"I Like the Tile"

A.N.: This is set in the Buffy episode "The Yoko Factor" when Tara and Anya retreat to the bathroom during Buffy's fight with Willow and Xander. I was just wondering what those two did during the whole thing, and knowing Anya...

Forgive me if I end up getting a little OOC. I tried.

Rated PG-13 (just a scrape above PG) for naughty thinking and slight girl/girl action. The high-ish rating is just to be safe.

- - - - - -

Tara had retreated to the bathroom looooong ago. She couldn't stand to hear Willow fight with her friends, and Tara knew she had no place in the whole thing. Things like "If I was any more open minded about the choices you two make my brain would fall out!" could be heard even through the closed door, and it was already starting to drive Tara crazy. As she sat on the edge of the tub and listened forlornly, the door suddenly open and Anya burst in, slamming the door behind her. She looked over her shoulder as if afraid of the whole situation before putting down the toilet lid and sitting down.

"You got sick of it too?" Tara asked.

"It was starting to frighten me," Anya replied truthfully.

"Do you think this will go on awhile?"

"Hard to say."

The two sat in silence for a moment. "Nice bathroom," Tara finally said.

"I like the tile," Anya added.

There was another long pause as the two girls listened to the fight escalate. Suddenly and unexpectedly Anya turned to Tara. "So do you think we have enough time?"

Tara looked at her suspiciously. "For w-what?" she asked nervously.

"To have sex," Anya replied as if the answer was completely obvious. Tara was so startled that she fell backwards into the tub. Anya got up to help her, but Tara lifted her hand in protest.

"Anya, n-no! W-Willow's my girlfriend! I c-could never do that to her!"

Anya shrugged. "Can you at least kiss me then?" she asked innocently. "I just want to know what it's like with a girl."

Tara cautiously pulled herself from the tub and sat down on the floor, Anya joining her and sitting cross-legged in front of her. "Well?" she prompted.

"Anya, I... I can't! You know I c-can't! I could never betray Willow like that. It wouldn't be right."

"Oh, come on," the ex-demon said, rolling her eyes. "It's just one kiss! It's not like it means anything."

Tara was startled by Anya's words. Didn't mean anything? Kisses meant everything. Every time Willow and Tara kissed, no matter how briefly, it was always a pure moment of affection – a wave of love that enveloped the two of them in sheer bliss. They never kissed just to kiss, or to show someone. Willow and Tara always made sure their kisses meant something...had a purpose. Tara couldn't understand how Anya could just want to kiss for the sake of kissing. The ex-demon had always shown to be more on the lustful side rather than the loving side, even when she was with Xander, but Tara still couldn't believe Anya would branch off this far into near slut-dom – and Tara wanted no part in that category.

"Anya, kisses mean a lot. And what about Xander? You'd be betraying him."

Anya literally threw her hands up in the air. "How many times to I have to say that it's just a kiss?" she asked in frustration as she stood up and put her hands on her hips. Tara was getting frustrated too, but for a different reason.

"A kiss is an intimate gesture – you have to understand that. When you press your lips to someone else's it's a show of trust. It's almost as if you're letting the other person have a little bit of control over you, and you have a little bit of control over them. It shows love, Anya, and it shouldn't be done unless you truly love the other person. That's what kisses mean. It's not just putting two mouths together for the heck of it."

It was Anya's turn to be stunned as she stared at the blonde Wiccan still sitting on the floor of the bathroom. She knew Tara had truly meant what she said – she hadn't stuttered once. Anya hadn't really thought about true kissing before, and what Tara said really opened her eyes. Ever since she'd lost her powers and was forced to live as a mortal, Anya had been slowly learning that things weren't just there – everything meant something. And now she knew what kisses meant.

"Can...can friends love each other?" Anya asked carefully. Tara frowned.

"Still looking for an excuse to kiss me?"

"Um, maybe..." Anya asked, not exactly as prepared for the question as she should have been. "Actually...I was kinda wondering."

Tara thought for a moment. "Yes. They can love each other as friends. And I do love you as a friend, Anya. But I love Willow almost more than I can say. She and I are girlfriends for a reason, and I can never and could never break away from that."

Anya sank back onto the toilet seat and stared at the floor, still trying to soak in the voluminous amounts of information that Tara had presented her with. She now knew that there was a whole new depth beneath physical lust – an eternal world beneath a flat and meaningless surface. The more she thought about it, the more Anya realized that anyone could just kiss, but two people that loved each other could actually kiss, and turn the gesture into a true feeling. Anya didn't want to be just anyone. I really do have a lot to learn, Anya mused, finally looking back up at Tara. The other girl had gone back to sitting on the edge of the tub and was regarding Anya intently, somehow understanding her train of thought.

