Return to What's Your Tale, Nightingale? Chapter Twenty-Five

What's Your Tale, Nightingale?

Author: Alcy
Rating: PG-13, possibly R a bit later on.
Disclaimer: The characters of Willow and Tara, Buffy and Giles all belong to TPTB, I'm just playing for a while.

In the wake of her disastrous and entirely unpleasant date with Hugh, Willow threw herself into preparing for the first semester at NYU. If she stopped for even a moment she heard his voice in her head, soft, caressing and so very dangerous. It was worst when she tried to sleep at night. His voice was all she could hear while sleep was all too slow in overtaking her. Each night she crawled into bed with trepidation, wishing Tara could be there to hold her.

On the following Saturday morning, Willow stood and stared at the boxes she had spent the last two days packing. In each was carefully packed the parts of her life she was taking with her to her new dorm. Anxious for this to mark the start of a new chapter in her life, Willow had packed very little besides her clothes.

There was her beloved record collection of course, surely they were allowed a little music in the dorms? Unless her roommate didn't like the music she listened to. For a few moments Willow panicked at the thought of meeting someone new... someone she had to share a room with and therefore would have to get along with... Willow gulped as she realised the full implications of having to share her personal space with someone. To an only child from an upper class family, this was a frightening thought indeed. Sharing a bathroom... Willow's eyes goggled.

Shaking her head at her own stupidity, Willow knelt and wrote a label in thick black marker pen on the last box, 'books and photos.' Just a few volumes she didn't think she could live without... Anne of Green Gables, her favourite Jane Austen novels and her extremely well-thumbed copy of Gone with the Wind. A few special photos in her favourite frames, one of her and Buffy despite the fact that she could hardly bring herself to look at it without feeling as though her guts had been tied in a knot. Also her favourite photos of her and Tara from Paris. It had been a difficult choice... every picture with Tara was one of her favourites.

Willow clicked the cap back on the marker and took a step backwards. So few boxes but then again she had never been much of a collector and she had very few treasured possessions she couldn't bear to part with. In fact, when it came down to it... there was really only one...

The aforementioned 'treasure' knocked quietly on the doorframe of her open door a half an hour later. Willow looked up from a stack of university related paperwork and as always she felt a million times better. She also knew with certainly that if anything, Tara possessed her... not the other way around.

Willow tossed the paper work aside gratefully as her heart started doing familiar little 'Tara's here!' somersaults.

"I think you better close the door behind you baby," Willow said with a hint of urgency in her voice as she swung her feet off the bed and stood.

Tara turned her head for just a moment as she closed the door but before she could turn around she was immediately assaulted by a whirlwind with red hair and a mint green cardigan. She stumbled backwards a few paces as Willow slammed into her, throwing small arms around her waist and squeezing so tight Tara knew she was putting all her effort into it. Willow's head was buried against her chest as though she were trying to hide from something.

Although her ribs were about pop beneath the intense hug, Tara brought her own arms up and around Willow's back and held her just as tightly.

"Willow sweetie..." Tara managed to say despite all the air being squeezed out of her lungs, "Are you just really happy to see me... or is something wrong?"

"It's... nothing," Willow replied in a small, muffled voice, "Although... I'm always h-happy to see you."

Tara frowned at the catch in Willow's voice, as though she were trying in vain to hold back tears. She lifted Willow's chin gently and saw that her eyes were indeed watering as she struggled to hold the offending moisture back. Willow bit her lip and fought to pull away. Tara let her go and Willow walked a few paces from her, turning her back. She watched Willow stand a few feet away, hugging herself tightly, her head bowed as though in defeat. Tara clenched her fists, nails digging into her palms at the thought of Willow being defeated by anything. The college semester commenced on Monday and Tara had fully expected to arrive to find Willow in various stages of packing and disarray. Instead, she looked around to find everything pristinely packed, the boxes all clearly labelled with different coloured pens. She was all set... only she wasn't...

"Will?" Tara asked quietly.

No response. Tara moved a few steps closer and when Willow didn't flinch away she reached up both hands to lay them on Willow's shoulders. Willow leaned backwards and sagged against Tara. The blonde snaked her arms around Willow's waist and lent her chin on her shoulder.

