Feedback: Please leave feedback on the Bedtime Stories thread on the Kitten Board.
Disclaimer: Joss / ME / etc. owns these characters. This story is just for fun and not for profit.
Since we now know Tara is not, in fact, Willow's imaginary friend, the title of this fic is sort of misleading. Ah, well. Like all in the thread, this is neither planned in advance nor betaed. And, as always, feel free to post your own bedtime stories!
Me: "Do you have to?" Willow whined. She was walking along the outer edge of a small park a few blocks from the restaurant. Tara kept pace beside her.
Me: "I really do. I'm sorry. I'll try to make it as quick as I can," Tara assured her.
Me: "You'll come back, right? I just...I'm scared it'll be like before..."
Me: Tara stepped in front of Willow and placed her hands on Willow's arms, effectively stopping her in place. "I promise. I'll be right back here as soon as I'm able. I don't want to leave you, either. But this is...it's highly unusual. People aren't supposed to see me. I'm sure there's a reason for it--maybe it's good, maybe not--but either way, it's got to be reported."
Me: "Stupid kid," Willow muttered under her breath.
Mel: Oh yea, i forgot all about the kid who saw her...
Me: "Can you at least stay the night?" Willow really wasn't looking forward to spending a night alone in bed. How funny--she'd slept by herself every night of her life before the last week, and it had never struck her as a lonely, but now that she knew what it felt like to curl up next to somebody, facing a night alone sounded dreadful.
Me: Tara frowned. "I really can't. I'm so sorry. I'll walk you home, but then I've got to go."
Mel: I second that Willow, being alone sucks...
Me: The house was entirely too empty. Willow didn't know what to do with herself. She wandered into the kitchen and looked through the cabinets, although she had just eaten and wasn't the least bit hungry. She spied an old newspaper among the piles of mail that were taking over the center counter, and she flipped to the crossword puzzle.
Me: Tara had walked her home, as promised, and given her a hug on the doorstep. Willow had stopped to unlock the door, and when she had turned back, Tara was already gone. She supposed it was better that way; drawn out goodbyes only made it harder.
Me: When Millie came into the kitchen, Willow tolerated the chit chat for a minute or two, then diplomatically extracted herself from the conversation and headed up to her room.
Mel: Ouch... poor Millie
Me: She wasted several hours on her computer, clicking with one hand while idly spinning a pen with the other. The pen clattered to the desk top numerous times; once it rolled to the floor, and when she leaned down to retrieve it, an idea popped into her head.
Me: Willow scrounged through her drawer of supplies and retrieved several sheets of lined paper and an envelope. She dated the top of one page, and scrawled Tara on the front of the envelope.
Me: She lost track of time while she wrote, and she was surprised when Millie knocked on her door to ask whether she was still awake--it was after midnight!
Me: "Uh, yeah...I was just going to bed," she said.
Me: She slipped the unfinished letter into the envelope and slid it between her mattress and bed frame.
Me: Willow got under the covers, lay on her back, and groaned. "Yeah, like I'm going to fall asleep tonight..."
Me: Five minutes later, she was fast asleep.
Mel: Hehe, silly Willow
Me: In the blurry world between waking and slumber, Willow imagined Tara. She thought of the first day she'd seen her, on the school bus three years ago. Her tummy replicated its response--an odd mix of admiration and something warm and fluttery. She remembered how sure of herself Tara had been, how unaffected by the actions of others. Tara had singled her out, devoted herself to Willow for the day. Up until she disappeared, it had been the best day Willow had ever had.
Me: She thought of sleeping with Tara. How comfortable it was, and how easily sleep came when her angel's arm was draped over the dip in her side. When Tara's fingers rested upon her tummy. When Tara's nose barely touched the back of her neck. She liked feeling the slight tilt in the mattress when Tara crawled into bed beside her. The sound of Tara fluffing her pillow. "For maximum cushionity," she had once explained.
Mel: ^^ can't beat that
Me: While these thoughts crackled and whirred through Willow's mind, it slowly dawned on her that they were not entirely imagined. There was a rustling of the blanket. There was breath caressing her shoulder. There were ice-cold toes pressing against her calves! "Gyaaahhh!" Willow cringed, now fully awake.
Me: "Sorry," Tara whispered. "The floor's cold out there..." Mercilessly, she wriggled her feet between Willow's, borrowing her warmth.
Me: Willow shimmied to her other side, and had to yank the blanket from underneath herself, since it seemed determined to roll with her. She studied Tara's face in the dim light. "You made it back? For tonight?" she asked hopefully.
Me: "Mm hm." Tara nestled closer and tried to entwine her feet between Willow's, but Willow managed to loop a section of the sheet around them, first.
Me: "So? How'd it go?"
Me: "It went well. Turns out they already knew about it. They wouldn't give me all the details, but they hinted that the boy's something special, which usually amounts to his becoming one of the angelic higher ups. Might even have second choir potential. There'll be some extra work for me, but nothing that should be too distracting."
Me: Willow blinked. "Huh. What kind of work?"
Me: "Well, since I'm already here, and he's local, I'll probably be asked to look after him from time to time, and to act...kind of as a guide, I suppose. Just so you know, you'll probably get dragged into it, too."
Me: "Me?" The thought of being responsible for guiding a future archangel did not sit well with Willow.
Me: Tara giggled. "It's not going to be anything difficult or scary. I promise. Just be you. They said it was going to be helpful for you, too. Not sure exactly what they meant by that, but they've always got a plan, and they know what they're doing."
Mel: >.> I hope you aren't gonna end the story how I think you are gonna end it
Me: (story's completely unplanned. i have no idea how i'm going to and it. :p)
Me: Willow gulped and nodded. She and Tara had an unspoken agreement that she would not ask who they were. She had touched on it, several nights ago, and Tara had said it was best for people to believe what they felt suited them; inside information would make things more confusing.
Me: "I'll, uh...I'll do my best? How am I even going to meet him, again, though?"
Me: "Oh, you know." Tara rolled her eyes. "These things have a way of working out," she said, obviously reciting words she'd heard, herself.
Me: "Mmm. Sleepy," Willow said.
Mel: Right there with you...
Me: Tara settled herself against a pillow and patted her shoulder. "C'mere."
Me: With her cheek nudging the swell of Tara's breast, her knee resting on Tara's thigh, and her arm wrapped securely around Tara's waist, Willow found the most comfortable sleep in the world. Perfect.