Are You Experienced?
by Dashenka

It was so late that it might have been more accurate to say it was early morning. In fact, streaks of gold were beginning to appear in the eastern sky.

The room smelled of sandalwood and patchouli candles nearly burnt to stubs. Candles and hours of youthful, sweaty sex. A girlie folk singer was wailing softly on the stereo. Not exactly Willow's style, as her years with Oz had left her with a lasting appreciation for ridiculously cool and obscure bands from places like Macedonia, but it made Tara happy so it was all good.

Willow flopped onto her back, still panting. "Jeez, how did you do that? I feel tingly all the way down to my little toes."

Tara's laugh was low and rich. "Did you like that?" She moved closer to Willow and kissed her on the side of the neck.

Mmm, that was nice. Everything was nice. No, better than nice. Hot, wild, tender, passionate and crazy. Willow didn't have enough adjectives in her vocabulary to describe how sex with Tara felt, despite her astronomical SAT verbal score the year before.

"Did I like it? Tara, the things you do to me..."

Tara laughed again. "You act like you've never had good sex before."

One thing that struck Willow was how after making love, Tara's voice lost its slight stammer and became as deep and mellow as a cup of Earl Grey tea.

"I've had good sex," she said. "I mean, nice, relaxing sex and sweet, comfy sex. But not pack my bags and run off to Mexico for a life of crime sex like this."

"A life of crime?" Tara's eyebrow lifted.

"Two witches across the border and on the lam, casting all sorts of naughty spells and doing the wild thing at siesta time. And we could get giant sombreros."

Tara's voice became hesitant. "So, Oz didn't quite do it for you?"

Willow shook her head. "It was fine. It was fun with him. Oz is a fun guy. But it wasn't like it is with you. Tara, where did you learn all the stuff with the fingers and your tongue and the making me come so many times I was afraid I was going to fry my brain cells and wind up at the Sunnydale Convalescent Home drooling into my banana pudding?"

"I-I don't know. I guess I'm just a creative girl. Lots of imagination and I've done a lot of imagining of what it would be like if we got together." Tara cupped one of Willow's breasts and Willow felt a residual electric hum.

She knew she was pushing it, since Tara was pretty tight-lipped about her past, but Willow wanted to know. She was nosy like that. "We're never talked about this but have you been with a woman before me?" She held her breath, waiting to see if Tara would answer her question.

Tara rolled over onto her stomach and propped up her chin in her hand. "Do you really want to know?"

"Sure." At least Willow thought she did.

"You won't get jealous?"

"I swear on my copy of 'The Wiccan Compendium of Rituals' that I won't go all jealous-y." She stroked Tara's still-sweaty back to reassure her girlfriend of her good intentions.

"Okay, I'll tell you about something that happened to me last year."

Willow watched Tara start to tell her story and the way her eyes seemed to glaze over as if she were reliving what had happened.


Last fall I came here to look at UC-Sunnydale. You know, one of those Future Freshmen weekends. Admissions set me up to stay with two freshmen in their room and follow them around. Do you know Tori and Tiffany, those two awful sophomores who live down the hall? The ones who never leave their room unless they're covered in Greek letters? Yeah, them. They were nice enough to me but I could tell that they thought I was a hopeless geek because I didn't have acrylic French- manicured nails and a Prada bag. I did all the dumb, typical things you do on one of those weekends. On Friday I went to a few classes with Tiffany and ate in the cafeteria, went to some meeting for us prospective students, had a campus tour. Nothing special. I loved the campus and the professors and classes seemed cool. And I found out there was a Wicca group. So, even though I didn't much like Tiffany and Tori, I knew I was wanted to come here for college. Anything was better than being at home.

That night, Tori and Tiffany took me to this really lame frat party where guys were doing beer bongs and the girls were hanging off these oafs like they were movie stars. I just sat there wishing I could go home and not feel like such a bump on a log. The party was busted by the campus cops around 11 and I was more than ready to call it a night but my hosts weren't, so they dragged me to the Bronze.

The Bronze was better than that party. At least there was a pretty good band playing and not everyone there was a Tiffany and Tori clone. And where I'm from there aren't any clubs like that, nothing cool to do but drink beer in cornfields and tip cows. Not like I ever did that because I didn't go out much... But almost as soon as we got there Tori and Tiffany ditched me. Part of me was frantic because I was staying with them but I guess I was relieved. I don't like feeling like I'm a burden.

