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 Post subject: Fic Challenge is Back: The Cupcake Challenge
PostPosted: Tue Jan 24, 2017 1:10 pm 
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4. Extra Flamey
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Hello Kittens! Inspired by the release of 'Desire Will Set You Free', a new indie flick, featuring Amber (find info HERE), here is a new FIC CHALLENGE!
You don't have to have watched the movie to participate.

We are calling this: The Cupcake Challenge! (but you can title your story whatever)

Basic rules: Write a story containing the challenge requirements and obeying the board rules. Post it in this thread by the end of the day February 10th (end of the day counts as 11:59pm PT). The story may be any length that fits in a single post. You may submit as many entries as you like, but you must pick one to be voted on for our exciting prize (see below).

Challenge Requirements:

1. Cupcakes must appear somewhere

2. Must incorporate at least at least two of the following lines of dialogue taken from the movie:
a. "Oh, you've ruined them."
b. "Oh, it's wet."
c. "Twat."

3. One of the characters must have some sort of long-held or extreme desire for something. This does not have to be a "lusty" desire! Smut is not a requirement of this challenge.

4. Must include some sort of reference to a contemporary European music artist. (Don't know any offhand? Google is a wonderful tool!)

Sweet Prize: Winner will have the option to select one of two prizes -
Option 1. A small collection of W/T Memorabilia including: a couple of Buffy greeting cards, an Amber magnet, an Alyson magnet, a W/T coaster, W/T stickers and a W/T trading card signed by Amber!
or
Option 2. A DVD copy of the film 'Desire Will Set You Free'
Both prize options lovingly donated by the amazing Laragh!

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 Post subject: Re: Fic Challenge is Back: The Cupcake Challenge
PostPosted: Tue Jan 24, 2017 1:17 pm 
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Link to prizes:

W/T Memorobilia

DVD (can be bought for US or UK/Europe)

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 Post subject: Re: Fic Challenge is Back: The Cupcake Challenge
PostPosted: Wed Feb 01, 2017 7:46 pm 
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Author: Chris Cook
Email: alia@netspace.net.au
Rating: PG-13
Disclaimer: Buffy the Vampire Slayer characters are the property of Joss Whedon/Mutant Enemy. Godzilla and friends are the property of Toho Film Company.
Notes: What the heck is Willzilla, you ask? Read the original touching tale of two giant monsters in love here, and the sequel where Warren gets blown up here.
So of all the things I could've written, it had to be this silliness again...
Also, I know the challenge requirement specified cupcakes plural, and this fic only contains a singular cupcake. But it’s a really big one.

Image


Willzilla & Queen Tarah vs Slutbomber!


Having been rebuilt for the umpteenth time, Tokyo was a sight to gladden the hearts of its numerous inhabitants: soaring towers bathed in sunlight, the waters of the bay sparkling, neon signs every colour of the rainbow, even the omnipresent posters for the upcoming mayoral election managed not to ruin the ambience too much, and the soft delicacy of lotus blossoms and ancient pagodas nestled timelessly amid the gleam and energy of the twenty-first Century.

And air of peace and romance suffused the mighty metropolis, and this, it proved, was its downfall. As a great wave washed over the docks, as might herald the approach of some vast form powering headlong through the ocean, and the shadow of a colossal winged titan eclipsed the sun, tourists gaped in awe and terror, while the locals heaved resigned sighs and retreated to their reinforced shelters.

Image


Technicians and analysts ran to and fro in frantic panic in the Willzilla And Queen Tarah Combat Task Force, forming a hurricane of unproductive activity, in the eye of which the Task Force’s newly re-promoted commander, Buffy-san, slouched further into her chair, looked glumly from screen to screen at relayed images of Tokyo’s latest misfortune, and poured herself another brandy.

“Terrific,” she muttered to herself, observing Willzilla uprooting a grove of cherry blossoms whole from a park and presenting them to Queen Tarah, who beat her wings in delight, unknowingly shattering the windows of five blocks of skyscrapers behind her. “They’re on a date.”

“Boss?” her token American sidekick Xander ventured, glancing from the chaotic activity on the one hand to his chief’s disheartened lethargy on the other. “Shouldn’t we... deploy the Task Force? Save the city, something like that?”

“What’s the point?” Buffy-san shrugged. “Nothing we do ever works. We just end up making the situation worse, and blowing up our headquarters into the bargain. Which comes out of my salary, by the way.” She waved a hand vaguely at the video screens. “Just evacuate anyone who hasn’t got a giant monster shelter, and sit it out until they go back to Monster Island. Anyone who wants to mess with giant monsters is an idiot.”

“I know how to defeat the giant monsters!” the Minister of Giant Monster Affairs, one Snyder-san, announced at the top of his voice as he burst through the doors. Buffy-san buried her face in her hands.

“How?” Xander asked dutifully, once it became clear Buffy-san wasn’t going to.

“I have been contacted by a group of... people, helpful people,” Snyder-san explained, “who have the means to rid Tokyo of our giant monster scourge forever!”

“‘Helpful people’,” Buffy-san repeated flatly.

“Indeed!” Snyder-san crowed, as a figure in a black spacesuit and gleaming silver helmet teleported into the headquarters alongside him, provoking further panic from the underlings, and a raised eyebrow from Buffy-san.

“Aliens?” she asked. “Again?”

“The last aliens who said they wanted to help fight Willzilla actually tried to steal Mt Fuji,” Xander pointed out. “We still haven’t figured out how to get it back down from orbit safety...”

“Nonsense,” Snyder-san frowned. “Wilkins-san here is merely a concerned citizen of our own great nation!”

“He arrived by teleporter and he’s dressed like Daft Punk’s idiot cousin,” Buffy-san observed. In response ‘Wilkins-san’ removed his helmet, revealing a perfectly symmetrical face and immaculately-coiffed hair.

“Have no fear, dear...” He paused and peered carefully at Buffy-san for a moment, before resuming: “...woman. I am a human being composed of biological matter such as yourself. Witness the reassuring movement of my human mouth.” He smiled, or at least his mouth did; he didn’t seem to realise that facial expressions generally involved more than one feature at a time.

“Do you have a first name?” Xander asked suspiciously.

“Of course. It is...” Again he paused, glancing around the headquarters for inspiration, before noticing an election poster in the corner. “Mayor. Mayor Wilkins is my name, chosen by my parents upon my spawning.”

“What are you going to do?” Buffy-san asked boredly. “Just so I know how far away I need to be when it happens.”

“As fortune would have it, myself and my human associates have confined in our space... bus, another giant monster, which will fight Willzilla and Queen Tarah.”

“That’s literally the same plan we used the last two times,” Buffy-san snapped. “And spoiler, it was a really bad plan. Also, ‘space bus’?”

“It is a flawless plan with no ulterior motive of conquest whatsoever,” Wilkins-san said, again flashing his teeth, which were polished to such a degree that they reflected the ceiling lights and momentarily blinded Xander.

“You’re all hearing the same words, right?” Buffy-san asked the room in general. “Yes? It’s not just me? You’re gonna let him do this?” she added to Snyder-san, who nodded enthusiastically. “Okay, great. Xander, with me, let’s go.”

Image


Queen Tarah was just finishing upending the contents of a confectionary factory into Tokyo Stadium to create the world’s largest cupcake, while Willzilla stomped around setting fire to the tops of skyscrapers with her radiation breath to create a romantic ambience, when an ear-splitting screech heralded an unwelcome intrusion on their date. Both monsters turned their heads (four in total) skyward to see a shiny black shape plummeting out of the stratosphere, blasting a colossal crater out of the business district as it landed and then unfurling various blade-tipped insectoid limbs to haul itself up to its full height. Multi-faceted red eyes fixed on the pair of monsters, then Willzilla in particular, and then - to Queen Tarah’s annoyance - the alien creature unzipped the front of its biomechanical carapace to bare its cleavage and licked its serrated lips.

Image


“So, what happens now?” Snyder-san asked, watching on the monitors as Queen Tarah’s fusillade of lightning eye-beams lashed against the newcomer, and as a by-product demolished the few buildings still standing near its crater.

“Simple, my Terrestrial friend,” Wilkins-san smiled, still getting it wrong. “My kind have encountered mated pairs of giant monsters on many occasions on our travels throughout the galax- various tourist areas of this very planet, to which we are indigenous I hasten to remind you. By directing a lewd display at one monster, Slutbomber angers its mate into unplanned and careless attacks.”

“And, that’s good?” Snyder-san asked, watching as even more of Tokyo than usual was blasted to pieces.

“A careless monster is a vulnerable monster,” Wilkins-san said cheerily. “That much easier for our superior, but entirely human-made, technology to capture and brainwash.”

“...brainwash...?”

“To be used as a weapon by my- our species.”

“Uh-huh...” Snyder-san nodded, edging towards the door.

Image


“C’mon, help me get this thing started,” Buffy-san muttered, clambering into the driver’s seat of the Task Force’s prized, albeit heavily dented, Neutron Spike Laser Tank.

“Uh, boss, what happened to not getting in the way of the giant monsters?” Xander asked, taking his place in the turret. “I distinctly remember us firing this at Queen Tarah last month, and nothing happened, and then Willzilla drop-kicked it to Okinawa.”

“We’re not using it on the monsters, we’re using it on the spaceship.”

“The what?”

“The... space bus,” Buffy-san explained, wincing at the familiar feeling of an oncoming headache. “Wilkins-san’s space bus or whatever will be hovering around somewhere, we’ll shoot it down, it’ll probably crash on HQ and I’ll get the bill, but we’re going to save Tokyo from something today and it might as well be evil aliens. Is the onboard AI working?”

“Starting it up,” Xander reported, pushing the ‘wake up’ button on the AI control board.

“Oi! I was having a kip!”

“What’d it say?” Buffy-san asked. “What’s wrong with it?”

“It’s speaking English,” Xander explained.

“Sod off, my tracks still hurt from last time.”

“I think the AI’s glitching from the damage it took,” Xander guessed.

“Whatever,” Buffy-san huffed. “We just need it to fire one shot, then it can blow back up for all I care.”

“Twat.”

“What was that?”

“It said ‘okay’?” Xander translated, starting the engine up.

Image


Slutbomber’s carapace having proven resistant to lightning eye-beams, Queen Tarah had changed tactics, and was performing a sexy dance for Willzilla, keeping her giant monster beloved’s attention firmly on herself, at the expense of more of Tokyo’s skyline as she forgot to pay attention to where her two tails were swinging every time she did a twirl. With one head glaring at Slutbomber - who had emptied out a water tower and was headbutting her way into a brewery, evidently in an attempt to make a drink large enough to get Willzilla tipsy - another seductively meeting her girlfriend’s gaze, and a third ranging over her scaled hide for inspiration, she had no attention to spare to notice the pair of silver flying saucers wobbling through the air towards her.

Equally unnoticed was the relatively tiny Neutron Spike Laser Tank, veering haphazardly through what was left of the streets of Tokyo, its progress made erratic by Buffy’s sour mood affective her driving and the remnants of the flood caused by Willzilla’s bow wave on arrival.

“Oh, it’s wet,” the AI complained, as she parked it track-deep in a river that had until recently been a pedestrian mall.

“Um, cannon charging?” Xander interpreted for Buffy-san, trying to sound optimistic.

“Are you sure that’s what it’s saying?”

“‘Ere, are you telling that bint what I’m saying, or just making stuff up?”

“Yes,” Xander said, surreptitiously unplugging the voice emulator.

“I’m not happy having a superweapon I can’t understand, is all I’m saying,” Buffy-san grumbled. “Okay, we’ve got a clear shot at the Klaatu Club up there. Open up the plasma valves and hit it!”

Image


Queen Tarah gave a bemused start as the Neutron Spike Laser beam lanced up past two of her faces and bored a hole through one of the saucers, which emitted a pained mechanical shriek and began to dip and veer unsteadily through the air, trailing debris. Keeping one set of eyes on the struggling saucer as it bobbed unsteadily, she glanced at Willzilla as if to wonder if she knew what the thing was, and on receiving a baffled shrug in response, turned her third head back towards Slutbomber, who had succeeded in making the world’s largest beer, but was now looking dazed. The alien monster’s eyes crossed for a moment, then faded from blazing red to a far more mellow brown, and she too looked in confusion at the remaining saucer, which for a featureless disc of shiny metal was doing an impressive job of looking uneasy as its companion crunched upside-down into the ground..

The three monsters glanced at one another - a process made quicker by Queen Tarah’s ability to glance at both of them simultaneously - and then by unspoken agreement turned on the spacecraft, which was promptly blasted to splinters by a combination of radiation breath, lightning eye-beams, and Slutbomber’s contribution of a hypersonic scream.

Image


“Well,” Buffy-san said, climbing out of the tank and laying down on the hull, “that’s that done. Wake me when I get blamed for this whole mess somehow.” She flipped out a pair of sunglasses and stretched out to sunbathe in the meantime, but was interrupted by the appearance via teleporter of Wilkins-san, looking mildly annoyed.

“Oh, you’ve ruined them,” he pouted, gazing over the wrecks of his allegedly-human spaceships.

“Are you still here?” Buffy-san snapped. “Xander, do you wanna...?”

“Can do, boss,” he said, swivelling the turret around to smack WIlkins-san in the back of the head. To his surprise, although not entirely to Buffy-san’s, the resulting blow knocked the top of his skull clean off, revealing a miniature alien snake sitting inside a tiny pilot’s seat built into the head.

“That was very rude!” it said in a squeaky voice. “You’ll regret this - my kind will-”

Whatever his kind would, the threat was cut short by Slutbomber, who in the process of staggering around trying to clear her head from the last fading vestiges of alien mind-control, lumbered near the tank and trod on Wilkins-san in passing.

“And good riddance,” Buffy-san said, putting her sunglasses back on.

Image


Slightly mystified by recent events but evidently content that, whatever had been going on, rampant destruction had solved it as always, Willzilla and Queen Tarah approached one another, exchanging flirty roars. Queen Tarah held up a claw to pause Willzilla in the act of closing in for a nuzzle of one of her necks, and rummaged around in the wreck of the crashed saucer, finding a suitably oversized metal ring in the debris. Lowering herself on one knee - ignoring the fireball from the fuel truck she accidentally knelt on in the process - she presented the impromptu ring to Willzilla, who jumped for joy, causing a significant earthquake.

Image


“Oh that’s sweet,” Xander observed, as the newly-engaged giant monsters made their destructive way back towards the ocean.

“Just so long as they go off on honeymoon long enough for us to get the headquarters rebuilt,” Buffy-san grumbled.

“Uh boss? The headquarters is fine.”

“What?!” Buffy-san snapped, jumping to her feet to gaze in disbelief at the building which, despite all odds, had survived intact. “It’s... I...”

“You okay?”

“I’m going to get paid!” Buffy-san squealed in delight. “No docking my salary to rebuild HQ - I’ll get a paycheck! I’ve been doing this stupid job for twelve years and I’ve never gotten paid before! I’ll be able to, to stop sleeping under my desk, and rent a real apartment!”

“I think you’ll need a place that allows pets,” Xander said warily. Buffy-san looked up, to see the colossal form of Slutbomber crouched over the tank, gazing down at her in a worryingly affectionate sort of way.

“Uh... huh,” she said. “Well... okay that’s gonna be difficult. But I’m still calling today a success! Xander... see if there are any pet stores still intact, we’re going to need a ton of kitty litter. Not hyperbole.”

“Yes boss.”

Image

_________________
Chris Cook
Through the Looking-glass - Every world needs a Willow and Tara.


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 Post subject: Re: Fic Challenge is Back: The Cupcake Challenge
PostPosted: Thu Feb 02, 2017 8:08 am 
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Can't....breathe....laughing....uncontrollably

Will...come back... to write... proper feedback... when giggle-fit ends.

AAAAAaaaaannnnd: BACK.

Chris, that was so delightfully silly. Your imagery, compounded by my brain's efforts imagining the dialogue not quite syncing with people's mouths, and I embarrassed myself laughing on the train this morning.

So sweet our two monsters are engaged :heart

Thank you so much for submitting to the challenge!!! I'm making the final touches on mine - not as gloriously hilarious as yours... but my what a baseline to live up to!

:laugh
DW

P.S. Did I miss the European Pop artist reference...?

Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

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Check out some of my most popular works: Special ... Leave It to Giles ... The Inimitable Giles ... Giles at Christmas

Challenge Fics!: You Could Be Her ... Glasses ... Graffiti ... Pizza Day

Forbidden Fics?: Check out the Litterbox!

Oops, I made a mythtake... wt4ever


Last edited by DarkWiccan on Thu Feb 02, 2017 3:47 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Fic Challenge is Back: The Cupcake Challenge
PostPosted: Thu Feb 02, 2017 1:13 pm 
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I was typing up my response in tapatalk on my phone, then my wife needed my help and I closed out of the stupid thing instead of putting it in the background... grr arg!

On to more serious matters.

