DISCLAIMER: Definitely no money being made. All characters belong to Joss Whedon and ME. I own nothing except whatever characters I may make up for this story along with the storyline. I just like to play with them - I promise to put them back after I'm done!!
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
FEEDBACK: To kinetic-kid[at]earthlink.net

Chasing Daylight
By Kinetic-Kid


Chapter 6

Buffy pouts sadly as she sits down at the island, listening as Dawn comes in the house, Tara having insisted on going back to her dorm room to study and to work on a paper that's due later in the week. Allowing a small smile to cross her face as she remembers her lover insisting on her stopping by while she was on patrol to visit with her for a while before coming home.

"Where's Tara?" Dawn questions hesitantly, looking at her sister that seems to switch between having a sad to a happy look on her face.

"She went back to her dorm." Buffy sighs heavily. "She put a lasagna in the oven for us, and made a huge salad before she left, though."

"I thought she might decide to stay." Dawn sits down across from Buffy watching her sister.

"She had some studying to do. Plus I think she was a little leery of being here in case Willow came back tonight." Buffy admits looking sadly at her sister. "Thanks for giving us some time, Dawn."

Dawn shrugs off the thanks. "When did you two…" Dawn waves her hand around curiously.

"This weekend." Buffy allows a small smile to cross her face. "But we've had feelings for each other for a while, but both of us, for obvious reasons, pushed them to the background and never let each other know. Are you, okay with us?" Buffy questions hesitantly.

Dawn nods her head enthusiastically. "Buffy, Tara's like so cool." Dawn gushes eagerly. "I never would have thought you would have hooked up with each other, but in a weird sort of way, you two work." Dawn shrugs, grinning hugely.

Buffy sighs quietly in relief, the happiness coming from her sister definitely not faked. "I was afraid you'd hate me." Buffy admits quietly, relaxing.

"Huh?" Dawn blinks at her sister. "Why?"

"I was afraid you'd think I was trying to take Tara from you." Buffy explains softly.

"If anything, this will hopefully make her come around more." Dawn shakes her head at her sister's words. "Tara didn't like coming here because she never knew when she'd run into Willow. Now she has a reason to come here more frequently. That in turn means I get to see her more often, and that's definitely a good thing." Dawn explains her thinking on the matter. "Buffy, she told me after her and Willow broke up, that she'd never go back to her… I honestly thought there was a good possibility Tara might end up leaving Sunnydale."

Buffy reaches across the island and grasps Dawn's hands with one of hers. Slightly surprised to realize her younger sister's hands are bigger than hers. "I think she's with us for the long haul, Dawn. We're her family now, and that's something that means a lot to her. She won't give us up willingly."

"No, she won't." Dawn smiles at the realization. "When are you going to get her to move back in?"

Buffy grins wickedly then the grin turns into a frown. "I don't think it's going to happen anytime soon. We have the whole Willow angle to work on." Buffy points out, frowning even heavier as she thinks about the redhead.

"Have you heard from her this weekend?" Dawn questions hesitantly as she looks at her worried sister.

"No. Not since she left yesterday." Buffy admits quietly. "I've thought about calling her house to see if she's home… but I don't know what to do or say to her."

"Maybe it's best to let her come to you." Dawn's serious eyes watch as Buffy nods her head.

"Maybe. I don't know what to do, Dawn." Buffy offers softly. "I want Tara here with me… us." Buffy winces slightly.

"That's okay, Buffy. I understand." Dawn chuckles quietly at her sister. "So, how long have you liked Tara as more than just a friend?" Dawn questions curiously.

Buffy blushes darkly and looks down at the counter.

Dawn's eyes widen in surprise at her sister's reaction. "Buffy?" Dawn makes her sister's name sound like a question, watching as Buffy slowly raises her head, a slightly guilty look on her face.

"Longer than I'm going to admit to anyone." Buffy admits gruffly, not wanting to let anyone know that she had thought about Tara since they had talked the first time when her mom had died. The woman's soft explanations and honest words making her look at Tara in a different light. She became more than Willow's girlfriend at that moment.

Dawn blinks in surprise at Buffy's answer. Shaking her head at her sister, wondering silently how much Buffy keeps locked away deep inside her that she never lets anyone see. "I need to do some reading for one of my classes. I'm assuming Tara went on a cleaning spree while she was here?" Dawn comments, having seen the clean and vacuumed living room and dining room on her way through to the kitchen.

"Yeah. We also did the laundry. So you have piles on your bed, please put them away." Buffy comments looking at her sister, smiling at the teen. "Tara also insisted on stocking the house. She made up some kind of sausage stuffed pepper things that she put in the refrigerator with explicit directions on it for us to bake for dinner tomorrow night."

Dawn unconsciously pouts, mirroring Buffy. "She isn't coming over tomorrow night?"

Buffy shakes her head and rests her chin on her hand. "She doesn't want to push things too much, in case Willow comes home today, to give us a chance to possibly work through anything." Buffy sighs quietly, easing off the stool as the oven's timer goes off. Pulling out the large glass dish of lasagna, inhaling deeply even as she looks at the bubbling cheese and sauce. Setting it down on the potholder, Buffy adjusts the temperature on the oven and pulls out the Cole's garlic bread and reads the directions on it. Adjusting the temperature a little higher, she opens the bag and pulls the bread out and splits it open to put on the pan Tara had left out for her. Gently sliding it into the oven, she sets the timer and sighs quietly.

Dawn watches, as Buffy seems to be thinking heavily about something as she leans against the counter. Easing up from the stool, she heads up to her bedroom to put her clothes away, knowing it will be another ten or fifteen minutes before dinner is ready.

Tara runs a hand through her hair as she stares at the phone, silently debating with herself whether to make the phone call or not. Having worked on her paper for the last hour before finally setting it aside as her mind wasn't on her work. Taking a deep, calming breath, Tara finally walks to the phone. Punching in the phone number, double-checking to make sure she's remembering it correctly, she sits down as it rings.

Willow paces her bedroom, not surprised that her parents weren't home when she came home yesterday morning. Having been royally pissed when she'd first gotten home, Willow had immediately gone to some of her magic texts looking through them, before she realized what she was doing. Immediately tossing the books to the side, she strode out of her room to the bathroom, staring at herself in the mirror.

Looking at the angry eyes staring back at her, hinting to blackness Willow had collapsed and curled up on the floor realizing that she didn't have control of the magic as much as she would like to think she did. Her first reaction was to look for a magic spell to get what she wanted. To make things right in her world again. Seeing the darkness swirling in her eyes from the magic just begging to be let out, Willow had stiffened her resolve and went to her bedroom, gathering everything magical in her room, including texts, crystals and herbs among other items. Boxing everything away after combing through everything five different times, she'd finally carried the two boxes to the Magic Box. Telling Anya that this was stuff she'd had at her parents' house, to do what she wanted with it, before turning to leave, bumping into Xander outside the shop. Remembering that conversation, Willow slows her pacing and finally collapses back on her bed, tears slowly falling from her eyes.

"Whoa. Where's the fire?" Xander chuckles as he grabs Willow to keep her from hitting the ground after bouncing off his chest as she hurried from the Magic Box. Surprised when the redhead collapsed in his arms crying. Wrapping his arm around her, he opens the door into the shop and looks worriedly at Anya. Seeing the confused look on his fiancée's face, he gently urged Willow back into the shop. "We'll be in back." Xander murmurs quietly as he practically carries the sobbing redhead into the back training room as Anya nods her head.

Settling them on the mats, Xander holds Willow gently as she cries into his chest. Gently running his hands over her shaking back, he frowns at the hard sobs coming from his best friend. "What's wrong, Wills?" Xander questions roughly half an hour later as Willow slowly calmed down.

Willow wipes her face and shakes her head. "More like what isn't wrong." She hiccups as she frowns heavily. "I'm a total screw up, Xan."

"No you're not, Wills. You're a wonderful, caring woman." Xander placates softly, stroking a hand gently over Willow's head.

"I am! I'm a total screw up. I almost did something horrible, Xan. Really, really, really horrible." Willow curls up into a tighter ball on Xander's lap, clenching his shirt tightly with one hand. Slowly explaining about Buffy and Tara, the words almost choking in her throat as she tells Xander about the two women being together now.

"WHAT? What the hell is she thinking? Jesus, I know Tara was going to come back to you, why the hell did Buffy stick her nose in there?" Xander spouts out angrily, getting ready to fly off again, before Willow shifts quickly and puts a hand over his mouth, effectively stopping him.

"NO! No, Xander. Calm down, please. Tara was never going to come back to me, I lost her love and her trust. Let me go back and tell you what I did… that way you can be mad at the right person." Willow's eyes are sad as a tear slowly works down her cheek again. Slowly explaining about how she'd spiraled deeper and deeper into the dark magics. The arguments she and Tara had had, the ones Tara remembers and the ones that she doesn't. Softly admitting to Xander that she'd taken away Tara's memories of three different arguments they had had about her use of magic.

Looking in shock at his best friend as she slowly admits the things she'd done, up through what she knew transpired between Buffy and Tara. Admitting he felt a shot of happiness at the thought of the bleached blonde vampire being dusted, though feeling bad at the thought Tara had gotten hurt.

"I don't know how, when or why they came together." Willow finally admits, her eyes on the floor as she sighs quietly. "I never really understood what I had done to Tara, Xan. Not until I caught myself looking for a spell to get rid of Buffy and Tara's memories of what happened and to make Tara come back to me… That… Goddess! What does that make me, Xander?" Willow looks up her eyes haunted as she looks at her best friend. "I stole from her, I made her memories different to make things easier for me. How sick is that? That's no better than rape! I took without her permission, changed things to make things go my way. I'm worse than Glory…" Willow finally starts to sob again, covering her face with her hands as the hot tears flow down her face.

Xander holds Willow tightly to him, not knowing what to say. Realizing that Willow is right. If he had been in Tara's place, how would he feel if he found out what his 'everything' had done to him? Knowing how the two women felt about each other, but also knowing if he was in Tara's position there would be no way he would ever be able to come back to Willow. "Oh, Willow." Xander sighs out quietly, squeezing her tighter to him. "If there was something I could do, I would."

Willow sniffs hard and shakes her head. "There isn't anything we can do, Xander. We just got to go on, and maybe if I'm lucky, Tara will accept my friendship some time in the future. But I have to admit… I don't have control of the magic. I felt it rolling through me, and I'm afraid something will trigger it and I won't have any control whatsoever. I'm going to have to do something about it. And I'm really, really afraid to tell Tara about wiping her memories more than the once and the aborted attempt."

"You need to, Wills. You need to come completely clean about everything you did." Xander whispers softly, tilting her chin up to look into sad green eyes, swollen red from her tears. "Clean slate, Willow. You have to take the good with the bad, and if you want a chance to make things right you better get everything off your chest."