I got a Coke, found a place to sit down and just people-watched. That's fun because you can tell yourself stories about everyone you see. Like, that guy really has a foot fetish and is looking for a girl with really giant feet to stomp on him and that girl over there murdered her parents and set the house on fire to cover up the evidence. The funny thing is that if I'd know what really was going on in Sunnydale, I would have realized how tame the stories I was telling myself were.

Stop laughing, Willow.

I sat there and watched the crowd dancing. And then I saw this girl dancing by herself and there was something totally different about her. Everyone else was sort of standing there and shuffling their feet but she was dancing, shaking her hips and moving to the beat like she really belonged, you know? She was hot.

Yeah, at that point I knew I liked girls better than guys. I think I'd always known. It was one of many things that set me apart, made me feel different from everyone else around me. It's one reason why I knew I had to get out of that small town and go somewhere I could be free.

But back to the girl. She was totally hot and she just radiated this energy, like spotlight was shining only on her. Her energy was kind of dark but very, very strong. I couldn't take my eyes off her. She was wearing a black tank top and leather pants, her long brown hair swinging around as she danced. Believe me, they don't grow girls like that where I'm from.

And then the weirdest thing happened. She seemed to look right at me and crook her little finger like she wanted me to come to her. I looked behind me to see who she was motioning to because it sure couldn't be me. But she shook her head and pointed at me.

Me? I couldn't believe it. What did she want with me?

I was kind of like a zombie, like she'd done a spell on me. I had no control of myself. I got up and walked to her on the dance floor.

"You want to dance?" she asked. I liked her voice, kind of rough and smoky.

"With me?" I must've looked like a real dope, standing there with my mouth gaping open like a dead fish.

"Yeah, you." She sort of punched me in the shoulder, probably a little harder than she'd intended because it hurt a little.

So we danced. We've never danced together before, Willow, but let me tell you right now that I'm not a very good dancer. I just can't feel the rhythm and get my arms and legs to do what I want them to do. But dancing with this girl I forgot about all that and forgot about everything. I felt like the music was going through me. I forgot that there was anyone else in the Bronze besides her and me. We were dancing really close together and I could smell her. She smelled good, like girl sweat and a little bit like spices and herbs.

And then the girl got even closer, right up against me, and straddled my thigh. I practically passed out as she rode my thigh to the music, her breasts rubbing up against mine. Part of me wondered if other people were watching us, especially Tori and Tiffany, but most of me didn't care. I was getting so hot.

The song ended but she stayed close to me, her hands now squeezing my butt. "New here in town?" she asked.

"Does it show that much?"

She laughed. "Nah, it's just I've never seen you here before. I'm here a lot. I would have noticed you."

I think I blushed then.

The lights came on. The Bronze was closing. I cleared my throat. "I- I have to go now. I'm here looking at UC-Sunnydale and I have to find the girls I'm staying with."

She shook her head. "Fuck that," she whispered in my ear. "I've got a better idea."

My stomach rolled over. "What's that?"

"Let's go somewhere quiet."

She took my hand and we practically ran out of the Bronze. I completely forgot about the bitchy sorority girls after that.

Out in back of the club, in the alley, the girl pushed me against the wall. She was really strong for kind of a little girl. I came this close to bashing my head on the bricks. But strangely enough, I wasn't scared of her.

"Isn't this better?" she said. "It's more private."

She kissed me then and I realized that I'd never truly been kissed before. Yeah, I'd kissed a couple of guys but they'd been all tongue and slobber. This girl knew a thing or two about kissing, biting my lips and sucking on my tongue. I'd never known I could feel like that. I kept thinking, oh my, I'm kissing a girl and I like it, oh, oh, oh, over and over again in a loop.

And she started touching my breasts, stroking them through my T-shirt and kissing my neck and my ears and she was all over me and I was loving every second of it. Her hand slid up my skirt and under my panties.

"Ooh," she purred. "Girl, you're so wet."

That embarrassed me but she just grinned at me like it was the coolest thing in the world that I was wet for her. She wiggled her fingers deeper inside my undies and touched my clit. "I'll bet no one has ever done this for you," she said, "made you feel good like this. Made you feel your own power."

I started to moan then because the things she was doing to me with her fingers, well, it didn't feel like that when I touched myself.

"Come on," she urged me. "Give it to me."

