DISCLAIMER: BTVS is the property of Mutant Enemy and Twentieth Century Fox.
SPOILERS: Up until near the end of season seven Buffy.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.

In Love
By Nancy

Of all the things that had happened in her already very strange life, being a lesbian shouldn't have been the strangest. When she'd met Tara at the lame Wiccan meeting, she had noticed her, mostly due to the stammering and sweet manner. Then, when they'd connected in the laundry room, power slamming from deep within because Tara completed her in a way she hadn't known was missing, Willow had been shaken to her core.

In a good way.

In a very, very, very good way.

She'd stared at Tara in wonder that changed into love without hardly any urging. The other woman's sweet, giving nature had been exactly what she'd needed. Her own more logical and straightforward nature had been lacking the same kind of...well...everything that Tara was. It surprised her even now that Tara could find it in her to love Willow that way she did. Waking up in her lover's arms every morning was a privilege.

Speaking of which...

Grinning, she snuggled closer and kissed the soft curve of a breast within easy reach. A warm chuckle answered her silent good morning and then Tara said, "We don't have time, sweetie."

Opening her eyes, Willow pushed onto her elbows and countered, "There's always time."

Tara reached over and brushed a finger over her cheek and smiled. "Not this morning. That's what happens when you stay up the whole night. The morning seems to just fly away while you're sleeping."

Willow frowned at the pointed (well, as pointed as Tara ever got) reference to time and looked at the clock. Alarm flared through her and she shot out of bed, scrambling around for clothes. "Test, test, test! I am so late!"

Tara's merry laughter followed her around the room as Willow grabbed jeans, yanked on a t-shirt and shoved her feet into sandles. She paused for a short kiss then grabbed her bag and ran out the door with, "See you at the Magic Shop!"

She ran down the hall wishing that she'd had time for more than just the short kiss.

Tara's smile didn't abate after Willow was gone, she simply lay back on the narrow bed and smiled her happiness up at the ceiling. What they had together was more than she'd ever dreamed and, if she was very, very lucky, she'd be able to have it for her whole life.

After a few minutes of a goofy smile at the plain white plaster, Tara got out of bed and picked out her clothes and towel before heading for the showers. One of the very bad things about dorm life was the communal shower area. There were stalls, thank Goodness, but it was still nerve-wracking for her to be naked in a room with strangers. Even after a couple of years, she didn't know a lot of the other girls in their dorm.

Come to think of it, those she did know were because of her relationship with Willow. There was just something about her lover that drew people. Her ready grin, the soft, sly wit, or her abundantly good nature. It was all wrapped up in one gorgeous package of red hair, brilliant, changeable eyes and slender body.

No, she didn't just love Willow for her mind and heart, she thought with a grin.

"Tara, wait!"

Jumping in surprise, Tara stopped short at Helen's call and turned reluctantly to face the other girl. She was dark haired and dark eyed, a beautiful Italian kind of girl with mean eyes who'd been hounding Tara for a while. "Yes, Helen?"

The taller girl moved closer with a possessive smile. "Just wondering if you'd like to go out tonight."

Did she mention agressive, too? "Um..."

"Really, it'll be fun."

The way she said it left little doubt of what the other girl wanted. Clearing her throat, not meeting Helen's eyes, Tara answered, "I'm, I'm going, doing, studying with Willow tonight."

"Which is it?" Helen asked in obvious amusement. "If you're going to lie, you should settle on one. Makes it easier to remember."

Tara wasn't sure how it happened, but she wound up with her back to the wall and Helen directly in front of her, intimidatingly close. "I'm not lying. We're, we're going to be studying together."

Leaning even closer, close enough for Tara to smell sharp, minty breath, Helen replied, "I don't know why you're avoiding me, Tara. I like you. I just want to make you happy."

"Th-then you should um, leave me alone. I'm, I'm very ha-happy with Willow," Tara stammered, cursing her nervousness. After all the demons and vampires she'd fought, sort of, with Willow, she should be beyond stammering!

"You don't sound very convincing."

