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...Good Book, all (POSTED) parts, one page!

Happy Little Minion's Playground

It All Started With a Good Book

 

By

 

Happy Little Minion

J

Disclaimer: As per usual, they belong to Joss & Co.  I just borrow them to do nasty things with before I return them… mostly undamaged, and only slightly traumatized!  J

 

Rating: R, anyway, but I’ll say NC-17 to be on the safe side! 

 

Feedback: Please!  It’s the only payment I receive for tapping at the little keys!  Gimme, Gimme, Gimme, Pwease!! 

 

Pairing: Buffy/Tara 

 

Summary: What if Willow had moved out instead of Tara after Willow screws up the forget spell… 

 

A/N: This story is loosely based around the fact that Buffy read the book Passion’s Bright Fury, by Radclyffe… and what she wished to discover after that fact!  J

 

A/N & Thank you: The use of Radclyffe’s name and the titles of her books, along with character names and references are used with permission.  Thank you, Rad!  For those who haven’t read her books, please check out her website at; www.Radfic.com or www.BoldStrokesBooks.com  You won’t be sorry, and I highly recommend all her books!  ; ) 

 

Just for you, you tiny little terror!  (Who happens to wield a really mean whip!!)  This is so you don't have to 'hit the back button' between parts!  'Goddess forbid I should make it 'difficult' for you!'  (I won't even complain about how LONG it takes to load this sucker on dial-up!!  Then again, maybe I will when I have to add the parts to it as well as they're posted!!  grrr  'The things I do for people!')  *smooch*  ; ) 

~HLM~

 

Part 1 

 

Buffy quietly climbed the stairs, stopping at the opened door to Tara’s room.  Seeing the Wiccan stretched out sideways across her bed with a book in hand, Buffy leaned against the doorframe. 

 

Tara tilted her head back to look up at the Slayer, frowning at the dirt covered woman.  “Are you okay?”  She set the open book down on her chest as she scooted around at a bit of an angle to get a better look at the Slayer, her eyes searching for obvious injury. 

 

Buffy watched Tara’s eyes for a moment before looking down at herself, grimacing at the condition she was in.  “Yeah, nothing a shower and washing machine won’t fix.”  She pushed off the doorframe, frowning when she saw blood on her sleeve and a small, neat slice in the material.  “And maybe a band aid or two.” 

 

Tara set her book aside on the bed as she swung herself around, feet hitting the floor. 

 

Buffy held up a hand to stop the woman.  “Minor damage.”  She now remembered the knife cutting her as she fought with a demon, pissing her off right before she took his head off with her own sword and a few choice words. 

 

Tara stopped her self from going to the Slayer, settling on the edge of the bed as she nodded.  “Let me know if it requires more than a band aid.”  She’d gotten into the habit of leaving her bedroom door open until the Slayer got home from patrol.  Buffy had told her she didn’t have to stay up waiting for her to get home every night.  Truth be told, she didn’t, but there were nights when she was still awake when Buffy did come in.  She was a light enough sleeper, that she usually heard the Slayer coming up the stairs and cracked an eye open. Buffy poking her head in the room to tell her she was okay before closing the door, Tara being placated with the answer and quickly drifting back to sleep. 

 

Buffy nodded.  “I will.”  She started to turn, turning back.  “You’re up late?” 

 

Tara glanced at the clock and back to Buffy.  “I didn’t realize it was so late.”  She shrugged as she blindly reached for her book. 

 

“Good book?”  Buffy’s brow rose as she watched Tara pick up the book, placing it on her lap as a mischievous smile crept onto her face. 

 

“Yes.”  Tara winked at her.  “I was just getting to the good part.” 

 

Buffy chuckled softly as a blush flushed the Wiccan’s cheeks.  “Since when did you read about the manly parts doing the horizontal bop?”  She grinned as the flush darkened. 

 

Tara brought the book to her chest as she crossed her arms around it, one finger keeping her place.  “I never said it had manly parts in it.”  Tara wiggled her brows and watched Buffy’s eyes open wide in surprise, laughing softly as she fell back on the bed and opened the book again.  She ignored the Slayer as she waved her out of the room.  “Go take your shower, Sweetie.”  She smiled and bit her lip as she got a grunt in answer, laughing softly as Buffy turned and walked away, the bathroom door closing behind her. 

 

~HLM~

 

Buffy stepped into the bathroom and closed the door, still somewhat surprised by the Wiccan’s answer.  Then again she really couldn’t picture the woman reading a bodice ripper with Fabio on the cover, chuckling softly she undressed after turning the shower on.  “I think she’d cringe more than anything, if she read those.” 

 

Tossing her blouse in the sink to soak, she groaned as she looked down at her arm knowing it would require a few stitches.  “Had to be on the right arm, didn’t it?”  She poked at the wound before getting out the first aid kit and cleaning the wound.  She’d rather have Tara do it than try putting the stitches in with her left hand, though she hated asking the woman.  She remembered the last time Tara had caught her trying to awkwardly stitch her right shoulder, the woman batting her hand away and giving her a disapproving look before taking up the needle herself.  Buffy hadn’t missed the color draining from the woman’s face, or the tremble in her hands as she put her back together. 

 

Sighing she stepped into the shower as she let her mind wander to what it was that Tara was reading, wondering how they’d handle a lesbian sex scene in it.  Tilting her head she tried to remember the last time she’d read a sex scene of any type.  Shaking her head when the answer didn’t come to her, she started washing up thinking that throbbing and thrusting, and pounding and pulsing, was about the only things she did recall from the books she’d read before becoming the Slayer.  Frowning as she thought about not having really had an opportunity to read for pleasure after she’d come to Sunnydale, not that she’d cracked the books for school or research, either. 

 

~HLM~

 

Tara glanced up from her book when she saw movement in the doorway, the Slayer standing there hesitantly looking at her.  Seeing the gauze bandage, tape, and suture kit in Buffy’s hands Tara set her book aside once again, patting the bed as she sat up.  “Come here, Sweetie.” 

 

Buffy hesitated another moment before taking her place beside the Wiccan on the edge of the bed.  “I hate to ask, but thank you.”  She dropped her head as she set the items in her hands on the bed.  

 

“I’ll always help if I can, Buffy.”  Tara used a finger to lift the Slayer’s chin.  “Thank you.” 

 

Buffy’s brows furrowed as she tried to figure out why Tara was thanking her. 

 

Smiling at the confusion on the Slayer’s face, Tara tapped the tip of Buffy’s nose.  “You don’t always have to do it on your own, Tough Stuff.” 

 

Buffy nodded, the corner of her lips curling up at the name Tara called her when she was being stubborn.  “Point taken.” 

 

“Good!”  Tara winked at her before she pushed up off the bed.  “You forgot the scissors.  Don’t run off before I get back, or I’ll come hunt you down, Slayer.”  She tried giving her a serious glare over her shoulder to let her know she meant business. 

 

Buffy laughed softly at the tough look from Tara, but the amusement in the blue eyes couldn’t pull the look off.  “Yes, Ma’am.”  She made a show of crossing her heart. 

 

Tara laughed softly as she left the room to wash her hands and get the scissors. 

 

As soon as Tara was gone, Buffy scooted onto the bed and lay down with Tara’s book opened in front of her.  Skimming the page quickly, she used the gauze pad package as a bookmark then began flipping back pages until she found what she was looking for. 

 

Tara stopped as she stepped back into the room, blushing when Buffy grinned up at her and wiggled her brows. 

 

“Don’t mind me.”  Buffy winked at her as she tossed her right arm out on the bed and pulled up the sleeve on her robe, her eyes dropping back to the book. 

 

Tara whimpered softly at the thought of Buffy embarrassing her with her own choice of reading materials.  When all she heard was a soft laugh from the Slayer as she waved her injured arm Tara moved to the bed, Buffy’s eyes never leaving the book.  Tara picked up Buffy’s arm after placing the scissors on the bed, unwrapping the towel that covered the wound and laying it on her lap atop the towel before examining the wound. 

 

Buffy’s brows rose as she read the love scene between two women, soft grunts and groans occasionally escaping her. 

 

Tara blushed at the sounds coming from the Slayer, tying off a stitch she glanced over at Buffy’s face.  Smiling and biting her lip as the Slayer’s eyes raced back and forth across the page, brows furrowing only to rise again in surprise as another grunt left her.  Chuckling softly Tara went back to putting the neat little sutures in the Slayer’s arm. 

 

“Shh!”  Buffy sent a quick glare Tara’s way before her eyes quickly found their place back on the page. 

 

Tara grinned at being shushed by the Slayer.  Taking the opportunity of Buffy being engrossed to glance at the book to see which part she was reading.  She silently whimpered as she felt the blush heating her face, the Slayer finding one of the love scenes to read. 

 

“Wow!”  Buffy stared at the page after finishing the love scene.  “Does it really… I mean, is it always…”  She shook her head as she looked up at Tara with a look of surprised wonder clearly showing on her features. 

 

Tara chuckled softly, shrugging as she tied off the last stitch.  She knew her face was red but there was nothing she could do to stop the blush as she glanced at Buffy.  “It can be.” 

 

“Huh.”  Buffy grunted before closing the book to look at the cover seeing the author’s name, Radclyffe, and the title, Safe Harbor.  “You know, they should highlight certain parts of this and make it required reading for men.” 

 

Tara chuckled softly as she reached to rip the top off the gauze package, using the piece in place of the package itself as the bookmark.  “Damn, so much for toaster sales.” 

 

“Huh?”  Buffy opened the book back to Tara’s page, securing the small bookmark better, before looking up at Tara with questioning eyes. 

 

Tara just smiled at her, chuckling when Buffy rolled her eyes as the little light bulb clicked on in her head, turning she taped the bandage over the wound. 

 

“Better yet, make it required reading for women, then toaster sales would skyrocket.”  Buffy grinned as Tara’s head snapped up, surprised blue eyes looking back at her making her laugh. 

 

Tara smiled and shook her head as she rolled her own eyes before she made sure the bandage was secure, knowing the Slayer was only teasing her.  “You’re all done, Sweetie.”  She patted the Slayer’s arm before gathering the trash. 

 

“Thanks.”  Buffy shifted around to sit up as she picked up the other items.  “Now I know what kept you up until three in the morning.”  She grinned and laughed as Tara blushed and hurried off the bed to toss the trash away. 

 

Though still blushing, Tara smiled as the Slayer headed for the door.  It was nice to hear the woman laughing and joking on occasion nowadays, even if it was at her expense. 

 

“Thank you, Tara.  Goodnight, and don’t stay up too late.”  Buffy grinned at the Wiccan as she grabbed the doorknob, ready to shut the door. 

 

“You’re welcome, Tough Stuff.”  Tara winked at her.  “’Night, Sweetie.”  She waited until Buffy started closing the door.  “Oh, and Buffy?” 

 

Buffy stopped and looked over her shoulder to the grinning Wiccan. 

 

“I won’t be staying up too late if you take my book.”  Tara grinned as she held out her hand and wiggled her fingers for the book Buffy tried sneaking out of her room with. 

 

“Damn!”  Buffy pouted before laughing softly as she turned to hand Tara back her book.  “Can I read it when you’re done?”  She looked hopefully at her. 

 

Tara laughed and nodded when Buffy wouldn’t release the book until she’d answered her.  “Should I highlight and mark the pages for you?” 

 

Buffy smiled and let the book go as she shook her head.  “No, I’ll see if I can’t actually read the whole thing, not just the good parts.” 

 

“They’re all good parts, Sweetie.”  Tara brought the book to her chest with one hand as she pointed towards a couple stacks of books on a wooden chest.  “There are others, if you’d like to read them.” 

 

“Really?”  Buffy looked from Tara to where she was pointing before looking back to Tara, a slight blush creeping up her cheeks. 

 

Tara gave her a soft smile as she nodded. 

 

“Thanks, any suggestions?”  Buffy asked as she stepped over to the books, looking at the titles and noticing that a majority of them were by the same author and most from the same publishing company. 

 

“They’re all good.  Though some are series, those are in the pile on the right.  You might want to choose something from the other pile to see if you like them before reading the series ones.”  Tara smiled at the grunt she got in response as she settled back on her bed, the Slayer reading the back covers on a few before choosing one. 

 

Buffy held up the book to show Tara which one she’d chosen as she headed towards the door again, she could feel the heat in her cheeks as Tara smiled at her with twinkling eyes.  “Thanks.” 

 

“You’re welcome, Sweetie.  Oh, and Buffy… no drooling or other sticky bodily fluids on the pages, please.”  Tara burst out in laughter at the look of shock on Buffy’s face. 

 

“TARA!”  Buffy’s face turned dark red as she glared at the Wiccan.  “I can’t believe you said that!”  Buffy mumbled as she hurriedly left the room, closing the door on the laughter behind her.  “Damn, Wiccan!”  Buffy grumbled before smiling as she looked down at the book in her hand as she headed towards her room, stopping to put the scissors and tape back, and the first aid kit away as she went. 

 

Tara continued to laugh as she adjusted her pillows against the headboard and got comfortable before opening her book to finish reading.  “Just wait until I give you the pop quiz when you finish reading it, Tough Stuff.”  Tara snorted softly, a grin still on her face as she found her place and began reading. 

 

~HLM~

 

Part 2 

 

Tara groaned as she rolled over and cracked an eye open to look at the clock, groaning again as she closed her eye and mumbled as she snuggled into her pillow.  “It’s too soon to be getting up.”  She’d stayed up for another hour or so to finish the book after Buffy had left her room last night, or rather, early this morning.  Then she’d gone to the bathroom to take care of business, wash her face and brush her teeth before dragging her feet back to her bedroom.  It was all she could do to keep her eyes open long enough to get undressed and put her nightshirt on, before crawling into bed and dozing off as soon as her head hit the pillow. 

 

Softly growling back at her stomach when it rumbled, Tara mumbled into her pillow.  “Go back to sleep, I am.”  She sighed softly and pulled the covers over her head to block out the light coming through the open windows as the shades moved back and forth with the gentle breeze. 

 

When her stomach refused to cooperate, Tara tossed back the covers.  “It’s Saturday, we’re allowed to sleep in, why can’t you get with the program?!”  She smacked at her growling stomach.  “Damned traitor, the rest of the organs are happy to go back to sleep, you should be too!”  She mumbled as she slid her legs over the side of the bed and pushed herself to a sitting position, and off the bed.  “You’re only getting toast, then its right back to bed!” 

 

She stepped out of her room and into the bathroom, splashing water on her face before heading for the stairs.  Rubbing her eyes with a fist as she continued to argue with her stomach on the way down the stairs, she stopped halfway down when she heard soft laughter.  “Don’t start with me!”  She growled at the Slayer. 

 

Buffy was stretched out on the couch, peeking around the side of the book she’d borrowed.  “I’d punish it for speaking back to you, if I was you.”  She grinned at the sleepy Wiccan as she reached into the box of Life cereal on the floor beside the couch, wiping her fingers on a wet rag sitting in a bowl on the coffee table, and then wiping them dry on the towel lying on her stomach. 

 

“Damned Slayer hearing!”  Tara growled softly at the Slayer as she watched her smiling as she chewed and turn the page in the book.  Somewhere in her sleep addled brain she made the connection between the can of Coke on the coffee table and the sound of it being opened as she’d woken.  “That goes better with milk, you know.”  She started the rest of the way down the stairs, somewhat grateful that the Slayer was eating the cereal, it being better for her than the box of Funny Bones or Sunny Doodles that she could have chosen for herself for breakfast instead. 

 

“I didn’t want it splashing on the book…”  Buffy smirked as she looked around the book again.  “… and then being mistakenly accused of it being drool or sticky bodily fluids.”  Buffy chuckled softly as Tara snarled at her, and went back to reading. 

 

Tara stood at the foot of the stairs for a long moment watching the Slayer, a slow grin creeping onto her face as she watched Buffy start to squirm around a bit as she read.  Tara headed for the kitchen when her stomach growled again.  Hesitating and looking over her shoulder before she turned the corner, seeing Buffy was now starting to run her right foot teasingly up and down her left leg and moaning softly.  “For getting me up to see that, you get jam on the toast.”  She patted her stomach and laughed softly as she turned the corner. 

 

“Huh?”  Buffy never looked away from the page, her eyes continuing to rush back and forth across it. 

 

“I was just talking to my stomach, Sweetie.”  Tara grinned as she stepped into the kitchen. 

 

*** Author’s note: For those of you unfamiliar with them… Funny Bones are (chocolate) frosted peanut butter crème filled Devil’s food cakes!  And Sunny Doodles are crème filled golden (cup) cakes!  Both made by Drake’s©. *** 

 

~HLM~

 

Tara set her cup of tea and toast on the dining table, and then pulled out a chair to sit and watch Buffy as she ate.  When she’d finished, she smiled and rested her chin in her hands as she continued to watch the Slayer squirming.  Her eyes started closing again as she wondered what Buffy would do with her newfound insight into lesbian relationships, seeing as the book was definitely having a physical affect on her.  Though, that didn’t really mean anything in the long run, was her last thought before her eyes finally closed and she drifted off while sitting at the table. 

 

~HLM~

 

Buffy had felt eyes on her, but she couldn’t drag her own off the page.  When she’d finished the scene and they were moving on, she finally looked away to find Tara with a smile still on her face and sleeping at the table.  Smiling herself, Buffy sat up and put a small piece of paper in the book to mark her place before setting it on the coffee table, along with the towel she’d been using.  She then picked up the cereal, closing the box before picking up her towel, can, and bowl to bring back to the kitchen.  She quietly picked up Tara’s empty cup and plate on her way. 

 

She just came back into the dining room when Tara’s head jerked as her arms started to sway to the side, laughing softly at the look of surprise on Tara’s face as she scooped her up in her arms.  “Okay, it’s back to bed for you, Sleeping Beauty.” 

 

“I can walk, you know.”  Tara mumbled as she wrapped her arms around Buffy’s neck and shoulders, her head resting against the Slayer.  “Though, it is nice having a Slayer in the house.”  She smiled as she closed her eyes and let Buffy carry her up the stairs. 

 

“Don’t get used to my carting your ass around.”  Buffy laughed as Tara tugged on her hair for her comment. 

 

“You’ll do it, and you’ll like it, Tough Stuff!”  Tara grinned and enjoyed the lift. 

 

“Want to go out for a beer after patrol tonight?”  Buffy tried to keep the smile off her face as she turned the corner on the landing with her load. 

 

Tara’s brows furrowed at the question.  “Neither of us drinks.” 

 

“That wasn’t really my point.”  Buffy grinned as Tara lifted her head to look at her in confusion. 

 

Seeing the grin and mischief filled eyes, it finally hit Tara what Buffy was talking about, and she chuckled softly.  “Do you know of any lesbian leather biker bars in Sunnydale?” 

 

Buffy grunted as the smile fell from her face.  “That could be a problem, huh?”  She frowned. 

 

Tara laughed softly at the look of disappointment on Buffy’s face, though the smile was still in her eyes.  “We’ll have to see if we can find a lesbian or two at the Bronze to fit the bill.”  Tara smiled as Buffy nodded.  “And who will you be playing, Sax, Jude, Mel, or the woman?”  She asked in reference to the characters in the bar scene in ‘Passion’s Bright Fury’, the book Buffy was reading. 

 

“Sax, of course!”  Buffy grinned as she placed a knee on the bed and set Tara down in her bed. 

 

Tara laughed, not surprised by Buffy’s answer, though curious as to where she’d fit in.  “And I’ll be?”  She pulled Buffy onto the bed as she scooted back to make room for her when Buffy started to move off the bed. 

 

“Hmm…”  Buffy brought a finger up to tap on her chin, a look of concentration on her face as she settled into a sitting position on the bed. 

 

Tara smiled and adjusted her pillow as she waited for Buffy’s answer. 

 

“Well… you can be Jude, my inspiration.”  She laughed as Tara blushed.  “Or you can be the woman… if we can’t find a willing lesbian, that is.”  She grinned and winked at Tara, laughing as Tara grabbed her and pulled her over. 

 

“Smartass!”  Tara smiled as she pulled Buffy down.  “In any case, I’ll need a nap if you’re taking me out cruising tonight, and I know you haven’t slept if you’ve read that far.  So you’re going to sleep with me.”  She reached down and pulled up the covers as she rolled onto her side to face Buffy.  “How far have you gotten?”  She knew she was in trouble when she saw the grin on Buffy’s face. 

 

Buffy grinned and waited for Tara to get settled, licking her lips and making a show of looking Tara up and down.  “Sleep with you, huh?  Well, I guess you’re Jude and we don’t need the bar, we’re skipping right to the Motel 6.”  She wiggled her brows and moved to pounce on Tara. 

 

Tara started laughing and held Buffy off with a hand against her chest.  “That wasn’t what I’d meant!” 

 

Buffy started laughing and fell to the bed beside Tara.  “But that’s what you said.”  She wiggled around and got comfortable as they both continued to laugh. 

 

“Smartass!”  Tara smiled as she tossed the covers over Buffy.  “Now I know what had you squirming on the couch.”  She winked as Buffy blushed, and then let her off the hook.  “How far did you get.” 

 

“Nowhere, apparently.”  Buffy sighed before she smiled at Tara’s rolling her eyes at her.  “They just got to Maddy’s house before I decided to rescue you from a face plant on the table.”  She looked towards the door before looking back at Tara. 

 

Tara shook her head.  “It’ll still be there later, it’s time for a nap now.”  She placed her right hand on Buffy’s stomach to keep her from getting up to go back to the book.  “Even you need some sleep, Tough Stuff.  So humor me, otherwise there’ll be no bar tonight.” 

 

“But I’m not tired, or six years old anymore.”  Buffy grumbled, but smiled as Tara patted her stomach and laid her head on her shoulder. 

 

“That doesn’t mean you still don’t need to be told what to do on occasion.”  Tara chuckled softly as she snuggled into Buffy’s side and closed her eyes.  “Sweet dreams, Tough Stuff.” 

 

“You, too… Mom.”  Buffy chuckled and grabbed Tara’s hand as the Wiccan pinched her, closing her eyes and waiting for the woman to fall asleep before she snuck off to grab the book. 

 

~HLM~

 

Tara moaned softly, one sleepy, blue eye slowly blinking open, before lifting her head slightly to look down at the small hand massaging her breast.  At some point after she’d tossed a leg over Buffy’s to keep her from sneaking off when she felt her trying to slip out from beside her after she’d fallen asleep, they’d changed positions.  Tara was now on her back with the Slayer’s leg over one of hers, her head on her shoulder, and her hand on her breast.  “Goddess!  She reads part of a book, and she’s an expert already.”  She mumbled as she dropped her head back to the pillow and removed Buffy’s hand, placing it against her stomach.  Smiling at the soft whimper and growl she got for doing so, she missed the small hand as soon as she’d moved it, her nipple hard as a rock, and a tingle thrumming between her legs.  She mumbled as she closed her eye again as she leaned her cheek against Buffy’s head.  “So not fair!”  She was tempted to let the hand wander again when Buffy tried moving it back to her breast, but held it in place as she drifted back to sleep. 

 

~HLM~

 

Buffy moaned and snuggled into the warmth as she slowly drifted up from sleep, she felt the press of soft lips against her forehead, and a hand gently rubbing her back.  She wondered where she was, but was in no rush to open her eyes to find out as she basked in the peace and comfort she felt as her mind slowly became aware. 

 

Tara smiled and kissed Buffy’s forehead as she heard her breathing change from deep sleep and the smaller woman burrow into her side.  She’d been awake herself for about ten minutes now, surprised that the Slayer was still beside her and sleeping soundly when she’d awoke.  There were still mornings when the Slayer would cry out in her sleep before she woke, the sound of a window being quickly opened soon thereafter.  Tara knew that Buffy still didn’t sleep well and suffered from the nightmare of waking in her grave, and gently rubbed Buffy’s back trying to ease her waking, this one time, anyway. 

 

She’d been terrified the first few times the Slayer had screamed out, having jumped out of bed and rushed to her room to find Buffy clawing at the covers before jerking upright and rushing to her window seeking air.  Her heart ached for what they’d put the Slayer through, but she didn’t know how to make it better for her.  It pissed her off that Willow used to sleep right through Buffy’s screaming, and then just brushed it off as ‘she’ll get over it’ when she’d mentioned it to her.  Those moments made Tara wonder why Willow was so hell-bent on bringing Buffy back, when she didn’t seem to care what they’d done to her after the first initial shock of realizing that they’d left her to dig her way out of her own grave.  Willow had been so proud of her accomplishment and power, but damn the consequences, she couldn’t be bothered with those. 

 

Tara sighed softly as she mentally shook off those thoughts and came back to the present, kissing Buffy’s forehead again as she did. 

 

Buffy moaned softly at the press of lips to her forehead again, finally reaching the point of waking.  She let her senses take over, the smell familiar, the sound of a heartbeat under her ear, and the envelope of warmth surrounding her.  It still took her a moment to figure out where she was before tensing and opening surprised eyes, finding her self snuggled into Tara’s side.  “Umm…” 

 

“Shh.”  Tara kissed her forehead again before resting her cheek there as she hugged the Slayer to keep her from bolting.  “And you said you weren’t tired.”  Tara smiled as she felt the Slayer start to relax again. 

 

“I wasn’t.”  Buffy grumbled, though smiled.  “Someone wouldn’t let me go when I tried to get up!” 

 

Tara chuckled softly and started rubbing Buffy’s back again.  “And then?” 

 

“Don’t know, I fell asleep.”  Buffy laughed softly, Tara had gotten what she’d wanted after all. 

 

“And you ended up here, how?”  Tara grinned as she felt the heat on her shoulder intensify slightly knowing Buffy was blushing without having to look. 

 

Buffy felt her face getting red.  “Must have been the octopus that grabbed me, had me wrapped up in her tentacles, and dragged me over here!” 

 

“Speaking of grabbing…”  Tara trailed off as she laughed and lifted the guilty hand from her stomach.  Said hand was back on her breast when she’d woken. 

 

Buffy lifted her head, brows furrowed, confused hazel looking into amused blue. 

 

Tara grinned and placed Buffy’s hand on her breast. 

 

Buffy’s eyes opened wide as she looked down at their hands, hers now on Tara’s breast.  “TARA!”  She quickly pulled her hand away, blushing as she looked back up at the laughing Wiccan. 