"Willow?" she tried again.

Leaning her head against Tara's , Willow closed her eyes and inhaled deeply. She smelled Tara's herbal shampoo, brushed her nose against the smooth skin of Tara's cheek. For a few moments, everything was just fine. Tara was here, with her... holding her close. She was finally safe. Squirming in Tara's arms, she turned about to face her.

"I'm fine," Willow sought out Tara's lips with her own, finding them and tasting deeply... until in a flash they were gone as Tara pulled away.

Tara held her at arms length and stared her down. Willow pouted at being denied her Tara-kisses. If she had not been so sure something was wrong in Willow's life, Tara would have laughed at the adorable expression. As it was, Tara cupped her girlfriends face between her warm hands and put on her most resolute expression.

"Willow," she said sternly.

"Nothing's wrong, now let me go so I can finish packing," Willow didn't pull away however.

"You've finished already," Tara wasn't about to be fooled that easily.

"No, I need more labels..."

"Everything's labelled already Will, you've done it all perfectly... tell me what happened? Something with your family?" Tara asked softly, Willow shook her head and Tara pursed her lips momentarily before her eyes lit up, "Last Friday... with Hugh?" she asked in a quiet voice.

At the mention of his name Willow felt a hot tear slip down her face, followed by quite a few more in rapid succession. Tara had her work cut out for her wiping the all away as she felt a lump stuck hard in her own throat. Immediately her mind drifted to all the things that could have happened on that date for Willow to be like this, so distraught and scared. Each thought was worse than the last. It eventually got to the point where Tara had to stop herself from getting worked up when Willow hadn't even told her what had happened. She smoothed Willow's hair back from her face.

"He hurt you," Tara jumped to her own conclusion.

Willow shook her head quickly, "N-no, but he tried to kiss me... touched me. I said no and he backed off but when he dropped me off... he said something strange... he said not to tell anyone, t-that I couldn't do that to h-him."

Tara folded Willow to her breast, clutching her tightly, "I'm so sorry Will," stroking her fingers through soft red hair over and over, "You can't just let this go, you need to tell someone. I-I think we should go to your father now."

Willow leapt back as though she'd been jolted, "No! I mean, no we can't. T-there was something about his warning Tara... something very scary indeed and I don't want to go there."

"You can't just let him get away with this... I mean, Will! He attacked you and then had the nerve to threaten you?" Tara felt her fists clench on Willow's back.

An anger seethed within her that she hadn't felt for a long time. It was a helpless rage in which she wished with all her being that she could stand up for someone she loved. First, it was her mother... cowering beneath her father's gaze as he yelled at her in a voice that shook the walls. Tears misted Tara's eyes as she remembered the sounds of fists striking flesh. The small cries... only ever small ones. Her mother had been the brave one, shielding her daughter as best she could. Even as a small child Tara wished she could put herself between her mother and father as though just that simple act would get him to stop. However, her own fear had always won out when she ran to hide beneath her bed, drawing her pillow over her head to muffle the sounds.

She felt Willow draw back and she looked down to find the red head looking up at her. Her eyes were red and yet there was a small smile on her face. Standing up straight so they were back at eye level, Willow planted a small kiss on Tara's lips.

"I'll be fine honest, I just won't ever be alone with him again," Willow pressed her cheek to Tara's.

"Because I won't let him get near you," Tara said in a low, level voice.

She made her promise and she would keep it, no matter what.

Willow's hall of residence, Calvin Hall, was a handsomely appointed building adjacent to the main NYU campus where all of her classes would be held. It was with some trepidation that she entered later that day, her and Tara both lugging a box each of Willow's belongings.

They were greeted in the foyer by a tall, thin woman with her steel grey hair folded into a pristine bun. Her cool, blue eyes looked both Willow and Tara over appraisingly. She pursed her lips before she spoke.

"I'm Miss Keith, the Hall matron," her voice was prim, "Are you both residents?"

"No, just me," Willow said, straightening her back, "Willow Rosenberg."

