Monday afternoon, after school, Willow went immediately to the tech office and turned in her signed permission slip. After Lloyd gave her permission, she took the keys and went up to the lighting booth to wait for Tara.
After fifteen minutes of playing around on the computer, learning what different commands did, Willow found a way to completely automate a performance, using timers to change the lights. She found that she could break it down by act, scene or even line to get the computer to do exactly the right thing with the lights in correspondence to the actors' position and line.
Tara entered the booth just as Willow was testing out the automated system with the actual stage lights, which led to angry protests from the techs trying to work on stage. She heard the screams and shouted threats and giggled slightly. "You might want to stop that, Willow. They're not serious about the death threats, but they will burn your backpack to cinders."
Willow turned off the program and turned to Tara with a smile. "I'm sorry... I just found a way to make our job easier. I can completely automate the lights so all we have to do for a certain command to work is push a key. It's really simple to program once you hack into the lighting system. I-"
Tara held up a hand. "Wait... you hacked into the lighting system's programs? Doesn't that do damage to the program itself?"
Willow shook her head. "Not at all. I'm improving it, actually. The writer used an old coding system to make it. I'm going to upgrade it to make it work faster. If I just..." Willow continued to talk in computer language that was lost on Tara. All Tara heard were a few words, simple words she understood such as 'but, and, or the' anything more complex than that was lost as she watched the redhead's lips move in a brilliantly lovely way. "you know?" Tara heard the words, they had ended one of Willow's sentences. She knew what those words meant, but it took her a moment to realize that Willow had asked her a question. And an even longer moment to realize the girl had stopped talking.
"Uh, huh? Yeah."
Willow looked at Tara oddly, wondering what she was thinking and why the blonde was looking at her that way. Tara's eyes were wide, her mouth slightly open, and her expression unreadable. "Are... are you ok, Tara?"
Tara looked down, embarrassed at being caught staring and scared that Willow would know why she was looking at her. "I um..." I'm ok if it means stupid and completely obvious...
Willow didn't give her a chance to put her foot in her mouth because her next question gave her a perfect escape. "Are you upset about your mom?"
The concern in Willow's eyes and voice made lying impossible. But still... She was upset about her mom, that's just not what caused the looks. She made a split second decision that it wasn't lying simply because the redhead didn't ask if she was staring because she was upset, and she nodded.
Willow nodded in reply. "How is she?"
Tara frowned and looked at the floor, not liking the sinking feeling that entered her stomach at having lied to Willow. "She's still unconscious. She will be for a few days. They um... they found a blood clot in her brain." After a long pause, she added. "They put her on blood thinners to try to clear it."
Willow nodded again. "How are you?"
There's that concern again...
Tara looked up at her, took a deep breath and sighed. "I'm ok. Scared and worried, but I'm ok." And I'm lying. I'm not ok. I'm frightened out of my mind.
Willow moved from the chair she was in to sit next to Tara on the couch in the room. "I'm here for you. Whatever you need."
Tara nodded and tentitively lay her head on Willow's shoulder. "I didn't get much sleep last night..."
Willow grinned, somewhat uncomfortable with the closeness, but wanting to be comforting. "Then take a nap... I don't mind."
Tara yawned. "Are you sure?"
After Willow's nod and "I'm sure." Tara closed her eyes and began to drift off to sleep.
Willow watched Tara sleep the best she could from her vantage point, and smiled as the girl snored softly and adorably. She noticed for what must have been the first time the soft delicate curves in her face, the way her lips quirked some as she spoke wordlessly, her soft breathing and the hand resting on her knee. I can't believe I didn't notice before how beautiful she is. She looks so peaceful...
The redhead continued to watch her until Lloyd came up to the booth and knocked on the door. "Girls? Is someone still up here?"
Willow jumped at the knock, since she had begun to fall asleep herself, startling Tara into wakefulness. "Hmm?"
"We're here." Willow yawned and stretched the best she could with Tara's head on her shoulder.
Lloyd opened the door. "You two need to leave the school. I'm going home, and you can't stay here overnight, especially when there's no one else here."
Tara sat up and opened her eyes. "Right... we need to go home." She rubbed her eyes and yawned.
Willow glanced over at Tara, a little embarrassed at being found that way by the tech director of all people. "We'll leave."
The redhead stiffly stood up and picked up her backpack from where she had left it on the floor and walked to the door as Tara followed suit.
The girls walked partway home in silence before Tara spoke. "Thank you, Willow."
Willow turned to look at her. "For what? All I did was let you sleep..."
Tara smiled and nodded. "I know... and you didn't have to. You don't have to be so nice to me..."
"I want to. You're a nice girl, Tara... and I'm lucky to be your fri-... I mean, to know you." Willow blushed slightly, they hadn't said they were friends. She wasn't really sure if they were, so she didn't want to make Tara uncomfortable by labeling them that.
"We're friends, Willow." Tara smiled at her and Willow grinned.
"Ok." She didn't speak for the rest of the walk home. After a minute of silence, Willow took Tara's hand and held it the rest of the way, neither girl willing to risk breaking the contact.