Funnier in Latin

Title: Sweet and Sour
Author: Kaz
Rating: PG-13
Spoilers: Set after season 7, mild spoilers
Summary: To get away from Kennedy, Willow becomes an adjunct Watcher in L.A.
Disclaimer: Joss owns all. Joss is God. I am not Joss. Hence, I am not God and do not own all.
Author's Note: Bonus points to anyone who can tell me the reasons I named the Manor house what I did. (Yes, it does have to do with Buffy). Dedicated to Susan ‘cause she asked for a W/Fred and I’m *finally* getting around to writing it. Sorry it took so long!


Willow wiped her eyes hastily as she saw Kennedy get jogging along the path that circled the Watchers’ Compound. Their relationship had ended last month, not from a lack of love or passion, but rather from a lack of similarities. There were simply too many differences for their relationship to work in the long run. Willow supposed she was glad they, or rather, Kennedy, had discovered this so-called problem sooner rather than later, but she had truly been happy with the slayer. She had tried to make the friendship between them work, but it tore her heart to see Kennedy flirting with other girls. It was only a matter of time before the brunette began to date and Willow wasn’t sure she could bear to watch that.

Sighing, she turned to Giles. “Well, that’s it,” she said teary eyed. She could see Giles’ pity and turned away, not willing to see evidence of another failed relationship. It had always turned out this way, so why had she expected this time to be any different?

“I need to get away, Giles,” she said, sniffling slightly into her sleeve as she gazed out the window. She saw the cars parked around the new Council building, a group of slayers practicing on the lawn, and Xander and Andrew carrying bags of groceries inside. Her lips quirked briefly at the sight of the two men smiling and laughing together. After his ‘gay me up’ speech, she hadn’t really expected him to come out. But he and Andrew were now in their fourth month of dating and were disgustingly sweet to one another.

“I … I still have contacts within the old order. I suppose I could contact one of them to see if you might be placed as an adjunct watcher,” the older British man replied.

Willow nodded quickly, turning to him with a small smile plastered on her face. “Yes, please,” she replied quickly, a sense of relief washing over her.

“If you’d rather stay here, I am more than happy to enquire about a new position for Kennedy,” Giles suggested, a hint of hope in his voice.

Willow bit her lower lip. To be truthful, that did sound like a nice idea, but she shook her head slowly as the downsides of such a move washed over her. “No, Giles. It would seem too … bitter and ex-girlfriend-y if you did that. Besides, she’s perfectly happy here. I’m the one who’s … not.”

Giles nodded, taking off his glasses and pinching the bridge of his nose. “I’ll see what I can do,” he promised.

*****

“Are you sure you want to do this, Will?” Xander asked, his good eye glinting with tears. “We’ve never been apart for more than a month or two and I’m going to miss my bestest bud.”

Willow nodded, tears filling her own eyes. She too had realized that aside from Xander’s botched road trip several years ago, they hadn’t been apart for more than a few weeks. “I am, Xander. I just can’t stay here, there are too many memories right now.”

Willow found herself enveloped in Xander’s arms. Closing her eyes, she breathed in his Xander-y scent, comforting and homelike, before giving him a chaste kiss on his cheek. “Stay safe, Xan,” she instructed him before turning to Andrew. “And I expect you to keep him out of trouble. If anything happens to him –” She trailed off in warning, though she could see that Andrew didn’t take her threat too seriously.

“He’ll be peachy, Willow, promise,” the blonde man assured her.

Willow smiled and wiped at her eyes surreptitiously, wishing that Buffy, Dawn and Giles were here. She regretted her decision to tell them to stay at the Watcher’s Compound in the city. She hadn’t wanted a big scene and had chosen to say goodbye at Jenkins Manor House. Sighing at her lack of foresight, she shook her finger both Xander and Andrew.

“Don’t forget to email every day to tell me what’s going on,” she reminded them.

“Promise,” they said in unison, pausing when they heard the distinctive crackle of the speaker.

