The road wound through familiar street signs as the mid-sized car made it way toward its destination. The two occupants remained in a peaceful silence, each lost in her own thoughts.
Tara leaned her head against the window and smiled as she sensed green eyes briefly tracing her face. Her smile wavered a bit when the car suddenly veered right, but straightened when Willow focused back on the road and her intended course.
The blonde had yet to say a word about Willow's statement the night before, and the redhead hadn't mentioned or shown any signs that she remembered what she'd uttered. Had Willow cast her whispers into the darkness, hoping that Tara wouldn't catch them? Or was the expression simply a hazy response in the aftershock of the couple's passion? Or maybe Willow had been too afraid to say she loved her, and the phrase slipped out by accident as the redhead fell into a slumber.
The cool glass relieved some of the tension from Tara's brain as she worked out the possibilities. Beside the usual morning conversation, neither of them had hinted about last night, and the blonde wondered if her girlfriend even remembered. Willow's gaze was on her again, in a way that conveyed so much more than words, and Tara could feel herself redden.
White lines, yellow lines, Willow told herself as she swerved back into place. The driver behind her, blared his horn before speeding pass and cutting in front of the distracted redhead. Managing to shift her attention onto the tar road and not the soft curves of her passenger's face, Willow mentally pinched herself back to her surroundings.
The driver went over every sigh and warm caress from the previous night, and suddenly found herself in mild panic. She was very sure of what she'd said and that Tara had heard her, but she wasn't certain of what was supposed to happen next. Would there be changes? The last thing Willow had wanted, was for Tara to feel cornered or pressured to return the gesture, yet the blonde had freely given it back.
So, what now? Was there a certain way she needed to act toward the blonde? Without a doubt, there was nothing different about the way she felt for the women beside her. A little more intense, but no serious changes. Would Tara expect more of her? And was it wrong to expect something of Tara?
Her silent questioning was temporarily put on pause as they pulled into the short driveway.
Willow called upstairs for the second time, wondering if Buffy could actually hear her and was really hiding her head under the pillow to muffle the sound. But before the redhead could step onto the stairs and prove her theory, the front door opened behind her.
Unaware of the other presence, after having completely seen through the car parked in front of her house, the blonde cook gave a startled jump when she turned and saw the couple staring at her. She yawned to cover her surprise and closed the door, blushing at Willow's mother-like gaze.
"Just getting in?" The redhead observed her friend's clothing and flashed a knowing smile. "A little late isn't... or should I say, early?" Tara smiled as her girlfriend playfully teased Buffy.
Buffy shifted from foot to foot like a teenager who had just broken her curfew. She glanced from Tara's gentle smile to Willow's amused eyebrow, and then to the stairwell behind the redhead.
Noticing the 'trapped rat' signs on Buffy's face, Tara decided to make it easier for the blonde. Although she had grown comfortable with Willow's friends, there was still that part of her, which questioned their acceptance of her. Listening to that same annoying voice, the blonde excused herself to the bathroom, a little saddened by her decision.
Oblivious to Tara's inner-turmoil, Willow smiled after her girlfriend before turning to Buffy.
"So?" Willow prompted, but Buffy looked as clueless as possible while stepping more into the dining room. "What happened?" The redhead moved with her. "Did you guys talk? Or were you otherwise occupied," she wiggled her eyebrows. "C'mon, give me something."
"What?" The cook smiled at the curious gleam in Willow's eye. "As I recall, you haven't given me any juicy Tara-details, so why should I spill?"
"Well... if you're really wanting to know." A secret, almost smug grin formed on the redhead's lips.
"Never mind," Buffy quickly shook her head, backpedaling. She searched her brain. "Okay, so you want details... let's see." She paused and gave her friend a sly look.
"She was certainly bouncy." Buffy winked before continuing. "Kinda clean, once you blow the dust off." She almost lost it when Willow's mouth twisted. "I think I picked up a squeak or two, and a couple of groans, but I'm not sure. Oh, but I distinctly remember being repeatedly poked in the back." Stretching to emphasize her words, Buffy watched for Willow's reaction. "Other than that, it was very satisfying. Quite a workout."
The blonde finally laughed when Willow's horrified expression grew. "I slept on the couch, Will." A light went off in Willow's head and she unsuccessfully tried to keep the embarrassment from her cheeks.
"We stayed up talking, and then I fell asleep on her couch," Buffy wrapped up the night in a nutshell, while forcing a content smile.
"But it's going okay, right?"
"Yeah," Buffy didn't bother masking the disappointment in the single word.
