The atmosphere could best be described as tense as Buffy faced down Boone in the hanger. Two extremely strong personalities going head to head.
"I lost Hart, his plane blew up in my face," Buffy said in a controlled voice, "I won't leave Thompkins out there. I saw his chute so there's no reason for him not to be in his dinghy somewhere behind us. I won't leave him there."
"Or he could have drowned," Boone replied calmly, just stating the obvious but Buffy bristled noticeably.
"He's alive!" she hissed, fighting back an urge to jab her finger at the commander's chest.
Willow just stood quietly in the background, her arms folded across her chest as she listened to the Buffy Summers she remembered. One of Buffy's strongest traits as a leader was that she would never leave anyone behind.
Willow remembered during their basic PT training when a fellow recruit had sprained his ankle on a long hike. Miles from anywhere, Buffy had enlisted Willow's help in carrying the young man all the way back to camp. While Willow had struggled just to lift one foot after the other, Buffy had talked about anything and everything to keep their spirits up, even as the chill of night fell. That was the Buffy she saw now and as Boone nodded a sparse approval for the rescue mission, Willow knew that she would go.
There was just one question on her mind, "Who's going to fly the Auster?" Willow was referring to the tiny two seater float plane carried on the destroyer Agamemnon.
It would be impossible for one ship to leave the protection of the net and diverting the entire fleet was even more of an impossibility. The float plane would be needed... if they could even locate the pilot.
"I am," Willow spun around to see Tara striding purposefully towards them, her parachute kit in her arms and a resolute expression on her face, the blonde continued, "With your permission Commander, I'd like to take the launch to the Agamemnon now so that we can be underway asap."
"Very well Maclay," Boone nodded.
"Wait a second!" Willow couldn't help but speak up, she stepped forward into the foreground, Tara had started to turn away but now paused and looked over her shoulder at Willow, "You can't be seriously thinking of flying that plane... an unarmed float plane into the middle... of those things?"
"Rosenberg?" Boone stared at her as though she were a moron, "Someone has to fly it, Maclay volunteered and that's that. Is it just you that has some particular problem with it?"
Hell yes I do! It's suicide, she has absolutely no means of defending herself in that rusty little crate. She'll be cut to ribbons!
Willow felt everyone's eyes on her, boring into her as though trying to figure out what the hell she was thinking. Every pair of eyes bar one. Willow looked to Tara to see the blonde staring awkwardly at her feet and looking for all the world as though she just wanted to be able to leave.
"No, no problem," Willow replied, she kept her eyes on Tara although the blonde wouldn't look at her, "Flight Officer Maclay is more than capable of handling herself."
"Well quit standing around yapping when you could all be in the air!" Boone snapped, he turned on his heels and strode away.
Tara finally raised her head and met Willow's gaze, she set her jaw determinedly. Willow couldn't tell what she was feeling but as Tara turned away to try and leave again, Willow knew exactly what her own feelings were,
"Tara," she said softly. Tara stopped walking but she didn't turn around. Willow continued, "I've got your back."
Willow felt a shoulder brush past hers roughly, it was Buffy. The Slayer captain assumed an aggressive stance between Willow and Tara. She spun and stared intently at Willow even though she spoke to Tara,
"We've all got your back Maclay."
Tara was grateful when she could finally slip away from the gaze of the two captains and head for the deck where the fleet launch would be waiting for her, bobbing beside the Odysseus. She didn't want anyone to see the small smile that had crossed her face as soon as Willow's words registered in her confused mind. Tara... Tara loved the way her name rolled from Willow's lips, so sweet and simple, I've got your back...
Willow watched Tara go until she could no longer see the young woman, she turned to Buffy as though nothing out of the ordinary had just happened.
"So, who else is coming?" Willow asked, ignoring the Slayer's glare.
Buffy inclined her head to the left and for the first time Willow noticed Dennis standing there. He had changed his sweater, but his pants were still obviously damp.
