Return to You Make Me Smile Chapter Eleven

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.
Note: Thanks to Starcomed for her wonderful beta work.
Thanks to Jeanne for her help with this chapter. If it wasn't for you sweetie, this chapter wouldn't have come together at all. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

"And this is the guest room...though it's technically never seen an actual guest...but it has high hopes for the future," Willow grinned, and led Tara and Spencer back down the hall toward the living room. She'd taken them on a tour of the ten room apartment but had left out one feature which she hoped to show Tara a little later, if they could get some time alone.

"How long have you lived here?" Tara was curious because most of the apartment looked stark and un-lived in. The only room with any life to it at all was the living room - and that was only because it was the room with the most furniture. The carpets were white throughout each room, and in pristine condition, which she knew didn't agree well, in general, with six year olds. Tara was concerned about the wrath of Spencer on Willow's unmarred carpets. She made a mental note to watch her son closely that night in order to make sure he didn't spill anything anywhere.

"A long time..." Willow was embarrassed, even though she knew Tara wasn't judging her. She knew her apartment looked a little barren, but she'd always told herself that she would spruce up the place a little once she secured things enough at work to take some time off - which just never seemed to come around. There had always been something in the way, but now...having Tara and Spencer there made her want her apartment to exude a welcoming feel even more than before. She wanted Tara to like her living space - enough to feel comfortable spending time there - a feeling completely foreign to Willow before having met Tara.

"This would help," Spencer said, spotting one of the paintings he'd given Willow, leaning against the wall in the living room. The painting was a small canvas 12x12 of a burgundy tulip. "We could hang it right there." Spencer pointed to a spot of wall above the fireplace.

"Spencer..." Tara started to interrupt and say that Willow should be in charge of picking the perfect place for it, but Willow was already addressing Spencer.

"That's a wonderful idea. Would you help me hang it?" Spencer's face lit up and he eagerly followed Willow into the other room, to retrieving a specialized hanger that would fan out inside the wall and provide a solid hanging surface for the painting. Willow had bought them a few years back, but had never had the time to do anything with them.

Tara stood back and took an observational stance, watching Spencer and Willow work together to hang the painting. Willow was wonderful with Spencer, striking the perfect balance between doing things on her own, and giving Spencer enough to do to make him feel like he was helping. Tara could really feel Willow taking the time to make sure Spencer felt needed - something Logan had never done, even on the good days.

Once the painting was hanging nicely above the mantel and Spencer was satisfied that he had explored every square inch of Willow's apartment, he settled himself down on the floor in front of the couch and pulled a sketchpad and some pencils out of his backpack.

"You need a picture for your refrigerator," Spencer announced to Willow, having noted, during the tour, that a refrigerator without a drawing seemed like a very bare, lonely appliance.

"You know, I think you're right." Willow smiled as Spencer gave a resolute nod and absorbed himself in his drawing.

Seeing that as her opportunity, Willow gently took Tara‘s hand. "Come with me, I want to show you something." Willow led her towards the French doors, which would lead them on to the balcony. This seemed like the perfect chance to show Tara the last of the apartment's features.

As Willow slid open the balcony doors Tara began to panic. She could feel her chest tightening, hear her heart pounding in her ears, and she briefly wondered if her legs would actually hold her upright long enough to make it onto the balcony. She tightened her fingers around Willow's hand, taking strength from the redhead, who turned and flashed her a luminously enthusiastic smile, completely unaware that Tara was on the verge of catastrophe. Tara gathered the strength to return the smile, then took a deep breath, closed her eyes and stepped cautiously out onto the balcony. But all too abruptly, Willow's strong hand was no longer wrapped around Tara's, as she was using it to proudly draw attention to the magnificent view.

Tara opened her eyes to investigate the whereabouts of Willow's hand, but was, instead, pulled toward the sight before her. Below them, thousands of lights in the buildings of the city flickered like tiny electric stars, but the beauty of it was soon lost on Tara - the sudden realization of exactly how high up she was hit her like a blow to the stomach. She reached out to steady herself, but it was too late. Managing to grab hold of Willow's dress just as the contents of her stomach came up and out, she didn't have time to guide the redhead out of the way.

