A whistling broke Willow's unplanned slumber, and the fog lifted slowly from her mind. She was laid down on a sofa, which she vaguely recognized. As the haze fully dissipated, Willow realized that she was on her uncle's sofa and covered with a thick down blanket. As Willow got her bearings, a woman walked into the room carrying two mugs. Willow sat transfixed. It was her; the woman she had thought was a hysteria induced dream. Upon seeing that Willow was awake, she sat down next to the couch on a wooden chair. Willow continued to stare, very non-discretely, until she realized that the woman was talking to her.
Oh. My. God. I didn't imagine her. Yes! Oh, wait. It doesn't matter anyways. So your dream girl is real. It's not like that makes it any more likely that she would go for you. You're a dork, Rosenberg. Stop babbling and pay attention.
"Hey. How are y-y-you doing?" Tara asked hesitantly, while she handed Willow a mug full of steaming tea. Quickly, Willow looked downwards at the mug in her hand, hoping that she hadn't been caught. Blushing slightly, Willow took a sip of the tea before answering.
"Um, I think I'm doing ok, though I am a little confused, not to mention mortally embarrassed. I remember an evil horse, then a tree, and then me falling. But I didn't fall, because the last thing I remember seeing was your beautifu..." Willow immediately stopped talking and tried to amend her statement. "Erm, I mean, the last thing I remember seeing was you, and now I'm here."
Fortunately for Willow, her slip-up didn't register with Tara. The blonde was too busy staring at the red-head's lips as she talked. All she wanted to do was lean forward and swiftly capture the woman's mouth with her own.
She's talking Tara. Focus on the words, not her lips. Focus somewhere else. Focus!
Realizing that if she stared any longer at this woman's lips her day dream might become an awkward reality, she moved her eyes to Willow's and focused back on the conversation. Catching the tail-end of Willow's explanation, Tara's mouth curled into a half-smile.
"I'm g-glad you're doing alright." Then, adding in a quieter tone, "You had me worried."
Willow gave Tara a brilliant smile. "Yup, that's me. All with the alrightness. No need for any worries here. Worry free zone." Willow sat silently for a moment before deciding to express her gratitude to Tara. "Thank you for saving me. If you hadn't been there, I definitely would have been horse food by now. So, thank you, for being my hero and all." Willow blushed, but continued to grin.
Tara returned the smile and the two gazed at each other for a few moments before Tara broke the connection and dropped her gaze, blonde hair falling in front of her face in the process.
Goddess, she's beautiful. Both Willow and Tara had the same thought, though neither woman would ever admit it.
Tara decided to break the silence. "I, um, I just r-realized that you might not be the person I think you are, though w-w-with the red hair it would be p-pretty coincidental if you weren't D-David's n-niece..." Tara trailed off, giving Willow a chance to confirm her assumption.
"Oh! Yes, I am definitely his niece, Willow Rosenberg, and I'm guessing you're Tara?" Or at least hoping, Willow added silently.
"Tara Maclay. It's n-nice to meet you, Willow." Tentatively, Tara put out her hand. Willow grasped the hand that was offered and the two women stared into each other's eyes, neither realizing that they were not shaking hands, but merely sitting there holding each other. The moment was broken by the harsh sound of a phone ringing. Tara reluctantly withdrew her hand, immediately missing the intimacy, and stood up. Setting her mug on the coffee table, she walked over to her purse that sat near the door and rummaged through it before pulling out a cell phone. She answered the call and left the room to be polite.
Willow could only lie on the couch and stare after Tara. She could still feel the warm touch of Tara's hand on her own. Her hand had been strong and slightly rough, probably from years of farm work, but at the same time one of the gentlest grips Willow had ever felt. Willow could only imagine Tara's hands caressing her cheek, her back, her thighs. Bringing her mind back from her obviously irrational fantasies, Willow was able to catch bits and pieces of Tara's phone call.