"Well 'just me Willow Rosenberg' if I recall rightly you're in room two with Miss Turner, Miss Jenkins and Miss Winters... just right up the stairs, second door on the right."

"Thank you," Willow turned to go but Miss Keith planted herself in the way.

Willow certainly wasn't about to push past the all too formidable looking woman and she stopped, forcing herself to put a polite smile on her face.

"Just a few basic rules, no doubt you'll have time later to read the full and comprehensive list on the wall in the dining room. Do you smoke Miss Rosenberg?"

"Ah, no," Willow replied quickly.

Miss Keith gave her a disbelieving look, "Well, there is no smoking anywhere in the building. Also, no gentlemen callers are to be entertained anywhere except the common room and none after six o'clock. Curfew is at eleven o'clock sharp, after which the doors will be locked. Are you someone who has a problem keeping to the rules Miss Rosenberg?"

"Ah, no," Willow replied again.

Another disbelieving look, "Well, time will tell."

She moved away, looking not entirely unlike a Hawk. No doubt swooping off to see if she could catch anyone who did have a problem keeping to the rules. Willow and Tara watched her go with matching expressions of bewilderment and perhaps just a little distaste.

"I'm so nervous," Willow said as they turned to mount the stairs to her dorm room.

"You'll be fine," Tara shifted the weight of the box she carried onto her hip so she could reach out and rub Willow's back encouragingly.

Willow knocked and the door was opened by a young woman with golden blonde hair done in a fashionable bob. She looked as though she were dressed for a party. Her attire was absolutely perfect, right down to matching shoes and hand bag. Everything about her reeked of a lot of money.

"H-hi, I'm..." Willow started to explain who she was before she was interrupted.

"Our roommate," the girl stated matter-of-factly, "Come on in!"

She ushered the two of them into the room with a wave of her hand. Willow walked in, closely followed by Tara and they set their boxes down. A second girl was putting the finishing touches on her make up in a mirror. She was a tall brunette with pale skin, her long hair swept back at the nape of her neck. A warm smile crossed her face when she saw Willow.

"Now we're all here," she said crossing the floor to shake Willow's hand.

Willow figured she was referring to all the roommates having arrived already. The fourth girl however, was not also in the room.

"Abigail Turner... but everyone calls me Abby," the tiny brunette extended her hand, she had a firm grip.

"Willow Rosenberg," Willow smiled and turned to Tara, "and this is my g... good friend, Tara Maclay."

Abby shook Tara's hand as well, the blonde smiling shyly.

"Anya Jenkins," the girl with golden blonde, bobbed hair shook both girls hands very fast, "It's really great to meet you but we're running late for an afternoon party."

Anya waved and pulled Abby towards the door, the brunette looked back over her shoulder at Willow with an apologetic smile.

"You can come if you'd like, it's just over at Weir House, there's a barbeque..."

"Oh no, I'm all with the unpacking," Willow smiled politely, "But thanks!"

In a last waving of hands, the two girls were gone and Willow and Tara were left alone in the room. Anya had given off that distinct impression that she was always moving, like a miniature whirlwind. While Abby on the other hand was a little more sedate.

"Well, they both seemed really nice," Tara summed up.

"Definitely, but you never know after a two second meeting... they might turn out to be raving psychotics," Willow fervently hoped that wasn't true, "But they seemed nice."

"Which I'm sure they are," Tara picked up Willow's hand, squeezing lightly.

Willow smiled, entwining their fingers together while they were in private, "We should go and help Daddy and Joe with the rest of the boxes, there aren't very many but..."

"Your father is carrying boxes?"

"Yes!" Willow laughed as they started out the door and back down the stairs, "He seems to think that the child's father should always help with the moving. I wasn't about to tell him any differently. My mother will just spend her time harping on about the disgraceful state of the accommodation here... she'll be inspecting the bathrooms any moment now."

"I think it's very nice," Tara motioned at the rather tasteful foyer they were passing through on their way to the front door.

Willow paused and turned around, looking back up and the stairs, and then the hallway that lead down to the dining and common rooms. It was all very plain, nothing over the top, just handsome old woodwork and pleasant wallpaper. There were fresh flowers sitting in a vase on a small wooden table, a coat rack and hat stand for visitors. It was so very much unlike the house she had come from where everything had an interior decorators stamp on it... and it felt like home already.

