Tara woke up, disoriented. It was pitch black, and she was in bed - half of her body warm and snuggly, and half cold. She was only partially covered by sheets and a blanket that seemed to have mysteriously moved during the night. The air conditioning in the room had kicked on, and the cold air blowing across the exposed portion of her back where her T-shirt had ridden up from her boxer shorts had awakened her.
While her back was cold, the front side of her body was most decidedly warm, and firmly wrapped around another warm body. A body, she sleepily realized, that had stolen most of the covers during the night.
It all came rushing back to her - Willow, kissing Willow after the mock attempt to read her palm, lost in each other and the rush of taste, texture, lips and tongues on each other, hands gently stroking each other's backs, for what seemed like an endless time. Shy looks at each other as first one girl and then the other changed into pajamas in the privacy of the bathroom, and the initial awkwardness of lying in bed together in the dark, stiff and not touching, which so easily gave way to more kissing and snuggling until nearly midnight, and being so overcome by fatigue that by unspoken agreement they settled into each others' arms and drifted off to sleep.
Tara shifted on the bed, trying to gently tug some of the blankets and sheets over to her side, but Willow had the blankets firmly in her grasp and tucked under her body. Tara shivered and pressed herself against Willow.
Guess she steals the covers. As she considered her options, the point was suddenly rendered moot by Willow's awakening.
"Mmm, what's going on?" she said sleepily as she rolled over to face Tara.
Tara took the opportunity to yank some of the bedclothes onto herself. "You stole the covers."
Willow hoisted herself up onto one elbow and shifted her weight to allow Tara more of the blankets.
"I'm so sorry," she said, running her hand along Tara's back. "You're so cold!"
Tara tucked the sheets under her chin. "Come warm me up?"
Willow gladly obliged and settled her head onto Tara's shoulder, wrapped her arm around the other girl's midsection, and for good measure, curled her left leg over Tara's thighs.
"Better now?" she asked.
"Much," Tara replied, caressing Willow's hair. Willow sighed with pleasure at the touch and burrowed her face into the crook of Tara's shoulder. As Tara continued her caress, Willow reciprocated with gentle kisses along her neck. Tara squirmed with pleasure.
"Cover theft is a serious issue," Tara said with mock severity. "We're going to have to work on that."
Willow chuckled. "It's been a lifelong problem. But I'll promise to work hard at my rehabilitation."
"Lifelong, you say? You have a track record of stealing covers, meaning you've slept with a lot of people?" Though Tara's tone was teasing, Willow caught an undercurrent of uncertainty, and moved quickly to allay her fears.
"Only through sleepovers with Buffy," she clarified, reaching up to stroke Tara's hair along the temple. "Chaste sleepovers. I, um, haven't dated very many people. And none to the point where we shared a bed."
Tara hugged Willow to her. "You'd never know it, the way you kiss."
Willow perked up. "Am I a good kisser?"
"The best I've ever had."
"And how many have you had?"
Tara smiled into the dark. "Um, let me count." She whispered under her breath, "One, two, three, hm, do those twins count as one or two? Uh..."
Willow's eyebrows shot up in disbelief. "What?"
Tara giggled softly. "Just teasing you. Not very many - a couple of awkward dates here and there."
Willow settled back down into Tara's arms. "Pretty much the same for me. If you don't count Xander when we were eight years old and playing Post Office, which I don't."
"Hm. Let's not - because that would mean by extension that you've kissed Anya, and we live together."
"Yeah, probably best to avoid that train of thought."
"What is Post Office?" Tara asked. "I've never played it."
Willow blushed. "Well, the way we played it was that instead of mailing letters, you mailed kisses. One person was the postal clerk, and the other one was the customer. It was pretty innocent, actually - it was Xander's idea. We only played it once or twice before he decided girls were icky."
Tara turned her head and planted a soft kiss on Willow's lips.
"Mmmmmm. Yeah, like that." Willow sighed happily, and then returned the kiss.
"What was that?"
"Return to sender - not enough postage."
