DISCLAIMER: None of these characters belong to me, no matter how much I wish they did.
SPOILERS: Major Spoilers for Showtime, and most of Season 7 from Never Leave Me onward. Also Seasons Four to present if you're not hip to Willow's lesbianism.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.

The Turning of the Tide
By speakpirate

Willow Rosenburg rolled onto her side, pulling the blankets of her makeshift bed tightly around her. She was sleeping on the rather uncomfortable floor of her room, due to the presence of a certain dark-haired Slayer-in-Training in her actual bed. Willow snuggled under the covers and smiled to herself as her thoughts drifted back to the night's events. This sort of smiling felt almost weird, given the craziness of the past year, and especially now with The First Evil coming to call. But as the redhead closed her eyes, she smiled again as she remembered:

Buffy fighting the Turok-Han, as they all watched anxiously from the scaffolding. This was Buffy's plan for inspiring the new recruits, and Willow had agreed to go along with it, even though it was making her stomach feel very acid-y at the moment. Willow was desperate for a way to help Buffy without making it look like Buffy couldn't handle the situation on her own. She'd considered knocking some of the cinder blocks onto the vamp, or at least cushioning Buffy's fall through them, but restrained her urge to give her best friend a magical slaying edge. Buffy wanted to show the newbies that she could do this on her own, and it was important that Willow respect her master plan. Willow winced as the vamp knocked Buffy to the ground again.

The fight was moving quickly, Willow thought. Oooh, and quickly towards our area! Not good. It was this split-second realization that the fight was heading towards them that gave Willow an idea. Moments later, Buffy and the ugly uber-vamp were below them, slamming into the beams that supported their safe perching distance. As they all rocked slightly forward, Willow reached out with her mind.

"Kennedy - drop the crossbow!"

The girl obeyed instantly and unquestioningly, with such a natural motion that even Willow was left wondering if she'd just lost her grip when Buffy crashed into the nearby metalwork. Only a small look that she gave Willow immediately afterwards indicated that anything out of the ordinary had transpired. No one else even noticed, they were all transfixed by watching Buffy, who was now reaching for Kennedy's dropped weapon.

Buffy shot the vamp through the heart, but he was still coming at her, seemingly unstoppable. As he grabbed Buffy by the throat and lifted her off the ground, Willow was trying very hard to suppress the terror creeping through her veins. Her breath caught in her throat, and her fingernails were digging hard into the palms of her hands. And suddenly there was another hand on hers, firmly pressing its palm over Willow's tense fingers. Neither girl took her eyes off the fight for even a moment, as Buffy was even now pulling the arrow out of the vamp's heart and stabbing him in the eye. He released his grip, and Buffy began kicking him all around the construction site.

As Willow released the breath she'd unconsciously been holding, she instinctively interlaced her fingers with Kennedy's. The worst seemed to be over now, as Buffy got behind the vamp with a nasty looking piece of barbed wire wrapped around its neck.

As the Turok-Han spontaneously turned to a particularly chunky pile of dust, all of the observers on the scaffolding let out a huge sigh of relief. Kennedy leaned her forehead slightly into the back of Willow's shoulder, and Willow felt the soft weight of Kennedy's breast casually pressing against her arm. Suddenly, Willow felt her stomach fill with a new set of fluttery nerves. Happy fluttery nerves, but still.

In the darkness of the bedroom, Willow smiled to herself again. They hadn't really said much to each other on the way home. Everyone was crowding around Buffy and giving their blow-by-blow recap of the battle. Dawn was acting all Nancy Drew, proudly piecing together how Willow, Xander, and Buffy had concocted their plan while everyone else was arguing in the dining room. And once they reached the house, their collective exhilaration faded quickly into exhaustion. By the time Willow had her turn in the bathroom, the lights in their room were off, and Kennedy was sitting in a meditation pose on the bed. Willow had only smiled briefly at the sight of the younger girl before collapsing onto her own pile of pillows and blankets.

