Tara sat still staring at the writing, trying to discern some meaning to it. It was written all over her wall in different sizes.At first she had thought that someone had broken into her quarters in order to write it, but had soon realised that it was her own writing. Tara wasn't sure whether that was better or worse. The problem was she had no idea what the expression, I am the machine meant or what would have possessed her to write it all over her walls. Deciding that deciphering the phrase should be her first course of action Tara tuned on her terminal and began a search for that phrase. The realising that she had to get to work soon Tara went to have a sonic shower.
Standing in the shower, the sound waves gently massaging her it occurred to Tara that she could ask Willow about this. Then she wasn't sure about that, not knowing how to broach the subject. She could hardly say, "Oh and I've been writing strange messages on my wall in my sleep. More wine dear?" She hardly knew Willow and a part of her urged her to be cautious despite, or maybe because of, the strong feelings she had for her. Deciding to not say anything till she knew more Tara got out of the shower and got ready for work.
Tara was walking through the crowds to work she got the impression that a woman who was approaching her was staring at her. She was a medium sized woman with short red hair. She looked a little bit like Willow except she had a much more intense expression. Not recognising the woman Tara decided she must be imagining it. However, as the woman got closer, Tara became certain she was staring at her. As they passed each other the other woman turned her head to keep Tara in view. Tara tried to not show any reaction as she continued past the other woman. After getting a few steps she spun round, but the other woman had vanished.
Tara was still trying to figure out why she had provoked the woman's attention when she heard a faint musical sound, followed by a deep melodic voice saying, "You have been touched by darkness." Tara spun round trying to see who had spoken, but no ones seemed to be paying any attention to her. Unnerved by the whole experience Tara continued on to the lifts. It was only as she boarded one that she realised that the woman had been wearing a Psicorps badge, something that Tara hadn't seen since the Psicorps had been disbanded following the telepath war.
Willow was getting ready for her date with Tara trying to decide what top to wear when she suddenly had an idea. She started for the door and had almost left her quarters when she remembered that she hadn't put a top on. Grabbing the first one that came to hand she quickly put it on and left.
Willow quickly made her way to the nearest flower shop where she bought a large bouquet. As she was heading back when she noticed a paper vending station so she picked up a copy of the Galaxy Today. She glanced at the headlines as she walked back. The first one to jump out at her was one saying, "Is the plague real?" It was about a politician claiming that Sheridan had been brainwashed into hating humanity by the Minbari which was why he had turned against the duly elected president. Willow snorted at this as Clarke had only become president after Santiago had been assassinated. Reading on she saw that this politician was claiming that Sheridan had invented the plague in order to further punish humanity by trapping humanity on Earth. Reaching her quarters Willow threw the paper down on a table in disgust and went back to getting ready.
Tara sat at her table at the restaurant waiting for Willow to arrive. Anyone observing her would have thought that she was completely cool and collected, not seeing the anxiety and worry she was keeping hidden beneath the surface and which was growing as each minute passed.
"Hi, sorry I'm late," Willow's voice came from behind her, making her jump. As Willow walked round the table and took her seat she went on, "One of the transport tubes broke down."
"That's okay." Tara reached across the table and put her hand on Willow's, stroking it gently.
"So, uh, how's working for the Alliance?" Willow suddenly found it hard to concentrate on what she was saying.
"It's not as interesting as I thought it'd be. It's pretty much like all the other commercial work I do. What about you, have you been looking for a job? Or do you need one?"
"I have been. Before I went off to find myself I was contacted by IMX. I'm getting in touch with them to see if they're still interested."
Tara nodded, "So, did you?"
Willow was so focused on the feeling she was getting from her contact with Tara that for a moment she didn't understand, "Did I what?"
"Not yet. I'm um, still working on that."
Tara nodded, "I think that's one of those takes a life time things."
They paused from their discussion as the waiter came to get their order. When he'd gone Tara asked, "So have you always lived on Earth?"
Willow nodded, "I was born and grew up there. A small town in America called Sunnydale."
"Never heard of it."
"Virtually no one has. What about you?"
"Oh I was born on Mars, but we moved to Earth when I was five. I lived there till I was eighteen then I went to college at Proxima Centauri."
