Joy Is The Voice
by Mosca

Willow has barely gotten out of bed since she tried to destroy the world. She doesn't say anything, and maybe she can't, but long friendships are like telepathy. Buffy doesn't need Willow to tell her why the covers are the only safe place left. A little bit of it-- okay, maybe a lot bit-- is depression over Tara and over the severity of what she's done, but it's mostly the DTs. All that bilious black magic gurning around in her system. "Bilious." That's a Giles word.

Giles is staying in Sunnydale for at least the rest of the summer, maybe longer. Buffy doesn't dare to hope that it might be forever. Having Giles around makes Buffy want to be childlike again, to curl up safe in his sense of responsibility for her. He is staying in her house, sleeping on the hide-a-bed in the living room. It is weird having him so close after so many years of his being the non-custodial parent. The house stays very clean, though, and all the bills get paid on time.

Buffy doesn't have work today. If you can call dunking fries in grease and adjusting Doublemeat burgers under the heat lamp "work." She's declared today a pajama day and has dressed for the occasion. It's almost 10:00 when she wakes up. Taped to the bathroom mirror, there's a note saying that Giles has taken Dawn to the grocery store. While Buffy brushes her teeth, it occurs to her that she should check on Willow.

Willow is awake, looking at a computer magazine but not really reading it. Buffy is trying to get Willow interested in the things that made her happy before she got into witchcraft. That's been kind of hard, considering that most days Willow's not even interested in things like food or bathing. She just stares at the ceiling, seeing and hearing things that are only there for her. Buffy suspects that in Willow's head, good is battling evil over and over. But Willow isn't telling.

"Good morning," Buffy says, trying to sound cheery. Willow doesn't answer. "How're you feeling, Will?" Buffy says.

"I think I'm gonna barf," Willow says.

"Is that a 'get me a bucket, I think I'm gonna barf' or a 'Help me to the bathroom, I think I'm gonna barf'?"


So Buffy half-carries Willow to the bathroom and pushes Willow's hair back form her face while she dry-heaves. Willow's skin is translucent gray, and the pale green veins show through. Buffy has never needed Slayer strength to lift her and carry her; now, it seems like she will float away if Buffy doesn't hold her down.

"Will, when's the last time you ate something?" Buffy asks when Willow is back in bed.

"Dunno. Yesterday. Or the day before yesterday. What day was the day before yesterday?"

"Monday," Buffy says. "I think it was Monday."

"Then it was then, then. Dawn made me tunafish, but it kinda... came back up. I-- um-- I had Gatorade yesterday. And a red popsicle."

"You've got to eat, Will."

"I don't want anything," Willow says. "It's so much work and then it just-- you know."

"You've got to have something. What do you want?"


"No. What do you want to eat?"

A cruel black-magic smile takes over Willow's face. "You," she says. She brushes Buffy's breast with a limp hand.

"Stay with me here, Will. How 'bout some soup?"

"Too early for soup."

"We've got tomato and chicken noodle. Which one do you want?"

"No soup."

"How does tomato sound?"

Willow sighs with resignation. "Fine."

Buffy goes downstairs to the kitchen. If she were Willow, she wouldn't want any soup either. She mixes the soup the way her mom used to make it: half water, half skim milk. In heaven, Buffy saw her mother. The real heaven was nothing concrete or certain, but this was dream heaven. "I didn't think I'd see you here so soon," her mom said. "But I'm glad you got to come here." In this heaven, Buffy's mom has taken up watercolor painting. Everything she paints comes alive and becomes part of the landscape.

The soup is bubbling. Buffy pokes the skin that's forming on the surface until it dissolves back into the liquid. The soup looks like blood, but it smells like tomatoes. Buffy pours it into a bowl and puts the bowl on a breakfast-in-bed tray along with a spoon and a glass of green Gatorade.

Buffy sits down in a chair by the bed and watches Willow eat. Willow doesn't even ask if Buffy's staying to make sure she eats it all. She eats excruciatingly, with occasional woeful glances in Buffy's direction. Like Buffy will take pity on her and let her die of starvation. If Willow died today, who knows what dimension would lay claim to her?

"All done," Willow announces with a smile.