I felt one of her fingers go deep inside me and nothing had ever felt like that. Nothing. Suddenly I was coming, coming so hard in this dark alley with some random girl I'd met ten minutes before.

She pulled away from me and licked her lips. Did I mention her lips? They were all full and kind of swollen from kissing and her dark red lipstick was half on and half off from kissing me. She was grinning like crazy. "Come on, let's go somewhere even quieter."

I would have followed her anywhere.

We walked for a few minutes down quiet streets, not saying much, just walking fast. I was too dazed by all that had happened to talk. She kept looking at me and kind of laughing to herself but it wasn't like she was laughing at me, just that the situation was amusing to her and sort of fun. Which it was. I wasn't used to having fun.

We stopped outside this run-down motel. "We're getting a motel room?" I asked.

She reached into the neckline of her tank top and pulled out a key. She dangled it in front of my eyes. "No, I live here, dipshit. You game?"

I'd never heard of anyone living in a motel but I was game, all right. I wanted more.

Her room wasn't bad, kind of shabby and kind of messy but it was private. As she shut the door and locked it I thought about how weird it was that I wasn't scared. Practically everything scared me.

She lit a couple of candles and turned out the lights. "You want me," she said. It wasn't a question.

I nodded.

"Good. It's nice to be wanted."

I had to agree with her. No one had ever wanted me before.

She took off my T-shirt, my skirt, unhooked my bra. I stood there just wearing my panties, wishing I had a better body. I've always been a little bit chunky and my hips are too big and...

Come on, just let me tell the story, okay? You can tell me about how much you love my body when I'm done.

But the girl just walked around me like she was looking at a statue in a museum and acting like she liked what she saw. She stopped in front of me and lightly pinched one of my nipples. "Nice," she said. "You got a great rack."

That's when I lost it, started laughing my head off. I wasn't laughing at her, just like she hadn't been laughing at me when we'd been walking here, but was laughing at the absurdity of the situation.

She had the good grace to ignore my fit of hysterical laughter and pushed me down on the bed. She climbed on top of me, still wearing all of her clothes except for her boots.

"This isn't fair," I whispered.

She stopped kissing my neck and looked at me. "What did you say? You've got to speak up if you want something."

I looked right into her brown eyes, which gave me goose bumps. "It's not fair," I said louder, trying not to stutter like I do when I'm nervous. "I want to see your body, too."

"See, isn't that easier? You ask and you receive." She pulled off her shirt and in one fluid motion, sending it flying across the room to make a pile of clothing even bigger. I think my eyes started bugging out of my head because her breasts were bigger than they'd looked all squished in by the built-in bra in her tank top. Mmm, big and round and full, with coffee-colored nipples.

Leaning in close to me, she said, "You want to touch them, don't you?"

I nodded.

A funny look crossed her face. "I don't usually like to be touched. I do the touching. But I'll make an exception for you."

I wanted to ask her why she didn't like to be touched but I didn't dare. I didn't want to push her. So I asked, "Why me?"

She shrugged. "You're different. You're nice."

I got the feeling that not that many people had been nice to her in her life. I understood that.

We kissed again and I started touching her. Her skin was so soft, felt like a baby's, all new and innocent. Her nipples hardened under my fingertips and I felt like I'd won a big prize. I was turning her on. Me. She started grinding her crotch against mine. While it felt good, her leather pants were sort of chafing my skin. I tugged at the waistband. "Can-can you get these off?"

"Getting confident, are you?"

"Maybe." I couldn't help smiling.

She got up off the bed and shimmied out of the leather jeans. She was wearing a black lace thong. She twirled around to show them off.

I nodded. "Oh, yeah. But aren't those uncomfortable?"

The girl snorted. "Honey, I'll take a string up my ass any day over nasty panty lines."

By the way, she had a great ass, too.

She got back into bed with me. "Now, where were we?" She slid a warm hand up my thigh.

"I think I was touching you."

"Yeah, well, enough of that shit. I want to make you feel good again."

No fair, I wanted to scream but I also didn't want to get her mad and have her kick me out since this was the best thing that had ever happened to me. Besides, she got on top of me again and started licking and sucking my breasts. I was making the most embarrassing sounds like back in the alley but it was like I'd never realized there was a direct line between my nipples and my, well, you know...

Yes, I can say the word but it still seems kind of icky. But to make you happy I'll say it. My pussy. How's that?

