Chapter 10

Willow slowly pulled into the driveway at Tara's house in her mother's white Mercedes. Sheila didn't want Willow walking around Sunnydale at night, so she'd happily given up her car for the evening. Willow was a bit nervous about meeting Tara's Mom and even more jittery being around Tara. She checked her appearance in the mirror again and her breath, but stopped when she could not figure out exactly why she was doing either. Geez, what the frilly heck is wrong with me? After having thoroughly chastised herself, she hopped out and made her way to the front door.

Tara was in Chelsea's room, changing her crib sheets and trying to suppress the anxious feeling in her stomach when she heard a car pull into the driveway. Tara pulled the curtain back and peeked out just in time to see Willow step out. She smiled widely and tossed the dirty sheets in the hamper before heading downstairs to meet Willow.

Tara rushed down the stairs and pulled the door open before Willow even had time to knock, startling the girl.

"Oh, hey!" Willow exclaimed.

"Hi, sorry, I didn't mean to scare you."

"It's okay, I didn't expect the door to fly open. So we're even!" Willow said cheerfully.

Tara couldn't help but smile. Willow's enthusiasm was contagious. "So, how was work?"

"Oh you know, same old same...burgers, fries, and soda." Willow answered, stepping inside and fidgeting nervously as an awkward silence fell over them. "So, where's your Mom?"

"She's in the kitchen finishing up with dinner. Come on!" Tara said as she reached out and lightly pulled on Willow's sleeve. "Hey Mom, Willow's here!" Tara shouted, bursting through the kitchen door and startled her daughter in the process.

Mrs. Maclay frowned when she heard the baby begin to fuss and gave Tara a look of disappointment.

Tara laughed nervously, "Oops, I seem to be frightening everyone tonight..."

Willow giggled and moved towards the crying infant; squatted down and removed Chelsea from the swing. "Hey you, what's with all the big noise?"

As soon as Willow picked up Chelsea, she quieted and began to smile. Tara glanced at her Mom and they shared an amusing and knowing smile.

"What?" Willow asked.

"When Tara told me you were the 'Chelsea Whisperer' I didn't believe her, but now that I've seen it, I think she may be on to something. Hi Willow, it's so nice to see you again sweetie." She said with a warm smile.

Willow blushed, "Hi Mrs. Maclay, it's nice to see you too."

"Please, call me Jen. How's you're Mom and Dad? Gosh, I haven't seen them in years."

"They're good. My Mom said to say 'hi,' and to give her a call, she said she'd love to get together and catch up."

"I will, thanks for the message. Dinner will be ready in about fifteen minutes or so. Tara, why don't you show Willow around a bit? Get her acquainted with the house and everything."

"Sure Mom, come on Will." Tara said as she motioned for Willow to follow her. The girls left the kitchen with Willow still carrying Chelsea as Tara took her on a tour of the house, even though Willow sort of already knew her way around. The tour finally ended upstairs in Chelsea's room so Tara could change the baby's diaper.

"So," Tara said as she cleaned up her daughter, "I usually try to give her a bath between seven and seven-thirty. That way I can get her fed and in bed by eight."

"Wow, that doesn't give you much time together, huh?"

Tara shook her head sadly, "Unfortunately no, but it's the only way I can get my homework done and at least get a few hours of sleep. She still wakes up once or twice during the night to eat. Sometimes, I let her sleep with me; it's just easier that way."

"Don't you still have to get up and get her a bottle?"

Tara's face grew flushed, "Um, I sorta am her bottle."

Willow cocked her head, she was genuinely perplexed. "Huh? Wha...oh. Oh! I uh, didn't know you were...I mean because you have bottles and all and how can you do that [i]and[/i] go to school?"

Tara giggled, "You babble a lot huh?"

"Yeah, it's a thing." Willow chuckled.

Tara responded with a lopsided smile and Willow nearly fainted. Oh God, there it is again! She smiled back goofily, desperately hoping Tara didn't notice the range of emotions she was sure were playing across her face.

"Well, to answer you're question...I pump, a lot and she drinks formula sometimes too. Plus, now I'm starting her on a cereal mix. Willow, can you maybe stick around after dinner? I thought maybe you'd like to help me give her a bath and sorta see our nightly routine?" Tara asked hopefully.

Willow nodded, "Sure, I'd love to...thanks." They stood sort of staring at each other and sort of looking away, except this time it wasn't awkward, it was a comfortable silence and Willow knew they were, once again, having a moment. Soon the silence was broken by Tara's Mom, calling the girls down for dinner.

"So...dinner..." Tara breathed.

"Yeah...dinner..." Willow repeated finally tearing her eyes away from Tara as they headed downstairs.

Dinner was relaxed and chatty as the threesome talked about a myriad of subjects from cute furry animals to Tara's twenty hours in labor with Chelsea. Jen reminisced, telling stories from when Willow and Tara were little; shedding quite a bit of light on their humble beginnings.

