Return to Latter Days/Lonely Nights Chapter Twenty-Five

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 7 - Wednesday, November 14, 1984)

The rest of the day felt like a whirlwind of words. Nothing made sense and Tara felt like her head was going to explode. They had finished the group sing along to signal the end of the day. The girls headed back to the dorm and were almost back to the room.

"I can't decide if we should party or just go straight to bed." Colson rubbed her forehead as Conley opened the door for them and placed her books on her desk.

Conley let out a yawn. "Sleep sounds good." She'd already taken off her shoes and was getting ready for bed. "But I would like to check in on Kitchen and the others see if they had the same experience as we did." Another yawn squeaked out.

"I know you're tired." Tara had also shed her flats and started to get undressed. "I finally understood everything you said." Tara stopped unbuttoning and rubbed her arm. It was sore from writing all day. "Can't we just learn all this by osmosis?"

Colson stopped rubbing her head and looked a little more alert, "Yeah, maybe they have tapes we can play at night while we sleep."

"I vote hypnosis and the power of suggestion." Conley perked up a little bit, but still was speaking at a slower tempo than normal.

Tara let out a quiet bark of laughter, "you are very sleepy," she started in with a rhythmic soothing tone, "when you wake up you will feel refreshed, you will understand everything that others say to you."

Colson bit back a laugh of her own and matched Tara's rhythm. "And when you hear the word," she thought for a moment, " will be a chicken."

Visions of Conley doing a chicken dance flooded her mind. Tara sucked on her lips so hard they disappeared into her mouth. When she regained her composure a little, she continued looking deeply into Conley's eyes, "there will be lots of clucking and wing flapping and head bobbing."

"And you will continue being a chicken until you hear the word, stop" Colson was enjoying this moment, "and you will have no recollection of being a chicken."

Conley played along, bobbing her head and allowing her eyes to droop. "," Tara said and snapped her fingers.

"So," Conley chimed in a little overly perky, "who wants pizza?"

"Ohhh," both girls groaned at once.

"That was just so wrong." Tara scowled.

"How could you do that to us?" Colson looked annoyed for second, but then seemed to be thinking. After a few moments she said, "Can we do that?"

Tara looked back and forth quickly between the two sisters. "I don't know, is that off the plan?" Colson ran through a check list in her head, "in by nine, in the room by 10:00 lights out 10:30, no calls to family, friends, no TV or radio, no sports except half court basketball - and I hate basketball by the way. The only one it might be against is spending money on non-missionary activities."

Tara had finished putting on a silky looking button down sleep shirt and pant set. "Ok, let me look." Willow would know, she's probably memorized these things already. Tara picked up her handbook and started skimming through the text. "Gosh, how many rules are there in here?" It was a rhetorical question. She continued her quick review.

Thou shalt spend your money only on things relating to your mission. Bummer.
Thou shalt budget your money carefully.
Thou shalt keep a record of what you spend.
Thou shalt not spend more than your companion.
Thou shalt not loan money.
Thou shalt not borrow money.
Thou shalt keep a reserve fund of $50 to $100 at all times for transfers.
Thou shalt pay your bills before leaving an area.
Thou shalt pay cash for all resale literature and supplies ordered from the mission office.
Thou shalt not waste money on souvenirs.
Thou shalt not waste money on unnecessary items.

Pizza definitely necessary

Thou shalt be a frugal photographer.
Thou shalt not accumulate excess baggage.

Oh, I wonder If that means the extra weight from the pizza we're gonna get.

Conley had also finished putting on her sleeping attire. "If this can be done, Maclay Shimai will find a way," she said with confidence.

Tara didn't look up from her research, "You mean I can find a way to justify being off the plan."

Conley looked a little surprised by the sister's curt response, "No, I mean you can find a way to make it a spiritual experience for us."

"Oh, that's a good one," Tara turned a few pages.

Thou shalt pray with your companion every day.
Thou shalt study with your companion every day.
Thou shalt plan your work with your companion every day.
Thou shalt take time at least once a week for companionship inventory.
Thou shalt seek to be one in spirit and purpose and help each other succeed.

"Does everyone promise not to flirt with the delivery guy or be alone with him?" Tara inquired.

"Yes" both girls answered in response. Colson's faced beamed with excitement.

"Okay, we have to have our companion inventory and seek to be one in spirit and purpose to make this work." Tara looked at both girls to see if they could commit to the requirement.

"Oh, totally"
"Yes of course."

Both girls responded simultaneously.

"We could make this a weekly thing so it's official. I don't think we've done the companion inventory yet." Tara was ticking off the requirements she'd determined would put pizza back "on the plan." "And we have to get it here before ten. Can we do that?"

Conley and Colson both looked at each other. Colson laughed, "What are you looking at me for, how do I now if American pizza companies can get food here that quick."

