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“Please tell me that I didn’t walk in on what it looks like I walked in on,” Dawn had a way of talking her older sister in a way that made Buffy feel as though every personal decision she made was suspect. Especially when she caught her doing something embarrassing.

Like covering her entire apartment with candles and yellow tulip petals.

Buffy popped up from behind the couch and blushed, “Well… what does it look like I’m doing.”

Dawn rolled her eyes, “It looks like you are trying to seduce your girlfriend and doing a really bad job of it.”

Buffy looked around the room and catalogued the romantic gestures, “Chocolates—”

“With walnuts? Willow is allergic.”


“This is cheap, nasty sparkling wine. The same bottle that she got really sick on last New Year’s.”


“Flower petals, you took Will’s favorite flowers and destroyed them just for a photo-op you can’t actually show anyone.”

“I bought the petals from the florist after a wedding cancellation – don’t ask – and there are full-stem tulips in a pot in the bedroom.”

Dawn pursed her lips and folded her arms across her chest.

“And! And candles! Candles are romantic.”

“Where did you read that, a men’s magazine? Men are idiots. Anyway – there’s so many candles, where are you going to actually have sex? One good kiss and your couch is on fire. Or at the very least there’s wax in the carpet.”

Buffy looked around the room at the hundred-or-so tea-lights she got on sale earlier that week, “So no candles?”

Dawn sighed and Buffy got the distinct impression her antics would be all over twitter and Instagram within the hour, “Just… higher up? On the mantle, on the table, but not on the coffee table or any low surfaces. You want mood lighting, but not a fire hazard.” She picked up a few candles and moved them from the low end-tables next to the couch up to join the others on the mantle place. “Romance has to have a certain amount of… well, spontaneity. If you can’t fling off your bra without worrying it’s going to catch on a candle then it takes a bit of the fun out of it.”

Buffy eyed her younger sister suspiciously, “You sound like you know this from experience.”

The look Dawn gave her could kill, “Do you really want to have that conversation right now? The last time you tried to give me a lecture, you turned a special shade of red before the word condom ever left your lips and then I ended up showing you how to use a dental dam.”

“I’m bad at this,” Buffy gestured at the apartment helplessly. “It’s not my fault I was too busy saving the world to learn the basics of dating.”

“Hon, this isn’t dating. This is living with someone and forgetting your anniversary.”

Dawn was already in the bedroom and doubled over laughing at the spread of strawberries and chocolate syrup Buffy had arranged there. “I didn’t forget – and don’t go in there!”

Dawn came back into the living room gasping and holding her sides, “You’re right. I’m sorry. You didn’t forget. You just didn’t do anything special and now you are making up for it and that’s noble and awesome. You’re a good girlfriend.”

“Stop laughing at me and check on the lasagna.”

Dawn pulled her phone out of her back pocket and smiled at the screen when it lit up in her hand.

“What are you doing here, anyway?”

Dawn blinked up at her, “Logan and I had a bet that you’d be going overboard today.” Buffy blushed and her sister pulled her into a hug. “Thanks, sis. I got a full month of dish-duty out of her.”

“Are you going to help with the lasagna or not?”

“Only if you let me approve what you’ll be wearing.”

Buffy blinked.

“You are going to put on sexy lingerie so that when she walks in she? … Oh my god you infant. Go get the nightie Faith bought you for Christmas.”

“How did you know about that?”

“Didn’t it seem at all strange to you that it matches perfectly with the bra and panties set I got you?... Of course it didn’t. Please just put it on while I fix the half-burnt, half-raw boxed lasagna and also you owe me.”

Buffy went to the bedroom and opened the top drawer of her dresser, pulling a small box out from underneath her versatile cotton thongs and endless supply of sports bras. The sheer pink nightie and matching lingerie set had made her laugh three months ago, and she had nearly forgotten about it, but now she felt as though she owed Faith and Dawn a very nice thank you card. From the kitchen, she could hear Dawn giggling to herself and cutlery being moved around. She had about fifteen minutes before Willow was due back from her lecture at Slayer-central to the other witches. They’d both been working overtime the past month and … well Buffy wasn’t the only one who forgot their one-year anniversary. It had been a bouquet of balloons from Xander that had reminded them both.

That was a week ago.

Buffy sighed and shrugged out of her t-shirt and jeans.

