Three days passed without word from Willow. Tara had taken to checking her phone messages every hour and visiting the gym every morning in the vain hope she would bump into the redhead, but alas, she remained dateless and redheadless.
As Wednesday night became Thursday morning, Tara had almost given up hope of ever hearing from Willow. She arrived back at her apartment from another fun filled night of work and kicked her boots off before fetching a chocolate milkshake from the fridge and slumping onto the couch. Glaring at the telephone, she complained loudly. "Why hasn't she called?" the sadness that tinged her voice was suddenly quelled when she noticed a tiny flashing light next to the handset. With shaking fingers she reached out to the answering machine, her index finger hovering over the 'play' button. "Why am I so nervous?" she asked the machine which provided no answer but continued to taunt her with its flashing digit. "So much for an 'answering' machine!" she told it, giggling at herself she jabbed the 'play' button and sat on the edge of the couch, her fingers crossed in anticipation.
"You have two new messages. First message received today at 1.17am." the automated voice told her.
Tara held her breath, 'who would be calling at 1 in the morning?' her mind queried.
The gentle voice that filled the room sent her heart racing, her nipples hardening and that familiar ache between her legs into overdrive.
"Erm, hi Tara?" Willow's voice caressed her ears and she grinned like a thing possessed. "Its me, me being Willow, obviously, well not necessarily 'obviously' coz y'know, you might have been expecting someone else, in which case I apologise."
'Aww, that's so sweet, she's nervous and babbling, very endearing.' Tara thought as her grin grew and made her face hurt. The dull ache in her cheek from the bruise she had received a few days before only reminded her of the redhead with a quick right hook.
"Anyway, about dinner." Tara's grin dissipated.
'She's going to cancel! Oh bloody hell, she's dumping me before we've even had a date'.
"I was thinking maybe Friday if that's ok with you, I mean, if you have other plans or something then we can do it some other time, unless you've changed your mind and don't want to go then that's cool." On the recording, Willow paused to catch her breath and Tara could picture her sat on a huge couch, her cheeks flushed from the lack of oxygen.
"Anyway, I really hope you want to go, there's a great Italian place on Maple, do you like Italian? I'm being presumptuous, you can chose,, anywhere you like, Italian, Chinese, Indian even MacDonalds." Tara giggled, her cheeks flushing as Willow's word assault continued. "Yes, I like Italian." she told the machine.
"You can call me and let me know what you want to do. Its Willow by the way, did I already say that? I don't remember, anyway, I'm looking forward to your call. Bye" And with that the message beeped to indicate its conclusion.
Pausing the tape before the second message, Tara took to her feet, her tiredness all but forgotten as she danced around the compact room. "I cannot believe a woman who babbles so charmingly is a cop!" she grinned. "Hang on...." rewinding the tape, she frowned as she replayed the end.
"You can call me and let me know what you want to do. Its Willow by the way, did I already say that? I don't remember, anyway, I'm looking forward to your call. Bye"
"I don't have you number Willow!!" Tara said, shaking the machine fiercely as if she expected it to drop the number onto the floor.
Slamming it back on the side table, she reluctantly pressed the 'play' button once again and the automated voice informed her that her second message was received at 1.25am.
"Hi Tara, it's me again. Willow-me, not another me which wouldn't be a 'me' as a someone else who would call themselves me but not actually be me. The Willow-babble filled the room and Tara beamed with delight. Since her last call, it appeared as if Willow had gotten even more nervous.
"I forgot to leave my number which would making you calling me a little tricky so I thought I should call back and leave it, which is what I'm doing." Once again, the redhead paused for a second to catch her breath. "I hope you weren't asleep and this isn't waking you up, oh god, I really hope I haven't woken you up. No, if I'd woken you, you would have picked up the phone and told me to shut up by now so I'm presuming you're not there, maybe you're at work. I'm so sorry, I'm babbling like a crazy person and I only meant to leave my number. It's 555 5290, I'm really looking forward to hearing you, I mean from you, yep, from you is what I mean!"