"Yes, the f-f-funeral is tomorrow at ten o'clock. Alright, see you then." Tara ended the call and walked back into the room, placing the phone back into her purse on the way back to her chair. She picked up the mug and took a sip of the hot tea, savoring the feeling of the liquid running down her throat to calm her nerves. Chancing a look at Willow, Tara once again was struck by the beauty of the woman before her. Willow returned the gaze as azure eyes stared into emerald. Had someone else walked into the room, the tension would have been immediately evident, but the two women were oblivious to it. Letting her eyes leave the blonde's for a moment, Willow looked slightly to the left at the wall clock situated behind Tara and jumped up suddenly. The world spun for a moment as Willow tried to regain her sense of balance.
Tara was surprised when Willow jumped off the couch, but as Willow began to pitch forward, she stood up as well and held out her arms to help steady the red-head. The two stood still for a moment, Tara's arms around Willow's small waist and Willow's arms resting on top of Tara's shoulders. Willow could feel the warmth of Tara's body as the beautiful blonde held her up. With neither woman feeling brave enough to look at the other, the two ladies stepped backwards, with Tara holding her arms around Willow a second longer to make sure she was balanced. After confirming that the red-head was stable, Tara dropped her hands to her side and once again dropped her eyes, hiding her blushing cheeks in the process.
"Wow. I, I mean with the spinning. Cause, ya..." For once, Willow could not think of anything to say. At least, until she remembered the reason she had stood up so quickly in the first place. "Tara, I just realized that it's really late and I have to go home and get some work done before tomorrow. And I'm really sorry that we didn't really get to talk, because of me with all the dumb passing out and the stupid horse. Evil horses should really be locked up. I mean, who would let that evil animal out? Unless it was you, in which case it was totally not stupid and I'm gonna shut up now..."
Willow looked at Tara, who was wearing an amused half-smile. Willow's breath caught in her throat as she fixed her eyes on Tara's face. "Sorry," Willow croaked out. "I, um, I sort of do that sometimes. Feel free to ignore me."
Tara giggled softly before responding. "It's fine, W-Willow. It's actually sort of... cute." Realizing what she had just admitted, Tara blushed but continued to speak. "A-anyways, don't w-worry about the, um, f-f-fainting." Knowing that the two would eventually have to talk about the will and that they wouldn't get a chance to the next day, Tara decided to be bold. "We c-could maybe meet again? I know the f-funeral is tomorrow, b-but maybe we could m-meet on Sunday?"
Please say yes, please say yes, please say-
"Yes. That sounds good to me, Tara. How about we meet here around eleven?" Willow knew that this meeting was about the will, but she couldn't help but be excited at the prospect of seeing Tara again.
Tara agreed and the two walked out to their respective vehicles. Willow fumbled with her keys, trying to discretely watch Tara one more time before she had to leave. Tara stood by her truck, fishing her keys out of her pocket, before she decided to use the last bit of courage she had reserved for emergencies.
"Willow?" Willow looked up at the sound of her name, vaguely thinking that it had never sounded so amazing. "It w-was really nice to meet you." Tara dropped her head and then added softly, "I, um, I would happily save you any day." Without waiting for the response, Tara opened the door to her truck and started the engine. As she drove away, she heard Willow call after her, saying that she would see her tomorrow. For the rest of the night, both Tara and Willow wore grins that couldn't have been wiped off even if someone had tried.
The funeral on Saturday passed solemnly. Willow and Tara acknowledged one another, both whispering words of apology about the unfortunate passing of David Rosenberg. After the ceremony, Tara left while Willow stayed behind to spend more time with her extended family. A couple of hours later, Willow returned home with Buffy and they went to their respective rooms to digest the events of the day.
Willow awoke at nine the next morning with a smile on her face, knowing that in just a few hours she would be seeing Tara again. She let her mind wander towards thoughts of Tara as she tried to sort out her feelings. She knew that she liked the blonde; that was for certain. She was sweet and shy, and it didn't hurt matters that she was absolutely breathtaking. It was a crush, but a strong one nevertheless, and she hoped that Tara felt it too. Willow had known she was a strictly girl-on-girl type of girl since her junior year of high school. She had never had a boyfriend or a girlfriend, but she knew. She had known ever since Cordelia's birthday party, which to this day she had no idea how she had been invited. She giggled softly at the thought of the party.