Tara swallowed uneasily when Helen's hand touched her hip. She started to move away, but found herself pinned. Finally looking up into the other girl's dark eyes, she whisepred, "Let me go."

With a crocodile smile, Helen shook her head and answered, "I like this. You're so sweet, Tara, she doesn't deserve you."

"She said to let her go."

Tara's knees nearly sagged in relief at Buffy's commanding, angry voice. Thank Goodness!

Helen pulled back abruptly and glared at Buffy. "What's it to you, Summers?"

Walking to them, planting herself directly between Tara and Helen, Buffy answered, "She's my best friend's girlfriend and you're bothering her. Get lost and don't bother her again or you'll answer to me."

Helen's glare increased, but she backed off, stalking away.

Breathing a shaky sigh of relief, Tara held her towel tighter to her chest as Buffy faced her. She looked at the floor, unable to bear the disappointment that she knew would be in the other woman's face.

"Tara? Are you okay?"

Hesitant, but encouraged by the soft tone, Tara looked up. More relief spread through her when disappointment was nowhere in the bright blue eyes. "I'm so-sorry about that."

Frowning, Buffy asked, "Sorry about what?"

"About Helen. I, it doesn't seem to matter that I tell her to, to leave me alone. You, you shouldn't have had to, to do that," Tara answered.

Lightly touching Tara's shoulder, Buffy said firmly, "It's not your fault. She's a bitch and should've disappeared the first time you said no. If she gives you any more trouble, you just let me know. You know what I really can't believe, though?"

There was a grin on Buffy's face now, so Tara asked, "What?"

"That I said, 'my best friend's girlfriend' with a straight face. That's like a song, isn't it?"

Tara smiled at the teasing and relaxed the rest of the way.

"So look, you were about to take a shower, right? Want me to hang around? Guard the door?"

Though she could see that Buffy was completely serious, Tara shook her head. "No, thanks. I appreciate it, though."

"Okay. See you at the Shop later?"

Tara nodded.

"Good. Take care!"

She watched the blond woman move away, then smiled. It was good having friends, even if you did inherit them from your girlfriend.

Buffy moved slowly away from Tara, a little anxious at leaving the other woman in a vulnerable position. It had freaked her out at first, when Willow had told her about Tara, even though she hadn't wanted to be freaked. All the times they'd been sleeping over, changing clothes in the same room, had flashed through her mind. Then, when Willow had given her that upset, worried look, afraid that she'd pushed Buffy away by just telling the truth, Buffy had mentally pushed aside the stupid reaction.

Willow was exactly the same. They just didn't have to worry about arguing over guys anymore.

She grinned at the thought as she left the dorm for the quad, but sighed too. With the wreck that was her love life, Buffy wasn't sure that she'd ever find something like what Willow and Tara had. Their love was so strong, so obvious, that it was almost touchable. Though she was jealous sometimes, for the most part, she was just protective of them. It was like, as long as they were together, there was a chance that she'd find something for herself.

"Hey, Buffy."

Stopping in surprise at Riley's call, Buffy looked over at the hesitant man and smiled. "Riley, hi. What's going on?"

"Um, nothing. Just, you know, thought I'd say hello."

Her smile grew at his awkward answer and she said, "Good."

Dancing slowly to the music, Willow sighed deeply and rested her head against Tara's shoulder. This was almost her favorite thing; holding Tara close, feeling her soft body pressed tight, and swaying to music. "Are you happy?"

Tara started in surprise and pulled back a little, searching her eyes. "Yes! More happy than I've been ever!"

"Really?" Willow questioned.

Smiling, eyes luminous in the near-dark, Tara nodded. "Really. I love you, Willow, you're everything to me."

Relief supplanted the uncertainty and Willow gave a happy smile and kissed her lover, lingering over the warm, wet depths, twining their tongues together. When she pulled back, a snicker escaped at the dazed expression on Tara's face. "I love you too, Tara. You're my everything."

The dazed expression faded, replaced by a dazzling happiness. "Come on. Let's go to bed."

As they moved to the too-small bed, enveloped by the sweet tenderness of Tara's arm around her waist, Willow thought with happiness, This is what it's like to be in love.

The End

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