Willow swallows hard and slowly nods her head. Smiling tremulously at Xander as he gently wipes the tears from her cheeks. "You know I love you, Xander?" Willow whispers, hugging him tightly. "When did you get all smart?"

"Bound to happen surrounding myself by all these beautiful smart women." Xander smiles, hugging Willow back tightly.

"Now I have to pray that Buffy won't end up knocking me into the next century when she finds out what I've done." Willow inhales a deep, shaky breath.

"Maybe talking to Tara first, then have her there when you tell Buffy?" Xander suggests quietly. "If you want, I'll be there for moral support also."

Willow chuckles sadly. "Thank you, Xander. But I think this is something I need to do myself. It's time I took responsibility for my own actions. You aren't going to freak too bad about the thought of Buffy and Tara being together, are you?"

Xander sighs heavily, thinking about Buffy, knowing that he'll always love her, but that it was time to let Buffy have her own life, admitting some of the things he'd done in the past he isn't too proud of. "It's her life, Wills. I was angry for you at first, but after you explained…"

"She deserves happiness just as much, if not more than the rest of us, Xan. I'm not going to act like it won't hurt to see the two of them together, but I can't begrudge either of them being happy. And if they're happy together…" Willow shrugs her eyes showing her pain, but knowing it's something she has to deal with. She'd hurt Tara to the point of the Wiccan never being able to trust her again, and she had no one to blame but herself.

"Want to come to the apartment? We can pick up a couple movies and pizzas to take there?" Xander offers, wanting to hopefully pick up Willow's spirits some.

"No. I have some more thinking I need to do, and some decisions to make." Willow smiles sadly at her best friend. "Thank you, Xander." Willow hugs him tightly again, before releasing him and slowly standing.

Xander groans as he slowly stands. "I'm getting old." He grumbles, rubbing his butt.

Willow chuckles softly. "Come on, old man. Go hug and kiss your fiancée while I go home and work things out."

"If you need me…" Xander trails off, looking seriously at his best friend.

"Thank you." Willow smiles and leans up to place a soft kiss on his cheek. "Let's get out of here."

Willow brushes the tears from her face as she looks at her phone. Sighing quietly as she looks at the information on the notepad beside the phone. That gives her two months until the end of the school year to get things straightened out before flying over to England and spending the summer with the coven in Devon. Having talked with Giles and admitting everything was even harder than her discussion with Xander. Giles had immediately offered to pay for the plane ticket out there, Willow having explained to him that she'd take care of it, having her mom's credit card she could book the flight early and save a small fortune. Silently sighing as she thinks about the money in her bank account another remembered argument between her and Tara niggling her brain about how Tara had went off on the fact that she hardly ever helped to pay her share of things at Buffy's house while they were living there taking care of Dawn.

Standing, Willow walks over to her calculator and slowly starts punching in numbers, wanting to make things right in every way possible. Knowing how much Buffy's mortgage payment is, she figures her share of the amount, writing it down as she figures the electric, water and food. Swallowing at the amount, silently wondering how Buffy's able to make the payments on her measly check from the DMP… It hitting her finally that Buffy probably isn't making full payments, that she's probably just floating things along making minimum payments. Dropping her head into her hands, Willow feels her eyes get hot as they fill with tears again. "I'm a selfish bitch." Willow moans loudly to the empty room.

Realizing that Tara had probably taken a small chunk out of the money she'd received from her mother's insurance policy to pay the bills to keep things going, since the majority of the money from Joyce's policy had gone to pay the additional hospital bills that her insurance hadn't covered. Knowing the Wiccan had been trying to save the money to buy a house with, or at least have a good sized down payment on, when she got out of college and found a job.

Lifting her head up, she slowly re-checks her figures, knowing she can give Buffy what she owes her, but there was probably no way she would be able to give Tara back her portion of the bills that she should have helped with. Figuring what she owes Tara, she writes it down and circles it with Tara's name above it. Promising herself that she'll pay her back with interest. Slowly standing, Willow strides into the bathroom, washing her face and placing the cold wet cloth to her eyes to help with the swelling.

Finally making her way back to her bedroom, she debates on what to do. Not knowing if she's really welcome back in Buffy's house or not, she falls onto her bed to stare at the phone. She doesn't know how long she lays there staring at the phone, jumping as the phone rings. Cautiously picking it up, she takes a deep breath. "Hello?"

Tara licks her lips as Willow's voice comes over the phone. "Hi, Willow." Tara finally speaks, taking a deep steadying breath to try and calm her racing heart.

"Tara." Willow whispers, closing her eyes at the sound of her lover's… ex-lover's voice coming over the phone. "Umm. Hi."

Tara has to smile at the shaky hi. "I think maybe we need to talk, if you want." Tara states calmly.

"That might be a good thing. I have some things I need to tell you." Willow offers softly, her eyes shadowed. "I think it might be best to talk in person…"

Tara sighs, hearing the sadness and worry in Willow's voice. "Where do you want to meet?"

"Wherever you're more comfortable. In public, if you want. This… this isn't going to be easy for me to talk about and I'll probably break down, but it needs to be done." Willow finally gets out as her throat wants to close as the tears try and gather again.

"I'm at my dorm right now, Willow. I don't want to make this more difficult, so wherever you want to meet and however you want to do this. I just want you to understand that this thing between me and Buffy wasn't planned. We didn't want to hurt you..." Tara whispers softly into the phone.

"I know that, Tara." Willow almost chokes, as the tears start flowing, knowing that no matter what, Tara would follow her heart. She wouldn't do something out of spite or hatred. Honestly thinking the woman couldn't hate anyone, it just isn't in Tara to be like that. "I'm going to need to talk with Buffy, too."

Tara sits quietly on the phone, afraid to make the suggestion, thinking it may be too much for Willow to deal with both of them at the same time.

"Do you… do you think Buffy can keep from beating me up to let me say what I have to say?" Willow questions, only half joking.

"She wouldn't hit you, Willow. She's your best friend and loves you." Tara looks sadly across the room, feeling her heart break at the serious note in Willow's voice.

"Well, when she hears what I have to say, I won't be too sure about that." Willow admits, taking a deep breath. "Can you meet me over at Buffy's? And… and can you call her to let her know I'm coming over. I won't stay, but I think it might be best for me to go ahead and do this in one fell swoop. I don't think my nerves can handle going over all this four different times."

Tara blinks at Willow's words. "Four times?" Tara questions hoarsely.

"Yeah. I'll tell you when we get together over at Buffy's, okay? I'll wait for a while before heading over there, give you time to get there." Willow takes a deep breath and tries a small smile. "Thanks for being willing to talk to me, Tara. I'll see you in a little while. 'Bye." Willow hurriedly babbles out before quickly hanging up the phone.

Tara stares at the phone, as the dial tone sounds in her ear, wondering what's going on. Slowly hanging up the phone, she takes a couple minutes to get her thoughts together before she picks the phone up to call Buffy.


Chapter 7

Buffy opens the door and pulls Tara in to hug her tightly. "No idea?"

"No." Tara hugs Buffy back, enjoying the warmth and strength coming from her lover. "I'm a nervous wreck." Tara admits quietly into Buffy's neck, pressing her lips gently against her neck, knowing Buffy'll bitch at her if she makes her lip bleed again.

"You're not the only one." Buffy strokes her hands gently up and down Tara's back. Shifting back after a few minutes, Buffy strokes a thumb over Tara's cheek, smiling softly at her lover. Brushing her lips softly over Tara's, Buffy winks at her. "We'll see what's the what here in a little while. Do you want something to drink? Or maybe some of the lasagna we have leftover from dinner tonight?"

Tara chuckles quietly and nods her head. "I'll take some water. I had a sandwich earlier at the dorm."

Buffy grunts quietly as she waves Tara to sit down as she jogs into the kitchen to get a water for her lover. Wondering for the hundredth time what it is that Willow wants to talk about, knowing that it's more than just the changing dynamics of their group. Tara having explained that Willow had said something about not wanting to go over it four different times. Silently wondering who Willow's been discussing things with.

Shaking her head out of her musings, Buffy strides quickly back into the living room, handing the bottle of water to Tara as she settles beside the Wiccan. Nervously running her fingers over Tara's strong thigh as she waits for Willow to show up at the house.

"Buffy." Tara warns, after Buffy's hand reached further up her leg than decent. Grabbing the offending hand, Tara chuckles at the look of surprise on Buffy's face. "You weren't even aware of where your fingers were playing, were you?"

"No." Buffy blushes lightly. "Sorry."

Tara winks at Buffy as she gently squeezes the slayer's hand. "Any other time…" Tara chuckles as Buffy groans quietly.

"Don't tease the slayer." Buffy mumbles leaning in to kiss Tara gently on the cheek, before resting her head against her shoulder.

"Don't ask, sweet one. We'll find out when she gets here." Tara murmurs, feeling Buffy tense up.

"Damn. When did you start to read minds?" Buffy grumbles, brushing her cheek over Tara's shoulder.

Tara laughs softly. "You were tensing up, and I kind of figured out what you were going to say."

"You did good." Buffy sighs heavily. Turning and nipping gently on Tara's shoulder, Buffy stands and eases her hand away from Tara's as she starts to pace the living room. "I'm going to go nuts not knowing what's going on."

Tara starts to bite her bottom lip, whimpering quietly as pain shoots through her lip.

"What did you do?" Buffy hurries to Tara, kneeling on the couch beside Tara, seeing the pain in her beautiful blue eyes. Looking down at her lip, Buffy sighs quietly as she sees the red. "Damn it, Tara." Buffy reaches back for tissues off the coffee table and pulls a couple out to press gently to her lip. "Need to put up a protective spell around your lip so you don't keep hurting it." Buffy frowns heavily. "Want me to get a little ice? That might help stop the bleeding and the swelling."

"Please." Tara smiles softly at Buffy, closing her eyes as Buffy brushes her lips quickly over her forehead before heading out of the living room towards the kitchen. Holding the tissues to her lip, she hears a light knock on the front door. Going to stand, she settles back into the couch at Buffy's yell.

"I've got it!" Buffy finishes wrapping the ice in a towel and jogs back to Tara, handing her the towel. "Put that on your lip." Buffy orders with a narrowed gaze as she opens the door, swallowing as an obviously nervous Willow shifts from foot to foot. Easing back from the doorway, Buffy looks sadly at her best friend. "Wills."

"Buffy." Willow swallows hard and steps into the house, glancing over at Tara, wincing at the swelling and bruising on the Wiccan's face. "Damn Spike."

"I'm pretty sure he regretted it deeply before Buffy finally dusted him." Tara shrugs a slight twinkle in her eyes.

"Good. I hope you hurt him, and hurt him bad." Willow grumbles quietly, slowly sitting in the chair across from Tara, sighing quietly.

"She did." Tara mumbles around the ice, watching as Buffy gingerly sits down on the couch, keeping a slight distance from her. Winking at her lover knowing that Buffy would rather be in contact with her but not wanting to push things in front of Willow.

