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For The First Time
by Mel Domingo

Rating: PG - for mild angst
Spoilers: Only if you haven't seen the 2nd half of season 4 and beyond.
Distribution: Sure, just email me first!

Summary: Willow ‘s thoughts after her first encounters with Tara. Set after the season 4 episode ‘Hush’ and goes into the episode ‘A New Man’.p> Disclaimer: Buffy the Vampire Slayer and it’s entire empire belong to Joss Whedon. This story, written and owned by me, is purely for entertainment purposes only. Enjoy!

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I laid in bed inside me and Buffy’s darkened dorm room. Once again, I ended up spending the night alone in the room. Buffy, of course, was out patrolling and saving the world from impending doom. Who could blame her for not spending more time with her roommate in *our* room? But, in a way, I was glad to have the room all to myself, all to my thoughts, tonight. There was so much to process, so many experiences that I had been through that needed digesting.

* Tara… *

The one person who seemed to invade every single thought encircling my head. But why? What was so compelling about this woman that made me think so much about her?

I closed my eyes and thought back to the first time I had caught sight of her. The Daughters of Gaia meeting. How stupid and out of place I felt sitting in the circle of * wanna-blessed-be’s *. All of them were so petty, so superficial. All except for one – this unassuming, mouse-like girl sitting on the floor in the corner of the group. She had her head down for most of the meeting. I could tell that none of the other girls in the group cared much for her. Her shyness was no match for the biting remarks the other girls threw at her when she tried to speak up. I remembered just how badly my heart was breaking when the other members started taunting Tara. If I wasn’t so dumbfounded by the pettiness of their actions, I would have been able to comfort Tara or at least say something to the other girls.

This girl was different from all of them. I looked at her and knew that she was something special, that she held a certain power that no one else could match. But was that all? I had caught eyes with her the first time she lifted her eyes from the floor during the meeting. There was a certain mystery about her that I so deeply wanted to explore – to get to know on the deepest level possible.

My eyes opened abruptly. I didn’t recall thinking these things during the meeting. Yet, thinking back to those few moments, I could clearly remember each passing thought that crossed my subconscious mind. I could remember the urge to explore the depths of Tara’s eyes, the need to see her beautiful smile, the little butterflies forming in the pit of my stomach.

“What !?!” I whispered to myself. The butterflies in my stomach? But how? Why? I clearly remembered the last time I had felt like this… Oz. Our first few encounters with each other had left me feeling the exact same way – dazed and confused with a hint of complete ecstasy. Could it be possible that I was feeling these things … Thinking these thoughts about Tara?

My mind flashed to the memory of the night before when Tara and I had narrowly escaped the wrath of the voice-stealing demons. I couldn’t decide whether running into Tara in the hallway was a good or bad thing. All I could remember was the fear of being trapped under the mercy of the demons. The thought terrified me. But what terrified me even more was the prospect of losing Tara to those creeps.

I couldn’t remember much of that night, mostly fragmented images and sensations that have haunted me until now. The essence of fear imprinted into Tara’s blues eyes. The comfort of Tara’s arm around my waist as we ran down the stairs into the uninhabited laundry room. The tingling sensation as Tara’s fingertips grazed across mine. The amazement I felt as my hand molded with Tara’s – a perfect fit. The sudden surge of power between us as our eyes met, locked in an unyielding trance. The relief we felt when the soda machine finally moved. The butterflies that grew in my stomach the instant our eyes met again, a sense of wonderment between us. It all seemed to last an eternity, yet it didn’t.

Her eyes… I remembered the passion in her eyes when I looked at Tara. There was something so different about the way this woman looked at me. She seemed to want to explore the depths of my soul with those eyes.

That night we had narrowly escaped death but something new had started. Something wonderful was born that night. I could feel it in my gut. Tara was going to be something special in my life. But how? All of these unfamiliar, yet familiar, feelings ripped through me like there was no tomorrow. There was a burning desire forming inside my heart – a desire only to be satiated with time spent with Tara. Maybe it was just the prospect of a newly formed friendship. Maybe it was the excitement of finally finding someone who understood and respected the magicks as I did.

Or maybe not…

It was all too confusing… all these thoughts and feelings running through my head. I knew that I have looked at women ever since I could remember. But, have I ever looked at them in this way? Could what I was feeling for Tara be a growing attraction to this beautiful woman? I knew that I loved Oz. There was always something unexplainable between us. But now, I couldn’t help but think about the way my body would go numb at just the thought of Tara.

* I’m gay… * I thought to herself. The single mention of the word sent doubt and confusion ripping through my entire body. * But no, what about Oz… But what about Tara… And these feelings inside of me… I loved a guy… But now… I’m falling… falling for a girl! But… I’ve never thought of myself being… I never thought I’d feel this way… How could I be sure???*

I breathed in a deep breath attempting to quiet the voices inside of me. I could tell that it was going to be a very noisy night up there.

