Title: "To Dance with a Goddess"
Summary: What happened after Willow asked Rowena to dance in Lessons Learned.
Disclaimer: All characters belong to Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy, etc. and the Watchers staff. The song is "Elsewhere," and belongs to Sarah McLachlan.
Distribution: Watchers: http://thewatcherscouncil.net and Mystic Muse http://mysticmuse.net; Anyone else - just ask, and I’ll say yes.
Feedback: Yes please, it’s greatly appreciated. This is my first attempt at fan fiction (ever!) so please play nice! Constructive criticism is always welcome.
Author’s Notes: A big thanks to Susan, my lovely beta reader.
~ Part 1 ~
Xander was a surprisingly good dancer. "You really needn’t have told me that you were lousy on the dance floor. I’m not exactly Ginger Rogers, you know," Rowena smirked playfully, her head tilted to gaze up into Xander’s multi-coloured eyes.
Her dance partner favored her with a dazzling grin. "Well, I’m no Fred Astaire, either. But I’d take you over Ginger any day." He winked, earning a delighted laugh from Rowena.
"So tell me, carpenter, where did you learn to dance like this?" she quipped.
"Well, when you learn from a thousand-year-old teacher, I guess this is the outcome," he replied wistfully. His eyes seemed to lose focus as his thoughts drew inward.
"Ah yes, Anya." Rowena nodded consolingly. "Willow’s told me about her. I’m very sorry for your loss."
Xander seemed to snap out of his reflection, and smiled at the blonde in his arms. "Thank you. But tonight I plan to grab a hold of that crazy little thing called life and let it do its magical little heal-y thing. Starting right now," he said as he spun her and finished off with a dip.
Out of breath and laughing, Rowena straightened and glanced over Xander’s shoulder. Over by the bar, she noticed two women begin to dance. She pushed away her initial discomfort at the unusual sight and tried to focus on Xander. But the feeling nagged at her, so she glanced back at the couple, and gasped as she realized who they were. At the sight of Willow dancing with another woman, Rowena suddenly felt an odd sensation in her gut. It couldn’t be… no, surely she wasn’t jealous. She tried analyzing her reaction, but was only confounded further. To hide her roiling emotions, she smiled up at Xander and was met with a brilliant grin in return. The song came to a close, and another started up. She raised an eyebrow in question, but Xander seemed content to continue dancing.
Out of the corner of her eye, Rowena noticed a figure approaching through the crowd. She caught a glimpse of red hair before Xander swung her around, blocking her view. "May I cut in?" a familiar voice asked. Her heart thumped as she gazed over into Willow’s eyes.
"Of course!" exclaimed Xander, "I could never deny my favourite gal the chance to clock in a little swaying time with yours truly!" He leaned in close, and whispered, loud enough for Rowena to hear, "As long as you don’t expect your toes to remain intact!" With a wink and a grin, he released Ro’s hand, and reached for Willow’s. Rowena’s heart began to sink. But why should she be upset? It’s not as if she was jealous of Willow. She had been dancing with Xander most of the evening – it was only fair to let Willow dance with him as well. Then why was she feeling so uneasy all of a sudden? Shaking her head to clear her thoughts, she missed Willow’s whispered reply. Rowena thought she caught a glint of defiance in the redhead’s eye, but she chalked it up to the dark lighting.
"Excuse me?" Xander’s face registered surprise.
"I meant – I’d like to dance with Rowena." Willow repeated with a nervous grin, gaining in confidence. A swell rose in Rowena’s chest and exploded in a short laugh. "I’d love to dance with you," she smiled. She threw a courteous glance for permission towards Xander and touched his upper-arm in thanks, before taking Willow’s hand and letting her guide her through the crowded dance floor.
Willow chose a spot near the stage, and turned towards Ro with a huge grin. Rowena returned the smile, and awkwardly stepped forward with her right arm slightly out and left arm raised. Both girls laughed at the attempted traditional stance, and then Willow guided Ro’s arms to her shoulders and placed her own hands lightly on Rowena’s hips. As they began swaying to the music, Rowena tried to look anywhere but at the beautiful girl in her arms. Her gaze traveled across the dimly lit club and she watched the other couples locked in tight embrace, moving in time with the soft tunes. Glancing up at the stage, she caught Becca wink at her as she sang sensually into the microphone. Feeling her face grow hot, she averted her eyes once more, only to have them fall directly onto those of her dance partner.