She moved down my body, kissing my belly and my thighs and then... God. Or Goddess. Whatever deity. I knew all about oral sex, of course, but it's never occurred to me that anyone would want to do that to me. She got between my legs and said, "Put your knees up a little." She yanked off my underwear and threw it over the side of the bed.

Her mouth was there then, and her fingers. Oh, her tongue, soft and wet, just lightly flicking at my clit. I found myself arching off the bed, wanting more of her on me and in me. If I'd known it could feel like that maybe I would've spent more time hanging around the Girls Basketball Team. The girl seemed really into it, too, making little noises just like mine. When I dared open my eyes and looked down, I saw she was looking right up at me, watching my pleasure. For one second I felt like I really knew her, like I saw all the pain in her life and how lonely she really was, how she needed to be connected with another person for one night. I was glad she'd chosen me.

I came almost too soon. I'd wanted it to last, all the delicious things she'd been doing to me but she was too good. Everything pretty much exploded inside me. When I came back to reality, she was by my side, grinning again.

"I'm good, aren't I?"

"That was...that was incredible."

I wanted to try to give as good as I'd gotten, which was going to be no easy feat since she was something else. "I want to, want to make you feel like that, too." I wanted my hangs and mouth all over her. I wanted to make my mark. I'm territorial, just a little bit.

Are you okay with this, Willow? Do you want me to keep going? Oh, it's making you hot? What doesn't get you hot?

She got that scared look in her eyes. Maybe scared isn't the right word. Trapped. Yeah, that's better. She got that trapped look in her eyes but she shook her head is if she were reminding herself that it was okay to lose control for once. The girl kissed me and I tasted myself on her. I wondered how she'd taste and found myself getting hot again at the thought.

"Come on," I said. "Trust me. I don't bite."

She laughed, a strangely bitter laugh. "Good. I've had it up to here with biting."

Weird, but whatever. The girl pulled off her panties, scooted up the bed and straddled my face, holding onto the cheap fake wood headboard for support. For a moment I felt like a deer in the headlights, frozen and not quite sure what to do next, but I gathered myself and decided I'd just try to copy what she'd done to me as best I could.

She was everywhere-- her smell and her taste, dripping wet for me. It was then that I knew that this was what I'd always been meant to do. The couple of times I'd messed around with guys I'd felt all clumsy and stupid but with her I found my grace.

She tasted good, sweet and sour, and I ran little circles around her swollen clit.

"Harder," she grunted.

Wrapping my fingers around her ass, I found a rhythm and was happy to hear her begin to moan deep in her throat. I remembered how great it'd felt with her finger inside me so I managed to wiggle my index finger inside, for the first time being inside a woman.

"Oh yes," she gasped. "More."

Two more of my fingers slipped in and I started to fuck her hard, encouraged by her groans. She was so wet that the juices were running down my hand and arm. Her clit felt bigger, fuller in my mouth, like a ripe blackberry.

The girl was rocking against me, pushing herself into my face so hard I was afraid I might suffocate. Not a bad way to die, though. Then she suddenly stopped and I felt the shudder going through her body and the way the muscles inside her contracted against my fingers. She didn't make any noise as she came, just look a long breath in and then an even longer one out.

I made someone come, I thought. I made this girl come. It was better than Christmas and my birthday all rolled together, it was even better than any spell I'd ever done.

She climbed off me and flopped down beside me on the mattress, sweat gleaming on her face. "Wow," she said breathlessly, "You got the magic touch, girl."

Pleased doesn't even begin to describe how I felt.

She sat up and started rummaging around in the bedside table drawer.

"What are you doing?" I asked.

She looked over her shoulder at me, a wicked gleam in her eyes. "You've never been fucked before, have you? Really fucked, by a boy or a girl..."

Now I was confused. Of course I hadn't. The closest I'd come was letting Ben Lefko touch my boobs after the Homecoming Dance. How could a girl fuck another girl? Besides fingers, that is. My mind was racing.

"I haven't done much of anything with anyone," I said. "Besides tonight."

The smile got wider, showing white teeth. "A virgin?"

I nodded.

"I like virgins," she said. "Virgins never forget their first time."

Like I'd ever forget this night.

She pulled some stuff out of the drawer and stood up. I watched her step into some thin leather straps and buckle them at her waist. For a moment I was scared we were going to do something kinky involving ropes and whipping. I wasn't sure I was up for that.

