Return to You Make Me Smile Chapter Six

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.

So are you the girlfriend or the new artist?"

The woman behind the desk typed something into the computer, then looked expectantly up at Tara. "Excuse me?" Tara was caught off guard by the receptionist's question. She really was here just to see Willow, but she couldn't seem to make the receptionist understand.

"Which are you: the gay of the day or the new hire?"

"Neither." Gay of the day? Did Willow get visits by so many women that her employees couldn't even keep track of them all? Tara felt a heated point of disappointment sink into her stomach. Could it be possible that Willow was just another version of Logan? Deep down she didn't feel that was true but she didn't know the redhead very well and she knew first hand that feelings could be deceptive.

"Oh I'm sorry-- Do you prefer lesbian? She's getting pretty desperate for both, I'd suspect."

"What?" Tara put her hand to her forehead. She really didn't think it would be this hard to get into see Willow.

Then, just as Tara was about to give up she heard the elevator slide open behind her, and turned to see Willow stepping out of it. The redhead was wearing jeans and the same leather coat she'd seen her in that day at the art show.

"Willow....," Tara said, relieved. "How did you--?" Tara wondered how Willow had known she was there. Willow pointed toward the cameras mounted in the ceiling and Tara understood. "Oh," Tara smiled. "That's right, I forgot you're a high-tech business woman."

"I thought I'd come down and rescue you." Willow looked pointedly at Anya but brought her eyes back Tara's. Their gaze held for a long moment.

The truth was, Willow had not missed Tara when she'd walked in because she had had her eyes glued to the monitors in her office all morning waiting for the blonde to arrive. But when Tara had actually walked in Willow had been unable to tear her gaze away from the screen long enough to make the trek to the lobby.

Tara was casually dressed that day in a long skirt and a dark-toned coat that had been tied around her waist and knotted. Willow thought she looked fabulous.

Willow and Tara stood smiling at each other, completely oblivious to anyone or anything else--that was until Anya cleared her throat rather loudly.

"Oh I'm sorry. Tara this is Anya. Anya, Tara," Willow said, and the two shook hands.

"I'm only filling in. It seems Willow gave Phyllis the day off. Paid."

Anya leaned in conspiringly and Willow didn't miss the pointed glance in her direction.

"That was interesting," Tara said once they'd gotten far enough from the front desk to go unheard.

"Anya's an acquired taste..." Willow laughed and Tara smiled. "She takes some getting used to...and if she wasn't married to my best friend I might consider firing it is, I try to keep her away from the places she's most likely to encounter people." Willow confided.

Willow leaned in closer to the other woman. Tara was a mixture of aromas but the clearest was Fabric softener. She speculated Tara used Downy.

Tara felt a shiver race up her spine at the feel of Willow's gradual nearness, but Anya's earlier hinting about Willow having many girlfriends was still raising red flags in her mind. Tara realized that she would have to be cautious with regards to where she let this relationship with Willow go. Tara had Spencer to think about, after all, and aside from that, she didn't desire to be caught up in another relationship like the one she'd had with Logan...even if Willow was the most breathtakingly gorgeous woman Tara had ever seen.

But it wasn't like any of that mattered anyway, at the moment they were no more than casual acquaintances burgeoning on the outer edges of possible friendship and nothing more... so Tara pushed any doubts she had about the redhead's intentions out of her mind.

"What is this? Imitation wood paneling?" Tara asked as she ran her hand along the length of the wall. This was their last stop after having visited a series of other rooms.

"Nope. It's imitation," the man she'd been introduced to as Xander said. He looked up from his computer screen and smiled at Tara. She liked him right away and could tell why Willow would want him as a friend.

"Imitation, Imitation wood? What does that make it then?" Tara asked, curiously.

"Actual wood," Xander clarified.

"Right," Tara blushed.

"It's okay. I get the two mixed up all the time." Willow smiled cutely at her. "Where's Spencer? I kinda thought you'd bring him along," She asked, moving to sit on the corner of one of the computer desks.

