Chapter 31

"So, I guess this is my exit," Willow said as Tara pulled to a stop in her driveway.

Tara smiled sadly, "Yeah…" She turned to face Willow and clasped their hands together. Tara stared into Willow's emerald green eyes, silently letting her know how much she was going to miss her.

As Willow watched a range of emotions flash through Tara's eyes, she leaned down and placed several kisses on Tara's hands. "I'm sorry, I wish I could kiss you properly…but…"

"I understand…too many eyes." Tara glanced back towards Willow's house. "Guess we shoulda stopped somewhere on the way…"

Willow nodded and whispered, "I've missed you today."

Tara tilted her head in confusion. "Didn't we just spend the entire day together?"

"Yeah, but not together-together. I just wish-"

"I know, I miss that too. Kinda feels like forever since the last time we…." Tara trailed off and frowned slightly; she was starting to feel the consequences of living a closeted life. Glancing towards the house again, Tara chuckled, "I guess you'd better get going, that's the second time your Mom's looked out the window."

Willow sighed and shrugged her shoulders, "I'm not home very much anymore and I think they miss me, but I don't wanna leave…here." Willow couldn't seem to convince herself exactly how leaving the cozy confines of the car was a good idea.

Willow's left hand was locked tightly between both of Tara's; leaving her right hand free to roam. She watched with rapt fascination as a trail of goose bumps rose on Tara's arm in its wake. Just a simple touch...

"Stay," Willow whispered, finally looking up to the beautiful blue eyes of the girl sitting so agonizingly close.

"What?"

"Tonight, stay here with me…please?"

The apprehension in Willow's big expressive eyes spoke volumes and Tara could feel her resolve crumbling. "W-What about Chelsea?"

"Chelsea too…both of you."

"Are you sure? I mean, your parents won't mind?"

"Absolutely sure, besides, I'm always over at your place and you're never here at mine and I just though it would be a nice change, ya know? My parents won't mind. Plus, I want them to get to know you better. I feel like I'm a part of your family and I want you to feel that way about mine."

"Won't it be weird with having both of us here?" Tara squirmed nervously, "I just feel a little…" Like a complicated mess.

"Come in with me and if you feel uncomfortable, then you don't have to stay. Okay?"

Tara reached up and trailed a finger down Willow's cheek. "How did you know that's exactly what I was feeling?"

Willow shrugged, "I could see it in your eyes, just like you can see things in mine. But…there's more, isn't there? Tare, what's wrong? Did I do something?" Willow's voice raised an octave as she started to panic.

"No sweetie, you're perfect, really. I just…" Tara paused to gather her thoughts, "I just w-wish the circumstances were different, that's all. I wish I could be a more normal girlfriend for you. I wanna be able to take you out on dates, go to parties, hang out with friends or just say 'ok, I'd love to stay over' without a second thought, but I can't. I have responsibilities and I feel like you're missing out and-"

"Tare," Willow interrupted, "I wasn't doing any of those things before I met you, so whatever we do is a big old plus for me. Besides, relationships are different for everyone and this just happens to be ours."

"I know, but Chelsea she…complicates everything, all the time, I s-sometimes feel r-really awkward and I j-just…" Dropping Willow's hands, Tara sighed in frustration and fell back against her seat.

"Hey," Willow reached out and grasped Tara's hands again. "Didn't I already confess how much I love you both…as in plural…the two of you? I know you're a package deal Tara Maclay and besides, it's a little late for you to feel awkward around me. Don't cha think?"

Tara smiled at Willow's attempt to put her mind at ease and nodded, "I guess..."

"After all, I did clean up a poopy mess this morning and the way I see it, you kinda owe me," Willow grinned, cutely poking her tongue out between her teeth.

Tara returned the smile, "Helped…you helped."

"So, you'll come in with me?"

"Okay." Tara finally relented, not that she was ever really able to deny Willow anything.

"Great!" Willow exclaimed, unable to hide they joy. She grinned widely before jumping out and unbuckling Chelsea. She handed the infant over to her Mommy, so she could retrieve her shopping bags from the trunk.

"Hi Sweetie! How's my baby girl?" Tara hugged the infant close and rubbed their noses together.

Chelsea grinned and squealed loudly; bucking and bouncing in her mother's arms.

"She's such a happy baby," Willow observed, as they approached the front door. "Some babies are all with the crankiness, but Chels is happy almost all the time."

"Well, she's happy because her Mommy has a Willow that makes her very happy."

Willow bumped shoulders with Tara and returned the lopsided smile as they climbed the porch steps. Willow fished the key out of her pocket and ushered her girls inside.

"Mom, Dad! I'm home!" Willow called out as she closed the door behind them.

"In the kitchen!" Sheila replied.

As the three girls rounded the corner, they found the Rosenberg's sitting at the table and enjoying an after dinner cup of coffee.

"Oh, there she is!" Sheila squealed and leapt out of her chair with both arms extended. Willow smiled momentarily, before rolling her eyes when she realized Sheila was passing her by and going straight for Chelsea. "Hi sweetheart! Do you want to come see Auntie Sheila? Do you?"

The happy little girl giggled and babbled as she practically leapt into Auntie Sheila's arms. The elder redhead quickly snapped her up and headed back to the table next to her husband.

"Wow, nice to see you too Mom." Willow said sarcastically, a scowl on her face with a small touch of jealousy seeping through.

