The Price of a Kiss

There was something touching her lips. Not touching. Tracing. There were three things Willow wanted to do. Snuggle down deeper into her dream, dream of waking up to Oz watching her sleep, and dream of kissing. There was a heart-lurching second when she thought that it was real, when she woke up enough to purse her lips and make an air kiss that was unexpectedly loud. She thought she heard someone chuckle.

Someone who wasn't her roomie. Her eyes opened, blinking as she adjusted to the lack of light. Something wasn't right. She sat up. Buffy's side of the room showed no sign that her roommate had come in. After having her own room and a house largely to herself in her teens, Willow had a hard time adjusting to the dormitory at first. Buffy's first roommate was a truant demon from another plane of existence that wanted to go to college and save herself from being a sacrifice. It was Sunnydale. These things happened. Willow's first roommate was a girl named Jan from Oregon who was getting acquainted with the campus one dorm room party at a time.

Not that Willow really minded. She just slept over with Oz in the surprisingly quieter house that he and Devon and the rest of the band had rented off campus. Once Buffy's roommate left school, Willow applied to fill the vacancy in Buffy's room. She kept odd hours with patrolling at night, so Willow had become accustomed to sleeping through her roommate's comings and goings.

It was kind of nice actually. On some level, she knew Buffy from the way she moved and what she sounded like. It was, she thought, the way that siblings knew each other, so trustfully that you could sleep, so well that you knew when you had to wake up. Like the night that Buffy had come in, hands bleeding from split knuckles, and Willow woke up at once to help with the first aid.

Except right now, Willow had the vague sense that someone had woken her, and Buffy wasn't home. It was gathering momentum in her sleep-fogged mind. There was something different in the room, or about the room. Her gaze drifted to the back of her chair in front of her desk, where her robe was folded over the back of the chair. On Buffy's side the bed was made and her closet door was shut. The bed ruffle was slightly askew from where Buffy had dragged her bag of weapons out and then pushed it back under the bed without straightening the ruffle.

Still not sure what it was that was different, Willow rearranged her pillows and settled back against them, pulling the blanket up to her chin. It was getting easier to fall asleep. Two ounces of Nyquil and fatigue trumped her inner turmoil. Staying asleep was another story.

Beneath the blankets she smoothed the sleep wrinkles and twists that had developed between her flannel pajamas and the sheets. Using her right foot to check the left, she noted that her feet were warm. It was harder to go to sleep with cold feet. She didn't need to go to the bathroom. She turned her head to check the clock. It was just after midnight. She had slept for under two hours and needed more sleep. Badly.

She frowned in the dark. A sleepless Willow was a cranky and dull Willow who had a hard time concentrating in class and lived in terror of being called on to answer a question. She tried to shut down that line of thought because while it seemed benign, she would start to think about not being able to go back to sleep and then she would not be able to go back to sleep. She would be trapped in her bed under the layers of bedding waiting with a growing sense of dread for the day to begin feeling a little less able to cope than she had the day before. The day before was bad, and the badness just kept coming.

Yesterday morning when she was leaving the dormitory she had noticed that someone left a half empty bottle of soda on the park bench across from her dormitory. Something about it made her stop and walk back, mentally placing herself on the bench. Sitting there, alone, in the dark, someone might have been watching one of the dormitory windows. The window to the room she shared with Buffy could be seen from that vantage point. It made her wonder if Oz was around. If he had come this close to coming back to her only to walk away. If she had missed him because she didn't get up and look out the window.

She closed her eyes. That wasn't it at all. Oz wouldn't do that. If he was back, Devon would have told her. She was pretty sure that Devon was physically incapable of keeping a secret. But it wouldn't hurt to check, except that it would. If she looked out the window and he wasn't there she would loose the possibility that he had been there.

This was precisely the kind of thinking that kept her awake. Oz was gone. He had sent for his things, she reminded herself. Devon had found a new guitarist to take his place. He had been dropped from the class rolls. He had disappeared as if he had never existed and she was living in a weird space where she desperately missed someone who never was.

Her flannel pajamas were reorganized to lay flat against her. Flatter beneath them was the boyish girl shape of her body under her hands. She was too thin. She brought one hand to rest between her breasts trying to decide what it felt like. She couldn't really detect the presence of breasts on either side of her hand, which was partly due to bralessness and lying on her back and the flannel as well as the fact that her breasts weren't exactly sticking out under the best of circumstances.