"Dennis?" Willow asked seeing the young man in his flying gear, ready to go. He had also borrowed a parachute rig from somewhere, his own floating in the sea somewhere.
"The XO said you needed a few volunteers for search and rescue," he said in a firm voice.
"You're not coming," Willow said bluntly.
"Rosenberg," Buffy stepped between them, "He volunteered, I'm going to take all the help I can get."
"You don't have a plane..." Willow tried another tact...
"I'll fly the spare," Dennis fired back determinedly, "I made a serious error in judgement, but it won't happen again sir... let me do this."
Willow sighed, he was still damp from his earlier swim, who knew if he was suffered from an undiagnosed internal injury? Reluctantly she nodded.
"Right, let's get going, I want to do everything we can to find Thompkins before dark."
Willow couldn't help but keep turning her eyes to the tiny plane that flew in the middle of the formation. It looked so awkward and fragile with the huge floats attached to it where undercarriage usually was found. She imagined Tara sitting at the controls, a determined expression on her serious face... blue eyes scanning the sky for any sign of trouble.
All four planes hugged the ocean floor, looking for any sign of Thompkins, the missing pilot.
Radio silence never unnerved Willow. She enjoyed talking immensely, sharing jokes with her squadron as they flew but silence gave her time to retreat into herself. It was just her sitting in that tiny metal capsule, the din of the engine was loud and yet it didn't get in the way of her thoughts. Thoughts which automatically drifted towards the one place they had almost constantly been dwelling.
Willow had the feeling that some part of her should rue the day that Tara had climbed down from her cockpit on the deck of the Odysseus. From that moment on she felt so confused and emotionally fragile. At first Willow had trouble learning what it was she wanted. At first she leapt to the conclusion that it was just sex. Tara was a gorgeous young woman, curvaceous, sexy in her own shy way and she stirred in Willow longings that she did not think she had ever felt before.
It took Willow a while to notice that those longings were not just for hot, sweaty sex with the blonde but rather moments of a simpler nature. Making her laugh, holding her hand... Willow often imagined the blonde's fingers entwined in her own. In her mind, they always fit perfectly together.
Willow kept a eagle eye on everything around them and it was out of her concern for Tara that she noticed the all too tiny flash of yellow on the sea far below.
"I think I've spotted him!" she said over the radio just before diving down to take a better look.
It was indeed a dinghy, tossing about in the small waves. The pilot was huddled up and Willow could see no sign of movement from him.
"I'm going down," Tara's voice said in Willow's ear, so confident.
Tara felt the floats hit the water smoothly as she brought the Auster into land. She thanked her lucky stars that the waves were no larger else such a landing would have been impossible. She taxied the plane as close to the dinghy as possible before shutting off the engine. Making sure her life jacket was on firmly, she swung the door open and stepped out onto the aircrafts floats. The yellow dinghy bobbed close by and she grabbed the retrieval hook to catch it and hook it closer. All the while the plane was bobbing up and down, making standing on the floats very awkward.
"Hal!" Tara yelled to the pilot, "Hal?"
There was still no response, she hooked the dinghy and towed it in, up against the Auster's floats. Hal's usually swarthy skin was a pale shade of blue, dried blood was crusted all over his face. He was curled in a foetal position in what had been an effort to keep warm. Tara reached down, keeping a firm grip on the float supports. He was heavy as soon as she grabbed him despite the fact he was a small man. She braced herself by wrapping her leg around the float struts so that she could reach out both hands and drag him upwards. With the sudden jarring movement, Hal's eyes opened.
"Wha..." his voice was weak, rasping.
"Hal, it's Tara," Tara continued to lift him up until he was on the float, "You're going to be fine, we just need to get you into the plane.