"Willow, you know we didn't do this to hurt you." Buffy starts, frowning heavily as she looks at Willow.

"Shhh." Willow shushes the slayer and slowly shakes her head. "You didn't do anything wrong. Neither one of you did. I finally realized that I have absolutely no one to blame but myself." Willow takes a deep breath and looks from one woman to the other, her eyes finally settling on blue eyes. "I owe you so much… I treated you more like a possession than a partner, and when things weren't going the way I wanted them to, I changed things. I know I can never take back what I did, but I can tell you what happened, and hope that one day you can maybe forgive me." Willow looks down for a few minutes before slowly starting to explain the other two arguments she and Tara had had about her use of magic. Admitting softly that when they had their first fight when the Fair was happening, she'd went to the Magic Box and researched the forget spell, planning on using it.

Buffy inhales deeply, unconsciously scooting next to Tara, the two women threading their fingers together as they continue to listen to Willow.

Willow looks briefly at the two women, before sighing quietly, continuing her explanation. How it was a moot point at that time, because of what happened to Tara, but she kept the Lethe's Bramble and memorized the spell. A quiet sob escapes her lips as she admits while Buffy was gone that she and Tara had a blazing row about the amount of magic, especially the dark magic that Willow was using while they were fighting demons. Luckily Dawn had been staying over at a friend's house for the weekend when the argument took place. Tara was to the point of breaking up with her then, had even went to sleep on the couch but Willow had done the forget spell and acted like Tara had fallen asleep watching television.

Buffy unconsciously growls at the redhead's admission, leaning forward as she stares at Willow. "How could you? How would you have felt if some…" Buffy stops as Tara grasps her shoulder pulling her back.

"Let her speak, Buffy. Please." Tara whispers softly, her eyes sad as she looks at Buffy. "She didn't know what she was doing… And didn't realize the consequences of her actions. She's explaining what happened so I'm aware of everything that she's done." Tara brushes her fingertips gently down Buffy's cheek.

Buffy unconsciously presses into the soft caress, nodding her head as she keeps her mouth shut. Slowly easing back against the couch and placing a hand on Tara's thigh, not caring if Willow freaks because of it or not, she turns to look at Tara as the Wiccan pats her hand but doesn't make her move it.

Willow bites her bottom lip as she watches the tender display, tears coming to her eyes at the obvious love and caring the women have for each other. As the two women calm down and look at her again, Willow sighs quietly. "You know about the other spell, where Dawn overheard us. We argued over my magic usage again. You were angry and were just going to go to sleep and I placed the spell on you making you forget our argument again."

Buffy tenses slightly before Tara squeezes her hand, slowly making herself relax she sits there waiting for Willow to continue.

"You know about the big forget spell that about got us all killed." Willow looks at the two women, looking apologetically at Buffy and Tara. "Tara of course moved out and I had my major downfall with Rack and Amy, hurting Dawn." Willow shakes her head, clenching her hands together tightly. "I didn't change anything else, but I do need to tell you about what I almost did yesterday." Willow's eyes look haunted as she glances at the two women. "My first instinct was to run home, dig through my magical texts for a way to put a spell on both of you and make things the way I wanted them."

Buffy jumps up growling loudly as she takes a step towards the redhead, stopped when she has two arms wrapped around her thighs pulling her back into Tara, literally having her sit in the Wiccan's lap.

"Don't make me stick your ass on the couch so you can't move." Tara warns seriously.

Buffy frowns as she looks over her shoulder at Tara. "You can do that?"

"And more." Tara nods her head. Easing back against the couch, she pulls Buffy so she's lying against her front. Keeping her arms around the slayer's middle, Tara looks at Willow. "For now, this might be the safest bet. If she goes off, I'll put her in a protective bubble or something so that way she can't hurt you." Tara squeezes Buffy tightly. "I'm serious, Slayer." Tara whispers softly in Buffy's ear.

Buffy drops her chin onto her chest. "I'm sorry. I just got this shit floating in my brain and I'm going into protect mode."

"Shh. I know, sweet one, I know." Tara hooks her chin over Buffy's shoulder and watches Willow, her eyes serious. "Go ahead, Willow."

Willow swallows hard as she looks into Tara's sad and worried gaze to Buffy's angry eyes, knowing that Buffy would do whatever she deemed necessary to protect Tara, both from physical and mental harm. Nodding her head as she understands that means even from her best friend. "Needless to say I did go home and started sorting through the books looking for something when it hit me exactly what I was doing. I realize I don't have control of the magic, it was literally right there at my fingertips wanting to be let out, and I could have so easily given in. I broke down as I realized exactly what I had done, it finally having hit me right between the eyes. After I spent many hours crying, I gathered up every book, every crystal, every candle and every herb I had in the house, boxed it up and took it to the Magic Box. I told Anya to do whatever the hell she wanted to with the stuff." Willow runs her hands through her hair as she takes a deep breath to try and calm down. "When I practically ran from the shop, I literally ran into Xander. Needless to say I broke down." Willow looks from Buffy to Tara and back again, keeping her eyes on Buffy. "I started off by telling him that you and Tara were together. He went ballistic and was going to say something to you, when I made him listen to me, and I told him everything. Everything that I told you, without the details about the fact I'd done the spell twice on Tara, then the one failed time, along with everything I knew about how you came to be together. By the way, I think he was extremely happy about Spike being dusted." Willow turns her eyes to look at Tara. "And he was upset that you were hurt. Needless to say, he told me I had to come clean about everything, that if I ever wanted the chance to possibly have both of your friendships, I had to get everything out in the open."

Tara brushes her cheek over Buffy's shoulder, sighing quietly. "Your first reaction is to do magic when something happens that you don't like. You have to change that, Willow." Tara offers quietly, her eyes sad as she looks at her ex-lover.

Willow nods her head in agreement. "That's why I called Giles and told him what I had done. At the end of this school year, I'm going to the Coven in Devon. If I have another major problem before then, I'm hopping the first plane I can to England. I've realized I don't much like myself anymore." Willow's eyes fill with tears as she looks at the two women. "You've both done so much to help me and be there for me, and I realized I have been a selfish bitch in so many ways." Willow shakes her head as both women start to open their mouths. "No, don't say anything. I have been. Tara, I can't even up with you right now, but I can with you, Buffy." Willow stands and opens her purse, pulling out the check to hand to Buffy. "I promise I'll pay you back, Tara when I get the additional money. I know you dipped into your inheritance money to pay for everything when we were here taking care of Dawn. I didn't really use any of my money except for the occasional food that I bought and the magical supplies, so I made out this IOU." Willow hands another slip of paper to Tara. "I'll pay you back that amount, plus interest as I can. I'm hoping that I figured the amounts close to what they would be. I was guesstimating, because I really don't remember how much everything cost." Willow shifts quickly towards the door. "I'm sorry for everything. Maybe one day you two can forgive me, even if you don't want to be my friends anymore."

"Willow, wait!" Buffy calls out quickly, Tara letting her go.

"No, Buffy. I think I need to go home. I'll come by one day this week and gather my stuff." Willow shakes her head at the slayer, tears starting to fall from her eyes. "I… I can't deal with anymore right now. Keep her safe, please." Willow hurriedly leaves the Summers' residence, knowing she's going to have a seriously long crying fit again. Knowing it will be for the best if she goes home where she can be by herself and let her emotions run the full gamut.

Buffy silently watches as Willow practically runs down the street, fighting her own tears. As Tara wraps her arms around her waist, pulling her back against her, Buffy sighs quietly as the tears fall.

"She really understands now, Buffy. I hate that everything hit her like this at the same time, but I honestly believe it's for the best. That way she can take responsibility for her actions and move forward with her life." Tara explains quietly, holding Buffy loosely in her arms as she tilts her head against the slayer's, closing her eyes as she tries to get control of her rolling emotions.

Buffy silently agrees with Tara, leaning more into the Wiccan. "Should I give her a few days then try to call her?"

"That would probably be best. I don't know if she'll want to move back in here, or end up moving back home." Tara admits softly brushing her lips over Buffy's shoulder.

"Stay tonight?" Buffy hoarsely questions, reaching up to brush the tears from her face.

"I…" Tara starts to say she didn't bring anything to wear for the next day, before hugging Buffy tightly. "Yes, I'll stay tonight."

Buffy runs her hands gently over Tara's arms. "Thank you."

"I'll have to get up early tomorrow, though. My first class is at 8:30." Tara warns softly, loosening her arms as Buffy shifts, smiling down into hazel eyes.

"I'll walk you. I have to be at work at 10:30. I'll see what kind of mischief I can get up to in between." Buffy leans up and kisses Tara on the forehead. "Let's go tell Dawn what's going on, if she didn't park her ass at the top of the stairs and listen to most of the conversation."

Tara chuckles softly. "Got that feeling too, huh?"

"Uh, yep." Buffy nods her head, her eyes twinkling. "Dawn? Do I have to tell you what went on down here, or did you get the majority of it?"

Dawn groans quietly at having been caught. "I got it."

Tara hesitates for a minute before questioning the teen. "Is there anything you want to talk about or discuss?" Tara watches as Dawn steps down on the landing and hesitates at the top of the stairs.

"I…" Dawn tucks her hands in her pockets as she thinks about what was said. "I kinda think I just want to think about what was said right now, if that's okay."

"That's fine, Dawnie. If you need to talk, we're here." Tara smiles sadly at the teen.

"Thanks, Tara." Dawn allows a quick smile to cross her face.

Tara groans quietly as she watches Dawn disappear back upstairs. "This is a lot to take in." Tara admits softly turning to look at Buffy.

"I'm still not happy with what she did to you, Tara." Buffy admits quietly, stroking her fingers gently over the Wiccan's cheek.

"Neither am I, sweet one. Neither am I." Tara admits, tears slowly filling her eyes as she allows the hurt she was feeling at what Willow had done to her to surface. Burying her face in Buffy's neck as her lover pulls her into a gentle hug.

Pressing her lips to Tara's head, Buffy moves them to the couch. Picking the Wiccan up, she sits down on the couch with Tara sitting across her lap. Gently rocking her lover, Buffy strokes her hands gently up and down Tara's back, arms and legs as the Wiccan quietly cries. "I love you, Tara." Buffy whispers quietly after she calms down. "This has been a hell of a weekend for you."

"For us both." Tara murmurs, wiggling her hands beneath Buffy's shirt.

"What are you doing?" Buffy questions curiously.

"Need to feel you." Tara admits, sighing quietly as she feels the slayer's warm skin under her hands. Brushing her lips softly over Buffy's neck, Tara presses her forehead against her lover and closes her eyes in contentment.

Buffy smiles softly as she continues to gently stroke her hands over her lover, enjoying the feel of the woman against her and under her hands. As Tara's breathing evens out and the woman settles even more into her body, Buffy chuckles softly. Wiggling slightly, Buffy gets more comfortable as she closes her eyes and slowly follows Tara into a healing sleep.


