A simple word, 'cake', but it was more than just cake. Much more.
It was chocolate, with pecans and almond sauce, with a side of baked alaska and-
The blonde nodded, lowering the cup of decaf cappuchino from her lips. "Yup." She took in Willow's incredulous face and internally blinked. She couldn't tell Anya what happened on the roof, and yet here she was telling Willow...? Why am I telling her this...? Because, in retrospect, it was funny, and the redhead looked like she could use a laugh, after all, their horribly awkward attempts at conversation while they ordered and ate had fallen completely flat. The topics of conversation had been, in stiflingly uncomfortable order: the weather, parking in the city, the restaurant's decor, Anya's new store, the menu, Willow's work, the deserts and the condos Willow had seen earlier in the day with her uncle ("they were okay," was all the redhead had to say about them, aside from offering up their location).
Tara thought perhaps retelling the thoroughly embarrassing tale of what happened on the roof might loosen Willow up, and despite her most fervent conscious protests, a little sliver of her wanted to reassure the redhead that the encounter had been platonic. She knew the redhead could probably care less, but for her own peace of mind... "I b-backed right into it," Tara said. "Just, caught on one of the ties that held my top together I guess. I w-was completely stuck for fifteen minutes." The blonde looked at Willow's incredulous face and continued. "S-She has this heating lamp; one of those tall ones that patio bars have... on the patio?" she said, a half smile tugging at her lips as she let loose a low chuckle. "I w-was cold, and tried to move closer... I didn't even think that the trellis might get me."
Willow stared at Tara in shock. A trellis...? They hadn't been making out, hands going where hands shouldn't go?
"A trellis," Willow repeated, her voice dubious, her eyebrows raised. "You mean with like, with vines and stuff?"
"For the hardenbergia," Tara replied nodding. Okay, this story was a lot funnier in my head...
"And you had to take your top off?" Willow asked, still not quite letting the innocent explanation for the two perfectly tied bows sink in.
Tara choked slightly on her foamy coffee and patted her chest as she lowered the white cup to the saucer. Take my top off... what, "no," the blonde said. "No, n-no tops were removed."
"Oh," Willow said, nodding her head absently. No tops...
"Morgan, s-she untied the bow that was caught and then we came back downstairs," the blonde explained. "T-Top intact."
"Oh," Willow again repeated, the trellis explanation finally settling in. "Oh!" She said, a slight smile creeping onto her face. Yay! Oh god, yay, yay, ya- wait. How'd she untie the snagged bow? Willow thought, her busy mind spinning with scenarios as the smile slightly faded. Just because, you know, her top didn't come off doesn't mean that there still weren't smoochies. I mean, it could have been all romantic, damsel in distress, Morgan could have wrapped her arms around Tara's waist, leaned in while her fingers- The redhead looked up and said, "still, kinda romantic."
Tara's eyebrows crept up. "Oh no, no romance. It was very, r-romance free."
Willow's brow furrowed as she pressed, her voice constricted. Don't squeak, sound normal... "No? The stars, her arms around you-"
"It wasn't like that," Tara said, thinking back on the embarrassing contortions the two woman had had to employ to release the snag. "I had to twist into this weird position, so I could h-hold the flashlight," the blonde said, illustrating by rotating her torso to the side, a pretend flashlights in her hands. "Then she had to pull the trellis from the railing and sort of, scooch inbetween me and the hardenbergia..." Tara continued, putting her hands together like she was doing the breast stroke, hunching her shoulders inward. She righted herself and dropped her eyes. "It was just, awkward. Definitely not romantic," she said with a sheepish lopsided smile as she looked up. "I think, um, the only thing r-romantic about it was the R. Kelly, booty song wafting up from the open window downstairs." Tara's smile widened and she noted with some terror that Willow just continued to stare at her. "T-that's a joke, cause-
"I got it," Willow replied, a beaming smile breaking wide across her face. Tara bobbed her head and smiled widely in return.
She thought my joke was funny, the blonde thought relieved, her chest puffing out slightly with pride that she had been able to break through to the sullen redhead.
They weren't making out, oh thank god, thank god, thank god, thank god...
The two sat silent for a moment, taking the opportunity to take a sip of their cooling beverages. Willow picked at a napkin on the table, her eyes darting up to take in the blonde and then down. To push, or not to push... that is the completely ridiculous question because you know you're going to- "She must have been kind of disappointed..." the redhead said, venturing a tentative look up at the blonde.