Hal pushed weakly with his legs, helping Tara as she strained to get him up into the cockpit. He managed to crawl the last of the way himself and collapsed on the passenger seat, shivering violently. Tara climbed up in after him and shut the door with more than a little relief. The three planes continued to circle overhead, keeping an eye out for any company. Willow was up there... watching over her.
"Than... ks," Hal muttered weakly.
"No problem buddy," Tara replied, reaching out for a few moments to place one of her hands over his own which were cupped together, "Now lets get you back somewhere where its really warm okay?"
Willow finally allowed herself to relax a little when, after what seemed an age, the Auster left the water and started climbing back into the air. The float plane rejoined formation and Willow took up a protective flanking position. Buffy did the same on the other side.
"Let's get home," Buffy said in a relieved voice.
"Buffy's buying the drinks," Tara said in an effort to be light.
Willow was imagining what it would be like to sit down and have a drink with Buffy when she saw two shapes screaming at them from her right. A pair of Martians swooped on them and their formation scattered.
Willow yelled over her radio as she tried to latch onto the tail of the Martian nearest her, "Buffy, get the Auster out of here!" she knew full well that she really meant Get Tara out of here!
Willow watched as the Gullstrike shepherded the Auster away from the fray and back towards the fleet. The Martian she was following peeled off and made to chase them down, it gained quickly on the lumbering float plane.
Her heart stuck in her throat, Willow shoved the throttle forward and gave pursuit. The Draken tore after the Martian plane with Willow squeezing every ounce of speed she possibly could from the screaming engine.
"Get the hell away from her!" Willow whispered to herself fiercely, she let the Martian have a short burst from her 20mm cannons.
She saw the tracers narrowly miss, and hazarded a guess that the Martian would bank right away from her. Willow yanked her stick hard at almost the precise moment as the black shape in front of her. Her gun sight was filled with the perfect target, laid bare and Willow jabbed her thumb down. The 20mms rattled, spitting forth their deadly load. Small flashes appeared on the Martian as it passed her, suddenly black smoke was billowing from its wing. The smoke trailed like a plume behind it as it plunged down into the ocean. Willow didn't wait to see the splash or dwell on her kill, instead she came back about to find Dennis locked in an uneven duel with the remaining Martian.
"You'll all clear Buffy, get the hell out!" Willow said before latching onto the tail of the Martian.
"See you at home," Buffy replied firmly.
Dennis had been twisting and turning frantically to avoid being in the firing line but it was clear that there was no way he was going to get the upper hand. Willow opened fire, missing as the Martian suddenly ducked into a dive. She followed without hesitation and Dennis throttled back to duck in behind as her wingman.
Every move the Martian made, Willow kept up with it. Her hand gripped both the stick and the throttle firmly despite her sweaty palms. She was constantly making adjustments, refusing to be shaken off. So far she had failed to score a single hit on the black shape in front of her.
Willow knew full well that the speed of the Martian planes far outstripped the Drakens top speed. If it really wanted to make a break then there would be nothing Willow could do. She gritted her teeth as it pulled upwards. Willow followed, squinting for a few moments as she passed into the sun's glare. When she completed the climb, Willow blinked to realise she had lost it in the sun.
Blue lights flashing past her window a few moments later betrayed its position behind her and Dennis.
"He's on our tail sir!" Dennis barked over the radio.
Willow flicked into a steep turn, "Stay your course Dennis, I've had it with chasing this LGF."
"Sure... I'll be the bait," Dennis replied a little glumly, "Be quick about it... sir."
While the Martian was following Dennis, Willow slipped in behind the Martian. The perfect firing shot as she dived from above. She pressed the trigger... and nothing happened. Willow jabbed her thumb down again, harder and yet with the same result.
"Shit! My guns have jammed!" Willow cursed angrily, repeatedly stabbing the trigger over and over but to no avail.
After a few moments, the black shape in front of her banked sharply right in front of her. It opened herself to Willow's full view because it knew that something was wrong. Willow broke away and pulled alongside Dennis, realising that she was now flying an almost useless hunk of metal.
