On behalf of the officers and the crew of the Battlestar Pegasus, itís a pleasure to see all of you.
The Geometry of Shadows
"Group! Attention!" Col. Tigh bellowed, his voice resounding throughout the entire hangar bay and because of the sheer authority in his voice, a small part of Tara felt compelled to stand to attention too.
Tara watched proudly as Willow, standing with her fellow pilots, stood to attention as good as it was possible on crutches.
As far as Tara was concerned Willowís stand was as good as the one of any other military personal in the hangar bay but then of course she was a civilian and prejudiced.
Sheíd come down late and so Tara didnít stand with the President but further in the back, together with the few other civilians aboard Galactica. From where she stood, Tara could see Willow standing between Buffy 'Slayerí Summer and 'Mouseí, who could provide discrete help, should "Red-Dykeí need it. The way they were standing there together was exactly what Tara had always imagined when she had heard the phrase "Comrades in Arms".
By now the door of the Raptor from the Battlestar Pegasus, with itís commanding officer Admiral Helena Cain aboard, opened slowly and everybody around her seemed to hold their breath upon the arrival of this famous colonial officer. Well famous for the members of the colonial forces that is. Tara had never heard the name Helena Cain before today.
From what sheíd gathered by now, this Admiral Cain was a very young officer on a very fast track. Youngest officer ever - let alone youngest woman - to make Rear Admiral, and according to Willow, Buffy Summerís declared role model because 'Slayerí too wanted to command her own Battlestar someday in the near future. That was before this future had been nuked to ashes by the Cylons.
Even though the thought of having a second Battlestar to protect the fleet gave Tara a safe feeling, she didnít exactly share the other peopleís enthusiasm that came with the arrival of this living legend aboard the Galactica. That was why Tara didnít pay much attention to Admiral Cain and her command-staff leaving the Raptor or Adama and Cain exchanging formal greetings and she also only barley heard Col. Tigh ordering the crew to at ease.
Tara kept watching her girlfriend and the amazing recovery to form she had made ever since Tara had wheeled her down to the flight deck and to the Viper theyíd been building there. The "Black 'Bird", a stealth plain, had been test flown by 'Starbuckí and baptised 'Lauraí by President Roslin only a few days earlier. It seemed that taking on this enormous task of building a new fighter from scratch, together with her comrades, had been exactly what Willow had needed to rekindle her lively spirits. She also got very motivated and right the next morning - as well over an one hour earlier then their usually time - Willow went to work, practicing walking with her crutches.
These she mastered in no time and soon she and Tara had been on their way to have their breakfast in the officersí mess hall again. Thus empowered and motivated, Willow threw herself into working on the new stealth ship, as well as her own physic therapy to strengthen her recovering knee. Even though Capt. Adam had not yet talked to her about her future with the service yet, Willow was confident that there would still be a place for her to do her bit in protecting and serving the fleet.
By now Admiral Cain had welcomed them all back into the Colonial Fleet and everyone around Tara was cheering loudly. And with Willow cheering too, Tara couldnít help it but being carried away with all the others in a wave of enthusiasm and excitement. Maybe this Helena Cain could really help changing things to the better.
While she watched Willow doing a little improvised happy dance, a shadow dissented between Tara and her girlfriend. Even though Willow had overcome her initial depression over her injuries and the loss of her flight status, Tara knew she still wasnít all back to normal again. Not in a physical sense, those things were as good as they could ever get, given her medical condition.
No, it was something quite different, something that kept her from fully opening up to Tara again. Kept them from becoming close again - really close. Ever since Willow had been released from the sickbay, and even though she had made remarkable progress in her physical recovery, she and Tara hadnít slept with each other. Sure there had been many kisses and snuggling - but no sex.
At first Tara had not wanted to push Willow where she didnít fell safe to go just yet. However in the mean-time whenever Tara wanted more than just snuggling, Willow hesitated, said she wasnít ready. One day she even claimed to have a headache.
Could it be that she really felt insecure about her own sex-life? Tara wondered. Did she fear she might not be able to 'performí to Taraís expectations? It was always of great importance to Willow to really satisfy her girlfriend - without turning it into a competition, of course. Now that she was slightly impaired didnít have to mean that sex couldnít be as good and fulfilling as it had been. At that point Taraís mind started to drift as she remembered the times she and Willow had slept together - mind you, not necessary in a bed.
A bearís hug brought Tara out of her highly x-rated daydreams. She opened her eyes to see Jessica Cally with a big laugh upon her face and her arms around her waist.
"Now what do I owe this unexpected hug to?" Tara asked and smiled warmly upon the enthusiastic young specialist.