Tara's brow quirked and she shrugged. "I don't think so...." the blonde fibbed, remembering the respectful brunette's disappointed smile as Tara said, once free, that she'd like to return to the party under the pretenses of being cold, and a little worried that her roommate wasn't having fun, what with Marissa and Michelle fighting and all. Tara looked up at Willow's curious face and said, "she seemed to be really into the challenge of untying the bow. I mean, I think she's probably one of those people who, you know, get really weirdly obsessive about puzzles... rubic's cubes..." She smiled softly and Willow responded in kind.
But, wait, Willow thought, there were two bows... The redhead's brow creased slightly and she looked up at Tara, her head cocking to the side slightly. "The evil trellis caught both bows?"
"No..." Tara said, thinking that it was interesting how specifically Willow remembered how the shirt was held together. Genius girl, photographic memory... not really surprising, I guess...
Willow nodded her head. "Oh." Then how did the second-
"It was actually pretty funny," Tara said, interrupting the redhead's thoughts, her words drawing the girl's green eyes up. "After she f-freed, she tied me up and mentioned that my self-tied bows were a little... messy. So she retied the top bow to match." The blonde again flashed a sheepish half smile. "I guess, my DIY approach left a little to be desired."
Willow nodded, her tired relief rendering her momentarily speechless. She looked down at her empty plate, and her near empty cup and sighed slightly. They didn't hook up... I can't... she sighed again and brought her fingers up to once again pull at the napkin on the table.
Tara watched the redhead, letting her eyes drift to the empty plate and near empty cup in front of the girl. The blonde shook her head slightly as Willow sighed once and then again. A soft chuckle bubbled up, and Tara shook her head slightly as she quietly laughed. Willow looked up with wide, innocent eyes to see the blonde smiling warmly at her, her shoulders jiggling slightly. "What?"
"I can't believe you ate the whole thing..." the blonde said with sweet amazement, a tinge of ribbing lacing the words.
Willow looked down at the plate. "Oh yeah..." She looked back up, her tired expression keeping her face amusingly neutral. "I'll probably be sick later."
Tara chuckled again. "I wouldn't be surprised," she said softly, "you even had some of mine..."
"Sorry," Willow apologized and Tara leaned forward and touched her hand briefly.
"Don't be, I offered."
Willow nodded and looked over at Tara's unfinished crème brûlée "You weren't hungry?"
"I had a big dinner," Tara explained. "I'm guessing... you didn't eat...?"
Willow smiled sheepishly. "Kinda forgot."
"Uh huh," Tara said, mock dissapprovingly. "Why does something tell me I'm going to have to remind you to eat all week..."
Willow smiled at that and dropped her head, before raising it sporting a light blush. Tara grinned at her roommate, who seemed unable to think of a retort to her gentle tease. Adorable...
Just ask... Willow thought, her emotions swirling inside as she felt the blonde's eyes on her. You want to know, you're sitting here... The redhead looked up and made eye contact with the blonde. "Tara...." she started hesitantly. "Why aren't you dating Morgan?" The question surprised the blonde, and Willow scooted forward in her chair a bit, dropping her voice into a more confidential tone. "I mean, it's obvious she wants yo- to. To, date you... you, you don't want to date her?"
Tara took a deep breath as she considered her reply. "I don't know," was the blonde's simple answer, her blue eyes honest and clear as she looked up at the girl sitting across from her.
Willow sat back in her chair. "I'm being totally rude, aren't I, I should just-"
"No, no, you aren't, it's just..." Tara sighed again. "I'm still sorta... thinking, about it."
"Thinking about it?" Willow said, her heart in her throat. She's thinking about dating Morgan...
Tara nodded and said, "yeah, I mean..." Oh god this is weird; I'm talking to the love of my life about a potential girlfriend? "I don't know..." the blonde said, shaking her head slightly. "I've been single so long... kinda, hard, to think about 'dating' someone," who isn't you, "you know?" The redhead's large green eyes stared back at her, so Tara continued. "I sort of, like my free time, the way things are now? Going on dates, having a girlfriend..." who isn't you, "I don't know if I want that. I think I'd need to really like someone," like, oh I don' t know, you, "in order to give up how my life is now."