"Well..." Anya began. "Is there...is there a friendly kiss?"

Tara smiled. "Yes. There is. Just a chaste kiss."

"Um..." For once Anya was struggling over her words. "Can I have one?"

Tara paused, then nodded tentatively. "Yes. Since you're my friend."

Anya couldn't help but smile a little as she went and sat down next to Tara. After another moment's hesitation, the two girls gently and lightly pressed their lips together.

Tara was still uncomfortable about the situation, and her misgivings heightened when she and Anya kissed. Willow's face flashed through her mind, and Tara instantly felt guilty about what she was doing – even if it was so small a thing.

To Anya, the whole experience was completely new. Kissing men had been nice enough, but with her newfound knowledge and Tara's gentleness, Anya truly felt the feelings behind the kiss. Even though they were just feelings of friendship. In that moment she realized how pure Tara was, how much she glowed, and Anya couldn't help but think how lucky Willow was to have found someone like Tara. But far from being jealous, Anya was happy for the red-haired witch and her lover. Who was Anya to interfere with such powerful bonds? And in that instant, Anya vowed to try and show Xander how much he meant to her, and that he wasn't just a sex toy. She wanted to explore this new world called love.

Though Tara shrank back a bit when she and Anya pulled away, the ex-demon sat shocked for a minute. "Wow," she said finally. "That was...wow." Tara managed a small grin before -

"Wait a minute," the two girls heard Xander say. "Tara's your GIRLFRIEND?"

"Bloody hell!" came Giles' drunken voice from another part of the house. Tara winced.

"Willow is going to kill me," Tara said miserably, burying her head in her hands.

Anya shrugged. "You don't have to tell her," she said, back to her usual quirky self. "I don't tell Xander about my other sex lives."

Tara shook her head. "Please, don't tell me either." Anya shrugged again as the bathroom door opened. There stood a very weary-looking Willow, though she still managed a smile for Tara.

"Ready to go?" the redhead asked. Tara nodded, allowing her lover to help her from the floor. They walked hand-in-hand all the way back to their dorm room.

- - - - - -

"Tar', you ok?" Willow asked with concern to the girl next to her in bed. Ever since they had come back from Giles' house, Tara had been withdrawn and solemn. Finally unable to contain it anymore, Tara burst into tears. "Tara! Tara!" Willow cried as she held her girlfriend. "Baby, what's wrong?"

Tara clutched at Willow's shirt and sobbed into her shoulder. "Oh Will – I'm s-so s-s-sorry! Anya – she w-wanted to know w-what it w-was like to k-kiss a girl, and...and...oh W-Willow, I k-kissed her! It w-w-was j-just a f-f-friendly k-kiss, 'c-cause I th-th-thought it w-w-would b-be ok, and...Oh Will, oh I'm s-so s-sorry!"

Willow was silent for a moment as she let Tara cry on her shoulder. The truth was, she understood, and she wasn't angry at all. The redhead lifted Tara's chin and kissed her deeply, passionately. Startled at first, Tara soon succumbed to the kiss, allowing herself to be comforted in Willow's love. When the two broke apart, still so close together, Willow was smiling.

"Oh Tara," she whispered in loving sympathy. "I understand." When Tara looked at her with a stunned expression, Willow nodded for emphasis. "I do."

Tara sniffled. "She...she wanted to d-do more, but I explained t-to her...it's about l-love, n-not l-lust. And I think she understood, and she j-just wanted a friendly kiss...Oh God, Will, I'm such a traitor!" she started to cry again.

"Shh, baby, shh," Willow murmured, holding her beloved close to her again, kissing her forehead and rubbing her back. "You're amazing, Tara. You're so kind, and understanding, and I love you so much for it. I'm glad you're mine."

Tara gave a tiny giggle, though it came out as sort of a hiccup. "Yours. Always yours, Willow. Forever."

Willow smiled too as she pulled back to look into Tara's eyes. "Ok then? No harm, no bad, no guilt?"

Tara shook her head. "None." She leaned forward to kiss her girlfriend again. Both she and Willow could feel the love coursing through their veins, its ecstasy heightened whenever they touched. They were whole together. Complete. They were love itself.

"I love you so much, Willow," Tara sighed, smiling as she pulled back.

"I love you too, Tara," Willow replied, smiling back, glad that her love was feeling alright again. She reached over and turned off the lamp, the dark wrapping around the two girls like a shroud. "And I wanna show you. Ok?"

"Oh yes," Tara replied, much the way she had the night Willow had brought the 'extra-flamey' candle.

And so their passionate night began with kisses. Long, loving, meaningful kisses.