"Cookies, I got cookies." Colson was elated and ready to share. "My mom sent me cookies today." Willow and Tara finally broke through the compelling force that seemed to lock their eyes together. They looked over at Colson who was still almost annoyingly cheerful.
"Oh!" Smith was delighted. "What kind?"
"Well she usually makes chocolate chip, but she uses M&M's instead."
Willow shot Tara a quick look and stifled a giggle. Tara returned the expression and then quickly ducked her head eyes behind her hair.
"Maclay got a box too, what'd ya get?" Colson's sat Indian style on the floor her knees bouncing up and down. She was just a few seconds short of lift off.
Tara was caught off guard. It was the first mail she'd received, and she knew that not everyone in the room had gotten something from home yet. Her eyes darted around the room looking at the expectant faces in front of her. "Oh, it was just a letter and some s-socks; it was kind of a gag gift."
"Oh, that's nice." Smith was weighing in. "Does your family think you have cold feet?"
Does she have to talk? Willow immediately felt defensive.
Kitchen jumped in to the rescue again, "I'm sure Tara would prefer keeping her feet off of our list of topics for the evening, especially when we're going to be eating cookies." She redirected her gaze back to Colson. When she caught her attention, she opened her eyelids slightly wider and silently conveyed to the sister it was time to start passing out the goodies.
Without a word, Colson bounced off the floor and grabbed the box that was on her study desk. She removed the lid, placed it back on the desk, and took the box full of cookies back to the circle of sisters on the floor. She smiled at each of the sisters as they selected their cookie from the box.
"Arigato." Conley said as she accepted her cookie.
See this is why I haven't gotten very good at this language stuff - I just don't think to do that. Willow chastised herself. "Arigato gozaimasu." She bowed her head toward the sister.
"Hai. Domo arigato, Korusan Shimai." Kitchen replied to Colson as well.
Tara accepted her cookie with two hands. "Arigato."
Willow was determined now. She held up the cookie. "Kore wa 'cookie' desu" [this is a cookie].
Tara laughed. "Hai, sore wa 'cookie' desu. [Yes, that is a cookie].
Conley started to laugh too. "Watakushitakushi wa 'cookies' ga arimasu" [We have cookies].
Colson busted out laughing. She quickly put down the box, picked up her sweater, and slowly put it on. Then she sat in her chair and looked at everyone in the room. "Won't you be my neighbor?"
"No, no, no, wrong show." Even Kitchen was playing now and in a low gravelly voice said: "Mmmm, watakushi wa 'cookies' ga ai shite imasu." [I love cookies] Then she took the cookie in one hand, shoved the whole thing in her mouth stuffing her cheeks full of cookie, and made sure to spill a few crumbs in the process.
The girls bellowed with laughter. Such behavior was simply unexpected from Sister Kitchen.
Conley looked intently at Kitchen and asked, "Anata wa "cookies" ga suki deshita ka, Cookie Monster san?" [Did you like the cookies, Cookie Monster?].
Kitchen Shimai moved the cookie around in her mouth so her cheeks were puffed out. Responding in her Cookie Monster voice again Kitchen said, "Hai. Honto ni suki deshita." [Yes, (I) really liked (them)].
Smith Shimai wiped tears from her cheeks, Willow grasped her chest trying to breathe, and Tara was holding her side. When Colson suddenly snorted, they erupted again. Kitchen was laughing so hard nothing was coming out. Conley's face was contorted and red. She started banging her forehead against her hand trying to gain composure.
"Oh gosh, I think I'm gonna pee." Smith complained and another round of hysterics began.
"Ahhh." Willow said after she was able to breathe again. "I totally needed that."
The girls responded with a chorus of monosyllabic affirmations and nods.
"Well, after that, I think I really do have to pee." Tara volunteered.
"Me too; I'll go with you." Willow got up with Tara. "Any one else wanna?"
Colson responded: "There may (giggle) be (giggle) a cover..."
For that comment, Colson earned a chorus of groans. "What? What?" She dragged out the words and her face reflected na´ve innocence. "That was funny."
Willow and Tara had gotten up to leave. They were at the door.
Colson continued, "That reminds me, what are you guys doing for p-day?"
Smith looked confused, "You have a holiday in Canada for that too?" Her mind still on the prior topic, she hadn't caught the transition.
Another refrain of giggles erupted as Willow and Tara headed out the door and closed it behind them. They could still hear laughter as they walked down the hall.
"So, what are you doing for P-day?" Tara asked. They had reached the lounge area in front of the bathrooms. Willow quickly looked around not wanting to go into the bathroom for an echoing conversation; she leaned against the back of the couch facing Tara.
"Oh, um, I don't know. I really need some new shoes, so I'd like to go to the mall, but I have a lot of things I'd like to get caught up on. I'm behind in my journal, and I need to study my vocabulary and do laundry. We have to work in what the others want to do too. Is it just me or does the four hours off we get just not seem like enough time to you?"
"Oh no," Tara looked intently toward Willow, "I feel the same way, if fact we were just talking about that today. There's so much to do, and the other's want some comfortable clothes time, which, actually, was starting to sound really nice. But I kind of think I need to stay focused right now. I don't want things to distract me, you know." Tara was still looking, searching Willow's eyes. They quickly shifted from the right to the left as if trying to determine if Willow had understood her meaning. "And if it's still raining, being all warm in my sweats would be nice, but I really need to get my laundry cleaned."
