Return to Neverland Chapter Twenty-Seven


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.


Willow's steps stuttered, her heart beating wildly as Michelle's words sunk in. Morgan. The pretty girl she had been putting an evil, apparently totally non-working hex on earlier to stay away from Tara was Morgan. But... Willow thought, her mind spinning. Why is she here?

Because they're friends, she thought, noticing with dread that she was getting closer to the group, despite her deep seeded desire to flee. She looked over Morgan's frame and felt her skin chill. The girl was gorgeous, drop-dead gorgeous and she was leaning into Tara, smiling. "Just friends", Willow mumbled internally, not liking at all how the brunette kept reaching out and touching the blonde at her side, and how... Willow's face contorted, Tara smiled. No, Willow thought, her wide eyes darting back and forth between the two women. Tara smiles when I touch her...

Okay, so no big, Willow thought, rallying every ounce of false confidence she could muster as she continued to stumble forward. I'll just have to stick closer to Tara tonight. Protect her from the scary, beautiful, ideal woman, girl... Willow sighed heavily. Crap.

Tara smiled pleasantly as Morgan recounted a story about a recent visit to Anya's store. The way the brunette cheerfully lampooned the bottle blonde without being malicious was endearing, and Tara chuckled when Morgan ran her hand over her arm. Hot, funny, kind, Tara smiled appreciatively, absently wondering when Willow would return to her side, not quite processing that the skin on her arm failed to tingle at the brunette's touch (as it did when the redhead made contact). This is going better than I thought. I'm having fun with Morgan... Willow was having fun with Michelle... Tara took a nervous breath, her hand on her stomach. Things are good. She smiled wide as Michelle returned to Marissa's side, handing over the gallery owner's red cup with a kiss on the cheek. Willow...

Tara instinctively turned her head to seek out the redhead, and she smiled brightly when she picked the girl out of the nearby crowd, holding two red cups out from her body as she navigated to a stop about a foot from her side. Willow held out her drink and the blonde turned to her and smiled brightly. "Thanks," Tara said, her eyes sparkling as she took in her roommate. Morgan might be hot, but Willow was... I can't even think of a word that would do her justice, the blonde thought giddily, noticing not for the first time tonight the bright green of the redhead's eyes.

"Sure," Willow said with a nervous smile. She didn't have that smile when you left, the redhead thought as she took a sip of her drink, sending her gaze around the room so she didn't have to look at the scene to her right.

Tara turned her eyes forward and noticed out of the corner of her eye how the redhead idly traced the outline of her phone in her pocket, the red cup sitting at her lips as she took a sip of her beverage. Vixen lips... the blonde thought, flushed. Tara felt Morgan shift to her right and she brought her hand up to her stomach. Okay, introduction time. The blonde took a steadying breath and put on a slight smile, catching the redhead's eyes, feeling Morgan expectantly look at her profile. "Willow," Tara said, the redhead looking up to see the blonde and Morgan looking at her. "I'd like you to meet my friend Morgan. Morgan, this is Willow."

"Hey, it's really nice to meet you," the brunette said, stepping forward confidently and shaking Willow's limp, semi-offered hand.

Friend, Willow thought, a little hurt as she looked from Tara to Morgan. Why does she get to be the friend, I want to be the friend. I'm just, 'Willow', I'm nothing, not even 'roommate'? "Hey," Willow replied, really looking at Morgan as the girl let go of her hand and stepped back, casually leaning against the table. She's even better looking up close, the redhead thought apprehensively, noticing that the brunette looked completely comfortable in the clothes she was poured into. That's... great, Willow thought shakily, taking a long pull from her drink and looking away from the girl.

Okay, that went well, Tara thought, taking a long drink from her plastic cup, her hand pressing into her stomach in the hopes of quieting the butterflies. 'Love of my life, this is the girl I might date. Girl I might date, love of my life.' Tara sighed as she lowered the cup to her side, the sweet liquor kicking against her throat. Right.

"You look, really, great," Morgan said as she looked the redhead up and down, to Willow's great surprise.

I do? Willow thought.