"You looked like you needed one," Jessica said and untangled herself from Tara again. "And given the happy events of this day, I thought Iíd give you what you need." Her smile faded slightly when she added: "Plus I saw you and thought thereís the chance for a rare friendly hug with a good friend (and a beautiful girl too), so go for it."
"Rare?" Tara asked, and Cally nodded.
"What about that special someone you told me about sometime ago?" Tara asked carefully.
"Over before it really started," Cally said sadly. "Turned out she didnít approve with my reasons for shooting that Cylon 'Boomerí."
"Oh," was all Tara could say to this revelation. She and Cally had only talked briefly about this but Tara could understand what had motivated Jessica to pull the trigger. After all Tara too had taken the shot on Faith and later would have 'killedí her too if she hadnít run out of ammunition. She hadnít told Jessica Cally about Faith though, nobody except Dana Kim knew of her second encounter with her Cylon ex.
"Itís all right," Cally said. "I knew that there would be consequences, that there would be a price for me to pay, both at work and in my private life." She paused for a moment before she quietly but very determined added: "Still, Iíd do it again." Cally paused again and for a moment she and Tara were the only persons standing silently in mitts of the cheering crowd.
"Maybe it just wasnít meant to be," Cally said after a while. "And my next girlfriend is still out there." She laughed and pointed around at all the people of the Galactica, now talking to the few people that had come over from the Pegasus with the Admiral and her command-crew.
"Not to mention," Tara said with a huge smile upon her lips, "another Battlestar full of possible dykes just arrived, maybe youíll be lucky over there."
"My thoughts exactly," Cally beamed. "And now letís get you over to your girlfriend, Madam Secretary!" she said, took Tara by her arm and strode with her over to where Willow, Buffy and Luidmila where standing.
Tara sat in the complete darkness of the living room. It was late in the evening and she expected Willow to be back from her appointment with Doc Cottle, checking on the recovery progress of her knee. And she was making some great progress so that wasnít the reason why Tara was sitting in the dark thinking.
Sheíd done a lot of thinking these past days. Ever since the arrival of Ad. Cain some days ago, Tara had been thinking about the sexual part of her relationship with Willow - or the lack of it - she had been tense. Tense and in want of something Willow still wasnít ready to give. Oh, she wasnít turning a cold shoulder on Tara or anything. Nights where full of kisses, caresses and snuggling but nothing more. Not that Tara ever complained about snuggling or kissing Willow - no Maíam!
Kissing and snuggling was fine, great even but not the same as sex... no, not the same as making love. It had been so long since she had last sleep with Willow and the more time went by, the more she missed becoming one with the woman she loved so much. Thinking about all the long hours she and Willow had spent together didnít really help, because the more she thought about it, the more it fuelled her lust for her beautiful girlfriend.
So far, today had been the worst. During a somewhat unsettling meeting between President Roslin and Ad. Cain that she had to attend Tara had been so "sidetracked", she had to excuse herself to go to the lavatory to "lend herself a hand".
'I bet Laura still wonders why her Sec Ed so hurriedly left the meeting,í Tara thought amused but got serious once again. 'I canít go on like this,í Tara thought after a while. 'Either I talk to Willow, find out whatís keeping her from sleeping with me, or I have to start every morning by taking very cold showers!í
Tara wanted Willow.
But Willow it seemed, didnít want her - now why was that?
'You know your ability for self-denial is astonishing.í
"I donít know what you mean," Tara answered her own thoughts.
'You know very well what might be the reason,í the little voice in her mind went on demandingly, driving herself to a point of reckoning, where she didnít want to go to.
'Unconditional love,í the voice went on, 'requires trust and honesty.í
"Trust and honesty?" Tara asked into the darkness but got only silence as an answer.
The sound of the bulkhead lock being turned brought Tara out of her thinking and kept her from answering her own pressing questions.
Light penetrated the darkness of the living room as Willow pushed the bulkhead open, far enough to pass through it. Tara sat in the opposite corner of the room and remained out of Willowís sight that way. Willow slowly walked in the room on her crutches and by closing the bulkhead behind her she put the room once again in total darkness. Now leaning one crutch at the wall, Willow reached for the light switch right next to the door and switched on the light. Tara, in the meantime, had stood up and waited for Willow to turn around and face her.
After sheíd adjusted the fit of her uniform jacket, Willow took up the crutch again. Turning around into the now well lit living room she froze in total surprise. Not so much because she found Tara waiting for her in the darkness but for the way she was standing in front of her now - clad only with a golden necklace and a smile. Still standing where she had waited for her girlfriend, bare, willing, wanting and vulnerable, Tara observed the various emotions that where displayed upon her loverís face.