"Oh," Willow said. Tara waited for the redhead to say something more, but when she didn't, the blonde elaborated.
"I just think, m-my girlfriend? She'd have to be pretty special... and I'm not sure if Morgan is, that... yet." The two sat silent for a moment, and Tara added, "besides, I mean, I haven't been on many," or any, "dates but... the m-more I keep thinking about it... I don't think I like the idea of dates. Like, date scenarios?"
"Yeah?" Willow asked, her interest piqued as she looked up. What's wrong with dates?
"Yeah," Tara replied with a slight bob of the head. "They're just, inherently awkward, like you know you're out on a 'date', all this l-looming intimacy..."
"But, that's the fun," Willow said. "I mean, all the anticipation of smoochies, the little touches..."
"If you know you want smoochies and little touches," Tara replied with a smile. "And possibly a relationship, commitment..."
Willow frowned a bit. "So you, you don't like Morgan?"
Tara's eyebrows arched. "No, I do... I really do, I'm just... it's been so long, I'm not-" How in the world do I explain to Willow that the reason I'm not interested in Morgan, is because I'm in love with her...? The blonde smiled slightly and shook her head. "I'm just, o-overthinking things, I think."
"But," Willow said, her mind not comprehending Tara's hesitation. "She's perfect," the redhead blurted out. Tara broke into a wide smile at that and chuckled.
"She's not perfect," the blonde replied, her voice dripping in mirth.
"Of course she is," Willow retorted, her eyes wide. "She's this, beautiful brunette, all athletic, complete with genuine outdoor tan, artistic...
Tara felt her face growing a little tight. She couldn't possibly be remembering when I told her...
"...throw in rich and that's just about perfect," Willow concluded, staring at Tara with an open look, her brow crinkled. "I thought that was like, your ideal woman."
My ide- she remembers? No, she can't, that was... it was... so off-hand, and, and... "Ideals change," the blonde replied softly. She paused for a long moment before she looked up, curiosity getting the better of her. "You think she's perfect?" Tara asked, internally tacking on ...for me?
Willow shrugged, picking at her napkin. "Seemed that way. I mean, you two seemed to be getting along-"
"We do," Tara interrupted. "Get along I mean... but... getting along and getting together, a relationship... really different, you know?"
Willow nodded, not being able to help herself as she grumbled, "still, perfect girl-"
Tara laughed, this time a throaty and joyful sound. "She's not perfect. She- I don't think she's perfect."
Willow looked Tara in the eye. "You don't?"
"No..." Tara said, her laughter winding down, a wide smile on her face. "She's very nice, and you're right, very beautiful but... "
"But what?" Willow said, again scooting forward in her chair.
"I... I just, don't think she's perfect," Tara said with a slight shake of her head. When Willow arched her eyebrows at her in dubious response, Tara chuckled and rolled her eyes, obviously racking her brain for an example of Morgan's imperfection. "Okay, um... okay. She doesn't read. I mean, she can read, she's not illiterate, just... she said she'd rather do just about anything else than 'waste' time with a book."
Willow frowned, "That's hardly a major fault."
"Well, there's also the ritual sacrifice of babies, but you know..." Tara tried hard to contain her smile as Willow good-naturedly rolled her eyes. "I know it's not major, but, my perfect girl loves books..." The blonde smiled whistfully. "You know, spend rainy Sundays curled up together on the couch, reading... and I'm being really corny-"
"I think it's romantic," Willow said, a soft smile gracing her features. Tara nodded in reply, and they both looked away, eager to not reveal their intense feelings with a prolonged stare. "I get that, though," Willow said. "The not, reading thing, I mean I get why you'd want that, not that she doesn't read, cause hello, freak," that's right I said 'freak' Willow thought with passive triumph as Tara chuckled. "Xander's the same way," the redhead continued, not noticing the blonde's smile subtly fading. "He won't read a book unless is has really big pictures, just, you know, don't call them comics. 'Graphic novels,'" she said with air quotes and a huffed roll of the eyes.
Tara looked at the peeved redhead, the girl across from her looking down at her lap. She brought up Xander, maybe... Tara quietly cleared her throat. "About last night..." she started, Willow looking at her expectantly. "Are you, okay? On the sidewalk, you seemed kind of upset and-"
"I don't want to talk about it," Willow said abruptly, pulling her hands off of the table and into her lap.
