Author's Note: Songs excerpts are borrowed from the Counting Crows CD "Recovering the Satellites" songs are 'Have You Seen Me Lately?' and 'Mercury'. No copyright infringement intended. If you want to see the words to the whole songs, let me know and I'll e-mail you a copy.
"She tried to get him to stay and wait for you and he, um, pushed her, out of
"I don't believe this."
"Believe it, Buffy. He had this maddening look in his eye. He threw her to
the ground and headed out after you. There was no stopping him."
"Why didn't she tell me? Was she hurt?"
"I don't believe so. I really didn't see it coming, otherwise I would have
kept her away from him."
"I didn't see it coming either, Giles. He's not the guy I thought he was, not
if he could do this."
She appeared thoughtful for a moment then headed towards the door.
"Buffy, where are you going?"
"To fix things."
"It's really not wise to go near him right now. We don't know how stable he
"I wasn't talking about Riley, Giles." She gave him a sad smile and was out
She turned around startled. "Oh, hey Buffy." She turned back to the dresser
and pulled out a pair of pajamas. "How was patrol?"
She crossed the room and sat on Willow's bed. "Alright. I really didn't have
my heart in it tonight. I did a quick sweep of the grounds on campus and came
back. All is quiet on the home front."
"That's good. No vampires means good vampires.. not that vampires can be good
...well, except for Angel, but he's different, and...never mind. Tired plus brain
activity equals babble-mode." She turned her back to Buffy and pulled her shirt
over her head. She flinched a little and Buffy caught it.
"Will, what's wrong? You never flinch...flinching is a Slayer activity." She
got to her feet and moved next to her.
Willow turned. "Nothing...I must have pulled a muscle or something, that's
all." She smiled hoping to drop the subject.
"Doing what? Surfing the web? Lemme see.. " Buffy reached out but Willow
took two steps backwards.
"I'm fine, really. It's not a big deal." <Gee, your boyfriend threw me
to the floor like a sack of potatoes, but still, it's no biggie.> She gave
Buffy her best 'please-drop-it' look but could tell it wasn't working.
"Your mouth tells me your fine but your body is telling a different story."
She reached out again and wasn't met with resistance this time.
Willow turned around willingly and allowed Buffy to examine her. Upon closer
inspection, Buffy found a big purple bruise from her shoulder to her elbow and her
elbow was swollen. "Oh, Will."
"Don't make a big deal out of it...please?"
"Why didn't you tell me?"
"I'm a klutz...I wasn't paying attention and I slipped getting out of the
shower. I really need to..."
"You really need to stop covering for Riley. I know he did this."
"Oh....how did you?...Giles."
"I went to see him before patrol. That's a nasty bruise and you don't have
Slayer healing so you're gonna be sore for a while. Put your shirt on and I'll
get you an ice pack."
Before she could protest, Buffy was out the door headed for the nearest ice
machine. Did the dorms even have ice machines? She didn't even think of that so
the next best thing would have to be the soda machine.
She had enough change in her pockets for three cans of soda and threw in a pack
of chocolate donuts for good measure.
She froze at the sound of his voice. "Riley. I don't have time to talk." She
tried to walk around him but he darted into her path.
"Just give me a minute to explain..."
"Explain what? How your precious Professor Frankenstein didn't try to have me
killed? Or how about how you pushed Willow out of your way and hurt her? Bad.
That's what the soda's for...to bring down the swelling you caused. So which part
would you like to explain?"
"Buffy... I was on my way to talk to Willow, to apologize. I was off my
vitamins, that's why I acted the way I did. I didn't know what they were feeding
me. You have to believe me."
"I don't have to do anything...and don't bother apologizing to Willow. She'd
forgive you in an instant, that's the kind of person she is... and I don't think
you deserve that right now."
"Buffy, give me another chance, please."
"I trusted you...I tried to convince my friends to trust you. At the first
sign that the Initiative might not be what it appears to be you go all commando
on my best friend when she was only trying to help you. Look, just forget it.
I have to get back."
He tried again to step in front of her and receive a swift punch in the gut
complimented with the soda can exploding upon impact. She stepped over him and
didn't look back. "You owe me a soda."
She quietly slipped back into the dorm room. Most of the lights were off and
Willow was laying across her bed listening to the stereo.
Get away from me
This isn't gonna be easy
But I don't need you
You got a piece of me
But it's just a little piece of me
But I don't need anyone
And these days I feel like I'm fading away
Like sometimes when I hear myself on the radio
Have you seen me lately?
Buffy crossed the room and sat down next to her. "You okay, Will?"
"I'm okay. What'cha got there? Do I see donuts?" She offered a weak smile.
"You only listen to the Counting Crows when something's bothering you, so
spill." Buffy offered the soda and donuts to her. "It's for your elbow...
Apparently our dorms don't have ice machines. I'm sure you can figure out a use
for the donuts."
