Willow stumbled away from the nightmare scene before her, not caring if they heard her or not. She ran out of the Bronze, ignoring everyone around her. Not the safest thing to do, but she was distraught. She knew things between her and Oz had been a little strained since they got back together, but this…she hadn’t expected this.
She fumbled to get the door unlocked when she got home and bolted up the stairs to the safety of her room. With a sob she flung herself on her bed and buried her face in a pillow. The tears didn’t last long, though. Some part of her knew they wouldn’t last, but she thought he’d be more of a man about it. Yeah, she might have made with the smoochies with Xander, but they had gotten past it and moved on. Or so she’d thought. Macking on some groupie was just…icky. And humiliating. And gross. And really, really sleazy. And stereotypical musician behaviour. She thought he was above that.
Willow’s phone rang and she automatically reached for it, but stopped just before picking it up. She didn’t want to talk to Oz, if it was him. She didn’t want to talk to anyone at the moment. She wanted to wallow in self pity and get it over with so she could be her normal Willow-y self tomorrow. Well, by Monday anyway.
She sighed and got up. A bubble bath, a big steaming mug of hot chocolate, and a sappy movie were the order of the night. Tomorrow, well, that was many hours away.
The flowers arrived midway through third period on Monday. Willow’s face matched her hair when the teacher called her name. She ducked her head and carried the bouquet back to her desk. She could hear Harmony and Aura whispering about it, but ignored them. She sat down and took a good look at them.
She loved daisies. They were her favourite flowers, so fresh and happy. Seeing a daisy always made her smile. She looked for a card, but all she saw was the little business card with her name and classroom number written on it.
Had Oz done this? If he had it was kind of a half-assed apology, if he hadn’t even included a note. She hadn’t seen or heard from him since Friday night. There had been no phone calls from him, despite the occasional ringing of her phone. No messages either.
Well, he was gonna have to work harder.
Willow walked towards the library after her last class, the flowers cradled in her arm. Percy West separated from his group of friends and fell into step with her. “Hey, Rosenberg,” he said.
She blinked at him. “H-hi, Percy.” He was talking to her? In the middle of the hallway? It was true he’d been a bit nicer to her since her doppelganger had beat the crap out of him a few weeks ago, but he still wasn’t one for acknowledging her existence outside of their tutoring sessions.
He nodded at the daisies. “Nice flowers. Special occasion?”
She shrugged. “Thanks. Not sure. There was no card. If they’re from who I think they’re from, it’s an apology and not a very good one. If they’re not then I have no idea.”
He grinned at her crookedly. “So you might have a secret admirer.”
Willow snorted delicately. “Oh yeah, that’s a real possibility.”
“I think you’re totally worth admiring,” Percy said then he seemed to realize what he’d said. Willow watched with interest as he flushed and stammered. “Uh, anyway, I was wondering if we could change the time for our next session. I was thinking maybe Friday night, around 7? We could get something to eat and you could enlighten me about The New Deal.”
Willow thought for a moment, making sure there wasn’t any Scooby stuff she needed to be doing, and then said, “O-okay.”
He smiled at her and her heart skipped a little beat. He sure did have a nice smile. “Great. I’ll pick you up then. What’s your address?”
She blinked at him again. “Um, actually, why don’t you pick me up here? I’ve got stuff to do here and it’s gonna take awhile.”
They’d arrived at the library doors and she stopped, as did he. “Sure, no problem. I’ll see you tomorrow.” He smiled at her again then headed off.
Willow watched him go and muttered, “Strange,” to herself as she entered the library.
Buffy looked up from the book she wasn’t reading and smiled. “Ooo, flowers! Did your honey send a special delivery?”
Willow grimaced as she set her books and the bouquet down. “Not sure, but he’s a sorry mutt if he did and thinks this’ll make everything better.”
Buffy’s eyebrows rose. “Trouble in paradise?” She’d been cooped up with Wesley for the weekend, so she hadn’t been able to spend any time with her best friend.
Willow flopped into a chair and stared at the daisies morosely. “I caught Oz making out with a groupie Friday night.”
Buffy’s jaw dropped. “Really?” At Willow’s look, she said hurriedly, “Not that I doubt you, of course not, but Oz? That doesn’t seem like him. What’d he say?”
Willow picked at a thread on the hem of her skirt. “I didn’t think it was like him either, but there he was, bold as you please with his tongue down some skanky ho’s throat. I didn’t stick around to hear any excuses. I haven’t talked to him.”
