Return to The Game of Love Chapter Seventy-Eight

The Game of Love

Author: Shai
Rating: PG-13
Disclaimer: Unfortunately neither Tara nor Willow are mine. Neither's anyone else in this fic for that matter!

"I don't get it" Anya looked down at the sheet in her hand, once again glancing at the 'Pro's' and 'Con's' she'd written out on a sheet of paper. Cordelia and Tara, seated on either side of her on Tara's bed, glanced at the sheet in her lap, but were unable to comprehend most of Anya's scribbling.

"Get what?" Cordelia asked, taking another spoonful of Belgian Chocolate flavoured ice-cream from the giant plastic container the three women were sharing.

Anya glanced sideways at Tara, half her focus still on the sheet, "Is kissing on the cheek a lesbian thing?"

"Anya!" Tara shrieked, while Cordelia nearly spat all the now-liquidy ice-cream out of her mouth as she laughed with abandon.

"What?" Anya asked, now giving her full attention to an indignant looking Tara. She pointed at some of the scribbling on her paper, "You kissed her on the cheek, and now she kissed you on the cheek. It's no wonder your kind hasn't figured out how to make babies yet!"

"Anya!" Tara exclaimed again, and Cordelia spoke up, "Ahn, you're being unfair..." Tara was about to thank her, when the brunette added, "You're forgetting the kiss on the forehead!" That set her off again, and a huffing Tara pulled the ice-cream container away from her. She helped herself to a spoon, waiting for the sound of giggles to dissipate. When they finally had, she glared at Cordelia before turning to look at Anya, "Willow isn't a lesbian."

"Oh?" Anya asked, eyebrows arched. "So you're saying you've been reading the signs wrong then?"

Tara sighed, "No, that isn't what I'm saying"

"Then you've read the signs right?" Anya pressed.

"That isn't what I'm saying either" Tara said, knowing she was being backed into a corner here.

Cordelia saw the panicked look on the blonde's face, and decided it was time to intervene. "Look Tara" she said, smiling at her friend in a show of genuine support, "from what you've told us, it's pretty obvious that Willow returns your feelings, at least to an extent."

"Yeah" Anya interrupted loudly again, "have you seen me leave a soft kiss on Cordelia's cheek just to say bye or goodnight? NO!"

"Ahn!" the brunette admonished, "shh!" she added, putting a finger to her lips to make sure their loud-mouthed friend let her complete what she was trying to say. Looking back at Tara, "We're all agreed on that, but who knows if Willow's even realized it yet. From the information Anya managed to wean out of Xander, Willow's never dated a woman before, right?" Tara slowly nodded her head, "so maybe she just needs it to be staring her in the face?"

Tara took a deep breath as she considered what Cordelia had said. She felt Anya tug the ice-cream out of her hand, and spoke "Maybe?"

She could feel Cordelia physically relax next to her, "The bottom line is, if she likes you then that makes her a teeny-tiny lesbo at the very least. Like you." Cordelia smiled slowly at her friend, "So the real question, Tare, is... what you are going to do about it?"

Tara blinked slowly, "Well," she paused thoughtfully, "I'm trying to get to know her better. I mean, I know I like the physical, because Willow's obviously gorgeous." The statement caused even Anya to smile, and passing the ice-cream back to Cordelia, she leaned her head on Tara's shoulder as the blonde continued, "Today at Brito, I was asking her these generic questions which helped me get to know her better, because that's really important. This is also a first for me... I don't want to do something and then regret it. So I guess I'm just waiting to know that what I feel is really true and not a passing phase of infatuation..." she trailed off.

Anya cleared her throat, and asked gently, "And you're a bit of a chicken?"

A wry smile spread across Tara's lips, "Yeah...and that." She went silent again for a couple of moments, and then spoke "I know this sounds ridiculous but, what if Willow does freak out with her being possibly-gay, or me having feelings for her. I'm not ready to lose her just yet..."

Cordelia passed her the ice-cream, "This is your decision Tare. We aren't here to pressure you into doing something you aren't prepared for... we're just trying to help you figure things out when you need the assistance."

Anya added, "We just want you to be happy, but yeah, you gotta do things on your own time."

Tara smiled at her, and swallowed her mouthful of ice-cream. She knew her friends could be pushy, but she wouldn't swap them for anything in the world.

Willow picked up the phone on its second ring, "Hey Buff!"

"Hiya Will," the redhead could hear the smile in her best friend's voice, "how's it going?"

"Mmm, I'm reading up some stuff on Frank O. Gehry & Associates, for tomorrow's guest lecture" Willow mumbled, scrolling down the page open on her laptop. "You?"

"I had a busy day at work today. Apparently the station's trying to rope in some new sponsors for a couple of special shows lined up, so I was Ms. Coordination for Gabby. It was fun!" Willow smiled at the enthusiasm in Buffy's voice. "I saw Tara at work today..."

The effort Willow had been making to keep her head free of Tara thoughts went straight out the window, and she forgot all about the open laptop in front of her. "Oh?" she said, trying to sound cool even as she was aware of the quickening pace of her heart beat.

"Yeah, but she was pretty swamped with work, and then I had to head out to run some errands for Gabby, and by the time I got back, she'd left for the day. She did leave me a note saying she was sorry she'd missed me through the day though, which I thought was very sweet of her. She's nice." Willow smiled and nodded her head, till she realized that Buffy couldn't see her, and said "Yeah...she really is."

