Tara looked up in surprise from the couch to the stairs, her hands placed lightly on the edges of the large cook book open wide across her lap.
"I'm sorry, really, I know we said thirty minutes," Willow continued contritely as she hurried down the stairs. "And now it's thirty-six minutes, and that's totally rude but, he kept calling and I had to take the stupid calls even though I so didn't want to..." The redhead entered the main room, her head down, the dismayed shake of her head making it difficult for her fumbling fingers to smoothly handle the large buttons of her green courdary jacket. Tara broke into a wide, amused grin at the sight of the girl struggling to button up, a smile she promptly swallowed as she saw Willow finish her task and snap her head up to meet the blonde's curious gaze.
"Is um, is everything okay?" Tara asked interested, her eyes wide and sympathetic as she closed the book and placed it on the table. She stood gingerly to protect the right knee stiff from sitting cross-legged, and wondered with a tinge of jealousy who the "he" Willow casually mentioned was. Willow watched as the girl before her leaned forward and then stretched to the side, the green cargo pants hugging the blonde's curves, the red sweater pulled tight against her chest. Tara looked over to the mum redhead and her brows rose into quizzical arches. "Willow?"
"What?" Willow replied in panic, her eyes going wide. Staring, staring! "Oh, oh yeah, no, everything's fine," she said with a nervous smile and flap of the hand. "Yup. All fine here."
"Are you sure?" Tara asked again, her eyes scanning the redhead's face. There was something about the largeness of the redhead's green eyes, the perfect posture and 'innocent' smile. It was almost like the redhead was hiding something, like a kid who spilled grape juice on the white carpet and then moved the ottoman over to cover it up.
"Yeah, I'm sure," Willow replied with a resolute nod, hoping beyond hope that Tara couldn't read her face, tell that she had been staring, that she was being less than honest.
"I hope the phone calls weren't bad..." Tara said moving to face the redhead more fully.
"Not at all," Willow said with another hand flap. "it's just... this guy I work with, Khalil, he was calling and asking a bunch of questions, ones that I know he knew the answers to because, hello, intuitive hierarchical menu structure with a draggable key command option." Willow sighed and shook her head. "He was just trying to bug me."
"Oh," Tara answered with a slight head nod, not quite sure what a hierarchical menu was yet completely sure that she'd be baffled by it on sight. "I um, I t-thought you had the day off today."
"I do," Willow replied with wide eyes, her neutral look at odds with the sincerity she was attempting to sell.
Tara noticed and cocked her head to the side slightly. "So, you... always get calls on your day off?"
"Not always," Willow said, wringing her hands slightly, "just sometimes. But it's no big deal and I'm sure he won't call again so we can go and have fun." She smiled brightly and rocked back and forth on the balls of her feet.
"Are you sure?" Tara paused, still feeling like something was off. "Do, you, need to stay home…?"
"No!" Willow blurted. Too eager! "No," she repeated, her voice affecting non-chalance. "I wanna go. With you. Out. Out, with you, shopping and stuff." Out, with you, forever.
"Okay," Tara said, giving into the redhead's persistent reassurance with a bright smile, one which inspired a matching look in Willow. "We um, we should probably go soon though-"
"Right, cause it's getting late and the clouds are all, rain-is-imminent."
"Right," Tara said with a light chuckle, moving to the secretary desk and taking her jacket off of the back of the chair sitting before it. She quickly put on the three-quarter length gray wool jacket and checked the pockets, frowning when she came up empty.
"What's wrong?" Willow asked, moving to Tara's side.
"Oh, nothing," Tara said with a slight smile before reaching into her pockets again for another confirming check. "I just thought I had a BART card and I don't. No big deal though, I can always get another one at the station."
"I could drive," Willow said suddenly.
Tara looked up, surprised by the offer, and touched by the open, expectant look on the redhead's face. "Oh, you don't have to, it's okay, I can get anothe-"
"I want to," Willow replied, twisting her fingers. "Sorry," she apologized quickly, before continuing. "It's just, it's all icky outside a-and what's better than tooling around town on an icky day in a warm car with music and guaranteed seats?" She smiled slightly, hoping Tara was following along. "Plus, I'd kind of like to drive past my office, kind of curious to see what it looks like covered up in a big tent. I thought, you know, maybe, if it was okay with you, we could sort of go the long way, see the office on the way to the gallery."
