Willow tried pretty hard to make herself damn near invisible. A little panicked searching revealed a nice quiet alcove for her to hide in. Settling down on a rather ornate bench, she began breathing deeply in an attempt to gain some sort of control over herself. She was barely able to keep her composure throughout the lecture. Tara's voice had wrapped itself around her, cradling her in its softness, lulling her into near insensibility. She was not, however, even remotely prepared to talk to her face to face. Grinding her teeth in frustration, Willow swore that paybacks were a bitch and Becca was about due for some in the worst way.
"H-hi." Willow let out a startled squeak and turned to face the voice speaking to her. She was very surprised to see Tara standing beside the bench. "Do you mind if I sit down with you? It's a little noisy in there and, although I like people, it can be a l-little overwhelming." Willow nodded and gestured for Tara to sit. "Funny, she didn't once stutter during her whole presentation," she noted. After a few moments of awkward silence, Willow decided to take the bull by the horns and actually say something. She crossed her fingers, praying to whatever deity that was listening that nothing stupid would come out of her mouth.
"Heh heh, imagine seeing you here. All this time, there was a bona fide PhD sharing my coffee space and I didn't even know it," she chirped brightly.
Tara chuckled musically. "That's ok. I usually don't go around announcing it. People might think that I'm smart or something."
Willow noticed that Tara had removed her glasses after the lecture, giving her an up-close and personal view of the eyes that have been in her dreams for weeks. "Oh but you are! Smart, I mean." She sighed in exasperation. "Look, it's usually not this difficult for me to do the whole 'put one word in front of the other to make a sentence' thing. I've been wanting to actually talk to you for a long time now. I've just been to chicken to do anything about it." She looked down at her hands and braced herself, sure that she had blown it this time. "Good job, Will. You were so Rico Suave just then."
Tara gently laid her hand on top of Willow's. "That's ok. I-I've been wanting to do the same thing. Just in not so many words," she said, a half-smile sliding across her face. She glanced about at the milling crowd, feeling somewhat closed in. "Why don't we go find someplace a little better than this? I'm not in the mood to talk shop. I-I've got a friend who's the manager at the Khyber Pass. The Indigo Girls are playing there tonight. W-want to go?" Tara asked shyly.
Willow blinked in disbelief, trying with some difficulty to form a coherent reply. "Uh sure! Love to! But I came with a frie-" She paused. "No, on second thought, heck with her. Let's go!"
Twenty minutes later, Willow and Tara found themselves outside of the very crowded Khyber Pass Pub on 2nd Street. The street itself was filled with people heading for the various clubs and multicultural restaurants that stretched all the way to South Street and past the Ritz Theater. Willow was very glad that they didn't have to wait long in line as things were getting decidedly rowdy. She was very surprised when she felt a soft, warm hand in hers. Tara had reached behind to make sure that she wouldn't get lost in the crowd. Willow shadowed Tara, reveling in her touch and the nearness of her.
Tara deftly maneuvered them through the crowd to a relatively empty passageway to the right of the bar. She opened a door along the wall and led them up a spiral staircase to a small balcony that sat above the crowd, midway between the dance floor and the stage. They sat down at a small table next to the railing in order to see the stage better.
"W-we made it. And just in time, too. I think they're about to start any minute now," Tara said loudly in Willow's ear in an attempt to be heard above the din in the pub. Feeling Tara's breath on her cheek and along her neck made the little hairs on the surface of her skin stand up in response. Just as she thought she was going to faint right then and there, an athletic looking barmaid sauntered up to them.
"What can I get for ya, hon?" she shouted with a nasal Philly accent.
"What would you like?" Tara asked Willow.
Willow shrugged. "Surprise me."
Tara's cocked an eyebrow at her, a sly smile at the corner of her lips. "Two Vodka Collins' with a twist."
The barmaid nodded and waded through the crowd downstairs to get their order.
Willow could not believe she was here! Next to the woman that has been in her dreams for the past few weeks. She was even more shocked at how quickly this all had happened. Downstairs, the Indigo Girls had started off their concert with a rather mellow tone.
This is not all there is
Willow snuck adoring glances at Tara when she thought she could get away with it. The multicoloured lights onstage lit up her face, making her blue eyes look almost translucent. The words of the song floated through Willow's brain, their meanings were dissected in the very same manner that Willow examined all things of interest; searching for some common thread, something in them that she could relate to.
"Maybe she is saving me. I never considered myself lost until now... now, I have no idea what I would do if I were to never see her again."
"Hey... what's going on in there," Tara chuckled, tapping lightly on Willow's forehead.
"Oh nothing. Just... you know... thinking. It's always busy in my head, whether I want it to be or not," Willow commented wryly.
"Well don't go too far. It wouldn't do to have you leave me here all by myself, now would it?" Tara's eyes sparkled with merriment.
"No ma'am, that wouldn't do at all."
They chatted about nothing much in particular between songs, whenever they could make themselves heard above the noise and revelry. At one point in the concert, Tara had pulled Willow up from her seat to dance during a particularly peppy number.
"Oh no! Not me! I can't dance to save my life. Dancing on me equals spaz. So NOT a pretty sight." The alcohol had made Willow bold, but not that bold just yet.
"C-come on, Willow, aren't you exaggerating just a little?"
"Heck no! I'm as serious as a heart attack."
"We'll just have to see about that."
Tara managed to get Willow very close to her, hip to hip, one arm around her waist, swaying in time to the music. Little electric currents were running through Willow's veins at the contact. "Omigodgottabreatheomigodgottabreathe." Her thoughts were bouncing around her head at a mile a minute. "Geez, if I were a guy, there would most certainly be visible indications that she is driving me wild!" She was concentrating so hard on behaving herself that she barely noticed when the song had ended. Fingers snapped in front of her eyes, bringing her out of neverneverland.
"Hello? Earth to Willow."
"Umm... sorry. I guess I got a little carried away there, huh?"
Taralaughter rang in Willow's ears like tiny silver bells. "Not hardly. The show's over though and I was wondering... well... if you would like to take the train with me. I live in Newtown so we both have to take the R5. I j-just figured that we could do it together."
Willow's eyes brightened at the thought of all the possibilities that the invitation implied. "Sure! Can't let you take the train alone at this time of night. What with all the Big Bads out there and stuff."
Tara chuckled and shook her head. Once again acquiring Willow's hand, they left the Khyber Pass and hailed a cab to take them to 30th Street Station.