Title: Pack

Rating: PG-15, perhaps R later on

Author: faolan228, aka Starr

Disclaimer: Starr owns nothing! Nothing!

Summary: Sometimes, accidents happen. Sometimes, it's someone else's fault entirely. Sometimes, we have to go on living with those consequences. Tara, Willow, life, and love in the Sunnydale way of things.

Spoilers: None

Feedback: Yes please

Chapter 7

Tara frowned, staring down at the food in front of her. Her recent upchuck had left her stomach empty, and Willow had herded her like an overprotective collie to find something to eat. She really wasn't a fan of fast food, or of beef processed into flat disks of the patty persuasion, but at the moment, the scent of happy California cows on the grill made her mouth water.

Willow had outright refused to go to the much closer Doublemeat, instead insisting on treating her baby to a real California treat. Buffy, of course, enthusiastically agreed, saying that Willow would be paying as payment for the Slayer's hard work in cleaning the crypt and repairing the cage these past few weeks.

And that's how they ended up at In-and-Out Burger, in a far corner booth.

"Okay," Willow came bouncing back to the table, a tray of food on each arm. "I got you a regular, with a side of jalapeños, fries, and a strawberry milkshake."

"T-thanks sweetie," she smiled, and despite still being a bit shaky, her eyes lit up. Not just at the sight of Willow and her presence, but the smell of meat-y yumminess that came with her. Something within her seemed to purr at that combination.

She brought me food

"Scoot on over baby," Willow giggled, snatching a fry. "Here, open wide. Humor me and let me do the 'feeding my poor, sick baby' thing."

Provider

Feeling suddenly warm, Tara leaned closer, taking the fry into her mouth. With hooded eyes, her tongue flicked out, licking away the stray grains of salt from Willow's fingers. Her redhead's breathing quickened, a hitch in her inhale, and she very nearly drew those fingers into her mouth to suck.

Buffy cleared her throat. Loudly.

The two witches sprang apart, blushing furiously. Tara shoved her burger in her face, eating rather than let Buffy see her blush.

"Sorry Buff," Willow said. "I-uh, forgot you were here."

The Slayer waved her off. "It's okay Will. I get it. Big love, everything gets all drowned out. It's actually really cute."

The clatter of a tray caught their attention, and they looked to see Tara, staring at her now empty tray with astonishment. "Done already, baby?" Willow asked, stunned.

"It…it was a good burger," Tara murmured, as if she still couldn't believe the speed in which she had devoured it.

"Even I can't eat one of those that fast," Buffy noted admirably. The whole thing, too. The girl hadn't even left the sort of carnage on her plate the way Xander would've. Every bit had been eaten. Tara flushed, ducking her head as she picked shyly and her and Willow's shared fries.

"Do you want me to get you another one, Tare?" She nodded at her girlfriend shyly, even though her smile was grateful.

'What's happening to me?'

Hours later, Buffy walked them back to Tara's dorm. Though their relationship was largely unconsummated, Willow had practically moved in, spending almost everynight there.

"I mean it," Buffy had said to her, voice and face honest. "If you need anything, anything I can do, just tell me, alright?"

"That's Buffy, alright," Willow said warmly as the Slayer walked off. "Always willing to help 'her people'." She nudged Tara playfully. "Face it honey, you're stuck with us now."

The part of Tara, the deep down part that had always wanted to belong, whooped in delight. It was then that she pulled Willow into her embrace, showering her with kisses and little nips. She relished the feal of her girlfriend's body against her own, and her hands slid down Willow's back, trailing the muscles there, before coming to rest on her ass. Tara squeezed.

Willow looked up in shock, and the smirk on Tara's face was replaced by an apologetic look. "Oh, Willow, I didn't mean-"

She stopped at the sly smirk on her girlfriend's face. "Do that again," Willow breathed. Confidence returned, Tara did so, and let herself be led to the bed. Seating herself at the foot of it, she leaned back on her elbows, keeping her firm grip on the swell of Willow's hips as she valiantly tried to scoot back without using her hands.

Willow's own hands set to work. Pressing her full weight on Tara's body, she let her hands trail up her sides and back down. She kept up the light tickling, loving how Tara smiled against her lips. "I feel," Tara started, all trace of her stutter gone. "I feel like I should return the favor."

"Return what favor?" Willow asked, sufficiently dumbed down by Tara lips.

"You let me touch," Tara purred, reaching to give Willow's ass a hearty squeeze. "Only fair I do the same." Willow loved the contrast. Alone with Willow Tara was an entirely different sort of woman than the Tara everyone else knew, and she cherished that part of her girlfriend that was hers alone. As if to emphasis Willow's thoughts, Tara thrust her chest up, wiggling her shoulder playfully.

Willow scrambled up excitedly, undoing each button of Tara's shirt like a child on Christmas morning. "Woah.." she gazed in wonderment at the satin encased orbs, reaching up for an experimental squeeze. Tara gasped, bucking into Willow's hand. "Thank you Tara," she muttered. "For sharing this with me." The adoration in their eyes urged them to press even closer. "I love you," the Willow said, never breaking eye contact even as she lowered her face to Tara's chest to nuzzle and feast.

"Oh, I love you," Tara gasped. "Oh, love you Willow~!"

Just because sex was currently a no-go, didn't mean they couldn't still enjoy each other's bodies in any other way.

An hour later, their makeout session had left them nearly naked, save for their panties. Tara lay on her side, eyes closed, completely content with her world in this very moment. Willow sat up, reclining back against Tara's stomach, warm, comfortable, and an open book on her lap. It was one from Giles' collection that had come into her possession years before, outlying the life and habits of the werewolf. Diligently turning each page, every few minutes she'd tilt her head to nuzzle some nearby Tara-skin, or even reach out and fondle a breast. The soft sighs and purrs she got in response only spurred her on, and rather than distract her, encouraged her to research more for the woman she loved.

"Oh, hey," Willow said, in that tone that said she wanted to share facts with you. "It says here that in the weeks leading up to your first full moon, your body's chemistry is changing, in order to prepare you. Increased appetite is supposed to help balance out the stress your body is under right now."

"Mmm, I don't feel stressed," Tara reached out to trail her hand up from the hem of Willow's panties to up between her breasts. "Do I seem stressed?"

"Vixen," she purred. "Huh. I guess I never really noticed the appetite change in Oz because hey, teenaged boy, right?"

Beneath her, Tara's whole chest reverberated in a low rumble at Oz's name. A rumble that tapered off into a cough, but still most definitely a growl. "S-so that whole, 'three cheeseburgers a meal' thing will wear off, right?"

"…."

"Willow?"

"Oh hey look at the time!" The redhead crowed, suddenly crawling under the covers. "We should get some sleep, huh?"

With a chuckle and a roll of the eyes, Tara draped one arm over Willow and joined her girl in sleep, fine with letting her off the hook.

For now.

She was running. Running, and free, and so good. It was similar to riding her horse as fast as they could go, only so much better. Her own legs pumping, adrenaline coursing through her veins as the cool air shocked her lungs. This was freedom.

This was life.

Then suddenly, trapped. So much pressure, no room to move. No room to be free, to run. Just a prison she could not comprehend, and it felt like she would have to bend and twist and rend her very own flesh to escape it.

This was terror.

With a groan, tossing and turning in fitful sleep, Tara pawed at the sheets, and tugged Willow closer. She buried her nose in that copper hair, and her senses were flooded with Willow-scent. Asleep though she was, it calmed her instantly.

Stop fighting. Safe now