Return to Spark to a Flame Chapter Sixteen

Spark to a Flame

Author: Auburn
Rating: NC-17
Disclaimer: I don't own these characters but the story is mine.

Tara sat in the car with her mother and brother, her hands were fidgeting with the strap of her seat belt as they rode to the Rosenberg home. The blonde was nervous and her mother's teasing wasn't helping.

"So when I we get there should I expect a hefty lecture from Sheila about how you corrupted her daughter?"

Tara knew her mother was only kidding, but that didn't make it any less annoying. She rolled her eyes almost wishing she hadn't confided in her mother earlier that day, her nervousness had driven her to pace her room and chew on the end of her pen until there was almost no pen left, and when Mrs. Maclay entered the room she immediately made her daughter tell her what was wrong. After a few reassuring words and a phone call from Willow the blonde relaxed with relief, happy that Mrs. Rosenberg hadn't reacted in a negative way towards their relationship.

"I didn't corrupt her, believe me, she was already corrupted!" The blonde argued as the memory of that morning's events trickled into her mind.

"In what way?" Donny leaned forward from the back seat, his curiosity peaked.

Tara gave him a look that clearly said ‘don't even start with me mister!'

"Ok, ok I was just showing an interest." He held up his hands in submission. "Y'know I knew you was hot for her, but I didn't think you would manage to get her. How'd you do it sis? What's your secret?"

"I didn't ‘get' her Donny, Willow isn't my property we just kind of.... happened."

"Right." He drew out the word sarcastically.

"Donny leave your sister alone." Mrs. Maclay ordered as she pulled the car to a stop and switched off the engine. "It's like having two adolescents again, I won't be a minute."

Tara and Donny watched as their mother excited the car then sat in silence, droplets of rain splashed onto the windscreen as the sky darkened into night.

"So, is she a good kisser?" The young man teased his sister.

"Donny." Tara said his name in a warning tone.

"Have you uh... done it yet."


"Was she good at that too?"


Willow sat on the edge of her bed looking at the dress that was neatly laid next to her, she was planning a strategy for putting the dress on, but was beginning to feel doubtful and was just about to call her mother when a light knock on the door interrupted her.

"Who is it?" She asked not wanting anyone to walk in and see sitting in her underwear.

"It's Tara, are you decent?" The blonde shouted back

"No, but you can come in anyway." Willow giggled watching as the door opened slightly and a very beautiful Tara entered the room.

The redhead's mouth dropped as she took in the sight of her girlfriend in a stunningly simple black dress. The thin straps sat on Tara's delicate shoulders leaving her upper chest and neck exposed, the waist dipped and curved as it met with Tara's hips then hung loosely to her shapely thighs all the way down to her ankles.

Willow was mesmerised as her girlfriend walked gracefully towards her. The blonde sat carefully on the bed and eyed the dress that she was sure Willow was supposed to be wearing.

Intuitively Tara asked; "Do you need help with this?"

The redhead simply nodded her head as her words got trapped in her throat. Tara gently took the dress in her hands so she didn't cause it to crease then knelt on the floor. She guided one leg in and the other, then stood and held out her hand to help her girlfriend stand, Willow just stared at the hand for a moment before taking it.

"Hold my shoulders." The blonde gently ordered and was glad when Willow obliged.

Gripping the edges of the dress, Tara pulled it up the redhead's legs and over her thighs, hips then stomach finally settling it into place. She took a step closer to her girlfriend and lightly kissed her as her hands snaked round Willow's body and located the zip to pulling it shut.

"I thought it was best to start from the bottom up so it didn't mess your hair." Tara explained her method and gave the redhead a gentle squeeze before stepping back and taking a look at how the dress looked when it was being worn.

"Wow." She whispered and smiled lovingly, the cream colour accentuated Willow's fiery red hair and green eyes, the boob tube design resting just above her breasts following down to lightly hug her waist, the hem stopped at the redhead's ankle hiding what Tara knew to be very gorgeous legs although one was obscured by a bandage.