"Yes, it is nice," Willow replied before continuing on out the front door, as she did so her hand slipped from Tara's.

Although Willow had been very grateful for her parents held in moving into her new dorm home, she was even more grateful when they finally left. Her father had taken his new role very seriously and insisted that the girls leave all the lugging of boxes to him and Joe. He then inspected the set up of the room with a critical eye. It was fairly large and roomy. There were two couches set up around the window seat on the far wall opposite the door where Willow had set up her record player for all the girls to share. Two beds were set up against each of the left and right walls, a small set of drawers for each. There were two large wardrobes standing on either side of the door to be shared between two girls.

Willow had her bed on the right side of the room, next to Abby she figured by looking at the girls photographs already set up on her drawers.

Willow closed the door on her parents just as her father was about to start moving furniture around. They made her promise to come home most weekends, Mr Weiss would be sent with the car to pick her up whenever she required.

Once they were finally gone, Willow grabbed Tara around the waist and spun her about in a wide arc. Tara giggled, she felt the backs of her legs bump against the end of Willow's bed. With a naughty grin, Willow pushed her back gently and she fell straight onto the bed.

"Willow!" Tara yelped in mock protest.

Willow grinned and crawled up onto the bed, stretching out beside Tara. She laid a hand on Tara's stomach and rubbed gently. Tara was gazing across at her, a look of happy contentment on her face. Her lips were parted slightly as though inviting Willow to lean across and plant a lingering kiss there... or maybe that was Willow's wishful thinking. At any rate, the redhead did just that, finding Tara's lips... caressing them for one gloriously long moment before pulling back.

"Why are you stopping?" Tara asked breathlessly.

"Vixen," Willow murmured, but she quickly moved to resume her tender exploration.

Tara felt Willow's weight shift slightly beside her until Willow was lying partially atop her. The weight, far from being uncomfortable, was pleasant... warm and comforting as they continued to kiss. What had been light caresses had gradually intensified to insistent probes of tongue. Tara let her lips part and Willow eagerly entered her moist mouth with her tongue, thrusting as deeply as she could. Her own tongue met the welcome intruder, dancing around it, stroking its length, tasting every bit of it.

Small moans of pleasure escaped Tara's mouth beneath Willow's fierce lips. At times they seemed to burn, almost graze her own lips raw with the pressure and intensity that Willow bore down on her with. Yet at the same time her lips stroked her ever so lightly, almost tentatively. Tara's hands went to the back of the redhead's neck, pulling her down ever harder as she longed to feel Willow's lips bruising her own.

If Willow was surprised by Tara's display of desire, she didn't show it. Her lips came down harder, if that was even possible. Her lips and tongue worked frantically on and against Tara's own. It was as though she wanted to be everywhere at once.

At some time, the hand resting on her belly had worked its way beneath her shirt and chemise so it was now resting on bare skin. Willow's feather light touches tickled and yet rather than produce the normal flinches and giggles they stirred a fiery longing in her belly, hot and hungry. When Willow's thigh slipped between hers, a small whimper escaped her throat, it drowned in the waves of kisses.

Willow's thigh moved against the mound between her legs ever so slightly, hesitantly. Tara moved her hips slightly, surprising herself by instinctively grinding against Willow's thigh. Fuel to an already raging fire.

Her hand moved over Tara's silky smooth belly in small circles at first. She expected the blonde to flinch but when she didn't, Willow grew bolder. Caressing a little more firmly over the top of her stomach, the sides and up further. Willow desperately tried to lose herself in the passion the two of them shared in an effort to make Hugh leave her mind completely. For the most part she was definitely succeeding as all she could think about was the beautiful, firm, warm body lying beneath her, moving against her in ways she had never felt before.

Willow inched her hand upwards beneath the annoying fabric to Tara's chest. She felt the tips of her fingers come into contact with her bra-clad breast. Before she knew it she had the whole of the generous mound in her hand. Her fingers kneaded it gently, restricted somewhat in movement by Tara's shirt and chemise straining against them.

