Return to The Game of Love Chapter Thirty-Five

The Game of Love

Author: Shai
Rating: PG
Disclaimer: Unfortunately neither Tara nor Willow are mine. Neither's anyone else in this fic for that matter!

"Come on and dance!!!" Cordelia said for the milionth time that evening.

"I already told you I can't!" Tara protested. "I know I played the match and even showed up here, but I honestly think that I shouldn't push my luck...any more than I already have!" she added for good measure.

Cordelia merely shrugged her shoulders and walked off towards the rest of the gang. Tara allowed her eyes to go over to where Willow was dancing, with Buffy, Zak and Devon. The two girls had asked Tara if she would like to join them ("Willow asked thrice!" Tara mentally told herself), and the blonde had given them the same answer as she'd been giving everyone else who'd asked her to come join them on the dance floor.

Tara allowed her eyes to follow the redheads movements, as she herself lit up another cigarette. She realized that it was the last cigarette in the packet, and discarding the now empty pack, she took another one out of her purse and kept it on the table in front of her. "I'm really smoking a lot these days..." she thought distractedly, before her eyes once again moved to a certain girl in the middle of the dancefloor.

Tara watched as Devon leaned in, and whispered something in Willow's ear. Once again she felt that twinge in her heart, and stopped everything she was doing. "What's going on with me???" she thought, keeping her eyes on Willow. She watched how Willow laughed at whatever it was that Devon had said, and thought "Is Devon hitting on Willow??? No, he wouldn't do that...he said he's Oz's friend..."

Tara kept watching the two as she puffed away on her cigarette. Her mind was racing as she tried to figure out what it was about the redhead that had her in such a daze. "There's something different about her. I think that's what I like...the fact that she's different. Its like she stands out from the others...that's probably what's got me so wrapped up....just good old intrigue in the fact that she's different..." Tara tried to convince herself. The truth be told, she wasn't really convinced!

Tara suddently registered the fact that the music had stopped, and everyone was walking back towards the table. She quickly tried to avert her eyes from where they were looking at Willow, but she was too late. Green orbs looked up, and stared right into blue ones looking her way.

The two girls just stared at eachother, before Devon once again said something to Willow, and she turned to look at him.

When Willow looked back at Tara, the blonde was talking to Anya and Xander, who by this point seemed like they were joint at the hip. As she walked back to the table, Willow found that her eyes were glued on the blonde, who'd been the object of her attentions for a major part of the evening. As she'd been dancing, Willow had kept snaeking glances at Tara from the corner of her eye, and every time she realized that Tara was looking right at her.

That realization made Willow get the feeling that she had butterflies fluttering around in her stomach, although she didn't know why.

Willow made it back to the table and settled down besides Buffy, as the music stopped at the Bronze, and suddenly a man's voice was heard speaking at the Bronze. EVeryone turned to see what was happening, as a tall man said "Hey guys, can I have your attention please?"

When he did have everyones undivided attention, the man said "Hi, I'm Greg! We have a karaoke contest at the Bronze tonight, with the winner winning free drinks for everyone at his or her table!" There was some drunken cheering, and then he continued "Well, there's a list of songs right here with me, so anyone who wants to come enlist themselves can see me right away. The contest starts in 15 minutes...come on, show us your skils!" There was some more drunken cheering as teh man put the microphone away, and some music started playing again.

"So, who's going from this table?" Jessic asked, quite enthusiastic. Her suggestion was greated with a round of protests, as everyone grumbled about how bad they sounded and that all they'd be doing would be making fools of themselves.

Tara looked up to see that Cordelia was walking back towards the table with an extremely evil look on her face...a pleased but evil look, that was aimed straight at a very suspicious looking Tara! "What's with the look?!" Tara grinned back at her friend."I've never seen you that happy aftre using the bathroom before! Or are you just pleased to see me?"

"Oh you'll know soon enough!" Cordeli grinned, and Willow, who'd been watching the two girls interact couldn't help but wonder what it was that was making Cordeli look like the cat from Alice in Wonderland.

About 13 minutes later Willow and Tara, and everyone else at the Bronze as well, knew what it was that Cordelia was so happy about.

The music stopped and Greg was talking again "Alright guys, it's time to kick off the karaoke contest! Starting it all off tonight we have Tara Maclay singing 'My Immortal' by Evanescence, please welcome Sunnydale's own, Tara Maclay!"

Tara's eyes shot wide open as he said those words and the Bronze broke out into applause, and as Willow turned to look at the blonde noticed the look of absolute, undeniable horror in the blondes eyes. Tara looked shocked for a minute, before a knowing look came upon her face, and she turned to look at a pleased as punch looking Cordelia!

