Willow's eyes opened at the harsh sunlight that penetrated the room as her mother pulled the curtains open and awoke her daughter unceremoniously, the older woman then sat at the end of her offspring's bed and eyed her suspiciously.
The redhead fidgeted slightly under her mother's intense gaze and frowned.
"What?" She asked rather annoyed.
"You've been quiet for a few days sweetheart is everything ok?" Mrs Rosenberg had began to worry about her daughter's lack of interest in anything or anyone when Carl had commented on the far away look in the redhead's eyes. Willow always seemed to be thinking of something else, which, indeed she was. Her mind was on Tara, Tara's hands, Tara's skin, lips, eyes, nose, hair. Tara's everything. Since the blonde's hands had been upon her a few days ago a creeping suspicion had begun to surface in her head and every time Tara came to visit she found herself lost in a mixture of emotions.
"I'm ok mom." Willow lied, in truth she was confused and had a lot of questions, non of which she could answer.
"Well today might cheer you up, Anna called and said they will all be here by eleven." The older woman tried to sound excited even though she was worried about her daughter, she was hoping today's thanksgiving would help the redhead's mood.
Tara sat on the couch, the TV in front of her not doing much to make her feel any better as she summarised about the day she would be spending at the Rosenberg's home, for at least the past two days Willow had been extremely quiet, lost in her own world, fighting with her own demons and whenever Tara tried to get her to open up, she would clamp shut even tighter and just drift off in her arms. This was causing Tara to feel helpless as to how she could help her friend.
Looking at her watch the blonde took a deep breath and prepared herself for the day, Mrs Maclay sauntered out of the bathroom looking very pleased with herself and Tara nodded her approval at her mothers flattering outfit. Making their way to the car, mother, daughter and son drove to the Rosenberg home.
"Anna Darling, it's wonderful to have you here." Mrs Rosenberg greeted her guests flamboyantly, taking her new friend into a short hug and smiling broadly at Tara.
"It's wonderful being here thank you for having us Sheila. This is my son Donny, Donny this is Sheila Rosenberg...."
"It's nice to meet you ma'am." The young man greeted her warmly and gently shook her hand.. The older woman took in his physique and agreed with her earlier assumption that this young man would be hansom.
At that moment Mr Rosenberg popped his head through the front door and urged them all inside where it was nice and warm. Sheila and Anna made their way through the large house talking loudly and immediately began preparing food. Donny snuck off with Mr Rosenberg to watch the game on TV. Making sure everybody was busy the blonde quietly slipped down the hall to Willow's room and knocked before entering.
Willow lay sound asleep sprawled on her back, the blankets only covered half of her body as her uninjured leg seemed to have kicked them away. Her angelic face was still from its usual animated expressions and green eyes were hidden behind the soft skin of eyelids, Tara allowed herself to stare uninhibitedly for a moment before noticing what was resting on the redhead's chest, partially covered by her uninjured hand.
Lifting Willow's arm slowly the blonde extracted the object without waking her and stared in disbelief that her own book, open on the last page, was being read by someone very close to her and she didn't even know.
Tara took a seat in the chair beside the bed and rubbed at her eyes, an action she often did when trying to clear her head. Questions were running around her mind and although she knew that Willow reading her book shouldn't be a big deal, something deep inside told her it was.
Why hadn't Willow told her she was reading it?
Undoubtedly Tara knew that Willow would be aware of her sexual orientation and hadn't said anything, even though the blonde wasn't ashamed of her sexuality, her attraction towards the redhead made this situation feel uncomfortable.
Gently tapping Willow on the shoulder the blonde watched as she woke slowly, almost childlike, her eyes blinked a few times to adjust in the light and she looked at the source of her sleep interruption.
"Hi." The redhead said nonchalantly and tried lifting herself to a suitable sitting position as best she could. Settling herself against her pillows, Willow could feel the blonde's eyes burning into her and looked up hesitantly knowing that Tara would never wake the her unnecessarily.
She instantly put on a guilty expression as Tara held the book in her hand and raised her eyebrow, clearly waiting for an answer.
"I enjoyed reading it." Willow smiled nervously, not sure what else to say.
"I'm glad." The blonde said honestly, "but why didn't you tell me you were reading it?"