Tara breast! Willow's mind still worked over time but it was only working on one thing... Tara, My hand is on her breast! Okay, no panicking Rosenberg, you can do this... do what? What am I doing? I don't know what I'm doing! I could be hurting her!

In a flash, Willow withdrew her hand from Tara's shirt and rolled off her, breaking their kiss. Tara's eyes had opened in surprise and she was staring at Willow with a confused looked on her face. Her lips were swollen, she licked them once, hungry for the taste of more Willow.

"I'm so sorry!" Willow blurted out, "Why didn't you tell me to stop?"

Tara frowned, "Stop? Why on earth would I want you to stop Willow?"

"I was hurting... I mean, was I hurting you with my whole grabby hand thing?" Willow looked down at the offending hand for a few moments before jabbing it under her other arm.

"Did I sound like you were hurting me?" Tara asked gently, running her fingers down the side of Willow's face.

The redhead was wearing the most adorable expression... concerned and anxious to please yet still with traces of desire refusing to go away as she watched Tara's lips move.

"Well... I don't know, I mean... you were making these little noises but I wasn't sure..."

"Happy noises Will," Tara finally allowed a smile to break out across her face, she ceased her stroking to cup Willow's cheek with her warm hand, "Very happy noises."

"Oh," Willow went red, feeling incredibly silly and incompetent.

"Come here you!" Tara pulled Willow back to her, pressing their cheeks together.

They lay in silence for a few moments, just the sound of their gradually quieting breathing filling their ears. Willow's mind was working again, still concentrating on her and Tara... her small brow furrowed as she was deep into some very heavy thinking.

Tara just lay there, content to hold Willow close, stroking the red hair that fell down Willow's back. The thoughts running through her head were of a naughty nature, she imagined what would have happened had she told Willow to keep going. Her cheeks coloured and she just held her girlfriend tighter. Now wasn't the time or place, no matter how much she wanted it.

"Tara?" Willow asked quietly.

"Mmmm?" from the tone of her voice Tara could tell she had a serious question to ask... one she would be reluctant in voicing.

"You... you want to sleep with me right? I mean, have... s-sex?"

Tara felt a heat rise into her face, it was a few moments before she could manage a simple reply, "More than anything."

"I feel the same way!" Willow suddenly found her voice and she sat up slightly so she could look Tara in the eye, "Anyway, I was just thinking that it would have to be the right time and place. I mean, not here because... well, roommates, obviously. We have to plan something... and I was thinking what about next Saturday night... plenty of time to get permission from my parents and you from Mrs Connelly so that you can stay the night at my place, say it's a sleepover. I know we're eighteen and sleepovers are for ten year olds but... it'll work right? I was thinking seven o'clock... that's a good time right?" Willow wrinkled her brow as she thought hard, "Or is that too early? Is there an unspoken rule that you're not supposed to have sex before eight o'clock or something?"

Tara fought the urge to giggle and lost, "Will, I'm not entirely sure but I don't think there are unspoken rules like that."

"So that's a yes?" Willow asked eagerly.

"Will," Tara sat up and cupped both of Willow's warm cheeks in her hand, "I don't think you can plan this sort of thing."

"You can't?" Willow asked incredulously, her shoulders sagged and her eager expression faded.

Tara shook her head, "I'm not the expert or anything but what if you're sick on Saturday or any number of other things could come up... I think I just want to say that you can't plan that sort of thing... having sex with someone. I think... I think that it happens when two people are ready and when the time is right... I think we'll know."

"How do you do that?" Willow asked, her eyes shining.

"Do what?"

"Have an answer for everything... and I'm pretty sure it's always the right one too."

"I don't... and I don't think I'm right very often... it's just that I feel..."

"Always with your heart," Willow smiled fondly, leaning forward so that their foreheads were pressed together, "And me with my head... and my different coloured pens... planning and organising. I'm glad I've got you to keep me in check."

Tara shifted, going in for another kiss. After only a few moments she pulled away from a reluctant Willow.

"I think I'd better get going," Tara said reluctantly as always.

