Willow couldn't tear her gaze away from Tara as the fair haired girl walked her way. There was something so... arousing about the confidence in Tara's walk. "Wait a minute!" Willow stopped thinking, a panicked expression coming over her face. "Did I just think 'arousing'????" Not understanding what was happening Willow buried her face in the palms of her hands, shaking her head.
Seconds later Tara had walked up to her, and Willow felt hand gently rest on her shoulder. "Willow...are you ok?"
Looking up Willow saw Tara looking down at her with an expression that definitely spelt 'W-O-R-R-Y'. Willow was touched by the concern she saw in Tara's blue orbs. "Yeah I'm fine" she replied, trying to convince Tara that she was ok. "Just have a bit of a throb in my head, that's all" she said, with as much honest in her voice as she could muster.
Tara nodded her head slowly and said "Hmm, it's probably the sun". She reached into her bag that was kept on the bench next to Willow, and took out a pair of dark sports shades, putting them on. Today's were Nike's Willow noted, as her mind registered the tick mark on the sides.
"Here," Tara said, reaching into her bag and getting out yet another pair of dark shades, "Wear these. They'll keep the sun outta your eyes."
Willow smiled gratefully as she accepted the sleek pair of glasses, thinking "Gosh, how many does she have???"
Tara looked up and saw her team walking towards a clearing to beging their warm up. "Well I had better go get warmed up" Tara said, looking back at Willow, before smiling gently and beginning a slow jog towards the rest of the girls.
Willow watched her depart through the sunglasses, which she had to admit were really good. Her eyes swept over Tara's body, taking in the curves of her hips, the way the muscles in her calves gently flexed as she jogged, and her high pony swished this way and that.
"What is wrong with me?" Willow graoned in her mind, while on the other hand saying a silent thanks to the powers above that she was wearing dark glasses now, and could check out anyone, or Tara really, as much as she pleased. "Why am I looking at the curves of a fellow female? You know, breast-y, full lips kinda girly girl, with soft blue eyes and the most amazing womanly curves in the history of curvature..." she went on in her head. Willow really didn't know what was going on. And now knowing was making her uncomfortable.
"Maybe I like her as a friend, and the fact that she's so damn mysterious is making me feel....making me feel what???" she pondered, watching as Tara started rotating her shoulders, loosening them out before she started tossing the ball around with Anya. Willow continued to try and figure out the puzzle, to no avail.
Minutes later a whistle was blown, and the team began to the bleachers, all except for Tara who walked onto the field for the toss. The redhead realized that Tara was on before the rival captain, and was making conversation with the referee, who seemed to know Tara, from the way he was slapping her on the back. A second later Willow noticed that the girl approaching from the opposite end, Kings captain, was one of the girls who's come to say hi to Tara on the first day of the tournament. She watched as they shook hands, throwing genuine smiles at eachother. At that moment Buffy began to ask Willow where her sun block was, and Willow missed the toss as she rummaged through her knapsack for the lotion.
When she finally found it and handed it over to her best friend, she noticed that Tara was coming back to where the rest of the team was. Willow was wondering what had happened, and her silent questions were answered when Tara announced that she'd won the toss, and opted to start. "Time to pray" she announced, looking around for a ball.
Finding one, she placed it on the ground, and the UC Sunnydale team and their coach gathered around the ball, all with their right foot forward, touching the ball. Looking up Tara saw Willow standing outside the circle, and said "You too Willow", moving aside slightly, giving Willow space to join the prayer.
Willow walked into the space offered, and placing her right foot forward she connected it to the ball, and Tara's foot. She joined her hands like the rest of the girls, as Tara began "We're in the semi's....we all know this is gonna be one helluva tough match. UC Sunnydale's come this far for, what I believe is, the first time in the history of the turnament. That's something to be proud of" she paused.
"This is the confident, 'get outta my way' Tara speaking" Willow realized.
Tara continued "We're a good side, and no one expects us to win this match today. Let's go prove em all wrong girl!" she said, stopping and just standing there a second as the girls said 'Yeah's' and "Woo Hoo's', before pulling out of the circle and making her towards the court.
Willow watched her back as she walked away, and a moment later when Tara turned to look straight at Willow she was still standing right there, looking after her. Even through each others dark shades Willow and Tara knew that they were looking at eachother.
Willow slowly raised her right hand, giving Tara the thumbs up for luck. Tara grined, and in return flashed the same symbol Willow's way before once again turning around and walking onto the court.
2 minutes later the match had begun.
Willow sat and watched. The game moved, from one side of the court to another. Shots were taken, goals were stopped. Both goalkeepers refused to let anything pass them by. 15 minutes into the match, the scores were still goal-less, and the crowd forming to watch the contest was incresing by the second.
