Vince was bored. He'd called Tara over eight hours ago and she still hadn't returned his call. A scruffy cat growled at him from the opposite side of the table, "I'm going over there!" he told the disgruntled feline who hissed at him, ""Don't try and argue Cosmic, I've made up my mind." The cat growled once again before jumping from the table and slinking off to hide. The cat had been a present from Tara, as a kitten she had been lovely but as she matured she seemed to be mad at the world and so they had decided to call her 'Cosmic Creepers', a decision made after a Disney film marathon and too much wine.
Vince grabbed a jacket and headed out to Tara's, his initial displeasure turning into concern as he jogged towards his best friend.
"Thank god!" Willow exclaimed as she left the office building and headed to her car. All day she had been in and out of meetings, trying to calm and reassure various parties of the reliability of their services, a task not made easy by the recent crash. As she got into her car, she fumbled in her purse for her cell phone, examining her arm, she could only make out the last 3 digits of Tara's number and cursed herself for not writing it down on something else. "Oh shit!" she exclaimed she started the car and headed off towards Tara apartment building.
Tara had moved the freshly adorned canvass to her bedroom, where Willow could watch the room while not distracting her too much. She was now stood in the kitchen, the freshly washed brushes lined up neatly on the draining board.
Crossing to the fridge she pulled out a carton of orange juice and poured herself a large glass. Her intense painting session had left her exhausted and a little dehydrated. Tucking a paint coated strand of hair back behind her ear she smiled to herself before packing her painting things back into their case.
Her smile and pride radiating in her eyes, Tara pulled back the heavy door and headed back to the basement.
At the same time, Vince was approaching the building, on the walk over he had managed to convince himself that something catastrophic had happened to his friend and that she lay bleeding and in pain in her apartment. The logic reasons for her not answering her phone hadn't even entered his mind. Willow pulled up in front of the building and stepped out into the pink sunset. "Hey Vince!" she called as she moved a large bundle of white roses into her arms and locked the car up.
The sight of the red head somehow convinced Vince that Tara had had an accident and he smiled weakly. As Willow got closer to him, his unplanned torrent of words attacked her ears, making her flinch. "Hey, easy there!" she told him, her spare hand coming to rest on his well muscled forearm, "She's probably asleep!" she finished, her eyes twinkling as her cheeks flushed.
Together they rode the rickety elevator to Tara's floor and wandered the cold corridor to her door. Vince knocked and shook his head, "No point knocking," he said, "Can't hear it anyway." With the he pulled the heavy door back and stepped inside, followed by Willow. "Tar...." His voice trailed off as he saw the picture standing proudly on the easel a few feet in front of him. Willow stood by his side, her mouth falling open and the large bouquet falling to the floor. "Oh my god!" she whispered as her hands came to her mouth.
Vince approached the still damp canvass and studied it closely, "Wow." He breathed, he had seen many of Tara's pieces and understood none of them or the meanings or reasons behind them. This however, he understood with absolute clarity. The passion and love that had been sunk into the image radiated from the captivating green eyes. Willow hadn't moved, her legs threatening to give way at any moment as tears flowed freely down her cheeks. Vince turned as he heard a single sob escape her and her legs gave way leaving her in a crumpled, staring heap.
Tara wandered slowly back down the corridor, blissfully unaware of the scene in her apartment. "I know I can love you much better than this....." she sang cheerfully as she pulled the door back and entered her home.
Before her, Vince was stood open mouthed, Willow kneeling on the floor, a large bouquet of flowers discarded carelessly at her side and her eyes obviously focused on the picture even though Tara couldn't see her face.
Had anyone happened to walk past the open door and looked in at the trio, they could be forgiven for thinking that a higher being had pressed the pause button on their lives. Vince made an effort to speak, his mouth moving up and down but not a single sound emerging from it. Willow's shoulders were shaking slightly as Tara padded silently to the slumped figure on the ground. She knelt behind her, her arms wrapping around her centre, her head resting lightly on the shaking shoulder before her. "Willow?" she asked quietly. Never in all her life had Tara been so scared about the reaction to one of her paintings, her entire career resting on the response of the paintings subject. "What do you think?" she asked, shaking the startled red head slightly.
Willow turned to look at her, the tears that once flowed freely had stopped, although her eyes were still a little red. "You..... I..... It's" Willow gasped, despite having a degree in the English language, she had no words left in her. Tara smiled weakly, Willow's face was that of a woman in shock but she couldn't tell if it was good shock or bad shock. "You are a genius." She managed eventually kissing Tara hard. "You really like it?" she asked as they separated. Willow nodded, "I love it, it's beautiful." Vince cleared his throat making both women jump, they had forgotten he was there and the sudden noise surprised them. "Fuckin' A Tara!" he exclaimed, "If you can't sell that then people need looking at!!" Willow and Tara looked up at him, both wearing a similar expression of humour and confusion.
Willow managed to get to her feet and Vince went out to the kitchen to raid the fridge, returning with three beers. Tara had picked up the flowers and grinned, "These for me?" she asked incredulously. "Oh baby, I'm sorry." Willow said, looking at the slightly bruised petals sadly, "I got them for you but I dropped them, I was so taken aback by the painting and now, look, they're ruined and you...." Tara put her fingers to Willow's lips, silencing the verbal soup that was flowing from them. "They're perfect." She said leaning her head in to the bouquet and inhaling their perfume. "thank you so much." She finished as she looked up into Willow eyes before kissing her softly on the lips. "Go, sit. I'll put these in water."
Vince patted the corner of the couch as Willow headed over to him and she sat down heavily. "I just can't believe she'd paint me!" Willow told him, fresh tears flooding the corners of her eyes. "Are you crazy?" he asked, "Any fool can see how much she's in love with you!!" Once again Willow was at a loss for words, they had only been seeing each other for a week or so, it was too early for that sort of emotion. "Who am I kidding?" she asked out loud, "I love her too." She said, a grin spreading across her face and releasing the tears held in her eyes.
Tara returned to find her lover in tears and Vince grinning like a mad man. "What?" she asked, trying to determine what the new grins and tears were in aid of. Willow stood and took Tara's hand in her own. Looking deep into the crystal blue eyes confirmed her hearts declaration. "Tara." She said, her voice shaking a little, 'Why is this so hard?' Willow asked herself,
'Tell her you love her!' Sensible Willow screamed at her. "Tara I, well, I. The picture." She said, 'I. Love. You. It's easy!' Tara nodded, unsure what Willow was trying to say but hoping it was going to be good.
"It's, well, no one has ever done anything like that for me before." Willow continued, the message from her brain obviously not reaching the muscle in her mouth. "Oh god, why can't I just say it?" she asked, not expecting a reply. "My whole life I've been too scared to say what I really want, built up this wall to stop people from getting in and no one ever has." Tara's face fell as she listened to Willow's rant, "I kept myself shut off and alone and then I was safe, no one could hurt me and I was protected and then you did this and its all....." her words trailed off as Tara kissed her deeply, her hands stroking the nape of her neck and small of her back simultaneously. As she pulled back Tara looked deep into Willow's eyes; "I love you Willow." She stated simply. Willow breathed a huge sigh, "I love you too."