THANK YOU CHRIS!!!

This is a very you fic. And I don't mean that in a Captain Obvious, you've already written in this crossover 'verse. I mean that you are a very unique kitten not just your writing ability, but also in the way crazy stuff comes into your head for you to write down.

Lesson for Newbies: You will be amazed at the variety of things that can come out of a challenge that all has the same requirements. Please, don't be afraid, write something, anything, make it fun. Please enter.

Glad we got someone up to bat finally. I guess I need to go finish mine (done except for the part where it doesn't really end).

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 Post subject: Re: Fic Challenge is Back: The Cupcake Challenge
PostPosted: Thu Feb 02, 2017 4:03 pm 
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Location: Beyond the orbit of Mars and accelerating...
So random.
So crazy.

But funny :)

Hahahaha!

R :flower

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How i Met Your Mother - By Ariel


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 Post subject: Re: Fic Challenge is Back: The Cupcake Challenge
PostPosted: Fri Feb 03, 2017 8:18 am 
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Ms. Moderator Fantastico
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Chris, I accidentally called you Christ when I was talking to DW the other day and we concluded it was appropriate because your writing is godly...this proves it. Tears rolling down my face the whole way through, your fics have been the only ones to ever do that.

Bravo, and thanks for kicking things into action!

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Current Series: College Confidential ... Adult Confidential ... Hacker Confidential ... Family Confidential


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 Post subject: The Cupcake Challenge: DW's Entry: You Could Be Her
PostPosted: Fri Feb 03, 2017 4:40 pm 
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Title: You Could Be Her

Author: DarkWiccan
Rating: PG
Summary: Lonely member of the corporate rat-race Willow Rosenberg finds herself pining for the new girl.
Disclaimer: Willow and Tara and other characters borrowed from the television show Buffy: the Vampire Slayer are the property of their creator, Joss Whedon, and his affiliates, Mutant Enemy, Fox, UPN and Dark Horse Comics.

Notes: Thoughts in italics


_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _




Willow Rosenberg hated office parties. The petite redhead stood alone by the table of food in the Engineering Dynamics cafeteria as tinny, eighties, pop music drifted over the intercom system, and tugged at her wrinkled beige suit jacket. CAD "monkey" that she was, she typically didn't bother with the "business professional" dress code mandated to the executive and administrative staff. Her job was to sit in a dark room, with four large computer screens, and draw complex electrical schematics for power systems. She didn't need to "dress for success" in order to do that. Still, she daily managed to slide herself into slacks and a button-down shirt to appease her boring department manager Rob. The only reason she was even wearing a suit jacket, wrinkled though it was, to this office shindig was because Rob demanded it. And the reason why it was wrinkled was because it was the jacket she kept shoved into the back of her filing cabinet for just such "clothing compliance" emergencies.


She ran her hands firmly over the rumpled material in a pointless attempt at ironing it smooth.


Suddenly she froze. The new girl was heading her way. What was her name again? Tina? Terri? Tanya? Whatever it was, her appearance caused Willow's heart to leap into her throat. The redhead had found herself harboring an immediate crush on the beautiful stranger. Though she'd never admit it, she kept a mental checklist outlining her carefully detailed parameters for her "perfect woman" and the new girl checked all the boxes (some twice). Blonde (albeit dark-blonde), blue-eyed, aquiline features, fit, close in height, buxom (but not too buxom), soft-spoken, intelligent, kind.


Willow admitted to herself that she'd only been able to "pencil-check" the last two items. But she assumed that the girl must be intelligent as she was working in the Technical Writing department. As for "kind", well, the blonde just looked kind and Willow hoped that (in this case) looks were not deceiving.


"Hi," said the girl on the approach.


"Hi," Willow replied.


"Is the punch any good?"


"Oh... it's wet," answered Willow.


The blonde laughed. "Um, ok? I'll take that to mean it's not good, then." She paused a moment as though waiting for Willow to say something more. The redhead merely stared blankly. "Well... thanks for the warning," she said, grabbing a bottle of water from the table instead and walking away, back into the crowd.


"Wet’s about as close as it gets to being punch," Willow blurted suddenly to no one. It was almost as if she'd been unpaused from a freeze frame. She looked around self-consciously, hoping her spastic outburst had gone unnoticed. Luckily, it appeared it had.


Looking up and surveying the crowded room she noted glumly that everyone else was having fun, or else pretending to. She sighed and ate another crudité.


“Oh, it’s wet?!”, she thought to herself. What the actual heck? Who says that?! Ugh… I should just quit trying to… talk. Words and me… bad combo.


"Hey, Willow," said a portly, balding, man in too-small a suit and clip-on tie.


"Rob," muttered the redhead.


Her manager grabbed a fistful of baby carrots and popped half of them into his mouth. Chewing, mouth agape, he addressed her again, spittle and flecks of carrot spewing her direction. "When you have a moment, can you swing by my office?"


Willow took a half-step back to avoid the oral projectiles. "Sure."


"Great," he said, looking off into the room, no longer paying her mind. "Before you leave today, ok?" He drifted away.


"Sure." She said again.


Her eyes scanned the room again, and settled once more on the new girl. She was smiling and carrying on a lively conversation with a few of the other tech writing staff. Someone must have made a joke, because the blonde threw her head back and laughed.


Willow's heart melted even more. Aw... she has a goofiest laugh.... Could she be any more perfect?


She glanced at her watch and decided she'd had enough "fun". Picking up a small paper plate, she loaded it with some celery sticks, a few pieces of cauliflower and a handful of potato chips, before heading out of the cafeteria and back to her basement office.


A couple of hours later, Willow shut down her workstation and rode the elevator up two floors to seek out Rob as requested. She found his office dark and locked. He’d forgotten about her. Nothing new there. She grabbed a post-it notepad from a nearby uninhabited cubicle and jotted down, “Came by. Missed you. See you in A.M. – Willow”. Peeling the sheet free, she stuck it to the outside of the office door and left.


On her way, out of the building she caught the sounds of “Jessie’s Girl” echoing down the hall. Is that stupid party still going on? Curious, she started in the direction of the music. Stopping at the cafeteria, she peered in. It was empty, and quiet. Cocking her head, she listened again. This time she was able to decipher the direction of the sound as coming from the open office area to the east. She heard something in addition to the recorded track. Singing. Someone was definitely singing along…loudly.


Walking the last few yards toward the mostly deserted cubicle farm she was able to identify the source. It was the new girl. She was working at one of the desks, her back to Willow, proof-reading a document and singing her heart out.


“Where can I find a woman like that? Like Jessie’s girl!” she sang, “I wish that I had Jessie’s--”


“Working late,” asked Willow.


“Gir-AH!,” yelped the blonde, spinning in her seat, her hand over her heart, eyeglasses falling askew. “Oh, my god! You scared me!”


“Sorry,” said the redhead, noting, “You wear glasses.”


“What,” the new girl replied, still catching her breath. “Yeah… I know. For reading.” She shut off the music and looked the redhead over for a moment. “I saw you at the party earlier.”


“Yes,” Willow confirmed. “Wet punch. Sorry.”


“It was funny,” said the girl. “And, accurate, according to what Diane told me.”


“Diane?”


“Co-worker.”


Willow nodded.


“I’m Tara,” said the blonde, extending her hand.


“Willow,” she replied, shaking hands. There was a static-electric shock, both girls jumped slightly. “New carpets,” Willow shrugged, uncertainly. They let go.


“So,” said Tara, “what are you doing here, Willow?”


“CAD Monkey.”


“A what now?”


“Electrical Systems Drafting.”


“Oh, that sounds… involved.”


“I draw lines.”


“Well,” said Tara, “I’m sure you’re downplaying the complexity. But… I meant, what are you doing… here?” She looked around the open office, and gestured slightly with her hands to indicate the space they were occupying.


“I heard music.”


“Oh god,” groaned Tara, putting her head in her hands. “And me singing. I hope you won’t judge me too harshly.”


“Je suis Rick Springfield,” Willow replied with a slight smile.


Tara let out loud laugh. “I, uh… I doubt that.” Off of the redhead’s confused look she explained. “You said ‘I am Rick Springfield’.”


“Merde,” blushed Willow. “Ninth grade French. Not good.” She watched Tara chuckle. “Do you?”


The blonde’s eyebrow quirked. “Do I what?”


“Wish that you had Jessie’s girl?”


The blonde laughed again. “No,” she answered. “At least, I don’t think so. Truth is, we’ve never met.”


Willow nodded and chuckled a little. She glanced at her watch. “I have to go.”


“Oh,” said Tara, “Um… okay.”


“Bus,” she said by way of explanation.


“Okay,” said Tara. “It was nice to meet you, Willow.”


“Yes.”


Silence. The women regarded each other.


Tara looked around, unsure why the redhead wasn’t moving. “So… good night,” she prompted.


Willow nodded again, and gave a little, awkward, wave and turned to go. I. Suck. So. Much.


“I’ll see you around?” The blonde called after her.


Willow looked back. “I work in the basement.”


Tara had no response to the declaration. Willow trudged off. Once she was out of the open office, she slapped her forehead with her hand. “I work in the basement?!?” “Twat.”


She spent the entire bus ride home replaying the awkward, stilted, conversation through her mind.



****************




The next day found Willow sitting in Rob’s office. Rob was an idiot. Promoted to his level of incompetence. He knew nothing about what Willow did, yet he had the authority to continually reset and adjust the standards her work had to meet.


She looked across the desk at him, as he licked his thumb and rubbed a dark stain on his tie. After a moment, he stopped futzing with his clothing and turned his attention to her.


“Willow,” he began, “You’re probably wondering why I called you in here.”


“Not really.”


Rob paused, not having expected an answer, especially not that one. “Well…,” he gathered his thoughts again. “You’re a very diligent worker, Willow. The trouble is your output. Your drawings are merely functional. They lack elegance. What do you think?”


I think that maybe you ought to try rendering an entire goddamn DEM switchboard that shows all attributed loads in a single schematic and see how ‘elegant’ you can make it. “I’ll work on that.”


“Great,” said Rob, out of his depth to add any further instruction. “See that you do.”


“Is that all?”


Rob shuffled a few papers on his desk as though looking for something. Coming up empty handed he said, “Yes, thank you, Willow. You can get back to work.”


Willow stood and left his office. Stepping out into the hall, she waited until the door shut behind her and shook her head muttering, “dick.”


She decided to stop by the cafeteria to grab a few snacks so that she’d be able to work through lunch and maybe leave a little early. Walking over to the honor bar, she grabbed a couple of bags of Fritos from the chip basket and a Mountain Dew from the mini-fridge. She turned around, ready to leave, when she saw Tara sitting at a table on the other side of the room, a cellphone to her ear.


Screwing up her courage, Willow decided to approach.


As she grew closer, she noted the blonde was wearing a pretty forest green sweater with flecks of gold thread shimmering here and there, catching the light. It was incredibly flattering to the girl’s figure, and Willow felt her mouth dry a little at the sight.


“Nice sweater,” she said, arriving at Tara’s side.


Tara looked up, surprised to see the lithe redhead standing so near. “Just a second,” she said into the phone. “Willow, hi.”


Not sure what else to say, and seeing that the girl didn’t have anything on her table, she asked, “Are you thirsty?”


“What?” said Tara.


“I could get you a Coke, and a cup with ice.”


“Oh, uh, no, that’s ok, thanks. Soda goes right to my hips. Anyway, I’m, uh… I’m sort of on the phone here, Will.” Tara gave her an apologetic look.


She called me “Will”. “Ok.”


Seeing that, once again, the redheaded woman didn’t seem likely to move, Tara decided to engage a little further, just for a moment. She looked at the bags of chips and soda in Willow’s arms. “Is that your breakfast?”


“Lunch.”


“It’s 9am.”


“For later.”


“Doesn’t seem like a very healthy lunch,” Tara chided.


Willow shrugged. “I like Fritos.”


Tara chuckled lightly. “I’m not questioning your affection for them; merely the nutritional value.” The sound of annoyed chatter came through her cellphone. “Yeah, hang on,” she spoke into the mouthpiece. She looked back to Willow. “I’m sorry, I really have to…”


Willow bobbed her head and started on the long walk back to her desk. “I like Fritos.” She sighed. She’s going to think you’re autistic or something. Not that being autistic is bad. Just that…. Ugh… Willow, don’t get started with yourself – you’ll never stop.



****************




Two weeks later and Willow found herself at yet another office party. It was somebody’s birthday. She didn’t know whose. She grabbed a plate and placed a couple of cupcakes on it, then looked for a place to sit. Scanning the room, she spied the only available seat, right next to Tara. She approached the chair and nodded her head toward it in question. Tara gave a little nod and a subtle, genial, smile. Willow’s heart sank just a little. That was an awfully tiny smile; the kind that doesn’t come with teeth. Maybe she doesn’t remember me…. She sat down and started toying with the paper wrapping the cupcake’s base.


“Don’t tell me that’s your lunch,” said Tara.


“Dinner,” said Willow. She remembers!


The blonde rolled her eyes. “You need someone to look after you,” she said.


You could be her… “Still listening to Rick Springfield?”


Tara smirked. “No, I’ve expanded my repertoire. I was listening to Nena this morning.”


“Nena?”


“99 Luftballons,” she explained.


“80’s music.”


Tara blushed. “I’m sort of… extremely fond of 80’s pop,” she said.


“Tears for Fears.”


“Yes,” confirmed the blonde, “that is an 80’s pop band. One of my faves.” She leaned in to Willow’s side, resting her hand on the girl’s arm. “Between you and me, I have this secret desire to travel back in time to see a Wham! concert in person.”


Willow snickered and felt herself flush with the nearness of the girl. She’s touching me. “I’m Your Man,” she said.


“That is a Wham! song,” said Tara, leaning back and relinquishing her grip, “not my favorite, though.”


“Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go?”


“Too obvious,” she replied, taking a sip of her water and watching Willow out of the corner of her eye.


Willow’s brow furrowed as her mind flipped through the limited catalog of the pop duo’s songs she knew the titles of. What’s the right answer to get her to touch me again? After a moment, she hesitantly guessed, “Club Tropicana?”


“No,” Tara answered, grinning. Something caught her attention from across the room. Diane was waving her over and pointing at her watch. Tara nodded to her. Looking back to the redhead she said, “Listen, I have to go. But I’ll give you a clue: ‘It’s been a pleasure, see you around’.” She stood and gave Willow a little wink, then turned and left.


Wait, thought Willow, what was the clue? Did she even give me a clue? Was the wink the clue? She didn’t know of any Wham! songs that had winking in them. Then again, she was hardly an expert on the British band. Time to Google.


She stood, still holding her plate with uneaten cupcakes, and started back for the elevator. Back in her basement hideaway, she pulled up the internet and started searching.



****************




Several hours later, long after everyone else had clocked out and left for home, Willow was back in the second-floor open office where she’d discovered Tara two weeks before. Once again, she found the blonde still at her workstation, head bent, scribbling notes over a printed document. Another popular hit of the 1980’s played through the computer speakers.


“Hi,” said Willow.


Tara jumped and spun in her seat, her hand on her chest as she caught her breath. “Willow,” she said, recognizing her visitor. “You’re really good at that.”


“Sorry.”


“It’s ok,” replied the girl, “just maybe… wear louder shoes or something?”


The redhead examined her face thoughtfully, then said, “Nothing looks the same in the light.”


“No,” said Tara, pointing a thumb in the direction of the speakers, “this is Raspberry Beret.” Willow said nothing. The blonde exhaled a chuckle. “Oh, you mean… you figured it out. My favorite Wham! song.” She watched the slender woman smile slightly and fidget with her hands. “Very good. How long did it take you?” Willow merely shook her head and gazed at her enigmatically. Tara regarded her with increasing interest. “You’re a very mysterious person, aren’t you, Willow?”


Willow shook her head again. “Simple. Just bad with words.”


“Or at least economical,” Tara countered playfully.


“Have to be careful,” she said. Off the blonde’s perplexed look, she explained, “Too many words, things get babble-y.”


“I bet you’re cute when you babble,” said Tara. “I wouldn’t mind seeing that sometime.” She flashed a sparkling grin.


She grinned for me. She thinks I could be cute. Maybe I should…take a chance? Willow blushed and smiled poking her tongue out a little between her teeth. She lifted her hand and pointed in the direction of the exit. “Beer?” She watched the blonde blink. “There’s a place nearby. Small. Quiet.” Tara looked down at the floor. “When you’re done,” Willow finished, hopefully.


Tara sighed, looking back up to her. “That’s really sweet. But… the girl I replaced… she left a ton of work. I’m not going to be finished for a while. I wouldn’t want to hold you up. I’m sorry.”


Willow nodded and looked down at her hands. Seeing her watch, she lifted her wrist and showed it to the girl. “Bus,” she said.


“Sure,” said Tara, feeling bad for having dashed the girl’s hopes. As Willow turned to go, she said, “Will?” The redhead looked back. “Some of the girls in my department are going out after work tomorrow. End of the week gripe session. You want to come?”