 

“You weren’t embarrassed about it earlier, Tough Stuff.”  Tara continued to laugh as Buffy started to sputter, not knowing what to say.  She kissed Buffy on the forehead again before rolling out of the bed, heading around it towards the door.  Stopping at the doorway she looked back at the shocked Slayer, now lying on her back watching her.  “And you were doing a wonderful job of it too.”  She winked at her and laughed as she walked out and into the bathroom. 

 

Buffy’s mouth fell open as she blushed, whimpering and pulling the covers over her head as Tara laughed and walked out.  Still listening to the laughter Buffy brought her hand up in front of her face.  “I didn’t?”  She looked at her hand as if waiting for an answer, groaning and rolling to bury her face in Tara’s pillow.  “And if I did, I don’t remember it.”  She peeked out with one eye to look at her hand again.  “Damn!  Next time take notes!”  She softly grumbled at her hand before she started laughing at the situation.  “At least she didn’t smack me.”  She smiled as she closed her eyes and waited for Tara to finish in the bathroom so she could use it, and then go finish reading the book.  “See what else we can learn about the use of hands.”  She looked at her hand again and groaned softly, the sensation of the Wiccan’s breast against her palm and fingers a moment ago still fresh in her mind as she felt the nipple harden against her palm again.  “Damn!” 

 

~HLM~

 

Part 3 

 

Tara grinned down at her creation as she put the plate in the oven to keep warm, Buffy would be down shortly having heard the shower stop.  She couldn’t stop the giggles as she poured more batter onto the griddle for her own pancakes. 

 

Buffy sniffed the air as she stepped out of the bathroom, her stomach rumbled at the smell of bacon as she hurried to her room to get dressed. 

 

Setting the bacon, home fries, and her plate of pancakes on the island with the butter and syrup, Tara grinned and grabbed two glasses out of the cabinet.  “Your pancakes are in the oven, milk or juice?”  She hurried to open the refrigerator before she ended up giggling again if she looked at the Slayer. 

 

“Milk, please.”  Buffy’s stomach growled and she licked her lips at the sight of the plates already on the island. 

 

Tara grabbed both items from the fridge, turning in time to watch the Slayer’s reaction. 

 

Buffy opened the oven and carefully tested the side of the plate before quickly pulling it out.  She almost dropped the plate when she saw her pancakes.  “Tara!” 

 

Tara burst into laughter as she fell against the counter, the embarrassment on the Slayer’s face worth the effort she’d put into making the stack of pancakes. 

 

Buffy felt her face heat up as she stared down at the warm dish in her hands.  There were two stacks of pancakes, or rather connected pancakes at the base, and then round pancakes of diminishing size as the stack rose.  “I can’t believe you.”  Buffy glanced up to send a glare at the laughing Wiccan, which only made her laugh all the more, before she dropped her eyes back to her breakfast.  She had to give the woman credit.  The smaller pancakes on the top were darker than the ones below, and two strawberry tips rising through the center of them as hardened nipples. 

 

Tara continued to laugh as she watched Buffy study the plate before setting it down.  “I was thinking of putting melon sections along the bottom side of them, you know, as support, but...”  She grinned and laughed as Buffy growled at her, turning to fill the glasses as she wiped away tears with one hand. 

 

Buffy set the plate down and scrubbed her face with her hands.  Tara wasn’t going to let her live this down any time soon. 

 

Tara put the milk and juice away before grabbing the glasses, setting them on the island as she took her seat, continuing to chuckle every time she looked at Buffy. 

 

“Paybacks!”  Buffy growled at her as she sent her another glare. 

 

“It’ll be worth it, Tough Stuff.”  Tara laughed as she bumped her shoulder into Buffy’s before preparing her own pancakes with butter and syrup. 

 

Buffy shook her head as she looked down at her plate again.  Now that the major embarrassment was over, she began to see the humor in it.  “There’s one problem I see here, though.”  Buffy glanced back up at Tara, her lips finally curling up in a smile. 

 

Tara looked from Buffy to the plate, and then back at Buffy again, a smile on her face.  “What?” 

 

Buffy pointed towards the stack on the right side of her plate.  “This hand didn’t get to feel the real thing.”  She poked at the hand shaped pancake that was covering the right breast, the strawberry nipple poking up between the middle and index finger.  “I think it got shortchanged.” 

 

Tara gave it serious consideration as the side of her lips twitched as she tried to keep from smiling.  “You’re right.”  She reached over and carefully picked up the hand shaped pancake, bringing it to press against her left breast before draping it back over the pancakes on Buffy’s plate and adjusting the fingers again.  “There, all better.  Now no one feels left out.”  She closed Buffy’s mouth with her hand before she turned back to her own plate and picked up her fork.  “Eat up.”  She grinned as she looked at the shocked Slayer before cutting into her pancakes. 

 

Buffy whimpered softly and closed her eyes as Tara laughed softly and started to eat.  When she opened her eyes again, she glanced towards the smiling Wiccan who was doing her best to ignore her.  She couldn’t stop her eyes from glancing down to the breast her breakfast was just pressed against.  Seeing the now hard nipple poking at Tara’s nightshirt she still wore, she decided that two could play this game.  Holding her hair back with one hand, she leaned over and ran her tongue around the strawberry before flicking it with the tip of her tongue.  She chuckled softly after hearing a whimper when she scraped her teeth up the sides of the strawberry before wrapping her lips around it.  She couldn’t hold back the laughter as she heard the fork drop from Tara’s hand and bang off her plate, biting into the strawberry Buffy lifted her head and grinned around the berry in her teeth before sucking it into her mouth and chewing.  “Did I do that right?”  She smirked as Tara moaned softly and nodded, her eyes never leaving Buffy’s mouth.  “Good.”  She winked at the Wiccan as Tara finally blinked and her eyes moved up to her own.  “Eat up before it gets cold.”  She patted the back of Tara’s hand, grabbing a piece of bacon and stuffing it in her mouth before putting butter and syrup on her pancakes, grinning the whole time. 

 

~HLM~

 

“Come on already!  I don’t have all night, you know!”  Buffy growled and kicked at the recently laid sod, waiting for the vampire to rise.  “Hopefully I’ve got a hot date in couple of hours.”  She began pacing the length of the grave, her eyes zeroed in for any movement of the earth as her sensitive hearing picked up sounds from below. 

 

She smiled in remembrance of Tara bent over the side of the tub, testing the water in her bubble bath as she was heading out for patrol.  Tara had turned her head, giving her a half smile.  ‘Don’t damage the merchandise tonight, Tough Stuff.’  Then she’d let her eyes roam over her body before meeting her eyes again, and winking.  She remembered her face heating up as her body responded to Tara’s perusal of it.  The Wiccan had been teasing her all day since the pancakes when they’d gotten up. 

 

Buffy chuckled softly as the thought of the next thing Tara had done.  She was lying on the couch reading when Tara came down the stairs carrying a laundry basket overflowing with the clothes from all their rooms.  When Buffy had looked up, Tara had asked her to bring the hamper from the bathroom down for her.  She’d set the book down and run upstairs to retrieve it, only to find it placed in front of the sink so she wouldn’t miss Tara’s little present.  Drawn in soap on the mirror was the outline of a woman’s body from the navel up, two large mounds of shaving cream where the breasts would be, and a winking, smiling face looking back at her. 

 

When she’d gotten down to the cellar, Tara was leaning back against the washing machine grinning at her.  “I think they’re starting to sag, and I’m not cleaning up the mess.”  She’d set the hamper down, stuck her tongue out at the Wiccan and ran back up the stairs, Tara’s laughter following after her. 

 

She was brought back to the present when she saw the earth shifting as the vampire finally made it to the surface.  “Need a hand?”  Buffy bent over and firmly grasped the hand breaking through the soil.  Pulling the former young man up and out, she helped him dust himself off.  “Can I ask your opinion on something?”  She took his growl as an affirmative answer.  “If I were to do this…”  She brought her hands up and started massaging his chest.  “Would you find it arousing if you were a woman?” 

 

The vamp cocked his head, looking at the small woman in confusion before slapping her hands away, growling loudly as he lunged for her. 

 

“A simple yes or no would have sufficed.”  Buffy grumbled as she sidestepped him, using his own momentum to toss him to the ground.  “Though I can see your point, you’re not having breasts and all.”  She ducked a punch as the vamp jumped back to his feet.  “But thanks, anyway.”  She quickly pulled out her stake and drove it home, then wandered off in search of something else to kill.  “I’ve gotta protect the merchandise, so no playing around with the evil dead things.”  She pouted as she headed out of the cemetery, not having felt anything else in the area. 

 

Tara had gotten her again at dinner.  Setting Buffy’s plate on the table with two mounds of mashed potatoes, gravy for areolas, and small mushroom caps for the nipples.  Dessert consisted of two mounds of ice cream, caramel areolas, and cherry nipples. 

 

Buffy laughed as she thought about the woman’s way with food.  “Wonder what she’d do for the lower half of the body?”  Feeling the smile on her face making her stop for a moment as she’d thought about the day.  As she thought about it, she realized that she’d been smiling and laughing all day.  Except for the times she was red with embarrassment, but even then it was a good feeling.  Today was a happy, carefree day.  Something she hadn’t felt in forever, it seemed.  And it all boiled down to one thing.  Well, two actually.  Laughing blue eyes and the crooked smile of a certain Wiccan was the reason for the feeling. 

 

The good feeling suddenly left as she felt the hair on the back of her neck stand up.  Looking around she saw the cause of her Slayer senses going off, in the form of the leather clad, peroxide blonde vamp.  “Go away, Spike.”  Buffy spun on her heel and headed in the opposite direction.  “I’ve got better things to do tonight, than deal with you.” 

 

“Wait up, Slayer.  I just wanna talk.”  Spike called out as he jogged to catch up with the departing Slayer. 

 

“Before or after you take a swing at me?”  Buffy ignored him as she caught sight of another vamp stalking a couple of women in the distance.  Her eyes searching for where the vamp would think to make his move and drag one, if not both, women off. 

 

“It doesn’t have to be like that, Luv.”  Spike caught up to the Slayer, slowing to the pace of her fast walk as he pulled out a cigarette.  “What’s the rush?”  He lit up. 

 

“Oh, stopping one of your buddies from having a last meal.”  She took off at a jog, mumbling distractedly to herself.  “And I’ve got plans for tonight.” 

 

Spike stopped in his tracks, cocking his head as watched the Slayer head towards a vamp closing in on two women.  “Plans my ass!”  He frowned before he slowly followed the Slayer, knowing she wouldn’t tell him what she was up to, but that didn’t mean he couldn’t follow her and find out.  He’d stayed at a distance as she’d quickly and quietly taken out the vamp without the women even realizing they were almost dinner.  Then he’d trailed her as she finished patrol, following silently until she’d reached her home.  Making him self comfortable as he’d watched the house from a dark corner across the street until he found out what she was up to, or where she was going, and with whom. 

 

~HLM~

 

Tara was in her room when Buffy ran up the stairs.  “Are you damaged?” 

 

Buffy smiled at the closed bedroom door.  “Nope, just dusty.”  Tara had removed her stitches earlier this evening.  Only a small, thin line remained on her arm where her cut had been, something you’d have to know was there to notice. 

 

“Good.  I’ve taken the liberty of picking out your clothes for the evening.  They’re on your bed.”  Tara smiled as she finished applying her eyeliner.  She’d used very little in the way of makeup, but enough to highlight her eyes and cheekbones in an understated way.  Looking at herself in the mirror she was pleased with the effect.  “Go take your shower, Tough Stuff, the women of Sunnydale await.” 

 

“Yes, Ma’am!”  Buffy chuckled softly as she headed down the hall to grab her robe and see what Tara had picked out for her to wear.  Would she be butch, femme, or fall somewhere in between? 

 

Stepping into her room Buffy stopped and looked at the bed.  “Guess it’s a combination of both.”  She grinned as she saw the black leather pants and gold, barely there top lying on her bed.  Tara had even chosen her black boots with the three inch heels.  Upon closer inspection she saw the skimpy black g-string, and thin silver chain belt.  The woman had even gone so far as to lay out a pair of silver earrings and necklace for her.  She smiled and shook her head as she grabbed her robe and headed out to take her shower. 

 

~HLM~

 

Buffy walked out of her room after hearing Tara’s bedroom door open.  “Can you help me do something with my ha…”  She stopped suddenly when she looked up at Tara, hands stilling as she was putting in her earring.  “..ir?” 

 

Tara watched as Buffy’s eyes opened wide, mouth falling as she stopped in her tracks.  She felt her face flush as Buffy’s eyes slowly took her in from head to toe and back again. 

 

“Wh…”  Buffy swallowed twice before she could get her voice to work.  “Where’d you come from?”  A slow smile forming before it turned into a wide grin as she looked the Wiccan up and down again, her eyes stopping at the show of cleavage and bra between the three buttons open on the blouse. 

 

Tara wore black shoes with no heel, dark navy slacks, and a silky, lighter blue blouse that brought out the color of her eyes.  She’d obviously spent time doing her hair and makeup, looking windblown, sexy, and wild as her hair fanned out around her face and shoulders.  Buffy realized the bra was black as she’d finally gotten her legs to work again, closing the distance between she and the Wiccan as she finished putting in her earring.  “You look great.  I’m never gonna get me a woman now, they’ll all be after you.”  Buffy pouted, but her eyes were smiling. 

 

Tara felt her face heat to maximum blush, but couldn’t stop the smile at the appreciative look in the Slayer’s eyes.  “I don’t think you have anything to worry about, Tough Stuff.”  Tara let her own eyes appreciate the Slayer’s appearance, reaching out a hand to trail a finger down the center of Buffy’s chest, down the soft skin to the top of her leather pants.  The gold halter top she’d chosen for the Slayer was split all the way to her waist, shoulders and arms bare, as was her back, only crisscrossed by the multiple spaghetti strap ties.  A crooked smile coming to her lips as the Slayer shuddered with the feathery touch.  “What did you want to do with your hair?”  She brought her hand up to run her fingers through the Slayer’s hair. 

 

It took Buffy a moment to get her mind to wrap around the question after the Wiccan’s touch, swallowing to bring moisture to her mouth again before answering.  “Besides dyeing it blonde again, I’m not sure.” 

 

Tara chuckled softly as she gave her hair a gentle tug.  “I do like it better a lighter blonde.”  Then she tilted her head and looked at Buffy’s hair for a moment.  “Braided down your back?  That’ll leave more skin for the eyes to peruse.”  She winked at the Slayer before taking her arm and leading her to the bathroom, pressing on her shoulders after pulling out a chair at the vanity.  “Sit, we’ll get you fixed up in no time.”  She pulled out a leather cord to use as a wrap to tie the end of the braid, and then picked up the brush and comb. 

 

Buffy allowed Tara to guide her into the chair, eyes never leaving the picture of the Wiccan in the mirror as Tara did her hair. 

 

~HLM~

 

Buffy opened the door, hopping out of the cab and holding out a hand for Tara. 

 

Tara paid the fare, under growling protest from the Slayer, and then slid across the seat to the open door taking the Slayer’s hand before her foot hit the ground.  “Thank you.”  She allowed Buffy to help her from the cab, gently squeezing her hand before releasing it.  “I think it best that we don’t walk in together.  We wouldn’t want the prospective women to think we’re a couple.” 

 

Buffy opened her mouth to protest, but closed it with a frown and nodded.  “So we’re strangers?” 

 

“Yes.  I’ll see if I recognize any known lesbians and point them out to you.”  Tara gave Buffy the once over, adjusting one side of her blouse at the waist.  “Though I don’t think you’ll have a problem with them not noticing you.”  She winked at her as she brought her eyes back up to Buffy’s.  “Are you ready, Tough Stuff?” 

 

Buffy swallowed as she nervously wiped her palms on her thighs.  “As ready as I’ll ever be.” 

 

Tara chuckled softly at the uncharacteristic nervousness of the Slayer.  “Relax, Sweetie.  Get your self a beer, find a spot to scope out the babes, and have fun.” 

 

“You’ll bail me out if I need it, right?”  Buffy quietly asked as she glanced around nervously. 

 

“I’ll be watching like a hawk.”  Tara gave her a crooked smile and winked.  “I’m Jude, remember.”  That got the soft laugh she was hoping for, the Slayer relaxing a bit.  “Just be yourself, and don’t forget to turn down all the guys that hit on you.”  Tara gave her a reassuring hug, pressing her lips to Buffy’s temple as she whispered.  “You’ll do fine, Tough Stuff.”  She pulled back and smiled at Buffy, reaching up to wipe a bit of lip gloss off her temple.  “Oops.” 

 

“Check, ladies night only.”  Buffy nodded, her hands nervously running down the halter and leather pants. 

 

Tara grinned and nodded.  “See you inside.  Good luck, Tough Stuff.”  She gently squeezed Buffy’s arm and turned to head inside, winking over her shoulder as the bouncer opened the door for her. 

 

Buffy watched Tara walk away, wondering what the hell she was doing as she was left alone.  It had been fun fantasizing, but now that she was really here she was ready to turn and run.  “I must me nuts.”  She started pacing back and forth, eyes never leaving the door of the club that Tara had just passed through. 

 

Neither she nor Tara ever noticed the neighbor’s car pull into the lot, or the blonde head slouching down in the seat, the glow of a cigarette on pale skin as it was smoked. 

 

~HLM~

 

Spike had quickly smashed the window of Buffy’s neighbor’s car and hotwired it after the cab had arrived, following at a distance as the women of the house were taken to the Bronze.  He’d watched from a far corner of the lot as they stood talking after getting out of the cab, brows furrowing as the witch went in alone, and the Slayer paced outside the club.  “What the hell?  What are you up to, Slayer?”  He’d tossed his cigarette out the broken window, waiting a few minutes after the Slayer finally entered the club before getting out of the car and entering himself. 

 

~HLM~

 

Part 4 

 

Tara looked around the crowded club having paid her cover fee as well as Buffy’s as she entered, which was sure to bring up another argument with the Slayer.  She walked to the far end of the bar, turning down an offer for a drink, and one for a dance along the way.  The place was busy, and the band loud as Tara smiled at the bartender, someone she knew from her Art class.  “Hi, Mike.” 

 

“Wow!”  Mike grinned as he checked out the woman across the bar.  “Out on the prowl tonight?”  He laughed as she blushed. 

 

Tara felt her face heat up as she shook her head.  “No, I’m not looking… not for myself, anyway.”  She chuckled softly as she looked towards the door, not seeing Buffy she turned back to Mike.  “Just here as moral support for a friend.” 

 

“Too bad, there are a couple of lookers over there, if you change your mind.”  He winked and nodded towards the pool tables. 

 

Tara turned to look, nodding agreement with him that the women were nice looking as she turned back to the bar.  “Are they a couple?” 

 

“Not from what I’ve seen.  They’ve both tried hitting on a few different ladies.”  He shrugged.  “Unless they’re looking for a threesome, never know.” 

 

Tara laughed and nodded.  “I don’t think that’s quite what my friend is looking for.” 

 

“Where is this friend?”  Mike made a show of looking to either side of Tara for the mystery woman as he stressed the word ‘friend’. 

 

“She’ll be here.  Or at least she better get her ass in here soon.”  Tara chuckled as she looked towards the door again. 

 

“Aah, didn’t want anyone to see you together, gotcha.  Can I get you anything?”  He nodded to a couple that sided up to the bar.  “Be right with you.” 

 

“Afterburner, please.”  Tara smiled and shrugged as Mike’s brows went up, but he turned to make her drink.  Tara watched as he poured the Kahlua in the shot glass, then used an upside down spoon to pour the peppermint schnapps, smiling as it settled under the Kahlua, flipping the spoon over he poured the Bailey’s to float on top of the Kahlua, ending up with three perfect layers. 

 

“On the house, Babe.”  Mike winked at her.  “And don’t forget to point her out when she shows up.” 

 

“I will, thanks, Mike.”  Tara lifted the shot glass and smiled, turning to look around as Mike nodded and turned for the other customers order. 

 

Tara recognized at least half a dozen women that she knew to be lesbians, and a few that were bi.  Then her eyes stopped on the two women at the pool table for a few minutes, watching the interaction between the two as they played.  She turned to look towards the door when she felt the hair on the back of her neck stand up, smiling as she watched a nervous Slayer entering the club. 

 

~HLM~

 

Buffy mentally kicked herself for coming up with this harebrained idea.  “What the hell was I thinking?”  She mumbled as she continued to pace, almost talking herself into going home, but she couldn’t leave Tara alone at the Bronze.  Aside from the fact the Wiccan would never let her live it down for chickening out and deserting her here. 

 

After a good five minutes of pacing she stopped and took a deep breath as she looked at the door to the club.  Shaking her head and squaring her shoulders, she released the breath as she mumbled.  “It’s not like you have to go through with it, just get your ass in there before she comes and kicks it for you.” 

 

Decision made she headed for the door as she pulled out money, smiling sheepishly at the smirking bouncer who’d been watching her pace and talk to herself as he opened the door for her. 

 

“You’re covered.”  Jake winked at her as he opened the door for the small woman. 

 

Buffy growled softly as she stuffed the money back in her pocket.  “I’m gonna kick her ass!” 

 

Jake laughed softly as he watched the nervous woman cautiously step into the club before letting the door close behind her.  He shook his head wondering what was up with the woman that usually waltzed into the place on a nightly basis like she owned it.  Though he had to admit she was never quite dressed like this, nor did she look as if she was only here for a short time tonight.  He shook off the thoughts as a couple headed his way.  It wasn’t any of his business, anyway, as he was just the door bouncer tonight. 

 

~HLM~

 

Letting her eyes adjust for a moment, Buffy then headed towards the bar as she quickly scanned the place looking for Tara, unknowingly turning down the same two men that Tara had on her way in.  She was still searching for the Wiccan when one of the bartenders coughed softly as he set a shot glass on the bar in front of her.  “What’s this?”  She looked at him in confusion. 

 

Mike smiled and tipped his head towards the other end of the bar as he stepped aside and turned sideways, giving her a clear line of sight to the other end of the bar.  “Slippery Nipple… compliments of the beautiful lady at the other end of the bar.”  He watched as she blushed with the name of the drink, and then her eyes quickly shifted and found Tara as a smile formed and she shook her head laughing softly. 

 

Tara winked and held up her own shot glass in a silent toast before tossing her drink back, blinking once at the burn as she swallowed before the warmth spread.  She gave the Slayer a crooked smile and nodded for her to follow suit. 

 

Buffy reached for her drink, finally noticing the writing on the napkin it sat upon.  Picking up both she glanced back up to a grinning Tara before reading it. 

 

‘Tough Stuff,

 

There are at least a dozen prospects here tonight.  But no matter what you decide, know that the ‘saggy ones’ and I are here for you and you won’t be going home alone either way.  Now drink up, relax, find a wall, and enjoy! 

 

Tara & the girls!’ 

 

There was a W drawn for breasts, complete with nipples just below the signature.  Buffy used the bar to help fold the napkin in half as she laughed, smiling up at Tara as she stuffed it in her back pocket, and then tossed back the drink.  She winked at Tara as she licked her lips, picked up the bottle of beer the bartender set on the bar as he took her empty shot glass.  She sent a glare Tara’s way when the bartender refused her money, getting a slight shrug and grin from the Wiccan before she set off on her mission knowing that twinkling blue eyes followed her every step of the way. 

 

~HLM~

 

Mike worked his way back down to Tara’s end of the bar, filling orders along the way as he kept glancing towards Tara, her eyes never leaving her friend that he’d been able to see.  “She looks familiar.”  Mike set another drink and a bottle of water in front of his friend.  “Though I could have sworn she was usually on the arm of Mr. All-American when she’d come in with her friends before.  Then she didn’t come in for quite a while.”  He’d worked at the bar for the past two years since his father bought the place, but had only met Tara this past year.  “When she does come in now, she just looks around and is gone before you know it.”  His brows furrowed as he looked in Buffy’s direction, trying to place faces on the group she used to come in with.  Looking back at Tara as recognition hit.  “You were part of that group, weren’t you?  And wasn’t she a blonde?”  He smirked as he looked at Tara’s darker hair.  “Or both of you, that is.” 

 

Tara nodded, recoiling slightly when he’d mentioned Buffy’s absence, and smacking him lightly on the shoulder for the last part.  “I have a feeling she will be again soon.”  She smiled at him before she sighed softly.  “Buffy was… is… was… Willow’s best friend.”  She frowned and shook her head as she stumbled over their relationship, not certain anymore where they stood.  “Willow and I moved in to help look after Buffy’s sister after Buffy’s mom died.”  She conveniently left off Buffy’s also dying as the real reason they’d moved in.  “I still live there.”  She chuckled softly as Mike gave her a look and leaned in closer. 

 

“Do tell, Darlin’, do tell.”  He grinned and wiggled his brows.  “I want all the dirt.” 

 

Tara shook her head as she smiled at him.  “No dirt, Michael.  We’re only friends and housemates.” 

 

“Damn!”  He pouted at her as he pushed back to his side of the bar.  “Get me all excited for gossip, then nothing.”  Then he smiled at her.  “And just where in the hell were all you gorgeous girls when I thought I was straight, anyway?”  He made a show of looking her over. 

 

Tara blushed at being included in that question.  “In a different state than you were.”  She laughed softly as he rolled his eyes. 

 

“And on the opposite coast as well.”  He straightened up as he was hit by a balled up napkin, sending a glare at his cousin who’d thrown it.  “Can’t you see I’m busy here?!”  He winked at Tara.  “Be right back.” 

 

“Take your time, I’m not going anywhere.”  Tara smiled at him before he stepped away to fill drink orders.  “Hi, Cami.”  She nodded to his cousin, one of the waitresses, before her eyes sought out the Slayer across the room. 

 

~HLM~

 

Buffy leaned against the wall, having found a spot with a good view of most of the place.  She’d already turned down a couple offers from guys to dance, turning away a third when she met blue eyes looking back at her again. 

 

Tara smiled as she watched Buffy sending a good looking guy away, winking as Buffy looked her way. 

 

Buffy smiled and shrugged.  

 

Tara held Buffy’s eyes as she slowly turned her head in the direction of a group of women at one of the tables, breaking off eye contact to look at them and let Buffy know where she was looking. 

 

Buffy followed Tara’s eyes to a table of women, smiling as she realized Tara was pointing out the possibilities to her.  She checked them out before turning back to a grinning Tara and nodding.  She followed Tara’s line of sight a couple more times, checking out her options before nodding back at the Wiccan. 

