Return to You Make Me Smile Chapter Five

You Make Me Smile

Author: MissKittys Ball O Yarn
Rating: NC-17
Feedback: Please let me know what you think... cause I love feedback. I hope you enjoy. Please leave feedback on the You Make Me Smile thread on the Kitten Board.
Disclaimer: Joss owns it all. Except my brain... well, probably that too.

Logan eased down on the gas as soon as the red light changed to green. Spencer was in the passenger's seat, next to her, looking confined yet comfortably strapped under his seatbelt and heavy coat. His hood was pulled tight and it covered most of his eyes and cheeks, yet Logan couldn't help but notice how happy he looked to simply be there. A wave of guilt cut through her.

Guilt was something foreign to her. It was uncomfortable, so she pushed it down and away from herself so that she didn't have to admit that she was an asshole.

It wasn't news to her that she was an asshole, she knew deep down that it was true, yet admitting it out loud was something else entirely. Logan ran her fingers through her short, brown hair. And it wasn't as if this whole deal was even her fault. Tara was the one that had left--she'd been the one that had caused this whole situation. Logan wanted to be a good parent, but it was Tara's condescending attitude which made that impossible.

Logan had no problem lying to herself and even less of a problem convincing herself that the lies she told were true. Logan had spent her whole life blaming other's for the things that went wrong in her life, so why should it be any different now? Tara was the bad guy; not her.

It was Logan's mother's fault that she didn't have a proper job, after all, the woman had never pushed Logan to go to college...all those years her mother just let her do what ever she wanted to do--and where had it gotten Logan? Nowhere.

And it wasn't her fault that she'd never received any affection from her father. That had nothing to do with the fact that Logan used everyone she came into contact with. Instead she blamed her brother.

Jack had always been there... getting into trouble, using drugs and stealing money and sucking up their parent's energy until there had been nothing left for her. Could she really blame herself for that? No. The only thing she'd ever come close to blaming herself for was ignoring Spencer for all those months after she and Tara's separation.

After Tara had left, Logan had felt the need to put some distance between herself and Spencer. He had been so clingy at first and she had felt suffocated. Logan knew that sounded selfish, but it didn't stop it from being true.

Logan had never really wanted to have a child, she'd always told herself that she would go to her grave livin' the free and easy lifestyle of the unattached. And even after she met Tara and they moved in together she had felt that way. But after time Tara had begun to change. And it had scared Logan.

In the beginning Tara had been shy and uncomfortable around people and that was what had initially drawn Logan to her in the first place. It was the way Tara would always duck her head behind that curtain of hair, and her self-conscious stutter that had allowed Logan's interest to turn into something more.

The thing was, Logan loved being in charge. And at first she'd had that with Tara but as time went on, Tara had begun to come into herself more... even developing a few close friends outside of Logan's group. Logan had felt threatened as her metaphorical grip on Tara seemed to be slipping. She'd had to do something.

In those days Tara was making a lot of money, she'd quite college with one year left to go to work full time--per Logan's request and was making it big as the assistant to a big named executive at a very prestigious corporation -- but all that was secondary to the feeling Logan got in the pit of her stomach when Tara had begun to make friends at the office.

Logan had known that the day was approaching when Tara would suddenly wake up and realize that Logan was just using her. She had no doubt that Tara could find someone better than she was...or could ever be.

So in a way, Spencer had been Logan's ace in the sleeve--a way of Keeping Tara tied to her. Logan had known for a long time how much Tara wanted to have a child and had played on those emotions at just the right time. And even though Logan hated the thought of being responsible for anyone other than herself, and that committing to a kid would take up some of the free time she so valued it had been far worse for Logan to see the distance Tara had already started to put between them as she saw more and more of the outside world. She could also sense that Tara had grown disillusioned in her job and hoped that a baby would solidify a resolve in Tara to stay where she was--employment wise.

Spencer was a sacrifice Logan had been willing to make out of desperation to keep Tara bound to her somehow...and it had worked, for awhile. But Logan had been stupid, and had started flaunting the fact that she was seeing other people. Next thing she knew Tara had packed up the kid and left...and with the two of them went Logan's meal ticket.

Logan wasn't surprised to hear that Tara had quit her job after the separation and had begun to delve more and more into her art. She'd known for some time that Tara had grown even more unhappy with the corporate world and that having Spencer had actually had the opposite effect on Tara. Instead of keeping her plugging away diligently in the office the kid had put a squelch to any desire Tara might have had to climb the corporate ladder.

"Can I have a kitty, Lee-Lee?"