Buffy came around the table and perched on the edge of it. “You haven’t seen him since then? That’s…want me to slay him?”
Willow looked up at her with wide eyes. Buffy held up her hands. “I’m just sayin’, technically he falls in my jurisdiction, and if you want, I’ll totally take him out for cheating on you. That’s what friends are for.”
Willow stared at her for another moment before chuckling and standing up to pull Buffy into a hug. “Thank you, but I think we’ll hold that plan in reserve. Maybe it’s payback for the fluke with Xander, but that doesn’t make it hurt any less.”
Buffy hugged her back hard. When they pulled apart she tucked a strand of hair behind Willow’s ear. “It’s been quite awhile since that. If it were payback, he should have done it months ago. Not that I condone such behavior, but this is just cruel and you don’t deserve it. You should have called me. We could have done an ‘I Hate Men Weekend’.”
Willow sat back down. “You were busy with Slayer stuff. Besides, I kinda wanted to be alone. I did the self pity thing and I’m dealing. Don’t know if I’m quite ready to see him yet, though.”
Giles and Wesley entered the library then, arguing about something. Xander soon joined them and the group settled down to see if anything was on the agenda apocalypse-wise. A few hours later it was just Willow and Buffy in the main room. They were talking quietly when the library doors opened and Oz strolled in.
He looked between the two girls and the bouquet of flowers on the table. “Nice flowers. Who’s the lucky girl?”
Willow bit her lip and looked down. “Guess that answers that,” she said softly. Buffy glared at Oz and moved to put her arm around Willow’s shoulders.
Oz blinked at Buffy’s glare and looked at his girlfriend. “Willow?”
Buffy stood up straight. “I think I hear Giles calling for me. I’ll just go be elsewhere.”
Willow and Oz watched her leave and Oz said, “That was subtle in a way that really wasn’t.” He looked back at Willow. “What’s up?”
She looked at him. He was the first guy to really notice her. Her first love other than the crush she’d had on Xander for forever. His kisses made her tingle. But looking at him right now, she didn’t feel any of that. All she felt was irritation that he could be so casual and act like he hadn’t been playing tonsil hockey with some bimbo three days ago. She finally said, “Have a good weekend?”
He looked a little uncomfortable, but said, “Yeah. We had a gig in Malibu.”
Willow nodded. “You didn’t think I might like to have gone?”
“Well, I figured you’d be studying. I wouldn’t want to take you away from that.”
She looked down. “Of course not. You’re good to me that way.” She looked back up and he took a step back at the expression on her face. “I don’t suppose you not telling me would have anything to do with that girl I saw you making out with at the Bronze Friday night, would it?”
Oz blinked at her, which was the equivalent of a whole bunch of babbling for her. She nodded sadly. “How long?”
He cocked his head then sighed. “About a month.”
“The gig in Monterey?”
He licked his lips. “Yeah.”
“And you didn’t say anything then because?”
“Didn’t know if it was going anywhere.”
She shook her head. “Don’t. Just go.”
He shifted from foot to foot. “Actually, the sun’s about to set.”
Willow thought about it for a second. “Oh. Oh! Right. Then I’ll go.” She stood up and grabbed her things. She looked at the daisies and a small smile curved her lips. Maybe she had an admirer after all.
“So the flowers are yours?”
She looked at Oz. “Yeah. I thought they might have been from you, but obviously they weren’t. I don’t know who sent them to me.”
She looked at the clock. “You’d better get in the cage. I guess I’ll see you around.” She walked out of the library without a backward glance. Yeah, it hurt, but this wasn’t going to break her. She looked at the flowers again. Somebody other than Oz apparently liked her. That was a good in her book.
Another bouquet of daisies arrived in the middle of her last class on Friday. This time there was a card.
Just wanted to see you smile again.
There was no signature. Someone besides Buffy and Xander had noticed she’d been down this week? That was almost disturbing, but she decided to see it as sweet. She just wished she knew who it was.
When the bell rang, she stopped by her locker then headed for the library.
She turned at the sound of her name being called and watched Percy jog towards her. He smiled at her as he drew near. “More flowers?”
She glanced down at the happy little yellow faces and smiled. “Yeah. I guess you were right about that admirer. I just wished I knew it was.” She looked up at him. “What can I do for you?”
He blinked then said, “Oh! I just wanted to make sure we were still on for tonight. Practice should be over around six-thirty, so I’ll be at the library after I shower and stuff.”
