"I'm so glad you're here, Tare." Willow finally broke the comfortable silence as she and Tara smiled at each other under their tree. She was lost in the deep blue of Tara's eyes. God, she's so beautiful.
"Well, if I remember correctly, a certain green-eyed redhead made me promise to be here. And I don't break promises." Tara looked pointedly at the woman in front of her. Definitely a woman...but still the girl I knew. "I'm glad I'm here, too, Will. I wouldn't be anywhere else."
The two spent a few more minutes just looking at each other, taking in each other's presence. Tara moved from her spot kneeling in front of Willow to sit against the tree. Once she was comfortable, she looked at her friend and smiled. She patted her lap and raised an eyebrow, then waited for her unspoken question to be answered.
While seemingly impossible, Willow's smile grew even larger as she recognized the familiar gesture. Without hesitation, the redhead moved to put her head on Tara's lap and looked up at the blonde. I could stay here forever.
"I've missed this." Willow couldn't look away from Tara's eyes. "I've missed you."
"I've missed you, too, Will. So much." Tara reached forward to touch the red locks splayed on her lap. I was right...so soft. As she ran her fingers through Willow's hair, she continued. "You know, on really bad days, when nothing seemed to go right, I would find a quiet place, close my eyes and picture us...here...just like this. The memories of being with you in this place always made me feel better."
"Me too. It's like...nothing could touch us here, you know? Like this was our own world and nothing or no one could intrude."
"Yeah. I know what you mean." Tara looked around at all of the people who now roamed around their "world". "Things have changed though. It's not just our place anymore."
"No, it's not just our place anymore." Willow's smile faded a bit. "Tara? Um, you don't like the park?" Please like it. You just have to like it.
Tara looked back down at the green eyes she adored and wondered at the hurt look she saw coming from them.
"Oh, no! I mean...yes! I do like it. Very much. It's really pretty. There's so much to do and see. And it seems very popular. After all, it's a weekday and look at how many people are here." Tara's eye caught sight of the fountain as she looked around. "And that fountain is beautiful. It reminds me of us when we used to play here. I'd like to come back and draw it someday."
"Thanks, Tare. I'm glad you like it." Willow's smile returned and she continued to gaze at Tara.
"I do." Tara looked back down at her friend and saw the sparkle return to Willow's eyes. There's something else. What's going on in that head of hers? "Willow, why are you thanking me for liking the park?"
"Well, because, um, I did it."
"You did what?" Tara wasn't quite sure where Willow was going with this.
"The park...I did it...I mean, I made it."
She made it? She dug it up and put up the swings and fountain and everything herself? With her own hands?
Willow tried to clarify her disjointed explanation, but the look on Tara's face told her she wasn't doing a very good job.
"Tara, I designed the park."
The blonde was finally beginning to understand what Willow was saying. Well, that makes sense. "So, you came up with the design to turn our special place into a public park." Tara spoke slowly, associating her surroundings with the conversation, piecing together the bits of information.
Willow misread Tara's reaction and, thinking Tara was angry, became anxious to explain. She sat up suddenly and faced Tara; Willow held the blonde's hands tightly in her own and looked directly into Tara's eyes.
"Oh, Tara, please don't be angry with me. Please! I...I had to do it, to save our tree...honest! They were going to level the whole thing...clear out all the wildflowers and tear down our tree. I couldn't let that happen, Tara...I just couldn't!" Willow was nearly panicked. "Buffy helped! Cuz, ya know, she was here and I wasn't...hard to make lots of trips from Boston...cuz...expensive, ya know? Plus, couldn't get away from classes and all of-"
Willow was cut off by the sound of Tara's laughter. She looked at the blonde and, while confused at the outburst, found joy in the sound. She gave Tar a mock pout. "You're laughing at me."
"Oh no! No!" Tara spoke through tears of happiness. She took a few moments to catch her breath and smiled at Willow.
