Return to Latter Days/Lonely Nights Chapter Five



Latter Days/Lonely Nights
CHAPTER SIX: WHAT LIES BENEATH

Author: Willownut
Disclaimer: Blah, blah, blah. Many characters are Joss Whedon's. Yada, yada, yada. No harm intended with the use of these revered characters. Peas and carrots, peas and carrots.
Italics are thoughts. For those who could excommunicate me or send me unwanted literature, I wish you no ill will. My thanks to LVK for the use of her song lyrics, you have my deep respect, and I would have asked first if I knew where you were.

Note: This story uses the Comic Sans MS font to represent Willow's handwriting in sections. This font is available for download here: Comic Sans MS. If fonts are not installed on your PC, sections of this story will be rendered in large text. Fonts sourced from dafont.com.


Beep, beep, beep, beep, beep, beep, beep~!

"Argh" Willow slowly swam to consciousness. She reached with certainty toward the annoying noisemaker also known as her wake up call. Her hand flopped on the clock and she pressed on the snooze. She was sluggish, and felt the darkness swimming around her brain as she struggled to wake herself up.

In her "first thing in the morning" mind, the events of yesterday blurred together, but she was able to start separating various moments. It had started out with a bang, literally into Smith's nose. She had struggled through her language class and had a few insanely stupid klutz moments. The end of the day had found her face to face with a beautiful, sweet blonde who helped her find some perspective with Chocolate. Willow relaxed into the memory and closed her eyes just for a moment.

After they left the couch, they headed to the vending machines. Maclay had bought them a snack pack of M&M's. They joked about the tasty milk chocolatey goodness inside the hard covered shell. She sat down on the floor next to the vending machine in the dimly lit corner. Willow sat facing Maclay with her back against the vending machine. The hum and slight vibration was settling to her tired soul. The illumination from the vending machine was quieting and almost, yes, it was romantic.

Maclay carefully opened the little brown packet of yummy treats just at the corner.

"The little yellow ones are feisty," Maclay said as she reached her fingers and thumb in the bag and pulled out a brown. "The brown are simple and didn't care about what the others think about them. They are content that they are the same on the outside and on the inside."

Maclay raised her eyebrows, opened her mouth in mirrored demonstration, and slowly reached toward Willow with the little candy. Willow thought she saw Maclay's fingers tremble a little as she opened her mouth to accept the little treat. Maclay dropped the candy inside her mouth.

Willow sucked on the candy melting the hard shell and finding the tiny chocolate taste exquisite. She let out a big sigh. This was the best medicine ever.

Maclay reached slowly into the bag again. Picking up another brown, she smiled and repeated the movement. Willow happily complied.

"The tan M&Ms - well they are somewhat boring stay at home types that's why they are so rare." Maclay continued with her story. "The red ones were passionate; I miss them." She pulled out another brown. Maclay reached again toward her with her treat.

"The orange are often jealous of the attention the others seem to get. They often feel left out." Maclay pulled out another candy. "Oh yellow, feisty. Look out."

Willow opened her month and the candy was gently tossed inside. It hit her tooth and she let out a giggle after crunching down on the little yellow offender.

Maclay reached in the bag again. She pulled out the candy slowly, baiting Willow with anticipation. "Oh, this one's mine." She threw the green candy in the air and caught it on its downward flight with her open mouth.

Willow took another deep breath as Maclay reached in again.

"The secret, you know, is to never to talk about the green."

Maclay pulled out an orange one. She reached out to Willow again. However, instead of pulling her hand away when she let go, Maclay let her hand linger and held on to the chocolate. Willow hadn't expected that. She closed her lips around Maclay's fingertips. Her mouth felt like it was on fire as she felt the smooth skin. She reached out tentatively with her tongue to touch the soft intruders.

Willow's eyes closed and let the feeling wash over her.

Beep, beep, beep, beep, beep~!

Damn it! Oh shit, er shoot, um dang it.

Willow flung her hand at the clock and slapped at it in frustration.

