What on earth is that wonderful smell? Tara wrinkled her nose in concentration as she slowly made the transition from the land of dreams to the waking world. Usually waking up was one of the most unpleasant events of the day as it meant she had an entire day still to face. Of her father, of Donny... of the world in general. Some mornings, it was so very hard to get out of bed.
Her dreams however were a completely different story. Her dreams had been absolutely wonderful, filled with images of a beautiful and bubbly redhead - laughing, babbling... kissing. No, Tara most definitely did not want to wake up.
Still, she reluctantly opened her eyes and found it was still quite early. The first rays of sun were only just beginning to shine through gaps in the drapes. Tara yawned and tried to sit up until realising there was a snug form tucked under the crook of her arm. Tara looked down and saw red hair fanning out across her chest, a small fist was curled beneath the cutest chin. Without a doubt she had found the source of the wonderful smell. If it wasn't for the smell then she might very well have believed herself still stuck in her dreams. A little hesitantly, Tara reached out stroked Willow's cheek with light fingertips... she was really there. The redhead smiled in her sleep,
"All hands to the deck, the donkeys are dancing!"
Tara grinned, Willow even babbled in her sleep... how cute and so very Willow.
"Willow... wake up... it's a gorgeous day," Tara whispered in her ear, continuing to stroke her cheek.
Willow frowned and her fist clenched a little tighter, "Vampires aren't real, don't be silly Buffy..."
Tara giggled, "Willow... "
Willow jumped, startled in her sleep and her fist smacked Tara in the nose while she was still asleep.
"Ow!" Tara felt tears spring to her eyes as she held her nose, continuing to watch the redhead and deciding against shaking her awake for fear of losing an eye.
However, Willow woke herself moments later. Eyelids slowly peeled back to reveal green eyes, hazy and somewhat unfocused. She rolled over, off Tara's chest and sat up as she rubbed her eyes. Tara decided she looked just like a little kitten. Willow then turned back to face Tara, blinking a few times before really seeing the blonde looking at her.
"Do I smell bad or something?" Willow asked, when Tara looked puzzled she continued, "You're holding your nose... don't people do that when there's a bad smell in the air."
Tara laughed lightly and took her hand away. She propped herself up on her elbows and sniffed playfully. The smell in the air was really wonderful. Just as it had been when she woke. She elected against telling Willow about smacking her in the face... but then again, maybe it would get her a shower of apology kisses...
"No bad smell sweetie... far from it," Tara nestled her head back into the pillow so Willow could burrow back into her side.
A small grin crept across her face and Willow nuzzled Tara's neck playfully.
"It's only been one time and I've already decided that waking up next to you is by far the best way to wake up," she stated firmly, "It even beats waking up to a plate of steaming waffles and that's saying something. If only I had realised sooner, I could have been waking up this way for the past few weeks."
"You should have spoken to Giles, I think he knew before we did," Tara laughed lightly until a horrible thought struck her mind," Giles! Oh gosh! He'll be worried sick wondering where I am and work! I'm supposed to be working."
Tara sat up and frantically looked around for her clothes. Willow was there with a hand on her shoulder, calm and steady.
"Stop worrying so much... we'll have a shower, grab some breakfast and be back to your hotel before it's even 8am... and Giles knows you were visiting with me last night," Willow frowned at the look on Tara's face, it was a barely recognisable look of consternation... yet Willow was becoming quite adept at recognising her girlfriend's expressions. Tara was most definitely worried about something, "I said don't worry... it'll be fine, Giles... "
"We'll have a shower?" Tara asked quietly, her tone almost saying 'how dare you suggest such a thing.'
Willow's eyes were like saucers, "I just meant that we'll both take a shower of course... one after the other, not at the same time... .first you, then me or which ever way suits you best. I-I was going to suggest that I'd come with you... come with you to your hotel, not the shower! No nakedness at all... well, yes we would be naked, but not together... "
Tara burst out laughing uncontrollably and Willow just stared in confusion. By the time Tara regained enough of her breath to get out a sentence, poor Willow was close to a nervous breakdown wondering if she were in trouble or not.
"You should see your face... I was kidding!" the blonde admitted.