"Okay, I'm the target drone," Willow said calmly, "It's up to you."
Suddenly something exploded in front of her eyes, glass shattered and sprayed over her. A dark shape screamed just above her cockpit, stinging her ears. It was so close that she could smell something foul. Willow looked right to see the Martian pulling back for another pass. Chill air blew in her face from the shattered holes in her canopy, mere inches from her head. Willow felt a searing, hot pain in her arm that she tried to ignore.
Dennis was shaking from head to foot as he lined up the Martian in his sights. Willow was receiving a complete drubbing, the weapon-less Draken was turning and twisting in front. There wasn't something sluggish about her movements and Dennis surmised that the plane had probably been damaged.
Every time he opened fire the black shape evaded his sights. He poured showers of hot lead at it and yet not a single hit. He almost squeaked in fright when he pressed the trigger and nothing happened... he had run out of ammunition. Dennis felt a chill run down his back, his sweat froze on his body. When the Martian turned to avoid him Dennis didn't move. He kept his course level and steady, ignoring one of the rules that had been constantly drilled into every pilot at Air Academy,
Never fly straight and level in a combat zone for more than thirty seconds...
As he predicted, he glanced over his shoulder and saw the dark shape slot in behind him, Dennis throttled back and his airspeed fell. The Martian was coming closer and closer, waiting until the last possible moment before opening fire.
His insides had turned to jelly but he knew what he had to do... what he owed Willow. Dennis jerked back the stick, climbing sharply before cutting the throttle completely. It took only seconds for the unsuspecting Martian to plough into the back of the stalled Draken.
Willow heard a distant crash behind her and she turned about, her eyes widening when she saw flaming chunks of twisted metal raining down into the ocean. She made a pass but could see no parachute... nothing but debris which was now making splashes in the churning water below.
Willow didn't quite remember how she landed the Draken on the Odysseus.
For onlookers though, it wasn't pretty at all. The plane slammed down hard, almost screeching into the crash barrier before its arrestor hook caught on the very last deck wire. Crew members rushed to help the pilot but she was already climbing shakily down from the cockpit.
Willow jumped down to the deck from the wing and landed on a pair of very shaky legs that didn't feel as though they belonged to her at all.
"Are you alright sir?" someone asked, Willow was beginning to think the question was an all too familiar one.
"I'm perfectly fine," she impatiently waved away an arm that tried to steady her, "Has Captain Summers landed..."
"A good fifteen minutes ago sir... and the Auster too..."
"Both fine... except the chap that they pulled from the water died before the docs could even get to take a look at him. Died mid-flight I think."
"Would someone please inform Commander Boone that Pilot Officer Emers was killed in action... it will be in my full report..."
Willow just wanted to lie down and stay down for a good week. She managed to extricate herself from the attentions of those crowding around her and make for the nearest door below.
She stumbled forward a few steps, her feet feeling as though they were made of lead. She half-stumbled, half fell her way to the doorway where she tottered forward unstably. There were stairs, Willow made to go down them before she fell over completely. As she fell forward arms caught her from behind, preventing her from falling down the stairs and probably snapping her neck.
The arms gently lowered her to the floor and she sank to her knees, grateful for the walls around her to finally be still rather than spinning. She looked up behind her to see Tara who was staring at her worriedly. The blonde's face was grimy with sweat, oil and smoke, her gorgeous hair now hung in matted tangles. There was a small cut on her forehead that had barely stopped bleeding.
Still in a daze, Willow reached up her hand to cup Tara's cheek tenderly. It was almost as though she were reaching out for a hallucination and she did not believe her fingers would really find something solid to touch. The tips of her fingers pressed against the smooth skin first, then her palm as she laid her entire hand against Tara's cheek.