"Okay, let's get cracking. Who has a dime? We have a phone call to make." Tara looked at Colson to see if she'd pick up the cue.

Colson grinned showing her teeth, "Who you gonna call?" She said it in her best Ghostbusters style.

Conley chuckled, no response to the comment was required.

"Pizza Hut?" Tara volunteered.


Again, both girls answered together.

"How about...toppings?" Tara cringed. This could either make or break the plan. Nothing prepared her for the chaos that ensued.

Everyone spoke at once, "Pepperoni, mushrooms, oh no fungus, sausage, peppers, tomato, bacon, olives, beef, onion, extra cheese, ham, no anchovies, yeah, no anchovies, ooh, Hawaiian..."

The last voice was not one of the three, all three girls looked toward their door and Willow stood with her head peeking through the door with Kitchen and Smith behind her.

"I'm sorry, we heard you in the hall, and had to stop in." Kitchen Shimai explained. The girls had become so familiar with each other it hadn't even dawned on them to knock. "We just wanted to see how everything went today, haven't seen you but in passing."

Willow waved her fingers at the group and gave a shy smile. She felt like they'd interrupted something and felt bad for the intrusion. "Sorry, we'll just go...." Willow trailed off. "Gomen nasai," [sorry] she bowed and started back out into the hall.

"No, Rosenberg Shimai, wait." Colson was sympathetic; after all, she'd just been infected by the pizza virus a moment ago. "We're trying to get pizza delivery on the plan."

"Well we certainly can't be off the plan." Smith interjected as she strolled in the room. She took a hard look at Tara and then back to Willow.

Kitchen looked uncomfortable still standing in the doorway. "Pizza o hoshi desu," [I want pizza] she pouted a little. She too had been infected by the virus.

Tara sat down on the bed. "According to...the plan...," she made air finger quote marks, "we need to make this pizza part of a mission activity. General pizza party is not going to work. We have a time deadline. Plus," she paused a little looking at all the people now gathered around her for rules for...the plan, "plus, we have to actually agree on the toppings for said pizza."

Willow giggled a little when Tara said, "said pizza." Tara was taking charge and they were going to get pizza. There was a general shift in the room and Willow thought for a moment that she'd never been more proud. It was always Conley or Kitchen that seemed to be the ones, with the exception of the passive aggressive tardy Sister Smith. Willow decided it was time to implement her special skills.

"I'm on it." Willow went to Tara's desk and glanced over the items sitting there: journal, scriptures, pen, (which she grabbed) and notebook. She opened the notebook to the last page, and it looked full. She turned one page back, and found it was blank. She did that too sometimes when there was something she wanted to save for later to recopy, or she didn't want to keep in the main area or if it was something private. That last thought intrigued her.

Willow turned the chair so she could side sit at the desk and use the corner. She folded the notebook so she could write on the page. Willow looked down at the notebook and had the most intense feeling of de ja vue. She made a makeshift grid on the notepaper. "Okay, Smith Shimai, topping choices please and go slow, I have to write this all down. It will be faster as we go.

"I like everything." Smith started out.

"Okay, so pepperoni, sausage, peppers, onions, mushrooms..."

"Oh, no mushrooms, sorry." Smith backtracked on the "everything" comment.

"Check, kill the slimy dirt fungus." Willow nodded then continued. "Olives," Willow made a little face that Tara and the others smiled at, "zucchini, tomatoes, beef,"

"Oh, no beef, and I could care less about the zucchini." Smith was feeling a little more into the pizza now. The virus had now infected her as well. "And no tomatoes unless everyone wants them, there's just something about that texture that annoys me."

Willow licked her lips in thought, "Canadian bacon or ham?" She went ahead and added them to the list.

"Oh yeah, sure." Smith nodded in acquiescence. She sat down on the floor near the middle of the room by the desk across from Willow.

Willow's headers were complete. "Okay next, Colson Shimai?"

"Oh, I don't care." Colson was amiable. "Just anything with good tomato sauce and yummy cheese is fine with me." Colson was fiddling in her closet.

Willow furrowed her brow, "Come on, you're all alone and you have money burning a hole in your pocket and are craving pizza. What do you get?"

Colson blushed, "Either Hawaiian or just sausage and pepperoni." She sat down on the bed across from Tara's bed.

Willow smiled. "Okay, that's more like it." She checked off her boxes, "Kitchen Shimai?"

Kitchen looked up from where she'd sat down by the end of the bed near the door, "I like the veggie style or just the basics, no anchovies"

The mere mention of anchovies brought a round of anti-tiny salty fish comments from everyone in the group.

"Oh I should have organized by meats verses veggies, oh well, next time." Kitchen was close enough to see Willow's grid she stood up and pointed to a couple of the boxes and she completed her chart. Willow looked over the Conley. "You're up."

Conley chimed in, "I'm a meat girl."