"True." Willow trailed off. She seemed to be contemplating something. A long pause in the conversation ensued.
"You're doing it again, aren't you?" Tara inquired.
"Oh, I'm sorry, what?" Willow was looking a bit dazed.
"You're doing it again, that thing you do in your head."
"You're not going to suggest chocolate again are you?" Willow realized she had been caught up in her thoughts, but she wasn't going to admit that at the moment.
Tara turned and leaned on the couch next to Willow. "No, no chocolate, not right now." Tara looked at her feet. "What's on your mind?"
"I, um, various sounds of hesitation." Willow looked at her hands. She was not sure how to answer. "Um."
"It's okay if you don't want to tell me." Tara started moving her foot on the floor as if she were playing with dust bunnies.
"No, that's not it. I just got this song stuck in my head for a minute when we were talking about the laundry." Willow looked over at Tara sheepishly. She forced a grin.
Tara saw the movement in her peripheral vision and knew Willow was looking at her. She looked over just in time to see the grin. "That's not all though, is it? You're mind is too complex to have just one thought in it."
"Again I say: true."
"And?" Tara looked at Willow expectantly.
"Okay...But don't you dare laugh at me."
"Me? Tara turned on the couch so she was more directly facing Willow, her gaze reflected sincerity. Then she grinned. It was a half smirk that Willow had never seen Tara do before. "Never..." She dragged out the word and Willow wondered if she'd just discovered a new aspect of Tara to fall for.
Now Willow was playing with the mini dust bunny, soccer balls.
"So do I get the cliff notes or the whole train of random Willow-thoughts?" Again, Tara was looking at Willow, gazing over her features.
"I don't know Miss Maclay, do you think you can handle the randomness of Willow-thoughts. I don't want to be a distraction for you. I know we're on a mission here." Willow nodded once toward the bathroom, but the double meaning for Tara was clear.
"Oh, I think I can handle it." Tara said with confidence, but truth be told she was not that sure.
"Well." Willow took a deep breath.
Okay, get ready for the inner workings of the cute little red head. You asked for it Tara, and she's gonna walk you through it.
First, we were all talking about the Muppets, and I've kind of attached some meaning to certain colors and I was thinking of Big Bird and his pal, Barkley. Then, I thought of that movie where they went to China and they have to find Fung Shuey.
"Um ... Fung Shuey ... the bird? "Honey that's Feng Huang"
"Yeah, Fang Hog." She just called me honey. "Anyway, then, we were talking about laundry and I kinda went, china, laundry, saw Big Bird and Barkley on the boat, and that's when the song popped in my head."
"Oh, okay. Which song?" Tara was more than a little bemused by Willow.
"Well now I have to sing, and that would just be of the bad." Willow looked nervously from her hands to Tara and back.
"You sing me yours and I'll sing you mine." Tara offered.
Oh, I wanted to hear that! Can I pick the song? Willow suddenly felt more confident. Anything to hear her sing.
"Oh, of course you can pick. Unless I don't know it, then I get to select an alternate. Deal?" Tara waited a moment to ensure that the issue was resolved. "Sing for me."
Willow cleared her throat and hummed to get her vocal chords warmed up, actually, she was just stalling, but she had committed after all. She started out tentatively.
Last night I had the strangest dream
"Oh I know this one." Tara joined Willow singing the chorus.
Ain't nothin' gonna to break my stride
Willow was on her own again for the next verse. Tara seemed to be listening to the words and reflecting as well.
You're on a roll and now you pray it lasts
Both girls sang again together, were gleaming at each other, emphasizing the words and bobbing their heads to the beat.
Ain't nothin' gonna to break my stride
"Anyway, that's what was stuck in my head." Willow declared rather than finishing the song.
Tara could tell there was another verse but for the life of her, she couldn't remember it. She sat leaned against the couch trying to remember the rest, while Willow seemed lost in thought for a moment.
Never let another girl like you, work me over
Tara redirected her thoughts back to the redhead. "Do you want to tell me why Big Bird and Barkley?"
"Oh, that can wait. I want to hear you sing." Willow bounced off the couch a little, and then relaxed again. She'd managed to sing for Tara and it was okay. She actually felt good about her voice for the first time ever. Tara actually had recognized the song, and that was saying something for her abilities.
"Okay, but first, we must complete the mission." Tara nodded at the bathroom. "Okay?"
"Deal." Willow echoed what Tara said earlier.
Tara started to get up, but Willow didn't move. Tara looked puzzled. "Don't you need to...?"
"Oh yeah, I guess I said I did." Willow got up and headed toward the bathroom
Tara followed after. Her eyes traced the lines of the girl in front of her as she walked ahead. Tara suddenly remembered the feel of Willow as she had spooned her earlier that evening. Soft yet firm. And what a cute little wriggle. Yummmmmy. She sighed as she caught herself staring at Willow's cheeks as they moved with each stride. 'You looked at me and you see your past. Is that the reason why you're running so fast?'
It's gonna be a long night.