Willow shook her head, not at all sure how she could answer that question when she didn't want anyone to know the answer. Shrugging her shoulders was the only thing she could do and she knew that wouldn't be good enough.
The blonde leaned forward in the chair and raised the book so they could both see it clearly, shaking it back and forth Tara thought about what to say next.
"This is a lesbian novel, Wil." The blonde said firmly as if trying to say something without actually saying it.
"Yes I know." Willow nodded and she started to babble. "I asked my mom to get it for me, my friend is a writer I wanted to read what she writes, I didn't know it was a lesbian novel until I realised the only two characters were female and you said it was about romance, I put two and two together and came up with lesbians." Willow hoped that answer would be enough, but when Tara continued to stare at her she knew the blonde was waiting for her to continue.
"After I realised it was a lesbian novel I was curious..." The redhead trailed off her sentence hoping finally, that answer would be enough.
Getting out of the chair Tara sat next to Willow on the bed and placed the book in the redhead's lap.
"How did this novel make you curious?" She asked softly, knowing that Willow was a little embarrassed and her fidgeting suggested that maybe there was something else....
The redhead sighed and rolled her eyes, Tara wasn't going to let this go.
"I was curious as to how it would be... you know... with two woman together a-and how you would write it and whether these women would eventually give in to the inevitable fact that they were meant for each other no matter how far apart they were." She waved her casted-arm trying to emphasise her point and while what she said was true, she didn't want to admit to Tara that she was also curious as to how much of what she read reflected the blonde's own sexual ability and experience. Although in the past two days she had analysed, dissected, researched and explored her own responses to the mere thought of herself and Tara in the possible position the two characters found themselves in until finally she had admitted to herself that she felt something for her friend, she wasn't ready to admit it to anyone else.
"Did it satisfy your curiosity...?" The question went unanswered as both women turned to see Mrs Maclay entering the room with a bright smile and Willow would have stood to give the woman a great big hug if she could get out of bed that easily. The redhead had met Tara's mother when the blonde aught sanctuary in her room, traumatised by their parents getting along like a house on fire and she was amazed at how much alike mother and daughter were, their eyes shared the same icy-blue and their expressions mirrored one another's precisely.
Thrusting a bowl full of cookies into her daughter's hand Mrs Maclay bent down and pecked Willow on the cheek before straightened out her light purple dress, one she had purchased for this special occasion and was very proud of.
"Willow your mother was insistent that you stop festering in this bed and come out to greet everyone, Tara she also said you were to help her, ok?" The older woman smiled although the look in her eyes made it clear that neither of them were to protest. Willow just nodded, but Tara scowled at her mother for her interruption.
"Ok, well Sheila has given you an hour Willow and if you're not out there by then she will send your father in to retrieve you. Dinner will be ready at two." With that Mrs Maclay sauntered out of the room closing the door behind her, Willow just stared at the door, a scowl also made its way onto her face.
Tara sighed and stood, lifting the book from Willow's lap she placed it on a cabinet beside the bed and lifted the rest of the blankets off the redhead's body.
Mrs Maclay stood behind the bedroom door not quite sure what to make of the obvious atmosphere between Tara and her new friend. The way both women had immediately stopped their conversation made the older woman curious as to what they were talking about. Whatever it was it seemed like a big deal.
The older woman was startled as Tara opened the door and she too jumped back in surprise, not knowing her mother was stood there.
"What are you doing?" The blonde exclaimed, holding her hand to her chest as her heart calmed to a suitable pace.
"Nothing, just thinking... I thought I told you Sheila wanted you to help Willow?"
"You did, but Wil needs her mom to help with some private things." Tara explained and made her way to find Mrs Rosenberg.
Sheila helped her daughter wash and dress in silence although the redhead had stubbornly refused to dress in anything that was even remotely fancy and she Finally settled on an extremely large UC Sunnydale T-shirt that stopped about mid-thigh and a blanket over her legs. Willow then asked to be wheeled into the rooms adjoining bathroom so she could freshen up a little and when both women made it out of the bedroom at last, the rest of the houses' occupants cheered.