It was just nice, she thought to herself. Of course she and Buffy and Xander all looked out for one another in a seasoned fighting unit sort of way, but it was really kind of sweet to know that someone was especially looking out for her during a fight. Even if she wasn't really fighting. She loved her friends fiercely, but she still felt lonely a lot of the time.

It just felt nice to have someone reaching out to her in a "the two of us are in this together" way, as opposed to the usual "You're our best friend and the witchy second-in-command of this army" type way. And if the person reaching out happened to be a very buff young slayer-in-training...Willow thought back to the feel of Kennedy's breast on her arm and sighed to herself.

"I liked it, too" Willow sat bolt upright in shock, as Kennedy's unspoken words resounded in her head. "Also," it continued, "You're really cute when you blush." Willow's cheeks were already turning several shades of red, as she stared at Kennedy, who was grinning over at her from her meditative pose on the bed.

"You..." Willow muttered weakly, "You can..."

"My watcher taught me," Kennedy explained aloud. "There's only so much agility and strength training you can do while waiting for your super powers to show up."

"Ahh..." Willow said, recovering somewhat from her initial surprise. "So that's why you picked up so well on my telepathic mojo during the big fight."

"Once I got over being startled that you could do it, too." Kennedy replied with another grin. "My watcher always thought it would come in handy if I ever got to be the slayer, but I've only ever used it for trying to help our rugby team win...stuff like that. It is pretty cool though."

"Yeah," Willow said. "It is, actually." And you have a beautiful smile, she added mentally.

Kennedy smiled again, this time almost shyly, having heard the unspoken words as well. "I've developed other talents along the telepathic projection lines, too." She told Willow.

"Like what?" Willow asked, truly intrigued.

"Well..." the younger girl answered, "like this."

Willow gasped in surprise. Kennedy still hadn't moved from her position on the bed, but Willow could feel the very distinct sensation of soft lips gently planting a kiss on the back of her neck.

"Mmm..." she murmured flirtatiously. "Did you use that during rugby games, too?"

Kennedy shook her head, and Willow felt another soft, insistent kiss on the skin behind her right earlobe. It felt good, she thought. Good... and fun...and bold...and sexy.

Very sexy, she thought, as she felt another kiss trailing down the side of her neck.

Willow felt another kiss grazing her jawline, and soft lips scraping slowly upwards towards her...her mouth! Willow's body physically jolted backwards at this realization, abruptly cutting off the psychic smooches. "No," she said in a panicked voice, as a million images flashed through her head at once:

Tara silently taking her hand in the laundry room, making pancakes for breakfast, blowing out the candle right before their first time together, sitting on the bench after losing her mind to Glory, snuggling up next to her at night, floating in the air at The Bronze, Xander moving Tara's boxes out, Tara clad only in a sheet on their last morning together, the blood spattering on Willow's shirt. Willow could feel her heart breaking all over again. And then the images came with even more vivid feeling behind them. The flaying of Warren. The near-murder of Giles and Anya. The huge power battle with Buffy. She was shaking now, tears running silently down her cheeks.

Kennedy was at her side instantly. "Oh God, Willow, I'm sorry. I didn't mean to...to push you...or maybe I did...but not to hurt you, and... Oh god, I'm so sorry."

Willow was rocking back and forth now, still quietly shaking and crying silently to herself. Kennedy wrapped her arms around the tiny redhead from behind, and continued the soothing rocking motion with Willow.

"It'll be okay, Willow. I...I didn't know. Giles told us...a little bit about...about what happened...but I'm really bad about rushing things. I won't do it again, I promise. It's just that hanging out for five years waiting for your powers to show - I get so impatient sometimes. I'm all about seizing the day, or the monster, or whatever. I didn't mean to freak you out."

Willow's breathing had evened out somewhat, and she was slowly pulling herself back under control. She'd grown accustomed to having moments where she felt full of indescribable loss and terrified of her own power. But this was the first time another person had actually been there to witness it. It felt weird to have someone trying to comfort her, she was so used to dealing alone. She was still coming down off a pretty major wiggins, and she didn't know exactly what it was she wanted from Kennedy, but right now, she felt very sure that she didn't want her to let go.