Well that is just wrong on so many levels. That was sort of what happened except for the melts in your mouth not in your hands feeding and that finger thing. That was just...too intense. I better get up and go take a shower: preferably a cool one with lots of begging for forgiveness.

Willow grabbed her clothes, a clean set of underclothes, and her bathroom kit and headed off for the showers.

As she removed her pajamas, Willow glanced down at the items she now wore beneath everything else. She'd been a member just over a year enjoying the privileges of membership: sacraments, and callings and so forth. She'd been a "card-carrying" temple member for less than a month; the sacred garments were new to her. They represented covenants and purity of heart, body, and soul. She still thought they looked a little funny.

The top had capped sleeves and shallow neckline (but not too shallow), the bottoms stopped just above the knee and reminded her of a girdle only they were very thin. She'd opted for the cotton material because she just didn't think the shiny ones looked like the material would breathe enough. They seemed prettier though and she'd wished she'd purchased more of them.

She signed as she thought of her commitments and her moment of weakness on her second morning here. Willow started her internal tirade. I stayed out late with Maclay Shimai - although that wasn't a major thing considering the day I had. She wasn't perfect either though was she all showing up at my door like that-all companionless and late nighty.

She finished her preparations for the shower turned the water on and tested it with her hand. Then she stepped in.

Her name is Tara. That's so pretty. I can't believe we talked so long. I don't even know what we were talking about. She's just so interesting. I could listen to her voice for hours, she could recite the alphabet, and I'd be in heaven.

I loved the way she said my name. It was as if she was tasting something exquisite, rich, and delicious. When she held the "w" out at the end - she just looked well just down right scrumptious. And she was so cute doing all those little voices for each of the M&M's. Poor little orange, it was so misunderstood. It just wanted the things the others had. Willow flashed back to her morning dream and suddenly felt her knees go weak.

Back on track Rosenburg. She stepped further under the water stream. This is day three. They are setting us apart today. I need to be in the right place - like the brown M&Ms same on the outside as the inside, just a harder cover shell. She ducked her head under the water. Her red locks darkened and a slight hint of a natural curl emerged. This is a big, big day. I have places to go, things to do, Japanese to learn. Yes, I can do this. Hi, dekimasu. No, that's not quite what she said. No, not 'you can do this.' She said, "We can do this."

What Willow didn't know was on the other side of the dorms Tara too was struggling with her own internal confusion and frustration. The redhead was just too adorable for words. All she wanted to do yesterday evening was to hold her and make the day fade away for her.

When she'd seen the debacle unfold before her at the aerobics class, she knew Willow just wanted to crawl inside herself and disappear. She'd been at another table during lunch, her companions too slow to ensure a table with the other girls. She'd seen Willow mopping up her spilled milk. The flush on her face nearly matched her hair. That night, she and her companions had come up behind Willow and the others as Willow was pulling herself up off the cement. They were far enough behind, that Willow most likely hadn't known they were there. Not wanting to compound Willow's embarrassment, they remained silent.

Tara decided as soon as she could, she would go and check on her. When her companions quickly drifted off to sleep, it was like a sign. She slipped out fully intending to stay just a little while. She took her scriptures along as a pretext, and went straight down the hall to see her new friend. She watched yet another moment of despair unfolded for poor Willow when she'd stubbed her toe on the chair and sent her colored pencils flying. Tara was determined that she would make this day end for Willow on an up note.

She knew their connection was significant. She'd been pondering the things Willow had said, the feelings she'd had since meeting the beautiful redhead, and their innocent yet suggestive conversation at dinner that first day; she realized the dangers inherent to her current frame of mind.

She wanted to be strong. Moreover, she thought she might be losing that battle.

After listening to Willow describe her day, Tara decided that a distraction was in order. She had been quietly observing the girl and finding it harder and harder not to reach over and touch her, to reassure her that this was going to pass. When Willow threw her head back and then looked over at her, she felt the rush of desire wash over her. Her heart seemed to be trying to pound its way out of her chest. She couldn't breathe. She felt weak. Would she be able to resist this temptation for two months? Then what? They might be paired up in the field. What would she do if she had to work side by side with this beautiful person?