"Cordy! WHat the hell???..." Tara glared at Cordelia, as the applause around her died down.

"Oh c'mon Tara! We'll get free drinks!" Cordelia grinned.

"Tara Maclay?" Greg repeated, looking around for the girl who was supposed to come sing.

"I heard you singing the song last week, and you sound great..we all know you can sing Tara! Now just go and show everyone else that you can too!" Anya encouraged, and in seconds everyone at the table was giving Tara words of support.

Everyone except Willow, who was busy staring into bkue eyes that seemed to be looking into her own green ones for support. Both Tara and Willow realized that there really was no way for Tara to back out of the contest now without looking bad, or making a commotion, so Willow did what she thought was the most she could do for the blonde right then.

Looking at Tara, Willow slightly nodded her head, and tried to show Tara that she had all her support. Tara took one last long stare at those eyes, and then, sighing, she rose from her place and made her way to the Greg guy, as the crowd once agian began to applaud.

"And she's hot too!" someone from the crowd yelled out, and Willow watched as Tara ducked her head and a faint blush crept onto her cheeks.

"Oh I agree!" Willow thought.

Tara took the microphone, and all eyes were on her as a piano started to play in the background. While she was waiting for her part to come, Tara remembered something she'd watched on one of her mothers talk show episides. "When you're afraid of speaking publicly, look for a familiar face, and concentrate on it. It makes you feel like you're only talking to that person, and hence, makes it easier" her mothers guest, a psychologist had said".

Tara looked up and started straight at the redhead at her table as her past came, and she began to sing...

"I'm so tired of being here"

Willow gasped as she heard Tara's voice for the first time. She found that she couldn't tear her gaze away from the blue eyes looking right at her, as their owner continued to sing...

"Suppressed by all my childish fears
And if you have to leave
I wish that you would just leave
'Cause your presence still lingers here
And it won't leave me alone
These wounds won't seem to heal
This pain is just too real
There's just too much that time cannot erase"

Willow had always liked the song, but at that moment it had suddenly become her eternal favourite. "I love Evanescence" she thought, her body slightly swaying to Tara's angelic voice...

"When you cried I'd wipe away all of your tears
When you'd scream I'd fight away all of your fears
I held your hand through all of these years
But you still have
All of me"

Willow found herself gulping at the intensity with which Tara was staring her way as she sang....

"You used to captivate me
By your resonating light
Now I'm bound by the life you left behind
Your face it haunts
My once pleasant dreams"

Willow mind drifted to the dream she'd had about Tara, and found that a slow smile has formed on her lips, which was now being reciprocated by the blonde, who had everyone in the room staring at her in fascination.

"Your voice it chased away
All the sanity in me
These wounds won't seem to heal
This pain is just too real
There's just too much that time cannot erase"

Tara found that she was building in confidence as she sang, but still didn't look away from Willow. She was liking the soothing effect the emerald greens had on her...

"When you cried I'd wipe away all of your tears
When you'd scream I'd fight away all of your fears
I held your hand through all of these years
But you still have
All of me"

Willow knew that the next part of the song was hard, and watched as for the first time in the song she lost contact with the blue orbs, as Tara closed her eyes and crooned...

"I've tried so hard to tell myself that you're gone
But though you're still with me
I've been alone all along"

Someone let out a "woo hoo" as Tara hit the pitch perfectly, and smiling wider Tara opened her eyes and looked back into Willow's, as she ended the song...

"When you cried I'd wipe away all of your tears
When you'd scream I'd fight away all of your fears
I held your hand through all of these years
But you still have
All of me"

A few piano chords later the song was over, and Tara was left standing there for a second, before all at once the Bronze broke into applause.

Smiling shyly, and ducking her head back down, Tara handed the microphone back to a beaming Greg, and proceeded to go back to her table, accompanied by lots of wolf whistles and compliments on her route there.

When she got there, Cordelia announced "Alright, now all we have to do is wait for everyone else to go try and unsuccessfully beat Tara, and then we can all have free drinks!"

Tara grinned, and nodded her head at the compliments that came from the others, before she could finally look at Willow and give her her undivided attention, like she'd wanted to.

She looked up, and for the hundreth time that night found herself greeted by a warm green gaze.

"Beautiful..." was all that Willow managed to breathe, and Tara smiled, before ducking her head down and settling herself back down on the sofa, reaching for her cigarettes.

Continue to The Game of Love Chapter Thirty-Seven

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