DISCLAIMER: I do not own any of these characters, but I do own six seasons of them on dvd, and counting.
SPOILERS: Season 7, with various earlier season references throughout.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
SEQUEL: To The Turning of the Tide.
Kennedy woke up the next morning to the sounds of the other Slayer-in-Training shrieking over bathroom rights. Groggily she sat up and glanced at Willow's makeshift bed on the floor. Willow was nowhere to be seen. Yawning, she pulled herself out of bed and made her way past the crush of girls in the hallway, heading downstairs to breakfast.
Willow, Xander, Dawn, and Buffy were already seated around the breakfast table. Xander was reading the newspaper, Dawn was actively trying to convince Buffy to take her shoe shopping after school, and Willow was...keeping a close eye on the stairs that Kennedy was stumbling down at this very moment. Suddenly, Kennedy felt much more alert. She gave the red-headed witch a big smile, which unfortunately turned into a yawn as she sat down across from her at the table.
"Morning, sleepyhead," Willow greeted her, in a happy-to-see-you sort of voice.
"Mmm...Morning, yourself," Kennedy replied, in a subdued-but-still-flirtatious voice.
Xander rustled his newspaper downward, and gave them both a penetrating look.
Kennedy ignored him, helping herself to a bagel. She distinctly heard him make a "Hmm..." noise as he rustled the paper back upward.
"How did you sleep?" Willow asked.
"Great," Kennedy informed her. 'Bed still nice and comfortable,' she added mentally. "And you?" she inquired out loud.
"Actually," Willow replied, "better than I have in a long time." 'And I kind of have you to thank for that,' she continued in her head.
Kennedy smiled at her again, and the two women held each other's gazes for several moments, until their reverie was interrupted by Dawn's voice.
"Hello, earth to Willow. Come in Willow, we want to ask you about shoes..."
"Huh? What! No! No...shoes, no shirt, no service! What were you saying?" Willow asked.
Xander took this opportunity for another dramatic over-the-newspaper look.
"I was asking," Dawn explained, in a long-suffering voice, "if you wanted to go shoe shopping with Buffy and me this afternoon."
"We've got ass-kicking boots on the top of our shopping list," Buffy added helpfully.
"Um...no thanks." Willow answered. "All set on the shoe front for me." Noticing that she was the recipient of weird looks from almost everyone at the table, she quickly added, "You might want to ask Anya, though. Make her feel like part of the gang again."
"Yeah," Xander chimed in. "That girl can shop with a vengeance."
Kennedy was chuckling silently to herself. She's distracted by me, Kennedy thought gleefully. Oh, this is very good.
Willow gave her a that's-not-funny frown from across the table. Kennedy grinned unrepentantly.
"So, uh, Buffy," Kennedy said, still a little in awe of the slayer, "are we all training with you tonight?"
"That's the plan," Buffy answered. "Spike and I are going to run everyone through some drills." She paused, "Although I don't think we should do intensive weapons training until the bathroom situation clears up."
"Good idea," Willow put in fervently. "So what kinds of exercises are you going to be doing with them, Buffy?"
Kennedy leaned forward, interested in hearing anything Buffy might have to say about their training. Inadvertently, her foot brushed against Willow's under the table. Her reward for this was a very subtle under-the-eyelashes look from the older girl, as she continued her conversation with Buffy.
"Maybe less deadly weapons," Buffy was saying. "Like squirt guns full of Holy Water or something." She was interrupted by a slight gasp from Kennedy, who had just felt Willow's foot circling her own. Was Willow playing footsie with her?
"Uh...that's just a really good idea. Squirt guns, I mean." Kennedy covered lamely.
She slowly moved her foot around Willow's ankle and rubbed against it gently. Willow reciprocated by playfully hooking her foot around the back of Kennedy's calf muscles and brushing seductively against them. Kennedy moved her foot downward so that her toes just barely grazed the arch of Willow's foot. She wasn't sure, but she thought she detected an almost indiscernible shiver run through the redhead.
Just then, Dawn pushed her chair back and swung her long legs around towards them, abruptly knocking into their interlocked feet.
"Are you two playing footsie?!" she demanded curiously.
All eyes turned to focus on Willow and Kennedy, who were both blushing slightly.
