tara. "But I didn't think the Lesbian Alliance had so many members."

"Not everyone here belongs to the group," Tara explained. "Many p-people come just to dance. A lot belong to the Gay/Straight Alliance, and those boys over there are in the Gay Men's Chorus. They also sponsored the event."

"I heard them sing at Freshman Orientation…they're good," Willow said. "But shouldn't there be more of them?"

Tara nodded. "M-most of the guys prefer to go to the club in t-town. You know – The R-red Oyster? They like it more private."

"Yeah, I've heard of that place," Willow said. It was the only gay bar in Sunnydale and the most popular after the Bronze. The gang had patrolled near it during the summer of the missing Slayer. "More private?" Willow asked, scrunching her face in confusion. She had assumed it was just like the Bronze – only gayer.

"You've never been there?" Tara asked.

"Me!" Willow squeaked. "No…you?"

Tara shook her head. "Too s-shy to go," she said. "But Stefanie told me that it has p-private rooms in the back. Not many w-women use them, but the boys do. That's how it got its n-nickname."


"The B-big O," Tara said and blushed sweetly.

Willow giggled along with Tara and thought she had never seen anyone look more adorable. Feeling bold she said, "Then maybe we'll go there someday soon."

Tara's blush deepened, but she smiled and nodded. "I'd…I'd like t-that," she finally said.

Willow smiled back and as they headed for the drink table to get their free cans of pop, Willow congratulated herself for successfully flirting with Tara. When they moved over to sit at a table to take a drink, Mia came over to greet them.

"Hey girls," she said. "Having fun?"

"We j-just got h-here," Tara said.

"But I'd say from the crowd, it's a roaring success," Willow put in.

"Yeah, things are a-hoppin'," the tall woman said looking around. Then she looked back at them and Willow again got the feeling she was being appraised. Finally, Mia nodded and said. "Tara, don't worry about your shift for the ticket table, I'll get Stef to take care of it."

Tara looked surprised. "A-are you s-sure?"

"Yeah…you just have a good time," Mia said and smiled. "Later!"

Willow watched as Mia walked away. Then she turned to Tara and said, "I didn't know you had to work tonight."

"Just volunteered to spend an hour at the table," Tara said. "I didn't t-think you'd mind."

"Of course not," Willow said and then thought of something. "Tara, can I ask you something?"

Tara paused a moment and then simply nodded.

"I noticed you seem to…" Willow paused and then continued. "You seem to stutter more when other folks are around. Why is that?"

Tara was silent for a long moment and Willow was afraid she had insulted her friend. "I'm sorry," Willow hastily interjected. "I really like your stutter and it's really cute and I'm really sorry."

Tara smiled. "You think it's c-cute?" she asked.

Willow nodded. "Uh, yeah?" she said. "Kinda dorky, I know, but it's just…you know, cute."

"Thank you," Tara said. "I stutter when I'm nervous," she admitted. "And I get nervous around people, but I'm not as n-nervous around you."

Willow's chest filled with happiness. "Wow," she whispered. "That's great. I mean, I'm comfortable around you, too."

"Good," Tara said. "Because, I think you're c-cute, too."

Willow looked into Tara's wonderful eyes and she opened her mouth to say something, but for a moment was at a loss for words. Finally she asked, "Wanna dance?"

Tara nodded and took Willow's hand as they walked toward the dance floor. Willow marveled at the tingles running up her arm and down to her…

Oh boy, Rosenberg, she thought. You've got it bad!


Part 5


They held hands as they danced. Sometimes just one pair of hands joined to form the pivot around which they happily twirled. Other times, both sets of hands clasped together as if in an unconscious desire to bring the rest of their extremities into play. The music filled Willow's ears and echoed the pounding in her heart. The low hum-buzz coming from the magnificent woman holding her hands thrilled her to the depths of her soul.

When the music changed to a slow song, Willow paused and looked at Tara. The blonde hair was lightly plastered to Tara's forehead by a thin sheen of perspiration. Willow wanted to push the few wild strands flying free, but instead let go of Tara's hands and smoothed her own hair back. Then she held out her arms.


Tara gave her a slow smile. "More than okay," she purred and moved into Willow's embrace.