As dinner was winding down, Chelsea became restless and Tara knew it was time to get her settled in for the night. Neither she nor Willow was done eating, but the baby didn't seem to care.

"Looks like someone is getting tired," Tara said as she rose from the table to retrieve her daughter from the swing. Willow jumped up from her chair to follow Tara as the blonde coddled the fussy infant. "It's okay Willow, go ahead and finish your dinner."

"No, i-it's fine. I wanna help," Willow said.

Jen smiled, "I'll cover your plates, in case you're hungry later."

"Thanks Mom," Tara replied.

"Thank you Mrs...Jen," Willow added.

A little while later Willow and Tara were kneeling over the side of the bath tub while Chelsea happily splashed about.

"Wow, it's crazy that our families used to hang out and stuff," Willow said, breaking the silence.

Tara smirked, "Sort of ironic, huh?"

"Yeah," Willow said with a knowing smile, "I had no idea until my Mom clued me in a couple days ago. I uh, I don't remember. Do you?"

Tara shook her head, slightly embarrassed. "No, not really. It's all kind of hazy, sorry."

Willow shrugged, "Hey, don't be, I've racked my brain and nothing. I guess when you're little, if people don't stick around, you just forget."

"It's weird, I remember you from elementary school and junior high, but we never really talked or anything so I had no idea about before." Tara said as she wiped Chelsea gently with a warm wash cloth.

"That's a cool little seat. Where'd you find it?" Willow interjected, changing the subject.

"Oh, at The Baby Barn, they have a lot of really neat things. It's a perfect fit for her and the suction cups really stick tight, so no slippage! This way she can sit up on her own and play for a bit while I wash her. She sorta out grew the baby tub and all the constant leaning over was killing my back. This way is so much easier. Sometimes I get in with her, but she's really slippery and squirmy," The blonde giggled.

Willow returned the smile, "I found that out when I tried to change her diaper a few weeks ago. Apparently she likes to kick...a lot." The redhead quipped.

"Always!" Tara agreed. "She was like a kick boxing champion in my tummy."

"What was it like?" Willow asked.

"Being pregnant?" Tara clarified and Willow nodded. "It was pretty cool. Well, after the 'trimester of vomit,' that is. Anyway, things settle down after that, you get used to your body changing. My skin completely cleared up, not a trace of acne!" Tara smiled brightly. "I think the coolest part was feeling her inside me, kicking,'s a weird thing to know that you have a life growing inside of you and then to feel's surreal. Do um, do you ever wanna have kids?"

"Someday, but I guess I need a boyfriend or a husband or something first," Willow lamented as she turned to hand a bath toy back to Chelsea.

Tara frowned, having no idea why she suddenly became a bit melancholy hearing Willow talk about settling down with a family. She blinked and tried to shake it off, but it was useless.

"I'm sorry, are you alright?" Willow asked, noticing Tara's sudden mood shift. "I didn't mean anything, I-I just meant that I would need to be in a relationship of some sort a-and even able to actually speak to a guy to even have hope of getting pregnant, not that I want to just yet and not that it always leads to pregnancy and I think once again I'll just be shutting up..."

Tara looked amused as she quirked an eyebrow in Willow's direction. "I get it," She laughed, "I guess I'm just tired."

Willow nodded in agreement and reached over to pull the plug, allowing the water to drain from the tub. The sleepy time lavender soap Tara was using was making Willow yawn uncontrollably. She glanced at Chelsea and noticed that the infant was still wide awake and happily splashing about in the draining water.

Unable to suppress it any longer, Willow yawned dramatically, "Isn't that soap supposed to have this effect on Chelsea? I think she's immune."

Tara smiled at Willow's adorable sleepy face. She grabbed a hooded towel and tossed it over Chelsea's back, "Willow, always make sure you pick her up with a towel, so she doesn't slip out of your hands."

"Right, no dropping the baby. Got it!" Willow said, eliciting a slight giggle from the blonde.

Tara moved with confidence and grace as she picked up her daughter, while simultaneously wrapping the towel fully around her tiny body. Willow was completely impressed and in awe of Tara at the same time. Not to mention how cute mother and daughter were together.

Tara baby talked to the infant, eliciting giggles and laughter. She hugged the infant to her chest, not caring in the least that her shirt was becoming increasingly wet as the bath water soaked through the towel. She rubbed her hand across the hoodie part of the towel, trying to dry Chelsea's head the best that she could before motioning for Willow to follow her.

Tara lay Chelsea on the changing table and continued to pat her dry, then reached for the tube of diaper rash paste. "She's been a little rash-y lately, so you'll need to put this stuff on every time you change her." Tara smeared a generous amount of the paste on her right middle finger and began to rub it about; failing to notice the look on Willow's face.

The redhead's eyebrows shot up nearly to her hairline as she watched Tara apply the white sticky cream between Chelsea's legs. It was one thing to wipe and get in there with a baby wipe, but this? Willow's mind was in a quandary and she'd gone completely non-verbal.