“Last call for Flight 398 departing for Los Angeles at Gate 13,” a woman’s nasally voice announced.

Willow forced a smile, giving both one final hug. “Bye Andrew, Xan,” she said softly. She turned and walked resolutely for the gate, her carry on and laptop clutched firmly in her hands.

“Bye Will. Stay safe,” Xander’s voice floated to her just as she put her bags on the conveyer belt and walked through the metal detector. She turned and waved before heading for the gate.

****

“Willow!” a cheery female voice called out as she walked out of the security area.

Willow turned, her eyes lighting up at the sight of Fred Burkle waving to her enthusiastically while a brown haired man Willow didn’t recognize said something to her. With a grin, Willow hurried to her friend.

“Hi Fred!” she said, her earlier sadness evaporating in light of the brunette woman’s obvious pleasure at seeing her.

“Hey Willow! Gosh, it’s been so long,” Fred said before frowning. “Well, not so long really, but you know how it is. So much has been happening that it seems like it’s been forever since you restored Angel’s soul!”

Willow smiled. “That’s the understatement of the year, Fred,” she chided with a smile. She turned to the brown haired man who was watching her with interest. “Hi, I’m Willow Rosenberg,” she said, holding out her hand.

“I’m Knox, I work with Fred at Wolfram and Hart,” he said, smiling and shaking her hand.

“He’s actually the one who keeps it all running,” Fred told the redhead as they went to retrieve Willow’s bags.

“Not quite. Without you we wouldn’t have any idea where to focus our research,” Knox replied.

Willow watched the two with veiled interest. On her previous visit, she had got the impression from what she perceived as flirting that Fred was interested in girls, too. Perhaps she had been a tad too hasty in that assessment, she concluded as the two continued to flirt. A part of her was vaguely disappointed, though she sternly told herself that she certainly wasn’t ready for another relationship, even if Fred had been interested. Friends, they’d be friends, Willow decided resolutely.

“Oh! There’re my bags,” she said, pulled from her internal reverie by the sight of her purple and blue flowered luggage. Pushing her way through the throng, she hurried forward to reclaim them before the conveyer took them out of sight. She was surprised to find Knox had beat her to them, lifting them easily and putting them on a cart Fred had procured from the machine on the other side of the station. “Oh, thanks.”

Knox inclined his head. “Not a problem,” he assured her, taking the pushing of the cart from Fred and began leading the way to where the uniformed driver stood waiting patiently.

“Wow, first class service,” Willow noted, her voice impressed.

“Yeah, well, since Angel took over Wolfram and Hart, there’s really no reason not to use the resources at our disposal, right?” Fred said logically, shrugging her shoulders.

“Yep. Resources should be disposed of,” she agreed, nodding firmly. She glanced at Fred and then at Knox, noting that the other man was now helping the driver put her bags in the trunk of the car. “So, quite the gentleman you have there.”

“What? Oh Knox? No, we’re just friends,” Fred assured her quickly.

Willow raised an eyebrow but didn’t comment. Who was she to destroy the other woman’s illusions?

*****

Willow looked around the apartment that Angel had provided with satisfaction. It was, by far, the nicest apartment she had ever laid eyes on. There were two bedrooms, a huge bathroom, a kitchen, a living room and a large empty room for storage.

”Wow, this is great!” She said enthusiastically. “It’s really nice of Angel to have set this up for me, especially since I’m not really doing much for Wolfram and Hart.”

“Oh, it was no big deal,” Fred told her. “We have a bunch of extra suites in case important dignitaries come to stay. Can’t have those three headed demons staying at the local Hilton, now can we?”

Willow stifled a giggle, putting a suitcase on the bed and beginning to unpack. “No, that would be kinda obvious, wouldn’t it? I wonder if they’d charge the multiple occupant rate for that?”

Fred looked thoughtful for a moment before smiling. “Probably. I always used to say that lawyers were the worst, but those hotels charge you an arm and a leg for just about everything,” she said, a mischievous smile on her lips. “And considering that some demons would like to pay in arms and legs, that probably wasn’t the best metaphor.”

