TITLE: Close Quarters
CHAPTER RATING: PG-13
DISCLAIMER: Willow, Tara and any other characters from the Buffy the Vampire Slayer franchise belong to Joss Whedon, FOX, ME and a whole host of other entities, none of which are me.
SUMMARY: What happens when Willow and Tara are thrown together far away from home? Tara has secrets, Willow has a lonely past. They both want to be loved. Can they find it together? (Of course they can, this is me!)
SPOILERS: AU fic, so at most minor references or pieces of dialogue
FEEDBACK: Yes please
Willow laid all her clothes out on her bed and kicked her now-emptied suitcase under it, blowing the small piece of red hair that was hanging down over her forehead out of her eyes and sighing as she thought of the fact that she would have to stay in the surroundings she was currently in for the next nine months – hell in her opinion. Though being back in her own home over the summer months just gone by hadn't exactly been heaven on earth either.
She kicked the foot of the bed in frustration over her entire life before the sound of a door banging made her jump back in surprise. She turned and saw a brunette girl, around her height walking into the room, her head down as she wheeled a plain black case behind her.
"I-is t-this r-room 63?" the girl asked, still looking down.
"Uh, yea," Willow replied, surprised at the girl's shyness, "Um...are you my roommate? Like, did the orientation people downstairs say this was your room? You look new is all, I don't recognise you from last year. But, uh, I'm still a relative newbie myself so..."
"Oh right," Willow nodded, moving forwards, "Um, well I'm Willow. Rosenberg."
The girl finally looked up and Willow felt her mouth go dry, the lost moisture going to her palms as she looked into the face of her new roommate.
Holy cheeseballs, she's gorgeous!
"Hi, Tara," Willow replied, blushing bright red when her voice came out in a high-pitched squeak. She cleared her throat quickly and wiped her hand against her jeans before extending it, "Nice to meet you."
Tara seemed hesitant but eventually took the redhead's hand and shook it firmly. Willow saw her eyes widen before she dropped both her gaze and her hand, walking over to the other bed that was in the room they were in, the only furniture apart from a nightstand beside each bed, a bookcase and a large built-in wardrobe.
"Um, you're American," Willow said, wanting to keep conversing with this Tara, feeling an odd pull to her, "Me too. Um, probably obvious. A lot of the girls here are, but not all of them. Where are you from?"
Tara hauled her case onto the bed and unzipped it, her back to Willow. She looked down at her hand, gulping as she remembered the electric shock she had felt go through her when before shaking off that thought.
Wrong, Tara. Wrong.
She heard her new roommate ask her a question and thought it best to answer, not wanting to be rude, especially since this girl seemed to be really nice.
"I'm from California," Willow offered a moment later, "Not really close to you. But, ah, both of them have an 'al' sound in them. Right there at the start. And you know... they end with 'a'."
Willow groaned internally at her words.
Well done Rosenberg. Quite literally the most stupid thing you could've said.
"Well, I'm, um...I'm just over here if you need anything."
Willow started to retreat back to her bed, thoroughly embarrassed until she noticed Tara turn, looking at her curiously.
"Is, um...is there something on my face or something?" Willow asked, wiping at her face, wondering how else she was going to embarrass herself in front of this gorgeous goddess.
"N-no," Tara shook her head, blushing, "Y-you're just n-not w-w-what I was expecting."
"Oh," Willow nodded with a smile, instantly understanding what the brunette meant, "You were expecting some stuck-up bitch who thought she was better than everyone?"
Tara shrugged but gave a small nod.
"I won't lie to you, most of the girls here are like that. I kinda assumed I'd get the same in a roommate. You're not really what I was expecting, either. I don't think many of the students of the 'Maple Leaf Academy – Girl's Boarding School for the Progression of Excellence," Willow continued, speaking in a mocking voice as she listed off the tagline of the school they were both in, "Have a stuttering problem. Nope they're all about the confidence. Stupid overconfidence."
Willow saw Tara's head drop again at her words and suddenly realising what she said, started shaking her head frantically.
"Oh Tara, shit, I'm sorry, I didn't...God, you come to a place like this and you expect to be teased and then I just...I wasn't teasing you, I promise I wasn't teasing you and, well, the others are probably gonna tease you, the girls here can be pretty mean, but I wasn't, I'd never... I actually think the stutter is super cute, and if anyone ever says anything I promise I'll stick up for you, there's like a roommate code or something, especially when you're roommate seems so nice, like you and-"
Willow stopped talked at the sound of her name, thankful she'd been snapped out of babble-mode and gave the brunette an apologetic look.