"Uh, no...." Willow said. "I was, uh, just...checking to make sure she's not a manifestation of The First," she finished triumphantly. "And...she's not. So that's a good."
"Right," Xander agreed. "Footsie - The First Line of Defense." Then he broke out into a grin. Standing up from the table he tousled Willow's hair as he walked over toward Buffy and Dawn. "Ladies," he said, "I'm off to work, inspection of library sight damage calls." Leaning forward he put his arms around the sisters' shoulders, kissing both Buffy and Dawn on the cheek. "Save your toe-strength, Will," he intoned. "Buffy and Dawn also officially not The First."
Buffy and Dawn were still snickering at his last comment as Buffy also got up from the table. "I don't have any office hours today, so I plan to spend the morning brainstorming ways to fight the ultimate evil and taking stock of my current shoe holdings. See you guys later?"
"Sure," Willow agreed.
"Later," Dawn said as she grabbed her books and headed out the door to school.
"So," Kennedy said, "alone at last."
"Looks that way," Willow agreed. Fighting the sudden nervousness in her stomach, she reached across the table and took hold of Kennedy's hand. "I just wanted to say, well, I'm not sure what I wanted to say. But it was about last night. About it being nice."
Willow peered into Buffy's room, looking around for the slayer. Buffy was rummaging through her closet, tossing shoes across the room at random.
"Hey Buffy," Willow began. "What do you think about..."
Buffy poked her head out of the closet. "About Kennedy? I think she's great, Will. You should totally go for it," Buffy offered enthusiastically
"Um, I was going to say about my casting a magical detection spell to alert us to any eyeless Harbinger minions coming within about two blocks of the house. What makes you think I'd be coming up here to ask about Kennedy?"
"Ah, well," Buffy answered sheepishly, "that spell thing sounds like a good idea, too."
Willow pushed a small pile of shoes aside and made a space for herself to sit down on Buffy's bed. "But you were saying something about Kennedy?" she smiled at her best friend.
"I was," Buffy agreed. "I'm aware that my initial reaction when you told me about Tara was..." Buffy searched for the right word, "a little less than...."
"You kinda had a wiggins," Willow supplied.
"Well, maybe a little," Buffy admitted. "But I've been waiting like three years to be totally cool about it next time you told me about a girl. So that was me, jumping my totally cool gun."
Willow smiled. "Well, good job. You were so totally cool." She stared down at the bedspread for a moment. "But your wiggins only lasted about two minutes. You were always fine with it...with us...after that."
"I know," Buffy replied. "I just felt bad."
"No worries," Willow assured her. "Tara loved you. And Dawn. It really meant a lot to her when you both did that showdown thing with her family when they came to town."
"She was really special, Will." Buffy said quietly.
"I still miss her, Buffy," Willow said, her voice full of tears. "I miss her every day."
"I know," Buffy said simply, pulling her friend into a tight hug. "I know you do."
"Buffy," Willow asked hesitantly, "what was it like?"
Buffy waited a long moment before answering. "All the pain was gone, Will. There was just light and peace and this overwhelming sense of contentment and joy. And I still had my awareness of self, or lack of self, but whenever I thought about all of you, I just knew that everything was going to be okay. And if anybody, ever, was totally hooked into the universal powers of goodness--Tara was it, Will."
"I know," Willow whispered. "I know she's in a better place. It just doesn't always help me feel better about me still being here."
"I know," Buffy said sympathetically. "When Angel told me he was leaving, I felt like I couldn't breathe anymore. And then when I thought he was going to die, even with the Mayor about to ascend and snack on the senior class, I didn't really care if I lived or died either. And then when...my mom...I just felt dead inside."
"Buffy," Willow said tentatively. "Can I tell you something I haven't told anyone?"
"Anything, Will." Buffy patted her hand comfortingly.
"Remember the night we were all talking to dead people?" Buffy nodded. "The First came to me in the form of Tara. Well, not in her physical form...I think that maybe wherever she is...she knew what was coming and somehow was able to block The First from actually casting her shape...but it said that it had a message from her."
"Oh God," Buffy murmured. "What did it say?"
Willow took a deep breath. "It said I should never use magic again. Ever. That if I did...if I did, everybody would die. I would kill them all. And the only way to prevent it was to not use magic."
