(Day 5 - Monday, November 12, 1984)
The Sisters were in the gymnasium; music was playing from a boom box in the background. She sat on the sidelines observing them moving to the beat. There was a strong rhythm to the song and the girl who had her attention wore a pair of leg warmers, large socks, and canvas shoes. The hand-cut now sleeveless cropped sweatshirt hung off the girl's shoulder; her black leotard was visible from beneath.
It seemed like a spotlight was shining on the lithe girl and that the others in the room faded into the black. One lone figure remained dancing with reckless abandoned. This performance was only for her. As the music played on, she watched in absolute fascination.
The dancer's footfalls hit the floor in precision with each pulse in the music. Suddenly she raced toward her, jumped in the air, and landed softly on her knees letting the momentum propel her. She slid forward finally coming to a stop in front of the girl watching her. Still kneeling, she curled her body and bent her head down, remained tucked in place for a beat before looking up. Another beat and she set her gaze on the eyes transfixed upon her. Another beat and she was off to the dance again. Tara's mouth was agape watching the events unfold before her.
A simple folding chair appeared that had been previously out of the light of view. The chair was little more than a prop to show off the strength and agility of girl performing the sensuous dance. The dancer continued her poses with the chair. Effortlessly, she held herself stretched at a straight yet awkward slant against the chair. Her head was back arms locking her into position.
Suddenly, without warning, water fell from somewhere above the girl. She was unfazed by the event and stayed motionless. The water splashed across the dancer's head, chest, and stomach instantly drenching the material that clung to her body accentuating every feminine curve.
A little drool escaped from the corner of her mouth as she watched the young woman's movements. She attempted to retrieve the spittle with a quick breath and gulped. The image again changed - now she could only see in silhouette. The dancer threw her head back, slightly curled wet hair sprayed tiny beads of water across the room. The droplets caught what little light remained. Tara moaned quietly in arousal. She tried to shift in her seat and felt paralyzed. The atmosphere was mystical; the mist fell like tiny rainbow glitter as it sparkled and shimmered through the rays of light.
The song ended. The dancer had never tired. She approached her judge and stood facing her waiting for a response.
Tara stared at the vision. A stray strand of red hair had curled haphazardly over her freckled face, and landed across the corner of her mouth. Tara stood and bravely reached out and with her finger and thumb to grasp the wayward hair. She gently placed it with the others behind a small shapely ear and smoothed it down to join with the rest of the fiery mane. She repeated the motion this time just for the feel of the hair and skin against her fingertips. She took a breath for courage and with a third caress of her hand tenderly grasped the nap of Willow's neck. She felt the soft red strands glide between her fingers, the downy hair at her hairline and silky skin with her hand and palm.
Tara knew that Willow felt the magic between them, but she feared it wouldn't be enough. All the reasons not to ask the unspoken questions were gone here in this place, in the hush, in this private moment between them. Tara boldly initiated her soundless plea.
Their eyes met. Tara beseeched the girl before her to surrender. Their breathing was irregular but oddly synchronized. She applied gentle pressure and moved her thumb caressing Willow's pulse point; her lips parted a little, and her eyes silently begged for a deeper connection. The music had stopped but the dance was far from over. She lightly pulled Willow toward her in supplication.
The tender prompting was all Willow needed. Tara watched the woman before her as she inched closer slowly, calmly, and carefully to her. Tara's eyes raced back and forth between green eyes and slightly parted lips. Her breath hitched when she felt a gentle pressure against her mouth. Another moan escaped and the vibration intensified the feeling. She grasped a little tighter to the redhead and wrapped her left arm around the other girl holding her tightly against her body.
"Wake up sleepyhead," Sister Colson gently cooed. Tara woke slowly, her pillow turned against her longwise against her upper body, her legs curled up into them. She had her right arm stretched out wrapped up in her blanket and bedding, and her left arm clutched her pillow firmly. She sucked in a breath of air through her mouth and felt her throat tighten. She hoped she hadn't been snoring since clearly her mouth was open as she slept. "You looked like you were having a good dream, I'm almost sorry I had to wake you up, but it's almost eight o'clock."
"Did you sleep well?" Conley chimed from the other side of the room.
"Yeah, I guess so," Tara knew it was a loaded question. The sleeping is only as good as the dreams and if she answered the question wrong, she'd give away the content of it. "I'd better get ready." She disentangled herself from her blanket and pushed her pillow back to where it was supposed to rest. After she moved out of bed and straightened it, she grabbed her towel, clothes and small bag with her bathroom items in it and headed down the hall.