Chapter 8

Buffy gently brushes her fingertips over Tara's cheek before kissing her softly on the lips. "Have fun."

Tara rolls her eyes and chuckles. "I'm sure I'll be questioned all week about my new beauty statements." Tara points to her face, sighing quietly, though her eyes are twinkling. "Have you decided how you're going to spend your time before you have to be at work?"

"Walking around." Buffy shrugs before wrapping Tara up in her arms and hugging her tightly. "Bring some clothes and stuff to the house. I'd like you to stay there."

"Buffy, honey…" Tara starts, sighing quietly as Buffy's arms tighten more around her, before releasing her slightly to look at her. "I don't want you to feel like you have to rush into a relationship with me." Tara admits quietly.

"Do you love me?" Buffy questions softly, watching as Tara's eyes snap up to her and her head nods sharply. "I love you. We may not know each other really well, but I do know that when we're together I'm happier than I ever thought possible. And I feel like being selfish and want that feeling to happen frequently."

"Goddess, the things you say…" Tara allows a small grin to cross her face, pulling Buffy to her to hug her tightly. "Then that will make both of us being selfish, because being with you makes me extremely happy and I would love for it to happen as frequently as possible. But not all week long, no argument. But I will stay tonight."

"Good. Go before you're late." Buffy urges Tara. Smiling as Tara hurries towards the building, hesitating to smile at her before heading inside. "Do you have any idea how much I've come to care for and love you?" Buffy whispers, before considering her options and slowly working her way to another building on campus with a slight bounce to her walk.

Buffy whistles happily as she practically floats home. Opening the door, she smiles as she smells food cooking. "Tara?"

"In here, honey." Tara calls from the kitchen, smiling as Buffy hurries into the kitchen.

"Kiss." Buffy orders quietly, gently pressing her lips against Tara's before easing back and brushing her thumb softly over Tara's lip, taking in her lover's wounds. "So, how many people questioned what happened to you?"

Tara rolls her eyes and groans. "Almost everyone." Tara quirks her lips at her lover.

"And what was your explanation?" Buffy questions worriedly.

"That there was an attempted mugging on my way home Friday, and that a friend happened to scare off the mugger, took me to the hospital and made love to me all weekend long." Tara fights the smile trying to cross her mouth, her eyes twinkling as Buffy's mouth drops open and she blushes.

"Think you screwed up there. More like you made love to me all weekend long." Buffy growls and runs her fingers down Tara's neck. "I need to clean up. Got good news to tell you."

"You could tell me before you shower." Tara's eyes twinkle in response to Buffy's happy smile.

"Nope. I stink and need a shower. I'll get cleaned up and be back in a few minutes. Dawn home?" Buffy questions, as she heads out of the kitchen, hesitating for a few minutes.

"Yes, she is. She's working on her math homework." Tara smiles as Buffy nods and quickly heads out of the kitchen. "Goddess, you're beautiful." Tara shakes her head, laughing quietly before checking the sauce simmering on the stove ready for the Chicken Alfredo she's fixing for dinner.

Buffy hurries up the stairs and sticks her head into Dawn's bedroom. "Dawn, I know dinner's going to be ready in a little while, if the smells coming from the stove is anything to go by, so can you go downstairs to help set the dining room table while I get cleaned up? I have some good news."

"What good news?" Dawn turns to look at her sister, the happy smile on her face making her smile in response.

"I want to tell you and Tara at the same time. Let me get cleaned up." Buffy laughs as she heads across the hall to her bedroom to gather clean clothes before heading towards the shower.

Tara smiles as Dawn grabs the silverware to finish setting the table for dinner as she hears Buffy come pounding down the stairs, chuckling as strong arms wrap around her, hugging and lifting her as a pair of warm lips attach themselves to her neck. Giggling, Tara reaches behind her and pats Buffy firmly on the thigh. "What's gotten into you?"

"Happy." Buffy admits, gently setting Tara back down the couple inches to the ground before letting her hands stroke softly over Tara's stomach. "How much longer before dinner's ready?"

"About ten minutes." Tara chuckles as Buffy nips softly on her neck.

"Let me get our drinks. Soda?" Buffy smiles as Tara nods her answer before she pulls the chicken out of the oven.

Tara smiles as she listens to Buffy whistling softly as she gathers the drinks for them and takes them to the dining room. Mixing the Alfredo sauce with the drained pasta in a bowl, Tara places the baked garlic chicken breasts on a platter and carries them into the dining room, smiling at the sight of Buffy slicing and buttering the loaf of French bread. Setting the bowl and platter on the table, she runs a gentle hand over the top of Buffy's head before settling in the chair beside her lover, and across from Dawn.

Tara purses her lips and watches Buffy intently as the slayer fills her plate without saying anything. Waiting for a few minutes as Buffy starts to eat, Tara growls quietly and taps her fork on her lover's plate. "NEWS!" Tara grumbles forcefully.

"Ooops." Buffy grins while blushing lightly at her lover. "It just smells so good…"

"Buffy…" Tara warns with narrowed eyes then grins as Dawn giggles before she smiles softly at the teenager.

"Boss speaks, hop to it." Dawn ducks the half-hearted smack her sister sends her way. Grabbing the noodles, she places some on her plate before grabbing one of the smaller breasts and placing it on top. After handing the platter to Tara, Dawn pours some dressing on her salad waiting for Buffy to start speaking.

Buffy sits back and grins. "Starting Monday I have a new job."

"What?" Tara's eyes widen in surprise as she looks at Buffy, stopping her hand's movement from where she was getting ready to place a chicken breast on her plate.

"I visited the Administration building at the college, and they had a few jobs posted on the board. I applied, and they were in desperate need for people to work cleaning the college. I'll be working during the day three days a week and I will be working from noon until around nine at night the other two days. I figure those two days, I'll just go straight to patrolling on the way home." Buffy grins and accepts the hug she gets from Tara.

Hurriedly setting the plate down, Tara pounces on Buffy hugging her tightly. "That's wonderful, honey. No more stinky, greasy Buffy."

"Well… no more greasy Buffy at least." Buffy laughs as Tara sits back down. "I don't always smell like a rose when I come in from slaying."

Tara waves her hand dismissively. "That's wonderful news. What days are you working late, or is it not a set schedule?"

"Actually it is. Thursday and Friday nights I'll be working the late shift. Which Friday's is usually one of my heavier days for patrols, so…" Buffy shrugs and smiles. "But that means I get weekends off now, except for anything special they have going on at the college. Also, it's only for the next two months that I have to work the later shift. After the classes are finished at the end of the school year, I'll be daytime all the time."

"Does a pay raise come with the new job?" Dawn questions curiously.

"Leave it up to Dawn." Buffy grumbles, narrowing her gaze on her sister. "Yes, but that doesn't mean you get to spend it. I have some serious bills to make up for, and it's going to take a while. So do NOT ask for stuff, understand?"

Dawn pouts and looks down at her plate. "But there's this shirt I've really, really been wanting at the mall."

Tara shakes her head and smiles softly at the teen. "I'll make a deal with you, Dawnie. If you do the dishes this week, I'll take you to the mall and buy you the shirt."

"Tara…" Buffy starts, looking at her lover.

"Deal." Dawn interrupts quickly, grinning.

Buffy grumbles under her breath but keeps from saying anything out loud.

Tara grasps Buffy's hand, squeezing it gently to smile at the slayer as she looks up at her. "It's okay, Buffy. I kind of want to talk to you about something later, anyway."

Buffy furrows her brows at Tara in question, but Tara just quirks her lips and winks at her. Sighing quietly, already recognizing the look in her lover's eyes, Buffy nods before pulling Tara's hand up to kiss it quickly, before releasing it so they can eat dinner.

Dawn quickly looks back down at her plate, trying to hide the huge grin on her face. Surprised at the way Buffy's acting with Tara, but knowing it's hard not to love the Wiccan. Knowing she loves her completely, but SOOO not in the way her sister does. Shivering slightly at that thought, Dawn starts to eat dinner.

Buffy moans as the flavor of the food bursts on her tongue. "This is wonderful, thank you Tara." Buffy smiles at Tara as she grabs another bite of food.

"Thank you. And you're welcome." Tara grins crookedly as she cuts her chicken into small bite-sized pieces before eating her dinner carefully.

"When are you going to move in, Tara?" Dawn questions, deciding she'll push it since she knows Buffy is a little leery of saying something to her.

"Ummm…" Tara blinks and looks nervously at Buffy. But seeing the same questioning look in Buffy's eyes that she sees in Dawn's, Tara sighs quietly. "That's something that has to do with the discussion I want to have with Buffy later." Tara finally admits quietly. "With Willow deciding she's going to move out, I wanted to pass something by you." Tara looks deeply into Buffy's eyes.

"You can move in right now, and I'll be fine with it." Buffy explains softly, her eyes serious.

"There'll have to be some ground rules first." Tara whispers, blushing lightly. "We'll discuss it later."

Buffy growls softly, before finally nodding her head. "Okay. When I come back from patrol, we'll have a talk."

Tara slowly works on eating her dinner, watching Buffy and Dawn as the two sisters pick on each other, smiling at the sight of Buffy seeming to have relaxed a lot and being more like the woman she used to be. Surprised at the thought of this caring, beautiful woman being in love with her, Tara catches hazel eyes darting her way. Winking at her lover, Tara's eyes widen as she feels a foot slide over hers and slowly rub up and down her shin. Blushing lightly, Tara breaks contact with mischief filled hazel eyes.

Buffy chuckles quietly as she works on eating her dinner, but continuing to play with Tara's leg, noticing the blush on her face but the woman not moving her leg away. Wondering if she should clue Tara in to what she's really getting into by being with her, Buffy decides she'll save that for later. Having someone to love and make love to something she's really missed. Though having to admit it was different with Tara. Feelings running a lot deeper than she'd ever imagined for the blonde Wiccan, especially compared to her past relationships. Licking her lips at the thought of what she'd like to do to Tara, Buffy wiggles slightly in her chair. Surprised at the arousal she already feels building. Mentally berating herself, Buffy tries to put those thoughts aside as she works on filling her plate again.

Buffy grumbles as she limps home, not believing that damn little troll looking bastard bit her. Hoping the critter enjoyed it, since it was the last time he'll ever bite anyone again, Buffy shakes her head.

"Stupid little monster." Buffy unlocks the door and lets herself into the house, turning to lock the door behind her before turning the light off in the living room and heading towards the kitchen. Reaching into the refrigerator, planning on grabbing a couple bottles of water, she chuckles at the sight of a large sub sandwich sitting beside two bottles of water with a note on it stating it was a late night snack for her. "God, I love you." Buffy whispers as she thinks about Tara's thoughtfulness. Grabbing the sandwich and waters, she works her way quickly up the stairs.

Tara looks up from where she's working on her paper. Smiling at the sight of Buffy until she notices her limping. "What's wrong?" Tara looks down and frowns as she sees the holes in the jeans and blood on Buffy's thigh.