Spencer's question brought Logan back up out of her own thoughts and into the present. He was looking at her under the crease of his hood. "You can have any kind of animal you want, Tiger."

"Can I have a giraffe?"

Spencer giggled and Logan could tell that he knew he'd found a loop-hole in her generosity. They shot each other a look, and they both smiled. Logan pulled the strings on his hood, causing it to tighten even more so around his face.

Overall, Spencer was an ok kid. Not whiny like some children Logan knew of...and hardly ever demanding. She definitely could have gotten saddled with worse. And what had started out as sacrifice had grown steadily into love over the years. She loved Spencer...she really did.

Logan reached over and put Spencer's nose in between her knuckles, then giving it a tweak she pulled her hand away and said: " I've got your nose." She pretended to put it in her jacket pocket. When he was younger she could always fool him with the old "I've got your nose" trick. But now that he was older he was on to her and could tell when she was teasing him.

"No you don't! It's right here!"

Logan could see Spencer out of the corner of her eye touch is face to make sure that she had indeed been tricking him. She was glad to see that at least part of him was still that little boy, she remembered so well. "You're too smart, you know that? How'd you get to be so smart?"

Willow had gotten there at 4:30 and by 5:00 it already seemed to Tara as if she and Willow were old friends. They had such a natural way with each other that in no time flat they were teasing each other and making comments that could be construed by the right party as light flirting.

Tara had come out to Willow and told her about Logan and the complicated relationship that existed between her ex and Spencer. Willow had seemed understanding and had even made a few jokes about androgyny to lighten the mood a little, which Tara appreciated greatly.

Currently Willow was leaning against the counter directly behind Tara while the blonde stirred and added ingredients to the pot of spaghetti sauce that bubbled and steamed on the stove. The concoction hissed and let out the most heavenly aroma of vegetables and hearty sweetness in the air.

Tara lifted the spoon of dripping sauce and turned to Willow's waiting lips. She moved in close to the redhead under the pretext that she didn't want to spill. Willow closed her eyes and made a big show of how much she enjoyed the flavor. Tara wanted to be in the same space as Willow for as long as possible so she drew back slowly. The woman smelled of soap and lavender bubble bath.

"You should come over to my apartment, next week. I'll cook you dinner," Willow said cutely.


Willow had been fiddling with the oven mitt she'd found on the counter and slipped it on her hand "Yep. I know how to make Texas chili like the back of my hand," Willow said, holding up the glove covered appendage; the recipe for Texas chili clearly printed in black ink on the back of the brown fabric, a chili pepper sat red and glistening above the recipe.

"There's only one flaw in your evil scheme," Tara said, licking a bit of sauce that had dripped onto her index finger.

"What's that?" Willow asked, a small smile playing at the corner of her lips.

"That's my oven mitt," Tara said. And then turning toward the bubbling pot, she grinned at the steam that was rising around her. Tara she could hear Willow's throaty laughter behind her.

Spencer flitted from room to room while his bowl of Ice-cream melted into vanilla soup on the carpet. He had abandoned Willow and Tara some time ago and since then, they had only seen glimpses of him every now and then, as he skittered back and forth through the living room in his dinosaur pajamas and sock-clad feet. He would stop every other time through to sit momentarily in Tara's lap, plant a juicy kiss on Tara's cheek, ramble off some random bit of trivia to Willow, and then be on his way again.

Tara knew that Spencer's energy that night had everything to do with the residual-Logan effect and would wear off in a few hours. Willow being there when he'd gotten home had simply been icing on the cake. So strong was the residual-Logan effect that the small boy had been unable to sit still for any length of time...even to eat ice-cream.

Yet there was a darker side to this buzzing of energy...because Tara knew that it was only a matter of time before Logan's phone calls stopped and Spencer came crashing down. Tara would be there when he fell though, she would always be there for him.

Willow and Tara had moved into the living room to enjoy their desert and they sat on the floor eating their Ice-cream as slowly as it was humanly possible, while finding light things to talk about. They found themselves laughing out loud on more than one occasion and Tara had told her that she thought Willow was the funniest, quirkiest woman she'd ever met. And cute too but Tara didn't say that out loud.

Talking to Willow took on a natural flow that was neither hurried nor forced. And it had been that way from the second Willow had stepped through her front door that afternoon. Their banter had even begun to take on an even heavier flirtatious element over dinner as they twisted and twirled spaghetti onto their forks. Spencer seemed oblivious to it all as he prattled on about his day at school and what he'd done with his grandmother that afternoon.

And it wasn't long after they'd settled in the living room that Willow noticed Tara's collection of records. They each took turns leafing through them and then pulling out the ones that interested them.

