Return to The Right Mix Chapter Three

The Right Mix

Author: Dragkinggoddess
Rating: PG-13
Disclaimer: I don't even own a car, how could I ever own anything like Willow and Tara? Written respectfully and unprofessionally (no $$ sought) based on characters created by and owned by Joss Whedon and Mutant Enemy.
Note: Thoughts in italics. The song mentioned is 'Pretty Eyes' by The Cranberries.

Tara tried her best to stay quiet as she readied herself for work. The restaurant dress code was a white top, black pants, and black shoes. She could easily piece it together in the dark. She had just finished brushing her hair when she heard a slight rustling from across the room. The shifting of the bedcovers was followed by a low groan. Tara hated this part of the "morning after". Most of the time she was able to sneak out before Kara woke but sometimes, like today, she wasn't so lucky. She sighed and tried to finish getting ready as quickly as possible.

"AAAAAHHHHHH," Kara's head slowly emerged from her bed-cocoon as she grumbled more. "Why do I do this to myself every weekend?"

"That's a very good question, my dear." As much as she hated her roommate's drinking, Tara still felt sorry for her in the morning. She knew there was something more to Kara's behavior than simple irresponsibility. Tara grabbed her cosmetics bag and stuffed it into her bag next to her journal and CD player. I'll do my makeup when I get there. No need to add insult to injury here by turning on the light. "I'm about to leave for work. Can I get you anything before I go?"

"Maybe a lobotomy? Would that stop the pounding?" Kara was slowly making her way to a sitting position, but had yet to open her eyes. "Is it that late already?" Kara's lazy expression started shifting to panic "I'm supposed to be at rehearsal!"

Tara smiled sweetly, she knew why her friend was confused. "No, go back to sleep Kara. It's only 8:30. They've got me on the breakfast shift today." She sighed slightly. "Tips will be smaller, but at least I'll have the rest of the day to enjoy the sunshine. She slung her bag over her shoulder and approached Kara's bed. She gingerly lifted the pained girl's alarm clock off her nightstand. "What time do you need to get up?" She pressed the alarm set button and waited for a response.

"11." Eyes still closed, she tried her best to smile. "You take such good care of me, will you marry me?" Kara snuggled back under her comforter.

"And get ready in the dark everyday? Not a chance." Tara set the alarm and gently placed the clock back onto Kara's table. When she saw the still-full Gatorade sitting right where she left it last night, she raised an eyebrow. "No wonder you feel so awful." Tara picked up the plastic bottle, unscrewed the cap and held it out over Kara. Her voice became stern, well as stern as she could ever manage. "Sit up young lady. I'm not leaving until you drink half of this."

Kara sat up again and finally opened her eyes. "Yes mother." She grabbed the bottle, chugged half of the red liquid, letting some dribble down her chin. She placed the bottle back into Tara's hand. "Happy?" She covered her head again with her blanket.

"First you want to be my wife, and now I'm your mother? Make up your mind grump-o." Tara set the bottle back on the nightstand. She did, in fact, feel better now. She knew if Kara could manage to sit up and drink, she'd be fine in a few hours.

Silently, she slipped out the door.

"UUUGGGGHHHHH" Buffy moaned from under her comforter.

Willow opened one eye. She leaned up just enough to look at her alarm clock. 9 am, well at least we finally got some sleep. She rolled up onto her side, leaning on her elbow. "Good morning sunshine!" Willow knew how evil her shout was.

Buffy slowly rose and turned her red-eyed glare to her best friend. "You are a demon." She flopped back down onto her pillow, immediately regretting the motion. "Don't ever let me drink again."

"Yeah, right, like you'll listen. Besides, I don't recall ‘letting' you drink last night either. You waited for me to be all busy and slipped off to alchy-land. The fact that you know you have to slip away to get all wasted should be reminder enough of how much I disapprove, and the way you feel this morning should remind you how much your body disapproves, besides, you are a big girl now..."

Buffy cut her off with a raised hand. "Will, cool it, way too early for the babble."

Peeling her covers down, Willow stretched and stood. "Sunshine warning!" She didn't leave time for reaction before diving towards the window, and tugging on the shade sending it spinning into its roll. Warm California sunshine filled the room. "Up and at'em pokey. Time for mochas!" She received another groan in response. "You've got ten minutes to pry yourself out of bed while I take a shower." With that, Willow disappeared into the bathroom.

Tara reached into her bag as she lightly descended the stairs of her building. She retrieved her CD player, slid the headphones over her head and pressed play. Let's see what she's got for me this time. Tara thought and smiled. Kara loved making Tara mix CDs. She opened the front doors and felt the rush of warmth as she stepped into the sun. At the same moment, the first track began to play.

Pretty eyes, pretty eyes
Not a cloud in my day
Not a cloud in my way
Angel eyes, no disguise
No pretension is here
No pretension, no fear

Immediately, Tara was transported back to the night before. She walked along on auto-pilot as she daydreamed about pretty green eyes, then red hair, creamy skin, and... "Hey watch it!" Tara was so caught up in her daydream that she had crossed against the light. Luckily, it was just a guy on a bike, and not a car. She stepped backward onto the curb and waited for the light to change, then continued along the sidewalk.

Forget it Tara, she's straight. You have to stop falling for the straight girls. Wait, falling? You've never even spoken to her.

Stay awhile, stay awhile
I will tell you my mind
I will tell you my mind

She sighed audibly. Yup, falling.

Willow stuck her hand into the shower to test the temperature. It was soothingly warm. Willow closed her eyes and thought of the last time her hand was so warm. It was last night when she and the girl fell into each other at the sink. No, the girl's hand was even warmer. Willow savored the sensation a moment more before withdrawing her hand and sliding the back of it over her cheek. I bet this is how her skin would feel against my face.