The girl turned around for a moment, which gave me a great view of the leather strap running between her cheeks, kind of like the thong she'd been wearing earlier. When she faced me again I saw that a purple dildo was sticking out of a hole at the front of her harness thing.

I think my face turned bright red right then. At least, it got burning hot. "You-you mean we're going to..." My voice trailed off; I couldn't even say the words.

She wrapped her hand around the dildo and gave me a shit-eating grin. "You'll love it."

I had no reason to argue. I'd loved everything else we'd done together.

She got back on the bed with me and had me lift my hips off the mattress so she could put a couple of pillows underneath me. My heart was racing and my mouth got dry.

"I'm not going to hurt you," she said and kissed me. I felt like I do when I'm kissing you, like I wanted time to freeze right there so we could keep on kissing and kissing. I was getting wet again, especially when she began sucking my nipples again.

I wanted it so bad. I wanted her to take me.

I heard her reach over to the side of the bed and heard a bottle being squeezed. She said, "Are you ready for me?"

I think I managed to squeak out a yes, but I'm not sure.

"Put your legs up on my back. Yeah, like that."

I felt the dildo pressing against my opening and my heart went into serious overdrive. Slowly, it began to push its way in.

She looked down at me, dark eyes glittering. "Is this hurting you?"

"A little." It did hurt but it also felt good as she slid inside me, inch by inch.

"It always does the first time," she said. She started moving the cock in and out of me and with each slow stroke it hurt less and felt better.

"I like watching your face," she said. "You don't hide anything."

It was an incredible turn on to see this strong, but feminine girl, breasts and all, on top of me and feel her fucking me. The pain was totally gone now and all I felt were these incredible sensations as she thrust deep inside.

"Harder," I heard my voice saying.

"Harder? Why, you little slut..."

I was now moving with her like I'd always known how to do this but had temporarily forgotten. I was lifting up to meet her every stroke, trying to get her deeper inside me. She leaned down closer to me and I took her nipple in my mouth, finally getting to feel it between my lips.

She went faster, harder and my clit was rubbing against the leather of her harness. I was humming back to life, getting ready for me to come again.

"Don't stop," I gasped.

"Getting close?" she said.

I nodded.

"Then I'm going to stop," she said and she did. I made a whining sound of disappointment as she pulled the cock out of me.

She swung her leg over my body. "Get on your hands and knees."

My eyebrows flew up. "My hands and knees?"

"You heard me." Her voice made it clear that she wasn't going to take any argument from me on this one so I did as I was told. I've always been an obedient girl.

"I like this view," she said, voice as smooth as silk. "I can see your pretty pussy, all pink and open for me."

The girl came up behind me and I felt the cock slide in again. It felt different from this angle, somehow deeper. She grasped my hips with her hands and started thrusting hard, bucking against me with force.

I heard myself crying out, sounding like an animal, not sounding like myself at all as she fucked me. Part of me was totally in the moment, feeling every stroke in and out, and part of me was just astonished that I was doing this, getting fucked from behind by some girl whose name I didn't even know. I'd only gone away for a weekend of looking at a college and here I was with this hot girl who was making me melt like ice cream in the sunshine. I'd come to Sunnydale an innocent girl but I was going to go home a whole new person.

One of her hands reached around and touched my clit and I jerked at the sensation. It sort of hurt a little. The poor thing was kind of oversensitive by this point. But she was as gentle with it as her thrusts into me weren't.

My arms were shaking, my legs were shaking, my head hung down with my hair all over my face. I couldn't breathe, couldn't think, couldn't do anything but buck against her thrusts, and take everything she could give me.

This time my orgasm was slow and sweet, waves washing through me. This is going to sound really stupid, but if orgasms had colors, this one would be blue. A deep, soft blue. Yeah, I told you it sounded stupid.

My muscles gave out and I collapsed on the bed, bringing her down with me. For a minute or two we just lay there, panting together.

The girl rolled off me and out of bed. She was surprisingly energetic for someone who'd been having sex for...well, I have no idea how long it had been. It felt like forever. Me, I felt like being comatose for a decade or two. I rolled onto my back and closed my eyes, enjoying the last of the pleasure washing through my body.

"I'm starving," she said. There was a mini-fridge in the corner of the room. She opened it and stuck her head inside. "Shit, there's never any food. Let me see, I've got pickles and half a turkey sandwich but, nasty, there's mold on it, and hot dogs. Want a cold hot dog?"

