After politely declining the use of Willow's collection of different colored pens to fill out her application, Tara handed in the piece of paper to the eager manager. The redhead scanned the sheet, lingering for a moment on the phone number, and quickly stored it under the counter top. "So when can you start?" She asked. Not wanting the beautiful blonde to leave, she silently prayed that she'd start right away...as in right now.
"Oh, um, a-anytime. When do you need me?" Tara asked. "Now," Willow blushed, "I mean, uh, you can start now, if that's okay. But you won't have to actually do anything. Buffy's working in the kitchen, so you can hang out up here with me," they exchanged shy smiles, "or I can give you a tour...you know, so you can familiarize yourself with the area."
"I'd like that," Tara nodded, loving the idea of spending time with her new boss. After the fifty-cent tour of the kitchen, bathroom and the alley behind the restaurant, the two girls walked back up front. On her way, Tara was so wrapped up in Willow's proximity that she accidently bumped into one of the tables, causing a tray of napkins to clatter to the ground.
"Oh, I-I'm s-sorry," Tara said before kneeling to retrieve the napkins. "No, it's okay," Willow said, dropping beside Tara, "I do it all the time." She tried to pry her eyes away from the expanse of skin that revealed itself through the small slit in Tara's skirt... but to no avail. Her eyes took in the shapely calf and stopped above the ankle, "You have a tattoo?"
Tara was caught off guard by the question, until her eyes followed Willow's down to the small colorful butterfly on her ankle. "Y-Yes. Is it against the d-dress p-policy?" She asked nervously and placed the tray back on the table.
Willow noticed the slight stammer and quickly reassured the blonde. "Oh no... we don't even have a dress policy. I mean... look at Buffy," she grinned.
"I heard that," the shout came from the kitchen.
"You can wear whatever you want... as long as it's not anything too extreme." Her eyes glazed over as she pictured the blonde in something 'extreme'. When Tara saw the far away look in Willow's eyes, her curiosity peaked as she wondered what the redhead was thinking about.
"Okay," Tara smiled, "um, what's the pay period." She felt that it was a little rude to ask about money, when she hadn't started working yet, but she'd only had enough money for the security deposit and down payment on her apartment and needed to know if she would get her first check before the rent was due.
The question brought Willow out of her reverie, "You get your chaps- checks," apparently it didn't snap her completely out of her daydream, "checks. We issue paychecks every other week," her cheeks burned from embarrassment. Tara heard the slip-up, and smiled as she tried to keep her laughter at bay. The cute redhead was just too much for her, and of course, now she had a better idea of what had been swimming through the young woman's mind.
Willow unsuccessfully willed herself to disappear and was grateful when the doorbell chimed, signaling a customer. Or not, she thought when she recognized the new arrival.
"Hello ladies and...," Xander frowned as he looked around the near empty restaurant, "ladies." He grinned childishly when his eyes fell on his best friend. "Hey Xander," Willow greeted her friend and walked over to hug him. For a brief moment, Tara looked crestfallen as she watched the two embrace, but she hid her emotions and offered the young man a smile.
"And who might you be," Xander playfully wiggled his eyebrows toward the blonde. Willow had the sudden urge to pinch her flirtatious friend, but decided to save it for later. "Leave her alone Harris. We don't want her quitting before she starts," Buffy called from the kitchen, smiling through the small window in the door.
"Oh, you work here," he said before turning back to the kitchen door where Buffy had been, "it's about time Willow hired someone useful," he shouted back. A few seconds later, Buffy reemerged in front of the window with a large butcher knife, glaring at the man in mock anger. Tara giggled at the display, enjoying the playful way the group communicated.
"Tara, this is Xander... and vice versa," Willow said. The two exchanged 'hellos' and Willow went on, "What are you doing here Xander?" She asked nicely, though inside she wanted her friend to leave, so she could be alone with the blonde. Her eyes drifted to Tara and she smiled shyly when she caught her gaze.
"You asked me to come over, remember," Xander was oblivious to the connection between the two girls, "besides Anya and I were kinda hungry, so I picked her up on my lunch break."
"Anya's with you," Willow looked over his shoulder, "why's she in the car? Aren't you guys eating here?" "No way," Xander snorted, looking up at the menu on the back wall. "Gee, thanks," Willow replied, somewhat offended.