She called me “Will” again. “Ok.”


“Great,” said Tara.


Willow dipped her head once, and then headed out.



****************




Lying in bed that night she went back over everything again. I think she likes me. She called me “Will”…twice. She touched my arm. She invited me to drinks tomorrow. She felt her brow crinkle. But… she could just be nice. She turned me down for a drink tonight. She shook her head. Because she was busy, you doofus. She frowned again. And tomorrow night, there’ll be other people. A safety net… from me. She closed her eyes and let out a cleansing breath. Ok, no big deal. I’ll just play it nice and cool. Keep the pressure off.



****************




The next morning, Willow ran into Tara at the self-serve coffee stand just inside the cafeteria doors. She didn’t say anything, merely sidled up next to the blonde and took a mug down from one of the hooks, setting it on the small countertop. Tara was in the middle of pouring her own cup, and glanced to Willow out of the corner of her eye; she finished filling her mug and grabbed Willow’s doing the same for her.


Say something! Willow’s mind screamed. An opening line. Anything!


Tara finished pouring the redhead’s cup and placed the glass carafe back on the brew-station burner. Picking up her own mug, she smiled pleasantly at Willow and then walked off in the direction of her cubicle.


Dammit.


She added milk and two Sweet-‘N-Low to her coffee and then slogged back down to her basement.


Idiot. Idiot. Idiot. Tongue-tied doofus. She powered up her workstation and pulled up the latest model she’d been working on; sighing when she realized she had much farther to go on it than she’d thought. God, I have every reason to get out of this place. The work is dumb and boring. My boss is an idiot. She groaned. I’d much rather wake up, eat a slice of coffeecake, take a bath… take a nap. “But, Willow,” she said aloud to herself in a bad impression of Rob, “don’t you find this job fulfilling creatively?” She rolled her eyes. “Fuh.” Why do I even stay? Willow exhaled. Of course, she knew the reason.


Her. Soft. Pretty. Tara.


Maybe eventually I’ll have it all… maybe even her. Could be I’m just waiting for now. Maybe someday….


I wonder what it would be like to hold her hand.


What if the best that I can be just isn’t good enough?



She sighed again, then cracked her knuckles, and went back to work.



****************




That evening, Willow looked up at the sound of a soft knock on the doorframe of her office. She smiled at the sight of Tara, backlit by the hallway light, leaning against the jam.


“So,” said Tara, surveying the dark, little, space. “This is the basement?” Willow nodded. “It’s dark.” She nodded again. “No windows? How do you know what time it is?”


“Clock.”


“Of course,” she replied, her mouth falling into a lopsided grin. “Well, I think it’s beer-thirty, don’t you?”


Willow smiled and signed out of her computer, standing up as she shut it down. “Cold outside?” she asked, noting the coat slung over Tara’s arm.


“A little. Plus, I heard it’s supposed to rain later,” Tara explained.


The redhead bobbed her chin and grabbed her fitted, orange-brown, Kerwin leather jacket from the back of her chair, shrugging into it.


“Nice coat,” said the blonde, impressed.


Willow glanced down at it on her body. “Gift.” She shrugged. “Dad.”


Tara grinned. “Ready to go?”


The redhead took a step, then paused. “Almost,” she said. She brought her hands up to her button-down shirt and started quickly undoing the fastenings.


“Um…,” said Tara, alarmed, turning her back.


Willow looked up at her, eyebrow raised. “T-shirt,” she said. “Underneath.”


Tara turned back around and - seeing the black, cotton, tee - exhaled a sigh of relief. “Oh.”


“More relaxed. Casual,” she explained, finishing with the last button and stepping over to join the blonde by the door.


“Right,” agreed Tara. “Looks good.”


The two women made their way upstairs to the main entrance lobby where three other ladies met them.


“Willow,” said Tara, “this is Diane, Cheryl and Colette.”


“Hi.”


The woman Willow recognized as Diane peered at her. “Oh, yeah,” she said. “I’ve seen you around. What department do you work in?”


“Drafting.”


“I don’t recall seeing you with the other CAD monkeys in the cube farm over by Rob’s office,” noted Diane.


“I work in the basement.”


“Jeez,” said another of the women. “Who’d you piss off?”


“Cheryl…,” Tara chided.


“My choice,” said Willow. “Quieter.”


“So where are we going, ladies?” asked the last woman, who Willow surmised by process of elimination could only be Colette.


“I was thinking O’Shaugnessy’s,” said Diane.


“No,” said Willow in a soft, but firm, voice. When she noticed the rest of the group staring at her oddly, she added, “Rob.”


“Oh, she’s right,” said Colette, “Rob does drink there after work. God, I hate that guy.” She shook her head and let out a small “yech”.


“Willow mentioned she knew a place,” said Tara.


“When,” asked Cheryl.


“Last night,” the blonde explained. “She stopped by my desk on her way out.”


Cheryl scrunched up her face. “Quite a circuitous route just to say good night.”


Willow felt her chest caving in slightly.


“Cheryl,” Tara warned again.


“Alright, alright, sorry.” She looked at Willow. “I tease. I kid. Nothing personal.” Willow nodded warily.


“So, what is this place, Will,” asked Diane.


You don’t get to call me that. “Leary’s, on 8th.”


“Oh yeah,” said Colette, “I know that one. It’s small.” Thinking another moment, she added, “good wine selection, though.”


“Leary’s it is,” Diane declared. “Let’s go.”


Willow was quiet for the entire walk to the bar while the other women chattered on about the annoyances of the week. She stayed close to Tara, though. Occasionally, their hands or arms would brush up against each other. With each accidental touch, Willow felt her heart jump and her skin tingle. She wondered if Tara felt the same. And then… she could have sworn… she caught Tara bumping her arm… on purpose. She smiled to herself, feeling the skin of her throat and cheeks flush red.


The group arrived inside the small, dark, pub and grabbed a large booth at the back. Diane and Colette slid into one side of the u-shaped bench-seat, Tara and Willow the other.


“What do you gals want,” asked Cheryl, already heading for the bar. “My shout.”


“Chardonnay,” said Diane.


“Same,” said Colette.


“Blue Moon,” said Tara.


“Me too,” added Willow.


“Got it,” replied Cheryl, walking away.


“So, Willow,” said Diane, “how long have you been at ED?”


“Seven years.”


“What?” said Colette, disbelieving. “That’s longer than me. Have you been hiding in the basement this whole time?”


“Mostly.”


“I don’t blame you,” said Diane. “That Rob is a piece of work. How he got to his position… who knows?”


Willow knew, but chose not to say. Rob was the owner’s son’s best friend’s brother-in-law.


Cheryl returned to the table with a class of wine in either hand and a barman in tow, carrying a pitcher of beer and three glasses. Drinks delivered, she squeezed up into the booth next to Colette and began pouring herself a beer.


“What did I miss,” she asked, sipping off some of the foamy head.


“Turns out Willow here is ED’s own version of the Phantom of the Opera,” joked Colette.


“You guys, be nice,” said Tara.


“It’s ok,” said Willow, pouring herself and Tara each glasses of beer. “They don’t get to see my sewer boat.”


Cheryl stared at her. “Was… was that a joke?” She looked around. “I think that was a joke. What do you know, she’s got a sense of humor!”


Willow looked at Tara and smiled bashfully. Tara clinked her glass against Willow’s and took a small drink.


Diana started a fresh thread of conversation having to do with the latest hardware they were writing up white papers for. Willow recognized the device names; she’d drawn the schematics for more than half of them, but chose not to engage in the chat. Instead, she leaned back into the booth, almost against Tara’s side, and watched the blonde from the corner of her eye, as she sipped her beer.


A while later, after they had each taken a turn buying rounds, Diane and Colette went to avail themselves of the pool table and Cheryl excused herself to the bar where she’d “spotted someone worthy of her attention”.


“You’ve been awfully quiet,” said Tara, nudging her slightly.


“It’s nice,” said Willow, “just being here.” With you.


“Don’t get out much?”


Willow shook her head.


Tara smiled and raised her hand, as though to brush a stray hair from the redhead’s face; then, she seemed to catch herself, and she pointed down to Willow’s shirt instead. “What does it say?” she asked. “It’s faded,” she explained, “and I didn’t want you to think I was staring at your chest when I was trying to read it.”


Willow giggled a little. “It says ‘Pluto, 1936-2006, Revolve in Peace’.”


“Oh, that’s right,” said Tara, leaning on her hand, elbow on the table. “Pluto isn’t a planet anymore, is it?”


“Planetoid, now.”


“I remember thinking it was so sad when they demoted it,” said Tara, nonchalantly tapping Willow’s knee with her free hand as she gestured. Clearly, the beer was having an effect. “I even thought about burning the little Pluto from my 4th grade papier-mâché model solar system in tiny effigy.” Willow laughed. “I’m serious,” Tara protested in jest, pressing her hand firmly against Willow’s knee. “I grew up with nine planets and now? Eight planets and a… what did you call it?”


“Planetoid.” She’s holding my knee. I can die happy. Almost.


“Eight planets and a planetoid,” Tara repeated. “Childhood ruined.”


“Bit extreme,” commented Willow.


“And just thinking about that poor little planetoid,” Tara went on, only half-joking, “all alone out there at the edge of our solar system. Spinning around in the dark. It’s sad, don’t you think?”


“Pluto’s not alone.”


“It’s not?”


“It has Charon,” said Willow. Tara’s expression told her that she needed to explain further, “Pluto’s moon.”


“Wait, Pluto has a moon and it’s still not considered a planet?” scoffed Tara. “Unfair.”


Willow grinned. She found Tara’s drunken indignation adorable. Plus, the frequent touching, definitely onboard with that.


“Do you think Pluto’s feelings were hurt,” asked the blonde.


The redhead beamed at her. “Did you know that Charon is only half the size of Pluto?” Tara shook her head. “Because they’re so close in size, Charon doesn’t revolve around Pluto. Instead, they both rotate around a point in space midway between them. It’s called a ‘barycenter’; and, they’re tidally face-locked.”


“I don’t know what that is,” said Tara.


Willow sat up a little. “Give me your hands,” she said, reaching out, her heart pounding. Tara obliged, placing her hands in the other girl’s. So soft. I knew they’d be soft. And warm. “Being face-locked means that they’re stuck facing each other forever. And that they orbit the barycenter means it’s like they’re holding hands, spinning around like dance partners.” Tara smiled and giggled. Willow grew slightly serious. “I think that if Pluto was sad about not being a planet anymore, Charon would look her partner in the eye and say something like, ‘I don’t care what they say, here’s something they can’t change: I’m yours and you’re mine. All the way out here it’s those dumb guys that look too small. They can crunch all the numbers they want. We’re the ones who are out here, past the edge of everything. Let them think what they like, we’re fine; it doesn’t matter if they don’t understand. I will always be right here, next to you.” Willow stopped, embarrassed at the outpouring. She self-consciously let go of Tara’s hands. “See? Babble-y.” She looked down at her lap.


“It wasn’t ‘babble-y’,” said Tara gently, resting her hand against Willow’s cheek. “It was beautiful.”


Willow looked up, leaning slightly into the blonde’s warm touch. “Tara....” The girls began to gravitate toward one another.


Suddenly, Diane jostled the table as she climbed back into the booth. The girls flew backward, apart from each other.


“Colette’s a pool shark,” the woman accused, slapping the tabletop. “Don’t play her. I just lost twenty bucks.” She picked up her empty wine glass and grumbled. “And no wine. Insult to injury,” she said, setting the glass back down in frustration. "I should head out anyway. How about you girls?” For the first time since sitting back down she actually looked at her table companions. They were oddly far from each other compared to when she had left for the pool table, and they looked… guilty… of something. “Everything ok?”


“We were just talking about Pluto,” said Tara, rubbing the back of her neck nervously.


“The dog,” asked Diane, confused.


“Planet,” said Willow, casting timid glances the blonde’s direction. “Um, planetoid.”


“Sounds fascinating,” said Diane, not interested. “Ok, well, I’ll leave you to your astrology talk.”


“Astronomy,” Willow corrected softly.


“Whatever,” answered Diane. “Tara, I’ll see you on Monday?”


“Sure – I mean, yes,” said Tara. “See you Monday.”


Diane grabbed her coat and purse from the booth and scooted back out. “Willow, it was nice meeting you. Maybe one day we’ll have a conversation that consists of more than ten words.”


“Diane,” Tara whined with reproach.


“We have,” Willow replied. “You just said more than ten words.”


“It’s always the quiet ones,” Diane laughed. “Bye girls.”


“Bye,” said Tara. Willow remained silent. “So, I guess Diane is a mean drunk. Sorry.”


“It’s ok,” said Willow, fiddling with a napkin. She glanced around the pub. Cheryl was entertaining another suitor at the bar. Colette appeared to be cleaning out her next victim on the pool table. She looked back to Tara and smiled cautiously. “Food?”


“Probably a good idea,” said Tara. “But… greasy bar food? Doesn’t sound great. I’ve got stuff at home.”


Gathering that the blonde was about to attempt an exit, Willow tried to deflect, placing her hand on the girl’s arm: “Shouldn’t drive.”


Tara smiled sweetly at the girl’s concern. “I don’t. My apartment building is only about ten blocks away. I usually walk to work, unless the weather is really bad.”


“Walk you home?” Willow’s expression was open and hopeful.


“Could be raining.”


“Share a cab?”


“What about your bus?”


“Long gone.”


Tara’s brow furrowed, her forehead crinkling. “I’m sorry I made you miss it,” she apologized.


“I’m not,” said Willow, sincerely.


Tara gazed at her for a long moment. She seemed to be considering something. Finally, she reached behind herself and grabbed her coat and purse. “Ok,” she said, “let’s go. If it’s raining, we’ll grab a cab. If not, we’ll walk.”


“Ok,” smiled Willow, scooting out of the booth with the blonde following close behind.


They didn’t bother saying goodnight to the other girls. When they got outside, it was indeed raining. Willow hailed a cab and they both clambered in.


“Avalara Apartments on 20th Street,” Tara instructed. The cabbie grunted and pulled away from the curb.


They spent the first few minutes of the ride in silence, sneaking looks at each other from opposite sides of the back seat. The air between them was undeniably charged. Willow noticed Tara was breathing a little heavily; she was doing the same. The blonde’s hand rested on the seat between them. Willow placed hers next to it, pinkies touching. Tara swallowed.


“So,” said the blonde, “why are you so afraid of babbling?”


Willow blushed, looking down at the base of the seat in front of her. “Got made fun of. Couldn’t get to the point. Said stupid stuff.” She shrugged.


“I doubt you said ‘stupid stuff’,” Tara countered.


“I said stupid stuff,” Willow reiterated with emphasis.


“Like what?” Tara challenged.


Willow thought for a moment, then answered, “The first time I tried coming out to my mom, I got her so confused she thought I was dropping out of college to join a commune.”


Tara burst out laughing. “Ok,” she said, “so ‘first time’ implies there were subsequent attempts?”


“Second time was easier. Just said, ‘I’m gay.’ Left it at that.” Willow looked at her meaningfully, her heart in her throat. “How about you?”


Tara looked back. “You mean… coming out?” The redhead nodded. “I… I didn’t need to.”


She’s not gay. “Oh.”


“I just mean,” the blonde continued on, “my mom had me figured out – so I didn’t need to say anything ‘officially’. My dad… out of the picture.”


She is gay! “Oh.” Willow tried desperately to calm the rushing of blood inside her ears. “Okay.” Carefully, she slipped her hand on top of Tara’s, gazing up into blue eyes. She watched the girl’s cheeks turn rosy and felt her own chest start to vibrate.


The cab shuddered to a stop. “$10.50,” said the cabbie.


Willow pulled $15 out of her wallet and handed it to him saying, “Wait.” Looking back to Tara she offered, “Walk you to your door?”


“Sure.”


They both slid out of the backseat, and dashed through the rain to the awning of the building’s entrance.


They stood awkwardly apart from each other, uncertain what to do next. Willow felt the same sensation of gravity, as she had back at the bar, pulling her inexorably toward the other girl. She wondered if Tara did, too.


The blonde lifted her purse and reached inside, blindly looking for something. After a few seconds, she pulled out her keys, displaying them as if to say, ‘oh, here they are.’ Willow nodded.


“So,” said Tara, “I guess this is good night?”


“Good night,” echoed Willow, trying to hide her disappointment.