"Easily the second hottest girl here," the brunette quickly added, smiling warmly at Tara, who blushed at the attention while Willow fumed.

"Thanks," Willow said with a tight smile. Suck up, she thought heatedly as she watched Morgan fawn over Tara, the blonde smiling at the brunette.

She does look good, Tara thought, casting a quick look at Willow. Those jeans are just... Tara frowned a bit, shaking her head to regain her focus. You're here to talk to Morgan. The blonde put on a smile and looked up at Morgan, noticing with some interest how the brunette looked back at her. Morgan's gaze was fixed on her, didn't look away when their eyes met. Tara blushed and looked away. Okay, so... yeah. She looked over to Willow, who quickly averted her gaze. Tara's eyebrows quirked and she pursed her lips. Different...

Michelle cleared her throat and Morgan turned to the married pair, both women arching their eyebrows, mock offended to be left off the looking-good list. "Off the market," the brunette said with a shrug and a slight smirk. "I don't see you as sexual beings anymore." She paused for a slight moment. "Sorry."

"Did you at least see the shirt?" Michelle asked, sticking out her chest toward a chuckling Morgan.

"Let it go honey," Marissa said softly. Michelle frowned and continued to stick out her chest.

"Just cause you don't think it's funny..." the woman said in a low voice through clenched teeth, Marissa frowning at the tone.

"I did see the shirt," Morgan replied, exchanging an amused grin with Tara as Michelle grinned smugly, Marissa rolling her eyes. "Pinko commie," the brunette said with a fake cough.

"Well, half right at least," Michelle said, winking at Morgan. The brunette chuckled and then leaned back into Tara.

What, can't stand up straight? Willow thought, annoyed, as she took in the brunette's not-so-subtle move. The redhead quickly raised her drink and tipped her cup back, finishing her drink and shaking her now empty cup a bit as she dropped it down to her side. Stupid equilibrium challenged-

"So what do you think of the party so far Willow?" Morgan asked, and the redhead looking at her surprised. "Having a good time?" Tara turned her head to take in her roommate, curious about her reply.

I was, Willow thought, feeling the blonde's curious gaze on her. She opened her mouth, looking first at Tara and then back to Morgan. "Yeah, it's..." she searched for a word to complete the sentence. 'Torture'? 'Hell'? "Neat," she said, a slight smile gracing her lips but not her eyes. "What, with the whole, all-one-color thing." She looked over at Tara, hoping her testiness wasn't showing. Be polite... she instructed herself. This is Tara's 'friend', after all...

"It is neat," Michelle said with authority, nodding along in agreement to Willow's statement. "Although, what the hell is up with this music."

"Hip hop you don't stop," Morgan deadpanned before she rolled her eyes. "Eh 'booty shaking' music," she said. "Not my speed usually, but a hostess gotta do what a hostess gotta do to help inspire the late night bump n' grind, ya heard, yo."

"This is your place...?" Willow asked, flashing a disbelieving look at Tara, the redhead's chest tightening in panic. This is Morgan's house?! I'm, I'm in the lion's den?!

Tara quirked her eyebrows at the look, catching a raised eyebrow from Michelle in the process. The blonde frowned at the gallery owner's wife and the woman just smiled slightly and nodded at Willow. Tara frowned a little deeper in confusion and turned back to the conversation bookending her.

"Yup, all mine," Morgan replied, Tara confused until she remembered they were talking about the apartment. "Well, me and Suzy."

"Girlfriend?" Willow asked weakly. Please say girlfriend, the redhead thought desperately.

"Not quite," Morgan replied with a wide smile. "My dog. Springer spaniel mix. She's over at Jane's for the night."

Jane... "Girlfriend?" Willow again asked weakly, a slight, hopeful smile curling her lips.

"Aunt," Morgan said with a chuckle. "Has a place up in Russian Hill."

"Oh. That's, great," Willow choked out, reaching into her pocket and discreetly freeing her phone. Oh my god, oh my god! She thought, her mind spinning.

"It's a really nice place," Tara said, casting a quick look at Willow as she complimented the brunette on her apartment. Phone? Who's she going to call? "The art's amazing."