Cordelia and her friends were sitting in a circle on the floor. They had all gone to Cordelia's room for the slumber part of the celebration and had instead decided to do what usually happened at slumber parties; they decided not to sleep. So, instead of resting, the girls were huddled in a circle, speaking in loud whispers, playing truth or dare. Willow was clad in pink flannel pajamas with black cow spots all over them. Seated on the floor next to her was Buffy, looking infinitely more stylish in her blue pajama pants and white tank top, though the fact that she was tightly clutching her stuffed pig made the whole ensemble seem a bit more juvenile. Willow sat, hands clasped in her lap, inwardly fretting about the choice she would inevitably have to make.
‘Truth or dare,' the red-head mused. Almost everyone else had chosen truth, but for once Willow decided to be bold. As Cordelia finished telling everyone about the secret crush she had on Jonathon in the 8th grade, she turned to Willow and asked her.
"Truth or dare Willow?"
"Dare." A couple of the girls squealed, happy that someone had taken the road less traveled. Cordelia looked thoughtful for a second before breaking out in a devilish grin. Thoroughly pleased with the dare she had come up with, she looked around the circle quickly before speaking.
"I dare you to kiss one of the girls here. And it has to be a real kiss, not one of those quick kisses on the cheek." A couple of the girls oohed and aahed, thinking that the shy red-head might not go through with it. Willow looked nervous for a second, wondering who she was going to pick and thinking that she probably should have picked truth, but then she realized that since Cordelia was the one who suggested it, she should be the one to revel in the dare's glory. Without giving it a second thought she stood up and strode purposefully over to Cordelia. She sat down in front of her and, without a warning, pushed her head forward and brushed her lips across Cordelia's. They stayed that way for a moment, until Willow took Cordelia's suggestion to heart and deepened the kiss, pushing her tongue forward and into the other girl's surprised mouth. Oddly enough, she felt Cordelia start to kiss her back and the two kissed for what seemed like an eternity to Willow. She reveled in how soft the other girl's mouth was, and then slowly realized that she was actually enjoying the kiss. Willow knew then that the only lips she wanted to kiss were that of another woman's. Slowly, Willow pulled away, leaving a slightly disheveled Cordelia looking back at her with surprise and arousal?
Before she had a chance to think about it, the rest of the girls in the circle started clapping, happy that someone was brave enough to complete the dare. Willow stood up and went back to her place, pleased with her new revelations. She wasn't nervous about her new discovery, but rather she was actually relieved. She had always thought she was weird when other boys didn't interest her. Now, however, it all actually made sense. She felt Buffy clap her on the back and then the game continued, with Willow passing the question on to Buffy.
Later that week, Willow told Buffy the conclusion that she had come to. Oddly enough, the petite blonde had smiled knowingly. "I was wondering how long it would take you to figure that out." With a mischievous glint in her eye, she continued. "By the way, Cordelia says you're a great kisser." With that, Buffy turned around and left Willow, who was standing with her mouth agape with a slight blush on her cheek, and tossed an impish smile over her shoulder.
Of course, it was all well and good to know you're a lesbian, but to put the idea into practice was another matter entirely. Willow had dated exactly one person, in college, and needless to say it did not go well. The woman was too much of an animal in the bed, and unfortunately one out of it as well. After that experience, it seemed that she always had work to do, papers to catch up on, or research to continue. In fact, she had almost forgotten what it was like to be heavily attracted to another woman, given that she did not have time for more than friendly acquaintances. Of course, all that had changed on Friday, after meeting Tara Maclay. Realizing that she had spent the better part of an hour lost in her own thoughts, Willow jumped off the bed and hastily dressed, throwing on a pair of olive cargo pants and a red shirt with three-quarter length sleeves. She finished getting ready and paused just long enough to grab a granola bar and a cup of coffee before heading out the door and into her car. An hour later she pulled up to her uncle's house, parking next to the pick-up truck that was already there. Willow slowly checked the land around her for demon horses before stepping out of her car. She smiled brightly when she saw Tara standing on the porch. The blonde was wearing tight jeans and a blue button down shirt. The top two buttons were undone, making Willow's eyes bulge slightly, and then she realized that she was looking straight at Tara's chest. She dragged her eyes upwards to Tara's face and waved.