Willow pouted indignantly and without any warning, began tickling Tara mercilessly. She found, much to her delight, that Tara was very ticklish indeed. The one-sided fun became a little more complicated when Tara discovered Willow to be just as ticklish. In moments they were both rolling all over the huge expanse of bed trying to get the upper hand. It was a very pleasant experience, not only did each girl love to hear the other laugh... it was a very good excuse for a lot of touching. They both yelped as they rolled straight over the other side of the bed, ending up in a tangle of limbs and bed sheets. Tara landed with a thud on the hard floor and Willow fell heavily on top of her.
"Sorry!" Willow apologised with a red face.
"Don't be," Tara said softly, the impact had indeed jarred her a little but the pain was insignificant next to the feel of Willow's warmth atop her.
She also noted that Willow had been quick to apologise but not at all in a hurry to be moving anywhere. They lay, their bodies pressed tightly together with only the thin cotton of their nightgowns separating their skin. Willow reached up to smooth Tara's hair from her eyes with the flat of her hand. The hand lingered on Tara's head, thumb caressing her temple. With the barest of hesitation this time, Willow lowered her lips to Tara's and memories of how wonderful it had been the previous night came flooding back to them both. Only this time it was just as new... just as exhilarating. Willow was stroking Tara's arm with her other hand but in the heat of the moment she moved it to Tara's chest. Her hand sought and found the firm mound of her breast. Tara gasped through the kiss as Willow stroked it with the touch of someone a little unsure but not lacking in any enthusiasm. Waves of heat spread out from her nipple as it reacted to the stimulation of Willow's fingertips.
Tara felt like she was floating, she couldn't feel the cold floor against her back... only the warmth of Willow pressed against her entire body. Willow's thigh nudged between her legs and she let out an involuntary moan, moving her hips to encourage her.
A loud rap on the door brought them both back to their senses. Willow almost scrambled off Tara before she remembered the door was safely locked.
"Willow! Willow Rosenberg... what on earth was all that squealing?" it was Aunt Elizabeth, "You almost gave me a heart attack."
"Ah, there was a spider... " Willow bit her lip to stifle a giggle as Tara looked up at her, eyes shining with merriment.
"Nonsense! There are no spiders in my house... breakfast is ready, be down directly wont you," it wasn't a request, it was an order.
"Yes Aunt Elizabeth," Willow replied before turning her full attention back to the beautiful woman trapped beneath her, content just to have a good stare for a few moments.
Willow was surprised to find tears springing to her eyes as they drank in every detail of Tara's face. She was so beautiful, not just her features but Willow felt she could look into her eyes and there find everything as good and kind a person as ever there was. There was a dull ache between her legs and she flushed bright red as she recognised the pain of wanting someone so very badly. Willow drew in a deep breath and kissed Tara lingeringly as though it were for the last time even though both girls knew there would be plenty more kisses to come.
"We should hurry," Willow said as she drew back, licking her lips to find them tasting of Tara, "She doesn't like to be kept waiting."
"Why are you crying?" Tara asked softly as Willow pulled her to her feet, straight up into her arms.
Willow stroked Tara's back with firm hands, keeping her close for a just a moment more. She sniffed back the unshed tears and smiled brightly.
"Not crying... was just about to sneeze that's all," Willow said quietly, "Now how about that shower before we head down to face dragon lady."
"I can't believe she invited you over for dinner," Willow said excitedly, "She must really like you... wait a minute... I wonder if I should be worried?"
"Don't remind me," Tara rolled her eyes playfully, "Just as long as I don't have to sit next to her."
"No... you'll be sitting next to me of course," Willow winked and placed a hand on Tara's knee.
The two girls were in the library at the university of Paris doing some research for Giles. It was a very isolated and quiet area, they hadn't seen a single person for the past hour. The were perched on a very broad window sill, books piled about them haphazardly. They sat close enough together so that their knees were touching comfortably and yet not so close that anyone would think anything of it if they were seen.
As they sat and read in silence, Willow realised just how amazingly comfortable she was. Not a moment went by when she wasn't aware of Tara's presence, yet it was so natural and familiar. It was as though they were made to be in the same space as one another.
Tara marked yet another key page of text with a small piece of paper and set the book aside. Her eyes ached from doing so much reading. Gazing at Willow however, quickly made the ache disappear. Willow was so cute while she was reading. Her brow furrowed every now and then as though she were having an intense academic debate in her mind. A tiny pink corner of her tongue protruded from her mouth in concentration. Willow-tongue, Tara thought with a pleasant little jolt as she remembered just how it tasted on her own. Willow glanced up, catching Tara staring at her,
"What's up?" Willow asked with a smile
"You!" Tara replied, "It should be illegal for you to be so damn cute, how am I supposed to go back to reading?"
