Return to Latter Days/Lonely Nights Chapter Twenty

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.

(Day 6 - Tuesday, November 13, 1984)

Tara and Willow walked back to the lounge to gather their books and head off to bed. Tara could still feel a pulse of heat that went through her when she recalled Willow's whisper in her ear, "Kitsume." What on earth led Willow to learn the word for vixen? I'll ask her, but not tonight. No more questions. Questions just led to talking and talking leads to more not sleeping. Oh for heaven's sake I'm doing it again, Willow babble. Captain Contagious strikes again. Oh my, she is a vampire, a babble vampire, Count Babble. This has just got to stop. Stop Tara.

Willow looked over at Tara who had been quiet on their walk back to the 2nd floor lounge area. She hoped she hadn't upset Tara; this was a really hard thing for them to work through together. She knew Tara was struggling to reconcile her feelings for her with the values she'd been raised with her whole life. It must be so much harder for her. She's was raised Mormon. The idea of family is more important than anything. Families are forever; it's the closest thing to a campaign slogan The Church has. This must be tearing her apart.

Willow knew Tara's family believed in the traditional Mormon definition of family. As such, she could assume that Tara's parents were devout card carrying Mormons who attended the Temple regularly to perform their Temple ordinances. All their children were baptized when they were old enough to make a decision to accept the teachings of The Church. With that, came all the rights, privileges, and responsibilities associated with active church membership. They followed the commandments and practiced the teachings of The Church leadership, obeyed the rules of the Sabbath, paid their tithes and offerings, attended all The Church functions that they could, and as such were honored members in their Ward and Stake.

For Tara and her siblings, they were raised in this strict and loving environment. Their hopes, dreams, all their aspirations were to continue that legacy. Tara's brothers participated in the scouting programs and the older brothers each served honorable missions when they turned nineteen. It was assumed that the girls in Tara's family who had not found husbands by the time they were twenty-one would go to college or serve a mission or both. All these activities were designed to foster spirituality and community service. The ultimate goal for the young adults was to find a worthy mate, marry for time and all eternity in the Temple ceremony. Children of Temple marriages could be sealed together under the covenant of sacred family union.

Tara was a third generation Mormon. Her grandparents, parents and siblings were bound under that covenant. To go outside of that rigid value structure meant running the risk of disfellowship (short term probationary action taken against members of The Church with sanctions and denial of privileges) or even excommunication (permanent separation and removal from The Church rosters at the advisement of a counsel of Priesthood leaders after a court hearing). There would be alienation from friends and loved ones - even divisions within the family. But being with Willow would put her at risk of separation from God and her family hereafter.

These were the ramifications Tara faced if she chose Willow over The Church teachings. These were the reasons she was so afraid of Willow. Willow knew these were the issues Tara had to consider. Turning away from all you've know and every believed in is something that would require more strength than Willow thought she would have. Her testimony was strong, but her family support system was not that crucial to her ultimate decisions. They would not punish her for her choices by treating her any differently than they did today. They were Jewish, and not devout. They accepted her for all her choices, most likely because they just were too busy to care, but Willow realized that they were fairly liberal when it came to feelings and issues of the heart.

It seemed like the walk to the lounge took forever. The girls arrived and started gathering their books. Willow let a yawn escape and looked over at Tara who seemed equally as tired. "Gosh could we just stay here? It seems so far to go back to our rooms." Willow was almost serious.

Tara looked over at the couch and then looked over at the door down the hall. It did seem really far away. Like one of those bad dreams where the door keeps moving further away the faster you run to get to it. "I'd like to. But we should really go to sleep."

"Oh, I didn't mean not sleep; I meant resume sleep here where we were. I was just being lazy. If I sat down here, I'd just go, ya know?" Willow was getting so tired she didn't even notice her little rhyme.

Tara looked over at Willow in amusement, "You are really adorable, you know that?"

Willow blushed, not knowing what prompted Tara's sudden outburst. "Well it's true."

Plus more time with Willow.
Plus more time with Tara.

They were both thinking at the same time.

"Okay, but no talking and no," Tara waved her hand back and forth between them, "you know, we're just staying here until everyone else gets up, then we get up for gym. We're already so busted for being out too late." Tara was the voice of reason, but already she was feeling guilty for the rules infraction.

"Well alrighty then. You want bottom or top?" Willow inquired innocently.

"Willow!" Tara warned.