"Believe it or not, a damn demon bit me. I'm going to go shower before I clean it up." Buffy waves a hand down at the wound before setting her stuff on the nightstand. "Thank you." Buffy whispers before kissing Tara softly on the lips, a barely there butterfly touch.

"Bring the first aid kit back with you and I'll clean it while you eat." Tara offers, quirking her lip as Buffy nods her head and grabs her robe before heading back out of the bedroom. "Can't much blame him for wanting to take a hunk out of her. She is damn tasty." Tara chuckles at the thought, before going back to writing.

Buffy groans softly as she hears Tara's comment before shutting the bathroom door. "Never would have believed Tara is like she is, if I didn't see and hear it myself." Buffy admits, chuckling at the thought of her obviously very sexual girlfriend. Shivering slightly at the thought of what Tara might get up to when she's healed. Groaning as the desire floods her panties, Buffy laughs. "Damn body. Need to teach you to behave while I'm at it."

Turning the shower on, Buffy strips and looks at her jeans, sighing at the holes and blood on them. "I guess I can always see if Tara would mind putting some patches on them. It's getting expensive replacing my clothes." Buffy rubs a hand over her head at the thought. Setting the jeans on the back of the small chair in front of the vanity. Quickly brushing her teeth, Buffy hops in the shower, quickly washing her hair and body, scrubbing the bite on her thigh thoroughly. Wrinkling her nose at the sight of the deep holes, but they are spaced out so much, that they probably wouldn't be worth trying to stitch.

Shaking her head, she finishes with her shower before hopping out. Toweling her body off, she grabs another towel and rubs it over her head thoroughly. Tossing it in the hamper with the other towel, Buffy grabs her hairbrush and brushes her hair. Tossing it back on the vanity, Buffy runs her hands through the damp strands, smiling at the thought of Tara just across the hall from her. "Yeah, and like an idiot you're standing in here thinking about her, instead of going in there to be with her." Buffy grumbles quietly, yanking on her robe, grabbing the first aid kit and her jeans.

Tara stands by the door, shutting and locking it after Buffy grins at her as she hurries in. "Do you want me to fix your jeans, honey?" Tara questions curiously as she holds her hands out for the item. Looking at the small holes, she realizes it won't take much to fix them.

"If you can. I'm running out of clothes and it's getting expensive replacing them." Buffy admits quietly, frowning slightly. "I thought I remembered seeing you using mom's sewing machine a couple times."

"Yes, I sewed a lot of my skirts." Tara admits, frowning. "I didn't think about it, but I hope you didn't mind my using it. When you…" Tara trails off swallowing hard as she remembers when she'd been using it.

"Shhh." Buffy reaches for Tara, gently pulling her to her and hugging her. "You're more than welcome to anything I have Tara. And I'm here now. I think mom would be happy to know that someone that she liked and knew was using the sewing machine, than me trashing it or selling it." Buffy frowns as she hears the quiet sob escape Tara. "Tara?"

"I… I hate thinking about you being gone." Tara whispers, her fingers clenching Buffy's waist tightly, almost digging into the slayer. "Then that damn robot was a mockery of the person you were. I can't tell you how much I wanted to blast that damn thing into the atmosphere. The relief I felt when you came back and Willow admitted that the robot was past repairing… I felt that the world was finally right again."

"You really did miss me while I was gone." Buffy whispers, it finally hitting home what Tara had previously told her. "You were never going to say anything? Hell, I don't ever remember seeing you look at me as more than a friend."

Tara brushes her cheek against Buffy, wrapping her arms tightly around her waist and hugging her. "I was serious, Buffy. I buried those feelings for you and treated you like a friend. I wouldn't allow anything else to get through while I was with Willow."

"You're probably stronger than I would have been." Buffy sighs quietly, before shaking her head. "Or maybe not." Buffy thinks about how she thought about Tara before the woman's poor mind had been sucked by Glory.

Tara has to smile. "Something you're not telling me?"

Buffy grunts quietly and nips on Tara's shoulder. "I'm pleading the fifth."

"Hmmm." Tara chuckles softly. "So, maybe you telling me you started caring for me when you broke down in my lap might not be quite true?"

"Fifth… Very, very seriously the fifth." Buffy grumbles, smacking Tara gently on the butt. "Fix me up so we can have some play time before you have to go to sleep."

"Nice change of subject. And don't think we won't be coming back to it." Tara warns, narrowing her gaze on Buffy as the slayer shifts back and settles on the bed. Grabbing the first aid kit, Buffy had set down, Tara groans deeply as Buffy lets the robe slide open, showing her from the waist down.

Buffy smirks as she reaches over to grab her sandwich and one of the bottles of water, purposefully spreading her legs part way open.

"I'm going to kick your ass, Slayer." Tara grumbles, grabbing the edge of the robe and covering Buffy's sex with it. "I'm cleaning your leg, not other body parts."

"Why? Does seeing me upset you?" Buffy chuckles as Tara smacks her firmly on the leg.

"Fine. I'll clean your wound then fix your hornies while you take care of your hungries. But we won't be discussing what we put off earlier tonight." Tara warns, before she settles beside Buffy, trailing her fingers gently over the wounds on her thigh. "He must have had thin, long, sharp teeth." Tara murmurs, looking at the pierced flesh. Sighing quietly, she opens the kit and pulls out the antiseptic.

Buffy tilts her head as she thinks out loud. "Hornies… talk. Talk… hornies. Damn, decisions, decisions." Chuckling she unwraps the sandwich and takes a bite out of it.

Tara glances up at the chuckles, shaking her head at the merriment dancing in Buffy's eyes. "I never knew you were so rotten." Tara murmurs before going back to cleaning the wounds.

Buffy finishes chewing and swallowing before commenting. "I never knew that you were such a sexually adventurous person." Buffy grins at her lover as Tara blushes lightly.

"You haven't seen anything yet." Tara wiggles her eyebrows, giggling as Buffy whimpers. Looking back down, Tara grabs the antibiotic ointment out of the kit and gently spreads it over the teeth marks on Buffy's leg. Running her fingers gently over Buffy's leg after she finishes treating the wound, Tara sighs softly. "We need to work on you gaining some weight, Buffy. You've about wasted away to nothing."

Buffy watches as Tara looks up at her with sad and worried eyes. Holding up the sandwich that she'd managed to eat half of between picking on Tara and just talking with her, Buffy grins. "It won't be long, if you keep feeding me like you have this past weekend, along with leaving me snacks like this."

"Just make sure you eat my snacks." Tara winks before standing to set the first aid kit on the dresser. Sliding her shorts and tank top off, she folds them and leaves them on the dresser, fighting the smile that's trying to cross her face at the deep groan coming from Buffy. Flipping the overhead light off, Tara works around to the other side of the bed and eases under the cover, chuckling at the glazed look on Buffy's face and the sandwich frozen midway to her mouth. "Eat, Buffy."

Buffy turns her head to stare at Tara. "I don't mean this to sound tacky, which I have a feeling it's going to… but I enjoy sex, Tara. I really do, but I never got turned on as easily as I do with you. And we've only been together for three days now! I can just think about you and…" Buffy waves her free hand down her body.

Tara looks down Buffy's body, smirking as she sees Buffy's nipples poking insistently against her lightweight robe. "The girls are happy." Tara murmurs, reaching up to trail a finger around a hardened nipple.

"That ain't all." Buffy grumbles, shifting slightly, the dampness between her legs becoming worse with Tara's husky voice and teasing touch.

Tara eases her finger away as she hears the quiet growl coming from Buffy. "Eat." Tara finally orders, easing down in the bed and lying on her side as she watches Buffy.

Buffy shifts her sandwich to her left hand and uses her right to slide the sheet down and uncover Tara's body to her hips. "By the way, when did you become all sleek and lightly muscular? Or was I just not that observant?" Buffy questions curiously, trailing a finger over the lightly defined abdominal muscles.

Tara chuckles and flinches as Buffy's finger tickles. "Stop that."

Buffy grins and looks up into twinkling blue eyes. "Come on, talk to me."

Tara sighs and shifts slightly to fold the pillow under her head while she watches Buffy start to eat again. "After I moved out, I had a lot of spare time on my hands. To begin with I wallowed in self-pity before I forced myself to get up and join the land of the living again. One of the girls on my floor likes to run and she'd been trying to talk me into going, saying it was a great stress reliever, especially once you built up your stamina. I think I called Andrea every name in the book the first few weeks I went running with her, even considering the fact that she was taking it easy on me. After a while I realized we were going further and faster and before long I was up to running roughly ten miles a day during the week." Tara shrugs at the surprised look on Buffy's face. "She even signed me up as a family member at the local gym and I go in there a few times a week also. It doesn't cost that much and I actually had to argue with her to let me pay. She was just happy to have someone go with her to work out."

Buffy frowns slightly as she looks at Tara. "Does she like you?"

Tara quirks an eyebrow in surprise at the deceptively calm voice, hearing the underlying jealousy behind the question. "Hmmm. She might, if she was into blue eyed blondes." When Buffy frowns even harder while looking at her, Tara chuckles and shakes her head. "She's got a hard-on for one of the girls at the gym. Toni's got black hair and dark brown eyes, she stands almost six feet tall and Andrea practically swoons every time we go to the gym if Toni's there working out."

Buffy snorts quietly and slowly relaxes from where she'd unconsciously stiffened. "Hard-on?" Buffy wiggles her eyebrows and looks down her body. "We're missing something serious to have that."

"Oh, you think so, do you?" Tara grins mischievously while gently scraping a short fingernail slowly from Buffy's knee up her thigh. "I bet you that it swells and becomes hard, begging for release. What's your definition of a hard-on, Buffy?"

Buffy whimpers deeply, cramming the last bit of the sandwich in her mouth while spreading her legs slightly to give Tara easier access to her body as she starts to do teasing little circles on the flesh of her inner thigh.

Tara trails her fingers over the desire coating Buffy's thighs, lifting the wet digits up to show the liquid glistening on them before she slowly sucks each finger clean to Buffy's low groan. "You might want to finish your water and take your robe off. I'm going to give you a little anatomy lesson."

Buffy's eyes darken and her clit starts to pound at the absolutely wicked look in her lover's eyes. "We haven't had our talk." Buffy breathily whispers, though not really giving a damn about the talk right now.

"Your choice, Buffy. Anatomy lesson or talk." Tara offers the slayer, trying not to smile fully, knowing it'll probably cause her lip to bleed again, though she'd been good all day.

"Like my brain is working at this juncture of the game." Buffy growls, rolling out of the bed and stripping her robe off tossing it into the corner. "The little brain has all the blood."

Tara laughs at the slayer's comment, thinking how truer words have probably never been spoken. Knowing that some of her friends like to comment about their boyfriends thinking with certain parts, realizing that sometimes it happens to her, also. "Get in bed, Slayer. First lesson is going to start tonight."

