Winner of the I Am You Know award for Best Unfinished Fic (as of April '07).

The Game of Love

Author: Shai
Rating: PG
Disclaimer: Unfortunately neither Tara nor Willow are mine. Neither's anyone else in this fic for that matter!
Summary: A chance encounter at a handball match leads to a friendship between Willow and Tara which slowly blossoms into love.
Dedication: For two beautiful women, Juliette and Mirr.

"...So anyway, I'm playing handball for college now since they needed about 5 players to put their names down as substitutes. Apparently they have seven good starters, but just in case someone gets injured they need the rest of us to basically sit and warm the benches! See I know some of the girls on the team, AND if you reach the quarter finals you get like $100 each from college, $200 for the semi's and $500 for winning. How cool is that?" Buffy kept talking, not giving her friend the chance to answer her question.

"Anyway, the tournament starts tomorrow, its for three days, and since I know I'm gonna have nothing to do, I was wondering if you wanted to come watch???" Buffy finally stopped talking, and help onto the phone, waiting for her best friend to answer. When there was silence at the other end, she knew her friend was considering the situation and put in a "Pleeeeease Will, for me???" for good effect.

Finally she heard a low sigh at the other end, and Willow said "Sure Buff... I'll come with you. Its not like I've got anything better to do anyway."

"Thanks a bunch Will! I'll pick ya up at 6:30, bright and early! The teams meeting at the ground, and reportings at 7. Bye!" with that she hung up.

"Wait..." Willow started to protest, "You didn't say anything about..." *click* "early...?" Willow spoke into the phone's beeping sound. "Aargh... how did I get myself into an early morning wake up???" she asked herself.

"Still," she sighed,thinking "Maybe some good will come out of this."

The day had started off badly, with Willow jumping due to the shrill sound of her alarm that morning. Buffy arrived at 6:30 exactly, and they proceeded to the Sunnydale stadium, only stopping to buy some much needed mochas and doughnuts on the way.

It was now 6:50, and 9 of the team members were there.

Willow was looking down at a list of the players names. She'd just met Nicole Smith, Samantha McNeal, Sophie Hawk and Jessica Miller, the four girls who were actually there to play as part of the starting seven. Willow didn't know them, even though they went to the same college. They however seemed to know each other really well, and were having an animated discussion about their chances of winning the tournament. They stood slightly apart from Buffy and herself, and the other four "benchwarmers" as Willow had come to think of them from Buffy's information the previous night. She knew the four since they played on the soccer team with Buffy. Whitney, Sharon, Tina and Cameron were actually good soccer players, and nice girls too.

Willow looked back down at the list. There were three more names there, Anya Harris, Cordelia Chase and Tara Maclay. Buffy spoke up then, saying that Tara was actually the college captain.

"Apparently she's this rocking shooter, with a lot of strength. I've never seen her play, but Jess, Sam, Nic and Sophie keep telling the rest of us about how the whole game plan is to pass the ball to either Tara or Cordelia! I've met Cordy, but she couldn't practice because she had some extra classes at college, and she practiced with Coach Giles later, after we were done." Buffy pointed out Coach Giles, a tall bespectacled man, to Willow before continuing. "Anyway, Cordy's supposed to be brains and faking her way through the opposition, which Tara's more of the 'Get outta my way, I wanna see her shoot'! I didn't get to see Tara play either, since she's had a badly injured ankle, and this is the first time she's playing in about four months. In fact, I haven't seen her at all," Buffy thought about her last statement, before finishing "And Anya's the goalkeeper, who's been out of town, so we haven't seen her either. The three hang together a lot, and I'm guessing they'll show up together too."

Willow had merely nodded her head throughout Buffy's banter, and now looked down at her watch. It was precisely 7 a.m. She was about to ask Buffy where the three were when they heard a car pull up in the car park next to them. Looking up, Willow saw a chauffer driven Mercedes S-Class pull up, and three girls step out. Two were brunettes, both slim, with one slightly shorter than the other with shorter hair.

"Cordelia's the taller brunette. Anya cut her hair just a few days ago. Someone told me she got gum stuck in it, poor thing," Buffy said into Willow's ear.

But Willow was hardly looking at the brunettes. It was the blonde who had caught her attention.

"I guess that's Tara Maclay," Buffy said, seeing at the teams captain for the first time herself.

"Yeah" Willow said, "I guess it is..."

Continue to The Game of Love Chapter Two

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