She pulled her glasses off of the bridge of her nose, and set her face in her hands. She rubbed her fingers over her forehead, temples, and eyes before looking back at the computer screen in front of her. Rereading the passage for the fifth time, she knew something wasn't right. The words seemed awkward and out of place, something about the paragraph irked her. A reminder popped up on her computer screen, letting her know she'd been working for nine hours and twenty-three minutes. Despite the irritation of the reminder, she smiled. For a girl who only cares about money and sex, Ahn, you sure do seem to do a lot to take care of me. Her feet uncrossed and placed firmly on the ground, and using her hands she pushed away from her work.
Grabbing the coffee cup from her desk, her feet padded against the hardwood floors of her apartment as she headed into the kitchen. Dumping out the old coffee, she tossed the mug into the dishwasher before grabbing a wine glass and a half-drunk bottle from the fridge. Her movements slowed as she stood, pulling the cork from the bottle, staring off into space. Glass of wine for one. Well, that's not exactly surprising, is it? You spend all your time editing and hiding in this apartment. The only time your roommate can get you out is for readings. The last time you had a date, you spent three hours comparing her to a girl you met eight years ago who might as well be a fantasy. Feeling frustrated with herself, she pushed a hand through her hair, and was completely startled when the phone rang. She stared at it, willing the person on the other end to just stop calling, knowing full well it was probably Anya.
Finally, the answering machine picked up, playing the message she'd grown so used to hearing. "Hello, you've reached Anya Jenkins and Tara MacClay. We're not here right now - well, Tara is probably here and ignoring you - but so far as you know we're not here right now, so leave a message." The machine beeped, and the same voice she had just heard filled the apartment.
"By now, you've seen the reminders I've left on your computer for you to stop working for today. If you still are, I've set your computer to self-destruct once it hits nine hours and forty-six minutes, so I hope you're taking a break." There was a pause, followed by a brief laugh. "I'm partially kidding." Another laugh. "I am out tonight, but I'm sure you already know that. My advice to you, Tara, is to go out and do the same. You need an orgasm friend, and despite all my offers, you keep rejecting me. Have a good night, stop working and take care of yourself! I'll see you in the morning." The machine beeped again, and then went silent. At least somebody loves me... Well, she's right about one thing, I certainly need an "orgasm friend". Her face crinkled in disgust. Or at least a friend other than Anya!
She moved towards her bedroom, her hand caressing the wood of her door before pushing it open. Her room had just a slight chill to it, and she felt her nipples respond to the change in temperature. She placed her wine glass on the bedside table, and slid into bed, moaning slightly as she stretched her body. She was surprised by how achey her body felt, how removed from it she was. Although, I guess if you're spending your time with words rather than people for twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week for the past few months, then it would make sense to feel removed. She allowed her hands to drift over her form, passing over her breasts, touching the skin over her stomach, her hand slipping down to her thighs, tracing what little nails she had over the skin. Her hand passed unbidden past the waist of her sweats, underneath her panties, and grazed herself lightly. She was not shocked to find herself wet. You spend all that time with words about her, of course you're turned on.
She allowed herself to push her finger back down, making light contact with her clit, her hips rolled in response. I must need this more than I thought. She closed her eyes and called up the image, the sensations readily. Willow. The name popped in her mind, and she saw it all: the red hair, the beautiful green eyes, her perfect, soft body. She remembered the sensation of kissing her with abandon on the street before she had a name to identify this beauty in form. With a moan, the sensation of pressing her breasts against the other girl's flooded all of her senses. With shocking clarity, she could recall the scent of shampoo and a slight hint of perfume, the heat of the skin of her back on her hands. It was made more intense by the effects of the drug she had been on when the moment happened, but she pushed the thought out of her mind, wallowing in the sensations if not the reality.
Her imagination firmly took the assorted memories and began to press them into new form, the feel of her breasts against Willow's back, reveling in the heat. She pushed herself harder into the mattress, her hand seeking and finding her own wetness. Her fingers traced the outline of her sex, dipping in and touching her clit lightly. She moaned, grinding the finger down harder against herself. Biting her lip, she tasted blood, and moaned into her mouth. She was accustomed to the ferocity of her own desire. Thrusting her hips forward, she pressed into herself again and again, feeling the curve of Willow's ass meeting her insistence. She pushed the thin fabric of her t-shirt up, and grabbed at her nipple with her other hand, wincing slightly against the pressure, rolling out onto her back.