With the turkey done, the potatoes mashed, vegetables boiled and that nice bottle of red blossom hill wine chilling. Tara, Anna and Sheila set the table whilst Willow watched from her wheelchair which had been wheeled to the table and chairs had been rearranged so nobody was too close to the cast that stuck out like a plank of wood. Sheila made sure to set Tara's place next to her daughters, an action which she hadn't really thought about and merely carried out.
Everybody sat and said what they were thankful for and when it was Willow's turn to give thanks everyone listened intently to the little redhead who they were lucky to be sitting with at all and the severity of what happened struck them all simultaneously.
"I think its only fair that I give my thanks to Tara, without her I would, quite possibly, still be laying on that road." The redhead's right hand was holding Tara's firmly, their fingers interlaced, the blonde's thumb stroked the back of Willow's hand and the redhead remembered feeling the soft caress whilst laying in the hospital bed. "Without Tara I wouldn't have had the strength to get through one day let alone four weeks I have a second chance..." The redhead paused for a moment the sudden reality of her words were like a spark to a flame and a switch flipped in her head, she realised that indeed she did have a second chance "...and I don't intend to waist it."
Tara's eyes held Willow's gaze as the sincerity of the redhead's words washed over them both. Donny and Mr Rosenberg averted their attention to something else feeling that they were perhaps intruding on something private.
Sheila and Anna looked at the display before them, then at each other. A small smile passing between them.
Dinner was eaten rather noisily as the men bickered over the game they had been watching Mr Rosenberg was glad to have the young man here with him, not having a son of his own and his only daughter not enjoying sports he often had nobody to talk about these things with and he found that he was thoroughly enjoying himself. Sheila and Anna discussed many things, but their daughters were the main topic of conversation between them as they relayed embarrassing childhood stories which Tara and Willow didn't appreciate, their faces glowed with embarrassment and they picked idly at their food sending evil glares their mothers' way, but the older women just laughed and carried on.
Finally having taken all she could Willow's impatience reared its head and she came up with a plan, sliding her right hand under the table cloth she reached for the blonde's lag and tapped it lightly, knowing that Tara too, would appreciate and escape route. Winking at the blonde, Willow then yawned wholeheartedly. Tara frowned at first knowing that her friend wasn't tired, but she then cottoned on and immediately stood.
"C'mon Wil, I'll take you to lie down for a little while." She stated rather loudly so their mothers could hear and she gripped the handles of the redhead's chair, reversing until the outstretched leg was clear of the table.
Willow closed her eyes and nodded rather theatrically so neither mother could protest.
The room was quiet compared to the noise their families were making in the kitchen. Neither girl was part of any discussion and simply ate their dinner in silence listening to their loved ones battling it out verbally. Tara was impressed with Mr Rosenberg's enthusiasm for her brother's company and was in no doubt that they would spend more time together doing 'the guy thing' she was happy about that, since her farther died 6 years ago the young man had lacked a strong male role model.
Doing the routine that both women had done many times before they delicately manoeuvred the redhead's limbs onto the bed and made her comfortable, Willow wasn't actually tired, she just wanted to be alone with her friend and out of the embarrassing conversation their mothers insisted on having. She agreed wholeheartedly about the blonde's description of their mothers behaviours when they were together, the day Tara had come seeking solace in the redhead's embrace after what she called a 'nightmare' came to mind and she chuckled lightly.
"What?" Tara asked as she removed her shoes and sprawled out on her side next to her friend, propping her head on her hand so she could see Willow clearly.
"You were right about our mothers being a little excitable, but you'll never hear me admit you're right again." The redhead smirked.
Tara then half smiled at the woman resting beside her knowing that her statement was true, Willow's stubbornness would see to it that she adamantly refused to admit any knowledge that she had been wrong in her assumptions or anything else.
Willow felt her heart quicken at the expression she had seen only once before, one corner of the blonde's full lips quirked upwards in an amused smile that somehow she knew was full of warmth and care that was meant for her and her only. The redhead averted her eyes, aware that she was staring and she self-consciously fiddled with a lock of hair that impaired her vision and sat lazily across her right eye. Tara noticed the sudden shift in her friend's mood, but couldn't figure out what had caused it. Taking the fidgeting hand in her own she interlaced their fingers and when Willow's gaze met her own she did another half smile to try and reassure her friend, but it only seem to disconcert her more.