When it was all over, Tara groaned and leaned back. "I'm sorry. I've ruined your dress," Tara managed weakly, sliding down against the concrete balcony until she rested on the deck. She really didn't think she would be able to look out at the view again. She wondered momentarily, what Willow must be thinking of her. She wondered if she seemed silly or less mature now that she had gotten sick right in front of her. But those thoughts only lasted a minute, when Tara met Willow's caring, green eyes, she saw nothing but concern...and something more, which she didn't dare try to name.

"No, you haven't. I have 12 more just like it. My closet is filled with them," Willow said soothingly. She was trying to help Tara feel better but she couldn‘t tell if it was working. She sat down next to the blonde, taking Tara's hand tenderly in her own; subconsciously caressing circles onto the back of the other woman's warm hand.

Tara‘s voice was small, but she could feel a smile grace the corner of her lips. "Like Marge Simpson has a million green dresses?"


"Could we go back inside?"

"Come on." Willow took both of Tara's hands, pulling her to her feet. Tara swayed a little and Willow was right there, wrapping her arm around the blonde's waist to steady her. Tara leaned into Willow's body, absorbing the other woman's strength.

Willow had changed out of the soiled dress and was now wearing a pair of sensible jeans and mauve top. She opened the oven door and grabbed a pot holder. "Do you feel okay to have a little of this?" Willow held up a bit of the roasted potatoes from the pan she'd sat on the stove top. Willow was worried; Tara was still looking rather green in the cheeks. She felt like she should be doing something more for the blonde than showing her potatoes...a cold compress maybe?. Willow pulled a rag out of the drawer next to the sink and, turning on the tap, she ran the water cold, wetting the cloth. "Here...let me..." Willow gently pressed the wrung-out rag onto Tara's forehead.

"I'm okay..." Tara said, still feeling a little weak. She knew she didn't have a fever, but she liked Willow's hands on her. Embarrassed, Tara blushed. She still couldn't believe that she'd thrown up all over Willow like a child would do. But now Willow was tending to her; pressing the folded rag against her forehead - only less like a mother would do, and more like a lover...only they weren't lovers, quite yet.

Tara blushed again, this time at the turn her thoughts had taken. She'd just thrown up all over the woman; the last thing she should have been thinking about was sex. Yet she couldn't stop herself from noticing the way Willow smelled of soap and spice; or the way her small breasts formed perfect twin mounds under the material of her shirt. And though she'd never seen them, she could picture what they would look like void of covering. Of its own volition Tara's body leaned closer into Willow's warmth. Though their touch didn't extend beyond Willow's palm against her forehead, the contact lasted only a moment, muted by the rag between them Tara still felt the heat of Willow's touch.

They ate dinner in comfortable silence, punctuated randomly by Spencer's innocent banter. Afterward, Tara helped Willow to clear the table; easily completed because a quick rinse the dishes and into the stainless steel dishwasher was all it had taken, leaving them nothing more to do but join Spencer in the living room.

Willow was on the couch, her feet curled into the leather upholstery, Tara was on the cushy white carpet, facing Willow, her legs crossed under her. They'd been watching Spencer play for a long time and talking in between about mundane things like grocery shopping and which bills they always paid first. Tara had said she always paid her mortgage first. Willow found it funny, how natural it all felt.

Spencer flitted around Willow's apartment in a Super Man costume he'd produced, seemingly from out of nowhere, as soon as they had finished dinner. One minute he'd been Spencer, a mild mannered reporter from Metropolis, and the next he'd been transformed into someone else entirely.

Spencer ran from the bathroom at the end of the long hallway shouting excitedly: "Look, Lee-Lee...!" Spencer stopped in his tracks; realizing the mistake he'd made, he looked shyly at Willow. "Umm...I mean, Willow. " He jumped up and down, his red cape flapping around him; the slip he'd made forgotten in his excitement.

Willow looked at Tara, but the blonde seemed unconcerned, though she did raise an eyebrow, which Willow met head-on with one of her own.