"Hey." A smile teased Willow’s lips.
"Hey," she whispered in reply. Gazing into those emerald eyes, she felt herself getting lost in their intensity. Without realizing, she took a step closer, tightening her hold on the girl in her arms. Sighing, she felt the tips of her breasts brush against Willow’s. Her eyes grew wide and, trying to cover her reaction, she cleared her throat and blurted "So, um, are you leading, or am I?"
Willow only smiled. "I don’t think it works that way. Just feel the music, let it guide you."
Gaining her composure, Rowena grinned back and closed her eyes, willing herself not to pull away as she slowly moved closer to Willow. Their bodies swayed together, gently caressing and flowing as the music pulled them deeper into each other. Moments passed where neither had coherent thoughts, only succumbed to the sensations of being in the other’s arms.
After what felt like an eternity, Rowena heard Willow sigh, "I love this song." Ro’s eyes shot open again, and she realized that she hadn’t even been paying attention to the music. A new song was just beginning.
"Oh?" she asked softly. "What is it?" She strained to pay attention to the lyrics.
I love the time and in between
the calm inside me
in the space where I can breathe…
"It’s a Sarah McLachlan cover, called Elsewhere. I didn’t realize Becca was into the Lilith Fair scene – not that I’m complaining!" Willow chuckled. The two girls fell silent as the song continued. At the chorus, Willow began softly humming.
this is heaven to no one else but me
and I'll defend it as long as I can be
left here to linger in silence
if I choose to
would you try to understand
Lost in the warmth of Willow’s embrace and soothed by her soft humming, Rowena closed her eyes again and let the music carry her away.
I know this love is passing time
passing through like liquid
I am drunk in my desire...
but I love the way you smile at me
I love the way your hands reach out and hold me near...
this is heaven to no one else but me
Opening her eyes slowly, Rowena noticed that Willow had stopped humming, and was gazing at her with a pensive expression. When she was caught staring, she glanced away shyly.
Ro took this opportunity to examine her dance partner in turn. The strobe lights cast a faint glow from behind, making Willow’s hair blaze a fiery red, while casting light shadows across her delicate face. "You’re a goddess, you know that?" Rowena breathed. At Willow’s pleased blush, she took courage and rested her head on the redhead’s shoulder.
"You’re not too bad, yourself," Willow whispered into her ear. Ro just smiled as they danced into the night.
~ Part 2 ~
It was much cooler outside the club. The rest of their group had left earlier – as Ro was embarrassed to notice long after they had gone. In the quiet stillness of the night, all they could hear was the light breeze blowing through the trees and the soft sound of their shoes shuffling across the sidewalk.
"Are you cold?" Willow asked.
Rowena smiled at her companion. "No, it’s actually quite beautiful out. Plus," she laughed, "I’m used to a lot colder. Remember? The land of snow and ice?"
Willow smirked. "Oh come on, we both know Canada has more seasons than winter." She waited a beat. "There’s also winter, winter, and construction." She winked at Rowena’s groan.
"I think I’ve heard that one before."
"Well, I had another joke ready about igloos," a devilish grin adorned Willow’s face, "but I thought I’d pass on that, for your sake."
"Aw, how sweet of you," Ro playfully bumped shoulders with her as they walked.
Willow grew quiet for a moment. "You know, I just realized I don’t know that much about you… I-I mean, I know you like chess, and that you live for the good fight, and all that… and judging by your knife-throwing accuracy, I don’t think I’d ever want to get on your bad side… but other than that, you’re a mystery to me."
"Knife-throwing?" Rowena asked, confused by the random comment. "I’m really more skilled at the crossbow." Then suddenly it dawned on her. "Oh! You mean the confrontation with Jordon," she chuckled nervously before changing the subject, not wanting to dwell on her vindictive behavior.
"So you want to know more about me, eh?" Rowena donned an Andrew-esque tone and began her story: "Well, it was a cool morning in 1977, in the small fishing village of Thornkirk, Nova Scotia, when my mother and one Dr. O’Neill brought me into the world…" At Willow’s eager expression, she smirked, "…and I notice you’re not stopping me anytime soon."