Willow smiled and placed the can on her arm. She winced a little but finally
found a comfortable position. "So what have you been up to lately?"
"Nothing much, really. School work, patrolling.. you know, plunge and move on
plunge and move on."
"Riley? You haven't spent any time with him?"
"Sure I have.. lots. I don't want to talk about him right now though. Wait,
yes I do. Why didn't you tell me he hurt you?"
"Would it have really mattered? I mean you've just been all Riley and
Initiative and beeper occupied lately. Why tell you and mess things up between
you and him? It wouldn't have been fair to you."
"I have issues with Riley besides him tossing you across the room like a bean
bag. What's not fair is the way I've been treating my friends. I mean my real
friends. I've been kind of absentee-Buffy lately and I'm sorry for that."
"Okay, full-time absentee but look, here's me, with you in our room...no Riley,
no Initiative, no beeper and no impending doom and gloom. Just us."
"It hasn't been that way in a long time."
"I know Will, and I really am sorry. I got caught up in all of it. I didn't
mean to ignore you or leave you out."
She is trapped inside a month of gray
And they take a little every day
She is a victim of her own responses
Shackled to a heart that wants to settle
And then runs away
It's a sin to be fading endlessly
Yeah, but she's alright with me
She is leaving on a walkaway
She is leaving me in disarray
In the absence of a place to be
She stands there looking back at me
Hesitates, and then turns away
She'll change so suddenly
She's just like mercury
Yeah, but she's alright with me
"I know. It's okay Buffy, you're here now." She smiled.
"No, it's not alright, Will. I've been a bad friend, and I want to make it up
to you." She leaned down and placed a kiss on her forehead. "No matter what I
do, you always say it's alright, but it's not. I really don't know why you put
up with me."
"'Cause that's what best friends do. They put up with each other's quirkiness
and love them. At least that's what my manual tells me...I hope I'm not doing it
wrong." She feigned a pout.
"Manual? What manual?"
"My 'How To Put Up With a Quirky, Impossible Slayer Best Friend' manual. It
was a best seller last year you know." She offered a sly smile.
Buffy sighed. "You. What am I gonna do with you, huh?"
She laughed. "Just love me I guess."
Buffy's eyebrows shifted into furrowed-worry mode. "I do love you, Will. You
have to know that. Do you? I mean I may not say it all the time, but."
"I know, Buffy... and I love you too. I guess that's why it..."She shrugged.
"It hurt so much when I was playing GI-Jane instead of being a Scooby." Willow
nodded her head in response. Buffy leaned over and hugged her. "I'm sorry, Will.
I didn't know how much it bothered you."
"Stop apologizing. It's okay, really."
"No, it's not. You can deny it all you want, but I know you could have gone to
any school in the world and they would have taken you but instead you stayed here
with me and that means something. You don't know how much it means and I just
took it for granted."
She pulled back a little. "I know, I'm done apologizing... for now." She
pushed a stray red hair back from her forehead.
In any other proximity, the gesture would have meant nothing. Being in mid-hug,
Buffy noticed the change in Willows breathing and Willow noticed Buffy noticing.
They stayed still, both afraid of what it may mean to the other.
Willow's voice dropped to a whisper. "I've missed you." Buffy nodded. "I
miss how close we used to be." Nod. "I just feel like you haven't seen me
"I love you so much, you're my best friend, how could I not see you?" Buffy
touched her cheek lightly. "I always know you're there...even when your not.
Know what I mean?" Willow nodded. She took Willow's hand and placed it on her
heart. "Cause you're always right there with me."
"I mean it, Will." She kissed her cheek, this time lingering a bit. "You
don't know how many days and nights you've gotten me through." It was Buffy's
turn to start breathing erratically and she couldn't help it. She smelled so
good.. like spring flowers even though it was February and warmth and everything
that was good and right in the world. She smelled like Willow. Her voice took
on a huskiness she wasn't aware of. "Will, I"
<God...even with all that's gone wrong...even with how little time we've
spent together...she can still read my mind.> Buffy smiled at a very
"Nothing. I just love you, that's all." Nothing else pressing needing to be
said, Buffy kissed her gently on the lips. Upon first contact she felt Willow
stiffen and heard her quick intake of breath and managed to doubt her actions for
a split second before she felt Willow's hand entwine in her hair...and all was
right again in the world. At least the world they lived in. The kiss was sweet
and innocent, peppered with a promise of more and a desire neither of them had
felt in a long time. They broke away at the same time and this time, it was
Willow's turn to smile.
"What?" Buffy tilted her head to the side.
"It's nothing...just, well" She shrugged and the color rose in her cheeks.
"I should get mad at you more often."
"Why do you say that?"
"Well then we could make-up...had I known making up would be so good I would
have gotten mad at you more often."
"Are you sure you don't have making up and making out mixed up?"
"Buffy! I can't" The words were lost in another kiss. Perhaps best saved for
another day and another make-up session.