"So damn cute? I'm not even putting on my cute face. I'm only reading!" Willow set her book down and leaned forward so their lips were almost touching, "How about now... am I still cute?"
Tara felt Willow's warm breath on her lips as she spoke, it was driving her crazy, she exhaled before being able to say anything, "Cute... and sexy."
Willow closed the last fraction of distance between them and brought her lips against Tara's... barely brushing them at first. Tara let out a involuntary whimper of need. A part of her was annoyed that Willow would tease her so and yet at the same time, a part of her enjoyed the teasing immensely. It hinted at what was to come. Just thinking the tantalising thoughts of Willow's mouth on hers made her feel flushed and breathless. Willow stayed within a hairsbreadth of Tara's lips but didn't make a move, Tara finally made it herself. Her lips closed over Willow's, hungry for another taste.
Tara closed her eyes, losing herself in the feel of exploring every bit of Willow's lips with her own. Suddenly, Willow pulled back and Tara opened her eyes to see Willow looking over her shoulder with wide eyes.
"Giles!" Willow said quickly, immediately blushing a bright red.
They disentangled themselves from one another and sat with sheepish expressions as he pulled up a nearby chair to join them. Willow however left her hand resting lightly on Tara's knee, caressing with her thumb. Tara licked her lips discreetly, still tasting Willow.
"So, what have you found out for me?" if Giles was the slightest bit embarrassed after interrupting them, he didn't let it show. He nodded in the direction of the pile of books.
"Oh, heaps," Tara replied quickly, hoping that Giles didn't think they had completely been ignoring the task he had given them to concentrate on each other, "It's been fascinating really."
Giles smiled and gave her a look that said 'I'm sure it has.' Tara ducked her head as she handed him a stack of notes they had collected and some books with key pages tabbed. Giles flicked through it for a few moments, nodding at intervals. As he did so, Willow and Tara smirked playfully at one another. Willow poked her tongue out and Tara mouthed soundlessly, "Stop it."
"This is excellent work girls, thank you very much for your effort," Giles looked up from his reading.
"Willow's a brain," Tara said with pride in her voice, she looked at her girlfriend with a broad smile.
"Hey, you're not supposed to tell people!" Willow looked indignant but she gave Tara's knee a playful squeeze, she didn't really mind people finding out about her.
Giles set the information the girls had collected for him aside and removed his glasses. He began cleaning them with an intensity Tara only remembered seeing when he was really anxious about something. She frowned, not knowing whether it was something she should ask about or not. Tara had learnt that sometimes it was better not to pry...
"Speaking of telling people things... " Giles spoke up before Tara said anything and his tone unsettled both girls. Far removed from his earlier jovial tone, he was quite serious, "Can I have a quick word with you two about... well, you two."
"Us two?" Willow asked casting a worried glance at Tara, "Well, I supposed you would call us a two, yup, us two are definitely a two... what about us two?"
Giles looked slightly uncomfortable as he shifted in his chair, "I'm don't want to alarm you or anything... "
"Alarm us?" Tara placed her hand over Willow's on her knee, "Giles?"
"I just feel like it's not really my place to say anything about this but I feel if I don't... "
"Giles, you can say anything you want to us, whatever it is... w-we p-probably need to hear it," Tara couldn't help but let a hint of worry creep into her voice as she realised what it was that Giles was most likely to be concerned about.
Giles put his glasses back on and continued, "Have you girls thought much of this though?... I mean, have you talked about what you're going to do when you return to New York. How your respective families are going to react to this? I don't know anything about your parents Willow... but Tara, I suspect that your father will be far from happy."
Tara ducked her head. Saying that her father would be far from happy was the understatement of the century. Not only had she run away from home to come to Paris, she had fallen in love. Tara had often suspected the day she told her father she was in love with anyone he would lock her in her room and not let her out until she was twenty-one. So, even if there had ever been someone, falling in love hadn't even been an option... until now. She had fallen in love with a girl. Oh... but not just any girl... with Willow. Willow was talking now, Tara listened calmly,
"I think understand what you are trying to say Giles. It's easy to forget where we come from here, I mean in Paris it seems as though everything is possible... b-but are you saying we shouldn't see each other in New York, because if you are... "
Giles shook his head quickly, "No Willow... all I'm saying is be careful... I would hate for anything to happen to either of you... people can be far from kind in the face of differences."