Tara smiled back at her before answering. "Hi Willow." She looked at her, noting that Willow looked absolutely beautiful today. Her red shirt looked incredible on her and clung to all the right places, the color making her hair appear even more vibrant. She took a shaky breath before continuing. "I was thinking that if y-you wanted, we could t-take a tour of the f-farm. I'm not sure w-when the last time you saw the property w-was."
"That sounds great. The last time I was here was years ago and I'd like to look at the place before making my decision, though I can honestly tell you that I have no idea how to take care of a farm and as you can obviously already tell," Willow blushed before continuing, "I'm not really a big fan of horses either. So, it's pretty much a sure thing that the farm is yours." Willow took a large lungful of air after her explanation and saw Tara's smile grow wider.
They began to walk around the property slowly, both women reveling in the other's company. Willow snuck frequent looks at the blonde, noting the curve of her cheekbones and the gentle slope of her nose. She loved listening to Tara talk and noted happily that her stutter seemed to disappear while she talked about the farm with confidence. Tara couldn't help herself from peeking at Willow, try as she might in fear of being caught. The woman was beautiful. Her green eyes shone brightly whenever she laughed as the red hair atop her head bounced around her shoulders. Tara couldn't help but smile in the company of this woman, almost as if it was impossible for a frown to grace her features while listening to Willow tell a story, using her hands to animate a particularly interesting part. As they walked towards the stables, Tara saw Willow shudder. Before she could stop herself, Tara decided to tease the beautiful red-head. "We'll just s-skip the stables, unless you have an urge to pass out again?"
Willow grinned sheepishly. She shook her head vehemently, already feeling slightly dizzy just from being around the blonde. "Nope, no passing out today." Unless you feel the urge to kiss me, Willow told herself. Then it might be lights out for this girl.
The tour ended as the women returned to the porch. Willow sat down on the swing while Tara sat down in a rocking chair near her. "Tara, I really loved this farm when I was younger, and I loved my uncle dearly; but, I think if anyone deserves this farm, it's you. You obviously loved my uncle, and I know his farm will be in good hands."
Tara didn't know what to say. She smiled widely while her eyes glistened with unshed tears. This was what she had always wanted; a place for her to fully enjoy training horses and a beautiful house to live in while doing just that. She was only sad that her dream came with the loss of one of her dearest friends. "Th-thankyou Willow. It means a lot that you're w-willing to sell his farm to m-m-me." She picked up Willow's hand and squeezed it briefly as she tried to convey all of her gratitude within this simple touch. She let go of Willow's hand and returned her own to her lap. Tara dropped her head forwards and allowed her blonde hair to cover her face in an attempt to hide misty eyes.
Willow looked at Tara and felt her heart beat erratically at the beauty in front of her. She stretched out her hand and brushed away the hair that curtained the blonde's face. Moving her other hand, she gently grasped Tara's chin, pulling her face up. Looking into the deep blue eyes, Willow felt herself grow bolder. "Why do you do that? I can't see your beautiful face if you hide." Willow's eyes shone with the affection that she felt for the blonde, and saw that same warmth reflected back at her from dark blue eyes. She slowly moved forwards, tilting her head downwards as she neared Tara's face. As she reached Tara's lips, she paused briefly; looking into Tara's eyes to make sure this was what she wanted. Seeing no resistance, Willow closed the distance and brushed her lips softly against Tara's. Her lips moved against the other woman's and she felt the blonde return the kiss. They never broke contact as Willow slowly stood up and moved the rest of her body towards Tara, wanting to be closer. She ran her tongue across Tara's top lip, silently asking for entrance. She felt Tara open her mouth slightly and Willow gently slid her tongue in, shivering faintly at the feeling of Tara's warm mouth.
"Willow?" Willow blinked and glanced around her. She was still sitting on the swing but now she was blushing furiously. Tara looked at her with a quizzical expression on her face. She hadn't known what to do when she had seen Willow just staring at her, a silly grin across her face. At first she had thought that Willow was just happy with her decision, but as her gaze refused to move for at least a minute, Tara decided to make sure the red-head was alright. "Are y-you ok?"