Buffy takes the tray from her and heads for the door.

"Wait. Buffy," Willow says. "Can you... sit with me for a while? I, um, being alone is kind of freaking me out."

"Oh, Will," Buffy says. She throws her arms around Willow and holds her tight. Since Buffy died, she has been wary of touching anyone. Anyone except Spike, whose presence in her bed she justified by reasoning that since he was a hundred and fifty years dead, he didn't count as a person. When Giles came back, it was like she was hugging a ghost. But Willow feels angular and real and precious. If Buffy let go of her right now, and the world ended one second later, they'd be apart when the world ended. Buffy doesn't want to be alone when the world ends.

Willow is kissing Buffy's neck like a lover. Not Willow, not really, but the dark version of Willow that takes over when she isn't working hard enough to fight it. It takes a minute for the significance of this to register in Buffy's mind. The most important thing is that Willow not lose control of herself.

"Willow, stop it," Buffy tries to say, but she can't bring herself to mean it. They feel so good, those warm damp lips, real living human lips with a real live pulse. "Willow," Buffy whispers. "You don't... want this."

"Oh my God," Willow says. She pulls back from Buffy. She is holding Buffy's wrists in her upturned hands. "Oh my God, I-- I'm so sorry. That wasn't-- I don't know what came over-- that wasn't me."

"I know, Will," Buffy says. "I know." She wants to feel Willow's heart beat into her own chest. "But what if I wanted you to?"

"That would be wrong," Willow says. "Very wrong, with whipped cream and a cherry on top. Kind of nice, but... no. Wrong. I need strict moral guidance, and I need-- I need you to kiss me very hard right now. Or possibly lick me."

"No licking," Buffy says, and she kisses her best friend. Very hard. Right now.

Willow has her hands up Buffy's shirt. She pushes Buffy under her gently. She has soft roaming hands, and they are everywhere, on Buffy's breasts and hips, up the inside of Buffy's thighs. Buffy wonders if Willow has played this scene out in her head before. It's so easy to get wrapped up in Slayer business that Buffy is worried that she missed all the signals. When your sacred calling is seeking out vampires, after a while that's all you see. The humans are just the things left over when all the monsters are dead.

Willow places her hand on Buffy's pubic mound. Just puts it there, her cold little Willow hand. "Are you sure, no licking?" Willow says. "Or-- or not. If you don't want me to."

"I can never feel anything anymore," Buffy says.

"Are you-- are you using me to try and feel something? Spike left town and now-- now I'm his replacement? Because if so, you can-- you can take a hike, mister."

Buffy sits up. "What do you want me to tell you? That I love you?"

"I don't know. It might work."

"All I know is, when I saw what happened to you-- what you did to yourself-- I was so afraid. I was more afraid than when Angel... I-- I didn't know what I'd do if I lost you and--"

"Buffy," Willow says. "That's how I feel about you. All the time. That's-- that's-- that's why I brought you back, because I--"

Buffy brushes Willow's hair out of her eyes. "I'm not going anywhere," she says.

"Don't say that," Willow sniffles.

"Well, not until I find my pants."

"Threw 'em on the floor over there. But you're gonna have to fight me for 'em."

"I think I can take you," Buffy says.

"Dunno. I'm a pretty scary demon."

"Will," Buffy says, "I hate to break it to you, but you're even cuter when you're trying to be scary."

Willow sticks out a fat bottom lip. "Darn. There go my plans for world domination."

Buffy kisses Willow's lips. She was going for just the top one, but that turned out to be way too specific a goal. She presses her forehead into Willow's. "Lick me," she says.


"Everywhere," Buffy says. She spreads her arms out wide and flops backward so she's lying flat on the bed. "Everywhere."

Willow starts with the pinkie finger of Buffy's right hand and sucks on each finger in turn. It shouldn't be sexy-- shouldn't be anything except maybe a little gross-- but Willow's hot mouth and the smack of cool air after it make Buffy shiver. Willow traces the grooves in Buffy's palm with the tip of her tongue, in order: love line, health line, and with special reverence, life line. Willow follows the path of a vein up Buffy's inner arm and then over to Buffy's right breast. She strokes Buffy's nipple with long back-and-forth passes of her tongue. Buffy puts her hands on Willow's butt, just trying to hold her, but Willow taps Buffy's nose with her finger and says sweetly, "Don't touch." Buffy closes her eyes and tries to sink deeper into the mattress.