"No, I’m serious – I really do want to know everything about you…I wanna know what turns you on… er, I mean, what makes you tick. Your passions and fears, how you like your tea, what movies you either love or hate, what’s your favourite colour..." She stopped and turned abruptly on Rowena. "You don’t like Italian, do you?"
"Er, um…" she hesitated, confused.
"Never mind," Willow continued. "The point is… I-I just want to know you."
"Okay…" Rowena eyed her suspiciously. "Well to answer your last question – every now and then I do like a good lasagna, but to be honest I don’t give much thought to Italian food one way or the other. But mostly, I like it spicy," she revealed with a sexy smirk. "Give me Thai or Mexican, any day." After contemplating, she added, "and purple, though if anyone else asked I would say blue. Two sugars, one milk – skim, preferably." Her look grew mischievous. "And I have this weakness for John Candy movies. Steve Martin’s not bad either – I almost peed my pants watching "My Blue Heaven." She chuckled in memory, then soberly continued, "I absolutely love listening to the rain. It helps to calm me, especially sitting inside next to a window, all curled up with a good book. Or sometimes I’ll even just sit and watch it fall…" she wistfully trailed off. Returning to the present, she added, "…and my name is Blanche."
"Blanche?" Willow repeated, eyebrows arched in surprise.
"Yup. My mother must have been in a particularly spiteful mood when she named me – Blanche Rowena Allister, after two maiden aunts who I’ve only met once or twice in my life." She turned to Willow with a menacing glare. "And if you mention this to anyone…" she threatened.
"I wouldn’t dare!" Willow hastily replied, hands raised in defense. "Remember, the knife-throwing? Not planning on getting on your bad side anytime soon!"
Rowena laughed. "Now it’s your turn," she conspired with an evil grin, "to tell me your deepest, darkest secrets."
Willow took a deep breath and let it out slowly. "You sure you wanna go there? It gets pretty deep a-and dark. And I suppose you already know all about the black-haired, veiny hell bitch that I turned into after…" she trailed off.
"Willow," Ro spoke softly, "I know you’ve been through very tough times. Please, the last thing I want to do is bring up fresh wounds." She changed her tone, becoming a little more playful. "Why don’t you tell me about your most embarrassing moment?"
Watching Willow’s face grow a deep red, Rowena was intrigued. "Ooh, and from your reaction, I can tell it’s going to be juicy!" She cackled in glee.
"Well, let’s just say it involves me, and rather constricting leather." Willow looked as though she wanted to cower behind the nearest tree. At Ro’s encouraging expression, she continued, "did Giles’ Watcher Journals ever mention… my evil twin?"
Rowena scrunched her face in thought, then her expression cleared as she exclaimed, "Oh! The vampire! The one that Anya summoned from another dimension?"
"That’s the one," Willow replied, turning even redder.
"But if I remember the story correctly, you took on her identity and managed to keep the situation under control, buying time for Buffy to eliminate the danger…" She touched Willow’s shoulder. "That was very brave! I don’t see any reason to be embarrassed."
"Right… well, uh…" Willow stammered. "That was sorta before the embarrassing part. See, when Tara heard this story, she was… um, intrigued...by the image of me in leather." By this point, Willow’s entire face and neck were a bright red. "So she, uh… took me out shopping one day." She glanced over at Rowena, whose rapt attention made her look away again before continuing.
"We were in the change room, trying on some leather pants. Things got a little… heated." Willow bit her lip, then continued, "We were scrambling to pull the pants off, but it turns out – leather? Not the easiest thing to get off!"
Listening to Willow’s description, Rowena felt her own face flush, although it wasn’t from embarrassment.
Oblivious to the effect her story was having on her companion, Willow continued: "Eventually, Tara had both feet planted firmly on the little bench inside the change room, and I was clinging desperately onto the clothes hangers on the wall," Willow demonstrated in the middle of the sidewalk, one leg lifted, both hands grasping at her pant legs. Rowena doubled over in laughter at the comical sight. "…We gave one final pull that sent Tara flying back, knocking the door right out of its hinges!"
"No!" gasped Rowena.
