"Tara? C'mon baby, it's time to get up."
The blonde groaned and attempted to drag her pillow more fully over her head, but it was easily snatched away from her sleepy grasp. In her half conscious state she made no effort to protest but simply reached for another.
"Hey!" she exclaimed grumpily as the pillow connected soundly with her sheet-covered ass. Flailing one arm behind her to swat her attacker, her wrist was easily caught and returned to her side. The soft, warm weight on her lower back shifted forward, and Tara sighed deeply as she felt Willow's breasts against her naked back, the redhead's hair falling forward to tickle the blonde's neck and shoulders. By the time Willow's lips began their nibbling ascent along Tara's neck to her ear, the blonde was fully awake, but with even less desire to get out of bed.
"I heard the others downstairs," Willow explained, continuing her oral exploration over Tara's shoulder blades and down her spine. "We should join them."
"Mmmhmm... I seem to be pinned in place, right now," Tara teased. A moment later she felt the redhead shifting off of her. "Hey, I wasn't telling you to move," Tara complained.
"Sorry, baby, but we really should get down there. I'm going to go grab a shower... do you want me to meet you back here or downstairs?"
"Downstairs is fine," Tara replied, rolling onto her back and stretching luxuriously, fully enjoying the redhead's reaction to her show. Willow leaned in for a quick kiss, which was well on its way to becoming more when the redhead finally pulled back. Tara looked at the woman seriously for a long moment before dropping her gaze to their entwined hands.
"If it's alright with you, Will, I'd prefer it if we d-didn't mention anything about last night to the others. I'm not sure h-how they'd react."
Willow silenced the blonde with a kiss. "It's okay, I get it. It's none of their business anyway."
Tara sighed with relief. After several more kisses Willow managed to make her exit, and the blonde got up to shower. She stood motionless under the hot spray, letting the warmth cascade over her as her thoughts lingered on the previous night. What had started off as needy and carnal had turned into something quite different, and she found herself craving the redhead's presence and wary of it at the same time. She had shocked herself with her behavior, and tried to rationalize it as the result of the situation, but a part of her wondered if the same thing would have happened if she had met Willow under normal circumstances.
Yeah, cause I meet so many women hiding out in my apartment and burying myself in work, she thought wryly, reaching for the soap. Her thoughts wandered to images of Willow's hands as she rubbed the rich lather over her arms and chest, inhaling sharply when her thumbs tripped over her erect nipples. She shook her head sharply to clear her mind and briskly finished her shower.
You don't even know her, she chastised herself. There's a big difference between fucking and a relationship. Chances are even if we do get out of here, you'll never see her again.
Tara's stomach tightened at the thought, and a frown creased her brow as she turned off the faucet and reached for a towel. She was getting dressed when a scrap of paper on the floor caught her attention. When she picked it up, she realized it was the details of Willow's alleged ‘crime.' The blonde was about to tuck it into her pocket to return to the redhead when her eye fell on the date of Christopher Hewitt's suicide.
Oh my god... that's... that can't be a coincidence... can it?
Five minutes later she was hurrying downstairs when she heard a commotion. Rounding the corner of the elaborate staircase, she first saw Oz, Anya, and Dawn, standing in a cluster with their backs to her. She approached the group with trepidation, her eyes immediately landing on the sight of Riley crouched down, his knee planted squarely on the back of a form lying on the floor. All hesitancy evaporated when she spied a shock of red hair.
"WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU DOING?" she shouted. The trio watching the scene all jumped and spun around to stare at her in shock. Riley did not so much as flinch as he finished clamping a pair of handcuffs around Willow's wrists, twisted behind her back. He slowly stood, dragging the irate redhead to her feet by her arms. Willow's face was flushed with rage, but she seemed unable or unwilling to speak.
"What... is... going... on... here?" Tara demanded through clenched teeth. Finn turned to face her, never relinquishing his grip on one of Willow's upper arms.
"We nabbed our murderer, that's what's going on," he snapped, jerking his head once toward Willow.
A sharp burst of laughter escaped Tara's throat, and she stared incredulously at each of the others in turn. One by one they dropped their gazes, until her cold eyes met Finn's equally stony expression.
"And how did you come to this brilliant conclusion?"
"Faith's dead," Oz supplied in monotone.
Tara exhaled and nodded slowly. "Okay, but why do you think Willow had anything to do with it?"
"Simple," Finn sneered, squeezing Willow's arm and roughly shaking her. Tara clenched her fists as she saw the pain on the redhead's face. "Faith was killed sometime late last night or early this morning, and Anya and Dawn here heard a woman screaming "Willow" in the middle of the night. She obviously got a look at her assailant before she was pushed out the window."
Tara blushed to her roots and covertly glanced at Willow, whose similar reaction told Tara the redhead was hearing the "evidence" for the first time herself. The blonde took a deep breath, stood up straight, raised her head, and looked directly at Riley.
"That wasn't Faith they heard. It was me."
"Oh my god!" Anya gushed with concern. "Willow tried to kill you too?"
"Helloooo!! I didn't try to kill anyone!" the redhead interjected angrily.
"You?" Riley asked with a dumbfounded expression, clearly not understanding.
"You were having sex," Oz stated flatly.
"That's right," Tara admitted, letting her unapologetic gaze travel over the faces of each before settling at last on Willow. They smiled warmly at each other before Anya's voice broke their reverie.
"So she's scream-worthy?" she inquired of Tara, but without waiting for an answer turned to Willow. "And you own your own business? That's very interesting."
Tara brushed past the woman and stalked up to Riley, who had seemingly been embarrassed into silence. When she demanded the keys to the handcuffs, he turned them over without comment and walked to the opposite side of the hall.
Willow rubbed her freed wrists and smiled gratefully at the blonde.
"Thank you," she whispered sincerely. "I know you didn't want them to-"
"Hey," Tara soothed, taking the redhead's hands in her own. "I didn't exactly want to advertise it, but my modesty is hardly as important as them knowing you're not a killer."
The redhead grinned and squeezed the Tara's hands before leaning in for a quick kiss. The blonde sighed, leaning her forehead against Willow's, content to savor the moment until she remembered why she'd rushed downstairs in the first place.
"Oh! I almost forgot! I may have an idea why-"
"Hey guys... where's Cordelia?"
The sudden question caught everyone off guard. Five pairs of eyes turned to look at Dawn, who fidgeted and wrinkled her face up in semblance of an uneasy smile.
"I was just wondering, cause we've been down here a while, and well, she hasn't."