"Funny I was thinking the same thing. A-about you though.. not me.. cuz that's vain and you're more sexier and, well, wow!" Willow babbled, she stood unsteadily balancing herself on her good leg and reached her arm around the blonde's waist to pull their bodies closer together. "You really do look beautiful" She whispered.

"And you look incredible." The blonde complimented then captured her girlfriend's lips in searing kiss that caught Willow breath. Tara suddenly pulled back and studied the redhead's mouth thoughtfully.

"What?" Willow asked self-consciously.

"I'm ruining your lipstick."

The redhead laughed and shrugged her shoulders indicating that she didn't care just as long as Tara kissed her. She caught the blonde's lips again and sighed into the contact, the warmth of Tara's mouth seemed to ignite a spark in Willow and she was sure if they had the time and privacy to take this simple kiss to much more depths, she would be in flames. Tara's tongue lightly grazed Willow's lips begging for entrance and the freedom to explore, the redhead happily obliged, surprised at how quickly her body reacted to the soft, perfect form of her girlfriend against her. The redhead lightly sucked Tara's tongue and felt it's velvety softness against her lips, she was sure she heard the blonde softly moan and her heart started to double it's pace as her knee's weakened.

Willow whimpered when Tara's lips carefully broke away and were replaced by hot breathe as the blonde panted, she leaned her forehead against Willow's and focused on her breathing to try and calm it.

"Wil?" Tara whispered pulling her upper body back to look at her girlfriend, their bottom half's still firmly pressed together. "Willow?" The blonde began to become concerned when the redhead didn't open her eyes.

"I think..." Willow panted, "I think when I teased you this morning, I tortured myself!"

"Oh..." Tara smiled and then blushed as the memory of Willow's hot center pressing against her hand entered her mind, "You did an expert job with that because I'm still trying to recover."

"Ditto." Willow finally opened her eyes and smiled at the pink flush of her girlfriend's skin. "So... are you ready to meet the rest of my insipid family, extended family and most of Sunnydale's Jewish inhabitants."

"No, but I will anyway." Tara said with a nervous half smile.

"Don't worry, I'll look after you."

Mrs. Rosenberg sat at the kitchen table with a glass in her hand, red liquid lingered at the bottom of it and she debated about whether she should walk across the kitchen to fetch the wine and have a another. Her debates were quelled as Anna entered the room after hanging up her coat and picked up the open bottle of wine on her way over to her friend. She held up the bottle and poured the liquid in Sheila's glass when the woman nodded.

"So." Mrs. Maclay sighed as she took a seat and reached for a glass.

"So." Sheila repeated awkwardly.

"Are you still my friend even though my daughter's violating your daughter?" Anna mockingly sulked and a mock pout covered her face.

Mrs. Rosenberg had no choice but to laugh at the sorry display and she shook her head. "I'll still be your friend if you'll still be mine, it seems that our daughter's are violating each other."

"Who's being violated?" Willow asked as she caught the last part of her mother's sentence. She entered the room hobbling with her crutches and Tara's hand lightly touching the small of her back for support.

"You." Mrs. Maclay said with a smirk and glanced at Tara, she was thoroughly amused by the younger woman's wide-eyed expression.

Willow frowned and tried to make sense of what her girlfriend's mother was insinuating.

"Uhm... Mrs. Rosenberg where is Willow's wheelchair?" The blonde changed the subject hoping nobody would notice.

"It's in the cupboard under the stairs dear, why?"

"I just want it near by so that if Wil gets too tired she can use that instead." Tara glared at her girlfriend cutting off any protests that the redhead was about to make, and indicating that there was no discussing the subject. Willow found herself somewhat speechless and wondered how the blonde had managed to practically give her an order without saying a word. Nobody ever ordered Willow Rosenberg to do anything and got away with it, yet from Tara it was slightly arousing.

The party was in full swing as laughter, music and people shouting filled practically every room in the house. Tara spent most of her time making sure Willow was ok and on the odd occasion she ventured off to make sure her mother was having a good time and not saying anything she shouldn't be. Donny had been introduced to some of Mr. Rosenberg's nephews and was currently having a huge and meaningful debate on who was better; Sandra Bullock or Julia Roberts.