She could hear Buffy laugh, "My, my! Someone sound's besotted!" The blonde didn't want her friend to think she was laughing at her, so quickly continued, "Did you get to see her at handball practice?"

"Yup yup!" Willow smiled, letting the cool act drop, having decided that it was obviously not working. "We went to coffee afterwards...well, more like hot chocolate. Have you ever been to Brito?"

"Umm, nope?"

"Well, I have to take you. Their hot chocolate is sinfully good!"

"Hmm...was the company sinfully good too?"

"Always", and this time Buffy could hear the smile in Willow's voice. She was about to say something, when the conversation was interrupted by a beeping sound coming from her end of the line. "Hey Will? Xander's trying to call me. I'll call you right back ok?"

"Ok, bye"

"Bye!", Willow heard, followed by a click. She knew she had to get her reading done, and was trying to clear her head of Tara-thoughts when the phone rang again, "Hey again Buff" she smiled.

The voice she heard back sounded too masculine to belong to Buffy, "Hey Willster".

"So those testosterone shots ARE working then, eh Buff?" she smiled, and heard the blonde take an indignant sounding gasp. "Oh, you think you're so funny, don't you Rosenberg?" Buffy shot back.

Both women could hear Xander giggle on the third end of this conference call, "Speaking of funny Will, did you tell Buffy about how you breathed in the wrong way today?"

That shut the redhead right up, and for the next few moments she had to listen to Xander recall in frightening detail her little show on the handball court. When he'd finished, Buffy taunted, "Soooo Will...sweaty Tara huh?"

Willow felt another shot of arousal course through her body at the memory, and said in a weak voice, "Guys? Mercy?"

"Fine, fine!" Xander laughed, 'But you're not completely off the hook yet." Willow let out a little huff, and Xander continued, "So...I spent the day hanging out with Anya at her workplace, and amongst the many things we spoke about, I managed to discover that Tara has never dated a woman before..."

"How'd you manage to get that bit of information?" Buffy asked, and you could hear sounds of a fridge door being shut from her end of the line.

"Uhhh," Xander sounded like he was trying to remember, "you know, I can't actually recall why we were talking about that in the first place...Anyway, the point is that we know that Tara has never dated a chick."

"Oooo-kay, Willow said, letting that piece of information sink into her system, and Xander continued, "For that matter, Anya says that she was never really been keen on any of the men she dated either."

Willow's heart filled with hope as the three friends processed that news, and then Buffy spoke up, "Well, I hear that she's never brought anyone to office parties or picnics either. Oh, except for her Mom and brother who went to the Christmas party with her last year. But yeah, no one else. And employees are specifically asked to bring partner's with them, so that workers and the people they're with can all get to know eachother."

"So we've established that Tara's never had an important relationship? Ever?" Willow asked.

"Well, Ahn has known her forever now, and that's what I think she meant. So yeah, I guess that's a correct assumption" Xander answered.

The only sound on the line for the next few moments was Buffy obviously chewing whatever she'd pulled out of the fridge. "Oooh!" Willow said, suddently remembering something, "She asked me to come to the beach this Sunday!"

"Oh right!" Buffy said, her mouth sounding full. Willow and Xander heard her chew for a few seconds and quickly swallow, "She invited Zak and me on the little note at work too! And I've already spoken to him about that, so we're in."

"As am I, since I'll be coming with Anya" Xander finished.

"So wait..." Buffy sounded thoughtful, "Anya and Xander, Zak and me, and you and Tara? Doesn't that sound a little but couple-y? Did she sound like she was asking you out on a date?"

Willow's brow creased in a little frown as she though, "Umm, I don't know? She asked if I was coming to practice tomorrow, which is a no-go because of school. And then she said she was taking the kids to the beach, and whether I'd like to go...So, I don't know? And I'm sure Cordelia will be there too, so...?"

She was greeted by a few moments of silence, then Xander spoke, "Well, date or no date, it's still a good thing, right?"

"Uh huh" Buffy agreed, "By the way Will, I forgot to ask. How was coffee time with Tara?"

"Hot chocolate time." Willow corrected, "It was nice. We just...talked."

"About?" Buffy persisted.

"Small talk?" Willow answered.

"Small talk's important" Xander put in. "It's the small things about a person that add together to make them who they are right? Therefore, important!"

"When did you turn into the Love Guru?" Buffy joked.

"Since my best friend went and fell for my girlfriend's best friend" Xander laughed back.

Willow smiled at her friends' playful banter, then blurted out "I love you guys".

"We love you too Will" Buffy said, "Now all we have to do is figure out how to get you to say those words to Tara, right?"

"Uh huh" Willow replied, sounding hesitant.

"All in good time" Xander's reassuring voice popped up, followed by a yawn. "Ok my lovely ladies, I better get to sleep. Talk to you'll tomorrow?"

"Sounds good Xan" Buffy said. "I'm ready to crash too. Goonight guys"

"'Night Buff" Willow and Xander chorused, and were about to hang up when Buffy said, "Oh, and Will?"


"Sweet sweaty Tara dreams!" she said quickly, sounding cheeky. "Night!"

The last thing Willow heard before both lines were cut was giggling. Rolling her eyes, she pressed the red button on her own cell-phone, and once again tried to clear her head of Tara-thoughts and concentrate on her reading.

Continue to The Game of Love Chapter Eighty

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