"I'm faster than a locomotive! Stronger than a silver backed gorilla and I have the amazing ability to leap tall buildings in a single bound!" Spencer puffed out his bare chest, his cape secured around his shoulders with a clothespin. He had on blue shorts and a pair of yellow soccer socks pulled up to his knees. His hands balled heroically into fists on his hips, "Do you know who I am?!" he bellowed, in his best super hero voice.

"My insurance adjuster?" Willow said, using a most serious tone, though she was just teasing.

"No, Silly! I'm Super Spencer!"

Spencer turned is attention to Tara; running at full speed, he tackled her. However, she'd been ready for him and, capturing him around his tummy, she tickled him unmercifully until he slouched onto the carpet giggling uncontrollably.

Tara was content to lean her head against Willow's soft shoulder as they cuddled on the couch watching the movie Spencer had chosen. She looked over at her son, who'd fallen asleep a long time ago at the other end of the couch. He was stretched out and his bare feet were pressed against the outside of Tara's left thigh.

On the screen, Ariel sang a lament to the sea and being bound to it because of her father's inability to see that things could be any other way. Tara could relate to that. Her own father had, although well meaning, a relatively limited view of possibilities outside of his own farmhouse. He was almost blind to the world that existed outside of his own creation.

Sometimes she wondered if her father or brother ever thought about her - about where she was or what she was doing - she wondered if they ever thought about Spencer. Tara frowned and questioned why her thoughts had even gone there. It wasn't as if she spent a lot of time thinking about the family she'd left behind...

Willow stirred against her and Tara pressed her nose into the redhead's sweater, which had replaced the mauve shirt, hours ago. She loved the way Willow rich and warm. Tara suppressed a contented sigh; instead she pulled herself away from Willow's heat. Her thoughts had taken her to a sad place. Willow let out a little sound of protest as Tara lifted herself away but felt the other girl's arm tighten around her, pulling Tara back against her. She didn't protest, instead she allowed Willow to bring her back to the warmth of her body.

Willow had been dozing on and off while the music on the screen wafted around the room as if carried on a tide of its own. She hadn't meant to fall asleep but up until a few minutes ago she'd felt very peaceful with Tara cuddled into her side. Willow's half asleep mind wanted to know why her warm comfy was being taken away so suddenly. "Is there something wrong...?" Willow whispered groggily, after a moment. She'd sensed a change in Tara's mood, and wondered what had caused it.

But how could Tara explain about her father and brother to Willow right then? Tara was so used to taking things inward and dealing with everything herself; she was afraid that she didn't know how to open up intimately with another person. She'd never been able to talk to Logan about anything; she'd become used to keeping emotions about her father and brother to herself. She'd never wanted to burden anyone else with something she, herself, had caused. These were all such complicated feelings and they had been sharing such a simple moment. She didn't want to ruin it any more than she already had. "It's getting late," Tara yawned, deciding to avoid Willow's question all together for the time being. She brought her wrist to the bluish glowing light that emanated from the television screen, trying to read the numbers in the flashing dilations.

"We should probably be going..." her voice sounded false; she knew she didn't really ready to leave, she just didn't want to talk about her father with Willow right then.

"Would it be wrong of me if I asked you to stay...?" Willow waited, and when Tara's voice came, it was thick. Willow shivered at the sound.

Tara shook her head. "No, not wrong at all..." She hadn't really been ready to leave Willow's warmth anyway...and Spencer was already asleep; it wouldn't do to drag him out so late at night.

They were talking in low whispers, so as not to wake Spencer; discussing what it would mean if Tara stayed. Their faces came close together and Tara could feel Willow's breath on her lips. Warm and sweet. "Is there someplace I can put him to bed?" Tara looked at her son, sprawled out on the couch in boyish sleep. There were two other bedrooms in the apartment, not including the master bedroom; Tara didn't know which one Willow would prefer to put Spencer. She saw Willow nod, and then the redhead was standing, and offering a hand to help Tara from the couch.

"I'll help..."

"Okay," Tara agreed.

They smiled warmly at each other. Tara scooped her sleeping child into her arms trying her best not to wake him, but he was getting so big that she couldn't maneuver him the way she'd been able to when he was little. She felt Spencer stir and wake slightly, his lids heavy with sleep. He muttered something Tara couldn't understand and then wrapped his arms around her neck, closing his eyes again. He was like a heavy sack of flour in her arms; all legs and feet bumping into her knees as she carried him.

