Return to Neverland Chapter Thirteen


Author: EasierSaid
Rating: NC-17
Disclaimer: Please don't sue me Mutant Enemy.
Feedback: Please leave feedback on the Neverland thread on the Kitten Board.
Note: Thoughts in italics.

Buffy entered the main room from the stairs and a big smile crossed her face. Three delivery men were setting up several large bouquets of white lilies around the room, two caterers were setting up trays of appetizers on the kitchen bar, and yet another man in a white tuxedo coat was setting up a long table for the bar on the opposite side of the room. Buffy's eyes swept the rapidly transforming room, noticing large unlit vanilla candles carefully dotting the room. Not seeing Tara, she crossed to the large glass coffee table and picked up her iPod and sapphire tennis bracelet. She moved to the stereo, attached the digital audio player, and then turned both devices on, testing the connection. Jill Scott's "The Fact Is (I Need You)" softly spilled out of the speakers.

She looked up when she saw Tara enter through the front door. The visibly anxious blonde was quickly taking in the different people's activities, trying to figure out what she had to do next. Buffy smiled proudly; the artist was already dressed for the party and she looked amazing. Her long hair was combed straight, and she wore a white short sleeve fitted top, a layered blue silk skirt with a ragged hem and strappy heels. "Couldn't have picked a better outfit for her myself..." Buffy said quietly to herself.

Tara moved to the kitchen and talked to the caterers, who explained a few items and then left after the blonde handed over a white envelope. She then turned her attention to the delivery men, tipping them well as they exited. That done, she grabbed a lighter and began moving around the room, illuminating the tall, pillar candles. Buffy stood, bracelet in hand, and moved to her friend's side as she finished lighting the last candle and placed the lighter in a small drawer. "You look very wow." The petite blonde said softly, leaning in for effect.

"Really?" Tara asked hopefully, as she placed a slim hand on her stomach and turned toward Buffy.

"Absolutely." Tara smiled in relief, and Buffy nodded to Tara's hand. "Nervous?"

Tara lightly patted her stomach and flashed a worried half smile. "Just trying to keep the butterflies settled."

Buffy reached out and put her hand on Tara's forearm. "Tonight's going to go great. The apartment looks stunning, you look breathtaking," Tara dropped her head in embarrassment. "Your work is awe-inspiring. It's going to be great," Buffy finished, squeezing Tara's forearm and dropping her hand.

"Thank you." Tara said sincerely as she made eye-contact with the shorter woman.

"And now... your bracelet." Buffy opened her left hand, offering the blue sapphire tennis bracelet to the blonde.

"Oh!" Tara said, bringing her hands to her head as she looked at the sparkling bauble sitting neatly in Buffy's outstretched palm. "I asked for that, didn't I?" She asked apologetically, looking up to see Buffy's surprised face.

"Yes, yes you did." Buffy nodded, the surprise turning amused. "Forget and then go out and buy yourself something nice, didja?"

"No, I..." Tara brought her hands down to her side. Don't mention Willow's bracelet, she thought quickly. If you tell Buffy about it, about how much you love it, she'll just run upstairs and tell Willow... and you want to tell her first, hopefully privately... "I just, I don't think I'm going to need it tonight." Tara concluded regretfully.

"Gonna go commando?" Buffy asked. Tara's eyebrows arched and the petite blonde chuckled. "Your wrists are gonna go commando..."

"No, I... I just don't think I'll need it." Tara explained, carefully vague.

"Well..." Buffy said, putting the bracelet in Tara's hand, then closing her fingers around it. "It's here; take it, wear it if you change your mind, get it back to me later."

Tara nodded, her eyes drifting upstairs. "Is Willow here?" And, can you leave for a while Buffy... Tara thought, ruefully.

"Yeah, she's showering and then I'm gonna help her with her clothes. Oh, look." Buffy reached into her pocket and produced the earrings Willow had gifted her with earlier.

"Wow." Tara's voice went soft, and she traced her fingertips over the engraved pattern. "These are beautiful," she complimented as Buffy smirked.

