Willow felt something move beside her, and was woken from her deep slumber. Slowly opening one eye, she saw a girl with blonde hair get up from the bed she herself was sleeping on, and at first thought it was Buffy. Then she noticed that this girl was taller than her best friend. She was about to start freaking out when the girl looked her way.
"Tara?" she thought, and then it all came back to her. The stay over, the kids...she followed the blonde with her eyes as Tara knelt down next to the sleeping boy in the sleeping bag and gently began to shake him awake.
"Sean... sweetie, it's time to wake up... you have school." The boy mumbled something and turned the other way. Willow watched as Tara smiled, before trying to get the little kid to open his eyes again. She hadn't realised that Willow was awake and watching her, and Willow wasn't in any hurry to let her know she was being watched either. For the first time Willow was watching Tara unguarded...there was an air of ease around her, and Willow really liked the smile she had just seen on Tara's face...
"Sean... ok before I have to pick you up and put you under the shower, do yourself a favour and get outta bed!" Tara joked.
Five seconds later Sean was up and heading towards the bathroom. When he was almost at the door, he seemed to notice the other girls in the room, and turning around asked Tara "Who're they?"
"They're handball players on our UC team sweetie. Remember I told you I had a tournament starting yesterday? Well we have the next match today, and they stayed over" Tara explained in a hushed voice, so as not to awaken the sleeping girls.
"Oh... ok," Sean said, beginning to walk towards the bathroom, before stopping once more and turning to Tara. "Tara?"
"Yeah sweetie?" the blonde asked.
"Thank you" Sean said.
Willow secretly watched as Tara once again smiled that smile..."The smile that reaches her eyes..." she thought.
"Don't worry sweetie. I'm just glad I could help," Tara said, looking affectionately at the little boy.
As Sean walked into the bathroom, Tara glanced around the room once, and Willow quickly shut her eyes. She didn't want Tara to think that she'd been spying on her. Moments later the redhead heard footsteps, and when she opened her eyes a few minutes later she noticed that Tara had walked out of the bedroom. Soft sounds of movement were coming from the kitchen... the fridge being opened and shut... some cutlery moving... a cabinet being closed...
Looking up, the redhead saw that the clock on the wall still showed the time to be 7:12 a.m. Willow tried to close her eyes and go back to sleep, but it didn't work. She heard the bathroom door open, and the sounds of Seans bare feet as he padded about the room. Two minutes later he'd walked out of the room, and Willow decided that she couldn't sleep anymore.
Getting out of bed Willow made her way towards the low sounds of voices coming from the kitchen. When she got there, she saw Tara and Sean sitting at the small dining table, eating cereal, while the rest of the girls were still fast asleep in the room.
"Hey guys" she said softly.
Two pairs of eyes - one brown and the other blue looked her way, before Tara replied "Hey Willow. I hope we didn't disturb you...???"
"No no... I just woke up on my own, you guys didn't do anything," the redhead said as she remained standing where she was.
"Well why don't you come and sit with us?" Tara asked, and Willow made her way to the table, pulling out the third chair to sit in.
Sean, who hadn't said a word so far, was intently gazing at Willow. She caught the look, and smiled at the child, who she realized couldn't have been more than 11 years old.
Sean smiled back, and then said "Is that the real color of your hair???"
"Sean!!" Tara said, turning to Willow to apologize in case the girl was offended...
"Yes it is," Willow grinned at the boy, who gave her a wide smile in return.
"Can I touch it?" Sean asked, reaching up, but waiting for Willow's permission.
"Sean!!!" Tara said again, once more ready to apologize to Willow.
"Yes you may!" Willow grinned, and sat still as Sean took a few strands of her bright red hair between his fingers and played with its texture.
"It's really cool! I've never seen anyone with red hair you know?" he smiled joyfully.
"Well I'm glad that I'm the first real red head you've met then! I'm Willow by the way," Willow said, reaching out to shake Sean's hand.