 

She frowned a moment later when a waitress with a full tray of drinks stepped around the corner of the bar to wrap her free arm around Tara.  She watched as the woman whispered something in her ear, causing Tara to laugh and nod her head before the waitress went on her way. 

 

Tara looked back towards Buffy when Cami left, she frowned herself at the frown on Buffy’s face and the glare she was sending out.  Following Buffy’s eyes she realized Buffy was glaring at Cami, turning back to Buffy she waited until she looked her way before raising a brow in question.  She laughed softly as Buffy blushed, quickly averted her eyes and took a drink of her beer.  She reached for another napkin and the pen still on the bar, quickly writing another note for the Slayer, grinning as she thought about having Cami deliver it for her, along with another shot. 

 

~HLM~

 

Buffy groaned softly and quickly finished her beer as she saw the grinning waitress headed her way. 

 

Cami took the empty bottle from Buffy, placing it on her tray as she picked up the folded napkin from Tara and a shot.  “For you, from you know who.”  Cami waited for Buffy read the note. 

 

Buffy unfolded the note as she glanced from Cami to Tara before looking down to read it. 

 

‘Tough Stuff, 

 

The girls and I aren’t on the market!  You’ve nothing to fear, I won’t be poaching on your territory, promise. 

 

Cami happens to be in a very committed relationship, but aside from that… she’s figured out what we’re up to!  She also told me there are a few more upstairs to consider! 

 

Now play nice with the waitress! 

 

Bottoms ups! 

T & the girls!’ 

 

There was another pair of breasts drawn under the signature.  Buffy blushed as she folded the note and stuffed it in her pocket.  She couldn’t bring herself to look at the waitress. 

 

Cami laughed and picked up the second shot off the tray.  “Here you go, Tough Stuff.  She said you DO know what to do with them.” 

 

Buffy whimpered softly as her face turned red, taking the second Slippery Nipple as she sent a glare at Tara.  “I’m gonna kill her.” 

 

Cami laughed as she watched the woman down both shots, holding out the tray for her to place the empty glasses on as she picked up the new beer to hand her. 

 

“Tell her paybacks are a bitch.”  Buffy grumbled as she sent another glare at Tara. 

 

Cami winked at the woman.  “Good luck!”  Turned around and headed back to the bar, laughing all the way. 

 

Tara laughed as Buffy sent her another glare then did her best to ignore her.  She downed her own shot and grinned at Mike.  “Are we having fun yet?” 

 

Mike smiled and shook his head.  “We have the spare bedroom you can use when she kicks your ass out.” 

 

Tara tilted her head as she considered Mike’s words, her eyes going to the Slayer to study for a long moment before she turned back and smiled.  “She loves me, even if she doesn’t know it.”  She tapped her empty shot glass.  “Fill ‘er up, Barkeep!”  She grinned at him before her eyes went back to Buffy. 

 

Mike just shook his head and did as told, smiling at Cami who’d been standing there and also heard her comment. 

 

~HLM~

 

After about fifteen minutes Tara downed her shot, slipped off her stool and pushed away from the bar.  “Desperate times, call for desperate measures!  Time to let the ladies know she’s looking!  Put on a slow one, Mikey!”  She winked at Mike, gave Cami a kiss on the cheek, and set off towards the Slayer. 

 

Cami laughed and turned her back to the bar to see what Tara was up to, grinning at Mike as his head appeared beside her as he leaned over the bar to watch him self after he’d put on a slow song.  The DJ didn’t show up to play the music in between the band’s sets, and it was up to Mike and the other bartenders to fill in on the stereo setup behind the bar during their breaks.  “Think they’ll figure it out before the night’s over?”  She’d been watching both women as she’d worked the tables.  One or the other of them was always watching the other, only turning away when the other’s eyes turned their way. 

 

“It may take something drastic to happen before that.”  Mike laughed softly then sighed.  “I just hope neither of them gets hurt.” 

 

Cami turned her head and kissed her cousin’s temple.  “You’re a softy, Michael.  Don’t ever change.”  She smiled as she leaned her head against his as she went back to watching what would happen. 

 

~HLM~

 

Part 5 

 

Buffy felt butterflies in her stomach as she tried to pretend she hadn’t seen Tara headed her way. 

 

Tara looked around at the women in the club as she headed towards the Slayer.  She’d noticed women looking, and talking back and forth amongst themselves, nodding and pointing out the Slayer.  She knew they’d noticed her, but no one had made a move as of yet.  She figured they just needed a little incentive, and she was going to try to provide it. 

 

Buffy raised a brow as Tara stopped in front of her, taking her beer bottle with one hand as she ran a feathery touch down the center of her chest with the other. 

 

Tara gave Buffy a crooked smile as she took the beer from her hand, trailed a finger down her chest to hook in the top of her leather pants, and tugged gently.  “Dance with me.”  It wasn’t a question, as she turned and led Buffy to the dance floor, setting the nearly empty bottle on a waitress’s tray as they passed. 

 

Buffy swallowed and wiped her hands down her thighs as she followed behind the Wiccan, being led by that one finger to the dance floor.  She never noticed the eyes of the women who’d been taking notice before, some gently nudging others to nod in their direction. 

 

~HLM~

 

“How many drinks has she had?”  Cami’s brow rose as she watched Tara take charge of the slightly smaller woman. 

 

“Not that many.  She’s drinking water in between.”  Mike was rather surprised himself as he watched Tara turn to Buffy once they’d gotten to the dance floor.  “But she doesn’t drink.” 

 

Cami laughed softly as she watched it play out.  “Definitely not the Tara we know.” 

 

“Uh huh.”  Mike nodded in agreement. 

 

~HLM~

 

Tara stopped in the middle of the sparsely used dance floor, there were only about ten couples dancing around the large space.  Gently tugging on Buffy’s waistband again before she ran her finger back up her body as she turned to face her. 

 

“What are you doing?”  Buffy nervously looked around before her eyes met a crooked smile. 

 

“Baiting the hook.”  She winked, never breaking eye contact as she ran her hands down Buffy’s arms from her shoulders to her wrists.  She brought them up around her own shoulders before running her hands back down to Buffy’s shoulders and down her sides to her hips, gently pulling the Slayer closer as she started them moving slowly in time with the song. 

 

“Oh.”  Buffy laced her hands together behind Tara’s neck as she was urged closer to the Wiccan, following the woman as she started the slow dance. 

 

~HLM~

 

Spike moved from the shadows of a corner, leaning against the railing on the upper floor to watch below.  “What the fuck?”  He didn’t notice as he vamped out as he growled, eyes never leaving the Slayer and Red’s castoff as he squeezed the rail in his hands and leaned over it. 

 

~HLM~

 

Tara lightly played her hands over the bare skin of the Slayer’s lower back, the small ties not hindering her in any way.  She smiled and inched closer to the Slayer as Buffy shivered with her touch.  “Picked any likely candidates?” 

 

“Huh?”  Buffy tried to understand what the Wiccan had just said to her, but her body responding to the soft touches had her brain slowing down, all concentration focused on heat trailing everywhere the woman touched. 

 

Tara chuckled softly and moved so their bodies touched.  “Are the Slippery Nipples going to your head?” 

 

“Nipples?”  Buffy’s eyes dropped to Tara’s chest as she leaned back from the Wiccan, hands trailing down her upper arms. 

 

Tara laughed and turned around in Buffy’s arms. 

 

“Hey!”  Buffy grumbled quietly as she wrapped her arms around the Wiccan’s waist.  “I didn’t get find out.” 

 

Tara tilted her head back on Buffy’s shoulder as she covered her hands with her own, turning her head to kiss the Slayer’s cheek, whispering as she moved the Slayer’s hands up to her breasts.  “They need a little extra support… someone told me they were sagging earlier today.”  She grinned as she pressed the smaller hands against her breasts. 

 

Buffy laughed and pinched Tara’s nipples.  “I said they were sagging.  I wasn’t referring to yours.” 

 

Tara spun back around in Buffy’s arms and winked.  “Good to know.”  She let her eyes scan to certain tables in the room.  “Well that got their attention.” 

 

Buffy looked down at Tara’s breasts, nipples now erect, and grinned.  “Yes, it did.” 

 

Tara blushed and dropped a hand to Buffy’s ass, giving it a firm pinch.  “I meant the ladies.” 

 

“And I was talking about the girls.”  Buffy winked and laughed softly as she wrapped her arms around Tara’s shoulders. 

 

“Smartass!”  Tara pulled the Slayer close.  “What about the blonde in the green shirt over there?”  She turned them so the Slayer could see the woman in question over her shoulder as she picked out another woman now behind Buffy. 

 

“Maybe.”  Buffy considered the woman, averting her gaze when the woman looked her way. 

 

“Hmm… how about the one in the short skirt and red top?”  Tara worked them around again so Buffy could see the woman she was referring to. 

 

Buffy cringed slightly at the heavily made up woman.  “Looks more like a hooker.” 

 

Tara laughed, having thought the same thing herself.  “Okay, well, what about the two at the pool table?”  Tara positioned them so Buffy could see. 

 

“They look promising, and are looking this way.”  She urged Tara to continue turning, not wanting to be caught looking at them. 

 

“It seems we’ve garnered the attention from above, also.”  Tara smiled as she finally saw the two women that Cami had described earlier.  The smile fell from her face as she stiffened as she caught sight of a familiar face before he stepped back into the shadows.  “And Spike.” 

 

“Where?”  Buffy pulled her head back to see where Tara was looking, turning them to look for the blonde vamp her self. 

 

“Upstairs.  He just pushed away from the railing on the far right side.”  Tara slowly moved them across the dance floor so Spike would have to show himself in order to see them. 

 

“I knew I felt something, just couldn’t find anyone.”  Buffy frowned as she kept her eyes on the right side of the upper level.  “He must have followed us here.  I know he was following me most of the night out on patrol.” 

 

“Have you run into him lately?  Any… problems?”  Tara quietly asked.  She was aware of the fact that Spike could hit Buffy, seeking her out every chance he got.  Buffy hadn’t mentioned any problems with him for the past week. 

 

“Not since the last time I told you about.”  Buffy frowned as she looked at Tara.  “In fact, he more or less left me alone after running into him.  I knew he was following me, but he stayed out of sight.” 

 

Tara nodded as she wondered what he was up to now.  “How’d he follow us here, though?  We took a cab.” 

 

“Probably stole one of the neighbor’s cars.”  Buffy growled softly, catching movement above, her eyes snapped back up to the railing. 

 

Spike sneered as the Slayer looked up and narrowed her eyes at him. 

 

“He’s there?”  Tara brought them to a stop as the song ended. 

 

“Yeah.”  Buffy didn’t break eye contact with Spike. 

 

“Good.”  Tara whispered as she leaned in and kissed the Slayer. 

 

Surprised hazel eyes snapped back to very close, amused, blue ones, as Tara lingered against the Slayer’s lips. 

 

Tara winked before she pulled her lips away.  “That should raise a few brows.” 

 

Buffy laughed softly as she nodded.  “Raised mine.”  She licked her lips and mumbled before pressing hers back against the Wiccan’s.  “Mmm… peppermint.” 

 

Tara smiled against the lips pressed to her own, moaning softly, her eyes closing as a warm tongue teased along her lips.  Forgetting for a moment that this wasn’t real as she parted her lips, hands roaming the Slayer’s back and down to her ass, gently squeezing.  “Goddess!”  Tara whimpered as she leaned her forehead against Buffy’s.  “What are you doing, Tough Stuff?” 

 

“Wanted peppermint.”  Buffy licked her lips again. 

 

Tara chuckled softly and straightened up.  “I’ll send you over an Afterburner.  Keep that up, and you’ll never get yourself one of the ladies.”  Tara gave her a crooked smile, and a quick kiss.  “Let’s see what happens now.”  She trailed her finger down Buffy’s body the same way she had when she’d first walked up to her, winked, turned and headed back to the bar. 

 

Buffy frowned as she watched Tara walk away, her hand coming up to brush a finger over her lips.  “Don’t think I want one of them now.” 

 

~HLM~

 

Part 6 

 

Tara had kept the smile on her face, but the smile had left her eyes.  She didn’t look at either Cami or Michael as she picked up the Slippery Nipple, downing it as soon as she got back to the bar.  Setting the shot glass back down, she picked up the Afterburner and the new bottle of water Mike had had waiting for her, setting them on Cami’s tray.  “Could you… please?”  She still didn’t look at either one of them. 

 

“Sure.”  Cami and Mike shared a worried look as she picked up her tray and headed off to deliver the drinks. 

 

Mike grabbed another bottle of water and set it on the bar in front of Tara as she took her stool, before turning to take a customer’s order, leaving Tara alone with her thoughts. 

 

~HLM~

 

The willies grew more intense as Buffy watched Tara, without even turning she spoke.  “Go away, Spike.”  She noticed Cami heading her way, hoping for a note, but doubting there would be one this time. 

 

“That was quite the show.”  Spike lit up a cigarette, taking a deep drag before speaking again.  “Tryin’ to remind the bint what she’s missin’ out on now with Red gone, are ya’.  Good on you.  Now maybe she’ll let Red back in her bed.” 

 

“Don’t call her that again!”  Buffy sent him a glare before grabbing the cigarette out of his mouth as he took another drag, earning a sneer from him.  “This is a non smoking section!”  She ground it out beneath her boot as she turned to Cami as the waitress approached her.  “And you have no clue what you’re talking about.  Now get the hell away from me.” 

 

Cami raised a brow, looking around at the other people smoking nearby before smiling at Buffy.  “I work here, I’m not leaving.  Besides, I bring drinks.”  She held out the Afterburner for Buffy. 

 

Buffy chuckled softly as she accepted the shot glass.  “You can stay.  It’s him that I hope goes to crawl back under whatever rock he crawled out from… preferably crushing his skull in the process.”  She mumbled the last part, rolled her eyes, and quickly tossed back the drink. 

 

Cami turned amused eyes on the man beside Buffy with her comment. 

 

“I’ll have a shot of Jack and a beer.”  Spike was unperturbed, having no plans to go anywhere. 

 

“Oh, those are good, too.”  Buffy smiled and licked her lips as she met Tara’s eyes, blindly swapping the empty glass for the bottle of water.  She frowned as Tara gave her a weak smile, eyes darting to Spike before turning to play with the label on her water bottle sitting on the bar. 

 

Cami glanced over her shoulder at Tara when the expression changed on Buffy’s face, seeing Tara play with her bottle she mentally sighed.  “I’ll be sure to tell the sender.”  Cami winked at Buffy, ignoring the frown and question in the woman’s eyes before turning to the pale man beside her.  “Bar’s right over there.  I’m sure they’ll be more than happy to serve you.”  She shook her head slightly, giving the slayer an apologetic smile as she squeezed Buffy’s arm and turned to walk away. 

 

“Bitch!”  Spike growled loud enough for the waitress to hear. 

 

Cami stopped and spun around to face the asshole.  “Only my wife gets to call me that.  And I seriously think you’ll have a problem getting a drink in here tonight.”  She gave him a smile that didn’t reach her angry eyes.  “Have a nice night, now.”  She turned and headed toward the tables she was serving. 

 

“Looks like no one wants you here anymore, Spike.  Cut your losses, and leave now.”  Buffy turned and walked a few steps away, leaning back against the wall. 

 

“I’ll be back.”  Spike sneered after the retreating waitress before spinning on his heel, duster flaring out around him as he strode towards the bar, detouring at the last moment to head towards the restrooms. 

 

“Don’t rush, and don’t forget to get lost along the way.”  Buffy spoke loud enough for Spike to hear her.  She turned to watch Cami, hoping the woman would come back so she could question her about Tara.  She watched as the waitress looked towards the bar, making a slicing motion across her neck before pointing to Spike.  Turning she saw the bartender nod, grinning as she realized Cami had just shut Spike off before he could even get his first drink.  “Oh, she’s good!”  Buffy laughed softly as she relaxed against the wall, the smile slowly leaving her face as her eyes returned to Tara.  Something had changed, though Tara hadn’t outwardly showed it, and she didn’t think it was for the good. 

 

~HLM~

 

Mike walked to the other end of the bar to grab a bottle he could have gotten at his end, informing the other two bartenders along the way to ignore the blonde guy in the black leather duster, he was shut off per Cami. 

 

They nodded in understanding, neither wanting to face the wrath of the pissed off waitress should they serve him.  Learning the hard way after one of their fellow bartender’s was fired, not before having his balls lodged somewhere in his throat by the angry woman after serving someone she’d shut off.  Cami had a knack for seeing and hearing things that they didn’t from behind the bar.  Her instincts for spotting trouble before it happened had saved them from barroom brawls, redecorating costs, and downtime on many occasions.  Mike and the boss backed her on all decisions.  God help the one’s who didn’t listen. 

 

~HLM~

 

‘Stupid!  Stupid!  Stupid!  What the hell were you thinking?!  Oh, that’s right, you weren’t thinking!’  Tara sat there mentally berating herself for what had just happened.  ‘Goddess, I need to get laid if just a kiss can turn me on like that!  She ran a hand through her hair.  ‘Okay, so, maybe teasing her and having her pinch your nipples might have had something to do with it, but…’  She growled softly and downed another Slippery Nipple as Mike set two more shots on the bar.  ‘Must have had something to do with her playing with my boob in her sleep, that’s what it is… the residual effect!’  She snorted softly as she opened the bottle of water.  ‘Sure, you keep telling yourself that, Tara, and maybe you’ll even talk yourself in to believing it.’  She sighed and took a long drink from the bottle, her eyes finally meeting Mike’s amused ones.  “Shut up, I don’t wanna hear it!”  She ran her hand through her hair again.  “I need my head examined.” 

 

Mike laughed softly and shook his head.  “Not saying a word, Babe.  You seem to be doing enough examining on your own.”  He winked and walked away smiling as she growled at him. 

 

“That doesn’t mean I still don’t need it examined by a professional.”  She mumbled softly to herself as she capped the bottle and started spinning it on the bar.  “Goddess, I need help.”  She sighed and finally looked over towards the Slayer.  “Wonderful!”  She growled softly as she saw one of the pool players talking with the Slayer. 

 

~HLM~

 

Spike hung up the phone with a smirk, pleased with him self for making the call.  Now he just had to get a drink, and get back to the Slayer.  The smile on his face turning into a sneer as he stepped around the corner, seeing the Slayer on the dance floor with a tall, dark haired woman.  “What the bloody hell!”  It was one thing to see her dance with Blondie, but another to see her dancing with someone else.  He’d seen her dance with her friends before, or some guy, but never with a strange woman. 

 

He decided to make his way to the bar and see what Blondie had to say about this.  After all, weren’t they here so Buffy could cheer up the bint, and here she was off dancing with some other slag. 

 

~HLM~

 

Buffy hadn’t really been paying attention to what the woman, Sandi, if she recalled correctly, was saying after the initial hellos were exchanged.  Her eyes had wandered back to the bar and Tara, nodding on occasion to whatever the woman was saying.  She was surprised when she found herself being led to the dance floor by a hand on her elbow, obviously agreeing to dance with the woman without knowing it.  ‘Smart, Slayer!  Think you can keep your mind on a simple conversation from now on!’  She was at least heartened that it wasn’t a slow song she’d agreed to.  ‘Just dance and get it over with, then go back to holding up the wall.’  Her eyes continued to stray towards the bar as she picked up the beat and danced, occasionally making sure she was at least still dancing with the woman she’d walked onto the dance floor with.  Though that wasn’t really a problem as the woman kept stepping close and touching her, only to have Buffy put distance between them again. 

 

~HLM~

 

Tara growled as the woman moved up behind the Slayer, hands running down the outside of her thighs, only to run them up the front of them.  ‘Bitch!’  She turned so she wouldn’t see where they ended up, missing Buffy catching the woman’s hands and removing them as she stepped away from the woman and turned to face her. 

 

Pushing off the stool Tara headed for the bathroom, she didn’t want to watch the woman trying to seduce the Slayer, even if that was what Buffy ultimately wanted.  ‘How the hell did I get myself into this mess!’  She shook her head and glanced back at the dance floor, growling softly as the woman trailed her hands down Buffy’s arms.  She was still growling when she turned away, slamming into a body.  “Sorry, I wasn’t… oh, it’s you.”  Tara stepped around Spike. 

 

“Where you running off to?”  Spike turned to follow the woman. 

 

“Where you’re not welcome to follow.”  Tara made her way through the throng of people that always seemed to block the way to the bathrooms. 

 

Spike followed anyway, stopping to hang out by the entrance to the ladies room as Tara pushed through the door. 

 

~HLM~

 

Buffy had just about had it with the octopus she was dancing with, grateful when the song ended and she could retreat from the woman.  She looked towards the bar for Tara, but didn’t see her on her stool.  About to go looking for the Wiccan, she stopped as she saw her leaving the restrooms, growling as she watched Spike appear behind her. 

 

“Spike, leave me alone.”  Tara pushed by the vamp, hoping she’d lose him in the crowd as she headed back to the bar.  She looked towards the wall where Buffy had been standing having heard the song changing as she’d washed her hands.  Not seeing her in her usual spot she looked towards the pool table, grateful she didn’t see her there with the pool players.  She was caught off guard when someone grabbed her arm, head snapping around to find it was Cami.  She blew out a breath in relief, having thought it was Spike. 

 

“Can I talk to you for a minute?”  Cami asked as her eyes turned to glare at Spike. 

 

“What’s up?”  Tara frowned when Spike stopped beside them. 

 

“Excuse us, this is a private conversation.”  Cami led Tara away from the asshole, making sure he didn’t follow. 

 

“He’s got good ears, and unless he wants me to permanently damage them, he’ll back off!”  Tara tossed over her shoulder as Spike tried to stay within hearing distance. 

 

Spike snarled at the Wiccan, but kept his distance nonetheless.  ‘Red may have the power, but Blondie has a few tricks of her own.  No sense pissing her off before Red gets here.’  He made his way to the bar near where Tara had been sitting. 

 

Buffy stopped as she saw Cami pull Tara aside, also noting Spike not far from the Wiccan before Tara said something to him and he walked away after sneering at her.  Buffy kept her distance. 

 

~HLM~

 

“I think I get the gist of the evening, but a word of warning.  Keep your eyes on the pool players, I don’t think that’s what either of you had in mind for the night.”  Cami nodded towards the pool table in question. 

 

“Buffy can take care of herself, Cami.”  Tara’s eyes still went to the pool players. 

 

“Yeah, I noticed her out maneuvering her on the dance floor.”  Cami snorted softly.  “Every time the woman made a grab, your friend headed her off at the pass.”  Cami laughed softly at the look of surprise on Tara’s face, and nodded to say that Buffy had thwarted her efforts.  “They’re not what she needs for the first time out, Tara.”  Mentally telling her self that Tara was, but refraining from saying it out loud.  “I should have tossed their asses out earlier when they were playing with some of the women who knew what the score was.”  Cami worried her lip for a moment as she thought about the reason why she hadn’t, but the stakes had risen. 

 

Tara watched the two women talking for a moment, her eyes quickly finding the Slayer before turning back to Cami.  “What did you mean playing with the women?” 

Cami looked away, not meeting Tara’s eyes. 

 

“Cam?”  Tara gently squeezed the woman’s arm, bringing her eyes back to her. 

 

“They’re making bets.  I’ve already seen money change hands when they scored with some of the other women in here.”  Cami sighed.  “You don’t want to know what they’re using as proof, either.” 

 

Tara’s brows furrowed as she frowned, then her eyes opened wide when she thought of one way of proving it.  “Oh!” 

 

“Yeah, oh!”  Cami shook her head.  “At least they wash their hands after the proof is shown.” 

 

They both shivered with the thought. 

 

“The bet’s gone up tenfold for your friend, Tara, and they’ve expanded on the single bet to many side bets.  I don’t want to see either one of you get hurt.”  Cami wrapped an arm around Tara giving her a one armed hug.  “Just keep an eye on them.” 

 

Tara nodded.  “Thanks, Cam.” 

 

Cami shook off the thanks as they headed towards the bar.  “I feel guilty for letting them stay.” 

 

“Why did you?”  Tara raised a brow as she frowned. 

 

Cami bit her lip as she looked at Tara, sighing as she mumbled her answer as she looked away.  “I wanted to see your claws come out.” 

“What?”  Tara stopped walking and stared wide eyed at the woman. 

 

Cami groaned softly as she stopped and turned to Tara.  “Between the looks and joking back and forth, and the sparks on the dance floor…”  Cami shook her head and held out her arms.  “I know you feel something for her, Tara.  I just can’t figure out why the games?” 

 

Tara sighed and ran her hands through her hair.  “We’re just friends, Cam.  Hell, she’s Willow’s best friend.  And up until she read one of my books, she’s been as straight as they come.”  Tara rubbed her forehead.  “She doesn’t… I can’t… we…”  Tara growled in frustration as she shook her head. 

 

Cami laughed softly and wrapped an arm around Tara.  “Well, from what I’ve seen, I think she’d be willing to go home with you tonight.” 

 

Tara snorted softly and bumped her hip against Cami’s.  “Of course, it helps that we live in the same house, so chances are she will be.”  She started laughing at the look of surprise on Cami’s face, then frowned.  “Though, she may have company tonight.”  As they reached the bar, her eyes wandered to where Buffy was standing watching them. 

 

Cami smiled and shook her head as Tara looked away, mumbling as she walked away from her.  “I wouldn’t count on it being a stranger.”  Then she frowned as the guy in the black leather duster moved towards Tara. 

 

~HLM~

 

Part 7

 

Tara saw Spike moving her way from the corner of her eye, shaking her head slightly as the Slayer frowned and pushed off the wall.  Though unhappy about it, judging by the frown and narrowed eyes, it was enough to keep Buffy in her place all the same.  Tara smiled at her for staying away before turning to raise a brow at Spike.  “What do you want, Spike?  As if I didn’t already know.”  She frowned and mumbled the last part as she picked up her bottle of water off the bar, noticing another Slippery Nipple and two Afterburners sitting there also.  “Are you trying to get me drunk?”  She smiled at Mike, who winked at her and walked away to fill Cami’s orders rather than serving the man beside her.  Tara chuckled softly as Spike started to raise his hand to get Mike’s attention, only to put it back down on the bar as the bartender walked away. 