Tara quirked up the left side of her mouth. Every time she thought Willow couldn't possibly be more endearing, she did or said something that was even more delightful. She turned over slightly, gently shifting Willow in her arms so Willow lay on her back, and proceeded to kiss her again. This time she prolonged the contact, and parted her lips slightly so just the tip of her tongue touched Willow's bottom lip.
She lay back down. "Enough postage that time?"
Willow turned over and wordlessly returned the kiss, tentatively extending her own tongue to brush against Tara's lips. She was met with the gentlest pressure of Tara's tongue, and the kiss deepened.
Tara exhaled with a trembly voice when the kiss was over. "Guess not."
"No, plenty of postage - this time it was 'address unknown.'"
"I really need to mail this letter. To France." Tara said.
"Well, the post office is here to help," Willow replied. "We have a variety of resources for our customers. There's a zip code reference book," she said, kissing the tip of Tara's nose, "a street map," she continued, with a touch of lips to Tara's forehead, "and of course, the postal clerk is a friendly woman who can help you search the database," she finished, with the briefest touch of lips on Tara's left ear.
Tara shuddered. "Thank goodness for the U.S. Government."
Willow nodded, trailing kisses down Tara's jaw. "Through rain, or sleet, or snow, or a plague of frogs, we'll be here for you."
"I think it's a plague of locusts," Tara said, shivering as Willow nipped her jaw.
"Locusts I can handle, or vampire bats, for that matter," Willow said, resuming her kissing down to the tip of Tara's chin. "It's the frogs that are the scariest."
She ended up at Tara's lips and captured them again in a kiss. Tara's arms went around her neck and the two girls abandoned their banter as they again became absorbed in each other.
Willow shifted in annoyance at the insistent sound. "Mmmmph," she protested.
Tara opened her eyes sleepily and cast around for the source of the sound, the hotel phone.
"Tara, it's 10:30! Check-out time is 11. I need to shower, and I'm assuming Willow probably does too," Anya's voice crackled through the phone.
Tara sank back onto the pillow, too tired to respond to Anya's comment. "Willow's asleep - I think she'll be hard to wake up."
"Well, motivate her. I'll be there in five minutes." Anya hung up the phone.
She replaced the phone in its cradle and gently shook the redhead who was cradled in her arms. "Willow, sweetie, it's time to get up."
Willow murmured a protest. "Do we have to?"
Tara kissed her forehead. "Anya will be here in four minutes, and I'm sure she'll have a lot of commentary for us if we're still in bed together."
Willow opened her eyes and threw back the covers. She leapt out of the bed like a stone launched from a slingshot. "I'll just be a second!" she said as she carried her clothes from last night into the bathroom.
Tara smiled and got out of the bed herself. She opened her suitcase and selected an outfit to wear for the ride home.
Willow emerged from the restroom, scrubbing at her eyes. "I can't believe how late we slept."
Tara gave Willow a sly smile. "Well, as I recall, we did wake up in the middle of the night, so we didn't sleep the whole time."
Willow's eyes sparkled and she walked over to give Tara a hug.
As she embraced the girl, she glanced into her suitcase. "What's that, Tara?"
Tara looked where Willow was pointing. "Oh, um, nothing. Just something Anya bought for me." She closed the suitcase hurriedly.
"Anya bought you sexy underwear?" Willow queried.
Tara blushed. "Yes. She, uh, made me promise to bring it."
"Oh? How come?"
"In case things worked out with you, sweetie!" Anya trilled as she let herself into the room. "I take it that you didn't wear it, Tara."
Willow decided to forestall further embarrassment for Tara. "Well, I'll look forward to seeing it sometime in the future," she said, with a quick peck on Tara's cheek. "Anya, see you downstairs at checkout?" She beat a hasty retreat to the door.
"Dibs on the shower!" Tara called, avoiding Anya's anticipated remonstrations about the underwear.
Buffy and Willow sat in the lobby as Xander checked out of their room at the front desk.
"So how was your night, Buff?" Willow asked.