Tara stood against the alcove that separated the Kitchen and the living room, the cool wall felt nice against her over heated skin as the four glasses of wine she had managed to drink made her skin tingle and her head feel light. The sensation was weird seeing how Tara wasn't a big drinker and barely ever ventured passed the ‘two glasses' line.

She watched as her mother tilted her head back and laughed at something one of Mrs. Rosenberg's relatives had said, and a smile graced the blonde's lips at how happy the older woman seemed, the thought occurred to her that maybe her mother had needed a friend to lift her spirits just as she herself had needed Willow.

Her eyes drifted to the right and locked onto her brother, his face was beginning to turn red with his enthusiasm for Sandra Bullock and Ira was agreeing with him, the older man went to wave his hand at one of his nephews effectively making the beer glass in his hand malfunction and the beer to spill out onto the carpet. He looked up at the men surrounding him as if to say ‘uh oh' but after a few second he waved his hand and laughed hysterically, the rest of the group joining him.

But no matter how hard Tara looked, she couldn't find the beautiful redheaded women her heart wanted to see. The blonde looked down at her glass, she hadn't realised it was empty and she frowned, how had she managed to drink it so quickly?

A light pressure on her arm made the blonde lift her head, she was surprised to see a young man with hair almost as bright as Willow's staring back at her and holding a bottle of wine. He refilled Tara's glass then introduced himself.

"I'm max." The noise of the music made him lean closer to her, she edged closer to the wall and smiled. "I'm carting this bottle of wine around so if any beautiful damsels such as yourself need a refill, I can come to the rescue." He smile as though he should be crowned the worlds smartest man.

"That's a good idea." Tara answered politely.

"You're new." He stated whilst dragging his eyes over her body. "You don't look Jewish."

The blonde shifted uncomfortably under his intense gaze not really sure what to say.

"Not everyone hear is Jewish!" A voice made itself heard above the noise." Tara was happy to see Willow standing protectively by her side. "....And how exactly is a Jewish person supposed to look?"

The man frown as he thought about that for a second and opened his mouth to speak then closed it again and shrugged. He didn't have an answer.

"Max, were you hitting on my girlfriend?" Willow said with a playful glare, she wasn't really angry at him.

"This is your girlfriend?" His eyebrows shot up in surprise. "Way to go cousin Willow I didn't know you had it in you, when your mom told my mom that you had switched teams I thought she was lying." Max turned to Tara and held out his hand "I'm sorry I didn't mean to, uh... y'know. Forgive me?" He gave her his most pitiful look.

Tara shook his hand and smiled "It's no problem, kinda flattering really."

He looked at the blonde as if he was looking at royalty then shook his head. "Wow, you're like, the talk of the party about three people have asked me if I knew which one was you."

"Well now you know." Willow said plainly. She let go of one of her crutches and rested it on her hip, then slid her hand down the back of Tara's arm and interlaced their fingers. Somehow the feeling of people wanted to scrutinise her girlfriend made Willow want to wrap Tara up in her arms and keep her safe.

The blonde looked at Willow and gave her a small half smile, grateful for the gesture, she had seen the redhead's action for what it really was. Comfort and reassurance.

"Willow there you are." A short, red haired woman shouted and placed a well manicured hand on the redhead's shoulder. "I have been looking all over for you, aren't you going to introduce me to your friend?"

"Now Rosemary, don't go hassling my daughter she will introduce you when she is good and ready." Mrs. Rosenberg came up behind her sister and wrapped and arm around her guiding the woman away from Willow much to Rosemary's protests.

The redhead turned to Tara and smiled apologetically. "Will you help me? I've been needing the bathroom for a while, but it's hard to manoeuvre." She nodded at her crutches then followed as the blonde lead them through the crowed.

As the door closed behind her Willow relaxed a little. For the most part her family and friends were being subtle in their quest to find information on the redhead's sudden change in preference of partner, but she knew one or two people, aunt Rosemary to be exact, would grill Tara until she knew every last detail of how they met, how long they had been together, when they first kissed. The list was endless....

