Return to The Midnight Players of SHS Chapter Two

The Midnight Players of SHS

Author: mangled_monkey
Rating: PG-13
Disclaimer: I own nothing but a rather nice computer. Suing will only make me unable to write. I don't own the Midnight Players either. That is a salute to my high school drama troupe.

After school, Willow went to the alcove she found Xander and Tara in this morning to sign up for tech crew. She found Tara there, talking to an older man. He was somewhat large with dark hair and smiling eyes. He vaguely reminded Willow of Santa. She approached Tara, who saw her and smiled. "Hey Willow... this is the Tech director, Lloyd."

Willow smiled at him and waved slightly. "Hi Lloyd... I'm Willow. I'm interested in joining the tech crew if you have room for me, or even if it's early enough to still join... I didn't even consider that... that it might be too late to join. I'm probably coming in here just assuming that it'd be fine for me to-"

Lloyd cut her off by holding up his hand, laughing slightly. "It's not too late. We can always use the help. Go into my office there and pick up the forms for you parents to sign, ok? Tara will show you where they are."

Tara nodded. "This way..." She began walking further backstage, past large piles of wood and a few tools to a large steel door. She pulled it open and walked in, Willow following her the entire way. "So you decided to join tech rather than the actors?"

Willow nodded. "I'm not good at the whole stage thing. What with the people watching my every move and judging me based on my performance... I just freeze up."

Tara nodded. "Me too. Besides... I can't act." She handed Willow a sheet of paper. "This is the contract you need to have your parents sign. It basically says that it's ok for you to do tech and that, if you get any injuries or lose a limb or something you can't blame the school or Lloyd."

Willow gulped slightly. "Lose a limb? Does that happen often?" She looked at Tara in barely masked wide-eyed fear.

Tara frowned slightly. "Not really... I mean, there was one kid a few years ago..." Willow grew extremely pale, so Tara couldn't continue. "No... we've never had anyone lose a limb. We did have a freshman break his arm in the fall, but that was because he was being stupid. He decided it would be fun to put the mattress from in here in the orchestra pit and jump to it from the catwalk."

Willow looked confused. "What's a catwalk?"

Tara took her back out to the stage and pointed above them at the bridge holding all the lighting for the stage. "That."

Willow looked up at it. "You mean... I'm going to have to go up there?"

Tara shook her head. "No... not unless you do lighting from back here. We're usually up there." She pointed to the back of the auditorium, to a window. Willow presumed that behind that window was another room. She also guessed that in that room there was equipment to control the lights. All of those assumptions were correct. "So if do you want to do lighting, I can start teaching you how now."

Willow nodded and they began to walk toward the stairway to the booth. On the way, Willow looked around at the few people backstage. "So... does the tech crew always wear black? I noticed everyone back here that I've seen is wearing black pants and sometimes black shirts."

Tara nodded as they began to ascend the stairs. "We're required to wear black for the performances; most of us just wear it usually. It's just easier instead of finding the one black outfit. This way, we're always ready."

Willow nodded. "That means I need to buy some black clothes, doesn't it?"

Tara grinned. "I have some free time after tech today... We could walk over to the mall and get you some, if you want..."

Willow smiled as Tara unlocked and opened the door to the lighting booth. "You don't need to be home immediately?"

Tara shook her head. "No, my dad and brother are going out tonight, so I don't need to make dinner."

Willow frowned, not liking the idea that she probably had to make dinner other nights because she was forced to, but unable to really grasp a concept of why or what that meant, so smiled again. "I'd like that. What time is tech usually over?"

Tara looked at her watch. "Around four... so an hour and a half."

Willow nodded as she and Tara entered the booth and stopped once Tara turned on the light. There was a whole array of switches and knobs, with a powerful computer in the center of it all. It was something that completely awed the geek inside her and she immediately began looking at all of the switches, reading the labels and figuring out what kind of computer they were using.

Tara grinned at the eagerness with which Willow approached the equipment and sat on one of the two folding chairs in the booth, unfolding the other for Willow to sit on. "It's good you came here when you did... Kristine just decided she would rather do lighting from the catwalk, so I've been trying to find someone to take over co-lighting duties."

Willow turned around and noticed the chair. Sitting down, she asked, "So... it'd just be you and me up here?"

Tara nodded. "Yeah..." Tara frowned a bit of insecurity leaking into her mind. "Is... Is that a problem?"

Willow shook her head. "Not at all. I'd really like to get to know you better. I guess this will give us a chance, huh?"