Tara held her arms open for a hug. Willow stepped into them. They held each other, their hearts slamming against the inside of their chests. Slowly, they began to part; as their faces slid past each other, they stopped; mouths hovering within centimeters. Willow swallowed. Tara unconsciously licked her lips. They looked into each other’s eyes. Willow could feel Tara trembling in her arms, and she pulled her in more closely, moulding their bodies together. The blonde exhaled a shuddering breath and raised a quavering hand to Willow’s face, running her finger across her freckled forehead, brushing a lock of fiery hair behind her ear; and then, subtly, almost imperceptibly, Tara nodded. Willow’s heart leapt as she recognized the tiny gesture of consent. Unable to resist the magnetic force of attraction any longer, their lips finally met in a gentle, firm and – ultimately – deep and searching kiss. Willow felt Tara’s lips open against hers, and she gently dipped her tongue inside; slowly stroking the length the blonde’s tongue, tasting her reverently. Tara whimpered softly into her mouth. After several long, sweet, moments the kiss came to a natural end and they rested their foreheads against each other, sharing breath.


“Sober?” asked Willow.


“Suddenly, very.” Tara replied, still a little giddy.


“This ok?”


“Oh yes.”


Willow raised her arm and waved the cab off. It pulled away into the rainy night as Tara opened the apartment building door and Willow followed her inside.




End.




Afterward:
In addition to the challenge requirements, this fic was largely inspired by the music of Jonathan Coulton (aka JoCo).

Here's the playlist I made up and listened to while writing (all music available on Spotify):

"Track Title, Artist, Album"

1. Big Bad World One, Jonathan Coulton, Thing a Week Four
2. Code Monkey, Jonathan Coulton, JoCo Looks Back
3. Jessie's Girl, Rick Springfield, Working Class Dog
4. Je Suis Rick Springfield, Jonathan Coulton, Artificial Heart
5. 99 Luftballons, Nena, 99 Luftballons
6. Nothing Looks the Same In the Light, Wham!, Fantastic
7. Drinking with You, Jonathan Coulton, Thing a Week Three
8. I'm Your Moon, Jonathan Coulton, JoCo Looks Back
9. Embraceable You, Chris Botti, To Love Again

_________________
Check out some of my most popular works: Special ... Leave It to Giles ... The Inimitable Giles ... Giles at Christmas

Challenge Fics!: You Could Be Her ... Glasses ... Graffiti ... Pizza Day

Forbidden Fics?: Check out the Litterbox!

Oops, I made a mythtake... wt4ever


Last edited by DarkWiccan on Sat Feb 04, 2017 10:40 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Fic Challenge is Back: The Cupcake Challenge
PostPosted: Fri Feb 03, 2017 5:20 pm 
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Ms. Moderator Fantastico
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I loved it. I love Tara's glasses and Willow's reluctance to babble and the humour just flowed so easily.

I was feeling this the whole way through, but especially at the end >> :heart :heart

I will also forever want to work in a place with an honor bar!

:flower

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 Post subject: Re: Fic Challenge is Back: The Cupcake Challenge
PostPosted: Fri Feb 03, 2017 7:45 pm 
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I adore "how they meet" fics, even more so that this one is so gosh darn adorable.

And the science nerd in me really enjoyed the Pluto talk.

Enjoyed how you used "Oh, it's wet." Very outside the traditional box of expectations, which is always of the good.

An excellent addition to the challenge, as I figured it would be!

Come on peeps: get with the writing. I would love to see an entry by someone who doesn't have a regularly updated fic at the moment! Don't make me beg

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 Post subject: Re: Fic Challenge is Back: The Cupcake Challenge
PostPosted: Sun Feb 05, 2017 3:17 pm 
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DarkWiccan: Love it :bounce You really crafted a Willow who's immediately recognisable as Willow, but also has her own identity as part of this story, not just the canon character dropped into a different world without change. Tara as well, especially with her friends - there's a real cohesiveness to her as part of her surroundings, she's Tara but this world's Tara, with a past and connections from it. It really gave their attraction a sense of grounding, so even though it's just a single 'chapter' covering not an enormous span of time, the kiss at the end felt earned (I loved the Pluto conversation as well, although being the huge Mass Effect fan I've become, I was gleefully thinking that while we may dismiss Pluto now, we're going to come crawling back to it in a couple of centuries when we find out Charon's got the key to the galaxy in it). And great work with the challenge elements - Willow's awkward brevity made "Oh, it's wet" seem such a natural thing for her to have said that even though it was focused on for a moment in the story, it wasn't until it got mentioned in feedback that I remembered it was one of the required lines.

And on to feedback-replies, thanks everyone :blush It was silly, I'm glad it was enjoyable silly.

DW again: My European music reference was blink-and-you'll-miss-it, Mayor Wilkins' costume being compared to "Daft Punk's idiot cousin" - that was actually most of the reason I started work on this fic, rather than any other idea, for the challenge, that line leapt into my head and refused to go away. Believe it or not, the engagement came about because I was worried about insufficient characterisation for W/T - after knowingly making them ridiculous giant monsters - since I got to thinking, for a nominally W/T fic the Willzilla stories really tend to be about Buffy-san. So I wanted to give them something of their own to do, besides just flattening Tokyo again in the background.

dtburanek, Azirahael, Laragh, thanks all :blush

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 Post subject: Re: Fic Challenge is Back: The Cupcake Challenge
PostPosted: Mon Feb 06, 2017 7:55 pm 
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TITLE: Annual Fairy Convention: Cupcake Social
AUTHOR: Delayne T. Buranek
RATING: G
DISCLAIMER: Enter standard Disclaimer here. In Other Words, I don’t own it (Joss et. al. do with the big obvious exception that is my fairy-verse and The Self-Esteem Fairy) and I use it not for profit anyway.
SUMMARY: Annual Fairy Convention
SPOILER: I spoil my own very old and still unfinished fic Believe in Fairies. It would work best to read it first, even unfinished as it is. It is okay if you read this entry first and then go check it out, just takes the surprise out of the second chapter that I thought I was so clever when I wrote it. Also it was one my first large fics and back when I was young and coming out, so I was clearly dealing with some stuff. And yes I have been making notes and plan on working on it soon, proof that challenges are good for inspiration. Maybe if I can get it done then I can focus on As You Wish.
NOTE: As the hostess of this challenge, I am not even sure if I would consider myself in the running for the prize. I always loved challenges, and I’m fairly sure it was a challenge that really brought me out of lurking kitten status and to become a writing kitten. I hope this will inspire more to do the same, that would be the best prize of all.


“Why cupcakes?”

“Because it's European”

“We *are* at Euro-Disney.”

“It’s called Disneyland Paris now.”

“What makes cupcakes European?”

“We're fairies, we don't really belong to countries.”

“I think they just went with cupcakes as the food choice, not for any real reason other than, hey cupcakes.”

“But if we were to claim a country, wouldn't it be like the humans and be where we are born?”

“Most fairies are not born though.”

“Born, birthed, borne of inspiration, came into being, whatever.”

“We really segregate ourselves more along the lines of the type of fairy, than country.”

“Hey Will, would we be European?”

In the midst of the conversation of many different fairies talking at once, Willow picked out the one directed at her.

Everyone else seemed to conveniently pause at the question, waiting an answer.

“Well following the human guidelines, we would be considered British. Or Scottish, depending on how specific you want to be.”

The table began to explode in conversation again.

“Do the British consider themselves European?”

“How come you are so American then?”

“You got a problem with Americans?”

Willow ignored all the other voices because the one beside her was more important than all the rest.

“We’ve been together how long? I don't think we've ever discussed this.”

They had been together, many years now, and when they first met and bonded it was instant and natural.

Tara continued, “I know you explained how you became Tinkerbell, but I don't think we went beyond that.”

“I came to being during a secret Beltane celebration in Kirriemuir in the late sixteen hundreds. It was a bigger fairy boom than the baby boom that happened that following February.”

“And Xander too?”

“Yeah, hey what now?” Xander asked hearing his name.

“Not the same celebration but the fairy boom was significant that year. Unfortunately all that energy ramped up funneled itself to the witch trials.”

“But didn't we end up in London?” Xander asked. Fairy time was long and not all fairies cared to keep track of their timeline.

“Yes, as the story started to be written we suddenly appeared in London. In fact for a while we would be pulled to random locations occasionally when the play was staged. And then in 1950 we came to be very much Californians.”

Willow gave a rather succinct timeline, as much for Xander as well as Tara. While she didn’t mind going more into it if Tara asked, she just didn’t want to do it now and hoped for no more questions.

There was one, but it wasn't for her.

“What about you, Tara?” it was Buffy who'd asked. Since the beginning when Tara became a part of this little fairy circle, Buffy felt she was pivotal in helping bring her into the fold.

“I would be American. I was born to my mother, but my creation had as much to do with her laying with my father as it did with a large crowd of people and lots of sexual energy.”

Willow thought along her lines, witches.

“Salem?”

“Woodstock.”

That explained the outfits. It didn’t explain Tara’s deep old wisdom. That was just something that Tara was, even if she was the youngest fairy at the table.

In an effort to draw the attention back away from herself, Tara asked, “What about you Anya?”

“I'm European, Eastern… I was born from a vengeance spell.”

“Dare!” Buffy yelled.

“What?” “Huh?”

“Dammit.” Faith said.

“You have to dump out that bottle of champagne. And not in your mouth.”

Faith stood up and looked around the table.

She raised the bottle over the table and with a smirk poured the entire contents out on the tiered platter of cupcakes in the center of the table.

“Oh, you’ve ruined them.” Tara said.

Willow picked up a soggy cupcake, “Oh, it’s wet.”

“Okay, so what was that about?” Asked Xander.

“We made up a truth or dare game based on cues from stuff Anya says.”

“Stuff, like when she says vengeance?”

“Yeah, the first person to yell Dare, gets to dare the other person to do something.”

“So what is the cue for truth?”

“It is something that Anya also talks about, one of her deep desires.”

“Like how she desires me?” Xander asked.

“Like how I desire money.”

“Truth!” “Truth!”
“Jinx!” “Jinx!”

The two Tooth-Fairies were giggling and falling on each other. Then came the tickling and the wrestling. The rest of the gang turned back to the table, not noticing but expecting the pair to be exiting stage left shortly.

“What’s your deepest desire?” Willow turned to Tara and asked.

“You mean besides you my love?”

“Yes, I mean besides me.”

Tara didn’t have to ponder on it long. Yes Willow was her main and first desire ever since they met at a fairy convention so many years ago at the original Disneyland. But there was something she desired often before she had met Willow, and almost more often since she had. Something that fairies didn’t have to deal with on a regular basis, and her especially since her life with Willow was perfect.

“To be human, like just for a day. To really feel and understand the crazy emotions they have to deal with everyday.”

“But you can be life sized and walk among the humans. Like The dø, who are playing the convention concert tomorrow. And we can’t forget that last Disney convention concert when we had everyone’s favorite green fairy, Kylie Minogue.”

“I know that, but I don't mean to just walk around with the humans, plus that is not part of my regular magics.”

“But humans are not happy and joyful all the time.”

“Exactly, and it's my job to help some of them through that.” Tara was The Self-Esteem Fairy, a working fairy whose job was to interact with humans.

“That is very you Tara, thinking about how to make the world a better place.”

“Hey, I want to be human too.”

“Yeah, but only for the money.”

“Dare! I mean Truth!”

Everyone stared at Dawn.

“What, someone said money?”

“Anya has to say money, besides it wasn't our game.”

“Fine, whatever. I'm going to get more cupcakes.”

The End




Because Tapatalk can be stupid and post the video in the middle of my paragraph, here is a link to The dø hidden behind the spoiler. I originally had a different artist but randomly came upon this group on YouTube suggestions.
Spoiler:

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 Post subject: Re: Fic Challenge is Back: The Cupcake Challenge
PostPosted: Tue Feb 07, 2017 8:23 am 
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Ms. Moderator Fantastico
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Fairy!verse is one of my faves :D

Loved seeing a glimpse into their world again! Liked how you included the whole gang too :)

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 Post subject: Re: Fic Challenge is Back: The Cupcake Challenge
PostPosted: Tue Feb 07, 2017 8:34 am 
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Delayne! So CUTE!

I really enjoyed the quick history lesson on how and where the fairies came to be.

B/F as the tooth fairies was adorable and hilarious. Although, I wonder, if they're going through a dry spell do they use tiny slayer strength to just yank teeth out? :wink

Tara's desire is just so "Tara". Sweet and empathic.

I do believe in fairies! :clap

Cheers
DW


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 Post subject: Re: Fic Challenge is Back: The Cupcake Challenge
PostPosted: Wed Feb 08, 2017 4:41 pm 
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Title: No sooner met
Author name: JustAKitty
Rating: PG-13 (I only fade to black).
Spoilers: None.
Summary: A love story in 4 parts.….As a Britisher attempting, probably very badly, to write a vaguely American Tara, I beg your forgiveness in advance. Please just pretend some of the English-isms have rubbed off on her.

Disclaimer: Oh yes – nearly forgot! Technically speaking Willow and Tara belong to Joss Whedon (even though they’re ours spiritually, damn it!). Please don’t sue me – unless you have an overwhelming need for used textbooks and frayed shirts, you’ll find I have little of value.

Note: *Runs up, panting, to the microphone* Thank you for a wonderful challenge idea! This story isn’t actually an entry, though. I just wanted to try writing something in a different style, and this competition was a good excuse. Honestly, I’m not too happy with the result - it is a bit clumsy, rushed, and in dire need of some vigorous editing - but hopefully it is OK enough for people to enjoy a little bit. If you feel like leaving some feedback, though, it would be greatly appreciated.

* * 1 * *


Tara didn’t bother to wait for the kitchen’s fluorescent light to finish flickering to life. Instead, walking briskly over to the cupboard, she began pulling out ingredients.

[Butter..flour..sugar..eggs..]

Hands moving almost by themselves, she let her mind wander.

She didn’t need a recipe, of course.

Some things are such a part of your life they leave grooves in your memory, and she had always found cookery a pleasure, a hobby, a refuge. Now, on a scholarship that barely met the basics, and certainly left no room for takeaways or restaurants, it was a necessity.

She didn’t mind though. After her mom had…passed away...literature had become an escape from an increasingly emotionally distant family. Then, after several of her essays had somehow crossed the right desks, it had provided a more literal escape.

And, for all the restrictions that moving to England had entailed, the freedom was incalculable. The chance to study abroad had been a welcome opportunity, one which she’d grabbed with both hands, and if exhaustion and stress were the price she had to pay, so be it.

[..Vanilla..]

Normally the flat smelt of damp and cold, but this was a different, more welcome aroma. One that harkened back to days spent with her mother, sitting on the counter and licking the spoon as she was wrapped in love, warmth and the sound of the old Ella Fitzgerald tape, and…

[Just a few drops are enough. Stop. Concentrate.]

…and your mind can wander when you’re tired, taking you places you don’t expect.

Late-night cooking, after a long day of lessons and an even longer work shift, wasn’t the best idea. In fact it was probably a bad idea. The weekdays when she had to work at the bar were always the worst, leaving her feeling light-headed and surreally disconnected – as though she was just recovering from a bad cold. It was why she cooked ahead on Sunday, and it was why there were currently three Tupperware containers, each labelled TARA, sitting on the top shelf of the fridge.

Setting the timer on the oven, she tried to rub the gritty feeling from her eyes.

[The problem is sometimes bad ideas can be tempting. And who was it that said “I can resist anything, except temptation”?]

She didn’t have to do this, of course.

Except that she did, really.

Tomorrow evening was when LASoc, the Literature Appreciation Society, met. Tomorrow, she’d see Willow Rosenberg again.

Willow was, in Tara’s carefully considered opinion, just about perfect - a kind, warm and generous person who had gone out of her way to make shy, slightly homesick Tara feel welcome. She was also very, very attractive – lively, charming, beautiful. Sometimes Tara had to force her gaze away to avoid being caught staring.

Then, of course, there was her wonderful Willow-brain. Studying both computer science and chemistry with pharmacology was impressive enough, but she took an interest in everything - relishing learning for its own sake. This had led to some of the most fascinating, if somewhat disjointed, conversations Tara had ever enjoyed.

And, as if all that wasn’t enough, she shared Tara’s love of old English literature and could recite whole paragraphs of Shakespeare from memory. She even did the character’s voices.

Willow was a soothing oasis in an achingly lonely desert.

And, sometimes - and Tara could hardly believe this - sometimes it seemed as though Willow was flirting with her. With her. Over books, tea and animated discussions about poetry and prose.

Maybe it was the way she smiled at Tara - somehow softer than with other people.

Or perhaps it was the way she lent in closely when Tara was pointing out some passage or other.

Maybe it was the way her eyes strayed to Tara’s chest.

[Stop it. It was only once. And she’d been reading from Venus and Adonis.* It didn’t have to mean anything.]

Except Tara was almost sure it did.

Once, after receiving a particularly brusque letter from her dad, Tara had - in an unusually unguarded moment - alluded to her family situation. Willow had hugged her fiercely, carefully, and held her until the hurt had passed.

[She didn’t have to do that. Or pause, reluctantly, before letting go.]

Afterwards, sometime later, Willow had opened up about her own family – dryly, calmly, and with a vicious humility that had made Tara wince. She had told of an absent, brilliant, busy surgeon-father, and a mother too engrossed in her career to notice, or care, when Willow had had to grapple with her sexuality.

