Return to Latter Days/Lonely Nights Chapter Thirteen

Latter Days/Lonely Nights

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.

"Yeah!" Willow nearly bounced when she saw their couch was clear. She scurried over to her place and plopped down with dramatic flair. She laid her books down next to her on the couch then appeared to reconsider. She grabbed her notebook, opened it up and set it down in front of her on the table, then grabbed her books and set them down above the notebook so she could access either one. Then she carefully set her colored pencils out to her right so she could grab the one she needed easily. She'd done all of this before Tara even had a chance to sit down.

Tara observed the setting and decided to sit to Willow's right so she could observe but Willow suddenly plopped off the couch and sat on the floor with her legs stretched underneath the table. Tara hadn't anticipated that maneuver, but she decided to go with it. She walked around in front of the table and sat down to Willow's right.

"I feel like I'm in high school and you're going to tutor me in math or something." Tara began.

"Well, I'm no math tutor here, I gave that up for, well I was gonna say Lent, but I'm Jewish and Mormon now and neither religion really observes that tradition so let's just forget I tried to say anything at all." Willow looked down at her papers trying to find something to distract her.

"Willow?" Tara said quietly. She was genuine and concerned.

"Yeah?" Willow started playing with a tiny strand of paper in the spiral.

"Do I make you nervous?" Tara wanted to make some sense of girl's sudden behavior.

"No." Willow answered too quickly.

Tara lifted an eyebrow in response. Willow didn't see Tara's face, but she knew she was looking at her.

"No, Tara, you don't make me nervous." She was still fiddling with the paper.

Tara didn't say anything she just waited. Tara knew Willow was either babbling in her head or considering her options. One thing she did know, Willow seemed nervous.

Willow kept playing with the paper not really knowing what to say. Her mind was working. Tara is sitting next to me in the lounge, on the floor and she was expecting to learn about my color system. How much information is too much, how much does Tara want to know, will she think that I'm a freak. What if she asks me about Big Bird and Barkley? Do I tell her I've color coded us? Do I tell her that everything she does ... I shouldn't even think that right now. Man she smells good. Willow took a deep breath, which turned into a yawn, which she immediately stifled.

Tara didn't want to rush Willow, but she felt like she'd left her hanging or possibly just lost Willow to her own thoughts. After she took a breath, Tara boldly asked, "Do you make you nervous?"

Willow had pulled the tiny paper out of the spiral. She had already folded it up into the tiniest paper snake she could and she had moved on to new conquests. She was now twisting and rolling the bottom corner of her paper. When Tara took her breath to speak, Willow held hers. The question Tara asked her surprised her. That hadn't exactly been what she was thinking, but it was a valid question. Willow stopped rolling to paper when she felt Tara's hand warm upon hers begging her to stop fiddling and focus for a moment.

"I don't think I'm nervous." Willow finally replied. She wasn't quite sure what she was feeling ... before ... now all she was feeling was Tara hand.

Tara decided she'd take a guess. "Are you anxious about what I will think?"

Willow's voice sounded small and unsure, "Maybe."

"Do you think that I look like Big Bird?" Tara took the opportunity to try to redirect Willow's insecurities.

Willow shook her head as if to clear the cobwebs. Did she just say: "What?" Willow sounded alarmed. "No! Not even, I mean no. How did you ... Okay, how do you do that?"

"What sweetie, understand how you feel?" Tara's voice pierced Willow's heart.

Willow was stunned, "You never stop surprising me, Tara Maclay." Willow turned her right hand over, grasped Tara's left hand and placed her own left hand on top. "You most certainly do not look like, act like, sound like, or feel like Big Bird." Willow let herself relax a little into their touch.

"Good, because Big Bird's hips seem abnormally large and canary yellow is not a good color on me." Tara unconsciously moved her thumb a little under Willow's hand, which made Willow reflexively close her eyes. She had to will them back open. It was only then that she realized her thumb was on a mission of it's own as well feeling the silky skin beneath, the sensitive flesh above and between each knuckle.

"So: what? Am I totally transparent?" Willow wondered how Tara always seemed to know what she was thinking.

Tara realizing she was still holding onto her hand, looked down at them, and then dramatically began searching with her eyes up and around Willow as if determining if she had any place she actually could see through the Sister. She made a face pursing her lips a bit and said simply: Nope, no see-through there." Tara grinned a little at Willow. "What do ya say we get to work?" She took her free hand and patted the top of Willow's hand signaling it was time to re-focus.

Willow gave one more look at their hands clasp together and reluctantly let Tara have her hand back. "Okay, one more question though." Willow looked down at her notebook one more time and fell silent again.