Willow wrinkled her nose at the thought. It was the first time in a long while that she had felt this relaxed and composed. Suddenly, she was very glad she had decided to come. She knew she was still getting over Kennedy, but now her life didn’t seem as bleak as it had back at Jenkins Manor. “Probably not, but I liked it,” she said, a small smile on her face as she looked at the other woman.

Fred smiled back. “Thanks. No one really appreciates my … sense of humor here. Not really anyway, especially recently. We’ve been way too busy with lots of … stuff,” she said enigmatically. “Anyway, didn’t you tell Angel that you’d help out on the computer systems and stuff?”

Willow nodded, curious as to what the ‘stuff’ entailed, but knew not to push. She’d find out eventually, she supposed. “Oh, I did. But mostly I’ll be searching for other activated slayers and arranging either for them to train at the Compound or for another adjunct Watcher to come out here.”

“You wouldn’t take them yourself?” Fred asked, sitting down in the chair by the bed as she watched Willow continue to unpack.

“Well, I could I guess, but that’s not really my thing. Not so big on the kicking and the punching and stuff. I’m more of a magic kind of gal.”

“Well, we have that too! Wesley heads that division and he’s pretty good at it,” Fred told her, her eyes darkening.

Willow looked at her in concern. “Everything okay? You seem kind of … upset,” she noted, her brow furrowing.

Fred smiled and waved her off. “Oh, nothing. Just wool-gathering is all,” she said. When she caught Willow’s look of disbelief she shrugged. “Well, can’t keep anything from you, can I? You with the super-witchy-powers and the resolve face and all. Oh yes, I’ve heard about the resolve face! Angel rambled on about it for a long time before I picked you up. Something about a cup of coffee and how he’s going to live forever? Anyway, I’ll tell you about it later.”

Willow grinned. “And I’ll tell you about the cup of coffee incident, though less about the coffee and more about a giant snake who tried to eat Buffy and Cordelia,” she said, remembering the event immediately. She sobered when she remembered where Cordelia was right now. “Any news about Cordy?”

Fred shook her head sadly. “Nope, still the same. I’m working on some things though, that might help. And I know Wesley’s doing some research too. It’s so different without her. Angel’s a lot less … happy.”

“Well, that’s not good. On good days he’s all dark and brooding, I’d hate to see him now.”

“He’s actually much better now. Usually. When Spike isn’t around.”

“Spike?” Willow asked, her jaw dropping. The pile of clothing she held in her hand dropped to the floor as she stared at the other woman.

“Ooops, Angel wanted to tell you that himself,” Fred said, wincing. She looked at the suitcase that was waiting to be unpacked. “You want explanations now or later?”

“Now, definitely now,” Willow said, bewildered at how Spike could be here.

Fred smiled, pulling the other girl’s arm. “Great! I’ll tell you all about it over lunch. How do you feel about Chinese?”



*****

Willow looked up at the sound of a knock on her office door. She had been in Los Angeles for three months and was quite happy here. Angel had ended up giving her an office on the second floor, halfway between the Science and Research Division, headed by Fred, and Wesley’s Magical Research and Theory Department when she had found herself doing more for Wolfram and Hart than for the new Watcher’s Council. Giles understood, though she still retained her position as Adjunct Watcher for the Los Angeles area. Only a handful of new slayers had appeared in the city, much to Willow’s chagrin, so her position was more as a liaison between Wolfram and Hart and the Watcher’s Council now.

At times it was odd being the go-between for the two groups, but she enjoyed it, especially when she had to tactfully tell Giles that Angel wasn’t going to use Wolfram and Hart resources to track down activated slayers in third world countries. She smiled, remembering Giles’ vociferous comments when he heard the vampire’s answer. Something about having enough demon contacts worldwide that surely he could find out. Willow’s reply that yes, Angel probably could, but that would then tell the demon world that there were hundreds of untrained slayers all over the world had cooled Giles’ anger considerably. Willow shook her head. Where would they be without her?