"Oh my Goddess, you have Loretta Lyn!" Willow said, turning the cover over so that she could read what was on the back. "I love this album." Willow licked a drip of sugary goodness that had fallen on her pinky finger.

"You want to put it on?" Tara said around a mouthful of vanilla ice-cream?

Willow nodded so Tara rose, an, taking the record Willow held up to her, removed the scratched, plastic cover from the old record player.

The music began and before they knew it they were both dancing to the sound of a lively fiddle that played to the tune of The San Antonio stroll.

Willow offered Tara her hand and the blonde took it without hesitation. They both laughed as Willow spun her around and then pulled her close enough so that there was only a few inches separating them.

"You're a very good dancer" Tara said in between breaths.

"Thank you." With one hand Willow tipped the invisible hat that sat perched atop her head, then slipping her hand around Tara's waist, she gave the woman her most charming smile. "I always dance better when I have a good partner."

They both blushed and Tara, releasing her grip on Willow's fingers spun away from the other woman just as the song ended.

"I want to dance too, Mommy!" Spencer, having heard the commotion in the living room had come to join them.

"From the top, then?" Willow said speaking directly to Spencer. The boy beamed at her and nodded his head enthusiastically, his blonde eyebrows were raised in excitement.

Willow realized that she and Tara were still holding hands and neither woman let go even as Tara made her way back to the record player. There was the sound of the needle being moved and then The San Antonio Stroll was beginning again. Spencer held his hands out to both Willow and Tara. Each woman took one of his hands, finding that they'd made a circle of three; all hands connected as they danced to the spirited music.

After Spencer had gone off to bed, and the dishes had been cleared, Willow and Tara returned to their place on the living room carpet and had once again, became engrossed in conversation.

Willow loved the lilting way Tara spoke. She loved meeting Tara's shy glances head on couldn't get enough of the cute way Tara stuttered when she felt like she wasn't choosing her words correctly. Willow thought all that was incredibly cute, but mostly she liked the feeling of familiarity she had with this woman. Almost as if they had met before and were destined to be friends...or something more.

Tara couldn't remember having ever been so interested in another person. She felt like she could talk to Willow all night and never get tired. She liked the sound of the redhead's was soothing and adorable. Tara smiled when she realized that she'd gotten lost in her own thoughts and that Willow was nearing the end of a babble fest.

"--I never did understand Fahrenheit it's based on a bunch of random least Celsius makes a modicum of sense. I mean...Okay 0 is freezing 100 is boiling....what more could a person need? Fahrenheit is just so unsystematic. I like even numbers...none of that 32/212 nonsense for me...nope." Willow nodded emphatically. "And I'm boring you..." .

"No...I'm intrigued."


"Really. It's nice that you can be so passionate about something." Tara traced a path along the carpet with the tip of her finger, leaving a darker trail of color behind her where her finger caused the fibers to reverse.

"Passionate? No. Spaz? Might be closer to the truth." Willow couldn't believe that this woman wasn't bothered by her ramble. Every other woman Willow had been with would have told her to shut up by then.

"You are passionate. See? Drool." Tara, without thinking swiped her thumb across the tiny spot of moisture on Willow's lip. She could tell that the redhead had gone somewhere in her mind and she wanted to bring her back to the present.

"Say it don't spray it" Willow laughed to cover the wanton expression she was imagining having at the blonde's light touch across her bottom lip.

Tara took her hand away, tucking it under her butt for safe keeping. "So, tell me, how did you end up getting into something like graphic design?"

"After started off as a little side project while I figured out what I really wanted to do...but it just kept growing and before I knew it I had a full-fledged business...with logos and business cards and everything."

"You didn't expect that?"

"The business cards? 'cause they sort of come with the, yeah I--"

"No, I mean that it would grow and become something substantial."

"Not at first" Willow shifted a little so that she was sitting cross-legged. "It all happened so fast. It was like one minute my biggest worry was whether or not there was going to be a pop quiz in-- insert pretentious class title here" Willow made and expression that was a cross between a smile and a frown, "and then the next minute I'm being handed a diploma, getting kicked out the proverbial door, and slamming head-first into the brick wall that is the real world. It exists you know..." She looked up to find Tara watching her intently.

"The real world?"

"No. The brick wall. It's on thirteenth and Oxford, right behind Loon's Chinese restaurant."

They both laughed at the joke.

"But you're okay with it now?" Tara asked, when she'd recovered. She met Willow's eyes and could see them glinting green in the lamplight.

