THOUGHTS OF SEDUCTION
Excitement seems to pulse in the air around me, but I can't feel it. I'm surrounded by this cocoon of nervousness that keeps the joy and elation of my fellow classmates from touching me.
I'm lost in a haze, focusing on nothing except the fact that I have to get up in front of all these people and speak. Actually say words. Out loud.
Cordelia's name snaps me out of my thoughts. I watch her walk up for her diploma, surprised when she smiles at me.
I shouldn't be surprised. In the past year or so, we've actually almost become kind of friends. Sort of. At least, she makes Xander happy. In a way.
I think about Xander for a minute, amazed at how far he and I have come. I used to dream we'd end up together. Now…well, my dreams are a little different now.
"Alexander LaVelle Harris."
I grin at the sound of his hated middle name. He practically bounces up on stage. We weren't sure he'd make it here, even with all my tutoring over the years. But Xander is loyal and he knew if he didn't graduate, he'd be letting me down.
So, we'd spent the past three weeks in the library every night. Which isn't that different from normal, except instead of studying monsters, we were studying math.
I cast a quick glance over at Giles. He'd been so great, helping and encouraging. Sometimes, he'd come over to the table and point something out to Xander in a way I would never have thought.
He'd stand there, behind my chair, his hand resting on the back of it and I'd lean back just a little until my shoulder or some part of me would touch him.
I close my eyes and think of the brief moments of contact. Yeah. My dreams have definitely changed.
"Buffy Anne Summers"
I sit up, wondering how this will play out. Buffy's wanted nothing more than to show Snyder up this year.
She takes the diploma and grabs his hand to shake it. I can tell immediately that she's squeezing a little too tightly for his comfort. I giggle and glance over at Giles, wondering if he's seen.
His green eyes meet mine and he smiles. He turns away quickly, but not before I see the smile fade into a frown.
My giggle dies.
My heart stops.
He's been distant lately, especially since I asked if I could practice my speech on him. He said yes, but every time I'd finished, he'd move away, clean his glasses and not say a word.
And every night I'd go home and cry.
I'm in love with him.
As silly and ridiculous and absurd as it sounds, I am. It's been building inside me forever, even though it's taken me this long to know what it was.
He's just always been there. I remember the first day I met him - before Buffy. I walked into the library and we talked for the entire lunch hour.
And that night - for the first time in my life - I dreamed of someone other than Xander.
I look over at him again then look down at my speech. I tried to tell him, in not so many words, that I'm going away. I'm leaving because I can't hide my feelings much longer.
And because I'm hoping he'll kiss me goodbye.
"Your Valedictorian, Willow Rosenberg."
I walk toward the podium, my fear held at bay by the thought of his lips on mine. I imagine his body pressed to me. I'm blushing as I take the diploma from Principal Snyder, hoping no one can read my thoughts.
I push the thoughts of his kisses from my mind, although thoughts of him remain. They're always there. I close my eyes, take a deep breath and step up to the microphone.
"Today, we find a new challenge. The past is gone, merely memories. Some good, some bad. But each memory, no matter its source or affiliation, is a tool that helps us build our future."
"Today, some of us will start building our lives here in sight of our past. Today, others will take their memories to a new place and find a start out of their long shadow."
I look at Cordelia briefly, wishing her luck in my mind. I wonder how hard it will be to leave Sunnydale behind.
"We have duties, obligations. We have the world upon our shoulders."
I'll miss Buffy. But she'll have Xander and Faith. Oz will still help. And she'll always have Giles. My heart hurts at that thought.
"But we are young. We are free."
Xander's smiling proudly at me. I'll always love him, even though I'm no longer in love with him.
"We have choices. But most of all, we have destiny to guide us. And nothing to stop us but fear. But I promise you all, no matter how frightened you might be or where your destiny might take you, someone is watching."
I feel his smile. I wish I could turn and look at him. Wish that he could see in my eyes that I want him to watch over me.
"I'm not so wise as to pretend to have all the answers. But I do know this, we've all proven we can survive the greatest of odds."
Vampires, demons, Hellmouths, Snyder…I smile.
"Which, if you think about it, can only mean one thing." I lean forward; giggling with the excitement that finally touches me and with relief that I'm almost done. "Yay us."
I rush back to my seat as Snyder tries to calm the masses. I did it. I feel like I can do anything.
That thought stops me and I change course, heading for the empty seat next to Giles. I hand him my diploma and wait for Snyder's announcement to move my tassel.
While the rest of the class celebrates with cheers and hat tossing, I slip my hand into his and squeeze.
And make up my mind.
I make my way into the dance, later than the rest of the class. Posing for pictures for the yearbook, my parents, the newspaper has got to be my new least favorite thing in the world. This from someone who has slain vampires and other yucky things. Personally, I'm beginning to agree with the old legend that photographs steal your soul.
I look around, trying to find my friends. Buffy and Angel are lost in their own little world. He's leaving tomorrow. There's trouble brewing in LA, so he's headed there to keep it at bay. And these days, it's getting harder and harder for them to keep their hands off each other.
Xander and Cordelia are dancing near them and I feel the heat from here. She's leaving too and, as much as she's trying to pretend otherwise, she's going to miss him.
I'm surprised they're not in a utility closet.
I look up on stage and sigh. Oz is out of town, so I'm all alone tonight. I smile as I see Giles. Well, sort of.
