Chp 2 Aftermath
Willow woke up lying on the sofa, moaning softly - a splitting headache pounded away under her skull and she knew if she looked in a mirror her eyes would be bloodshot. There were traces of blood on the throw under her head - from her nose she guessed. How much magic had she used last night to get this reaction? She’d been getting so good lately; doing all sorts of things without any after effects at all so there must have been quite a lot of very strong spells, cast all at once.
She gulped down the coffee, made Tara one of the herbal teas she loved and carried it upstairs.
“Here, sweetie. Sorry I was such a pig last night but - ” she stopped as she walked into their room. The bed was as neat and tidy as ever, just as Tara had left it the day before. It was quite obvious that no one had slept in it. Willow felt a cold flood of fear run through her. So where was Tara? She must have been out all night! Anything could have happened to her.
Xander Harris woke up feeling warm and content. An arm was lying across his naked shoulders and in those few blurry seconds before he opened his eyes he thought he must tell....tell....someone that they were putting on weight and should perhaps use more skin cream because hey very rough in a demony sort of.....and then he wriggled round and smiled. His husband was lying next to him, snoring gently, face half buried in the pillow. Rupert Giles, tired out after a long night of passion that made Xander’s legs tremble just to think about. How lucky he was. Of all the guys in Sunnydale that Rupert could have chosen to marry, he was the one wearing his wedding band.
He glanced round their room remembering that today he was going to start work on their new closets. They were going to make this apartment such a happy home. Tonight Rupert was going to cook him his favourite meal which would be a step up from the pizza they’d had last night at Buffy’s.
He frowned as he dropped a kiss on the sleeping face and wriggled free from his husband’s embrace as he got out of bed. Buffy’s....last night....why did that memory make him uneasy? Oh yes, he remembered now - Willow had been upset about something, yes, Buffy and Spike seeing too much of each other. Well, he was sure his friend would soon realise that wasn’t sensible. And Dawnie had been whining about cookies, Tara had been unhappy about something and - well, there was no one else, of course. Just them. His friends. Their little circle. It was a great shame that they couldn’t all be as happy as he was with Rupert! He’d cook him bacon and eggs for breakfast. And pancakes. It was such a relief that Rupert didn’t want to eat strong smelling cheese in the morning. And he frowned because he couldn’t work out why that was a relief.
Rupert Giles lay very still, pretending to be asleep. He wanted to savour this moment; it gave him such unexpected pleasure to listen to his husband clattering about in the kitchen. There was something to endearing about his clumsiness. It was odd that when it came to making things out of wood, he wasn’t clumsy at all. He smiled into the pillow, remembering the night before. He hadn’t realised Xander had such passion, such an inventive mind for what they could do to each other. He wondered sleepily where he had learnt that trick with the candles...a very demony thing to do to your loved one, but incredibly stimulating and extremely sexy.
He rolled over - perhaps he’d just spend a few more minutes in bed. He hated to admit it but he wasn’t as young as Xander and needed to recover his energy. There was a busy day ahead of him - he remembered vaguely that Willow had been upset about Buffy and Spike spending time together. He’d go and see the vampire and find out exactly what he was playing at, patrolling with the Slayer. Then it would be time to think of shopping for new drapes in the living-room, and for dinner tonight, then TV, then bed and more of Xander’s little games. Giles held back a sigh and wondered fleetingly if he could possibly ask Willow or Tara for some little potion to er...enhance things in that department.
It was nearly noon when Tara woke, sunlight cutting through the gaps between the wooden planks that had been nailed across the windows to keep them shut. A beer bottle rattled across the floor as she rolled off the dirty mattress and rubbed her hands through - for a second she felt the world rock. For some reason she had expected to find long hair and instead there was the rough texture of the shorn locks that were so much less trouble and so less girly. On the far wall of the dingy room was a cracked mirror and she peered at herself, the cracks distorting her face into weird sections which was good because she hated how she usually looked - sort of pale and placid.
Turning, she kicked at a heap of clothes on the floor and remembered, vaguely, that she’d been wearing those the night before when she’d run out of Buffy’s house, angry with Willow, angry with all of them. She’d headed for an open all night store in the mall and it had taken her just minutes to grab the black T and dark red leather trousers she was wearing now. For an instant the question, “Did I pay for them?” flashed guiltily across her mind, then she shrugged. No, she hadn’t. That was good...that was okay. If she wanted something, she took it. That was her way of living, always had been, always would be. She remembered flashing a dark spell to cover everyone in the shop. No one would recall her or what had happened.