[And please don’t think about Willow grappling with her sexuality, or you’ll be unable to do anything else.]

Tara still couldn’t comprehend how anyone, let alone someone lucky enough to have her unconditional love, could willingly squander a single moment with Willow.

[Willow, Willow, Willow. It all came down to Willow.]

It was an infatuation, for now. But it could be much, much more. And she was nearly certain that Willow felt the same.

Of course, between certain and nearly certain lay many a slip.

So Tara - cautious, careful, used-to-disappointment Tara – had sought out opportunities to spend more time with the recipient of her affections. To….to sound things out. Carefully.

Willow had revealed her recent obsession with a TV show, The Great British Bake Off, which Tara was pretty sure was now well on the way to becoming a cult.

And Tara had seen another potential opportunity to see….

…well, to see.

* * 2 * *


It had been ninety minutes of torture.

Normally there was nothing Tara enjoyed more - burrowing down in the creaky old armchairs with a good book and even better company. However, the meeting room windows had been locked shut, despite it being summer, and even in the cool of the evening it was still on the slightly uncomfortable side of too warm. It hadn’t been that bad though, and certainly wasn’t enough to bother a native Alabamian.

No, the real problem had been when Willow had taken off her black waistcoat and undone the top button of her loose white shirt. Even that wouldn’t have completely distracted Tara, but then Willow had bent over to hand her a book - and Tara had accidently glimpsed the creamy curve of a breast.

It took nearly all her self-control to stop herself from ravishing Willow there and then.

If it hadn’t been for the other LASoc members turning up, she probably would have anyway.

The time had passed so slowly – they could have been reading anything from Chaucer to colouring books for all Tara could remember. And of course Willow had sat opposite, so Tara couldn’t even stare into the distance without entertaining fantasies involving Willow, ice cubes, knotted sheets and half a jar of cherries.

[I hadn’t realised my imagination could be so active, and in quite such specific ways too, before today.]

And time hadn’t resumed its normal tempo until the seemingly interminable ‘goodbyes’ and ‘see-you-next-weeks’ had finally finished, leaving her and Willow alone to tidy up.

Then, the next thing she knew, they were both back on the street.

By force of habit and inclination they made their way to their usual teahouse, ordered the usual London Fog (for Willow) and Raspberry Fruit (for Tara), and made their way to their usual table.

It was their little ritual, and Tara secretly rejoiced that it belonged to them and them alone. Of course, it didn’t hurt that the tea was also very good, and sharing a cup with Willow – chatting about everything and nothing – was a very pleasant way to pass the time.

They had ducked into the shop just in time too, if the gentle pitter-patter of summer rain against the window was any indication.

“Oh, it’s wet.”

“You should be like me - prepared,” Willow gently reproved, pulling a fold-up umbrella out of her rucksack and leaning it against the table.

“Do you always carry that?”

“It’s the British equivalent of an ID card, you know. We all recognise each other by our brollys.”

“Now I think you’re just playing to stereotypes,” Tara chuckled.

“Well, if it hasn’t stopped by the time we’ve finished these,” Willow gestured at their drinks, “I’d be happy to share on the way back. You know, um only if you want, though.”

“It would be a b-bit out of your way, though.”

“I don’t mind. Happy to walk you back, make sure you get home safe and sound.”

Tara quirked a quizzical eyebrow.

“Well it's a big big city and it's always the same,” Willow said vaguely, colouring slightly.

[What was that about?]

“Sooo. What did you think of ‘The Third Policeman’?”

“That I should l-leave physics to you.”

“Heh, I don’t think it is the most accurate representation.”

“I may never ride a b-bike again,” teased Tara.

“Well, I’d be happy to let you ride mine,” Willow said breezily, rummaging around in her rucksack again, “hey look, I have something for you.”

It was a hastily wrapped CD.

[Ella Fitzgerald. I mentioned it once, months ago, and you remembered. Oh, Willow.]

“Well, I saw it and thought of you. You know.”

[No I don’t, because no-one has ever been that thoughtful before.]

“Oh, I have a surprise f-for you too. To g-go with the tea.”

“Tara – that’s so sweet! Oooh, I love surprises.”

Tara, fumbling, managed to pull the blue plastic box out of her purse.

“Hmm,” Willow ran a finger carefully along the top, “now a box like this might contain anything. Anything at all. The secret of life. Another box. Or, or, maybe a treasure map. Or maybe…”

“C-cupcakes.”

Willow glanced away from Tara, down at the box.

“Or maybe cupcakes. Even better. May I try one?”

Tara rolled her eyes, playfully.

“No – I carried them here just to look at them.”

Willow smiled, and took a delicate bite.

“Ohh. Oh wow. Wow, Tara. These are amazing!”

“T-thank you.”

“Did you make them?”

“Mmm, y-yesterday.”

Tara, shyly avoided Willow’s admiring look by pretending to decide on a cupcake.

“I wish I could cook as well as this.”

[Well, that is the perfect opening, now isn’t it…]

“W-would you l-like to learn?”

* * 3 * *


Logically, Willow’s keen mind and attention to detail should enable her to follow instructions perfectly. Logically, therefore, she must be able to easily replicate the scrumptious treats from the recipe Tara had scribbled down.

Tara and Willow both stared at the black, charred ruins before them.

“Sorry. I think they’re a bit, um…”

“Burnt?” interjected Tara

“..buggered.”

Willow gave an apologetic smile, before poking one of the supposed-to-be-cupcakes with a knife. It made a crunching sound.

“Oh, you’ve ruined them. D-definitely.”

“Sorry. You made it sound so easy, though. Ah well, at least the mix was delicious. Do you want a taste?”

Tara blinked at the spoon Willow proffered.

“D-don’t you want…?”

Willow waved a hand at the mixing bowl.

“Don’t worry,” she said, brightly, “there’s plenty left in the bowl. Chef’s perks and all that.”

“W-well, you can lick my bowl clean, if you w-want.”

[Goddess, Tara, what is wrong with you?]

“Um, thanks,” Willow said, tensing slightly, “ah well, at least I know now that this is out as a back-up career.”

“I think you just left them in the oven too long.”

Willow shrugged.

“I doubt I’d ever be able to get them the same as yours. They were very yummy.”

“It’s just practice, Willow.”

“But they were so delicious. And, um, moist.”

“Moist,” breathed Tara.

“Yes,” Willow swallowed, “moist.”

There was a pause as they both just stood there, suddenly feeling very close in the cramped kitchen as the tension lay thick on the cold linoleum.

It was impossible to say who move first.

Lips, tongue, taste, hands – moving now, discovering all sorts of stimulating places as they travelled over her body. And, for a few glorious moments, everything was surrendered to pure sensation. Eventually, after what might have been seconds or aeons, they drew back – slightly, reluctantly, only enough to talk and certainly not enough to let go.

“Tara. I – fuck, I’ve been wanting to do that for so long.”

“That. Goddess, Willow. That was amazing. I.”

She was startled by the sound of the front door banging shut. Willow also jumped, but didn’t relax her hold.

“Housemates?”

“Probably just getting back from a b-bar,” sighed Tara, ruefully.

“Maybe, we could go somewhere else?”

“My r-room?”

She couldn’t believe she said that.

“Yes! I mean, please.”

Giggling, hand in hand they stumbled up the stairs.

* * 4 * *


Tara knew her room was small and dingy. But at the moment, it was perfect. Normally she would have been panicking about her bra and underwear, which were drying on the radiator. Or worrying her guest would be judgemental about the repeatedly-cleaned-but-still-somehow-grimy curtains.

Of course, normally she didn’t have a gorgeous, sexy redhead pressed up against her in all sorts of interestingly distracting ways.

Tousled, tangled and ecstatically entwined, neither of them seemed inclined to move at all.

“I guess we should have a serious t-talk now.”

“Oh no,” groaned Willow, “that’s never a good start to a conversation.”

“No, doofus. I mean the whole...” Tara waved her free hand to encompass them both.

“Well, I like you. And you, er, like me? So…does there need to be anything else now?”

Tara considered this.

“Shouldn’t we talk about w-what we should do next? Is there a next?”

Willow moved slightly so she could meet Tara’s eyes directly.

“I was thinking Miss Kitty Fantastico.”

“What?”

“You know. For our cat.”

“Our cat?”

“The one we’ll get when we move in together,” said Willow airily, trying to make it a joke.

Except it wasn’t, really.

Tara felt her lips quirk into a half-smile.

“I like it. Catchy.”

And Willow’s answering smile was bright enough to rival the sun.

Tara returned to her new favourite hobby - pressing kisses over any available part of Willow. And, since Willow was apparently happy to be available, it was a hobby that could last her a wonderful while.

[A lifetime, even.]

Willow, gently stroking Tara’s hair, let out a happy sigh.

“You still owe me baking lessons, you know.”

“Maybe you should leave that to me, sweetie.”

“I’ll have you know I’m not that bad a cook. Normally.”

“Normally?”

“OK, I have a slight confession,” Willow paused, dramatically, “I may have been a bit distracted and forgotten to set the timer. It’s all your fault, you know – you and those form-fitting jeans of yours.”

Tara laughed softly.

“We’ll make a baker of you yet, baby, I promise. One day I’ll get you making bread.”

“Well, I have always liked nice firm baps,” grinned Willow, demonstrating with a gentle squeeze that made Tara gasp.

“Maybe you should stick to cakes for now. We can try again, together. T-tomorrow if you like?”

“That sounds like an excellent idea. Maybe my kitchen, though, next time? No housemates to complain if we, um, make a mess.”

“That could work,” said Tara sedately, choosing to let that one go, “oh, and you can whip some cream while I make the cake.”

“Maybe I can be your apprentice?”

“No baby, we’re always equal partners.”

“Yes, we do make rather a good team together,” Willow said happily.

Tara brought her mouth to within licking distance of Willow’s ear.

“I would not wish any companion in the world but you.”

* * Fin * *


You might say Tara’s plan was *puts on sunglasses* a recipe for success. YEEEEAAAHHH.

Notes:

*The lines I had in mind were
    “Within my bosom, whereon thou dost lie,
    My boding heart pants, beats, and takes no rest,”

For some reason I imagined Willow might have a specific association with the word bosom….

Ok, so the music reference is brief, but maybe you spotted one line borrowed from the Fratellis? For some reason the bit before the chorus felt like it kind of fit:
Spoiler:
Whistle for the choir (The Fratellis)

Well it's a big big city and it's always the same
Can never be too pretty, tell me your name
Is it out of line if I was to be bold and say "Would you be mine"?

Because I may be a beggar and you may be the queen
I know I may be on a downer I'm still ready to dream
Though it's three o'clock, the time is just the time it takes for you to talk

-And finally, in keeping with the occasional Shakespeare references, the title is taken from “As you like it”.

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 Post subject: Fic Challenge is Back: The Cupcake Challenge
PostPosted: Wed Feb 08, 2017 6:01 pm 
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10. Troll Hammer
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DIBS!! Back in a bit to comment. :grin

Aaaaannnddd: BACK.

That was absolutely delightful. Yes, despite your protestations this very fine story will be considered an official entry!

I adore your style. Simultaneously goofy and eloquent.

Like Delayne, I'm going to seek out your other works. I'm certain they are equally excellent.

I hope you will grace DCP with even more!!

Cheers,
DW

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Oops, I made a mythtake... wt4ever


Last edited by DarkWiccan on Wed Feb 08, 2017 8:40 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Fic Challenge is Back: The Cupcake Challenge
PostPosted: Wed Feb 08, 2017 6:24 pm 
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Ms. Moderator Fantastico
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Oh my, it's going to take me a while to recover from that last line :applause Seriously, brilliant.

I loved this. I love their tiptoeing around and then just saying fuck it! Love your literary references too. Really well molded into such a succinct piece.

Thanks for the entry!

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 Post subject: Re: Fic Challenge is Back: The Cupcake Challenge
PostPosted: Wed Feb 08, 2017 6:32 pm 
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I have a bit of contention to address here... "This story isn't actually an entry,"

Bullocks, large huge bunches of bullocks actually.

I hear from DW that someone else had entered and was super happy and then I read that, you done pissed me off Kitty!

I can't even begin to express how much I enjoyed that entry. I think it's a habit of the best of us to think down upon our work. (I'm still meh about mine). But the point of the challenges is to have fun or try something different or just a kick in the pants of that which is writers block.

So as hostess, and I'm sure my fellow planners would agree, this is a valid entry.

So as to the story itself. Fucking Brilliant. I was an American exchange student in Scotland so it was super easy for me to picture a flat with a messy kitchen. And scholarship money dwindling down, as I began to live off of junk food from the £ store. I didn't do the bartender thing, but knew a few in the post-grad "dorms" who did.

And as soon as I found The Great British Bake Off on Netflix I was all over that.

So your entry really spoke to me.

Plus hilarious. "And please don’t think about Willow grappling with her sexuality, or you’ll be unable to do anything else."

But most importantly thanks for making my day. Thanks for stepping out and stepping up to the challenge. And please keep writing. Now I need to go stalk you a bit and find what else you've written on the board.

ETA: and I feel like a dork as I've already replied to stiff you've written. Glad to see you writing again. Promise me you'll continue.

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 Post subject: Re: Fic Challenge is Back: The Cupcake Challenge
PostPosted: Wed Feb 08, 2017 8:09 pm 
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Delayne: Very cute - I enjoyed the writing of the group together, the dialogue jumping from character to character (I could imagine it overlapping a little if it was spoken rather than written). It created a lovely sense of warmth and friendship, with the focus moving from shared conversations to more personal ones and back again. That as a group the various fairies have this space they can all occupy, and feel comfortable sharing private thoughts in. The truth or dare game was a cute running gag too, the way it'd just pop in abruptly, and then everyone'd roll with it and continue.

JustAKitty: That should totally count as an entry! This may sound like an unromantic description (the fic was anything but), but the writing was really efficient - you've got just there four scenes, which even in themselves don't ramble on in dialogue or description, but not only were the scenes themselves very moving, everything about them felt like a genuine part of the larger 'story' (i.e. W/T's lives) that they're a part of. Particularly the first one, that set the stage beautifully, with Tara musing on her present situation, looking back to where she came from, looking forward to where she's shyly hoping to go - it does the work of a much larger chapter in setting up her world, so everything that happens after it has much more consequence and weight than you'd expect from just three more brief scenes. Lovely work :wtkiss

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 Post subject: Re: Fic Challenge is Back: The Cupcake Challenge
PostPosted: Thu Feb 09, 2017 11:12 am 
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*Gets back from work, sits down, checks kittenboard, falls off seat.*

Wow! Thank you all so much for the comments – words can’t express how happy and grateful I am for your generous feedback. As a long-time lurker, seeing people who I’ve been following for ages reply to something I wrote is….well, amazing.


DarkWiccan: What ho, old thing! Someone - I forget who - once said that something - I cannot recall precisely what - is the measure by which a person does something or other which seems have presently slipped my memory. Anyway, there you are. I’ve given you the main idea of the thingamy; which is to say, thank you for the reply.

(sorry, but as someone who grew up with Wodehouse, and who has been enjoying the Giles series, I thought I’d try to reply in appropriate style….seriously though, thank you.)


Laragh: Wohoo :banana ! Thank you Laragh (you can't see it, but I am totally :blush right now!)


dtburanek: Hi Delayne! It is great to hear from you – I remember your kindness when I first posted (back in the dim and distant past of 2011!). I think one of the most gratifying things to hear is that something I’ve written has meant something to someone, so I really appreciate your generous words.

As a rambling aside, I too spent some years in Scotland at University - I even tried the famed deep-fried marsbar! Funnily enough it was there that I first came across the Great British Bake Off. It was playing on the TV in our common room, I went in and went "oh, one of those reality shows", then caught a bit more of it and went "ooh, that flan looks good", which soon morphed into "oh god, that isn't going to rise in time. Oh god, oh god, and the icing is going to be ruined!". Damn you, TV, for your addictiveness…

I really enjoyed this challenge! And seeing everything posted here, including your awesome contribution, inspired me to pull my finger out and actually finish something for once. Now I have, I’m definitely planning on continuing, and fingers crossed will be working on some more stuff soon-ish.


Artemis: Hello, and thank you for your reply! You know, as someone who devoured Hellebore, then later scoured uberwillowtara clean, getting feedback from you is a bit like accidentally bumping into a VIP, then finding out that not only are they witty, clever and brilliant, but they are also genuinely friendly, welcoming and altogether delightful! (sorry if this is coming out a bit weird, but I’m actually a little starstruck by everyone – you are all like kittenboard royalty to me!).

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 Post subject: Re: Fic Challenge is Back: The Cupcake Challenge
PostPosted: Thu Feb 09, 2017 4:39 pm 
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WRITER: Laragh

RATING: PG-13

SUMMARY: A chance meeting leads two women to a promising future.