She wasn't cleavage-y. Her attempts to be cleavage-y with the assistance of a WonderBra had made her feel like she was engaging in false advertising. Not that it mattered. Or at least it never seemed to matter when Oz's hands were cupping the underside of her breasts while his thumbs moved back and forth over her nipples. Except that maybe the reason that he had cupped them like that was to make them seem bigger.

Bigger boobs. If she had bigger boobs and pouty lips and smoldering come hitherish looks, he wouldn't have left her. He might have killed her the way he had Veruca, but he wouldn't have left her. She felt a little sorry for Veruca, who had lived and died like the slutty girl in a bad horror movie, punished for obsessing about a boy who was also obsessed with her, while the good girlfriend lived to feel bad about her, but without the boy.

If it was a movie, Willow would have kept the boy and conveniently failed to notice that he had killed someone that he had cheated on her with for reasons that were possibly more complex than saving her.

Thoughts like this kept her awake. It wasn't anything she could talk about with Buffy and Xander. They didn't entirely get the Oz missage. The heartbreak was something they grasped. They were waiting for it to pass, like a seasonal cold, with the callousness of people who had gotten their hearts broken and survived the experience. They didn't see that it was different for her. Buffy and Angel were not meant to be. Slayer. Vampire. Duh. That was never going to work. Xander and Cordelia didn't even like each other. Not really. You had to like each other. Love was not enough. Buffy and Xander had incomplete relationships and thought that it was the same, and it wasn't. It wasn't even close.

She ran her tongue over her lower lip and sucked in a startled breath at the tingling sensation left in the wake of wetting her lips. Under her hand her heart beat a little faster. Under the flannel her skin prickled. She would have pulled off the pajamas if she could have, and slept naked, skin to skin. She was so tired, but her body was clamoring for something that would make her relax enough for sleep.

She opened her eyes to cast a cautious look at the door. A thin line of light from the hallway marked the bottom of the door. She was alone. Her hands and legs seemed to answer the question that was forming in her mind. She slid one hand inside the bottom of her pajama pants while her legs opened to make room for it. At first her hand just cupped the mounded shape between her legs, feeling the oddly soft and crinkly texture of pubic hair against her hand.

It felt different, but only because she had become accustomed to Oz's hand, to his slightly calloused fingertips and blunt fingernails. He always touched her like he wasn't entirely sure of what he was doing. It wasn't bad, it was just different. She knew exactly what felt good, but sometimes he found something that she didn't know, that felt better.

They had gone to bed early one night a couple of weeks before everything had changed, when sleeping the night together was still a novelty even if sex wasn't. He had gotten up and locked the door to his bedroom and come back to strip the sheet and blanket from her, pushing them down to the foot of the bed before he came to bed, his sweat pants hanging low on his hips, with the shape of his erection making a funny tent out of them. He left the one light on, by the bed.

He didn't say anything, but the idea that he wanted to see her, all of her, naked, made her feel a little scared and at the same time, grateful.

"Is this okay?" he asked. "I just want to look at you."

It wasn't completely okay. She had never liked feeling like she was being examined or scrutinized, but she knew that he didn't mean it that way. He just wanted to look at her, the way that she found herself looking at him sometimes. It wasn't entirely admiring and it was all at the same time. She didn't look at him seeking some idea of male perfection, she just looked at him and saw Oz parts and Oz shapes that she knew with increasing certainty.

"Will there be kissing?" she asked, to cover her misgivings.

He embodied an evenness of temperament that she had never known. No big gestures or smiles or laughter, but somehow in his restraint, there was so much to read. She was sure that she hadn't imagined that. She was sure that what she saw in his face was something only she inspired.

So they kissed. She missed kissing more than almost anything. The memory of it made her eyes fill with tears.

They kissed and whispered to each other, and he laid his head on her stomach, nudging her legs apart while her heart beat faster at the idea that he was looking at her there, watching himself touch her, scooting down closer, kissing her stomach. She had masturbated to orgasm before, but she had never had an orgasm from him, touching her. It was different. She thought the intent wasn't there. He touched her to make sure that she was ready for him, to manipulate and arrange them to fit together.

It occurred to her while he was touching her--the tips of his fingers moving over her, clumsily manipulating her clitoris--that he was trying to do more than make certain that she was ready for him. When his fingers slid inside of her and his tongue scribed the shape of her navel, she found herself biting her lower lip, wanting something she was afraid to ask for. Her hand was in his hair and her hips were lifting off the bed before she realized what she was doing.

