Strong Enough
by Kimberly

"Truth or dare?"

"You're kidding me right?!" Cordelia asked incredulously.

"Nope...truth or dare?"

"Willow, I am not about to play a party-game that went out when I was like 12!"

Willow poked out her bottom lip, "please, it's my birthday party, and you promised I could do what I wanted."

"It's your party and you can pout if you want to, pout if you want to..."

"You're not helping Faith." Cordelia said looking over to the slayer who was sprawled out on her couch. Okay, so she had promised Willow the best sleep-over birthday party ever, since she never had one growing up, but that did NOT mean she had to play truth or dare...did it?

"Sorry C, but you DID promise her anything, Freddie and I were there, right Freddie?" Faith asked the quiet girl sitting on the floor.

"That's right Cordelia, we were all sitting in the office and you came up with the idea and then you told Willow..." Cordelia cut Fred off.

"Thank you Fred, I remember." After a sight Cordelia gave in, hopefully they would all get so drunk later everyone would forget the whole game ever happened. "Truth."

"Okay, truth, um..." It was hard for Willow to think of a question, during the last few months that she was in L.A. Cordelia had told her just about everything about herself, and she had done the same...hell she even knew all about Faith now. Willow got an evil little glint in her eye and caused Cordelia to swallow hard, "just what all did you and Xander do in those broom closets?"

"Make-out." Cordelia answered simply causing Faith to snort. "And what was that for, if I recall it was you who got that cherry."

"Trust me C you didn't miss out on much." Faith said still snickering, "not tell the class the rest."

"Rest?" Cordelia tried the innocent approach, when she saw Faith wasn't going to let her get away with it she fessed up, "and there was some light petting." Faith snorted again. "Half naked heavy petting then, happy?!" Faith just laughed.

"Actually could have done without the imagery I have floating around in my head right now." Willow said with a little scowl. She thought of Xander as a brother now, and thinking of him and her potential girlfriend doing anything made her queasy.

"It was your question." Cordelia pointed out with a little scowl. Ready to get the attention away from herself Cordelia looked to Fred thinking anything asked would be safe territory, "truth or dare?"

"Oh, truth." Fred said nervously, she had never played this before so she was a little scared.

"Okay truth, of all the Angel Investigations crew who would you date?" Cordelia asked already knowing what the answer would be.

"Charles." Fred said with a little blush. Even though she and Gunn were complete opposites she had the hugest crush on him...and sometimes it seemed as though it was returned. Fred looked to Faith, "truth or dare?"

"Truth." Faith answered, she was afraid a dare would involve some kind of big math problem, and she didn't get along to well with those.

"Have you ever been in love?"

"Yes." Was the simple reply Faith gave.

"Really, with who?" Fred asked eager to know.

"Sorry Freddie, one question at a time, Red, truth or dare?" Faith answered, not wanting to go into it. Sure she had confessed a lot to Willow, Angel and Cordelia since her release, but that was not something she was willing to admit to just yet.

"I'll live dangerously, dare." Willow answered; a little giddy that everyone was actually playing along. This was the best birthday she could remember having for a while. She missed having Buffy and Xander here though...and Tara.

Faith thought really hard about what she would do, so many evil little ideas popped into her head. "Kiss...Queen C." Faith knew about Cordelia's feelings for Willow, and in the past few months had seen Willow tentatively start to return them, so she saw this as a perfect way to light a little fire under their asses.

"Faith that's not funny think of something else." Cordelia said while glaring at Faith. She wanted to kiss Willow more than anything else on Earth, but she wasn't about to let Willow feel pressured in to it.

"Why?" Willow pouted through a little smile, "don't wanna kiss little ol' me?" Willow could definitely feel her wine cooler kicking in, full force at that.

"Um...of course, it's just...just..."

"Just what Cordelia?" Willow asked as she moved closer to the brunette. Both had completely forgotten the other two women in the room.

