Return to Spark to a Flame Chapter Twenty-One

Spark to a Flame

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

Notes: Thank you is the only thing I feel I need to say, so, thank you.

Willow manoeuvred around her kitchen. The thought of it being her kitchen gave her a twinge of pride. This new house was hers, but without Tara it would still look old and neglected. The house had a lot of work that needed to be done, but it was liveable and had lots of character. After a five minute journey of making her way down the stairs, Willow felt jubilant. A few months ago she could barely get out of bed, now she was about to make breakfast for her girlfriend.

"My girlfriend." She said to no one. It sounded strange, and made her giggle a little, but that thought also gave her a feeling of happiness that she had never felt before.

Tara was still in bed, no doubt exhausted from Willow's insistence that the first night spent in her new house had to be a memorable one. And memorable it was.

She flipped the switch to boil the kettle, Tara would appreciate herbal tea and toast, so that's what she would get, it's what she deserved. Willow had never made Tara breakfast before, it was a pity she couldn't make it up the stairs with a tray full of food to give Tara breakfast in bed, but she would one day, for now Willow would have to settle for this.

Bread in the toaster, she switched it on, then turned and pressed the 'on' button to the radio. Music began to fill the empty room and Willow began to sing along, in a very, very low voice. The kettle boiled, the water inside it bubbling furiously causing the kettle to rock slightly, it slowly calmed as Willow lifted it off the stand and poured the hot water into two of her favourite mugs. One was bright green with a picture of 'Scooby doo' and the other was light blue with a picture of Tom and Jerry.

"Perhaps I should get you a mug that says 'world's most sneakiest redhead'" Tara said as she walked into the kitchen. She wrapped her arms around Willow's waist and kissed her lightly on the cheek. "I didn't hear you get up."

"I wasn't being sneaky, I was being stealthy. In no way is that sneaky." Willow retorted and turned in Tara's arms. "Tea?"

"I'd love some." Tara beamed and took the steaming mug from her girlfriend. "What did I do to deserve this?" She asked as Willow moved towards the toaster that now revealed two toasted slices of bread poking out of the top.

"Well, there was this thing you did with your tongue I think needs to be rewarded, plus it dawned on me that I had never made you breakfast, so I wanted to."

"Thank you." Tara said as Willow handed her a plate full of toast.

Ten minutes later bellies were full, toast gone, tea drunk and Willow was looking for scissors to open a packaged New Years eve decoration, while Tara was unceremoniously biting at it with her teeth.

"Mit mon't mopen." She said somewhat exasperated then started slightly when Willow shouted. "Found them!" a little too loudly.

"Uh, sorry." Willow giggled and hobbled towards the breakfast table. She took the packaged decorations from her girlfriend, then cut across the top of them with the scissors. "There!" She said triumphantly pulling them out, then she tried to figure out which way they went.

"Mom said she'll be here at around nine tonight so we have plenty of time to think about where we're gunna put these."

"When did your mom tell you this?"

"Oh, a couple of days ago. She's super organised about these things."

"Sounds familiar." Tara mumbled, then smirked when Willow asked what she had said. "Nothing, but...." She changed the subject whilst turning in her chair "....I have been up for fifteen minutes. I have coffee and toast, but there's something missing."

"Oh oh, don't tell me. I know, I know." Willow said excitedly then stood off her stool and took Tara's hand, pulling her up too. "A kiss, right?"

Tara half smiled, indicating her girlfriend was right and appreciated the lack of hesitance as their lips met. Willow's lips were soft, as always. She could taste the sweet tea as their mouth's parted and connected more fully then closed around each other, embracing a familiar dance.

Tara let go of Willow's hand and wrapped it around her waist, pulling their bodies closer, feeling them fit against one another perfectly. But when the phone began to ring, Willow hesitantly pulled away.

"That'll be my mom." She whispered, somehow unable to find her voice.

Tara busied herself by clearing the dishes whilst Willow talked on the phone. She found listening to one side of the Rosenberg women's conversation quite a challenge as Willow's agitation surfaced and her hands became more animated. Her bottom lip jutted out ever so slightly and brow creased deeper the longer she stayed on the phone. Tara couldn't help but find it amusing and wondered if she possessed similar traits so similar to her own mother.

Willow finally placed the phone back in the cradle, her bottom lip as far out as it could possible go without falling off her face entirely. She shuffled towards Tara and replayed the conversation.

"Eight o'clock." She mumbled, "mom changed the time to eight o'clock."

"There's a problem with that?" Tara asked as she dried her hands with a towel.