"O-Okay," Tara said, sitting back in her chair. Great job Tara, just grea-
"I'm sorry," Willow said, looking up, a sheepish look on her face. "It's just... I'm still, kinda processing-"
"T-That's okay," Tara said, leaning forward a bit, her own wide eyes eager to reassure the redhead that they needn't get into it. "I completely understand. Just, If you ever need to talk about it..."
Willow nodded with a tight smile. "Thanks." Talk about how I have this all-consuming unrequited for you, with you? Okey dokey, and that'll happen, never...
There was a long silence, Willow taking a sip of her now lukewarm coffee, Tara absently pushing the rest of her desert across the plate. "Here you are ladies, I'll be back in a few minutes to collect," the waiter said, dropping the check on the edge of the table and gathering their empty plates before quickly scurrying off. Before Tara could, Willow reached across the table and picked up the check, pulling a card from her purse with obvious intention to treat.
"No, let me pay-" Tara started.
"You invited me," Willow said, shaking her head. "It's okay, I've got it."
"We'll split it," Tara said, in her most conciliatory voice. "Fifty-fifty."
Willow shook her head. "My desert was way more expensive-"
"Fifty-fifty," Tara repeated. "Please?" She pleaded with her big blue eyes, and saw that Willow was on the verge of giving in. "Come on, splitting the check...it's what my people do..." Willow frowned slightly at the blonde, not following. "Cause, I'm half-Dutch..." Tara subtly joked, trailing off and hoping Willow followed.
Willow smiled widely and laughed slightly as the joke sunk in. "Half, Dutch..."
Tara ducked her head, an embarrassed smile on her lips. "Yeah, I know, it's a t-total groaner-"
"No, it wasn't," Willow countered, causing Tara to raise her eyes. "It was super funny and clever."
Tara smiled warmly at the beaming, complimentary redhead and narrowed her eyes, mock suspicious. "Now you're just making fun of me..."
"Am not," Willow replied with mock affront. "Although I'm gonna need to see some wooden shoes before I let you pitch in." Tara rolled her eyes and the redhead continued. "I'm serious, produce some tullips lady or it's on me."
"How much do I owe," Tara said, shaking her head and smiling as she opened her wallet.
"Fourteen should do," Willow replied, a large smile on her face. "I'm going to put it on my card."
"Okay," Tara handed over a few bills and Willow placed her card in the bill sleeve, setting it on the edge of the table and placing the bills in her wallet. Just adorable. The blonde thought before looking across the restaurant and then back to the redhead. "I'm g-gonna go, check out the restroom."
"Okay," Willow said. Tara stood, and made her way across the small room, the redhead watching every step she took. An attractive man at the bar gave her an appraising look and smile, and Tara just continued walking, her disinterest obvious. Willow returned her eyes forward, and thought about how at ease Tara was with her sexuality. She was so confident; out, well-adjusted and happy. Basically, everything that Willow desperately wanted to be.
I could tell her tonight, the redhead thought. "Hi, Tara, how was the bathroom, and oh by the way I'm gay". Willow frowned at that and absently swirled her coffee cup to remix the separating cream and coffee. No, coming out to Tara tonight, after last night, without telling her mom and Buffy first... it just reeked of desperation and shame. When she told the blonde, and she would, soon, she wanted it to be happy. Completely open and honest, no hiding, no 'I'm gay, but no I haven't told my mom yet,' or 'I'm gay, but please don't tell Buffy'... Just, 'I'm gay'. No involving Tara in her lies, no making Tara feel uncomfortable if, no, when, Buffy goes to her best-friend and says, 'can you believe that Xander knew before me... what do you mean, you knew, too?'
Queue big scary drama, Buffy being mad at everyone-including Tara-Tara being hurt, bewildered, upset... probably blaming me for it all... Willow frowned as she ran the scenario through her mind. No, no, she didn't want her coming out to cause problems for Tara and Buffy. As far as Buffy would probably be concerned, well, it's bad enough that Xander knows before her, but Tara too? If Willow came out to Tara first... Buffy might never forgive her for that. Willow knew how sensitive the petite blonde could be about secrets, about feeling left out and she didn't want to give Buffy any additional reasons to distrust her, for the petite blonde to think she had been ganged up on, or purposefully excluded. And Tara... Willow was afraid that Tara might think she had taken advantage of her generosity, her recent kindness by coming out to her before Buffy without thought to what that might do to her relationship with her college roommate, the redhead callously, if not involuntarily, involving her in something that was, by current design, quite furtive.