Willow led the way down the hall and into the guest room nearest the living room. She went in first, to pull down the blankets and smooth the sheets. She‘d never smoothed the sheets for anyone before she noted, as she evened out the wrinkled surface. "I've never put anyone to bed," she confided as Tara gently laid a very sleepy Spencer onto the bed, and pulled the covers gently over his sleeping form. Spencer, sleeping, rolled onto his side, his hand tucked under his cheek. "He's so cute when he's asleep."

Tara smiled. "You haven't seen him in the morning...he can be a bear to wake up."

"A cute bear, I bet."

"Very cute," Tara agreed.

The next morning Willow and Tara were awake before Spencer. They were cooking breakfast when he came out of the bedroom around 7:00am, yawning and rubbing his eyes. Tara had been expecting a deluge of questions from him this morning about why they had stayed the night at Willow's, but after greeting them with a bright good morning, he had quickly settled in the living room to play. Tara noticed how completely at "home" he seemed to be and it made her smile...but also worried her a little. She thought back to the previous night and how he had slipped, calling Willow "Lee-Lee." It hadn't been that big of a deal, but she didn't want Spencer developing unrealistic ideas about Willow‘s role in his life either. She was thinking about Willow as well; Tara didn't want to put pressure on Willow or make her feel like she expected her to parent Spencer or anything.

"I keep thinking he's going to pull a coat rack out of there," Willow joked, not realizing she'd interrupted Tara's thoughts. She was referring to Spencer's backpack, comparing it to Mary Poppins' carpet bag. As she said that, she watched him take a set of toy cars from a side pocket of the carry-all.

Tara chuckled. "He didn't think you would have any toys so he packed some of his own to bring along."

"He's very good at entertaining himself."

"Sometimes," Tara smiled warmly, recalling the millions of hours she'd spent entertaining her smart boy since the day he was born.

Tara's hand brushed up against Willow's hand as they worked together, chopping vegetables and beating eggs together for omelets. Tara smiled, recalling how wonderful it had been to wake up against the other woman's warmth that morning.

The last thing Tara recalled about the previous night was snuggling against Willow's body on the couch after they'd put Spencer to bed. They hadn't done anything sexual that night, but it was somehow better that way. Tara was faintly reminded of Willow's arms around her, with the blue glow from the late night infomercial bouncing softly off the walls of the living room - their own personal lightshow. They'd fallen asleep that way, Willow in jeans and her sweatshirt, shoes off, white, sock-clad feet, warm against Tara's toes as they held each other. Tara had borrowed a nightshirt from Willow; a rather loose-fitting, thigh-length, purple nighty, covered in pictures of hearts and cute-ish puppies - the kind with large shiny eyes and floppy ears - which she still wore; along with a pair of fuzzy-wuzzy slippers Willow had supplied for her this morning. The slippers reminded her of something she'd seen dead on the side of the road once as a kid, but she hadn't said that to Willow; instead she'd thanked her and slipped the monstrosities onto her considerably cold feet.

They sat around the table eating breakfast and enjoying each other's company. Spencer did more playing in his omelet than eating it; but then again, he'd never been a real big breakfast eater. It was all Tara could do, most days, to get him to eat a piece of toast in the morning and drink a cup of milk.

Tara, showered and dressed, sipped a cup of coffee and met Willow's gaze across the table. She really didn't want to, but she would have to leave soon - she still had to do so much work in order to get ready for the showing in San Francisco. She didn't have much time to get a collection of finished work together; she hoped Spencer would be content to paint today as well...staying focused would be a lot easier if she didn't have to keep up with him.

Willow watched Tara for a long moment, and was frightened by how right everything was feeling - had felt the entire time. Tara was in her kitchen, sitting at her table, drinking the coffee that they had made together and it was incredibly perfect...yet a little scary at the same time; scary perhaps in the good sort of way. No, in the best sort of way, she corrected herself. She could see more mornings like this in their future, many more mornings.

Continue to You Make Me Smile Chapter Thirteen

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