Return to Sodas and Snack Machines Chapter Eleven

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.

"So there's a party tomorrow night," Willow hinted as she and Tara left the cafeteria after dinner. Her hand found the blonde's as they started down the hall toward their rooms.

Smiling as she glanced to her side, Tara waited for the redhead to ask. "Wanna go?" Luckily she didn't have to wait long. Willow's question was spoken low and full of hope.

Tara pretended to think about the question as she flexed her fingers against Willow's clasping hand. A smile continued to grace her face as she watched the other girl look at her expectantly.

"Yes." The hand within hers softened with relief. "Can you dance?" Tara asked, shyly stepping out of the way when a group of friends walked by.

"I, uh,...," Willow paused to enjoy the feeling of Tara's hip bumping into hers. When the brief sensation passed, the redhead regained her voice. "I can randomly throw myself across the floor. Although, I'm not sure if I can call it dancing. What about you? Can you dance?"

"Sort of," the blonde shrugged, "if I watch out for poles... and pillars... and walls." She frowned, pausing as she considered her clumsiness. Willow smiled curiously at her, prompting her to explain. "I've d-danced into a few p-poles before. Solid objects don't seem to like me." Tara finished with an embarrassed smile.

"I'm sure you're not that bad," Willow emphasized with a friendly nudge. "And anyway, you can't be much worse than me."

"You won't be saying that when I'm falling all over you," Tara blushed, already picturing herself flying into the redhead. But strangely, the blonde suddenly looked forward to the party despite her awkwardness.

"Well that just means I get to catch you." Willow grinned when Tara's cheeks darkened. The redhead's eyebrow rose thoughtfully as her eyes glazed from the image of the blonde falling into her.

Dipping her head and allowing her hair to cover her blush, Tara watched Willow's reaction until she realized that they had arrived outside of their rooms. The blonde stopped but Willow continued walking with her hand. "Willow," she gently tugged their joined hands, "we're here."

Daydreaming, Willow felt the pull on her arm and turned back to the waiting blonde. "Here, where?" The tantalizing image began to drift away when she saw her room number. "Oh, here. We're here." She chuckled in surprise.

Quietly, both girls lingered in the hallway between their rooms. "So I'll see you tomorrow?" Willow nodded when Tara broke the silence. As they moved toward the separate doors, the blonde turned, smiling. "I had a good time today. At the s-seminar and... everything."

"Me too." Willow beamed. They once again grew quiet as both girls lost themselves in the events of the day. Tara bit her lip, contemplating a question that had been buzzing in the back of her head since the end of the seminar.

"Well, goodnight." The thought of asking dropped away at the sound of Willow's voice as the redhead moved toward her door.

"'Night," Tara smiled and unlocked her own door, already aware of the restless night ahead.

Tara rushed through the door, kicking her shoes off and tossing her shirt and bra over hear head as she struggled to turn the shower on. She had an hour before she had to meet Willow downstairs and needed a quick shower and change of clothes before seeing the redhead.

Twisting in circles as she unbuttoned her jeans, Tara halted the battle with herself as a knock vibrated on the door. Disheveled, out of breath, and partially naked, she debated on whether or not to answer the door.

"Tara," Willow knocked again. "I think I left my key in your room." The redhead spoke through the door and knocked again.

Tara glanced at the bed and immediately spotted Willow's key as it lay on her blanket. She guessed that it must have slipped from Willow's pocket as they watched television earlier that day. The blonde looked from the door to her bed then down to herself.

Her eyes zoomed in on the doorhandle when it jiggled. Blue eyes grew wider when Tara realized that she hadn't locked the door after her hasty entry.

"Are you in the shower? I can just come in and get it. I promise I won't look." Willow blushed although she knew Tara couldn't see it.

As if some cruel being were watching her on television with remote in hand, the blonde paused. But only for a second before her panic kicked in and her feet moved one way while her arms moved in the other direction. Settling in the middle and finding the only cover that was available as she watched the door open in slow motion, Tara hurriedly hid behind the window curtain.

Willow stopped in her tracks when she saw Tara pressed against the window with the curtain thrown over her upper body. Although she resembled an oversized lampshade from an eighty's yard sale, Willow's surprise swallowed her laughter.

"I w-was...," mortified, Tara gestured toward the bathroom door, "s-shower."

"Oh, g-... sorry... sorry," Willow bumbled, trying not to look up, "...key." Her jumbled mind tried to focus as she spotted and reached for her room key. Compliments of the setting sun, a faint light made the curtain Tara was 'wearing' glow and seem increasingly thinner. Darting green eyes spotted the abandoned clothing on the floor. Shoe. Shirt. Bra. "Eep." Key in hand, the redhead stumbled backward onto the floor.

"Be c-care-," Tara reached out but the curtain tugged on its plastic frame.

"I'll, uh, I... bye." The redhead got to her feet and was through the door before Tara could finish.