Kennedy had lapsed into silence, but remained in her position on the floor, seated behind Willow with her arms wrapped around the older girl from behind. It seemed like Willow was relaxing into her a little bit. That was good, she thought.

"You remind me of Buffy," Willow said to break the silence. "When we were in high school, right after she was called. You have a lot of her attitude." Willow sensed, rather than saw, Kennedy's smile.

"Thanks," she said simply. "Buffy's amazing. She's like, the slayer I always imagined myself being when I first found out I was a potential."

"Personal question?" Willow asked permission to continue.

"Sure," Kennedy agreed.

"What powers do you have now?"

"Not many," the brunette replied ruefully. "I mean, some, compared to a regular person. Like, I've been doing weight-training and martial arts and gymnastics since I was fourteen. Plus mad archery, quarter-staff, and other weapons skills, courtesy of my Watcher, and the...uh...mental stuff I just showed you. But compared to Buffy, I got nothing. No slayer senses, no slayer speed, no slayer healing. She's got the whole package."

"Hmm..." Willow replied. "You're package doesn't sound too bad."

Kennedy suppressed a grin. "Okay, my turn," she said, feeling overwhelmingly glad that Willow was still speaking to her.

"Huh?" Willow said. "What are we taking turns for?" She leaned back a little into Kennedy, as a non-verbal sign that whatever it was, she didn't really want them to separate just yet.

"Personal question" Kennedy continued. "Did you ever have a crush on Buffy?"

Willow laughed at first hearing the question, then paused to think of how to answer.

"It's hard to explain, I guess. See, I was kind of a spaz in high school, and Xander was like, my only friend until Buffy came along. So I thought she was great. I mean, she is great. And she was so nice to me, but I was so grateful to have this super-cool girl hanging around me, that it almost never occurred to me to have a crush on her or anything."

"In other words," Kennedy interpreted, "you were really repressed."

"That's not what I said," Willow replied in mock-indignation. "More like, I was a later blooming lesbian."

Kennedy said nothing, just looked at her dubiously with one eyebrow slightly raised.

"And also, I was really repressed." Willow admitted.

"I'm just saying," Kennedy laughed. "I mean, she is really cute."

"You think Buffy is cute?" Willow asked, with just the faintest twinge of jealousy in her voice.

"Not as cute as - Why? Are you jealous?" Kennedy broke off.

"No," Willow replied, in an even more slightly jealous sounding voice.

"Personal question," Kennedy began.

"Hey!" Willow exclaimed, "It's not your turn again."

"Yes it is," Kennedy responded. "I get an extra turn because you're jealous." She paused and took in the look that Willow was giving her. "Use your frowny face on me all you want, I'm still taking my turn." Kennedy smiled at Willow's very adorable frowny face. She was still holding the other girl, not pushing, just holding. And Willow wasn't pushing her away. In fact, she seemed more relaxed than she had ever been around her before. And here they were, holding each other, talking, asking personal questions. Kennedy couldn't have been happier. She thought about all of this while trying to come up with the next question for Willow.

"Okay, I've got one," Kennedy announced. "Your first kiss."

"That's not a question," Willow complained good-naturedly.

"Okay then, what's the story of your first kiss. And don't give me some 'Xander and I were six years old and still in our footie pajamas thing.' I mean your first real kiss."

Willow was suddenly blushing furiously. "I can't tell you that," she said.

Kennedy stared at her expectantly. "No, I mean, I really can't tell you that. No one knows that story. No one! It's way too embarrassing." Kennedy did a dramatic imitation of Willow's frowny face.

"This sounds good," she responded. "Plus, if I ever share your secret with anyone, you have my total permission to turn me into a toad or something."

"Well..." Willow said, beginning to waver. "I'm warning you, I do have experience with rat transformations."

"Come on," Kennedy urged her. "Confession is good for the soul."