"I knew you'd think so. Willow and Xander bought them for me at Annabelle's this weekend." She said, rolling her eyes.

"Annabelle's?" Tara asked, her voice a little weak. She bought Buffy earrings this weekend at Annabelle's? The blonde thought, confused. So... I guess it was, 'jewelry for everyone' then... She frowned slightly. She bought jewelry for Buffy and me with Xander... "They're beautiful," she said again, her voice both subdued and sincere, her mind trying to work through Willow's actions.

"Yeah, not my style." Buffy said, shrugging. "But then, it's the thought that counts." She tucked the earrings back into her pocket.

Tara smiled slightly at that, nodding. That's true. Her smile widened. Willow thought about me this weekend. Enough to cause her to buy me jewelry... She was randomly thinking about me and bought me something beautiful that she said reminded her of me... She suddenly frowned.

"What?" Buffy asked, noting the change.

Tara looked up, her face tense. "I just remembered I didn't set up cabs to get us down to the gallery..."

"Need help?" Buffy asked.

"No, I'll just go do it now." She said, starting to walk toward her studio. "People should start showing around 7:15..." Tara said over her shoulder. "Jay is coming, he's always early. If you could come down around 7:30...?"

"Sure. Oh, Tara," Buffy said, stopping Tara in her tracks. The blonde turned and looked to her friend, expectantly. "Thanks for letting me be, Buffy plus two tonight."

"Oh, no problem." Tara said, waving her hand. "Anything to keep you entertained at an art show." She half smiled. "The plus two, people from work?"

"Nope. One is Jim, the fireman I met after my very bad date on Monday night. The other is his friend Kevin. Stock broker guy."

Tara laughed. "Two men, huh. Is this some sort of elimidate thing? Will one be sent home halfway through the night...?"

Buffy chuckled and shook her head. "No. Fireman for me, stock broker for Will."

Tara blanched. What? Her mind spun, and her previous butterflies were quickly forgotten as her stomach twisted tightly. Willow has a date... Willow has a date, tonight, at my party... after the bracelet... Her brow furrowed deeply out of hurt, confusion...

"What, forget some other little meticulous detail that no one will notice you missed?" Buffy chided as she watched Tara's face fall.

Tara looked up and shook her head, trying to regain her composure. "No." She said, her voice constricted. She cleared her throat and attempted a smile. "Just... got hit by everything all at once right then, I guess."

"Don't be nervous Tare," Buffy said reassuringly. "Like I said, you're going to do great." Tara nodded absently and they shared a slight smile. Tara turned and walked quickly to the studio, hearing Buffy cross the room behind her and exit up the stairs.

Once inside the studio Tara leaned against the wall, tears stinging her eyes. She looked across the room, and her gaze fell on the blue glass bead bracelet resting on her desk. She breathed deeply, trying to fight off the tears that threatened to fall. After a long moment and several deep breaths, she crossed to the desk and traced Willow's bracelet with her fingers lightly. Why did she give this to me if... if... She put Buffy's tennis bracelet on the desk next to Willow's gift, and stared at the two blue baubles. After a long moment she shook her head, reached over to the phone, picked it up and dialed. "Yes, I'd like six cabs at 8:45 please?" She said, her voice thick.

Murder. I'm going to murder her, Willow thought as she watched Buffy exit her room. The past half an hour had been ridiculous; Buffy telling her what to wear, how to apply her makeup, how to do her hair. She had finally snapped, threatening Buffy with immediate bodily harm if the petite blonde continued to hover. Buffy had backed off, and Willow had finished up with her preparations. She wasn't wearing what she had intended to wear, but she had to admit that the outfit Buffy put together was nice. A tight long sleeve olive green top, biege skirt and strappy heels. Great, glad I look good for... Kevin. She rolled her eyes.

Willow had already given up on the evening as she exited her room after the petite blonde, and making her way to the stairs, decided to go right on ahead and assume that it would be one of the worst nights of her life. No time with Tara, and Kevin, who springs men named Kevin on people all last minute? Oh that's right- Buffy. Her eyes shot daggers into the back of the petite blonde's head.