Willow paints a spiraling shape on Buffy's stomach with her tongue, then descends to lick Buffy's pelvic bones and hip joints. She teases Buffy's inner thighs until Buffy is wet and aching. Buffy can't help but say, "Willow. Now."

"Shh," Willow says, but she doesn't keep up the torture. Instead, she parts Buffy's labia with her fingers and digs inside with her tongue. She is licking and sucking at Buffy's clit. Buffy wants to pull Willow closer to her and hold herself steady, but she settles for squeezing bunches of the bedsheet in her fists. Willow strokes Buffy's clit like it's a form of worship. Buffy feels her orgasm rise in her belly, and she yells it out. It's not Willow's name or anything intelligible. It's the sound of her own voice and of her body on fire.

And when she opens her eyes, she's looking at Willow's gentle, world-weary smile. She presses her hand into Willow's breastbone. "Now," she begins.

Willow shakes her head. "I'm really wiped," she says hoarsely. "Maybe-- maybe I should've waited till I was a little stronger."

"Yeah, so I could've psyched myself out of this?" Buffy says. "That would've been just swell for both of us."

"Would've been kind of... beautifully tragic. Like an old novel. Pining in secret, in the same house yet worlds apart, watching the years waste away..."

"Heaving bosoms?"

"Yeah," Willow says. "Lots of those." Her hands are shaking.

"Will, are you all right?"

"Uh... my stomach's kind of bothering me a little."

"Will, you've got the shakes."

Willow looks at her hands. "Feed me Gatorade?"

"Can I put my pants on first?"

"No. No pants."

Buffy jumps out of bed and finds her pajama bottoms. While she's pulling them on, Willow glances at the alarm clock. "Ooh, The Price Is Right is on," Willow says. "Wanna watch the Showcase Showdown?"

"Are you sure you're up for a trip to the living room?"

"I'm sure I'm up for getting out of here," Willow says. Buffy helps her out of bed. Even though she has to lean heavily on Buffy, Willow insists on walking. On their way to the living room, they pick up a blanket from the linen closet and a fresh glass of Gatorade from the kitchen. They settle into the couch, and Buffy wraps the blanket around both of them. She tangles her legs in Willow's. It feels nice, almost too nice, when Willow shifts and makes the fabric of Buffy's pajama bottoms rub against her clit. Buffy is not sure she wants to feel like this about her best friend. But maybe she is the safest and wisest person to feel these things for.

Willow's whole body is shaking. Buffy steadies the Gatorade glass while Willow sips from it. "Look," Willow says. "It's the game with the little yodeling man. Climb, little yodeling man!"

"But Will, if the little yodeling man gets to the top of the mountain, the contestant doesn't win that lovely new dining room set."

"Yeah, well, she gets to be on TV," Willow says. "And she already won that foosball table. I think the yodeling man needs more encouragement."

Buffy shrugs. "I guess any man who can yodel like that can't be all bad." She squeezes Willow close to her.

"Hey! Not so tight! I'm in a fragile state, still!"

Buffy kisses the top of Willow's head. Late-morning sunlight warms the back of her neck, and the couch feels fuzzy on the bare strip of skin between the bottom of her shirt and the waistband of her pajama pants. The woman on the TV has beaten the yodeler and won a new dining room set. Willow nestles against Buffy; her tremors have eased. The world is so tangible that it would be a shame to leave it. "Tangible": that's a Giles word.

When Giles gets home, Buffy knows that this scene will become immeasurably more complicated. It will no longer be her and Willow, curled up on the sofa, peaceful and perfect; it will become her and Willow who just made love. There will be questions and discussions, and there will be things she will never get back.

But Buffy is going to deal with these things later. Now, she is going to watch this cat food commercial, and she is going to let Willow's weight press against her breasts. This is change that she wants. This is where she wants to be when the apocalypse comes: holding Willow in their safe, warm house, alive.


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