"How did you know it wasn't really Tara?" Buffy asked. "When did you figure out that it was The First?"
"Because when I tried to tell her that Giles and the coven were helping me, she tried to convince me that we could always be together...if I would just kill myself."
"Willow!" Buffy exclaimed in shock. "Oh my God!"
"I know," Willow agreed, "Nice job, First Evil. High marks for instilling fear of my own powers."
"That's not all it was trying to do," Buffy said softly. "It was trying to trigger your fear of having to live your life without Tara."
"Yeah, high marks for that, too." Willow sighed. "But in a way, it backfired."
"How so?" Buffy asked. "I mean, apart from you obviously not doing the dying thing."
"I've known since that night, Buffy, on a level that I can't even explain. I've had this total conviction in my heart that Tara would have wanted me to live. In a keep on living, getting on with my life sort of way."
"Tara would never have wanted you to be unhappy. Not for one minute. And especially not miserable. Not for the rest of your life." Buffy agreed.
"I know that," Willow sighed. "It's still just hard. At first, I couldn't even imagine ever wanting to be with anyone who wasn't her."
"At first," Buffy repeated, "Does this mean we're moving towards the original subject of this conversation?"
"Spells against Harbingers?" Willow asked innocently.
"More like a certain slayer candidate who you were obviously checking out in the upstairs hallway yesterday when she was wearing her boxing outfit." Buffy deadpanned.
"Oh," Willow blushed. "I wasn't really..."
"Will," Buffy interrupted, "you had a little drool on your chin."
"Oh," Willow blushed again. "Okay, busted. She just looked so hot."
"Uh-huh." Buffy said triumphantly.
"And she's nice, and she likes me, and she looks out for me during fights and dangerous spells and stuff, and she doesn't smoke, and she knows how to use a crossbow, and she flirts with me and I think she's really special. I like the way she makes me feel. I like her." Willow explained. "I just don't know if I'm ready."
Kennedy bounded up the stairs and into the room she was sharing with Willow. She smiled as she saw the redhead propped against the headboard of the bed, reading intently from a spellbook.
"Hey," she said, interrupting the older girl's reverie.
"Hi," Willow smiled. "What's with the TV and everything?" she asked, gesturing to the top of the bureau, where a television and VCR had appeared earlier in the afternoon.
"Oh, I borrowed them from Dawn." Kennedy replied. "It wasn't easy, either. I had to promise to hold the other potentials off the bathroom when she's using her thirty minute conditioner stuff. And I have to let her borrow my clogs."
"Wow," Willow smiled again. "So, what's the occasion? Slayer training videos?"
"Nope," Kennedy answered. "See, I really wanted to ask you out to see a movie, but since it's all dark and the vamps and the Bringers are all still skulking around, I thought maybe we could have a video night instead." She paused. "I mean, if you want to. If you don't have anything else going on."
"Hmm..." Willow pretended to act coy. She lasted about thirty seconds. And Kennedy found it adorable. "I think I might be free."
Kennedy grinned as she pulled a video out of her backpack. "I got "Drowning Mona." I've never seen it before, but it has Neve Campbell in it."
"They were all out of 'The Craft'?" Willow guessed.
"No way am I watching 'The Craft' with the original bad-ass wiccan sitting next to me. I saw what Buffy was like when Xander flipped on that Steven Segal movie last week!" Kennedy protested. "Besides, Neve Campbell is equally hot, no matter what movie she's in."
"Well, you have made a convincing argument." Willow conceded. "Want me to make some popcorn?"
Ten minutes later Willow had returned with popcorn, having secured Dawn's promise of safe passage for the popcorn and as much privacy as possible for the two older women.
"So what did you have to give the kid?" Kennedy asked, enjoying the ability to refer to someone else as a kid for a change. "Free access to your jewelry box for a month?"
"No," Willow replied as she piled some pillows and blankets at the floor at the foot of the bed, making a comfy cushioned area for the two girls to sit. "I took a different approach."
Kennedy looked at her with interest.
"I promised not to tell Buffy that Dawn's been using a basic glamour to cover up a zit all week long."
Kennedy whistled her appreciation. "You know what, you're kind of a wicked witch sometimes," she said in a slightly husky voice.