Willow felt a gentle squeeze on her arm and realised Tara was beside her and urging her to move toward the bathroom, she rested heavily against the blonde feeling the ache in her limbs now she was alone with her girlfriend, and was grateful for the help.

"I'm sorry about my family." Willow apologised wholeheartedly, "It's the alcohol and because, well.... some of them don't understand about stuff."

Tara came to a gentle stop and placed her finger under the redhead's chin forcing her to look up. "They're all sweeties Willow, they've all been really nice and I'm enjoying myself, my mom is practically in heaven and Donny has really taken a shine to your farther. We're all having a good time so you better do the same, ok?" She kissed the redhead's mouth Gently, the kiss was full of reassurance and love causing Willow to let out a contented moan from deep within her throat.

"Uhm that was yummy!.... But I can't."

Tara's brow furrowed at that answer and she began to worry, before she attended the party one of the blonde's concerns had been that Willow would be too busy trying to protect her that she wouldn't enjoy herself. "Why not?"

"Because I really have to pee."

Tara let out a relieved laugh and started walking, "ok, so, pee then good time, right?"




"Would you like a drink?" Tara asked her girlfriend as they weaved their way through the mass of people, Willow couldn't remember so many people attending in all the years they had been hosting this party and she was so busy trying to put names to the faces she was seeing, that she didn't hear Tara's gentle question. "Wil?"

"Huh?... Oh I'm sorry I was just..." The redhead was interrupted as arms wrapped around her from behind and held on tight.

"Willow!" A voice shouted that no doubt belonged to the same body as the strong arms holding her. "Willow!"

"Uh, I'm having breathing issues could you possibly - wait I recognise that voice.... Xander?"

The arms let go and the redhead carefully turned to see her faceless hugger, a smile engulfed her face and she threw her arms around a dark-haired young man accidentally hitting him with one of her crutches as she did so.

"Xander! You didn't tell me you were coming.... what? how? what? how?!"

Xander took a step back and took in the sight of his friend. "Four very good questions there Willster, but now's the time to tell me about those crutches, what's the deal?.... been wrestling cars or something?" He laughed as though that possibility was insane but stopped when the redhead bit her lip.

"I.... uh, got hit by a car, but I'm fine. I'm finey mcfine fine!"

He eyed her worriedly then jumped as a very loud ‘Oh!' came out of the redhead's mouth.

"Xander this is Tara." She pointed excitedly at the blonde, "Tara this is Xander he's an old friend from kindergarten, he stole my Barbie, I haven't forgiven him for it yet though." A playful grin spread across her lips as she let go of one of her crutches and took Tara's hand.

Xander nodded his head in greeting at the beautiful blonde and didn't think anything of their interlaced fingers. "Nice to meet ya." He offered a toothy smile. "So Wil, where's Oz? I'd have thought the Oz-myster would be lurking.... and I literally mean lurking, at such a hot shin dig like this!"

"Uh." Willow glanced at her girlfriend and squeezed her hand apologetically.

Tara shook her head and smiled then let go of the redhead's hand and stepped behind her, she leaned her body forward and gently whispered in Willow's ear before walking away, running her hand along the small of her girlfriend's back as she did so. Willow watched Tara go then turned to face her old friend.

"Uh Xander. Maybe there's something you should know...."

Tara found her mother gossiping with the woman she now recognised as Rosemary, Willow's aunt. The middle-aged woman had the trademark red hair, that's how Tara could tell Willow's family apart from the rest of the guests. The red-haired woman let out a shrill laughter that made Tara's ears ring. Even over the buzz of people talking and the loudness of the music, that laugh was something to watch out for.

Tara placed her hand on her mother's shoulder and smiled warmly as the woman turned to look at her. Mrs. Maclay gave her daughter a one armed hug then proceeded to introduce her to Willow's relative.

"Yes we met briefly." The blonde smiled as she took Rosemary's hand then turned back to her mother.

"I was just checking up on you, y'know making sure you hadn't had too many of those." Tara raised an accusing eyebrow and pointed at the wine glass her mother was holding.

"Sweetheart, the way you go on you make me sound like an alcoholic." The older woman chuckled. "Are you enjoying yourself? Where's Willow?"