Oh gods, Willow closed her eyes as Tara's body touched hers. She unconsciously stiffened and Tara started to move away.


"Shhh," Willow said and tightened her arms around Tara. "I'm okay...you just feel so good."

Tara grinned and pulled Willow closer as they began to move together. "You feel good, too. It's almost...almost like coming home."

Willow's heart soared.

When the music changed back to a fast paced techno-beat the girls did not let each other go. They continued to sway together slowly within each other's embrace. When the next set of slow songs came on, Willow barely noticed, and just hugged Tara tighter, feeling the other witch respond in kind. After the slow set ended, the DJ started a set of show tunes, much to the squealing delight of the gay boys. Willow finally pulled away from Tara with much reluctance.

"Thirsty?" Willow asked.

Tara nodded and they headed for the drink table.

They wandered outside to cool off and get away from the music and crowd. A small dimly-lit courtyard behind the hall provided students with an area for eating and studying. Willow led them well away from the smokers to a small round table with three cement benches circling it. She sat on one bench facing away from the table and was thrilled when Tara took the small space next to her.

"Having a good time?" Willow asked.

"Oh yes," Tara sipped her drink. "Are y-you?"

"Um hmm," Willow nodded. She looked at Tara and breathed deeply. She smelled the cool night air and Tara's warm scent. "Thank you."

"No…thank you for asking me," Tara said and took both of their empty cans and took them to a trash bin.

Willow waited until Tara had reseated herself before saying, "You were coming anyway."

"Yes, but…" Tara paused in thought. "Not w-with a date."

"Why not?" Willow rolled her eyes at herself. "I mean, that sounded rude, but you're so pretty and great and sweet that I would have thought there would be girls lining up to ask you out…oh and boys too. Can't forget the boys, I'm sure they're not immune to the hotness of you."

Tara was giggling at Willow's ramble. "You're so cute. A-and pretty h-hot yourself." Tara's face blushed sweetly.

Willow smiled as she looked into Tara's eyes. "Is it okay if I…?"

"More than okay," Tara whispered and Willow's heart pounded again at the other woman's desire-filled tone. She leaned forward and pressed her lips against Tara's.

Willow gasped lightly at the electricity that sparked between them at the first touch of their lips. She pressed softly for a moment, just enjoying Tara's softness, and then pulled away, running her tongue along her lips to get her first taste of Tara. She closed her eyes in appreciation and then moved in for another taste.

Tara's passionate response surprised her a little, but the thought passed quickly as she felt strong arms pulling her closer. She moaned softly as Tara opened her lips in invitation. She brought her own hands up to run through Tara's hair, moving one hand down Tara's back, the other lightly holding Tara's neck.

Willow ran her tongue over Tara's lips, enjoying the sensation of her warm, soft lips. Then she plunged inside Tara's mouth, feeling dizzy as if she were looking into infinity. Finally, after a few more minutes of exploring Tara's mouth, she pulled slightly away, not letting the other woman go.

"Wow," she exclaimed and looking at Tara knew she had never seen anyone look more beautiful. Or sexy...and I put that look there, she proudly thought.

"Very wow," Tara whispered, leaning in again for another kiss, this time taking control and plunging her tongue in Willow's mouth.

Willow responded with equal passion, running her hands over Tara's back and letting one hand drop until it was caressing Tara's shapely ass.

Tara moaned and leaned closer to Willow until the smaller girl was pressed over the table. Willow was about to spread her legs to allow Tara to move in closer when she heard a cacophony of catcalls and whistles.

Willow looked into Tara's equally wide eyes as the blonde pulled back. "Busted," she whispered.

Tara nodded and sat back on her side of the bench, keeping an arm around Willow.

Standing nearby were some of Tara's friends, but Willow glanced around the courtyard and saw the cheering group was drawing the attention of the other people relaxing and visiting. Most were smiling, but a few were joining in the teasing.

"Dang Tara!" Stefanie called out. "If I'da known you put out on the first date, I'da asked ya out weeks ago!"

"Y-you did," Tara said. "But I d-don't date smokers."

Stefanie looked at the lit cigarette she was holding shrugged and put it in her mouth and pulled deeply. Letting out a cloud of smoke she asked, "Are ya sure? Ol' Willow there sure looked like she was smokin' a moment ago."