She'd been with Tara all morning and now it was nearing three in the afternoon and she hadn't gotten a single bit of work done that day. There were clients waiting for her call; forms to be filled and filed; and she still hadn't made any arrangements for the upcoming trip to Japan she'd be taking next month.

The Graphic design conference that was held there every there every year was the biggest in the world. Willow had gone each year, but she knew she wouldn't be there this time if she didn't book a space at the conference soon. Still, she couldn't bring herself to end her day with Tara. There was something so wonderful about being with the blonde, and that feeling had eclipsed everything else in her life that day.

Tara felt Willow's gaze on as her own eyes surfed the room. There were so many computers. "Spencer's at school. Besides, the way he's been running around lately, I don't know if it's safe to bring him around all this expensive equipment." Tara thought it was sweet of Willow to ask about Spencer.

"Nothing's too'd actually have to be a complete oaf to break something in here." Willow reassured Tara by tapping lightly on the computer nearest her, which caused a piece of the camera attached to it to break off and fall to the desk below with a loud clanking sound.

Tara smiled behind her hand that had come up to cover her mouth as Willow sheepishly tried to stick the piece back to its mother-board. "Kinda like that?" Tara asked smiling broadly at the other woman.

"Exactly like that." Willow said smoothly. Then she placed her hand lightly on Tara's arm and it tingled where she touched the other woman. "If you'll accompany this self-proclaimed oaf, She'll show you her goods. Office goods, that is," Willow grinned wickedly, her eyebrows raising suggestively.

"Sweet talker."

"I really can't." Tara smiled apologetically. "It's just I like the way things are right now. I work at home, set my own hours, and I feel like I'm there for Spencer whenever he needs me," Tara explained as she sipped coffee from the mug Willow had handed her.

Willow was sitting on the edge of the deep mahogany desk in her office, plaques and awards of all kinds decorated the walls behind the redhead. Tara sat across from her in one of the black leather office chairs. They smiled across the rim of their cups at each other while a moment of silence elapsed between them.

Tara could see that Willow was a very accomplished woman and suddenly felt a slight tinge of inadequacy. Why did Willow want her to work there?...It wasn't like she knew anything about computers. She barely knew anything about art.

"It was silly of me to even'd want to...," Willow's voice trailed off and she tried to tell herself that the disappointment she felt had everything to do with being back at square one in her search of an artist, but her heart told her it was because she wouldn't have an excuse to see Tara everyday.

Willow had filled the past few days trying to be optimistic that Tara would change her mind once she'd actually seen the space, but that hope was now extinguished. She could tell that Tara felt strongly in her stand against taking the job and Willow knew she wouldn't try to push Tara to do something she didn't want to do. She's simply have to find someone else or nix the contract altogether. She didn't want to do either.

Tara watched Willow's face for an indication of what she might be thinking. She hadn't meant to come off like she was blowing Willow off and she didn't want the redhead to feel like this meant she didn't want anything to do with her. Tara felt the need to say something, anything that would put the impishly sweet smile back on Willow's face, but each time she opened her mouth to speak, Anya's words would come back to her mind, keeping her from saying what she really wanted to say, which was that she would like to see Willow again, even if it had nothing at all to do with work.

"Because it sounds like you have everything you need...," Willow said offhandedly, and mostly to herself, but she felt Tara's blue eyes move quickly to her.

"Well...maybe not everything," Tara smiled coyly, finding her voice at last. "I could use a friend." Tara would leave the offer open for Willow to accept or not. Their gaze lingered and Tara could feel a warmth spread across her chest and down into the center of her stomach. She realized for the third time how incredibly beautiful Willow was.

Tara was sitting close enough to touch Willow and she fantasized momentarily that she had placed her hand on the redhead's knee. She imagined she could feel the texture of the Willow's pants under her palm and the woman's heated skin reacting to her touch...

Tara was startled out of her musing by the shrill sound of her cell phone ringing. Willow was looking at her with an expression of amused curiosity and Tara's cheeks burned. She wondered if it had been obvious to Willow what she'd been thinking.