The blonde frowned a little, unsure of what to make of the situation, yet she couldn't help but keep smiling at Willow's odd behaviour.
The more Tara smiled, the harder Willow squeezed their hands together and suddenly, out of nowhere, Willow's lips pressed against her own gently, timidly, but no sooner had their warmth been placed against her mouth, they had been taken away and the vision of an extremely embarrassed redhead was what faced her.
Willow closed her eyes, sure that she would feel Tara's hand slip from the hold they had on each other and would feel her body jump abruptly off the bed in anger, but that half smile had made her need to feel those inviting full lips against her own and she wouldn't give the experience up for anything. A few moments passed and her eyes were still closed, her breathing still quick and her heart still beating so hard she could hear it, but Tara's hand was still grasping hers, her soft skin still warm against her palm and the Tara's body was still laid beside her.
Slowly, she opened her eyes to see if her senses had failed her and Tara had managed to leave without her even knowing, but blue eyes met her own and she blushed furiously at her foolishness and felt a little braver that Tara hadn't run away in disgust but was merely staring wide-eyed and confused.
"I-I... I..." The words stuck in her throat like a dry piece of bread unable to get passed the restricting muscles in her neck that her nervousness had caused to tense and Tara's eyes softened from her surprised gaze although they were still searching green orbs questioningly, but Willow didn't have an answer except;
"I had to do it."
Tara didn't know what to do or what to say, she wasn't entirely sure what had happened either, had Willow just kissed her? On the lips? Why?
The blonde looked deeply into her friend's expectant green eyes and saw childlike anticipation, hope, fear, nervousness and a hint of something else, the flush of Willow's cheeks, her warm breath coming in gasps and her moist lips that had just moments ago been pressed lightly against her own. She wanted to feel them again, for longer and more firmly.
Leaning in slightly she was amazed at how quickly the redhead took the hint and filled the distance between them, their eyes inches apart searched one another's one last time before Willow closed them and gently, ever so gently pressed her lips against Tara's.
The blonde bathed in the feeling of Willow's mouth against her own and enjoyed the gentleness of the chaste kiss, the warmth of breathe that washed her cheek, the unrelenting softness of Willow's lips against her own, but she ached to feel more.
Opening her mouth slowly the redhead followed suit without hesitation and gladly allowed the kiss to deepen and when Tara's tongue tentatively reached out Willow allowed it entrance and groaned at it's silky softness caressing and exploring her mouth. After a few moments she met it with her own and their tongues' danced in a gentle but wanton rhythm. Their bodies tingled where they touched and Tara shifted so she was more on top of Willow allowing the redhead to comfortably entangle her hand in blonde tresses and pull Tara to her more firmly. The little sounds of pleasure that escaped Willow's throat penetrated the blonde's ears and send bolts of lightening to other parts of her body that lay dormant for some time.
Willow lay beneath Tara's long, lithe, womanly body and acknowledged the growing sensation below her abdomen that caused her to press harder against the skilled mouth teasing her own. She was also aware of the blonde's hesitated movements and her strong arms that held her body hovering slightly above her so her weight wasn't pressed into the redhead's still healing body and suddenly Willow noticed what she had somehow missed all this time, the tenderness in which Tara touched her, her willingness to do whatever was asked of her, the little blushes, her extremely endearing thoughtfulness, the intenseness of her gazes and the dancing ice blue of her eyes that gave away her emotion- the clear emotion that Tara felt something deeply for Willow.
Both woman broke away softly, and the blonde made to shift her body from on top of Willow's, but the redhead held fast and kept her there. Not yet willing to let the moment pass she placed another gentle kiss on Tara's kiss-swollen lips and savoured the feeling such an action caused within her, the fierce warmth within her chest scared her in it's intensity, but she wouldn't allow herself to be afraid of it and instead, bathed in it.
Tara allowed herself to be kissed as her whole body shook in shock and desire, her lips burned as if Willow had scorched her name upon them as she kissed her and branded them forever hers to drink from as she pleased. Her head spun, breathe came in gasps and skin tingled with emotion, she lay helpless and uncertain of what would become of this.