"So you're pretty well travelled?"
Tara smiled, "I've never been to the Rim."
"But I bet you've been to loads of other interesting places."
"Well I have been to Minbar."
"Wow, I've never really met any Minbari. What are they like?"
"Sorry, that didn't really tell you much. I guess they're how you'd imagine them. Very peaceful, serene. At least the religious caste are. They're the ones I met mainly."
Partway through the meal Tara noticed that Willow was staring at her. "What?"
"Sorry, I was just thinking that my dad will like you, even though you're not Jewish."
"He will, will he?"
"Yeah. My mum will too eventually, though she'll never get your name right."
"You've never mentioned your family before."
"Well they were never around, always off travelling."
"Oh." For a moment Tara wasn't sure what to say to that, "Well I'd like to say my dad would like you..." Tara looked sheepish a moment, "But it'd be a lie."
"I'm not up to his standards?" Willow sounded as though she didn't think such a thing was possible.
"No woman would be. He's still in denial about my being gay."
This surprised Willow, "What? Doesn't he know it's the twenty third century?" Then realising that that sounded rude she went on, "Sorry, I shouldn't judge."
"No, you're right. He is stuck back in the twenty first century. I'm sure my mum would have liked you."
Having finished the meal they asked for the bill to be brought over. As Tara reached to take it Willow stopped her saying, "Nuh huh, it's my turn to pay, you paid last time."
"Yes, but you did provide the entertainment."
"Entertainment?" Willow said, not understanding. When she realised what Tara was talking about she said, "Oh that's nice, make fun of one of the most embarassing experiences I've had... this week."
"Aww, I was just teasing."
"Well just for that, I'm going to pay," Willow said in a smug tone.
Tara blinked, trying to work out the logic of that. "Um, okay."
As they walked away from the restaurant Willow took Tara's hand and said, "I had a really good time."
"Me too," Tara agreed.
"So want to try for three? Or would that be pushing our luck?"
Tara grinned, "I'm feeling like taking a risk."
"Great. How about you come round my quarters and I cook something?"
Tara didn't look sure about this. She had the strange feeling that Willow didn't cook much. "You cook?"
Willow's face fell at this, "Not as such no. The last time I tried to cook, my mentor thought that I was trying to create a sentient life form."
"Then I've got a better idea. How about you come round my quarters and I cook something."
Willow smiled, "That's a..."
"Willow!" Tara said, as she saw two men approaching, neither looking very friendly. As they raised PPGs Willow waved her hand toward them and they were both thrown back. They hit the wall of the corridor and fell to the ground, unconcious.
"Now that was just plain rude," Willow said in an angry tone, "I mean here we are having a conversation..."
Sensing a third person behind her Tara spun around. Grabbing the club he had raised she hit him with the heel of her hand in his chest, then in his face, knocking him out.
"Wow!" Willow said looking at the unconcious figure, "I mean, wow. Where did you learn to do that?"
"I've got a friend who's a ranger." Tara shrugged, "She taught me some Minbari fighting techniques, she even showed me how to use one of those," Tara shook her hand, "staff things."
"Cool." Willow looked around their attackers, who were starting to come to, "Maybe we better get going." As they made their way to Tara's quarters Willow said, "You know this station is certainly living up to it's reputation for being interesting. I mean I've only been here a few days and I've been arrested once and attacked twice."
"You've been attacked before?" Tara sounded worried as she said this.
"Oh yeah, shortly after I arrived. Some cretin by the name of Warren Mears. Well I showed him, I hexed him."
"You hexed him?"
"Well maybe I broke into his bank account and donated his money to various good causes. I thought it was a fitting punishment for his life of crime."
"Maybe the two attacks are related?"
"It could be. I'll look into it." Seeing they were at Tara's quarters Willow said, "Well here we are. You know I'm looking forward to seeing inside there, tomorrow."
"You can come in if you want, have some coffee."
"Oh no, the anticipation is part of the fun."
"You're very strange."
"Uh, good strange or bad strange?"
Tara pulled Willow close and kissed her. After a while, as they moved apart she said, "Definitely good strange."
"Well that's okay then. So see you tomorrow." Willow kissed Tara before starting down the corridor, stopping at the end to turn back and wave.