The redhead didn't even notice her surroundings until her foot hit the last step and Buffy disappeared across the room. Willow's eyes went wide and she froze on the stairs. "Wooooow..." She said softly, taking in the room. It was, amazing. Magical. Tall white flowers, several lit candles flickering softly and about twenty people milling around with professionally prepared drinks, munching ornate hors d'oeurves. I can't believe I live here... Willow thought, stepping down into the room.

She quickly located Buffy ordering a drink at the bar, and then nervously began to search the crowd for her rommate. There were so many people... Willow caught a flash of blue out of the corner of her eye and stopped. She kept her eye trained on the spot and again saw a flash of blue. She frowned slightly and decided to see if she could get a better look, without seeming too obviously inquisitive. She walked in a diagonal route away from the flash, each step revealing more of... Tara. Willow smiled slightly, seeing the familiar profile of the blonde. As she took a few more steps, she was able to take in the girl's whole form; Willow's breath caught, the smile on her face growing. She is so beautiful... The perfect blonde hair, the ruby red lips, the curves... oh the curves... Then there was the flash of blue again, and Willow's smile went supernova.

Dangling from Tara's right wrist, was the blue glass bead bracelet from Annabelle's. Willow quickly ducked her head, blushing furiously as she fought to contain the massive 'whoo-hoo' wheling up from within. She pressed her lips together tightly, but the bright smile was still there, pulling the corners of her cheshire grin to her cheekbones. She took another quick glance at the blonde, admiring how well the bracelet matched Tara's skirt, how it hung delicately from her creamy wrist. How insanely gorgeous the girl looked as she intently conversed with the two tall men flanking her. She's so beautiful, everything about her is... perfect. Willow looked back down to the floor and then up, continuing to walk in a daze, her gaze focusing on nothing in particular. She's wearing it. She's really wearing it, she must like it to wear it tonight, oh my god she's-


"Ow." Willow said softly, looking down to see where she had run into the corner of the glass coffee table. She grimaced and rubbed her shin, that's gonna leave a mark, and then raised her head, looking around the room innocently, wide-eyed. Okay, no one noticed you were so busy checking Tara out you ran into the coffee table. She took a deep breath, stood back up and the beaming smile returned. She's wearing it, I can't believe she's-

"Ahh...." Willow heard the feminine voice just behind her and to the side, and she turned slowly when she realized the dawning realization was directed at her. She saw a bottle blonde, arms crossed, standing about four feet away, smiling at her like she was the cat and Willow was a flock of recently clipped canaries. Willow offered a slight, 'yeah' smile and the smug woman nodded, knowingly.

"You're Willow."

"Yeah..." Willow responded, taking a step closer to the woman. "Have we-"

"You're Tara's roommate."

Who is this...? "Yeah..." Willow said again, her brow furrowing, taking another step closer.

"You want to have sex with her."

"What?!" Willow blurted, aghast. It was louder than she had intended, and a few heads turned in her direction, wondering if there was going to be a confrontation between the two women. Willow's face flushed with embarrassment and she quickly looked to Tara, who hadn't seemed to hear her surprised exclamation, the blonde's attention still focused on the two older gentlemen before her. The plainly shocked redhead quickly turned back to the bottle blonde, pulling her to a less populated part of the room. Once she was sure their conversation wouldn't be overheard, her shaky voice dropped to an urgent whisper. "What?!"

"It's completely understandable." The woman responded evenly. "Orgasmic paintings combined with a shy external demeanor; it's almost a guarantee that she's a wildcat in bed."

Willow felt herself catching on fire; her entire body matching the color of her hair. She was so mortified, so enraged by this presumptuous woman - her head was swimming. How did this woman know that I was thinking about Tara like- Who just says stuff like that to total- Why am I thinking about this instead of just saying it all- Wait a minute, 'wildcat'- What the fu- "I- I don't-" Willow stammered, completely flustered, unable to say the words that were racing through her frazzled mind.

