the pearl

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Willow got into the van silently, her face twisted in a frown.

Oz looked at her, his eyebrows slightly wrinkling together in that almost-expressionless way of his. "What's wrong?" he asked.

Willow sighed. "Got flamed today..." she said, her voice irritated. "I was asked to look over a site for one of the guys in the computer know, check out the HTML and all that...and he had this tacky porno animated gif right there in the index! I told him that was a pretty bad idea...that, you know, kids might look at his site...and I got flamed!" She looked at Oz, her eyes flashing. "He called me a 'fucking feminist bitch' and told me I was a total idiot and that there shouldn't be women on the 'Net!"

Oz reached over and rubbed her shoulder. "It's okay, baby...." he said, his voice soothing. "You were right to do that..."

Willow smiled weakly. "Thanks, Oz," she said. She nodded. "Yeah, I was right. It was an awful site." She straightened up. "Yeah!"

Oz nodded and started the van, the radio coming to life, Placebo blaring from the speakers. They drove in amicable silence, Oz moving his head slightly to the beat, his fingers occasionally twitching on the steering wheel as they matched a chord in the music.

In the silence between songs, Willow spoke. "He didn't have to call me a 'feminist', though...that was just plain mean!"

The van pulled over to the curb and stopped. Oz turned off the ignition and stared at her.

Willow blinked innocently. "What?"

Oz continued to stare at her. "I just want to be clear. You did just say that calling you a 'feminist' was mean, right?"

Willow shrugged. "Well, yeah...I mean, I'm not some hairy-legged man-hater....or, God forbid, my mother..."

Oz frowned slightly. "So that's what a feminist is for you..." His frown grew deeper. "Huh."

Willow looked at him. "Don't get me wrong! Feminists have done great things...I mean, I can vote...and I can do anything...I could be president....if I wanted to...and if anything went wrong...with us — which won't happen — I could get an abortion....and they were the ones who led the way..." She shrugged. "But there's nothing to fight for anymore...."

Oz's frown grew even deeper and he continued to look at Willow.

She looked back at him nervously. After a minute of his scrutiny, she spoke up. "Oz?" she said timidly.

Oz stared at her for a few seconds longer, then finally spoke up. "So there's nothing more to fight for..." he said, his voice quiet. "Which means, I guess, that the idea of people not having to see tacky porn on the 'Net isn't worth fighting for..."

"I —" Willow frowned. "No, you're reading this all wrong. That is something that needs to be done...It's just rude to have that right up in the main page..." She shook her head. "It's not a 'feminist issue' or something like that..."

Oz raised an eyebrow. "I think there are around twenty books in your mom's library that'd disagree with that," he said quietly. "And I'd disagree too..."

Willow looked at him oddly. "Have you been listening to your mom again?" Her eyes grew wide. "Oh, when I mentioned the 'hairy-legged man haters' I didn't mean your mom! I like your mom, she's really nice!"

"Yeah, and I bet some of your best friends are feminists, too." Oz sighed and looked away. "Willow, I'm not going to preach to you. But as long as girls like you have this whole 'I'm not a feminist, but...' mentality, there's a lot of bad things that'll continue to happen." He looked back at Willow. "I can't tell you what to think...and I wouldn't want to." He paused. "It's just sad that I have more respect for you than you do."

Willow frowned. "But I..." She tried a new tactic. "I...." She went for a third one. "I mean, I...." She slumped back in the seat. "I don't know..." she finally said, her voice small.

Oz reached over and patted her hand. "I know, baby," he said quietly. "And it's okay not to know." He started the van up again. "You know," he said, almost conversationally. "Mom has a lot of books...and I'm sure she'd love to talk to you..."

Willow looked at him with hopeful eyes. "Really? She won't like get mad at me? Or try to make me eat tofu? 'Cause I don't think that's kosher..."

Oz smiled. "I'll try to keep her tofu-less..." At a red light, he looked back at Willow. "Willow..." he said quietly. When she looked at him, he leaned over and kissed her cheek.

Willow smiled and settled back into the seat. Maybe this feminism thing wasn't that bad....

This Angel/Buffy the Vampire Slayer story was written by Kate Bolin. If you liked it, there's plenty more at And you can feedback her at