5 hours later Willow carefully hung her dress back up. The last guests at the party had finally left, and a very tired Susanna had seen them to the door. Turning she had looked at Donny, Steve, Tara and Willow and dryly commented "I forgot that you can go nights without sleeping at that age" when Steve let out a big yawn that prompted a small laugh from the group. "Well it looks like I'm a lot older than my years then" Steve had smiled, and bidding a goodnight to the rest of them he left to go home. Everyone agreed that it was time for bed, and now that was exactly where Willow planned on heading!
Walking to the bed in the guest room she pulled back the covers and was about to lay down when she thought she heard something. Tilting her head to the side she strained her ears, and sure enough she could hear the sound of the piano. It didn't sound like it was coming from a radio either. "Did we miss any guests?" Willow wondered, forgetting all about sleep and walking towards the door, noting that the music got louder when she walked that way. Opening her bedroom door she followed the music down the stairs, which seemed to be a soft tune that soothed the senses, and her little journey finally brought her to a halt in the living room, where a pajama and t-shirt clad Tara was lost in her own world playing the piano.
Willow stood silently, not wanting to disturb the blonde, whose profile she could see. Tara seemed to be lost in her own world, and her hands were moving off their own accord as she stared into space with the ghost of a smile on her face. The redhead's gaze moved lower still, to where Tara's foot was softly tapping along to a beat that she was playing in her head. Willow herself smiled at the sight, enjoying watching Tara in this unguarded moment. She stood there taking in the sight of the one she had fallen so completely in love with, and yet she had no idea of when that had happened. "It just did" she sighed softly to herself, giving up on trying to figure out the precise moment that that happened. Willow couldn't put a date and time on her new feelings, but she knew one thing; she was very glad that it had happened. As she continued to stare at Tara play with the hint of a smile gracing her features she wished that she just had an idea of what Tara was thinking about as her fingers danced over the keys.
A few moments later Tara played the last notes of the tune and just sat there for a few seconds, still staring into space with her fingers now resting on the keys. She then took a deep breath and tore her gaze off the point it was fixed on in the distance and looking down at the piano, she pulled the wooden covering over the keys closed and stood. Turning she jumped when she saw Willow standing there, and putting a hand to her heart muttered "Oh my God! Now THAT was a scary moment", before smiling the lopsided grin that Willow's mind by now knew like the back of her hand. The redhead looked at the now standing Tara, who was clad in black pajama pants and an ill fitting baby pink tee that had obviously been cut short after it had been worn a lot, because at that very moment Willow was being treated to a peek at Tara's belly button, and to say that she was mesmerized would be an understatement!
'Quit staring Willow' her mind was screaming. 'But why?!' her subconscious whined, 'It's such a pretty innie!'. 'She'll think you're a freak, that's why! Now stop it.' 'But I'm not doing anything. Staring isn't a criminal offense!' her subconscious continued to whinge. 'Oh yeah, but how would you like it if someone stood staring at YOUR belly button???' the rational side tried to argue. 'Well, I wouldn't have a problem if TARA was staring at...' Willow's internal debate was stopped when she heard Tara clear her throat. Feeling guilty at being caught Willow quickly averted her gaze back to Tara's eyes, and she noticed that there was a hint of amusement in the blondes twinkling orbs even as Tara smiled at her.
"What are you doing here?" Tara asked, walking towards Willow.
"I..." Willow stopped, lost for a moment in a world of belly buttons before it hit her. "Oh I was about to sleep when I heard you play, so I came down."
Tara flushed slight "Oh God I'm so sorry. Did the sound disturb you? I didn't think I was playing loud enough for it to carry so far. I'm so sorry" she apologized.
"Hey, don't be silly. I liked the sound and that's why I came down to see who was playing. I now know why Susanna makes you play at her parties." Willow grinned.
"Well, thankfully she didn't make me play at this one!" Tara replied, blushing slightly at the compliments. Suddenly she yawned, covering her mouth. "Ok it's late and I have a long day tomorrow...I mean today! Shall we get some sleep?" Willow nodded and the two girls made their way up the stairs in silence, except for a yawn from Willow which elicited a smile from Tara's direction. When they got to Willow's room Tara stopped outside the door with her.
"Good night Will" Tara smiled, and as Willow said the words back she had this crazy desire to capture Tara's lips with her own and kiss them softly. 'Control your hormones!' her subconscious demanded, as Tara turned to walk towards her own room. Mid turn she seemed to hesitate for a fraction of a second before turning back towards Willow, leaning forward and planting a quick soft kiss on her cheek. "Goodnight" the blonde repeated, without looking Willow in the eye, and walked off towards her room. It took all of Willow's resolve not to follow her and pull her into her arms, and all the redhead could manage was a "Uh huh" as she herself turned and walked into her room in a daze, the part of her cheek where Tara had kissed her burning!
Closing the door behind her Willow plopped down on her bed and just lay there, staring at the ceiling with the goofiest smile on her face. Reaching up she touched her left cheek, where she could still feel the mark of Tara's lips pressed against her skin, and her fingers gently grazed the spot, as if worshipping it. 'She kissed me!!!!' her mind screamed, and the goofy grin just got wider! Her mind replayed the kiss, and the sensation of Tara's lips on her. 'They felt sooo soft' she sighed, dreamily wondering what it would be like to have those lips pressed against her own.
30 minutes later Willow was still lying there, this time curled up on her side, as she continued to analyze the kiss. After getting over the fact that Tara had actually kissed her, she began to wonder if maybe Tara had just kissed her to be polite, even as another part of her argued that no one in the world kissed anyone else goodnight to be polite! And if she had wanted to be polite then she could have even just hugged her and said goodnight. As much as Willow argued it out with herself she refused to let herself read too much into it, because the last thing that she wanted to do was get her hopes up too high.
Willow continued to toss and turn in her room, as a couple of walls next to her Tara continued to mentally berate herself for what she had done! 'How could you just kiss her???' she thought, even as the memory of Willow's skin under her lips made her sigh with longing. She'd never felt anything better in her life, and after she'd kissed her she had to physically stop herself from reaching up and cupping the redhead's cheek, and graze over it's softness with her thumb. 'I wonder what she thinks of me' Tara worried, not wanting Willow to think she was some kind of crazy woman. As much as she worried about what Willow would think of her, at the back of her mind Tara knew one thing : She wasn't sorry for kissing Willow. She just wished she knew how the redhead felt about the kiss.
Downstairs Susanna White was lying in bed, thinking about her daughter. To her it was obvious that Tara had a thing for Willow, and she would bet her life on the fact that it was reciprocated. The question was, did the girls know their feelings, or had they not realized them yet. Her mind played images from the party of Tara and Willow both staring at the other when they thought no one else was watching them. A couple of times Susanna had even seen them look at each other at the same time and quickly look away. 'God, it's like they were love struck teens in the 7th grade' she thought, smiling wryly to herself. After thinking about it for a while she decided that she needed to get to the bottom of it. After all, it was her own daughter involved, and from the looks of it Tara was in need of some serious help! Susanna shook her head slightly, thinking of her shy daughter who had grown up into such a wonderfully independent beautiful woman, who still seemed incapable of expressing herself at times. Tara had been an extroverted child to a large degree, with a large group of friends but no one she ever called her "best friend". Susanna had been glad that she was now so close to Anya and Cordelia, who were both like her own daughters now, but she realized that as confident as Tara might like to act there seemed to be certain risks that she was still not willing to take. Yes, Tara definitely needed a push in the right direction, and Susanna believed that it was time to play the Mom card.
An hour after the party wrapped up, three women in Susanna White's home fell into a restless sleep.