 

“Who says I want anything?”  Spike narrowed his eyes at her as he turned to face her.  “And just what is it that you think you know?”  He pulled out his pack of cigarettes, pulling one out to light. 

 

“You want Buffy.”  Tara shrugged as if to say that was nothing that everyone didn’t already know as she twisted off the cap on her water.  “But you’ll never have her, Spike.”  She drank what was left in the bottle. 

 

“Goes to show you don’t know a thing, Blondie.”  Spike straightened up to his full height, cigarette still in his mouth as he hooked both thumbs in his belt.  “Me and the Slayer have a thing, so don’t go stickin’ your nose where it don’t belong.”  He narrowed his eyes at her. 

 

Tara only raised a brow at his show of bravado.  “You can’t hurt me, Spike.  Unlike Buffy, your chip still works with me.”  She was gratified to see the look of surprise on his face before he could hide it away.  “Yeah, I know you can hit her, Spike.  And if I see one more bruise on her caused by you…” 

 

“You’ll what?”  Spike cut her off as he pulled the cigarette from his mouth and got in her face.  “You don’t scare me, Blondie.  And I’ve got ways of taking care of you and all the rest of you do-gooders that get in my way.”  He was surprised when the woman didn’t back down from him.  “Drinks made you bold, did they?” 

 

“Drinks have nothing to do with it.”  Tara picked up the Slippery Nipple and tossed it back, slapping at Spike’s hand as he reached for one of the Afterburners.  “Hands off!” 

 

“What’s a bloke have to do to get a drink around here?  Hey!”  He called out to Mike, once again being ignored. 

 

“Go elsewhere.  I’m sure you could get something right up your alley at Willy’s.”  Tara gave him a shrug as she set the empty shot glass on the bar, jumping slightly as Cami appeared beside her.  “What?” 

 

Cami nodded towards Buffy and the two pool players as she picked up the two Afterburners.  “It’s now or never, Babe.  They don’t seem to want to take no for an answer.”  She smiled as Tara looked their way, a soft growl coming from the woman as she pushed off her stool and stood.  “I’m right behind you.” 

 

Tara took a deep breath and ran her hands through her hair before looking over her shoulder at the big grin on Cami’s face.  “You’re enjoying this far too much.” 

 

Cami nodded and smiled even wider. 

 

Tara shook her head and headed towards the Slayer and her groupies, or gropers, she amended herself with a growl as she watched them both running their hands over the Slayer. 

 

“Where’re you goin’?”  Spike reached out and grabbed Tara’s arm as she started to walk away.  “We’re not done here!”  Before he knew what hit him, his back slammed against the bar, knocking over Tara’s stool as he hit.  “Bloody hell!” 

 

With narrowed eyes and clenched teeth, Tara glared at him.  “Don’t ever touch me again.  Just because I don’t use it, doesn’t mean I don’t have power, Spike.”  She sent him another warning glare, turned on her heel and walked away. 

 

Cami looked back and forth in confusion between the two, not having seen anything but the asshole grabbing Tara's arm before he went flying.  Shaking her head, she trailed behind Tara as she cleared a path towards Buffy. 

 

She never spoke or touched him before he went flying.  Spike stared at her back as she strode away with purpose, before pulling at the collars of his coat as he straightened up to follow.  ‘So the bint’s got some bite after all.’  He smirked as he looked towards the door, seeing Red and another woman entering.  ‘Aah, right on time!’ 

 

~HLM~

 

Buffy jumped and swatted at the hand that just grabbed her ass.  The two women, Sandi and Sue, weren’t taking no for an answer as they maneuvered her away from the wall.  She didn’t see Tara coming up behind her, and all she heard was a loud growl before an arm wrapped around her waist. 

 

“Hands off!”  Tara put an arm around Buffy, pulling her back into her body as she grabbed the taller woman by the wrist to remove her hand from Buffy’s arm. 

 

Buffy sighed and pressed back into Tara when she realized who it was behind her.  “Thank God!”  She covered Tara’s hand on her stomach.  “I told you I wasn’t interested.” 

 

“You okay, Tough Stuff?”  Tara asked softly as she wrapped her other arm around Buffy after letting go of the wrist, sending glares at both women.  At Buffy’s nod she continued.  “You lose this one, Ladies.” 

 

“We haven’t lost anything yet!”  The taller one looked at the shorter one, raising a brow in question. 

 

The shorter one smiled and nodded.  “Double.”  Both turning smiling faces back to Tara and Buffy. 

 

“Uh uh, no way!”  Buffy shook her head as she glared first at Sandi, then at the shorter Sue. 

 

“Don’t even delude yourselves!  There’s no way in hell you’re getting the both of us, no matter how much the bet is.”  Tara uncharacteristically, and unconsciously, moved to shelter Buffy. 

 

Buffy smiled at the move before frowning as she looked over her shoulder at Tara.  “You know about the bets?” 

 

Tara nodded, her eyes never leaving the two women.  “I take it you heard?” 

 

“Yeah, but how did…”  She trailed off as Cami made her presence known, stepping closer to them with the tray with the drinks on it.  “Never mind.” 

 

“The way I see it, Ladies, is that you just lost, and she won.”  Cami looked from the pool players, nodding towards Tara as she handed Buffy one of the Afterburners. 

 

“She hasn’t won anything yet, nothing’s happened.”  The shorter one spoke up this time. 

 

Buffy grinned as she pressed downward on Tara’s hand she still had covered.  “I’m sure we can remedy that.” 

 

Tara laughed softly and toyed with the waistband of Buffy’s leather pants.  “You’re awfully sure of yourself, there, Tough Stuff.”  She whispered softly as she kissed Buffy’s ear. 

 

“Told them I had my eye on someone else, but they wouldn’t listen to me.”  Buffy tilted her head back as she downed the shot before smiling back at Tara. 

 

Tara brows rose with the Slayer’s comment, her heart skipping a beat as she stared at her.  ‘Did she just…’ 

 

Cami laughed at the shocked surprise on Tara’s face, and took the empty glass from Buffy’s hand.  “Told ya’.”  She grinned as they ignored her, then her attention was caught by the approach of two women, the redhead looked somewhat familiar.  Though she hadn’t seen them together in a while, she finally put a name to the face, stiffening as she realized it was Tara’s ex.  And the smirking asshole acting like the cat that ate the canary, didn’t bode well, either.  “Shit!” 

 

“Really?”  Tara finally found her voice as she stared into Buffy’s eyes, hoping against hope that the comment meant what she thought it meant. 

 

“Yeah.”  Buffy leaned back and kissed Tara softly, nerves kicking in after the move.  “Or I was… hoping… you might… we might… if…” 

 

Tara’s searched Buffy’s eyes for a long moment, her answer was to step a bit to the side as she partially turned the Slayer towards her.  Forgetting for the moment that they had an audience, her hand slipping along the bare skin beneath Buffy’s top as she kissed her, gently raking her short nails along Buffy’s abdomen as the kiss escalated, and Buffy moaned softly. 

 

“Spike, where is… Tara!  I was looking all over for you.”  Willow smiled at Spike, now having caught sight of Tara as she and Amy walked up to the group. 

 

~HLM~

 

Part 8

 

Buffy and Tara froze mid kiss, both stiffening at the sound of Willow’s voice. 

 

“Uh oh!”  Buffy mumbled as she pulled back from Tara’s lips. 

 

Tara whimpered as she leaned her forehead against Buffy’s.  “Did you forget to tell me it was your birthday?  That’s usually the only time things go horribly wrong like this.” 

 

Buffy laughed softly.  “Life with the Slayer, get used to it.” 

 

‘Something I seem to have found myself easily doing of late.  Tara gave her a crooked smile and kissed her again softly before sighing.  “All we need now is Xander, Anya, and Dawn.” 

 

“Don’t even jinx it by mentioning their names!”  Buffy growled softly as she tugged gently on Tara’s hair, not remembering how or when her hand had ended up there. 

 

Tara winked at her and quickly kissed her again.  “This should be fun.”  She rolled her eyes before turning her head after Willow called her name again, this time as a question as she got a better look at what was going on. 

 

“NOT!”  Buffy mumbled before she also turned towards Willow, smiling and covering Tara’s hands as the Wiccan kept her in her arms as they turned to face the redhead. 

 

“New bets?”  One of two pool players gleefully spoke a little louder than intended. 

 

Buffy, Tara, and Cami all turned as one to growl at the two bitches now making more bets on the outcome of the newest arrivals presence, which only got a shrug from them before they continued their wagering. 

 

~HLM~

 

Turning back to the others Tara raised a brow at Willow, before glancing at Spike.  “I smell a rat.” 

 

Amy took a step back, bringing an arm up to sniff.  “Sorry, I’ve showered at least a dozen times.”  She frowned as she looked quickly around to see if anyone else had notice the smell. 

 

Tara frowned at the woman’s comment, tilting her head as she studied the woman for a moment before her brows rose in understanding.  Willow had finally figured out how to bring Amy back.  “No, Amy, I’m sorry.  It was just a figure of speech, I didn’t mean it literally.”  She sent a snarl Spike’s way before turning back to Amy and smiling.  “It’s nice to meet you.  I’m glad you’re finally back.”  ‘Though you could have been back two years ago, had Willow not been adamant about doing it on her own.’ 

 

Buffy smiled and shook her head as the shock of seeing Amy wore off, stopping as she was about to speak when Tara apologized first.  “It’s good to see you again, Amy.” 

 

“Hi, Buffy, how’ve you been?”  Amy stepped closer to the group again, now that she knew she didn’t smell, or at least they were too polite to mention it. 

 

“Dead.  You?”  Buffy felt Tara stiffen, arms tightening around her, and gently squeezed her hands as she leaned back into her. 

 

Amy nodded as if it was a daily occurrence that Buffy was dead or had died.  “A rat.  Caged… shavings… wheel… pellets… day after day after day…”  She trailed off as the monotony of being a rat invaded her memory. 

 

“Sorry about that, but you looked… content.”  Buffy smiled ruefully at the woman. 

 

Amy blinked, coming back to the present and focusing on Buffy, only nodding before her eyes darted around again, her movements jerky and wary. 

 

“She’ll be fine.”  Willow smiled as she looked from Amy to the group, standing a little taller and grinning.  She was proud of herself for finally figuring out how to change Amy back, privately hoping to have impressed Tara with that fact.  “She just needs to, you know, adjust.  She’ll get over it and be fine.” 

 

Buffy’s brows furrowed at the usual brush off of how Amy was and would be, Willow having said the same thing about her on numerous occasions. 

 

Tara growled softly as she sent a glare at Willow, but kept her retort of ‘No one is fine after you’ve screwed with them!’ to her self. 

 

Willow was oblivious to everyone’s lack of appreciation to her prowess, having been looking at Buffy and Tara, or more importantly the way they were standing closely together with Tara’s arms around the Slayer. 

 

Cami had been watching and listening to everything, her eyes opening wide at Buffy being dead, and Amy being a rat.  She decided that this was a good time for a drink, picked up the remaining shot and drank it down.  All eyes turning to her as she slammed the glass back onto the tray.  “Sorry, I needed that.” 

 

Buffy and Tara smiled at the woman, Willow frowned, and Spike smirked.  Then Cami, Buffy, and Tara turned to see how the bitches handled the information. 

 

Sandi and Sue were whispering softly back and forth as they started betting on the rat, still not quite comprehending what the hell the people were talking about, but what the hell. 

 

Buffy growled softly as she overheard a comment by one of them about giving a whole new meaning to the phrase ‘getting a piece of tail’, and Amy being ripe for the picking and money in the bank. 

 

“Easy, Tough Stuff, we’ve got bigger fish to fry.”  Tara whispered softly, giving the Slayer a gentle squeeze and a kiss to the temple before they turned back to Willow, Amy, and Spike. 

 

~HLM~

 

“You were looking for me, because?  As if I didn’t know.”  Tara directed her last comment to Spike. 

 

“I thought…”  Willow frowned as she looked from Tara to Buffy, her eyes once again dropping to Tara’s arms wrapped around the Slayer.  “He said…”  She glanced back to Tara in confusion before turning to Spike.  “You said she was waiting for me?  I hurried to change into something she’d like, and whooshed on over here, and now it doesn’t look as if she’s waiting for me, I mean… she looks…”  Willow finally took a breath as she turned back to Buffy and Tara, eyes going from one to the other in confusion. 

 

Tara snorted softly.  “And you believed him?”  Tara shook her head as Willow nodded slightly that she had. 

 

“One minute we’re there, the next we’re here!”  Amy added as she swept her arms out to indicate the Bronze, smiling in awe of Willow’s powers.  “It was so awesome... and unsettling.”  Her brows furrowed as the smile turned to a frown, her hand rubbing her stomach. 

 

Buffy growled as her eyes narrowed on the redhead. 

 

Tara stiffened, blowing out a breath and frowning as she mumbled.  “You’re still borrowing power, Willow.”  Tara sadly shook her head, leaning into the Slayer as she tightened her arms around her.  “Have you learned nothing?” 

 

Buffy’s brows furrowed as she turned to look at Tara, having heard the Wiccan’s whispered words. 

 

“What?  It was just a simple…”  Willow shut her mouth at the look of anger in Tara’s eyes. 

 

“Don’t!”  Tara growled angrily as she leaned around the Slayer a bit to glare at Willow. 

 

‘Uh oh, she’s pissed!’  Buffy had to smile at the force of the gentle Wiccan’s rebuke, deciding to keep her mouth shut to see where this led.  But she was curious about the ‘borrowing power’ Tara mentioned.  ‘Willow stole some of Tara’s memories, could she have stolen some of her powers, too?’ 

 

“I mean… I only…”  She looked around for help, not finding any from Buffy, Spike, or the waitress, and then frowning and shaking her head trying to stop her as Amy jumped back into the conversation. 

 

“Simple?  No way, that was some really powerful stuff!  I’ve never…”  Amy was cut off as she cheerfully began expounding on the spell Willow had done to get them here in a flash. 

 

“Amy!  Umm… let’s not go there.  ‘Kay?”  Willow glanced nervously from Amy to Tara, flinching at the look from Tara. 

 

Amy’s eyes quickly flitted back and forth between everyone, closed her mouth and took a step back at the anger radiating from everyone but Spike, who just looked somewhat smug.  Willow had briefly explained to her what had happened to him with the Initiative and the chip they’d implanted in his head. 

 

“You’re never going to get it, are you, Willow?”  Tara shook her head sadly at her ex-girlfriend.  Turning her eyes on Spike, she didn’t miss the smirk quickly change to a look of innocent dismay. 

 

“I was just tryin’ to help…”  Spike reached for the invisible hand that now had hold of his neck, a look of surprise as he felt the fingers begin to tighten.  “What the fuck?!” 

 

“And you were hoping to accomplish what, Spike?”  Tara turned her anger on the neutered vamp, a spell to crush his throat now in place. 

 

Buffy looked from Spike to Tara and back again as her eyes opened wide in surprise.  Tara wasn’t actually touching him, just holding a hand out as if she were gripping his neck.  She felt a shiver run up her spine with the power she felt coming from the Wiccan.  Something she’d only felt when major mojo was happening, but had brushed it aside as an errant Slayer sense they hadn’t told her about. 

 

Spike suddenly found himself moving across the floor, led by the hold on his throat as his back slammed into the wall.  Apparently he’d underestimated the woman.  “Come on now!  I just…”  He trailed off with strangled sounds as Tara’s hand closed a bit more, effectively crushing down harder on his neck. 

 

Cami stepped aside as the vamp flew past her, making a quick grab for the two glasses as she swung the tray out of the way. 

 

“WOW!  She’s…  Shutting up, now!”  Amy quickly stopped speaking and closed her mouth, making a zipping motion across it and stepping back a step as Tara’s head snapped her way. 

 

Buffy nodded at Amy before smiling and kissing Tara’s cheek as the Wiccan turned her head back to glare at Spike, softly whispering as she did.  “She’s right.” 

 

Tara barely nodded acknowledgement, but her fingers lightly brushed on the Slayer’s stomach as her eyes drilled into Spike. 

 

“Tara?”  Willow took a step towards her ex, hesitantly reaching out to place a hand on her arm, but stopping as Buffy sent a glare her way. 

 

“Shut up, and don’t touch!”  Buffy growled at Willow, gratified when the redhead snapped her mouth shut, quickly dropped her hand, and stepped back from them.  “I’m sure we’ll get back to you in a minute.”  She turned her head towards Tara, but her eyes never left Willow, once again whispering out the side of her mouth for Tara’s ears only.  “Right?” 

 

Tara chuckled softly at Buffy’s now uncertain question.  “Yes, we will.”  Her lips turning up in an amused smile as she turned and softly kissed the Slayer before glancing back to a struggling Spike.  All the while ignoring Willow, as Buffy had that under control.  “But first I have to teach Spike a thing or two.” 

 

“Good.”  Buffy laughed softly as she turned to smirk at Spike, who she knew had heard them, and smiling at the wide eyed Cami that had just shuffled closer to them.  “This should be fun.” 

 

Cami only nodded as she stared in wonder as the man struggled to break free from the invisible hold.  She’d been uncertain what had happened back at the bar before they’d come to rescue Buffy a few moments ago.  Mike had said something about Tara being a witch, but she’d just thought he’d been joking.  As in it being the polite way of calling her a bitch, because Tara had been picking on him about something asinine that he’d done.  Now she knew he wasn’t kidding, whether he knew it or not. 

 

Buffy sent another growl towards the gambling duo as they were now betting on bloodshed and hospitalization versus death.  “Have you two ever thought about Gambler’s Anonymous?”  Which only made them smile and shrug.  Shaking her head Buffy turned back to check on Willow before turning to Spike as Tara started in on him. 

 

~HLM~

 

Part 9

 

“What did you hope to gain by bringing Willow here, Spike?”  It was a rhetorical question as Tara kept the tight hold on Spike, rendering him speechless.  “Were you hoping that I’d suddenly let bygones be bygones, and I’d rush into Willow’s arms, leaving Buffy all to you?” 

 

Buffy stiffened as Spike pushed off the wall, about ready to intervene when Tara slammed him back against the wall. 

 

“Baby?”  Willow took a step towards Tara, a hopeful look on her face. 

 

Buffy growled and sent a glare at Willow.  “Don’t even go there!  That was sarcasm, Willow!” 

 

“But, she…”  Willow flinched at the look of disgust on Tara’s face as she glanced her way.  “I thought you just…” 

 

“You’re not listening, Willow.”  Tara shook her head.  “You’re only hearing what you want to hear.” 

 

“But we belong…”  Willow unconsciously took a step back when Tara growled loudly, the anger clearly showing on her face. 

 

“There was a time I believed that myself, but it will NEVER happen, Willow!”  Tara was exasperated that she couldn’t get that through Willow’s head.  The redhead still harbored hope that they’d get back together, no matter how many times she’d told her differently over the past months.  Hearing a growl and feeling Spike push off the wall again, Tara snapped her head back towards the vamp, tossing him against the wall once again and tightening the hold around his throat.  “And, You!”  She narrowed her angry eyes on him, Willow all but forgotten once again. 

 

Spike whimpered at the pain of his head bouncing off the wall and the hand now crushing his throat as he clawed at the unseen offender.  If he’d actually had to breathe to survive, he’d be dead by now. 

 

“Oh, that’s gotta hurt.”  Buffy mumbled as she leaned back into the Wiccan, seeing the woman’s hand used to hold Spike close even more. 

 

“You like pain?  Or do you just like inflicting it?  Let’s see how you like it, shall we?”  Tara tightened her hold on the Slayer as she released Spike’s neck, shifting her hold down to grab him by the balls.  “What were you going to do, beat her into submission?  Hoping that if you kept beating on her enough that she’d finally submit, and you could have the real thing instead of the cheap imitation of the Buffybot?  She doesn’t belong in your world of darkness, no matter what you seem to think the truth is, Spike.” 

 

“EEW!”  Buffy shivered, the thought of Spike fucking the robot of her self that he’d had built still gave her the creeps.  She grinned as Spike grunted and reached for his crotch.  “I’m glad that you’re not really touching him, otherwise that hand would never be touching me.” 

 

Tara chuckled softly at the Slayer’s warning, kissing the side of her head as she dragged her free hand’s nails across Buffy’s abdomen.  “I’d cut my own hand off, if that were to happen.” 

 

Buffy turned her head and raised a brow as she looked at Tara.  “Was that to the first part, or the last?”  She laughed as Tara growled softly at her and pinched her stomach.  “That’s what I thought.” 

 

“Smartass!”  Tara gave her a quick kiss before turning back to the groaning Spike. 

 

Spike tried snarling a retort at her but his voice was no longer working, the only thing he could do is send her a scathing glare. 

 

Buffy reached out and ran her hand down Tara’s arm to her hand, cupping her hand along the backside of the Wiccan’s and closing their hands a little more, making Spike groan and fall to his knees as his nuts were being crushed.  “She has a point.  And you know, I think I liked you better when you were trying to kill me, rather than trying to screw me.  Either way, its sooo NOT gonna happen.”  Buffy squeezed their hands a little more just to make her point. 

 

“I’d suggest a change of address, Spike.”  Tara gave him a cold smile.  “This is just a taste of what I can do, and I really don’t think you want to find out what I am capable of doing if you really piss me off.  Stay away from Buffy.  You’ve been warned, Spike.”  Tara slowly increased the pressure, watching as Spike’s eyes bulged before he fell over. 

 

“Huh.”  Buffy grinned and laced her fingers with Tara’s as she felt her release the spell and open her hand when Spike passed out.  “That had to hurt.” 

 

“He’ll be lucky if he can cough again without his nuts falling off anytime soon.”  Tara whispered as she kissed the side of Buffy’s head, bringing their joined hands back around the Slayer. 

 

Buffy snorted softly.  “Let alone get it up at any point in the future.”  She leaned her head back on Tara’s shoulder to whisper in her ear.  “Remind me never to piss you off.”  She gently nipped at Tara’s ear, causing the Wiccan to inhale sharply as she shuddered. 

 

“Stop that!”  Tara moaned softly and scraped her nails over Buffy’s stomach, giving the skin under her hand a pinch when she heard the Slayer softly laughing. 

 

Cami leaned closer to the couple, eyes never leaving the man on the floor.  “Is he dead?” 

 

Buffy couldn’t resist the opening.  “Yeah, but that’s normal.”  She laughed as Tara pinched her again. 

 

“He’ll regain consciousness… eventually.”  Tara smiled wickedly at her friend.  “He may never walk the same again, but he’ll come to.” 

 

Cami laughed softly and shook her head as she smiled at Tara.  She nodded in Willow’s direction when she saw the shocked looking redhead staring at the unconscious man. 

 

Tara turned her head to look where Cami was looking, sighing softly that there was more to deal with. 

 

~HLM~

 

Tara tilted her head as she looked at Willow, her fingers unconsciously stroking over the Slayer’s skin as she considered her ex-girlfriend, eyes shifting to glance at Amy.  “How are you feeling?  Still queasy?” 

 

Amy frowned and nodded.  “How did you know?” 

 

Tara smiled sadly at the former rat.  “Power drain.  Not to mention the whole unsettling feeling of being teleported here from wherever you two were.  Willow’s house, I’m assuming.” 

 

Amy nodded again, somewhat surprised at the woman’s knowledge of things. 

 

“I’m feeling better.”  Willow tossed in happily, frowning when no one looked her way. 

 

Tara dropped her eyes for a moment before raising them back to Amy. 

 

Amy couldn’t quite figure out the look in the woman’s eyes as they met hers again.  She saw sadness overall, but there was something else there as well, possibly regret or guilt. 

 

“I’m sorry, Amy.”  Tara held the woman’s eyes, willing her to see the truth within her own.  “I should have changed you back when I first met you, but…”  Tara trailed off, ashamed of herself for not standing up to Willow, eyes dropping to the floor guiltily.

 

Buffy slowly turned her head to look from a shocked Amy to Tara, she and Amy both questioning softly at the same time.  “What?” 

 

“I…”  Tara hesitated a moment her eyes flicking from the floor to Willow. 

 

“Tara!”  Willow squeaked, her eyes wide, knowing what the Wiccan is more than likely about to say. 

 

“No, Willow!”  Tara’s voice is a growl as she glared at Willow.  “I should have changed her back!”  Tara’s eyes go back sadly to Amy’s.  “Willow wanted to be the one to change you back her self.  She didn’t want me doing it.  I’m sorry.  I should have done it anyway.” 

 

“You could have…”  Amy’s stunned as she stares wide eyed at the woman, her eyes finally turning to Willow. 

 

Willow dropped her head when Tara told them, fidgeting as she looks at her feet when she feels eyes on her. 

 

“I could have…  She could have…  You…”  Amy struggled to comprehend that her friend left her a rat for two more years when she could have been changed back.  “Why?”  Amy shook her head, not understanding why Willow would leave her that way.  What color she did have in her face draining, quickly turning and running for the restrooms. 

 

“Amy!”  Willow called out as they all turn when the woman took off. 

 

“I’ll go.”  Cami put a restraining hand on Buffy’s shoulder as she shifted in Tara’s arms, about to go after the woman.  “I could use another drink.”  She mumbled as she headed for the bar to grab a bottle of water before following the woman to the bathroom, and order more drinks while she’s there. 

 

“Thank you.”  Both Buffy and Tara called out to the retreating waitress, getting a wave off of the thanks from the woman as she doesn’t look back and heads for the bar. 

 

Catching two of the bouncers chatting on her way to the bar, Cami sends them over to get rid of the unconscious guy on the floor.  “Dump his ass out in the alley… and you don’t have to be gentle about it.”  She tacked on the end with an evil smile as she passed them. 

 

The bouncers look at each other and shrug.  “You heard the Boss.”  One of them grinned at the other as he clapped him on the shoulder and headed off to do Cami’s bidding, the other smiling and following happily behind. 

 

~HLM~

 

Willow turned angry eyes back on Tara.  “She didn’t need to know that!  You shouldn’t have told her!” 

 

Tara and Buffy both turn back to find a snarling Willow glaring at her ex-girlfriend. 

 

“Yes, I did.”  Tara calmly replied to the anger.  “I’ve felt guilty for the past two years that I could have changed her back and didn’t, all because of your…”  Tara trailed off as the two bouncers passed between them, all eyes except Willow’s furious ones turning to watch the two men. 

 

“What are you doing?”  Buffy curiously asked as the men roughly grabbed Spike by the shoulders, not really caring what they were doing, just curious. 