"Thanks," the brunette said sincerely, Willow looking from Morgan to Tara.

She thinks this is amazing... the redhead thought self consciously as she looked around the room, thinking about her own, sterile bedroom. White walls, white bedspread. She didn't even have anything on the walls. Oh! Except, for that vintage travel poster calendar that... my... mom bought me... Willow sighed, dismayed as she looked down at her phone and then back up.

"You should have your own stuff up," Michelle said. "Don't get me wrong, really like the folk art whatever, but if you've got the skills to pay the bills, brag and boast a bit girl."

"You're an artist?" Willow said, the last shreds of her false confidence and self-esteem crashing around her like dominos. Brunette, beautiful, artist, her house... this is, definitely, a nightmare...

"She was showing in the same series as me," Tara said to Willow, a slightly concerned look on her face as she took in Willow's wide eyes. "Water colors, really beautiful work." Is she okay? The blonde thought, wondering at Willow's jittery mood.

Beautiful? Willow internally squeaked, her head swimming. Oh god, the redhead internally moaned, bringing her cup to her lips, only to find it empty. She dropped the cup to her side and sighed slightly in frustration. Great.

"She's just being nice," Morgan said in reply to Tara's compliment, winking at the blonde. "Tara was the real star of the show. If I had her skills my whole house would be covered in my own stuff." Willow nodded politely and quickly used her right thumb to cycle through the menus of her phone, her touch memory immediately taking her to the screen she wanted to use.

"Modest Morgan," Marissa clucked with a smile. "Seven paintings, third best sale tally-"

"Gallery," Michelle sing songed as she gave her wife a cautionary look.

Marissa turned slightly and dropped her voice. "It came up in conversation..."

"You promised," Michelle replied tightly. Marissa opened her mouth to speak but closed it quickly, just shaking her head 'whatever' as she rolled her eyes dismissively. Tara watched the exchange and shared a quick look with Morgan, a similar raised eyebrow expression on her face.

Tara turned to gauge Willow's reaction, only to find the redhead using her thumbs to type a message into her phone. Wow those, um, those are some thumbs, Tara thought absently as she looked up to Willow's face, trying to read the girl's expression. Failing to get a good read, the blonde dropped her eyes back to the phone. Wonder who she's texting...

'Morgan. HOT. Here. Her house.' Willow hit send and looked up to find Tara's blue eyes on her. The blonde opened her mouth to speak, but found herself preemptively interrupted by a low whistle.

"Wow, that's some phone," Morgan said as Willow looked up, her eyebrows quirking at yet another compliment from the brunette. "It's like a little computer."

Tara looked over at Morgan with a smile. "Willow's really into computers," the blonde said with a smile, looking over at the redhead with warmth.

"Oh yeah?" Morgan said with sincere interest. "Are you in IT or something, a website person?"

"I'm an engineer," Willow said self consciously, looking around the group, each woman's eyes trained on her. "Computer programmer," she tacked on lamely, wondering briefly why she felt the need to elaborate.

"She works at SutterSoft," Tara added, proudly. The blonde looked at Willow, smiling as she thought about how her roommate had gone to such great lengths to protect her feelings for so long. "She designs software for medical imaging devices. CAT scans, MRIs..." Tara smiled back at Morgan, glowing as she thought of the redhead. She's wonderful.

"Wow," Morgan said, picking up on Tara's warm regard for her friend. "That's some important stuff," the brunette said to Willow, smiling at the redhead brightly.

Willow looked at how Tara smiled at Morgan for that and her chest constricted. Is she using me to try and impress her- "I guess," the redhead replied, her voice empty and small.

"Willow's the brains of this group," Michelle said to Morgan, winking at the redhead. "Smarter than all of us put together." Willow shifted her weight, uncomfortable with the attention, to be singled out in such a way.

Yup, that's me, she thought with a tight smile. Big brain, big nerd...

"Well you'd have to be to do that kind of work," the brunette said, leaning a little bit towards Tara. Willow swallowed hard, not enjoying this woman's attention and definitely not enjoying her continued proximity to Tara. "Where'd you go to school?" Morgan asked innocently. "Cal?"

