I know it's late

A/N Loved watching Buffy, love Willow and Tara. This will probably have 2 chapters, missing things from the season that we have to infer have happened. Set in s4ep13, when Willow turns up at Tara's dorm in the middle of the night. Xx.

Willow's feet crashed through her shoes, the soles bearing weak against the small cobble of the path. Tara, it's so late, her brain scrambling for words, how many times would I'm sorry work. Her feet had been kicking at that bar stool for an hour before Buffy arrived, they were meant to be hanging out with the gang, but Riley's band of goons had followed him again. That stupid beeper on repeat for the alert. A looping siren, so what? Buffy went out every other night to slay, why couldn't they just have a quiet one and be a family again. Then the suddenness of reality had hit her, Tara had wanted to do something tonight, what if it was important? What if she had needed me? It seemed all too real and she'd jumped up, left the Bronze in a rush, then slowing to a gentle pace down the path towards the dorms, a sudden energy surge making her stop dead. Her halt stabbed her, the new information had taken a while to process, she'd left her friends to go and see Tara.

Tara. Her name conjuring up some sort of warmth in Willow. She wasn't sure what exactly it was, a thought, a feeling, recognition of our magical connection. Whatever it was between them, it was new. She hadn't felt this before, maybe it was the magic - she thought, she'd never connected with someone for spells before, that was new and so was Tara. Tara, the name still exciting, new fluidity, if this was a feeling, why was it so different with Oz? He had a raw wildness about him, far too cool. His guitar the outlet for his hidden anger. She still missed him. That was why it was so confusing, she still missed him, needed him. Wanted him. But only sometimes. Somehow when she thought of him the mist turns cloudy, she couldn't see his face anymore. He felt cold in her heart now. He'd left, he'd cheated, he'd known what he was doing. And now there was Tara. Tara's thoughts seemed softer, deeper, a warm shoulder to cry on, she was a happy secret. The dark continued, her steps getting closer together as the soft tapping grew quicker and with it her heart, she had slight nerves for once. She wondered if it was a mistake, going to see her so late, she imagined the many possible looks she could get from Tara as the door opened. Strolling up the stairs her feet grew slower and slower, the impending doom of disturbing Tara, her hands fiddled with the hem of her sweater, it was awkward and woollen, why couldn't I have worn something more normal? The door was a faint ivory cream, the paint peeling, everything in Sunnydale was old, no one had ever had the time to care, to ever fix anything. Then the faint squeaking of the door knob startled her, as the hinge opened.

Tara had her mouth opened, she was surprised, she hadn't expected to find Willow on her doorstep. She'd been huddled in her chair again, the low wooden absurdity covered in cushions was her usual reading spot. She hadn't the tiredness to sleep. The book was laying open on a chapter about attraction spells, wishful-thinking Tara thought, she had been so distracted lately, picking up on all Willow's little quirks and habits, how she always fiddles with her clothes, takes a deep breath before incanting a spell, that little thing she does with her fingers when she reads. Stop. Just stop, you can't go thinking like that. Thinking she's yours, that she'd want you back. She's with Oz, always has been. Until he ran off. The two sides of her brain fighting for dominance, would her feelings overtake her anxiety? Her fingers had been resting on the page for too long, the words unreadable, just inky lines now. Perhaps she was hoping in some way she'd be able to absorb them. Then when she heard the quiet knocking on the door, the book had fallen lazily onto the floor, the pages splitting and probably in need of some serious sticky tape. Her hand rested on the knob before turning it, a quiet moment went by slowly before she took a deep breath and her fingers clasped the knob. It turned so easily and the hinge creaked, then the latch buckled. Her mind went blank, staring back at her was Willow. Maybe she knows, somehow she's found out about it. She knows and she's come to tell me it'll never happen, she likes guys, that's why she's nervous. The air she'd breathed in came out in a gasping gulp, her voice airy as she blurted Willow's name.

Oh no she's too surprised to see me, Willow thought, her mind racing now she had nothing to say. Tara looked confused, her brow furrowing as their eyes met at last, not blinking for several seconds. She fumbled over her words, they hitched in her throat before spilling out. They were all coming out too fast for her to control, scrambling in front of Tara like a confused mess. Yet somehow she was smiling, her blue eyes deep as dishes, and very pretty. Stop, Will, she's your friend. What are you doing? Some overly confident version of herself lurking behind all the books.

"Irony's kind of ironic that way." Then she felt bad, for it being so ironic and blowing off Tara like that this morning, what was I thinking? Why am I even here at this time of night? What am I doing? "I know it's late." It's too late, Tara please. She pleaded with her thoughts, there was at least something compelling her towards her wiccan counterpart. She thought on some level they understood each other, maybe that Tara would feel bad that the Scoobies left her, like she had that morning, Tara please. Oh she did that cute smile thing she does, that means I must have done something right.

Aww she still wants to do something, Tara's hands were getting sweaty, Willow turning up at this hour was most unprecedented, unchartered territory. Actually liking someone for them and not some meaningless attachment formed in a club past midnight. Nothing good ever happens after 2 am. She thought, still cursing herself for being optimistic. She lit up every time Willow walked in the room, but she was straight, as a ruler. No bent redheads in this room. The lesbian's curse. Then somehow she had invited Willow inside, the door wide open. Then shutting.

"So w-w-what did you want to do? Did you wanna do a spell?" Tara said, her lips pursing a little as she spoke, her soft lilt and stutter made Willow smile. She's cute when she does that, Willow thought, then she shook her head to get rid of the notion of kissing those lips. It's out of the question, you know this Will.