The clunk on the end of the phone meant that Willow had either hung up, or smacked herself in the head with the phone and Tara hoped it wasn't the latter. Replaying the message, Tara jotted down the redheads number and grinned as she crossed to her bedroom and leapt onto the bed. "I got a date! I got a date!" she sang as she closed her eyes and fell into a deep sleep.
"I'm a babbling idiot!" Willow snapped, each word being punctuated with a kick or punch that landed firmly on the punch bag within Riots firm grip. "Who is going to return a call from an idiot?" she stopped and stared at her friend.
Willow had insisted on their using her gym that morning, her embarrassment at her nervousness while talking to Tara's machine had dictated her training location.
"She'll think its charming and call you as soon as she gets it!" Riot offered sweetly. "Why can resist your wily Willow charms?" he grinned at her from behind the punch bag and she swung a right jab at it.
"Why hasn't she called then?" Willow asked accusingly, a barrage of four more punches followed by a solid kick assaulted his grasp before he could answer.
"Maybe she works nights and hasn't woken up yet!" he told her, glancing at the clock on the training room wall. "It's still only 11."
Nodding in defeated agreement, Willow called a halt to their training and decided to go home and drown her sorrows in a hot bubble bath.
With four days off and no Christmas shopping to do, she felt at a loose end. Everyone around her had family, friends or lovers to spend the holidays with and she was alone, except for Riot. He had invited her to spend Christmas with him and his wife but she had graciously declined the offer.
As they reunited and emerged into the sunshine, Riot caught her arm. "She'll call by the end of today Willow. I just know it." A warm smile eased the slight chill in her and Willow's breath caught in her throat. "You called me Willow!!" she said, the astonishment in her voice not being lost on him.
Turning his head, he grinned. "Shut up Red and get home to wait on that call!" slapping her playfully on the ass, he turned and headed to his motorcycle, leaving Willow to grin after him.
Tara finally awoke from a Willow filled sleep, her plain white polo shirt wrapped securely around one arm and her jeans causing a painful wedgie. "I have got to remember to get undressed before bed!" she mumbled into the covers.
After a shower, breakfast and listening to Willow's babbled messages, Tara felt ready to attack this new day. Reaching for the phone, she grinned as she dialled a number. "What?" the gruff voice of Snake answered after the second ring.
"Hey babe." Tara replied cheerfully, "Can you cover for me tomorrow?" The voice on the other end of the line contemplated the question for a second. "Emergency or hot date?" came the reply.
"Very hot date!" Tara answered a grin creeping over her face once more.
"Well in that case, of course I can! Just gimme the details on Saturday!" Snake replied and abruptly hung up. Her telephone manner leaving a lot to be desired.
Tara dialled the number she had written on the pad next to the phone carefully and waited as it rang and rang and rang and rang. "Hello?" that exquisite tone ran through her ear and filled her with liquid love.
"Willow?" Tara asked although this calm and collected voice was clearly that of the redhead. "It's Tara!" A loud thud echoed in her ear and she giggled as she realised that Willow had dropped the phone.
"Tara? Really is that you really?"
A grin spread over the blondes face as she pictured the open mouthed grin of the redhead, the woman who had touched her so deeply with such little effort.
"It's me. How are you?" Tara asked softly, her body pulsing with anticipation and nervousness.
"Tara!" Willow announced again, excitement building within her with every word the blonde spoke.
Tara giggled, the babbling that had been displayed on the answering machine had been replaced with a monosyllabic stoicism and the difference was incredible.
"Dinner tomorrow sounds good." Tara told her when an answer to her previous question failed to come.
"Really?" the surprise in the redheads tone made her giggle again.
"Yes really, and Italian would be perfect." Tara confirmed.
"Great, so erm, I don't have a car." Willow admitted sheepishly. She was probably the only person in L.A to not own a car despite having a license. "But, its ok, I can pick you up, of you want me to pick you up or I can meet you there, oh, maybe you'd prefer me to send a cab for you." Willow babbled crazily as her heart raced and joy flooded her system.
"Willow." Tara cut into the flood of words. "Its ok, I will meet you there!" she told her.