"We don't have to stop or anything," Willow quickly interjected, panicking slightly that she was over-reaching her welcome. "It would strictly be a drive-by viewing. I wouldn't even have to slow down, we could just-"
"Okay," Tara said with a smile, reaching out to squeeze the redhead's hand, knowing that if she didn't jump in soon Willow would launch into a explosion of rapid fire speech that would leave her dazed and a bit confused. "As long as you really don't mind, I mean, I know parking downtown is a hassle and-"
"It's okay," Willow said, squeezing Tara's hand in return before letting go. Tingles... "I totally don't mind, and parking's no big deal, we can just park in that garage on Pine, the one the gallery validates. I mean, the gallery doesn't validate the garage, it's not like the gallery tells the garage that it's a nice looking cement structure or anything-"
"The ticket, I got it," Tara said with a nod of the head and grin, wondering both at the redhead's occasional need to overexplain, and if Willow had planned to offer to drive all along. The blonde turned slightly and put her keys and wallet into her jacket pockets, then picked an umbrella up from a small wastebasket next to the secretary table. She straightened her shoulders and turned back to face her roommate. "Ready?"
"Yup- no! Wait," Willow called out, before turning and inexplicably running toward the stairs. Tara's eyebrows shot up in surprise, and she stood perplexed, listening to the redhead tear up the steps, root around her room, and then descend, slightly winded, the short puffs of breath accompanying her fleet stride as she quickly returned to Tara's side. "iPod," Willow finally said with a smile, holding the white gadget up. "Now I'm ready."
A few minutes later, after locking the apartment doors and securing the garage door, both girls settled into Willow's car. The redhead quickly plugged in her iPod, and rested her phone into an upright cradle sitting in her drink tray, the screen and numbers plainly visible to both girls. Willow turned the key and adjusted the air conditioning, turning the two dials to red and high, the fan blasting them with progressively warmer air. The redhead quickly navigated to a playlist named "Drive" on her iPod, and at the first few strains of a particularly catchy rock song, adjusted the volume and leaned back into her chair. She smiled quickly at Tara, who returned the grin, and then carefully backed out into the street. With a shift of the gear, and a turn of the wheel, they were on their way, both subtly bobbing their heads to the repetitive bassline.
"I hope you don't mind the music," Willow said after a block, casting a quick look at the blonde to her right before returning her gaze to the road. "If you don't, we can change it, I have a lot of other-"
"I like it," Tara said, interrupting with a smile.
"Oh, great," Willow said with a grin and visible sigh. She playfully stuck her tongue out of the side of her mouth, and Tara giggled at the girl's silly show of relief. "I know that not everyone likes this kind of music," the redhead confessed. "I mean, I'm pretty sure Buffy would be throwing herself from the slow-yet-surely moving vehicle right now."
"I like it," Tara said again. "I like the lyrics. There aren't enough songs that mention carrot juice these days if you ask me."
Willow giggled at Tara's joke and they shared a warm smile before continuing on in silence, enjoying each other's quiet company and the music, turning left, then right, before hooking up with Folsom Street.
"They're doing construction so it's a little bumpy," Willow said as they dipped in and out of the first of many potholes. "Sorry."
"You don't have to apologize," Tara said. "Unless you're a CalTrans worker in your spare time and I don't know about it."
"Nope," Willow said, her lips curling into a smile at Tara's tease. "I leave the orange vest and hard hat look to Xander."
Tara nodded quietly at the mention of the dark-haired man, and turned her attention to her right, her eyes quickly taking in small details of the buildings they passed as the music changed. The sky was uniformly gray, and very dark, and the blonde again had the eeiry feeling that despite the 10:48 staring back at her in blue from the dashboard, that it was indeed four in the afternoon. She pulled the sleeves of her sweater free from her jacket, and burrowed her balled up fists into the soft fabric. Willow glanced over and noticed.
"Are you cold?"
"What?" Tara said, swiveling from her observations of the buildings outside to look at the redhead's profile.