"I want you to want it...when I kiss you..." Cordelia answered softly, looking into Willow's eyes and starting to loose her ability to hold back.

"I want." Something inside snapped into place for both girls as they leaned into each other, lips parting, readying to meet...

Knock, knock!

"Oh god." Cordelia groaned out as she moved away from Willow. Flustered she looked around the room trying to figure out where the knock had come from when it came again. Some one was at the front door. Cordelia got up and answered the door seeing three people she definitely didn't expect to see. "Buffy, Xander, Dawn, in..."

Upon hearing the names of her friends Willow jumped up. She hadn't talked to or seen any of them since she had left Sunnydale, and now here they were standing in Cordelia's living room in L.A. "What are you guys doing here?" Willow asked with a little fear in her voice. She wasn't ready to face them yet. She was supposed to pick the time to talk to them again, not the other way around.

"Happy birthday!" Dawn said excitedly, "You didn't think we forgot did you?" Dawn bounded over and gave Willow a big hug then thrush her gift into her hands.

"Thanks Dawnie." Willow said automatically, though she was looking over the young girl's shoulder to Buffy and Xander.

Xander walked over next and gave her an awkward little hug, "happy birthday Wills."

"Thank you Xander."

Buffy was last, though she didn't give Willow a hug, just a little wave. "Happy b-day." Buffy and Willow both felt horrible about the distance between them. But they had both allowed the fight between them to remain unresolved, and now neither knew how to fix it, if it could be fixed at all.

During all the commotion Faith had slipped out to Cordelia's bedroom, then out the window. She knew things were going to be hard enough with the Scooby gang around without her to add to it.

Everyone stood there awkwardly looking at each other, no one really knowing what to say. Fred, not really knowing half the people in the room, decided she should flee like Faith had. "Um," exaggerated yawn, "Lookie at the time, boy it's late, I should go...bye Willow happy birthday...see you at work..." And with that she was gone leaving the old Sunnydale gang together for the first time in a long time.

Willow was the first to speak, "so what are you guys doing here...really?"

"Your birthday, I talked them into taking vacations, silly workaholics they are, and here we are." Dawn said brightly. She was oblivious to the tension in the room between the old friends; she just simply chose to ignore it. "Open your present."

Willow obeyed and unwrapped the colorful paper from around a shoebox. Opening the shoebox she moved all the tissue paper aside and saw a framed picture. It was from the Christmas before Joyce had died, everyone was in it. Giles, Dawn, Xander, Anya, Buffy, Joyce, herself, and...and Tara. They all looked so happy. Spike had dropped by and taken it for them so that they could all be in it. "Thank you Dawnie, it's lovely."

"Well it was Buffy's idea, and Xander made the frame, but I wrapped it." Dawn said happily, she was glad Willow had liked it.

"It's perfect, I'll hang it on the wall when I get home." Willow answered as she gave the teen another hug.

"Home, we thought you lived here, when Angel said we could find you here, just assumed you guys were roommates..." Xander trailed off.

"Nope, I live in the Hyperian, just here for a little birthday party which all the guests seemed to have disappeared." Looking around she saw that Faith had vanished, and Cordelia had wondered into the kitchen to give them some privacy.

"Sorry, didn't mean to break up the party." Buffy said quietly, though she knew Willow would never assume something like that she wanted to clear it up.

"It's okay." Willow answered. Things grew silent again, no one knowing what to say after so much time. A dish breaking in the kitchen drew their attention and Willow ran in to find Cordelia crouched over the counter. Sure the visions didn't hurt anymore, but that didn't mean that what ever the seer was seeing didn't cause her pain. "Cordy?"

"Ah, I need to get Angel, seven vamps attacking some highschool kids at the park." Cordelia said trying to shake the vision from her mind.

"Saved by the vision." Willow said for Cordelia's ears only, making the brunette seer smile. "Um, we have to go, work calls..." Willow said as she headed for the door with Cordy.