I shook my head. Nothing sounded worse to me.

She walked back into bed, munching a hot dog, and holding a can of Mountain Dew. She sat next to me and popped the top of the can. "You want some? Sugar, caffeine, and green food coloring. The post-sex drink of champions."

I took a sip. Not my favorite drink but I wasn't about to ask her if she had Lemon Zinger tea. She definitely wasn't an herbal tea kind of girl.

"Gotta rehydrate," she said. She flopped down on the bed and stretched her arms overhead. "You can really make a girl sweat."

I laughed and then I yawned.

"Sleepy?" she asked.

"Yeah. Are you?"

She shrugged. "I don't sleep a lot. Never have. I'm just wired that way. Even when I was a baby. My mom once told me that the only way she could get me to sleep was by walking me to Janis Joplin records." She turned to me, her eyes luminous in the dim light. "Normally, I don't allow sleepovers. Cramps my style, you know?"

"You want me to stay over?" I was kind of relieved. I didn't relish the idea of creeping back into the dorm, waking up Tiffany and Tori and making up some big story about where I'd been all night. If they'd even noticed that I was gone. Besides, I was about ready to pass out.

"If you want to." The girl shrugged. "Makes no difference to me."

"Good," I said, my eyes beginning to close. I felt like I was drugged.

She blew out the candles and the room was dark. She was lying next to me but not touching me. I could hear her breathing.

Just before I fell asleep I heard her say, "Hey, I never did get your name."

I sort of laughed. "It's Tara. What's yours?"

But I was asleep before I heard her answer.

When I next opened my eyes, sun was in the room. I reflexively reached for her next to me in bed but only came up with a handful of crumpled sheets.

I sat up and looked at the digital clock on the bedside table. It was only 8 a.m. and the girl was nowhere in sight.

Then, I saw a chocolate doughnut on the table and a paper cup of coffee. There was a note written on the back of a 7-11 receipt.

Hey Tara,

Sorry I bailed but I'm not good at that goodbye stuff and I got business to take care of. So bye and all that shit. Thanks for a great night and a lot of fun. If you ever get back to S-Dale look me up. I'll be the one at the Bronze dancing okay? Have some breakfast on me cause its the most important meal of the day you know or something like that.



Willow sat up, her heart thumping wildly and her skin prickling all over with tiny electric shocks of recognition. "Faith? FAITH? Did you say Faith?"

"Yeah, do you know her?" Tara's forehead wrinkled in confusion.

"I can't believe I didn't get it," Willow said, shaking her head. "The dancing, the motel, the leather pants, how strong she was. How stupid am I?" She smacked her forehead with the open palm of her hand.

Tara sat up, too, touching Willow's bare shoulder. "You know Faith? Who is she?"

"She's bad, Tara. Bad, bad, evil, bad, bad to infinity plus google."

"She's...she's not one of those vampires, is she?" Tara touched her own neck.

"No," Willow said. Her mind was racing in a million different directions, none of them good places. Her girlfriend, lovely and sweet Tara, had done the deed with Faith of all people. It was too much. "She's worse than a vampire, in a way."

"What's worse than a vampire?"

"Faith is a Slayer. A bad, skanky, evil, amoral, slutty Slayer."

"Wait a minute here, I thought you told me there was only one Slayer."

Willow sighed. It would take days, maybe weeks, to explain everything to Tara and, in the end, Tara would probably think Willow was a raving psychotic. "Buffy died a couple of years ago. Only for a couple of minutes but long enough for a new Slayer to be called--Faith. It's a long story."

"You guys have a lot of long stories and I think I'm afraid to hear them all." Tara was now hugging her knees to her chest as if protecting herself from what Willow had to say. "So Faith is a bad Slayer?"

"The worst. She was all 'I'm gonna come to Sunnydale and be a kickass cool Slayer and steal Buffy from all her friends' but then she got evil and nasty and she tried to kill Xander and she almost killed Angel and Buffy, not to mention kidnapping and trying to kill me and she was in league with the Mayor when he tried to bring down Armageddon at our graduation. Instead of punch and cake after the ceremony we were battling like a million vamps and a gigantor Jurassic Park demon..."

Tara just looked at her, her mouth hanging open.

"So, yeah, to sum it all up, Faith isn't my favorite person."

"I knew I should have gone to UC-Davis instead," Tara said. "But, Willow, you heard my story. She wasn't mean to me. It was one of the nicest nights of my life."

