Willow tossed and turned in her bed all night, she could not get her brain to shut up at all. She tried closing her eyes so tight that they hurt, she tried counting through Fibonacci Series until she spazzed out at f(42), she tried reciting poetry. But nothing worked.
The only image in her busy head was Tara's expression of unadulterated bliss when their wonderful, but all too fleeting, kiss ended.
She knew she should be confused as hell, even repulsed, okay, may be repulsed is too strong a word, scandalized, may be that's it. Tara was her best friend, her closest confidante ever since they met 4 years ago. They shared everything, clothes, books, even slept in the same bed, in a best friend sort of way. But last night they kissed, in a more-than-friends way. It was even more more-than-friends than Oz kisses. It was hot.
Girls didn't kiss girls, not like that. Pecks on the cheek, or even chaste greetings on the lips. But not with so much passion and slow fire rage of desire. And Tara? Definitely a girl. With girl parts and girl giggles and girl tastes. And she, Willow Rosenberg, was also a girl.
She knew she should be shocked, or embarrassed, or at least uncomfortable.
But she wasn't. Not confused, distraught or wigged out. All she felt was perfection. She was completely fixated on the feel of Tara's body pressing into her, her soft skin, and those lips! Not to mention the tingly heat that the kiss brought.
She wasn't gay. She'd just broken up with her boyfriend, for god's sake. Nor had Tara ever given the impression that she was. Okay, Tara had never dated anyone and rejected the few offers that came her way. They had nothing against gay people, they were friends with Larry, weren't they? But they'd surely never considered the possibility of finding those feelings in themselves.
So where did this feeling of absolute certainty and contentment come from? Even in the face of so many "but's", she knew things with Tara had changed forever, and she wanted more now, more than they'd ever shared.
She just didn't know how Tara felt about it, and that was keeping her up all night.
"Hey, Tara, wait!" Willow shouted at the blonde as she crossed the street. It had been 2 days and Tara was avoiding her, she knew that. Difficult to do, when they lived in the same house, but somehow Tara managed it.
Willow's hand reached out for Tara's and she was crestfallen to see her friend flinch and pull away.
"Willow." She felt the coldness in the greeting and her heart sank. Tara continued walking.
"Tare, please. Can we talk?" she asked as she ran to catch up.
"I-i-i need to go to this a-a-appointment," Tara stuttered. "C-c-can we talk later?"
"Provided I see you later," Willow complained. "You're being avoidy, I know you are, so don't deny it."
Tara jerked to a halt, Willow could see her jaws tighten and a sigh escape. "What do you want to talk about?"
"Us. What happened at the prom. I need to know -" she started.
"Nothing happened," Tara said quietly.
Incredible. "What do you mean nothing happened?" Willow snapped, staring wide-eyed at her, fr-, was Tara still her friend?
"Okay, nothing important, do we need to talk about it now?" Tara conceded.
"Right. I see. Nothing important," Willow echoed. "Tara, we kissed, and may be it's not so important to you, but it sure matters to me, a lot."
"You want a repeat performance, is that it?"
"What? No, er well, yes it was nice and I don't mind doing it again. What's the matter with you?"
"Nothing's the matter! Look, Will, I need to go, I'll see you tonight. We'll talk, I promise."
With that Tara turned and walked swiftly away. Willow, totally taken aback by the uncharacteristic put down, made no effort to follow. She stood on the sidewalk like an inanimate statue for long minutes, trying to recover. Tears were threatening to form behind her eyes.
With a deep breath and a dejected sigh, she walked back in the direction she came from.
Tara shed silent tears as she felt Willow's eyes on her retreating back.
She knew what exactly what Willow was talking about, she knew what the redhead must be feeling, because despite her own calm exterior, her heart and head were a raging torrent of bewilderment and disquiet, with a fair dollop of infatuation mixed in.
We kissed, it was so extraordinary, I didn't want it to stop.
And it was a big deal.
She despaired. And cried.
