Bloodsworth was pacing around with an unlit cigarette in his hand, looking even more cross than usual. His Sex Pistols t-shirt had a curious stain on the front of it.
Tara had brought the red rose with her into the rehearsal room. Amused at her own silliness, she let her fingertips slide over the soft petals.
When Willow had first walked in, she'd noticed how Tara's features softened while touching it. She couldn't help smiling as soon as she looked into the mezzo's brilliant eyes and had to look away to be able to concentrate on the music. But she didn't exactly play it fair herself. She would slide her fingertips over whatever surface of exposed skin that came close to her.
Giles entered to sit in on the rehearsal.
Tara felt acutely aware of his presence and tried to focus her entire mind on what she was singing instead of on Willow. It was still so unreal to her that she was rehearsing Butterfly at the Covent Garden under the famous Sir Rupert Giles... But she felt ok. Confident, almost. But her nervousness escalated as Buffy Summers entered the room to listen in. She had known who Buffy Summers was since she was fifteen years old. At that time, Buffy had already been famous as a wunderkind of song and here she was, listening to her Suzuki. A year ago, Tara had still been just another Music College student. This whole situation was just unreal...
And I'm actually sleeping with Willow Rosenberg... How's that for unreal!?
Suddenly, she was the woman who got what she wanted... She was a great singer. Willow had said so, and therefore it must be true. Right? But there weren't many weeks left before opening night... Not to mention the night of the concert... The hugeness of the situation suddenly made her stomach ache. But it was going to be ok! Right?
Willow sensed how Tara tensed up gradually. To her, these people were family, but it occurred to her that they might be rather intimidating as a group.
"Giles thought you were totally wonderful when you did the Dalila. He said that we were so lucky to have you working with us." She touched Tara's hand comfortingly.
"You're really going to like Buffy. She's great. And Buffy's really going to like you, ok? We'll get together soon, so you can meet her. And you'll meet Sandro, too, 'cause he's my oldest friend, so he can tell you all those embarrassing stories, like that time when he accidentally poured jello down my costume... As for Anja... well, I just will not vouch for that woman. You're on your own there..."
Tara smiled at her babbling, filled up with intense gratitude for Willow's instinctive understanding.
Thank you... She mouthed silently to Willow.
Willow squeezed her hand reassuringly.
Tara still kept her distance when Willow went over to talk to Buffy. She wanted to let Willow decide if and when she became a part of her life. She concentrated very hard on not stuttering as Sir Rupert approached her.
"How are you settling in then, Tara? Everything going well? You're coping with him and whatnot?" He gestured toward William Bloodsworth, who was sitting on a chair with a storm cloud on his brow.
Anja Jonsson entered the room and the conversation.
"Buffy threw a can of coke on his 'vintage Sex Pistols t-shirt'," she said casually, making quotation marks in the air.
"What on earth for?" Sir Rupert looked at Anja in astonishment.
"Well, Van Neederwelt has got her in this really weird outfit for the Todesverkündigung in the second act, in this bright sort of canary yellow with huge shoulder pads. Anyway, Bloodsworth said she looked like some cartoon I've never heard about. Squarebob something? Well, it can't have been good, because she emptied a whole can of soft drink all over him. He actually smells really bad now", she said matter-of-factly.
She turned to Tara.
"I'm Anja, by the way".
"Yes, I k-know. Your Sieglinde at Scottish Opera last year was wonderful.
"Yes, it was." Anja smiled graciously at her.
"Are you in Butterfly with Sandro, then? Silly opera. Totally illogical. Puccini was such total prostitute with the audience."
"I think it's ok...?" Tara said uncertainly. To her Butterfly would always be a great opera since it had brought her together with Willow.
"No it's not. Like that money scene for example, when Suzuki tells Butterfly that they're out of money, and Butterfly's all like "Oh my god we're going to die". That's such total rubbish. Have you any idea what a thriving economy Japan had going around that time? Not aimed towards the global market, ok, but still... She could easily have supported herself starting a little business and been independent if she wasn't such a total simpleton. And it wouldn't even have had to be prostitution either, necessarily, even if that paid well...
