Disclaimer: Joss' peeps. So not mine.
Distribution: Ask first.
Already at I Kind of Love 2 (IKOLY2): http://www.ikoly2.com/fanfiction/index.php
The Mystic Muse: http://mysticmuse.net
Spoilers: None. AU all human.
Author's Note: (1) This was originally a short that will most likely turn into a three chapter story. It will be angst-y later but it will leave you in the end with warm fuzzies. Background: Buffy lives in Sunnydale from the beginning and is best friends with Willow and Xander. Buffy and Willow are seven when she leaves. More details will be revealed in next chapter. (2) All flashbacks take place at different times anywhere between the ages of six and seven. If I want to be specific about their ages for a certain flashback I will make it known. Flashbacks are in italics and bolds. Willow's internal dialogue is in italics.
Summary: Childhood best friends meet by chance and stir up more than old memories.
Willow was scared.
No, not scared; terrified.
"C'mon, Will." Her best friend tugged on her overalls.
Willow stared. "It's dark in there. What if there are big bad hairy monsters with fangs...or snakes with fangs...or maybe even giant frogs...frogs are evil...yesterday one attacked my foot! And then--"
"Willow! There are no monster snakes or frogs in there. I monster-proofed it." Buffy continued to yank on her friend's overalls.
"Really?" Willow was doubtful but so wanted to believe. But if Buffy said so, it must be true.
"Really," the little girl grinned. "I'll protect you."
Willow flushed a deep red. "Um, okay, I guess...as long as you're there too."
"Don't worry. I'll always be here." Buffy wrapped her arm around her best friend's shoulders.
"You're my Willow."
Willow furrowed her brow as she watched the well-dressed guests walk up the cobbled path to the lavishly decorated large house. Or should that be mansion. Willow suspected the latter.
The bottom half of what appeared to be a gigantic Christmas tree was visible through the living room bay windows. Willow had the idea it could give the Rockefeller Christmas tree in Times Square a run for its money. The home was so obviously expensive; Willow was surprised it wasn't set farther off the road only to be accessed by an iron gate with a security code or guard.
It was all Xander's fault she was here in the first place. It's not like she knew anyone at this party. And that was the other thing. Criminey, she was Jewish, and this was a Christmas, yes, C-H-R-I-S-T-M-A -S party. Okay, so she had been to other Christmas parties but the whole situation was making her grumpy. Willow felt the irrational need to grouse at any and every little thing and wondered how long before her mood caused her to do something prompting an eviction from the party.
Xander and his wife Anya were supposed to be meeting her here. After five years of marriage, Willow could not help but wonder what on earth possessed him to marry the very blunt, money and sex- crazed woman. Wait scratch that; sex-crazed said it all, providing the service to Xander's never ending libido.
Willow sighed as she considered her own lack of partner. For the last three years her love life had rated a big zero. Zip, nada, bupkis. After her lover Tara had been killed by a stray bullet the redhead hadn't been much in the mood for anything in the smoochies department. Even Willow's vibrator saw little activity.
So Willow buried herself in her work. Understandably Xander was concerned about her. They had been best friends since they were knee high to a grasshopper. He was expected to attend this party as co- owner (or head hardhat guy, as Xander liked to put it) of Hellmouth Construction. They had been one of several construction firms contracted by some innocuous business called Wolfram & Hart in Los Angeles. All Willow knew was that the mansion belonged to one of their silent partners. This party was not only a Christmas party but also a well deserved thank you to the various companies involved in the construction of the new head offices for the company.
Willing her self to leave the car, Willow sighed and reached for the door handle. Grimacing at the flash of sunlight temporarily blinding her, she abruptly dropped her hand into the shade of her lap to cover the cause of the blindness: a charm bracelet with simply half of a mitzpah coin. Willow smirked.
"Buffy, you're supposed to protect me, not cause me to lose my eyesight!" As usual, it occurred to her that talking to an inanimate object like it was a real person could classify her as one step from the loony bin. But Willow didn't care. And although she felt a pang of guilt at the confession, she knew this bracelet meant as much if not more than any of treasures from Tara's, including the doll's eye crystal.
"And don't give me your 'Whoops! Sorry, Willow!' either. I don't want to hear it, missy! Your primary mission is to protect me from any sources of badness, and I'm sure there is multitudes to be found at a party filled with rich, snobby people." Willow lightly slapped the bracelet in pretended admonishment. "So now do your job, missy!" Willow softened. "Remember? I'm your Willow."
Groaning, she realized she was simply delaying the inevitable and opening the car door, stepped into the cool afternoon air.
Willow smoothed her blue sweater and rang the doorbell.
"You don't have to do that, you know."
Willow nearly jumped out of her skin at the voice and its owner who was standing just a little too close for the redhead's comfort. Stepping back, Willow said, "Well...I don't really know anyone here, and it just seemed the polite thing to do."
"Of course you do. You know me."
"Actually, I don't."
