Thursday morning Tara awoke in almost the same position as she had on Monday: lying on her back, one arm pinned to her side under the soft, warm weight of Willow's body. Unlike Monday, however, her first instinct was not to jump out of bed in shock, but to savor every moment. Turning her head, she buried her face in red curls, inhaling deeply the scent of Willow's shampoo. The redhead's nightgown left her shoulders bare to the blonde's caressing fingertips, gently stroking up and down the length of one arm. After several minutes, the redhead began to stir.
"That tickles you know."
"Shhhh... I'm busy."
Willow half opened one eye to peek curiously at the blonde.
"Connecting the freckles," Tara replied, directing mischievous eyes and a lop-sided grin at the sleepy woman. "There's quite a few - it could take a while."
"It'll take all day - I have them everywhere," Willow remarked casually while arching one eyebrow.
Tara's fingers stilled immediately and her eyes snapped shut.
Everywhere? Oh Goddess - stop thinking about Willow's... everywhere... it's not even 7:30 a.m. and... dear god, it's hot in here.
Tara felt Willow shift, and upon opening her eyes saw that the redhead had propped herself up on her side, one hand supporting her head while she gazed at the blonde with an unreadable look on her face.
"You're still here."
"Why wouldn't I be?" Tara frowned, unsure if Willow was posing a question or a making a statement.
"I thought... when I woke up, I thought it was just another dream, or- but it's real... and you're still here... you didn't leave."
The implication of the words and the expression of uncertainty on Willow's face nearly drove Tara to tears, and she reached out to touch the other girl's cheek.
"I'm not going anywhere, Willow. I shouldn't have left the way I did that day, and it won't happen again. I'm here to stay... for as long as you'll have me."
The two women didn't embrace so much as gravitate toward one another, the emotional tension falling away as they lay against each other. They remained that way for several minutes, simply holding on, eyes closed, breathing in sync. Gradually Tara's fingers resumed their exploration, this time on Willow's shoulder blades, the light touch sending a shiver down the redhead's spine. Arching her back at the pleasurable sensation, Willow gasped when she felt her breasts pressing into Tara's.
There was nothing tentative about the kiss that followed. The moment their lips made contact, both eagerly opened their mouths to the other, tongues meeting, stroking, tasting. Tara grunted in frustration as she attempted to move her trapped arm, desperately wanting to feel Willow under her hands. The redhead somehow sensed what was needed, and began to roll away, only to be pulled back tighter until she was on top of Tara, who wrenched her limb free.
The blonde immediately cried out in pain and sat up, throwing a very startled Willow off of her in the process.
"Tara? I'm sorry- I shouldn't have-"
"Ow-ow-ow," was all Tara could manage as she clutched her arm. She shot an apologetic look at the redhead, whose contrite expression quickly shifted to understanding.
"Oh baby, your arm's asleep?"
Receiving a grimace and a nod, Willow pulled the limb onto her lap and began massaging the muscles, working down from shoulder to hand. When she felt the blonde relax, she brought the hand to her mouth and ran slightly parted lips over each fingertip in turn.
"Can every morning start like this," Tara thought out loud.
"Well, I don't know about the pins and needles in the arm part, but the rest of it would be fine with me."
Tara wrapped her arms around the redhead.
"Mmmm... let's just stay here all day."
"Well I could spend a few more hours here, but someone needs to get to work, and it just wouldn't be as much fun by myself."
Tara groaned and dropped her forehead onto Willow's shoulder.
Stupid damn job... stupid Riley... could've said I was a student, didn't need to work, but noooo.
"I have to stop by Giles' this afternoon, but not for long. How ‘bout I meet you at your office and we can go to dinner... like a real date type dinner?"
As much as Tara didn't want to go back there, she could deny Willow nothing, and she had to admit it was a convenient location for them to meet. An hour later, after a shower, quick breakfast, and a multitude of Willow-kisses, the agent got into her car and drove away.
The day progressed much as Tuesday had; Tara ran errands for several hours, doubling back to the house in time to follow Willow to school. Afterwards, the agent tailed her to Giles' then went back to her pretend office to wait. Her experience there was less awkward than the first time. The other women had apparently decided that she wasn't interesting enough to engage in gossip with, and largely ignored her. Tara left the building at exactly 5:00 and found Willow waiting for her on the sidewalk. They chose a new French bistro for dinner, chatting amiably and lingering over dessert. After dinner they took a leisurely stroll around downtown Sunnydale, stealing furtive glances and innocent touches.
Arriving home shortly after 8:00, both felt a nervous anticipation at being alone again. While Tara made a pot of tea, Willow fiddled with the radio. When she walked into the living room, Tara nearly dropped the tea set, so stunned was she to see the redhead dancing to the rousing strains of Glenn Miller's orchestra playing "In the Mood." As she set the tray on the table, she felt a hand grab her wrist and spin her into the center of the room.
"C'mon Tara!" Willow enthused with a wide grin, taking both the blonde's hands in hers. Soon both girls were giggling more than dancing, and Tara leaned over, hands on her knees as she attempted to steady her breathing.
"What... what's with the Fred and Ginger routine?"
"Practice," Willow stated as her laughter subsided.
"Practice? For what?"
