The longest Night
by Erin

*** WiccaGirl has logged on to COGnet

*** WiccaGirl has joined channel #Witchs_Glade

*** Good_Wytch, Darknight, and WitchyWomyn are already in the channel

*** Channel_Topic is "Embrace your inner Pagan."

Good_Wytch:  i know, but i had already called the quarters, i wasn't going to do it again

WitchyWomyn:  Then you should have just dismissed them, and done it again properly.

WiccaGirl:  Hi everyone.

Good_Wytch:  hi wic!

Darknight:  Hi Wicca!

WitchyWomyn:  Hi Wicca! I'm Witchy, I don't think we've met yet

WiccaGirl:  Hi Witchy! No, I don't think we have.

Darknight:  Goodwitch was just telling us about her latest failed spell.

Good_Wytch:  hey! i don't always fail.

WitchyWomyn:  LOL I've never known one of your spells to actually work.

Good_Wytch:  hey, it's not my fault. Llewellyn puts out some really crappy books

WiccaGirl:  I keep telling you, stick with Buckland and Cunningham. Anyone else, and you don't know what you're getting.

Good_Wytch:  ya, i know. i just wanted to try something different. anyway, i gotta run. ttyl.

WitchyWomyn:  Bye, GW. I've got to go too, bye guys.

Darknight:  Bye Witchy, bye Good.

WiccaGirl:  Bye guys!

*** Good_Wytch has left the channel

WitchyWomyn:  Laterz!

*** WitchyWomyn has left the channel

Darknight:  So, waht are you up to tonight, Wic?

WiccaGirl:  Just taking a break from some research online.

Darknight:  Everything ok with you and yours?

WiccaGirl:  I don't know, I guess so.

Darknight:  Care to share?

WiccaGirl:  The magick stuff is going ok, it's just personal stuff.

Darknight:  Well, I'm willing to listen, if you want to tell someone.

WiccaGirl:  Yeah, I think that might help...can't hurt, anyway. You see, there was this...girl...and she was a lot like me...

Seeing her own double had been quite a shock to Willow, doubly so as her doppelganger was a vampire from an alternate universe. Not only was she very "open" (downright skanky!), but she had dubious taste in clothing. And, most troubling of all, she was...different. Not in that "oh how eccentric" type different, or even that "wow, she's a homicidal maniac" type different, though she certainly was that. That type of stuff you come to accept from a vampire, even a vampire that is you. No, most troubling of all, she was that "kinda gay" type different.

Now, Willow might have been rather innocent, but she wasn't completely naive, she knew all about homosexuality and bisexuality; at least, she did after some quick searching on the net. And gay people didn't bother her. It was just that...she was gay. Her double. And despite Buffy's protestations, she did hear the truth from Angel. Far more remained of the human in the vampire's personality than was thrown away.

Darknight:  So this girl was a lot like you, and you think she was gay, so you're afraid you're gay?

WiccaGirl:  Something like that. But it wasn't just that, I mean, she was *A LOT* like me.

Darknight:  Like a sister-type thing?

WiccaGirl:  Something like that.

Darknight:  Well, there have been studies that show if a member of a family is gay, then the other members of the family have a slightly increased chance of being gay. But still, if you've never had any romantic feelings towards women...

WiccaGirl:  Define romantic.

It was a typical Friday night at The Bronze; the place was filled with music and teenagers, not necessarily in that order. Buffy and Willow were sitting on their usual couch, drinking their usual drinks, but having a very unusual conversation.

"Well, catastrophe narrowly averted by quick-thinking Willow and quick-staking Buffy." Buffy looked over at her friend, and saw that she was completely lost in thought. "Although, I think that maybe we should have kept Leather Willow around, maybe as a toy for Xander."

"Yeah..." Willow replied, not really hearing her friend.

"Or maybe Giles. I think he'd get a real kick out of studying her various psychoses and abnormalities."


Buffy sighed, somewhat frustrated. "Ok, girlfriend, spill it. You've been somewhere else all night. Will?" Buffy shook her friend's shoulder.

"Huh? Oh, yeah Buffy, that would be fine," Willow replied, snapping out of her reverie.

"Ok, what's up? You haven't heard a word I've said all night. I know something's bothering you, so spill it."