"B-but everything is possible right?" Tara wished that Giles could give them answers, solve their problems and yet she knew that wasn't why he was saying what he was saying.
"All I can say is be honest, the both of you, you can't live a lie for long before it starts to eat away at you and destroy the beautiful thing that you have. I just want you both to be happy. You mean a lot to me Tara... and if Willow is the person who is going to make you happy... "
"She is," Tara replied confidently, entwining her fingers with Willow's.
"Then I wish you both nothing but the best... I'm here for you, even if it seems that no one else is... but you both have families, parents... those are things I have no control over... I wish I could help but... "
"Giles," Tara saw he was having trouble finding the right words to say. She reached out with her free hand, laying it on his forearm, "Thank you for everything."
He smiled warmly at them both before gathering up the information they had collected for him. Brushing one finger lightly against Tara's cheek, he then left them sitting alone in the library with their thoughts. At first they just sat as they had been sitting the whole time Giles had been there. Knees just touching, their hands resting entwined on Tara's knee. A myriad of thoughts were racing through each of their minds. Mostly they thought of their respective families, imaging their reactions... and always coming up with something unpleasant. Willow reached up to place her other hand on the side of Tara's head, pulling her down so she rested on her shoulder.
"Baby, don't... "
"...worry," Tara finished with a sad smile, "I know Willow, I just can't help it."
"Whatever happens when we do go home, I'm not going to leave you... no matter what," Willow said firmly.
"You can't say that Willow, there are some promises that you just can't keep... no matter how resolute your intentions are."
"Tara... look at me."
Tara raised her head to look Willow in the eye. She looked into the bright green depths, liquid with unshed tears. In those eyes she saw so much love it was both comforting and upsetting. Upsetting in the fact that she was unsure whether or not she could live up to all that was held in that gaze.
"I b-believe you Willow," Tara whispered, refusing to let herself cry.
Whatever they felt for one another, however real to them it was... Tara was still scared that it might seem to be meaningless if everyone around them failed to accept it. Although it would always be real between them, if everyone they ever knew turned their backs on the two of them... would all the promise held in Willow's gaze fall apart? If they felt they had to fight everyone in order to stay together, would they would lose the reason they were together in the first place?
Tara knew she had no control over how people reacted. There were stereotypes and stigmas attached to what she and Willow shared that could not be displaced for all her wishing they could. All she could do was share all of herself with Willow in order to make their relationship stronger. All I can say is be honest...
"W-Willow, there's something... " There's something I have to tell you about me... why is this so hard? Tara, you walked out on your family, you can't go back and she has every right to know...
But Willow glanced down at her watch, "Oh gosh darn it, look at the time... .we had better get going, Aunt Elizabeth dines at six and by six I mean 6pm sharp... heaven help anyone who isn't seated at 6pm!"
"Dinner with the dragon it is!" Tara responded quickly, undeniably relieved. She tried to push their conversation as far to the back of her mind as she could, "Do you promise I won't have to sit next to her?"
"I promise baby," Willow smiled and kissed her lightly on the cheek before they set about collecting their things, "Sorry... what was it you were about to say?"
"Just now. Didn't I interrupt you?"
"Ah... it d-doesn't matter. W-we can talk about later sweetie," Tara hoped down from the window sill and began tidying their mess, "We have to get going."
Tara's return smile was empty. She looked across to Willow as she gathered up their books and felt horrible. The last thing on earth she wanted to do was lie to the girl she loved... and yet how was she to tell her about her father, about leaving home? It made her shiver to think of what her father might do when he found her. The last thing she wanted was for Willow to see where she came from... the type of people she came from. Willow shouldn't have to be a part of that, it wasn't her problem.
Yes it is... she loves you and even if you try to keep it away from her... she will make it her problem... you know because you'd do the same with her.
Tara hadn't a clue as to what she was going to do. The only thing she knew for sure was that nothing lasted forever, even holidays in Paris.
What about love? That's forever isn't it?
Tara knew everyone would find out the truth eventually. When that time came, she really didn't want to be anywhere in the vicinity.