Thrusting her hips forward again, she arched her back as she drove her fingers into herself, gasping. A flash of red hair flitted through her mind as she pushed her thumb into her clit. Dancing green eyes forced her fingers into her harder, faster, again and again, until pressure started to build in her mid-section, stretching down her legs and curling her toes. She stilled her movements, and driving her thumb over her clit once more, releasing herself into her orgasm, moaning as she called out for her imaginary partner. "Willow!" Catching her breath, she sighed, her lips curling around the name and whispering it again for good measure. "Willow..."
Tara cracked a grin and laughed, filling the bedroom with its beautiful, lyrical quality. Willow reached up and pushed her fingers into Tara's armpits, wiggling them to tickle the girl, a matching grin springing up on her face. Tara's form collapsed onto Willow's, hips to hips, stomach to stomach, breasts to breasts, and then lips to lips. They slid together, Tara arching forward into Willow, calling forth a low moan from the other girl in delight at the unexpected contact. Their hands met on the mattress, before Tara brought them both up and over Willow's head, loosening her grip with one hand, while pressing the other girl down at the wrists with another. Her grin shifted into something lavicious, running her free hand down the length of the redhead's body, and pushing her hand up between her thighs. "Is this what you want?" She demanded, her voice sending a chill down Willow's spine, forcing her back to arch and her hips raising to meet Tara's.
"Yes." Willow felt her voice crack, staring up in wonderment at the assertive girl on top of her. "Yes..."
Tara's smile beamed brighter, her hand sliding easily into the depths of wet that she found between Willow's thighs, pushing easily inside of her with two fingers. "This is what you want." Her voice was as penetrative as her fingers, and Willow dropped her hips, bucking against Tara, feeling herself filled with the other girl.
The sound of a thud forced Willow to open her eyes, her dream slipping out of the grasp of her memory as she shot up in bed panting. Her body felt taut, her skin flushed and aching for touch, her mind desperately trying to keep some semblance of the dream with her. This is what you want. Tara's voice repeated in her mind, the soft, warm weight of the girl seemed to hold still to Willow's body as she pieced together what her subconscious mind was telling her. This is what I want. I want Tara. I want her. I want to have sex with her. ...Okay, definitely feeling gay here.
She glanced around the room, trying to find the source of the thud noise. Nothing seemed out of place, and her eyes began to close again, her mind drifting, trying to force herself back to the dream. But the thud came again, and once more, and her eyes shot open and looked towards the door. It wasn't long before the sound came to confirm her fears. "Wills? Willow. Wake up." Buffy's voice was muddled by the door between them, but it's insistence was not lost on the girl. Sighing, she rose from bed.
"Just a second, Buff." She stretched, glancing at herself in the mirror. Bed hair, pajamas, and barely opened eyes met her gaze. Deciding Buffy deserved no special treatment, she wandered over to the door and opened it, wincing against the flood of light.
"Hi!" Buffy grabbed the girl pulling her into her arms. "What's going on with my Wills?" She stepped back out of the loose embrace and crinkled her nose at her friend. "Why are you still sleeping?"
Willow shrugged. "I didn't have anything else to do."
"Willow, where's your head these days? We were supposed to do mochas!" She pushed past her friend into the darkened room, flipping the light switch and wandering over to the closet.
"I'm sorry, Buffy, I just forgot." Willow sat down forlornly on her bed, watching her blond friend rifle through her things, pulling out jeans and a t-shirt.
"I don't know what's going on with you, Willow." Buffy turned towards her a friend, a concerned look in her eyes. "Ever since you got back, you've been super spacey."
"Like Kevin Spacey spacey?" Willow's lips upturned ever so slightly into the beginning of a smile.
"Something like that." Buffy answered, sweeping her eyes over her friend's mostly sullen form. "Something's going on in Willow world. It's like..." She trailed off, biting at her lip to stop her next words.
"It's like when Oz left." Willow finished for her, and their eyes met. Buffy crossed the distance, nodding, and sat down next to her.
"So, spill, Will." She smiled. "I'm here in best friend capacity to help you back into the real world."