"It was good!" Buffy answered. "I really like Angel. He's very sweet, and was very much the gentleman last night. I was worried since he's older, but there was no pressure at all."
"Are you going to see him again?"
Buffy nodded, a dreamy look overtaking her features. "He lives in L.A., so it's a drive, but not too far away." She looked up and saw Tara and Anya entering the lobby carrying their bags. She nudged Willow.
Willow followed Buffy's gaze and a smile lit up her face as she saw Tara. Slightly flushed from her shower and with damp hair, Tara seemed even more adorable than she had this morning. Tara walked across the room toward Buffy and Willow as Anya joined Xander at the checkout counter.
Willow stood to make introductions. "Buffy, this is Tara. Tara, Buffy."
Buffy extended a hand to Tara. "It's very nice to meet you. I've heard a lot about you."
Tara smiled as she shook Buffy's hand. "Likewise. This morning you heard a lot about me?"
"This morning, the last three months, you name it. It's pretty much been a constant topic for Willow," Buffy joked. "I'm glad you guys finally met after all the craziness."
"What did you guys do to Faith, anyway?" Tara asked.
"Let's just say for now that we turned the tables on Faith. Gave her a taste of her own medicine. Revenge is a dish best served cold."
Willow groaned. "No more cliches, Buffy."
"Okay, I won't beat a dead horse," Buffy said good-naturedly, as Xander and Anya joined them.
"Finished checking out?" Willow asked. They nodded.
"We'd better hit the road," Xander said. "I have to work tonight."
"I'll get the car," Buffy said.
"Oh, I'll go with you!" Anya said. She slipped her arm through Buffy's as they walked through the door. "Now tell me all about what you did to Faith..." her voice trailed off as they moved away.
Xander gathered up as many bags as he could carry. "I'll take these outside."
Willow and Tara picked up the remainder of the bags and carried them to the curb, where Xander was depositing the heavy load.
"So pretty sweet that you and Anya live so near Sunnydale," Xander said to Tara.
Tara nodded. "It'll make keeping in touch a lot easier."
Xander nodded. "Although with e-mail these days, even if you're hours away it can seem like less. Makes visiting harder, though."
"True, but I kind of prefer the U.S. Postal Service," Willow said.
Xander gave her a look. "YOU prefer the postal service? Miss Electronic Information Age Paperless Economy herself?"
Willow shrugged innocently. "It has its good points."
Xander seemed to want to press the point, but at that moment Anya's car pulled up in front of the group, followed by Buffy's mom's SUV, which screeched to a halt mere inches from Anya's bumper.
"Sorry!" Buffy called out of the window as she popped the back door.
As Xander began to load the bags into their respective cars, Willow and Tara looked at each other and embraced.
"So I'll call you?" Willow said. "Ugh, that sounds like a line. I don't mean it that way."
"You won't call me," Tara said.
"What?" Lines of worry appeared on Willow's forehead.
"You don't have my phone number," Tara said with an impish grin.
Willow smiled. "You are such a teaser!"
"Better than being a tease, I guess."
"Okay, time to give it up," Willow said, producing her cell phone from a pocket and making ready to enter Tara's phone number.
Tara told Willow her number, both home and cell at the redhead's insistence. Willow took a quick look around, noticed that Buffy, Xander, and Anya were all studiously not looking at them, and gave Tara a quick kiss.
"Okay. I'll call you soon. Um, probably tonight, if that's okay."
Tara nodded, and with lingering glances, the girls went to their friends' cars.
Willow pulled the door closed and buckled her seat belt. "Thanks for waiting."
"Anything for lesbian love," Xander said. "You take your time, anytime."
"What he said, only with less prurient interest," Buffy said.
Anya gunned the engine as Tara got in and closed the door. "All right, we're out of here." She drove out of the parking lot at high speeds.
"Why are you so anxious to get away from them?" Tara asked, confused. "Did something happen between you and Xander?"
Anya chortled. "No, not at all. I just don't want to be anywhere near Buffy on the highway. That girl drives like a maniac."