The other girls laughed at that sally. Willow hid her blushing face in the crook of Tara's shoulder and neck. She could feel Tara was also embarrassed, but amused by her friend's antics.

"Maybe so, b-but not the stinky cigarette kind," Tara retorted. "W-willow smells a lot better t-than you, Stef."

Willow shook against Tara as she laughed silently. She glanced in Stefanie's direction and saw the short-haired girl had her mouth open in astonishment. Willow felt a surge of pride for Tara's boldness.

Tara turned to Willow with a smirk. "Ready to go?" she asked.

Willow nodded and stood up, taking Tara's hand.

"Night girls!" Stefanie called as they walked away. "Have fun!"

Laughter echoed in the courtyard.

The two girls held hands as they walked back toward Tara's dormitory. Willow took a breath of the cool air. "You were great back there," she said. "Thereby proving that you're not so shy."

"No, I…I am," Tara responded. "It's just…" Tara trailed off.

"I get it," Willow said. "It's like I can be completely at ease around my friends, but new people kinda scare me sometimes."

"That's true, but…"

"What?" Willow asked, stopping them on the path under a sodium arc light. She turned to Tara.

"I…" Tara paused again, but this time Willow waited in silence to allow the other girl to finish.

Tara looked down and then up again at Willow. "I don't, you know," she finally said in a soft voice.

Willow's eyebrows scrunched up. "Don't what?"

Tara blushed, her face turning almost pink in the glare from the light. "P-put out on-on the first date."

Willow's eyes opened wide. "Oh!" she exclaimed. "I know that. Me neither. I would never expect…"

Tara reached up and put her hands on Willow's cheeks, pulling the other woman toward her. She landed a kiss on Willow's lips, interrupting the redhead's embarrassed babble.

Willow closed her eyes and relished the feel of Tara. All thought flew out of her mind as she put her hands around the other girl and drew her closer. Finally Tara let go of Willow's lips, but continued to hold on.

"But I think with you…" she started. "With you, I'd l-like to make an exception."

Willow's fog-filled brain took a moment to digest what Tara was saying. "Oh!" she exclaimed again, a flush running through her body. "Really?"

Tara nodded. "T-that is…if you…if you want."

"Oh gods, yes," Willow nodded enthusiastically. "I want. I definitely want."

After a moment at simply smiling at each other, the two girls turned as one and continued down the path. Before they were halfway to the dorm a black-coated man approached them from the direction of the dorm.

"Spike!" Willow said, surprised. "What are you doing here? Why aren't you at Xander's?"

The taller figure shrugged and blew a puff of smoke in their direction. "The Odd Couple are shagging in the basement," he said. "Since the folks are upstairs busy getting snockered, I decided to take a little stroll until it quiets down."

"But…" Willow started and blinked a few times. "Aren't you going to run away again?"

"Why for?" he asked. "Might as well leech off you bloody Scoobies for a while. Free blood and a roof over my head and all that. Better than being on the bleedin' dole." He turned to rake Tara with his eyes. "Aren't you going to introduce me to your friend?" he smirked.

Willow's expression grew angry and she said, "No!" She took Tara's hand and started to lead the confused blonde past Spike.

"Not very hospitable of you, is it?" Spike said. "I mean after all, if she's your new girltoy I thought I'd just take a moment to get to know her, that's all. Just wanted to see how compatible she'd be for you and Oz. Good old Oz…I wonder how he's doing down there in LA while you're here playing swap the spit with this bint?"

Willow looked at him in horror as Tara turned to her and asked, "Oz?"

"Yeah, Oz," Spike said and held his hand out at shoulder level. "Yay high? Guitarist in a band? Cool hair with a tendency to change color from week to week? Willow's boyfriend for the past three years? That Oz."

"Boyfriend?" Tara whispered and Willow faced her, her mouth hanging open. "Boyfriend?"

"Uh…" Willow sputtered.

"Oh Willow!" Tara pulled her hand angrily from Willow's and took off down the path at a run.

Willow stared at her as Tara stumbled a bit, but quickly regained her footing and soon disappeared around the curve. She turned to the smugly smiling Spike and gave the vampire an angry push.