Willow pouted, "Whenever we get to spend time together its over in a flash... I feel as though you're always leaving. I wish we could... well, there are a lot of things I wish..."

Tara smiled sadly and Willow just couldn't have that look on her girlfriend's face. She lent forward and tasted her lips lightly yet again. There was the noise of a hand on the door handle and a split second later it flew inward. Willow and Tara barely had time to spring apart as Anya came floating into the room.

Willow could have sworn her eyebrows raised for a few seconds before she smiled and flopped onto the corner of Willow's bed.

"Um, I-I should really get going," Tara said quietly, "See you later Will."

"Bye," Willow squeezed her hand briefly and watched her girlfriend leave the room with a single but meaningful glance back over her shoulder.

The door closed quietly behind her before Anya practically flew at her, leaping onto the bed to stick her face right in Willow's. Willow had to draw back slightly to avoid becoming the victim of a head butt.

"I knew it!" she said excitedly.


"You and Tara... you two are you know... you know!"

"We're friends," Willow forced herself to keep her voice calm and even.

"Oh a little more than that I'd say!" Anya giggled, seeming as though she were immensely pleased with herself.

"Good friends," Willow conceded a little.

Anya raised her eyebrows and stared Willow down. Willow ducked her head and bit her lip. The annoying blonde jabbed her a few times in the arm.

"I know the look of someone who has just been making out when I see it and honey... you're lips are so swollen you can't deny anything!"

Willow put her hand over her mouth in horror but Anya just reached and pulled it away.

"Okay, okay... Tara's my... girlfriend," Oh my god! she's like a complete stranger... and now she knows... Rosenberg you great big dummy!

"Well, now that wasn't so hard was it?" Anya giggled again and Willow just wished she could go away.

"Yes, well, now you can run around and spread the news about me all over campus, that I'm a dyke, does that make you happy?" Willow asked bitterly.

Willow had a few very unhappy moments of imaging everyone knowing what she was. Ostracised before she even had a chance to fit in... all just because they didn't understand where she was coming from. Just like Buffy... only this time it would be an entire campus of Buffy's. It would eventually get back to her parents of course... Willow put her head in her hands and groaned softly.

"Oh piffle!" Anya dismissed Willow's angry words with a wave of her hand, "This news is much too good to share with anyone! Seriously, your secret is perfectly safe with me."

Willow looked up at Anya, not quite believing what she was hearing, "Seriously? because I really don't want anyone to find out. If the news reached my parents..."

"Calm down Rosenberg. Consider my lips sealed... except, I get all the inside news don't I? The scoop?" Anya leaned closer, eagerly, "So what's it like? Have you two had sex yet? Is it better than with a guy? Does she give you lots of orgasms?"

Willow blinked a few times as she stared at Anya's eager face, "Um, it's really great and um, we haven't, I mean I haven't done..."

Her awkward ramblings were interrupted by a dark haired girl breezing into the room. She was wearing a lot of make up and the neckline of her dress plunged to almost scandalous depths. Willow looked down at her hands but kept sneaking little fascinated glances back at the newcomer. Obviously not at all shy, she sauntered over to Willow's bed and flopped forward onto it next to Anya. Propping her chin up with her hands she stared at Willow intently for a few moments.

"I'm Faith Winters, you must be the last roommate," she stretched out with one of her hands.

Willow took it and received a vigorous shake, "Willow Rosenberg, I'm very pleased to meet you," she winced and fully expected to hear the snapping of bones in her hand in Faith's vice-like grip.

Faith smiled, whether warmly or otherwise, Willow couldn't tell. She just lay on he bed regarding her with those expressionless eyes, never removing the lazy smile from her face. Willow eventually had to duck her head and concentrate intently on her fingernails. Finally, Faith turned her attention to Anya and Willow almost sighed with relief before her good manners got the better of her. She then reached across and poked Anya in the thigh.

"So what's red here like? She cool?" Faith asked, "Cause I don't want a bore for a roommate... or a nark for that matter."

Hello, sitting right here! Willow thought, feeling her cheeks warm up.

"Definitely cool," Anya said a little too enthusiastically, and then added with a grin, "She's a lesbian."