Willow looked over at her friend, noting the concerned look that Buffy was giving her. She didn't want to worry Buffy, but at the same time, she didn't want to explain the thoughts she was having, either. She gave a weak chuckle. "It's nothing really, just a close-brush-with-death kind of thing, y'know? I guess I'm just not bouncing back the way I usually do."

Buffy gave Willow a dubious look. "Somehow, I doubt--"

"Hey, lover, remember me?" The voice coming from a few feet away was distinctly feminine, and aimed directly at them. The body that belonged to the voice was also distinctly feminine, a leather-clad biker woman with teased out blonde hair.

"Um, actually, I don't believe I've had the pleasure," Buffy responded sarcastically.

"Not you, blondie. My red-headed sweetie pie over there," Biker chick nodded her head toward Willow. "I still have the hickey you gave me, lover," she moved aside her leather jacket, bearing her neck, "maybe we could have a replay of the other night, hmm?"

Buffy looked over at Willow, who looked for all the world like a deer caught in the headlights of a 50-ton Mack truck. She had a panicked - no, mortified - look on her face, and Buffy couldn't tell if she were even breathing.

"Ok, I think you've got the wrong person," Buffy rose to her feet, trying to interpose herself between Willow and the biker chick.

"Hell no I don't have the wrong person. I got a real good look at her. ALL of her," she emphasized, with a disturbing wiggle of eyebrows. "I don't know what's happened to her clothes, but that is most definately her."

Willow started shaking her head back and forth, glazed look still in her eyes which were rapidly brimming with tears. Buffy had had enough. Grabbing the woman's wrist, she said, "Look, I don't know who you're thinking of, but she isn't that woman. Now just get the hell out of here, and leave her the hell alone, understand?" Buffy punctuated that with a not-so-gentle squeeze.

"Ow, hey, ok! I'm going," the blonde replied, pulling back her arm. "I don't know why she'd choose a scrawny thing like you, anyway, but I'm outa here." The blonde swished her way back into the crowd.

"Geez," Buffy muttered, "You'd think Evil Willow could have attracted a less skanky crowd. Well, at least that one was just a groupie, and not a real vampire--Will? Where are you going?"

Willow was on her feet, and rushing to the exit. She felt trapped, and couldn't think with all the heat, the music... She was out the door, and leaning against the cold cement wall before Buffy caught up with her.

"Willow? C'mon, that woman's gone. You don't have anything to worry about--"

Willow looked up at her with angry, bloodshot eyes. "Don't have anything to worry about," she sounded on the verge of hysteria. "There was a vampire out there, doing god-knows-what to god-knows-who, and she had MY FACE! My face, my body..." Willow trailed off, her face buried in her hands.

"Sssh, it's ok, Will, it's ok..." Buffy consoled her friend as best she could, even though she didn't quite understand what was getting Willow so upset. She placed an arm around Willow's shoulders. "It's ok. She was nothing like you, Will. She was a bad, nasty, evil demon. Not to mention skanky and gay..."

Willow looked up at Buffy. Ice gripped her heart. She shrugged Buffy's arm off her shoulders, and walked away, headed home. Buffy stared after her best friend, shocked. "Will...? What did I...?" She let her arm drop as her friend walked away from her, into the night.

Darknight:  So you have had romantic feelings towards women.

WiccaGirl:  I don't know, I's all so confused. I mean my...sister was so open about it. It was almost...intoxicating, being around her. And it got me thinking.

Darknight:  About what?

WiccaGirl:  About my life. I started to reevaluate everything about my life. You look at things differently when you think you might be ... Like, did I have a crush on my Jr. High History teacher, or did I just really like her? And what about my best friend?

Darknight:  What about your best friend?

WiccaGirl:  I ... I think I'm in love with her.

Willow looked around the familiar bedroom, searching for some source of comfort. She was propped up on her bed, pillow held firmly against her chest in a fierce hug. She knew she shouldn't have left Buffy like she did, but there wasn't anything else she could do; she needed to think.

How could I be gay? I'm not gay. I mean, I like guys...I like Oz, I LOVE Oz. I think. I mean, I could love Oz. Hell, what are you thinking? I care for Oz, and he cares about me...He just doesn't make me feel the same way as... Willow sighed, burying her face in her pillow. It was truly hopeless. What if she did love Buffy? And she wasn't prepared to admit she did, mind you. But what if? Buffy could never love her back. She was Willow. Old, dependable Willow. Old, reliable Willow. Everyone's best friend, no one's girlfriend. Especially not Buffy's...