"I heard you last year in Edinburgh, in the Academy production of Figaro, by the way. You have a nice full sound going on there. You should think about switching to Wagner, shouldn't you? Or at least Strauss. It pays way better to be in the German repertoire. Longer operas. What are you getting for this part? You should run it by your agent and talk about a repertoire change. Who are you with?"
"Eh, well, this is sort of still part of my apprenticeship as a member of the Young Artist's program, so I'm just getting the scholarship money... I don't really get to choose my own repertoire, since I'm still in the program. And I don't actually have an agent yet."
"Are you totally mad, or what!? They're robbing you blind! You should threaten to pull out if they don't put you on a regular contract! I'll set you up with a good agent. But you can't have mine. I want him to focus on me. But anything will do, frankly. If you want a decent investment portfolio any time soon you'll have to start right now. Honestly, I don't you how people like you think. Talent does not buy land!"
Tara just looked at her in absolute bafflement.
"Well, I don't think I actually need any land right now...?"
"Of course you do! This is London, land is a foolproof investment! I've tripled my gains from my last album from trading in cattle futures, so now I've bought a small piece of Islington. I intend to own all of it some day, of course.
"Do you want a salty sweet?" She abruptly changed the subject.
"A what?" Tara said, puzzled by the oxymoron.
"A salty sweet? They're pepper flavoured in the middle."
Willow came back, having finished her conversation with Buffy.
Willow shrugged and took one out of the offered bag.
"Be careful, they are pepper flavoured in the middle."
"Yeah, right! Not even the Swedes would be crazy enough to make a pepper flavoured sweet. It would just be against the laws of nature."
"Actually, it's salt AND pepper flavoured. Salty sweets are very popular at home."
Willow rolled her eyes and put one of the black bonbons in her mouth and bit down on it.
She stared at Anja with terror in her eyes.
"It'sch frickin' pepper flavoured! Why didn't you tell me you were scherious!?"
"It is very confusing when you don't take me seriously after frequently pointing out how literal I am", Anja said with an annoyed frown. She shrugged her shoulders and left the room, devouring salty sweets in rapid succession.
"Well, I liked it", Tara said cheerfully, sucking on her sweet unperturbed.
"Liked it!? It's a SALTY SWEET! It's against the laws of nature!" Willow looked accusingly at Tara.
"I have been brought up in a land were we put intestines in bits of stomach and think that is a particularly yummy dish", Tara said and shrugged.
Gradually, the room full of milling people started thinning out. Willow made a flimsy excuse when Buffy and Sandro suggested lunch.
"Are you hungry? You want to finish the strawberries for lunch?"
"Not hungry..." Tara shook her head, smiling.
"I've been thinking, since the concert is only two weeks away, I probably need to focus on working the kinks out of Sophie so that we can start working on the piece with Giles. I know we already sound really good together... Actually it's more like amazing... Anyway, I've made some notes in the margin as you can see, on interpretation and so on. Now the red is based on my analysis of the cord structure, since I have this theory about the modulation here that I'd like to run by you to see what you make of it. The green is text interpretation and I think we already see eye to eye there pretty much, but maybe we should go over it together just in case. The yellows are notes on how our parts relate harmonically to the other instruments. See, there's this really interesting chord change in the trumpet section just as you mention the Feldmarschallin for the first time." Willow indicated the bar and looked at Tara excitedly.
"And we should talk about the pro and cons of doing an Austrian accent. A bit Schwartzkopfesque, I know, but very authentic"
Tara walked up to the piano stool and sat next to Willow. She looked at the score and smiled.
"Do you always do a complete structural chord analysis on the full score of everything you learn?"
"Eh, well... Ok, so, moment-of-truth type moment here... I guess I do... I've tried not to, 'cause hello, geek warning, but I just can't help myself, it's there begging for me to analyze it. I know it's insane, and Buffy gives me this look whenever I bring the different coloured markers out, but it's like the composer has left me this puzzle to solve and I'm kinda puzzle solving-gal. And besides, I find that knowing what the other instruments are up to makes me more confident that I'm doing the right thing with my lines, you know?"