Willow was not ready for that comment at all, and given the lateness of the evening and her state of mind, she really struggled not to laugh aloud. She squeezed the pen and simply checked through the meat list. "Any veggies you like or are willing to pick off?"

"Oh onions or peppers are ok. I agree on the tomato thing, not hip to olives or mushrooms." Conley turned and went over to the chair at her desk and sat down.

"Okay T- um - Maclay Shimai," Willow blushed a little at her near slip. "We're almost done," She turned to face her. Tara was already up off the bed and coming over. She knew the timetable and the timing was getting close. She came over to where Willow was standing near the table.

"Let's see what you've got." Tara made her way over to the desk. She came alongside Willow and put her hand on the back of the chair. She glanced at the notebook over Willow's shoulder.

For Willow, just the sudden proximity to Tara caused an involuntary breath. Even at the end of the day, Tara's natural scent was just so nice. It radiated from her. Willow closed her eyes for a moment.

She turned to look at Tara. She had not realized how close Tara was to the desk...or her. She almost ran her face into Tara's.... Oh my god, Oh my god, those, oh! Willow broke out in a sweat. Willow lost all concentration as she focused in on the vision before her. If I wasn't gay before. Those are just, well oh my. Well every time I see those they just are so...Oh My.

The light peach silky shirt top hung loosely on Tara, and Willow could almost see her shiny silk-like garment and lace underneath. The nightwear was not see-through or inappropriate, just elegant and nearly opaque. Willow watched Tara struggle not to inhale sharply in reaction to Willow's response. She, she, she... those are some luscious yummies. Oh, that's so bad. It's just her chest, well that's not exactly what I'm looking at, no rib or sternum ogling involved here. This is just plain boob lust, that's what it is. I need to focus, focus, focus! No more breast viewing. I have got to do the pizza.

Tara realized she was a bit too close, but she'd committed to the location and didn't want to back up and give herself away or Willow. She knew it was risky, but she stood firm. Looks like pepperoni, sausage, onions and peppers are ok with most of us, Hawaiian the other half." I like veggie too - should we get some of that too?"

Willow looked at the grid she'd made. Tara had called it without her even putting her selection in, "Yeah, how about half pepperoni and sausage, half Hawaiian, then half veggie and the other half pepperoni, sausage, onion and pepper?"

"Great!" Tara was very pleased that Willow was able to assist the group this way; it had made it so easy for them. "Good job Rosenberg Shimai, subarashii [wonderful]" She also knew the others would recognize her unique contribution if she pointed it out. "I sure wouldn't have thought to do that." She smiled warmly at Willow and turned to the group. "Who's gonna call?" She turned away from Willow and looked to the rest of the group seated around the room.

Kitchen stood up, "We will go, we're still dressed in our grownup clothes. We'll order and get in our sweats and keep an eye out." She considered for a moment. "We have to eat it here, cause if we try to take it down the hall, the whole floors gonna want to eat it."

Tara turned to Kitchen, looked down at her outfit and smiled, "I guess we should be glad you stopped in then." A genuine smile erupted on her face, "Even if we had to do a little coercion to get the help."

"Well it's not like it took that much. It is pizza after all. As far as food cravings, it ranks very high on the suggestible meter or is that suggestive?" Kitchen confused herself and Tara had to move them along.

She turned to Smith, "We're using this opportunity for our companion inventory, so we'll get that done while we wait." Tara turned to her companions to ensure the plan was set. They both nodded.

Willow jumped up and got into character clapped her hand like a quarterback. "Okay, break!" Most of the girls looked at her as if she had lost her mind except for Tara; she had brothers.

"That meant everyone go and do what they need to right now." Tara explained to the group. We're inventorying and you're orderering," she said the word incorrectly on purpose which earned her a smile from Willow. "I recommend you also find a mission related something to do." She caught Willow's eye and mouthed a silent "thank you" to her, which earned her another huge grin.

As the three sisters headed out the door, Willow looked back on the group again. "Thank you for letting us barge in on this. It means a lot, and we will do the same. Well be back as quick as we can after it gets here - no one likes lukewarm pizza." Willow put her back on the others to move them along. "Come on guys. Gotta get on the plan or we're off the plan." Willow thought back to her picture she had drawn. Follow the rules to get through the mission. It's the mission that matters. I've got to stay stronger for Tara.

Willow refrained from running down the stairs to call for the pizza - but she did beat the others to the phone and in no time, they'd ordered and made it back to the room. They had 20 minutes to do their own inventory. Willow wondered if they could possibly clear the air in three hours, let alone twenty minutes. She made a mental commitment, put on her resolve face. I have a plan and I'm going to execute that plan - if it kills me. Pizza or Tara cravings, I'm gonna be strong.

Continue to Latter Days/Lonely Nights Chapter Twenty-Seven

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