"MIT," Willow replied, looking down as her phone vibrated, signifying a new text message in her inbox.

"The MIT?" Morgan asked, arching her eyebrows and Willow looked up. "Like, 'Good Will Hunting' MIT?" Willow nodded, casting a quick glance at Tara, who just smiled at her softly. "You really are a brain!" Morgan exclaimed.

Yup, Tara thought, trying to keep her face neutral, to keep the beaming pride she felt for the redhead inside. She's everything...

Willow exhaled slightly as she looked at the brunette across from her, wondering how much longer this was going to go on. "Yeah..."

"So you majored in computer science?"

Apparently for a while, Willow thought as she shook her head slightly. "Biological Engineering," she replied, really wishing the topic would change. She looked up at Tara briefly and then away. If Tara didn't think I was a nerd before...

"Wow," Morgan chuckled, impressed. "That's. I don't even know that that is but, wow!"

"She even has a master's." Tara tacked on proudly, smiling warmly at Willow's surprised profile. "Got it in a year." Beautiful, smart... the blonde sighed, dreamily.

She knows I have a master's... Willow thought somewhat amazed, not remembering when she had mentioned that little tidbit in the last two months. Buffy probably mentioned it... the redhead trailed off.

"Good Willow Hunting!" Morgan joked, the women on either side of her chuckling.

Yeah, cause I've never heard that before... Willow thought, turning her attention to the brunette and smiling politely.

"That's really impressive Willow," Morgan said, nodding. Tara smiled at the brunette, happy that the girl was responding so sincerely to her roommate.

"It's not that big of a deal." Willow said, looking down as she finally brought the new message onto her screen. "Ouch." Willow frowned at the message, typed 'duh' and hit send before looking up.

"Now who's modest," Morgan said with a friendly smile. Tara smiled at that, the smile fading a bit as she took in Willow's nervous posture, the girl fidgeting and looking down at her phone. Is she embarrassed about all of the compliments... Tara thought. She shouldn't be, she's great.

"Hey, did you make these seat covers or buy them?" Marissa asked the brunette, pointing to the red couches behind them and Morgan's attention was pulled from the roommates momentarily. Tara took the opportunity to watch the redhead to her left closely out of the corner of her eye. Something was... off. Willow looked tense, nervous. Is that from the talk about her work, school? The redhead looked over at Tara and smiled weakly when she saw the blonde's eyes on her. Tara took the opportunity to reach over and squeeze the redhead's wrist, silently asking as she held the redhead's gaze if the girl was okay, and Willow smiled with a little more confidence.

See, she's here with you, nothing to worry about. Willow took a deep breath and cast a nervous eye at Morgan, the dragon on her shirt stretching as the material pulled tight across her breasts. Son of a- The redhead looked back at Tara and smiled weakly.

The blonde's forehead quirked, wondering why the redhead was so antsy, her eyes darting around, at Morgan, the wall, the phone... Again with the phone... Tara leaned into Willow, putting her lips close to the redhead so she could be heard over the thumping music. "Buffy?" she asked, looking down at the phone and then back up to Willow with a half smile.

The redhead sucked in a breath, the blonde's curves pushing into her and she leaned into Tara's side, taking cold comfort in the blonde's warmth. "Xander," she whispered back, looking up and getting lost in Tara's blue eyes.

Tara ducked her head, breaking the connection and then looked back up, smiling slightly and nodding. Of course... She righted herself and Willow did the same, missing the blonde's curves pressed into her immediately. And that, Tara thought, turning her attention to the brunette to her right, is why I'm getting to know Morgan tonight. Tara caught Michelle give Marissa an annoyed look as the gallery owner asked Morgan about the artist who created the paintings on the walls, and Tara tried to get involved in their conversation, to ignore the redhead anxiously looking at the phone every few seconds. Michelle sighed in frustration as the art talk continued, and turned to the redhead to her right.

"What do you think of the music Willow?" The redhead looked up at Michelle's expectant face, put on the spot, her mind on the phone in her hand.

