Willow paid her cab driver and took a beep breath. She was standing on a side-walk in Brooklyn looking at an old warehouse. Buffy had taken over the lease from a shipping company that was going bust and had been more than grateful to unload it. Buffy had spent a fortune fixing the place up. The brickwork had been blasted clean and the doors painted red. Halfway up the brickwork was a white round sign with a dove the tips of its wings touching and a fist placed in between them; the universal sign for Wado-Ryu karate, added to this was the name of the dojo painted above the door. Hangetsu.
It looked good decided Willow. She also knew the hard work that had gone into the inside of the place. The foyer had a desk where people could check in and get information on different classes and how to join. From there led on to the actual dojo with its beautifully fashioned wood floor and clean white walls, to one side French windows led out to what had been in a previous life a loading bay; it was now fashioned as a miniature Japanese garden. A tinkling little stream had a small wooden bridge straddling it and a little willow tree leaning over it. This was mixed with a variety of miniature oriental plants around the bank of the manmade water feature. It was meant to be a chill out place where people could go to warm down; Willow loved it, when she sat there she felt like she was miles from New York and could get away from anything. The rest of the building held a full size gym with everything from bikes to nautilus machines through to punch bags. Buffy had also utilised the remaining space by renting some of the rooms to martial arts supplier; even though she had squirreled away some money from her old job, she needed some guaranteed income. Willow decided the beauty of the place could only have been produced by an architect who loved it.
"Where have you been?" Buffy asked as she burst through the doors.
"Taking in what you've done; it's gorgeous you know. "
Buffy stopped momentarily put off her stride. "I... you think?" She moved her hand seeming to stroke and take in her pride and joy.
"I know," said Willow, putting her arm around Buffy's shoulders. "It's perfect. We are going to have a good night."
Buffy's body was tight with anxiety; there was no-way she could relax until the night was over. "Will I don't know; is Mr Nakamura okay... and the caterers are here but..."
"Buffy, Sweetie everything is fine. I have a limo organised to pick up Mr Nakamura and his wife. The caterers know exactly what to do. Please relax and enjoy this, its' your night."
"It is my honour," said Shihan Nakamura. "To open this dojo of one of my favourite pupils. Although I have been back in Japan for the last five years, my school has been carried on by some of my most loyal teachers." He paused and the crowd of onlookers gave a polite round of applause. "So it is with a great deal of pleasure that on top of this that I would like to bestow on Ms. Summers her 4th Dan." He bowed in Buffy's direction.
Buffy looked at Willow who clapped her hands vigorously and motioned for her to move her butt and collect her honour.
"I... uhm. I'm not sure what to say. This is a huge night for me and this is the one thing I didn't expect," said Buffy close to tears. She kissed the elderly Japanese man that held her hand. "I hadn't really prepared a speech so all I can say is; thank you. Please enjoy the food and drink and have a good time. Oh and remember there are special rates for the first month so take a leaflet."
After a while spent chatting with Mr. Nakamura and his wife, Buffy so happy that her old teacher had given his full association's backing and everything that that meant, she could hardly get her words out.
Dawn and Tara watched the ceremony from a distance. Dawn's face shining with pride as her sister picked up her award. All the while Tara's remained fixed on the woman that Dawn had told her was Buffy's friend Willow. She was hot no doubt about it; dressed in green hipster jeans and a soft brown leather bodice that was laced up the front. Tara's eyes couldn't help taking in the Willow's navel piercing peeking out from the gap between the top of her jeans and the bottom of her shirt; a bar with a green jewel
Dawn caught the look and with a wicked grin lent into Tara and whispered into her ear. "I thought you didn't need a woman right now?"
"I d-don't know what you mean," said Tara, her face burning scarlet.
"You stuttered. You only do that when you're nervous..."
"Don't argue; I'm a detective I notice these kind of things," said Dawn, watching as Mr. Nakamura bowed to Buffy and moved away. "Come on I'll introduce you to Willow."
"Don't be ridiculous, you have to speak to Buffy and Willow's with her," said Dawn, practically dragging Tara with her.
"Who's that with Dawn?" Willow asked.
Buffy looked over. "Oh that's the famous Lieutenant Maclay, you know the woman Dawn hero-worshipped and I was convinced that she had a crush on."