Tara was looking at her with wide eyes.
"What...? Willow looked intently at her and caressed her cheek lightly.
Tara smiled. She really wanted to say "I love you." But she didn't. Instead she leant closer and let her lips speak it for her as she kissed Willow slowly.
"You are just very, very good at that", Willow said, after having caught her breath.
"Wait a minute, was a "poor thing, she's obviously totally mad, what a pity"-kind of kiss?
Tara shook her head.
"Not mad. Just a little...quirky.
Their rehearsal of the duet went very well, as usual. Actually, splendid is probably more like it.
"Have you noticed how we never seem to get past the duet to do the rest of the scene?"
Tara's head filled with visions of the night past. And of the morning...
"Right." She took a deep breath and tried to concentrate on the music.
"You're possibly the best Octavian ever." Willow sighed contentedly.
"Well, in that case, maybe I should ask for a raise? Anja doesn't think they pay me enough. Said something about switching to Wagner?" Tara smiled at the memory of the instant lecture on arts management.
"Oh, yes, you must switch to longer operas! Longer operas equals bigger bank accounts!" Willow imitated sarcastically.
"I kind of like Anja. I think it's kind of refreshing to meet someone who, you know, just say what they mean...? I think that deep down, she's probably just trying to be kind? Also, she has a point, actually. Wagner would probably suit me. Or at least I think so?"
"Wait a minute? You like Anja? Well, then I just don't think that we can date anymore! Sorry!" Willow looked at Tara with a mock pout.
Date? She said date. She considers this dating. I'm dating Willow Rosenberg. Oh, god, gods, whatever, thankyouthankyou" Tara's internal stream of consciousness babbling made her forget to respond to Willow's statement.
"Ok, so I'm putting on a good quality pout here and what do I get? Nothing?" Willow kept up the pretense of discontent, oblivious of her choice of words.
Tara finally snapped out of her reverie and looked up. Gently, she cupped Willow's face in her hands and kissed her again, with all the tenderness and gratitude she felt flowing through her mind in that moment.
"Ok, so I take that back, 'cause that was so not nothing...
Tara smiled triumphantly at Willow's wide-eyed reaction to just a kiss.
"I guess we should get down to business?" she sighed.
"Ich ken Ihn schon recht wohl, mon cousin" I know you quite well already, mon cousin!
Willow sang her first line teasingly, letting the tip of a finger trail along the low neckline of Tara's borrowed t-shirt.
You know me, my cousin? Tara answered haughtily, pretending she didn't hear the innuendo in Willow's voice.
Yes, from the book with the family trees, Austria's Mirror of Honour. I always take it to bed with me at night and look up my future...
She walked around Tara singing and when she got the part about taking the book with her to bed, she let her hand lazily trail along Tara's hip and the small sliver of skin exposed there.
You do that, ma cousine? Tara still pretended to be aloof, although Willow's fingers had left goose bumps in their trail.
I know all of your Christian names: Octavian Maria Ehrenreich Bonaventura Fernand Hyacinth
Tara just stood there, bowled over by the extent of Willow's breathing technique, as the soprano prolonged the already difficult ascending passage by placing a small kiss on Tara's shoulder, neck, chin, cheekbone and mouth between each of the Rosenkavaliers names.
I do not know them so well myself Tara relented and kissed Willow's hand in a mock chivalrous fashion.
I know something else
Willow gave Tara a decidedly cheeky smile.
Tell me, my cousin
Tara very lightly tickled the partly exposed midriff under her hand, careful not to make Willow loose her place.
You know that name too? [
So your good, friends call you, and lovely ladies, I think, with whom you are friendly...
Tara laughed happily at how well the words suited them and Willow couldn't resist. She sought Tara's lips out for a quick kiss, eagerly answered.
She felt strangely and she knew, ridiculously affected by her next line.
I am looking forward to being married. Are you looking forward too? Or perhaps you haven't yet thought about it, mon cousin?