"Oh, it's... it's okay," she said, looking over at Morgan and then back to the gallery owner's wife. The look didn't go unnoticed by the brunette, and she turned to engage the redhead.

"What are you into?" Morgan asked, sincerely curious about the girl's tastes. Tara again turned to face her roommate, again curious for the girl's response.

"I. I like all kinds of music," Willow answered, her jaw tightening slightly as Morgan again leaned into Tara, the blonde not pulling away from the touch at all.

"What are you listening to most these days though," Morgan pressed and Willow looked over at Michelle quickly.

"I don't know, um. The Open? Les Savy Fav, The Thermals-"

"Ah, you're an indie girl!" Morgan said happily. "I go to those shows all the time. We should go sometime," she said, indicating Tara would be joining them with a squeeze of the blonde's arm.

"That would be... super," Willow said, thinking and the only way that's happening is if hell freezes over.

A concert with Morgan and Willow, Tara thought, her heart still stinging with the knowledge that Willow was texting Xander instead of paying attention to her, to her friends. What could be more fun than that? She thought sarcastically.

"Very cool," Morgan said, oblivious to the sinking tension between the two roommates. "I think Interpol are playing a show in a few weeks. We'll work something out."

"Great," Willow said with a smile and little enthusiasm. Her phone dinged and she looked down at the screen. "Picture?" Willow looked up and then back down. "Picture"... She looked back up at Morgan innocently, the brunette's attention occupied by the frizzy haired woman to her right. When the conversation intensified, Willow subtly held up her phone at her waist and snapped an image, happy that the click was drowned out by a shift in the music and some people yelling in approval off to the side. The redhead quickly sent the image along and then went back to the text message window, typing 'touching tara a lot'. She then cycled to trash the image, deleting it from her phone with a satisfying click. Good riddance.

"Michelle?" The women all turned as a short Asian woman stepped in between Willow and the gallery owner's wife, touching the short haired woman lightly on the arm.

"Jin? Oh my god, what are you doing here?" Michelle asked happily, giving the girl a large hug, Marissa raising an eyebrow off to the side.

Willow's phone dinged and she looked down at the new message. "Damn." Willow frowned as another ding sounded. "I mean, damn." Willow gritted her teeth and typed, 'not helping', hitting send with a firm press of her thumb.

Great, now he's pissing her off, Tara thought, taking in Willow's grim look before turning her attention to Michelle and the woman in her embrace. The blonde sighed and let her eyes roam over to Marissa, surprised to see the tight look on the woman's face. Uh oh, Tara thought, looking back to Michelle with a certain sense of foreboading.

"Everyone, this is my friend Jin," Michelle said, the short woman waving. "Jin you remember Marissa."

"Of course, hey." Marissa nodded slightly, the tight look growing tighter.

"Jinny and I used to work at Abrams P.R. together " Tara looked over at Willow and the two women shared a quick look. "Who are you here with?" Michelle said, turning to face the woman.

"Cass, the crew, you know," the woman said breezily. Marissa's face blanched and Tara again thought, uh oh.

"Really," Michelle said, her voice dripping with interest, a smile on her face.

"You totally have to come say hello," the shorter woman said and Michelle nodded.

"I totally will," she replied, Marissa clearing her throat off to the side. Michelle looked over and Marissa raised her eyebrows, her face a lovely shade of red. "Really?" Michelle challenged with a tight smile. She looked back to Jin. "I'll come over in a bit."

"Excellent," Jin said, ignoring the incredulous look on Marissa's face. "I actually stopped because I saw this," the girl pointed to Willow's ass, the short woman turning her head to address the redhead. "That is so cute, can I have one?" Willow quirked her eyebrows together and Morgan leaned over to try and see what all the fuss was about. Michelle smiled proudly, reached over to the table and quickly wrote a tag out for her friend. She started to pull back the wax backing but Marissa stopped her.

"Don't," Marissa sharply warned and Michelle frowned, handing the tag to Jin. The woman pealed the backing off and put it across her the zipper on the front of her pants, smoothing it flat with a few quick pats. All five ladies looked at her quizzically. "Oh no, believe me," Jin said, a wry smily on her face. "This is so where it needs to go."