"Wait we'll come with." Dawn and Xander said as they caught up, Buffy trailing behind.

"Good idea, we can set some rooms up for you to stay in." Cordelia answer, in a whisper to Willow she said, "and you can stay here if you want."

"Thanks, but I have to face it sometime." Willow said sadly.

"Sure you're strong enough?" Cordelia asked with concern, knowing Willow had wanted to put this off for at least a few more months.

"Don't know...guess I'll have to be." Willow answered, getting closer to Cordelia for comfort, which the brunette happily gave.

Not realizing that Buffy's slayer hearing had picked up the conversation they just kept on going, no one noticing the tears forming in her eyes.


"Hey A?" Faith called out as she entered the Hyperion.

"Thought you were at Willow's party." Angel said by way of announcing himself.

"I was until B and the Scoob troupe crashed. Got kind crowded so I motored."

"Did they see you?" Angel asked, probably thinking about how he was going to explain Faith's presence to his ex-lover.

"Nope. So what are you doing tonight?" Faith flung herself down on one of the couches, bummed out that her plans for the night had fallen through. And she had really wanted to be there when Willow opened her gifts too. She had spent four hours at the mall with CORDELIA to buy it, and help the other brunette pick one out, that was more torture than she ever received in jail. She deserved to see Willow open them up.

"Brooding, wanna join me?" Angel asked with a playful smirk, hoping to cheer the slayer up. Even though Faith wouldn't admit out loud that she was upset she had to leave, she was. She had confided in him earlier in the week that it was the first one she had ever been invited to. And the fact it had been Willow who had invited her made it all the more important to her.

"Wow. As fun as that sounds, no...wanna spar?" Faith asked with a hopeful smile. Instead of answering Angel attacked with a quick cross. Faith blocked and spun down knocking Angel's legs out from under him. Angel quickly kicked up and got his feet under him again, doing everything he could to block the attack the brunette slayer was sending at him.

And that's how Willow, Cordelia, and the Scooby gang found them. Neither Cordy or Willow thought anything of it, but as soon as Buffy entered she jumped to conclusions, none of which were good, and attacked Faith from her blind side.

"Buffy, NO!" Angel, Willow, and Cordelia called out in unison. Faith for her part was to busy blocking Buffy's attacks. Passing up plenty of opportunities to go on the offensive. Buffy, ignoring the shouts to stop, tossed Faith against a wall, and was about to go for the knockout shot when Angel tackled her. "Stop!"

"Get off Angel! What the hell is going on?! She was attacking you, so why are you fighting me?!" Buffy demanded to know. Faith just stayed quietly against the wall; head down, cradling her now injured arm.

"I don't suppose we could do this after we save the people in Cordy's vision?" Willow asked hoping to avoid the whole situation.

"You knew psycho slayer was here?" Xander asked shocked. He thought of everyone Willow hated Faith as much as he did.

"Yes, I knew FAITH was here. Yes, she was at my FIRST ever slumber birthday party, and had to leave 'cause YOU crashed. Faith works here with us, and yes Faith is one of my friends! So back off and go home if you don't like it!" Willow shouted, her anger getting the better of her. Dawn, Buffy, and Xander just stood shocked at their old friend's outburst.

"Red, you don't have to defend me, they got plenty to reason to hate my guts." Faith said, speaking up in the silence that had descended after Willow's explosion.

"Yeah, about the same reason they have to hate me, and they came to wish me a happy birthday." Willow answered back. Cordelia started a slow scratching motion on Willow's back, calming the fiery red head almost immediately.

"That is completely different!" Buffy said through clenched teeth.

"Yeah, you're right, Faith helped someone try and take over the world, I just tried to end it." Willow said softly, another silence filled the room.

This time it was Angel to break the quiet, "Did you say something about a vision?" Everyone just stated at the souled vampire.

The doors opened and Fred walked in with Gunn. "Whoa, what's with the tension?" Gunn asked as he walked further into the room.