"Will, sweetie, I'd never laugh at you." Tara reached up to move a few wayward strands of red hair behind Willow's ear. "No...I'm laughing because I'm so happy. You don't know how much I've missed Willow-babble. I'm just glad you still do that."
Willow smiled and blushed profusely, but she didn't know whether it was from embarrassment or from Tara's gentle touch. "Yeah, well, I've got the registered trademark on it," she quipped.
"So, tell me more about the park, Will. You say Buffy helped?"
"Oh! Yeah!" Willow was off and running again. "So, I couldn't do anything from Boston to stop them from tearing the tree down. So Buffy put together a petition to stop the city from leveling everything. She got a bunch of the kids on campus behind the idea and they went all over - on campus and in town - to get people to sign it. She put together a whole "Save our Natural Parks" campaign to go with it...that's what she does...advertising...but you knew that already. She's really good. So anyway, the city agreed to not blindly level everything, but they still needed a new park. So they started taking bids - the lowest bidder got to design the park. And, well, I made sure I was the lowest bidder."
"You made sure you were the lowest bidder? How did you do that?"
"Oh, that was the easy part!" Willow giggled and moved to sit next to Tara, holding one of the blonde's hands in her lap. Still a perfect fit.
Tara joined in on the giggling; she was enthralled by Willow's childlike enthusiasm. She's still a cuddler. She leaned into Willow's shoulder, urging her to continue.
"So...yeah...it's pretty common knowledge that the city would have a certain budget, right? And most design firms would try to make sure most of that budget went into the bank rather than the park...which makes sense...cuz that's how companies make their money...and, hey, capitalist society and everything-"
Tara couldn't hold in the snicker of amusement any longer. God, she just keeps getting more adorable by the minute.
Willow lowered her head slightly and looked up at Tara. She batted her eyes and smirked at the blonde beside her. "Well, you said you liked my babbling." Am I flirting? Whoo hoo! I'm flirting!
"Oh, I do! Please continue." She's flirting with me! Yay!
"Anyway, low bid...I did some research...cuz...hello...research girl here...and I was able to give the city a pretty detailed cost analysis of the materials that I'd need for my design...and I made sure my fee would be the lowest of all the bids. And mine got picked!"
"Will, how much was your fee?" Tara was beginning to get suspicious-Willow was being avoidy.
"Oh, it was enough." Willow looked down and found something fascinating on the back of Tara's hand.
Tara could see right through the redhead. I know how to get her to answer. Tara removed her hand from Willow's grasp, crossed her arms over her chest, and smirked at the redhead. "Well?"
Willow pouted in earnest, sticking out her lower lip as far as it would go. "No fair!"
Tara nearly gave in-the sight before her made her dizzy. Can I just nibble on that lip? Just for a minute? Whoa! Rein it in, Maclay! Tara snapped herself back to reality and raised one eyebrow at Willow. "Never said I'd play fair." And, God, neither are you! That lip...
"Piffle!" Pouty face didn't work. Huh! I thought it would for a few seconds though. Wonder what she was thinking about. Willow pulled her knees to her chest and sat playing with her skirt-constantly readjusting it over her legs. She looked at Tara from the corner of her eye. "Will you give me your hand back if I tell you?"
Tara wanted nothing more than to be touching the green-eyed beauty next to her-she'd felt too far away from Willow since reclaiming her hand. But, oh, that pout was worth it. Tara looked at Willow as if carefully considering the redhead's request. Let's see who can hold out longest.
"C'mon, Tare. Please?" Willow needed to be holding Tara's hand-not having the blonde's hand in hers had become almost painful. What I wouldn't give to have her arms around me. But for now, I have to be holding her hand-that wonderfully soft hand.
"Okay, Will...tell me and you can have my hand back." Oh don't give in now, but ... it's so hard.
"Yay!" Willow stuck out her hand toward Tara, expecting the woman to return her hand to its rightful place.
"Uh uh, Missy, tell me and then you get my hand." Tara chuckled to herself. Yep, still the girl I've missed so much. So cute.