She couldnít really tell what had made her confront her girlfriend with her unclothed body and even now she wasnít sure if she might not have made a huge mistake. They hadnít been nude - both at the same time - since the shower theyíd taken together the day Willow had started working at the stealth plane.
Willow slowly moved over to Tara, all mesmerised by what she was seeing. Standing now right in front of her, Willow let her crutches crash to the ground, and balancing on one leg she pulled herself into Taraís arms, for a hard and hungry kiss.
Taraís left hand slowly started to move while with her other hand supported her girlfriend. Still kissing, Willowís handís started to move down towards Taraís hips. It was a wonderful moment and for a short time Tara believed that finally things where getting better but the moment Willow felt her girlfriendís hand making its way under her uniform jacket (and her shirt) the redhead got stiff and stopped kissing.
"Tara, donít," she asked in a whispered, pleading tone of voice.
"What?" Tara asked, her hand now moving to Willowís front where she slowly started to open unbutton the uniform jacket. By now Willow was completely paralysed and only slowly her own hands started to move too, putting her hands firmly on Taraís, to stop her from further intimacy.
"I canít," she whimpered.
By now tears were running down Willowís checks. "I... I just canít," she repeated helplessly.
"Why?" Tara asked quietly.
Willow didnít answer, but steadied herself upon Tara , took up one of her crutches and once she had pressed it under her armpit she let go of Taraís hand, and took a step backwards.
"Donít you want me anymore, Willow?", Tara asked still standing in front of her lover in all her nudity.
Willow shook her head.
"But then why donít you want to sleep with me anymore?"
The redhead opened her mouth, but no sound escaped her lips. Tara reached for the kimono she had let slip down from her shoulders upon Willow opening the bulkhead and covert herself. This seemed to calm Willow down a bit, though Tara was sure to have seen the tiniest bit of disappointment in those dark green eyes. 'At least she hasnít run out on me,í Tara thought as she watched Willow sitting down on the nearby couch, and Tara herself sat back down on the chair sheíd been waiting on for the past hour.
"Is it because of your knee?" Tara asked carefully. Willow only looked baffled at her.
"I mean," Tara carefully tried to explain, "are you maybe afraid might not be able to..." she helplessly searched for words, annoyed about her own inability to put her feeling into words.
'Until only moment ago you stood all naked in front of her, and now youíre unable to actually talk about sex?í Tara scold herself.
She was just about to finally voice her thoughts when it suddenly blurred out of Willow: "Why didnít you tell me?"
It was the stress in her voice that startled Tara and even though she only too well knew what Willow wanted to know, she found herself unable to tell her lover what she had the right to know.
"Tara, why didnít you say anything?" Willow asked again, more demanding this time. "About your Faith being not only my fellow pilot 'Rogueí, but also a Cylon?"
"I didnít tell you right away because I wanted to spare you until you had gotten stronger again," Tara wanted to explain but didnít because she knew that would be a lie and she didnít want to lie to the woman she loved so much.
Instead she silently shook her head and said: "I didnít tell you because I was afraid about what you would say."
"Afraid?" Willow repeated. "Afraid of what I might say?
"What was it exactly that you thought you could not tell me?" She didnít wait for an answer, but went on. "You uncovered a fellow pilot of mine, whom I hardly knew in the first place to be a Cylon. You stopped her when she took Buffy as a hostage..."
"But she was also..." Tara began, but Willow interrupted her.
"Believe it or not Tara," Willow said quietly, "I would have had no problem with Faith being your ex-girlfriend, and still wouldnít have if you had told me everything way back.
"So thatís not the reason...," Willow said and wiped her hand over her eyes. "Itís the lack of your trust into our relationship that hurt me the most. Why didnít you trust me to be able to understand, to be able to handle the fact of a disguised Cylon being your ex-girlfriend and all that."
"And all that," Tara repeated slowly, wondering only briefly how Willow knew about all of this, though she knew only too well that it didnít matter at all.
"There was more to it than that," she went on, looking straight into her girlfriendís eyes. "No one except Dana Kim knows about this but I meet the Cylon Faith again - twice."
"Yes, twice. First Dana let me have a talk with her in the brig."
"Which certainly was against regulations," Lieutenant Rosenberg observed.
"And thatís why you canít tell anybody, or otherwise Dana might be get in trouble, even now," Tara said earnestly but then got back to what she had to say. And so she told Willow all about her second encounter with her ex, during the time the Galactica had been boarded by the Cylon raiding party, up to the point when that other Centurion hat started opening that part of the battlestar to space.