Tara surprised herself by leaning into the touch, closing her eyes for a few moments. Before Willow withdrew her hand. She left behind a small smear of her own blood atop the dirt that already encrusted the blonde's once flawless complexion. She stared at the red, her eyes going wide for a few moments... it was her blood... that had to mean...
"Tara... I'm still alive aren't I..."
"Cap... W-Willow?" Tara frowned at the tone in Willow's voice, child-like, pleading as though seeking reassurance from a parent.
"I mean, Dennis is dead... but I'm still alive," Willow had an image of the young man flash through her mind, "Poor little guy... never did get his girl..."
Willow's voice trailed off into nothing but although no more words crossed her lips, her eyes said everything. A sudden realisation... I'm alive... Willow looked down at the hot, sticky blood gradually congealing on her arm... red for life. Her gaze lifted back to Tara who had never shifted that beautiful blue gaze from her. Willow looked into Tara's eyes and she knew...
Wordlessly, Tara reached out and gently picked up Willow's hand in her own. Her fingers entwined with the redhead's, squeezing tightly as if to say I'm here Willow... here with you...
Willow reached up her hand to cup Tara's cheek once more, to reassure herself that she was still there and this wasn't a dream. Her thumb caressing the grimy but still luxuriously soft skin. Her breath caught at the unspoken question clearly asked in Tara's eyes.
Desire, longing... and yet something else that Willow had trouble recognising.
Willow could barely nod, just a slight movement of her head. The urgency in her eyes however spoke volumes where she could not.
Tara drew Willow up, surprising the redhead with her strength. In one swift movement Willow found herself face to face with Tara, their noses and foreheads pressed together as though they could not possibly be close enough. Willow found both her hands reaching up to cup Tara's cheeks, both thumbs stroking the strong lines of her jaw... her cheeks and finally her lips. Willow felt the soft, moist contours of Tara's lips beneath her touch. Tara's lips parted, she let out a hot breath that made Willow go weak at the knees.
Willow shivered as she felt Tara's hands moving on her back, there were so many layers separating their bare skin from one another and yet it felt as though the flight jacket, the sweater... none of it was there.
Tara closed her eyes, not needing them to enjoy Willow's beauty. She could smell her... trace her body with her hands... feel her warm breath flowing over her lips. She brought her hands up to rest atop Willow's. Tara felt herself trembling uncontrollably and for a moment she was terrified that Willow also felt her terror. However, Willow moved her body closer, nudging against Tara's thigh with her pelvis, pressing her breasts against Tara's. Tara knew that Willow felt it, felt the trembling and knew Tara was afraid... the redhead kept her movements slow as she pressed their bodies together.
Tentatively, Tara quested out towards Willow's lips with her own. Her eyes were still closed but she could sense those moist lips just out of reach... just another millimetre...
Their lips brushed together feather-light, Tara startled herself even though she her whole body had been crying out in expectation of the contact. She pulled back a fraction. Just that brief taste made her hungry for more... Tara licked her own lips as though she were afraid they wouldn't be quite moist enough before leaning in...
They were so soft... Willow's lips... as she found them, not drawing away completely this time but keeping her kisses light and tentative. Just tiny brushes of her lips against Willow's, so light and brief that had they been blown up on a cinema screen, it would have barely passed as kissing.
Yet Willow still felt weak at the knees beneath Tara's touch... it was painful torture. She wanted so much more... to be able to crush Tara against her. To explore all of her wonderful mouth with a fierce, passionate intensity so that Tara would know how much she wanted her... how much she needed her. Yet Tara's shy kisses were in a class of their own, exquisite in their sincerity, in their desire to explore as though this were a first time...
Willow drew back slowly, careful not to make it seem to abrupt lest Tara think that she was doing something wrong. She moved her hands slowly from beneath Tara's, the blonde let hers fall... but not far, they came to rest around Willow's neck as though she were making sure that Willow wasn't going anywhere.
With both hands, Willow reached up and smoothed Tara's sweaty bangs back from her forehead so she could see into her blue eyes all the more clearly. She found there exactly what she thought she'd find.