"Charles, meet Xander, Dawn and Buffy." Fred introduced. The tension was therefore explained.

"Oh, what's up?" He nodded to those in the room then looked worriedly to the injured Faith, "Yo Slay girl, what happened to you?"

"Nothing G-man. So Queen C where do we need to go to help whoever?" Faith asked to get the room's attention off of her.

"City Park, by the big ugly fountain. Gang of vamps." Cordy answered. "Why don't you, Angel, and Gunn take care of it? I'll call Wes and tell him what's going on, and we'll set some rooms up for our...guests." The group nodded agreeing with the plan and Angel, Faith, and Gunn walked out of the hotel.

"I'll go call Wesley." Fred said and then escaped the room. Leaving behind the old Scooby gang once again.

"Is anyone going to explain why psycho slayer is out of prison and here?" Xander asked looking at Willow and Cordelia.

"Don't call her that Xan." Willow said tiredly. She headed toward the couches, with Cordelia hot on her heels, and said under her breath, "happy birthday to me."

"Okay, then what should we call the crazy person?" Xander asked sarcastically as he, Dawn, and Buffy also headed to the sitting area of Angel Investigations' HQ.

"It's a stretch, but how about Faith." Willow said, her own voice laced with sarcasm.

"Willow, what's going on?" Buffy asked softly.

"Oh gee, where do I begin?"

"Well recently we've discovered the beginning is usually a good place." Cordelia said gently, starting up her soothing scratching motion again. Letting Willow know she was there for her.

Willow took a deep breath and then started speaking, "I came to L.A. for the obvious reasons. I didn't want to face you guys. And I would be here for me. When I got here I talked to Cordelia, and then Faith and Angel, and I realized that we had a lot more in common than I ever thought. Faith and Angel are helping me deal with the things I've done, and Cordy is helping me rediscover who I am." Willow paused, looking at Cordelia and giving her a gentle smile.

"We would have been there for your too, if you had let us." Buffy said with tears in her eyes.

"I know you would have tried, but it wouldn't have been in the way I needed, I needed people who could understand." Willow answered in the best way she could.

"So you had to surround yourself with murderers?!" Xander asked, not understanding all this in the least.

"Not murderers! Cordy, Wes, Gunn, and Fred have never taken a human life." Willow defended the L.A. crew.

"No, but Faith and Angel sure make up for them." Xander said angrily.

"It's about redemption Xander." Cordelia said in a calm voice. "And forgiveness, learning how to forgive yourself, and how to let other's forgive you. You don't have to take a life to torture yourself. Everybody here is trying to forgive themselves for something. And we're all here to help each other out while helping the world out too. We're a family, and that is something I know you can relate to."

Willow leaned into Cordy in gratitude, she didn't think she could ever explain it to her old friend, but Cordelia had done it perfectly. "We could still help with that," Xander answered, regret coloring his eyes.

"What are you struggling with Xander huh? Helping ME bring Buffy back?! No, wait; she doesn't blame you for that. Standing Anya up at the alter?! No, she forgave you for that, and is giving you the time you need. So what Xander?! What wakes you up in the middle of the night covered in sweat?! What keeps your breath from ever coming easy?! Huh?! What?!" Willow all but shouted, marveling at his naiveté.

"Oh, I don't know," Xander shouted back, "getting Jesse killed. Being a major factor in Buffy having to kill Angel and running away, and Faith going crazy. Or hey, how about noticing my best friend since KINDERGARTEN was using too much dark magic and not saying a damn word to her until it was to late. Should I keep going, 'cause I could? You're not the only ones in the world trying to deal with things."

"Okay fine! Tell me oh genius one, what do I do to make Warren's face leave my mind. How do I get Tara's last words and facial expression out of my every WAKING THOUGHT?!" Willow was standing and shouting down at Xander by the time she finished.

"You live, and you move on, and you learn from your mistakes." Buffy answered, her voice raised along with her friends'.