“Come in,” she said, after magically determining that the person on the other side of the door meant her no harm. After a few incidents with demons that wanted to show their strength to the Council by taking out the Adjunct Watcher, she had begun taking precautions wherever she went. Not that those demons had lived long enough to enjoy any reputation they might have garnered from attacking her. Between herself, Angel, Spike, and Wesley, the perpetrators were little more than pieces of demon when they were through.

Fred poked her head around the door with a smile. “Hey, you. Busy?”

Willow shook her head, putting down her pen with a grin. “For you? Never!”

The flirting between the two that had begun when Willow had visited Los Angeles the first time had reemerged a few weeks after she arrived again. Willow wasn’t quite sure what to make of it, but she wasn’t going to turn down flirting with a beautiful woman, even if she was pretty sure the other woman wasn’t interested in girls. She fought a smile as she remembered how she had thought Knox and Fred were an item when she first got here. Fred had disabused her of that notion a few weeks ago, politely declining Knox’s offer of dinner and a movie. Willow had felt slightly guilty at the inner dance of joy she did upon hearing the news, knowing that poor Knox was probably heartbroken. Pushing the man from her mind, she focused on Fred.

“Awww, aren’t you sweet?” Fred said, giving her a smile and making herself comfortable in the large chair on the opposite side of Willow’s desk.

“I do try,” Willow answered. “So, what brings you to my humble … office?”

Fred smiled. “I think I have it!”

Willow’s eyes lit up in excitement. “Really?” she asked hopefully. For the past few months, the other woman had been working tirelessly on a way to revive Cordelia, having been able to put the full resources of Wolfram and Hart’s science division behind the problem, demon activity having tapered off once they realized that Angel meant business.

“Well, I think so. I mean, it should work, in theory. All the mathematics work out, but I’m not sure if it’ll work in practice,” the other woman admitted softly. She met Willow’s gaze and Willow felt her heart skip a beat. “Will you come when we test it out? Hold my hand and stuff?”

Willow was floored at Fred’s request. Along with the flirting, the two had become good friends over the past few months. Willow had attributed it to her being the only woman in the ‘inner circle’ of Wolfram and Hart, if you didn’t count Eve, which Willow most definitely did not. She had really taken a dislike to her, though she couldn’t put her finger on why. Buffy had suggested that maybe her Hellmouth-induced “spidey sense” was trying to warn her, but since Eve hadn’t done anything blatantly against Angel or one of her friends, she couldn’t prove it.

“I mean … if you don’t want to, it’s okay,” Fred said awkwardly when Willow didn’t respond.

Willow blinked and shook her head quickly. “No! No, I’d love to!” she assured the brunette. “Of course I’ll go. I was just all lost in my thoughts—I guess you can call it my internal babble. It’s exactly like when I babble when speaking except it’s just in my head.” Willow stopped speaking when she realized how inane she sounded. Sighing internally, she resigned herself to admiring the other woman from afar. Even if Fred was interested in women, Willow was sure her random babblings had effectively negated any interest the scientist had for her.

Fred’s eyes twinkled. “That sounds pretty familiar,” she confided. “Except instead of internal babble I used to write on walls.”

“Well, to each her own, I guess. When does this shindig start?” Willow asked, wondering if she’d have time to complete her plan for reinforcing Wolfram and Hart’s databases.

“Now?” Fred suggested tentatively. “Or later. We could do it later if you’d rather?”

“Now’s good for me. I like now.”

“Oh, good,” Fred said in relief, standing up. “Not that it would probably make much difference to Cordelia, what with her being in a coma and all, I doubt another few hours or a day or two would matter, but …”

“It makes a difference to you,” Willow filled in.

“Yep. I just can’t stand to see her like that. It’s so … wrong. She was always so loud and …”

“Bossy?”