"Oh, I've thought about it, my love, trust me" Tara thought as Willow's eyes sought hers out. She sang her line about Sophie's loveliness, trying not to let too much of her emotions show.
Of course, you are a man and you are what you are...
Willow couldn't resist and lightly cupped Tara's breast in her hand while singing about her masculinity.
When Tara answered with Octavians line about how Sophie's presence confused him, she felt quite the contrary. She had never been more certain of what she wanted in her entire life. During Sophie's monologue about her social standing as a married woman, Tara gently breathed in the scent of Willow, put her nose against her hair and inhaled, slowly, deeply. Moving closer, her ear rested on the soprano's shoulder; she could hear a pulse and a heartbeat. Did a heart normally beat this fast?
She almost missed her line, but she had no trouble reassuring Willow/Sophie that she was the loveliest woman of all.
I would gladly accept anything from you, for never has a young gentleman from near or far so delighted me as you
Willow pulled Tara a little closer as the scene ended, meaning every word she had sung. But now, unusually for her, she was sick of words. She tilted her head slightly upwards and savoured the moment when she could feel Tara's warm breath on her lips, just before they met in a searing...
"Baron Ochs?" Tara said, confused at the opera's seeming tendency to go on without them. The next scene would have been the entering of Sophie's husband to be, the boorish womanizer Baron Ochs von Lerchenau.
"Let's hope not. And let's hope whoever it is will have a strong tendency to go away again." She said, airing her discontent as she walked towards the door
"Giles?" she turned to look at Tara.
"He wouldn't do at all as Baron Ochs, now would he?"
"But he would make a good Faninal, though..." Tara answered thoughtfully, taking the conductor in.
"Pardon me? You've lost me, I'm afraid?"
Sir Rupert removed his glasses and started polishing them vigorously on a silk handkerchief.
"Right, you seem to be discussing Rosenkavalier and I couldn't help but overhearing a rather splendid version of the end of the delivery of the rose-scene. Having said that, can I ask you, Willow, to please tell me that you haven't decided to drop your Cleopatra from the concert program in favour of the, erhm, full scene, not just the duet, but again the full scene of the delivery of the rose with Miss Maclay, which you will then have to have fully finished by next Wednesday after only a week of rehearsal of a piece you have never done before, and please also tell me that there is a really good reason why you haven't seen fit to tell me this before, since orchestra rehearsals are on Monday and I actually have to provide the musicians with some sort of sheet music to play by before then?"
Willow realized that Giles worried little speech made perfect sense. She actually had no clue why she hadn't notified Giles of the repertoire change. She realised how completely she had been living inside of her own private Tara-bubble for the last few weeks.
"Ok, so I have dropped the Cleopatra in favour of Rosenkavalier and as for not telling you; Well, ooups is a good a word as any, I suppose, but Giles, it's going to be really, really good. Right, Tara?
Tara just nodded to avoid stuttering.
Giles winced a little as he put his glasses back on. He took a deep breath to calm himself.
"Right, then. Any chance of hearing this any time soon?" Willow smiled triumphantly. She recognised the sign of Giles resigning to his fate.
"Now! We can run through it now!"
Tara looked at her with abject terror on her face.
"N-now?" she repeated disbelievingly. "But we've only started on the last part! Do you really think we're ready for this?" She whispered under her breath.
"You and me? This is beneath us!"
Tara sighed and shook her head.
"Well, if you say so..."
Willow gave her hand a passing reassuring squeeze as she indicated the piano and turned to Giles.
"Whenever you're ready, Maestro..."
Willow closed her eyes as Tara started singing and wondered if the mezzo's voice would always affect her like this, make her hot and cold and goose bumpy. As she fell into the duet, she forgot Giles and everything around her as their two voices mated in the air, like finding the lost piece of a jigsaw puzzle.
Despite Tara's fears, she felt happiness fill her up as they were singing. Was there a limit to what they could accomplish together? Probably, but right now, she was damned if she knew what it would be...
