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TITLE: Walk on Guilded Splinters (1 of 1)
AUTHOR: David Hearne
SPOILERS: For the first three episodes of Season Six
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Thanks to Dr. John for the song.

It's a bad thing to fear the person you love.

I used to think that I understood how it felt. I wanted to please my father and show my gratitude for his protection. However, I also feared his disgust for what he saw in me. And I was afraid that I enjoyed too much what repelled him.

Then I learned that there was no love between us. Only the fear existed, and even that was based on an illusion.

The love between me and Willow is real, though. It's as real as the air I breathe. I can touch it in the softness of her skin and see it in the curve of her smile.

It's as real as death.

I never thought myself as "gay" before I met her. In a way, I still don't. I've occasionally fantasized about Giles or Xander or (Hecate help me) Spike, but never about Buffy or Anya. Yet all of my feelings eventually turn back to Willow. She's the one with whom I want to share a life. She's the one I want to see at the start of dawn and the coming of night. I want us to be together, start a family, move to Vermont.

Maybe this makes me a Willowsexual. And Willow is a Tarasexual. I don't think she's ever thought about any woman in this way before me.

That sounds like a brag, doesn't it? I wouldn't have thought it possible myself until my brains got fried by a goddess. Just before then, I had my first fight with Willow. We hurt each other in ways which seemed permanent.

What happened after that is not something on which I like to dwell. Let's just say that I was helpless. Then Willow helped me. After that, I knew she cared for me as much as I cared for her.

Yet who is she now? What else does she want besides my love?

She wants to dance.

We've been straightening out inventory in the basement of the Magic Shop. It's after closing time. Anya and Xander are upstairs. Anya is probably fussing over the receipts, and Xander is probably wanting to get her back to their apartment.

A radio is playing in the basement. It's tuned to one of those classic rock stations Giles liked. ("My shop, my music," he would stiffly reply to our entreaties for another station.) We could change the station now, but we have gotten used to it. Besides, listening to The Who or The Kinks or Pink Floyd can help up believe that he's still here with us.

No British rock music is playing now. Instead it's a song with a strange muffled quality. The instruments sound like they were recorded in rooms far removed from each other. Percussion echoes against unseen walls, and a guitar twangs. Then a gruff voice sings. Unlike the instruments, it seems to be coming from right in front of you.

"Walk through the fire/ Fly through the smoke/ See my enemy/ At the end of their rope..."

The song moves with a casual rhythm which I can feel as if it was coming out of speakers ten-feet high. This is not music for a club, though. It's not meant for a crowded dance floor. You listen to this when you're alone, or when you're with one other person.

I turn to that one other person. It's just an instinct on my part. Somehow I know that the song is affecting her.

She's not sorting through jars of spider eyes anymore. Her body sways slightly left and right, the motion beginning in her shoulders and then descending down her back to her bottom, then curling its way back to her neck.

Willow has never been a good dancer. Neither am I. When the music is fast and upbeat, we skip and jiggle and make idiots out of ourselves, knowing we look silly but not caring.

Yet there she is now, moving with no self-consciousness and an easy grace. The slow, infectious music continues as if it was playing just for her.

Then she looks over her shoulder at me.

She smiles. I love Willow's smiles. They can be comforting and kind, yet also shy. It's the expression of a person who understands her own weaknesses as well as yours.

This isn't a Willow smile. It's a smile of hunger.

"Walk to me, get it, come, come/ Walk on guilded splinters/ Walk to me, get it, come, come/ Walk on guilded splinters..."

I'm hungry for her as well. That's why I cross over to her as she turns completely toward me. In the middle of masks, dog skulls, ivory wands, and skins of fish which swam only in the most secret ponds, we dance together. I give myself over to the intensifying heat of her body and look nowhere else except at her eyes. I do this even as I think --

Why would Buffy be in Hell? Why would the woman who had sacrificed herself for the world be damned? It doesn't make sense.

But who am I to ask these questions? What do I understand? Willow and Xander have been at this for longer than I have. I'm not an O.S. --Original Scooby. If they're right with Buffy's story, then I'm right with it and there's no reason why I shouldn't enjoy Willow's hands tightening around my backside and there's no reason why our breasts can't rub against each other and...

And Spike said that Willow had to have known the risks. That's why she kept him out of the loop. He's five times older than any of us. The supernatural is his everyday life. Shouldn't I listen to what he says about Willow...

...who is so sweet and kind and she only wanted to bring her friend back, the friend who was needed by her, by Dawn, by the whole world and everything is fine now so I can taste my lover's mouth and close my eyes...

"I roll out my coffin/ Drink poison in my chalice/ Pride begins to fade/ And you all feel my malice..."

Even Xander has his doubts, and he's known Willow since grade school. I told him that it was impossible for Willow to be so callous. I saw her black eyes, though. I felt the overwhelming power around her. When she unleashed her most violent magic on Glory, did something else get freed as well? If I open my eyes now, what will I see?

I don't want to see anything. I just want to taste her and feel her and smell her. That is all I want.

Isn't it?

"Till I burn up/ Till I burn up..."

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