Walking slowly through town, Willow and Tara gazed into shop windows both wondering what the other would like as a gift for the holidays. The sensible option would have been to ask what the other liked, but given the stress that both had been under, sensible wasn't really a functioning option. "That's nice." Willow said quietly as they came to a stop outside a jewellery store. Tara followed her extended digit to a simple gold chain.
Rather than actual shopping the women had spent most of the day window shopping, neither one wanting to ask for what they wanted and, at the same time, hoping the other would say.
"Yeah, it's pretty, it'd really suit you." Tara told her, trying to hide the sadness in her voice. At almost $200 Tara knew she really couldn't afford it but, at the same time knew that it was the perfect gift for her redheaded guardian angel.
"Oooh, I gotta get Riot something, I totally forgot!" Willow announced suddenly. "I know the perfect place." Grabbing Tara's hand, she dragged her down the street to a store that Riot loved called 'Gadgets and Gizmos'. After wandering around the store for twenty minutes or so, Tara was bored. The store was a boy's wonderland full of various mechanical toys and games. "I gotta go find a bathroom." Tara whispered into Willow's ear as the redhead jumped up and down in delight at a four foot robotic dinosaur. "Yeah? You want me to come with?" she asked although it was clear that Tara would have a problem dragging Willow from this store. "Nah, I got it." Tara giggled and ducked quickly from the store.
Rushing back down to the jewellery store they had previously been stood outside, Tara pulled the door and jumped at the excessively loud jingle of the bell. "Good afternoon madam." the clerk greeted her warmly, although he looked tired and bored, the Christmas season having taken its toll on him. "Hi," Tara replied, "There's a necklace in the window that I'd like to buy!" she told him quickly. The sales clerk grinned, his joy at having a customer that knew exactly what they wanted was written clearly over his face. "Certainly, if you'd just like to point out which one you are interested in."
With the necklace picked out and wrapped perfectly in a deep purple gift box, Tara paid and tucked the box in her bag before thanking the clerk and wishing him a wonderful Christmas and then rushing from the store and back down the street to 'Gadgets and Gizmos'.
Stepping into the shop, she saw Willow still dancing in the corner; it appeared as though the robotic dinosaur also had a robot friend. Wrapping her arms securely around Willow's waist, Tara leant in and kissed her neck gently. "Did ya miss me?" she purred.
"I did!" Willow told her, turning in her embrace to hug her firmly. "Which one do you think Riot will like best?" she asked gesturing to the two robots that were running around the store, growling and talking as they went.
"Well, I'd prefer the dinosaur but I don't know." Tara told her honestly. "The robot is a little obnoxious!" she added.
Willow laughed heartily. "How is a robot obnoxious?" she asked between giggles. Joining her laughter, Tara shook her head. "I dunno, it just seemed like a good word."
Finally deciding on the dinosaur, Willow gasped as the sales assistant ran the sale through. "Wow! That's a lot for a robot!" she kept saying.
As they crossed into downtown, Tara smiled as they approached 'Dragon Ink'. "Ever thought about getting a tattoo?" Tara asked as she slowed the pace. Frowning, Willow shook her head, "Not really. Why?" she asked, noticing that Tara had stopped in front of the tattooists and was staring in the window. "Coz I was thinking about getting another one." she said, searching Willow's eyes for some sort of negative reaction.
"Another one?" Willow asked, wondering how it was that she managed to miss the first one.
"Yeah, another one." Tara confirmed with a grin.
"You know what you want?" Willow asked, coming to a halt outside the shop.
"Yeah, kinda." Tara replied, "But I'm still a little unsure."
With a grin, Willow pulled the door open and stepped inside. "You comin'?" she asked.
Willow was instantly surprised when she looked around the store, it was clean, bright and soft music played in the background. Flash hung on the walls and there were magazines and folders on the three small tables that were dotted around the room. Tara instantly went to the flash on one of the walls, in front of her, rows and rows of Chinese symbols, each one similar to the last, most representing either birth years or 'love', 'luck' or something similar.
From the opposite side of the room, Willow spoke up. "Hey Tara, look at this." she said pointing to a small design on the wall. Crossing the room, Tara grinned, "I think it's perfect for you!" Willow announced, slipped her arm around Tara's waist.
With the design picked, Tara nodded sadly, "I really can't afford it though." she sighed, "Maybe in the new year." she turned to leave, taking Willow's hand and pulling her towards the door.