He kept kissing her stomach, fingers moving in and out of her. He seemed to know that she needed something more, but he didn't know what it was.

They were both breathing hard. Panting. The wet sounds of his fingers moving in and out of her were unnaturally loud. "Show me," he mumbled against her skin. "Please," he added.

She wanted to push his head lower. The mental images of his lips exploring her, of his tongue touching her, made her moan. She untangled her fingers from his short hair instead, pushing his head away, gently. He looked up at her, not sure what it was that she wanted even as her hand moved to his arm, following it to his wrist. The idea of what she was about to do made her push against his fingers, opening her legs wider.

When she touched her clitoris the muscles in her legs tightened and her head fell back, pushing deeper into the pillow under her as her eyes closed and she concentrated on the sensation of his finger moving in and out of her while she used her fingertips to make circles around her clit. He started to withdraw his finger. To watch her, or to let her take over. She grimaced at the loss of his finger inside of her and faltered a little, opening her eyes.

He was pushing his sweat pants down over his hips. She half expected him to kick them off and move between her legs, but instead he wrapped his fingers around his cock and started stroking it in a way that made her eyes widen. She had explored the length of him, let him show her how to hold him and how to touch him, but she had never been so . . . rough about it.

"Don't stop." It was a plea. An unreasonable one from her point of view because she did want to stop and examine this. She thought that he was expecting her to use her fingers as he had, and it wasn't like she had never done that before. She thought about it long and hard before she did. Partly out of fear that she would do something that would hurt herself and partly from the idea that it would be better to wait, that it would be more amazing if the first time she felt something inside her it wasn't her own fingers.

She was a person who thought about things. Maybe too much. While she was thinking about it Oz moved between her legs, on his knees, his hand still roughly stroking and pulling on his erection. He changed hands while she watched, the light catching on the fluid glistening on the head of his cock and the side of his hand. When she felt his fingers between her legs she tilted her hips to give him more access to her, anticipating the feel of him covering her, his elbows braced on either side of her as he used his hand to guide his cock to her, carefully easing into her.

"Don't stop," he ordered, and then she felt not one finger, but two, pressing against her and then inside of her and she responded by dragging her fingertips over her clit, feeling the shock of it tighten the muscles in her stomach.

"Show me how to make you come."

His urgency thrilled her. He could have made her come just by replacing his fingers with his cock while she continued to stroke her clitoris, and she sought him with her legs, trying to pull him to her. It made him look up from what he was doing, like he had figured something out, and then his fingers left her with a wet, popping sound that made her cringe a little.

"Roll over," his hands were moving over her, showing her what he wanted, helping her move from her back to her stomach, to her knees. His hand rested on her back to keep her shoulders down as he moved behind her, the head of his cock brushing against her.

Jesse had a cat that went into heat when they were in junior high. Xander and Jesse had tormented her, stroking her back while she stretched out, her hips thrust out, wriggling, and making weird noises. Willow shuddered, wondering if she in any way resembled the cat as she felt the head of his cock pressing against her while his hand moved over her hip and down between her legs.

Too slow, she had wanted to cry out as he slowly sank into her, his fingers practicing what she had shown him. A long keening moan escaped her and she buried her face in the pillow to muffle the sound. He froze, and then withdrew, almost completely. Then he thrust into her, hard enough to make the mattress shift, thumping against the bed frame. The pillow muffled the sounds that she was making, but he heard them. He heard them and he was responding to them.

She pushed against the mattress for leverage, to push back into him, to arch her back as the coil in her belly tightened. They had had sex. They had made love. This was fucking, she realized dimly, hearing the wet slap of flesh, the muffled thump of the mattress, and the sounds that were coming from her as she twisted and stretched and pushed back into him harder and faster.

The sound that left her lips now, while she was alone in bed, made her look to the door again, with its thin band of light from the hallway at the bottom.

She wanted to roll over now. She wanted to be blind in the dark and oblivious. She wanted to be fucked mercilessly until she came, until she was so tired that she would sleep deeply and dreamlessly. She slid her other hand under her pajama bottoms, pushing them down over her hips, fucking herself with two fingers while she stroked her clitoris and anxiously watched the door, praying that it wouldn't open now when she was so close. She bit her lower lip, sucking on it, tasting something that she registered as slightly foreign without being able to identify it. She was so close. So close.