 

“Taking out the trash.”  One of them answered as they lifted the man off the floor.  “Boss’s orders.”  He shrugged and nodded to the women as they dragged Spike through the parting crowd towards the back door. 

 

Buffy shrugged.  “Works for me, saves me from having to drag his ass out of here.”  She smiled as she watched them ram Spike’s head into a pillar, both men having tried to go around opposite sides of it, laughing as the men just grinned at each other before finally making their way around the post, only to slam Spike’s head into the door before they opened it and stepped out.  She had no illusions that he would be gently placed out of harms way somewhere in the alley, more likely he’d be roughly tossed against something or buried under the pallets and crates that seemed to be found in all the alleyways of Sunnydale.  “Between his head, neck, and nuts, he’ll be lucky if he can crawl into the sewer by sunrise.”  Buffy chuckled softly as she turned amused eyes on Tara. 

 

“And that would be a bad thing, how?”  Tara raised a brow and smirked at the Slayer before the smirk turned into a crooked smile and she softly kissed her. 

 

“That would save one of us from staking his ass.”  Buffy squeezed the arms around her as she sighed and leaned back into the Wiccan. 

 

“You won’t have to if he leaves another bruise on you.”  Tara growled softly and kissed the Slayer’s temple. 

 

“Can I be there to watch what else you do to him?”  Buffy laughed softly, having enjoyed watching Tara deal with the vamp just a few minutes before. 

 

“It won’t be pretty.”  Tara smiled as she tickled the Slayer’s stomach before sliding her hands under the strips of cloth, stroking teasingly over the soft skin. 

 

“I’m sure it won’t, but I still want to be there for his demise.”  Buffy moaned softly as the agile fingers played over her skin, once again forgetting that they weren’t alone as her body reacted to the light touches and the soft lips pressing against the crook of her neck and shoulder.  Only to stiffen and open half closed eyes as she heard a loud growl from beside them. 

 

“Damn!”  Tara sighed and dropped her forehead to Buffy’s shoulder for a moment, gently patting the Slayer’s abdomen as she reluctantly removed her hands from under the thin material. 

 

They both turned back to the red faced, snarling redhead. 

 

~HLM~

 

Cami pushed open the door as a toilet flushed, glad to see the woman she was looking for stepping out of one of the stalls.  “Are you okay?” 

 

Amy grabbed a paper towel to wet, nodding before she wiped the sweat from her face and neck.  “Dry heaves.  Thankfully I’ve been too nervous to eat much of anything.”  She grabbed another paper towel to dry herself off. 

 

Cami handed her the bottle of water after loosening the cap.  “Here, sip this and rinse your mouth out.”  She then pulled a box of Tic Tacs from the pocket of her small apron.  “This should help with the bile taste.”  She flipped open the cover, shaking a couple into the woman’s hand after she’d rinsed her mouth. 

 

“Thank you.”  Amy finally looked at the woman, not recognizing her other than having been out with them in the bar.  “Who are you?” 

 

Cami smiled, gently patting her on the shoulder as she led her from the bathroom.  “I’m Cami, waitress, and friend of Tara’s.” 

 

“Amy.”  Amy nodded as she stepped through the door the woman held open for her.  “So that’s Tara.  She looks different than I remember.” 

 

Cami laughed and caught up to walk beside the woman.  “That she does.  She’s a knockout when she loosens up some.  Hell, I was surprised when I saw her tonight.”  Cami grinned at the women as she laughed softly.  She’d been shocked when she’d first seen Tara sitting at the bar talking with Mike. 

 

Amy nodded as they cut through the crowd.  “I’ve only seen a couple of pictures, along with vague memories from beady little eyes.”  She shrugged.  “I didn’t recognize her until Willow said her name, that, and seeing her with Buffy.” 

 

“How long were you…”  Cami trailed off, not really wanting to call the woman a rodent. 

 

“A rat?”  Amy finished for her anyway. 

 

“Umm, yeah.”  Cami gave her a smile of embarrassment. 

 

Amy just shrugged.  “Three years, from what I was told.”  Amy shook her head, still not believing that Tara could have changed her back long ago.  “It was my own fault.” 

 

“Ah, so you’re a witch, too.”  Cami connected the dots.  Shaking her head that she’d never met a real witch before, and here she’d met two tonight, three, if her dot connecting was correct, and Willow was also a witch.  Cami used a hand to guide Amy as she led them to the bar, she had drinks to retrieve. 

 

“Not something I want to get into again any time soon.”  Amy mumbled as she nervously followed Cami towards the bar. 

 

‘After your experience, I don’t blame you.  Cami thought to herself as they neared the bar. 

 

~HLM~

 

Part 10

 

Buffy shifted them around so they weren’t facing Willow, leaning her head back on Tara’s shoulder as she ran her hands along the Wiccan’s forearms.  “Are you okay?” 

 

“Mmm.”  Tara rested her head against Buffy’s, wrapping her arms tighter around the Slayer as she thought about the question.  It wasn’t every day that she took on Spike, nor made a show of her power.  But the bastard had pissed her off!  She growled softly, smiling as Buffy moved her head to turn worried eyes her way.  “Just thinking.”  Tara kissed her softly.  “I’m fine, considering…”  She gently brushed her fingers over Buffy’s sides. 

 

Buffy nodded and rested her head against Tara’s again, giving the arms around her a soothing brush as her eyes caught Cami and Amy heading to the bar.  “Considering… this night is turning out to be… somewhat bizarre?”  Buffy smiled as Tara laughed softly and kissed her ear. 

 

“Mmm, something along those lines, yeah.”  She sighed as she leaned into the Slayer’s back.  “It’s not every day that I…”  Stiffening, she sighed again as Willow interrupted them. 

 

Buffy growled at the interruption, now wishing that they’d never left the house.  ‘Though, if we hadn’t, would we be where we are right now?’  She was thinking about the warm body pressed against her back, and the arms around her waist.  Even though she’d woken in these same arms earlier today, she didn’t think they’d be on the verge of… whatever it was that was happening between them, if not for coming to the Bronze tonight.  Even if nothing else happened tonight, something had definitely changed between them.  And she was thinking it was definitely for the better. 

 

“Why did you do that to Spike?”  Willow demanded when they basically ignored her by turning away, Amy’s flight now forgotten.  “He was only trying to help.” 

 

“He’s a pain in the ass!”  Buffy growled as she sent an agitated look Willow’s way.  “Here they come.”  She added for Tara’s benefit as she saw Cami and Amy heading back their way. 

 

“Is she okay?”  Tara straightened up as she looked for the two in the crowd. 

 

“Seems like it, anyway.”  Buffy studied the ex-rat as she followed closely behind the waitress, eyes darting around her as they cut through the crowd. 

 

“What was that you did to him, anyway?”  Willow frowned as she thought about Tara being able to take down Spike all on her own.    “And can you teach me?”  She looked hopefully at Tara as she waited for them to turn her way.  She’d been surprised, to say the least, not having seen Tara do anything like that before, and curious about the spell.  Something she wanted very badly to add to her repertoire.  She smiled with the thought of being able to do damage to the opposition without breaking a sweat. 

 

“No.”  Tara never turned and didn’t bother answering the first question, as she had no intention of teaching Willow anything at this point.  “Are you okay, Amy?”  Tara worriedly searched the jittery woman’s face. 

 

Amy nodded once, shrugging as she did.  “It’s just…”  She trailed off, not really knowing how to explain what she was feeling. 

 

“She’ll be fine.  She just needs to adjust back to being human again.  Right, Amy?”  Willow smiled at her friend, flinching at the angry looks from everyone as they turned her way. 

 

“She’s not fine, Willow!”  Buffy growled angrily.  Knowing it wasn’t the same, but she knew something about being brought back. 

 

Tara pulled Buffy tight against her body, trying to ease some of the tension that surged through the Slayer as they’d turned to face Willow. 

 

“She just needs to get…”  Willow’s eyes opened wide and she took a step back, shying away and snapping her mouth closed as Buffy came at her. 

 

Buffy quickly shifted out of Tara’s arms ready to beat the hell out of Willow, coming up short as Tara grabbed her pants.  “If you say ‘get over it’ or ‘back in the swing of things’, I’ll fuckin’ kill you!”  Buffy’s face was red with anger as she glared at Willow, fists clenched and jaw muscles jumping as she shook with rage. 

 

“Buffy!”  Tara quickly reached out and grabbed the waist of Buffy’s leather pants, amazingly stopping her from pouncing on the redhead.  “Easy, Tough Stuff.”  She gently tugged on the pants, bringing the riled Slayer back into her arms as she sent a look of warning to Willow. 

 

The gamblers quickly started placing other bets with the new turn of events, happy to see that no one was paying attention to them this time. 

 

“I’m gonna kill her!”  Buffy growled through clenched teeth as she continued to glare at Willow, remaining stiff in Tara’s arms. 

 

“I don’t blame you, Sweetie.”  Tara whispered softly and kissed the side of Buffy’s head as she held her close, soothingly rubbing her hands over her sides. 

 

“Then why’d you stop me!”  Buffy grumbled as she started to relax against Tara, though the death ray aimed at Willow remained in force. 

 

Tara laughed softly as she felt the Slayer’s body uncoiling, bringing her lips to Buffy’s ear as she relaxed somewhat her self now that Buffy wasn’t going to do bodily harm to her ex.  “I wouldn’t want your first experience to end up happening with your cellmate while you were behind steel bars, that’s why.” 

 

Buffy pressed back into Tara’s body as she closed her eyes and whimpered, bringing her arms up to cover Tara’s.  “That is so not fair!” 

 

Cami sighed and relaxed her self as Tara grinned and kissed the Slayer’s ear.  She hadn’t heard what Tara had said to the pissed off woman, but whatever it was, worked.  ‘At least we won’t have to clean up any blood… yet, anyway!’  She tacked on to her thought. 

 

Tara grinned as she loosened her hold on the Slayer and straightened up to step back away from her.  “Well, if that’s what you really want?” 

 

“Get back here!”  Buffy growled and grabbed Tara’s arms before they could slip from around her completely, pulling on them until the Wiccan smacked against her back with a soft ‘Oomph’.  “Evil wench!”  She mumbled as she wrapped Tara’s arms around her self, holding them in place. 

 

Tara laughed softly as she wrapped herself around the Slayer, kissing her shoulder as Cami smiled and winked at her. 

 

Cami lifted one of the shots off the tray.  “That’s one disaster avoided.”  She brought it up in salute before downing it quickly.  Placing the empty back on the tray, she stepped closer to Buffy and Tara, holding the tray out to them to choose their own shot as she sent a disdainful look Willow’s way.  “I wouldn’t hope for a second one, if I were you.” 

 

“I’ll second that.”  Buffy saluted Cami as the waitress turned back to them, tilting her head back on Tara’s shoulder as she drank one of the Afterburners. 

 

Tara smiled sadly at Amy as she lifted a Slippery Nipple off the tray.  “I don’t think alcohol would be a wise choice for you, at the moment.” 

 

Amy nodded and held up the bottle of water she still carried.  “I’ll stick to this, thanks.  I had a cup of coffee this morning, and started bouncing off the walls.” 

 

“Caffeine high?”  Tara smiled at the woman before chuckling softly as she brought her shot to her mouth.  ‘Goddess, how many of these have we had?!  It’s a good thing I made sure we ate before the taxi got to the house tonight.’  She licked her lips as she felt the warmth spread through her once again.  ‘Oh yeah, I could get to liking these.’ 

 

Amy nodded and twisted the cap off her bottle of water, sipping as her eyes darted around them.  She inched closer to the group of woman at the sight of peoples eyes looking their way.  “Still, I’d say.”  She quickly capped the bottle then began playing nervously with the label. 

 

Tilting her head to study the fidgety woman as she put her glass back on the tray, Tara smiled softly as the woman looked up feeling eyes on her.  “Would you like me to temporarily help you out a bit?” 

 

“Huh?”  Amy frowned, not knowing what the woman meant. 

 

Tara looked around quickly, spotting an empty chair by the wall not far from them.  Giving a confused Buffy a squeeze and a kiss, she patted her stomach as she pulled her arms from around the Slayer, holding out a hand for Amy.  “Come with me.”  She smiled as Amy took her hand, leading her to the seat. 

 

Buffy and Cami looked at each other and shrugged, following the two woman. 

 

“Have a seat.”  Tara took the bottle from Amy’s hand and handed it to the Slayer with a wink before turning back to Amy.  “Actually, turn around and straddle the chair.” 

 

Amy jumped when Tara’s hand touched her shoulder, brows drawn as she looked at the woman before doing as told. 

 

“Try to relax.”  Tara placed her other hand on Amy’s shoulder, gently starting to massage them as she stepped close to her and brought her body back to lean against her self.  “Take a few deep breaths and try to center yourself.  Your nervous system is what’s making you feel wired.  Until things even out between your former self and being you again, you’re still going to have the nervous twitches of a rat.” 

 

Amy twisted her head to look up at the woman behind her, lips twitching before she spoke.  “Is that an alternative way of saying until I get over it?”  She smiled as Tara growled softly at her before chuckling. 

 

“Smartass!”  Tara bumped her hips into Amy’s back as she smiled at her.  “Now, turn around and behave.”  

 

Buffy laughed softly as she leaned against the wall beside the chair, having heard the softly spoken sarcastic question.  “I wouldn’t piss her off, Ams.” 

 

Amy nodded quickly to that comment as she turned around and behaved as told, though a smile turned up the corner of her lips. 

 

Tara closed her eyes and centered herself as she continued the gentle massage of Amy’s shoulders.  Smiling after a few minutes when she felt Amy relax and sag back into her body.  “How’s that?”  She opened her eyes to look down at the smiling woman leaning against her. 

 

Buffy had felt the magic, though she didn’t know what Tara was doing.  She had to smile as she watched Amy’s hands relax their tight grip on the back of the chair and her legs stop bouncing up and down, then her body relax. 

 

“Whatever it was, I’ll take it!”  Amy reached up and squeezed Tara’s hands, opening her eyes and tilting her head to grin up at the Wiccan. 

 

“Remember, it’s only temporary.”  Tara squeezed Amy’s shoulders as the woman nodded. 

 

“Thank you.”  Amy closed her eyes as they filled with tears.  She hadn’t felt this relaxed in a very long time, even if it was only temporary, she’d take it. 

 

Willow’s eyes widened and her mouth fell open as she watched Amy and Tara.  “What did you do to her?” 

 

“Some thing to help calm her nerves for a little while.”  Tara answered without looking at Willow, before leaning down to press a kiss to the top of Amy’s head, whispering.  “It was a serenity spell.  I think some meditations and relaxation techniques would help, but I’ll be more that happy to redo it for you when necessary.  I don’t think trying to do the spell on your own is a good thing right now.” 

 

Amy nodded and swallowed over the lump in her throat as a tear slid from the corner of her eye.  “I’ll probably take you up on that.”  She swiped at the errant tear. 

 

“Any time, Amy.”  Tara kissed her head again, smiling as she looked up at Buffy. 

 

Buffy nodded and smiled back at Tara, squeezing Amy’s shoulder as the woman sat up straight. 

 

“But what was it?  Can I do it?”  Willow frowned as she looked from Tara to Amy.  “And why didn’t I think of it?”  She shook off the last question as she looked back up at Tara. 

 

“It was a serenity spell.”  Tara sighed as she looked at Willow. 

 

“I should have thought of that!”  Willow grumbled, chastising herself for not having done so.  “Maybe I can tinker with it a bit to make it last longer.”  Her mind quickly started thinking of a way of making it a more permanent spell. 

 

“Willow!”  Tara growled at the redhead as she spun on her. 

 

Willow jumped, her eyes opening wide as her head snapped up to look at Tara.  “What?” 

 

Buffy handed Amy back her bottle of water as she pushed off the wall, stepping quickly towards Tara as she saw her stiffen when Willow started to babble to herself.  “Haven’t you done enough, Wil?”  Buffy placed her hand on the small of the rigid Wiccan’s back. 

 

“What, I can make it so that it’s bigger and better!”  Willow frowned not understanding why everyone was glaring at her, again. 

 

“Enough, Willow!”  Tara narrowed her eyes at Willow, her arm unconsciously slipping around Buffy’s waist as she leaned into her. 

 

Buffy pressed into Tara’s side as she started to feel the low buzz that she was now associating with the Wiccan doing magic.  ‘Uh oh, here we go again!’  She smiled internally, getting a perverse pleasure out of watching the Wiccan take a stand and take someone down.  She couldn’t think of two more deserving people than Willow and Spike at the moment. 

 

Cami sighed and grabbed another shot, checking on the betting duo as she did.  Not really surprised when they’d leaned their heads in and started whispering back and forth again. 

 

Amy smiled a bit as she stood.  Now much more relaxed and feeling a bit like her old self, though still a bit queasy as she moved to stand to the side and slightly behind Tara.  She was ticked off at Willow, and rather interested in what the woman was going to do to her longtime friend after witnessing her bout with Spike. 

 

Willow, for her part, was unaware of the shaky ground she now found herself standing upon. 

 

~HLM~

 

Part 11 

 

“Why me?”  Tara tilted her head as her eyes drilled into Willow. 

 

“What?”  Willow looked confused by the question. 

 

“When Oz came back, why did you choose me over him?”  Tara posed the question calmly. 

 

Cami glanced to her side as she caught movement, the gamblers moving closer to the action as they whispered back and forth. 

 

“I…”  Willow frowned as a crease formed between her brows.  “What do you mean?” 

 

“It was a simple question, Willow.  Why did you choose me?”  Tara brushed her fingers over the Slayer’s side holding her in place, quickly glancing her way to give her a reassuring smile when she felt Buffy start to ease away from her. 

 

“I… well…”  Willow frowned.  “You… we…”  Blowing out a breath Willow shook her head, not being able to figure out where Tara was going with this and not knowing how to answer her. 

 

Tara waved off the question with an answer of her own.  “Because you loved me would have been a good answer.” 

 

“But, I…”  Willow’s shoulders slumped as Tara waved her off again. 

 

“No, Willow.”  Tara shook her head.  “It was always about the power.  That damned sidekick inferiority complex that you have.” 

 

“I don’t… that’s not…”  Willow huffed as she got angry with Tara throwing that in her face. 

 

“Yes, it is.”  Both Tara and Buffy answered at the same time, receiving a glare from Willow as she stomped her foot. 

 

“That’s not true!”  Willow’s eyes bounced back and forth between all the people standing there. 

 

“Here’s what I think.”  Tara waved a hand at Willow affectively muting her, wanting to say her peace without interruption.  She was sick and tired of all the half-truths, outright lies, and excuses Willow seemed to have for everything, and it was her turn to set a few records straight. 

 

Willow opened her mouth to say something, frowning when nothing came out.  Eyes opening wide in shock as she realized Tara had done something to her before the anger took over again, crossing her arms and tapping a foot as she glared at the Wiccan trying to figure out how to undo the spell. 

 

“It’ll be easier this way.”  Tara smiled calmly at her ex-girlfriend before she became serious again. 

 

Buffy laughed softly at the redhead’s predicament, thoroughly amused with the way the Wiccan was handling problem people tonight. 

 

“When we met you could barely float a pencil.”  Tara tilted her head as she gazed at Willow.  “Did you really think it was you that moved the soda machine that night?”  Tara was gratified to see the redhead’s eyes open wide again, brows rising in surprise as they did.  “You could barely get it to wiggle.  Did you think that it was you that suddenly moved it across the floor to block the door?”  Tara chuckled softly and shook her head.  “Get real, Willow.  It was me, but I let you think that it was you.” 

 

“Whoa!”  Amy swayed on her feet as she reached out to keep her balance. 

 

Tara quickly turned her head, reaching out to grab Amy’s arm, Cami putting a hand on the woman’s back to steady her as well as all eyes went to Amy.  “Sorry, that was too much all at once.  And I should have warned you.”  Tara smiled apologetically at the woman as she slowed the flow of magic going into the woman.  “Better?” 

 

Amy nodded as she gripped Tara’s arm.  “Yeah, and a warning would have been good.  Power rush.”  She nodded, shaking her head to clear it as she got her legs to work again before she smiled.  “I’m good.”  She released Tara’s arm as the rush passed, nodding thanks to Cami. 

 

Willow suddenly paled, a hand going to her stomach as she felt the nausea start, much like she’d felt when she’d first arrived at the Bronze, though not knowing why, she hadn’t done any magic since. 

 

Buffy sensed the movement of Willow and turned her head, frowning for a moment as she watched her.  Her eyes then traveled back between Tara and Amy, as she figured out what Tara had meant by ‘borrowing power’ and Amy’s ‘power rush’ comments.  The Wiccan was taking back what Willow had taken from them.  She laughed softly causing them to look at her, shrugging, she smiled.  “What goes around, comes around.” 

 

Tara nodded, smiling as she pulled Buffy close again, all eyes turning back to the redhead. 

 

Tara took in Willow for a moment before she picked up where she’d left off.  “You know, I’m surprised.  How the hell you ever succeeded in giving Angel back his soul is beyond me.”  Tara shook her head, turning to whisper an apology to Buffy as she felt the woman flinch.  “I’m sorry.”  She kissed the Slayer’s temple. 

 

Buffy shook her head slightly.  “No.  That was just a bad time all around, and I was thinking of all the ways that could have gone wrong.”  She frowned.  “Or worse than it did, anyway.”  She shook her head again before giving Tara a small smile to say she was good, before resting her head on Tara’s shoulder. 

 

Tara kissed the top of Buffy’s head as she played her fingers over her side.  “I’m still sorry for bringing it up, Sweetie.”  She brought her hand up to gently rub Buffy’s arm as the Slayer turned into her side and wrapped her other arm across Tara’s waist. 

 

Buffy nodded.  “I know you have a point to make.”  She gave Tara a gentle squeeze. 

 

“I do.”  Tara sighed and turned back to Willow after another kiss to Buffy’s forehead.  “I’d be willing to bet…”  She stopped and looked down at Buffy when she snorted softly. 

 

Buffy laughed softly as she lifted her head and looked at the gamblers. 

 

Tara turned her head and rolled her eyes at the two grinning woman who’d been betting all night, shaking her head with a smile before turning back to Willow.  “Try that again.  More than likely the Powers That Be had a hand in that, or my guess is you wouldn’t have been able to accomplish it.  You should thank Mr. Giles, you know.  Goddess knows you probably sucked him dry in the process.”  She chuckled softly as Buffy shivered. 

 

“Eew!  I didn’t need that picture in my head.”  Buffy grumbled softly, smiling as the Wiccan laughed. 

 

“You’re like a sponge, Willow.  Sucking up all the magical powers you can get, and it’s all because you can’t stand the thought of being the sidekick.”  Tara shook her head sadly as she knocked Willow down another peg.  “Did you know I was there for the enjoining spell?” 

 

Willow’s eyes opened wide as she shook her head, opening her mouth to protest, but nothing came out. 

 

“I was there.”  Tara nodded slightly.  “I was outside, but I was still there to control the spell.  Mr. Giles thanked me afterwards, having felt me there.  Did you feel me?”  Tara sighed as Willow shook her head.  “I didn’t think so, not back then, anyway.  But I wouldn’t risk your friends lives, even back then when you’d barely let me meet them.  Though that wasn’t actually your doing, now was it.” 

 

Buffy gave her a squeeze, not believing that Willow had kept Tara a secret for so long before the body switch with Faith brought their friendship to light.  Then another thought hit her.  “Was that why you were in my dream?”  She shivered and mumbled.  “Along with that creepy cheese guy.”  She shivered again, still not knowing where the hell he’d come from. 

 

“Mmm.  Maybe.”  Tara smiled down at the Slayer on her shoulder.  “I think I was featured in everyone’s dream that night.”  She kissed Buffy’s forehead.  “And I can’t even hazard a guess as to the cheese guy.”  She chuckled softly and kissed Buffy’s forehead again. 

 

“Huh.”  Buffy grunted softly.  “I don’t think anyone has a clue about him.”  She shrugged.  “Must have been a Hellmouth addition, wouldn’t be the first time.” 

 

Tara smiled and rested her cheek against the top of Buffy’s head as they turned their attention back to Willow. 

 

“I was more than willing to let you take what you needed.”  Tara shook her head sadly where it rested.  “But you were never happy with it.  Once you’d gained some control over the power, and things began to work the way they should, you always had to try and outdo yourself, or me.  You always had to make it bigger and better.”  Tara leaned against Buffy as she felt her eyes welling with tears.  “For love, I let you be in the spotlight where you needed to be.”  She turned apologetic eyes to Amy as she reached out to squeeze the woman’s forearm, a tear trailing over her lashes to drop on her cheek and trail down to her jaw.  “I’m so sorry.”  If it hadn’t been for her fear of upsetting, or possibly losing Willow before they had a chance to take their friendship further, Amy would have been back long ago. 

 

Amy covered Tara’s hand, gently squeezing as she nodded in understanding.  “It’s okay.  I got myself into that predicament, I’m just glad to be back now.”  She gently squeezed the hand again.

 

“That still doesn’t make it right.”  Tara bit her lip as she swallowed hard, blinking back her tears willing them not to fall. 

 

“It’s not your fault, Tara.”  Amy gave her a sad smile as she reached up and wiped away the tear that hung perilously off Tara’s jaw.  “Stop blaming yourself.” 

 

“It’s what she does best.”  Buffy sadly smiled as Tara leaned heavily against her. 

 

Nodding her head as she rested it against Buffy’s again and wrapped her arm around her.  “Not anymore.”  She whispered on a hitched breath as she closed her eyes to stop the tears. 

 

“Good.”  Buffy tilted her head to kiss Tara’s temple, whispering softly as she slid around in front of her.  “Though an endearing quality, I kinda like the kickass option more.” 

 

Tara chuckled softly and hugged Buffy tightly, that had been what she needed to keep the tears at bay.  “Good to know.”  She brought a hand up to wipe the moisture from her eyes.  “Just remember you said that when I have to kick your ass, Tough Stuff.” 

 

“Duly noted.”  Buffy smiled as Tara opened her eyes and kissed her. 

 

“Thank you.”  Tara whispered as she leaned her forehead against Buffy’s for a moment, gathering herself again.  Taking a deep breath she turned back to Willow as she blew it out slowly. 

 

Buffy stayed in front of Tara, turning as the Wiccan did. 