Willow nodded r uefully. "The sales clerk must have heard the commotion and came in to check that everything was okay." Ro shook her head in disbelief. "She found Tara half naked, and sprawled across the floor, clutching the leather pants. And there I was, hiding in the corner with no clothes whatsoever! I was mortified!" Willow finished.
Trying to hold back the laughter that threatened to burst out, Ro asked, "So then what happened?"
"Well, we had to pay for the damages to the door… you know, they really should make those things sturdier…" she murmured.
"Was Tara hurt?"
"Nope, she was okay." Her smile turned into a pout. "But she claimed that she banged her elbow during the fall… she kept asking me to kiss it better, just to remind me of the whole fiasco – and in public, too!"
Both girls chuckled softly. They continued their walk in silence for a few moments, taking in the quiet stillness of the night. The wind whispered gently through the trees.
"This is nice," Willow softly murmured. "It’s good to get away from all the chaos every once in a while."
Rowena smiled. "Especially with all that’s been happening, and what’s undoubtedly to come." She groaned inwardly. Excellent, Ro, mention the impending apocalypse, that’s sure to be a turn-on. With that thought, she paused. Surely, that wasn’t what she really intended – why would she want Willow to be turned on? Confused, she shook her head and concentrated instead on the redhead’s response.
"I know. And with all these new Slayers coming in, we’re even more in need of Watchers. I can’t even imagine how Robson is faring; it seems they’re even worse off than us."
As they approached the Council, the girls grew quiet, both lost in thought. Rowena didn’t want to think about her approaching departure to England. She still hadn’t found a way to tell Willow about it. In truth, she had been dreading that particular conversation, and decided to leave it to the last possible moment. Somehow, if Willow didn’t know yet, her leaving remained only a figment. Once she spoke it aloud, however, it would materialize into a lamentable certainty. Cringing away from such thoughts, she decided to switch gears.
She smiled as thoughts of their chess games came to mind. She’d miss those the most. Her blossoming friendship with Willow was unexpected, and not unwelcome. Until this year, she had remained fairly distanced from those around her, not wanting to get caught up in the complications that came with trusting others. Either deliberately or subconsciously, she had pushed away anyone who tried to get too close. Plus, being a Watcher didn’t exactly mesh with easy friendships – "Hi, I help Slayers fight demons. What’s your name?"
But finally, she was with a group of people who could understand exactly what she lived for. And, though trust was still difficult for her, at the very least she knew that she could rely on them. Reluctantly, she had opened up to the point where they might just feel like family. One person in particular had helped in breaking down these barriers, and she was walking right next to her.
Glancing over at the petite woman, she couldn’t help but smile at the exuberance that seemed to radiate from her. Rowena’s breathing became shallow as her gaze fell on the lithe figure, her beautifully innocent face and soft neck, the soft swells beneath her fitted top. She absolutely glowed in the moonlit night. Ro tried to imagine what the redhead would look like in different lighting – the soft glow of candles dancing across her skin, illuminating a path down her lush valleys and igniting a fire deep within her core. Her face growing warm in embarrassment, she was thankful for the light breeze that covered the reaction to her roaming thoughts.
It must be the alcohol making her imagination run away like this. She shouldn’t have let Willow buy her that second shot of root beer Schnapps. "If I didn’t know any better, I’d think you were trying to get me drunk," she had joked.
"Never!" Willow had quipped, feigning innocence. Then, with a sly grin, "but nah, it usually takes a lot more than just two of these for that to work."
"Well, if you play your cards right…" Rowena had teased back, making Willow snort in amusement.
Yes, Rowena thought, it must be the alcohol. This has absolutely nothing to do with the beautiful woman walking next to me. She continued walking in silence, enjoying the easy company as they approached their rooms.
At some point, Willow had slipped her hand into Rowena’s. Ro was surprised to notice that it didn’t bother her. In fact, it felt rather nice, and gave her a slight tingly feeling where their skin touched. Marveling at the sensation, she was shocked when they stopped in front of her door, all too soon.
She saw Willow glance quickly at the door, then back towards her. "Well, um, you know, we could go in for some tea… except, not the caffeinated kind though, ‘cause, well, I’ve been told it makes me jittery, and especially at night – not so good for the sleeping…"
As Willow babbled on, the words blended into a distant melody and Rowena was mesmerized by the movement of those succulent lips. Still transfixed, her tongue darted out to moisten her own.