"I'm actually having a good time," she smiled "I left Wil catching up with an old friend some guy named Xander. He seemed nice."

"Oh yes, I remember that boy with the large upper arms, he and Willow were like two peas in a pod." Rosemary chimed in before locking eyes on her unsuspecting victim. "So Tara tell me, how did you meet my niece?"

"Uhm...." The blonde shot a worried glance at her mother realising she was about to receive a Jewish inquisition. "Walking in the park."

"Which park? How long have you known each other? When did you become lovers?...."

Tara shifted slightly. Now she was stuck.

"So Las Vegas is your favourite out of all the places you visited? I wonder why that is?" Willow retorted sarcastically and took another sip of her drink. She winced as someone accidentally bumped into her leg as they passed. Even though she was currently sitting on a stool in the kitchen, the alcohol was beginning to affect the guests coordination.

"It's where I stayed the longest." Xander nodded, he was slightly dazed and couldn't quite wrap his brain around Willow's recent declaration.

The redhead took another sip of her drink and eyed her oldest friend out of the corner of her eye, she could see his brain ticking and it amused her.

"I'm still me Xander." She smiled reassuringly "I'm still old reliable Willow who never does anything wrong and has nightmares about SAT's. I'm still me, except now I have a girlfriend. A girlfriend of the yummy variety."

"I get that, it's're such an overachiever. I've been dating women since forever and still I haven't managed to get a girl like that." He huffed, "un-be-liveable!"

Willow rolled her eyes, it figures that's the one thing Xander would have a problem with, but she puffed out her chest proudly and a goofy smile spread across her face. "She is beautiful isn't she." The redhead felt the familiar warmth in her chest that occurred whenever she was in the presence of or thought about Tara. She looked around, passed the busy crowd of people that were gathered in groups dancing or singing, and caught sight of that shimmer of blonde she recognised as her girlfriend's hair. Her gaze also caught aunt Rosemary.

Willow watched for a moment as Tara smiled politely and patiently answered her nosey aunt's questions, the young woman was doing her best to be cautious with her answers and Willow could see her cheeks beginning to blush as a sign of embarrassment. She smiled as Tara laughed self-consciously and tucked a strand of blonde hair behind her shapely ear, Tara's blush was all the more visible and Willow decided her girlfriend was more than beautiful. She was perfect.

"Uh, Xander I'll be right back." The redhead quickly excused herself and stood carefully, grabbing both crutches she manoeuvred her way through the mass of people getting stopped every now and then by family members enquiring about or commenting on her new ‘lifestyle.'

Willow finally reached her girlfriend's side and placed her hand on Tara's back leaning on her lightly. The redhead was glad when Tara wrapped her arm around her waist and helped support some of Willow's weight.

"Is it ok if I borrow Tara for a minute aunt Rosemary?" The redhead saw the pleading look shot at her by Mrs. Maclay and laughed internally. "You too Mrs Maclay." She smiled knowingly as the older woman practically did a happy dance.

"Oh alright." Rosemary huffed, "but bring them back we were just getting to the good stuff." The red-haired woman waggled her eyebrows and made Willow all the more glad that she had interrupted the conversation.

When they were out of Rosemary's ear shot Anna breathed a sigh of relief. "Well that was.... difficult."

"I'm sorry." Willow said sincerely "Aunt Rosemary's just, well, nosey. But she's harmless really."

"I'm sure she is sweetheart, but I think I need another one of these." The older woman lifted her glass then pointed upwards. "Oh look, you're under the mistletoe."

Tara looked up to see the plant hanging in the alcove, she looked at Willow, the plant again then placed a gentle kiss on her girlfriend's cheek.

"Is That it?" Willow protested, not happy with a simple cheek-kiss.

"You want a real kiss in front of your family?" The blonde's skin began to flush at the idea and she looked around to see if anyone was looking.

"Not if you're uncomfortable with it."

"I'll never be uncomfortable kissing you, I just thought you would rather I didn't with your family in full view, but seeing as your not bothered, I am going to kiss you.... for tradition's sake of course."

