Willow turned off the shower and reached for the first of her two towels. She quickly wrapped her hair in a turban, and then reached for the second towel to dry off. That done (more or less), she wrapped the towel around her, tucking one corner into the top by her left breast, then reached down and scooped up her sleep clothes from the floor. Her face set in a stormy frown, she exited and quickly made her way back to her room.
She entered in a rush, closing the door softly behind her despite her frantic mood, mindful of the early hour. Tara's probably still sleeping... She tossed her dirty clothes in the hamper and then quickly pulled her day's outfit from the closet. She dropped the towel and dressed quickly, roughly, her eyes still stinging and her flesh still hot despite the cold shower. After buttoning her pants, Willow sat on the corner of the unmade bed to pull on her socks, then leaned over and violently towel dried her hair. She sat up, tossing both towels in the hamper and exhaled, trying to release the tension coursing through her slim frame.
She stood and made her way to her dresser, picking up a brush and rapidly running it through her hair. Coward, she thought again as she fleetingly caught her reflection in the mirror, clenching her jaw. She put the brush down and went to her laptop, turning it on with a tap of the power button. As it started up, Willow looked around her room. She stood still, her mind a mess, thoughts and feelings jumbling up. She couldn't think straight, the anger, confusion, pain and sadness; it was all swirling together and she wondered if this was the beginning of a nervous breakdown. I can't deal with this right now... she thought, and abruptly strode across the room, bending down and grabbing an overnight bag from her closet floor. She stood and turned, put the bag on the bed and started filling it quickly with clothes.
Tara stood in the kitchen, and carefully depressed the plunger in the french press, watching as the dark, fragrant liquid swirled and settled in the carafe. She poured herself a small cup, mixing the strong coffee with cream and a cube of brown sugar. She took a sip, and then rested the cup on the counter with a satisfactory nod. Perfect... Task completed, she moved to the cutting board and cut two tomatoes, dumping them into a bowl with chopped spinach and feta cheese. She sucked the remaining juice off of her thumb and moved to the refrigerator, pulling the carton of eggs from the shelf. She smiled to herself, kicking the door closed and moved back to the counter.
Willow exited her room, her overnight bag slung over her shoulder, her sleeping laptop tucked under her left arm. She softly closed the door and began to make her way to the stairs, her sock covered feet padding along quietly. She stopped at the top of the stairs, confused, as her eyes took in Tara's open bedroom door. She craned her neck back into the hall, and saw that the bathroom door was open as well. The smell of freshly pressed coffee tickled her nostrils and she sighed, closing her eyes. She's awake. She turned to the wall and gently banged her forehead against the surface twice. Of all the mornings for her to get up early... She thought about what she was going to do, took a cleansing breath and headed down the rest of the steps.
Tara turned when she heard Willow's feet lightly touch the bottom steps. The smile on the blonde's face widened and she took a deep breath. Willow... Willow entered the room, eyes averted and walked quickly to the pine secretary desk by the door under which her tennis shoes rested. Hmm. Maybe she didn't see me, Tara thought, her smile turning into a thoughtful look. She turned to where Willow was bending over at the waist to collect her shoes, and after a brief perusal of the redhead's shapely behind, the blonde softly cleared her throat.
Willow heard the soft sound and closed her eyes. Be normal. She stood up slowly and turned around slightly, offering the pajama clad blonde a fleeting, nervous smile before sitting in the nearby chair and devoting all of her attention to pulling on her shoes.
O...kay. Tara thought, quirking an eyebrow. "I um, I made coffee." She said smiling, hopeful that the redhead's reticence was just a byproduct of her not having had her morning cup of joe. Willow looked over at her roommate, her eyes darting quickly to the press and then down to her shoes. Now both of Tara's eyebrows crept up, and she patiently waited for a verbal response. When none was forthcoming, she tentatively continued, slowly taking in Willow's antsy fidgeting. "I was going to make omelets, if you wanted one..." She trailed off, thumbing toward the semi-prepared food behind her.
Willow looked up before looking back to the laces in her hands, speaking softly. "Thanks, but I'm just gonna pick something up on the way to work.
"Oh.Okay..." Tara replied, slightly shaken by the redhead's now obvious discomfort. Willow stood and picked her bag off the floor, putting it on the chair she just vacated. She unzipped it and tucked her laptop underneath a pair of pants. Tara's eyes drifted to the bag and her forehead crinkled. "Clothes drive at work?" Her optimistic tone was tempered by an ominous feeling in the pit of her stomach.
Willow didn't look up, shuffling the clothes to make sure her computer was protected. "What?"
"The bag. Full of clothes. Clothes drive?"
"Oh." Willow zipped the bag and righted herself, checking her pockets for her keys, looking around on the desk's surface for her sunglasses and wallet. "I'm going home for the weekend. Leaving from work."
What? Tara thought confused. "I um, I thought you were going to Beauty Bar with Buffy tomorrow night."
"Damn." Willow closed her eyes briefly and whispered to herself, stilling her flustered movements for a moment as she remembered her earlier promise to her best friend. She shook her head, distracted. "I'll call her from work."
"Are you okay?" Tara asked, concerned. "Did something happen? With your folks-"
"Are you sure, because you seem-"
"I just can't be here." Willow blurted, a little harsher than intended. She stopped, quickly amending her statement. "I just, I have a lot of stuff, you know, I need to figure out and, I just, I think it'd be best if I did it someplace, other, than here... you know."
"Oh." Tara said softly. The two stood across from each other awkwardly, the silence stifling. Willow turned back to her search for her wallet, her sunglasses how resting loosely in her hand. Tara's mind whirled. This wasn't right. This wasn't how things were supposed to be this morning. "Did I um, did I do something wro-"
"No." Willow answered quickly, looking up and making brief eye contact. The look on the blonde's face killed her and she dropped her eyes again instantly. "I just, need to go home." She looked at her feet, her bag; anywhere but the blonde.
"O-Okay." Tara answered, nodding numbly. She won't even look at me. She took a couple of breaths and then turned back to the kitchen, quickly busying herself "preparing" the already prepared ingredients.
Willow brought her eyes up, watching the blonde's determined movements. She closed her eyes for a long moment. Fix this Willow. She opened her eyes and considered saying something, anything to alleviate the obvious tension, but... I can't deal with this right now... She thought, shaking her head. She turned back to the desk, grabbing her now-found wallet and then slung the bag over her shoulder, tears starting to fill her eyes, her throat burning. "So... I'll see you Monday," she said with false cheer, the forced tone completely wrong for the strained situation.
"Okay." Tara replied equally false, her back to the redhead. Willow nodded to herself slightly, noting the blonde's reluctance to turn to face her, and exited. As soon as the door closed, Tara stopped her actions and stood still, completely thrown. Her shoulders sagged, and she leaned into the counter.
What just happened? She asked herself, desperately. She thought back to the previous night. What did I do - I had to have done something. She couldn't even look at me. A series of images flashed in her mind. Her taking Willow's hand in the club's bathroom. Willow wiping the same hand on her pants as soon as it was free. Her offering the drink. Willow putting it on the table, a small, polite sip taken. Her moving to sit close to Willow on the couch. Willow slamming the drink, nervously. She probably thinks you were hitting on her, Tara, c-coming on to her. Now that she's had time to think about it she's totally f-freaked out and uncomfortable. I'm sure the 'morning-after' breakfast really helped with that, too. Great job. She shook her head and dumped the pressed coffee into the sink, then put the cut vegetables and eggs into the fridge. She thought about going for a walk to clear her mind, or getting started on her day's work, but decided instead to just head up the stairs and go back to bed.