"Um, Ro?" Willow asked with timid concern.
"Hm?" Rowena pulled her eyes upward.
"Tea?" Willow repeated.
Her heart thudded in her chest. ‘Say yes! Say yes!’ it screamed. She imagined inviting the redhead in, pressing her firmly against the wall as she ravaged every part of that smooth skin. She felt her shallow breathing grow more desperate as her mind traveled along those soft curves and shuddered at imagining the feel of Willow’s tight… her eyes widening, she snapped out of her reverie with a look of horror.
"I-I’m sorry," she stuttered. "I’m pretty tired… all that dancing. Early morning tomorrow and all that," she practically stumbled over her apologies as they flew out of her mouth. Her face hot, she reached toward the door handle.
A soft hand stayed her movement. "Hey, it’s okay. I had a good time tonight. Thank you." With a weak smile, Willow closed her eyes and leaned in close.
Eyes wide, Rowena grappled for the handle and threw the door open. "Yes, well, thank you!" she blurted, seeing Willow’s face fall as her eyes flew open. With a forced grin and slight wave of the hand, Rowena stepped inside and shut the door.
Inside, she turned around and fell against the doorframe, eyes tightly shut against the image of Willow’s hurt expression at her rambled excuses. "Stupid, stupid, stupid!" she muttered under her breath. Biting her lip, she turned around and peeked out the eyehole. What she saw wrenched her heart. Willow was still standing there, a look of pain and confusion playing across her face. Trying to compose herself, Rowena closed her eyes and took ten deep breaths, counting slowly. After another moment of hesitation, she reached back towards the door and slowly opened it. Willow was gone.
~ Part 3 ~
As she got ready for bed, Rowena kept playing the scene over and over in her head. What had come over her? The evening had been going so well, and then she had to ruin it by getting all antsy and slamming the door in Willow’s face.
She glared at her reflection as she brushed her teeth. "Don’t look at me like that," she shook her toothbrush at the mirror. Sighing at her behavior, she lamented, "Great. Not only am I a complete spaz, I also talk to myself." She spit into the sink and rinsed her mouth. Wiping away the remaining toothpaste from her lips, she moved to turn off the lights, but paused again at the mirror.
Moments passed as she stared intently at herself. Her features seemed to blend together, the lines blurring until the shapes became unrecognizable. "Willow, what do you see in me?" she breathed. The mirror made no reply, her own face gazing dismally back at her.
With another sigh of frustration, she shut off the lights and made her way to bed. Curled up in the soft covers, her mind wandered back to their earlier conversation. She chuckled to herself as she remembered Will’s shenanigans, recounting her "embarrassing" moment. It was almost as if Willow had planned the whole thing, summoning a vision of herself getting frisky (and in leather!) to gauge Ro’s reaction. And for the first time, after a moment of internal struggle and self-realization, Rowena admitted to herself that she had been aroused. The heat that had been slowly building inside her all evening came rushing back in full force.
Taking a jagged breath, she imagined the look of hunger that would have graced Tara’s face as she surveyed the beauty of her girlfriend in that dressing room. In this vision, Willow was radiant as she showed off her supple form, presented in a neat leather package just for her. She saw Tara, in unrestrained passion and love, lunge towards Willow to capture her lips in a searing kiss and she envisioned Willow’s fervent response. Bodies on fire and erupting with need, hands tangling in hair and pulling each other close, grinding into a raised thigh, the girls rode out their passion in Rowena’s mind.
Moaning softly in her empty room, Ro’s hand slipped across her stomach and down, past her elastic band to brush the soft curls below. As she slowly, tantalizingly stroked her wet folds, she imagined those girls in that change room, pressed firmly against the wall, writhing to the rhythm of a melody as old as time itself, soft moans escaping breathless lips in crescendo.
And it was Ro in that change room, sucking eagerly on those juicy lips that nipped and suckled back in fiery passion. It was Rowena’s hands grasping at the tight leather, reaching under Willow’s shirt to rake across the soft expanse of skin that burned at her touch. She was raising Willow’s arms, pulling at the soft fabric that constricted her access as she threw off her shirt. It was Rowena’s name that Willow was moaning as her back arched, allowing her nipple to be claimed by an eager tongue.