With an ever increasing swelling in her gut, Willow realised that the brief kiss they had shared in her office a few days ago had been Tara's first. Why no one had ever taken this beautiful young woman into their arms and kissed her, Willow could not fathom. She felt a sudden and overwhelming sense of responsibility, the trust that Tara had bestowed in her... to see her desires spelt out so plainly on her face and yet the painful shyness that went with them. Terror followed the responsibility and she found herself wanting to run away and find the 'Complete Illustrated How-to Guide for Lesbian Love-Making.' There's no such book you silly ninny! Willow chided herself inwardly and focused on Tara's eyes which were still looking into her own, a small amount of confusion creeping in, Willow smoothed the blonde hair back a second time before dropping her hands to cover Tara's cheeks, You've been with women before Rosenberg, hell, there are tricks you could show her that would have her screaming out for you, God and the heavens above all in one breath... right here in this stairwell... and... yes, you are a moron...
Willow stepped back but before Tara could even open her mouth, she picked up the blonde's hand in her own. She wordlessly led her down into the main hanger, full of bustling mechanics trying desperately to get the planes back in working order. Through welders grinding away at twisted metal, armourers piling belt-loads of fresh ammunition into still hot cannons. Willow saw it all and yet that wasn't what she was aware of. She felt Tara's hand in her own, the blonde following just behind her. She was also uncomfortably aware of the growing wetness between her legs... she bit her lip and tried to ignore her inward demands for release.
After what seemed an age and many miles rather than mere meters of walking, Willow shut the door to her office behind them. Almost instantly, the sounds of work in progress in the hanger were dulled. Only thin slits of light filtered in through the closed blinds covering the small window but it was enough for Willow to see Tara's face clearly, to see her well-defined cheek bones and liquid blue eyes. Her lips were slightly parted, whether in fear or anticipation Willow couldn't tell. She suspected however that it was a little of both.
Once the door was shut, the tiny room seemed even smaller. It was as though Tara were sitting right in her lap instead of standing, fidgeting with her fingers at least a foot away. It was much too close... and yet too far away at the same time.
I can't do this, Willow had a momentary panic attack, I'm taking advantage of her innocence... bad Willow... oh god help, she's so damn gorgeous...
Willow's infernal internal babbling was cut abruptly short by the sight of Tara's lips moving closer towards hers. Her hands went up behind Willow's neck and ran through her hair in the moments just before their lips met again. At first it was hesitant again but after a few moments, Willow allowed herself to deepen the kiss just a little. Tara sighed as her lips parted before Willow's insistent tongue. Willow delayed her entry, just to savour the knowledge that Tara was here with her.
Her tongue entered Tara's mouth like a small child entering a candy store for the first time. So much to explore... and yet the comforting knowledge that everything was sweet and good. Her arms went up around Tara's back, hands searching, caressing.
Tara tentatively met Willow's tongue with her own, feeling a small shiver as they entwined and began a dance... a slow waltz at first. Lazy strokes of exploration, fully tasting each other for the first time and savouring the experience.
It was Tara who increased the tempo when she sensed Willow's reluctance to take things any faster. She pushed her body more insistently against Willow's and thrust her tongue further and faster into the redhead's mouth. She felt hot and flushed all over... too many clothes on... Willow had too many clothes on as well... Tara found the collar of Willow's jacket with trembling hands and tried to tug it down over her shoulders. Obligingly, Willow shrugged out of it and it fell to the floor, it was just the start...
Then there followed a frantic few minutes as Willow stripped Tara's jacket from her shoulders. In mere moments, the pile of clothes on the floor had grown to include boots, grimy sweaters... pants, socks and leggings, chemises, all in one heap. Tara's hands went to the clasp on Willow's bra at the same time Willow went for the clasp on her own. In a frantic few seconds, the annoying scraps of fabric were tossed aside.
