Return to The Game of Love Chapter Four

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!

"Look, I've already told you guys... it was nothing. I mean Zak's a great guy and stuff, but I realised that there was no attraction there... for me at least. He's a looker and all that, but you know, sometimes you have to FEEL for someone when you're dating them, and that just wasn't there." Tara said, shutting everyone up around her.

After a few minutes of silence, Anya said "Yeah, I guess it was just a part of your crazy year anyway!" She turned to the rest of the girls, who didn't know about Tara's "crazy year" and explained "See, last year Tara went through a crazy phase and by the end of the year she'd had nine boyfriends!"

"Yeah, and none of them lasted for more than three weeks!" Cordelia ended with a giggle.

"And my personal life is such a big secret" Tara said with sarcasm, though you could hear the amusement in her voice. "Ok, so I went crazy for a while... there's nothing wrong with that!"

Everyone laughed, and went back to their own thoughts. Finally Willow aked "Um guys, I know I'm here to cheer and all, so it would really help if I knew the game. I mean I don't even understand the markings on the field. All I know is its approximately the size of a hockey field, and the goals look about the same size too... so... HELP???"

"Oh" Anya said. "Sure. Ok yeah, the fields like a hockey field... see the line at the middle? Thats the half line. Ok now both halves are exactly the same, so just look at this half. See, there's an arc six meters away from the goal, and another one 9 meters away. There are seven players in each team, including the goalkeeper, who basically just defends the goal. So that leaves the other six to do the attacking and scoring....

"The six meters is the minimum shooting distance, since any closer to the goal and it'll be almost impossible for the keeper to stop a shot. The main idea is to get onto the six or as close to the six as you can, since that would be the best shot to make. The six offenders usually start the move on the nine and make their way up to the six." Cordelia explained.

"Yeah, and the six moving players usually have fixed positions. See, in our team, I play left out, or left back, Tara plays left inner or right inner, basically she's an inner, Cordelia plays centre, Jessica swaps inner positions with Tara, and Nicole plays right outer. We're the ones on the arc. Cameron plays the Pivot Player, or P.P, who moved along with the rotation of the ball from player to player on the arc. Her back is usually to the goal, and her main job is to make gaps for the players to come in to the six and shoot, and if she gets a chance, turn around and score a goal herself. Anya's our keeper. The main job is of the centre, inners and P.P... we outers mainly defend, and try and steal possession.Oh yeah, and penalties are taken from that lined marked a little beyond the six meter line. Thats actually seven meters, and its taken between the keeper and one player, like in soccer." Samantha said.

"You can only take three steps carryong the ball. Any more is over stepping, and possession goes to the opposition. Goals are usually taken by jumping, and in the form of a lay up most of the time. A handball lay up's sorta like a basketball one, except that in basketball its two steps and a jump, and in handball its three steps and a jump. When you run with the ball, you have to keep dribbling, and once you pick up the ball and hold it you can't dribble again. You also get fouled for rough play. When you're fouled between the nine and six meter lines, you start play from the nine meter line again, with yor opposition having to be three meters away from you. So what we usually try to do is throw the ball to one player, and have them run in and jump and shoot before the opposition gets to them from three meters away.Each game is fifty minutes, with two twenty five minute halves." Nicole finished.

"Oooookkkkk..." Willow took it all in."I think I'm getting it."

At that moment the St. Xaviers girls emerged from the changing rooms, dressed in blue shorts and white jerseys, with their college's emblem on the front of their jerseys, and their last names with their numbers at the back. Tara looked at Willow and said "Well you can watch the game, and any doubts you have will be cleared up," before shouting out to Emily "Go girl! At least you can go home happy thinking you won one game!!!" getting the other girl to stick her tongue out at her.

They all watched as the Xaviers girls began their warm up, running up and down the field a little, before beginning their stretches. Others girls from the college waved their way, and Tara, Anya and the rest of the players who knew them waved back. Finally the girls stopped their stretches and started passing the ball around.

"Look at them show off" Anya said, watching the girls try fancy passes around their backs, over their shoulders and through their legs. "None of that works in an actual game, theres always a major chance of being intercepted. They should just stick to practicing their regular front and side passes!"

The referees blew their whistles, indicating that it was time for the captains to go over for the toss. Emily walked up to the rival captain from Lincoln's, shook hands with her and the referee, and called heads. She won, and decided to start, giving Lincoln the choice of side. They chose the left, and the referee blew the whistle for the start of the match.

St.Xaviers started at the half, rotating the ball by passing to eachother, and making their way to the nice, where they started to seriously make gaps. It took them about thirty seconds before their P.P made EMily a gap, and she shot into the top corner, starting the scoring. On her jog back to her end to defend, Emily looked at tara, pointed and smiled. Tara grinned back and rolled her eyes.