 

Willow looked warily at Tara, wondering what the woman had in store for her next.  She’d felt each blow to her achievements like a fist to the chest, old insecurities starting to gnaw at her once again, and she wasn’t done with her yet.  Willow swallowed the bile rising with that thought. 

 

“I thought the worst thing that could happen to me… aside from losing my mom, that is… was when Glory took my mind.”  Tara shook her head sadly, the hurt showing in her eyes as she looked at Willow.  “I was so wrong.  What you did to me was even worse, and you still don’t realize that, Willow.”  Tara felt some of her anger come back as she watched the denial appear in Willow’s eyes.  “You turned me into some thing no better than what the Buffybot was to Spike.”  She felt Buffy tense beside her as Willow flinched.  Hugging the Slayer as her hand moved in gentle circles on her back, her eyes remaining on Willow.  “What you got was someone who thought you’d hung the moon, and used me for your own gratification when I was under your control.” 

 

A low growl came from the Slayer as she turned in Tara’s arms to snarl at Willow. 

 

Tara chuckled mirthlessly as she shook her head, her hand unconsciously shifting beneath the Slayer’s halter to play her fingers over her abdomen as she kept her close.  “You know, that was the only time you showed any initiative or imagination in the bedroom, and you still couldn’t bring yourself to…”  Tara blushed as she realized what she had been about to say before she stopped her self.  “And it was all because of a singing and dancing demon.”  She couldn’t look at Buffy as she felt her face heat up even more, removing her hands from beneath the halter as the Slayer turned in her arms and raised a brow.  “Goddess, I’m glad I figured out what you were doing before too long.”  She’d pieced it together after a comment by Dawn about them not fighting anymore. 

 

Amy nodded, having vague memories of the two women from her time in their bedroom as seen through the bars of her cage.  “Ain’t that the truth!”  Amy mumbled unknowingly as her eyes lost focus and she thought back to that time, unaware of Tara, Buffy, and Cami turning to look at her.  “I tried giving her pointers, but would she listen to me?  Noooo!” 

 

Tara’s eyes widened with the realization that they’d had a voyeur watching them during their relationship, what blush had left her suddenly coming back. 

 

“Dive, Willow, dive!”  Amy continued to mumble as she shook her head at not being able to help the women.  “Made me glad I was flexible enough to lick those hard to reach places.”  She sighed and shook her head.  “Gods, I’m gonna miss that.”  She blinked and came back to the present when Tara started to laugh, eyes widening as she looked around and found the three women staring at her.  Seeing the amusement and red face of the Wiccan, Amy’s own face flushed.  “Umm…  Oops!  Mental note, Amy; when talking to yourself, do it silently, you’re not a rat anymore and people can understand you now.” 

 

“Amy, as embarrassing as this conversation is, let me just add to it by saying that I envied you that feat.”  Tara winked at the woman and started laughing again. 

 

“Oh yeah, definitely gonna miss it.”  Amy nodded and started laughing herself. 

 

“Damn!”  Cami picked up another drink and tossed it back.  “Now I’m envious.”  She mumbled as the rest continued to laugh. 

 

Buffy snorted softly as she turned to see the horrified look on Willow’s face, bringing everyone’s eyes to her, and in turn to Willow. 

 

Amy smiled widely and shrugged. 

 

Tara chuckled softly and somewhat shrugged herself.  “It’s too late to go back and toss a towel over her cage now.” 

 

“I’m just glad she’s still not in it.”  Buffy wiggled her brows as Tara lifted a brow when she turned amused eyes on her with a crooked smile. 

 

Amy leaned in and whispered.  “I could probably pick up some pointers from you two.” 

 

“God, I hope she’s right!”  Buffy smiled at Tara as her hand crept up her side. 

 

Tara laughed softly and stopped Buffy’s hand as it neared her breast.  “That doesn’t mean we have to show her right now, Tough Stuff.”  Tara winked and leaned in to kiss her. 

 

“Damn!”  Buffy sighed as she smiled and leaned into the Wiccan, resting her head on her shoulder and mumbling.  “There’s always something interrupting.” 

 

“Thank God!”  Cami tossed in as she looked around the crowded club, starting to wonder why they were paying the band to play tonight, most eyes were looking in their direction.  “Should just put you two up on the damn stage and get it over with.” 

 

Buffy laughed as she turned her head to grin at Cami.  “Jealous?” 

 

Cami smiled and nodded.  “Big time!” 

 

“I think one voyeur was enough for me, thank you very much.”  Tara winked at Amy as she swatted a hand out to lightly smack the waitress. 

 

“Just trying to be helpful.”  Cami grinned at the couple. 

 

Buffy snorted softly and smirked at Cami.  “Remember what happened to the last guy that tried to be helpful?”  All eyes went to the spot that Spike had been laying on the floor before being removed by the bouncers. 

 

“Point taken.”  Cami mumbled and picked up another shot. 

 

Buffy and Tara laughed softly before sighing and turning back to Willow as they leaned into one another. 

 

“You had it all, Willow.”  Tara looked sadly at her ex-girlfriend deciding to wrap this up.  “You finally had what you’d wanted all along.  Standing atop a mausoleum and directing everyone.  You were finally in charge, the Boss and not the Sidekick.  But that still wasn’t enough for you, was it?”  Tara’s arms tightened around the Slayer.  “The one person you most wanted to impress wasn’t there to see your reign of power.” 

 

Buffy whimpered softly as Willow’s eyes flicked quickly to her before looking away. 

 

“It must have bugged the hell out of you when you brought her back and she wasn’t the least bit impressed at all.  In fact, she resented the hell out of all of us for what you’d done in your zeal to no longer be taken as a sidekick.  And I can’t blame her for doing so.”  Tara smiled sadly as she turned her head to kiss the Slayer’s forehead, leaning her own against Buffy’s as she turned back to Willow.  “Every action has a consequence, Willow.  But you never cared about the consequences, just yourself and the power.” 

 

Buffy shivered slightly as she closed her eyes and leaned heavily into the Wiccan, pressing her face into Tara’s neck. 

 

Tara kissed Buffy’s temple as she hugged her close, fingers gently rubbing on her sides.  “You’re starting to look a little green, Wil.  In case you haven’t figured it out, I’m taking back what is mine.  And Amy is getting back what belongs to her.  You’ll be lucky if you can go back to floating a pencil again.  Because without all the borrowed power you’ve been sucking from any one and every thing magical, you’ll be where you were when I met you.  It’s over, and you’ll no longer be able to hurt the ones that love you.  Go home, Willow, you’re about to crash big time.”  With a wave of her hand, Willow was gone. 

 

Buffy shivered at the burst of power she felt, the low buzz she had been getting slowly fading out as Tara ended the spells.  “Damn, I didn’t even get to hit her!”  Buffy grumbled as she looked up at Tara. 

 

“I’ll second that.  Slap the bitch silly!”  Cami growled softly as she nodded in Buffy’s direction, royally pissed off at the redhead for what she’d done to everyone. 

 

Tara chuckled softly and kissed Buffy.  “I’m sure you will.  She’s going to be upset when she wakes up and has no powers anymore.  She’ll be scheming to try to get back at us.” 

 

“Some things never change.”  Buffy smiled and softly kissed the Wiccan.  “Are you okay?” 

 

Tara chuckled and leaned her forehead against Buffy’s as she ran her hands up and down her back.  “I’m on a bit of a power rush at the moment, but…”  She sighed and closed her eyes for a moment as she searched her feeling.  “Yes, I am.”  She sighed and opened her eyes, smiling at the Slayer as she softly kissed her.  “I feel like a great weight has been lifted from my shoulders.  I know I’ll probably have some regrets tomorrow, but I’m glad it’s finally over with and I can move on.”  Tara turned her head to include Amy.  “We all can.” 

 

“I’ll drink to that.”  Amy lifted her bottle as Cami held out the tray.  “To the future!” 

 

They all saluted and tossed back their respective drinks. 

 

“Order us a slow one, Cami.  I wanna dance.”  Tara smiled as she stepped back and hooked a finger in the waist of the Slayer’s leather pants, leading her to the dance floor. 

 

Buffy chuckled softly and made no attempt to stop the Wiccan as she dutifully followed. 

 

Cami smiled and raised a hand in the air as she turned to the bar, signaling Michael to do his part.  She’d be busy later, filling him in on all that had happened tonight. 

 

Amy smiled as she watched Tara and Buffy.  “I haven’t danced in ages.”  She was quickly surrounded by the two placing bets on who’d get to dance with her first. 

 

Cami growled softly as she heard the approach of the two women, turning to glare at them.  “Enough already!”  She smiled as they shut their mouths.  “And just out of curiosity, who won?”  She laughed softly as both of their eyes quickly turned to the dance floor. 

 

“I was betting on Buffy.”  Sandi sighed. 

 

“And I was betting on you.”  Sue turned back to smile at Amy. 

 

Cami laughed and grinned at the two.  “That means Tara won.  Don’t forget to pay up.”  Then she narrowed her eyes.  “On all bets!” 

 

“But…”  They both stopped their protest as Cami held up a hand. 

 

“The bets were whoever wins.  Next time, be more specific.”  Cami winked at them. 

 

They looked at each other in silent communication before shrugging, Sue pulling out her cell phone and hitting the speed dial.  “Bring in the cases.” 

 

“Done!”  Sandi winked at Cami.  “Now, for you…”  She trailed off with a smile as she and Sue turned their attention to Amy. 

 

Cami groaned softly as they each stepped to a side of Amy.  Grabbing the nearly empty bottle from the smiling ex-rat, Cami gave them a warning.  “Behave, or…”  She trailed off as she looked to the couple on the dance floor, grinning as she turned twinkling eyes back on them. 

 

They both looked from Cami to the dance floor and back again, looked at one another, and then at the amused dark blonde between them.  Sighing they turned back to Cami and nodded. 

 

“Best behavior.”  Sandi nodded. 

 

“Promise.”  Sue added as she crossed her heart. 

 

“Good!”  Cami smiled at Amy and winked.  “I’ll be watching.  Have fun!”  She grinned and spun on her heel, heading towards the bar and Michael. 

 

“You heard her.  Shall we?”  Amy smiled and held out both arms, which were taken by the smiling two. 

 

~HLM~

 

Part 12 

 

Buffy laughed and wrapped her arms around Tara’s shoulders, the Wiccan having chosen a spot on the dance floor, quickly turning and tugging on Buffy’s pants for her to come closer.  “You know this isn’t a slow song, right?” 

 

Tara nodded as she wrapped her arms around Buffy’s waist, pulling the Slayer even closer.  “But the next one will be.”  She smiled at her as she leaned her forehead against Buffy’s.  “Got a problem with that, Tough Stuff?” 

 

“Nope, not a one I can come up with at the moment.”  Their slight difference in height negated by the heels she wore, leaving them eye to eye, if not now having the slight edge.  “Like slow.”  She softly pressed her lips to Tara’s. 

 

“Mmm.  Me, too.”  Tara gave her a crooked smile, her fingers beginning to lightly massage the Slayer’s lower back as they swayed out of synch with the faster song playing. 

 

“Are you sure you’re okay, Tara?”  Buffy asked softly as she searched the Wiccan’s eyes.  She could still feel the power emanating from the woman, though there was no buzz like when she was doing a spell. 

 

Tara sighed and kissed Buffy before shifting to lay her head on her shoulder.  “Other than a power rush going on, I think I’m fine.”  She closed her eyes and settled comfortably against the Slayer. 

 

Buffy released her hands to rub up and down Tara’s back.  “I’m not big on the whole magic knowledge, so I’ll take your word for it.”  Buffy kissed Tara’s temple before resting her head against it.  “But I was talking about more in a Spike and Willow way?”  She continued the soothing back rub as Tara sighed again. 

 

Tara thought about all that had happened not long ago.  “Honestly?”  She frowned as she pictured Spike on the floor, shaking her head slightly, knowing the Slayer would feel it.  “I’m not proud of what I’ve done, but he pissed me off!”  She softly growled out the last part. 

 

Buffy had to smile at the comment, remaining silent knowing the Wiccan hadn’t finished. 

 

“He was trying to manipulate the situation, and I wasn’t going to let him.  Spike is only out for himself, and he doesn’t care who he hurts in the process.”  Her arms snaked further around Buffy, hugging her close as images of bruises previously left by him on the Slayer appearing in her head.  “I couldn’t stand by and let him do it to us again.”

 

Buffy turned her head to kiss Tara’s temple.  “I’m glad you didn’t.”  She gave Tara a reassuring hug as she rested her head back against hers, and closed her eyes as she enjoyed the feel of the woman in her arms. 

 

Tara blew out a breath, feeling the warm air bounce back against her face from Buffy’s neck.  “Willow…”  She sighed again as she leaned more heavily against the Slayer.  “Willow was a long time in coming.  She can be so frustrating.”  She growled softly.  “But now hopefully she’ll understand that it’s truly over, and has been for a while now, on my part, anyway.  I’m sure I’ll have doubts and guilt about the way I did it, but I don’t want to think about it any more tonight.”  She pressed her lips to Buffy’s throat.  Knowing she’d feel the recriminations for her actions later, but wanting to completely forget about them for the time being. 

 

“Deal.”  Buffy pressed her lips to Tara’s temple, promising herself to keep an eye on the Wiccan.  The woman was the kindest, gentlest person she knew, and also knew that the woman would beat herself up over what had happened no matter what anyone said.  She smiled and opened her eyes as Tara relaxed in her arms.  Groaning when she saw the three smiling women that were dancing near them.  “Oh God!” 

 

“What?”  Tara stiffened in Buffy’s arms, lifting her head out from beneath Buffy’s when she didn’t get an answer.  Turning to look over her shoulder to where Buffy was looking, she frowned when she saw the trio.  Quickly looking for Cami, she found her at the bar, relaxing as she saw the woman smiling as she was also looking at the Amy and the two women.  She nodded when Cami looked her way and gave her a thumb’s up.  Turning back she watched them for a moment.  “It’s okay.”  She smiled herself as she watched Amy laughing at something someone said. 

 

“How do you know?”  Buffy still had her eyes narrowed on the women. 

 

Tara kissed the Slayer’s cheek as she leaned her head back on her shoulder.  “Because we left her with Cami, and Cami doesn’t look worried.”  Tara chuckled softly.  “She warned me about them with you, so…”  She kissed Buffy’s neck as she trailed off. 

 

Buffy grunted.  “Still don’t trust them.”  She turned to find Cami herself, relaxing slightly at the sight of the smiling waitress before she turned back to keep her vigil on the three. 

 

Tara sighed as the fast song ended, snuggling in against Buffy as the slow song started.  She smiled as Buffy chuckled softly.  “What now?” 

 

“They’re playing Rock, Paper, Scissors to see who gets to dance with Amy.  I think its best two out of three.”  She watched as the battle stopped when a man carrying two attaché cases approached them on the dance floor. 

 

Tara looked up when Buffy stopped laughing, turning at the questioning look and furrowed brows to see what was going on. 

 

Amy nodded, both women squeezing an arm before taking the cases from the man and walking off the dance floor.  She smiled as she turned to see Buffy and Tara looking her way, Buffy nodding her over. 

 

“What’s that all about?”  Buffy looked from Amy to the departing woman, watching as they met Cami, only to be led to a door in the wall behind the bar. 

 

“They’re gathering Tara’s winnings.”  Amy grinned at the Wiccan. 

 

“What?”  Tara’s eyes quickly shifted to the closing door before confused eyes turned back to Amy. 

 

Amy laughed softly.  “Cami told them that they had to pay up, and they agreed.” 

 

Tara shook her head still not completely understanding.  “Pay up for wh…”  Her eyes suddenly opened wide.  “I wasn’t part of the betting.” 

 

Buffy snorted softly.  “No, not in the way you mean, anyway.  But there were bets that involved you.” 

 

Tara rolled her eyes as Buffy laughed.  “They were betting on just about everyone, but I still don’t see how I won.”  She gave the Slayer a crooked smile and kissed her as Buffy pouted, though her eyes were amused.  “Okay, maybe I won you, but that’s still up for debate.”  She winked at her before kissing her again. 

 

Buffy smiled again the lips that pressed to hers.  There was no doubt in her mind that Tara had won her. 

 

“Apparently the bets were whoever won.”  Amy smiled as she shrugged, both women having turned to her.  “Cami’s rules.”  She laughed softly.  “She told them to be more specific next time they were placing bets, and that they had to pay up.” 

 

“I can’t take their money.”  Tara laughed softly as she shook her head. 

 

“Why not, you won.”  Buffy grinned and fluttered her lashes as she turned to Tara, laughing as Tara pinched her ass.  “Besides, I wanna see how much money is involved if it takes having a heavily armed man to carry it around.”  She hadn’t missed the bulge or the outline of the shoulder holster in the man’s expensively tailored suit.  Not to mention that some of the bets she’d heard were for upwards of a thousand dollars apiece. 

 

Tara raised a brow at the heavily armed part of the comment, though intrigued herself with the rest of it, Cami having mentioned the stakes being raised earlier. 

 

Amy shrugged and smiled.  “I get the feeling they don’t really care how much it is.”  She chuckled softly as she thought about the two women bickering back and forth as they danced, trying to figure out who was the first to start dancing in order to win the bet in regards to dancing with her. 

 

Buffy turned in Tara’s arms, leaning against her and resting her head back on her shoulder.  “Are you okay with those two?”  Her eyes shifted to the closed door before coming back to Amy. 

 

It took Amy a moment to register the question, her eyes having dropped to Tara’s hand that had slid beneath Buffy’s top when she’d turned.  “Umm… yeah.”  Amy’s own hand went to her stomach as her eyes came up.  “God, you guys are killing me.” 

 

Tara frowned at the look of pain on Amy’s face, not liking the hand going to her stomach.  “What’s wrong?” 

 

Amy’s eyes drifted back down to Buffy’s abdomen.  “You make me want to turn myself back into a rat, just so you’ll stroke my belly, too.” 

 

Tara blushed as she realized where her hand had wandered of its own accord.  “Sorry.”  She started to pull her hand away, being stopped by the Slayer. 

 

“Hey!  I was enjoying that.”  Buffy grumbled as she put a hand over Tara’s, holding it in place as amused eyes looking at Amy.  “And from what I understand, if you did that, you wouldn’t need her to rub your belly.”  She grinned at the ex-rat. 

 

“True.”  Amy nodded as her eyes came up, her lips turning up in a smile.  “Very true.” 

 

Tara laughed softly as she started stroking her fingertips again, Buffy’s hand still holding her hand and wrist firmly in place. 

 

The grin slowly slipped from Buffy’s face, turning into a pout.  “Damn, I didn’t get to try that.” 

 

“Try what, Sweetie?”  Tara kissed Buffy’s forehead as she looked down at her. 

 

Amy laughed softly at the look on Buffy’s face.  “That’s because you were only a rat for a short time.  You didn’t have a chance to even think about it.”  Then she frowned.  “I’m sorry for that, by the way.  Damn Xander and his love spell.”  She shivered at the thought of seriously wanting to bed the boy. 

 

Buffy shrugged slightly, smiling at Amy.  “It could have been worse.  He could have taken me up on my offer.”  She shivered herself thinking about coming on to him, grateful that Xander had stopped her from making a big mistake. 

 

Tara looked back and forth between the two, the confusion clearly showing on her face. 

 

Buffy looked up at Tara and smiled.  “Short version, Cordy broke up with Xander, Xander had Amy do a love spell on her, spell backfired, Cordy still didn’t want him, but every other female in town did.”  She looked over to Amy and grinned.  “We were about to come to blows over who should have him when Amy turned me into a rat.” 

 

Amy blushed and shrugged.  “I wanted him.” 

 

“So did I, that’s the scary part.”  Buffy laughed softly as she shook her head on Tara’s shoulder.  “And yeah, I am glad it didn’t last long.  Though having Oz find me in the school basement just before I was turned back, and naked, wasn’t exactly tops on my list.  Thank God for crates!” 

 

Tara groaned softly.  “Definitely no magic for you.”  She narrowed her eyes on Amy before smiling, laughing softly at the picture of a naked Buffy hiding behind a crate from Oz.  “I bet his expression didn’t change any.”  Thinking about the man she’d first met at her first Scoobie meeting, his expression never changing the whole time he was there.  She shook her head and tickled Buffy’s stomach to keep thoughts of her next meeting with him from coming to mind. 

 

“He did raise a brow.  I took that as a compliment before I sent him for clothes.”  Buffy smiled up at Tara. 

 

Tara tilted her head down to kiss the Slayer, winking at her before turning twinkling eyes on Amy.  “I used to get a kick out of you being in the wheel, little body jerking before you fell over backwards, the wheel swinging back and forth as your little legs continued to jerk.”  She snorted out a laugh as Amy’s eyes went distant and a huge grin spread over her face. 

 

“Damn, I didn’t get to try that!”  Buffy grumbled again before smiling and laughing. 

 

Amy blinked at the laughter, coming back from the happy place she was in.  She shrugged.  “It was way better than trying to hump the water bottle nozzle.”  She slapped a hand over her mouth, not having meant to say that out loud. 

 

Buffy and Tara laughed loudly as Amy’s face turned red. 

 

“Come on, Am.  How can that be any worse than you telling us about licking the hard to reach places?”  Buffy continued to laugh as Amy closed her eyes. 

 

Opening her eyes a moment later, Amy dropped her hand, tilting her head to the side.  “You’re right.”  She started laughing herself.  “Damn, all this talk…”  She sighed as she shook her head, only to stop with it tilted to the side again in thought.  “Wonder how much they’d pay for a virgin?”  She shrugged as Buffy and Tara both stared open mouthed at her.  “I was a rat for three years, didn’t have any practical experience before that.”  She shrugged again.  “And I don’t consider licking the hard to reach places as a rat, counting as experience.” 

 

Buffy and Tara’s eyes shifted from Amy to the two women who quickly appeared on either side of her. 

 

“Adam, bring that case back!”  Sandi called out to the man they’d just left at the edge of the dance floor. 

 

“Did I hear something about a virgin?”  Sue looked at Amy and grinned. 

 

Amy blushed and looked from one woman to the other, eyes turning to a grinning Buffy and Tara.  “Oh shit!” 

 

Buffy snorted and started to laugh.  “You’re really going to have to watch what you say around those two.”  She shook her head as Sandi and Sue both turned and nodded before quickly turning back to Amy. 

 

“Do you like lobster?”  Sue asked quickly as they started to plot.  “We can take the Lear, be in Maine for fresh lobster in plenty of time for lunch. 

 

“Shopping spree in New York?  Your clothes have to be outdated by now.”  Sandi tossed in, though her eyes did drop to Amy’s legs and the short mini she wore. 

 

“You’re looking a bit pale, how about a nice trip to Belize, or Hawaii?”  Sue added quickly as Amy’s head snapped back and forth.

 

“Hold on, Ladies!”  Tara interrupted before Sandi could make another suggestion as she nudged and removed her hand from beneath Buffy’s top, leaning forward to grab Amy’s arm, pulling her away from the two women.  “Let’s slow down here.  Remember the serene look is only going to last for less than a day now.” 

 

“Damn!”  Amy mumbled as she looked from Tara and Buffy to the two women and back again, a slow pout forming.  “But…”  Her eyes went back to the women before turning pleading eyes back on Tara. 

 

Tara laughed softly and shook her head.  “Are you sure about this?” 

 

Amy glanced at the waiting women again, turning back to Tara and nodding vigorously as a smile formed on her face. 

 

Tara sighed and ran her hand through her hair, looking to Buffy for help. 

 

Buffy shrugged and laughed softly.  “It’s her call.”  Then she turned and narrowed her eyes on the two women.  “But so help me, if you two…”  She never got to finish her sentence. 

 

Sandi and Sue both shook their heads and crossed their hearts. 

 

“Why doesn’t that reassure me in any way?”  Buffy sighed and shook her head as she turned back to Amy and Tara.  “It’s your call, Amy.” 

 

Tara searched Amy’s eyes, seeing both fear and excitement in them.  Sighing she nodded, laughing softly as she was quickly pounced on by Amy in a hug.  Her eyes traveled to Sandi and Sue, narrowing as she hugged the woman back.  “Don’t make me regret this.”  She warned them.  “I will hunt you down!  And what you saw earlier was only the tip of the iceberg.” 

 

Sandi and Sue gulped as their eyes grew wide, both nodding in unison and crossing their hearts again.  They’d seen what the woman could do, and didn’t want her after them. 

 

“How long?”  Tara asked as she formulated a plan to keep Amy from becoming the nervous, twitchy woman she’d become when the spell wore off. 

 

Stepping back from Tara, but not releasing her, Amy turned to the two women with a raised brow. 

 

Sue shrugged.  “A few days, a week, depends on where you want to go?” 

 

Sandi nodded, smiling at Amy.  “It’s up to you.”  Already deciding that they’d have their fun, but they’d take it at Amy’s pace. 

 

Amy smiled and turned back to Tara, a hopeful look on her face.  “A week?” 

 

Tara sighed and nodded, once again crushed in the woman’s arms. 

 

“Thank you.”  Amy whispered as she hugged Tara. 

 

“I’ll write out the spell for you.”  Tara pulled back to look into moist, happy, blue eyes.  “But I want you to call me before you do it.”  She gave Amy a serious look.  “I don’t want you doing this on your own, okay?” 

 

Amy nodded, her brows furrowing as she thought about what Tara was saying.  “You can do that?”  Her brows went up, eyes opening wide at Tara’s nod.  “How powerful are you?” 

 

Buffy also raised a brow as she looked at Tara, having silently been watching and listening to the exchange. 

 

Tara blushed and shrugged.  “More power than I’d care to have.”  She shrugged again.  “Have you heard of the Charmed Ones?” 

 

Amy’s mouth fell open as her eyes widened, nodding. 

 

“Who?”  Buffy frowned, having no idea what Tara was talking about. 

 

Amy answered for her.  “Three of the most powerful witches there are.” 

 

Tara nodded slightly in agreement.  “Cousins.  Though they all have a specialty of their own, when combined they’re almost unstoppable.”  She frowned as a look of pain washed through her eyes as she thought about Prue.  Shaking off the thought, Tara continued.  “I’m not as powerful as they are, but I could probably hold my own against each one of them singly.”  She shrugged again and smiled.  “Not something I’d want to try, though.”  She laughed softly, turning to wink at the Slayer.  “I’ll tell you about them later.” 