There was also the fear that Tara would think she was coming out to her because she was seeking out some big gay Yoda, that she needed advice, or someone to mentor her during the coming out process. The last thing she wanted was for Tara to guide her, or counsel her on 'being gay' or 'coming out'. She wanted to be Tara's equal, and okay, that's not going to happen when I'm all newly gay and her out-forever gay, but... She didn't want to be the junior lesbian. The sidekick-newbie that Tara takes under her wing, helps to come to terms with being out and proud. Willow knew that all she wanted was for Tara to see her as a gay woman. Just gay. Not, unsure-semi-closeted gay, or reassure-me gay. Just gay. She didn't want every conversation with Tara to be a pep talk where the blonde encouraged her to be strong, or be patient. She just wanted to be out. She just wanted Tara to see her as a woman who loved other women. Woman, Willow thought. Tara, woman. Singular. With little hearts and sparklies around her name...
The redhead picked up her cup of coffee and took a sip. No, she would stick to her plan. In one week, the two most important women in her life, besides Tara, would see her for who she was; a gay woman. And they'll just have to deal with it because that's who I am, Willow thought, nodding her head slightly, resolutely. Just, hope they, you know, deal well. The redhead sighed shakily, taking another sip. But even if they don't... it doesn't matter. I'll be out. No more lies. And I'll be able to tell Tara how I feel. The redhead put her cup down, and half-heartedly tacked on, her stomach twisting with apprehension and doubt, perfect Morgan be damned.
Tara brought her hands out from under the stream of water and twisted the nozzle off, shaking her wet hands a few times before moving to the paper towel dispenser and taking a towel to wipe her hands dry. What a long night. She had been projecting a cool exterior all evening, but inside... it had taken a lot of courage to take the redhead her jacket, ask if she'd accompany her to Citizen Cake for desert. A lot of effort to remain upbeat, persistent yet calm, when Willow would answer with a brief sentence, firmly entrenched in her somber shell. And now... I could fall asleep on the tile by the sink here I'm so exhausted...
The girl tossed the towel into the trash, and exited the bathroom, noticing almost immediately how quickly her eyes settled on her roommates fiery hair. The girl was smiling slightly and Tara stopped, stunned for perhaps the thousandth time in her life by how beautiful Willow was. The blonde allowed herself a moment to stare at the girl, her own lips pulling into a proud smile at the sight of the redhead grinning. I did that... Tara thought. In the car ride to the Hayes Valley eatery, Willow had worn a pitiful frown so drawn that Tara was certain her heart would reside in her stomach all night at the sight. But now... the girl was smiling to herself, her posture relaxed. I did that... the blonde thought again, as she started to walk toward Willow. I was able to have that effect on her...
Willow looked up as the blonde approached, smiling widely. Tara smiled widely in return. "Ready?" The redhead nodded and stood, both pulling on their jackets and walking, single file to the door. Willow held it open for Tara, who replied, "thank you" as they stepped out into the cold. Both looked up and then at each other. "I think it's going to rain this week..." Tara said, her face twisted with concern.
"Yeah, that's what Yahoo said," the redhead replied as they both pulled their jackets tight around them walked up to Gough and took a left. "Supposed to be the first big storm of the year."
"Which means it's going to pour, and the local news is going to act like it's the next disaster movie coming to life." Willow smiled and they walked in silence, their breaths appearing as little clouds in front of their faces. Willow took in her surroundings, the couples and groups of well-dressed people ducking into the restaurant on the corner, Absinthe..., cars driving by along the one way street. Her eyes were drawn to a series of elm trees across the street and she sighed slightly.
"Hey Tara," the redhead said tentatively, a thoughtful look on her face.
"Hey Willow..." Tara teasingly replied with a slight look at her roommate out of the corner of her eye. Willow ducked her head and smiled widely, before swallowing the large grin and returning to her thought.
"Why did you get rid of your fairy lights?"
"My-" Tara looked across the street and saw the tiny white lights wrapped around the elm trees. "Oh," the blonde replied, trying to remember how Willow knew she had had fairy lights in college, knowing that she knew she didn't have them now from the big, moving-in-tour of the apartment. "I don't know," she replied honestly. "I guess I thought I should, get rid of em. Big grown up, home owner... stringing little white lights in my bedroom... I don't know."