Willow winked as she sat down next to her on the cushioned area. Something had definitely changed between them since last night. And talking to Buffy today had also helped her to clarify her feelings somewhat. She still wasn't sure how much she was ready for with Kennedy, but she was now ready and willing to find out. She glanced over at the dark haired young woman beside her. She was wearing form fitting designer jeans and a sleeveless white shirt. She looked incredibly hot.
Kennedy noticed Willow noticing her outfit, and chose that moment to lean forward, accentuating the tight jeans, to insert the video. When she glanced back at Willow, the older girl's face was ever so slightly flushed. Kennedy grinned to herself. She settled back into the den of pillows, where Willow was currently propped up. She leaned her head close to Willow's, but resisting the impulse to snuggle up next to her. She was trying to be cautious, and didn't want to push things too far too fast.
Both girls watched the opening credits in silence, munching quietly on the popcorn. A subtle tension seemed to be building between them. As the film's plot unfolded, Willow spoke up, "Is this movie supposed to take place on a Hellmouth?" she asked.
"Not that I know of," Kenendy answered with a raised eyebrow. "Why?"
"Well," Willow paused dramatically. "They're all driving Yugos, so I just wondered."
Kennedy burst out laughing and swatted Willow playfully with a pillow. Willow held up her hands as a gesture of helpless defense. Then levitated a pillow behind Kennedy and dropped it on her head.
"Oh, that is SO cheating!" Kennedy complained.
Willow just grinned and turned her attention back to the TV.
Kennedy tried to continue glaring at her, but quickly gave up, as Willow was looking so cute. She was wearing a long peasant skirt and tight red shirt. She looked incredibly hot.
Kennedy wondered if she really had a shot with this girl. Sure, after weeks of flirtatious overtures it seemed like they might actually be making some progress getting to know one another. Willow was now voluntarily spending time with her, instead of making high pitched squeaking noises and hurrying out of rooms whenever Kennedy came into view. That was cause to be optimistic, at least.
Taking a risk that felt akin to walking outside at night without a stake up your sleeve, Kennedy faked a dramatic yawn and moved her left arm behind Willow. Amazingly, the red head happily rested her head on Kennedy's shoulder and wrapped an arm around the younger girl's waist.
"Like that's not the oldest trick in the book," she murmured in Kennedy's ear.
"Yeah, well, I'm very smooth." Kennedy responded.
"I bet you used that a lot at boarding school." Willow turned her face towards her as she teased.
"Ooh, wouldn't you like to know," Kennedy laughed, trying to keep her breathing normal as she realized just how close Willow's lips were to her own.
"Well, between you and me, I wouldn't mind seeing the uniform sometime." Willow said in a semi-seductive voice.
Kennedy felt her throat go completely dry, but she kept up her bravado. "That can be arranged," she said in her own attempt at a seductive voice. It must have worked, too, because moments later they were kissing.
Willow's lips were soft and tender. Kennedy's were smooth and moist. Kennedy had a feeling in her stomach of plunging down the first and highest hill on a roller coaster. It was like they were born to kiss each other. At first the kiss had been light, lips on lips, soft but continuous pecks. Then Willow took the lead and took Kennedy's top lip between her own, running her tongue underneath it. Kennedy moved her hands up and tangled them in Willow's hair as she pressed her mouth more firmly against Willow's.
As their tongues met, both girl's felt an incredible surge of power. It was rolling between them in waves. It was very sexy. Kennedy's slayer energy of "Want. Take. Have." mingled with Willow's deep connection to the natural and magical worlds. The give and take was enough to make Kennedy feel slightly short of breath. She couldn't tell if the kiss had been going on for five minutes or fifty. She felt as though the two of them were suspended in this perfect moment of ecstasy.
Willow ran her fingers up Kennedy's spine and the potential shivered with pleasure. Her pierced tongue was skillfully exploring the unique taste of Willow's mouth and massaging Willow's tongue simultaneously. Willow felt like her whole body was waking up. Her mind was filled with images of the forest during a spring thaw. Rivers coursing to life as chunks of ice begin to melt. The heat of an imaginary sun melded into the heat of Kennedy's body.
