Return to Latter Days/Lonely Nights Chapter Twenty-Seven

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)

Previously in the MTC....

Tara gave Willow the most intoxicating look she thought she had ever seen. Tara glanced at Willow's now balding pizza and then back at her own overly stocked pile of toss-able goodies. Willow squealed when she saw the look in Tara's eyes. Willow thought for sure she was going to be pummeled with a barrage of veggies. Instead, Tara just grinned at her. She took a large bite of her pizza, never taking her gaze from Willow eyes. Willow didn't want to look away, for fear of retaliation, but with the way Tara was looking at her she was afraid she wouldn't be able to keep up appearances. She at least had to look like she was on the plan.

"What are you guys doing over there?" Sister Smith inquired. She'd heard the squeal that distracted her from her own pleasurable chewing and asked as soon as she'd swallowed her bite.

"Nothing," Willow and Tara said in unison and identical singsong tone. Both girls grinned back at Smith

"Oh you both have something face." Colson volunteered.

Smith took a hard look at Tara, "Maclay Shimai, how did you get tomato sauce on your face?"

"It was an accident!" Willow quickly interjected. At the wrinkled brow responses she saw on everyone's faces, she knew she'd been had. "Well it was," She muttered almost inaudibly.

"Well it wasn't skill," Tara glowed with pride. Not like those mushrooms now nestled between her breasts. That's gotta feel just gross. Tara added in her mind. Just the thought made her laugh aloud, "Although the rapid fire was pretty good." Tara wiped the extra sauce of her face and licked her finger.

Willow's eyes went wide. She bit her lip and hoped no one saw the response. She had to keep up her cover. They were just friends.

"Well," Smith started in, "Just keep everything off the floor; I don't think they ever clean these rooms."

"Yes mom," again Tara and Willow were in synch which earned a hearty laugh from Colson and Conley Shimai.

"Is that what you do at night, practice sounding alike?" Smith was still pushing and it was starting to bug Willow.

"No," Tara and Willow said just a split second apart.

Tara looked at Willow and seized the opportunity. "I said on my mark, what are you doing?"

Willow quickly caught on, "Oh, I thought that was the pre-timed sequence like the other one, I'm sorry, my mistake."

"Okay, well don't let it happen again." Tara looked back at the others and then to Willow. She had a mischievous gleam in her eye again and Willow loved this. "So you take my olives I'll do your peppers?" Tara said as a question about her pizza topping choice preferences, but Willow knew what she meant.

"Yeah but just a few, I don't want to overdo it." Willow replied in code.

"Oh I agree, you can have too much of some things." The girls appeared to be going back to their previous conversation prior to their food tossing. The others resumed eating as well, "Just Hannibal or the others too?" Tara used a reference she knew Willow would understand.

"Oh I think we start there and see what happens. I would like to keep my other one out of it if we can, but yours are fair game. Willow responded to the code.

"Okay," Tara appeared to be picking at her food again and put a few olives on Willow's pizza so it looked like they had resumed their topping trades, not simply shifting their arsenal.

The conversation resumed with the other sisters, the frantic pizza frenzy had turned to a more relaxed late night munch-fest.

Willow turned to face Tara. "Are you sure?" She whispered.

Tara was lost for a moment. The simplest little request could ignite a passion so deep she could hardly see straight. She lowered her voice again. "Ask me that again later." She tried to redirect her mind to the task at hand, "pre-timed?"

Willow simply nodded.

Tara casually flicked a pepper slice in the air. The trajectory was perfect. It landed softly within the giant blond Dolly Parton 80s sized hair. Willow had let her own arching shot fly a split second after Tara sent hers off. The olive landed a bit harder, but caught in Smith's hair after a few little bounces.

Smith thought she saw a fly out of the corner of her eye and started looking around the room for it. Tara stifled a giggle and let another one go. This one was a little short of the mark and Smith, while looking around for the fly, turned her head just in time to have it catch her in the chin.

"HEY!" Smith yelled, not realizing that Willow had shot off another right after Tara had. This one hit her on the lip as she yelled. "Come on guys..."

"Okay." Willow's response was quick, but the signal clearly recognized by Tara. Another volley was on its way. Tara's pepper bounced off the Teflon plastic coated looking hair and straight into Colson's lap. Willow's olive landed in Smith's lap.

Smith looked down to her makeshift plate and all she had was a lonely looking piece of crust. Although her armor was clearly larger, it was a one shot deal. She quickly considered her options. She needed reinforcements. She turned to Colson the collaterally damaged sister. "Little help?"

"Oh no, you're on your own. They've been plotting this for a while, look at their pizza." Colson had correctly assessed the situation.

"Come on, I'm grossly outnumbered, there are enemies on every side." Smith pleaded.

"You'll have to work that out in your companion inventory, and we'll deal with our own in ours." Conley offered.