Buffy watched from the shadows as Willow's bedroom light turned off. She had followed Willow all the way to her house, keeping enough distance so that her friend would not know she was there, but staying close enough so that she could help if her friend got in trouble. Willow's parents were gone, as usual. Buffy felt rotten about whatever she said to get Willow upset. Willow just hadn't been the same after being subjected to that vision of her vampire self.

Buffy walked through the night, hands thrust in coat pockets. She could feel the wooden stake in one pocket, within easy reach. Vampires, she thought. You want to know about Vampires, you go to the source, right?

Angel opened the door, and motioned Buffy inside. "Buffy. Hi, c'mon in..."

Buffy smiled at Angel, and returned the greeting. After all this time, after all that had happened, they were guarded and uncomfortable around each other. They shared a doomed love; they couldn't go back, and yet they found it difficult to move on.

Buffy looked around at Angel's new home. "Wow, I like what you've done with the place, very homey."

Angel smiled ever-so-slightly, and said, "Thanks, I've been working on it."

They looked around for a few more uncomfortable minutes, until Buffy finally broke the silence. "I actually came here because I have some questions about vampires." Angel looked up at her. "Willow's really freaked about this whole vampire double thing."

Angel nodded somberly. "I imagine it wasn't easy for her, seeing what she would be like as a vampire. It's not easy to come to terms with your dark half..." He trailed off.

Buffy absently chewed a nail. "How much of the person remains? I mean, after they've been vamped?"

Angel thought for a minute, and then replied, "It's hard to say, exactly. Basically, the demon takes away your soul. You're left without a conscience, without a regard for life, without any capacity for empathy or sympathy whatsoever."

Buffy looked up at him. "That's all you lose?"

"Isn't that enough?"

"No, what I mean is, you don't lose or gain any aspects of your personality?"

Angel looked at her, confused. "Buffy, what are you getting at?"

"Well," Buffy sat down on the edge of Angel's coffee table. The Slayer sighed wearily, and continued. "I think Willow is worried that she might be gay."

Darknight:  So you've been having thoughts about your best friend.

WiccaGirl:  She's just so beautiful! And strong. People are drawn to her. I'm drawn to her.

Willow looked up at the dark ceiling, the light from the streetlights outside casting strange shadows. She had turned the light off long ago, hoping it would lead to sleep, but so far she had had little luck. No matter what she did, the thoughts would start intruding...

Thoughts of her double, Evil Leather-clad Willow, whispering dark seductions in her ear...She'd be lying if she said she weren't the least bit tempted.

Thoughts of Buffy, her best friend...They shared everything, all their fears, all their doubts. But this was one thing Willow couldn't share with her, and without that, she felt lost.

Thoughts of Oz, and Xander. She really loved them. She couldn't deny that. But she also couldn't deny the true pull of her heart.

She listened to the steadily increasing sound of raindrops hitting her bedroom window.

"Well, it's true, she probably is. Is that really something to worry about?" Angel asked.

His matter-of-fact statement knocked the wind out of Buffy for a moment. Willow...She never imagined. Still, hearing Angel confirm it gave her a slightly excited feeling that she didn't quite understand. I must just want her to be happy, Buffy thought. What? That didn't make any sense. This isn't making her happy. What's bothering her... "Why won't she talk to me about it?" Buffy asked, quietly.

Angel gave her a rueful look. Instead of answering, he said, "Buffy, you've got to move on. You need someone who can make you happy, and it isn't me."

Buffy looked over at Angel, totally confused. Why is he bringing this up now? Can't he see that Willow is the issue here? She's what's important... "I...know. I guess I've known since you came back to Sunnydale. It's not that I don't love you--"

Angel held up his hand, silencing her. "I know you love me. And I love you. But I am not your love. I can't be, because I can't give you the happiness that you deserve. Deep down, you know there is only one person who can give you that

WiccaGirl:  I can't tell her. What would happen if I told her? She'd hate me. I couldn't stand to see either her hate or her pity.