Willow could sense the desire in the other girl. The slayer's constant wish to completely possess anything and anyone that it wanted as much as Kennedy wanted Willow. Willow also felt Kennedy's determination to keep her desire in check because of her feelings - deep feelings - for Willow, and her vow not to push her too hard. Willow felt a wave of tenderness for Kennedy at the realization of how much the other girl cared for her.
Kennedy kissed like she did everything else - well. Boldly, with a hint of wildness underneath. Willow thought she might never get enough. There was such a charge between them that she briefly thought of the night Buffy and Riley fell victim to the poltrogasm spirits. She felt like she never wanted to stop touching Kennedy. She hadn't done this for a long time, too long, and she was feeling more and more at the mercy of her excitement. Deciding the safest thing to do would be to break for some air, Willow slowly began to separate her mouth and tongue from Kennedy's.
Not wanting to cut off contact entirely, Willow nuzzled soft kisses along Kennedy's jawline, working towards her earlobe. As she did so, Kennedy leaned down and ran her studded tongue along Willow's neck in a long slow lick. Willow's hips bucked involuntarily. She felt an intense throbbing between her legs, and knew she had about five seconds of control left.
Gasping hard for breath, she gathered her resolve and pushed herself away from Kennedy and her enticingly talented tongue.
Kennedy backed away slightly as well, sliding her hand down Willow's arm and resting her own hand against the back of Willow's palm. She was sweating hard and felt like she'd just staked an army of vamps all by herself. She was glad Willow had broken it off when she did. She felt she had just used up all the self-control she'd ever mastered in meditation and slayer fighting drills.
Looking at Kennedy, the light sheen of sweat that covered her muscular shoulders and forearms, the passion in her eyes, Willow had to fight hard against the urge to dive right back in and take her right there on the bedroom floor, emotional readiness be damned. I mean, the world might be ending, right? Granted that near-death circumstance exception hadn't helped her and Xander back in the day. With new resolve, Willow gained a modicum of control over herself.
Several minutes passed as the two girls slowly let the heat of their passion dissipate a little. Neither spoke, until Kennedy finally seemed to get her voice back.
"That," she began slowly, "was,"
"Amazing," Willow chorused.
"Incredible." Kennedy added. "Indescribably wonderful also comes to mind."
"Total agreement from this corner," Willow affirmed. "I'm sorry that I...that we..." she struggled to find the right words to express what she was feeling.
"Shh..." Kennedy said, putting her finger against Willow's lips. She resorted to their telepathic mode of communication to add, "There is nothing to apologize for."
"Mmm..." Willow murmured aloud. Mentally she replied, "I don't know if I should be sorry that it started to get out of control, or sorry that we stopped without going further."
"It was perfect." Kennedy said out loud. "You're perfect." she added in her head.
Willow saw how earnest Kennedy's words were, and was again overtaken by a wave of emotion for the younger girl. "Listen, Kennedy..."
"I know what you're going to say, Will." Kennedy cut her off. "I know you're still not sure what you want out of this, or how you feel about us, or if there even is an us."
"Oh, I think there is definitely an 'us'." Willow assured her. "You, me, pierced tongue."
Kennedy felt like she was on the roller coaster again as she heard Willow's reassurance.
"But what I was going to say is that I don't have the best track record with making relationships work. I'm scared that I'll hurt you."
"Don't be," Kennedy said bravely. "I know how I feel, and I'm ready whenever you are."
Declarations like that sometimes reminded Willow that Kennedy was new to life on the Hellmouth. She wasn't as cynical as the rest of them had become. Sometimes Willow found this refreshing, other times she thought it was just naïve. But at this particular moment, she found it very touching. But Kennedy needed to know exactly what she was getting into. She had to understand the risks.
"Kennedy, listen, all I'm trying to say here is...I mean, even before...before Tara..." Willow steeled herself to continue, "The first guy who ever tried to pick me up turned out to be a vampire. My first boyfriend was a demon-robot. I lost my virginity to a werewolf, and the only human boy I ever kissed was Xander. Then I find the woman I plan to spend the rest of my life with, and she's...she's... murdered by a rampaging geek crime lord right before my eyes!" She was shaking with suppressed emotion as she ran through the list of Hellmouth-related disasters. "The point here: me and relationships, not so much the love story of the century."
Kennedy looked at Willow for a long moment. Then she leaned forward and whispered, "Until now."
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