When they had finished, Giles sat silently by the piano for a few seconds, before taking the handkerchief out and going at his glasses again. Willow wondered idly if you could actually wear a lens out that way and if so, how long would it take? She smiled at Tara. She knew what his silence meant.
"Well, that was..."
"Erhm... how would you both feel if we put this right at the end of the concert? I think this would make a great coda. That was, as you both are probably very well aware of, rather splendid, if I may say so..."
"You may!" Willow said magnanimously, feeling just a wee bit like Anya.
That afternoon's Butterfly rehearsal went very well, with Tara still surfing the wave of Sir Rupert's appreciation and Willow smiling like a proud mother who had just given birth. As they returned to their dressing rooms, Willow picked Tara's sweater up and walked over to give it back.
"I'll miss this... Willow said wistfully as she returned it.
"You can keep it if you like?" Tara offered.
"Thank you, but that wouldn't quite work. Oh, don't get me wrong, it's a nice sweater, but the point was that it smelled like you and now it kinda doesn't. Now it smells like me, and smelling myself isn't yummy at all..."
"I disagree..." Tara said and put the fabric of her borrowed sweater to her nose and inhaled contentedly.
"Maybe I can borrow it again when you've worn it long enough?" Willow said hopefully.
They left the opera house in high spirits, debating what to do with their evening.
"So, do you want to go out to dinner or something?"
"Actually, I think I'd like to back to my hotel room."
"Oh... You mean you want to be alone...?"
Tara shook her head emphatically.
"It's just that I've been in most of these clothes for a while, you know? So if we're going out, maybe I should change first?"
Willow nodded, relieved.
George the doorman was standing on his post again.
"Do you always work?" Willow asked him as she and Tara approached the hotel.
"At least when there's something to good to gossip about..." He cast a meaningful glance at Willow and Tara's entwined fingers and touching shoulders and grinned broadly.
Willow couldn't really begrudge him the right, since he had smelled the coffee before she had herself. She stood on her toes and gave him a light peck on the cheek and a wide smile. George gave an exaggerated salute.
In the lift up to Tara's room, the mezzo slowly stroked the soft inside of Willow's arm. Willow wanted to be inside of her, right in that moment; it didn't matter that they had spent the morning in bed together. She started to regret suggesting that they'd go out.
As soon as Tara had unlocked the door, Willow standing really close, the mezzo pulled her closer and wrapped her arms around her. The soprano turned her head and kissed her, drinking her in, leaning heavily into the soft body.
"I've missed you..." Willow whispered in her ear.
"But we've been together all day..." Tara whispered back.
"No we haven't."
As Tara got the meaning of her words, she nibbled Willow's lower lip and whispered back.
"I've missed you too... Maybe I should get out of these clothes? After all, I have been wearing them since yesterday..."
"Mmm, yes, let me help you with those... And we didn't get a lot of sleep yesterday... Maybe we should lie down for a while...?
As they ended up on the bed together in a tangle of arms and legs, tongues and lips, Tara felt as if she would have exploded if she hadn't been able to touch Willow in that very second. Willow's moan was almost inaudibly soft in her ear, but she felt how the lithe body melted into her own when she moved to cover the soprano's centre with her thigh. Undressing as much as it was possible while refusing to seize the contact between their bodies, Tara felt the slight tremor in the woman beneath her and increased friction and pressure slightly, surprised but elated at Willow's passionate response. Willow felt to her own amazement how she was heading towards a climax, half dressed and with just the pressure of Tara's soft thigh against her sex. Tara felt the glow in her own body turning into a flame as the soprano's breathing became heavier. Her responses were the mightiest aphrodisiac Tara had ever known. It made her own body feel weightless, electrified. She slid a little further down and enclosed one of the pink nipples with her lips. She was rewarded with a gasp and a warm centre pressing up against her hip. She moved gently but firmly against Willow and recognised the sudden tension in the body underneath her before climax. She was already getting to know this body well enough to know what it wanted. She took a little more of the pearly white breast in her mouth and let her tongue circle around the warm nipple. She shifted her body weight over to her arms so that she could move more freely against Willow's sensitive place. There was no need of holding back; there would be another opportunity later, to linger; to luxuriate in taste and movement. Right now was about giving and giving in. When Willow shuddered in passion against her, she bent down to kiss the moans from her lips into her own mouth, drinking her response and feeding on the supple body's surrender to hers.
