"...Michelle Branch songs."
Tara caught the tail end of the DJ's voice commenting on the song she was about to play. She reached for the remote to her stereo and turned the volume up just in time to hear the opening guitar notes of one of her favorite Michelle Branch songs.
Sighing, she marked her place in her book, leaned her head back against the headboard, and stared at the ceiling. After the first verse, her eyes drifted down to stare at the gift on her desk.
It had been over three weeks since Willow had given her the gift and had asked Tara not to open it in front of her friends in her own quirky and highly entertaining way. Tara had obliged, obliged to the point where she had still not opened the gift three weeks later.
In truth there was an amalgam of reasons why she had not opened the cartoon-covered package. One of which was that Tara and Jo had only arrived at their apartment a week earlier.
Upon leaving the Sunnydale hospital, Tara returned to Jo's cousin's apartment and the roommates loaded up Jo's car and headed for LA. They stayed with Tara's cousin Beth for a week, before driving up to spend a few days in Napa. Jo had then insisted on going Reno since they were only a few hours away. When the girls returned to their San Francisco apartment they barely had the energy to unpack, and the week had been full of back-to-school activities.
Tara giggled to herself at having thought of them as 'back-to-school' activities. She may have been 23 years old, but she could never use that phrase without feeling like she was 12 again. Tara's smile faded quickly as she continued to stare at the gift.
Certainly she had been busy since the redhead had given her the gift, but in a way that was an excuse to avoid opening the gift. The truth was that Tara was still trying to sort out the myriad feelings she was having just by looking at the package. If she was this confused now, how much more confused would she be once she saw what was inside. On the other hand, whatever it was Willow had given her might help her to be less confused. Less everything. Because every time she walked by the damned thing Tara would feel something different: desire, awe, guilt and anger. And confusion, always there was the confusion.
Desire. All Tara had to do was close her eyes and she could still feel the redhead wrapped in her arms. Close her eyes and feel soft fingers just under the hem of her shirt.
Awe. It was so obvious how much Willow cared about her friends. Tara saw it in the way Willow played the children's game with Dawn in the hospital, how Willow was more concerned about Buffy and Buffy's mom than she was about her own sprained ankle, how she held Buffy down when that guy Riley showed up at the hospital, and even how Willow tried to soothe Faith when the dark-haired girl had come panicked into the first aid tent.
Guilt. It was also obvious how difficult it had been for Willow to ask Tara out for coffee, or tea. And how embarrassed and disappointed the redhead had been when Tara had refused. But how could she not have, when Willow was dating Faith? It's not that Tara didn't WANT to have coffee with Willow, she most certainly did. But giving into that want would lead to more wanting. Wanting coffee to lead to lunch, lunch to lead to dinner, maybe a movie, and maybe much more. No, Tara could not give into that kind of wanting, not with Faith in the picture.
Anger. Faith was most definitely in the picture. Tara had heard it from Willow's mouth; she loved Faith. No matter that Faith might have been cheating on her. But how, how could Faith do that to someone who loved her so much? To Willow, who would go back to New York with Faith and not think about Tara.
Which is why there was confusion. Tara had been so caught up in the fact that the redhead had remembered her drinking tea that she almost missed what Willow said. Almost. She remembered all of it. Willow had remembered the tiniest detail of a five-minute conversation with a total stranger in an airport halfway across the country, over a year and a half earlier. And what exactly did Willow mean about it not being complicated? Could the redhead have just been talking about coffee, about them becoming friends? Or could it have been more? Was Willow considering breaking up with Faith? Had they something happened between them dropping Tara and Jo off and returning to the hospital in the morning? Willow had clearly been agitated by Faith at the hospital. And she was obviously nervous about her friends seeing what was in the gift, about Faith seeing what was in the gift.
So why am I just sitting here staring at the thing?
Tara shook her head to clear her thoughts. Swiftly she stood and crossed the room, setting her book down on the desk and picking up Willow's gift.