Smith was panicking, "What did I do?" she said as another pepper and olive flew toward her. She swatted at them and accidentally connected sending an olive in a new line to Conley.

The olive lodged in Conley's hair near her ear.

Conley took in the scene around her, looked at Tara and winked. Smith looked absolutely horrified. She looked to Kitchen silently begging for help. Kitchen put her hands up in neutrality. Conley looked down at her paper towel. She had an onion or two she thought she could part with and started to pick one off.

Smith jumped up holding her little crust in hand brandishing it like a weapon.

Conley let out a bark of laughter and tossed an onion at Smith. She dodged and the onion hit Sister Kitchen in the bangs lodging it in her hair. That little onion piece had flown over with a dribble of sauce which dripped off as soon as it landed in her hair. Kitchen looked like some one had stuck her with a pin.

"Now can I have some help?" You are my companion, you have to help and support me. That's what the rules say. Smith was begging now.

"Rosenberg Shimai is my companion too." Kitchen tried to explain. "Please don't ask me to choose."

Smith was whining now as another volley hit her from three angles. "She's off the plan, you have to side with me."

The comment made Willow freeze in the middle of her throw. The words cut her to the core. Tara let out a gasp. Conley and Colson just looked at each other in amazement.

The silence in the room was deafening. No one knew what to do or say to make the words stop sitting out there like an elephant in the room. Smith was just grateful that the barrage of vegetables had stopped.

Willow didn't trust her voice, but she was getting thirsty. They hadn't gotten drinks with the pizza so a trip to the vending machines was the next order of business and hopefully on the way back some mushroom extraction. Plus, she really just wanted to get out of the room for a minute and get her head back together. "Is anyone thirsty?" She was grateful that her voice had not failed her.

"I would love some water," Tara volunteered. "How about we call it an evening? We've probably had enough excitement for the night. And I think Smith Shimai might actually need a shower." Everyone glanced over at the blond.

She looked like a poorly made craft project a kindergartener might make. Colson tried not to laugh, but suddenly there was a flash and the blackmail photo had been taken. "We will not speak again of this incident."

Kitchen stood up. "That's probably a good idea. I was getting sleepy anyway."

Suddenly, a loud screeching sound shocked all but one of the girls. Conley stood and pranced awkwardly around the room flapping her arms and bobbing her head. Her hair still had the onion in it and it fell to the ground as her hair shook violently with her distinct chickenesque behavior. "Bagawk! ... Buck, buck, buck. ... Bagawk!"

Conley circled the room several times until she settled in the middle and sat down. She actually appeared to be wagging an imaginary tail. "Bagawk! ... Buck, buck ... Bagawk!" The level of amusement in the room rose exponentially when she appeared to be picking up a freshly laid invisible egg.

The laughter in the room vaguely resembled a chicken yard at feeding time. The more the girls laughed, the more they sounded like a flock of hens. When Smith actually snorted, someone said "Stop,"

Conley finally stopped doing the chicken dance and the laughter eventually died down.

Kitchen was the first to regain her composure. "Okay, sometime when we are all more awake and not all ready to laugh ourselves into a coma, you will have to tell us what that was about. Right now though, I think we need to clean Smith Shimai up and see about going to bed. How does that sound with everyone?"

The vigorous nods were all she needed to signal their exit.

Tara looked at the group that was leaving, she realized it was now or never If she wanted something to drink. "Rosenberg Shimai, did you still want that drink?"

Willow could only nod. What had started out as simple thirst, now felt like a raging fire in her throat. She nodded to Tara that they could go for their drink.

"It looks like you'll be awhile picking, do you want anything?" Willow asked Smith.

"No, I'm fine." She was short but not completely irritated like she expected.

"We'll just be a few minutes." Tara offered. Kitchen nodded and they were off in their different directions.

Tara spoke as soon as they were at the top of the stairs, "I'm sorry but that was just too funny." Willow was still in a little bit of a funk after what Smith had said about her. "After that remark, I'm glad we pummeled her. I know that's wrong, but food punishment is good when it's not fattening."

"Yeah I guess," clearly Willow was impacted by the harsh comment.

They were already near the vending machine when Tara spoke again, "What can I do to make it better?"

Willow looked over at Tara and sighed, "Nothing really, she just deflates me sometimes."

"She deflates you? Like you're a balloon?" Tara had an image of the girl pshhhhting across the room and giggled.

"What?" Willow turned to Tara and her mouth was ajar, Tara could see she was tired and stressed out.

Tara looked around quickly to see they were alone at the end of the hall. "What she said, that wasn't about this." Tara motioned between them. "That was about us not being in on time.'

