The sun shined, but not as bright as the smiles plastered on Willow and Tara's faces as the car pulled into the short driveway of the large, vanilla-colored house.
Four hours earlier:
Willow was awakened by a soft tone ringing in her ear. She groaned, hoping that the faint sound would disappear, letting her return to her peaceful slumber, but the noise only continued. She shifted in an attempt to block the sound, when a pale arm slid across her stomach to her hip. Her breath hitched and when her eyes shot open, she was blinded by a mass of blonde hair. Tara was nuzzled firmly against her body as her soft snore tickled Willow's bare shoulder. The redhead took the opportunity to bask in the softness, enjoying Tara's weight as the blonde laid partially over her. But soon the ache in her bladder got the best of her and she carefully untangled herself from Tara's limbs and crawled from the bed.
Her affectionate gaze landed on the sleeping blonde and she bent down, placing a soft lingering kiss on the corner of Tara's lips. The woman sighed and Willow smiled as she took in the condition of the bedroom. Their clothes were scattered carelessly around the room and the dark blue blanket draped over the edge of the bed, resting halfway on the floor. After another glance to the bed, Willow quietly tiptoed across the hall.
As she left the bathroom, her ears perked and she realized that the sound, which had awoken her, had been coming from the living room. Turning the stereo off, Willow tiptoed back into the bedroom and froze in the doorway.
A series of emotions flickered across Tara's face as she looked at Willow's naked form in the doorway. From fear to relief, then arousal to embarrassment, Tara blushed and dipped her head as she unsuccessfully tried not to stare at the redhead. Willow took a minute to think about her predicament and, strangely enough, she didn't feel embarrassed or ashamed for having been caught sauntering nude through Tara's apartment. Gradually, Tara loosened the grip she held on the blanket against her body as Willow moved closer into the room.
"Morning." Tara smiled, with traces of sleep still in her voice as Willow sat down next to her. The blonde had woken to a half-empty bed and feared that the night before had been a dream. Or that it had been real and the empty side, which still lingered with warmth, was proof that Willow thought it was a mistake and regretted being with her and had left to avoid 'the morning after' awkwardness. Looking across into Willow's eyes, she sighed again in relief but the doubt was still there.
The blonde's conflicting emotions weren't lost on Willow, especially when Tara suddenly averted her eyes and began fidgeting with the blanket. "Are you okay?" Willow's own nervousness began to show, "I mean, about...," she trailed off. "I'm o-okay," Tara nodded, but continued to look down. Willow frowned, still trying to catch the blonde's eye, "Did I do something wrong?" She asked in a small, child-like voice.
"What?" Tara's head snapped up, "No, i-it's...," she sighed, "it's just that when I w-woke up, y-you were..." Tara shook her head, chiding herself for over reacting.
"You thought I had left you?" Willow smiled gently and reached for Tara's hand, "Why would I leave? Tara, last night was wonderful! It was...," she couldn't find the words so she demonstrated with her hands. Tara chuckled lightly as Willow tossed her hands around animatedly. "So um, you're h-happy?"
"Ecstatic." Willow smiled genuinely as waves of euphoria swept through Tara, washing away her doubt and replacing it with a lopsided grin. They both leaned in, lips meeting in the middle. The kiss was sweet and gentle as Tara released the blanket, letting it fall away. Content with simple kisses, the couple drifted back to sleep.
Hands clasped, the girls continued to smile as they entered the house. "Buffy?" Willow called up the stairs. They heard what sounded like metal clattering and a little rustling, followed by a low 'dammit.' Recognizing where the noise was coming from, Willow led Tara toward the kitchen, where they found Buffy struggling with a handful of pots and pans, and trying to open the backdoor at the same time.
"Hey Buffy." Startled by Willow's voice, Buffy squeaked and dropped the items she was carrying. She turned to the new arrivals in mock annoyance and began gathering the fallen objects. "How long have you guys been here?" Buffy asked as she set the pots on the counter.
"Oh, we just got here," Willow nodded, brushing her thumb against Tara's hand. Buffy noticed the gesture and smirked while giving Willow the once over. The redhead was wearing the same jeans from the night before and an oversized night-shirt decorated with small kittens. She caught Tara's eye and the blonde immediately turned ten shades of red as if she knew what the other girl was thinking.
"Well I'm glad you guys are here." Buffy cleared her throat and smiled at the shy blonde before turning back to her best friend. "Xander and Anya are already out back. I just came in to get a few things."