"That's so cute, 'straight' girl sticker" Morgan said with a big smile, chuckling. "But I don't think it's going to help you once this party kicks into gear."

"What do you mean?" Tara asked, turning to Morgan, the worry just barely evident on her face. N-No, it's perfect, it scared red-pants away...

"Liquor, booty shaking tunes..." Morgan said, arching an eyebrow at Tara. "Some girls here are gonna think our straight friends can be persuaded, label be damned." Morgan turned and winked at Willow and Jin. "Just be firm with the no, you girls should be okay."

What do you mean 'label be damned', Tara thought, suddenly worried that she was about to spend the night watching women come on to her- Willow. Just Willow, she corrected, swallowing hard all the same.

"Thanks," Jin said, patting the sticker on her crotch, "but I'll take my chances."

"Me too," Willow said, peeling the sticker off her ass defiantly, a determined look on her face. I'm not, 'straight', Willow thought, not seeing Tara frown off to the side.

"Brave soul," Morgan clucked with a smile, nodding appreciatively at the redhead's moxie.

Not brave enough... Willow thought, casting a quick look at Tara before looking back down at her phone.

The blonde took a quick drink to hide the perplexed look on her face. Why would she take it off? Tara was pulled from her swirling thoughts by Marissa and Michelle's whispered bickering.

"You have got to be kidding me Marissa, that was four years ago," Michelle said, her voice raising loud enough for the group to hear. The four women off to the side each pretended not to hear the angry words, looking at the floor, their cups...

"So, anyway, I'm gonna go," Jin said, raising an eyebrow in Michelle and Marissa's direction. Marissa flashed the woman a dirty look and Michelle frowned, disappointed at her wife before turning back to the short woman.

"I'll be over in a minute," the woman reassured. Marissa huffed and Michelle smiled tightly at Jin as the woman left, immediately turning back to the gallery owner as the short woman left, pulling her wife to the side, their voices dropping as their tempers raised.

Morgan smiled at Tara and said, "ah l'amour." Tara smiled tightly in return and Morgan's gaze was pulled to a group entering from the open front door. "Hey," she said, resting her hand on Tara's arm. "I see someone I have to say hello to, I'll be right back." The girl walked off, leaving Willow and Tara relatively alone for the first time of the night. The redhead's phone dinged and she looked down and smiled slightly, rolling her eyes. On her screen was a picture of Xander, his lip pouting in apology. She quickly typed, 'nice try' and hit send.

"Xander again?" Tara asked weakly, wondering how someone so far away could be so present.

"Yeah," Willow said, looking up at the blonde sheepishly. "He's being... stupid."

"I believe it," Tara said quietly.

"What?" Willow asked, leaning into Tara a bit, the music and missed statement giving her an excuse to get close to the blonde.

"I'm having a good time," Tara said, covering, noticing how close the redhead was standing. Why do you love him? She thought helplessly, before asking, "and, you? G-Good time?"

"Me? Oh yeah, I'm, yeah," Willow said, shaking her head a little bit at her silly bravado. She tried again, her voice a little softer. "I mean, I'm having fun."

"No!" Both girls heads snapped over to see Marissa red-faced, Michelle's jaw clenched, her angry stare directed squarely at her wife. Michelle turned and looked at Willow and Tara briefly before returning her gaze to the gallery owner.

"If Willow came with me, would that ease your mind, at all?"

"I don't want you to do this," Marissa said strongly, crossing her arms in front of her.

"And I'm telling you I'm not going to not say hello to a friend because you're being insane." Michelle took a deep breath and turned to the redhead. "Willow, will you come with me for a minute so I can go say hello to an ex of mine?"

"I, sure, I guess," Willow replied, casting a quick look at Tara, who just raised her eyebrows in confusion back at her.

"You are seriously pissing me off Michelle," Marissa said as she stepped forward, putting her cup down onto the table with force.