She cried for hurting Willow, for she knew her action and words hurt her beloved redhead so much. (And she was her beloved, she had finally acknowledged, but only to herself.) She cried at the discovery that the feelings she had harbored within herself were actually reciprocated, but she was determined not to let them come to fruition.
She was clear on that point. Even as she felt their easy intimacy and their growing connection, neither of them could afford to embark in a relationship this complicated.
First, society's stigma. Despite the increased publicity and apparent tolerance of gay people, she herself knew better. There were still a lot of narrow-minded bigots out there, and most of them were in authoritative positions. A few glamorous celebrities smooching in the tabloids did not general acceptance bring.
Second, the glaring difference in their circumstances. Even if they were able to get past the prejudice, why would a budding genius like Willow want anything to do with a penniless girl who ran away from the only home she knew? She didn't want to be the baggage that held Willow back, the junior scientist was destined for great things, while the best she could hope for herself was to be extremely lucky to find a decent job and climb slowly up the corporate ladder.
They were starting out on the first steps in the rest of their lives, it was totally the wrong time for a relationship.
The most she would allow herself was being friends.
Based on their conversation on the sidewalk, she wasn't sure if they could even have that.
"Look what the cat dragged in."
Tara recoiled as the voice rang out clearly from the dark recess of the living room. She had closed the front door very quietly and was about to tip-toe upstairs to her room. She wasn't even going to bother with the hallway light.
A click and the table lamp was on, revealing a pajama-clad Willow curled up tensely on the armchair facing the door. Tara surreptitiously glanced at the clock. 2.27am.
"I'm sorry, I should have called to tell you I'll be late," she apologized.
"Save it," a clearly seething Willow hissed between clenched teeth. She was about to continue, but felt herself at the edge of violence that she surely would regret.
Tara dropped her bag and sat on one end of the couch, facing Willow. Willow sensed a faint whiff of alcohol and tobacco, noted the downcast appearance and the red-rimmed eyes. Eyes that steadfastly avoided her gaze right now.
It's not been easy on her either. Wait, I'm supposed to be angry at her. Anger, anger, anger.
For as long as they had known each other, they were never short of conversation, they shared secrets, worries and every thought. Even if they weren't actively talking, they felt comfortable in each other's company for the silence to be enjoyable.
This was probably the first time that they sat in awkward silence at their respective chairs, barely able to look at the other, the air thick with so many unanswered questions.
Somebody say something.
"Where were you?" Willow breathed.
"Out," Tara's answer was as small as a bird's.
"Well duh, since I've been home since this afternoon and you haven't been IN," Willow couldn't quite contain the dripping sarcasm.
"Sorry, I didn't think I had to report my whereabouts," Tara shot back.
"Of course, wouldn't want your life to be held back by a clingy girlfriendy type person now, would you," Willow snorted.
Tara's voice softened. "Please, Will, I don't want to fight."
"I don't want to fight either," Willow retorted, her voice still tense. "All I want is to talk and I was under the impression that we're friends but I'm beginning to think I mean nothing to you."
Nothing's further from the truth, oh Willow, my Willow, whatever shall I do with you.
"I know I promised, but, please believe me, I need to think," Tara muttered. She looked up at Willow. "I know you're mad at me right now, and I don't blame you. But I need some time."
It took Willow a few seconds to gather her thoughts. "Does the fact that you need time to think mean that what happened wasn't as unimportant as you made it out to be?" she said slowly, not daring to hope. Not daring to say it simply.
"I don't know, that's one of the things I have to think about," Tara answered tightly.
"I'm having a real hard time trying to understand, Tara. I understand the need to think things through, but it's not that difficult. Was it important, or did it totally not mean anything to you?" Willow asked.
"Will, don't do this, I'm already so confused. I don't want to say the wrong thing, can you give me some time to think about where I want us to be?" Tara grimaced.
Willow was very tempted to snap back, but at the last moment pulled herself back. Not trusting her voice, she nodded slightly.
There was nothing further to say. She got up abruptly and retreated to her room.
Two hearts that, unbeknownst to them, had always been in sync, beat heavily that night.