"You never said she was beautiful," said Willow.
"You never asked," retorted Buffy. "Anyway you don't want to be in a relationship with a cop, they only have time for their job."
"Who said anything about a relationship?" Willow asked, a mischievous glint in here eyes.
"Hey," said Dawn. "Everything looks great."
"Thanks," said Buffy hugging her sister. "And I'm glad you made it."
"You know I wouldn't have missed this for the world," said Dawn.
"Aren't you going to introduce me to your friend?" asked Willow.
"Oh sorry, Willow, Tara. Tara, Willow," said Dawn.
"Hey," said Willow stepping forward and offering her hand.
"Hey," said Tara, feeling a little shy, something she hadn't really done since she donned a uniform. Willow's handshake was firm, her hand dry and shapely and she was embarrassed by holding on to it for a few moments longer than was really proper. "Sorry, I should give you, your hand back."
"I don't mind," said Willow, and then cursed herself for sounding like such a dork.
Dawn smiled and winked at Buffy.
"Dawn I need to talk to you for a second. Will do you think you could take Tara for a tour. I'm sorry Tara I would like to take you around but I can't disappear."
"I don't mind," said Willow, quickly. "I'll show you upstairs... I mean the gym."
"K," said Tara, a little unsure, she felt like she was off balance, but she wanted to see the rest of the place anyway.
Willow motioned for Tara to follow her to the back of the dojo.
Buffy and Dawn gave a high five.
"Told you it would work," said Buffy. "I discouraged Willow, knew it would be a good tactic."
"Are you sure we should be setting them up," said Dawn.
"I'm sure," said Buffy. "Will really needs to get laid..."
"Buffy, I thought you said that you thought they'd make a great couple," said Dawn.
"One step at a time little sister, one step at a time."
Willow led Tara upstairs to the room and the blonde was impressed with the array of static bikes, rowing machines and alpine walkers. The row of punch bags set in front of the mirrors caught her eye; great for testing out technique.
"Through there is the weight room," said Willow pointing to a door in the far corner. "She is thinking of putting in a steam room and a sauna but Buffy wants to see how things go. She's a little worried that it won't be taken serious as a dojo, but just looked at as a gym with added extra; although there is a wonderful extra that Buffy has had put in."
"Do you want to see the weight room?" asked Willow.
"No, I want to see the wonderful extra," said Tara, now enjoying the beautiful redhead's company.
"Okay, I hope you want be disappointed..."
Willow was fixed with intense blue eyes. "I'm sure you won't disappoint me."
"I... uhm, first I want to fetch something from Buffy's office," said Willow, swallowing hard surprised by how she was reacting so readily to Tara's flirting; it had been a while since she had even thought about being with someone.
Tara followed Willow back into the hall, but she didn't enter Buffy's office, that felt like an invasion of her privacy so she waited until Willow came back out carrying two but crystal whisky glasses and a bottle of Glenfiddich.
"Buffy always has a single malt hidden away somewhere," said Willow.
"It's a shame it's not Irish but it'll have to do," said Tara. "So what are you showing me?"
"Follow me," said Willow. Tara did without thinking. Willow led them back to the dojo and then to some French windows that. Willow pushed them open and Tara was amazed at the little garden beyond.
It's beautiful," said Tara awed.
Willow sat on a bench and poured a couple of whiskies. Want to join me?"
"I won't say no," said Tara, taking a glass and sitting by Willow.
"I wonder how far that statement will take me," said Willow, raising her hand and tracing a finger over Tara's Celtic knot. "I love your tattoos, have you got anymore?"
"One and if your lucky you may get to see it," said Tara, trying hard not to shiver at the light stroke of Willow's finger against her skin, so she decided to go on the offensive. She took a mouthful of whisky enjoying the fiery feel of the smooth liquid sliding down her throat. Tara set the glass down and turned slightly to Willow, she dropped her hand and gently pulled at Willow's navel bar. "How about you? Anymore piercings?"
Willow couldn't contain a small groan at the unexpected touch.
"Sorry, I shouldn't have done that," said Tara, moving to go.
Willow grabbed Tara's hand, pulling her towards her. "I'm not sorry."
Their lips met in hard, hot kiss.