Return to You Make Me Smile Chapter Fifteen

You Make Me Smile

Author: MissKittys Ball O Yarn
Rating: NC-17
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Disclaimer: Joss owns it all. Except my brain... well, probably that too.

Willow sat on the ground with a tree against her back. She was exhausted and was certain she'd had enough play-time to last her well into her fifties. She had had no idea when she'd agreed to play with the boys, that two small children would have so much energy between them. She'd spent the last few hours playing tag, and answering questions about the scientific name for every plant they'd come across.

She may have been worn-out but she still wasn't too worn-out to let her gaze drifted lazily across the campground to where Tara was in conversation with Ellen over something--Willow couldn't tell what.

Nothing had really happened between the two of them in the tent that morning, aside from some kissing and light touching, but Willow was okay with that. She was more than okay with that, because for the first time in her life she felt like she wasn't rushing into something. She'd never been in a relationship like the one she was in now--she'd never loved anyone--but she loved Tara.

Willow studied the blonde, letting her gaze drift over Tara's white sneakers, and up her legs to her firm thighs, she rested there a moment and then with unadulterated intent let her gaze slip up Tara's stomach, and the tan cardigan she wore to her breasts. Her eyes lingered there for a long moment, absorbing, and testing without touching, before continuing upward to Tara's face; her strong, prominent cheekbones and her full supple lips--yes, she was okay with taking things slow, with enjoying the feeling of wanting Tara without the resolution of having her-- for now...

As Willow watched Tara in conversation she realized that Tara very seldom used her hands when she talked, so unlike Willow, herself, who was always flailing her arms about as if their movement was what actually propelled the words from her body. Tara was so much more calm than Willow was, and so beautiful that she could hardly take her eyes off the blonde.

Willow was overcome with a gratefulness at having met Tara at all. It seemed like fate--the two of them together... And then she thought about the cosmos and how maybe it did have a plan for her, after all... maybe she wasn't just a spec of something floating around without a purpose... Maybe her world could extend outside of her business and the people therein--maybe it already did.

Tara felt Willow's eyes on her, not staring, just simply watching, and the feeling warmed her from the inside out. Ellen must have sensed Tara's distraction because the other woman soon formed an excuse and excused herself to go help Ginny with the kids, leaving Tara with nothing to do but make her way over to where Willow sat watching her.

Their eyes met and held as Tara circled the campfire and knelt down beside Willow. "Hey you. You're all by yourself over here...," Tara said warmly.

"In the true introvert tradition...," Willow said, scooting over a few inches to make room for Tara to sit beside her.

Willow seemed so relaxed as Tara sat down beside her. Their shoulders and arms pressed against each other comfortably.

Willow's legs were crossed out in front of her and she put her arm around Tara's waist, pulling her in closer--needing the feel of her but nothing more.

Across the campsite the children were roasting marshmallows under the supervision of Ginny and Ellen. No one was paying any attention to them, so Willow felt confident to plant a tiny kiss on Tara's cheek. She lingered there for a moment, breathing in the ever growing familiar scent of her.

Tara rested her head on Willow's shoulder, content to watch her son enjoying himself with the other kids. It was so good to see him so relaxed and happy, and she smiled, watching him toast his marshmallow in the orange flames of the fire.

Spencer was generally a happy kid, but the last two days she'd never seen him so energetic and cheerful. And she wondered how much of that had to do with simply being able to get out of the city and away from all of life's stressors and how much had to do with the woman next to her.

Over the course of the weeks that the redhead had been in their lives she'd not only shown caring and compassion toward Spencer but she'd also taken moments here and there to spend time with him--to be a part of the things he liked to do, and what amazed Tara the most about that was that Willow seemed to really enjoy the time she spent with Spencer.

Yes, Willow had become a big part of their lives, that was more than evident, and she was about to become an even bigger part once Tara found a quiet moment to sit down with her son and explain things to him.

She didn't know how much he suspected about them already, but from what Willow had told her he'd said down by the river, she surmised it was more than she realized-- Which didn't really surprise her at all, because Spencer had always been a very perceptive child.