The orgasm that she was struggling to achieve was almost there. Her mind sought scattered images to feed it. The naughtiest thing that they had ever done was at Xander's in the basement, snuggling under a blanket during a movie night. Over the course of three hours and two movies Oz had managed to get his hand under her skirt, outside her panties. She had been terrified that someone would notice or guess that he was slowly driving her crazy.

She imagined now that he did what he didn't do then. That he slipped his hand inside of her panties, rubbing and pinching her clit, keeping her right on the edge of an orgasm until they could leave and then once they were in the quiet confines of the van, bending her over, lifting her skirt, skimming her panties down . . . .

A mewling cry escaped her as her orgasm washed over her before the fantasy was fulfilled. Before she could imagine him fucking her so hard. For the briefest moment, another face flashed behind her closed eyelids, and her heart slammed unsteadily in her chest, but before she could examine it, it was gone and she was left, pleasantly tired for once.

She wiped her hands on her pajamas before straightening them, determined not to feel bad or guilty or even that it was a poor substitute for the real thing. For the briefest moment she debated about getting up and at least washing her hands, but she was too close to falling back asleep, so she rolled over on her side, hugging one of her pillows to her.

She ran her tongue over her lips again. They still felt tingly and there was that odd taste of something that seemed foreign, but not unpleasant. She heaved a sigh. "I miss kissing," she whispered to herself in the dark. It wasn't something that she could do for herself.

Spike waited until her breathing evened out before he moved. When she had started to wake up he had moved away from the bed to find the space between her desk and the wall. It wasn't the darkest spot in the room, and he had sunk into a crouch before she sat up. He was still surprised that she hadn't realized that he was there. That had been the whole point of waking her up.

It was a creative bit of payback for her fucked up spell casting. Scaring the piss out of her, pretending that the chip was no longer functioning had been the plan, but she had stayed in bed and seemed to be drifting back toward sleep when her hands had started moving beneath the blankets.

That was an interesting development. He found himself grinning to himself, while he enjoyed the show. It was fairly tame. No skin visible, given the fact that the blankets remained in place, but he had the stereo effect of sound and scent to liven things up. Who would have thought that Willow was so vocal, such a little siren with her sighs and whimpering little moans? He considered making his presence known after she had gotten herself off. It was probably a bad idea. Pissed off witch with serious control issues was not a wrinkle he was in any position to counter. It had nothing to do with feeling slightly . . . sympathetic when he heard her say that she missed kissing.

Rather than wake her up again, he let himself out of her room, feeling a rather desperate need for a smoke, as well as an urgent need to get away from the scent that lingered in the room. Another perfectly good revenge plan gone to hell because his victim was too busy finger fucking herself to be properly scared, leaving him bored and annoyingly aware that he was more than a little turned on by a girl who was before now, largely associated with the scent of drying tears.

After his encounter with Willow in the factory last year when he kidnapped her on the spur of the moment, Spike had put her in the column of the semi-worthy. She had been scared, which was to be expected, but she held her own. After he had come back, looking to kill Buffy a lot, Red had been unexpectedly amusing after he failed to kill her. He added odd to the qualities that he had assigned to her. During his sojourn as a bathroom inmate he had the day to day version of Willow. Mopey, depressed, childish teenager.

Apparently she was at her best when her life was threatened.

This hadn’t figured in his plan to threaten her life, or at least to remind her that while he was at the moment harmless to her, she better watch her step for the day that he wasn’t. It hadn't been on the forefront of his mind. He had calculated the odds that she would, after he admitted that he couldn't hurt her and that she was safe, consider it penance for the way she had mucked about with him with her spell casting mistake. She seemed to take it very hard and was deeply anxious to make amends.

He would have to come up with something else, and he was primed with information. In addition to being heartbroken, which he could relate to, she was horny. Missing the less elevated aspects of having a man about. A wicked grin formed around the cigarette clenched between his lips as he thought of what might be done about that.

A full day and half passed before he saw her again. She dropped by after class to resume work on one of her book cataloging projects for Giles, still looking guilty and uncertain of her welcome, which no one seemed to take much notice of. There had been a bit of a confab after the cookie baking exercise in self flagellation, in which Giles, Buffy, and Xander all agreed that they needed to pay more attention to how Willow was dealing with her breakup with Oz. Anya was the only hold out, looking incredulous at the idea that somehow they were equally to blame for Willow's screw up.