The blonde stared after Willow, hearing her friend's door slam shut on the other side. It might have been the look on Willow's face or her own embarrassment or simply the delirium setting in, but Tara burst into a fit of giggles. That was until the curtain frame gave way and took her down with it.

Willow fidgeted against the support beam she was leaning against in the lower level room. She wasn't sure whose idea it was to have a party in the basement, but she wished she knew. Mainly because she wanted to know the name of the person she throttled to death. Her crabby mood was the result of her run in with Tara an hour earlier. The experience made her both blush and cringe. Although the cringe was merely because of the complete idiot she had been in Tara's presence.

It was only the appearance of a certain blonde making her way down the stairs that stopped Willow's self-belittlement.

Mustering up her courage, she hurried over to the awaiting figure, her mind summoning up an apology as she shuffled across the room. However, before the words spilled beyond her lips, Tara was holding a finger to her soft mouth.

"It never h-happened." The blonde smiled, arching an eyebrow to ask if Willow understood. Once she received a nod, Tara removed the trembling digit. "How long have you been here?" Effectively switching the subject with a smile, she glanced around at all of the other people.

"Just a few minutes," Willow subconsciously licked her lips.

I thought there would b-be, um-." Tara frowned.

"People?" Her red-haired friend asked, also taking in the partygoers and counting them on two hands. They smiled at each other as their hands came together. "I know, it's ...," the speakers popped and faded in and out, but it wasn't the reason Willow stopped. "What happened to your head?" The redhead leaned in, concerned as she cupped Tara's cheek.

Tara's hand instantly went to the small cut near her hairline. "It was stupid, I... I f-fell." Although she had cleaned it as best she could, the tiny cut still stung as she hid it with a strand of hair. "It doesn't hurt." She lied.

Willow knew that Tara was lying when saw the blonde wince.

"I'm f-fine." Tara insisted even as she followed along with the resolved redhead.

Twenty minutes later, the injured girl's head lay across Willow's lap as her friend searched through her first-aid travel pack.

"It's going to sting," the redhead warned. Tara tensed, staring out the open window as damp cotton dabbed against her forehead. Cool breath blew against the already closing wound before a square band-aid was placed over it. "All better." Willow smiled in triumph at her doctor-y skills.

"Thank you," Tara looked upward into twinkling green eyes.

Absentmindedly, Willow pushed blonde tresses to the side, tucking the strands away behind Tara's ears. Caressing the smooth skin along the blonde's forehead and cheek, her lips tugged and she smiled down.

"Willow, can I-." Interpretive eyes tried to continue through swirling blue specks, but Tara found her voice. Taking a deep breath, she went on as the redhead gazed down at her. "Can I, um, a-ask you s-something?"

"Sure." Fingers zigzagged along the corners of bright eyes. "Anything," Willow added in a somewhat dazed tone.

"H-How do you feel... about m-me?" The movement stopped and the redhead's eyes fell into those of Tara's.

"What do you mean?" Willow feigned indifference. It was one thing to know what she felt and another to actually add voice to those feelings.

"I m-mean," the blonde nibbled on her lip, "a-are we friends o-or...."

"Or?" Willow knew that she was baiting, but wanted to be sure that what she had been feeling for the past few days was mutual.

"Something more?" Tara paused and swallowed hard. "G-Girlfriends?" Such simple words, but Tara felt like it had taken every iota of will to get them out. The feeling left her eager and dreadful of Willow's response.

"Well, wh... what do you think we are?" The person above asked, hesitantly.

"I know what I want to be." A new and sudden confidence rose along with the clear voice and the blonde's hopeful eyes as Tara faced the redhead. Chest squeezing on the border of fear and excitement, she reached out to take the pale face within her hands.

"And?" Instantly unsure and frightened of rejection, Willow's eyes lowered as her hands fell to her lap. Was it possible that Tara only wanted to be friends? That everything they had done was simply what friends do?

"And I don't think I could go another night without kissing you." Inquisitive eyes found the answer within startled yet responsive green.

"Really?" A childlike innocense graced the corners of Willow's mouth.

"Really." Tara's thumbs lightly circled blushing skin. With a lopsided grin, the blonde briefly shut her eyes when exploring fingers rested upon her own skin. Breathing deeply, she went on. "I know this isn't very romantic with my bleeding head but-."

"It's perfect."

Slowly, faces inched closer until breath trembled, short and erratic and diving into the creases of waiting lips. Mouths brushed, exploring as the surfaces barely grazed over the outline of curves. Willow's bottom lip teased the edges of Tara's fuller top, lightly bumping it as their noses slid against each other. Soft whispers fought between the tiny gap, pleading for lips to connect.

As if answering the unspoken call, Tara captured the wandering lip between her slightly parted mouth. Willow marveled in the warmth and brought her free lip to surrender above the blonde's as the pieces intertwined perfectly. Until now neither girl had been breathing, merely trapped in the routine of inhaling and exhaling. But as the gathering stars beared witness beyond the glass, they took their first breath together.

Continue to Sodas and Snack Machines Chapter Thirteen

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