"I just..." the cook sighed, "Why can't we be more like you guys. You know, how you and Tara are with each other." Willow wasn't sure on how to respond, so she stayed silent and let Buffy continue. "I mean, it's like, first you meet and then BAM, you're smitten. And I've known Faith for a lot longer."
After five minutes of staring at the bathroom tile, Tara could see the print every time she blinked and felt it was time to rejoin the others.
"You think Tara and I acted too soon?" There wasn't any hostility in the redhead's voice, but that didn't stop Tara from pausing on the steps. She knew she shouldn't be eavesdropping, but she couldn't push aside her curiosity.
"Of course not," Buffy quickly reassured her roommate, "I'm happy for the both of you. Heck, maybe even a little envious, and wishin' some of your smitten charms would rub off on me and Faith."
All in all, she couldn't really complain about her relationship with the brunette. After all, it was just the beginning, and who knows, maybe things would pick up soon.
"I need to take a shower," Buffy changed the subject, not wanting to dwell on the situation too long. Hearing the blonde's announcement and knowing how it would look if she were caught on the stairs, Tara quickly followed the last steps down into the foyer.
"Yeah, and I should get changed," Willow looked down at herself as Buffy disappeared. Tara smiled, taking in the pair of jogging pants and tee-shirt she'd let her girlfriend borrow. She would definitely have to remind Willow to bring some extra clothes over to her apartment.
A similar thought slipped from Willow's mind as she caught the blonde staring at the tye dye material.
"What? I think it's cute," Tara tugged the corner of Willow's shirt, bringing the redhead in for a kiss.
Willow grinned, shyly rolling her eyes as she pulled away, "I look like a hippy who just robbed a thrift store."
"I haven't had time to do the laundry," Tara shrugged. "And, you could've always worn the other shirt." She bit her lip to keep from laughing at Willow's facial expression.
The redhead's only option beside the shirt she wore, was a faded blue shirt that read 'Mr. Happy-tooth' with a large, dancing molar printed across the front. When Willow had found the shirt, Tara blushed, almost forgetting that she'd packed it when she left. It was a gift from her Dentist. Sort of a going away present that Tara had cringed over, but accepted nonetheless.
"Uh no," Willow vigorously shook her head, "I think I'd rather look like the product of different colored pens exploding in the washer."
"C'mere." A small kiss erased the pout from Willow's lips. "Let's go find you something a little less flower-child like, okay?" Finger's laced, the couple headed upstairs.
Trying to reach the phone before it stopped ringing, Buffy hurried from the bathroom, still attempting to tie her robe. With the prospect of the person on the other end being a certain brunette, she stumbled across the hall and grabbed the phone, speaking breathlessly into the mouthpiece.
"Are you happy with your life?" Was the first sentence through the receiver. "Do you find yourself feeling down and lonely?"
"Wh-." Buffy was cut off before she could get the word out.
"Do you want to find that special person, and give them something they'll never forget? Well, I have just the thing for you."
Something finally clicked in the blonde's head. "Anya?" She knew she was right when the voiced huffed dramatically.
"You're supposed to let me finish. How am I going to sell anything, if you won't let me finish?" Anya's pout seemed to materialize through the phone when she complained.
"What are you doing?"
"I'm trying out my people skills for my new job." Buffy could hear papers shuffling as Anya went on. "Now, does this sound customer friendly-." She was once again interrupted.
"You got a job... as a telemarketer?" Buffy incredulously yelled through the phone.
"I prefer the term 'communications helper'," Anya countered.
"How are you helping me by calling my house at nine in the morning?"
"Do you have to work today?"
"Yeah," the blonde answered, still not following.
"Well, then consider this a wake-up call. Now, about this product-."
"Goodbye Anya." Irritated, Buffy prepared to hang the phone up, hearing Anya whine about not meeting her quota before the line disconnected. Slightly annoyed, she shook off her disappointment and finished dressing.
Ask her. The words echoed in Tara's mind as she watched Willow search under her bed for her matching shoe. She took a breath and fiddled with the small fuzzy pillow on the bed.
The hint of stammer caught the redhead's attention, and green eyes peeked above the end of the mattress.
"Tara, what's wrong?" Willow asked when the blonde's eyes nervously met hers. She sensed that her partner wanted to say something, and that Tara seemed so reluctant to say it, made the redhead's heart clinch.
"Last night," she began slowly, fearing her stutter now more than ever. "What y-you...," pausing, Tara lost herself in Willow's concerned eyes.
"Did you really mean it?"