DISCLAIMER: Willow, Tara and any other characters from the Buffy the Vampire Slayer franchise belong to Joss Whedon, FOX, ME (who is not me) and others. You can click on the picture to read it better.

SPOILERS: Minor references to the show and stealage of dialogue, but nothing that would spoil the series.

~

ImageTour De ChanceImage

~


“Here we are. University Square, South Garden.”


Willow stepped out of the taxi into the fresh spring air, which seemed cleaner somehow than the air she was used to.


She passed some cash through the window, accidentally giving a very generous tip as she was distracted by the architecture of the buildings surrounding her.


She’d seen them many times in pictures; old, new and the ones she made up in her head when she was really young and first heard stories of the place. The university had been the number one school on her list since she knew what college was; when her grandparents would regale her with tales of how they met.


Witnessing her own parent’s fractured marriage, her Bubbe and Zayde’s Love Story had been a bright spot in her life and thus, the college at which theirs had begun became a beacon of hope.


She knew she bordered on delusional about how great the place was, but the hope had gotten her through her awkward teenage years and grandparents’ deaths and it was what brought her here today to finally tour the place she’d heard so much about.


She took a moment to take it all in from her vantage point in front of the courtyard. It was as big as she imagined, as old and as picturesque. She’d actually been preparing herself that it could never look as good as it did in the pictures, but it did.


The buildings looked like they could crumble yet stood proudly as a frame for the perfectly maintained courtyard. The grass was a lush green, there were trees planted firmly and added color to their surroundings. Not one bench or stone wall was out of place, sitting in well-placed symmetry.


Willow wandered onto the grass and just stood, doing a full 360° turn, gazing upwards. She remained planted in her own awe until she suddenly felt a projectile of some sort slam into her gut. Her arms instinctively went around her stomach and she looked down in confusion at the plastic disc lying at her feet.


“Toss it back!”


Willow looked up and saw two guys several feet away, looking at her expectantly. She finally figured out that they wanted their Frisbee back. She picked it up and tried to sail it over to them, but it veered left as far as it possibly could and ended up behind her.


Her cheeks flamed as the boys glanced at each other, and that was before she even heard them mutter ‘dork’ as they passed.


Okay so college is exactly like high school after all.


She took one strap of the backpack slung over her shoulder firmly in her hand and brought her phone out to pull up the map of where she needed to go.


She walked to the other end of the courtyard where a signpost told her she was at the right spot. She stayed there for a moment, glancing around at the people passing by, coming to and from classes. Just to her side was an enclosed stone wall with grass inside and a tall tree lending cover, which looked comfortable to sit on.


Sitting against the trunk of the tree was a young woman with her legs stretched out and earbuds in her ears, listening to music from an old school iPod. Willow couldn’t help notice the way her blue eyes caught the hues in the sky and sparkled. She quickly looked away lest she be accused of staring and moseyed over to sit on the wall.


A minute or so passed and she was getting antsy, so she swung her backpack around to get her notebook out and ready to write down everything she was told. As it came around to her, it knocked into the girl sitting behind her and sent her iPod flying through the air to land on the grass.


Willow leaped up, eyes wide.


“Oh my god, I’m so sorry!”


She plucked it from the grass, marginally missing standing on the earbuds, and bundled it all to shove into the girl’s hands.


“I-It’s okay,” she replied, eyes forgiving as her lips quirked into a shy crooked smile. “S-Some people have said they’d like to destroy my music collection but no one’s ever actually tried.”


Willow would have been mesmerized by that smile if she hadn’t been too busy freaking out.


“I’m just, I’m a klutz, I’m so sorry! Is it okay? I’ll buy you a new one!”


“Don’t worry, it’s taken worse t-tumbles than that,” the other girl reassured, then held out an earbud for Willow to listen and hear for herself, “See? A-All good.”


Willow cautiously sat back down and held the earbud to her ear. She smiled in relief as the clear music played out.


“What are you listening to? It’s a cool song.”


The other girl seemed reticent as she answered, tucking a piece of hair behind her ear.


“Tegan and Sara?”


Willow nodded.


“I think I’ve heard of them. Were they on American Idol?”


The girl smiled again but let Willow see it this time.


“No, they’re Canadian.”


“Oh,” Willow replied, feeling dumb as she shrugged her backpack back on her shoulders, “Sorry, I didn’t mean to bother you. Just waiting for the tour to start. I thought the guide would be here by now.”


“The c-campus tour?” the girl asked, which Willow nodded in response, “They left twenty minutes ago.”


Willow’s eyes bugged.


“What!?” she asked, desperately scratching for her cell phone to pull up the schedule she’d downloaded, “It doesn’t go ‘til 2:30!”


“I-I think it goes at two,” the other girl said, obviously placating but still kind.


Willow’s fingers shook as she finally pulled up the file.


“No!” she said, shoving her phone in the girl’s face, “Look!”


The girl brought her face back enough to actually be able to read the screen.


“That’s, um, last year’s schedule.”


Willow snatched the phone back in front of her and her heart sank when she spotted the year in the corner that she hadn’t noticed before.


“But…how…shit!”


“Th-they do another one tomorrow,” the girl offered helpfully.


Willow stared down dejectedly.


“I’m leaving tonight. I have to get home for a chess tournament tomorrow. My parents don’t even know I’m here!”


Willow felt uneasiness from the other girl, so reassured her.


“Don’t worry, I’m 18, I’m not a runaway or anything. This is just…my dream school. I’ve wanted to come here since, well, forever. My Bubbe and Zayde, that's my grandparents, met here. Plus they have one of the best computer science programs in the country, which is what I want to major in. I’m supposed to hear today whether I got in or not and I wanted to experience the place at least once to have the memory in case I—”


She pursed her lips closed, then sighed.


“And I’m a blathering idiot who’s making no sense and I should go now. Bye.”


She jumped up and started to walk away, but felt a hand on her shoulder.


“Wait,” the other girl said, shyly twisting her hands around each other in front of herself, “I…I can show you around if you want. I pr-probably won’t know as much as the guide, but I have been studying here for a year and I took the tour before I started. If you w-wanted.”


Willow stopped and turned, genuinely stunned at the offer.


“I can’t ask you to do that.”


“Well, you’re not r-really, I’m offering,” the other girl said, smiling that smile again that Willow was definitely identifying subsequent butterflies from, “I don’t have any homework, I was just going to, going to listen to music for the afternoon anyway.”


Willow was giddy that her plans hadn’t been completely ruined. She didn’t want to impose on the person who’d been so nice to her, but she wanted a real tour of the school and she found herself wanting to spend more time with this girl too.


“Maybe you can tell me more about Regan and Tara.”


The girl smirked, looking down to hide her eyes for a moment before looking up again.


“I can’t tell you about Regan, but I can, I can tell you about Tara.”


Off Willow’s confused look, Tara extended her hand.


“I’m T-Tara,” she introduced herself, “And the band is Tegan and Sara.”


Willow blushed at her mistake but smiled as their hands brushed.


“Willow. Of the House Dork.”


She cringed while she was still saying it.


“You can still back out. I would, in fact. It would be wise.”


Tara just smiled again.


“I’ll show you the student center.”


Tara indicated the direction they were going and Willow hurried after her, hands clutching the straps of her backpack again. She fell in step with Tara, bouncing on the balls of her feet.


Tara was telling her about different benches named after various people, but Willow found herself getting caught up in her impromptu tour guide's voice. It was musical and sensual, like a soft blanket settling over her. She didn’t even realize she was doing it until she suddenly found herself walking straight into a door beside the one Tara was holding open for her.


She wasn’t sure her blood had settled back down from her last bout of scarlet cheeks, but she could still feel their burn all over again.


“Oh, are you okay?” Tara asked, holding Willow’s arm to help steady her.


Willow squirmed at Tara’s touch and she wasn’t entirely sure why. She kinda knew why but it was the first time she’d experienced the sensation with such vigor.


“Fine,” she squeaked, then as a cover, fished her glasses out of the corner pocket of her backpack, “Just need these.”


Tara just smiled and continued to hold the door open for her. Willow stepped inside while clearing her throat and took a look around. It was a vast room with plenty of sitting spaces, various gaming equipment, vending machines and one single corridor with marked rooms.


Tara joined Willow and gestured around.


“This is the student center. You can come here to h-hang out, find student government, book a conference room a-and there’s prayer rooms if you’re so inclined. It's this building and the next one, which we can walk through these doors to…” Tara said as she led them through glass doors to the neighboring building.


It was an ever larger room with sections and hallways leading to various units. Tara walked Willow around, pointing out each one.


“Bursar for tuition fees, Financial Aid for h-help with tuition fees, On-Campus Post Office for all your mailing needs, Bookstore, which is usually pretty well stocked with all the textbooks you might need, Mini-Bank, mostly for quick deposits or withdrawals and Print Central for print, fax, photocopy, wh-whatever you need.”


“Wow, everything is here,” Willow commented in awe at seeing most of the amenities available in her entire small town jam-packed into one convenient space.


Tara nodded.


“They make it pretty easy to get your business done…which also means no ex-excuses.”


“That suits me because I’m not an excuse-giver!” Willow replied cheerily.


Tara smiled.


“You’re funny.”


Willow’s smile reached her eyes and she practically skipped alongside Tara back outside and around the back to a new building.


“Admin department,” Tara advised as they walked into the door, “This is Admissions and En-Enrollment. You’ll drop your papers here when you start, and if you decide to change classes mid-semester, this is where you come. Exciting stuff, I know.”


She smiled again and Willow felt weak-kneed. She pretended to pay careful attention to a corridor so she could lean against the wall.


Tara gestured to it.


“That’s the Academic Advisors hallway. Everyone meets them once when they start freshman year and they’re available as much as you, you might need…or as much as their appointment slots are available.”


Willow giggled and Tara was beginning to laugh too when she was tapped on the shoulder. Willow looked at the smart, sleek and professional looking woman carrying a folder and felt a bit intimidated. She wasn't sure why until the woman smiled at Tara and Willow felt a sensation she’d later realize was jealousy, and later again, an irrational one at that.


“Hello, Tara.”


“Hello Professor Oliver,” Tara greeted warmly, “This is Willow, she, she’s coming here next year.”


Willow forced a smile.


“Well…I hope.”


“We’ll be seeing you then,” the professor replied kindly, “Tara, I'm glad I've seen you. Come to your next class early, I have another of those books on attachment disorders. It’s not on the curriculum but it has a lot of interesting case studies. I want to show you one in particular.”


“Thank you, I’ll be there,” Tara agreed and the professor offered them a smile and left.


Willow watched until she was gone, then cast her gaze downward.


“She seemed… nice.”


Tara nodded.


“Yeah, she’s a TWAT.”


Willow nearly choked on air.


“Excuse me? She's a what?”


“TWAT. That’s what they call the good professors here. A Teacher Who Actually Teaches. It’s supposed to be derogatory but,” Tara explained, then offered a one-shoulder shrug, “I, I didn’t come to college to have lousy teachers. I like her.”


“What’s your major?” Willow asked, somewhat-unintentionally changing the subject.


“Early Childhood Education,” Tara answered in a way that Willow knew she truly loved it.


“What do you want to do?” Willow asked curiously, having never known someone to study that field.


Tara pushed herself off the wall and led Willow back outside.


“The end goal is to own my own pre-school someday. I worked in one all through h-high school.”


Willow smiled to herself.


“That’s nice,” she said, nodding once and enjoying the thought in her mind, “I like that.”


She wanted to add ‘I like you’, but it didn’t seem appropriate. Instead, she followed Tara to the next building, which maintained the dated architecture outside but had been converted to a much more modern interior.


The doors opened into a cafeteria, with plenty of tables and an extensive line of various dishes being served. Off to the side was a staircase, which had someone coming up or down the whole time they were there.


“This is the food court – school canteen is on the first floor, that’s where you can get food on your meal plan. It’s pretty good, t-there’s always at least three or four options, lots of sides, plus snacks. Upstairs there’s fast food. Subs, burgers, fried chicken, Chinese food, and pizza. It’s pretty easy to get whatever you might be craving and there’s plenty of delivery places nearby if you want something different. I’ve always been able to get something here th-though. Cheap—cheaper too.”


Willow was impressed, the dining was more diverse than she’d expected.


“I’ve been in love with this school since I was four and it’s somehow even better than I thought. The buildings, the service, the food,” she paused for a moment to glace at Tara in what could only be described as affectionate, “The people.”


They were standing close to the main doors and people were beginning to bump into them, so Tara brought them out again and past a very large sports arena.


“Sports center, outdoor courts. I don’t k-know how into all that you are…”


“Approximately zero percent,” Willow answered.


Tara looked relieved.


“Oh good, me either. I was going to have break out some extreme waffling.”


“You’re talking to the queen of waffling here,” Willow replied with a grin, “Sometimes it’s less waffle and more babble. Mostly it’s both.”


Tara smiled again and Willow thought she might be losing her mind because never before had a facial feature caused her this much consternation.


She tried to listen as Tara told her some information about the best ways to get around campus, what times to go for meals to get the freshest stuff and other useful tricks that she knew she’d regret not listening to, but stealing glances at this girl’s face instead just seemed so much more important.


Somehow she thought remembering Tara’s face would bring her more joy.


After a few minutes, she realized Tara had stopped. She stopped too and tuned back in right in time to catch what was being said.


“…housing buildings. There’s four around campus but the biggest two are here.”


“Which one do you live in?” Willow asked, then immediately worried it was invasive, but Tara didn’t seem to mind.


“I moved into the Clinton building at the start of this semester,” she replied “I wanted a single. My roommate…i-it wasn’t working out.”


“Oh?” Willow asked, eyebrow quirking just slightly in question.


“You’ll see. Freshman roommate placements always end up with one of them being crazy…” Tara advised before stopping again, “Which brings us to…campus police department right over here… Hopefully, you won’t need it.”


Willow glanced at the campus security building and looked alarmed so Tara put a reassuring hand on her shoulder.


“I’m k-kidding,” she said with some embarrassment in her tone, “Mine was just…Well, she ate Cheetos all the time so she got that dust all over herself and everything else. She was temperamental and tried to control what could be talked about and who could come and go. Just a big baby really. But I'm sure you'll get someone nice.”


She paused and bit the corner of her lip.


“Do you want to see what a d-dorm room looks like?”


“Not if it’s too intrusive,” Willow replied shyly, “You’re being so nice showing me around like this. I feel kind of guilty.”


“Don’t,” Tara replied with those sparkling eyes that lit up her whole face, “I’m having fun.”


Willow was thrilled that not only was she not bothering Tara, but that she was actually enjoying it too.


Fun! She said I’m fun!


Tara started to lead Willow off again, stopping after another couple of minutes to point out a building that was clearly a much newer build than the others around it.


“Oh—H-here’s the computer lab with obligatory accompanying Starbucks – you’ll be spending lots of time here if you do computer science. We can walk th-through it to get to my dorm.”


Willow loved the smell of the coffee as they walked past the attached Starbucks and into the actual computer building. It was many stories with many rooms and Willow was immediately thrilled by the sheer amount of tech she could see on display.


She immediately got giddy and stopped herself, just about, from pressing her face up against the glass windows.


Wow. This could really be it. This could be me soon.


Tara, ever patient, just followed Willow as she first looked around in delight, then started babbling in techno-speak that Tara had very little clue what it was about.


“Sounds really excite, exciting,” she said eventually when they exited through the side door.


“Yeah!” Willow replied enthusiastically, that being one of the most positive responses she’d gotten after having gone on such a verbal tirade, “Wow…that place is great…and I only saw the tip of it…wow, just wow…did you see that super-computer? I can't believe it. Wow.”


She was bouncing again and her backpack physically bounced with her. Tara nodded her head, genuinely interested in her enthusiasm, even only understanding it in part.


Eventually, Willow calmed herself down and Tara brought her into her housing building. She pointed out the lounge area and mailbox room and then where the laundry room was. Willow hadn’t even contemplated that she’d have to do her own laundry, so it was a nice perk that she had seen it and could prepare.


Finally, Tara brought Willow to her dorm and shyly opened the door. She stood aside to let Willow in.


Willow took a few steps inside the room and took a good look around.


There was a closet just off to the side where Willow could see lots of colorful garments hanging up. A bookshelf filled with textbooks and some other fiction and non-fiction sat opposite it, right beside a desk with neatly arranged stationary and a small laptop sitting in front. Fairy lights were hung loosely over the desk, arranged to look like a smiley face, which Willow mirrored. Some candles were dotted around on different heights and the window sill hat a seat space that had some dorm-sized kitchen electronics like a toaster oven and mini-fridge.


The small double bed had plain white sheets but was topped with a colorful rainbow pillow. A small teddy sat on the pillow, wearing a multi-colored bowtie.


“He’s cute,” Willow said, briefly touching the fur, “This is really nice. Compact but cozy. I love your lights.”