"Huh?" Willow considered what she'd said for a moment. I must be getting tired, "Oh, I didn't mean that. Jeepers, Tara, one track mind?" She winked at her. "I meant" she stretched the word way out, "who gets to be the pillow?" Willow grinned really big.

Tara gave Willow her now famous half grin, sat down and said, "Come 'er."

Willow happily complied and she practically hopped onto the couch. She let Tara get settled and then she lay down. Willow rested her head on her leg and within minutes they both fell soundly asleep.

Those who were headed to gym in the morning started mulling around outside their rooms around 5:45am. There was enough noise that Willow and Tara were awakened from their sleep. Willow looked up at Tara from her position to see the blue eyes reflecting back toward her. Tara thought Willow had never looked more beautiful.

"Rise and shine sleepyhead." Tara jiggled her leg to get the redhead moving.

"Grrrumph," Willow let out her disappointment. "Do I hafta?" She whined at Tara.

Tara smirked at Willow. She was exhausted too, but they had a deal. "Come on, up you go." She wiggled her leg again.

Willow slowly up righted herself. A yawn took possession of her face and she tried to cover it with her elbow. "Okay, I'm up, but I'm not happy about it.

"I never said you had to like it, I just said we had to get up." Tara was amused. Willow's hair was 'all over the place' messy; she had a flat spot on her right side where her head had rested against Tara's leg. There was a little red wrinkly line on her face where Tara's sweats had clumped under her cheek. Tara reached over and ruffled Willow's hair. "Come on, time's a wastin'. You gonna wear that or change?"

"Oh, I'm thinking this. I got my tennies on so I'm good to go, but no exercising for me. I've got to get some study, or journal time or something." Willow looked like she was considering all her options. "What about you?"

"Me too," Tara tried to stand up, fell back, but made it up on the second try. "But I need to brush my teeth. I could study in my room since Conley and Colson don't do the whole gym thing. I can't very well leave them to just sit and read in the gym."

"You're just going back to sleep," Willow pointed a friendly accusing finger at Tara.

Tara looked at Willow in mock offense and placed her fingers flat against her chest, "Who me?" She batted her eyes.

"This is so unfair." Willow pouted and took a little breath that turned into another yawn. "I'll see you later then."

Willow opened the door, and realized Smith and Kitchen were out of the room. She assumed they must be getting dressed so she grabbed her toothbrush and headed off to the bathrooms. When she was done, she came back and gathered her books back up and waited for the girls to return.

Tara quietly entered her dorm room and her companions were still in bed. She slipped under the covers and fell fast asleep. In what seemed like barely a few minutes, Tara heard first Conley's alarm and then Colson's follow shortly thereafter. She groaned under her breath and grabbed her journal. She read over her last entry and sighed. "It's only Sunday and I'm in big trouble. I've met someone who has the potential to knock me off my path. I don't want to waver in my commitments, but the pull I feel to her is so strong. This isn't the way it's supposed to be." Tara finished reading the words she'd written again. Oh, I sooo called that one...

November 13, 1984

Well it's Tuesday and I'm officially in trouble. I just read what I wrote just a few days ago. I thought I'd found someone who might make we waiver, well I'd say waiver is a gross understatement. I've started questioning everything I've ever known. How can I be that way? Am I so weak in my faith that I can't even make it a few days without faltering?

I feel so disoriented, I haven't had enough sleep today, and there is so much to talk about, so much to pray about, so much to consider. This girl is making me crazy. I've just got to get some perspective, and possibly some good sleep.

But I must say last night was wonderful. I feel alive for the first time in my whole life. I think I get it now; what all the hubbub is about. I just have been too lame to realize all this time what I was.
Her name is Willow. Yes, that's the name of a tree. I'm a tree hugger. She even makes me babble. I don't babble, I stutter once in a while, but I don't babble. How did she do that?

I feel like my faith is being tested, but Willow said that we must each find the truth on our own. Our leaders, my family all the things I believe must be confirmed before I can truly make them my own. I know she's right, but what if I'm the only one. Does that belief mean I alone know the truth?

It doesn't make sense that all those leaders, all those people would be wrong about something because they didn't ask the right question. Does it? I mean maybe it could. Maybe we're not asking the right questions because we're not ready for the answer. But what if the answer is not what I want either.
I've met someone who makes my heart sing.
She makes me feel I'm not alone.
No turning back. But I can't move forward,
Unless I find the strength to know.