The two shared a smile. “Yes, that does fit,” Fred answered. She looked at Willow with a nervous expression on her face. “Can I tell you something?”

Willow nodded. “Of course. Don’t you know that by now? I’m a good listener, got two ears and everything,” the red head answered.

“I used to have a teensy crush on Cordelia before I dated Charles. I don’t any more, ‘cause that’d be creepy with her being asleep and all, plus she’s really changed since then and I don’t know how we’d get along but … she was just perfect then.”

To say that Willow was shocked would be an understatement. Hope flared within her wildly as she fought to do a dance of joy. It wasn’t until this moment that she realized how much she cared for Fred. When she thought she didn’t have any chance, she wouldn’t let herself hope, but now that she had confessed of a crush on another woman, Willow felt optimism take the place of the previous feelings of depressed acceptance.

“You, Cordy?” she managed to get out.

“You think I’m stupid, don’t you? I knew it. I knew then that I wouldn’t have a chance with her, she’s so beautiful and charming and I’m just …”

“Absolutely gorgeous, more intelligent than anyone I’ve ever met and incredibly funny?” Willow offered, angered by the way the other woman was putting herself down.

Fred blushed. “Flatterer,” she teased.

Willow shrugged, blushing at herself now that she realized she had almost spilled out her feelings for the other woman. “Well, it’s not flattery if it’s true,” she pointed out.

Fred blushed again, before meeting Willow’s eyes. “Ready to go wake Cordelia?”

Linking arms with Willow, Fred led her out of the office.

*****


Willow watched as Fred looked down at Cordelia’s face hopefully, searching for signs of renewed life. After a few minutes and still no response, Fred sighed, her shoulders slumping, admitting defeat.

“That should have worked,” the scientist said softly, disappointment evident on her features.

Willow touched her shoulder gently. “Hey, it’s not your fault. You’re doing your best, that’s all anyone could ask,” she assured the woman. Upon seeing Fred’s eyes filling with tears, Willow wrapped her arms around the brunette’s petite shoulders. “It’ll be okay. She wouldn’t want you to be like this.”

Fred sniffled into Willow’s shoulder, wrapping her own arms around Willow’s waist. “I … I know. Wish I could wake her though. Here I am all smart physicist girl and I should be able to do something about it. What’s the point of being able to understand quantum mechanics if it’s no use in helping my friends?”

Willow felt her lips quirk in a sad smile. “Well, from a purely scientific standpoint, understanding quantum mechanics is pretty impressive. And besides, I think it’s pretty nifty.”

Fred pulled away, smiling at Willow. “Thanks,” she replied softly.

Willow cocked her head. “How about we order in some Chinese?” she asked, doing her best to keep the hope out of her eyes. She was rewarded with a brilliant smile from Fred.

“Can we get sweet and sour chicken?”

“Of course! What meal is complete without it?” Willow asked rhetorically.

*****

The doorbell to Willow’s apartment rang approximately fifteen minutes later, to both girls’ delight.

Willow came back, a bag of food in her arms. “I never understand how it gets here so quickly,” she commented, setting the bag on the table and going to get plates. “Not complaining, but it’s weird.”

Fred began unpacking the take out containers. “The place is owned by two Fertis demons. We did them a favor once – we as in Angel Investigations, not Wolfram and Hart ‘cause you know Fertis demons are pretty nice guys, overall, if you ignore the once-a-month kitten poker games.” Fred frowned. “Hmm, you know, I don’t think I want to find out what happens to those kittens.”

Willow pouted. “Poor kitties, neither do I.”

“Anyway, we did a favor for them and now they express our orders over.”

“That’s nice of them,” Willow noted, sitting down and helping herself to the food.

“Yep. We think so. Pretty useful when it’s really late too - they don’t mind opening the kitchens for us. ‘Course they do get a lot of demon clientele. Who would have thought that demons would like Chinese?”

Willow grinned. “I’ve seen stranger things.”

The two ate in silence for a few moments though Willow kept her eyes on the other girl.