I started to think about earlier the other day when I had met Tara after her morning class. I remembered the exact path we walked - all the way from Tara’s classroom to the common area in Stevenson Hall. Tara had wanted to walk me back to my room, but somehow we just ended up hanging out downstairs. I remembered every word that came out of the blonde’s mouth, especially when Tara disagreed about me not being special. No, it wasn’t the words. It was the expression on her face – a look of absolute seriousness. She wanted me to know that she meant what she had said. And that shy little smile… There was something behind that smile; something so secretive that she could not let me know just yet.

But why? Why was I special? What did she see in me that made her say such a thing, look at me with those piercing eyes? It was all just so… confusing. Did she see in me what I think I see in her? Does she feel those kinds of feelings for me? Is Tara attracted to me??? If she is, what can I do about it? I mean, I’m not even sure how I feel about her… If I can even feel for her in that way. There has to be a way for me to figure this all out!

I looked over at my alarm clock – 12:45. It was kind of late, but maybe not too late. I jumped out of bed and threw some clothes on before wandering over to the stack of books sitting on my desk. I had been going through these books before the Daughters of Gaia meeting hoping that the group would be willing to try out a few spells with me.

It occurred to me in the dark… I remembered browsing through the book when I stumbled upon a spell that involved a red rose. The spell involved the ability to truly connect and be on the same wavelength as your partner as you float the rose and delicately pluck away it’s petals.

It was a brilliant plan – nothing terribly sneaky about it. I knew that Tara was a very powerful witch. If I was going to do this spell with anyone, it was going to be with Tara. There’s no one else on campus that even held the possibility of sharing this type of connection with me. It wasn’t just a connection of the mind. No, to do this spell one had to connect fully with the mind, body, heart, and soul - a true connection that only few people could ever hope to share. It was the only way I could figure out to explore this newly formed relationship with this girl. There was something there… I could feel it.

I picked up the piece of paper Tara handed to me earlier that day – her phone number. I carefully dialed the numbers, hoping I wouldn’t accidentally dial someone else and wake them up. I quickly glanced at my clock as the phone started ringing – 1:00. I really hopped I wasn’t going to wake her up or interrupt her from something important.

“H-Hello?” Tara’s sweet voice answered.

“Hey Tara. It’s Willow.” I answered cautiously, wondering what Tara was thinking at this very moment.

“Oh. Hi.”

“I hope I didn’t wake you up or anything.”

“Oh no. I w-wasn’t asleep. I was k-kind of hoping you’d call.”

* Really? * My internal voice answered. I was glad I didn’t say it out loud. “I was just wondering if you’d like to get together to do a spell.”

“Okay. W-When were you thinking?” Tara answered. She sounded glad that I had brought this up.

“I was kind of thinking right now.” I answered, hoping that I wasn’t imposing.

“Sure.”

“Really? I’ll be over in a few minutes!” I answered excitedly, glad that she said ‘yes’.

As soon as I hung up the phone, I started walking across to the other side of the quad where Tara’s dorm was. On my way I quietly plucked the most beautiful red rose growing in the nearby campus gardens, hoping that no one would catch me ‘stealing’ school property.

My heart raced a mile a minute. It was after one in the morning. Would Tara not want visitors this late at night? What if she was just being nice over the phone? What would she think when she opened the door and saw me with a red rose? Would that give her the wrong impression? I could not get myself to stop. No. If I did, I don’t think I could ever have the courage to do this again.

I finally got to the hallway where Tara’s room was. I started walking slower and slower the closer I got to her door. I kept pushing myself on telling myself that it wasn’t going to be a big deal. We were just friends and I was just stopping by so we could do some spells. It was harmless.

I took a deep breath and raised my hand to knock on the door. I knocked and waited. Waited for nearly half a minute. I couldn’t take it. Maybe she wasn’t there… Maybe she was already in bed and didn’t want to be bothered… Maybe she just didn’t want to answer the door.

“Hi W-Willow.” Tara opened her door

“Hi,” it was all I could say. We just stood there at the doorway looking at each other awkwardly. I had to end the silence. “I hope I’m not bothering you.”

“No. I was just s-studying.” Tara replied with the shy smile that I was beginning to adore.

“Oh, you didn’t tell me that over the phone. I’m sorry. Don’t let me interrupt you. I’ll just come back tomorrow.” I turned to leave, not wanting to make an awkward situation any worse.

“W-What’s the rose for?” Tara pointed at it before I could turn around. I guess she really didn’t want me to leave.

“It’s nothing special really.” I turned back around and Tara welcomed me inside the room. “I was just hoping we could do a spell with it. I’m glad you wanted to get together. I know it’s late.”

Tara looked up at me innocently, “ Thanks. I was happy you called.” Another sweet smile formed on her face as our eyes caught each other’s.

Willow had to break the gaze that they shared. As much as she was enjoying this, she needed to think about things that wouldn’t confuse her so much, “We'll start out slow.” Willow almost bit her tongue. Had she put her foot in her mouth? She didn’t mean it to come out in that way… but at the same time she did and it did!

“Okay,” Tara responded, a bit flustered by the words that had just come out of my mouth. I can’t believe I did that! “Willow?”

”Yeah?” I answered, hoping that she wouldn’t call me on the comment I had just made.

”Start out slow doing what?”