"Your hands," Willow explained with a slight bob of her head toward the blonde's fists. "You just covered them up; are you cold?"
"No, I, I d-didn't even n-notice I did that." The blonde smiled slightly. "Just a habit, I guess."
Willow nodded her head and snuck a smile in. Tara smiled in return, and turned her gaze out the window again. Willow sure is observant today... the blonde thought, a slight crinkle in her brow. She shrugged slightly, letting her own observation go, and once again her face went smooth. After a long moment, she looked to the stereo and then back out the window. "I like this song."
"Yeah?" Willow asked, her eyebrows arching slightly.
Tara nodded. "Who is it?"
"TV on the Radio," Willow replied automatically, briefly catching a look of the blonde as she peered over her shoulder and changed lanes.
"Cool," Tara answered with a slight head nod, marginally flustered at never having heard of the band before. Like that's new... she thought with an internal eyeroll. Willow's taste in music was nothing if not expansive, and while Tara was impressed-proud even-of the redhead's knowledge, it did occasionally leave her feeling like the backwoods mountain girl she somehow suspected she'd always be. "They um, they kind of remind me of someone..." Tara offered after another moment of prolonged silence.
"The Walkmen?" Willow again replied automatically, her eyes flitting to the mirrors and then back to the road ahead.
The... "I, um, I don't know them..." the blonde said, a slight flush rising in her cheeks.
"The Fall?" Willow yet again replied automatically, putting on her blinker and changing lanes smoothly.
Great... "I, um, I don't... k-know them, either..." Tara admitted as her voice faded to a near-whisper, the flush in her cheeks deepening.
"Oh." Willow said, catching a glimpse of the blonde's red cheeks. She internally sighed, kicking herself for falling into the music snobbery others inflicted on her in her youth. "They're kind of obscure..." she said apologetically.
Tara nodded, recognizing Willow's words for what they were; an attempt to make her feel less out of the loop. "I was, I was actually going to say," the blonde dipped her head and then shook it side to side, embarrased. "Nothing..."
"What?" Willow said, her curious eyes searching Tara's bowed profile for the words she didn't speak.
"N-Nothing. It's," Tara shook her head again, considering how unhip her observation might make her sound. "It's stupid."
"Tara... It's," Willow stopped, sighing slightly, before continuing in a gentle, reassuring tone. "I'm sure it's not stupid." After a short pause, the redhead continued. "You can tell me. I, I wanna know."
Tara considered the words, and looked up to meet Willow's quick gaze. The redhead's eyes were large, puppy dog like, and the look could only be described as welcoming, and kind. "The singer," Tara started. "He um, he s-sort of sounds like... Peter Gabriel."
Willow laughed, and quickly reached over to reassure her roommate that she wasn't laughing at her with a quick squeeze of the blonde's arm. "I said the same thing the first time I heard them, only, I actually thought it was Peter Gabriel." Tara chuckled slightly. "I got all excited because I thought he had re-invented himself as this black converse wearing hipster singer, which I know sounds stupid, but I sort of, had a crush on him when I was little and the thought of Mr. World music going indie was kind of cool."
"Really?" Tara asked, unable to picture Willow's words. "A crush?"
"Well, maybe not so much a crush," Willow said with a beaming smile, amused that that was what Tara chose to comment on. "But I really liked him, especially in the video for his song 'Sledgehammer'. And of course you know, there's Say Anything with John Cusack and the boom box... "
"Of course," Tara said, nodding her head along.
"That was like, the epitome of romance when I was a teenager." Willow smiled. "Buffy and I used to play this game called 'Anywhere but here'-"
"I know it," Tara said with a slight head bob.
"Well, this one time my 'Anywhere but Here' was sitting in a cafe in Florence, Italy eating ziti with John Cusack while we looked at my rented scooter outside."
Tara chuckled at the story and the enthusiasm with which Willow related it. "Very detailed."
"Cause... with the ziti." Willow exclaimed, bouncing in her seat slightly. She shook her head, saying, "we used to waste so much time playing that game..."
"How about now."