"Oh yes tradition.... of course." Willow agreed playfully and placed her hands on Tara's hips to steady herself. The blonde rested her forehead against Willow's for a moment, breathing in the faint scent of the redhead's perfume. It was intoxicating like a drug in her veins and she was forever needing more.

The kiss was slow at first, both a little shy in front of the people surrounding them, but Willow took it upon herself to deepen the kiss and gently part her lips, glad when Tara obliged and parted her own for the redhead's tongue to enjoy the velvety softness of her mouth.

When they slowly parted, both heads turned towards the sound of a throat being cleared, they were greeted with a red-faced Mrs. Rosenberg looking at everything but them.

"Mom?" Willow ducked her head to catch her mother's gaze, her own cheeks were also burning, but it was worth it for a Tara-kiss.

"Some of the guests are leaving I want you to say goodbye."

The redhead nodded and let go of her girlfriend. "I won't be too long, go have fun."

It took Willow an hour to say goodbye to the guests, it seemed as one set were leaving another followed soon after and the redhead felt her body begin to ache with the days extra activities. It made her realise that she still had a long way to go before days like this were easier to cope with.

As Willow pulled away from a hug she received from her aunt Rosemary she felt warm hands snake around her stomach and hold her close. The redhead didn't have to turn to know who was embracing her, but her tiredness seemed to slightly decrease as she rested against her loving girlfriend.

"I thought I should come and help you say goodbye seeing as people are seeking me out before making their way to you." Tara whispered into the redhead's ear then let go with one hand to give Rosemary a one armed hug.

"It was wonderful to meet you dear." The woman's shrill voice rang in their ears. "Sheila I'll see you in a few days perhaps, you have no reason to cancel on brunch now Willow is clearly doing better."

Mrs. Rosenberg cringed slightly at the thought and looked to Willow for help, but the redhead shrugged her shoulders and smiled sweetly.

"Nice to meet you too, Rosemary." Tara came to the older woman's rescue. "Hope to see you again soon."

"Oh absolutely." Sheila's sister said excitedly and put her arm in the sleeve of her coat that Ira was holding up for her. He quickly ushered the woman to the door and then sighed when it closed behind her.

"I enjoy these parties, but when that woman finds you she's like a leech, always bleeding you for information." All eyes turned Mr. Rosenberg, he was a man of few words and such an outburst caused mother and daughter to look at each other in surprise. "I....i-i-it must be the alcohol." He insisted and excused himself.

"Well." Sheila stretched her muscles. " I'm going to mingle with our last few guests, Willow sweetheart you look exhausted and you have another big day tomorrow so maybe it's best that you rest?"

The redhead nodded and said her last goodbyes to the remaining guests, Tara said goodnight to her mother and brother, then helped her girlfriend to her room.

Willow kicked off one shoe as she sat on the edge of her bed. Tara closed the door behind her as she followed her girlfriend into the room and immediately bent down and removed the other shoe for her exhausted girlfriend. The redhead laid herself along the width of the bed and felt her body mould into the softness of the sheets and mattress, her limbs ached and she let out an almighty yawn as her eyes closed lazily.

Tara smiled at the cuteness of her tired girlfriend, the redhead's long body showed all it's curves in this position, the top of her breasts spilled out from her dress, her waist curved and dipped as it met with her hips and Tara couldn't help but feel something stir within her at the sight, but her view was obstructed as Willow rolled lazily onto her side and the blonde realised that her girlfriend was falling asleep.

"Wil, sweetie. Take that dress off and you'll be more comfortable."

"Don't wanna." Willow protested and threw one arm over her face.

Tara laughed softly and bit her lip, she wasn't going to let Willow wake up in the night and be uncomfortable, but she knew she'd have a fight on her hands. Climbing onto the bed, Tara laid next to her girlfriend and kissed the redhead's cheek as her hand snaked around the smaller woman's back to undo the zipper. The back of the dress fell open as the zip gave way to Tara's insistent pull. Kissing a path down Willow's neck, the blonde made her way to her collar bone, past her chest, then gently pushed the redhead onto her back and pulled the dress down her body.