"You bastard!" she yelled. "You listened to Xander and me talking this afternoon."

"Well, yeah!" Spike said, only having been moved back a few inches by Willow's push. "More bleedin' entertainment than Passions, I'll tell you that."

"Why?" she yelled, tears starting to well up. "I've tried to be nice to you. Out of all of us, I defended you the most and supported Buffy in not staking you…even after you tried to eat me before you knew about the chip."

Spike shrugged. "Gotta have a little fun somehow," he said. "I'm still evil!" he suddenly yelled the last word. "I'm still the Big Bad and you're nothing but a cheating little tart."

Willow stopped crying as she moved closer to Spike and with all her strength slapped him across the face.

This time the vampire was nearly knocked off his feet and he recovered with a raised hand to return the slap, but before he could connect, the microchip in his brain fired and he clutched his head screaming in agony.

"Serves you right!" Willow hissed at the writhing figure. "Stay out of my way, Spike. If you ever come near me or Tara again, I'll stake you myself." With that, she ran after Tara.


Part 6


Willow knocked again on Tara's door. She could hear the girl inside so she knew Tara was safe, but she was not responding to Willow's request for entry.

"Tara?" Willow called through the door. She glared at a young man who opened his door to see what the noise was and he hastily popped back into his room. "Tara, please…at least give me a chance to explain."

Willow stumbled as the door she was leaning against suddenly opened inward. She caught herself on the doorjamb and stood to face Tara.

"Explain what, Willow?" Tara said angrily. "Explain how that v-vampire is nothing but a big liar? Explain that you don't have a boyfriend or, or I'm not just a new plaything for you and him? Gods! I am s-so stupid!" she moved into the room and Willow followed, softly closing the door behind her.

"Tara no, that's not…"

"Is it true?" Tara interrupted. "What that Spike said…is it true?"

"Well, some parts," Willow replied. "Okay, most parts, but…but I'm not looking for a threesome for Oz and I…"

Tara let out a bark of laughter. "I k-knew you were hiding something, but I never imagined it was that. Everyone's got their secrets and here I was scared of telling you mine. I guess being part-demon is worse than being straight."

"I'm not straight!" Willow said almost angrily. "I think that kiss earlier proved I'm not straight. And wait…you're a demon?"

"Yeah, through my mother's line…my family said I'll manifest on my next birthday." Tara waved the thought away. "But you said you were a lesbian! You didn't tell me you were just some straight girl taking a vacation away from Boy's Town while her boyfriend was out of town."

"I never said I was a lesbian!" Willow defended and then thought how lame that sounded. "Okay, I didn't tell you about Oz, but…but at no time did I say I was a lesbian."

"Then why, Willow?" Tara said, her anger turning into pain. "Why l-lead me on like that? Why ask me o-out and treat me to the most wonderful date in my life a-and make me think we had a future together?" She sat on her bed and put her face in her hands. "Gods, I was even going to sleep with you. How p-pathetic is that?"

"Oh Tara…no!" Willow exclaimed and knelt down at Tara's feet. She pulled the other girl's hands away from her face and looked into Tara's blotched and teary face. "I'm so sorry. I never meant to hurt you that way. I just…" She paused and then sat back on her heels. "I always knew I liked girls, but growing up I was such a geek…always put on for being too smart or too Jewish or too much red hair. I only had two good friends growing up and they were both boys. There was one girl I was sorta friendly with, but hanging with the boys was easier…y'know?"

Tara nodded. "Yeah, I know how that is. Sunnydale's bigger than my hometown, but the social mores are the same."

"Yeah," Willow agreed, glad that Tara was giving her a chance to explain. "I spent so many years in denial that I convinced myself I was normal…not that being gay is not normal, I mean…"

"I know what you mean, Willow," Tara said with a roll of her eyes. Willow was glad that Tara's tears had stopped.

"Yeah, and for years I had a crush on my best friend Xander, because he was like the ultimate safe…totally clueless until it was absolutely the worst time possible…but that's another story." Willow quickly deflected Tara's question and continued. "And then I met Oz and he was cute and smart and geeky just like me, but way cool and a musician and he liked me! For the first time, someone wanted me for just me and I jumped at the chance of having a nice, normal relationship…well, until he turned into a werewolf, that is."