He's leaning against the wall nearby, rubbing the bridge of his nose. Taking a deep breath, I walk over to him. Placing my hand on his shoulder, I stand on tiptoe and whisper in his ear. "Hey Giles."
He seems to shiver as he nods. "Willow."
I smile. "Having fun?" He looks like he'd rather be hanging upside down over the Master's bones again.
Smiling back at me, he gestures to the floor. "Why aren't you dancing?"
"Who should I dance with?" I shrug. "They've only got tonight. I figure they should enjoy some of it without having to worry about wallflower Willow. Just some of it though, I fully intend to be paid attention to."
I can't help but giggle as my mind conjures up ways of making Giles pay attention to me. Tying him down and placing his sacred texts on my nude body, kissing him while whispering prophecy, undressing in front of him, while dancing some ancient ritual. I look at his eyes and sigh. I wonder if they even see me.
"You did well today, during your speech." He leans over and the warm caress of his breath turns my knees to jelly. "I was very proud."
I don't hear his words; just feel the soft pattern of his breath. He's close enough that if I turn my head, I would be kissing him.
Suddenly, the music changes and I grab his hand, leading him to the back of the gym. "Come on, Giles. Dance with me."
I duck under the bleachers, my heart pounding in my chest. His hand is gripping mine firmly and he's following without protest.
I can do this.
"I really should be watching…"
I ignore him, slipping my arms around his waist. Warmth floods through me as our bodies touch. It takes what little control I have not to start moving my hands. I want to smooth them over his body, to touch him everywhere.
Laying my head against his chest, I tighten my hold on him. We're barely moving, really just standing in each other's arms. I don't even hear the music, just the steady, rapid beat of his heart.
I move a little closer, raising my hand to the lapel of his jacket as his hand finally lands on my waist, playing with the fabric of my gown. His other hand strokes my hair and I wonder, very briefly, if this is how seduction starts.
I stop wondering as I feel the hardening surge of his erection. I duck my head to hide the telltale flush of embarrassment and elation, but I don't pull away. I don't *want* to pull away.
I want to feel it against me. Inside me.
Then suddenly everything seems to fall into place. He wants me. He doesn't want to, if his behavior of late is any indication, but he does. He doesn't love me, but he wants me.
And I love him. I want him. I realize a goodbye kiss won't be enough. Seducing him won't be enough. But it will be something.
The rest of the world comes rushing back with the revelation and I notice the song has changed. About a minute ago. I giggle. "Should we keep dancing?"
I want him to say yes. Knowing that I affect him makes it all seem so easy. But I've never seduced anyone before.
"Would you like to?"
I want to say no. I can't seduce him here where anyone could interrupt us. I should pull away now and try to find a better moment. But I can't turn down the opportunity to stay in his arms.
I nod and we keep moving, slowly swaying in the darkness. His hand is still tangled in my hair and I wish I had the courage to press against it, tilt my head back and kiss him. But I know, whatever I start, I have to finish.
The song ends and I pull away. I'm thankful for the darkness, glad he can't see my heart in my eyes.
"I should go out there and remind Xander that he has to dance with me at least once. And you have…chaperone-y things to do. So…I…" I back away, wondering how I'm supposed to seduce him when I can't even seem to talk to him. Darting forward, using all my courage, I kiss him softly. "Thanks for the dance, Giles."
I practically run out, although I do smile back at him. My whole body is trembling. I sit down in a darkened corner and try to think.
I remember the first time it stopped being just a fantasy. It was Halloween night and I showed up in the library wearing Buffy's idea of a costume. His eyes had taken me in, looking at me like I was a woman.
That night was the night our relationship changed, started becoming something…more. Not that my relationship with Oz wasn't…isn't important, but…
I shake my head. I don't need to convince myself. I need to convince him.
I stand up and walk over to the gang. Xander takes one look at me and asks me to dance. "You okay, Wills?"
"You look…" He shakes his head. "You were great today."
I smile. "Thanks." Looking over his arm, I see Giles by the punch bowl. Smiling even more, I wink at him, loving the rosy blush that stains his cheeks.
He raises his fingers to his lips and blows me a kiss. I blush and bury my head against Xander, trying in vain to suppress my giggles.
When I look up again, he's talking to Snyder. Always a bad sign. He shrugs and heads out of the room, stopping when he sees Mrs. Summers and…oh boy, my mother.
Who will, with her amazing ability to do and say exactly the wrong thing, give one of my secrets away.
I wanted to be the one to tell him.
He looks away from my mother to me and I pretend I don't notice, too busy laughing with all my friends.
I watch him leave the room and know he's headed for the library. Relief floods me as another slow song starts and my four friends are drawn to the dance floor. Taking the back exit, I sneak from the gym into the girl's locker room.
Hanging my dress carefully in my locker, I slip my graduation gown back on. The cool satin feels amazing against my bare skin, bringing my nipples to a sharp point.
Well, it's either the satin or the thought of Giles' mouth on them.
I moan softly at the thought and shut the locker door. The walk to the library is quiet and I hope desperately that everyone stays at the dance. That no vampires attack.
That he doesn't say no.
I stop outside the door I've walked through hundreds of times, gathering my courage.
I've never wanted anyone more than I want him.
Never loved anyone more.
Never been more frightened.
But I won't leave without saying goodbye.
Without a goodbye kiss.
Or something more.
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