It was now Lincoln's turn. Like Xaviers, they started by passing to eachother until they got to Xaviers nine meter line, but this time, they were intercepted by a Xaviers player, who stole the ball, and ran all the way dribbling, before reaching the six and beating the keeper.

That pretty much set the tone for the rest of the match. By half time the score was Xaviers 8 - Lincoln 2, and the end result was Xavier 15 - Lincoln 6.

Tara had cheered her friends on like crazy throughout the match, and hugged Emily when she got off. Emily grinned at her and said "See! Told ya we're in good form!"

"Whatever you say kid!" Tara said, not bothering to argue, but letting her 'kid' imply who she thought was boss.

"I like how this girl handles herself" Willow thought, as she watched Tara brush off her friends attitude just like that. During the match a lot of girls from other teams had come up and spoken to Tara, and Willow had noted the respect in their eyes for the blonde. "She must be some player" Willow thought. Tara had been nice to each one, although Willow had overheard her tell Anya at some point "I really wish I remembered names!!! It's so mean of me to forget all the time. I really should start getting those memory pills!"

Buffyhad been going on and on about Zak, and it was very obvious to Willow that her best friend had a huge thing for this guy. "But then, I'm sure all of Sunnydale does... except for Tara that is" she thought.

After the Xaviers match, Coach Giles walked up to the team and told them that the third game from then was theirs on Court No. 1, so to start getting ready in about an hour.

"Ok" Tara said, as Coach Giles walked away. "If anyone wants to eat anything, now is the time. No ones playing with a full stomach."

Most of the girls took out brown paper bags from their kits and began to munch on sandwiches. Willow hadn't brought enything to eat, since Buffy hadn't told her she should have, so she just sat there. Tara noticed and asked "Hey Willow, you did bring something to eat didn't you?"

"No, actually I think it slipped Buffy's mind to tell me" she said, glaring at her friend.

"Hey that won't work. Hold on a minute" Tara said, pulling her cell phone out of her pocket and dialling a number. "Hello, James? Hi, I need you to go to the diner opposite the gas station and pick me up one large Orange Juice and a large mushroom and cheese sandwich, and bring it to the ground, alright? Thanks" she said, hanging up.

"You really didn't have to do that!!!" Willow said, very taken aback by the girls generosity. She watched as Tara's car began to pull out of the parking lot.

"It's nothing" Tara said, laughing at the red heads shocked expression. "Just think of this as a way to make sure you have all the energy you need to cheer yourself hoarse!Oh you just have to eat The Casa's mushroom and cheese sandwiches! They're to die for!"

Fifteen minutes later Tara's car had oulled back in, and her chauffer James emerged with a large parcel in his hand. Tara thanked him and took the bag, before handing it to Willow. "Go on, eat it before it gets cold" she laughed, as she watched Willow's reluctance to accept it. "And guys, its only for our cheerleader! No one else gets any".

Willow began to eat the hot sandwich, watched with envious eyes by the rest of the team, except for Tara of course, who's eyes were shining with amusement from watching the rest of the girls stare at Willow as she ate!

"It's delicious!!!" Willow said, before eating the rest at an amazing speed.

"Glad you like it," Tara said, looking at the other matches taking place now. About fourty five minutes later, Tara got up, and told the rest of the team it was time to go change. Willow just sat there as the girls headed to the changing room. Ten minutes later she looked in the direction of the changing rooms, and what she saw took her breath away.

The team was changed and out, heading her way, led by Tara. If the blondes loose jersey and jeans had hidden the shape of her body, the uniform did just the opposite. She was in the teams black shorts, thats clung to her waist like a second skin, showing off the curve of her hips perfectly. Her legs were tanned and bare, muscular at the calves... perfect. Her right ankle was in a bandage, to support it after the sprain, Willow supposed. She had changed from her loafers to a pair to Nikes that matcched the color of her shorts. Willow moved her eyes upwards again. Tara was in a blue sleeveless jersey... so was the rest of the team but that didn't make much of a difference to Willow. She still had her glasses on, and as she drew nearer, Willow noticed that she had a tattoo on her right arm. It was a cross, beautifully done, not too small, not too big... just a perfect size.

Tara finally reached Willow and the red head noticed she was talking to her. "Um. Willow, could you do me a favour and hold these for me?" she said, handing Willow her small Nokia cell phone with its headphones. Willow nodded her head and took them, thinking that was all, before Tara spoke up, "And these" she said, reaching to her sunglasses and taking them off.

Willow only just managed to remember to breathe. She was looking into the most beautiful blue eyes she had ever seen.

Continue to The Game of Love Chapter Six

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