Willow's comment was completely ignored by the Rosenberg's as they both doted on the precious baby and Chelsea, for her part, didn't disappoint. She reveled in the attention; giggling, clapping her hands and just being all around adorable.

Willow slouched, unable to hide her disappointment and plopped down in a nearby chair. As an only child, Willow was definitely not used to playing second fiddle in her own home.

Tara hung back, leaning against the kitchen counter and doing her best to stifle a giggle; amused by Willow's petulant behavior. The visibly pouting redhead had her arms crossed defensively across her chest and a jealous scowl etched on her face; Tara thought it was cutest thing she'd ever seen.

Ira finally broke away from Chelsea's thrall and started to get up, but not before leaning forward and pinching Willow's cheeks. "And how are you my sweet little girl? Hmm?" He teased in a high-pitched voice. "Looks like someone is all cranky tonight. Do you need a bottle?"

Willow's eyes practically rolled all the way up into her head. "Hardy har har, Dad."

Ira chuckled as he moved to get another cup of coffee. "Did you girls eat yet?"

"Yeah, we picked up something at the mall with Buffy," Willow replied, fiddling with the tablecloth.

"Bunny? Who in the world would name their child Bunny?!" Sheila asked, most of her attention still on Chelsea.

"Mom…" Willow whined, "It's Buffy, B-U-F-F-Y, not Bunny!

Tara snickered, drawing Willow's attention away from her parents. "Hey, don't encourage them," Willow joked, playfully scolding her girlfriend. "They're bad enough on their own."

"Well Chelsea-Belle, At least your mother had the sense to give you a normal name that I can remember. Now we can only hope you don't turn out to be as over dramatic as my daughter."

"Oh yeah and 'Willow' is just such a normal name. Hello pot, meet the kettle." Willow couldn't resist taking a spirited jab at her mother; completely ignoring the last part of Sheila's statement.

Sheila turned her attention back to Chelsea, "You see Chelsea, overly dramatic, just like I said."

Willow sighed and shook her head; in her opinion, the conversation had officially gone down the tubes.

"Willow," Tara said, "It's um, it's getting late…"

"Late…oh right…late! Um, do you guys mind if Tara and Chelsea sleep over?" Willow asked quickly.

Ira nearly dropped his cup and Sheila froze; both silently staring at their daughter.

Willow squirmed uncomfortably, "What? It's not as if I've never asked for a friend to sleep over before, geez...talk about your dramatic pauses."

The silence was deafening and Tara was growing more uncomfortable by the minute. It was her worst nightmare come true; the Rosenberg's didn't want them there. She wrapped her arms tightly around her stomach seeking relief from the cold chill that was making it's way down her spine and shuffled her feet nervously.

"Willow, Xander doesn't count and of course they can stay, anytime," Sheila answered, meeting Tara's worried eyes with a comforting smile.

"We're happy to have you both, anytime!" Ira exclaimed with a grin.

Willow looked up at her girlfriend questioningly, "Tara?"

The blonde smiled and nodded enthusiastically; finally letting go of the breath she didn't know she was holding. "I just need to swing by the house and pick up a few things first."

"You girls go ahead, I'll entertain Chelsea while you're gone." Sheila was completely taken with the youngster and had no intention of returning her to her mother anytime soon.

"Oh, you don't have too-"

"Don't be silly Tara, it's fine, I love spending time with her. Go on now before it gets any later." Sheila said with a smile as she waved them off.

Willow jumped up and grabbed Tara's arm, "Okay, bye!" She exclaimed as she pulled the girl out the door.

"Thank you!" Tara called as the redhead dragged her away. "Geez, anxious much?" She said to Willow with a lopsided smirk.

A devilish grin appeared across Willow's face. "Yes."


Willow had barely cleared Tara's front door, when she suddenly felt herself pushed back against it and a warm pair of lips pressing insistently against her own.

"Mhmm," She moaned as she melted into the kiss; snaking her arms around Tara's waist and pulling her girlfriend closer.

Tara finally broke the intense lip lock and pulled Willow into a tight hug. They stayed that way for several minutes until Willow finally spoke, her head still lying comfortable on Tara's shoulder as she gently massaged Tara's back. "We should probably get going…" Willow whispered.

"I know, just…one more minute…"

Willow smiled when she felt Tara squeeze her even tighter. She didn't know quite what had come over the girl, but she didn't mind it at all.

Tara stood next to the large pile of baby supplies, chewing on her bottom lip and mumbling to herself as she took inventory. "Okay diapers, wipes, clothes, playpen, baby monitor, rash paste, baby food, high chair seat thing-y, sheets, blanket…Willow, do you think this is everything I'm gonna need?"

Willow raised an eyebrow and smirked, "Yeah, for a small army of infants. Tare, it's just one night, how much stuff can a tiny baby need?"

Tara's shoulders sagged in defeat. "I know, I'm being ridiculous, aren't I?"

Willow moved forward, stepping over several items until she was face to face with Tara and gently slid her arms around Tara's waist. "How about we just say, you're 'prepared for anything,' okay?"

"Well, I-I just thought…we could have some alone time and we can't really do that if she's sleeping in the same room. I was hoping we could set her up in a different room…i-if that's okay with you?"

Willow nodded and placed a chaste kiss on Tara's lips, "Perfect."