She just worried that, with his big heart and capacity to trust, he would form unrealistic expectations of Willow too quickly,--wanting things that Willow wasn't yet prepared to give, and that he'd be hurt. That thought gnawed at Tara as she sat watching the flames of the fire and feeling the warmth of Willow's body pressed against her own. But it wasn't just that thought that trouble her-- no, there was something else there too.

For six years Spencer had been her entire world, and now there was someone else there too, and she knew deep down that a small, infinitesimal part of her was using Spencer as an excuse to keep herself from trusting Willow completely. What Ginny had said that day in Tara's backyard had really gotten under her skin, more than she really wanted to admit.

Ginny's words had had a boring effect, and had gotten down into her, forcing Tara to think about herself on a much deeper level than she'd allowed her mind to go for many years. There were dark places that she'd spent the better part of four years trying to forget, and something in her mind told her that if she let herself go too deeply into the realm of inner reflection that she'd uncover the things that were better left buried. And maybe that's what she feared the most-- not intimacy with Willow but putting her trust into someone, and sharing her deepest secrets with someone--secrets that she didn't even like to think about in the privacy of her own head.

There were things that Logan had done to her--not just emotionally but physically too-- things that lived in the dark place--things that she really didn't want to think about or relive. She just wanted to love like a normal person and put that damaged part of herself behind her. Willow was someone she could trust with her heart and with Spencer's heart too... and that was what it came down to. Trust.

"I love you," Tara said quickly, turning to face Willow in the dim glow of the campfire. Willow's hair was again like flames and Tara swallowed the lump in her throat. She could love Willow like any normal person, and then she said it again, more to herself than to Willow: "I love you." Tara pressed her lips against Willow's and let out a sigh at the emotion she felt welling up inside of her.

"I love you too, Tara." Willow said against Tara's lips. She was moved by the cuteness of Tara, and had no idea of the inner conflict the woman kissing her was going through-- All she knew was that the feel of Tara's lips on her own felt right and natural and all kinds of good. And that was enough for her.

It was early Monday morning when the made it back to Tara's house. Logan had been waiting for them on Tara's porch when they'd pulled into the driveway.

"Where have you been?"

"We went camping," Tara said cheerfully. She unbuckled Spencer and watched as he jumped from the car out onto the grass. Ginny and Ellen were pulling into the driveway right behind them.

Tara was surprised that Spencer seemed to ignore the fact that Logan was there and instead of coming over to hug his other mother, he ran over to where Tyler had gotten out of Ginny's SUV and began playing with the other boy. Logan noticed this too, and glared at Willow as the redhead came around the car toward them. .

"I've been trying to call you for two days, Tara."

Logan was being hostile, but Tara chose to ignore the venom in her voice. The last few days had been too wonderful to let Logan ruin. "I left a message for you with your mother. I'd assumed you'd gotten it," she said lightly. Willow was there now, slipping her hand into Tara's hand, and she felt empowered and almost giddy with happiness and confidence.

Logan had no retort, which told Tara that the other woman had gotten the message, after all, and was simply interested in making a scene. But Logan glared past Tara at the brunette who was walking casually toward them.

Ginny pretended not to notice, and Tara could tell that her friend had already decided to take the passive approach with Logan that morning,--or for as long as she could hold her tongue, Tara thought to herself, and knowing her friend the way she did Tara knew she wouldn't be able to hold it for long.

"I should have known she was behind all this."

Logan spat, thumbing her finger at Ginny. But Ginny only smiled graciously at the short haired brunette, and then leaning forward, she said sweetly, "I mean this sincerely and from the bottom of my heart, Logan. Piss off."

Ginny ignored the look of indignation on the brunette's face, and leaned over, kissing Tara on the cheek. "Call me later, hon." She gave Tara's hand a reassuring squeeze.

"I Will," Tara replied

"And it was nice to meet you, Willow. We'll have to do this again sometime soon." Ginny wrapped Willow in an embrace, which ended in a handshake.

"Nice to meet you too," Willow replied, offering the retreating woman a little wave.

"Well, I want him weekends from now on," Logan said after Ginny had gathered up her offspring and had driven away. She was, of course, talking about Spencer.

"Okay," Tara agreed levelly

"Okay? Just like that?"