"Oh...well...okay." Willow looked down at her skirt. "Um...my...uh...fee...yeah...it was...nun holler." Willow purposefully mumbled the final words, hoping Tara could somehow translate.
"What was that, Will?"
Willow heaved a dramatic sigh and repeated her answer.
"One dollar." Willow glanced at Tara out of the corner of her eye.
Tara was shocked. She stared at Willow for a few moments-her eyes wide in amazement.
"Did you just say ‘one dollar'?" The redhead nodded and Tara looked at the park around her. It's so beautiful...one dollar? Her gaze returned to Willow. Suddenly, Tara burst into laughter. Again, tears poured from her eyes as she marveled at Willow's ingenuity, creativity and all round adorability; she took joy in simply being in Willow's presence. When she saw the return of "Willow pout," Tara laughed even more.
"Oh, Will!" Tara tried to catch her breath as she spoke. "You're just too precious, sweetie. All of those adorable dramatics to reveal a one dollar fee."
Willow held in her own laughter, maintaining an air of feigned indignation. "Yes, well I believe someone owes me an even more exorbitant fee for divulging that information." The redhead smugly held out her hand, awaiting prompt payment.
Tara had calmed down enough so that she was smiling radiantly at Willow.
"I will gladly pay your fee, Will." She ceremoniously placed her own hand in Willow's, loving the warm feeling of entwined fingers again, and then continued. "But, I think you're being severely underpaid. If I may, I'd like to increase your fee."
Tara waited for Willow's reply. Please.
"Oh, definitely! I'd never turn down additional payment."
Without hesitation, Tara leaned over and placed a kiss on Willow's cheek. As she pulled away, she caught the redhead's eyes with her own, hoping she'd see the response she wished for in those emerald orbs. Please.
Willow was stunned. She stared at Tara with wide eyes-she tried her best to make her brain start working again. GAH! She kissed me! Ohmygod! SHE KISSED ME!! Okay, Rosenberg, get a grip. She's gonna think you're a freak if you just sit here with your mouth hanging open.
While Tara didn't think Willow was a freak, she was becoming concerned at the redhead's non-response. Oh God. "Um, Will?" Tara's nervousness was multiplying. "Willow? I'm...um...I'm sorry. I shouldn't have-"
"Wow." Willow cut off what Tara was about to say.
"Wow." Willow repeated, her vocal abilities returned to a semi-functional state. "I mean...wow...I wish I always got paid like that." Willow's motor functions caught up with her brain and she gave Tara a smile so bright, it lit up the very air around them. The tip of her tongue jutted playfully between sparkling teeth. She kissed me.
It was Tara's turn to be at a loss for words. She began to feel warm from the blush that was obviously-and rapidly-moving up her body. Soon, the tips of her ears were a bright crimson. Embarrassed by her decidedly smitten reaction to Willow's words, Tara bowed her head and allowed her hair to fall forward, effectively covering her face.
Willow recognized Tara's attempt to hide and decided she simply would not permit it.
"Hey." Willow spoke softly as she reached over to place a finger under Tara's chin and raise the blonde's head. "None of that, Ms. Maclay." She gently pushed Tara's hair behind her ears. "I won't have you hiding those beautiful blues from me."
Tara blushed even more-she wondered if that was even possible-but did not look away from Willow. She lost herself in Willow's gaze. "Okay." Wow.
Willow gave the hand still clasped in her own a slight squeeze and smiled. "Okay." Then she lifted the hand to her lips. Never breaking eye contact with the blonde, she placed a gentle kiss just above Tara's wrist.
Tara glanced down at Willow's lips on her skin. So soft. She lifted her gaze and got caught up in Willow's green eyes as the redhead allowed her lips to linger. Oh God. "Okay." God, Maclay! Can't you say anything else?
"How about we go get something to eat? You must be starving," Willow said into Tara's wrist before pushing herself up to a standing position and taking Tara with her.
"Okay," Tara managed to squeak out as she followed in a daze. Apparently I can't.