In the 16th minute King called for a time out. The UC girls made their way towards their end silently. Coach Giles spoke "Ok girls, its a good game. No really, its a good game. You're taking your chances, and that's great. Anya, wonderful work in the goal by the way" he said, looking at the petite girl.
Anya said a soft 'thanks' as the rest of the team murmured their agreement to what their coach had just said. He spoke again "Now, Tara, what's happening. you're taking good powerful shots, but you need to change your angle. She's reading your top corners". Willow watched as Tara nodded her head, while she looked like she was visualizing what Coach Giles was saying. "Cameron" he continued "Don't just create the gaps...take your chances too. And Cordelia, fake fake fake!!!" He took a deep breath, before looking at Sophie and Nicole "Outers, drag the game OUT! Give the inners more space to work" The two nodded their heads as well, sipping on water. "The defense is great. No problems there" Coach said, as the whistle was once again blown. "No go! Get some goals" he finished enthusiastically, getting fond smiles from all the girls.
Willow kept her eyes on Tara, who was passing by the referee on her way back to her position for defense. For some reason she turned back and grinned at the referee and said something, before continuing on her way to the 6 meter line. Willow looked at the ref for a reaction, but seeing nothing wondered what that was all about.
The match resumed with another whistle, and King was on the offense. They did a brilliant move between their right outer, right inner and centre, and Anya just managed to stop the shot that was taken from the right iners position. She fell to her left to collect the ball, and was up in a flash, seeking out Tara who was calling to her. The King girls looked back to see that Tara had started running as soon as she'd seen them take a shot, since she knew there was nothing else she could do at that point. Anya, with her quick reflexes, immediately passed the ball to her captin, who collected it and began to sprint towards the opposing goalie, standing guard at the posts. Tara dribbled all the way to the 6 meter line, beating out the King girls who were chasing her, and at the 6 colected the ball and took the most amazing leap into the air.
To Willow it looked like ballet, Tara high in the sky, her hand over her head, gripping the ball. The King keeper too, had flung herself in the air in front of the goal, her four limbs going in four different directions, trying to block all corners from being entered by the offending ball.
Willow watched as the two started coming back down to the ground, the keepers arms and legs slowly coming back together, as well as Tara's lower limbs. Tara still hadn't let go of the ball, although her leap had brough her practically 3 meters inside the 6 meter line, leaving her a bare 3 meters in the air away from the goal. "What's she waiting for????" Willow wondered, noticing that Tara still hadn't released the ball. Somewhere in the back of her mind Willow also noticed the absolute silence in the stands around her, as everyone watched the field.
The King keeper landed, her limbs coming together all at once. And that was when Tara let the ball go, a bare mini second before she herself landed inside. The bll zoomed past the hapless keeper at an incredible speed, packed with the momentum of Tara's entire run towards the goal and the magnificent jump she'd made inwards at the 6.
The ball was finally stopped...by the back of the net...
UC Sunnydale had scored!
The stand erupted with deafening applause at the effort. Willow heard Coach Giles comment to the substitutes "That is handball it all its beauty," and she couldn't help but agree.
Her eyes followed Tara as she strode back to her end for defense, her head held high, and... "The Walk" Willow thought. King girls moved out of Tara's way as she walked back towards the UC girls, who were waiting to jump on her with joy. Willow smiled at the celebration that took place, before the whistle was blown again. UC Sunnydale was 1 up, and the confidence was going their way.
From there on there was no stopping the girls. In all honesty King put up a great fight, but Sunnydale was on fire. Even though it was a low scoring game, with the eventual score reading Sunnydale :14 - King :8, it was one played at a very high level.
When the final whistle blew, Sunnydale's playing seven came together in a group huddle for a few seconds, before they made their way to a very dejected looking King's side. Tara led the way as the team, including UC's substitutes, made their way to the losing players and shook their hands.
One girl was even crying, and Willow watched as Tara approached her, knelt down before her and gently said "Hey, don't cry. Our college loses every year, and from what I hear we've never been dejected! Look on the bright side, there's something to fight for next year!", trying to lighten the mood.
The girl looked up and Tara through teary eyes, and managed a weak smile. She took the hand that Tara offered, and shaking it said "We'll be back. We're gonna come here and support you guys tomorrow".
Tara smiled, and said "And that mean's a lot to all of us. thank you". The rest of the UC girls smiled and nodded their agreement.
Tara walked back towards the bleachers, and looked at Coach Giles smiling at her. She returned the smile, moving her gaze past him as she sought what she was looking for.
Finding Willow, she smiled at the redhead and said "We're in the Finals!!!!"