Chapter One: Just Friends?
Sitting in the Bronze waiting on the rest of their friends, Willow and Tara were joking around with one another. Tara kept asking Willow when she was going to tell Xander how she felt, but Willow refused to tell him. She was afraid it would ruin their friendship and didn't want to chance it. Especially not since she had seen the way Xander looked at Tara and Buffy.
They joked around for a few moments before an arm settled over Tara's shoulder and she turned her head to see Jesse standing behind her and Xander next to him.
"Hey guys," Tara said, smiling at them, her brown hair falling into her blue eyes.
"Hey," Willow repeated, smiling at Xander shyly before looking towards the entrance. "Where's Buffy?" She nervously tucked a strand of red hair behind her ear.
Xander shrugged. "We thought she was here. Must be running a little late."
Willow nodded, unaware of the look of jealousy that had flashed in Tara's blue eyes at the mention of Buffy. Tara liked Buffy, but she was jealous about how much time Willow would spend with her. It was almost like Willow was replacing her, and it hurt Tara to think that Willow didn't want to spend time with her anymore.
The four friends sat in silence for a few moments, unsure of what to talk about. Tara and Willow couldn't continue their conversation since Xander there, and Jesse and Xander refused to continue theirs in the presence of their lady friends.
After a few moments of silence, a familiar voice caught their attention. "Sorry, I'm late," Buffy said, rushing up. She pulled off her leather jacket and laid it on the back of Willow's chair and pulled a seat up between Willow and Tara.
"It's alright. We were just waiting on you, Buff," Willow told her, her green eyes shining as she spoke. She looked past Buffy and frowned when she saw Tara and Jesse talking silently to each other.
Buffy smiled at Willow's words and looked at the others, unaware of the conversation between Jesse and Tara. "So what are we doing tonight?"
"Well, I figured we could go boogie for a little bit, then sit down and rest when we get tired," Xander suggested, not taking his brown eyes off of his best friend and crush who were still lost in their own world. He ran a hand through his already messy brown hair, worried about what the two were talking about.
Buffy smiled, pushing her blond hair out of her face. "Sounds like a plan. Jesse? Tara? What do you think?" she asked, turning to look at the them. Surprised that Jesse was being unusually silent.
"It's fine," Jesse said, not knowing what they were talking about. Tara just nodded in response to the question.
"Alright. Lets go dance then," Buffy said, her hazel eyes shinning as she stood up and waited for the others to join her.
Willow and Xander stood up to follow her, but Tara stayed seated, looking down at her hands. Jesse frowned at Tara before looking at the others. "You guys go ahead. We'll join you later," Jesse promised, watching Tara with a worried expression.
Xander and Buffy walked off, but Willow stood there looking at Tara. "You okay, Tare?" Willow asked, walking over to her friend.
"Fine," Tara whispered, not looking at Willow.
"Tara? What's wrong?" Willow tried again, knowing something was wrong.
Tara lifted her head and forced herself to meet Willow's emerald eyes. "Nothing. Go have fun. I just don't feel like dancing right now," Tara told her, waiting to see if Willow would believe her.
Tara watched as hurt flashed in Willow's eyes and knew that Willow caught the lie but wasn't going to push. After a few seconds, Willow just nodded and walked off to join Buffy and Xander on the dance floor.
After Willow was gone, Jesse turned to look at Tara, disappointment clear in his brown eyes. "She knows your lying to her," Jesse pointed out, frowning at her.
"I know," Tara whispered, still staring at the place where Willow had disappeared into the crowd for a few more minutes before turning to look at Jesse. "What am I suppose to do? Tell her that I've been lying to her cause I'm afraid to tell her I'm in l-l-love with her?" Tara asked.
"Well, I wouldn't say it like that. You should lead up to it. A nice romantic dinner, a little bit of flirting, maybe toss in a pillow fight in your underwear, then tell her," Jesse said, grateful to see a smile touch Tara's lips at Jesse's words.
"You're such a pervert," Tara accused, looking at him with a smile on her face.
"I know. You love me because of it."
"No, Xander loves you because of your perverted mind. I love you because you know how to make me smile," she said, hugging him. "Thank you."
"You're welcome," he said hugging her back. "I love you, Tara," Jesse whispered to her.
Tara kissed his cheek lightly before standing up and walking towards the dance floor. "Coming?" she called back to him.
Jesse nodded, running a hand through his brown hair before following her to the dance floor. They found Buffy, Xander, and Willow quickly and begun to dance with them. When a slow song came on, Xander started to walk towards Tara, but Tara grabbed Jesse and the two of them begin to slow dance. Buffy had found a random guy that while they had been dancing before and was now slow dancing with him. So Xander held out a hand to Willow who accepted happily, smiling knowingly at Tara. Tara smiled back, knowing that Willow would enjoy the slow dance with Xander and looked at Jesse.
"Trying to avoid hurting Xander or Willow?" Jesse asked her softly, already knowing the answer.
"Willow. If I dance with Xander, it'd hurt her. That's why I didn't want to do that. I wouldn't have been able to turn him down, cause I hate hurting him, but I wasn't going to hurt Willow by agreeing to dance with him."
"I know," Jesse said, moving easily with her. "I think Buffy is starting to suspect something," he whispered to her, spotting Buffy watching them from across the room.
"She already knows you and I dated. Maybe she just thinks we're secretly seeing each other still?" Tara responded, not looking at Buffy.
"Maybe, but I don't think that's it," Jesse whispered, looking down at Tara.
"What do you mean?" she asked, staring up at him, her blue eyes full of confusion.
"She keeps looking back and forth between you and Willow," Jesse explained.
Tara frowned at his words, but let it go after a while. When the song ended, she released him and started to walk over to the couch where their stuff was.
As the others continued to dance, Tara sat on the couch. She put her head in her hands and let her mind wander while she tried to regain control of her emotions. As she was lost in thought a hand rested on her shoulder, causing her to jump. She lifted her head and was surprised to see Buffy kneeling in front of her.
"You okay?" Buffy asked, staring at Tara in confusion. "You've been acting a little strange all night. Are you getting sick or something?"
"I'm fine," Tara whispered, hoping Buffy would just let her think.
"Tara, what's going on? Does this have something to do with Jesse's crush on Willow?" Buffy asked, staring at the older girl.
Tara's head shot up and she looked at Buffy. "What?" she asked, staring at her.
"I know you have a thing for Jesse. It's obvious. Are you jealous because he likes Willow?" Buffy asked again, watching Tara closely. "That's it, isn't it?"
Tara frowned and shook her head. "No," Tara said, looking at Buffy like she had grown an extra head.
"Then what's going on? You won't talk to Willow about what's bothering you. Xander had no idea why you and Jesse were whispering to each other earlier, and it's hurting both of them," Buffy pointed out, frowning at Tara.
Tara closed her eyes, not wanting to answer the question. "Nothing's wrong, Buffy," Tara repeated, getting irritated with the blond.
When Buffy didn't budge, Tara stood up. "I'm going to get some air," Tara snapped, walking out the door and into the darkened streets.
A/N: Thank you for everyone who reviewed/followed/favorited the story. A little warning though: The next few chapters after this are going to be really dark and sad. You'll see a little of it next chapter. Thank you Gimpy72 for always helping out. I appreciate all the help.