Having agreed that Willow was in worse shape than they had been willing to acknowledge, Spike expected that there would be some well intentioned plan to keep Willow busy or comforted, or whatever it was that humans did for each other to buck each other up. If she had been a vampire, he would have taken her out on a killing spree and if that didn't perk her up, he probably would have washed his hands of it.

Apparently talking about it was about the extent of the intervention. That and laying off on the spell casting without supervision, which Willow accepted with more chagrin than good grace. She was cataloging books, looking very much like it was a kind of punishment, even though he had the distinct impression that being excessively eager to please authority figures and organizing crap were two of her favorite things. He made himself comfortable on the couch and turned on the television. Passions wasn't on yet, but there was another soap opera on.

Perfect. Giles looked annoyed and eventually took himself off to sit on the patio to read. In the background he heard the muffled clatter of Willow keying information into her computer. On the screen, two of the star crossed leads were getting horizontal.

He shook his head. "You know, they show too much," he said, gesturing to the screen with seemingly naked actors strategically covered by a sheet going at it.

The clatter at the keyboard abated for a second as Willow paused to look at the television.

"It's not romantic," he grumbled. "You don't think that is romantic, do you? You are the target audience for this crap, right?"

"I guess," she allowed. "The candlelight is romantic," she pointed out.

"It's a cliché," he turned to look at her. "Love isn't a pretty setting and choreographed sex. It's messy and awkward."

She tilted her head to one side, a look of concern appearing before she nodded. "Yeah, it is," she agreed. "But it can feel like that looks sometimes."

He lifted his eyebrows questioningly and she ducked her head.

He looked back at the screen. "Maybe," he allowed, grudgingly. "I miss other things, though. Like, knowing that Dru is in the next room. Feeling her slip her fingers inside my hand. Kissing . . ." he didn't have to manufacture the sigh that followed.

There was a long silence from his audience. It was so tempting to look over his shoulder to see what she was doing, but he made himself wait for it.

"Kissing," she echoed, sounding pained.

He turned around, frowning. "Oh, bloody hell," he muttered. "I wasn't thinking. You. Dogboy. Didn't mean to make you think about that, Red," he lied, sounding effortlessly sincere. "I'm just in a mood. Having a bad day."

Her gaze lifted to meet his. So serious. So sad. Not just for herself, either. She was self-involved, but she didn’t lack compassion. Her eyes filled with tears. "I don't seem to be able to stop thinking about it," she said in a tone that suggested that she understood why he might have the same problem.

Crying wasn't what he had been angling for. "Try," he suggested. "I'm having one day. You are having a bad day, everyday."

She looked embarrassed and offended. "Sorry," she muttered.

"And stop doing that, too," he snapped. "You are sorry about everything. Knock it off. You haven't even done anything worth being sorry about. Not really," he went on. "After Dru left me I ended up with Harmony."

She frowned. "That was a rebound-y thing, huh?"

He snorted. "What else? Sort of like Buffy and that Parker bloke, yeah? It doesn't work, but it puts things into perspective."

She shook her head. "I'm so not going there," she said, sounding determined.

He shook his head. "Because it is stupid? And selfish? And it won't change anything?"

She nodded.

"And you know this because you've seen it happen? But you really don't know, do you? You think you miss kissing your mutt, but you just miss kissing, and the only way you are going to find that out is to go out and start finding it out."

She looked startled, probably by the way he slipped that in there. He waited to see if she would get suspicious, but she just looked puzzled and a little worried. "Does it help?"

"While you've got your tongue in someone's mouth it does," he said, sounding cynical and sincere.

She made a face at that, and went back to her work. It was probably true. It probably helped for a while. But what if Oz came back? What would he think if she was indiscriminately kissing her way to oblivion? Buffy and Xander had endured her forays into drunkenness and quick fix spell casting. They weren't nudging her to date again. Not really. Buffy encouraged her to get out more and Xander did too, in a way, but it was mostly a matter of going out with them and re-living the painful experience of being the fifth wheel.

Spike had gone back to watching the television. She looked at the back of his head for a moment. She was rebound-y and he was rebound-y, too. Her eyebrows lifted as she considered the parallels in their situations. His was, by any standard, much worse. He was stuck living with people he hated who hated him right back, unable to do anything about his situation, and abandoned by a woman he had been devoted to for a century. He had decades worth of rebounding to do.