"No, no you don't." Tara began after a sufficient interval had passed. She realized that Willow would not broach the subject. "I just listen to you. That's how I know. You can say anything. This is our time; this is our space, okay? Anything you say here with me is safe. I won't judge you, I don't think you're weird or even a nerd. Yes, I understand that you are an organizer and see things uniquely. I think it's neat. You're the peas; I'm corn. I get it." Tara concluded.

"I'm the cinnamon, you're the sugar?" Willow nearly whispered as if testing the waters.

"Yep, you're my Barkley. We fit." Her voice cracked a little. Tara felt her eyes might start to water if she kept the conversation going anymore. "Okay?"

"Okay." Willow paused a moment.

"The let's start with us." Willow opened up her scriptures to one of the passages they had read the first night together.

"Ye are the light of the world..."[1], both girls knew how the passage read.

"Anything having to do with light, heaven, reward, and love is yellow." Willow began. "Anything having to do with service, missionary work, or teaching is red." Willow stopped for a moment as she let the implication of these two colors sink in for Tara.

Tara contemplated for a moment. "Huh." Her mind raced through the events of the past few days. The red stain over her heart, how Willow was struggling with the mustard packet, which Tara had opened for her, their M&M conversation. After remembering, what she had said about the red and yellow, she blushed. It was all true. When she had said they were brighter together. And this is how Willow sees the world of "us".

"Then blue is commitment, covenants, commandments; green is emotions, feelings and hope." She hoped the next two colors would speak for themselves as she stared deeply in Tara's eyes as if to let her read her thoughts. Her eyes shifting quickly back and forth to see if Tara understood there was more.

When Tara looked into the green eyes before her, she froze. She suddenly realized she was also "blue." "Oh, do you have one for that too?"

"Here, you find one." She indicated to Tara to choose either book and find something that matched the code.

Tara grabbed the larger book. She knew she was a little less familiar with that one and that Willow was well versed in it, she started thumbing through the pages. Okay, green, blue, green... She found a page with several colors on it marked a little differently.

8"We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair;
9Persecuted but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed;[2]

Tara looked up. "This one is underlined, has a box and another color mark on the number." She put her finger on the passage for Willow to look at what she was seeing. "It's got all four colors."

"Oh okay, green of course is for the emotions - being troubled, downcast and so forth. The verses are talking about sharing and so the red is a signal of the context of passage as a whole." It's the mission. Willow added silently.

"What about the blue box?" Tara remembered that was commitment, covenants and commandments, but she didn't see the connection to the immediate text or anything around it.

Willow blushed. "Well, the box usually means that when I was reading it, I was thinking that it had a deeper significance for me personally. When I read it, something spoke to me about commitments and loyalty.

Tara looked at the passages around it and they were all highlighted yellow, but some seemed highlighted with more fervor. She dropped her jaw. She felt her heart sink. The passages spoke to her as well. She wondered if Willow had read the things about honesty and truth of conscience the same way she just had. Willow had found hope in the boxed passage. She was amazed.

"You ... I just don't know what to say." She finally gave up trying to express herself. "Wow," she said almost in a whisper.

"Yeah. Me too," was all Willow could say.

"Wow." Tara said it again and this time it was a whisper. She was just staring at the book, too anxious or excited to look up. She wasn't sure which.

Willow was afraid to look up at Tara; she was worried the raw emotions pouring through her might leak out all over the girl. She knew Tara would eventually come out of her heavy contemplation and she needed to be ready. She carefully glanced over. Tara was still holding the "w" of her "wow" staring at the passage. Willow felt another rush of heat go through her, this time it started from the tips of her toes and ran all the way through her. Even her ears were hot. It was at that moment Tara chose to gaze at Willow who now was completely flush.

"Willow?" She was barely able to say her name. Tara saw the color of Willow's checks. She too was having a rush of heat, which had begun in her heart and was working its way out to her extremities. She wasn't sure if it was from her or coming from the other sister. The energy between them was so real she wondered if any passersby might actually be able to see it.

"Willow," this time Tara's voice dropped her voice to a lower tone and the last syllable lower still. Her heart was singing.

Willow felt her heart pounding in her chest. She wondered if she would be able to withstand the yearning to close the short distance between them and capture the inviting lips with her own.

"Tara." Willow prolonged her name with a heavy breath. Another wave of emotion overwhelmed her. Her body was humming. "Taraaa."

Willow thought that she was going to start to cry if she wasn't able to touch her.

The moment was broken when there was a flushing sound behind them. Willow was so startled she nearly jumped into the table. She shook her head and tried to stifle the laughed that though buried in her throat erupted more as cross between a snort and a snore. The toilet startled Tara as well, but seeing Willow nearly catapult off the floor was amusing. When she heard Willow trying to keep from laughing, Tara let out a squeaky giggle; Willow thought she sounded a little like Betty Rubble.