There was no noise on the 2nd floor; the bathroom was completely empty. Alone at last, she thought to herself. When she was ready for her shower she realized that for the first time since coming to the training center, she had her pick of all the bathroom appliances, shower included. She stifled the urge to do a little dance.
She turned on the water, tested it, and stepped in. She was ready to get clean and face the day. It wasn't an accident that she had chosen the stall she'd found Willow in the day before. The dream had made her giddy, and something else. Images of her Willow in leotard and socks filled her mind's eye and her heart nearly burst with song. She'd caught herself once already humming quietly in the solitude. She just couldn't seem to get the smile off of her face. As she stood under the warming spray, she remembered the feel of the imaginary Willow lips pressed against hers.
As she allowed the feelings to wash over her, she touched the wall in the same way Willow had the day before. She turned and faced the spray and closed her eyes letting it hit her in the face. Each pelt of the water on her mouth tickled her lips. She tucked her head and let the warmth wash over her. She turned again and bent her head back letting the water soak her hair. The image of the water splashing her dream Willow filled her completely. She almost lost her balance and again she reached out and touched the shower tiles to keep upright.
Okay, this is ridiculous. Captain Distraction strikes again.
Tara realized she was humming again a few moments later. The thing about being alone, really alone is you are free to explore your own vanities. The echoes in the tiled room were acoustically perfect. She started out slowly and softly:
First when there's nothing All alone I have cried
All alone I have cried
Shower moments are private for a very good reason. Tara poked her head out of the shower to ensure there was no one in the room with her. Satisfied that she was safe, Tara chuckled to herself a little. She picked up the shampoo bottle to use it as a mock microphone. She continued in song gaining volume and tempo as well as confidence. She began to sway to the imaginary orchestra playing in her head.
Well, I hear the music What a feeling
What a feeling
Tara intensified her dance movements in the shower.
Take your passion Now I hear the music
Now I hear the music
She checked one more time to ensure she was still alone. The performance was in full swing, her hand movements now choreographed to illustrate the song. She moved the shampoo away and turned her head to illustrate "backup singer's parts." With all the joy she felt in her heart, she sang, her voice loud and clear pierced the silence of the 2nd floor.
What a feeling What a feeling
What a feeling
"Is that you Sister Maclay." A tentative voice called from the other side of the curtain.
"Huh, what?" Tara dropped the shampoo in shock. "Yes." She nearly squeaked in embarrassment. She couldn't really tell to whom the voice belonged. She bent over, picked up the shampoo bottle, checked herself over to see if she was totally pruney, and turned off the water.
"Good." The voice answered. "Can we do Footloose next?"
Tara really hadn't expected that, but she only knew five other people who knew it was P-day and only one would want to sing along with her. She poked her head out from behind the curtain expecting to see Willow.
In front of her curtain was the smiling redhead bouncing happily on her toes. The grin on her face nearly met her petite little ears it was so wide. Tara responded in kind giving Willow her now cherished half-grin. "We? How long have you been there?"
"There, here?" Willow pointed at her feet to the spot she now occupied, "or there, here," she waved her arms to indicate in the room.
Tara's eyes went a little wider, "Here, here," she started to gesture with her arm to show the room but realized suddenly that she was still very naked behind the curtain. A droplet of water plopped into Tara's eye from her wet hair.
"Oh, um, 'now I hear the music'." Willow admitted. "But I only sang the backup for you. Okay well I considered running in place; I knew I had to pick one or the other since breathing is an issue when you do both." Willow smiled shyly when she realized she was now babbling to a very naked and possibly cold Tara.
"Did you want to get out and sing the Footloose tunes, or do you want me to come in?" Willow said innocently.
"Vixen," Tara responded quickly.
Willow rehashed in her head what she had said to warrant such a response. Her eyes grew wide in embarrassment. "Oh, I didn't mean. Oh gosh, that's, oh my, no. That would be so wrong." She tried to preempt her babble but the last sentence betrayed her when it came out anyway, "We can't do that here."
Tara raised an eyebrow.
"Oh this is coming out all wrong." Willow's voice sounded strained; she wanted to run away.
Tara looked back and forth, "Are we really alone, because I looked several times and thought I was alone earlier."
"Oh, no, there's no one here." Willow assured her, and then realized what Tara was asking. "OH!" Her eyes were enormous and her eyebrows disappeared into her forehead.