"Your very sneaky." Willow's sleepy voice accused as the blonde pulled it gently over her legs. "A talented kind of sneaky." She lifted the arm off her face to give her girlfriend a partially disapproving glare.

"I have to be with you, you're so stubborn." Tara retorted, then held the dress up triumphantly. "Now was that so bad?"

"Yes!" The redhead huffed and threw her arm back over her face.

Tara climbed onto the bed again and lifted the arm that was blocking her view which she knew would be her girlfriend's playful smile, she wasn't wrong and Willow opened her eyes to see the blonde's smug smirk then laughed.

"You won, can I have some more kisses to help me fall asleep?"

"You want more kisses?"


"I don't think they'll help you fall asleep." Tara said sceptically.

"They will I swear, right there." The redhead pointed at her neck.

Tara obliged and placed a gentle kiss where her girlfriend wanted it. "Right there? How was that."

"Wonderful!.... now maybe two here and add a little tongue" Willow pointed at her mouth. "And another one here." Then back to her neck.

The blonde did as she was asked and captured Willow's mouth giving her a gentle kiss then pressing her lips more firmly against Willow's she scraped her tongue against them and sighed when the redhead captured it and gently sucked.

"Mmmm, where else was it?" Tara broke her lips away and studied her girlfriends flushed skin.

"Here." Willow's voice hitched as the blonde's mouth gently captured her neck and instead of kissing, she sucked. "Yep, definitely right.... there!"

A laugh came from deep within Tara's throat and she pulled away to look at her girlfriend. "You're adorable." She smiled warmly. "The cutest thing I've ever seen and I love you..... now go to sleep."

"You expect me to sleep now?"

The blonde sat up and pulled Willow with her, then tugged the covers free and laid back down opening her arms for her girlfriend to join her. Willow didn't hesitate and made herself comfortable, resting her head on the blonde's shoulder and wrapping a lazy arm over her stomach.

"Are you going to sleep in your dress?" Willow looked up with a frown.

"I'm not tired sweetie, I was thinking maybe I would write a little, maybe take a bath if that's ok? I feel a little icky."

"No go ahead, write and bathe away." The redhead buried her face into the crook of Tara's neck making her words come out muffled. "But stay until I'm asleep, it won't take long."

"I will." Tara said softly and held her girlfriend's warm body closer.

Willow laid in bed, her body still aching but her mind unwilling to give up the thoughts that were plaguing her. Tara had gotten out of bed twenty minutes earlier, leaving what she thought to be a sleeping Willow, but no matter how hard she tried the redhead's mind wouldn't give in.

Her eyes flickered open and studied the dark, empty room. The moonlight filtered in through the curtains and cast a shadow on every object in the room. Feeling unsettled, Willow turned her head to the side of the bed which Tara usually occupied, the emptiness bothered her even though she knew her girlfriend was only in the next room. Reaching up, Willow tugged at the blonde's pillow and hugged it to her chest, it smelt of Tara's shampoo and made the redhead feel a little better.

The party had been a success, everyone had enjoyed themselves, some people a little too much, but this party had seemed different than all the others. Willow had actually participated and talked, mingled, joked, laughed and drank with her family and friends. She noticed half way through the party that she had never done that before, she had simply put on a false smile and acted pleasant and was glad when the party was over. This time however, her smile was genuine.

Sprawling out onto her back, Willow looked at the ceiling still hugging the pillow to her chest. She thought about Tara and how the blonde had been at the party, always smiling and charming people, giving anyone she talked to her absolute attention. Tara had a certain way about her that made complete strangers warm to her immediately. Willow's family had warmed to her, more than one person had told Willow how lucky she was, of course they were all male, but still. They had said it and had meant it.

A splash of water drew the redhead's attention to the door, Tara had left it open and Willow knew it was so the blonde could hear if she wanted anything. Simple things like that made the her feel loved and cared for, like if there was anything she needed all she had to do was ask.

"I love how she does that." Willow whispered to herself "I love how she does things without thinking that normal people would have to think about. I love how she only half smiles at me. I love how she holds me while I sleep. I love how she always knows just what I need when I need it. I love how she took me to the park and told me she loves me.... I love.... I love.... Tara."

