Return to Sodas and Snack Machines Chapter One

Sodas and Snack Machines

Author: Onyxsundrops
Rating: PG-13 and up.
Disclaimer: I don't own any of the Buffy the Vampire Slayer characters, other characters are my own.

Her hand stopped mid-reach as she gazed upon the sleeping face. Willow's head leaned against the window, her cheek flattened against the cool glass as a piece of hair stuck to her open mouth. It had only been a half hour since the redhead nodded off, the previous four hours had been spent with her head banging against the window every time her eyes closed.

It had been the organization supervisor's decision to leave at night, much to several members' dismay. He had explained that it would give the attendees the opportunity to sleep once they arrived and start fresh that same morning.

The blonde reached out again, a smile creeping onto her lips when Willow mumbled in her sleep. She didn't want to wake the slumbering figure, but the bus was nearly empty now and everyone had begun gathering outside. Gingerly, her hand had begun moving toward Willow's cheek, but she balled her fingers and changed course. Tara gave the redhead's shoulder a gentle shake, as if she feared she would break her. However, when the first attempt failed, causing Willow to swat blindly into the air, she shook a bit harder and leaned in to whisper.

"Hey." It wasn't the best sort of wake-up call, but Tara didn't know what else to say. She tried again and saw movement behind Willow's lids.

Soft smacking lips moved less as Willow descended from her dreamland. Still within whispering distance, Tara bit her lip at the adorable image. So intent on the mouth that her eyes had unknowingly lowered to, she didn't notice when green eyes began to open.

Willow was staring, unfocused, out the window as her dreams dropped away. The sudden image of a shadow and herself looking back, made the redhead spring back in surprise. Her head connected with Tara's nose, causing both girls to gasp in pain.

"Oh God," slightly lightheaded, Willow rubbed the sore spot as she noticed Tara doing the same with her nose. "I'm sorry," she apologized, watching the blonde smile despite the ache.

"N-No, I s-shouldn't," Tara stopped and frowned, "it w-was my fault." She ducked her head, mortified.

Sensing the blonde's distress, Willow reached out, placing a calming hand on Tara's arm. "Hey, don't worry about it. These things happen," she offered a reassuring smile that turned into a grin when Tara smiled back.

Willow's hand hadn't moved from her arm, and Tara glanced at it several times before speaking. "My name's T-Tara," she bit her lip, moving so that her hair framed her face.

"I'm Willow," the redhead nodded as she said the words, "and it seems you've already been acquainted with my head," her chuckle was somewhat forced as she tried to defuse the nervousness.

The comment earned her a lopsided smile before Tara glanced over her shoulder at something outside. "I uh," she turned back, "the o-others are waiting."

Willow frowned, finally noticing that they were the only two left on the bus. Crimsoning, the redhead grabbed her bag and followed Tara off the bus.

Several slouching figures waited around in a circle as one of the event coordinators spoke.

"Okay people, please grab a name tag," the overly excited woman jumped across to each person, handing them a brightly colored sticker. "I want this back," she told one of the attendees as she handed him a black marker. He gave her a strange look, as if she were crazy to suggest he'd steal her marker, but she brushed it off and hopped to the next person.

"Now, I know you're all tired," she went on, "so we'll make this quick. Does everyone have their room assignment sheets?" Her bright locks swung wildly around her face as she looked around.

Several stiff nods answered her question. Willow frowned at her sheet and tried, discreetly, to catch a glimpse of Tara's paper.

Tara smiled, seeing the redhead lean over from the corner of her eye. "So, where did they put you?" She held back a laugh when Willow hiccuped and sprung back with a deep blush spreading over her features.

"211." Willow said. Putting the paper into her pocket as nonchalantly as possible, she gazed over at Tara as she pulled a second sheet from her coat. "You?"

"L-Looks like we're neighbors," Tara answered, her shyness wearing off by the minute. "I'm in 209." She paused and regarded the other girl with a soft smile, "Have you decided which one to attend first?"

Willow gave her a puzzled look. "W-Which seminar?" Tara bit her lip, motioning toward the sheet in the redhead's hands.

"Oh, actually, I was sort of hoping that they would be assigned to us. That way I wouldn't have to choose... I mean, there are just so many to pick from and I want to get the most from all of them, you know, and..." Willow stopped, glancing down bashfully before meeting Tara's peering eyes.

"Um, no, I haven't decided yet," she finally answered the question.

Her heart warming with the presence of this woman before her, Tara almost missed Willow's voice when she stopped talking. Realizing that she was beginning to stare, Tara hurriedly glanced away when the coordinator went on.

Dimly aware, Tara noticed the woman's name tag. Anya. The woman seemed extremely too awake for the hour, especially since Tara's own tiredness was sinking back in.

"Maybe," Willow's voice broke through, somewhat a whisper as Anya continued talking. "Maybe we could go to one together," Tara could sense the hesitance, "since we don't really know anyone else. I-I mean, I don't know anyone, but if you already know someone, that's okay-."

"W-Willow," Tara gently cut her off, giving the redhead a reassuring smile as she waited for her to catch her breath. "Would you like to be my group-buddy?"

Without a word, Willow nodded. "Okay," Tara nodded as well, "which one should we start with?"

They both glanced at the sheet, answering together, their voices in unison.


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