"What are you laughing at missy?" Willow asked Tara.

"Just you, doofus." Tara was still grinning from ear to ear. Her face was starting to hurt.

Willow decided retribution was in order. She reached her right hand under the table and squeezed Tara gently right above her kneecap. Tara let out a "whoop" and jerked her leg in surprise. Tara was trapped under the table and caught off guard; Willow took full advantage. She went for her sides. This was no slow tickle or easy pokes in fun; this was full on grab and move without pity tickles. Of course, Willow would stop if Tara asked, but she hoped she wouldn't.

"Oh!" Tara's eyes grew large as she realized she was on the receiving end of Willow hand. She deserved this; heck, she'd earned it. She was gonna enjoy it. She allowed herself to be tackled, well actually laid down, as Willow pounced over and took a position of dominance over her. Willow looked so intense with her sneaky little grin Tara couldn't help but laugh.

Willow had both hands moving grasping little areas between Tara's ribs and sides. Tara squirmed but never stopped smiling and giggling as Willow applied the harmless pressure. Willow didn't notice that Tara had worked her hands free, however, and that she would not have the upper hand for long. Tara allowed her a few minutes of uninterrupted fun before she turned the tables - literally.

With her freed right hand, Tara grasped the tabled leg and shoved it aside with ease. Willow's eyes went wide in shock. She watched in awe as Tara swung her legs out from under the table threw one over Willow's head and easily hooked Willow in the side with inside of her left leg knocking Willow sideways onto the floor. She was even careful not to land Willow on the repositioned table or in an awkward or uncomfortable way. Tara repositioned herself over to Willow.

In Tara's recent and more frequent fantasies, this is when she would have kissed Willow. She wondered for a moment if she could, if Willow would let her if she tried. They really hadn't discussed this particular thing, although with all the talking in code they did, she would be surprised if Willow didn't accept an advance from her. This probably wasn't the time or place.

They heard another flush from the other side of the floor. "What? Did everyone drink a gallon of water before bed?" Willow said quietly to Tara. "What time is it? Tara looked over her shoulder at the wall clock.

"It's pretty late." Tara whispered back "We should probably go to bed."

"Oh, do we hafta?" Willow whined quietly. "I like my Tara time."

"Well, it's actually very late, it's tomorrow."

"What!" Willow was shocked. "How can it be after midnight?"

"Well actually," Tara trailed off.

"No, what time is it, really? Willow had to know now.

"Sweetie, its 1:45." Tara gave her a grimace. "We need to go to bed."

"Well right now I just can't," Willow looked up into Tara blue.

Tara looked down into the sea green eyes that seem to be calling her, "Why not?"

"Well, my Tara honey bear is kinda sitting on me." She said warmly.

"Oh, yeah, duh, sorry about that." Tara detangled herself from Willow so they could get up.

Willow and Tara put the lounge back the way they found it and gathered their belongings.

"Tara," Willow started, "thank you for being here."

"Oh you're welcome," Tara considered for a moment what Willow really meant, "I'm glad I am." There was a brief pause and Tara furrowed her brow.

Seeing the confusion, Willow asked, "What?"

"It must be late. Did that just sound a little Dr. Seussy?" Tara let out a yawn.

"Yes, actually it did. Goodnight Tara." Willow reached out and grabbed Tara's hand. She stared at their hands clasped as she moved away from her toward her own dorm room.

When the distance forced them to break contact Tara spoke up once more quietly, "Willow?" Willow stopped and looked up at Tara. Tara closed the gap between them and embraced her.

Willow closed her eyes and rested her chin on Tara's shoulder as she lost herself in the moment. She could have fallen to sleep there standing up and been perfectly content, but she knew that wasn't practical. She relaxed fully into Tara. With each breath, she melded more into her; all her fears exhaled away. Tara had started a gentle caress on her back which Willow matched.

"I'd better go." Willow finally admitted.


Willow felt a soft kiss on her cheek as she broke away from Tara. "Good night."

As Tara walked down the hall she said to herself quietly, "Yes, it was."

Willow snuck in her room quietly and got into bed she started remembering the events of the evening. She thought back to the moment right before the toilet flushed. Thank goodness I didn't kiss her. Willow was suddenly in a panic. What if I had and that sister had seen me? I'd never see Tara again. That would just be unacceptable. I need to be much more careful. ... Much more careful with my Tara honey bear. Those words were the last she thought before she fell sound asleep.


1: Matthew 5:14

2: 2 Cor 4:8-9

Continue to Latter Days/Lonely Nights Chapter Fifteen

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