"I'm Sean," he replied, letting go of the red strands of hair and reaching for the hand he was being offered.
"And you're going to be late for school mister!" Tara said, smiling at the scene unfolding before her eyes. "Eat up now!"
She watched as Sean gulped down the rest of his Fruit Loops, and took his bowl to the sink. She turned to Willow. "Hey I'm taking Sean to school. He's too young to walk alone you know, so I'm driving him." She lowered her voice. "Plus he's had a hard night, and he loves the Mercedes, so I thought I'd cheer him up a little."
Willow nodded as Tara rose, and went to collect her car keys from the room. Tara walked out the bedroom, and waited for Sean to get his back pack on. When he'd slung it over his shoulder, she turned her attention back to Willow, "Ok then, we should get... wait..." she stopped. "Do you wanna come?" Tara asked, raising her right eyebrow slightly and waiting for a response.
Willow thought for barely a second, and replied "Sure! Just gimme a minute to get my sneakers on" and ran into the room. Moments later, Sean, Tara and Willow were walking towards the parked Mercedes. Sean practically ran towards the passenger seat the last few steps, and waited for Tara to unlock the doors.
The girls dropped a very excited Sean to school, and headed back to the apartment, not really talking, just listening to the radio. When they got back to the house, most of the girls were up, and hungry! Anya and Jessica handled the breakfast, making orange juice and scrambled eggs with toast for everyone. At 9:30 every one besides Willow, who was the last one to use the bathroom, stood in the living room deciding who was to go in who's car. There were three cars, Samantha's, Whitney's, and of course, Tara's.
By the end of it, Nicole, Sophie and Cameron left in Samantha's car, Jessica, Tina, Sharon and Buffy left in Whitney's car, and Anya, Cordelia and Willow were the last ones to leave in Tara's car.
When Willow got out of the bathroom, she noticed that Buffy had gone. "Um, where is everyone?" she asked, looking around.
"Most of them have left for the ground. Buffy said you would be ok coming with us... I mean, that is ok right?" Cordelia asked.
"Yeah no problem" Willow said. Looking at the couch she saw Tara putting a pink bandage around her right ankle. "That must be the one that was sprained," she thought, making her way to the blonde, who head bowed, was concentrating on the task at hand.
"Here, lemme," Willow said, kneeling down.
Tara looked up, and let go as Willow took over the job of wrapping up her ankle securely. She watched as Willow deftly put it just right, so that her movement was still easy, and the ankle was held in place firmly.
"You're good at this," she remarked.
"Thanks," Willow looked up and smiled. When Tara looked up as well, Willow once again found herself looking into those blue eyes, and noticed that the guard was up again. Although Tara was smiling, you didn't know what was going on behind those eyes. "I'm used to hurting my ankle, so I know how to wear these. See, I have a weak joint, and it gives out a lot." Tara nodded her understanding, before Willow asked " So how did you hurt yours? Big match? Practice...?"
"I was walking down a flight of stairs" Tara gave a small, almost embarassed, smile.
"No!!!!" Willow said, and couldn't help but smile that a sportswoman as good as the blonde would hurt herself doing something so simple.
"Yes!" Tara said, and this time she DID look embaressed.
Anya walked up just then, and added, "Oh yeah! I was there! Tara was hurt so bad that she couldn't even walk five steps on her own! The next day she looked like she'd got elephants foot or something, and went to this doctor since the blood in her foot had all accumulated at the joint, and had to be taken out....with a needle at that!"
Willow's eyes widened in horror, as she set the clasp on the bandage to prevent it from opening up. Tara merely shrugged and stood up, saying "Well, that goes to prove, you never know what's gonna happen and where it's gonna happen...it just happens..."
Willow nodded her head, and moments later the four girls were headed out, on their way to the tournament. Once they were out of the apartment block, Tara wore a pair of sunglasses, this time a dark, sleek pair.
Without noticing it, Willow let out a sigh. "I'll miss seeing those eyes for a while..." she thought, as she followed Tara towards the Mercedes.