“Hide the dirty laundry in the bathroom so it doesn’t break the mood and paint your toenails pink and have fun and I’ll see you on Monday!”

“Kay! Thanks for everything!” Buffy shouted back from behind her closed bedroom door.

“I feel like I should wish you luck or something – you don’t need anymore pointers do you, because Faith showed me this—“

Goodbye Dawn!

The front door closed with a snap.

Buffy rubbed the lotion Willow got her as a surprise a few weeks ago, but that she always forgot to use, over her stomach and legs. Then hid the laundry basket in the tub like Dawn suggested; painted her nails and toes with a light pink she found in Will’s side of the bathroom; and then brushed her hair until it crackled.

But Willow still wasn’t home.

Buffy wandered out to the kitchen and saw that Dawn had arranged the lasagna and salad and replaced the sparkling white wine with a bottle of red… something. From the bottle, Buffy guessed that it must be expensive.

The clock and the calendar confirmed that Willow should have been home five minutes ago.

Buffy rushed over to the couch and draped herself in what she hoped was a seductive pose over the couch and waited.


When Willow shook her awake, the clock above the mantle red two in the morning and a faint smell of smoke permeated the apartment.

“Sweetie? You fell asleep! I’m so sorry I’m so late coming home!”

“Why does it smell like smoke?”

“I just blew out all the candles… some of them well… I’m going to have to research how to get candle wax out of carpet if we want our deposit back.”


“It’s my fault. I should have called. I didn’t want to wake you.”

Buffy blinked at Willow through the darkness, “I was being romantic.”

“And sexy, I see.”

“Sorry it didn’t work… we can still—”

“No,” Willow put her finger on Buffy’s lips. “I’ll put the food away. You go crawl into bed. We can put a pin in this, okay?”

“Happy anniversary.”

“Happy anniversary.”



The next morning Buffy had to rush off to greet some new recruits and then got caught at headquarters dealing with a mission that had gone slightly awry in Ivory Coast.

“Politics,” she said into her cell phone late that night.

“Human or demon?” Willow’s voice came back, tinny and small.

Buffy rubbed her hand over her face, “Both. Neither. I can’t make heads or tails of it. I gotta go down there.”

“I understand.”

“I’m so sorry—”

“Hey. Don’t worry. Duty calls, remember?”

“Can you get Dawn to the airport?”

“Andrew already dropped her off an hour ago. She had to catch an earlier fight because… oh shit… Buff I gotta go. Call me when you land, okay?”

Buffy looked down at her black cell phone screen, “Duty calls.”


It was another three weeks before they were both awake in the apartment at the same time. Buffy had crawled into bed sometime after four in the morning, dressed in her yummy sushi pajamas, and woke around noon to Willow jumping on the bed.

“Guess what?”

Buffy groaned, “Another emergency?”

“Nope!” Willow crowed, “There’s a Harry Potter marathon on tv today! You slept through Sorcerer, but don’t worry you’ve seen it before.”

Buffy eyed her girlfriend warily – clad in a pair of red flannel pajamas, “There must be a catch. There’s always a catch.”

Willow kissed her on the nose, “And I made pancakes!” She bounded out the door and called from the kitchen as an afterthought, “Oh, Giles called and Andrew called and then Xander called, but I told them that we believed in them completely and not to call for another twenty-four hours or I’d turn their hair green.”


They spent the day on the couch in their pajamas, wrapped around each other for the first time in months with nothing to worry about and no meetings or war councils to attend for just a few more hours.

Well… most of the time they were in their pajamas. After Thai takeout they were pretty much naked the rest of the time.

Just before crawling into bed, Buffy checked her phone and laughed.

“What does it say?” Willow said from under the covers.

“It’s Dawn. She says: hey loser, get laid yet?

Willow popped up and snatched the phone from her hand and typed something in response quickly before throwing the phone across the room and smiling up at Buffy, “Yeah… about that.”

“You are insatiable!” Buffy laughed, leaning down to kiss her softly.


A few days later, it finally occurred to Buffy to check her messages and see what Willow had sent.

Tell Logan:: Tickle wars, 95% of the time, end in sex ~W

She smiled and then walked back into the fray.


Hey, a girl can check her txts in the middle of a battle.

Especially if she’s a Slayer.