Tara stopped as she stood before the Sunnydale Martial Arts Studio, which Buffy had recently bought. The Smas, as the studio was often referred to, had a prime location in the main street, a large building shoehorned in between shops, boutiques and coffee shops. Willow had asked to meet her here, claiming she had a surprise for Tara, even though she already had a pretty good idea what Willow wanted to surprise her with.
The lobby was large and lit by a nice skylight. Beyond the receptionist's desk were two large windows, allowing visitors to look in on two of the eight exercise rooms the Smas possessed. But what surprised Tara the most was not the room but the receptionist.
"Hey, T!" Faith waved at her from behind the receptionist desk.
"Faith?" Tara half-smiled. "Making a little money on the side?"
'Ting', sounded the little bell from the other side of the round receptionist desk.
"Nah, just helping out B. until she gets around to hiring a new receptionist," Faith grinned. "Hey, check this out," she held out a name tag pinned to her black shirt. It was handwritten by Buffy and the dot on the eye was shaped like a little heart. "Cool, huh?"
'Ting', sounded the little bell again.
"A name tag?" Tara smiled. "You're easy to please, Faith."
"Funny, that's what Buffy said too."
"Still...You? A receptionist?" Tara frowned.
"Hey, can be customer-friendly. It's all about being polite. Besides, I only have to point out where the toilets and the offices are and..."
'Ting', sounded again.
"Uhm," Tara pointed at a considerably irate customer standing at the other side of the desk. "Shouldn't you, um..."
'Ting, ting, ting, ting, ting, ting...'
"HEY!" Faith shouted at the customer. "CAN'T YOU SEE I'M TALKING TO MY BEST FRIEND HERE? NOW STOP RINGING THAT BELL BEFORE I MAKE YOU EAT THE DAMN THING!"
She turned back to Tara. "Now, as I were saying, I can do customer relations just fine."
"Yes," Tara rolled her eyes. "I heard that."
"Hey, lady!" said the bell-ringer. "Can I get some service here, or what?"
"Talk to the dog!" Faith crossed her arms and looked at the man angrily. Immediately, a huge mastiff put her paws on the desk and stood at full height on her hind legs. Buffy the pooch raised her lip and growled sightly.
"Alright, alright," the would-be customer retreated and headed towards the front door. The canine Buffy calmed down and retreated to her basket behind the desk.
"B, Red and Anya are in the office back there," Faith smiled. "Oh, lemme know if we'll still be doing Playstation this weekend, T."
"I'm pretty sure we will," Tara smiled. "All the paperwork is done, all the souls have been delivered. I'll have a quiet week."
Tara waved a goodbye to Faith who turned to help another customer, hoping that Buffy'd find another receptionist soon before Faith's directness would put her out of business.
Tara passed one of the windows and watched one of the judo classes for a moment. She spotted Xander in the back, measuring up one of the back walls and waved to him when he noticed her. He waved back and, after a moment, briefly ogled two of the girl students who were down on the mats struggling to get each other into disabling grip. Tara didn't blame her as she watched the two girls struggle, and briefly wondered if the temperature in the room had suddenly gone up. She blushed slightly and quickly continued on her way.
She knocked on the office door and found Buffy, mister Myagi, Anya and Willow sitting around a desk. Buffy was rubbing her head as she poured over the book, while Anya and Willow were in the middle of a heated argument. So far, nobody seemed to have noticed her coming in.
Mister Myagi would be staying in the US for a few more weeks and had promised to help out Buffy with the books of the Smas. Buffy had also asked Anya, a business economics student, for advice and Willow had taken it upon herself to make sure that Anya wouldn't try to talk Buffy into turning her school into a Casino/Martial Arts Studio.
"It's a golden combination!" Anya stressed. "Just picture it: Judo... Karate... Jui-Jitsu... Kung Fu... Sushi-bar!"
"Oh, come on, you're always like this," Willow crossed her arms. "Where's Buffy going to find the money to have a sushi-bar installed? And where should we put it? She'd have to sacrifice one of the classrooms and that means less income. "
"But it's an investment on the long run! Just take a look at this prognosis..."
At this point, mister Myagi broke in. "There is an ancient Japanese proverb which applies here. It goes like this: Anya's open mouth should be shut."
Anya bit her lip. "That doesn't sound like an ancient proverb."
Buffy sighed heavily. "I never thought running a school would involve so many numbers."
"You'll get there, young Buffy," Mister Myagi put a hand on the blonde's shoulder. "And the bickering pair of hens here haven't even noticed the lovely young lady that has just entered the office."
"TARA!" Willow almost pounced on her lover. "Hi, baby, how are you?"
"Oh, NOW she's happy," Anya rolled her eyes.
"Fine," Tara kissed Willow on the lips while the red-head pulled her out of the room. Willow grinned and pulled out a laminated card which read : 'California Driver's License. Willow D. Rosenberg'. An extremely goofy picture of Willow was branded by a stamp from the DMV.