"Oooh. And teacher will make me stay after school and do it over again and again until I learn it properly, I hope." Buffy's wicked grin answers the one crossing Tara's face. "Goody."

Tara laughs softly as Buffy pounces on the bed and starts to kiss her way up her body, deciding that next time Buffy can be the model as she groans and lies back.


Chapter 9

"Thank you, Xander." Willow smiles at her best friend as she climbs out of the vehicle, the two making their way up the front walk to Buffy's house.

"Anything, Wills. You know that." Xander carries the broken down empty boxes while Willow holds the tape in her hand. "I'm surprised you wanted to make sure they were home when you did this."

"I know." Willow smiles nervously. "But I wanted them to know I don't have anything to hide anymore, and us coming here when no one's here didn't seem the right way to show that."

Xander nods his head in silent agreement as they step up onto the porch, blinking as Tara opens the door. "Holy, schmolly." Xander winces at the bruising on Tara's face. Knowing it probably looks better than it did, but the multi-colors that it's turning as it heals makes him whimper quietly.

Tara unconsciously lifts her hand to her face, before dropping it and shrugging. "Nothing I can do about it. Come on you two. I've made extra for dinner, I hope you'll stay." Tara looks towards Willow, silently pleading with the redhead to stick around.

Willow sighs quietly, a small smile crossing her face. "Thank you." Willow accepts the olive branch, knowing her ex-lover would do anything possible to keep their group together.

"Good. She's making homemade pizza, garlic bread and spicy chicken wings." Buffy pokes her head up from behind Tara, grinning at her best friend. "And if the smells are anything to go by, I don't think I'll ever want to order pizza again."

"Or you may wish I'd never made it because you hate it." Tara jokes, winking at Willow and Xander as they come into the house. "The wings are actually done. I have them on the top of the stove right now while the pizzas are baking. I'll throw the garlic cheese bread in after the pizzas are done."

"Will, can I speak with you for a moment?" Buffy questions nervously, lifting her eyes upwards to indicate upstairs. As Willow nods, Buffy holds her hands out to Xander. "I'll take these upstairs if you want to help Tara with the food and setting the dining room table?"

"Sure." Xander double checks with Willow, and at her nervous smile he nods his head.

Willow follows Buffy up the stairs and into her old bedroom.

Buffy shifts nervously after setting the boxes down on the bed, turning to face Willow. "You don't have to move out, Willow." Buffy finally whispers, her eyes serious as she looks at her best friend.

Willow sighs heavily and slowly sits down on the bed, patting the comforter beside her for Buffy to sit down. "I do, Buffy. I love you and you know that. I love Tara and I want you two to be happy. But honestly, I don't think I could handle seeing you two together right now. It still hurts too much, even knowing that ultimately I'm to blame for what's happened. She's had a rough life growing up, Buffy. I know she didn't even tell me all of it, but she deserves someone that'll love and protect her." Willow looks up with a small sad smile on her face. "And honestly, I can't think of anyone better for the job."

Buffy scoots closer and wraps her arm around her best friend's shoulders. "Are we going to get through this okay?"

"I think so. Eventually. I'll always love her, Buffy." Willow whispers softly, a tremor in her voice. "You deserve to know that. But you also deserve to know that I understand that she's no longer my lover. I'm hoping one day she'll be able to consider me her friend, though."

"She does, Willow. She does still love you, you know." Buffy tilts her head against Willow's and closes her eyes.

"Yeah. But she's no longer in love with me. I get that." Willow nods her head slightly. "How are things between you two?"

Buffy smiles softly. "They're great. I'm wanting her to move back in here, but I think she's a little skittish with everything that's been happening, and how quickly we've become a couple. I think she's afraid I'll change my mind, tell you the truth." Buffy whispers, the worry obvious in her voice.

"She hasn't had very good luck with her relationships, Buff. I don't know how much you've had a chance to talk about with her…" Willow sighs and leans heavier against her best friend.

"Not much. She's made some comments the last week, but we haven't had time to really sit down and talk much, between my working and patrolling, and her schoolwork. Plus the fact that she insists on staying at her dorm most nights." Buffy growls softly at that thought. After Monday night, Tara had spent the rest of the week at the dorm each night. Though she had come to the house and fixed dinner, with Buffy walking her back afterwards before doing patrol.

"Though her face is multi-colored, it looks like its healing good." Willow comments.

"Yeah. She's about ready to pull the stitches out. I want her to give them a couple extra days, since she kept making her lip bleed the first few days. She still wants to chew on her bottom lip." Buffy grumbles quietly.

Willow chuckles, remembering her ex-lover's penchant for nibbling on her bottom lip whenever she was thinking or worried about something. That and the thumb rolls were two dead giveaways when Tara had something on her mind. "Maybe with me actually moving out, she'll feel more comfortable about moving back in, Buffy. My stuff here and her possibly being worried I might change my mind, might have something to do with it."

"Possibly, though I'm not sure." Buffy shakes off the sadness and squeezes Willow's shoulder. "I start a new job working at the college Monday."

"You do? That's great. A lot less smelly, I hope… Oh no! Don't tell me you're going to be working in the cafeteria?" Willow shifts to look at her best friend with wide eyes.

Buffy chuckles and pats Willow on the back. "No, no working in the cafeteria. I'm on clean-up detail around the college with the other janitors. It pays quite a bit better than the DMP, plus I won't usually have to work weekends, which is a plus."

"That's wonderful." Willow impulsively hugs Buffy, smiling as Buffy hugs her back.

Buffy pats Willow gently as she extends the hug, having missed her best friend, and silently admitting to herself that she hadn't let Willow be close to her since she'd brought her back. "I don't want you to be a stranger, Willow. I've talked with Tara, and if you're okay with it, we'd like you to come over at least a couple times a week for dinner."

Willow leans back and looks seriously into Buffy's hazel eyes. "Are you sure? I mean… I'd understand if you don't want me here, Buffy. I wasn't exactly a very helpful or thoughtful person before."

"Yeah, but we all make mistakes, Wills. We've just got to learn from them and pray to God that we don't fuck up royally." Buffy smiles softly at her best friend. "Besides, we've been best friends forever, and been through some pretty rough times. I don't give up on my friends easily."

"Thank the Goddess." Willow smiles back at her friend. "Come on, let's go downstairs before Xander eats all the food."

"I don't think even he could eat all of it. She made something like four dozen wings, along with the four pizzas she has in the oven." Buffy's eyes widen at the thought. "Two of the pizzas have to have five pounds of meat on them apiece."

Willow chuckles and bumps into Buffy as they walk out of the room. "She's trying to fatten you up, isn't she?"

"I think its working." Buffy looks down at her jeans that had been loose on her before but noticed she was starting to fill them out a little more.

"Good. You need to gain some weight." Willow jogs down the stairs laughing as Buffy grumbles behind her.

"What is it with everyone wanting me to put on weight?" Buffy growls as she hurries after Willow.

Xander shifts slightly, realizing that this is the first time he's been with Tara with just the two of them. "Does it still hurt?" Xander nods, indicating Tara's face.

Tara wiggles her nose and presses her fingers gently against it. "It doesn't hurt exactly, more like aches occasionally. It's still tender if I press on it though." Tara shrugs and opens the oven to look at the pizzas. Grabbing some oven mitts, she works on re-arranging them to put them on different shelves to finish baking.

"She really beat him up before staking him?" Xander settles down on a stool at the island watching as Tara pulls out the salad and dressings from the refrigerator.

"That would be putting it mildly. I think she split his head open on the concrete before she literally re-arranged his face." Tara looks up at Xander, shivering slightly as she remembers the cold anger coming from Buffy for what Spike had done. "I don't think I've ever seen anyone so angry."

Xander blinks his eyes in surprise, silently agreeing with Tara. Thinking about the time he's known Buffy, having seen her angry but never to the degree where she would do something like that. It sounded more like something Faith would do, than Buffy. "He must have really pissed her off. And I for one am glad he's gone."

Tara nods her head as she starts to pull down plates and bowls, in a way agreeing with Xander, in another feeling bad for Spike. The demon in the vampire too much for the man he once was to fight. Having seen glimpses of the man he must have been while he'd been alive, it makes her sad.

"Here, I'll take those. After all, I was ordered to help you." Xander grins goofily at Tara as he takes the plates and bowls from her, carrying them into the dining room.

Tara smiles and grabs the salad along with a couple of the dressings to set on the dining room table. "Have you and Anya set a date yet?"

Xander groans quietly and shakes his head. "I'm about ready to say to hell with it and run off to Las Vegas to get married. I swear that woman can think of something evil related to almost every date we've come up with."

Tara chuckles quietly, pressing her hand over her mouth gently. "Sorry. But you have to take into consideration that she's been around for over a thousand years, I'm sure there're all kinds of things she can tell us."

"Yeah, and none of them good." Buffy grins at Tara as she comes in behind Willow. Standing close to Tara, Buffy winks, while trailing a finger over her lover's hand. "Want some more help?"

"If you want to help. We haven't gotten the glasses ready yet, plus the pizzas are probably almost ready to pull out." Tara wraps her hand around Buffy's finger, squeezing gently.

"I'm yours to command." Buffy chuckles at the narrow eyed look she gets from her lover, before following Tara into the kitchen.

Willow smiles sadly as she watches the two women walk into the kitchen before turning to look at Xander as he grasps her shoulder gently.

"You okay?" Xander searches sad green eyes.

"I will be. It'll take time." Willow admits softly. "At least I haven't lost their friendship, Xan. That's a biggie."

"Good." Xander hugs Willow gently to him with one arm and rests his chin on top of her head. "You know we love our Wills."

Willow chuckles and hugs Xander tightly. "Thanks, Xander. Let's help with the rest of the food. Where's Dawn at?"

Buffy looks up from where she was munching on a wing. Quickly swallowing the bite in her mouth and licking her lips. "Umm. She was wanting to spend the weekend at a friend's house. It was one of those birthday slumber party things."

"No fair!" Xander grumbles grabbing the platter of wings from Buffy's hand.

"Sorry, couldn't resist." Buffy shrugs, smirking as she works her way through the rest of the wing.

Tara shakes her head, as she pulls the pizzas out of the oven and setting them on top of the stove before placing the thick sliced bread with butter, garlic and cheese on top of it, for garlic cheese bread, in the oven. "It'll only take a few minutes for the bread."

Buffy leans over Tara's shoulder and groans at the sight of the pizzas. Inhaling deeply, she feels her mouth flooding at the thought of sinking her teeth into the pizza.

"Buffy, if you don't want to be smacked, you'll get your drooly self to making the drinks." Tara warns jerking her shoulder up to bounce gently off Buffy's chin.

"Am not drooling." Buffy grumbles, licking her lips and realizing there was a little extra liquid on the bottom lip. "Much." Buffy finishes quietly, blushing lightly.

"That's okay, sweetie." Tara murmurs, grinning crookedly at her lover.

