Tara pulled her cart quickly out of the way of the stray child she had almost run over. There were way too many people and she was not concentrating. She had forced herself to go out to the store, but had instantly regretted the decision when she got hit by the Thanksgiving scavengers.
It had been 3 days since Willow asked her out. And she was clear on that point, it was an asking-for-a-date thing. A bashful, angst-ridden, needy way of asking her, but given their surreal situation, remarkably sweet.
Her emotional clarity had walked, no it had hopped, skipped and jumped right out of the building on this one, after going through a veritable roller coaster of emotions that left her drained. She felt she was still strapped in under one of those hideous plastic padding, one minute slowly cranking up the first incline; the next minute hurtling straight down as if about to crash into the ground.
She asked herself, did she want to meet Willow, and the answer was yes. A "yes" that screamed and echoed and raged from every cell in her body. So why hadn't she written back already? What was wrong with her? She could say yes and then change her mind, there was plenty of time. Plenty was not a big enough word to describe the time she had.
Truth was, she wanted to meet Willow so much it was scaring her. The desire was consuming, throttling everything else in her life. She knew exactly what she would do if, at that moment, Willow walked in through the door and into her arms.
To intoxicate myself with the sensations that are Willow. To make her mine, to give myself to her.
So how was she supposed to wait, and keep the fire burning, for so long? Willow had weeks, but she would have to wait for close to eternity. Would she be the same person in 2004? Would the memories have faded away? Would she stand up to Willow's expectations? What would happen to her after Willow and future her met?
She mulled over the question as she quickly did her shopping and went home.
By then, she had decided to approach it differently. She was a simple country girl not usually taken with so many twisty thoughts, so she tried asking herself practical questions instead.
What did she have to lose? And the most important question was, if she refused, would she regret it?
Miss Kitty decided at that moment to jump into her lap and all of a sudden it became as clear as day. She grabbed a piece of paper and very quickly wrote ...
Willow was distraught. She drove by the mailbox everyday, and still, nothing from Tara.
I scared her off. Me and my big heartfelt declaration. Big and heartfelt and so very rash. And perhaps a little foolish. She hates me, she'll want nothing to do with me anymore. Way to go Rosenberg.
To add insult to injury, some twit (oh great, I'm channeling Giles now, or even worse, Spike, ewww) decided to open up the market for Ghora eggs again and, in their haste to get away, led the very agitated Mother Ghora out of her cave and into the residential areas. As de facto leader of the Scoobies (as in, the only one currently in Sunnydale), she had to mobilize the available troops to contain the threat.
Spike hooked up with some of his former poker mates and chased the Ghora back toward the woods behind the former Initiative base, where Willow did a risky teleportation spell to get it back to its lair. She was exhausted after the spell, which was way beyond anything that she had tried before, especially since she had no anchor and a very small margin of error to work with. Spike caught her before she collapsed and carried her carefully back to Buffy's house.
Her thought, just before she slipped into unconsciousness, was how much better if Tara were here to do the spell with her and how she needed to so not be in this bed because she had to get to the mailbox now.
She woke with a start at the sound of dropped china. She was still groggy and sported a splitting headache. A few minutes later, a clearly flustered Clem gingerly opened the door and peeped in.
"Hello Willow. Did I wake you? I brought you some soup, I'm not very good at making people food, but even I can reheat. Thank the heavens for microwave right?" he smiled apologetically as he placed a tray with the soup and an apple, cut up in pieces, next to the bed. Good old Clem.
"Oh Clem. You're the sweetest," she smiled back as he gave her a little wave when he closed the bedroom door behind him. Or tried to smile. It was like wires were attached to the ends of her mouth and each movement was accompanied by jerky pain. She took the tray and slowly sipped the soup.
Her mind was on one thing and one thing only, as soon as she finished the soup and the fruit, she slipped out of bed.
"Owie, headrush," she whimpered as she stood up then fell back into bed. She closed her eyes to allow the dizziness to pass, then tried again, this time slowly. She looked around to find her shoes. Spike and Clem had left her in bed fully clothed and her sweater and jeans were sporting the extreme wrinkled look right now. How little she cared.
She was reaching for the front door when a "Oy Red, where do you think you're going?" stopped her.
"I've got something I need to do," she replied curtly, turning around to find Spike coming out of the living room.
"You're not going out in your condition," he said.
"I'm just gonna zip out and be back in a tiff, I'll be quick."
"No way, not on my watch. The Slayer and Angel will have me for breakfast."
"Spike, listen to me. I need to do something very important. It.can't.wait. I'll take full responsibility," she said, resolve face in full operational mode.
He knew better than to push the issue. "Fine. But you're not walking, I'll drive."
Her hands were trembling so much she could not open the envelope. Why did Tara have use an envelope. Oh yes, letters usually go in envelopes, to protect them, or something. She really was not thinking well.
She could barely contain herself when she opened the mailbox and saw that it was not empty. It took her every ounce of self control to just take it out, put it in her pocket and return to the car.
She asked Spike to drive her back to her own apartment, intensely aware of the letter burning a hole in her pocket. He had been quiet throughout, if he thought it strange that she went through all that trouble just to get a letter out of a mailbox he was keeping it to himself.
Finally she pulled the paper out of its unyielding home. It was short, only one word. The most wondrous word in the entire universe.
They did not do the spell at the end. An unspoken agreement developed that they would postpone this spell until they could do it together. Really together.
Instead Tara asked Willow to share Thanksgiving dinner with her.
Willow, whose usual cooking methods were the phone and the microwave, discovered the hidden iron chef inside her and they cooked a simple pasta dinner using one of Tara's recipes. It did not make sense to go crazy on the one-person portion of turkey and trimmings. Tara did concede and taught Willow how to make a small pie, the remainder of which could be frozen for another day.
Usually setting the table for only one made Tara depressed, but this time she did not feel lonely at all. It was her first Thanksgiving away from home, and one of the best. She tucked into her dinner with abandonment.