There was a knock on the door. "Will, gotta pee. You in the shower yet?"

Startled out of dream-land, Willow jumped, "Uh, hang on just a sec." She stepped into the shower, exposing her body to the heat all at once. "OK, you can come in."

Buffy schlumped down onto the toilet, eyes still barely open. A thought, perhaps the first of the day, perked her up slightly. "Hey, how were things with that guy?"

"Who? What?" Willow was still just standing under the warm streams when Buffy spoke. "Oh, Jack? Errm, uh," It took her a moment to realize how quickly she could get out of this one. "Well, we may never know what could have been. Your nauseous entrance came at a critical moment."

"Huh?" Buffy was trying not to think too hard yet. "Oh, OH! Oh my gosh Will I am sooo sorry. Did you get his number? You should call him today." Buffy finished and flushed.

"AAAHHH!" The water scalded Willow briefly before she could jump out of the way. "Gee, thanks Buff. Get out of here and get dressed, I'll be out in a minute."

Willow emerged from the bathroom in a towel and made short work of dressing in a tight dark-blue tank top and baggy khakis. Buffy was set in sweats and a T-shirt with her hair pulled back, sunglasses already on. "Ready?" Willow asked as she grabbed her purse.

"Take me to caffeine." Was all Buffy managed as they headed out the door.

With the nice weather, all of the outdoor tables had filled up first. Tara never minded the extra effort it took to serve the outdoor patrons. She loved the sunshine so much, it was worth every step. She glided through the first hour of her shift humming her new favorite song all the while. Immediately after the busboy cleared and re-set the table farthest from the door, two young women filled the slots. Tara saw the sunglasses and messy ponytail on the slight blonde facing her and assumed she was in the same boat Kara was in this morning. Being so close to campus, the café often filled with students on the weekend. Tara made her way to the table to greet the new diners, looking down at her pad to remind herself once more of the morning specials. She reached the table and smiled "Good morning, can I get you something to drink?" As she looked up from her pad, she felt her stomach drop. She found herself staring at the top of a gorgeous head of red-hair. Oh my goddess!

"Mocha pl..." As she turned her head towards the waitress, Willow was struck dumb. OH GOD! It's her, it's really really her! What a coincidence, I mean I've never seen her before in my life and now twice in 24 hours. She's even more beautiful in the sunight. HEY! Stop it, stop staring!

"Earth to Willow!" Buffy waved her hand in front of Willow's face. No response. She shrugged. "I'll have the same, and a glass of water."

Tara ducked her head after a long silent minute when those deep green eyes met her own. She couldn't take the eye contact. She nodded at the girls and rushed back into the restaurant. Once inside the door, she ducked behind the coat rack and threw her hands over her face. She noticed me staring, she thinks I'm a freak I just know it!"

"Hey Tara, what's wrong?" Lynn called from behind the counter. "Got an order for me?" She was leaning on the espresso machine.

Tara sucked in a full breath, then let it out very slowly. Get yourself together Tara. Just do your job. "Yeah, L-lynn. T-two m-mochas, and a glass of w-water." She approached the machine, tearing the order from her pad.

Lynn smirked. She knew Tara only stuttered when she was stressed or nervous, and since Tara was the best waitress in the place, nothing about the job could have caused this. "Cute girl out there?"

Tara ducked her head trying to make herself as unnoticeable as possible.

"I knew it!" Lynn leapt towards the front window. "Which one is she?"

Tara grabbed Lynn and pulled her back behind the counter. "Don't stare, L-lynn. It's n-no use, she's straight."

"Yeah, yeah, whatever. Which one?" Lynn was not going to give up easily.

Resigning, Tara whispered, "The red-head." Tara sped over to the espresso machine. "G-gotta get their drinks. I g-guess I'll d-do it." She reached for the knob to begin the brewing process. Tara's hands were shaking. Her fingers slipped off the dial, hitting the handle of the grounds receptacle and knocking it out of place. Grounds flew all over the counter and onto her white shirt.

"Oohh, she is cute. I think I've seen her before." Lynn was still looking out the window when she heard the crash. She spun and ran to Tara's rescue. "Wow, you've got it bad. Let me get it." She looked at Tara and couldn't help but laugh. "Oh Tara, what are we gonna do with you? I don't suppose you are going to talk to her?"

Tara was frantically brushing the wet grounds off her shirt with a wet rag. "I t-told you. She's straight. I saw her w-with a g-guy last n-night."

Lynn was already brewing two new shots. "HELLO?! What ever happened to bisexuality? What am I, chopped liver?"

She stopped the cleanup. "W-well, statistically speaking, she's probably straight. Anyway, I c-can't even w-work around her. There is n-no way I can t-talk to her."

She watched in silence as Lynn finished the mochas.

"Willow, you look like you've seen a ghost, what's the matter with you?" Buffy watched her friend's eyes follow the waitress back into the restaurant. "You know her?"

It finally registered that Buffy was talking to her. "Oh! Uh, no, I mean, yes. I saw her last night at the mixer." Think Willow, think. Get off the subject. "Uh, she was dancing with Jack."

"Oh, that explains her staring too." Buffy reached back to fix her loose ponytail. "You got her man you did. Don't worry Will, I think you can take her."

Willow's head whipped around at the comment. "What? Take her where? Why would I want to take her somewhere?"

"God Will, I think you need to shut down the old noggin' till we get some mocha in you." Buffy was starting to seriously worry about the girl.

Continue to The Right Mix Chapter 5a

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