"I wasn't teasing."
"I-it's okay," Tara replied with a weak smile, "I-I'm u-used to p-people t-teasing me about it."
"But, Tara, I wasn't, I promise."
"Oh," Willow smiled, "Good. Great. I, uh, I get teased about speaking stuff, too. You mighta noticed I tend to babble. They call me the 'Never-Ending Willow' here."
"I t-think the babble's c-cute," Tara responded, before going pale as she realised what she said and ducking her head again.
Willow frowned at how often the brunette seemed to do that, she clearly had a serious confidence problem, stemming from where the redhead had no idea – how a girl that beautiful could have any issues with her own self-assurance baffled her, but clearly she did. She felt compelled to help her with that, despite only knowing her for less than an hour before a thought crossed her mind.
"Tara? Can I ask you a question? You totally don't have to answer, just tell me to stop being so nosy if you want, I promise I won't be offended, but...why're you here? It's just you seem so...normal."
Maple Leaf Academy – Girl's Boarding School for the Progression of Excellence – as Willow had spouted off before – was an American-based boarding school placed in a small town in Switzerland that was basically a hub where spoilt, rich kids were sent when their parents didn't want to deal with them. Willow hated the whole cliché of it and hated her fellow students even more – all were money and self-obsessed, two qualities she couldn't stand and she had yet to meet one other person in the school who didn't seem to possess them.
"Oh," Tara replied, looking down, "Um, well, my D-Dad...he kind of c-caught me in a c-c-c-compromising position and h-he t-thought b-boarding school w-would t-teach me discipline. He's b-b-big into t-the discipline."
Tara winced slightly as she remembered the many bruises she'd received in the name of her father's 'discipline' but shook it off, not wanting the other girl to notice. She'd had the summer from hell and had been secretly delighted when she'd been told she was being sent to boarding school, away from him and her equally-violent brother. The fact that it was in Europe was even better, as far away from them as possible.
Willow nodded, not wanting to probe any further since her new roommate seemed nervous enough already. She was going to turn back and to her own bed when Tara's voice piped up again.
"W-what about y-you?"
"Oh..." Willow replied, "Uh..."
"Y-y-you d-d-don't h-have t-to," Tara quickly began backtracking, "S-s-sorry."
Willow shook her head, feeling bad that she'd made the brunette stutter that badly.
"No, it's fine. Really. There was just an, um, incident at my school back at home at the winter dance last year, when I was a junior. I got expelled and my parents thought the easiest way to deal with me was so send me away, so I've only been here since that last part of last year, that's why I haven't had a roommate before. They put me in by myself 'cause I arrived mid-year. But uh, yea, my parents. I think they loved that they finally got an excuse to get rid of me, god only knows why they decided to have a child in the first place, it's not like they even raised me. The nanny did until I went to junior high and then I just looked after myself the rest of the way. But, uh, you probably didn't want the Rosenberg family history, sorry."
Tara was slightly taken aback by this information, for one that her roommate had done something bad enough that she'd been expelled but more so that anyone could not want the beautiful redhead in front of her as a part of their lives, much less actually send them away. She blushed as she realised her line of thinking had once again gone to the instant attraction she felt for her roommate and closed her eyes, hearing her father's voice ring through her mind.
Wrong. You know it's wrong.
She opened her eyes again and saw Willow looking at her expectantly, waiting for some kind of response. She gazed into the green depths staring at her for a moment and found herself speaking without evening meaning to.
"W-Willow? C-could you show m-me around w-when we're f-finished unpacking?"
Her eyes widened as she realised what she'd said; she knew she shouldn't be asking anyone for anything and definitely should be trying to stay as far away as possible from the girl she was undeniably attracted to. She knew it was wrong, but she couldn't help herself.
She was drawn to this Willow and her senses seemed to working of their own accord to spend time with her. She was expecting to be scoffed at and told to figure her own way around, to be dismissed like she had been throughout her entire life and so was surprised when she was met by a nod and an easy smile.
"Of course. The school's not too big, don't worry."
"T-thanks," Tara blushed in response before spinning back around and continuing to unpack.
Willow stared at her roommate's back for a moment before her smile got a little wider and she turned back to her own case.
Huh. Maybe this year won't be hell after all.