After her climax, Willow held her so close, pulling her full weight on top of her, still breathing heavily against her neck. Tara allowed herself to lie there like a human blanket, even though she knew she should worry about being too heavy.
"How do you just know...? What I need?"
Tara thought seriously about it.
"Don't know... It's sort of an instinct? Like I have a feeling that if I guess, I'll probably be right...? It's like..." Her voice trailed away and she looked pensive.
"Like magic?" Willow asked, still in the afterglow of her release and kissed her softly.
"I don't believe in magic. But I think... This is going to sound silly, but I think we have sort of a... connection, you know? Like we can just read each other? Like how it's so easy when we sing?"
"We totally have a connection... I've never been able to sing with anyone like that before. It's like I know exactly how you're going to do it from just looking at the score. Do you think it's like that when we're... physical as well? Like singing?"
Willow wasn't normally so talkative about these things, but she was really curious of Tara's thoughts.
The mezzo nodded slowly against her chest.
"So, you don't believe in magic...?"
Tara thought for a few moments.
"Music is magic..."
Slowly and gently she rolled Tara over and kissed her deeply.
"Ok, maybe a few other things..."
Willow smiled and started to remove Tara's bra as Tara pushed Willow's open shirt off her shoulders.
"You know, normally it's customary to remove one's clothing before copulating..." Tara said teasingly as Willow became more focused in her efforts.
"I know, but we spit in the face of convention!" Willow said dramatically as she flung Tara's bra across the room and put her head down on the softest of pillows. She started to kiss her way down the mezzo's body, tracing every delicious curve with her lips.
"You have the sexiest ankles, like, ever..."
Willow lifted Tara's leg up to kiss her slim, shapely ankle. Tara marveled at the fact that every inch of her body now seemed to be transformed into an erogenous zone. Willow placed the sole of her foot on her shoulder and rested her cheek against the soft upper side. She ran her hand along her strong calves and lingered on the soft skin on the back of her knee. Tara felt like her foot rested on silk. The skin on Willow's shoulders and neck was still a little pink from kissage.
"I just adore the colours of your body... The way your lips and nipples are scarlet... Your skin so white..." Tara kissed her way between the bright colour changes on Willow's body, making the soprano shudder and blush under her lips
They kissed languidly, slowly running their hands over each other, moving gently together. The heat between their bodies was picking up with each tiny motion.
Willow breathed out between kisses.
The mezzo murmured against her lips.
"I think I might be kinda...(kiss) gay...(kiss)"
"Really? What makes you think that?"
Willow felt a little smile against her lips.
"Well, I really like breasts..."
"Just in general...?"
"Actually, it's a particular pair that I can't seem to get enough of..."
She cupped one of them in a feather light caress.
"I see...Still, it's best that we test that theory, (kiss) just to make sure..."
"I agree. We may have to run several tests, to be positive?"
"I like that about you. You're very thorough..."
"That I am. I intend to be thorough all over that divine body of yours all night", Willow said moving herself half on top of Tara.
"Just to be sure?"
"Mmmhm. Just to be sure..."
"You have such beautiful hands..."
Tara kissed her palm reverently, letting her tongue sneak out to just barely touch the skin.
Willow felt a slight shiver moving up her spine at the luxurious touch. She felt unusually bold for speaking the next sentence.
"Show me how to touch you? Show me how you touch yourself?"
Tara looked up at her, questioningly.
"Please, baby? I want to learn..."
"Research, huh? Tara smiled affectionately at the explorer in Willow.
The soprano could tell by the look on her face that she was still quite turned on by her curiosity. Willow could see her breathing getting heavier as she took Willow's hand and guided it toward her centre.
"Research, definitely", Willow gasped as her hand felt the copious moisture between Tara's thighs as her hand found its goal, covered by Tara's.