Buffy quickly presses a kiss to Tara's lips before turning to help with the drinks.

Tara chuckles as she picks up the pizza cutter. Quickly cutting through the pizzas, she grins as Buffy grabs two of them, taking them into the dining room. Checking on the garlic cheese bread, Tara pulls them out, setting them on the stove while handing Buffy the last two pizzas as Willow and Xander carry the drinks into the dining room. Looking around, Tara shrugs and carries the pans with the bread on it into the dining room, settling beside Buffy. She chuckles at the sight of Buffy having already placed a huge piece of pizza on her plate and filled her salad bowl.

"This is great." Xander mumbles around the bite of pizza, before grunting as Willow smacks him on the shoulder.

"I swear, you would think you'd gain some manners over time." Willow grumbles as she nods her head at Tara. "It is great, though." Willow points to her pizza that she'd taken a small bite out of.

"Thank you." Tara smiles and laughs as Buffy grunts her agreement while working on demolishing the large piece of pizza in record time. "I'll take that as you like it also."

Buffy nods her head enthusiastically while reaching for a piece of the garlic cheese bread and placing it on her plate while finishing the bite of pizza in her mouth. "Very, very good. Don't want take-out no more." Buffy licks some sauce off her lip before taking a bite of the garlic bread.

"She's not much better." Tara grins crookedly at Willow as Buffy looks from her to Willow and back again with a bite of bread hanging out of her mouth.

Willow chuckles and looks at Buffy who has the good graces to blush lightly and look down at her plate.

"I'm sorry. Smelling this food cooking for the last hour had the beast making an appearance." Buffy pouts and looks up adorably at Tara. "You frying the bacon, hamburger and sausage about drove me crazy."

"I know, sweet one." Tara whispers, smiling at her lover. "Eat. We're just picking on you."

"Likes it." Buffy whispers softly, so only Tara can hear before diving back into the food.

Willow watches the two women, surprised at the caring she sees coming from Buffy, along with the obvious happiness showing in the slayer's eyes and the ready smiles. It hitting her that she doesn't remember seeing Buffy smile that unreservedly for a very, very long time. Well before she had died, truth told. Blinking at the surprising revelation, Willow slowly relaxes as she works on eating her piece of pizza and her salad, watching the two interact with each other. The exchanged looks while they talk and discuss what's happening in their lives. Occasionally commenting herself, but letting the other three carry the conversation while she takes in the easy camaraderie that there is between Buffy and Tara. Surprised once again as Buffy unreservedly leans up to press a soft kiss on Tara's cheek, telling her to stay seated while she runs back into the kitchen to grab more drinks. 'They look good together.' Willow mentally whispers, having to smile at the thought.

Xander looks towards Willow, surprised when he just sees the soft smile on his best friend's face at the kiss. Sighing in relief, he relaxes a little more at the thought if Willow's okay with the two women being together, he doesn't really have anything to complain about. Of course, he glances at Tara, silently wondering what the woman has that has attracted both of his best friends, tilting his head as he looks at her in consideration for a few moments before shaking his head. Yes, the woman was pretty in an understated way, but just not getting it. Mentally shrugging his shoulders, he grabs some wings, tossing them on his plate to work his way through them.

The group of friends joke as they help Willow pack her items in the boxes.

Willow sighs softly as she comes across Tara's Dolls Eye Crystal. Turning to her ex-lover, she steps up to her and gently places the item in her hand. "I know you gave this to me, but considering everything, I want you to take it back."

Tara runs a finger gently over the crystal, looking at the item for a few moments before looking up at Willow. "I did give it to you, Willow. It's yours, but if you would like me to keep it for you until the time you feel comfortable having it again, I won't argue."

Willow smiles tremulously, tears trying to come to her eyes as she nods her head. "Thank you." Willow hoarsely whispers.

Buffy bites her bottom lip as she watches the two women, seeing the pain in both their eyes until Tara finally eases from the room. Quickly setting down the shirt she'd been folding to place in the suitcase, Buffy hurries after her lover.

Tara smiles as she hears Buffy come into the room and shut the door behind her. "I'm okay, Buffy." Tara whispers quietly, placing the crystal on top of the dresser.

"Are you sure?" Buffy wraps her arms gently around Tara's waist, resting her chin on her shoulder as she watches Tara stroke the crystal.

"Actually better than I thought I would be when she said she was going to come and pack her stuff up." Tara leans back into Buffy's arms, resting her hands overtop of Buffy's. "She's actually letting me go, sweetie. She understands and isn't going to cause problems."

"I know." Buffy tilts her head against Tara's. "She still loves you, just as you love her. But she knows it's just that. That you aren't actually in love with her anymore."

Tara sighs softly. "I take it you two had a nice little conversation when you came up here?"

"Yeah. I wanted her to know that she didn't have to move out, but she was afraid watching us together would be too much for her to handle right now." Buffy squeezes gently and presses a kiss on Tara's neck. "I want you to move in, Tara. For many reasons that just make sense, but the biggest is my own selfish reason that I want you here with me all the time."

Tara chuckles and nods her head. "We still haven't had a chance to have that discussion we put off earlier this week."

"That's because we got sidetracked. Then we haven't had much of a chance since then between school, work, patrols and Dawn to get to talk." Buffy comments softly. "After we help finish packing, maybe we can sit down and talk?"

"I think that would be something we need to do." Tara smiles softly as Buffy nips gently at her neck. "As long as we don't get sidetracked."

"It has been…" Buffy mentally counts the days.

"Last night." Tara grins as Buffy grunts.

"Not counting last night. That didn't even put a dent in our hornies." Buffy growls and nibbles on Tara's earlobe. "Come on, let's help Willow finish packing. I think she's had about as much as she can handle being here with us right now."

Tara nods and slowly follows her lover out of the room.


Chapter 10

Buffy moves to stand by the mantle, her head low after Tara explained about her life and hurried upstairs to freshen up. Listening quietly to her softly crying lover, knowing Tara wants to be alone, though not liking it. Her heart hurting with a very physical pain, Buffy rests her forehead against the mantle. Silently swearing to herself that some how, some day, she will visit Tara's father and brother to give them the beating they deserve for the pain, mental anguish and terror they put Tara through her whole life. And God help that asshole friend of Donny's if she ever finds him. He'll be praying for her to kill him by the time she's done fucking him over.

Shivering uncontrollably at the thought of Tara being only fifteen years old, and that bastard… Shaking her head to get those thoughts from floating through, knowing that they'll just make her angrier. Sighing quietly, Buffy continues to stand there silently unaware of the tears flowing down her own face at what Tara had been through in her short life. Wondering how she could be the sweet, kind, loving person she is now with what had happened to her.

Also knowing what she does now, Buffy realizes that she can't initiate one of the things she really wanted to do with Tara. Not knowing how her lover would react. Slowly turning her head as she hears Tara hesitantly step down the stairs and look at her as if she was almost afraid of her reaction, Buffy hurries over to the bottom steps, grabbing her gently in her arms to hug her.

Tara wraps her arms tightly around Buffy's neck, burying her face in Buffy's hair as her lover holds her like she never wants to let her go.

"I love you, Tara." Buffy whispers, her face against Tara's neck soaking the flesh with her tears. "Nothing will change how I feel for you, so please don't be afraid of telling me anything."

Tara relaxes against Buffy's body, the slayer's words taking the last of her fear of how Buffy would react to what she told her away. "I love you, too, Buffy."

Buffy sighs quietly, feeling the last of the tension ease out of Tara's body. Shifting her lover slightly, she hooks her arm behind Tara's knees and walks over to the chair, settling in it with Tara on her lap. Brushing her cheek over Tara's shoulder, Buffy presses her lips softly against her neck.

Tara smiles at the tenderness her lover is showing, closing her eyes as soft fingertips caress gently down her arm in a soothing gesture.

"What do I have to do, or say, to get you to move back in here?" Buffy finally questions a while later after getting control of her tears and fluctuating feelings. Not knowing whether to be sad, angry, or to go on a rampage with what she'd learned about Tara's life.

Tara brushes her cheek over Buffy's head, sighing softly. "Say yes."

"Huh?" Buffy blinks in confusion. "Say yes to what?"

"You have to say yes, not argue the fact and I'll move in." Tara quirks her lips slightly, as she can almost hear the wheels in the slayer's brain turning.

"Tara, I love you and trust you completely. But I have a gut feeling if I say yes, it'll be to something that'll end up upsetting me." Buffy grumbles softly.

Tara nods her head in agreement. "It probably will." Tara turns to look at Buffy, at the slayer's urging. The silent question in her lover's eyes for an explanation makes her sigh quietly. "I have a nest egg from my mother that I've been saving for a down payment on a house when I decided where I was going to live." Tara starts to explain softly, stopping as Buffy presses her thumb gently against her lips.

"I can't take your money, Tara." Buffy whispers, her eyes serious.

"You have to, Buffy. I can't live here with you and not pay my fair share. I won't take advantage of you." Tara brushes her thumb gently over Buffy's cheek. Seeing the argument about ready to come from Buffy, Tara shakes her head gently. "No, love. No arguing. If I'm going to live here with you, our money will be OUR money. I don't know how much Willow's money helped catch up your bills, but mine should finish catching up the house payments and whatever other bills you have."

Buffy looks down as she considers Tara's words before whispering softly. "How about a partial compromise?"

Tara tilts her head as she gently cups Buffy's chin, urging her to look up. "What?"

Licking her lips, Buffy takes a deep breath. "How about we only use part of your savings? Shhh…" Buffy shushes Tara as her lover starts to open her mouth. "Just in case something comes up where we need the money, I don't want to deplete it completely, okay?"

Tara relaxes and slowly nods her head. "How much are you behind now, honey?"

Buffy tilts her head back against the chair and looks up at the ceiling as she runs the figures through her head. "With the house payments, electric and phone that I've been making minimum payments on… Roughly ten thousand, I think." Buffy explains. Having used part of the money Willow gave her mostly on the house payments, with a little to the phone and electric.

Tara tilts her head against Buffy's, brushing her lips softly over the tip of her lover's nose. "Will you let me use half of my savings?" Tara finally questions after a few minutes. Honestly having thought Buffy was further behind than she was, though depending on how much Willow had given her, that check possibly being a bigger chunk than she realized.

Buffy closes her eyes and finally nods her head in acceptance.

Tara smiles and shifts so she's a little further down so she can press her face against the crook of her lover's neck. "Do you want to take the Jeep and move me today, or wait?" Tara finally questions, the only time they've used the Jeep was when they did the major stock-up at the grocery store. Buffy having given her a set of keys to the vehicle, saying she could use it, but not feeling right driving it all the time.

"Now." Buffy shifts and lifts Tara as she stands.

Tara chuckles at Buffy's eagerness. "I didn't mean right this minute."

"Maybe not, but I want to get it done. Do you need any boxes or anything to pack stuff up in?" Buffy questions softly as she gently sets Tara down on her feet.