"Ok, thanks Tara, I'll see you there, tomorrow, us, having dinner, together. You and me."
Tara grinned, Willow's enthusiasm was infectious and Tara began bouncing on her feet "What time?" she asked suddenly, she had managed to contain her excitement just long enough to find out.
"Oh, right yes, time. Erm, about 8?" Willow offered.
"8, great, I'll see you at the Italian on Maple."
Willow hung up the phone and stared at it in disbelief before returning it to the base. "She's going to have dinner with me tomorrow!" Willow told her empty bedroom. She had been in the process of running her bath when Tara had called. Walking calmly back to the bath, she turned off the taps and stared at the water. "She's going to have dinner, on a date, with me!" she said again, her words echoing around the room. Turning back to the bedroom, Willow skipped cheerfully towards the phone. "I HAVE A DATE WITH TARA!!!!" she screamed and threw herself on the bed, grabbing the handset on the way. Dialling Riots number, she giggled and squealed as it rang.
As soon as the phone was answered, Willow shrieked. "I have a date with Tara. Woo and hoo with a side order of hurrah!" she said loudly, her voice shaking with delight and excitement.
"Good for you Red!" Riot replied but found she had hung up before he'd had a chance to respond.
Friday had arrived and seemed to be lasting forever. Willow woke early and rushed to the gym, spending an hour on the treadmill before doing a round of weights and then a quick sparring bout. As she left the stylish gym, she frowned at her watch and decided to go and get a fresh battery for it. She was almost certain that it had to be wrong as it claimed to be only 11 o'clock.
After stopping for a light lunch and then buying both a new battery and a new watch, 'Just to be sure' she thought, Willow returned to her house and wandered slowly around each room.
She done three loads of laundry, washed the windows and returned to the bedroom. "I should change the bed!" she announced. After pulling the bottom sheet and pillow cases from the bed, she stopped. "How presumptuous is that?" Willow said and placed the coverings back on. "But it's better to be prepared!" she decided and pulled the used bedding off, dumping it in the hamper before remaking the bed and grinning as she went to wash the newly removed linen.
Tara slept in, she had been working the previous night and was enjoying the various possibilities of her date. At 3pm, she finally awoke. Stretching and yawning, she squinted at the clock. "Holy crap!" she exclaimed, flipping her legs over the side of the bed. "I have a date with Willow!" she cheered.
Both women spent that afternoon trying to decide what to where, each one wanting to look good but not over sexy. After trying on a combined total of almost 30 outfits, they proclaimed themselves done.
Willow had opted for a simple but sexy suit, the tight fitting trousers hugging her small curves with a crisp white shirt. Tara had chosen her favourite long skirt, black and reaching almost to the floor, it swayed and flowed gracefully as she walked and a shirt that could leave a lot or a little to the imagination. Leaving the top button undone, Tara decided to give Willow something to think about without having to try too hard.
Individually, they made their ways to the restaurant, Willow arriving first and being shown to the table she had booked. Had it not been for the fact that her friend was the manager of the restaurant, then they would never have gotten a booking on such short notice.
Idly drawing patterns on the table cloth with a breadstick, she waiting impatiently for Tara's arrival. The restaurant was large and airy, but the layout and partitions gave each table a private and intimate feel. A small candle burned in a glass in the centre of the table that also held a small vase of flowers and soft music played in the background, loud enough to hear but not so loud that it distracted diners from their conversations. Through the intricate lattice work of the partition, Willow could see the front door and her gaze fixed there as she waited for Tara's arrival.
Outside the grand building, Tara took a deep breath, her hands were shaking and her stomach was performing its own nervous gymnastic routine. Exhaling, she pushed the door open and looked around quickly, suddenly nervous when she realised that romantic restaurants didn't suit to finding people in a hurry.
A young man approached her and she smiled. "Can I help you ma'am?" he asked politely.
Having still not seen Willow, Tara nodded. "I'm meeting someone, erm Willow... erm."
Suddenly a shock of red hair appeared from behind a partition. "Tara." she exclaimed, grinning happily at the blonde before leading them to their table.