"There is really no use in denying it," the woman said. "It's so obvious that you want to be naked with her.

"Wha-ah-" Willow stammered.

"You were so distracted by the thought that you walked into furniture."

"I-" Willow's mouth opened and closed like a fish. Was I that obvious? She thought, panicked Did everyone see me ogle Tara? Did Buffy? Did Tara?! Willow's face flushed red with anger as she finally registered this woman's latest comments. She juted out her jaw and asked, menacingly, "who the hell are you?"

"Anya..." Buffy greeted breezily, moving to the two women's side, sliding her arm around Willow's waist comfortingly, hoping to diffuse the obvious tension between the girls. Buffy looked at Willow's beet red face, and noticed how the redhead shook underneath her light touch.

Willow's face contorted in confusion as she looked at Buffy. "Anya?!" This is Anya!? Willow thought, appalled. This is Tara's closest non-Buffy friend, this, this- "You're Anya?!" She said, looking to the bottle blonde.

"Anya Jenkins," the woman said evenly, offering her hand.

Willow stared at her dumbly and Buffy spoke up. "Anya owns an art shop Tara frequents."

"The art shop." Anya corrected, crossing her arms. "The."

"Anya's Art Accessories." Buffy offered, hoping that whatever appalling thing Anya had said to Willow (because it was guaranteed to be appalling) hadn't broken the redhead.

"Accessories?" Willow asked confused. "What, you sell artsy belts and bags?"

"No, but that is an excellent suggestion." The woman replied, smiling graciously.

"Her shop sells paint, brushes and stuff." Buffy explained.

"Accessories..." Willow said skeptically. "Don't you mean 'supplies'?"

"Accessories; it's supplies, but with an 'a'." The bottled blonde instructed helpfully.

"Actually, supplies with an 'a' is 'aupplies'." Willow snarled, her eyes squinting. Buffy raised her eyebrows; she hadn't seen Willow this angry since the girl had told Cordelia Chase off for making fun of Xander junior year of high school.

"Anya's Art Accessories." Anya said breezily, ignoring Willow's vitriol. "It's alliteration. People like that; it makes them feel amused, and comfortable, and willing to spend money."

"The store is down on Polk." Buffy tacked on, needlessly.

"Two blocks from Good Vibrations." Anya added.

Willow's face further twisted. "You use a sex shop to orient your store's location?"

Anya nodded. "Good Vibrations brought a young, creative clientele to the neighborhood; very profitable for stores like mine that cater to a mentally adventurous crowd."

Willow stared at the oddly composed woman across from her. I hate her, she thought. I HATE her. Is there a word that's stronger than hate, cause I'd use it. The redhead had bypassed simple anger the second Anya had given breath to the word 'wildcat', and was now too enraged to speak, her mind on a furious search for 'hate' synonyms.

Buffy opened her mouth to ask what it was that Anya had said to infuriate the redhead, but was interrupted when her phone rang. She answered, keeping a close eye on Willow as Anya looked on. "Hey... you're downstairs? We'll come get you." She tucked the phone back in her pocket and smiled disingenuously at Anya. "It's been nice seeing you again."

"You too." Anya replied, equally insincere. Buffy pushed on Willow's lower back until the redhead started for the door. Anya watched them for a moment and then shook her head. She looked over to where Tara stood, apparently oblivious to the conversation. The bottle blonde sighed, and moved to the kitchen for some more mushroom caps.

"What did she say to you?" Buffy asked with wonder, her eyebrows arched high as they walked away from the bottle blonde.

"What?" Willow said, coming out of her red fog.

"I said, what did she-"

"Oh, nothing." Willow bluffed, shaking her head. "She's just... Buffy, I think I hate her."

"Join the club..." Buffy said patting the redhead's shoulder as they approached the door. "Did you know she once said I wanted to have sex with Tara?"

Willow's eyebrows shot up and Buffy nodded, her own eyebrows arched. "Then she decided I was too repressed to properly enjoy sapphic love..." Willow's brow knit together and the two exited.