“Thanks,” Tara replied, leaning against the wall by the window enough that the light caught her hair and made a halo shine behind her.


Willow cocked her head inquisitively just to see how sun-drenched Tara really looked and it took her a second to realize she was also speaking.


“Sorry?”


“Would you like a drink?” Tara repeated.


“Oh…sure, thanks,” Willow nodded.


Tara opened the door of her mini-fridge and peered in.


“I have apple juice, water, and Diet Coke.”


“I’ll take a Coke,” Willow requested.


Tara handed her a can, which Willow took and tossed gently into her other hand.


“Cold.”


Tara sent a smile half towards Willow and half towards the floor.


“A-At least I know my fridge is working.”


Willow laughed and thought she saw Tara’s cheeks flush. She tried not to smile in case it seemed like she was laughing at her. She distracted herself by looking around the room again and noticed an instrument case in the corner she’d had her back to previously.


“What do you play?”


“S-Saxophone,” Tara replied, a nervous looking smile tugging her lips.


“Will you play something for me?” Willow asked immediately, going against her natural grain to make herself as little trouble as possible.


Tara hesitated for a moment but got up and brought her case over. She got it ready to play and cleared her throat a few times before bringing the mouthpiece to her lips.


She wasn’t sure how much jazz or blues Willow knew, so she played the most identifiable piece she knew — the saxophone riff from Baker Street.


Willow remained entirely still all throughout. She did know the song, though she wouldn’t admit she knew it from The Simpsons. She watched the play between Tara’s fingers and mouth as they worked the instrument and she began to feel all hot and bothered. She quickly took some gulps from her Diet Coke and pressed the can to her flushed cheeks.


Tara finished up her piece and brought the saxophone down between her knees bashfully.


"How long have you been practicing?" Willow asked, her voice almost reverential.


"Always,” Tara replied quickly, then clarified with a blush as she tidied her sax away again, “I mean, since I um, was little… my, my mom used to. She was much better than me.”


“You have a powerful talent,” Willow insisted.


Tara shook her head, her eyes shielded by her hair.


“Oh, I’m not… I-I don't have much in the way of ‘power’,” she said, hands folding over themselves in her lap, “Really, I mean most of my songs come out as, as noise pollution. Besides, melodies going awry, my grades being in danger…I’m definitely nothing s-special.”


Willow looked right at Tara until she raised her gaze.


“No, you are.”


Their eyes remained locked for several moments before Tara shyly looked away, tucking hair behind her ear.


Willow had noticed her doing it before and thought it was adorable.


“So, um, I guess, um, the only thing left is the main academic buildings,” Tara spoke, discreetly clearing her throat halfway through, “It’s pretty con-convenient, they’re all accessible from right where we met in the quad. I can show you.”


She stood and held the door open for Willow again. Willow put her empty can in the small trash can and followed Tara outside and all the way back to the middle of the courtyard. Tara stood beside her and pointed to buildings while doing a slow, full turn.


“Arts building… b-business building… science buildings… liberal arts building… com-communications building…education building…and music building.”


Willow had pretty good retention but still found herself blinking rapidly.


“Might need another round of that before I remember.”


Tara walked Willow past each building individually and snuck her in to see a classroom in the music building. Tara went to a door and stood on her tiptoes to see in the glass panel near the top. She motioned for Willow to join her.


Willow crept in and peered in the small space. There was a class being taught by a professor with wildly demonstrative hands. It looked like an engaging lesson until Willow noticed there were no students.


“This teacher is f-famous for planning his lesson plans out loud,” Tara whispered, “People can even find out what questions will be on exams if they listen at the right moment. Someone got expelled for trying to sell them.”


Willow’s brow furrowed.


“Should we be—”


Forgetting to keep her voice down, the sound indicated their presence and the professor’s head turned sharply towards the door. Tara ducked down, then grabbed Willow’s hand and pulled her through the building until they got out the back entrance.


They turned a corner and stood up against the wall. Willow was slightly out of breath, blushing and still warm where Tara’s hand had joined hers. She glanced over at Tara and they started to share a blossoming smile when Willow looked over Tara’s shoulder. Her face broke out in a stunned smile.


“It’s the tree.”


Tara followed her gaze to the large tree behind them and by the time she turned back, Willow was already jogging over. Tara went with her but stayed silent as Willow stood by the trunk and just looked up to take in the unique structure.


Eventually, Willow looked at Tara again, a palm still flat on the bark.


“This tree…my grandparents first met under this tree. It was a hot day and they were getting shade. They called it their love nest. My dad even named me after it.”


Tara smiled softly.


“It’s a Willow tree.”


Willow returned the smile and nodded.


“Can’t believe I found it. It wasn’t in any of the online photos. I wasn’t even sure if it was still here.”


She turned to the trunk again and started walking around.


“My Zayde said he carved their initials in but I guess there’s no way I’d find them after all these years…”


Tara looked around too.


“W-Was he tall?”


“Huh?” Willow asked, peering at her in confusion.


“Your, um, Zayde?” Tara asked shyly, “Was he, um, was he tall?”


Willow nodded slowly.


“Yeah…over six foot.”


Tara pointed up.


“It might be up high.”


“Oh,” Willow replied, scouring her gaze higher, “Oh! Right, yeah. That makes sense.”


“You can sit on my shoulders,” Tara offered humbly, “Um, if you, um, w-want.”


Willow stopped for a moment.


“Really? You don’t have to.”


“Sure,” Tara replied with a bashful smile, “I’d, I’d like to help you find your grandparents initials. I think it’s the s-sweetest story. It’s the kind of love I-I want to have some day.”


Willow felt her heart go funny and had to turn away for a moment as she feared she was grinning like an idiot. She bent down, pretending to fix her lace and straightened up again when she’d recovered.


“That would be great, but if I’m too heavy just put me down, it’s totally cool.”


Tara bent down and Willow left her backpack against the tree. She climbed onto Tara’s shoulders and couldn’t help but giggle when Tara stood to her height and Willow shot up.


“I can see everything from up here!”


“Will I walk you around the tree?” Tara asked.


“Yes, please!” Willow agreed, “Slowly if you don’t mind.”


Tara very slowly started a circle around the pretty large trunk. Willow was silent until they were almost back around when she suddenly let out a squeal.


“Wait! I see it, I see it! E and M, Efrayim and Miriam! It’s right there!”


Tara stayed as still as possible so Willow could have her moment. Willow brushed her fingertips against the braised bark; the clumsy lettering bringing a smile to her face. She took her phone out and got some pictures, which she immediately emailed to herself just in case.


She stared goofily at the screen for a few moments until she realized she was just sitting on top of a very obliging Tara and began to get down. They both ended up bent down and they rose up together, bodies and faces closer than either intended.


Their noses were almost touching and their breath was mixed; the only thing moving between them for several long seconds.


Eventually, Tara broke the quiet by reaching out and removing a small stick from Willow’s hair.


“T-Twig.”


“Thanks,” Willow replied, her voice echoing.


They stood awkwardly for a moment, then their eyes started to draw themselves to each other again. Just as they locked together, the phone sitting in Willow’s hand loudly interrupted with a notification and stirred them both.


Tara turned around and stuffed her hands in her pockets to hide the fact that they were shaking, while Willow turned her phone around a few times until it was at the right orientation again.


She swallowed a few times to regain moisture in her mouth as her fingers unlocked the phone to see what the disturbance was. She went still again when she saw.


She looked up at Tara.


“It’s the email,” she said with an undeniable squeak, and saw Tara’s eyebrows crease, so clarified, “Um, my acceptance…or rejection…email.”


She stared at the screen for a moment, then thrust the phone towards Tara.


“You read it…please…I can’t.”


Tara took the phone, nervous she would have to break bad news. She opened the email and made it larger so she could read it properly, then cast her eyes on the first few sentences. She read it several times to make sure she was 100% correct, then finally broached Willow with a big smile.


“You g-got in.”


Willow’s jaw dropped.


“I got in?!” she screamed, grabbing the phone back to read for herself, “I got in! I got in!”


“You got in!” Tara replied animatedly, getting caught up in the excitement.


Willow flung herself into Tara’s arms and hugged her tightly. After a moment she realized it was inappropriate and pulled back, but remained holding onto Tara’s arms.


“Sorry.”


Tara didn’t let go either.


“You don’t need to a-apologise.”


The start of a lingering gaze began to set upon their faces until Willow’s belly suddenly rumbled loudly and broke the moment. Willow took a step back, blushing.


“And I once again express myself in the most embarrassing form possible,” she said, biting her lip for a moment before looking up with a shy hope, “Maybe I could buy you dinner or something to say thanks for being so generous with your time and everything else today.”


Tara looked at her watch and seemed genuinely saddened.


“Willow, I, I would, I would l-love to. But I have to go to work.”


“Oh yeah, of course,” Willow replied a little too quickly, “Where do you work?”


“At this c-coffee and tea house called Equalitea,” Tara replied, holding her arms crossed gently across her chest, “It’s l-late night and there’s performers and stuff. I do the e-evening shift.”


Willow nodded and brought her backpack back over her shoulders.


“Well, I have to catch my flight anyway,” she said, not showing half the amount of dejection she was feeling. “Thank you, for the tour. I know I’m, you know, nuts.”


“You’re not,” Tara reassured, “ I enjoyed it. It was, um, really nice to meet y-you.”


Willow looked up, unable to hide her keenness.


“You too, really. It really was, you’re the nicest person I could have met,” she gushed, not even trying to rein herself in, “I hope I see you around next semester.”


Tara smiled.


“That’d b-be nice.”


Willow didn’t know whether to offer a handshake or a hug so she just lifted her hand and waggled her fingers in a wave.


“Bye, Tara.”


“Bye, Willow,” Tara replied with sadness tinged in her voice, “Congratulations.”


Willow looked over and kept waving until she felt tears prick and felt utterly ridiculous for whatever game her emotions were playing with her.


I must be PMSing.


She walked around to the main street outside the campus and used an app to call a car to bring her to the airport. She tossed her glasses back into their case and looked down at her twiddling the thumbs the whole ride over.


Once there, she felt mopey as she made her way to the gate and stopped to get some food and ice-cream to cheer her up. It didn’t work.


She ended up sitting at the gate with her knees up to her chest, shoveling jelly beans into her mouth and staring out the window contemplating the feelings she’d been exposed to today.


She had considered before that she liked girls, but she’d never had the opportunity to test it because she’d never liked anyone. Crushes were too easy to dismiss as admiration and she was a science girl, she needed hard data.


But of all the emotions she'd experienced that that, the ones that stood out were the ones she had been told about when her Zayde would tell her how he saw her Bubbe reading under the willow tree and fell in love on the spot.


As some time passed alone with her thoughts, she grew more and more frustrated that she had left the way she did. It seemed unfinished and abrupt and it would be months before she would even be able to track Tara down again, if at all.


She was growing close to letting it all really ruin the great day and amazing news she’d gotten when she heard a crackly announcement come over the PA about her flight.


There were some groans from all around her and Willow hurried up to the help desk to speak to the assistant sitting behind it before a line formed.


“Excuse me, did they just announce this flight was canceled?”


“Yes, I’m very sorry,” the woman replied apologetically, “We can get you on the next flight out, but it’s not until last thing tonight.”


The assistant was bracing herself to be yelled at but Willow just beamed from ear to ear.


“That’s GREAT!” she shrieked, then off the woman’s very odd look, composed herself again, “I mean, yeah, please, um, reschedule me.”


She waited somewhat patiently to get her new boarding pass, hid it away with her passport and practically skipped back out the gate and into the first cab she saw.


“Do you know a coffee place called Equalitea?”


Image


Tara wiped down the counter after serving a milky latte to a customer who didn’t seem to realize that liquids would slosh and spill if their open container was jerked around.


It was a quiet night, which she usually liked because she preferred to work away by herself, but tonight she wished she was busier so she could avoid the thoughts in her head.


She had no idea what had prompted her to do what she’d done that day with Willow. Why would she offer to take someone on a tour of campus; she, the self-appointed most self-conscious speaker in the world?


It would be easy to argue that Willow’s heartbroken little face would prompt anyone into action, but Tara had to admit, there was one very clear reason: she was very attracted to her and had been from the moment she’d sat down beside her.


The only reason Willow's backpack had caught her iPod in the first place was because she'd shuffled closer to Willow to get a better look.


Today had been the most social she’d ever been outside of school and work circles and she’d loved it. Even with her awkward moments and self-conscious verbal stumbling, when she’d said something that made Willow smile it made her heart swell and when they touched she’d been so close to kissing her it felt like a punch in the gut when they parted.


She was glad they had, though. There was no reason to think Willow had returned any of the affection she felt and she could have really embarrassed herself or upset the girl.


She sighed and tossed the cloth she was using over her shoulder, looking up just in time to see someone familiar walk through the doors. She stalled, surprise on her face.


“Willow.”


Willow looked over at the sound of her name and smiled wide when she saw Tara. She shuffled over to the counter.


“Hi!”


Tara just stared, dumbstruck and Willow gulped.


“See, my flight got delayed until tonight and well, I could sit around the airport or…”


Tara blinked a couple of times, then her lips curled up on one side.


“W-what can I get you?”


Willow stepped onto her tiptoes and jumped onto a stool.


“I usually drink mochas, but you’re the expert…surprise me.”


Willow watched as Tara fluidly started using the machines and her own flair to make a large round mug of something. It reminded her of how she had been with the saxophone, everything delicate and seemingly effortless. She enjoyed watching Tara's muscles flex and fingers daintily move about but tried not to be too obvious with her staring.


Finally, Tara delivered a mug sitting on a little saucer.


“They call it a z-zebra mocha…mix of white and dark chocolate. We call it a rainbow zebra here.”


Willow glanced down and noticed Tara had used dyes to make the foam art colorful, but more so, the picture she made was of a chess piece. She felt choked up.


She remembered.


“You're an artist…almost looks too good to drink,” she said, then lifted the mug to taste, “Wow, that’s really good. What do I owe you?”


Tara concealed a smile, picked up a napkin and gently wiped the corner of Willow's mouth, where some green foam had been left behind.


“On the house.”


Willow blushed and took the napkin, dabbing at herself.


“Thank you. It's so good my face wouldn't let go!"


Tara giggled; a sound which made Willow giddy. She was trying to think of something else funny to say when two broad figures came standing beside her.


Willow had to tilt her head up considerably just to see them to their full height. They looked so unusual that it took her more than a moment to realize they were drag artists and not returning from the scene of a rainbow explosion.


One was dressed as an 80’s pop star in a colorful, but muted, dress, clean make-up and a neat red wig while the other was flamboyant and vibrant in a huge pink wig, very overstated make-up and an electric pink dress decorated with different images of candy.


“Who’s your friend, Tara?” the pink-haired one asked in a squeaky voice.


“Willow, this is, um, Kiki T and Jolly Todger,” Tara introduced, “Some of our entertainers. Willow is my…new friend.”


Willow smiled at that description.


“Charmed, I’m sure,” Kiki said in a low, southern drawl.


Willow shook each of their deceptively strong hands.


“Nice to meet you.”


Willow admired their nails as they shook and discreetly checked out her own, trimmed, but pretty boring in comparison.


I could have fun nails if I wanted. I do want. I wonder what Tara's favorite color is?


“Tara, do you have my cupcakes?” Jolly asked, appropriately jolly.


Tara disappeared under the counter for a few seconds and popped back up with a tray of cupcakes with frosting and gumdrops made to look like an areola and a nipple.


Willow blushed to her toes when she saw them and looked over at a poster on the wall to hide it.


Jolly held two cupcakes to her chest and twisted them as if to test they were working. She winked at Tara, who couldn’t help but grin.


Kiki reached over and tweaked Tara’s smile.


“That’s what we like to see.”


As she leaned, her ample bosom flattened the frosting in a couple of cupcakes. Jolly batted her away and put her hands on her hips.


“Oh, you ruined them.”


“I’m not the one who ruined your tits, your old age did that all on its own,” Kiki retorted with a flick of her long eyelashes.


“Well, I never!” Jolly replied with faux outrage, grabbing her tray of cupcakes and marching off to follow Kiki behind the stage.


Willow laughed to herself at their antics, surprised by just how comfortable she was with them. She wondered about the show they were putting on, and took a moment to glance around the whole venue.


It looked like a typical artsy coffee house with dark wooden furniture and low lighting. There were framed records on the wall from Cher, Freddy Mercury, Judy Garland and Kylie Minogue, and possibly some more Willow couldn’t identify. She saw a framed rainbow flag with signatures on the wall, along with plenty of Andy Warhol prints. The stage curtain was embossed with a power fist and Willow started to notice all the mugs had a pink triangle or the two interlocking male signs embossed on them.


She wasn’t dumb and it wasn’t like she hadn’t looked up a lot of this stuff on the internet before, not to mention the obvious name of the establishment and names of drinks on the menu like her 'rainbow zebra'.


She caught Tara’s attention when she finished wiping the counter down and leaned in closer.