"Yeah, well right back atcha babe," Michelle said without looking at her wife, turning instead to take in Willow with a cheery fake smile. "Ready?" Willow nodded her head and flashed a weak smile at Tara, following Michelle as they started walking away. As soon as they were out of earshot Michelle muttered, "women."

Willow arched her eyebrows at the statement, and snuck a quick look over her shoulder, seeing Tara listening sympathetically as Marissa spoke, her hands flying in exaggerated circles in front of her.

"Thanks for coming with me," Michelle said candidly, her eyes meeting Willow's for a moment. "You chaperoning is probably the only chance I still have of getting some lovin' tonight." The short haired woman exhaled. "Or not sleeping on the couch, at least."

"No problem," Willow said, again casting a quick look over her shoulder back at Tara as they waited for a logjam of bodies to break up before them.

"So you having a good time?" The short haired woman asked, taking in Willow's profile.

"Yeah, it's, you know," the redhead replied, looking at the woman at her side with a slight smile.

"Lots of strangers, new people." Michelle paused. "Morgan's looking pretty Coyote Ugly tonight."

If by that you mean slutty then... "Yeah," Willow said with a slight head nod.

"She's a good girl," Michelle said. "Totally wasting her time with Tara though," the woman continued, Willow quirking her eyebrows as they threaded through the crowd toward the french doors on the back wall.

What's that supposed to mean, Willow thought, feeling Michelle squeeze her arm before moving quickly toward a tall blonde standing in a large group.


The tall woman smiled and rushed over, giving Michelle a big hug and a chaste kiss. "Nice shirt," the woman said as they broke apart, her eyes giving Michelle a good once over. "Better red than dead, eh?"

"You know it," Michelle replied, proudly jutting out her chest. "Cass, this is Willow."

"Hey?" Cass said with a raised eyebrow as she shook the redhead's hand. The woman turned back to Michelle, clucking, "cheating on Marissa already, and not with me? I'm totally damaged."

"Willow is Tara's rooommate," Michelle said smiling brightly.

"Tara, Tara," Cass muttered, her mind working. "The blonde with Morgan? Lucky girl."

"They're just friends," Michelle said, winking at Willow, the redhead responding with a quick quirk of her brow and a slight, grateful smile.

Cass snorted in reply. "Then that girl is just stupid. No offense," she said to Willow, who frowned at the tall woman. Michelle sighed and Cass tilted her head to the side. "Come on Michelle, if you weren't with Marissa you'd be chasing Morgan too." The tall girl started giggling as she began to sing off-key, "she's just a love machine, and she won't stop-"

"Stop," Michelle said with a roll of her eyes.

"What," Willow said, looking between the two. She's a 'love machine'? The redhead thought, her stomach clenching, suddenly very ill at the thought of Tara back on the other side of the room alone with Morgan.

Michelle took in the quick change of Willow's color and shook her head reassuringly. "Nothing, Cass is just being stupid, as usual."

Cass shook her head and make a clicking noise with her mouth. "Girl's got a rep for good good loving, I'm just saying."

Michelle shook her head for Willow's benefit again. "She's just being stupid."

"Oh," Willow replied. So Morgan's a love machine. The redhead fought to keep her face from completely falling. Beautiful, brunette, artist, amazing apartment... great in bed. The redhead took a shaky breath, the women off to her side engaged in reminiscing. What do I have to offer, Willow thought, looking down at the balled up label in her hand. I'm not even 'gay'.

The women off to her side laughed and Willow looked up, Cass' attention turning to her. "So what do you do Willow? Artist?"

Willow's mind froze and she looked at the expectant face across from her. "No," the redhead said. "I'm an engineer."

"Ah, the brainy type," Cass said and Willow nodded, a polite smile on her lips, wishing as she looked over her shoulder briefly that she could see Tara through the swarm of people crowding the space between the two large rooms. Yup, that's me. Big brain, big nerd. Willow sighed and turned her attention back to Michelle and Cass, the two embarking on a scintillating discussion of people the redhead didn't know. Yup, Willow sighed, again looking down at the paper in her hand as she was excluded from the conversation. Having a great time...

Continue to Neverland Chapter Twenty-Nine

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