Willow wanted to wipe that smirk off of the young brunette woman who had the rich, ' I get whatever I want ' look.
"Sure you do. I'm Kennedy," the young woman practically purred.
Quick, think up an excuse.
"Although I don't know anyone already here, MY GIRLFRIEND...um...ANYA...will be here soon."
Goddess, I can't believe I'm using Anya as my girlfriend.
Kennedy's eyes traveled up and down Willow's body. "Now what kind of girl would leave you alone for any amount of time?"
At this awful pick up line Willow went from nervous to greatly annoyed, going so far as to roll her eyes. "Look...Kennedy, is it? If that pick-up line is the best you can do, I doubt you'll get any girl interested whatsoever. I told you. My girlfriend is meeting me here so please just drop it. Not to mention she has a jealous streak a mile wide and well, violence may occur."
Kennedy shrugged, still smirking. "If you change your mind--"
"Trust me. I won't." Hoping her tone signaled an end to the conversation, Willow opened the front door.
Pushing past the woman, she sought to be in a place that was a long elsewhere.
Attempting to navigate through the thick ground, Willow cursed her height challenged body.
Where the hell was Xander?
If only she was able to find a discreet area, the redhead could check her cell. Heck, hiding out in a closet began to sound appealing. Before anything else however, was the need to put as much distance between her and the obnoxious full of herself woman.
It had been over half n hour and just as she started to relax, Willow was pushed by some boisterous guests, most of whom should trade their never-ending cocktails for strong coffee. The distracted redhead stumbled, nearly crashing into the long buffet table. Willow steadied herself, and belatedly noticed a small stain of shrimp dipping sauce on her new sweater. She huffed, finding one more thing to gripe about. Willow reached for a napkin only to have one handed from behind her.
"Here you go."
Willow grabbed the napkin, turned around ready to offer her thanks, only to find herself standing far too close to the smirking spoiled brat again.
"So...I see your girlfriend hasn't arrived. Are you sure she's meeting you here? I can help you look if you'd like."
"No thank you." Willow groaned inwardly, her eyes roaming the sea of people to consider her next move.
A fortuitous parting of the crowd brought hope: a beautiful blonde woman heading towards the back of the house.
Willow bit her lip, indecision evident on her small freckled face.
Where was her best friend?
She peeked through the staircase bars at the party down below her, looking anxiously while trying to remain unobtrusive. Willow briefly considered searching through Mommy and Daddy's very tall friends but they frightened the little redhead. There were so many, and she could have sworn some were monsters, ready to attack her as soon as she was within reach. A few women were so pale, ugly with large amounts of make-up and wearing blood red or black leather. With fashionable high heeled boots just made for stomping on little girls. Long, colored nails, ready to scratch your eyes out. Willow shivered at this thought.
Then she heard something that gave her hope.
"Have you seen my daughter?" It sounded like Buffy's mom! Willow couldn't see her, but it sounded like she was close by.
"No. Well, not lately. I thought Bunny went upstairs to play with Willow." That was Mommy's voice.
"I think she's in your backyard, Joyce. I saw a light up in the tree house just awhile ago." The voice of Ms. Calendar made Willow smile. She was one of Willow's favorite older adult type people. Ms. Calendar allowed Willow to come to her house, and taught Willow fun stuff like computers.
"Oh, BUFFY is generally a good girl, but she can have a tendency to get into trouble so I worry."
Mommy never could remember Buffy's name. Sometimes Willow could have sworn Mommy did that on purpose.
"Well I won't argue with that, dear. We all know Betty's past, especially all the times she has destroyed public property. But I'd like to think my little Willow is a good influence on her. Don't worry, Joyce. Betty is fine although you may want to go home briefly to make sure she hasn't destroyed your house. Now if you'll excuse me, I'd better check on Ira. He really isn't very good in social situations. His memory is always in the clouds somewhere. I don't think he remembers half the people we invited. Not their names at any rate. See you later, Joyce dear."
Willow watched her mommy come into view to find her daddy among their very scary friends, and once again Willow was glad she wasn't down there.
"I'm sure she's fine, Joyce," Ms. Calendar sounded comforting. "I haven't seen a lot of Buffy outside of her tagging along with Willow from time to time to my house, but she has always seemed very capable of taking care of herself...and Willow for that matter."
Suddenly everything sank into Willow's brain and she felt very hurt. Ms. Calendar was right; Buffy always looked out for her. But now she wasn't here. Her friend had left her on purpose.
Something she said she would never do.
Willow seized the appearance of the gorgeous blonde like a life buoy.
"Oh! I just saw my girlfriend. She was on her way towards the back. I need to go." Willow nudged her way through the throng. Not even needing to turn around, Willow sensed Kennedy's presence.
Above the din, Willow thought she heard calls of "Elizabeth!" and "Elizabeth! How are you?" in the blonde's direction as the woman weaved her way through the mass. The blonde however seemed to be oblivious to their hails.