She’d almost forgotten that they were supposed to meet later that night. “Right. Seven. I’ll be there.”
“Good. You like Italian? I thought we might go to Michaelangelo’s.”
Willow looked down at the jeans and sweater she was wearing. “Um, I think I’m a little underdressed for that place, Percy.” Michaelangelo’s? That was a date place. Were they going on a date?
She looked at him in alarm. “Is this a date?”
Percy ducked his head and she could swear he blushed. “Maybe. If you wanted it to be.”
Willow’s mouth opened and closed a couple of times. Percy West was asking her out on a date? For more than just studying? Holy Hannah. “I-I-I don’t know what to say. I-I mean I just broke up with my boyfriend at the beginning of the week.” She noticed the pinched look he got when she mentioned Oz. “Percy?”
He looked at her. “What he did was very uncool. You shouldn’t have found out that way.”
One of her eyebrows rose. “You knew?”
“I saw them on Friday. I saw you find them then run out. I tried to catch you, but you ran too fast. You didn’t deserve that.”
Willow studied him for a moment. A light bulb went on. “You were the one that called off and on all weekend.” He nodded sheepishly. “But you didn’t leave a message.”
“Didn’t know what to say that wouldn’t have sounded stupid.” He rubbed a hand over the back of his neck.
Willow looked at the flowers in her arms then back up at him. “The flowers are from you. The ones on Monday and these.” He nodded and looked away. She could feel a grin of monster proportions trying to get out. He looked so embarrassed. It was cute. “How did you know daisies were my favourite?”
He looked at her again and she caught her breath at the look in his eyes. He reached out and lightly touched the beaded necklace at her throat. “I didn’t. They remind me of you. You wear this necklace a lot. I took a chance.”
He dropped his hand as she reached up and fingered the choker. The rainbow colors matched most of her clothes. That was one of the big reasons she wore it so often, but the other was that the little flowers reminded her of daisies.
Oz had never known daisies were her favourite, but Percy West, star of the Sunnydale High Basketball team did. She hoped the grin on her face wasn’t as goofy as she thought it might be.
“Why me?” she asked suddenly.
He looked at the ground again before he took a deep breath and met her eyes. “You made me take a look and really see myself. I didn’t really like what I found. What you did to me at the Bronze that night…no one has ever stood up to me like that before. I realized that I was a first class jerk, just expecting everything to be done for me. Yeah, it’ll get me through, but that’s no way to live. I want to learn stuff and you’re a good teacher. I saw a different side of you and I liked it. It scared the crap out of me, but I liked it.”
Willow deflated a little. He like her skanky vampire double, not her. “You know that wasn’t really me, right? I’m not a badass,” she said softly.
He put his finger under her chin and lifted her face up. “You can be. You stand up for yourself now in a way you didn’t use to. You might not beat people up, but you’re pretty scary in your own way. I know there’s some funny stuff that goes on in this town. I don’t necessarily understand it, but I know you’re a part of it. You can’t be a timid little mouse if you hang out with Buffy. That is one scary girl. You hold your own and I see that now. I see a lot of things.” He moved his hand and rubbed some of her hair between his fingers before tucking it behind her ear. “You’re pretty. I never noticed that before, but you really are pretty. And your smile lights up a room.”
Willow blushed and ducked her head. Only Oz and Xander had ever told her she was pretty. She wasn’t used to this.
He dropped his hand and stuffed them both in his pockets. “You’re like the daisies: fresh and sweet and happy. I’d like to know you better, Rosenberg.”
Her lips quirked and she looked up at him. “You could start by calling me Willow, West.”
He grinned back at her. “Okay…Willow. Will you have dinner with me tonight?”
Oh, she liked how he said her name. She wondered if this was too soon after Oz. Maybe, but she kinda didn’t care.
“I think I’d like to know you better, too. Yes, I’ll have dinner with you.”
He smiled at her. Before he could say anything one of his teammates yelled for him. He waved to let him know he was on his way then leaned in and kissed Willow on the cheek. “Don’t worry about your clothes. I think you look great. See you later, Willow.” He left her standing in the quad with a wondering grin on her face.
She shook herself and started towards the library. She couldn’t wait to tell Buffy.
Written for the fantabulous Gabrielle in lieu of stealing Milk Duds so she could launch a ‘Free Danielle’ campaign. I hope you like this, honey.
Thanks be to Elisabeth for the beta.