Willow nodded slowly, still mortally embarrassed with the thoughts that had been running through her mind. Jeez Willow! You can't even wait until you leave before letting loose with the crazy fantasies? Get a grip and speak! "Sorry about that. I was just thinking, about chemistry! Chemistry, because I have this project that I'm working on and I realized that I should have taken some data before I left on Friday, but it's all right because I'm sure one of the grad students did it. So, no worries here!" Willow smiled slightly, inwardly chastising herself for coming up with such a faulty excuse, but she breathed a sigh of relief when Tara smiled and seemed to believe her. Tara stood up and Willow followed suit. Both of them stood awkwardly on the porch before Willow spoke.
"We should go to dinner," Willow blurted out before she had a chance to restrain herself. Tara's eyes grew wide before Willow hastily tried to backtrack. "To celebrate, the whole selling of the farm thing. I mean, dinner is always good, and people have to eat. And we're people, and even better, we have a reason to celebrate. So, we should go to dinner."
Tara's lips curled into a crooked smile before she laughed softly. "I'd like that."
Willow flashed a thousand watt grin and backed towards her car. "Alright then. I'll call you and we can arrange a time and place." Mentally patting herself on the back for keeping her response to less than fifty words, Willow waved and turned towards her car. She opened the door and started the engine, waving at Tara once more before driving off the property. Tara sat back down in the rocking chair and sighed, letting images of Willow run through her mind, all the while beaming.
Just do it. It's simple. Ten little numbers, that's all it is. Willow glared at the phone in her hand. She had arrived back at the house an hour after leaving her uncle's farm. After a couple hours of giving herself a pep talk, she had decided to try and give Tara a call. Something had changed today. It had only been a short while, but already Willow was starting to feel something more than a crush; she was falling in like with the woman. Now, all she had to do was arrange the dinner and try and discern whether or not Tara felt something too. She started dialing with renewed gusto, this time getting to the sixth number before hanging it up. All right. You got six of them this time. Just four more and you'll get to talk to Tara. Willow brightly smiled at the thought of Tara and decided to give it another try. Alright, 1-2-3-4-5-6...
Tara opened the front door of her home to the sound of a phone ringing. She dropped the groceries in the kitchen and grabbed the phone of the wall. Before answering she took a deep breath and smiled in the hopes that it was Willow on the other end of the line. Breathing deeply once more, she answered the phone. "Hello?"
"Hello, is this Ms. Maclay I'm speaking to?"
Tara's smile faltered slightly at the sound of a man's voice coming through the phone, but she reasoned that Willow could still call later. Tara told the man that he was speaking to the right person and he continued.
"Hello Ms. Maclay. My name is Michael Worthington and I'm calling on behalf of my employer, Mr. John Stevenson. Mr. Stevenson has heard about you from several acquaintances and would like to offer you a job." Michael spoke in an almost monotone voice, but still held a respectful tone. "He has a new racing horse that needs training and he would like you to be that trainer." Before Tara could ask a question, Michael had started talking again. "The horse will need to begin his training as soon as possible, so if you do decide to take the job, you will have to leave tomorrow morning. While Mr. Stevenson does not live in California, he has made it clear that no expense should be spared in case you decide to take the job offer. His private jet will be flown to the airport nearest to you for the trip. You will also be paid handsomely."
Michael calmly told Tara a number that made her eyes grow wide. Gulping several times to wet her exceedingly dry mouth, Tara tried to speak. She managed to squeak once before trying again. "How long would I be gone?" Tara knew that this was a once in a lifetime chance, but she couldn't help but feel distressed at the thought of missing her dinner with Willow, regardless that it had yet to be planned. Tara heard the man on the phone breathe before answering her question.
"At least a year."