She was so quick and so short that Willow almost lost her two or three times. As they made their way down the long hall, the tiny blonde suddenly took a sharp right. Willow followed the turn only to be sidetracked by a particularly animated group discussing the newest artist sensation's show at the Los Angeles Museum of Modern Art. The redhead barely dodged the arms flying about in enthusiasm, only just catching sight of the blonde disappearing seemingly through a solid wall located at the end of the long hall.
Finally arriving at her destination, the hapless redhead ignored a lip locked couple close by and scanned right, left, up, down; even going so far as to run her hands across the paneling. Willow heard snickering in her ear, "Looks like your girl took an escape route. You sure she's not trying to avoid you?" Then Kennedy paused for effect, "if that even WAS your girlfriend."
Willow ignored that last bit. "Anya would never do that. She's a very considerate girlfriend." Willow had to bite her lip to keep from laughing; Anya was not even considerate to Xander. "She probably just took a wrong turn to the bathroom or something."
"The only people who have keys to that door are friends and family of the Summers'." Willow started at the female voice, and her head turned to see that the lip locked couple had come up for air. A long finger pointed to what Willow now saw was the barest trace of a door with a very small old fashioned lock neatly camouflaged as part of the wood paneled hallway's decor. "What does your friend look like?" The woman questioned. Willow detected a bit of curiosity but considering the type of guests she had encountered before, this woman seemed genuine in her willingness to help.
"Well...my girlfriend, actually...she has long blonde hair, very pretty...beautiful really...and short..." Willow gestured Kennedy's way, "as small as this woman next to me." She could sense the glowering by Kennedy and continued just to irk the irritating brunette, "Although Kennedy here is probably even shorter."
"I am not that short!"
The woman seemed momentarily non-pulsed before she replied to Willow's question. "That sounds like Elizabeth Summers."
Elizabeth Summers? Shouldn't I know that name?
Before she could puzzle anything out in her hazy, distracted brain, the woman smirked, saying, "Last I heard she was straight. But you never know anymore. Do you?" The woman appraised Willow, "Then again, if the right woman came along..." Willow's entire body flushed the color of her hair at this innuendo. "Well, live and let live, that's my motto." The woman shrugged. "At any rate, you look harmless enough..." she subjected Kennedy to a glare. "I'm not sure about your friend here. This door leads to some secluded part of the estate grounds, but that's all I know. The only other access to the grounds is through the kitchen reserved for guests."
"Um, okay, thanks."
The woman didn't say any more as her groping boyfriend had finally succeeded in recapturing her attention. She became lip locked again, no longer concerned with Willow's plight.
"I'll just go..." Willow pointed unnecessarily. "Bye."
Willow turned heel and set about elbowing her way through the crowd towards the kitchen, unfortunately with Kennedy still in tow.
A cacophony of sights and sounds and smells hit the redhead as she entered the kitchen. Assorted veggies were being chopped, meat and fish sauteed. There was a mix of age, color, and gender chefs in typical white garb now stained with the fruits of their labors, and servers resplendent in decorative red and green uniforms obviously designed with the holidays in mind. The staff alternated between laughing, shouting, and sometimes cursing at each other in different languages. As she passed one chef, she feared for her life as he brandished a knife at his assistant.
Amazingly the redhead made her way to the back door without incident; the same couldn't be said for Kennedy who collided head on with a server.
Willow burst through the kitchen exit into what she supposed was the servants and delivery entrance.
Immediately she noticed the expanse of the grounds. There seemed to be no end, and Willow frowned. Dusk was approaching sometime within the next hour but surely there was enough light to see a cut off point. Apparently that wasn't the case. Willow had no idea how long it would take her to find the elusive blonde woman. She really didn't relish the thought of being out there in the dark.
It was this thought that jerked Willow into her own absurd reality; trying to locate someone she didn't know to pose as her girlfriend, simply to get some obnoxious woman off her back who couldn't seem to take no as answer.
A big yellow line runs right down my spineless spine with neon letters screaming, "Willow's a big ol' coward". Yes sir-eee bob; a big coward, that's me.
Willow sighed heavily and heard Kennedy arguing with someone with the catering company just on the other side of the door.
"If you want, I can say you went around to the front of the house." A voice to her right brought her attention to a server indulging in a smoke. He pointed to the lit up path on the other side of him.
She grinned sheepishly. "That obvious, huh?"
"Pretty much, yeah."
Willow nervously licked her dry lips and gave a brief nod of thanks, not sure if she would take him up on the offer. The redhead was about to say more, but from the sounds, Kennedy was almost upon her.
Aw, screw it.
She wouldn't stay out more than a half hour whether she found the blonde woman or not. If she came back and Kennedy was still at the party, she could just take off regardless of whether Xander was there or not.
Why she didn't simply leave the party now entered her mind, but she was aware this was more than an excuse to get away from Kennedy. As illogical as it was, she wanted to find this elusive woman called Elizabeth Summers. She needed to find her.
Before she could talk herself out of it, she hurriedly headed out into the endless horizon.
To Be Continued...
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