"Willow, can you hand me a wipe?" Tara asked; getting no response she finally look in Willow's direction. "Will? Wipe...please?"

"Huh? Oh, yeah...okay." Willow said as she fumbled with the box of baby wipes, her hands a bit unsteady, until she finally managed to extricate the wipe and hand it to Tara. She took a step back and crossed her arms across her chest.

"Thanks," Tara said sweetly as she wiped her fingers clean and quickly diapered the baby. She could sense how uncomfortable the redhead was, but continued her nightly routine.

"Willow," Tara said softly without looking up, "Are you okay?" She waited a few seconds before getting a reluctant nod from the redhead before continuing. "It gets chilly at night and she tends to kick off her blanket, so I always dress her in a long sleeve footy sleeper. They're in the second drawer, can you hand me one?"

Willow stepped towards the dresser, opened the drawer and pulled out a cute moon and stars sleeper. She turned and handed the pj's over to Tara. "She has some of the cutest clothes I've ever seen."

Tara grinned widely, "I LOVE shopping for her! I know it's ridiculous, because she grows out of things so fast, but I love dressing her up in the really cute stuff. I um...I even got her a little cheerleading outfit." Tara said as she blushed brightly.

"I bet you both look adorable together!" The words slipped out before Willow had a chance to censor them and it was now her turn to blush uncontrollably. "I just mean, you know, the matching outfits and all..."

Tara picked up her baby, "We do!" She replied brightly. "Unfortunately, because of my Mom's schedule, she can't bring her to any of my games. Not that it's ideal for an infant, but it'd be nice to have pictures to show her later. Like, here we are cheering together or something..." Tara turned her eyes towards the floor, suddenly embarrassed.

"I understand, it's kinda not the same dressed identically in your living room. So...what's next?"

"Oh um, just feeding, burping and then bed." Tara moved to the glider chair and sat down. Chelsea automatically sensed what was to come and immediately began to nuzzle and pull at Tara's shirt. The blonde smiled affectionately and began to unbutton her shirt.

Willow immediately averted her gaze and bounced nervously on the balls of her feet. Oh my God. What should I do? Act like it's no big deal? Look away? Leave the room? Just stare because her breasts are beautiful and I can't seem to look away? Oh God, I can't believe I just thought that! It's cool, it's natural and a beautiful thing. Yeah, that's exactly what I meant.

Tara hadn't been thinking when she started to unbutton her top and just as her bra clad breast popped out, she heard a crash.

"Oh crap, sorry, sorry...shit...sorry," Willow rambled.

Tara looked up to find Willow, while in a mild state of panic and embarrassment, had backed into Chelsea's dresser and knocked over a lamp. The poor girl was struggling to keep it from hitting the floor and had the moment not been so intense, Tara would have burst out laughing at Willow's theatrics.

"I um, I wasn't thinking...not used to having anyone in here when we um, y-you don't have to stay."

"Well, if you don't want me to...I uh, I don't want to intrude on your time with Chelsea." Willow nervously replied.

Tara shrugged her shoulders, "I-I don't mind. Modesty kind of flies out the window after you have a baby," She chuckled.

Willow flashed a relieved smile, "I'm okay, if you're okay, but I'll just sit over here on the floor. I think it'll be safer for all of us." Willow quipped, making sure to sit at an angle where Tara's naked breast wasn't visible. She feared that if it was, she wouldn't be able to stop staring.

Willow watched in silence for several moments while Tara fed the infant. The blonde looked upon her daughter affectionately, rocking the glider and humming a lullaby as the baby continued to suckle her breast. It was a lovely moment and Willow felt her heart flutter when Tara looked up and their eyes met. Oh God, what's happening?

Tara was caught up in the moment as well, but wanted to make sure Willow wasn't too uncomfortable. She looked up briefly and was overcome with emotion at the dreamy look on the babysitter's face. Tara's heart pounded and she felt as if hundreds of butterfly's had suddenly taken flight in her stomach. Oh wow, what's going on here? She thought, reluctantly pulling her eyes away from the sweet freckled face across the room and training them back on her daughter. The baby's eyes were closed and she was clearly asleep, yet her sucking reflex kept her latched on to her mother's breast. Tara smiled as she gently extracted the infant from the swollen nipple, pulled her shirt closed and placed Chelsea on her shoulder to burp. Once Tara was satisfied with the outcome, she buttoned her shirt and rose to place her child in the crib.

Willow stood when Tara did and joined her at the railing. The girls stood side by side for a long moment until Tara whispered, "You wanna tuck her in?" Tara asked.

Willow nodded and Tara stepped back as the redhead began pulling the small baby blanket up around Chelsea's waist; leaning forward, she tenderly placed a kiss on the baby's forehead. "Sweet dreams, baby girl," Willow whispered and the two teenagers tiptoed out of the room.