Tara knew Willow felt it too. She'd sensed their connection from the beginning as well; she could tell by the way Willow responded to their conversations. When she had said they needed to move from the couch, Willow's eyes had welled with tears. It was too much. She saw it, the raw emotions behind her eyes: the need, the ache, the want. She couldn't stop herself from reaching over, just for a moment to wipe the tear that was trickling down her soft, smooth cheek. She wanted to ease Willow's pain, let her know that it was going to be okay, but she really wasn't sure at that moment that she truly believed that. She wondered, was this a test of her will or her faith, or something else entirely?

She needed a plan. Going to the vending machines had been a good diversion last night, but it was clear that she needed some long-term type of solution to her predicament. However, everything that the missionary did seemed to intensify her connection with her. When they shared their first names, it seemed like they'd bonded on an even deeper level. That was probably a mistake.

For her, getting too familiar with other girls was dangerous, especially when there were already such strong feelings present. How do I back up? No, that won't do. I don't want to hurt her and after her day yesterday, she would take that the wrong way. I can't stay on this path, that road will take me away from where I need to be. Change direction it is.


Willow headed back to her room and discovered her companions still in bed. Oh, more time to do right things. She went to the desk and picked up her journal. She had a few more minutes if the girls were going to the gym and if they didn't then she had an hour. She decided a quick update to her journal was in order. Today was an important day so she needed some good strong sprit-filled rejuvenation - or maybe a cookie.

November 10, 1984

Yesterday was sort of a disaster. It started with Gym class and became like a comedy of errors. It just kept getting worse and worse. I got so tired I couldnít think straight.

No mail for me yet; maybe today. Kitchen got some cookies from her mom and sheís been sharing with us.

Hamm Choro is doing really well on his language - better than most of us. We sound funny right now. He said heís just good at memorization. We got our flip charts yesterday. Theyíre all in Japanese - even the people. Itís cool.

I hope Maclay Shimai drops by again tonight. We get together before bed for some reading. At first, it was complicated trying to figure out how to keep us always at least in twos - we finally realized we could see each other walk down the hall so weíre arenít really out of eyesight. Once I open the door, we can both walk to the middle. There are some couches there by the bathroom area where we can study. Thereís tables and stuff too.

Iím going to show her my color coding system. I hope she doesnít think Iím too weird, but it really works for me. I was going to do that last night, but we kind of got distracted talking about my day. I hope I didnít bore her.

We are getting set apart today. Looks like the companions are waking up so weíre going to gym class, then breakfast - the most important meal of the day! And then into missionary mode: more language, language, language.

The girls headed out to gym class, but today Willow took her scriptures. She was determined to get some morning study before breakfast and her meeting with the Mission President. She decided to focus on yellow with red underline. Underlined red was her color key for missionary stuff. Regular yellow was about light, love and heaven and reward and she'd found they often ended up over lapping - well under-lapping.

Maclay had wanted to stay in for her own studying as well. Conley and Colson, the "C" sisters, were asleep. Kitchen and Smith said they focused better when they got a good workout so off they all went. Willow was amused again at the similarities that the other two pairs shared. She wondered what Maclay was studying back in her room as she tried to read her passages. Today the music was a little less distracting but her thoughts of the blonde in her room were not.

She leaned against the wall with her books in her lap looking for something that would jump out, a word and line, a thought. Nothing. She picked up the larger book, and thumbed through the pages. Then she read, "Ye are the light of the world." Hmmm. Yellow. Red. What are the chances of that? I come up with a color coding system that leads me right back to this, the very passage that I talked about with Tara. Heck even the colors remind me of us.

There was something more powerful at work here than she could grasp. She closed her eyes and bowed her head in contemplation. She wanted to yell, "What?" But that's not how answers come. Answers come with silence. She found her center and was ready for the day.