"MOVE ON?!" Willow shouted as loud as she could, then in a calm voice said, "go home Buffy." And then she walked out of the Hyperion. Everyone just watching her go.

"Come on, I'll get you some rooms." Cordelia said to the stunned group. "I'll talk to her, and maybe we can try this again tomorrow, with Angel and Faith here too. Then everyone can get the answers they want." With that Cordy got up and led the way upstairs.


As Cordelia got done setting up the last room and was about to leave Dawn spoke up for the first time since leaving Cordy's apartment building. "Cordelia," Cordy turned and looked at her expectantly, "will you tell Willow happy birthday for me...and tell her I don't understand completely, and if I'm lucky I never fully will, but I still want to be here for her like she was always there for me. Will you tell her that, please?"

"I'll tell her, but I think it would be better coming from you, I know she'll appreciate it nonetheless though." And with that she left the hotel, hoping Willow had gone back to her apartment. Thinking about everything that had happened today she almost couldn't believe that out of all of the Scooby's little Dawnie seemed to get everything better than anyone else. Then again in her short non-life Dawn had seen and been through a lot. Trying to push everything out of her head, Cordelia set off to find the missing red head.


"Think the coast is clear?" Gunn asked hid unusually quiet companions. Usually after a successful night of slaying Faith would be all jazzed up, and her enthusiasm would spread to everyone present. Not tonight though.

"Lights on, on the third floor, they're still here." Faith said in a monotone voice. Her arm still hurt, and fighting a gang of vamps hadn't helped any.

"Could be Fred or Willow." Angel answered, though he knew it wasn't. He could still 'feel' Buffy's presence, and he knew Faith could too,

"Could be." Was Faith's flat reply.

"Everything go okay?" Fred asked the threesome as they entered the lobby.

"We're still here, they're not, guess we won." Faith said as she headed up the stairs to the small apartment that had been set up for her on the second floor.

"Where are they?" Angel asked once he figured Faith was out of earshot.

"Dawn is in 309, Buffy 310, and Xander in 312."

Angel nodded and walked up the stairs to the third floor. He knew if he didn't find Buffy and explain things to her, she would find him.


Cordelia unlocked her door and walked into her apartment, the first thing she saw was Willow curled up into a little ball on her couch. With out saying anything she just walked over and took the red head into her arms. "Dennis let me in, you don't mind do you?" Willow asked after about ten minutes of just letting Cordelia hold her.

"Of course not, you know that. I'd ask if you were okay, but that would be a silly question, wouldn't it?"

"I'm better now...did they leave?"

"No, we set some rooms up for them at the Hyperion. By we I mean me." Cordelia said gently while running her fingers through Willow's silky hair.

"Oh," Willow was quiet for awhile, then shifting in Cordy's arms so she could look at the brunette she said, "good, I didn't mean to get so angry, but..."

"I know...and if they think about it they'll know too, just like us they're your family, and you guys will find each other again, you always do." At Cordelia's words Willow started sobbing again, and a bewildered Cordelia just hung on for the ride, Her words were supposed to comfort the red head, not set her off again.

Finally Willow said, "you can't always find the ones you like, it's a dumb promise."

"Dumb promise? Willow, love, you've lost me." Cordy said gently.

Willow jumped out of Cordelia's arms and off the couch all in one motion, and seethed, "no, don't call me that!"

Cordelia went over her words in her head and realized she had let an endearment slip. It had never bothered Willow before, but it obviously did this time, "I'm sorry Willow." Cordy put her head down in shame, just a few months ago Willow lost her girlfriend and here she was calling her 'love', it wasn't fair to Willow.

Willow sat down heavily in a nearby chair, "I just keep screwing things up tonight, don't I?"

"Willow no! You had every right to try and get your friends to understand, every right to get angry when they didn't." Cordy said vehemently.