"Oh." Tara could only utter the one syllable as she thought about the offer laid before her. With the money she could make from this job, she would have enough to more than take care of David's farm, her house, and still have a great deal left over; enough to keep her comfortable without having to worry during the times when work was slow. Then she thought about Willow; it was too hard not to. She saw Willow clearly in her mind, piercing green eyes and an adorable smile lighting up the red-head's face. Tara thought about the dinner Willow had asked her to, and she thought about the small touches they had shared during their first meeting. She had felt a spark when she had looked into Willow's green eyes, but Tara also knew that the relationship she wanted with Willow was impossible. Willow was gorgeous, funny, smart, and adorable beyond words. Tara knew that while her feelings for Willow had developed well past the point of friendship that was all Willow could ever offer her. However, even as she told herself all of these things, she couldn't help but feel a small surge of hope. Hope that maybe the beautiful red-head felt what Tara was feeling; hope that maybe these feelings would be reciprocated; hope that when she looked into Willow's eyes, she would see the same warmth that Tara felt for her. Knowing what she had to do, Tara took a gulp of air and told the man her decision.
Willow hung up the phone after her eighth try. She had finally found the courage to dial all ten numbers, but had gotten a busy signal. Sighing dejectedly, Willow put the phone down and walked over to her research materials. She made the decision to get some work done tonight and call Tara tomorrow. After several hours of writing, Willow put down her pens and closed her laptop. She changed into her pajamas and crawled into bed. As she closed her eyes, she saw visions of Tara. Willow fell asleep smiling, knowing that she would find the courage to call Tara and ask her to dinner the next day.
Nathan Whitley was awoken from his peaceful dreaming by the shrill ring of a telephone. He tried to push the sound out of his mind before another ring brought him out of the fog and into the darkness of his bedroom. He blindly reached out and turned on the lamp that sat on his nightstand. Reaching out once more, his hand grabbed the object making the noise and pressed the talk button.
"Hey?" His bleary greeting was answered by a stream of words the rushed past his ear too fast for him to catch any of it. He faintly recognized the voice on the phone as Tara's as he told her to slow down and try again. The second time through the explanation, Nathan woke up fully in order to grasp what was being said. "They're gonna pay you how much?!"
"Exactly," Tara said. "I just can't pass up this opportunity Nate. You know how much I need this, even if I have to go for a while." Nate nodded his head even though Tara couldn't see it. He knew that Tara was one of the best trainers out there, but business did get slow sometimes.
"I can't believe it Tara, but a year? I'm gonna miss you so much kid." Even though Nate looked like what many would consider a man's man, he was a big softy on the inside. His eyes moistened slightly at the thought of not seeing Tara for at least a year.
"I'm gonna miss you too sweetie, so much, but I'm actually calling for another reason as well. I need you to look after mine and David's house. I trust you, and I'll be making more than enough money to cover any expenses and to pay you for helping me out."
"Of course I'll help you out Tara. You know you can count on me." Nate smiled at Tara's request. He could never deny her anything, and she knew it.
Tara breathed a sigh of relief as Nate accepted her request. "Oh, Nate, I need you to do me one more big favor." Tara's joy left her body quickly, dreading the favor she was about to ask. "I need y-you to call W-Willow for me, and tell her about th-this." Nate heard Tara's stutter re-emerge and knew something was wrong. She hadn't stuttered around him for years, and hearing the nervousness in her voice made him worry. Tara had told him about Willow, and he had loved hearing the happiness that she couldn't conceal when she talked about this woman. He had known about Tara's preference for women for a long time, and it didn't bother him in the slightest. However, in all the time he had known her, Tara had never had a girlfriend. He was overjoyed when Willow had entered her life, and he had hoped for the best for them. Nate knew that if Willow ever really got to know Tara, she wouldn't be able to help but love her.
"Tara, why don't you call her? You can explain this better..."
"N-No. I can't Nate. I just c-can't talk to h-her, knowing that I'll b-be gone for s-so long. I can't." Tara's voice shook with sobs that threatened to overtake her. Nate cut in before Tara could break down.
"Of course kid. You know I can't say no to you." Nathan paused before continuing. "It'll be all right Tara. She likes you, I know she does. And you never know; she might be waiting for your return." Nathan smiled sadly, hoping that Willow would wait.
Tara's eyes cleared and she gave a small smile that didn't reach her eyes. She knew all too well what she was giving up and would probably never have. "Thanks Nate," she said quietly. She hung up the phone and cried softly for what may have been minutes or hours. Tara knew she shouldn't be acting like this, but something had changed today. It wasn't love, but it wasn't just a silly crush anymore either.