"Logan you know that I have never tried to prevent you from seeing Spencer whenever you've wanted." It had only been a matter of moments spent with Logan yet Tara's good mood had already departed and she felt completely drained. But she knew that if it weren't for Willow's presence at her side she might have, sunk right down into full-out depress-mode. Logan had a way of doing that to her--diminishing her energy and making her feel like crap.

"Then I want to take him right now. I want him for the entire day."

Tara would never try to stop Logan from seeing Spencer, but the woman did need to get one thing straight. "He's not a possession, Logan. He's a little boy. Why don't you go in and see if he wants to go with you," Tara sighed. Spencer had gone into the house after Tyler left.

Logan brushed past Tara and went into the house.

"Are you okay?" Willow said without looking at Tara. She didn't know what to say or do. She'd promised herself, that she wouldn't get involved where Logan was concerned, but that was getting harder and harder to do by the minute--especially when she could see the back-up on Tara's face, and in the way her shoulders slumped a little lower. And having the knowledge she had about the woman and the thing she'd done to Tara wasn't helping her resolve either.

"I am. I'm just a little bit tired, I think." Tara smiled weakly and let Willow's hand drop.

"Okay. Look... I was going to go into the office today--interviews and stuff" Willow explained, "but if you want me too, I can cancel all that, and hang out here..." Willow offered, mentally rearranging her schedule and pondering the likelihood that Kelly Strong would be willing to reschedule for the next day.

"No...that's okay. You go. I'll be okay, and anyway I could probably use a little alone time what with the art show just four days away." Tara redistributed her weight onto her other foot, "And if Logan's really going to take Spencer for the day I'd better take advantage of it and try to at least get a little work done."

"You're right," she said, being serious, but then with a hint of cute eagerness in her voice she asked: "Should I come by after work?"

"That would be perfect." Tara smiled, she was starting to feel okay again, and the prospect of getting a little work done, and seeing Willow later on that night was sounding very good to her at that moment. "Maybe you could even stay over....?" She took Willow's hand again, rubbing little circles into the back of it with her thumb.

"Like a sleep-over?" Willow thought about this. "Well, I do still have the sleeping bag in the back of the car... perhaps we could have a little post-camp camp-out tonight? I'll bring the smores...." Willow waggled her eyebrows.

"And I'll furnish the 100 watt light bulb," Tara teased.

"It's a date then."

"It would seem so," Tara said with a sultry lilt to her voice.

"See you tonight," Willow said, letting go of Tara's hands.

Willow backed up towards her SUV and got in the driver's side and then started the engine up. She put the car in reverse and then stopped. Something had occurred to her. Halfway out of the driveway Willow got out of her car and jogged back to where Tara stood on the porch. "forgot something...," Willow explained.


"This," Willow said, pulling Tara into a kiss.

Their lips sparked against each other, and Tara instinctively pulled Willow in for another when the other woman made as if to pull away.

"See you...," Willow said over her shoulder as she headed back to her car.

"See you...," Tara whispered back, too low for Willow to hear her. She touched her fingers to her lips.

"You know, kiddo... if Willow and Mommy spend too much time together I wont get to see you as much," Logan said conversationally. She took a sip of her coffee and then dabbed her lips with her napkin.

Spencer sat unmoving and silently sipped his milkshake.

Logan knew what she was doing was wrong, but she just couldn't help herself, she was too irritated with Tara and she needed to feel like she had some control over something in her life again. And Maybe she couldn't stop Tara from seeing Willow but she could definitely stop this new woman from stealing Spencer away from her. He was all she had left, and she was scared she was losing him.

She'd seen the way Spencer had ignored her that morning; shit, it still hurt. He used to idolize her and want to spend time with her and this morning it had been like pulling teeth to even get him to agree to come out with her--he'd just seemed so uninterested...and that's what broke Logan's heart the most-- had she really messed things up between them so much that he didn't even care to spend time with her anymore?

"Maybe I might even have to move away." Logan waited for a reaction. She shifted uncomfortably in the hard plastic diner's chair, but Spencer just looked at her and remained silent. She wanted to cry; to shake him and demand to know why he wasn't crying when she'd just told him that he may never see her again.