"No. Most of my stuff isn't even unpacked from where I moved back in the dorms. I just unpacked what I needed and left the other." Tara runs her tongue over her bottom lip before looking at Buffy for a moment. "I want to take the stitches out, Buffy. It's healed, and now the stitches are just irritating."

Buffy leans in as Tara pokes her bottom lip out. Raising her hand to gently move it so she can see properly, she takes a deep breath and softly agrees. "Okay. It does look like it's healed now."

"Good." Tara grins and runs up the stairs.

Buffy drops her head so her chin rests on her chest. "Damn woman." Buffy grumbles before hurrying after Tara. "Let me take them out!" Tara pokes her head out of the bathroom with a small pair of scissors in one hand and the tweezers in the other. "Give me those." Buffy takes the items from Tara and follows her back into the bathroom, motioning her to sit down on the chair that sits in front of the vanity. Turning on the bright lights, Buffy pulls out the alcohol and pours some over the scissors just to be on the safe side.

Tara's eyes twinkle merrily at the thought of what she was going to do to the slayer when they get back home. Yes, she has tasted the slayer, but not direct from the source and whenever she'd traveled down Buffy's body, the slayer would stop her almost as if she knew what she was planning on doing.

Buffy tries to ignore the smell of arousal coming from Tara, along with the gleam in her eyes knowing what her lover's probably thinking about. Carefully snipping the threads, Buffy sets the scissors on the vanity before grasping the ends of the threads and gently pulling them out. "There, all done." Buffy smiles softly as she turns and puts away the items.

Tara runs her tongue over the slightly raised flesh, knowing it'll settle down in time. Poking at it firmly with the tip of her tongue, she grins before sucking the lip into her mouth. Not feeling any pain or tasting any blood, she stands as Buffy turns to say something to her. Grabbing the slayer to her, she finally does what she's been aching to do for the past week.

Buffy whimpers as Tara presses her lips hard against hers, her tongue slipping in to initiate a heated battle. Raising her hands and threading them in Tara's blonde hair as the kiss seems to last for hours before they both finally break away, panting heavily.

Tara licks her lips, as she continues to try and catch her breath, smiling at finally being able to kiss the slayer properly. "Sooner we go, the sooner we'll get back." Tara finally whispers, smiling at the grunt she receives from Buffy.

Buffy literally just follows Tara out of the bathroom and through the house in a daze. The soft, teasing kisses that they had usually exchanged because of Tara's busted lip not preparing her for the kiss the Wiccan had literally just laid on her.

Tara shuts the door behind Buffy as the slayer automatically buckles her seatbelt, chuckling at the dazed look still on her face. Quickly hopping into the vehicle, Tara drives them across town to the college. Pulling into the parking lot in front of her dorm, Tara taps Buffy gently on the cheek, smiling as hazy hazel eyes turn towards her. "We're here. Let's pack me up and move me out. I want to move back home."

"Okay." Buffy answers simply, shaking her head to try and dispel the desire still coursing through her from the kiss.

Tara chuckles before pressing a soft kiss to Buffy's lips before climbing out and waiting for Buffy to join her.

It takes a moment before Buffy realizes Tara's standing outside the vehicle waiting patiently for her to join her. Hopping out of the vehicle, Buffy hurries to Tara, gently grasping her hand and threading their fingers together as they walk towards the dorm.

Tara places the cover on the pot of chili to let it cook on low before hurrying up the stairs. Buffy had insisted on lugging everything upstairs while she worked on the chili for dinner. She and Buffy discussed what they wanted to eat while they were packing her up at the dorm in between some hot and even hotter kisses. Buffy finally decided some extra hot chili sounded good, so they'd made a quick detour by the store to pick up a few additional items before heading home.

Laughing softly at the sight of Buffy holding one of the few pairs of sexy underwear she owns in her hand with what could only be called a look of deep lust Tara leans against the frame of the doorway and crosses her arms. "Find something that interests you?"

Buffy blushes darkly at having been caught ogling Tara's underwear, though it was more like ogling her lover as she pictured Tara in this particular pair. "Just putting away your clothes." Buffy mumbles and turns to place the underwear gently in the drawer.

"Uh, huh." Tara hesitates for a moment, before deciding to pick on Buffy a little more. "This is quite… odd."

"Odd? Huh?" Buffy looks up in confusion looking around the room, not noticing anything odd.

"Hmm. Yes, odd. Or maybe… strange?" Tara slowly eases into the room, working her way around the different items that Buffy had set out on the surfaces, mostly her candles and knick-knacks.

"What's strange?" Buffy breaks down the empty box, tossing it in the corner with the other broken down boxes.

"Well… I remember agreeing to move back into the house…" Tara hesitates and glances over at Buffy who suddenly stilled what she was doing and was looking her way. "I don't remember saying what room I was going to be moving into…"

Buffy whimpers quietly, as she looks at Tara who has her back turned to her and is looking elsewhere. "I…" Buffy pouts as she glances at the items she'd already put up. Just having the clothes to hang in her closet after she does a little rearranging. "I thought you were staying with me, with me." Buffy finally whispers softly.

Tara groans quietly as she hears the unsure and worried tone in the slayer's voice. "I'm just picking on you, Buffy." Tara hurries over to the slayer, wrapping her arms around the quiet woman. "And in very poor taste, I might add."

Buffy closes her eyes and wraps her arms gently around Tara. Feeling her heart settle back down from where it had started to thunder in her chest. "If you would rather not share a room, I can…"

Tara quickly shifts and places a finger on Buffy's lips. "Don't even go there, Slayer. I was just picking on you, because we talked about my moving back in here, but not the actual living arrangements. Though I hoped we would be sharing a room, but seeing you unpacking and putting everything away in your room caused my little imp of mischief to rear its stupid, ugly head." Tara tilts her forehead against Buffy's as she moves her finger off the slayer's lips. "I'm sorry, Buffy. I never should have even gone there."

Buffy shifts her head to place her lips against Tara's, kissing her softly for a few minutes, without deepening the kiss before easing back. "If I had been able to see your twinkling blue eyes, I would have known. But you had your back to me, and I couldn't tell." Buffy smiles slowly. "Our room, Tara."

Tara relaxes at Buffy's forgiveness, and her comment about it being their room. "I love you, Buffy. Don't ever, ever doubt that. If you have any questions, concerns or… anything, just ask. And, Goddess forbid, if I ever forget to tell you I love you please feel free to bring it to my attention. I know things will be hectic as it gets closer to graduation for me, and I will probably get caught up in it, but that's not a good enough reason to not tell you I love you."

"Graduation?" Buffy latches onto that one word. "I thought…" Buffy tilts her head as she thinks about the fact that Tara was only a few months older than her, if she was figuring correctly.

"I started school a year early, sweet one. I'm only three months older than you, but I'll be graduating this year." Tara explains softly.

Buffy bites her bottom lip as she looks into loving blue eyes, realizing that there are quite a few things she still doesn't know about her lover. "God, I'm going to sound like an idiot. After all this time and how… intimate we've been. But what were you studying in college?"

Tara chuckles and presses a quick kiss to Buffy's lips. "Let's put it this way… when you were joking about 'teacher making you do things over and over again until you got them right'? You were pretty much on the money."

Buffy furrows her brows as she looks at Tara before it clicks. "You're going to be a teacher?"

"Yep." Tara chuckles as Buffy laughs quietly.

"Oh, goody. Teacher, can you keep me after school? I've been a baaad, baaad student." Buffy wiggles her eyebrows as she nips gently on Tara's chin.

"You have the voice down, but the wiggling of the eyebrows kind of ruined it… Plus the leather pants." Tara gently pats Buffy on the ass, before letting her hand stroke over the soft leather. "Have to pick you up one of those little pleated skirts, patent leather shoes…"

"Don't think so." Buffy growls playfully, before kissing Tara firmly. "But I do have a very short, leather mini-skirt and a crop-top that barely covers my breasts, along with a pair of stiletto heels. Maybe instead of the 'virginal student', I can be the opposite."

Tara groans deeply at the thought of Buffy wearing the outfit she described. "If you tell me your butt cheeks are barely covered by the skirt, and when you bend over they're on display, I may just attack you right now."

Buffy laughs wickedly and wiggles her eyebrows, laughing softly as she smells the arousal coming from Tara.

"Goddess, help me." Tara murmurs, dropping her forehead to her lover's shoulder.

"I need to re-situate my closet. I have to pull out some of the clothes that don't get much wearing time and put them in the other closet so we have room for your clothes." Buffy strokes her hand gently through Tara's hair, before pressing a kiss against the side of her head.

"Do I get to go out with you on patrol tonight?" Tara questions curiously as she finally steps back after Buffy hugged her gently and let her go.

"If you promise to be careful." Buffy nods her head in acceptance as she heads to the closet, sorting the clothes quickly, though the majority of the ones that she used were already at the most easily accessible area of the closet.

"Here, I'll take them and hang them up in the master bedroom." Tara offers, holding her hands out for the pile of clothes the slayer had pulled down.

"Thanks." Buffy grins as she sets the items in Tara's arms before looking through the rest of the closet, pulling out a few additional items as Tara leaves the room. Throwing those items over her shoulder, she kneels down at the bottom of the closet, shifting her extra weapon's box aside before picking up a couple pairs of shoes that don't get worn that often to take into the other room while she's at it.

Tara gently hangs the clothes up in the closet, re-situating them so the shirts are hanging with each other and the pants are hanging together. Running her hands gently down the clothes, silently wondering why Buffy doesn't wear them anymore.

"You okay?" Buffy looks at the far-away look in Tara's eyes.

"Hmm?" Tara takes a minute to come back from her wondering thoughts before slowly nodding her head and smiling at her lover. "I'm fine. I was just wondering why you don't wear these that much."

"Most of them are big right now." Buffy admits as she drops the shoes in the bottom of the closet, before hanging up the rest of her clothes, sorting them automatically after seeing Tara had sorted them, instead of just hanging them up and leaving them as is.

"We'll work on that." Tara gently squeezes Buffy's hip before wrapping her arms around her lover's waist and hooking her chin over her shoulder. "I really liked those red leather pants." Tara comments, her eyes on the item that stands out with all the darker jeans and leather pants.

Buffy quirks her lips at Tara's admittance. "And how often did you look at those leather pants?"

"Hmm… Probably more often than I'll ever admit to." Tara chuckles and nips gently on the back of Buffy's neck.

"That is so not fair." Buffy grumbles, smiling at the laughter coming from Tara. "Let's finish putting everything up, then we'll see what kind of mischief we can get into."

"That sounds like fun." Tara strokes her hand firmly over Buffy's stomach and places a soft kiss on Buffy's neck, before releasing her lover. "My lips are ready for action, and I'm planning on them having a lot of action tonight."

Buffy whimpers as her knees weaken slightly at the thought, even as Tara chuckles wickedly as she leaves the room.

Part 11

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