"I love feeling you inside of me."
Tara didn't know where the words came from, but she felt she wanted to say them, had to say them. She lifted her head to look at Willow, her expression naked and unguarded.
Willow had to gather her wits for a few moments before answering; the assault on her senses caused by the simple sentence enough to render her speechless.
"I love being inside of you. I love how you feel and how you move against me..."
She bent down for a kiss meant to convey how Tara's words had made her heart rush. The touch of Tara's tongue intensified the feeling.
"I love how your tongue feels, I love it when it touches me everywhere..."
Willow wasn't used to talking freely about sex, but she felt how the words demanded to be let out of her mouth.
"Everywhere, or somewhere in particular?" Tara whispered against her lips.
"Everywhere and somewhere in particular." Willow breathed back as she felt Tara's tongue on her earlobe. It hadn't taken her new lover very long to find out that this was one of her most sensitive places...
She soon got the feeling from Tara's gentle guidance that she was trying not to be to demanding, that she really wanted more, sooner. She returned to one of her favourite places on earth, Tara's creamy breasts. By the way the mezzo arched up into her mouth, she was reinforced in her suspicion that Tara needed all of her, now.
She let her fingers be covered in her moisture and sighed in contentment at the warmth that surrounded her as she entered the needy body. Willow had always had the impression that men only went down on women out of some sense of duty. Recently having discovered that it was neither tedious nor a sacrifice in any way, to the contrary; it was an exquisite pleasure, and she felt her now constant thirst for Tara demand her attention. Still inside of her, she made her way down those desirable curves, tasting all the places she loved. She let just the tip of her tongue out to taste the mezzo and she felt the body still in anticipation. She let it travel all the way along Tara's sex, taking her taste in again. She heard her lover's breath catch and knew that she was in need of immediate satisfaction, just like she herself had been just a while ago.
"And who would deny her anything?" she thought, looking up at Tara, with her eyes closed, hair flowing over the pillow, chest moving rapidly, cheeks rosy.
She took her into her mouth, letting her tongue lovingly caress the place where the mezzo most wanted it, letting her lips warm her sex and be covered by her arousal as she patiently listened with her entire body to what Tara's was telling her. The mezzo's hand sought hers out and entwined their fingers firmly. Willow caressed her wrist with her thumb, feeling her wildly beating pulse speeding up. She increased the urgency of her movements, and soon Tara climaxed, Willow feeling the wave crests and the subsequent release as if they were her own. She knew then that she knew what Tara wanted, just like Tara knew her. She knew it even better than Tara herself.
For a long time, they just lay in silence, arms around each other, listening to the other person breathe. Tara could hear Willow's heartbeat, steady and strong. She felt warm and calm inside.
"There's something I'd like to ask you. It might be kind of private, so I don't know if it's ok?"
Tara felt herself stiffen a little, but willed herself to relax. There was no way... Right?
"Of course it's ok." Tara willed herself to sound breezy and casual and was partly successful.
"Can I have a look at the photograph? Or is it really personal or something?"
"The photograph?" For a moment Tara was totally confused. Then she noticed the overturned picture frame laying face down on the dressing table. She bit her lower lip and looked at Willow from behind a heavy curtain of shiny hair.
"Hmmm... I don't know... Well, I suppose, since it's you..."
"Are you sure?
Tara nodded slowly. Willow hoped she wasn't crossing a line, but she had been itching to know what the frame contained ever since she saw it face down the first time. She shivered a little at the loss of Tara's body heat as she walked over to the dresser. She touched the frame hesitantly, turning it over slowly.
Tara laughed happily at the look of total bafflement on Willow's face as the soprano's own visage stared back at her.
Tara walked over the soft carpet on her bare feet and embraced Willow gently from behind.
"I guess I discovered you before you discovered me...One of the other students at the Academy worked as a steward at Usher Hall to make his scholarship last longer. He gave this to me after your concert in Edinburgh. I guess I've already mentioned that I really loved that concert, haven't I?"
"You've had this since then?"