Tara groped around in her purse for the still ringing phone. She found it and glanced at the number that was lit across the screen; South LA Montessori School had registered on the caller ID. Tara looked at the silver bracelet watch she always wore, it was already 3:30. "Shoot!" Tara knew what this call meant. She fumbled for the talk button, but by the time she managed to push it the call had disconnected.

"What's wrong." Willow suddenly became concerned. She could tell by the change in Tara's demeanor that something had happend.

"That was Spencer's school. Logan didn't pick him up." Tara started packing the things she'd pulled out of her bag the minute before when she'd been searching for her phone, back into the canvas satchel. "You don't happen to have a bus schedule laying around, do you?" Tara remembered that she had left her own schedule on the counter this morning in her rush to catch the bus.

"Bus schedule?"

"My van was having a moment this morning and decided it didn't want to run," Tara explained when she saw the confused look on Willow's face.

"You should have called me...I would have come to get you." Willow was glad that Tara hadn't called to cancel that morning. "Let me drive you," Willow said quickly. She was already retrieving her car keys from inside the desk drawer.

"Are you sure you wouldn't mind?"

"On my honor." Willow smiled.

"Okay then." Tara smiled appreciatively as she keyed in the number to her son's school.

South LA Montessori was huge; the floor plan seemed to be broken up into sections.

Willow found herself peeking into the rooms as they walked down the hallway toward Spencer. The kitchen was just ahead, but Willow could only see the red tiled floor inside the room and one silver sink that had anchored itself below a window, and half of the off-white refrigerator that Willow guessed housed all of their little lunches. She was quite intrigued. It had been so long since she'd been inside a elementary school building. Everything smelled like a mixture of Pine Sol and spaghetti O's.

They continued down the blue carpeted hallway, past small rooms. There was a room with paints and smocks and another was made into a reading room with different colored bean bags on the floor. There were shelves of books, and maps, and all sorts of paper things stapled to corkboards along the walls of the reading room and hallway they were in.

And then they rounded a corner and walked into the largest classroom Willow had ever seen. The room was full of stations with all sorts of activities. There were wooden blocks in one corner and along the wall a water table and place to mold clay. A cooking center with tiny stools and mixing spoons freshly washed and drying in dish racks.

Willow spotted Spencer right away. He was sitting by himself in a smaller reading nook in far corner of the room. He had green eggs and ham and his lips moved as he read. He didn't see them enter and they were stopped by a rather large woman wearing a flowered dress. Willow assumed she must be Spencer's teacher.

The teacher leaned up against a round table with encyclopedias in the center of it. One book was opened to a page containing information on automobiles and another had information about eagles.

"Spencer, your Mom is here," the teacher called.

Spencer's head popped up out of his book. He smiled when he saw Willow and Tara standing there.

"Is he alright?" Tara asked

"Oh sure. He's fine," the teacher nodded.

"My ex was supposed to pick him up t-today," Tara explained

"I understand."

The woman had a kind face but was giving Tara a look that made Willow wondered if this sort of thing happened a lot. Willow thought Spencer seemed to be taking it well, he looked excited to see them.

Spencer rushed toward them but stopped short to retrieve a number of items from his cubby. He grabbed his jacket, and two rolled up pieces of paper from the little box with his name written on the front of it.

"Willow, I didn't know you were going to come here!"

Willow didn't know what to say, but luckily he didn't wait for a response from her before he was excitedly moving on to the next topic.

"Mommy, look what I did today!"

He held up a map of the united states that had been filled in with a variety of colors. After Tara had looked it over, Spencer handed Willow his map and looked up at her expectantly.

"See where I marked the states?"

Willow bent down so Spencer could look at the map with her. "Yes, I see. It's very nice." Willow was rewarded for her simple comment with a smile from the boy and her heart melted. He really was the sweetest kid she'd ever met.

Spencer fell asleep five minutes into Mary Poppins and stayed that way the rest of the evening. Willow and Tara sat on the couch, half paying attention to the movie, and half making light conversation, neither seemed to mind that the movie was still playing.