"Um, I'm not sure." Willow paused, she peered into Tara's eyes and spotted her slight confusion, Tara was far too polite to ask why the hell did you come over then? "I came over because Buffy kind of left to do something and I couldn't face walking home alone," she looked down, her hands laying flat and fidgety in her lap, her legs folded under her. They were sitting on the bed, an abandoned book on the floor, but Tara always kept things tidy, that is strange. "I know it's stupid, but after this morning, I just, felt so bad. Saying no to you like that, it was unfair." Willow glanced down again, not wanting Tara to see the guilt in her eyes.

Tara was surprised, she wasn't sure what Willow meant by 'couldn't face' or 'unfair' could she have more feelings than just guilt? Don't be so stupid Tara. Then Willow looked up suddenly, like she'd heard what she was thinking. Then Tara noticed, their hands had been brushing up against each other for the last couple of seconds, maybe Willow had heard her. Maybe she should have finished the chapter on magical attraction and connection. If she had, Tara would have found that witches with a pure enough connection, like they had, could connect their minds and thoughts. But it had never happened before, when they were doing spells, touching, holding hands. Such a romantic notion for just a bit of spell work. What had changed between them? Willow must have noticed too, she brushed her hair behind her ear, the way she did when she was nervous. There was a silence, a calm spell of quiet anticipation between them. Their eyes finally met, Willow was chewing on her lower lip, can you hear me? Tara thought, a slight shiver creeping the base of her neck. Willow looked at her, a blush reddening her cheeks as she stared back, she nodded, not breaking the silence. Tara reached out her hands, like they would when doing a spell, but Willow shook her head, this was different. She inched closer instead and rested their knees together. They were close now, very close, Tara was trying to keep her thoughts clear so Willow wouldn't see what she truly was. But she didn't want to hide her feelings. Maybe this is the right time? She thought by mistake, Willow looked confused, oh no, not right, not right at all. Her brain was scrambling, she needed an excuse and fast; but nothing was coming.

Tara? What is it? What are you thinking? Willow thought, she was adding lib with her head movements, surprisingly their eyes were still open, keeping the connection viable and open. She took Tara's hand at last, finally worried. She didn't know what Tara meant, time for what? Then it was Tara's time to blush, she looked down at their hands, not interlaced, but just brushing softly. A single tear tracked down her cheek. Her eyes enlarging, becoming puffy and red. Willow couldn't stand it, why was she so sad? What was going on? She reached her hand up and cupped Tara's cheek, finally interrupting the quiet with calm words,

"Tara?" Willow's voice trembling and breaking, "what is it?" Tara leaned into Willow's palm, she was warm and comforting, her face still blushing and teary. Her lips parted she wanted to look away to break from Willow's stare, her forest eyes forcing her into confrontation. She didn't want to admit it, that she really did like Willow, very much. She closed her eyes, manifesting Willow's face in her mind's eye, she had imagined telling Willow in all sorts of ways, but nothing stuck, she never thought it would really happen. It was always just a fantasy.

"I-I um. I" Tara stuttered, her head shaking slightly as she spoke; her eyes still closed, she imagined that this was just another practice. "I-I l-like y-you." The words stumbled out, all broken and out of place, her usual pattern of stuttering. Willow hadn't said anything yet and she daren't open her eyes for fear of what she might. Then without words she heard a shuffle, a movement, the angle of Willow's palm changing, her steady fingers moving downwards towards her neck, brushing back her hair. Then she felt Willow's lips press softly against hers. She broke the kiss quickly out of shock, her eyes opening too fast, adjusting to the low light level in the room; which Tara suddenly noticed was a lot darker than usual, she'd forgotten how late it was.

Tara stared at Willow for a few seconds; trying to gage her surroundings taking in all of Willow's features before crashing their lips together again. Willow was sure this was the best night of her life, beating anything she'd done with Oz. This was just different, Tara was so much softer, gentler, she took her time to press her lips slowly, applying the perfect amount of pressure to make Willow feel the heat grow between them. Her tongue sucked on Tara's bottom lip eliciting a drawn out moan from the blonde witch. Tara tasted delicious, like vanilla ice cream with the salty flicker from her forgotten tears. Willow broke the kiss for a second, blushing heavily as she felt Tara's breathy whimpers at the loss of her touch.

"Hey" Willow said softly, her voice barely breaking the silence. Her right hand was resting on Tara's thigh, her fingers too timid to brush upwards to her inner thigh. Her left was cupping Tara's scarlet cheek, the tears drying into their tracks.

"Hi" Tara replied brushing her hair behind her ear and looking down at the Willow-hand trying not to caress her thigh.

"I think I like you too." Tara smiled and looked up, Willow's foresty green eyes sparkling back at her. A big part of her was in disbelief that this was actually happening. Still the devil at the back of her brain saying the kiss meant nothing.

"Y-you do?" She asked politely, locking onto Willow and biting her lip nervously.

"Of course I do doofus. Even if maybe I didn't want to admit that I did, after that I'm never going back, it's too good." Tara giggled. Willow-rambling was just another quirky thing Willow did without realising. She'd never had anyone stick around long enough to flatter her, just a couple of college girls she'd met on one night stands back in high school. And they'd all been gone by morning, Tara left with a searing headache, the burn of alcohol working its way out of her system.

"Y-you are so..." Amazing, beautiful, special, ginger, cute, quirky. All the things. Willow was just perfect in every way. And she liked her. Her, Tara. Shy unimportant Tara. "so Willow." Willow giggled, her whole face lighting into a smile. Tara gasped. Remembering Willow could still hear all her thoughts.

"Oh no. I-I'm sorry. I d-didn't mean to." Still cupping her cheek, Willow gave her a cheeky grin and kissed her again. Licking her lips, Tara traced the outline of her lips with her fingertip, pondering something. "Will, d-did you know you taste like strawberries."