“Tara?” she whispered, unnecessarily but it made her feel less stupid, “Is this a gay bar? Well…coffee bar?”


Tara didn’t quite freeze but did find her mouth clamped shut for a moment. She cleared her throat and began cleaning a mug with her dishcloth to seem nonchalant.


“Yes, b-but we don’t discriminate,” she said, in an attempt of levity.


“Unless you ugly,” Kiki offered as a drive-by as she passed by again on her way to the bathroom.


Willow had to purse her lips to keep from laughing. She loved that humour and she loved the whole vibe of the café. It felt safe and encompassing and proud. She’d always been offered pride for the things she did, but not often for who she was, and just existing in this space made her feel like she could be whoever she was and it would be not only accepted, but celebrated.


She shook her head to try and align her rattling thoughts.


“This is kind of a world I never even knew existed.”


She nibbled on the corner of her thumb for a moment before leaning in again.


“Tara, can I ask you something?”


Tara braced herself and nodded. Willow was extra quiet, offering some discretion.


“Are you gay?”


Tara regretted having folded and unfolded her cloth so many times because now she couldn’t do it again when her shaking hands needed a distraction.


Now she had to tell Willow the truth and possibly put a dent in whatever it was they’d built between them that day. She usually had little problem confirming her identity when asked but this one was hard for her. There would be a consequence and she didn't know yet if it would be good or bad.


She didn’t want the road between them closed. She wanted what Willow had had earlier – hope.


She could rationalise ‘til the cows came home that she met this girl just a few hours ago; knew nothing about her except her desired major and how her grandparents had met; hadn’t even had a chance to share a meal or strike up a real conversation, but Willow’s mere presence made her feel a kind of happiness she’d never experienced before and she didn’t want a pin to be put in that.


Still, the moment had come and she had no choice but to answer.


“Yes,” she said simply, able to keep her voice free of the pong game of thoughts and emotions flurrying around inside.


Willow didn’t seem to have much of a reaction, which made Tara nervous.


“D-Does that bother you?”


“No, no, not at all,” Willow reassured quickly, then secured herself on the stool, as she needed some kind of grounding for what she was about to reveal, “It’s just…confusing for me.”


Tara opted to remain silent as Willow seemed like she was working something out.


“It’s something I’ve thought about…but never really had an answer to.”


Tara nodded understandingly and saw Willow needed a friend more than anything else in that moment.


“Sometimes we find answers somewhere we aren’t looking. I know I wondered and wondered and wondered and the moment I knew for sure didn’t even end up being about a girl. It was my mom making me promise to live as h-happily as I could imagine.”


Willow’s brow creased for a moment, taking that in.


“I don’t know anything about…” she paused; she’d never said the words aloud but found she actually wasn’t too frightened, “Being gay. I don’t know if I’d be good at it.”


Tara offered a wry smile.


“There’s not m-much to it.”


“The music, and the people and the jokes…” Willow replied, casting her eyes around the room and at Kiki as she returned on her way back stage.


Tara waved a hand.


“This is all just…stuff. It’s levity, and it’s a community and it’s great, but it’s not…required. Or essential.”


She stopped and took an even breath.


“All you have to do is fall in love,” she said softly, “And I think that can be… surprisingly easy.”


Willow watched Tara’s eyes shine over with emotion and she felt a deep pang in her heart. In all her musings to herself, she hadn’t allowed for the fact that maybe, just maybe, Tara actually liked her back too. Her pulse raced as she eyed Tara’s lips, for the first time allowing for the real possibility that if she kissed them she wouldn’t be rebuffed.


Completely out of her comfort zone, she had no idea how to proceed. Could she just lean in, should she? Should she ask first? Was there an etiquette? Was her breath even fresh?


Before she could answer those any many other questions, someone called for Tara’s attention at the other end of the bar.


Tara glanced over her shoulder, then back at Willow.


“I have c-customers,” she said, an octave of disappointment in her voice, “But go take a seat and listen to the show. You’ll like it, it’s funny.”


Willow nodded.


“Sure. And thanks for the drink.”


“Don’t walk into anything,” Tara advised as Willow started to move away, but looked back in confusion then.


Tara pointed two fingers at her own eyes.


“Your glasses. You took them off again.”


Willow blushed profusely.


“I…don’t…need them…in…dark!” she spat out before rushing over as fast as her half-full mug would allow her to a couch set up parallel to the stage.


More people moved to congregate near the stage in anticipation of the show and Willow eavesdropped on a few conversations around her.


She learned about different TV shows and news programs she should be watching, what bars in the city she could go to, and lots of new words that she’d taken mental notes to look up later. After a while a few groups noticed she was on her own and included her.


She was thrilled and chatted away unselfconsciously, which was a feat in itself for her.


After a while the lights dimmed and the stage ones highlighted the area.


Some campy music played and Kiki and Jolly came out to start the show.


It was a mix of lip-syncing, stand-up, over the top acting and some pretty decently choreographed and wonderfully flamboyant dance moves.


The highlight for Willow was the finale; a parody of Daft Punk’s ‘Get Lucky’, retitled ‘Get Sucky’, which Willow found equal parts gross and hilarious, and more risqué than anything she’d ever been exposed to. She couldn’t look away, even when Jolly used one of her cupcakes in a mid-song breakout rap, themed to ‘Push It’ by Salt-N-Pepa but renamed ‘Lick It’.


When it was over she said goodbye to the new pals she’d been chatting to and finished her third mocha, which was starting to contribute a bit more pep in her step.


Not long after, Tara approached and perched herself on the arm of the couch.


“W-What did you think?”


“I’ve never seen anything like it,” Willow replied, her hands repeatedly gesturing trying to convey all of her thoughts, “It was fantastic. I just…loved it.”


Tara smiled and tucked a piece of hair behind her ear.


“So, ah, I just finished my shift,” she said, then looked at Willow through her long lashes, “You can, um, walk me out if you want.”


Willow had not once in her life ever felt that she was the recipient of flirting, but there was a tone in Tara’s voice that even the most socially inept part of her responded to.


She smiled, stood and in a feat of bravery as brazen as she’d ever demonstrated, she swung her hand into Tara’s and linked their fingers.


“Yeah, I do.”


Tara’s heart sped up and she daren’t move her hand lest Willow let go. She grabbed her jacket and purse one-handed from the break room and held them over her arm, before leading Willow out of the back doors.


In the alleyway, alongside the dumpsters, Kiki and Jolly were pulling on cigarettes still fully kitted out in their queen ensembles.


Kiki took a long drag and courteously blew the smoke away from them.


“Hey sugar, thanks for the laughs,” she said to Willow as she flicked some ash from the end of her butt, “I haven’t heard a screech like that since my sister knocked down that moose on I-62.”


Willow took the compliment in the way it was intended.


“It was very funny. Do you do shows often?”


“We’re on the circuit all over the state,” Kiki said with perfectly timed jadedness, “Every fag and dyke bar you can find.”


“And the brave straight ones,” Jolly added.


“Do you guys think I could get your autograph?” Willow asked shyly.


“Anything for a fan,” Jolly replied cheerily.


“This isn’t the kind that blows you,” Kiki retorted, though Willow saw a hint of a smile at being asked.


Willow also didn’t want to break her handhold with Tara, so she swung her backpack to her front and began to unzip it.


“Thank you so m—”


She was suddenly cut off as out of nowhere a man came racing by and snatched her bag, running at top speed down the alley and away from them.


Willow’s jaw dropped.


“Hey! Stop! My bag!” she said, moving to follow but the thief was already out of sight, “No! It has my passport and my boarding pass and my wallet and everything!”


Kiki’s face hardened and she stubbed her butt out on the wall.


“Oh you messed with the wrong bitch,” she said in her manliest voice.


She ripped her wig off and handed it to Willow, then ran in the same direction of the robber at top speed, even in heels.


Willow stared at a now-bald Kiki running after the thief, heels quickly clacking against the pavement, then down at the rug in her hands.


“Oh. It’s wet.”


“Drag is pretty sweaty work,” Tara commented and Willow had to try really hard not to pull a face, considering the wig’s owner was acting very heroically in her honour.


She rubbed Willow's arm to offer some comfort.


“It’ll be okay Willow.”


Jolly was busy unhooking the huge hoops in her ears and thrusting them at Tara.


“Hold my earrings,” she said with an indignant push of her large chest, “This needs two queens more than an empty chess board in front of Magnus Carlsen.”


She rushed off to follow Kiki, who could be heard yelling ‘boy! I said boy!’ repeatedly from around the corner.


Willow was standing in shock, stunned that her bag had been stolen, and that two strangers were rushing to her aid. She also inexplicably had a rush of awe that such a flamboyant and overstated character like Jolly could have a reserved and even geekier interest like she did.


She had a moment of clarity that everybody in that place were just ordinary human beings like her with varied interests, all joined together in a community where they could just be themselves. She suddenly felt like she’d joined a club she hadn’t realised she belonged in.


As those thoughts floated by, she also became aware of an all-over warmth and realised Tara was hugging her.


She clung on happily until the clacking of heels returned and Jolly wandered back, handing Willow her bag like it was nothing.


“Here you go, toots,” she offered kindly, “Don’t worry about that guy. Keek is threatening his masculinity enough that he won’t look funny at a woman for a long time.”


Kiki returned then, took her wig from Willow and smoothed it back into place. Willow just jumped at both of them to give them a hug.


“Thank you! Thank you so much!”


“Affection,” Kiki cackled, holding her hands up in mock-defensiveness, “I’m melting!”


Willow held back but kept grinning at them.


“If I didn’t have to go—” her eyes suddenly widened and she looked at her watch, “Oh my god, my flight! I completely forgot, I have to get home, it's the last flight out!”


In seconds Kiki had let out a loud, hailing whistle and a cab had pulled up beside them.


“You come back now, you here? I like your smile and I like the smile you put on Tara's face.”


Willow expressed her gratitude gushingly to the two queens and hurried into the cab. In the rush of it all, she hadn’t let go of Tara’s hand and she ended up in the cab with her.


She started ruffling through her recovered backpack to get her boarding card and passport out and ready to run into the airport. As she zipped it back up, she looked over at Tara, for the first time realising she was there.


“I just pulled you in here with me.”


Tara shrugged one shoulder, smiling.


“It’s okay. I wanted to come anyway.”


Willow returned the smile.


When they got to the airport, Willow paid the driver and they both rushed to the security line. Willow stalled before joining the line and thrust her phone towards Tara.


“I’m not leaving without getting your phone number this time,” she said, then blushed worrying she was too presumptuous, “I mean, if you want to give it to me.”


Tara took the phone and entered in her details.


“Why don’t you, um, message me if you have any questions before moving out here…”


Willow watched Tara type, with glee.


“Maybe you could show me more of this Tegan and Sara…and why everybody wants their tea in the shade…won’t it get cold? And why people laughed when I said I was going to bring my stuff here in a U-Haul?”


Tara was grinning to herself as she handed the phone back.


“I’ll have you good and ready by the time you move out here.”


Willow slid her phone into her pocket without looking as her gaze remained on Tara.


“Good and ready for what?”


Tara’s eyes automatically fell to Willow’s lips for a moment but she forced herself to drag them back up.


“Whatever you want.”


Willow’s heart started to pound at the energy she felt passing between them. She leaned in and she wasn’t sure if Tara leaned back or she just kept going but after a moment their lips were touching, then pressing and finally really kissing each other.


Willow felt tingles shoot right down to her toes and her mind get hazy. She thought she could be drunk for the several seconds their mouth connected but she didn’t want it to end.


Of course, it had to and both were smiling and flushed when it did. Willow just started at Tara with utter adoration for a moment before taking her phone out again.


“Can you double check this is your number? I just don’t want to lose out on all this…education… over a transposed digit.”


Tara nodded and took the phone, handing it back a minute later.


“I put my email in too in case there’s a problem. And, um, I’m on Facebook. I don't use it much but I'm there. T-Tara Maclay.”


Willow reached out and stroked Tara’s cheek.


“I had the most amazing day, Tara Maclay.”


“So did I,” Tara replied softly, “I, I do hope you stay in touch.”


“I will, I absolutely will,” Willow promised, “And you know, I’ll definitely have to make a few trips over the summer to work out my plans.”


“Call me,” Tara said, with a subsequent blush, “That sounded like a lame movie line.”


“What about…you had me at…” Willow started, having to think for a moment, “Tegan and Sara?”


Tara chuckled.


“We’ll always have…”


“Alternative Ladies Night,” Willow finished with a giggle.


Tara laughed too, until a boarding call for Willow’s flight came over the system.


“You need to go,” Tara said, giving Willow’s hand one last squeeze.


Willow got her boarding pass ready in her ID, stalling having to go.


“When’s good tomorrow for me to call you?”


“Any time, I don’t have work or classes,” Tara responded earnestly, “T-Text me so I know you got home safe.”


“I will,” Willow replied, exhaling softly , “Bye Tara.”


“Bye Willow,” Tara replied, her voice filled with a lot more hope than during the last time she’d said those words.


Willow started to move towards the line, but when she reached the top she ran back and right over to plant another smooch on Tara’s lips.


As she lingered a final boarding call was made. She moved away as it ended.


“Now I really have to go.”


“Go!” Tara insisted, beaming from ear to ear.


Willow ran off again and really got through the empty security this time, looking back the whole time and waving.


Tara stayed right there, returning the affectionate look and waving too until Willow had disappeared again in a ball of happiness. Tara hung on to watch the plane leave, allowing the world to see a smile she had so often hid away.


They moved in opposite directions, away from each other but neither was upset about it.


They both knew this wasn’t goodbye.

Image


Image


The first time I saw your face
I knew I was meant for you
The first time you said my name
I knew I was meant for you

You don't need to worry
This love will make us worthy
There's nothing love can't do

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 Post subject: Re: Fic Challenge is Back: The Cupcake Challenge
PostPosted: Thu Feb 09, 2017 5:48 pm 
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10. Troll Hammer
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DIBS!! Back when I can post from my computer at home. :grin

AAAAaaaaaannnndddd: BACK.

Laragh,

That was monumentally awesome, wonderful, beautiful and so many other adjectives.

Willow in glasses - YES! :geek

You captured this amazing "day" so perfectly. From the "meet-cute" to the kisses to the text messages every single moment was carefully crafted and lovingly executed. The slow burn build up of attraction throughout gave the ending an extra level of romantic legitimacy... odd pairing of words there, I know. Hopefully you're picking up what I'm putting down.

Anyway your story made my already awesome day even more awesome!!

Cheers
DW

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Last edited by DarkWiccan on Thu Feb 09, 2017 7:33 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Fic Challenge is Back: The Cupcake Challenge
PostPosted: Thu Feb 09, 2017 7:32 pm 
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Aww :heart Great work, lovely meeting between our girls, and a lot of ground covered without it feeling forced or rushed - the notion of Willow being on tour, and in turn her having her long-held interest in the place owing to her grandparents, kind of her taking Tara on a tour for that part since she's the one doing the show-and-tell, made for a very natural space for them to meander along with one another without either having to seem too bold in just deciding "I'm spending the day with you now!" Willow's flight being delayed (very cute that her reaction is 'yay') felt classic romance, Equalitea (also cute) was a nice change of pace for the setting (and a nice contrast for Tara, even though she is shy and quiet as one would expect, she's got spaces in her life where she's at ease and among friends and serving up boobcakes), and the ending on the sms screens was very sweet. I found it very touching that, after Willow's 'is a heart okay' message, Tara's reply wasn't 'yes' but 'here's mine' - I may be reading into it a lot, but even though it was very obvious by then that she knew things were going very well with Willow so it wasn't a high stress moment, it felt like the relationship between them was bringing her to a place where she's making the first move - kind of an icon form of the "I am you know... yours" moment.

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 Post subject: Re: Fic Challenge is Back: The Cupcake Challenge
PostPosted: Sun Feb 12, 2017 9:22 am 
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So real quick, it might be a few days before I can get a poll up (unless one of my cohorts wants to do it for me).

So this challenge has officially ended.

However, if any last minute entries get in before the poll goes up, I will consider them.

And even after the poll goes up and you still want to add one, feel free, it just won't be considered for the awesome prize.

Hopefully that sounds good to everyone and thank you all who participated!

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 Post subject: Re: Fic Challenge is Back: The Cupcake Challenge
PostPosted: Tue Feb 21, 2017 5:07 pm 
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Ms. Moderator Fantastico
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You can now VOTE

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 Post subject: Re: Fic Challenge is Back: The Cupcake Challenge
PostPosted: Tue Mar 07, 2017 7:31 pm 
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Thank you Laragh for taking care of the polling. I super appreciate how I always come in and inspire challenges and then take a back seat while others step up and make it happen.

*points to Laragh and DarkWiccan*

But yes the polls have closed and a winner has been announced.

And keep your eyes to Pens, I believe we have another challenge lined up shortly. Oh wait, Here it is.....

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