”So how’s work been? You said that Knox was kinda distant guy recently?”

Fred nodded. “Yeah. He still does his job and stuff but he’s not like he used to be,” she replied, a hint of sadness in her voice.

“Sorry,” Willow said, somewhat guilty for the note of happiness she in her voice.

Fred cocked her head. “You know, you don’t really sound it.”

Willow blushed. “Sorry, it’s just … you could do so much better.”

“So much better than an absolutely brilliant scientist who makes lots of money, is funny and is pretty cute?” Fred asked, her face impassive.

Willow winced. “Well, when you put it that way … but yes! You can totally do better!”

“Thanks. I thought I could too, but it doesn’t seem to be working,” Fred said glumly.

“Not working? What’s not working? Tell me what’s not working and I’ll make it work,” Willow offered, her stomach filling with butterflies. Did Fred like someone? Who was it? Willow resigned herself to hearing all about the mystery person.

“Oh, no one. I don’t really have a chance with … the person anyway.”

“How do you know?” Willow asked logically, unable to help herself. Even if Fred didn’t care about her romantically, Willow still wanted her to be happy.

“I would have seen something by now, I think. I don’t have a lot of experience but I think that she would –”

“She?” Willow asked, unable to keep the excitement from her voice.

Fred nodded. “Um … didn’t mean to say that,” she admitted.

“Well, you did, so spill.”

“Nope, not saying another word.”

“Does she work at Wolfram and Hart?” Willow was rewarded by a nod. “Is it Eve? ‘Cause I haven’t said anything before but my ‘spidey sense’ goes all wacko when I’m around her and if you like her I don’t want to see you getting hurt if she turns out to be an evil meanie.”

“Eve?” Fred asked, her voice expressing her outrage.

“I mean, it’s okay if you do, but maybe we should check up on her and stuff? Make sure she’s not a demon ‘cause Xander always used to fall for the demons and now he’s gay, but that doesn’t really have anything to do with it ‘cause if you do like her then you’re already gay or bisexual I guess, since you did date Gunn. But back to my point, if she’s evil, don’t you think we should find out before you totally fall for her?” Willow stopped babbling when she realized that Fred was glaring at her.

“I can’t believe you’d think I would fall for that evil hussy!”

Willow blinked. “Then who is it?” she asked, biting her lower lip. There was only one possibility left, unless she counted Harmony. “It’s not Harmony is it? I mean, she’s totally changed since high school and stuff but she’s always been completely straight.”

“No, it’s not Harmony,” Fred answered, refusing to meet her eyes. “It’s you.”

Willow thought the grin would split her face. “Really?” she asked, the joy in her voice causing Fred to look up at her.

“You’re not .. .mad?”

“Mad?” Willow repeated, incredulously. “Mad that an absolutely gorgeous, brilliant, hottie mama of a scientist likes me? Are you nuts?”

“Well, I was once, you know,” Fred put in, biting her lip as Willow approached her.

Willow let loose a giggle. “But you’re over that, right?” A nod from Fred. “And you like me?” Another nod. Willow smiled. “Good ‘cause I’ve liked you forever it seems.”

“Really?”

“Really.”

Willow leaned over, brushing her lips against Fred’s. She felt Fred respond, feeling the tip of Fred’s tongue tracing her lower lip and she opened to the other woman’s probing. Drawing her hands around Fred’s slender waist, Willow pulled Fred to her, feeling each line of her body. She felt Fred’s hands settle on her shoulders before moving to her neck.

They broke apart, smiling at each other.

“Mmm, you’re sweet,” Willow told her with a shy smile.

“Not sour?” Fred teased, her eyes alight.

“Nope, every last bit of you that I could taste was sweet,” Willow concluded with a grin, kissing Fred’s lips once more.

“So is this our first date?” Fred asked when their lips parted again.

“Yep. If you want it to be that is,” Willow answered.

“Definitely.” Fred didn’t give Willow time to respond before she caught Willow’s mouth with her own.