Darknight:  You've really got three possible outcomes. If you tell her, and she feels the same way, then great. If you tell her, and she doesn't feel the same way, she's still your best friend. She cares for you, and she'll understand. But if you don't tell her...It *will* come out. You won't be able to suppress the feelings you have for her, and it will torment you. You'll pull away from her, and the friendship will suffer.

WiccaGirl:  I...I don't want to lose her.

After what seemed like hours of tossing and turning, Willow decided that maybe some warm milk or hot chocolate was in order. Grabbing a robe, she wrapped it around herself and padded downstairs. Even if it doesn't put me to sleep, she thought, at least some hot cocoa will take my mind off of-- "Buffy?"

Willow looked outside, and saw a lone figure standing across the street, in the rain. Willow ran to the front door and opened it. "Buffy, what are you doing out there? Come inside!"

Buffy jogged across the street, toward the welcoming light of the Rosenberg house. She had been standing outside for some time, trying to figure out what to say. On her way here from Angel's she must've chickened out at least a dozen times, and tried to turn back. "Willow's asleep...I'll call her in the morning...It really doesn't matter...It's not important..." She muttered to herself the whole way over. But she kept going. Because she knew it was important, it was the most important thing in the world.

"You're soaked! I can't believe...I'll get some towels," Willow stammered. As she retrieved some towels from the linen closet, she tried desperately to focus her thoughts. What is she doing here?

Buffy stood there, dripping in the front entryway. It all happened so fast, and before she knew it, her best friend was handing her towels to dry off.

"Wow, Buffy, I mean, what were you doing, is everything ok, I mean, geez, I mean, we've got to get you out of those clothes--" Both of them froze. "What I mean is, you're in wet clothes, wet clothes are bad," Willow finished, lamely.

Buffy smiled slightly, but Willow's little gaffe did propel her brain into moving forward again. She grabbed her friend's arm, and leading her over to the couch, said, "Will, I think we need to talk." Willow took a seat on the couch, but Buffy, indicating her wet clothes, took a seat on the floor instead. Crossing her arms and placing them across Willow's knees, Buffy looked up at the redhead and asked, "Will, what's been bothering you? And why won't you talk to me?"

"Talk? I have no problem talking to you, see, this is me, talking to you, without any problem, see?" Willow looked around the room, everywhere but at Buffy. Oh god she smells so good she's this close I can't keep this up I can't move...

Buffy looked up at her best friend. "Ok, well, if you don't want to talk, then I do. I have a problem, Will, and I need someone to talk to."

Willow immediately snapped back to herself. "Oh, of course Buffy, you know you can talk to me. What is it, what's wrong?"

Buffy's grip tightened on Willow's legs somewhat, as if drawing up some inner courage. "You see, I have this best friend. And I'm pretty sure I'm in love with her..."

WiccaGirl:  So, you think I should tell her?

Darknight:  I think you should tell her. If she's as wonderful as you say she is, she'll understand.

WiccaGirl:  Ok. I gotta think about this. How do you know so much about this?

Darknight:  <chuckle> Let's just say I was in a similar situation.

WiccaGirl:  Wow. Did it work out?

Darknight:  Beyond my wildest dreams. Think about what I said.

WiccaGirl:  I will, definately. Goodnight.

Darknight:  Goodnight.

*** WiccaGirl has left the channel

Buffy entered the dorm room that she shared with Willow quietly, so as not to disturb her friend. Not that it would have mattered, Buffy chuckled to herself as she noticed Willow parked in front of her computer, working away. She snuck up behind the hacker, and wrapped both arms around her in a huge hug.

Willow leaned back into the embrace, feeling warm and secure. "Mmm.." she sighed, covering Buffy's hands with her own. "Glad you're back. I missed you." She pivoted around in her chair, and looked lovingly at her best friend. Best friend? She thought. No, so much more than that... Buffy leaned down and placed a gentle kiss on Willow's lips. "I missed you too, Will." She glanced up at the screen. "Whatcha working on? Who is Darknight?"

"That's me. I was just helping out some youngsters in the Wicca channel," Willow replied, smiling. "Just started me thinking about old times."

Buffy smiled, lost in her own memories. "Old times, huh? Well, maybe you can help me out then. You see, I've got this problem. I'm madly in love with my best friend..."

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