Willow leaned into Buffy's shoulder, giving herself a moment of comfort before shaking off her growing sense of dread. "I'm not sure you want to know." Willow's voice was small, the general effect on the girl made her seem fragile.
"I always want to know." Buffy reaffirmed.
Willow stood, and began to pace the carpet beside her bed, trying to find the words. "Something happened in Portland, something weird. Something I... I don't know, I guess I just can't rationalize it away. It keeps invading my thoughts and my brain and my dreams and I can't let it go. I keep trying, but it just won't go away."
"Did somebody hurt you?" Buffy's eyes expanded, flaring with anger. "I'll slay them!"
"No, no, nothing like that." Willow sighed, feeling tears welling up in her eyes. She tried to push the words out, but her tongue was heavy and resistant. Finally, she drew a deep breath and forced out "I kissed a girl!"
Neither of them moved. Silence filled the room, and Willow felt her body refill with dread, and in the absence of anything else to do, she began to babble. "Well, actually, she kissed me. But still... I think I liked it. A lot. And I keep trying to put it out of my head, y'know? I mean, I'm not gay. I'm not gay." She repeated herself with more force. "But what if I am? I loved Oz, I did, but he left. And maybe he left because it was never truly right. Maybe because I loved him but I couldn't be in love with him the way he wanted..." She trailed off, casting her green eyes in the direction of her speechless friend. Buffy's face gave little indication of what she was thinking, she was just staring at Willow, waiting for her to continue. "I'm just confused. I can't stop thinking about her, but I know I shouldn't. She told me I shouldn't..."
"She told you?" Buffy asked, her voice strangely calm as she spoke for the first time.
"Well, yeah. She was our waitress the next morning, and she cornered me in the bathroom, and she told me how sorry she was, for kissing me like that. She apologized for her friend who kind of forced us into it, and she said that had she been sober she probably wouldn't have done it."
"She was drunk?!" Buffy's voice rang incredulously in the room. "What the hell happened in Portland, Will?"
Willow sighed. She hadn't really wanted to tell Buffy the story, and the truth was, she wasn't sure she understood either. The conversation in the bathroom did nothing but confuse her further. It had begun and ended so quickly that she hadn't had time to process the words or the questions she wanted to ask. Everything had just happened so fast. "I'm not sure I really know, Buffy." She grimaced. "Are you mad?" Her voice sounded small again.
The silence filled the room again as Buffy's expression slowly changed to something else unreadable. It continued on for at least thirty seconds until Buffy's mouth opened. "No. No, I'm not mad, Will. I'm not freaked. I don't think I understand what happened..." Her brow furrowed, and her eyes swept over her friend again. "But that doesn't mean I can't accept what you're telling me. You could be gay." And now, a smile began to form on Buffy's face, small and sweet, and completely accepting. "And that's fine, Willow. I'll never love you any less."
"Really?" Willow's eyes lit up hopefully as she read her friend's face and smile with a growing happiness in her chest.
"Really." Buffy nodded at her, the smile never faltering. She leaned forward, and with surprising strength, scooped her friend into a huge hug. "So. What do we do now?"
"Where the hell have you been, T?" Faith shouted over the music.
Tara had just arrived at the bar, chucking her coat over a chair, and sitting herself in it before Faith had started yelling. This is just what I need. Tara ducked her head against the onslaught, letting her hair cover her face to hide behind it. "Nowhere, really."
"I've been calling you for weeks. I was worried. I thought..." Faith had the decency to trail off before screaming out some horrid scenario of where Tara had been. She moved in closer to the other girl, and spoke more softly in her ear. "I thought maybe your Dad found you."
She had been expecting it, but it didn't stop her from wincing at the sound of it. "No." She said, searching her brain for something else to add that she'd want Faith to know. She peaked out at Faith from behind her hair, and saw the girl's eyes studying her intently from just a few centimeters away. "I'm fine." She decided on, waving away the scrutiny. Faith leaned forward into her again.
"You had me worried." Her voice was soft, and her eyes probed Tara's face. There were bags under her eyes, but that was pretty typical. Any trace of the abuse she'd suffered had long since faded away, but it didn't take much for Faith to remember the bruises all over her beautiful friend's face. Her impossibly shy, beautiful friend. She brushed Tara's cheek with the palm of her hand, and leaned forward to press their lips together.