"That moment," Tara said slowly, "Faith let go of her gun, stepped up to me, grabbed me by the shoulders and..." She paused for a bit, "kissed me."
She watched Willowís eyes go wide open.
"It was only a very short kiss," Tara assured her. "And after that she literally threw me into a nearby storage room and closed it from the outside before she got sucked out into space and into certain death. Well, as certain as it can ever be for those Cylons." Tara closed her eyes, knowing that now that the truth was out, things lay in Willowís hands.
Tara took a deep breath and slowly opened her eyes again and looked questioningly at her girlfriend and Willow eventually began to speak.
"So first she kisses you and then she saves your life?"
Tara nodded and fearfully asked, "Are you freaked?"
"Why should I be?" The redhead asked in return. "Sure, I donít like the thought of anyoneís lips on yours but mine," she paused for a moment. "But then again this Faith was... is a Cylon and they always try to get into your mind. I bet as we speak this Cylon is enjoying its new body and is hoping that she has successfully undermined our relationship."
'Willow really seems to be okay with this,í Tara thought by herself.
"I donít know," she said out about.
"Why," Willow asked, "donít you think that she tricked you, like this 'Boomerí tricked Chief Tyrol into loving her?"
"But at the same time the other 'Boomerí is pregnant and she helped to defeat this Cylon logic bomb computer virus," Tara interjected.
"To save her own life," Willow answered, convinced.
"Call me foolish, Willow, but I really believe that this 'Boomerí really is in love with Karl Agathorn," Tara said and took another deep breath before she went on. "And I firmly believe that Faith once really loved me too. Maybe still did when she saved my life - so Iím not so sure about trying to ascertain her motives."
It hurt Willow to hear this, Tara could tell, but at the same time she just couldnít stop herself.
"So you still love her too?" Willow asked, sounding rather fearlessly.
"Yes," Tara answered carefully but truthfully - knowing she owed the truth to her girlfriend. "But only the tiniest bit. Iím not telling you this to hurt you."
"I know," Willow assured her, her voice trembling slightly.
"Itís really just a little bit," Tara repeated. "But it is you who I really and truly love, you are the better part of my self, the one person I wanna grow old with. I gave you my future a long time ago, itís the only valuable thing I got to give."
"What happened down in that hallway, will haunt me for the rest of my life I fear and I will never lose that sense of shame when I remember that kiss..." Taraís voice broke and tears where running down her checks.
"Can you ever forgive me?" she whispered, her voice barley audible.
"Ashamed of what?" Willow wondered. "Because of the kiss?" She didnít understand it yet, Tara saw and gulped hard before she revealed the complete truth to her girlfriend and soul mate.
"During that kiss," the blond woman said, the words only coming slowly, "during that kiss, only for the fraction of a second... I didnít think of you... For that millisecond I wanted her... I forgot about you and for that moment you werenít in my mind," Tara repeated helplessly.
"So thatís what this is all about," Willow said slowly. "For a moment I wasnít in your mind."
Tara nodded, her eyes all red and puffy, "Can you forgive me, Can you still love me?" she asked.
"Still love you?", Willow asked back. "No."
For a moment Tara believed that she had to die here and now but then Willow spoke again: "Because I never stopped loving you, not for a moment."
"But... during that kiss..."
"I wasnít in your mind," Willow agreed, "but youíre forgetting something, Tara Maclay," she said and a cautious smile appeared on her face. "I know you and even if I wasnít on your mind in that moment, I never left your heart."
Still crying she shook her head: "No, never," she cried. "But if you never stopped loving me, why donít you wanna sleep with me anymore?"
"Trust, Tara," Willow said. "once I knew that there was something you didnít tell me, something the concerned both you and me... it was like a shadow had come between us. To give myself to somebody else completely, needs both love and trust"
"And can you trust me again?" Tara wanted to know.
Willow nodded, "I can. I do trust you if only you had told me before. I mean after I came out of my depression because of my knee," Willow added with a frown. She reached out for Tara and tenderly let her fingers run trough the soft blond hair and for a long moment the two woman didnít need words anymore.
"And now," Willow said after some sheíd kissed her girlfriend to her heart's content, "about you greeting me all nude." She said with a suggestive grin. And before Taraís mind had the chance to follow, she had already swooped up the former Viper pilot and carried her into the bed room.
They didnít sleep with each other that night, but for the first time in some months they slept together in the nude and kissed and snuggled a lot more than ever before.
Trust rebuild fast between Willow and Tara because the shadow that had been looming between the two woman had vanished for good.
And with the trust between herself and Willow restored, Tara knew that Willow was ready to face whatever her future within the Colonial Forces would be.