And it was Willow’s hands, not her own, that stroked even now between her thighs, eliciting desperate moans as they reached inward, further and deeper, towards her very soul. Willow was riding above her, her body glistening in the moonlight as she captured Ro’s lips in her own, then traveled down, past her jaw, to suck and lick at her neck before continuing on past her collar bone. Willow’s tongue finally reached its destination as it circled a nipple and then seized the pebbled flesh and sucked greedily, her hand all the while delighting in its task down below. Rowena’s back arched, fingers curling, thrusting and twirling in her slick center. She called out Willow’s name as she surged over the edge and rode out wave after wave of sheer bliss.
Coming down from her climax, her breathing slowed and her eyes widened in realization of what she had done.
With a look of mortification, she ran to the bathroom. At the sink she scrubbed away at her hands, muttering, "I didn’t mean to… forgive me… Oh god, I’m sorry!" Her hands a scouring red from the harsh cleansing, she spun around and turned on the shower, feeling the heat from the spray scorch her offending skin. The hot water pounded down on her and she scrubbed her entire body raw as she moaned under her breath, "I’m so sorry. Oh god, Willow, I’m so sorry!"
She turned the water off and collapsed in a sobbing mess onto the ceramic floor of the tub, clutching her knees to her heaving chest. Against her will, the feelings she had locked away from ‘the incident’ at the Academy came swarming back to haunt her. Voices filled the air, echoing through her mind.
"Listen carefully, bitch – if you tell anyone about this, we’ll kill you!"
"No," she moaned, clutching at her head to stop the onslaught of memories.
"Ms. Allister, this is a severe accusation that you are making," the calm, stern voice chilled the air. "Those boys are talented, well-mannered and show an enormous amount of promise – not to mention that they have very influential parents. If I were you, I would think long and hard before divulging this…distasteful story to anyone else. I won’t discuss this issue any further."
But the one voice that fought its way through all the others, hurt and enraged, was Jordon’s.
"They what? Oh, I’m sure that’s what happened," his echoing voice accused. "I’ll bet you liked it, didn’t you? Didn’t you? You useless cunt!"
The raw, screaming voice seemed to reverberate through the very depths of Rowena’s psyche. "No!" she wailed. "I didn’t…I’m sorry, please stop!"
As the voices receded, her grief and repentance continued to consume her. "I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry…" she chanted as she rocked back and forth, shivering in the cold wetness.
After a time, once her bawling had subsided to the occasional choking sob, she toweled off and made her way back to bed. She felt empty and hollow, drained of all emotion. Her eyes a painful red and her breathing still labored, she lay under the covers watching as the lights from the window played across the dim room. Outside, she could see the branches of trees swaying in the wind, much as she had swayed earlier that night with a red-haired goddess. At the thought, tears began to well up in her eyes again and she tried to push them away.
This is useless, she thought, her body shaking from the emotional exertion. Sitting up in bed, she tried a meditation technique that Althenea had taught her. When her breathing slowed and she began to feel more relaxed, she allowed her mind to drift back to that dance. In her head, she could hear Becca’s soft lilting voice as she rocked slowly back and forth, summoning that feeling of calm that had enveloped her from within Willow’s arms.
Oh the quiet child awaits the day when she can break free
the mold that clings like desperation
Mother can't you see I've got
to live my life the way I feel is right for me
might not be right for you but it's right for me...
Her breathing light and even, she lay peacefully still. An observer might mistakenly note a hint of innocence in her serene form, with her eyes gently shut to block the soft beams of moonlight filtering through the window as she let sleep claim her.
this is heaven to no one else but me
and I'll defend it as long as
I can be left here to linger in silence
if I choose to
would you try to understand it
I would like to linger here in silence
if I choose to
would you understand it
would you try to understand...
~ The End ~
~ Epilogue ~
Morning rays poured into the quiet room. The light flowed across the carpeted floor, crept up along the rumpled bedspread, and gently prodded at Rowena’s slumbering form. With a soft moan, she blinked her eyes and then rolled over, burying her head under her pillow to block the shamelessly unrelenting beam of light. Her breathing remained deep and even. A hauntingly sweet melody teased at the edge of her consciousness as she allowed herself to gradually awaken.