No, she told herself, knowing that it was the only way she would be able to leave. It's just a silly crush. With that, Tara walked up to her bedroom, pulled a suitcase out of the closet, and began packing.
Willow moaned softly as Tara nibbled on her earlobe. Her lips left Willow's ear and began trailing little kisses down her neck towards her collarbone. Willow arched her hips up, trying to convey to Tara her extreme need. She felt Tara smile into her neck and resume her kissing. Willow was breathing heavily, gripping the side of the couch with her right hand and Tara's head with her left. She didn't know how long she would have to wait before Tara released her from this amazing torture, but she knew it couldn't be much longer. Tara was breathing heavily as well, sharing in the passionate feelings that she was causing in Willow. The red-head couldn't take it anymore. Willow pulled Tara's head upwards and took her lips in a fierce kiss. They moved their mouths against each other, both woman struggling for dominance with their tongues. Their breathing grew labored and they finally broke apart. Willow stared at Tara with a hunger in her eyes. Suddenly, she rolled Tara over and they fell to the floor with a thud.
Willow opened her eyes, expecting to find a heavily panting Tara, but instead found the amused face of Buffy. It started with a small giggle, but after a minute of trying to hold it in, Buffy burst out laughing. Willow looked at her quizzically and then waited for Buffy to catch her breath so that she could kill her. Buffy finally stopped laughing long enough for her to explain.
"Wow Will. Took you long enough." She giggled once more, remembering Willow falling out of bed, and then started again. "I've been trying to wake you up for fifteen minutes. It's lucky you fell out of bed; thirty more seconds and you were going to get doused with cold water." To prove her point, Buffy pulled a cup of cold water from behind her back. "So... who's Tara?"
Willow's expression took on a shocked appearance as she wondered how Buffy knew about Tara. She hadn't told Buffy anything about her yet. The bubbly blonde laughed again, not making it any secret how much she enjoyed teasing Willow. "In your sleep, you kept saying Tara. Well, moaning Tara was more like it..." Buffy trailed off, thoroughly appreciating the wide eyed look she had caused.
Willow stood up and tried desperately to remove the stunned look from her face. After hitting Buffy playfully on the arm, she told her who Tara was. While she didn't go into exquisite detail about how much she liked Tara, it was hard to keep the joy out of her voice when she talked about her. Buffy listened, smiling at Willow's clarification.
About time, Buffy thought happily. Willow needed a someone in her life, and Buffy just hoped that Tara could be that someone. She waged an internal war for a moment before deciding to tease the red-head one more time. "Well Will, I gotta say, she must be special if she made you late."
"What?!" Willow looked at the clock next to her bed and saw that she had ten minutes to get ready. She sprinted to the bathroom and got ready in record time. Before leaving, she glared at Buffy and the blonde smiled sheepishly. Willow grabbed the cup of coffee Buffy had made for her and they both left hurriedly, trying not to be later than they already were.
The day passed quickly for both women and by dinner time they were exhausted. Willow and Buffy both flopped down onto the couch before looking at each other, coming to the same conclusion. "Take-out," they both said with a grin. Buffy wearily stood up from the couch and walked over to the phone.
Nate picked up the phone and dialed Willow's number. On a list of things he wanted to do, this was definitely at the bottom, but Tara had asked him to and he wasn't going to deny her a request. The ringing stopped and a woman's voice came through the phone. He was dreading this conversation, but that didn't stop him from asking for Willow.
Buffy walked over to the couch and handed the phone to Willow without saying a word. Willow's grin widened even more and she took the phone from Buffy's hand. It wasn't Tara. It was a young man calling on behalf of the blonde. He sounded to be in his mid-twenties and Willow felt a surge of jealousy and sorrow rise up in her, jumping to the conclusion that this man was probably her boyfriend. The grin slid off her face, landing in a frown. She listened as the man on the phone told her that Tara was going to be gone for at least a year. Willow slowly realized what he had said. Her frown was joined by silent tears as she thanked the man for the message and hung up the phone. She looked at Buffy and the blonde rushed over to her, gathering her best friend into her arms. Buffy didn't know what had happened, but that didn't matter right now. All that mattered was holding Willow until she didn't want to be held anymore. That didn't happen for several hours.