Willow buried her face in Tara's throat, breathing in her sweaty but still sweet scent, feeling the blonde's pulse pumping rapidly. Willow nudged her thigh between Tara's legs, forcing them to part for her as she ran her hand down over Tara's breasts, pausing to rub her palm over the already hard bud. Her hands continued over her hard stomach and disappeared beneath the band of her underwear. Tara moaned as Willow's hand continued downwards and she parted her legs even further of her own accord.
She gasped when Willow found her slit, sliding a finger into the warmth there, searching, probing with an intensity matched by her hot breaths falling on her neck. She jumped when Willow's finger found her small, hard clit... already engorged. With firm strokes, Willow began moving it back and forth.
Tara bit her lip and slipped her own hand beneath Willow's panties. Willow spread her thighs and gasped as Tara's hand ran over her downy hair, a tentative finger probed at her slit.
Shifting her hips slightly for Tara, Willow had to force herself to concentrate on her own ministrations lest she lose herself to the exquisite sensations coursing through her body. She couldn't contain a small cry when Tara finally found her wet sex, a finger caressing Willow's hard nub.
Tara was terrified and yet there was something so familiar about all of this. The way Willow's naked body felt against her own... the smell. She matched the strokes Willow was making between her own legs, still unsure whether she was doing it right even though Willow's breathing was coming in laboured gasps between their frantic kisses.
A harsh guttural moan was ripped from Tara's throat as Willow thrust two fingers deeply inside her. Something tore painfully and she cried out, gripping Willow's naked back fiercely. Tara felt her nails dig into the soft skin, tearing and yet if Willow felt it she didn't show any signs. Her hips moved with Willow's insistent, pumping rhythm. She was so close and so very wet for Willow. Tara's eyes were closed her head went back as she let the sensations she was feeling wash over her.
Tara wanted Willow to come with her. Ever so gently, she entered Willow's wet passage and heard Willow's voice cry something incomprehensible in her ear. It was so very wet and warm, Tara felt as though she were coming home.
Together, they matched their strokes, a rhythm that felt so right. At some point, they had ceased kissing. Tara was whimpering softly while Willow was more vocal, her cries were a beautiful sound filling Tara's ears, becoming more and more urgent as they rocked together.
It began gradually, a sense of being so very close to something wonderful. To almost be able to reach out and touch it but not quite yet. Tara buried her face in Willow's neck, stifling her cries by nuzzling hard against Willow's leaping pulse. Everything became so crystal clear despite the pleasurable haze she was enveloped in. She was with Willow... in Willow and in felt like nothing she had ever experienced before. She heard Willow's cries close to her ear, urging her on without words, their hips and fingers moving frantically in those last final moments before...
Willow arched her back and threw back her head. She cried out, somewhere far away she heard a matching cry that melted her already flaming heart. Her eyes closed as she pressed so close to Tara she felt as though the blonde were joined to her.
Tara lifted her head, keeping Willow in her hazy focus the whole time. Her hand ran up the sweaty channel between Willow's breasts, around the back of her neck. With firm but gentle pressure she drew Willow back to her... so she could see those green eyes, open wide in the aftermath of what they had shared.
Willow blinked away stars, she felt the cold air on her sweaty back in a direct contrast to the blistering heat she felt where her body was pressed against Tara's. For the first time she felt the hard desk beneath her, the edge biting into her buttocks. She could hear nothing except her rapidly beating heart in her chest and the combined rasp of their breathing in perfect synch. Willow brought her trembling hand up from between Tara's legs, her fingers wet with Tara... and she stroked the blonde's cheek with gentle touches.
Her own cheeks felt strangely damp. It wasn't until Tara reached up and wiped a finger just beneath her eye that Willow realised she was crying. A small sob escaping served to punctuate the realisation. She didn't feel weak... or pathetic... or childish.
Willow's lips barely moved as she whispered, "I love you."