Willow's brain was busily trying to reconcile the Faith she knew and the one Tara had. The one Tara had had sex with. It wasn't working. "I don't know," she finally said. "Maybe it's because you met her before she went full-on evil. Maybe you caught her on a good night or something. She always said that slaying made her hungry and horny so you must've caught her just after patrolling." Willow regretted that last sentence as soon as it left her mouth. It wasn't very nice to Tara even if it was probably true.

"Gee, thanks, Willow."

"Okay, that came out all wrong."

"Maybe, deep-down, Faith was just lonely," Tara said.

"I don't know if I buy the misunderstood Slayer theory," said Willow. "And it doesn't excuse the bad things she did."

"No, it doesn't." Tara bit her lower lip for a moment. "What happened to Faith?"

"She had a big fight with Buffy, who stabbed her and threw her off a roof."

"She's dead?" Tara's eyes widened.

"No, but she's in a coma and from what I've heard, she's never going to regain consciousness."

Tara's eyes shut and then opened. "I don't know whether to be relieved or sad." She leaned in closer to Willow and put her arm around her. "This is just too weird. I can't believe Faith was like that."

"I wish I could tell you something different."

"I'm sort of sorry I told you the story. Sorry that I had to find out these things about Faith and sorry if it causes you pain that I-I slept with her."

Willow looked down at her own hands. How could she possibly explain the complicated emotions she'd felt while Tara had been telling her story? Part of her had been completely excited by such an erotic tale and part of her had been glad that Tara had had such a great first experience. But another, darker, part of her had been seething with jealousy. She'd been jealous that Tara had sex with such a hot girl, the kind of girl Willow would never be. She'd never be the wild girl in leather dancing at the club except in that freaky alternate universe. She was just Willow, perky and bookish, Willow the computer nerd, Willow the aspiring Wiccan. She didn't even look good in leather pants.

"It's not Faith being evil that bothers me so much," she tried to explain to Tara. "It's...I don't know what it is. It's Faith being everything I'm not."

"Like evil?" Tara laughed.

"No, you know what I mean. A hot girl."

"And you don't think you're hot, Willow?" Tara's voice was sad.

"I don't know."

Tara kissed her on the lips, long and slow. "Well, I do. And I have since I first saw you at that dumb meeting. I thought to myself, oh no, that's the kind of girl I could fall madly in love with."

A warm glow spread through Willow. "Madly in love?"

"Yeah. Madly in love."

Willow pushed Tara onto the bed and started kissing her everywhere, thinking, I'll show you what madly in love is.


The ICU Nurse seemed surprised that Tara was there. "She hasn't had a visitor the whole time she's been here."

Tara felt out of place in this white, sterile world. She followed the nurse, trying not to bump into anything or knock important equipment over.

The nurse stopped at a bed. "Here she is," she said. "You can stay as long as you'd like. I don't think she has any idea what's going on but I still think a visitor would be good for her." She gestured at the chair by the bed.

Tara sat down and stared at the girl lying in the bed. She seemed so small and pale, almost as if she were in black and white, not the loud, vibrant, Technicolor young woman Tara had known more than a year before.

It was so quiet in the ICU. There was a businesslike, grim silence to the place that made Tara's skin rise in goose bumps. She didn't like the general energy of the place. It reeked of death.

Where before she'd felt an intense energy coming from Faith, now she sensed something broken, something lost.

She took Faith's hand in her own. It was cool and limp.

"Hi," Tara said. "I don't really know what to say. I never thought I'd see you again, much less in these circumstances."

She sat very still for a moment, gathering her thoughts.

"I know you did some bad things. I know that you're lost, Faith. But I remember someone who was good, someone who cared about other people. What happened to that person?"

Tara felt tears beginning to well in her eyes and she didn't quite know why. Was she crying because this beautiful girl was now a mere shell of herself or was she crying because Faith wasn't the person she'd believed her to be? She had no idea.

"But I want you to know that I remember the person who was good. Maybe no one else does, but I remember her. I hope you do, too."

Tara squeezed Faith's hand. She felt no response.

"I have to go now. I hope you can be strong, Faith. I hope that someday you can wake and be the person you were meant to me."

She squeezed the slack hand again. This time she felt a tiny response, a flutter like a moth against a bright light.

Tara smiled.

Somehow, it would be all right.


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