"Ah, congratulations, sweetie," Tara smiled and hugged her girlfriend. Willow'd been trying to get her driver's license for months now, but always failed the road exams.
"Well, the instructor said I still tend to overthink the situations on the road too much, but she passed me anyway. Like today, I was waiting to cross at the intersection right outside of my old apartment. So I was waiting there, thinking that if I'd go ahead, I might cut off the car coming from the left and if that driver got frustrated by that, he or she might have pulled out too quickly... and because my car obscured the crossing to my right, he or she could have plowed down a pedestrian, so I let the other car pass first to avoid trouble. My instructor just sighed when I told her my reasoning... and then she just passed me on the spot and said she never wanted to see me in her driving classes again. Kinda weird, actually."
"Well," Tara smiled. "We should celebrate this. Remember how we put away 75 dollars a month in a jar when you started driver's ed? There's quite a bit of money in that jar now."
"This is our last trip with the bus," Willow grinned when she and Tara arrived at the outskirts of Sunnydale, getting to ready to buy their first used car. Honest SuperDave's Used Cars was the premier source of previously owned vehicles, specialized in servicing young people who wanted to buy their first car.
"Okay," Willow said while she took out her notepad. "We want a car that has a good milage, is in reasonably good shape, has room in the back for luggage and groceries, not to much miles on the counter. We'll put airconditioning on the 'would be nice' list... room on the back seat would be nice too," Willow blushed slightly. "For, um, trips to inspiration point."
"Gotcha," Tara blushed slightly as well.
The girlfriends stepped onto the lot, surrounded by cars of all shapes and sizes. From tiny micros, to durable cadillacs to the occasional classic car. Immediately, SuperDave stepped out of his office to greet the two girls.
"Hey," Willow frowned. "Isn't he that stunt man who had that funny show in the eighties?"
Just before he could open his mouth, SuperDave passed a little to close by a truck trailer filled with used cars. For some inexplicable reason, the used cars suddenly rolled off the trailer and piled on top of SuperDave in front of a horrified Willow and Tara.
"Tara!" Willow called when she rushed to the pile of cars. "Is he..."
"I don't sense his Death," Tara tried to peer in between the now wrecked cars to see if she could spot SuperDave.
"I'll be with you in minute," sounded the muffled voice of Dave. "I just, um, have to disentangle myself here."
"I think we're on our own," Willow shrugged.
About five seconds later, Willow's eyes grew wide when she locked on to one of the cars in the lot. And, of course, Tara recognized that look: Willow was in love. The red-head rushed to the car in question, which was a red classic Volkswagen Beetle parked at the edge of the lot. Willow let her hand run over the hood for a moment. "God, look at this," she said. "I always wanted a car like this. Blame all those Herbie movies."
Willow opened the door and sat down behind the wheel. Tara had to admit that the car wasn't even remotely expensive and it was in good shape. But she felt Willow shouldn't go for the first car she liked before looking around more. Besides, sitting down next to Willow, she felt the car was a bit cramped.
Willow put her hands on the wheel and jiggled the gearstick for a moment. "Oh, yeah. You are meant for Willow," Willow told the car.
"Are you sure you don't want to look at a few more cars first?" Tara asked. "It can't hurt to look. This beetle is nice, but it doesn't meet all the criteria on your list."
"But..." Willow said as they got out of the beetle. "This car is the same color of my hair. It's a sign, that is."
"Well, how about that car over there?" Tara pointed.
"Uh, that car?" Willow pouted slightly. "That car?"
"Yes, it's perfect," Tara said as they circled the car in question. "Just what we want! Lots of room in the back, it's in good condition, has a good milage, looks stylish and it's cheap."
"Tara," Willow took another look at the car. "It's a hearse."
"Yes, but it's great. Look, it has a cooling unit! That's even better than air conditioning!" Tara raved.
"But... it's a hearse."
"Look at that room in the back," Tara continued. "Perfect for groceries and trips."
"Baby, it's a hearse."
"We could give it another color, if you like," Tara smiled. "Or spray it into many different colors. How about a rainbow car?"
Willow had to admit that car was very roomy in the back... and the seats were soft leather. But still... "Tara," Willow pressed again. "It's a friggin' HEARSE."
"Look how cheap it is," Tara pointed at the price sticker. "From 1200 to 700 to 500 to 200. Even that Beetle over there is more expensive than this classy big car."
"I always wanted to have my own Volkswagen Beetle. Come on, Tara, let's go check it out again," Willow tried.
"But..." Tara frowned. "What's wrong with this car?"
"Let's see... Oh, it only moved frickin' dead people around, otherwise, no biggie, nope," Willow bit her lip.
Tara blinked. "Oh," was her simple, crushed response. "Is that a problem for you?"
"Well, yeah," Willow crossed her arms. "I mean... it carted around dead bodies and everything. The idea of putting my groceries in the back where dead persons were... That just totally freaks me out, okay? "
Tara looked away. "Oh," she whispered.