Willow had taken Tara and Spencer out to dinner that evening and afterward Tara had invited her to come inside and spend the rest of the evening with them. And since Willow could think of nowhere else she would have rather been at that moment; she agreed. Mary Poppins had been Spencer's idea, but Willow didn't mind as long as she was spending time with Tara.

Tara had gotten up to make popcorn, halfway through the movie and Willow sat on the couch waiting for her to return. While she waited her eyes began to roam the small room pursuing art placed around the small living room seemingly at random. She noticed many things she'd missed the first time she'd been there; like the little yellow vase on the television stand, and a molded statue of a cat that Willow guessed had to have been Spencer's creative genius at work.

Finally her eyes landed on the boy who'd fallen asleep in the middle of the living room floor in his fire truck pajamas and socks.

Spencer was half on his stomach with his arm tucked underneath him and half on his side with one knee pulled up to his chest. Willow wondered if it hurt to lay like that. She knew that children were way more flexible than adults, but still...she couldn't seem to imagine making her own body contort that way.

Without too much thought, Willow reached for the blanket laying next to the boy and spread it over him. She didn't feel Tara watching her from the kitchen.

Tara came back with the bowl of popcorn and sat down next to Willow. She'd seen the redhead cover her son with the blanket and it was amazing the warmth she'd felt in witnessing that one simple act. In every way, since the moment they'd met at the restaurant Willow had shown Tara, through her actions, her kind heart.

They stood by Willow's car in a repeat of that first night. Only this time Tara didn't hesitate in reaching her hand out to touch Willow's arm. "Thank you so much for today...for showing me around your building...and for taking me to get Spencer this afternoon." Tara's hand remained on Willow's arm even as the redhead's green eyes grabbed at, and held her gaze.

"You don't have to thank me for any of that," Willow spoke softly. She didn't tell Tara that that whole day had been one of the best she'd ever had. Willow's eyes drifted to the other woman's hand, which still held Willow's upper arm. But when she looked back into Tara's eyes she felt the blonde let go and then she was stepping back onto the curb. Willow wanted to take Tara's hand as if in doing so she could somehow show Tara that what she was feeling was more than friendship, but something was stopping her.

Willow opened her car door and sat down. She watched Tara for a long moment, thinking that the blonde looked as if she wanted to say something. Willow waited momentarily in hopes that Tara would speak again but when she didn't Willow convinced herself that perhaps it had been her imagination. "Goodnight," Willow said slowly.

"Goodnight," Tara returned.

Tara rolled over to look at the blinking red numbers of the clock sitting on her was nearly midnight, and she couldn't sleep. Her eyes drifted over the cordless phone she'd taken to bed with her. She could see it just above the dips in the comforter.

Naughty thoughts drifted into Tara's mind. Thought of calling Willow on the telephone and telling her how, all day she'd only thought about touching her and that all night she'd only wanted to press her lips against her...but could she do that? Tara questioned herself. She pulled the comforter up over her head and kept it there until her breath warmed the space below the blankets unbearably. She kept her face there, pressed up against the top sheet even while her hand groped above the blankets for the phone.

Should she call? She asked herself again. Tara traced the rubberized buttons with her thumb.

"Would you like to go out with me sometime?"

Said the voice on the other end. It was 12:30 in the morning when Willow had been startled awake by the sound of the phone ringing. Willow had groped for the phone and had it to her ear before she was conscious enough to comprehend anything other than...: "Hello?" she almost dropped the phone as she tried to sit up in bed. "Tara?" Willow was confused but she thought she had recognized Tara's voice on the other end of the line. Willow wondered if she was dreaming this happening. She wondered if she would wake up in the morning eating her pillow or something.

"Would you like to go out with me?"

She heard the voice on the phone repeat and knew for certain it was Tara. Willow's sleepy brain was finally clear enough to comprehend what Tara was saying. "You mean on a date?" Willow's heart slowed in her chest and she tried to keep her voice level.


Was it her imagination that made her think Tara's voice was shaking? "I'd love to."

Continue to You Make Me Smile Chapter Eight

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