"And what right do I have to hurt you? Lead you on?" Willow asked dully

Though she wouldn't admit it to Willow, Cordelia's heart broke in that moment; "you're not leading me on Willow. I know you lost someone you much recently, and I know you need time to deal with that."

"And what if I never do, what if I don't want to? Everything would just be so much better if I wasn't here."

Some how Cordy knew Willow didn't just mean L.A., it was time to take the kid gloves off and let her inner bitch show through for some tough love. "You listen to me Miss Willow Rosenberg," Cordy said in her best Queen C voice, "the world is now and will continue to be a better place because YOU ARE in it. No one, and nothing would be better off with you gone...except maybe the demons, but they so don't count. And whether you want to, can, or will move on from Tara is completely up to you. Try and push the world away, hell try and push me away, and I WILL keep coming back. GOT IT?!"

"But why...I'm not worth it. I'm just a stupid murderer who's in love with two people, on of which is dead, and never coming back, and the other is within reach, but I'm too scared to reach out."

"You are worth it, and I'll never give up 'cause I'm in love with you, and I know you're a good person, two people huh? Holding out on me Rosenberg?"

Willow let out a bark of laughter through her tears, "Yeah two people, what can I say, I'm a doofus."

"You'll always love Tara Willow, and you'll always hurt that you lost her, but it is okay to move on and be happy again, she would want you to be happy...sure, yeah, okay maybe not yet...but we have our whole lives ahead of us still."

"Hold me?" Willow asked din a small, lost voice.

"Always." And Cordelia did just that. Holding Willow close to her she ran her hand up and don Willow's back to help clam the explosive red head. After a while Cordy said, "you never did open your presents...wanna?"

Willow smiled, "might as well, my birthday will be over in like half an hour." Cordelia got up and grabbed the wrapped packages, bringing them back to Willow. The guys had brought their gifts for Willow early in the day so she could open them at her party. So the first box Willow opened was from Wesley. "The Demon Encyclopedia 2001, how very...Wesley of him." Both girls laughed and Cordelia handed her the next gift, the car was signed from both Gunn and Fred, "Aw how cute, they're shopping together now."

"Yeah right, he probably panicked about what to by and begged Fred to add his mane to the card, her being so head over heels for him said yes."

"Cynic...I still think it's cute." Willow said as she got the box opened, "aww, cute, little kitty sweater." Willow cooed. She was in a much better mood now...she just put all the bad stuff out of her mind and concentrated on this good moment with Cordelia. "Next." Cordelia handed her the next box, which according to the card was from Angel. Willow opened the box and pulled out a pretty, blue cashmere sweater. "Wow, how much did her pay you to shop for him?" Willow asked with a smile.

"Ten percent raise." Cordelia answered with a smirk. Giddy Willow had been able to figure out whom the gift was really from, and that she liked it. "Here's the one from afraid, very afraid."

Willow laughed and took the small package. "101 of the greatest karaoke songs ever." Willow read the label on the cd. "If he things I'm going to get up and sing on stage EVER he's crazy." Willow stated adamantly.

"Hey, we've all done it at one point or another, and you can't tell me you're not even a little curious about what the future holds."

"Curious yes, THAT desperate, no! Do you even remember the talent show sophomore year?...Next." Cordy handed over her gift, giving Willow a shy smile. Willow opened the box only to find another inside, a necklace box. Willow opened it and her breath caught in her throat, it was the most beautiful pendant she had ever seen. It was a heard made of rubies with the word 'forever' in gold shooting through it like an arrow. "It's absolutely gorgeous.

"Do you really like it? I can take it back if you don't." Cordelia said slight panicked. It had taken her forever to pick it out, almost driving Faith nuts in the process.

Without thinking, simply reacting, Willow leaned over and pressed her lips to Cordy's for their first ever kiss. Pulling away after a few seconds, she said, "It's perfect."

"Perfect." Cordy repeated, thinking more of the gentle press of Willow's lips to hers than of the necklace.