"Great, I just need to...," Willow looked down at herself, "change," she shared Tara's embarrassed smile. "Okay," Buffy tried to gather the pots again, "Uh, Tara could you help me with these?"
"S-Sure," the blonde squeezed Willow's hand and went to help Buffy. "I'll be back in a minute," Willow said before rushing up the stairs.
"So," Buffy grinned playfully, "did you have fun last night?" Tara's blush and excited nod, told her all she needed to know as she held the backdoor open for the blonde. She followed the other girl out and made a mental note to grill Willow for details. She looked at Tara's flushed face again. The PG version, of course.
"Hit me," Anya demanded.
"Anya, I've already given you five extra cards," Xander huffed.
"Well, I don't have twenty-one yet... now, hit me," she insisted. Buffy stared at Anya's back, somewhat tempted to fulfill her request. Xander shuffled the deck and gave his girlfriend another card. "Hey Tara." He said, noticing the blonde's presence.
"Hi," Tara smiled at the couple. Anya tossed up a hand in silent greeting and went back to her cards. Biting her lip and tilting her head in concentration, she turned back to Xander. "Hit me." The young man groaned in defeat and pushed the entire deck across the picnic table to his girlfriend. "Where's Willow?"
"Right here." The redhead waved as she stepped into the backyard. "So what are we playing?" She flashed Xander a brief smile, but focused on Tara as she spoke. "Poker?" Anya bounced in her seat, while Xander shook his head forcefully, knowing that it would be his money Anya lost.
"Blackjack?" Willow suggested. "But we already played that," Anya's shoulders slumped, "fine," she pouted and handed the cards back to Xander. Smiling in victory, the redhead kissed Tara's cheek and sat down beside Xander while the blonde sat on the bench next to Anya.
A few games later, Willow frowned as she felt something rubbing against her leg. She glanced up, locking eyes with Tara and smiled. After taking a second to fully realize what that 'something' was, her eyes grew in surprise and she squirmed lightly in her seat. Remembering that Tara was wearing sandals, Willow was pleasantly shocked when she felt a toe rub against her bare leg. Pulling her eyes away from the blonde, she looked around. Buffy was tending to the grill, Xander was looking through a magazine, and Anya was shuffling the deck again. She turned back to Tara, entranced by the blue pools in front of her.
"Can someone help me?" Buffy's voice broke through and Willow blinked as the spell ended. Tara smiled at her partner and stood up to help Buffy. Willow stared at the blonde in confusion, especially since the rubbing against her leg hadn't stopped. She looked around again and caught the strange grin on Anya's face as she stared at Xander.
"Anya!" Willow shouted in horror and kicked the girl's foot away.
"Xander!" Anya shouted just as loud when she felt the sharp pain in her foot.
"What?" Buffy and Tara looked at the trio. Tara frowned after hearing her girlfriend's outburst and wondered about the hard glare Willow was shooting toward Anya.
"Oh, I thought we were playing another game," Xander smiled sheepishly. "What's going on?" Buffy asked, glancing to each person before settling on Anya. "Willow was playing footsie with me," she smirked and pointed to the redhead, like a child pointing the blame.
"I was not!" Willow's glare fell away as she looked up at Tara, "she was all with the feet... and the toes... and the... I was not!" She repeated. "I thought it was you," she silently pleaded with the blonde to believe her.
"Well, I didn't hear you complaining," a cheeky grin crossed Anya's face as she got up, "by the way, you might want to invest in a razor. I damn near cut myself on all that bristle," she muttered and disappeared into the kitchen.
All eyes turned back to Willow, who crossed her legs and shifted uncomfortably in her seat, "It's not true," she protested. Tara arched an eyebrow, but her eyes sparkled with mirth. She decided to give the redhead a break, "I know," she smiled at the way Willow's lip trembled slightly and tried to keep her laughter at bay.
"Someone's at the door," Anya announced from the open kitchen window. "Who is it?" Buffy asked, fanning away the smoke as she opened the grill. "I don't know," Anya shrugged.
"Can you at least answer it?"
"Why? It's not for me," Anya whined. She stuffed a handful of chips into her mouth and rolled her eyes as she went to answer the door.
"Anya, who...," Buffy looked up when the backdoor opened. Everyone stared at the visitor with mixed emotions. All except Tara, who looked on, confused and slightly intrigued. Finally, Buffy's voice broke through the tension.