Willow stared at the door for a moment and took in a gulp of air as her own words penetrated her ears and circled around her brain. "I do.... a-and she knows it." Her overactive brain came to its final conclusion. "That's typical...."

The redhead pulled away the covers from her body and shivered slightly as the cold air hit her naked skin, she reached to the end of the bed where she always left her nightshirt and put it on, then shuffled off the bed. She stood unsteadily and grabbed her crutches to support herself, then as an after thought she grabbed Tara's pillow and stuffed it under her arm needing it for encouragement.

Tara sat in the hot steaming water that filled Willow's spacious bath, her skin tingled with the heat and streams of steam floated into the air, twisting and swirling. Her pen flowed graciously against the paper as her hand manipulated it. Her imagination taking over for the time being and her mind completely oblivious to anything around her, so oblivious in fact that she hadn't even heard the redhead climb out of bed and make her way to the bathroom door.

She started slightly when one of Willow's crutches accidentally hit the doorframe, and Tara turned to see an extreme picture of resolve gracing her girlfriends face.

"Willow?" Her voice full of concern "Is something wrong? Are you ok?"

"....Like that. There you go again and I mean it's just typical." Willow spoke as though she had started her sentence out in her head and vocalised it half way through. "You knew and you let me carry on not telling you when you deserve to be told."

Tara's breath caught in her throat as she realised what her girlfriend meant. She calmly put her pen and paper aside and lifted herself to a standing position, then took one foot out of the bath followed by the other.

The blonde padded across the bathroom floor not caring that she was dripping bathwater all over and quickly reached her girlfriend, it was then that she noticed what was under Willow's arm and a laugh escaped her mouth.

"You were going to tell my pillow you're in love with it?" Tara gently cupped the redhead's face and placed a soft kiss on her lips.

Willow sighed into the blonde's warm mouth then pulled away, looking into Tara's deep blue eyes, she shook her head "I was going to tell you."

"Tell me what?" The blonde felt as though her heart had stopped, it was though she hadn't needed to hear the words, but now she knew Willow was ready to say them her life depended on it.

"I love you. I'm in love with you and you knew, but you didn't make me tell you when you should have, because you deserve to hear it every. Single. Day. I love you Tara."

The blonde felt her eyes begin to water as her heart started it's usual rhythm of beating again, she didn't realise the impact those three simple words would have and felt as though someone had just winded her. Taking in a deep breath of air, she batted her eyelids causing small tears to roll down her cheeks and leaned into Willow's touch as the redhead wiped them away.

"C'mon." Willow handed the pillow to Tara then dropped one of her crutches and grabbed the blonde's hand, leading her into the bedroom.

"What are you doing?" Tara asked nervously and threw the pillow onto the bed once they entered the room.

The redhead didn't answer and instead turned to face her girlfriend and gently pushed her towards the bed. "I've never done this before so you're going to have to help me."

"W-what?" Tara's eyes widened as the redhead pealed off her shirt and carelessly discarded it. Willow didn't say a word as she hobbled closer to the bed then placed her hand on the blonde's shoulder, gently guiding her on to her back.

Tara helped Willow balance herself as the redhead carefully laid her body on top of her, the blonde let out a breath she hadn't realised she was holding, and closed her eyes to clear her mind, when she opened them the blonde felt more focussed.

"A-are you sure about this, Wil?"

The redhead nodded "You're wet."

Tara's mouth opened and closed as she fought for something to say to that, but instead she laughed as a playful, loving smile graced her girlfriends lips.

"Well I was interrupted half way through having a bath." The blonde half smiled knowing her girlfriend's words had a double meaning. She felt Willow's right thigh slide between her legs and was a little surprised by the action, but surprise went out the window when the redhead's center grazed against her thigh then pressed down more firmly.

"Wil?" The blonde's voice sounded horse in her throat as her mind began to blur, she wanted to make sure her girlfriend wasn't acting on impulse and was fully aware of what she was doing before her own body got to the point of no return. "Willow you don't have to. We don't have to if you're not ready."

Continue to Spark to a Flame Chapter Eighteen

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