There was a pause as they waited for the light to change. "I liked them," Willow finally said, innocently.
Tara's brow furrowed. Okay, when-
"Do you remember when I came to visit that one Halloween? For the party?" The redhead asked, her hands bunched up her her jacket pockets.
"Of course," Tara replied as they stepped out into the crosswalk, walking leisurely across the street.
"Well, when I stayed in your room that Halloween-"
That's right... Tara remembered, turning her full attention to the redhead. Willow in my bed...
"The lights..." Willow said, mining her mind for the right words. "They kinda, made me feel safe. Cozy. Like I was in this warm little bubble..."
"I know exactly what you mean," Tara smiled softly. "Kind of, soft, other-worldly-"
"Right!" Willow exclaimed, immediately embarrassed by her enthusiasm, Tara chuckling at her side. "I mean, yeah."
"I think about getting em again," Tara admitted, Willow turning her head to look at the blonde's sincere face. "Every Christmas, when I see them at the grocery store. It's silly, I mean, I should just get them... it's not like anyone but me is in my bedroom anyway... It's not like anyone is going to think less of me because I have little tinkerbell lights strung up around my room." They walked along for a couple of steps, before Tara turned to Willow slightly and said, "thanks."
"For what?" Willow replied easily, pressing the remote unlock button for her car, Tara moving out into the street to enter on the passenger side.
"For reminding me that I was missing out on something I loved," Tara replied sincerely.
Willow smiled softly, the two standing on opposite sides of the car. "You're welcome."
The return drive was uneventful, the girls talking about the two songs that managed to play in the short route home. Tara hopped out to open the garage door so Willow could drive in, and once parked and the garage locked, both walked the familiar two flights of stairs together. After taking turns to brush their teeth, they said their goodnights and headed to their respective rooms.
Willow entered her room and changed into her pajamas, pulling a long sleeve t-shirt over her usual tank top and big fuzzy wool socks over her usually bare feet. She turned off the light and crawled into bed, settling underneath the down comforter, dropping her head against the pillow and staring at the ceiling. She suddenly frowned and threw back the covers, opening the door and padding down the hallway in the dark. She could see a light coming from beneath Tara's door, and knocked slightly. "Tara?"
Tara sat in her bed, her knees pulled to her chest, her concentration torn from the book in her hands by the slight rap at her door. "Yeah?" She replied. When nothing happened, she said, "Willow?"
"Can I open the door?" Came the redhead's muffled reply.
Tara chuckled and closed the book, placing it by her side as she crossed her legs. "Of course."
Willow turned the handle and opened the door, careful not to enter the space. The room was ecclectic and colorful, beautiful art deco lamps on the furniture tops, paintings on the walls, a large beaded tapestry just behind the bed's headboard. She brought her eyes to Tara's snug form, noticing that the girl was wearing a long sleeve waffle long john top. "I just wanted to say thank you for tonight. Getting me out. I realized I didn't before-"
"You don't have to thank me," Tara said genuinely, a smile on her lips. "But thanks." Willow smiled, and twisted the door handle in her hand. "I had a really good time," the blonde said without equivocation. "We should do it again."
"Definitely," Willow replied. The two smiled at each other for a long moment before the redhead started to feel the chill again and said, "okay, well, good night."
"Good night," Tara said, watching as the redhead backed out quietly and shut the door with extreme care. The blonde shook her head, smiling, and picked up her book, again shifting so that her knees were brought up before her, the book resting against her thighs. Adorable... she thought, as she returned to her story.
Willow returned to her room, closing the door behind her, and started to move to the bed. She got halfway before she stopped, and instead of courting sleep, turned on the lamp on her night stand and moved to the large closet, opening the doors, pushing aside hanging clothes and pulling a large box from the back. She winced as a few items clanged around, and hoped that the sound hadn't carried down the hall. The girl turned back to her bed, and have dragged, half carried the large, tall box on the floor next to her nightstand. She sat on the bed, her legs crossed and opened the box's flaps. She reached in, and pulled a fuzzy, red pillow from the top. She ran her fingers across the soft material, remembering how Xander had said it looked like a muppet had died to make it, and tossed it up toward the head of her bed, immediately returning to rummaging through the box, 'bedroom decorations' handwritten on the side in bold, black letters.