With a stretch and a yawn, she sat up in bed and gazed blinkingly around the room, bathed in a soft glow. Her eyes fell on the chessboard that sat on a coffee table in the corner of the room, pieces scattered after the last game she had played with Willow. After losing yet another match, the witch had swept the pieces off the board in mock frustration and proclaimed that Ro was a big fat cheater, before both girls had broken down in a fit of giggles. Her heart warmed at the memory. Most of her fondest moments lately seemed to include Willow.
Willow. As her sleepy haze slowly lifted, her mind was suddenly flooded with the events of the previous night. She groaned and flopped back down into the mound of sheets, staring blankly at the ceiling. Eventually, her heartbeat returned to its natural pace. I can do this, she thought sternly to herself. With resolve, she got out of bed and made her way to the washroom to freshen up.
Downstairs, she approached the kitchen and passed Xander on his way out, cradling a steaming mug of coffee in both hands.
"Mm, that smells heavenly," she stated, inhaling the drifting aroma with a deep, calming breath.
"Late night?" he teased. "You’re usually one of the first ones up and about."
Her eyes widened. She had completely forgotten about Xander after she’d started dancing with Willow. "Oh my goodness, Xander I’m so sorry about last night!" She placed her hand on his arm in apology.
"Aw, that’s okay," Xander replied sheepishly. "You looked like you were having fun, so I, ah, just sort of took off." He glanced away in embarrassment, and then continued, "I’m sorry I ditched you, but I figured the two of you wouldn’t mind walking back."
"No, it was fine. It was gorgeous, actually," she whispered, a far-away look crossing her features. At Xander’s raised eyebrows, she blurted "Weather! The weather was gorgeous."
"Uh huh," he nodded, taking a sip of his coffee and ignoring her slip. "Well, there’s a gorgeous girl waiting in the kitchen," he stated, belying his obliviousness. "She’s been pretty quiet all morning," he finished with a probing look of concern.
"Hm," Rowena murmured, resisting his prompt for a reaction from her. Inside, her stomach was churning in shame, anticipation and a slight sense of fear. "Well, I’m very sorry again for last night," she tried to avert the discussion. "I’ll try to make it up to you somehow."
"I’m sure we’ll find a way," Xander beamed.
Rowena just smiled weakly and turned towards the kitchen door, the sound of Xander’s retreating footsteps overwhelmed by the nervous throbbing in her ears. She took a steadying breath and tentatively reached for the door, but was shocked as it burst open, a huffing Andrew stomping out, oven mitts in hand and spouting words under his breath. Rowena managed to catch "under-appreciated" and "cook their own damn food" before he disappeared around the corner. And was that tomato sauce smeared over his face? With a shrug, she entered the kitchen.
The vision inside took her breath away. Willow was alone, leaning against the counter with a steaming mug of mocha in her hands, her fiery hair glimmering from the rays of light that streamed in through the window behind her. Her mouth twitched in an amused grin and her eyes sparkled at the antics that had evidently transpired only moments before. Surprised by Ro’s sudden appearance in the doorway, her face blossomed into a hopeful smile in welcome.
As Ro continued to stare at her, mouth hanging slack, Willow’s face contorted into a nervous look before she covered with a tentative smile. "Hey you," she tried again.
Snapped out of her reverie by Willow’s soft voice, Ro coughed to cover the embarrassed glow that rose in her cheeks. Pointing to the door behind her, she asked, "So what was that all about?"
Willow smirked. "Faith and Andrew had a bit of a… disagreement." At Ro’s questioning gaze, she explained, "Let’s just say, it involves a hungry Slayer, the last pizza pop, and a threat to shove Andrew into the freezer if he tried to stand in her way." Seeing Rowena arch her eyebrows, Willow elaborated further, "Andrew’s been in here cooking eggs and bacon all morning. He didn’t think pizza was suitable breakfast food for ‘a growing Slayer’… Faith didn’t like that description too much," she summed up with a wide grin.
Both women chuckled, before growing silent. Willow took a step towards Rowena. "I had a really good time last night."
"So did I," Ro whispered, transfixed.
The redhead bit her lip and moved another step closer. Her heartbeat quickened. She could feel it – the need was palpable between them. Rowena blinked, as if breaking a spell. Almost imperceptibly, the blonde seemed to recoil backwards. Willow paused in her approach, her brow furrowing.