"Now?" Willow asked, confused, her eyes moving to the side mirrors quickly before turning back to the road. "Not so much, I mean, I don't think we've played since our senior year of-"
"No, I," Tara interrupted, seeing that Willow had misunderstood her. "I meant, now. If you could be anywhere but here now, where would you be?"
"Oh," Willow said, taken off guard by the question. Here, was her immediate first thought. She looked over to Tara quickly before returning her gaze to the road. I can't say 'here', she'll think I'm a freak. "I-" Willow sighed. You can't say 'here', she'll definitely think that's weird. "I-" she again hazarded a glimpse at Tara again and her heart melted, for what she had to be sure was the tenth time that day. Fine blonde hair, loose from the girl's bun, fluttered in the breeze from the heater and Willow swore she saw a quick glimmer, of what, she wasn't sure, light up the blonde's eyes as the reality of the question sunk in with her roommate. "Nowhere," Willow responded quickly, sincerely.
"Nowhere?" Tara replied, considering the implications of the words. "You'd be no place?" She asked, attempting to clarify the response.
"No, I-" Willow took an unnoticed deep breath. "I'd be here."
Tara raised her eyebrows in disbelief. "If you could be 'Anywhere but Here' you'd be *here*, driving down a bumpy street on your way to go see someone you didn't like?"
"But I'm with you," Willow blurted out, before hastily adding, "and we're having fun, what with the Peter Gabriel-but-not Peter Gabriel singing and the going to see my office covered in a big tent..." Willow continued nervously. "It's very roommatey... which kind of sounds like what a pirate would say to his bunk matey, person, but I've been having a really good time with you over the last couple of days, going to get cake and hanging up the lights, and, I don't know, I guess, maybe, also, possibly my brain might be on the fritz from the lack of sleep last night." Willow internally frowned at that, knowing that those cowardly words concluding her rambling sentence were an attempt to cover up her transparent honesty. She glanced quickly at Tara before asking, "why, where would you be."
"Hmm..." the blonde intoned. "I was going to say painting on the island of Capri... but I think here sounds good, too." Tara pushed her lips together and then quickly said in her most convincing mock serious tone, "I mean, you made a pretty convincing argument."
"Right," Willow said, brightening immediately. "Cause... with the going to see the big tent."
"That's exactly what got me," Tara replied with an equally bright look. The music changed again and Tara looked from the iPod to Willow and back. "You like The Smiths?"
"Sometimes," Willow said with a shrug of the shoulders, easing to yet another stop behind a large truck at a red light. "Not always," she amended. "Morrissey's kind of whiney. But, I like Johnny Marr's guitar playing."
"Me too. T-To both. Kind of why I liked them in high school." Tara gave Willow a shy smile. "I l-listened to them a lot."
Willow smiled at the admission. "I remember the first time I heard about them, I was a sophomore in high school and someone was talking about them at the Bronze. I asked Buffy who The Smiths were and she said 'are they my neighbors'?" Tara chuckled and Willow's voice changed, her own shyness softening her words. "I wasn't really into music, or anything cool, until my junior year of high school. Big nerd."
Tara looked over to her left and wondered how Willow, the sexy, beautiful, wonderful woman she adored could ever be seen as a 'nerd'. Much less by herself. "Something happened your junior year that made you cool music girl?" She teased, the desire to flirt with her roommate getting the better of her.
"No," Willow said, starting up again as the light changed green, mirth soaking her words. "I was still nerdy girl, it's just, that's when I got a cool music boyfriend"
"Oz," Tara said quietly. I should have known...
"He pretty much knows everything about music," the redhead continued, oblivious to the momentary change in Tara's demeanor. "He can listen to a song and tell you exactly what kind of guitar they were using when they recorded the song." Willow paused. "Well, he could tell you if you asked, he isn't, much of a talker..." She smiled sheepishly before changing lanes and continuing. "I learned a lot from him though, just by osmosis, mainly, hanging out, going to shows. Osmosis," Willow giggled. "Ozmosis." Tara smiled at the pun and the pixie-ish look on Willow's face. "He had this record collection-real, records... it was fun to see him get excited about discovering something new when we would go to the exchange." She again paused. "Only, not really 'excited' as much as, sporting a stoic head nod of appreciation."