“Oh,” I guess she didn’t catch the innuendo… or maybe she did and just didn’t want to admit it. I had to say something. “We're gonna float the rose. Then use the magicks to pluck the petals off, one at a time. It's a test of synchronicity. Our minds have to be perfectly attuned to work as a single delicate implement.”

Tara looked at me, amazed that I would propose such a spell. “Cool.”

”And it should be very pretty.” I had to make her smile. I was starting to truly fall in love with the way her shy smile would fill the room with a radiance that was unmatched by any other smile I’d ever seen.

I sat across from her and closed my eyes, holding my hands out in hopes she would take the cue to do the same thing. For what seemed an eternity, I waited for her hands to grasp my own.

Then it happened. It was an instant bonding. I could feel the power traversing from my body to hers and back again. There was definitely something totally different about this girl. The way she completely surrendered herself to me made me feel extremely special – like I was the only person who was allowed to connect with her on such a deep level.

I could feel the two of us concentrating as hard as we possibly could, willing the rose to levitate off the ground. A ball of heat and energy began to form between our hands. It was small at first, but it grew exponentially into an invisible flaming sphere of power radiating between the two of us. It was unlike any other spell that I had ever experienced.

Our eyes opened to discover the beautiful rose floating in the air just above arm level. We stared at it, amazed that we were able to do it on the first try.

”It worked.” Tara whispered, afraid to disturb the spell we had just performed.

”Now for the hard part. The petals.” I took a deep breath knowing that if our minds were truly linked and focused on each other, it would work. It would prove to me that we were connecting on some deep level.

I connected my eyes with Tara’s as we continued with the spell. I felt a sudden spark of energy jump between us that made me believe that the spell was going to work. Instead, after a second of concentration, the rose went ripping through the air. The projectile flower bounced about Tara’s room with a vengance before touching ground just in front of our feet.

”What the heck was that?” I couldn’t believe what had just happened. We were so close. I could feel our energies connecting, our bodies becoming absolutely synchronized. But that sudden burst of energy… I didn’t understand where that spark came from. Had it been some restrained energies that both of us were holding back? Were we really in control?

”I don't know, but, uh, the petals are off.” Tara pointed out the smoking stem of the rose. Clearly we had moved a little too fast.

“Hey… at least we can’t say we didn’t try.” I offered her a smile.

“Yeah.” Tara meekly smiled at me. Her eyes filled with need – but for what?

“Listen, I know it’s getting late, or maybe I should say really early in the morning,” I turned to leave, unsure if Tara wanted me around any longer. It *was* getting late, “Maybe I should leave.”

“Y-you really don’t have to.” Tara called out to me.

I turned, a bit puzzled by her response. “Really. I mean, I don’t want to impose on you more than I already have.”

“But y-you haven’t” Tara looked at me innocently. “You could spend the night. I mean, i-it’s pretty dark outside. I don’t want you to walk back to your room if it isn’t safe.”

I smiled at her. Was she really this concerned about me already? “I guess I could stay and sleep on the floor.” Tara walked past me and started pulling things out of her dresser. “But I don’t have anything to change into.” She turned to me holding out a large night-shirt. “Oh wow… thanks.” I offered her a smile as I took it, grateful at the lengths my new friend would go through for me.

“Y-you can sleep on my bed if you want. And I can sleep on the floor.” Tara turned away from me and started to throw pillows and blankets on the floor from herself.

I walked up to her and grabbed her hand, attempting to stop her from doing so. “Don’t be silly. I don’t mind sleeping in the same bed if you don’t.”

“R-really?” Tara simply replied.

“Yeah. I mean, I should warn you though – I tend to cuddle in my sleep. Kind of a habit I picked up a little while ago.” I nearly stuck my foot in my mouth again. It was a habit I picked up when I was with Oz. Would she ask me why? If she did, what would I say???

“I-I don’t mind.”

Glad that Tara didn’t ask any questions I answered, “Okay. Then it’s settled. I’m spending the night.”

It was a real spur of the moment thing. I didn’t even expect anything like this to happen. But it did and I said yes. Was I crazy? Was I going to spend the night in bed with a person that I think I might be attracted to? Things were just moving at whirlwind pace and I didn’t want it to stop. No, I wanted it to keep going. I wanted to see where it was going to take me.

We turned our backs to each other as we changed into our night-shirts. I turned around a millisecond too early as I accidentally caught a small glance at Tara’s naked back. It was enough to make my heart jump into my throat. I turned away, slightly embarrassed, not wanting Tara to know what I had just done.

Tara turned off the lamp and in the glow of the moonlight we crawled into bed at the same time. I tried to stay on my side of the bed but found scooting up next to her irresistible. I was pleasantly surprised to find Tara edging her way closer to me. Maybe she does feel something for me!

I closed my eyes and whispered, “goodnight” into her ear.

She silently answered, “ ’night” before I felt her body turn and snuggle next to mine. I guess I wasn’t the only one who tended to snuggle in her sleep.

Maybe she did feel something for me. And maybe, just maybe, I was feeling something for her. With a content smile strewn across my lips I leaned in closer to her and closed my eyes letting my body fall into a peaceful slumber.

---July 19,2002


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