Willow's eyes grew wide when she realized what exactly she had just said. "T-tara, I didn't mean..."
"I-it's o-o-okay, Willow," Tara turned around. "I-I... c-can't stay... s-see you back at the h-house." That said, she walked away, at a steady pace.
"... and then Tara walked away," Willow sniffed when she sat next to Buffy at the Smas. "Tara and I had our first fight... there wasn't any shouting or anything, but... I almost wish there had been. God, you should have seen the hurt in her eyes..."
"I'm sure you'll be okay, Will," Buffy smiled. "You and Tara are so deeply in love. I don't think anything could break you two up."
"I know that, but..." Willow sniffed. "God, what if messed things up, Buffy?"
At that moment, Xander entered the room. "Well, Buff," he said, "I've looked over that back wall, and if we play around with the woodwork we could make your classroom seem a lot bigger, so... hey, crying Willow," Xander noticed, sat down and put an arm around his crying friend. "We don't like crying Willow. We want to see happy Willow. Crying Willow is banned by the FBI. What happened, Will?"
Willow smiled in spite of herself. "Fight with Tara. Well, not really a fight, just... It's so stupid. I was so stupid."
"Tara and Willow wanted to buy a car," Buffy explained. "But they didn't want to buy the same car."
"Ah," Xander nodded. "Classic couple-y bone of contention."
"See, we were at Honest SuperDave," Willow hesitated. Xander was out of the loop and didn't know about Tara's real profession, so both she and Buffy had to be on their toes. "I wanted to buy a beetle. And Tara wanted to go for a hearse."
"A hearse?!" Xander blinked. "SuperDave has a hearse for sale?"
"Yeah," Willow said meekly. "I mean, it's so silly. I said exactly the wrong words. God, poor Tara..."
"Xander," Buffy suggested. "Isn't there a thing you were, um, supposed to..."
"Ah, the famous 'thing'," Xander smiled. "Equally famous euphemism for 'we wanna have some girl-talk here'. No problem," Xander squeezed Willow's shoulder and gave her an encouraging smile before leaving.
Willow and Buffy sat in silence for a moment. "I said it was freaky," Willow pouted. "I might as well have told her I think she is freaky. God, how dumb am I?"
"Well," Buffy started. "Faith and Tara... Death is part of them, you know? They're just not as bothered by it as much as we are. They know what happens to us after we die. Heck, they make sure we actually get to where we supposed to be. You know how scared of death I used to be, but since I've met Faith, that's all gone."
"I know that," Willow pouted. "But I indirectly called Tara a freak. I mean, how could I do something like that? I love her so much."
"I don't think Tara's angry," Buffy replied. "Just a little upset. Trust me, you can work things out."
Okay, Will, you can do this, Willow took a deep breath when she saw Tara sitting crosslegged on her favorite bench in the park, feeding the ducks in the pond with old bread. In her mind, Willow had already exactly planned out almost every single contingency in the upcoming conversation with Tara. She was determined to save her relationship by any means possible. Willow inched towards the bench and sat down next to Tara.
"Hey," Tara greeted meekly.
"Hey," Willow returned.
"I'm sorry," Tara said, making all of Willow's carefully planned apology-strategies useless. She just hadn't considered Tara would apologize first.
"No, I'm sorry," Willow pouted. It was the only thing she could say.
"I was thinking about what happened today and... I was pushy," Tara said. "I'm sorry. You're going be the one driving the car, so it should be your choice. It should be a car you're comfortable in."
"I never said you were freaky, it's just that..."
"To me a dead body is just a shell," Tara broke in. "Everything that made a person what she is moves on to the afterlife, so I don't feel anything bad around them. But... dead bodies scare mortals. Sometimes I forget that."
"I never wanted to hurt you, Tara," Willow laid her head on Tara's shoulder. "Are we okay?"
"We never stopped being okay," Tara replied while the ducks quacked in protest now that the stream of bread had stopped raining down on them. Willow took the opportunity to show her love for Tara by softly brushing her lips against her girlfriend's. The kiss deepened, turning into a tight embrace.
When Tara finally broke the kiss, a flushed Willow looked her deeply into the eye. "You know," she grinned. "If you keep this up, Tara, I'm going to have to get you alone to myself pretty darn soon."
Tara's response was to kiss Willow again, with all the passion she could muster. Until the girls were disturbed by the honk of a car horn. Looking up, they saw the very hearse they had seen in SuperDave's lot this day.
"Hey, guys!" Xander waved from the hearse. "Check out the new Xander-mobile!"
Willow and Tara burst into laughter for a moment, and promptly decided to buy the beetle that Willow had wanted so muchly.
And for Willow, today was a day of many firsts. Her first day of having a driver's license, her first day of owning a car, her first fight and her first (and second... and third...) steamy make-up sex after they had gotten home, just so the girls could prove to each other just how sorry they were.
In fact, Willow had been in such a hurry to get home after buying the car, that she had also gotten her first speeding ticket.
Don't know who super Dave is? : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Super_Dave_Osborne