"Well yeah, besides the fact that this is our first day alone and in the new house, we will spend most of our time arranging decorations, only for her to change them when she arrives."

"Then lets not put them up and spend our time doing something better." Tara half smiled and threw the towel on to the kitchen counter, walking up to Willow, she wrapped her arms around the smaller woman's body and smirked as she concocted a plan. "Imagine her surprise and gratefulness when she sees that you saved them for her, but you can be smug knowing that you didn't save them for her, you just had something better to do."

Willow stared at Tara for a moment, her vixen-y girlfriend's idea piquing her interest. "What did I have to do that's better than hanging decorations?"

"I seem to recall you enjoy the bath tub when you're in it with, oh say, me." Tara reminded. "Maybe we can find something to do in there before I go home to change?"

"Sounds like a plan." Willow said as she made her way to the stairs, positioning herself on the bottom step and making sure her crutches were blocking Tara's path, she turned to Tara, her face only describable as mischievous, and said:

"Last one up the stairs is a rotten egg"

Willow scooped up a handful of bubbles and blew them into the air. Watching with interest as they floated towards the bathroom floor. One clump of bubbles was intercepted by Tara's hand as she caught them then discarded them onto the redhead's nose before bending down and stealing a kiss.

"I'm all wrinkled." Willow said and held up her hand to prove it. Tara took the hand gently and pulled the redhead to her feet then guided her out of the tub.

"That's what happens when you stay in the bath longer than necessary." She answered with a smirk and wrapped a large, fluffy towel around her girlfriend's body before handing Willow her crutches.

"Bath time wasn't my idea." Willow retorted, then added, "not that I'm complaining."

Both girls made their way to the bedroom and the blonde dressed in silence, Tara internally debated whether she should wait until Sheila and Ira arrived before going home to change. It would be the first time Willow had been alone, without anyone at hand, since her accident and all kinds of scenarios were running through Tara's head. What if Willow fell? What if she needed something from a really high shelf? What if she needed help to get up or down the stairs? What if the house suddenly burst into flames?

"I think I'll stay until your mom gets here." She finally said and received two raised eyebrows from a sceptical Willow.

"Don't be silly, if you do that then you will have to rush home and change." The redhead answered logically, then walked over to retrieve the items sitting neatly on a chest of drawers. "Don't forget to wear these."

Tara took the items Willow held out for her and smiled as her hand passed over the neatly embroidered letters of her name. The gloves and scarf were the sweetest gift Willow could have given her for Jewish-Christmas, and once she had wrapped the scarf proudly around her neck, Tara took her girlfriend's hand and squeezed gently.

"Are you sure you will be ok?"

"I'm sure."

"I will see you soon?"

"You will."

Willow ran to the door, or rather, she hobbled to the door as fast as her injured leg would allow. She figured that Tara must have dropped the latch before she left, only to have a frustrated Sheila impatiently knocking on the door a few hours later.

Willow opened the door, the stern look of annoyance gracing her mother's face causing the redhead to smile sheepishly.

"I came as fast as I could." She said holding up one of her crutches for emphasis.

"It's freezing out there." Sheila grumbled walking past her daughter, the older woman shook off her coat and handed it to her husband expectantly before going through to the lounge. "I thought you were hanging decorations? What happened to the ones I got you?" She shouted.

"Oh, they're on the kitchen counter." Willow shouted back as she closed the door behind her farther. "I thought it would be better if you put them up, what with you arriving early and I know how much you enjoy it." The redhead smirked, before remembering that her farther could see her, but the older man simply winked playfully as he hung both his and his wife's coat up, he then took his daughters arm to help her into the other room.

"So how was your first night in the new house, Willow?" Ira asked once he had guided his daughter to the nearest chair in the kitchen.

"Uh, it was great, dad." Willow answered, she could feel her face begin to flush as the memories of exactly how she had spent her evening flooded her mind. "The heating system works great, Tara and I were warm enough - glasses are in the top cupboard." She directed her farther, his bottle of whiskey already open and waiting.

"Wine glasses for your mother? You know she won't take anything less than the real thing." He smiled.

"Oh, on the rack next to the sink."

"Where are the - oh here." Mrs Rosenberg babbled as she started her adventure with the decorations. "And the - oh there they are."

"Wine, honey?" Ira asked as he handed the half full glass of wine to his wife, who happily took it then sipped tentatively and smiled in appreciation.

"I'll be in the other room if you need me." She informed before leaving farther and daughter alone.

