Return to Latter Days/Lonely Nights Chapter Forty-Nine

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.

(Day 12 - Monday, November 19, 1984)

Beep, beep, beep, beep....

Tara's hand flopped onto the top of the alarm clock. She felt groggy and definitely not ready to start the day. Not bothering to open her eyes, she mumbled quietly into the soft pillowcase, "Snooze is good." She took a deep breath and exhaled slowly. The pillow nuzzled around the side of her face. Without lifting her lips, she purred, "Snooze is our friend."

The three of them had decided on the six o'clock session at the temple. They needed to be there at least fifteen minutes before that to be dressed on time and they had figured another ten minutes or so to walk across the street from the MTC. Prep time was always the variable. They hadn't decided if they were going to try for a second session or not, that depended on how long it took them to get through. And they all had expressed interest in not rushing to get there on time.

Tara knew herself well enough to set her alarm a little early in case she hit the snooze button too many times. Without the hustle and bustle outside and Willow and the others coming to pick her up for gym, she knew it would be hard to wake up. She was right.

After several minutes passed, her alarm went off again. Her eyelids seemed stuck together. It is so much easier to fall back asleep when your eyes won't open. As Tara calculated which parts of her morning routine she could omit and still make it out on time, she drifted back to sleep.

Another alarm sounded. After a short while, Colson Shimai got up and turned on her desk lamp. The movement in the room encouraged Tara to try to get up. After a moment, she was able to pry her eyes open a bit. She checked the clock. It was about half past four. Even with Colson's light on, it was still fairly dark in the room. Tara could see Conley was still in bed and Colson was getting ready to go out to the hall. It didn't take a genius to figure out where she was headed.

Sister Conley's alarm went off next. After she turned off the annoying noise, she yawned and stretched her arms out. Tara glanced over just in time to see a leg poke out from under the covers and a foot land gently on the floor. And there it stayed. As Tara was wondering if she could even move her legs, she fell asleep again.

Sister Colson returned to the room. She saw that the other two were not moving; and she guessed they would not be moving any time soon. She went to her desk and sat down. She started doing something there. When Tara's third alarm sounded, Colson heard a grunt and looked over toward the sound. She watched in amusement as Tara put her hand on the top of the clock and left it there after pushing the button. She wondered which of the two would make the better photo - the girl half out of bed or the one poised for multiple snoozes.

Colson Shimai was tired too. It was early, even for them. She had hopped out of bed to ensure she wouldn't fall back asleep herself. She thought that perhaps she too would enjoy a few more minutes to sleep in. She cleared her throat to ensure she could speak up properly, "Six-Thirty session?" She waited a few seconds for a response. Nothing. She proposed a second compromise to the non-responsive sisters, "Seven o'clock session?" Still nothing. "Okay, fine, seven-thirty, but if we do that, we should grab breakfast first so we're not really saving time there." There was no movement from either bed.

Colson could see how this was going. She continued speaking to the two of them convinced that they were hearing every word, "You know, you told me to be sure you got up, I had no idea I actually needed an air horn for you two." She walked over to her suitcase. "It's a good thing I brought it with me."

Colson Shimai made a big production out of getting into the large bag. She made a few well-placed grunts and thumps. She pretended to be talking to herself, but she did it loud enough for the others to hear. "I can't believe I fell for that big speech: make the plan, execute the plan, no excuses. We'll get up. We don't want to rush...need plenty of time...blah blah blah." She unzipped the suitcase with flare. "I'm drawing the line if we won't have time for laundry." As she rummaged in the bag, she continued, "I'm not going a week with stinky clothes." She grabbed an item and picked it up. "Although...I don't think that the sisters on the floor will appreciate the noise." She continued to shuffle items around in the bag, "Maybe something a little quieter..."

Colson made her way closer to Conley's bed. "Okay, final offer, nine o'clock, one session," there was a click and flash as she took a picture.

Conley Shimai jumped to attention. She sounded almost panicked, "No!" Even with the one foot already on the floor, she was still tangled in her sheets. She nearly fell over getting out of the bed. Click. Colson Shimai started to giggle and covered her mouth. She looked over toward Tara. She still wasn't moving.

Conley regained her composure. "You're right. We had a plan." Conley started getting out a change of clothes and her bathroom supplies. "Good luck with that one," she nodded her head toward Tara.

"I might need a hand with her," Colson replied quietly. She handed Conley the large empty cup Tara had used once to do a prank on Willow. Conley looked at it, and discarded the items she'd collected. She hoped that the cup was only for an idle threat.

"Not too full," Colson whispered.

Conley walked across the room and turned on the overhead light. She opened the door, "She's really out."

As Conley exited the room and headed down the hall, she heard Colson Shimai reply, "oh goodie - another photo op."

"No," Tara grumbled, "I'm up." She let out a yawn and tried to move. "Well not exactly 'moving' up."

"I see that." Colson smiled.

She still hadn't budged, "Did you get a picture of her falling out of the bed?" Tara mumbled.

"Uh huh, it was classic." Tara heard a click as Colson took another photo, "...As was that."

It took all of Tara's strength to stick out her tongue for a raspberry. Her lips wouldn't even work to perform the gesture. The sound resembled a deflating bicycle tire.

Colson quickly snapped another candid shot for her 'getting up early for temple on p-day' collection.

Tara was finally able to convince her limbs to move. She felt her hair. Nice. "You are evil."

"Yup," Colson smiled. "But you said I had to get you up, so it was kind of a requirement."