Willow's eyes went wide and her mouth worked soundlessly as she tried to come up with a suitable retort. Her mind came up a complete blank.

Faith's eyebrows raised and she grinned saucily, "Wouldn't have thought it by looking at you red but you can never really tell can you."

"Oh I could!" Anya piped up with a knowing nod.

Have I got 'lesbian' written on my forehead or something? Willow thought embarrassedly, How on earth do you spot one anyway?

"So, you got a girl?" Faith ignored Anya, looking intently at Willow.


"You bet she has!" Anya piped in yet again, "She was helping her move in, and I just caught them kissing when I came home... her name's Tara... but they haven't had sex yet."

Just spill my whole life out why don't you!

"That's cool," Faith didn't seem to mind knowing all these intimate details about Willow. In fact, she scooted a little closer, "So, where on earth did you meet her?"

Willow wasn't sure just how much she should divulge to two strangers. Yet she felt as though she couldn't not tell them anything, she had to live with these girls after all. She did want to get along well with them...

"In Paris for the most part..."

"She didn't sound French?" Anya butted in.

"She's not..."

Willow was cut short as the door opened and Abby entered, closing it quietly behind her. Her pleasant face lit up when she saw the three other girls all gathered on Willow's bed.

"Hey, everyone's met... cool!" she threw her handbag on the bed next to Willow's and turned to regard everyone, she gave Willow the distinct impression that she was someone who smiled constantly, "What are you talking about?"

Cheeks warming annoyingly, Willow lowered her gaze to stare at the print on her duvet cover as though she suddenly found it fascinating. She prayed that Faith and Anya would know better than to blab her secret out to Abby as well.

"Willow was just telling us how she met her girlfriend in Paris," Anya said as Willow felt her last shreds of pride go flying out the window, "Could you tell she was a lesbian?"

This time Willow managed a weak smile in Abby's direction. All she really wanted to do however was run and hide rather than answer another barrage of questions from her curious roommates.

At this rate, by this time tomorrow the entire NYU campus is going to be under the impression that I'm some sort of lesbian activist or something... something I'm not at any rate. I just want to be left alone to love Tara!

Abby however, saw the look of almost abject fear running across Willow's features and she crossed to join the three girls on the bed. When she sat down, they formed a circle.

She reached out and laid her hand reassuringly over Willow's. Feeling the small redhead startle a little at the contact and yet she didn't draw away.

"What we say in here... doesn't go out of this room, right girls?" she looked at Faith, Anya and finally Willow in turn.

Willow was fully expecting Faith and Anya to laugh at Abby's almost child-like proposition. She had been sure that both girls had been biding their time until they could rush out and spread the exciting gossip with no consideration for what it might mean for Willow's reputation. However, just when her first day at NYU was looking like becoming a complete disaster, Faith and Anya nodded quite happily.

"Sure," Anya replied, then her face broke into a big grin, "But as long as what is said in here is completely honest... and very juicy."

Faith punched the blonde lightly, "No problem, I don't want the entire Hall finding out about my love life either."

"Ah Faith," Abby said quietly, "You've only been here two days and the entire Hall does already know about your love life."

Faith just grinned happily and Abby turned to Willow.


"Um... yeah... of course I mean, of course," Willow nodded, hoping she could trust these girls... new found friends?

"Fine, that's settled then," Abby nodded once to seal the pact.

Anya clapped like a small child, "Great, we can help Willow sneak Tara in and out at disgraceful hours of the morning. It shouldn't be too much trouble though with Tara being a girl and all... oh gosh darn it! Why didn't I think of being a lesbian?"

The other three just laughed at the blonde who was sitting with a pout fixed on her doll-like features. As she sat, her giggles finally subsided, Willow felt a huge weight lift from her shoulders. People knew... and they weren't shunning her or telling her that it was wrong, like Buffy had. They knew and just accepted that was who she was.

Why cant it be that simple for everyone? Willow only had a moment to dwell on her serious thoughts before Faith declared she was entirely 'too serious' and whacked her over the head with a pillow.

Continue to What's Your Tale, Nightingale? Chapter Twenty-Seven

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