Ira poured another glass of wine, this time for his daughter, then poured himself a whiskey and placed the drinks on the kitchen table before sitting. He took a long, refreshing sip of his drink, the silence in the room interrupted every few seconds by Mrs Rosenberg's delighted squeals at hanging the decorations in the lounge.

"What time is Tara arriving?" Mr Rosenberg asked, he tilted his glass slightly, watching as the liquid moved in a slanted direction.

"About the same time you and mom were supposed to arrive." Willow smiled causing Ira to nod his head knowingly.

"The time change was your mothers impatience." He stated, then took another sip of his whiskey. "Tara seems like a nice girl."

Willow's wide eyes looked up from the glass in her hands. She hadn't really talked about the relationship between herself and Tara with her farther, and she hadn't expected to. Ira Rosenberg was a man of few words, often opting to let his wife take the lead on matters of importance, but as he sat across from his daughter, his eyes meeting hers, their corners wrinkled as his mouth curled in a knowing, loving smile. Willow saw, perhaps for the first time, that he wasn't oblivious to the world around him. He just knew that sometimes, words didn't need to be spoken.

"She's a very nice girl, dad. Thank you." She said somewhat shyly. She was just about to take another sip of her wine, but was stopped by her father's hand in the air. He raised his glass and pointed at it indicating Willow should raise hers too.

"To Tara and a quick recovery." He said, and once his daughter repeated his words, they both sipped their drinks appreciatively.

"Ira come here for a moment would you? I need you to hold these pins!" Mrs. Rosenberg shouted from the livingroom. Ira rolled his eyes and did as his wife asked, leaving Willow to sit in the quiet for a moment, but the quiet was soon interrupted by the opening and closing of the front door followed by the sounds of scuffling, and Mrs. Maclay's obvious displeasure at the weather. Willow made it to the doorway that lead through to the hall and saw Mother, daughter and son shucking off their coats and grunting with the effort.

"Hey, you're early." Willow stated somewhat confused, but happily received a hug from Anna and Donny, then a kiss from Tara as they moved past her to enter the kitchen.

"I thought maybe you would appreciate us getting here early too." Tara answered. "Besides, when I told my mom that Sheila would be hanging a few streamers she insisted we arrived the same time they did."

"Anna? Is that you?" Mrs. Rosenberg shouted. "Oh thank heavens, grab yourself a glass of wine and come help me. My husband is useless.... oh, and Willow, the contraption that plays music, how do you switch it on?"

Willow, in a way much like her father's, rolled her eyes and did as her mother asked.

Willow sat on a stool by the kitchen counter looking through to the living room at her family enjoying themselves, their merriment throughout the evening had been infectious as they laughed and danced the night away. She had come a long way since the darkness of her previous life as a lonely, career driven woman. It seemed like a lifetime ago that the only thing she had lived for was work, no matter how much she ran from the ugliness of her life and the inevitable ending of her relationship with Oz, it always caught up with her somehow. Now it was behind her, unable to catch up and fading into the distance. She was able to look ahead, and the future was Tara.

Work, Willow missed work, but it didn't seem as important as it once had, it seemed more of a hobby. She was looking forward to going back, however long it took. Her usual routine wouldn't be so usual anymore. It would consist of lunch breaks with Tara, leaving early to be with Tara. Inviting Tara into that side of her life would be exciting, Willow thought, It would be perfect.

Her thoughts quietened slightly as arms wrapped around her waist and a soft, warm body held her from behind. Tara's scent permitted her senses and Willow closed her eyes, allowing Tara to intoxicate her for a moment.

"Come outside." Tara whispered letting go of the smaller woman and taking her hand to help her step over the threshold of the backdoor. They walked in silence for a moment, Willow following Tara as the blonde lead them to the side of the house. The noise of their family laughing over loud music blew through the crisp night air, surrounding them as Tara brought them to a stop underneath the stars.

"It's almost midnight." Willow said softly, placing her hands on the back of Tara's elbows as the blonde pushed her gently against the side wall of the house.

"I know." Tara answered, her eyes purposefully piercing the magical green of her girlfriend's and holding them there for a moment.

The music coming from inside the house stopped abruptly, the air stilled and world quietened as the life changing year became mere seconds away from ending. Tara didn't let Willow's gaze go, not when the voices of their family beginning to count down broke the silence, not when the seconds passed and ten became nine, nine became eight, or eight became seven, but only when the cheers of midnight permitted the air did she move, her mouth closing softly around Willow's. Starting the rest of her life as it meant to go on, kissing Willow.


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