Tara heard Willow moving around the house first thing in the morning, and quickly dressed, remembering her words about visiting a friend. As soon as she heard the front door click shut, Tara exited her room and set out after her suspect. The redhead walked slowly, automatically, seemingly lost in her own thoughts. The deserted tree-lined streets made it easy enough for Tara to pursue the other woman without fear of being discovered. Despite the necessity of her surveillance, the agent felt a pang of guilt at the deception.
It's for the best, she told herself. The sooner I prove her innocence, the sooner we can...
Tara snapped to attention as she saw Willow approach a small wood frame cottage. She ducked behind a tree until the redhead disappeared behind the door, which had been opened by the blonde woman from Willow's photos. As soon as they were inside, Tara casually walked by the mailbox, which read Anya Jenkins, and retreated across the street to wait.
Willow practically skipped out of the house. As much as her friend's tactlessness could be embarrassing, she had to admit that Anya's support meant a lot to her. And to say that she had been accepting of Willow's admission would be an understatement. 'The Bronze Vixen?! Of course it's a lesbian bar. Everyone knows that - really, Willow, how na´ve are you? And since you obviously never listen to me, I was living in Berlin before the war, you know. If you think your little I-think-I-have-sweaty-naughty-feelings-for-a-girl speech is going to shock me, well think again, missy! I saw things you couldn't imagine, like there was this cabaret, where - HEY! Are you listening?'
Of course, Anya's encouragement always came with a certain amount of back-handed compliments. 'Well, finally there's something interesting about you.' Willow's brow creased as she recalled the words. 'And at least now I know you're not going to try and steal Xander from me.' Willow had simply rolled her eyes at that oft-repeated insecurity, and asserted for the millionth time that she had never thought of her best friend that way. 'Isn't that why you left Oz?'
A year before, when Willow had broken up with Daniel Osbourne, she told herself that they had really always been friends more than anything, and that they had simply drifted apart. He had joined the Army immediately after Pearl Harbor, and before leaving for boot camp had asked her to marry him. The proposal had unnerved her. Still in college, she had so many plans for her future, and while marriage seemed like one of life's big inevitabilities, it felt too soon. They'd written constantly for a while, especially after Oz had been shipped off to Europe. Then came the day that Oz wrote to tell her about a woman he'd met in France. His letter was achingly apologetic - he didn't even use the other woman's name - and he made it clear that nothing had or would happen as long as Willow was his girl. The redhead knew she was supposed to feel all sorts of things: anger, hurt, betrayal. But all she'd felt was... free. And so she'd given Oz his freedom as well. They'd continued to write, but the letters became fewer and farther between. In his last letter, several months before, Oz had written to tell Willow that he and Veruca had been married in a small ceremony in a tiny French village. She'd never known him to be happier.
Now, Willow wondered if she had always kept her boyfriend at arm's length because deep down she'd known it wasn't what she wanted. Their relationship had evolved from friendship, but in truth it never progressed much beyond it. The moment she met Tara, she felt... something... something she'd never felt with Oz. It was like a light-bulb turning on in her head, and memories of all the female classmates and teachers and movie stars she'd ever felt a spark of attraction for overwhelmed her. And none of them held a candle to Tara.
Willow walked into the living room and glanced nervously at Tara, who sat on the sofa looking slightly flushed. The blonde turned to her with a questioning glance, and Willow felt her chest heave. Okay Rosenberg, now or never, just tell the woman what's on your mind.
"COFFEE! I think I'll make some coffee," Oookay, that was a thing on your mind, but not really the important one, "Cause it's kind of a social-y morning-y type thing to do - coffee and donuts and paper reading - though I don't have any donuts... I could just run get some - or maybe I'll just make with the coffee... making."
Willow scampered off to the kitchen before she could complete her transformation into a babbling idiot.
Too late, She thought, as she tried to regain a fraction of the confidence she'd felt when she'd left Anya's. I can do this. I can just walk right back in there, and say 'Tara, I have to tell you something, and I hope you'll understand... and I think you will... see, I've been thinking about a lot of stuff since I met you - well, maybe even before - but I didn't really understand what it was I was thinking until then... and - okay, this is starting to confuse even me.
Willow returned to the living room, noticing that Tara had not moved an inch. Crossing the room, she set two cups down on the table and promptly ignored them. She took a seat on the far end of the couch, careful to leave a comfortable space between herself and the other woman.
"Tara," she started hesitantly. "Did you sleep well?" That's it, Rosenberg, waste time with small talk.
"Not really," the agent replied softly, dropping her head down.
"I... I'm sorry I rushed off last night. I had a lot of stuff going on up here," she said, pointing at her head and fluttering her hands nervously. "But I think I, uh... figured some things out... and Tara, I have to tell you-"
A loud knock at the door brought Willow to her feet in a flash, and she cried out in frustration.
"You have GOT to be kidding me!" She looked longingly at Tara before stalking over to the door, muttering "this had better be important."
"WHAT!," she shouted as she ripped the door open. The young man on the porch took a step back when confronted with the furious redhead. He craned his neck to look over Willow's shoulder, where he spotted an equally irate blonde.
"Hey Tara, there you are," he stated jovially. "And you must be Willow - it's nice to meet you."
"Uh, hi," Willow replied sheepishly. "Err, you are-?"
"Oh, where are my manners. I'm Tara's-"