"So one more?" Willow asked eyeing the last box.

"I think Faith wanted to be here when you opened it." Cordelia answered.

"How about we call her and she can listen in, I want my pressie." Willow said with a little pout.

"Okay, okay, just stick that lip back in." Cordy laughed, tweaking the lip in question. The cordless phone flew to her, courtesy of Dennis. "Thanks Dennis." Cordelia dialed the Hyperion then hit Faith's extension number.

"Yeah?" Faith answered on the second ring.

"Wow love the phone manners Miss Rude." Cordy said playfully, no malice in her voice.

"What's up C? Not another vision so soon?" Faith asked, hoping it was just that.

"Yup, Willow monster, she's attacking everything colorfully wrapped with in a 20 ft. radius." Cordelia said while playfully dodging Willow's attempts to get the phone. Faith, despite herself, laughed at the antics she heard over the phone. Finally Willow managed to get the phone with the help of a sneaky ghost. Cordelia mock glared at the air letting Dennis know he was supposed to be on her side. "My ghost likes you more than me." She pouted.

"Hey Faith. Cordy said you really wanted to be here when I opened your gift, but I wanna open it now, so I'm compromising."

"Okay Red, go for it." Faith said still laughing. Willow opened the box and just started at her present, Cordy looked over her shoulder to see what it was, she had been at the mall with Faith when she got it, but the other brunette wouldn't tell her what it was. Faith was starting to get anxious when no one said anything. "Hey Red, C, anyone there? Faith asked when she couldn't stand the silence anymore,

"It's...WOW." Willow said looking down at the leather bound journal. A Celtic knot kept it closed, and carved into the leather was Willow's name next to a weeping willow tree.

"Good wow, or bad wow?" Faith asked uncertainly.

"Good wow, Faith's amazing, thank you so much."

"Your welcome Red...the shrink in jail use to make me write in a notebook, an it really helped me sort out my I thought maybe a notebook would help you too." Faith said explaining her reasoning behind the gift.

"A beautifully decorated, expensive notebook." Cordy said in awe. She had never known Faith had so much taste. "Where did you get it?"

"Well I got this friend who does leather work," Faith said, but was cut off by Willow.

"Surprise, surprise."

Faith just ignored the jibe against her wardrobe, "so I drew up the designs and he made it."

"You designed this?" Willow asked, tears forming in her eyes. It was the best, most personal gift she had ever gotten. She picked the journal up out of the box and noticed another box inside. "Hey what's that?" Picking up and opening the smaller box she discovered it was a wooden pen, wooden pen made from willow. "Faith this is...I can't thank you enough, it's so perfect, I love it." Willow said quietly into the phone.

"I'm glad red, well I'm gonna go do one more sweep before bed, talk to you two later." With that Faith hung up the phone, wanting to end the conversation before it got mushy.

Willow pressed the end button on the phone and Dennis set it back on it's cradle. Rubbing her hands over the smooth leather cover of her new journal willow undid the clasp and opened it. Inside there was an dedication in calligraphy, she read it out loud, "there are so many events in our lives we swear to never forget, record them all and cherish them always, your friend"

"I'll second that." Cordelia said from over Willow's shoulder.

"She's changed so much." Willow said thinking back to the woman, no girl, they had met in Sunnydale in the back alley of the Bronze. "And yet she's still Faith..." Willow started to tear up again, "how am I gonna repay her for this?"

"I don't think she wants you to Willow, this is your birthday present... just get her something awesome on her's. You okay?"

"Yeah...can we...go to bed now, after the emotional roller coaster that has been today I just want to lie down and sleep...and some snuggling would be nice." Willow said looking at Cordelia through her eyelashes.

"Come on you...I have some kitten pj's from an aunt that I got I high school, they should fit you."

"Goodie." And with that the two of them headed into Cordelia's bedroom, hands linked together. Silently as always Dennis shut off all the lights, a smile on his ghostly face.

To Be Continued...