Tara couldn't help but feel her own sense of appreciation at the warm way Willow talked about her ex. She was jealous as hell, that emotion had flared from her belly at the mention of the short man's name and spread rapidly throughout her body, sitting just below her skin, but something about the way Willow talked about Oz as more than just an ex... as someone who had given her musical knowledge? Confidence? It was so different from how she'd ever talk about Jill. "Do you, do you still talk to him?"
"No," Willow said with a shake of her head, the word falling between them like lead. "He, our... we don't keep in touch. Not since..." She flashed a little, embarrassed smile at her roommate and sighed before looking out to the left and nodding her head. "I looked at those lofts last Saturday."
"Oh," Tara said, turning her head to take in the three story building while adjusting to the quick topic change. A new emotion flared from her chest, the embarrassment of asking such an intrusive question burying the jealous she had felt. Stupid, Tara...
"They were really nice," Willow said, speaking about the condos, hoping she wouldn't have to talk about Oz. About how when she had said she didn't want to be with him anymore he had just nodded and it had been over. That he had packed up and left the next day, and that still, after three years, she only knew about his whereabouts through Xander and his conversations with Devin. The guilt, the embarrassment, they mixed together and she didn't want Tara to see her that way. "They have stainless steel kitchen," she continued, her voice a false even. "Exposed brick walls. It's a totally new building, just finished with construction last month." Willow eased her car to stop behind several cars at a red, the condos just to their left. "They're asking for a fortune though..."
"I b-bet" Tara replied, looking from the building to Willow's profile and then down to her hands.
"The realtor called me yesterday to ask if I was going to put in a bid."
"A-Are you?" Tara asked, surprised by Willow's word and the pit in her stomach they caused.
Willow shrugged. "I should, will, probably-" She was interrupted by the ringing of her phone. She frowned and looked at the device, the visage of a smiling olive-skinned man beaming at her from the phone's screen. "Damnit," Willow said under her breath. "I-" she looked at Tara and frowned apologetically. "I'm sorry, I have to..." She turned the radio down and answered the phone, putting the large phone to her ear as she put her foot on the gas, the light having just turned green.
"Hey Khalil," Willow said with a flat voice. She listened for a moment and squinted. "No," she said defensively. "Maybe." She sighed, dramatically. "I'm on my way to the store, I'm getting some half and half." Tara's eyebrows shot up in disbelief at that, and she tried not to be obvious in watching Willow with her peripheral vision. "It's in the function folder." Willow frowned heavily. "I don't need to see the server folder, I know that file is in the function folder cause we talked about it this morning and I checked." There was a pause. "Got it?" There was another pause and the redhead shook her head. "I have to go," Willow said, moving into another lane. "Cause I just got to the store," she snapped. "Bye."
The redhead pressed the off button and returned her phone to the cradle. She exhaled again, and turned up the music, before looking over to see Tara quietly staring at her out of the corner of her eye, eyebrows arched. "Okay," Willow said with a deep breath, nervousness bubbling to the surface. "Remember this morning, when I sort of, implied, that I had the day off?"
"Yes..." Tara replied slowly.
"I don't." Tara frowned and Willow zoomed into explain mode. "But I am done with my work, so technically, it's only a technicality, and you know, a really stupid technicality that I have to 'work' today because realistically I wouldn't even have anything to do if I was 'working' because you know, done." Tara continued to frown and Willow sighed. "I really can't even do anything until Khalil and Andy do their parts, I'd just be sitting there playing Nanaca Crash or downloading Lost episodes, which, I think might be against the law and going out with you seemed like so much more fun, even though we are going to see Anya, but seeing the office in the big tent kind of makes up for that and did I mention that I thought that yesterday I might have been getting cabin fever and that's why I needed to go get coffee so late?"
Tara sighed and shook her head. "Willow..."
"It's no big deal-"
Tara shifted in her seat and frowned at her roommate. "I don't want you to get in trouble because of me-"
"I won't," Willow said breezily. "I promise, I won't. I have my phone, which has email and IM and, of course, Khalil knows the number..." The redhead smiled her most innocent smile and said, "and anyway, if I got in trouble, which I so totally won't, it would be because of me, not you."