Why she’d been wearing a long skirt she had no idea. Must have been something Willow magiced her into doing. Suddenly she realised she’d picked up her old clothes for some reason and was carefully folding them neatly into a pile. Angrily, she threw them away again and swaggered out into the hot street: the old, rundown motel she’d slept in was empty and quiet. All of Sunnydale lay before her and she reckoned it was about time she had some fun. She’d spent the last months playing mom, keeping house, cooking, washing, ironing. All so Willow could play the big witch. Well, Willow had better look out because Tara knew only too well that she could be far badder than her lover if she chose to be. And today, she chose!
Dawn flounced through the front door and flung her book bag on the table. “I’m home! Tara, Willow - Buffy! I’m back.”
There was no reply, the house echoed back her voice, which of course was perfectly fine because hey, even though weird things had happened to her recently, she could be left alone in her own home for a couple of hours. Tara was probably at the market; Buffy would be out patrolling, although it wasn’t even dark yet and Willow was - Dawn blinked as a pain snagged inside her head. Not a headache, exactly, just a sharp pain as if thinking Willow’s name made something prick her brain. Ouch! There it was again.
She jumped. Someone was calling her name, but from a long way off.
Slowly she backed towards the door. OK, mega weird and she so wasn’t going to be on her own to reply to the voice. She reached the sidewalk in three long strides and felt better out in the open air. Should she cut across town to the cemetery and talk to Spike? He was sure to know where Buffy was. Hey, she might even be there, alone with him in his crypt. Dawn bit her lip. When she put Buffy, Spike and alone together in her head she came up with all sorts of combinations that she didn’t want to think about right now. Willow had said, - “Ouch!” The pain in her head came again.
“OK, something going on. I”m going to find Giles. He’ll know what to do.”
“That’s good, pet, because I wasn’t going to get you any.”
Buffy’s nose was buried against Spike’s chest, their legs tangled together, her hair spread in a gold fan across his face, one lock lying across his lips, the strands lifting and falling as he blew gently on them.
“Emeralds are nice.”
“Too green. Too Irish.”
She dug her elbow in his stomach and sat up, ignoring his wince. “I like emeralds.”
“I’m sure Angel likes them, too.”
“You’re just jealous.”
Spike grinned. “Never a truer word, pet. And you don’t want our engagement party to be ruined by me sulking in a corner, now do you.”
The vampire sat up and pulled her into his arms. “Yes.”
Buffy frowned at him. “You are buying it, aren’t you? Not stealing it from some demon guy.”
“Nothing wrong with a demon who trades in precious stones. Get some good bargains.”
“So how many engagement rings have you bought before?” She glared at him. “Did you buy one for Dru?”
“We were never engaged, Slayer. I was going to buy one, once, a long time ago, for a girl called Cecily, but....”
“I don’t want to know!”
“This will be the first engagement ring I’ve bought for a woman I love more than death itself! But no emeralds. How about a nice opal? All colours of the rainbow in opals.”
Buffy wrinkled her nose and shook her head. “No, Mom used to say opals are unlucky unless a woman gives them directly to a woman. Willow could give one to Tara.”
“You said there was a row last night between them. Was it Willow using too much magic again?”
“No, I think Tara must have told Willow about us being together and I was getting the “oh he’s so dangerous, what are you thinking of, why don’t you do what we want you to do” lecture. Tara tried to stop her and then - “ she frowned. She couldn’t quite remember but she must have lost her own temper and stormed out of the house. “And then I came round here and you pulled all my clothes off and made me do dreadful things to your body and then you asked me to marry you!”
“And you said yes! But only after you made me do equally bad things to you, if my memory serves me right.”
“So we’re engaged!”
“And buying the ring today.”
Buffy sighed and wriggled herself closer. “We can’t go out till dusk. We shall just have to stay here and make plans.”
“Or make love,” Spike growled.
“I call that a plan,” she muttered as his mouth found hers, “I can’t wait to tell the others. They’ll be so surprised,” and then, before the heat haze he summoned from her body consumed her again, she felt a surge of pure happiness, unlike anything she had experienced before.
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