 

Buffy nodded, filing away the information she’d already garnered.  Tara was turning out to be full of surprises.  She smiled as she thought about finding out about what else the Wiccan hadn’t told them about. 

 

Sandi and Sue looked at each other and shrugged.  They didn’t know what they were talking about, but that was okay with them.  They just knew that they had to be on their best behavior while in the company of Amy, and that, they could do. 

 

~HLM~

 

Part 13 

 

Tara moaned softly as she was writing the spell for Amy.  She was sitting at the bar, Buffy leaning against her back with roaming hands.  “Stop that!”  She smiled as Buffy’s hand that had been inching towards her breast slowly headed back down her body. 

 

“No fun.”  Buffy grumbled softly as her hand trailed back down to the Wiccan’s stomach, now playing around her navel.  She rested her chin on Tara’s shoulder, smiling as the Wiccan tilted her head against hers as she continued to write. 

 

“If you keep distracting me, she could end up as something far worse than a rat.”  Tara grinned at the sigh that blew through her hair as Buffy’s hands stopped what they were doing, arms wrapping firmly around her. 

 

“God forbid she doesn’t get to have her fun.”  Buffy grumbled and laid her head on Tara’s shoulder.  ”Just make sure it’s something that she can’t please her self.”  Buffy smiled as she felt the Wiccan’s silent laughter. 

 

“Jealous?”  Tara smiled as she craned her neck to look at Buffy.  “You know you could probably join them?”  The smile stayed on her face, but the twinkle left her eyes as she searched the Slayer’s. 

 

“Don’t want ‘em.”  Buffy told the truth, not missing the hint of insecurity that flashed in the blue eyes so close to hers. 

 

Tara closed her eyes letting the answer and the look of longing in Buffy’s eyes settle within her for a moment before pressing her lips to Buffy’s forehead.  “Good answer.”  She gave the Slayer a crooked smile as she opened her eyes and winked, quickly turning to finish writing. 

 

Buffy smiled and turned her head to kiss the Wiccan’s shoulder before sighing in contentment as she waited for her to finish. 

 

“Now…”  Tara set down the pen, folded the note and stuck it in her pocket as she looked for Mike.  “Michael?”  She called out to him as he stood at the beer taps filling two glasses, waiting until he glanced her way.  “One more slow one?”  She smiled and batted her lashes at him.  “Please?” 

 

Mike shook his head and turned back to the beer taps, grinning as he got hit with a crumpled napkin. 

 

“Don’t make me have to hurt you, Michael!”  Tara called out to his back as she hit him in the head with the napkin she’d tossed. 

 

“Hey!  Is that any way to get me to do something for you?”  He tossed over his shoulder with a playful glare before handing the beers to the customer.  He turned to Tara as he folded his arms over his chest.  “What’s in it for me?” 

 

“I won’t tell Steven you were checking out the little blonde boy in class.”  Tara grinned at him as she recalled Mike leaning back in his seat to check out the guy’s ass after he’d passed behind him, watching him as he walked to the other end of the row to take his seat.  She had a good vantage point, two rows back and just to the side of Michael, and it wasn’t just the once that she’d caught him doing it. 

 

“I was not che…”  Michael choked on his words as Tara raised a brow.  Blushing at having been caught checking out the guy’s ass every chance he got.  “Umm… okay, so I was.  But that doesn’t mean…” 

 

“Uh huh.”  Tara winked as she started to laugh, Michael rolling his eyes and going to pick through the CDs to find something to play for her. 

 

“I knew I could count on you, Mikey!”  Tara blew him a kiss. 

 

“Yeah, yeah, just don’t make me have to break out the fire hose.”  Michael smiled and winked at Tara before he went back to what he was doing. 

 

Tara blushed and started to laugh.  She continued to laugh as she gently nudged Buffy, turning on the stool and wrapping her arms around the Slayer. 

 

Buffy stepped between Tara’s legs and wrapped her arms around her shoulders.  “So, was it a nice ass?”  She smirked at Tara before kissing her. 

 

Tara shrugged and winked at Buffy.  “For a guy.”  She pulled the Slayer back for another kiss as her hands dropped to Buffy’s ass, gently squeezing.  “But I happen to prefer the fairer sex.” 

 

“Really?  I had no clue.”  Buffy laughed as Tara pinched her ass. 

 

“Smartass!”  Tara kissed her again, pulling back with a smile.  “Dance with me, seeing as how we didn’t really get to dance the last one?”  Her eyes looked beyond the Slayer, smiling at the sight of Amy, Sandi, and Sue all dancing together to the faster beat of the band. 

 

“Love to.”  Buffy pressed into Tara’s body, laying her head on her shoulder as Tara ran her hands up and down her back. 

 

“Good.”  Tara kissed Buffy’s temple, resting her cheek against Buffy’s head.  As she watched the women on the dance floor, her fingers lightly playing over the Slayer’s skin as she thought about the woman in her arms, and how comfortable she felt while doing so in the crowded club.  She smiled as she thought about the fact that Buffy didn’t seem to mind either, whereas with Willow there was always a feeling of awkwardness about touching in public.  She turned her head slightly to kiss her again as she closed her eyes, enjoying the feeling as she waited for the band to finish their set so they could dance. 

 

~HLM~

 

Buffy sighed as she leaned more heavily against Tara, not surprised when the Wiccan kissed her temple again and her hands began rubbing in a more soothing manner on her back. 

 

She’d found herself thinking about the Wiccan at times throughout the day.  As she read about an innocent touch, which in turn brought up memories of Tara’s innocent touches.  Leaning against the counter waiting for her toast to pop, a hand coming to rest on her lower back, a kiss to the head, and a mumbled ‘Morning as Tara reached over her shoulder to grab her own box of cereal from the cabinet.  Just little things like that, maybe a touch and gentle squeeze of the shoulder as they’d pass each other in the house.  Tara was definitely a touching type person.  She didn’t do it to invade, but almost as if to let you know that you were noticed. 

 

While she was on patrol earlier, she kept thinking about all the little things that Tara did.  Things that you really didn’t pay attention to but somehow always seemed to be there.  The touches, the glass of juice or a slice of fruit to go with breakfast if you happened to beat her to making your own meal, the snacks she’d find in the fridge made for when she came home from patrol, her making sure she was alright every night after patrol.  All little things that you won’t notice by themselves, but put together as a whole showed the depth of the woman’s caring for and about you. 

 

When Willow had first left, Buffy had thought it was a little weird having Tara staying at the house.  But that didn’t last long.  She’d found that after the initial hubbub of Willow leaving, that things hadn’t been so tense around the house.  Dawn didn’t do as much whining or acting out, and she knew Tara had a hand in that.  There was almost a quiet calm about the place, and Tara’s presence became the one constant in their lives.  More importantly, she hadn’t felt the need to flee her own home constantly. 

 

Over time Tara became more than just Willow’s girlfriend, or ex-girlfriend as the case may be, and through her own rite of passage by just being there, became a friend.  Through Tara’s quiet actions, she’d found herself opening up to the woman, and in turn, Tara opening up to her.  It had started off small, but she now found herself talking about just about everything with the woman.  Things she’d never be able to talk about with Willow or Xander, she found herself telling Tara. 

 

If she really thought about it, Tara was the reason life was beginning to be bearable again.  Her arms unconsciously tightened around the Wiccan, smiling when she realized they had when she felt the brush of lips against her temple again. 

 

“Are you okay?”  Tara whispered as she felt Buffy tighten her hold around her. 

 

“Yeah, just thinking.”  Buffy pulled her head back to look up at the woman who’d come to mean a great deal to her. 

 

Tara saw the relaxed smile and smiled herself.  “Uh oh!”  She laughed softly when she got a soft growl in response. 

 

“Smartass!”  Buffy kissed her and stood up, but didn’t leave the woman’s arms as the band finished their song and announced they’d be back for one more set in a little while.  “I believe I owe you a dance, Ms. Maclay.” 

 

“Yes, you do, Ms. Summers.”  Tara smiled widely before checking over her shoulder, Mike being right on the ball putting a CD in the stereo.  “And I believe this is it.”  Tara turned back and kissed the Slayer before nudging her so she could stand. 

 

Although reluctant to leave the Wiccan’s arms, Buffy did as urged, stepping back as she removed her arms from the woman.  She laughed when Tara stood, gave her a crooked smile and winked as she hooked her finger in the front of her pants again, and led her back to the dance floor. 

 

~HLM~

 

Sue grabbed Amy’s arms to wrap around her waist as the first notes of the slow song began to play over the speakers, her back to Amy, and Sandi’s arms wrapping around both women from behind.  “Okay, on three.  Ready, one… two… three, now!”  All three women began moving at the same time. 

 

Tara shook her head and smiled at the three women still on the dance floor. 

 

Buffy rolled her eyes and shook her head.  “Let me guess, another bet on who dances the first slow song with her?”  She shook her head again as she and Tara came to a stop on the dance floor, Amy nodding and the other two shrugging.  “Don’t you two have anything better to do?” 

 

Sue winked at Buffy.  “Yeah, but you two will hurt us if we do it here.”  A big toothy grin coming to her face as Sandi agreed with a nod and matching grin. 

 

Buffy rolled her eyes again as she stepped into Tara’s arms at the gentle tugging of the one finger tucked in the waist of her pants, eyes narrowing on the three.  “Just watch the hands!” 

 

If the grin could have gotten any bigger on Sue’s face, it did.  “Oh, we will be… HERS!”  All three started laughing as Buffy growled at them. 

 

Tara felt her face heat up as Sue winked at her. 

 

“Bitches!”  Buffy grumbled as she turned her eyes to Tara, a slow grin crossing her face as she ran her hands down Tara’s arm’s, lowering the woman’s hands to her ass. 

 

“Buffy!”  Tara flushed a darker color before she started laughing with the Slayer. 

 

“What?  They wanted a show.  I was just giving them one.”  Buffy kissed Tara as she wrapped her arms around the woman’s shoulders, smiling as Tara gave her ass a squeeze before moving her hands up to caress her back. 

 

“Smartass!”  Tara gave her a crooked smile as she pulled the Slayer close.  “Don’t you think there are enough eyes on us already?”  She kissed Buffy’s temple as the Slayer laid her head on her shoulder. 

 

“Don’t care.”  Buffy sighed as she snuggled into the Wiccan, a feeling of contentment washing through her. 

 

Tara wrapped her arms completely around the Slayer, fingers gently caressing her sides as she relaxed herself.  Smiling and kissing the Slayer’s temple again before resting her cheek there with a sigh of her own as they slowly swayed to the music. 

 

~HLM~

 

Midway through the second song Buffy growled loud enough for only Tara to hear.  “If they touch my ass, turn them into something disgusting.” 

 

Tara had stiffened at the soft growl, relaxing again at the whispered words.  “If they touch your ass, I’m going to stick theirs up their own!”  She spoke loud enough for the women to hear as she opened one eye to see a wide eyed Sue a step away with her hands stopped in midair on the way to Buffy’s ass.  Growling as a blue eye narrowed on the shorter woman, her hands dropping possessively to cover Buffy’s ass.  “Don’t touch!”  She blew a breath in the shorter woman’s direction, smiling as she was moved back into the body of her friend. 

 

“I warned you!”  Amy smiled as she watched Sue move across the floor. 

 

Sue’s mouth fell open as her shoes squeaked across the floor, hair blowing out behind her as she magically was blown away from the dancing pair. 

 

Backpedaling, Sandi grunted as she was hit by her shorter friend.  “So much for that bet!” 

 

Sue nodded in agreement, before narrowing her eyes on Amy.  “That sounded more like a dare, than a warning!” 

 

“I told you to leave them alone when you two started betting on who was going to grab her ass!  Did you miss what she was capable of earlier?”  Amy shook her head, sighing as she crossed her arms over her chest.  “Don’t listen to me, see if I care!” 

 

Sue turned back to frown at Tara.  “We thought you were dead, I was just trying to check to make sure you weren’t.”  She folded her arms over her chest.  “You guys are boring!  Just standing there, not doin’ nothin’!  Ain’t right!”  She shook her head in mock disgust. 

 

“Yeah, what she said!”  Sandi nodded agreement from behind her. 

 

Buffy turned in Tara’s arms and grinned at Sue, she’d turned her head when she heard her shoes squeaking across the floor.  “So, was that the lesbian version of a blow job?” 

 

“Buffy!”  Tara pinched the Slayer’s stomach with her question. 

 

“What?”  Buffy laughed as she covered Tara’s hand. 

 

Sue rolled her eyes before tilting her head in thought.  A slow grin formed as her eyes began to twinkle as she looked at Tara, a hand coming up in a ‘pay up’ pose for Sandi.  “That had to be worth something, and I won!” 

 

“Oh, Goddess!”  Tara groaned as she dropped her forehead onto Buffy’s shoulder, laughing a moment later at the lengths the two women would go to just to win a bet, and the bickering they were now doing over it. 

 

Buffy shook her head and laughed, turning to smile at Tara as the woman lifted her head from her shoulder.  “They’re hopeless.” 

 

Tara nodded as her own eyes began to twinkle before she brought her lips to Buffy’s ear. 

 

Buffy groaned and then whimpered as Tara began to tell her exactly what her version of a lesbian blow job was.  Between the whispered words, the hot breath, and the warm tongue giving demonstrations to her ear as Tara’s fingers played around her waistband and button of her pants, Buffy’s body was on high alert.  Shuddering and whimpering again as her lower region clenched when Tara ended her description and demonstration by wrapping her lips around her earlobe and sucking on it as she flicked it with her tongue and moaned softly. 

 

Tara’s eyes opening wide as she released Buffy’s ear when felt the Slayer shudder against her. 

 

“Holy shit!  Did she just…???”  Sue stared wide eyed and open mouthed as she watched the couple. 

 

Amy covered her mouth to keep from laughing as she watched both Buffy and Tara blush. 

 

Sue rushed over, grinning like an idiot as she slid to a stop beside them.  “Do me!  Do me!” 

 

Buffy growled and put a hand on Sue’s forehead, pushing her away as she turned in Tara’s arms.  “Home, now!”  She grabbed the Wiccan’s hand and started pulling her off the dance floor to the laughter of the others. 

 

Tara laughed herself as put the brakes on and stopped their departure.  “Hold on there, Tough Stuff!” 

 

“Taaaraaa!”  It was a combination whimper and whine that came from the Slayer as Tara brought them to a halt, and pulled her back around to face her.  “Wanna go home!”  She pressed into Tara as the Wiccan wrapped her arms back around her. 

 

“I know, Sweetie.”  Tara kissed her temple as Buffy buried her face against her neck.  “But we have to pay the tab, call a cab, and I have to give Amy the spell.” 

 

Buffy whimpered and nodded as Tara soothing rubbed her back.  “Can’t you just wave a hand and get us there?”  Buffy looked up with pleading eyes. 

 

Tara shook her head as she laughed softly.  “And miss out on the backseat on the way home?”  She winked at her.  “It may not be a Rolls Royce, but seeing as how you didn’t get to play out your other scene…”  Tara looked towards the wall Buffy had been leaning against earlier, and then lowered her lips to Buffy’s when Buffy whimpered again.  “We’ll have to come back another time so you can check that one off your list, there’s too many eyes on us tonight.” 

 

“You’re killing me, here!  You know that, right?”  Buffy looked up with pained eyes, growling as Tara gave her a crooked smile. 

 

“I’ll make it up to you.”  Tara winked and softly kissed her again. 

 

“I’m counting on it.”  Buffy finally smiled, sighing as she snuggled into the Wiccan’s neck again and nipped at it gently. 

 

Tara moaned softly as she felt the teeth on her neck, wrapping her arms around the Slayer and holding her close, forgetting for the moment that they should be settling up to go. 

 

~HLM~

 

Part 14

 

Tara laughed softly as she stood with Amy and Sandi at the bar as Buffy held Sue up against the wall with her feet dangling off the floor after Sue had interrupted them yet again.  “Don’t hurt her, Tough Stuff.” 

 

Buffy growled at Sue as she lowered her to the floor.  “Keep your hands off my ass!” 

 

“But you guys were doing the dead thing again!”  Sue grinned at the irritated woman.  “Had to make sure you were still breathing.”  She’d been surprised when her hands had no sooner touched Buffy’s leather clad ass when the woman turned and picked up, growling at her as she carried her until her back hit the wall. 

 

“By grabbing my ass?”  Buffy raised a brow as she glared at the shorter woman. 

 

“Well, you were all smooshed up against each other, so I couldn’t grab your chest to check.”  Sue gave her a toothy grin and wiggled her fingers in a grabbing motion as Buffy bared one side of her teeth as she growled at her again and slapped at her hands. 

 

Tara decided to intervene before one of them got hurt.  “Okay, Kids, that’s enough!”  She smiled at Sue as she grabbed the back of Buffy’s waistband and pulled the growling Slayer away from the woman. 

 

“Take away all my fun!”  Buffy grumbled as Tara led her backwards to a stool and sat her down, poking her lower lip out at not being able to hit yet another person tonight. 

 

“Behave, or no more books.”  Tara winked at her as she lowered her head to kiss the pouting Slayer. 

 

Buffy smiled before Tara’s lips reached hers.  “I’ll be good.” 

 

“I’m counting on it, Slayer.”  Tara whispered in her ear, gently nipping her earlobe before she pulled back and winked again, receiving a goofy grin in response.  She turned back to finish talking with Amy about the spells as Buffy laced her fingers with the hand she had on the Slayer’s thigh, Sandi having grabbed Sue to go collect their things over by the pool table. 

 

Buffy smiled and continued to play with Tara’s fingers as she turned when Cami bumped shoulders with her.  “Can you get our tab?” 

 

Cami snorted softly.  “You don’t have a tab.” 

 

“Huh?”  Buffy frowned at the grinning woman. 

 

Cami laughed and shook her head.  “Aside from the entertainment value you two provided tonight, it’s already been taken care of.”  She pointed over to Sue and Sandi. 

 

Buffy growled as she looked towards the two women laughing by the pool table as they gathered their things.  “They’re not gonna buy their way out of me smacking them silly.” 

 

“Tough Stuff!”  Tara squeezed Buffy’s hand, turning her head to admonish her when she heard her comment. 

 

Buffy pouted again as she looked down at their entwined hands.  “No fun!” 

 

Tara and Cami shared a smile before she went back to talking with Amy. 

 

Cami leaned in to whisper in Buffy’s ear.  “You are sooo whipped, Tough Stuff.” 

 

Buffy growled softly at the waitress before smiling and shrugging as she looked up at her. 

 

Cami laughed softly before she became serious, eyes moving to glance at Tara before she turned them back on the Buffy, softly warning the Slayer.  “Don’t hurt her, or you’ll have Michael and me to deal with.” 

 

Buffy smiled at the woman as she shook her head, glad that Tara had friends outside the Scoobies that wanted to protect her.  “I won’t.”  Then she frowned as she recalled a few times in the past when she had upset the woman.  “Not intentionally, anyway.” 

 

Cami nodded in understanding.  No matter how hard you tried not to hurt someone, there were always going to be times that you did.  “She loves you, you know.  And it wouldn’t take much for her to be in love with you.”  Cami ignored the polar freeze glare that Tara sent her way, she’d seen her turning to them when she’d finished up with Amy, but she was partially through what she was saying and finished anyway. 

 

Buffy smiled and nodded.  “I know.”  She blushed and looked down at their hands.  “That goes both ways.  I’ve had a chance to do a lot of thinking today.” 

 

Cami let her eyes drift up to Tara when Buffy looked away.  She smiled and winked at the surprised woman when Tara heard Buffy’s comment. 

 

“I think she’s the reason I’m still here… I didn’t want to be for the longest time.”  Buffy mumbled softly as she continued to look at their hands as she traced Tara’s fingers. 

 

Cami and Tara both had to strain to hear the Slayer’s whispered words, Cami closing her mouth when Tara shook her head as her eyes filled with tears, the sadness palpable in the woman’s blue eyes.  She didn’t know what Buffy was talking about but obviously Tara did, and didn’t want her digging into it.  Changing tactics she decided on a less lethal question.  “Why all the games tonight?” 

 

Buffy chuckled softly as she looked up and smiled at the waitress.  “It started off as a joke.”  She shrugged and smiled a bit wider.  “But I really don’t think we’d be where we are if not for it.”  She sank into Tara’s body as the Wiccan moved against her side. 

 

Tara smiled and squeezed Buffy’s hand as she moved closer to the Slayer, kissing the back of her head as she wrapped her free arm around her.  “No we wouldn’t be.  We’d still be dancing around it, and neither of us bringing it up.”  She lowered her head for a soft kiss when Buffy turned to smile at her. 

 

“All done with Amy?”  Buffy laid her head on Tara’s shoulder. 

 

“Yes.”  Tara kissed Buffy’s forehead as she smiled at Cami. 

 

“Good.”  Buffy lifted her head and smiled at Cami.  “If you’ll excuse us?”  She didn’t wait for an answer as she spun on the stool.  “Michael?”  She smiled and pointed to the stereo when Michael looked up at her. 

 

Michael sighed and rolled his eyes as if put out by the request, before smiling and doing as asked. 

 

“You are sooo whipped, Michael!”  Cami laughed and squeezed Buffy shoulder as she winked at Tara.  “Have fun.” 

 

Buffy hopped off the stool and led Tara to the dance floor, not bothering to wait for the slow song to be put on. 

 

Tara smiled and happily followed. 

 

“Oh God, here they go again!”  Sue groaned with a smile as she and Sandi came back to the bar. 

 

“Leave ‘em alone!”  Cami warned the little imp as she continued to watch the couple. 

 

~HLM~

 

Buffy turned when she got to the dance floor, guiding Tara’s hand around her waist before releasing it to wrap her own arms around the Wiccan’s shoulders. 

 

Tara smiled as she wrapped her arms around Buffy.  “I thought you were ready to leave?” 

 

Buffy shook her head slightly.  “Not just yet.”  Then she blushed and dropped her eyes with the memory of her earlier need to rush out of the Bronze.  “I’ve calmed down a bit.” 

 

Tara laughed softly and kissed the Slayer’s forehead.  “I didn’t mean for that to happen, Sweetie.” 

 

“You better have meant it!”  Buffy laughed herself as she looked up and winked at Tara. 

 

“We’ll see.”  Tara felt her face flush, both with the heat of desire to do what she’d whispered into the Slayer’s ear, and the fact that she’d actually said it. 

 

“Now see, there’s the Tara I know.”  Buffy smiled as she watched the woman’s face get a little redder.  “Question is, and I know I’ve asked this before…  Where’d you come from?”  She laughed softly as Tara giggled and hid her face against her neck.  “That wasn’t a bad thing, you know?”  Buffy kissed the Wiccan’s temple as she rubbed her hands over her upper back.  “I’ve seen glimpses of her.”  Buffy frowned as she thought about those glimpses.  “Usually when I’ve pissed you off in some way.” 

 

Tara sighed and nodded before lifting her head, biting her lip as she got her thoughts in order.  “You can be so frustrating at times.”  She smiled to take the sting out of her comment. 

 

Buffy nodded knowing that was true.  “More often, than not.” 

 

“No.”  Tara shook her head slightly, sadness in her eyes.  “You had good reason to be, Sweetie.” 

 

Buffy wasn’t sure that she wanted to continue this conversation anymore as she laid her head on Tara’s shoulder. 

 

Tara kissed Buffy’s temple and ran her hands up and down her back a couple of times as she rested her cheek against the Slayer’s head.  “What was frustrating was watching you waste away, and knowing that there was nothing I could do to help you.”  Tara tightened her hold around the Slayer, kissing her temple again and leaving her lips there.  “It hurt to watch you struggling on your own.” 

 

Buffy whimpered softly as her hold on the Wiccan tightened. 

 

“You’ve come a long way, Sweetie.”  Tara smiled as Buffy nodded against her neck. 

 

“Still have my moments.”  Buffy sighed as she shook off the pain of being brought back, she didn’t want to fall back into the darkness now. 

 

“Mmm.  But they’re getting fewer and further between.”  She’d still catch Buffy with a haunted, longing look in her eyes on occasion, but she was happy to say that those occasions were the exception rather than the rule nowadays.  “I don’t feel like strangling you every other day now.”  Tara smiled again when Buffy laughed.  There had been times when she’d gotten so frustrated that she’d go to her room, slamming the door before she’d toss herself onto her bed and scream into her pillow.  The frustration quickly passing as she’d curl up with the pillow hugged tightly to her chest as her tears silently fell, wanting so badly just to hug the Slayer and hold on tight until the storm passed. 

 

“You should have just mojoed my ass.”  Buffy smiled as she lifted her head.  She’d heard Tara’s bedroom door slam on a few occasions and the woman scream into her pillow, she didn’t doubt that the woman really did want to strangle her on those days.  “Why didn’t you?  I mean use the hocus pocus, not strangle me.  ‘Cause we both know you can.”  She laughed as she looked towards where they’d been standing earlier tonight when Tara had taken down Spike and Willow, before turning back to Tara. 

 

Tara shook her head and smiled sadly.  “Would that have solved anything?”  Tara shook her head again to answer her own question.  “Remember when you thought you were Joan, and then the spell came crashing down.”  She kissed Buffy’s forehead as the Slayer flinched with the memories.  “False hope wasn’t what you needed, Sweetie.”  Tara ran her hands up and down Buffy’s back as the Slayer laid her head on her shoulder again. 

 

“You’re right, that sucked.”  Buffy sighed as she leaned into the Wiccan again.  “But that still doesn’t tell me where you came from?” 

 

Tara chuckled and kissed Buffy’s temple.  “That’s easy, from living with you these past months.”  She laughed as Buffy’s head came up with a surprised look on her face.  “I had the choice of running screaming into the night, or sticking around to butt heads with a stubborn Slayer.”  Tara shrugged and smiled.  “I chose option two.” 

 

“I’m surprised you did.”  Buffy chuckled softly before she became serious.  “Though, I’m glad that you did.” 

 

“There wasn’t really much choice in the matter.”  Tara winked at her as she ran her hands up and down Buffy’s back, kissing her temple as Buffy laid her head on her shoulder.  “There was no way I was leaving you on your own, Sweetie.” 

 

Buffy tightened her arms in silent thanks as her eyes filled with tears.  The woman had become her rock over time, a steadying, calming influence, a balm to her ravaged soul. 