Tara again sighed. "Are you sure this is okay; we can go back-"
"No," Willow countered quickly. "I mean, we're already like two blocks away from my office, and besides, we'll be back by like one, right?" Tara nodded and Willow took a deep breath. "Tara..."
"Willow..." Tara replied, a touch of exasperation in her voice, unsure as to what Willow's pure motive for skipping work was.
"Are you mad at me?"
The blonde laughed at the childlike quality of Willow's voice, and the innate absurdity of the question. "Because you played hooky to go art supply shopping?" She asked, a smile on her lips.
Willow nodded. "I just, I don't want you to think I'm like, the big lying liar or anything. I really am done with my work."
"Okay," Tara said with a nod of her head. "I believe you."
"Okay," Willobw said, relieved. "Oh, there it is!" She slowed, hoping to catch the yellow and inevitable red, so they could get a good look at the building from the intersection.
"That's a really big tent," Tara said as she looked out the window at the massive plastic-encased structure. "Very Christo."
Willow nodded. "It's kind of like the circus, which is sort of appropriate, if you think about it..." She looked over at Tara. "No clowns though."
"That you know of," Tara teased. The girls smiled at each other and Willow's face softened. "What?" Tara asked, wondering at the look.
"Babies," the redhead replied, looking past Tara and nodding as two flats usually used to carry plants at hardware stores instead carried twelve bewildered, amused and in one case, howling one-year olds into the crosswalk.
"They're adorable," Tara said as she took their pudgy faces and tiny knit hats in, her face similarly softening.
"There's a daycare around the corner in the Charles Schwab building," Willow explained, waving at one small boy in a black Giants cap. "They go for a walk everyday."
"So cute..." Tara said, both about the kids and Willow's obvious enjoyment at the small boys excited reaction to the wave.
"Do you want kids?" Willow blurted out, turning to face Tara.
"What?" Tara replied, her attention torn away from a little girl in a red jumper by the question.
"Eventually," Willow quickly added, looking at the kids and then back to Tara. "Someday... maybe, have kids?"
"Yeah," Tara said, her curiosity piqued at Willow's interest. "You?"
"Yeah," Willow replied. "How many? For you, I mean."
"Two," Tara said with assurance. "I w-wouldn't want to have an only child, and three is expensive..." She smiled as the kids exited the crosswalk. "But," she continued as Willow waited to turn left at the now green light. "That sort of depends on my partner... what she wants...if she even wants to have kids..."
Willow crinkled her forehead. "You would be with someone who didn't want kids?"
"What?" Tara asked. "Oh, no," The blonde shook her head. "I mean... I want two, to give birth, to two? But, if she wanted to be pregnant once..." Tara felt her cheeks reddening, and leaned into the turn slightly before the car leveled out again. "I mean... I guess it's sort of, something you have to think about when you're gay..."
"Right," Willow said, wanting to admit to her roommate that it was something that she had thought about, extensively, and that the idea of a pregnant Tara, glowing, happy, brought the redhead a lot of joy.
"How about you?"
Willow winced a little before continuing. "I don't know." Tara waited patiently while Willow thought of the best way to say what she was thinking. "I mean, I want kids, but, the whole idea of having them, what with the bigness of them and the smallness of, you know..."
Tara chuckled, "I know what you mean," the blonde nodded, "but my mom said it was worth it." The car took another turn, this one fairly tight and Tara smiled as Willow held her hand out to keep the blonde safe in case of an accident. "She um, she had both Donnie and me naturally, and she always said it was the most painful, but rewarding, thing she'd ever done." The blonde smiled at Willow's profile, the redhead's wheels definitely turning, and said, "I'm looking forward to that..."
Willow nodded. "My mom had a C-section, and then an emergency hysterectomy. There was a lot of bleeding..." Tara's face went solemn as she took in the weightiness of Willow's story. "Sort of, why, I'm an only child, actually. She was older, I was an at risk pregnancy... anyways," she said brightly, before continuing. "After hearing that story enough; childbirth always sort of scared me. I'd happily let my partner have the kids." She smiled warmly and Tara couldn't help but chuckle, the thought of Xander or Oz pregnant hitting an unexpected funny bone.