Tara smiled and began going over all of the technical aspects of lighting, and showing Willow what all of the switches did at the expense of the techs trying to work under the lights on the stage. As the stage was bathed in a green glow from a filter that was not properly removed from the light that was lighting the entirety of the left side of the stage, Willow giggled. "They all look like zombies... but not the creepy kind."

Tara grinned. "Like... friendly zombies?"

Willow pointed to Buffy and Xander, who were hugging in a brief moment of friendship. "More like cuddly zombies."

"Cuddly zombies. I like that."

The girls got to the mall around 4:15, giving them close to four hours before it would be dark outside. Their first stop in the wide selection of stores was the Hot Topic. Tara showed Willow the basic type of outfit she might want to get. Willow picked out a few different pairs of pants and various tops that she figured she might want to get, and went back to the dressing room to try them on.

Tara went into the dressing room with her, to help get the clothes on. She looked away as the girl undressed, but still managed to catch a glimpse of her bare back, only her butt and a small strip of skin higher up being covered with a somewhat sheer, emerald fabric. She gulped hard and looked at her feet until Willow spoke. "Hey, Tara? Could you pull that string there to tighten it up?"

Tara silently pulled the string on the corset Willow was trying on, holding her breath as the distance between her and Willow lessened and she could feel the heat from the redhead's skin on her hand. She was asked to tuck the string into the back of the corset and wordlessly did so, enjoying the all too short feel of the girl's smooth skin against her hand. Well, I guess this means I'm attracted to her, Tara admitted to herself with a silent sigh. So the crush waits for the second day. So much for self-control, Tara.

Willow loved the way Tara just barely caressed her back as she tucked in the string and tried to think of an excuse for her to touch her that way again, but there just wasn't one. "Thank you."

Tara nodded and moved back, taking a deep breath that went unnoticed by Willow. "You're welcome."

Willow pulled on a pair of pants she thought would go with the corset and looked in the mirror, then turned to Tara with a beaming smile. "So... how do I look?"

Tara looked her over, having to take deep breaths to keep from hyperventilating as she looked at the way the outfit hugged all of Willow's slight curves and how the green fabric of the corset top really brought out her eyes. She tried to find words to describe how Willow looked at that moment, with that smile and that outfit, but the words failed her. After a moment of her silence, Willow began to frown. "It looks stupid doesn't it. Stupid me and thinking I'd look good in this... I should just-"

Tara cut her off, not wanting her to think she looked in any way bad. "N-no... You look great." Amazingly wonderfully beautiful is more like it. But she would never have the courage to say those words. Not after what happened with Joanie.

Willow smiled. "I guess I look ok..." She looked at the price tag on the corset and frowned. "I don't think I'll get it."

Tara nodded, knowing how expensive the clothes here were and figuring that Willow might have better luck with affording the clothes at Target, where she bought her own.

Willow tried on a few more items of clothing with no further incident. After paying for one shirt and one pair of pants at that store, Tara took her to the Target and Willow got five more pairs of the same pants for close to twice the amount she paid for one pair at the trendy chain.

As they were walking out of the Target, Willow heard her stomach growl over the background noise of the mall. "Uh, want to get dinner here?"

Tara frowned. "Umm... I don't really have any money."

Willow noticed the slight embarrassment on the girl's face and smiled at her. "That's ok... my treat. You were nice enough to show me everything I'm going to need and you're teaching me how to do lighting..."

Tara was about to shake her head when she noticed an adorable pout on the redhead's face, aimed at getting her to say yes. "I... I guess that would be ok..."

They walked to the food court and looked around for a good resterant choice. "What kind of food do you want?" Willow looked at Tara for an answer.

Tara shrugged in reply. "I don't really care... besides... you're paying, so you choose." She watched Willow to see where she would go, and she began walking toward a pizza place. Tara followed, and they each got a slice of cheese pizza and a bottle of water. Tara grabbed napkins as Willow paid, and they walked to a vacant table and took a seat.

They began eating in silence, both girls feeling awkward but only Tara really understanding why. She didn't want this crush to ruin her friendship with Willow. She had grown to care about her quite a bit in the two days she had known her and wanted Willow to care also. She was pretty sure Willow liked her, but she was certain it was just as a friend, so she didn't want to entertain any thoughts that they might possibly have more.

Willow decided to walk Tara home after their dinner, since it was starting to get dark and she wanted her new friend to be safe.