"You are just so easy," Tara giggled.
Willow realized she'd been had. She dropped her voice an octave, let her eyelids down a little, and ducked her head, "Only for you, baby." Then she waited for the reaction to unfold before her. It was almost slow motion and worth her own embarrassment. The calm exterior evaporated immediately. Tara's mouth fell open, and her breath hitched.
"It looks like you'd be easy too," Willow concluded after a moment. "I can work with that."
She turned to walk away, but stopped when she saw Tara's towel available, and easily accessible. With another grin, Willow grabbed the towel, turned back to face Tara and held the towel just out of her reach. "You wanna play fair now?" Willow looked at Tara with such intensity Tara thought she might faint.
Tara tried to consider her options, but she was so flustered. She decided to be honest. "Willow, let's think this through. What are my choices here? I come out with or without a towel - that is up to you - or you come in and frankly, even if that were an option, it's a little early in our relationship. Don't you think?"
Willow felt like her heart stopped. She wondered if Tara was still playing with her or not. She took a tentative step forward closer to the girl behind the curtain. "I don't know what to say." She took another step so she could whisper, "Do I have to decide right now?"
"Well," Tara began again, "I think I'm actually done with my shower if that makes a difference to you." Tara continued with her line of reasoning, "And if it does, and you don't want to see pruney Tara, the next question is are you ready for naked, streaky Tara? Because that's what you'd get plus, possibly additional revenge for making me run down the hall."
"Well, when you put it that way." Willow slipped off her shoes and started to get undressed. Tara looked on in horror. "Just kidding, here ya go." Willow handed over the towel but didn't move away. "You're right. Too soon." Willow turned to leave Tara alone and headed out the door. Tara watched her leave. Willow waved her hand over her head and just as she exited the bathroom, Tara heard her say, "Rain check?"
She is a vixen. Tara sat down on the shelf in the shower stall. After a few moments, she took a breath, set her towel down and turned back on the water. Her hair was fine, but the rest of her was not. She needed a cold shower.
Tara completed her quick rinse in silence and proceeded to get dressed in her p-day clothes. Just as she finished, a redhead poked her head back in the door of the bathrooms. "You still didn't answer my question."
Tara distracted and not really thinking, "Huh?"
"Can we do footloose next, 'cause I'm feeling the need for Loggins time with you."
"Loggins?" Tara was still baffled and had no idea what Willow was talking about.
"You know, Kenny Loggins." Willow started playing her imaginary guitar and sang out the musical intro in her best guitar twang. When Tara still seemed confused, Willow looked at her in amazement. "How could you possibly not know Footloose and be able to sing all the words to the Flashdance song? Footloose is like one of the only movies we could see this year."
When Tara started blushing Willow realized something even more telling. She gasped. "You saw Flashdance?" The question betrayed Willow's envy and shock. "You saw Flashdance." She repeated as if confirming it to herself. "Did you like it? Was it good? Was it bad? Oh my gosh! What did you think? You have to tell me everything you can, I really wanted to see that movie, but since it was rated R, well you know. How did you get to go?"
Tara was still blushing when Willow finally stopped the barrage of questions she'd thrown at her. "I probably shouldn't talk about it. You know how they say that some images you can't get out of your head once you've seen them. Well it's true." Tara's mind flashed back to the images she'd had just that morning of the redhead in the middle the Flashdance dance routine. She shook her head a little to try and clear the image.
"Oh Tara I'm sorry, I didn't mean to ... hold on ... you were singing the song in the shower." Willow pursed her lips and put her hand on her hip. "You're not telling me something Tara Maclay."
Tara felt the blush previously confined to her cheeks follow a southerly path down her neck and chest. She was definitely showing telling signs to Willow and she had no control. Willow watched in amazement as the girl practically exploded in embarrassment. "Honey, you're the color of my hair, are you okay?"
Tara folder her arms across her chest and looked down. She couldn't look at Willow. "Um, I'm gonna check in with the "C" sisters, maybe we can talk later, okay?"
"Sure, whatever you need." Willow was a little puzzled and hurt, but didn't want to pressure the girl. "I'll see ya later." Willow turned slowly and walked the few feet back to her open dorm room where Kitchen and Smith had remained. She'd never seen Tara close up like that. She wanted to cry. She knew there was an avalanche of self-loathing just under the surface, and she needed to get some control before she let on to Kitchen and Smith. They just wouldn't understand. The internal onslaught began immediately. You just have to talk don't you.