"So I went to the auction, and all they had were Goya knockoffs..." the tall man related. Tara was only half listening, the rest of her attention on Willow, as the redhead walked out the front door, Buffy just behind her. It was the first time she had seen the girl this evening and Tara was transfixed. She's... her mind trailed off, at a loss for words. She's dazzling. That shirt, it's the same color as her eyes... oh what I wouldn't give for her eyes on me right now. And that skirt, the whole... she's so beautiful.

Tara tore her eyes from the empty door and anxiously looked back to the men she was standing with, nodding her head at... something... before she looked back to the door, frowning, suddenly realizing where Buffy and Willow were going. They're getting their dates. Their dates are going to be here in a couple of- she held her breath as Buffy and Willow re-entered, two good looking young men with them. The tall one held Buffy's hand and they smiled at each other. The shorter man walked alongside Willow, smiling at her. No, no, no... Tara thought desperately. She saw Willow nod her head at something her date said, and then watched the redhead smile softly. No... Tara thought, her heart sinking.

Tara's attention drifted to Anya, who was watching the two men enter from the kitchen with great interest. Tara swallowed hard, then looked back to Willow, completely losing track of the story being told entirely for her benefit by the tall man standing next to her.

Willow stood next to the bar, Buffy to her left, Kevin to her right. The man had placed his hand on her lower back as they ordered drinks, and Willow was steaming. She had tried to step out of the touch, but it didn't work, and when she had turned to tell him she didn't feel comfortable with his hand on her back he had smiled and then started speaking with the bartender. Okay, who said all hands on Willow? Cause, it wasn't me... She sighed deeply, and as soon as she had her martini, ducked out from under his palm and walked over to the fireplace. Buffy quickly followed.

"So, what do you think?" Buffy asked anxiously, smiling.

"I think he needs to keep his hand off my ass." Willow said tensely through a false smile, taking a sip of her drink.

Tara watched helplessly, as Willow smiled at Buffy as they chatted. Not good, not good... he had his hand on her and now she's smiling and talking to Buffy. Not good, she thought, her skin flushed with jealousy and hurt. I can't watch this... She ducked her head and excused herself quickly from the group she had been chatting with.

"He didn't have his hand on your ass, Willow..." Buffy sighed, exasperated.

"Well it was close. It was definitely lower back, area, which is definitely you know, ass region." Buffy shook her head. "I just don't like touchy feely guys, okay?" Willow sighed, hoping that would be enough for now.

"He's not touchy feely..." Buffy tried to spin optimistically. "He's just... tactile."

"Well, maybe he can tactile someone else." Willow fumed, her eyebrows arching in warning. Buffy frowned and looked over her shoulder.

"They're coming over, be nice!" Willow smiled demurely and Buffy rolled her eyes.

"Hey, great apartment." Kevin said, clinking his scotch tumbler to Willow's martini glass before taking a sip. "You live here?" The man slipped his free hand to rest flat on Willow's back, and she tensed.

"Yup." She said through a clenched jaw.

Anya watched Willow interact with her date closely. She didn't understand why the redhead was with the attractive young man on what appeared to be a date, when it was obvious the girl wanted Tara. "Hey," the bottle blonde heard off to the side. She turned to see Tara standing next to her, smiling softly. "Having a good time?" The blonde asked.

"Yes," Anya replied, an appetizer in her hand. "These shrimp canape are delicious. Try one yet?"

"Actually, I can't." Tara said, her head bobbing. "I'm allergic."

"You're serving food that you're allergic too, purely in the hopes that your guests will better enjoy themselves?" Anya asked. "That is brilliant hostessing!" The bottle blonde nodded happily, popping another shrimp in her mouth.

Tara smiled politely. "Thanks..." She looked over to Willow, and her jaw momentarily set as she saw the man's hand snake around Willow's waist to the redhead's hip before moving back to her spine. She tried to act indifferent as she turned to Anya. "So, those two guys that just came in-"

"They're with Buffy and Willow." Anya explained. Tara nodded, raising her drink to her lips. "Although I don't know why Willow is with the shorter one, because she obviously wants to have sex with you." Tara choked on her drink and coughed, bringing her free hand to her chest. "Are you alright?" Anya asked looking over, oblivious to the cause for Tara's distress. "Are you allergic to the wine, too?"