"Maybe that will work out for you," the blonde teased, her melodic laughter playing nicely with the song in the background.
"Maybe," Willow said brightly, flashing a radiant smile at her roommate. Tara's crinkled her brow after the redhead turned back to the road. There was something in the way the redhead's green eyes had twinkled... "So no only children?"
"Oh," Tara said, brought back to reality and realizing, in retrospect, how her words must have sounded to an only child. "I don't think there's anything wrong with only kids, I just... I s-sort of, like the idea of m-my kids having friends, of them being friends. I mean... I see how Buffy and Dawn are..."
"Now," Willow interjected with a mischievous smile. "They couldn't stand each other when they were growing up."
"True," Tara said. "But now..."
"Yeah," Willow said, thinking about how frequently the Summers girls could be found on the phone. "I always wanted to have a little sister," she admitted, stealing a quick look at Tara. "I think that's why I liked babysitting Dawn so much when we were growing up, teaching her how to play chess and helping her memorize her multiplication tables... It was like, in a way, she was sort of my younger sister, too."
Tara smiled warmly. "I'm sure she sees you that way, like an older sister..."
Willow nodded, heartened by the blonde's words. "Growing up, it was always just Xander and me. I mean, not that that's bad, it was good, but... lonely, sometimes. And you know, not very brother-sisterly, when you take into account the raging crush and kissing..."
"Yeah." Tara nodded her head silently. After a long pause, and deep, deep breath, she asked, "how is he?"
"I don't know," Willow said, a hint of annoyance creeping into her otherwise flat tone. She had called Xander each of the last three days, but up until now, he hadn't seen fit to return the call. Probably busy... or avoiding me... "I haven't talked to him since Friday..." she trailed off, remembering with an embarrassed blush how he had comforted her after Morgan's party, how the sound of his soothing voice had accompanied her bitter sobs. She frowned, suddenly wondering where he was, why he hadn't called. She kept her eyes straight ahead, unwilling to accidently catch Tara's eye-knowing her face was still red from reminiscing about the party, unaware that the blonde was studying her profile. "He's probably fine."
Tara nodded quietly. The change in Willow's appearance was obvious, the slim girl's shoulder's were tense, and her slender hands tightly gripped the steering wheel. I shouldn't have asked, Tara scolded herself. Their relationship was none of her business, and to pry, to ask after him, after knowing they had fought (with no knowledge of a resolution). Stupid.
"He works weird hours on the weekends," Willow said neutrally. "He probably just hasn't had time to call back because he's been putting in so many hours."
"T-T-T-" Tara sighed, frustrated by her oppressive stutter. "T-That's probably it."
Willow's brows momentarily came together at Tara's stutter, but when she turned and made eye-contact, the blonde smiled at her warmly. The music changed and Willow's brow furrowed. "No, no, no..." She quickly leaned forward and pushed the forward button, a new, jaunty rock song kicking out of the speakers.
Tara looked confused, and turned her head toward the girl to her left. "Was, that the th-theme song from The Greatest American Hero?"
Willow pursed her lips together. "...Yes."
Tara's face lit up. "I used to love that show when I was a kid."
"Really? Me too!" The redhead's eyes went wide and she bounced in her seat with excitement. "Xander and I used to play Greatest American Hero all of the time."
The blonde's eyebrows furrowed; she let the mention of Xander go, her curiosity about how this game was played inspiring her to ask, "how do you play Greatest American Hero?"
Willow shrugged, taking a right. "Jump off of things and fall, or run into walls at full speed." The redhead paused, recalling the game. "Actually, it was Xander, who usually played Greatest American Hero, which, might explain somethings..." The redhead smiled. "I actually played Wonder Woman. You know, spun around in circles and changed my clothes until I fell down or threw up." The redhead's brow furrowed. "Actually, that might explain some things too..." Willow smiled at Tara and then nodded her head to the left. "The garage." She turned into the entrance and took the ticket from the mechanical attendant. "It is a nice concrete building..."
Tara chuckled, and giggling at the new song's lyrics about chicken ravioli, they started up the curved on-ramp.