Dinner had been far more comfortable after the girls were out about dating to Buffy. Willow noticed that Tara was smiling and laughing, even nervously making a few jokes. Whatever it was that had caused her issue earlier in the evening was apparently gone. Willow didn't know that most of Tara's happiness was pretend. Not all of it, of course. Some of Tara was overjoyed to be there with Willow. But she was nervous, and depressed. Part of her still felt like she was cheating on Joanie, just by being in a resturant with a girl she was on a date with. She knew it was irrational, but she still felt a strong sense of loyalty to the girl she lost. This, what she was doing now, was the biggest act of betrayal to Joanie's memory. And what made it even worse was that she hadn't realized what a huge problem it would be before getting Willow involved.
A part of her knew she'd have to tell Willow what was bothering her, but she also knew that the first date was not the proper time. She decided after really realizing how nervous it made Willow that'd it be best to hide for the time being. Once deciding that, she became far more comfortable in talking and joking with the redhead across the table from her.
"And then she said ‘I didn't know one of your henchmen could sing...'" Both girls burst into giggles. Tara had been telling stories from her years working behind the scenes with the drama group and so far, Willow was loving every second. The redhead felt like Tara was finally opening up, but she also could tell there was something off. She figured it was too early in their relationship to push, so she let it be and enjoyed the girl's company. But still, she noticed that Tara's smiles and laughter never quite reached her eyes.
They walked to Tara's house in silence, the false cheer lost once they left the safety of being around a bunch of people and walked out into the late evening. The streetlights had come on at least an hour before and the darkness of their surroundings added to the gloom Tara was already feeling. She knew in some basic part of her that what she was doing was wrong; or at least, she knew she was doing something wrong. She just couldn't tell wheather she was being unfair to Joanie or to Willow. After all, she had promised Joanie her heart. But does it still mean anything if I continue this with Willow? She wasn't sure, and she had a headache from worrying about it. The headache probably explained why she was distancing herself from Willow, walking with at least a foot between them at all times, but the redhead didn't know that.
Why is she staying so far away from me? Willow had noticed since they left the resturant a marked decline in Tara's mood. She wasn't sure what she had done to cause it, but was sure it was something she did. Was I supposed to hold the door? Was it rude of me to go out first? Duh, of course it was rude. That must be why she's so far away, I messed it all up. I'm such a dummy. "Stupid head."
Tara was broken from her thoughts by Willow's mumble. "What?" She looked up to Willow's face, confused, and noticed the hurt and bewilderment that marred the girl's features before that expression gave way to confusion and embarassment.
"Did I say that out loud? I'm sorry, you're not a stupid head. Not a stupid head at all, in fact you have a very nice head. A head that is in no way stupid. Nope, nothing stupid about Tara Maclay's head. No siree..."
It was a gently spoken word, almost low enough that she didn't hear it. But hear it she did, and that one word, also her name, caused her to stop speaking abruptly. She stayed silent for a moment, then replied with a simple "huh?"
Tara smiled slightly and took Willow's hand. "You're not a stupid head." Tara had realized that her distance was hurting Willow. Whether her being there that night with the redhead was right or wrong, what she was doing to Willow was wrong. She couldn't let her think that she did something wrong. There was a long pause as Willow gently smiled and Tara continued. "I'm the stupid head for not telling you... well, I can't really tell you yet. But I've been distracted all night and it's not your fault, I promise." She squeezed Willow's hand and let it go when she realized they were standing in front of her house. "Goodnight, Willow."
Willow smiled slightly, but it was obviously forced. "Goodnight, Tara."
The redhead stood there as Tara backed up a few paces, then turned and walked into her house. She didn't look back.
Tara had always been a light sleeper. It was a defense mechanism, she guessed, because she always woke up when something was wrong. She knew something was wrong immediately upon waking, because it was somewhere around one in the morning and someone was tapping on her window. She got up quickly and knelt between her bed and the window. She saw immediately that a very damp looking Faith was on the other side of the panes of glass, so she opened the window as quickly as she could.
Faith scrambled in and shut it behind her, so as not to let too much of the rain in. "What gives, T? Why's the window locked?"
Tara looked at Faith, wondering why the girl was in her room, but decided to answer her question and just let the girl tell her in her own time. "Donny must have locked it." Neither girl spoke a word about what he would have been doing in his little sister's room, they both knew better.
Faith nodded, and stayed silent for a few moments. She walked over to Tara's closet, which was only a few steps since Tara's room was rather small, and took out a thick and fuzzy blanket and wrapped it around herself. She sat across from Tara on the girl's floor and stared at her lap.
Tara watched her. She had already dried off her face with the blanket and Tara couldn't help but notice that Faith kept having to dry off her face. She's crying... Tara was really wondering what could have happened to make the girl so upset, but she knew that if she pressed, Faith would never tell her. That's just how it went. So, she waited.
About five minutes went by with Faith crying silently and Tara watching her wipe away the tears before anyone finally spoke. Faith looked up at Tara and said simply, "B has a boyfriend."
Tara had seen the young man at the resturant earlier and how well he got along with Buffy. She should have known that this would happen, that Faith would be the first one to find out. She was Buffy's best friend, after all. Tara scooted toward Faith and settled leaning into the corner of her room with Faith next to her. The other girl shifted until her head was resting in Tara's lap and she was curled up next to her on the floor. Tara gently stroked her hair and said nothing, knowing that Faith still had more she needed to say.
She was right, and Faith continued a minute later. "She called me. Eleven o'clock. Gushing about some new boy toy she met at the pizza place. Says he's perfect. Everything she ever dreamed of." She started choking up, and it was far to evident that she was crying, so she stopped talking for a few minutes to compose herself again. She still hated when anyone knew she was crying, even though she also knew that Tara could always tell. "She's going out with him tomorrow. She wants me to drop by and meet him."
There was another long pause, this one lasting about three minutes. "I don't want her to do this, T. It ain't fair. I mean, what's Mr. Macho got that I don't?" She looked at Tara and noticed that, in spite of herself, Tara was trying not to make a comment. "Besides that..." Both girls giggled a little, before the mood became serious again very quickly.
"I just mean... I don't know."
Tara nodded, understanding. "You love her."
Faith nodded also. "I do."
Tara knew how hard it was for Faith to admit love. And though she couldn't quite say the words, she could admit to the feelings. She just hoped that Faith would be able to deal with Buffy's evident straightness and not let it keep her from loving anyone else. Faith apparently had nothing more to say because she got up and climbed into Tara's bed, her signal that it was time for conversation to end and sleep to occur. It was something neither girl ever talked about, with eachother or with anyone else. They cuddled together and went to sleep.
When Tara woke up the next morning, Faith was gone. It always amazed her that, even with how light of a sleeper she was, Faith always managed to get up and leave without waking her. But this morning, something was different. When Tara rolled over, something crinkled between her pillow and her cheek. She reached up and grabbed it, a piece of paper, and sat up in bed, opening her eyes. It was a note, obviously from Faith.
tell B i'm sorry.