"Oz is a werewolf?"

"Yeah," Willow nodded. "And that whole thing about you being part-demon…so not intimidated, missy. Been there, done that."

"But then why did you ask me out?" Tara said, ignoring Willow's comments as if wanting to get back on track.

Willow bit her lip. "Ever since we started college, I've realized that I want more out of a relationship than just nice and normal," Willow replied. "And when we met…my gods, Tara…it was like my whole world just turned topsy-turvy."

Willow winced at the pins and needles in her legs and moved to sit next to Tara. "Until I met you, I was content to just let things with Oz go on, but now I realize that was wrong. I should have said something to him a long time ago."

"And now?" Tara asked.

Willow looked into her eyes as she brushed a stray lock of Tara's hair back behind her ear. "Now I know that even if you don't…even if you don't forgive me or think that you and I do have a future together, I can't keep living a lie. It's not fair to me or to Oz or to you or anyone else I might get involved with in the future. I mean, I really like you Tara. I think…I think I'm falling in love with you, but this is all so new and fast and I don't want to lose what's been happening between us because I think we're just meant to be."

Tara sighed and looked down at their still-clasped hands. "I…I don't know, Willow," she said. "You're right, it's so fast and I think we're meant to be, too, but I…I just need some time to get my mind around this. I think…I think we need some s-space. Give you time to decide what you want to do with Oz and decide if this is really what you want. W-why don't we meet somewhere, say a week from now? That coffee shop in town?"

Willow nodded. "Thank you," she said and then at Tara's confused look she said. "I mean thank you for talking to me and letting me explain and wanting to see me next week and not…what kind of demon?"

Tara seemed to take a moment to catch up to Willow's thought. "Um, I don't know," she answered. "I never saw my mother change and my f-father told me it didn't matter what kind of demon, that I w-was e-evil and had to be controlled. I didn't stick around long after my m-mother died to find out what he meant by control."

Willow frowned. "Well, I think research is in order." Willow moved over to Tara's desk and pulled a piece of paper and a pen and wrote something on it. "This is Giles' number and address…he's Buffy's Watcher and he's got plenty of books and stuff on demons. He'll be glad to help you and after next week, I can help, too…that is, if you want to?"

Tara looked at the paper. "I'd be foolish not to want to be friends with you, Willow," she said. "And I'd welcome finally getting some answers on this demon thing. It's been driving me nuts, n-not knowing what's going to happen to me next year."

Willow smiled. "I know you, Tara. I don't care how many horns or tails or warts you grow, I doubt you could ever be evil. I know for a fact there are good demons and if you are a demon, I'm sure you're one of the bestest. Call Giles…he lives for this kind of stuff."

"Okay," Tara said and they moved into that horrible awkward silence.

"Well, I better go," Willow said and Tara nodded, following Willow to the door. "I'll see you next week at the Pump…seven okay?"

Tara nodded. Willow looked at her and hesitated, but when Tara made no move, she opened the door and quickly left.

The dorm room was empty when Willow arrived. She turned on the small bedside lamp she had bought to replace the one Spike had smashed. She frowned at the thought of the vampire, but then realized that she really couldn't blame him for what he'd done…he was just being himself and it was wrong of her to deceive Tara. With determination, she picked up the phone and dialed Oz's number.

"Hey, Oz, it's Willow," she said into the voice machine. "When you get back, can you come over…no matter what time? There's…there's something I need to talk to you about. Bye."

A week later…

Willow had arrived at the Espresso Pump an hour before she was to meet Tara and during that time she had drunk three mochas and was bopping around in her seat. Just when she was about to order a fourth, she spotted Tara walking up the street. Her heart started pounding at the sight of the beautiful blonde. She realized she had missed Tara so much during the week and was tempted to seek her out, but she had been determined to give Tara her space.

"Hi," Tara said putting her canvass bag down on the extra chair and taking her seat.

"Hi!" Willow said, a goofy grin on her face.

Tara looked at her and smiled. "I'm not a demon."

Willow's smile grew. "I'm not straight…and I'm single."

"Not anymore," Tara said and took Willow's hand.

The End

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