"So wow, you work for SutterSoft." Kevin said. "That's a big time tech company right there."

"Yeah, I guess." Willow replied. She tried to look over to where she remembered Tara standing, but couldn't see through the crowd. Buffy and Jim were a few feet away, stealing kisses, completely wrapped up in each other. Willow sighed and looked back to her drink. At least Kevin was understanding about the whole, not-really-into-being-touched-all-the-time thing. Course, means he probably thinks I'm frigid. Or you know, gay. Willow mentally chuckled at the irony.

"I remember when they went public," the former frat boy reminisced. "Was a big offering. I think their initial was for $16 a share, and I'm almost positive it closed at $56.15 today."

"Really..." Willow replied, barely masking her boredom as she took a sip of her drink.

"I bet you get some really excellent benefits; 401K, stocks-how long till you're fully vested?" He asked.

"What?" Willow asked, looking up at the man.

"Vested, how long till your stock options are vested."

"Um, five years...?" Willow answered. I'm at a party, Tara's party talking to some yutz about stock options. She again craned her neck, trying to spot Tara. I might be in hell...

"That's excellent." The man said enthusiastically. "The market stays strong, grows a little, and that's a nice chunk of change, down payment on a house, easy. You just have to hope interest rates stay low so you can take advantage and invest in property right away. I have a couple of mutual funds that..." The man continued on, oblivious to the dead look in Willow's eyes.

Why couldn't I have been hit by a bus on the way home... Willow internally grumbled, polishing off her drink.

"What did you just say?" A shocked Tara asked her friend once she was finished coughing.

"I asked if you were allergic to fermented fruit-"

"No, about Willow." Tara clarified hastily.

"Ah. She wants to have sex with you." Anya repeated matter-of-factly.

Tara stared at her friend for a long moment, before shaking her head and sighing. "Anya, what did I tell you..."

"'Not everyone wants to have sex with everyone else'." Anya recited. "Which I understand, and partially agree with. Buffy definitely doesn't want to have sex with you." Tara's face crinkled in disgust. "But Willow," Anya continued. "She definitely wants to be sweaty and naked with you."

Tara closed her eyes as her mind was promptly assaulted with numerous, naked, sweaty images of Willow. Not a good time, definitely not a good time! Mmmm-No! Focus! Her mind back under control, Tara sighed, explaining gently that, "Willow's straight-"

"Says you." Anya scoffed, popping another shrimp in her mouth.

"No... says Willow." Tara said in a tone fit for the parent of a three-year old.

"Well, she's wrong." Anya stated.

Tara's face twisted in confusion and she stared at her odd friend. How in the- okay, not important, stick with the plan. Tara shook her head and looked back up. After a quick sip of her wine, she spoke. "The man Willow came in with-"

"That she's pretending to-"

"Is he wearing silk pants?" Tara asked quickly before Anya could mention 'naked, sweaty Willow' again. Anya's brow furrowed as she stared at the man's trousers. "I m-mean, I know the belt is Italian leather..." Tara said, watching from the corner of her eye as Anya evaluated the man . "A-And the sweater is definitely cashmere."

"He is wearing a very nice outfit..." Anya agreed, tilting her head to take in a better view. Tara smiled nervously and continued.

"It's n-nice to see someone really dress up, you know?" Tara offered. "I mean, he obviously cares about the f-finer things in life... he must have a really nice job. Like really." Take the bait, her mind urged as she watched Anya's wheels turn, the bottle blonde's mental calculator ringing up Willow's date's net worth. Come on... he's cute, allegedly, he's rich, again, allegedly... 'wasting his time on gay Willow', in a perfect world..; what more do you need? Go get him! "Italian leather belt, cashmere sweater..." Tara slowly recapped, sneaking a peek at Anya's appraising gaze. "What do you think... silk pants?" The blonde finally asked again, innocently, anxiously.