"Oh's you know..." Willow picked at a fuzzy sitting innocently by her foot.

"You don't sound too convincing..."

Willow took a breath, maybe she could explain what she meant a little better. "When I was little I thought I would save the world."

"What happened?" Tara could sense that Willow was letting her in on something very personal...but she could also sense that it was hard for Willow to do so.

"My mom upgraded to a new-fangled dryer and I ran out of lint."

"Saving the world with dryer lint....novel idea." Tara wondered why Willow turned anything potentially serious into a joke.

"I had this idea to make everyone blankets. Silly huh?"

"No. I like it. It's creative." and sweet, Tara thought...but didn't say it.

"Well, that was a long time ago." Willow let her gaze drift past Tara to settle on the wall behind the blonde. Pictures in frames hung there like portents of her own past.

"And now?"

Willow left the pictures to focus on Tara again "Now...that's kind of all faded into the background."

"You can still save the world, you know."

"I submit to a laundry service..." Willow shrugged as a smile curled at the corner of her lips.

"I'm not talking about lint, sweetie."

The way Tara licked her bottom lip with the tip of her tongue made Willow wonder what exactly they were talking about? She wanted to lean across the space and kiss Tara, but she didn't act on that thought. "So...this Logan creature sounds intriguing. Spencer certainly loves her a lot." Willow said changing the subject.

Her run-in with the brunette this evening had been interesting at best...and try as hard as she could, willow just hadn't been able to picture a creature as soft and sweet as Tara, being with someone as cold as Logan had felt, standing awkwardly in the entryway.

Willow didn't know why she felt the need to change the subject and get the focus off of her. Maybe the turn in conversation had forced her to take a closer look at her life and really ask herself some major questions about the choices she had made. Perhaps she wasn't ready for that level of self-examination or perhaps she was just uncomfortable being the focus of attention.

I really like your paintings. Willow turned to Tara as they came through the kitchen entrance from the garage. She'd filled Tara in on her company's next project and had suggested that Tara would be perfect for the job.

"Thank you."

Willow continued on; "There's something so layered about them. Like there's something behind what is visible. Am I making any sense at all?"

"You are." Tara blushed, not really knowing what to do with the compliment. "Painting for me has always been sort of a spiritual progression. Like with each completed piece I discover a little bit more about myself."

"You're a work in progress." Willow made eye contact with Tara but the other woman was the first to look away.

Tara looked down at her hands. "I don't think I would be right for your project."

"You'd be perfect." Willow wanted to take Tara's hands in her own, but she didn't.

"I don't know..." Tara was conflicted. After Logan, she told herself she would never work another nine to five.

"Got another hot date tonight?" Tara teased when she saw the flowers in the passenger's eat of Willow's car. She'd walked Willow out and now stood next to the opened driver's side door.

"Hot date? huh?" Willow was confused.

"The flowers." Tara nodded toward the bouquet laying on the passenger's seat.

"Oh, those were for you. Are for you," Willow corrected as she leaned across the seat to retrieve the wilted bundle. She didn't feel nervous giving them to Tara anymore.

"You brought me flowers?"

Willow nodded while the roses listed to the left. Willow cupped them with her hands, trying to right them and help them seem a bit more presentable. But Tara brought them to her face and pressed her nose into the limp petals as if they were the most precious gift she'd ever been given. Willow felt herself warm from the inside out.

It was possible that it was in that moment that Willow fell in love with Tara. Real love, too. But she was too taken with the woman to pay much attention to frivolities like love. Willow didn't know how to be in she'd never been before and had she been focused on being in love with Tara in that moment she might have missed out on the opportunity to meet Tara's gaze over the red and white roses.

"At least say you'll come." She was speaking again of the job offer she's made Tara earlier.

"Okay." Tara said, momentarily defenseless to refuse. She didn't have to agree to anything if she didn't want to so there was no harm in simply having a look.

"And you never know, you could change your mind and fall hopelessly in love office space...," Willow finished, blushing.

"I don't think that's going to happen. The office space thing I mean."

Tara leaned in as if she might kiss Willow right there in the middle of the darkened street. But she pulled back "I'll see you Friday then?"


Willow looked confused and Tara smiled lopsidedly "At your office?"

"Oh right! Yes. Friday!"

"Goodnight." Tara smiled

"Goodnight." Willow returned the smile and then climbed into her car. She watched Tara in her rearview mirror, bathed in the glow from the lighted streetlamp until she could no longer see her. Wow, willow thought to herself. And then turned the radio on, pressing the search button until a classic country station came on.

Continue to You Make Me Smile Chapter Seven

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