"Okay," Willow agreed, taking a deep breath. "It-was-my-sophomore-year-of-high-school-and-the-school-was-attacked-by-vampires-on-parent-teacher-night-and-I-was-trapped-in-a-broom-closet-with-my-arch-nemesis-and-I-put-my-hand-over-her-mouth-to-keep-her-from-screaming-and-our-eyes-met-and-the-next-thing-I-knew-her-tongue-was-in-my-mouth-and-we-were-making-out-like-there-was-no-tomorrow."

Kennedy looked suspiciously like she was about to laugh. "Sure," she finally responded. "If I had a dollar for every time I used the old 'trapped in a broom closet by vampires' routine."

"It's not funny," Willow groaned. "Besides, it was awful later on. She and Xander hooked up in almost the exact same way. Only they were trapped in Buffy's basement by a supernatural assassin."

"So she was Xander's girlfriend? Is that why you've never told anyone?" Kennedy asked.

"Well, that," Willow agreed. "And also shame. She was this really superficial, self-absorbed, Prom Queen kind of a girl. But later on, she told me I was a way better kisser than Xander, so that made me like her more."

"What did you say when she told you that? Since I'm assuming she only ever kissed you that one time..."

"Oh yeah, it was strictly a one-time non-fling type deal. But I told her she was also superior to Xander in the kissing department."

"You've kissed Xander, too?" Kennedy exclaimed. "I just knew you were secretly a vixen."

Willow was blushing again. "We didn't mean for it to happen. We'd been kidnapped and were being held hostage by Evil Spike."

"I'm starting to see a pattern here," Kennedy said thoughtfully. "You seem to hook up with people best when faced with mortal peril."

"Yeah," Willow agreed.

"I can't believe we haven't hooked up yet," both girls said simultaneously.

In the moments of laughter that followed, Kennedy squeezed Willow tightly in her arms, and let her head rest with her face pressed into Willow's neck. As their giggles subsided, they both fell silent, each absorbed in the feeling of closeness they were sharing.

After several minutes, Willow hesitantly reached out with her mind again. 'I can tell you really want to ask about her.' she silently communicated.

'And I can tell you're not sure you're ready to talk about her.' Kennedy telegraphed back. She pulled Willow a little closer, to let her know that was all right.

Willow took another deep breath before speaking aloud. "She was...incredible. Amazing. Magical. Funny. Smart. Brave. Oh God, I loved her so much, Kennedy."

"I know," Kennedy said, as she stroked Willow's arm soothingly. "I know I'll never be her."

Willow put her hand over Kennedy's gently and reached up to tangle her other hand in Kennedy's hair.

"No," she whispered. "But you don't have to be. You're your own person. Good, and fun, and bold, and sexy, and...special."

Kennedy's heart soared. Well, as much as it could soar while simultaneously pounding in her ears. Neither girl moved. After Willow's earlier outburst, Kennedy was being very careful not to push her again. She understood how hard it must have been for Willow to come even this far tonight, to the point they had now arrived at together.

Willow's thoughts were running along similar lines. She was feeling super-grateful that Kennedy was being so patient and understanding. Talking was good, Willow thought. And being hugged tightly to another warm body was unquestionably wonderful. Especially since that body was Kennedy's.

After an indeterminate amount of time had gone by, Kennedy reluctantly spoke up. "We should probably, uh..."

"Get to bed?" Willow finished. "Yeah, we really should." Both girls were reluctant to break the contact between them, but Willow subtly shifted her weight, allowing Kennedy to slowly disentangle herself from their position on the floor.

Kennedy glanced over at Willow as she resignedly climbed back into the bed. "Good night, Willow," she said softly. "I can't believe you're still going to sleep on the floor," she added mentally.

Willow smiled at her from her sleeping bag. "Goodnight," she replied, before rolling over again.

Kennedy was just about to drift off into very pleasant dreams when she heard Willow's voice in her head again. 'Kennedy,' she projected. Kennedy opened her eyes slightly, to let Willow know she had her attention. The next thing she knew, Kennedy felt a very distinct phantom kiss brush her cheek. She grinned into her pillow. And then heard Willow's voice in her head again.

'Maybe tomorrow night.'

The End

Sequel Tomorrow Night

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