Anya stood still for a long moment and Tara held her breath. The bottle blonde suddenly turned to her with a wide smile and breezily said, "I'll be back," before making a beeline to the area where Willow and the man stood.

"Okay." Tara replied, smiling brightly at the quickly departing figure. She watched as her art friend moved to the bar, quickly getting a drink and then moving to eavesdrop on the the redhead's conversation, stalking the obviously monied man who was once again resting his hand on Willow's lower back. Tara smiled to herself, knowing that no matter how alluring the touchy feely man in nice pants found Willow's considerable charms, he would end up leaving her apartment tonight with Anya: sexual predator extraordinaire. Tara sighed, looking back to her loitering guests. "I'm going to hell..." she said softly before returning to the fine art of selling; a broad smile on her face.

"Now, say you have an annuity, and you want to cash out a little early-" Kevin continued before being interrupted by a hand on his.

"Kevin." Willow said, quickly removing her hand from his grasp, and pulling his right hand from her back. "I'm sorry, but I really need to use the restroom."

"Oh. Okay. I'll just wait here." He said, raising his glass a bit in mock toast.

"Yeah, okay..." Willow said unenthusiastically, turning and quickly walking away from the man.

Kevin watched as Willow walked away, then shook his head. The girl was not interested in him. He knew it, she kept looking around the room for... who, he wasn't sure. He looked over to the back corner where his buddy Jim was kissing his date. He sighed, and then muttered, "wingman always gets burned..."

He turned when he felt a finger tap his shoulder. He smiled as he saw the finger was attached to a beautiful, grinning, bottle blonde. "Hi," the woman said confidently. "I couldn't help but hear you discussing money. It's my favorite thing. Well, besides sex. Can I interest you in a single-malt scotch?" She held out the drink with a smile, and Kevin beamed.

About thirty minutes later, Willow re-joined the party. She took her time descending the stairs, her eyes fixed on Tara the entire time. The blonde was talking to what appeared to be a married couple, and Willow couldn't help but be in awe at how easily the blonde seemed to hold their attention. I wish I was them; they get to stare at her and nobody even thinks twice... She sighed as her foot hit the floor, and she made her way back over to the fireplace. Her brow knit in confusion when she saw that the area was Kevin-free. She looked around, trying to see if he had taken a seat, and was immediately confronted by a frowning Buffy. "Where's Kevin?" Willow asked, not quite caring if the answer was 'Alaska'.

"Oh, he left." Buffy replied, tight. "With Anya."

"Really?" Willow said surprised, her eyebrows shooting to her hairline. Note to self: note to Anya reading 'thank you'. The redhead grinned and then frowned. 'P.S. I hate you.' "Where did you go?" Buffy asked, huffy.

"Oh. I... I had to use the bathroom." Willow said. And you know, hide out in my room, check my email...

"Tara announced a minute ago that the cabs were here, so people are heading down to ride over to the gallery."

"Okay." Willow said. Buffy frowned at her.

"You couldn't be nice for one night..."

"Me?! He's the one that left with the sex shop aficionado!" Buffy's stern gaze faltered and she laughed a bit. "If anyone's the victim here, it's, you know..." Willow said, her eyes innocent and teasing, "Anya, cause he's really, really dull." Buffy's face broke out into a wide grin and she shook her head.


Willow smiled at the petite blonde and the girls moved to fetch Jim from the kitchen for their shared cab ride. "Hey Buff, did you know that if I decided to withdraw money from my Traditional IRA before the term expiration date I can be charged up to 22% against the total?"

"What's a Traditional IRA?" Buffy asked, her brow knitting.

"I have no idea." Willow responded, linking arms with her friend.

Tara watched the two smiling girls pass out of the corner of her eye and thought, as she watched Buffy link up with Jim, and Willow follow out the door behind them, alone, I am so going to hell... She smiled widely at that, and began to help usher everyone out to the cabs.

Continue to Neverland Chapter Fifteen

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