"Tara. Do you want that?" Willow asked, planting her feet firmly on the floor. "If you really like that design, I'll pay for it for you, consider it your Christmas present."
"Really, it's not too much?" Tara beamed.
Willow giggled, with everything they had been through in the past few weeks, a tattoo seemed to be the easiest thing she could imagine. "Beats getting attacked!" she giggled.
A tall woman appeared from the back of the store and smiled, "Hey, sorry I kept you, someone can't handle a bit of ink!" she grinned as a pale, sweaty man appeared from behind her looking rather green around the gills. After settling his bill, the man smiled weakly. "See ya again!" the tattooist laughed as he stepped out into the street.
"I'm Cilla and I'll be inflicting pain on you today!" the woman introduced herself with a wry smile. "You know what you want?" Tara nodded and went over to the far wall with Cilla right behind her. "That one!" she said, pointing to the design on the wall.
"Wicked, a surviving dyke!" she laughed.
Tara joined in with her as Willow sat, a confused expression gracing her face.
"Lets get you prepped and inked then!" Cilla announced as she pulled the design from the wall and made a copy. "Where's it going?" she asked as she finished the first copy.
"Oh, I. On my wrist!" Tara decided.
Just over a half hour later, Tara re-emerged from the back of the store, a pained grin on her face and cling film around her left wrist. Frowning for the second time since entering the store, Willow gestured to the unusual wrapping.
"It keeps it clean but stops it drying out. Plus, it scabs and heals quicker!" Tara giggled.
"So, can I see?" Willow asked as Cilla joined them out front.
"Its perfect!" Willow smiled as she paid for the design and took Tara's hand, "And plus, you still get to unwrap it!" she laughed.
As they made their way back into the centre of town, fingers intertwined, they watched last minute shoppers rushing around, kids laughing and dancing around their parents as they queued to see Santa. "Do we need anything else?" Willow asked as they crossed the street towards Tara's apartment. Tara smiled, "Don't think so!" she said, "Did you get everything you wanted?" she asked innocently. She knew that this was Willow's way of finding out if she still had any shopping to do, maybe something special. "I did, did you?" she asked.
Nodding, Tara smiled sweetly. "I did. Let's go home!"
Opening the door to her apartment, Tara stepped inside followed quickly by Willow. "Oooh, I really gotta pee!" she said, dancing in a circle.
"You only went like an hour ago!" Willow complained as she went into the kitchen to make tea.
"Yeah, well, I... erm, I just do!" Tara mumbled quickly as she hid the necklace in her bedside table and rushed into the bathroom.
A knock at the door cut off anything Willow was going to say. Pulling the heavy door open, she was surprised to find Julie standing there. "Where the hell have you guys been?" she demanded as she stormed into the apartment. "I went to your house and there's police everywhere and they said I couldn't go in because it's a crime scene and then I came here and no one was here and then I went to the club and they said Tara hadn't turned up last night and the whole time I was carrying a Christmas tree!" she gasped for breath as she came to the end of her rant.
"Hi Julie!" Willow giggled. "Colin got out and attacked us at my place so they're checking out everything there. I went to the hospital to get treated coz I gassed myself and then we came back here last night, we were tired so went to bed and then went shopping today and have just got back in." Willow explained.
Tara emerged from the bathroom, "Hey Jules, everything ok?" she smiled as she took a sip of her tea. Shaking her head violently, Willow tried to stop her question but failed.
"I'm ok T, I just got a bit worried when I couldn't find you guys so I went to Willow's and there's police everywhere and now Willow tells me that you guys were attacked and now I have a big tree and my apartment is too small!" Julie babbled.
"What is it with the women in my life? They all have babbling disease!" Tara laughed. "We'll have to rethink the Christmas day location but everything's still going on as usual."
With a sigh, Julie nodded. It was clear from the body language of her friends that neither one wanted to tell her about the events that had transpired the previous night. "So, the holidays moving back to my place then?!" Julie confirmed. "Right, well, I'll see you tomorrow then. About 11?" she said, making her way back to the front door. "Bring some beer, I forgot!" she giggled as she stepped out into the corridor.
"That was weird." Willow announced as she closed the door behind her.
"No, that was Julie." Tara told her. "She's like that!"
Rolling her eyes, Willow stepped back into the kitchen and began rummaging through cupboards. "So dinner?" she asked.