After gym class, the girls got dressed. As Kitchen and Smith were putting on the final touches of their makeup, Will stood at her desk looking down at the little black and white nameplate. This little badge identified her, made her stand apart from others. She puffed her chest with pride and pinned the little ornament to her suit jacket. She felt the importance more today than the prior two days at the MTC. Today would be the day of the blessing, she was looking forward to the thoughts the president would share with her. He was an inspired person with an important calling.

The whole mood at breakfast seemed more somber today, more reflective. Even the Rice Krispies she'd chosen for breakfast seemed to whisper their "Snap, Crackle and Pops." Of course, it could have been that she'd covered them with too much sugar, but why spoil the moment with truth....

She saw Maclay at the end of the table and gave her a tiny wave. She's just as lovely as ever. She wondered for a moment what was going on her mind. Was she as excited as Willow was about getting set apart? Had she found some inspiration this morning? She wondered quite a bit about the thoughts of her missionary friend.

Meanwhile, Willow was still a little hungry and headed back to the counter for some more cereal. She had been secretly monitoring the cafeteria woman to see when refills would be available. She felt a slight bump against her left shoulder as she dumped a healthy amount of Frosted Flakes in her bowl.

"Hey there you." Tara greeted Willow with a big grin. "Oh, some sugar coated goodness I see." Willow returned her smile with a gleam in her eye.

"Oh hey. Good morning." She paused looking down at her bowl. "Yeah, you caught me. I was looking for a little sugar boost to get me through the morning. Did you sleep well?" Willow turned to observe Tara looking over the selections for her own bowl.

"Yeah, I'm a bit tired, but it's gonna be ok, I am looking for a little sugar boost too, but I don't want any sugar coated cereal. I was looking for something a little more natural..."

"Well," Willow shifted into her 'service care provider' routine. "Would you be interested in Wheaties? I hear they are the breakfast of champions. You could add a little honey to the mix. That's natural. Or... perhaps you'd be interested Cheerios ala red, my personal recipe?

Tara furrowed her brow. "Okay, you got me. What's Cheerios ala red?

"Well, you want natural, so I'll customize it a little for you and grab this right here." Willow said as she reached across Tara for the natural sugar in the brown packet. She grabbed two packets. Next, we need to adequately prepare your nummy breakfast treat." She took Tara's bowl and dumped in a serving of Cheerios. She shook the sugar packets back and forth to make sure there was no unwanted spilling.

"Now, we have to add the secret ingredient." She handed Tara a spoon. "Blend please." Willow opened the sugar packet and started pouring out the yellow tinted natural sugar out over the cheerios while shaking the cinnamon in as well. Huh, more red and yellow.

"You do this to ensure perfect 'Ohs'. You don't want all that sugar to just fall through the holes straight down to the bottom of your bowl."

"And now you can add the milk, it does a body good." Willow handed Tara a personal size milk cartoon and smiled poking her tongue out slightly in good-natured fun.

Tara raised an eyebrow. A slow crooked grin emerged and she looked deeply into the green eyes searching hers.

Tara realized Willow had much more power over her than she'd previously thought. She was going to have to expedite her plan if she had any chance of getting through the next few weeks - days more likely - without seriously failing her oaths and obligations. She panicked.

"Well I better head back, I'm sure the girls are wondering why it's taking me so long to fill my bowl. I'll see you later, okay?

Willow could tell she'd hit a nerve. She hadn't meant to, but it was so easy to flirt with the Tara. It was like magic between them. She'd never felt so comfortable being herself with anyone --- ever. She headed back to her own table in a mental fog. Refocus Willow.

All her books in front of her, she turned to a random page looking for a yellow or red again.

"But behold I say unto you that you must study it out in your mind; then you must ask me if it be right, and if it is right I will cause that your bosom shall burn within you: therefore, you shall feel that it is right."

Okay, that just threw in a new monkey wrench. What's the question? Willow feared it was too easy, to just ask the thing, the question really on her mind. Is it that simple?


Continue to Latter Days/Lonely Nights Chapter Seven


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