 

Tara wrapped her arms tightly around the Slayer and kissed her temple again, resting her cheek there and swaying gently to the music as she let Buffy’s emotions ease off a bit.  There was still one difficult question she had to ask.  Though she was pretty sure of the answer, she needed to hear it from Buffy herself. 

 

When Buffy could speak without her voice breaking, she whispered softly.  “Thank you.  You’ll never know how much I owe you.” 

 

“Shh.”  Tara shook her head slightly against the side of Buffy’s.  “I owe you just as much, if not more, Buffy.”  She wasn’t surprised when Buffy inched her head out from under hers, looking up with questioning eyes.  “You’ve given me so much, and made me a stronger person, Sweetie.”  Tara smiled softly at her as Buffy’s brows furrowed.  “I’m not talking just a roof over my head.  I’m talking about the strength to stand up on my own, and fight for what I believe in.” 

 

Buffy was still confused.  The confusion must have showed on her face because Tara continued. 

 

“When you stood up to my family that day, even after I’d almost gotten you all hurt, or worse, killed.”  Tara frowned at the memory of doing a stupid spell to try to hide who she thought she was from the Scoobies.  Shaking off the regret she continued.  “You standing up for me, even though you really didn’t know me at all, gave me the strength to stand up for myself against my family.  And that was only the beginning.”  Tara kissed her forehead.  “You gave me a family that I could be proud of that day.  You gave me back something that I hadn’t had since my mom died.”  Tara swallowed the lump lodged in her throat so she could continue as she willed back the tears that had formed in her eyes.  “The next major thing was when you and the others took things I said during research mode into serious consideration, and not just brushing it aside.”  Tara smiled softly as she thought about that being one more way of being included in the close knit group she called family. 

 

“You made sense.”  Buffy chuckled softly. 

 

“Mmm… unlike some of my jokes, right?”  Tara winked at her as she laughed herself. 

 

Buffy grinned sheepishly.  “I still haven’t gotten a few of them.” 

 

Tara kissed her forehead as she blushed in remembrance of at least one time she tried out a joke that went over everyone’s head but Willow’s.  “I don’t think many of you did.”  Tara sighed before she made her next point.  “Then when everything happened with Glory and she found me at the Cultural Faire.”  Tara shrugged, shivering with the memory. 

 

“Why didn’t you just do some type of mojo on her?”  Buffy frowned as she lifted her head.  “And I never thanked you for that.  I’m sorry I couldn’t get there to stop her.” 

 

Tara shook her head to Buffy’s apology.  The Slayer couldn’t be everywhere at once, nor could she save everyone, nor did she expect her to, and she would never blame her for not being there that day.  “Willow was foolish to even try.”  Tara frowned as she thought about her ex-girlfriend going after Glory on her own thinking that she could take down the Hell God by her self.  “We had no way of knowing if magic would even work against Glory, and she shouldn’t have gone after her on her own.”  Tara growled softly as she spit out her next comment.  “She was even more foolhardy to do what she did next!” 

 

Buffy’s eyes opened wide at the venom in Tara’s voice.  “But she got you back, Tara.”  She frowned not knowing where the anger suddenly came from, and not understanding how Tara could think that getting her mind back was a bad thing. 

 

“Luckily, yes.”  Tara sighed and leaned her forehead against Buffy’s.  “But there was no guarantee of that, Buffy.”  Tara sighed again as she lifted her head.  “I knew my fate when Glory found me at the Faire.  I was willing to accept that fate if it kept Glory from finding out who the Key was.”  Tara shook her head, willing the Slayer to see it in her eyes that she spoke the truth.  “I knew what would happen when I refused to tell her that it was Dawn she wanted.  If losing my mind was the price to pay for keeping that knowledge secret for a little while longer… I gladly paid the price, Buffy.  It gave you guys that much more time to figure out how to deal with her.”  Tara frowned again as she continued.  “What Willow did, getting my mind back, I’ll always be grateful to her for that.  But she was foolhardy to do it.  Not only could she have failed, but she could have made matters worse.” 

 

“Worse?  How?”  Buffy knew that some of Willow’s spells were hit or miss, but she couldn’t think of anything worse than not getting Tara’s mind back. 

 

“The human mind is a fragile and complex thing.  For Willow to even attempt to do what she did was beyond foolish.  Yeah, it worked, and surprisingly well.  But she could have done irreparable damage, Buffy.”  Seeing the confusion still on Buffy’s face she blew out a breath and elaborated.  “She could have scrambled all our minds and made everything so much worse than it already was.  Not only just the three of us, Glory, Willow, and myself, but everyone that was anywhere in the vicinity when she did the spell.” 

 

Buffy’s eyes opened wide with the knowledge.  The damage that an even more crazy Glory could have done with her Hell God strength, not to mention a seriously crazed Slayer running around and hurting people.  Not to mention the fact that everyone who knew about and fought the undead and demons on the Hellmouth would have basically had their minds fried, leaving all the things that go bump in the night to run rampant on Sunnydale and beyond.  Buffy swallowed and shivered with the thought, nodding.  “Not a good thing.” 

 

Tara nodded.  “No, definitely not a good thing.”  She sighed.  “Willow doesn’t think of the consequences when she does magic, she just thinks of the end results should she succeed.  And if it doesn’t succeed, she’ll find another spell, and another, and so on.”  Tara shook her head sadly.  “She’s dangerous, and would eventually get herself or someone else hurt or killed.  That’s why I stripped her of her power.” 

 

“Your power.”  Buffy nodded as she thought about some of the spells that had gone wrong in the past, shivering as she thought about being betrothed to Spike during one such case. 

 

Tara nodded.  “My power, Amy’s power, and all the other powers she’d borrowed.  I sent them back where they belonged.” 

 

“I still don’t get it?”  Buffy frowned as she looked at Tara.  “I mean… you knew she was taking your power, but…”  She shook her head in confusion. 

 

Tara lowered her eyes and nodded, it taking a moment before she looked back up into the Slayer’s eyes.  “Love makes you do foolish things.”  Tara shrugged, not really having any other excuse.  “At first I thought it was a way to bring us together, she wanted so much to learn magic.”  Tara sighed, not really knowing how to explain it, other than love having a major role in it.  “I’d been on my own for a couple of years when I met Willow at the Wicca meeting.  I missed being able to do magic with someone.  My mom was the only other person that I’d ever done magic with, and I latched onto the prospect of having a magic partner again.”  Tara looked away, sadness in her eyes. 

 

Buffy pulled Tara close.  “I’m sorry.” 

 

Tara nodded as she laid her head on the Slayer’s shoulder.  “I quickly fell in love with her, and there went any rational thinking on my part.  I blame myself for everything.” 

 

“Don’t, Tara.”  Buffy kissed Tara’s temple as she ran her hands over her upper back.  “Even if you hadn’t been willing, I’m sure Willow would have found a way to get what she wanted, anyway.” 

 

“It just got to the point where there wasn’t any turning back, or so it seemed.”  Tara sighed as she leaned into the Slayer’s offered comfort.  “I let it get out of hand, I’m sorry.” 

 

“Shh.”  Buffy kissed her temple again, knowing the woman would keep kicking herself for what had happened with Willow.  “My only question is why didn’t we ever know how powerful you really are?” 

 

Tara shrugged.  “She needed the spotlight, I didn’t, nor do I want it.”  As long as the mood was still somber Tara decided to ask her question.  “Can I ask you something?” 

 

“You know you can.”  Buffy chuckled softly.  After all the head butting and getting to know each other, just about anything went with them now. 

 

Tara bit her lip before she lifted her head, wanting to see into the Slayer’s eyes. 

 

Buffy nodded seeing the seriousness in the Wiccan. 

 

Tara let the question roll off her lips before she could chicken out.  “Will I still have to worry every night that you won’t be coming home?  Beyond the normal Hellmouth worry, that is.” 

 

Buffy frowned for a moment, turning the woman’s question over in her head to figure out what she’d meant.  Her eyes suddenly opening wide as she finally understood what Tara was asking.  “You knew?” 

 

Tara nodded before the Slayer dropped her eyes and looked away.  She kissed Buffy’s forehead as she whispered.  “Yes, I knew.”  She guided the Slayer’s head to her shoulder with a kiss to her temple as she held her close, eyes filling with tears.  “I always worried that there would come a day when we’d find your beaten and broken body after you didn’t come home some night.  That you’d finally give in to the want, and let some demon finish you off without a fight.  There was no guarantee that you would have gone back there.” 

 

Buffy nodded against Tara’s shoulder, her own eyes filling with tears.  “I know.” 

 

Tara held her quietly for long moments before Buffy lifted her head. 

 

Buffy shook her head slightly as she looked Tara in the eye and answered honestly.  “No, you don’t.” 

 

Tara gave her a relieved smile and a soft kiss, a single tear falling off her lash.  “Thank you.”  She kissed her temple again as Buffy laid her head back on her shoulder with a sigh.  “You know I’ll be here for you when those feelings creep up on you.  I know they still do, even if it’s not as often as before.” 

 

Buffy nodded and held on a little tighter to the Wiccan.  Some days the longing for what she’d lost was strong, and she knew that there would still be many more days when she wished she hadn’t been ripped from where she’d been.  Whether Tara knew it or not, she had helped.  “You already have helped, Tara.”  Buffy softly kissed Tara’s neck. 

 

Tara smiled with the soft press of lips to her throat.  “I was hoping that I had.”  She winked at the look of concern on Cami’s face as the waitress skirted the dance floor delivering drinks.  

 

Cami nodded and smiled as she continued on her way, feeling a bit better that things were still on the right track with Buffy and Tara.  She had kept the troublemakers from interrupting the couple on the dance floor, going so far as to threaten to kick their asses out, without Amy. 

 

Amy having nodded in agreement having seen the seriousness of whatever Buffy and Tara had been discussing. 

 

Sue and Sandi grumbled, biding their time until they could harass them again. 

 

~HLM~

 

Part 15 

 

Buffy and Tara hadn’t moved as the band returned to the stage for their last set, still slow dancing to whatever music they played. 

 

“Why is it my ass that she’s always trying to grab?”  Buffy softly grumbled as she felt the little terror sneaking up on them again.  She’d been enjoying the quiet time while she danced with the Wiccan. 

 

“Hmm?”  It took Tara a moment to process the question as they’d both been quietly lost in their own thoughts for so long.  Finally laughing softly before she opened her eyes to see Sue stealthily approaching, tongue poking out one side of her mouth in concentration as she stared at the ass in question, hands out and ready for the sneak attack.  “Because it’s nicely showcased in these tight leather pants, she can’t keep her hands off it.”  Tara let her hands drop to Buffy’s ass, protecting it from Sue who was now within range of grabbing. 

 

Sue’s head snapped up as she was deterred in her quest, hands quickly going behind her own back as she straightened up and tried to look innocent as large blue eyes captured her.  “Hey, fancy meeting you here!” 

 

Tara growled at the smaller woman, though her eyes twinkled with the tenacity of the woman.  “Don’t touch!” 

 

“Huh?  I don’t know what you’re talking about?”  Sue smiled innocently as she not so nonchalantly looked around.  “Oh look, there’re my friends.”  She quickly hurried away to join Amy and Sandi about fifteen feet away, checking over her shoulder a couple of times to make sure Tara and/or Buffy weren’t after her. 

 

“I think she’s afraid of you.”  Buffy chuckled as she lifted her head from Tara’s shoulder. 

 

“I don’t know why.”  Tara batted her eyelashes as she smiled at the Slayer. 

 

Buffy snorted softly and nodded.  “I don’t have a clue as to why, either.”  She let her arms drop off Tara’s shoulders, hands going to the Wiccan’s ass as she leaned in for a kiss.  Pulling back she frowned.  “And why hasn’t she tried grabbing yours?”  Buffy ran her hands over the ass in question as she tilted her head, the frown deepening.  “And why is it that no one has been hitting on you tonight?” 

 

Tara blushed and shrugged as a nervous giggle left her, dropping her eyes guiltily as the Slayer raised a brow. 

 

“Uh huh, I’m not buying it.”  Buffy finally laughed softly as she brought her arms back up around the woman’s shoulders.  “What did you do?” 

 

Tara giggled again before she could control it, finally looking up with amused eyes, though her face was red.  “What makes you think I did something?” 

 

“Gut feeling.”  Buffy laughed softly.  “What did you do?  Or should I ask what is it that I’ve been dancing with?” 

 

Tara laughed and winked at the Slayer.  “Well, they probably are wondering why you’re dancing with me when you could have your pick of the place.”  She smiled shyly at Buffy. 

 

“Uh uh, don’t want ‘em.”  Buffy smiled and leaned in for another kiss as Tara blushed.  This was the blushing, self-effacing Tara that she’d come to know, and hoped the woman never lost touch with this side of herself.  “Sooooo?”  Buffy dragged out the word as she pulled back from the kiss, chuckling as Tara dropped her eyes again. 

 

Tara sighed and raised her eyes to the Slayer, shrugging as a slow smile appeared.  “They’re probably wondering about your mental status.”  Tara chuckled softly.  “They can’t figure out why you’re dancing with a big butted woman in a gaudy old flowered dress, with hairy legs, buckteeth, hair back in a severe bun, and wearing coke bottle glasses.”  Tara winked at her and grinned. 

 

Buffy burst into laughter at the picture that formed in her mind with Tara’s description. 

 

Tara shrugged again and joined the Slayer in laughter. 

 

“Why would you do that?”  Buffy questioned when she’d stopped laughing. 

 

Tara blushed and shrugged again as she smiled at Buffy. 

 

Buffy shook her head.  “Uh uh, there was a reason.”  She smiled as the woman turned a darker shade of red.  “Why?” 

 

Tara sighed again knowing the Slayer wouldn’t drop it, she was like a dog on a bone when she wanted something.  She chuckled softly as her mind conjured up a time when Buffy had followed her around the house as she cleaned, not really remembering what it had been about, but just the fact that the Slayer wouldn’t give up on it.  Buffy occasionally running into her back when she stopped suddenly to grab something, and basically hounding her until she’d finally turned on the woman and told her what she wanted to know, much to Buffy’s disgruntlement that it hadn’t been anything earthshattering like she’d been hoping for.  She smiled as she remembered the Slayer sulking and walking away in disappointment. 

 

Buffy watched as Tara got lost in memories for a moment, smiling as the woman finally focused back in on her.  “Tell me.” 

 

Tara laughed softly at having been right.  “You’re not going to give up, are you?” 

 

Buffy grinned and shook her head.  “Nope, so fess up.” 

 

Tara rolled her eyes but the smile remained on her face.  “When I first came in, I was asked to dance and offered a drink before I even made it ten steps into the place.” 

 

Buffy snorted softly as she turned to look towards the entrance, not that she’d remember what the two guys who’d approached her looked like.  “Let me guess, two different guys?”  She smiled as Tara nodded as she turned her eyes back to the woman.  “I think they propositioned me, too.”  She smiled and leaned in for a soft kiss.  “Not that I can blame them for asking you.” 

 

Tara blushed with the compliment.  “Nor you.”  She kissed her again.  “But I decided a little glamour spell was in order.”  Tara shrugged.  “I wasn’t here looking for a hot date, and it was your night out.” 

 

Buffy laughed softly at the explanation.  “How come to me you still look like the woman I left the house with?” 

 

“Anyone who knows me still sees me as me.”  Tara looked towards her friend behind the bar.  “Do you think I’d be able to get Michael to do anything for me if he saw me as the others do?”  Tara smiled as looked back to Buffy. 

 

Buffy laughed softly as she pulled Tara close again.  “Probably not unless you lit a fire under his ass, but as it is, all you have to do is bat your baby blues at him and jumps to do your bidding.” 

 

Tara chuckled softly thinking that that had taken place a couple of times tonight.  “That’s because he’s a sweetheart and all around nice guy.”  Tara kissed Buffy’s temple as they swayed slowly to the too fast music once again. 

 

Buffy pulled her head back and raised a brow.  “Should I be worried?”  She laughed as Tara growled at her and pinched her ass.  “Just checking.”  Sighing she snuggled back into Tara’s neck.  “Getting back to your alter ego, what about the people that do know you?  How come none of them approached you?” 

 

Tara laughed softly.  “Might have been the ‘not interested, go away’ look I gave them that had something to do with that.” 

 

“Good.  Would have hated to have to come rip their arms off and beat them off you with them.  Though, I wouldn’t mind having done that to Sue.”  She smiled and kissed Tara’s neck as the Wiccan laughed.  “Hey!”  She pulled her head back, looking at Tara with mischief filled eyes. 

 

Tara laughed and shook her head.  “You’re rotten, Tough Stuff.” 

 

“I just want to see her reaction.”  Buffy winked at Tara.  “And get to hit her when she starts grabbing.” 

 

Tara blushed and dropped her head, but her hair didn’t cooperate in hiding her face as she’d used mousse tonight. 

 

Buffy grinned and laughed softly.  “That’s not going to work.” 

 

Tara growled softly at the amused Slayer.  “No, but this will.”  She dropped her face into the crook of Buffy’s neck, nipping softly at her throat for picking on her. 

 

“Umm…”  Buffy tilted her head giving Tara more access to her throat.  “Yeah, that’ll work.  But I’m thinking it will only work on getting us out of here sooner, rather than later.”  She smiled as Tara started to laugh and bit down harder before she released her hold with a soft kiss where she’d bitten her. 

 

“Later, there’s no telling when we’ll get back here to dance again, and I’m milking it for all it’s worth tonight.”  Tara kissed Buffy’s neck again before lifting her head and softly kissing her lips. 

 

Buffy smiled against Tara’s lips, nodding in agreement as Tara pulled away.  “Like dancing.” 

 

“Like dancing with you.”  Tara wrapped her arms tightly around the Slayer, pulling her even closer as she leaned her forehead against Buffy’s and continued the gentle swaying they were doing. 

 

Buffy smiled as she looked into the blue eyes so close to her own.  “Does this mean that we can turn on the stereo at home… and NOT be constantly interrupted by a little terrorist?”  She growled out the last part as she felt someone approaching them, knowing that it had to be Sue, again. 

 

“That depends on if you think being interrupted by Dawn would be better?”  Tara laughed softly and kissed Buffy as she growled at the comment. 

 

Buffy’s hands quickly left Tara’s shoulders as she reached back and grabbed Sue’s hands before the could touch her ass as she continued to growl and kiss Tara. 

 

“Uh oh!”  Sue’s head snapped up when her hands were grabbed.  “This ain’t good!” 

 

Buffy pulled back and winked at Tara before releasing Sue’s hands as she quickly spun around in Tara’s arms, lifting the little terrorist off her feet to look her in the eye.  “What did I tell you about grabbing my ass?!” 

 

“Umm…”  Sue tilted her head in thought for a moment before she grinned.  “That you liked it?”  She fluttered her eyelashes at Buffy. 

 

Buffy growled and went nose to nose with her.  “I’m gonna rip your hands off and smack the shit out of you if you try grabbing my ass again!”  She quickly set the woman back on the floor and smacked at her hands that were now going for her boobs.  “STOP THAT!!” 

 

Sue continued to grin as she took a step back from Buffy, avoiding the hands slapping at her own. 

 

Buffy sent a glare at Sue before turning to glare at the laughing Amy and Sandi as they approached, turning to glare at Tara who now had a chin resting on her shoulder and was laughing herself.  “Not funny!” 

 

Tara tried to look chastised but continued to laugh as she kissed Buffy’s shoulder before resting her chin back on it. 

 

Buffy turned back to Sue and raised a brow.  “Why haven’t you tried grabbing her ass?”  She tilted her head towards Tara, smirking at Sue’s reaction. 

 

Sue’s eyes opened wide and her hands quickly went behind her back as she looked from Buffy to Tara and back again.  “Umm…”  Sue shook her head and scurried to hide behind Amy, peeking out around her side as she blinked a few times while looking at Tara before her eyes went back to Buffy’s and she shook her head again before hiding. 

 

Tara giggled and dropped her forehead to Buffy’s shoulder to hide her face. 

 

Buffy tried to keep from laughing herself as she tilted her head and narrowed her eyes on Sue as she crossed her arms over her chest when the woman peeked around Amy again.  “Give me one word you’d use to describe Tara?” 

 

“Fugly!”  Sue spit out before she could stop herself, eyes opening wide and ducking behind Amy again. 

 

“HEY!”  Amy turned around and smacked Sue. 

 

Cami smacked her with her empty tray as she walked up to the group, having heard the question and answer. 

 

“HEY!”  Sue grumbled as she defended herself.  “She asked!”  She looked to Sandi for support.  “Tell ‘em!” 

 

Sandi nodded and shrugged, having to agree with her friend. 

 

Cami and Amy turned back when they heard the laughter coming from Tara and Buffy. 

 

“What the hell is so funny about that?”  Cami looked confused as she looked back and forth between the laughing couple and Amy. 

 

Amy shook her head not knowing herself as she looked at Tara.  Tilting her head as Buffy continued to laugh and Tara winked at her when she placed her chin back on Buffy’s shoulder.  A slow smile formed as she thought she’d figured out what the Wiccan had done. 

 

Tara waited until Cami’s eyes turned back to her from the now smiling Amy, altering the spell so everyone saw her the way the glamour spell made her look. 

 

“HOLY SHIT!”  Cami clutched her tray to her chest as she cringed back from Tara. 

 

Amy had the same response as she swayed back to bump into Sue, though without the exclamation. 

 

They all turned towards the bar when they heard a crash.  Michael stood gawking at Tara, the bottle and its contents that had been in his hand now covering the floor at his feet. 

 

Buffy snorted softly and laughed as she turned to grin at Tara.  “Jesus!”  She jumped away from the woman when she got a look at her, eyes opening wide as she looked her up and down before bursting into laughter again. 

 

Tara, for her part, placed her hands on her hips and tried glaring at the Slayer, before a bucktoothed smile formed and she winked at her. 

 

Buffy stepped back towards Tara as she continued to look her up and down, shaking her head and laughing.  “And I thought the woman that looked like a hooker was bad.” 

 

Tara lightly smacked the Slayer’s ass as Buffy wrapped her arms around her shoulders.  “Maybe I’ll stay this way.”  She smirked at the Slayer before she leaned and quickly kissed her before she could pull away. 

 

“You know this is really creepy, don’t you?”  Buffy tried not to cringe as Tara’s lips came at her again. 

 

“Haven’t you ever heard of having to kiss a frog?”  Tara winked at her from behind the thick glasses before pressing her lips back to Buffy’s. 

 

Buffy laughed softly as she pulled her lips away.  “Then pucker up, we’re changing you back.”  She leaned into the kiss again, this time going for broke and kissing the woman that she knew was beneath the façade. 

 

Tara smiled against the lips that met hers, moaning a moment later when the Slayer’s tongue came into play.  Quickly ending the glamour spell, Tara opened to accept the tongue and battle back with her own as she pulled the Slayer close. 

 

“HOLY SHIT!”  It was now Sue’s turn to gawk at the couple, her eyes wide as she pointed at Tara.  “Who the hell is that?” 

 

Cami and Amy started to laugh as they turned to the speechless and wide eyed Sandi, and the sputtering Sue. 

 

“That’s Tara!”  Cami grinned and turned back to the couple. 

 

Sue shook her head, brought her hands up to rub at her eyes and blinked a couple of times when she’d finished as she looked at the woman that was now Tara.  “We would have definitely noticed her!”  Sue grumbled as she looked to her taller friend. 

 

Sandi nodded in agreement as she still stared at Tara and Buffy. 

 

Sue suddenly grinned as she turned back to look at Tara. 

 

~HLM~

 

Tara jumped and squeaked, almost knocking both herself and Buffy over as her ass was suddenly grabbed. 

 

Buffy’s quick reflexes kept them upright, growling as she figured out what had happened when she saw Sue grinning at the others from behind Tara.  Snarling, she narrowed her eyes on the smaller woman and started to step around Tara when Sue turned back. 

 

“Uh oh!”  Sue’s eyes opened wide as she turned back to the couple in front of her, quickly hurrying away to hide behind Amy again.  “Save me!” 

 

Tara held onto the Slayer, keeping her from going after the woman.  “You asked for that, Tough Stuff.”  Tara chuckled softly as she wrapped the woman up in her arms to keep her close. 

 

“Still wanna hit her!”  Buffy grumbled as she leaned back into Tara and wrapped her arms around the Wiccan’s around her own waist. 

 

Tara kissed Buffy’s shoulder then frowned.  “Are you okay?”  She ran her tongue over her lip feeling a slight swelling from smacking into the Slayer’s teeth when she’d jumped. 

 

Buffy looked over her shoulder at Tara in question before turning in her arms when she saw the Wiccan’s tongue checking her teeth, and doing the same herself.  “Yeah, all present and accounted for, you?” 

 

Tara nodded and ran her tongue over the small bump in her lip again.  “Just banged my lip a bit.” 

 

“Want me to kiss it better?”  Buffy smiled and started to lean in to kiss Tara, stopping to send a glare at Sue who was peeking around Amy again.  “She won’t stop me next time if you do that again!” 

 

Sue gulped and nodded before ducking back behind Amy, thankful that she’d gotten a reprieve this time. 

 

Tara blushed as she looked around, realizing that the band had finished for the night and most eyes in the place were aimed at them, more specifically, her.  Not being able to hide behind her hair she buried her face against the Slayer’s neck. 

 

Buffy turned back when Tara stiffened and suddenly hid against her.  She looked from the hiding Wiccan around the room, laughing softly as she realized why the woman was hiding.  “Told you I would have had to beat them off you.”  She kissed Tara’s temple and grinned at their friends. 

 

Cami winked at the Slayer, having looked around herself when Tara turned beet red.  “ALL RIGHT, BOYS AND GIRLS, SHOW’S OVER!  LAST CALL!”  She called out to the somewhat quiet room, smiled at Michael and signaled for another round for the group.  Stepping over to run a hand over Tara’s shoulder in commiseration as she smiled at Buffy, then headed off to take the last orders for the night and settle up with her tables as the noise began to pick up again in the place. 

 

Michael tossed another slow song on the stereo and started fixing drinks. 

 

Sandi, Sue and Amy managed another three way slow dance. 

 

Buffy held Tara close as she sent glares out to the people still staring at them while she slowly swayed with the Wiccan.  “You okay?”  She whispered as she kissed Tara’s temple before resting her cheek there.  Buffy smiled as she felt the smile against her neck as Tara nodded and kissed her, fingers beginning to play over her sides once again. 

 

~HLM~

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