As they were walking, they began to drift closer and closer to each other, until eventually their arms were brushing. They walked that way in silence for a block, before Tara smiled. "Um... Thank you for dinner. I had a great time."

Willow wondered briefly why this seemed like a date, but she shrugged that off and smiled. "I did too."

They got to Tara's house, and Willow walked her to the door before stopping and turning to her. "I'll see you tomorrow morning, Tara."

Tara smiled a lopsided smile that Willow subconsciously knew she would fall in love with. "Bye."

Willow began to walk away, then turned around and waved, walking backwards until she hit Tara's mailbox. She winced slightly at her display of clumsiness and smiled apologetically at Tara. "Bye." She walked away quickly to save herself from further embarrassment.

Willow arrived at Buffy's house a few minutes after six. She was let in by Faith, who happened to be closest to the door. Faith grinned widely when she saw Willow. "You must be my new slave."

Willow was more than slightly taken aback at this new and different greeting. "Your... slave?"

Faith nodded, putting her arm around Willow once she had come in. "Yeah... you joined tech crew. I own your ass."

Willow frowned. "I don't think that was on the contract..."

Faith grinned. "Ya gotta read the fine print, Red... It'll get ya every time."

Willow was dragged into the living room by Faith as she was walking there, and looked around. "Where's everyone else?"

"In the kitchen. You better go get changed for the occation, Red."

"Huh? Oh... Right, my pjs. I'll go put them on... Where's the bathroom?"

"Upstairs. The only door that's open."

Willow nodded and went upstairs, found the bathroom, and changed into her pajamas, pink ones with kittens on them. She went back downstairs once dressed again.

Faith looked Willow up and down and smirked at her. "Nice pjs..." She said in an almost sincere tone of voice.

Willow smiled. "They're new..."

Buffy and Tara entered the room then, each holding a bowl of popcorn. "We're here!" Buffy announced as she took a seat on the couch. "Nice pjs, Will... Love the kittens."

Faith sat next to Buffy on the couch, a tiny bit closer than is merely friendly, and Tara sat on her sleeping bag on the floor. Willow unrolled her sleeping bag next to Tara's on the end and sat on it. Tara smiled at Willow and looked up at Buffy. "So... movies?"

Buffy nodded. "We have three movies to watch. Sorry, Willow, but we didn't know which one to get for you, so you don't have one. Faith chose Rush Hour... Tara chose Rent, and I chose Earth Girls Are Easy."

Willow nodded. "Three is enough anyway... right?"

Buffy and Faith glanced at eachother in disbelief. Tara grinned slightly. "You uh... Don't go to many sleepovers, huh?"

Willow frowned. "Well... Not really."

Faith laughed. "That explains it, then. The whole point of a sleepover is to stay up all night with your best gal pals and eat too much."

Buffy nodded in agreement and leaned on Faith's shoulder, which Faith seemed happy about, although no one noticed that. "Speaking of, could you put in the first movie, Tara?"

Tara nodded and sat up onto her knees, grabbing Rush Hour and crawling over to the DVD player. She put in the DVD, put the box on top of the player, and crawled back, laying down on her sleeping bag in preparation to watch the movie.

As the movie played, Willow and Tara slowly gravitated toward eachother each time they shifted, until their hips were touching. They stayed like that for the rest of the movie, until Tara got up to turn it off.

When she turned around after pressing the button, she had to suppress a giggle. Willow noticed the barely suppressed giggle and asked "What?"

Tara pointed to the couch where Buffy and Faith were asleep, Buffy's head on Faith's shoulder and Faith's head on Buffy's. Willow smiled. "Aww, they're so cute..."

Tara sat back down on her sleeping back and got in. "They like to talk big, but they never make it past the second movie."

Willow smiled at them while she climbed into her sleeping bag. "So... are those two... a couple?"

Tara shook her head. "No... Faith wants them to be... but she won't admit it."

Willow nodded and laid down. "Do they usually sleep that way?"

Tara nodded. "Yup. Every time there's a sleepover, since ninth grade, they fall asleep that way. No matter who has a boyfriend, they act as couply as ever at these sleepovers."

Willow cuddled into her sleeping bag and yawned. "So why doesn't Buffy do something about it?"

Tara grinned. "Because she can't tell Faith likes her."

"Wow... how oblivious can one person be? It's so obvious..."

As they both turned over to sleep, Tara thought yeah... so obvious. Why would she ever want me?

Continue to The Midnight Players of SHS Chapter Four

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