"You were so beautiful on stage and I couldn't stop thinking about you. I guess that's kind of... well, sad, crushing on someone from a distance, huh?"
She buried her face in the nook between Willow's shoulder and her neck.
Willow turned around in her arms. She couldn't quite grasp the idea that Tara had been looking at her from afar during that concert; had kept her picture by her bedside for weeks and months... She shook her head.
"Not sad, romantic... Did you... did you think of me... romantically then?"
She felt silly for asking, but she really wanted to know. The thought of Tara thinking about her before they had even met made her body tingle with excitement.
"I used to dream about you all the time... What it might feel like to kiss you... And of other things..."
She gently pushed Willow back towards the bed, embracing her again. They kissed for an abstract amount of time, both bodies still seeking the other, but the satiety that rested heavily within them both now made it tender rather than passionate.
"Have you had many girlfriends? Actually, scratch that, it was out of line. I have no right to be so nosy."
Tara cupped Willow's face in her hands.
"There has been no sun in the sky. No other star has shone for me" she quoted and looked into Willows surprised green eyes.
"Really? How come? I mean with you being the most attractive thing ever and all?" Willow said only half jokingly.
"Waited for the right girl I suppose..."
She tried to sound breezy and careless. Tara Maclay had been a champion avoider of close relationships her entire life. But some temptations are just too hard to resist... She was saved from further explanations by the very loud rumbling of Willow's stomach.
"Well, we never did get round to dinner..." She stated sheepishly.
"Do you want to go and get something?"
They left the hotel on a quest for food, walking very closely together, holding hands. The nearly full moon was butter yellow in the dark night sky. It was later than Tara thought. But she didn't feel tired at all. She just felt perfect.
They decided to go get sushi. As they walked towards the restaurant hand in hand, Willow leant closer and whispered something in Tara's ear, giving her a quick, chaste kiss.
She stopped dead in her tracks. When she turned around, she saw a bunch of giggling teenagers smoking on a street corner. She hard them whispering and on of them pointed his finger at them. Willow felt how anger bubbled up inside of her, making her want to go over and spit in their faces for insulting the one she loved.
"Ignore them. Please Willow, for me?"
She breathed deeply for a moment, then kept on walking. Tara had let go of her hand.
"So, ok, that was new..." she said, mainly to herself.
"I guess you need to think about whether you can get used to things like that... And if you think it's worth it" Tara stated seriously.
Willow stopped her and embraced her.
"Of course I can! It's not even a question!"
"Tara, it's completely worth it." She said firmly. "And don't argue, because this is my resolve face." She said sternly, before taking Tara's hand firmly and started walking again.
Om their way back, they had to pass the giggling teenagers again. But this time, Willow braced for impact. When she felt their attention on them again, she turned around and faced them.
"You're just jealous because I got the hot girl and you didn't."
"That's right, Darling! Maybe you ladies need a real man in the mix? I can handle two ladies at the same time!"
The boy's brazen assurance, made in a squeaky adolescent cockney voice, made her smile at his valid attempt to impress his friends. She shook her head benevolently as one of the boys gave them an appreciative whistle as they walked away.
As they kept walking, Tara turned around briefly to wave at them, always being able to see the best in everyone. Willow realized by the encounter that it was curiosity rather than malice that made them act that way.
Back in the hotel room, after having stuffed themselves with raw things, Willow sat comfortably leant back against Tara's chest, as they watched bad television and talked about everything and nothing.
"Maybe we could actually make it out to dinner tomorrow? If you don't have plans?"
"Well, I do have this thing tomorrow that we do sometimes, me and Buffy and Sandro... It's kind of this special thing... I'm not sure if you'd like it..."
"I understand that you wan to be alone with your friends... again..." Tara couldn't help adding at the wave of disappointment that went through her.
"You're right. It's better to see each other alone some other time".
"Tara, I really didn't meant it like that! I totally want you to meet my friends! It's just that this thing we do is kind of unexpected and you might think that we're you know, crazy..."
"No, I wont. Tell me?"
Willow took a deep breath and assumed the worst.
"Karaoke," she said evenly.