Willow hung her head in shame, "It doesn't matter." She looked at Tara directly in the eyes, "It doesn't matter what she knows or doesn't, what she thinks or what she says, it's about what I feel. I feel like I put you in a bad position, I jeopardized your honor. I am a vampire. It's too hard to go back. Maybe it would be better if we didn't spend that much time together." Willow took a deep breath, "It's really hard." Willow was near tears. "I see you and you're so close, and I just feel like there's no one else around." She took another breath, "I'm gonna slip. I don't think I can do this."

Tara stood still not wanting to stop Willow from expressing herself. "We can do this," Tara offered hopefully.

"No Tara, that's where we're wrong, today I realized that we hadn't even asked for help."

"I know that's not true, Wil," Tara put her hand out and grabbed Willow's pinky finger. "You ask everyday for help, you study and you learn and you try."

"How do you know that?" Willow looked puzzled by the confident look she was seeing reflected back to her.

"Because, I feel it," Tara started, "I felt it today when you were in the room. What were you thinking about?"

Willow ducked her head, "Stuff..."

"And something changed when I came over didn't it?" Tara knew Willow needed a little prodding now.

"Yeah, I guess, but I don't know what to think." Willow was remembering what she'd been thinking before Tara touched her.

"Because it's not the answer you expected?" Tara felt like she had to ask the next question, "Or because you can't accept it about yourself?"

Willow was pulled a little out of her thoughts by the last question. "How can I be normal?" Willow asked as if Tara had been privileged to the entire internal dialog, and all the events leading up to the babble she was currently having.

"Was that your question?" Tara looked surprised.

Willow made a sound with her tongue when it dislodged from the roof of her mouth. She took another long breath. "Oh Tara, I'm so sorry. I can't seem to keep my mind...."

"Shhhh," Tara understood where Willow was going, and wanted to redirect her back. She looked at Willow with concentration. "What was the question?"

Willow was near a breaking point, "The last thing I thought was why can't I be normal." She leaned against the vending machines. "But how can this be normal, I mean I'm so, well, and you're so, and I can't, it just can't be, how can everyone be wrong? I mean I'd like it if everyone were wrong because well yummy, but oh, what am I saying, I can't talk to you about this." Willow turned to put her money in the machine.

"What was the answer, Wil?" Tara spoke softly into Willow's ear from behind her.

"I am," Willow said simply. She felt better when she said it.

"You are what?" Tara moved a little bit closer behind Willow.

Willow felt the heat radiating off Tara. She suddenly felt calm, "Normal." Willow spoke in a whisper. She took a step back softly colliding with Tara and she laid her head back against Tara's shoulder.

"And you don't believe that?" Tara stayed still.

Willow sighed. "Well I don't see how I can be, I was really looking at you and not feeling all that focused on anything but you."

"And you don't think looking at me is normal?" Tara began, "I look at you." Tara fought the urge to wrap her arms around the girl, but she whispered to Willow, "I looked at you this morning." Tara moved her head so she was touching Willow's cheek with her own. "And I liked what I saw."

The comment made Willow blush. "We really should head back, plus, mushroom, yuck."

"If we weren't here..." Tara trailed off.

Willow sighed, "Then we wouldn't have met ..."

"And that would be," Tara patterned her voice after Willow's. "Unacceptable," She said in a slumberous whisper. She pulled Willow to her in a soft hug her hands wrapped loosely around her belly one hand on top of the other. Willow felt her take a deep breath as if Tara wanted to inhale her. Tara felt overcome with emotion. Her arms moved up from Willow's belly to fold across her ribs and nestle snugly just below her breasts Willow felt as if she was now part of Tara's own protective self-embrace she seen so many times before.

After a few moments, Willow couldn't take it much more, "Tara we have to go back," she husked a labored breath. "Colonel Hannibal Smith is probably plotting some revenge."

I was kinda working on a scheme of my own. Tara thought. She fought back the intense urge she had to move her thumb just a little, or nuzzle her cheek against Willow's face.

"Plus, we need to destroy the evidence, don't want to have those four claiming they were framed in the great pizza debacle of 1984." Willow added.

"Well maybe that's just what we need." Tara was thinking aloud, trying to get her mind off the feel of her body against Willow's.

"What?" Willow wondered.

"Well, you know," Tara smiled and let go of the girl. She grabbed her free hand, "If you have a problem, if no one else can help..."

"And if you can find them, maybe you can hire..." Willow allowed Tara the honors.

"The A-team," with that Tara bounded up the stairs with Willow right behind.

Tara was three steps from the top when she suddenly stopped. "Willow?"

"Yeah," Willow stopped two steps behind her.

"We forgot the drinks," Tara laughed at how easily they were distracted.

Willow chuckled, "Oh, ooops." She turned and raced back down the stairs to complete the mission with Tara right behind her.

Continue to Latter Days/Lonely Nights Chapter Twenty-Nine

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