Tara knew she'd be dizzy when she sat up. "If you put that away, I'll get up."

"Hmm," Colson paused for dramatic effect, "Let's" She shook her head and did a little grin.

Tara muttered quietly, "Evil...."

Conley came in from the hall carrying the cup. "Did you still need this?"

Colson appeared to be considering the option, "Well, she's called me evil twice. I have a reputation to live up to now."

Tara looked over at the conspirators, "Fine, I'm up, but no more pictures."

"You don't look up to me." Colson grinned with mock glee. Out of bed now, or your choice: one more 'morning' picture, or the water?" Colson was having way too much fun with her assignment. Tara wasn't certain she was kidding.

Tara looked helplessly at Conley, "Whose idea was it again to have her in charge of wake-up?"

Conley hung her head, "We created a monster."

Tara moved her legs. "Ugh." They felt like lead. She landed on the floor kneeling next to her bed.

Colson observed her position. "Okay, fine, but I'm checking on you after my shower to make sure you didn't fall asleep there, Maclay Shimai." Conley moved away and put the water cup down on Colson's desk. Colson continued, "Technically I think up implies upright."

Tara looked back at Colson. She sneered with her lip and growled nicely at her. Her eyes reflected her appreciation. However, she knew she better not fall asleep.

Colson placed her camera down next to the water cup and made sure Tara saw she'd left both handy. She grabbed her shower stuff and headed down the hall leaving Tara and Conley alone again.

After a few minutes, Tara felt a tap on her shoulder. She lifted her head off the bed where it had fallen, and looked up sleepily. Conley stood next to her. She had her bag and towel in hand. She opened the door, "Don't let Colson Shimai catch you at that." She looked at the camera and water sitting on Colson's desk. "She'll wet you down like...well you know...something you wet."

Tara's mind conjured all sorts of images: girls in T-shirts, a couple of dogs, lips. Or a slip n slide. Without the water you just run, jump, squeak and stick. Tara almost laughed at the image. She finally gave up trying to find an appropriate response. Since Conley was gone already, it really didn't matter. She had a point. Tara stood up and looked at the clock. Like it or not, Colson Shimai had done her job.

Willow woke up early. The others weren't up yet. She had lain there quite awhile already. Her brain was too busy to keep sleeping. She wondered what Tara and the other sisters had decided to do. She wished they would have been able to coordinate their day together. Getting three people to agree on four hours worth of activities was hard enough. It didn't seem likely they would ever get to spend a p-day together.

She reviewed the events of her upcoming day. She was thankful they had decided against gym in favor of early laundry. She figured she could do a couple of letters while the clothes were in the washer and dryer. Then they would finally go to the mall. Willow didn't want to forget anything she would need so she had already made her shopping list. She wanted to practice her Japanese and get some journal time too. She didn't really want to carry anything on the bus to the mall though, so that would be unproductive. It didn't seem like there was enough time for everything.

Willow realized it was good to have meaningless projects to divert attention from a busy schedule. The Monopoly game was a decent enough distraction. She wondered if she could work on her board and accessories after they got back from the shops. She could leave some of the spaces un-named for a while. She did like doing that with Tara though. She had yet to figure out what would work for hotels and houses - preferably something edible but not crummy. Then the actual game pieces were still an issue. Plus, she was still working on 'Operation Wet Red Revenge'. The sting of the cold water Tara had dumped on her was still a clear memory. Until that went away, there was payback due and she had a cunning plan. She had a little research to do for that as well.

She let her mind drift to thoughts of Tara. After their talk yesterday, she realized Tara was probably struggling with their 'relationship'. She had seemed distant the night before. Willow knew she had not done her part respecting their rules. Bending mission rules here and there was just making it harder on them both to do that. It seemed like all the lessons and testimonials Sunday had been about staying on the plan. Most church members would personalize it - say the message was just for them. Perhaps it was. Willow wasn't sure she believed that or not, but she wasn't ready to dispute it if a potential member asked her the question.

Something about it was nagging at her. When Tara was talking about her dream, she felt like she almost got it. That was bothering her too. Willow just felt unsettled, like there were pieces to a puzzle that all fit together if she could only see a little more clearly. What she did know was that she wanted to talk to Tara about it. The question was when.

The more she worried about it, the more she realized she had to see Tara. However, that would require a trip out of the dorm room. With her renewed commitment to the mission rules, she couldn't justify a trip down the hall. She knew she shouldn't get out of bed. She also knew she didn't want to wake the others by turning on the light. Being on the far side of the room and in the top bunk did have certain disadvantages. The desk lamp was just not bright enough. She decided a flashlight would be a good idea. It actually might come in handy if there were ever a power outage anywhere. For now though, all of the activities she could or should do required light, so she had to get up.

She crawled out of bed and grabbed the stuff she needed for a shower. She walked slowly over to the door and opened it quietly. In the dim of the nighttime hall lighting, she saw something on the floor. It looked like a note. She bent down and picked it up. It was too dark to read it, so she put it in her pocket to look at later. She turned and closed the door softly. She turned again to proceed down the hall to the bathroom. Instinctively she glanced toward Tara's room.

Tara just couldn't help herself. As they were leaving for the temple, she looked down the hall towards Willow's door. She was surprised to catch Willow looking back at her. Willow was also amazed at the coincidence. She stifled the urge to run after them. They both considered the implications for a moment.

Willow thought how do we keep doing that?
Tara wondered why do we keep doing that?

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