"You wouldn't want that, would you Sport?" she continued to bait him.

More silence. And then Spencer did say something, but It wasn't what Logan had been expecting.

"I love you. But I wanna go home now. Please Lee-Lee?"

"Is everything okay?" Tara asked her son as he came through the front door. He looked sullen and she worried that something had happened. But then he took off his coat and set about playing with his Spiderman action figures that lined the far end of the coffee table, so she surmised that there couldn't be anything too terribly the matter.

Logan followed him in and sat his backpack down on the kitchen Table.

"I thought you were keeping him for the afternoon?" Tara said. She was surprised to see them back so soon, the clock on the kitchen wall read barely 11:00.

"I forgot I had shit to do today," Logan mumbled.

Tara leaned against the counter, her elbows resting behind her, and her right hip jutting through the long brown skirt she wore, like a book slightly askew on a bookshelf, and the soft sounds of the community college's radio station drifted throughout the kitchen, cutting through the strange atmosphere that had enveloped the small space.


Logan had taken something out of her pocket and was giving it to Tara. "What is this?" Tara looked at the folded slip of paper Logan had pressed into her hand.

"Spencer's tuition."

Logan wouldn't make eye contact with her, and Tara thought that if she didn't know any better she would have sworn that she'd seen guilt written all over the brunette's face.

"I'm sorry. I've been a real ass lately. I should have given that to you the other day, when you asked for it." Logan gestured toward the check. "I meant what I said though, I want Spencer on the weekends."

After Logan left, Tara found Spencer on his bed. He had his eyes closed but she could tell he was feigning sleep. His Spiderman action figures were scattered across the bedspread.

"Hey, sweetie... do you feel okay?" she pressed her cheek against his forehead to feel if he had a fever, the way her mother had done to her when she was a child. He felt normal and Tara brushed her fingers through his crop of blonde hair, grateful that he didn't feel warm enough to be coming down with anything.

He opened his eyes just a sliver, and looked at her and then closed them again, reminding Tara of a sleepy kitten. "Is there something you want to talk about, little man?"

He had his eyes closed when he spoke, but Tara saw him briefly open one and peek out at her.

"Mommy... Is Lee-Lee going to go away if Willow stays around us?"

"Is that what you think is going to happen?" Tara asked. She had no idea where that thought had surfaced from. She certainly wasn't thinking that anyone had told him that.

Spencer shrugged. "Lee-Lee said so."

And then Tara understood what had been on Spencer's mind when he came back from his time with Logan, and she was inwardly furious at her ex for trying to manipulate their son. Tara sighed, she had to let go of that anger for that moment though, so that she could talk to her son the way he needed her to.

"Spencer, sometimes grown-ups say things that they don't necessarily mean because they're feeling frustrated or hurt inside. It's very important that you know that if Lee-Lee does go away for a little while that it's not because of anything you did. Okay, sweetie? Sometimes grown-ups can get very silly when it comes to people that they love very much."

"And Lee-Lee loves me very much, doesn't she, Mommy?"

"That's right." She smiled at her son, who was then smiling too.

He sat up. "I have another question."


"Where's my daddy?"

Tara was surprised by his question, but hardly daunted. She'd been preparing for this moment since the day he was born. "let's go feed the ducks, shall we? And I'll tell you all about it."

An hour later they were in the park, and Spencer was thoughtfully throwing bread crumbs to the clamoring ducks that surged toward him. The ducks lifted their bills in anticipation of the next offering, and their wings and bodies caused the water in the manmade pond to splash quite fervently.

Spencer came away from the water's edge and sat back down in Tara's lap.

"You mean that's how I was made?"

Spencer pointed to the picture in the book Tara was holding of a small hose attached to a bulbous piece of rubber.

"Uh-huh," Tara said lightly. "Well, pretty much." She'd left out the more graphic details, but she could tell that Spencer had grasped the general gist of events leading up to his birth. She'd gone through mostly everything with him from the planning of his conception to the actual event itself.

Spencer paused thoughtfully, "that's pretty gross, mommy."

