"Ya sure about this Chief? Lettin' Doc handle this?" Buffy grunted as she attached the correct bars together on the shark cage.
Willow, her hair pulled but into a tight bun, wiped her sweaty forehead with her bare hand. The excruciating heat caused more sweat to drip down her back, down her neck, and finally down her tanned chest disappearing behind the white wife-beat she was wearing. Pushing together two stubborn bars, Willow heaved making her muscles strain. After finally attaching them, Willow turned towards Buffy and regarded her question with thought.
"Do I want her down there, no. Do I think she can handle it, yes," Willow replied, propping the cage upward. Buffy shrugged. The blonde captain began screwing in the door frame when her palm grazed a jagged edge.
"Damnit!" she cursed, undoing her bandana from her head. She tightly wrapped her palm with the red garment. Willow continued with the contraption and then paused.
"Do you think she can handle it? I mean, you're the one with experience in this area," Willow inquired, her front faltering.
"Chief, can she kill this shark with the little shark euthanasia? Of course she can. Will she survive, not likely. I personally think we should just-," Buffy started, but a voice from behind her interrupted the captain.
"Just stick to your hooks and lines? Wait for this fish to reel us in instead?" Tara spat, zipping up her wetsuit.
"Look Doc, I was careless last night. It won't happen again, but this bird cage won't protect you from this bitch. You go down there, down there in that cold, blue abyss, you're in her water-her territory- you need more than a pair of brass balls to survive. My ways are performed in the air that chokes fish. If we fail at hooking her, we might loose a rod at the most, but you fail, you lose your life," Buffy reasoned, her usually rough features softened. Tara turned to Willow for support.
"Willow, I can do this. Tell her I can do this," Tara pleaded, searching the redhead's eyes for support, but she found none. "You don't think I'll survive do you," Tara accused before hearing Willow's response.
"Tara, I want to. I want to believe that you can do anything. But damnit Tara, all I see in my head are those mangled bodies, that poor couple that started this entire hell. You can ask me to build your anti-shark cage. You can ask me to hook up your air tanks. But don't ask me to support you when you're diving with a known killer. You can't ask me for that," Willow spoke, crossing her arms around her waist, tears welling in her eyes.
Both blondes looked stunned at the profession of Willow's angst. Willow neither made eye contact with Tara nor Buffy, but rather turned and retreated back into her cabin. Tara, dumbfounded, stood there with her mouth agape. Buffy looked out into the water, squinting against the blaring sun.
"She's new to this Doc. Town says she doesn't date much. She's just overwhelmed. Strap on your scuba tanks and I'll lower you down there," Buffy explained, focusing back on the cage, but Tara's firm hand stopped her.
"What else has the town said about her?" Tara asked, her curiosity piqued.
"Well, she moved her from New York originally. Gossip says she brought her girlfriend of three years with her, but about a week into moving here, the girl decided a small down chief was nothing compared to the NYPD lifestyle. So, she moved back, leaving Willow all alone to fend on her own in a new town where everyone knew everyone else," Buffy absently told Tara, finding a knife and a spear.
Buffy began to sharpen the spear while she continued her story, "Chief, heartbroken of course, became paranoid. She assumed everyone she cared about would eventually leave her. She shut down her emotions so she would have none. She rarely dated, and when she did-everyone had something she just didn't like, something that wasn't right, something just wasn't there," Buffy halted her back and forth movements of the knife and pierced Tara's eyes with her own, "until you. That's why Xander and Anya and Spike all fawn all over you. You're it Tara; you're the one who broke down Willow's icy surface."
Tara eyed the blonde suspiciously. Looking in the direction Willow exited and back at the blonde who occupied herself with the spear once again. Contemplating what the captain said, Tara finally spoke softly.
"That's what the ‘town' is saying?" she asked, somewhat accusingly. Buffy stopped once again and stood up shaking her head.
"No, that's what I know. Though Chief would never admit it, we used to be tight. Best friends basically. But shit happens, people change, they grow apart then are shoved back together by some Goddamn fish," the blonde laughed cynically. Pricking her finger on the spear, she handed it to Tara, smirking somewhat.
"Wait, you and Willow were friends? Best friends?" Tara questioned, shcoked in her own right.
Buffy shrugged nonchalantly. Nodding, she chummed over the side of the boat, holding a rag over her nose and mouth. Tara turned her face away from the smell, but continued talking.
Buffy set down the bucket of chum and hooked the shark cage up to the crane that would lower the cage into the water.
"I moved back to New York," Buffy smiled, "Couldn't handle how serious we were getting. She hated me; told me to go to hell. Eventually, I resolved to coming back, only to find that Willow was better off without me."
Tara stood, mouth agape, not able to find her words. She trailed her blue eyes from Buffy to the empty spot where Willow had stood. Numerous thoughts wizzed through her mind, though not one registered any sense.
"Willow and you dated?" Tara spat, the last word coming out with more venom that originally intended.
"Yes, hard to picture, isn't it? Don't be so surpirsed, I'll be the first to admit that Willow made me the best person I could be and without her, I kinda fell to hell, but it just wasn't meant to be. Especially since she has you now," Buffy relented, lowering the cage with the crane into the murky water.
Tara's eyes narrowed. Unzipping her wet suit, she untangled it from her body. Buffy whistled at the sight of Tara in a blue bathing suit.
"Oh, fuck off!" Tara shouted up to her when she heard the whistle. The last sound she heard before disappearing into the cabin was Buffy's snickers.
Squeezing her way to Willow and hers cabin, she reached for the knob, hearing muffled sobs from inside.
Opening the door, Tara just stood in the threshold of the door, watching her Willow cry into her pillow, not even aware of Tara's presence.
Tara's anger of not being told about Buffy quickly drained, and she moved to comfort the redhead. Tara laid next to Willow on the small bed, wrapping an arm around the shaking body. Willow turned her head to sob into Tara's chest as Tara softly held her and tried to clam her down.
Hours later, that is how Buffy found them, wrapped up with each other. Buffy pulled a blanket over the two, noticing Willow's puffy and swollen eyes and Tara's own tear stained cheek, as they lay fast asleep.