Tara pulled back quickly. "I'm fine, Faith."
"T... why can't we just let this happen? We both know it's there." Faith smiled, brushing her lips against Tara's once more before leaning back without waiting for an answer. She reached into her pocket while Tara tried to think of something to say that would be gentle, that would convey to Faith that she simply had no interest. How could I want you when I want her? She asked herself, shaking her head slightly. And you just pushed me into her like it was a joke. From her pocket, Faith brought out a tiny plastic bag. Tara could make out the shape of four round small pills.
"Faith, no." She pointed at the baggie.
"Aww, c'mon, T, you had so much fun last time. You remember that stupid girl you kissed?" Faith laughed at the memory. "How pathetic." Her voice was laced with venom, as if she knew already that she had lost her girl to the redhead. Except, I'm not her girl. I've never been her girl. She hits on me, gets me drunk, feeds me drugs, tries to take me to bed, and it's never worked.
It's not that Tara was ungrateful for Faith. Truly, it had been Faith who had saved her life. When she stepped off the bus from the middle of nowhere Oregon and arrived in Portland, she had had no plan. Originally, she had thought about going down to California and trying to get into school. No money, no point. How would I afford it? Who would give me a scholarship? She thought dejectedly. Very quickly, she realized she had no plan for money in Portland either, but somehow staying in state seemed to comfort her. She never wanted to go back but she wasn't ready to give up either. After a few days of wandering, trying to find a job and a place to live, it was Faith who had given her a chance for both. They had met in a bar, similar to this one, and Faith had hit on her relentlessly until Tara, a little drunk and very sad, burst out crying. Faith had been stunned. Tara laughed now at the memory, the look on her face made me think she was going to run as far away as she could get. But something in Faith's tough demeanor had cracked, and she took Tara in to her shitty apartment until Tara got on her feet two weeks later.
The entire time they lived together, Faith had been respectful, as if she didn't want to scare the girl away. But it didn't stop her from her conquests. A few days of living with Faith, and Tara was convinced she never wanted to be with someone who used and lost sex partners as quickly and as carelessly as Faith did. Unfortunately, when Tara had found her own place, Faith's advances had begun anew. And so they continued for months, over a year now. Faith making references to how they belonged together, and Tara feeling further and further away from that reality. She had tried to explain, tried to tell her friend, but her words were waved away as if she didn't know what she was talking about. That alone, Faith, that alone is why you'll never have me. Now I know that I'm better than this life. You are too, but you'll never ever realize it.
"She wasn't pathetic." Faith looked up at Tara's words, surprise written plainly on her face. "She was beautiful." Tara still hid behind the curtain of her hair, but the assertiveness that Faith had taught her, the shield which Faith had taught her to put up to live in this world, it served her well. Her voice was strong.
"Don't tell me you're reforming for some girl who doesn't exist anymore." Faith snapped back at her angrily. "C'mon, T, she left two months ago and she's not coming back. I'm right here." Her voice was just as strong as Tara's, but had a weirdly desperate after taste.
Tara pushed the curtain of hair back, the look on her face an odd mixture of sympathy and disdain. "Maybe she's not. But I deserve better than this." She reached for Faith's hand, wrapping it tenderly with her own. Almost as an afterthought, despite her knowing what little good it would do, she added: "So do you." She sighed. "I have to stop, Faith, or I'm gonna die like this."
Faith pulled her hand away and stood abruptly, staring down at the girl. Tara's whole body flinched at the aggression of the move, instinctively shielding herself. "You think you're too good for this life now? Why? Because of some stupid bitch? Some fucking rich tourist? C'mon, T, you were born to live this way. When you get over your fucking high and mighty act, you come see me, and I'll show you what living really is." Faith looked down at her, as if debating for a moment whether or not to actually hit her, and then turned on her heel and stormed out of the bar.
A steady stream of breath pushed out from between Tara's lips before her head sunk into her waiting hands. Elbows on the table, sitting alone in a shitty bar, she bowed her head completely before a sob raked its way from her chest and broke free. She cried, drowned out by the music in the dim light in a room filled with smoke. She cried for an hour and a half before standing and walking out. Nobody noticed. Nobody cared.