"Oh c'mon Will, it's nothing personal, it's just that Anya prefers something... dead and greasy." The car's horn echoed into the restaurant and the group turned to see Anya tapping impatiently on her watch. "And if I don't hurry, it might be me," Xander joked. "It was nice meeting you Tara," he smiled and the blonde nodded, "I'll see you guys later." He practically ran back to the car, not only because of the rain that had began to pour harder, but also because he didn't want to incur the wrath of Anya.
Tara almost burst with joy when she saw Xander lovingly kiss his passenger before driving off. If Xander and Willow weren't involved... maybe she had a chance after all. From the corner of her eye, she saw the redhead looking at her and suddenly felt warm inside as she thought about the possibilities.
After a second or two, Willow realized that she'd been staring, and quickly lowered her gaze.
"Will, I'd hate to say it, but this is incredibly boring," Buffy commented, interrupting the silence between the two girls. "The kitchen's clean. I say we pack up and call it an early night...and maybe tomorrow, we'll actually have a reason to be here."
Willow sighed and watched as the rain fell. Could she really do this? Manage a restaurant? Her uncle said that it'd be easy. Just make sure the food's fresh and that no one steals from the register... pay the employees on time, keep the place clean, and everything will be fine, she mentally recalled what he told her before he left.
"Are you okay?" Tara sensed Willow's uncertainty and boldly grazed her fingers against the redhead's hand. The touch sent a tingling sensation through both of their bodies, causing Willow to visibly shudder. "Yeah," she squeaked, "yeah," she repeated, showing her own boldness when the same hand brushed back against Tara's skin.
Contrary to what others might believe, Buffy wasn't blind. She smirked, secretly admiring the mild affection between her best friend and the new employee. "I packed up some of the extra food for all of us to take home," she cleared her throat, "so when you two are ready...," she trailed off, finally getting Willow's attention.
"Okay, um, I just need to lock up, then we can go. Can I give you a ride home?" She held Tara's gaze, praying that the blonde would accept. "Sure," Tara whispered, lost in the emerald pools in front of her. Willow stopped herself from doing a cartwheel across the counter top, and rushed off to make sure everything was as it should be.
Ten minutes later, the trio stood under the multicolored awning as Willow lowered the last curtain and locked the door.
"Do you want me to drive?" Buffy asked.
Though she's had her driver's license for a few weeks now, Willow was still a little reluctant to drive. Mainly because she had very little experience on the actual road and her maneuvering skills weren't exactly the best in Sunnydale. She unlocked the car doors with her remote and was about to hand the keys over to Buffy, but thought otherwise.
"No, it's cool. I got it," she flashed a smile toward Tara. The quiet blonde returned the smile, but didn't miss Buffy's horrified expression. "Uh okay. Tara, you can have shotgun," Buffy said, not leaving room for argument. On the count of three, they sprinted through the small rain puddles, reaching Willow's car.
"Safety first," Willow locked her seatbelt into place, feeling a little giddy and slightly nervous, now that she was behind the wheel. Luckily the car was an automatic as she searched around, making sure she knew where everything was. She turned a few knobs and as soon as she started the car, the stereo blared, vibrating the car windows. "Sorry," the redhead smiled sheepishly and lowered the volume.
"It's okay," Tara said once the ringing in her ears lessened.
As Willow pulled from the parking lot, 'Killing me softly' by Lauryn Hill started to play, making Buffy cringe and sink further into the backseat. I really didn't need to hear this right now, she thought as she braced herself for the ride.
Remarkably, they made it to Tara's apartment in one piece, though it had taken nearly fifteen minutes for the five minute drive.
"Here we are," Willow stopped outside the small apartment complex, "do you want me to pick you up tomorrow? I wouldn't mind," she shrugged. Tara agreed and Willow promised to meet the blonde, tomorrow morning at seven. After a few 'goodbyes', Tara raced up the path, disappearing behind the gated entrance to the complex.
"I know that look," Buffy said as she climbed into the front seat. "What look?" Willow tore her eyes away from the building and focused on Buffy. "That 'I wanna jump her bones' look," she chuckled.
"It is not," Willow protested, "she's nice," she said, looking back at the gate. "Yeah," Buffy nodded knowingly. "She is... and anyway, this is my 'I wanna jump her bones' face." The redhead let her mouth drop open as her eyes glazed over. Her open mouth stretched into a grin when Buffy rolled her eyes, "Do you want me to drive?" Buffy asked for the second time. Her tone making it appear as if she were pleading.
"No, I'm getting the hang of this," she switched gears and the car went in reverse, "okay, okay... I got it now." She shifted into drive and slowly headed home.