Did I lose my way? Did I stop believing?
Can I find the truth? How can I know?

I can't lose her, but what's the answer?
I have to find the strength to know.
I'm not that strong. What if I can't make it?
I'm so afraid the way's too hard.

If I lost my way, would I still believe?
If I find truth how will I know?

I don't want to lose her ~ she makes me believe
That I can find the strength to see
It will be hard but when I'm ready I pray
I'll get past the fear, find my way

--Wow - that's actually a poem. I've got it bad.

Tara looked back at her writing and sighed. This girl really does make me do the wacky.

Willow sat staring at her journal. The girls had finally returned from their gym preparations, and as usual, Smith was making them run behind Willow's arrival time comfort zone. She sat on the mat leaning against the wall. She was actually considering doodling on the pages instead of making sentences, but that would be wrong: Wouldn't it?

She thumbed through the pages looking for something to spark her creative juices. This isn't helping. She felt like everything she'd written was all fake. How can I white wash this?

Willow was in crisis. Her brain was on overdrive. It's going to take more than the proverbial happy chat to color this spiritual. I kissed her, I really kissed her. She makes my heart skip a beat, my throat choke up and my hands sweat. I want to sing, and I hate to sing. But for her, I would. I would do anything for her. That's not good, right? I need to have some sort of control don't I? I can't be like a lovesick teenager missing my classes and staying up late all the time. But I so want to.

I kissed her. Willow felt the rush pulse through her as she fell back into the moment. She could almost hear them repeating the words again and again. She recreated the most perfect moment in her mind. "What do you know?" Tara's voice was like a whisper in her mind. And then Willow's own breathy and broken reply: "I know ...that I'm... falling... for you."

Willow's daydream was perfect. She could nearly feel the touch of Tara's lips against hers, their soft and careful first kiss, and Tara's insistence and passion filled her mind as she relived the second. Willow's pulse was racing again as she thought of Tara pulling her close, holding her, touching her with such tenderness and desire. How could this be real? How can she care so much about me? She leaned back against the wall and drifted off to sleep.

Willow's books were out in front of her showing she had some good intentions when she came to gym class. Her journal was open and showed no recent entry on the page. Her pen lay loosely in her fingers almost ready to fall out of her hand. It looked as thought she'd stopped in the middle of writing. Her head was lolled to the side her mouth slightly open while she slept.

"Look at her, she's really out." Kitchen Shimai stood in front of Willow just staring at her. Gym class was over. "It's kind of cute, I hate to wake her."

Smith, also staring at the lump in front of them, looked over at Kitchen, "I know but we have to." We've got a lot of things to do today and I can't be hauling around dead weight all day."

Kitchen looked over at Smith and chuckled. "Okay, I'll do it. Things between you are still a little strained. She might come up swinging."

Smith just shook her head in reply. She was right. She wasn't sure what had happened between her and Rosenberg, but at this point none of this matter. She had to choose the right, whatever that was, and right now, that was going to class after waking up a sleepy redhead after gym class. "Okay, that seems like a reasonable solution, good luck with that." Smith backed up a little just in case.

Kitchen carefully knelt down and touched Willow's arm. "Sister Rosenberg?" she said softly. There was not response. "Sister Rosenberg?" She said a little louder with a small amount of shaking of Willow's arm.

"I think it's gonna take more than that, do you want to use her Bible, that's got good thump quality to it." Sister Smith offered.

Sister Kitchen shot Smith a quick reproachful glare. "Sister Rosenberg, it's Kitchen Shimai, you need to wake up?" She said in full voice.

This time Willow stirred a bit. She seemed to be mumbling something.

Sister Kitchen said a little more loudly, "Willow, its Sister Kitchen, we need to go; you have to get up?"

"What's in the Kitchen?" Willow was not coherent but Kitchen was making some progress. Kitchen assumed the use of her given name was probably helpful.

Kitchen Shimai made a calculated guess and said, "There's food in the kitchen and you're late for school."

"What!" Willow shot up wide awake and almost knocked Kitchen down in the process. Luckily she caught her balance before she tipped over.

"Told you." Sister Smith started laughing, "Should have just hit her with a book."

Kitchen shot Smith another reproachful glance and turned back to Willow, "You ready to face the day?"

Willow considered her options, she had none. "I guess so, no reason not to."

Continue to Latter Days/Lonely Nights Chapter Twenty-Two

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