"It is?" Tara closed the book and set it on the grass next to them, her brow raised at the boy who was regarding her with crinkled nose and squinted eyes.

Spencer nodded, stood, and threw the last of his bread into the water. The ducks squirmed forward and amidst flapping and feathers, tackled what remained of the soggy bread.

"Do you want a daddy?" Tara asked casually, pulling Spencer back into her lap after he'd exhausted his bread supply. "It's alright if that's the way you feel," she reassured.

Spencer shrugged his thin shoulders under his blue long-sleeve shirt. "I just wondered if I had one, is all." Spencer leaned his head back against Tara's chest.

"Oh, okay," Tara said softly, she brushed his hair back away from his forehead. "You need a hair cut, little man," Tara teased, hugging him with both her arms. She loved Spencer so much, and the feeling of that was as bright as the sun shining down on them.

"Lee-Lee said she would take me to Crazy-Cuts!" Spencer laughed.

"Don't you mean Super Cuts?" Tara asked, and Spencer turned his face so that he was looking at her. He grinned with all his teeth showing. But then he grew serious again.

"Do you think women could be daddies and mommies at the same time?"


"Because I was wondering... if I already have two mommies, then what does that make Willow?"

"You love Willow a lot, don't you?"

Spencer nodded. "You do too, Mommy."

"How can you tell?" Tara smiled and kissed Spencer's cheek.

"Because she makes you smile."

"You make me smile," Tara pointed out, tickling Spencer's tummy. Spencer giggled, but Tara could tell he was still waiting for an answer to his question. "Yeah, I do, little man." Tara kissed Spencer's head, his hair smelled of grass and sun. "I love Willow a whole lot."

Spencer took a deep breath "Are you going to marry, Willow?"

"What makes you think that, sweetie?" Tara said gently. Their conversation was happening naturally, and Tara took that as a sign that this had been the right time to tell him.

"Because you kissed her. And when people kiss each other, and they love each other, sometimes they get married."

Spencer was looking at her now.

"Well, that's true, sweetie. When people love each other sometimes they do get married. But the laws can be kind of tricky sometimes when it's two women that love each other and want to get married."

"Do you want to marry Willow?"

"Maybe someday, sweetie... but right now we're still getting to know each other. We're still getting used to each other."

"I know what you mean because last year a new kid came to school and everyone wanted to be his friend, but the other boy was shy and my teacher said it was because he was still getting to know us."

"That's right. That is a situation where people have to get to know each other before they can be something more--like friends."

"Yeah, because you have to get to know someone before you can decide if you want to be their friend."

"And it's even more important to get to know someone first before you decide something big like whether or not you want to get married to them." Tara was happy that their talk was going so smoothly.

"Well I love Willow. Do you think we could at least ask Willow if she wants to be my daddy, since I don't already have one?"

"Oh, sweetie. It's a little more complicated than that. Remember what we just talked about--about getting to know someone first and getting used to them?

"Yeah but... we already know Willow. And I'm really used to her, Mommy."

"Willow can't be a daddy, because daddies are men, sweetie."

"But Daddies are supposed to take you places and do fun things with you. Right?"

"Mommies do those things too, little man," Tara reminded him, softly. She had no idea where this train of conversation was going to end up.

"You do, and Willow does... But Lee-lee doesn't. Not anymore." Spencer paused "So, maybe that makes Willow my Lee-Lee, and Lee-Lee my Willow?" Spencer tilted his head to the side as he thought about that further.

"I think..." Tara chose her words carefully "there are going to be people throughout your life that will mean more than one thing to you, Spencer. And the best part is--do you want to know what the best part is?" She made sure he was giving her his complete attention before she continued. "The best part is that you don't have to know right away. That's what makes it so special. Do you understand?"

"It can be like a surprise?"

Tara nodded. "Like a surprise."

"I like surprises."

"I know you do."

Spencer sighed contentedly, and Tara could tell his curiosity had been satisfied for the time being.

"Come on, little man!" she said, lifting Spencer off her lap. "I'll push you on the swings!" Tara ran backward toward the playground in the center of the park. And Spencer followed behind her.

"No! I'll push you on the swings, Mommy!"

Continue to You Make Me Smile Chapter Seventeen

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