Her breathing ragged, Ro hurried to explain. "I’m so sorry, Will." She turned her back to the witch, folding her arms protectively across her chest. "For last night, I mean. I had such a great time, and then you wanted to come in for a drink but I…" She turned back to face Willow, who was pained to see a wetness forming in her eyes.
"Hey," Willow stepped forward and tenderly lifted Ro’s chin to look into her eyes. She wiped away at a stray tear, her thumb massaging the Watcher’s cheek. "It’s okay. Really." Willow was confused by Rowena’s sudden distress, worried that she had done something wrong. "Was it me?" she tentatively asked. "Cause, you know, sometimes I can be a real doofus, and not even realize it," she laughed nervously.
Ro sniffled, and tried to console the witch. "No, the dancing, the …everything… was perfect."
"Perfect," Willow nodded, smiling. "So," she continued with a look of gentle concern, "what’s with the waterworks?"
Glancing briefly away, Rowena told a half-truth. "It’s just, there was a thing – a separate thing – going on with me last night. There was this… incident, awhile back… the memories kind of overwhelmed me and I freaked." She looked searchingly into hazel eyes, pleading to be understood without having to explain. Just let it go, Willow, please just let it drop. She bit her lip, willing the girl not to push, knowing that she couldn’t open up to her – not yet.
Unknown to Rowena, her words echoed in the witch’s mind. Just let it drop. "Okay." Willow nodded once, and took a step away. "If you ever want to talk about it, I’m here for you." Her voice conveyed the hurt that she felt at being shut out.
Rowena closed her eyes, overwhelmed by the warring emotions that flared within. She was relieved at not having to explain herself, but at the same time she felt a deep sorrow. She sensed Willow pulling back. Well, this is it, Ro thought, I’ve managed to push away yet another friend. She steeled herself for the ever-familiar sense of loss and deafening silence that accompanies an empty room.
"May I have this dance?" the soft voice startled her. She glanced up through tear-streaked eyes and was met by the dazzling sight of her Willow, hand calmly outstretched in invitation. She could see a hint of a smile gracing the redhead’s lips.
She choked out a laugh. "Wha - here?"
Willow patiently waited in silent admission. Rowena glanced at her sideways. "There’s no music," she pointed out.
A radiant smile spread across the redhead’s face. "We’ll make our own."
With a slow nod, Rowena tentatively stepped towards the other woman and took her hand. Willow gently pulled the blonde closer, wrapping her arms around her neck. They began to sway back and forth to the redhead’s soft humming. Rowena felt a blush rising in her cheeks at their silliness. If anyone walked in right now... she thought self-consciously. But embarrassment wasn’t the only cause of the growing heat in her body. She shivered at their proximity and was overwhelmed by the musky scent of the woman in her arms.
"You know," Willow ceased her humming to chuckle softly, "I’m really not usually much of a singer. Even when that musical demon came into town, I pretty much let the others carry the solos."
"Really?" Ro whispered. "It’s a shame, you have such a soothing voice."
"Oh, right," Ro could almost hear the eye-roll in the witch’s tone. Suddenly, Willow threw the blonde into a spin and caught her, then followed up with a dip. Both women broke into laughter, and continued dancing in easy silence. Rowena could feel Willow’s hot breath on her shoulder as they moved even closer. She shut her eyes and allowed the pulsating essence of the witch to flow through her.
Just as she could feel her breathing begin to quicken, she was startled by the kitchen door slamming open. Andrew stood in the doorway, just as shocked as the two women holding tight to one another inside. Peeping behind him, Martha let out an excited squeal. Before he even knew what was happening, Andrew had already been propelled around the kitchen once, pulled into a waltz by the young Slayer who was already singing jauntily. "I love dancing!" She exclaimed.
Drawn out of their shock by the sheer joy of the young girl, both watchers looked at each other and burst out laughing. When Martha grabbed each of their hands and pulled them along for the ride, they followed gladly, twirling and soaring and weaving about the room in breathless abandon.
Eventually, scared and confused, Rowena would board a plane to England, leaving Willow broken hearted and alone. But for that one blissful morning, the air was filled with laughter and love. And above all, there was dancing.
~ The End ~
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