"Oh, I agreed to go to this silly dance tomorrow. Anya - Xander's fiancée - is a USO girl, and I kinda promised I'd go with her. Hey! You could come too!"
Tara's entire body had tensed at the mention of the dance, and she breathed a momentary sigh of relief as Willow explained.
She certainly wouldn't ask me along if - oh god - she can't go - Riley - they won't understand - she could be in danger!
"Tara?" Willow quietly asked, taking a step toward the blonde.
"Don't go," the agent blurted out.
Willow's brow creased and she stopped to look at Tara, who dropped her head down and wrapped her arms around herself.
"I have to... I- Tara what's wrong?"
"Nothing... it's nothing."
Willow bridged the gap between them, placed her hands on Tara's hips and ducked her head to catch cloudy blue eyes.
"Come with me?"
"I c-can't, Willow, I'm sorry. I made plans with m-my... brother," the agent choked out the word, hastily adding, "but maybe I'll stop by later - make sure you're behaving yourself with all those G.I.s."
"You don't need to worry about them," Willow scoffed, smiling coyly. "You're the only one I want to misbehave with."
Tara unfolded her arms and draped them over Willow's shoulders as a slow ballad came over the radio. The shrill whine of the air raid siren suddenly pierced the still of the evening, and the music cut off, replaced by static.
"Dammit!" Willow exclaimed, moving to flip off the radio. "I hate that sound! You don't- it is just a drill, right?"
Tara had moved to shut off the lights, and as she peered out into the darkened street, she noticed the neighborhood air raid warden already patrolling by moonlight.
"Just a drill," she confirmed. "It has been a while."
Turning back in the direction of Willow's voice, she let her eyes adjust until she could make out her silhouette, still standing by the radio.
"I liked that song," Willow pouted.
Tara carefully inched her way over, slipping an arm around the redhead's slim waist and taking one of the girl's hands in her own. She started humming softly as she felt cool fingers wrap around the back of her neck. The two moved closer as they danced, cheeks pressed lightly together. Tara began to sing the preempted song, her voice low and soothing.
"You'd be so nice to come home to,
Their joined hands parted to roam over backs, shoulders, and arms.
"Under stars chilled by the winter,
As Tara continued to hum the hypnotic tune, Willow guided their swaying bodies down the short hallway and through the first door. The tune abruptly cut off as the blonde felt soft lips on her own. Blinking in the darkness, it took her a moment to realize they were in her bedroom. She let her eyes fall closed as Willow's tongue licked at her bottom lip, seeking permission. Tara acquiesced at once, but before the kiss could escalate in intensity, Willow drew back.
"Tara," Willow breathed. "I love you."
Not waiting for a response, the redhead gently grazed their lips together, allowing the blonde time to continue or pull away. Somewhere in Tara's mind she knew she should stop. But all of her resolve to wait crumbled as Willow made her declaration, and Tara's body melted into the redhead's arms, thinking nothing beyond the words repeating in her head: she loves me... she loves me...
"I love you, Willow."
The words were barely past her lips before Willow crushed into her, giving their passion release as mouths hungrily sought each other. Tara reached around the redhead's back for her zipper, lowering it and easing the dress off of her shoulders. Willow wriggled out of it as the blonde left a trail of licks down the curve of her neck. The redhead's shaky but determined fingers manipulated the buttons of Tara's skirt and blouse, which were soon discarded on the floor.
Once stripped down to chemises and slips, Willow edged them to the bed and gently guided the blonde onto the mattress. Lying down next to her, the redhead tenderly stroked her fingers down Tara's arm to her hand, which she brought to her lips, kissing the palm before returning it to Tara's side. Continuing on, her hand slowly mapped the blonde's body, trailing down one leg, back up the other, lingering over the stomach before tentatively cupping one full breast, pausing, then seeking out its twin. Moving up the arched neck, over the chin, up one smooth check, across the forehead to the other cheek, and finally to the lips that parted to kiss each fingertip.
Tara, understanding Willow's need to explore, had merely reveled in the sensations while her cradling arm drew lazy circles on the redhead's back. Willow withdrew her fingers, covering Tara's mouth with her own as she rolled partway on top of the blonde, whose legs parted for one of the redhead's.
The blonde gasped the moment Willow's thigh flexed into her, pushing up her slip, and she instinctively bent her own knee to make contact with the other woman. Willow moaned, the ache between her legs overwhelming her. Leaning in to feverishly kiss Tara, she began slowly thrusting her hips forward, feeling the blonde do the same. Their pace quickened as both neared release, staring deeply into each other's eyes until neither could hold back any longer. Tara's orgasm broke over her, and it was all she could do to hold her thigh up against Willow, who came shuddering in waves a moment later.
The redhead collapsed onto the bed, lying half on top of Tara, who smoothed back damp red hair before reaching to pull the covers up over her shivering lover.
"Tara... I... I..."
"Shhh... sleep, my love," Tara murmured. She began humming their song again, letting the sound soothe the redhead's still heaving chest. After several minutes she felt Willow's body relax and her breathing become heavy and slow.
"I love you Willow," she whispered, unsure if the redhead was conscious enough to hear. "Whatever happens, always know that I love you."