TITLE: Adult Confidential
CHAPTER RATING: PG-13
DISCLAIMER: Willow, Tara and any other characters from the Buffy the Vampire Slayer franchise belong to Joss Whedon, FOX, ME and a whole host of other entities, none of which are me.
PAIRING: Willow/Tara (from Buffy The Vampire Slayer)
SUMMARY: They’ve graduated, now they’re faced with the big, bad world of adulthood…the second part in the prequel series of Hacker Confidential and Family Confidential (and follow-up to College Confidential)
SPOILERS: Perhaps minor references to the show or stealage of dialogue, but nothing that would spoil the series.
FEEDBACK: Yes please
Tara stepped into the elevator in her work building and pressed the button for the lobby.
She put her hands in her pockets to fetch her gloves before she walked out into the cold, but before she could get them on, she heard a voice call out.
“Hold it for me!”
Tara poked the door open button quickly and they sprung apart. Alice jogged in and smiled gratefully.
Tara smiled back and began pulling her gloves back on.
“I was speaking to Becky,” Alice said right as the elevator dropped into descent, “She’s going out with Avery this evening.”
“Are you okay with that?” Tara asked, smoothing out the material over her fingers.
Alice nodded easily, with an added dismissive wave.
“We were a fling, in very different times. I was a Sigma Kappa and he was Pi Kappa,” she replied with a wistful smile, “Anyway, I’m taking a salsa class tonight. I’ll have at least one hot Latin man in my clutches. The last thing I’ll be thinking about is Avery Easton.”
Her eyes seemed faraway for a moment, then she focused back on Tara.
“Are you up to anything tonight?”
Tara shook her head.
“Quiet nights in are nice,” Alice replied warmly, then stepped out first when the elevator doors opened, “See you tomorrow, Tara.”
“Bye,” Tara replied with a wiggled of her gloved fingers as she left the building and turned in the opposite direction.
It was already dark, as it was every evening in the winter, but Tara still enjoyed the fresh air. She checked her watch and picked up her step so she could catch the T before the big rush hour push came about.
She just managed to slip through the closing doors of a train and caught her sleeve in them in the process.
A few people glanced away from their phones to watch her yank it free, but Tara was back to being happily ignored again by the time she found a seat. She watched people absorbed in their screens for a while, then just closed her eyes and leaned her head back against the windows.
The ride seemed to go on forever and Tara eventually abandoned ship, getting off a few stops early to walk the rest of the way. There was no ice or snow, so it was safe and at least the air would be less suffocating than the compressed, recycled air going around the train.
She met the first bustle of impatient commuters pushing through on her exit and had to take a breath and remind herself she loved her job enough to make the shuttle to and from worth it.
The stores on the street were starting to close up, but there was a market still open as Tara passed, so she decided to make a detour in. Willow did most of their grocery shopping, though they did sometimes head to the farmer’s market near their place together when the weather was pleasant enough for Willow not to complain.
Willow tended to be a creature of habit with purchases, unless there was a special offer on and then she’d try something new. This led to Tara suggesting she be in charge of buying their fruit and vegetables, since she was more aware of what was in season.
Willow would buy ‘standard’ fruit and veg like apples, oranges, potatoes and peas, and Tara would get the rest fresh, from the outdoor market when she could. She didn’t mind selecting from the produce section in the market though, and had a good eye for picking out the nicest things on offer.
She took a basket and had a browse around. She found some nice pears, kiwi fruit, grapefruit and a butternut squash. She then checked out the clearance section for vegetables, a tip she’d learned in high school to get veggies for soup. It didn’t matter what they looked like and she’d be able to use them up straight away.
She picked up some leeks for some leak and potato soup and some celery to add to a pot of tomato soup – it was a sneaky way to get Willow to eat it. There were some carrots she could throw into anything and a pack of green beans that were on their sell-by date but she would happily eat that evening with whatever was for dinner. For 17 cents she could hardly put them back and let them be thrown in the trash.
Happy with her buys, she went through the checkout and put everything in the reusable bag she carried in her satchel.
It swung off her wrist the rest of the way home and she was much happier than she had been just stepping off the train. She planned to bring a pear to eat on her commute to work the next day, to at least put a nice taste in place of the often foul one the train gave her.
She arrived home and the apartment was dark and empty. She flicked on the light and checked for a note, but there didn’t seem to be one. She brought the groceries into the kitchen and unpacked them, then had a good look in the fridge for what she might be able to make for dinner.
There was no meat or sauce thawing so Tara figured Willow hadn’t specifically taken anything out. There was a pack of bacon that needed to be used up and she wanted to use the squash she got while it was still so fresh.
She chopped that up first and got it in the oven to soften. She then got a pan out and started to prepare the rest of the meal.
Twenty minutes later, Willow came through the door, plucking gloves from her fingers.
“Baby, hi,” she said, shivering for a moment as she closed the door behind her, “Got stuck on a commuter train. Couldn’t push through the crowds at our stop and had to walk back from the next one. Five extra minutes on the train could be used as a torture technique.”
“They’re worse in the winter, aren’t they? It’s like you walk in from dreary to drearier,” Tara replied with a sigh, “I was planning on beating the bleak tomorrow with some fresh fruit during the commute to brighten my spirits.”
Willow grinned and produced a candy bar wrapper from her pocket to indicate she’d done similar in her own way. Tara smiled back.
“What were you up to?”
“I was handing out my résumé,” Willow replied as she took her jacket off and hung it up.
Tara looked up from where she was grating the carrot she’d bought over the salad she’d prepared.
“Oh, how did you get on?”
Willow made a so-so motion with her hand.
“Nowhere has anything, but they said they’d keep it on file. It’s something, at least.”
“Well done, I know it’s intimidating,” Tara replied encouragingly.
Willow smiled appreciatively and came to lean over the breakfast bar.
“What smells so good?”
Tara cast her eye towards the oven, where a pan was bubbling away inside.
“I made risotto with butternut squash, bacon and some Jack cheese. If you’re not full of Baby Ruth, that is.”
“That sounds so good,” Willow replied longingly, with hungry eyes, “I realised on my way home I forgot to take anything out. I was going to make up some pasta but yours sounds so much better.”
Tara had the table already set, so handed Willow the salad over the bar, then prepared the buttered green beans and gave them to her too. Willow didn’t scrunch her nose; she’d actually learned to enjoy the way Tara made them with the butter, fresh black pepper and a sprinkling of parmesan cheese.
Tara got the oven glove and brought the pan of risotto to the table, leaving it on the wooden board she’d left there to absorb the heat.
Steam was rising and Willow was salivating.
Tara served up the risotto with the green beans and the salad and they both tucked in.
Willow told Tara about the places she’d dropped her résumé to and how she was worried about her reference from Starbucks. Tara reassured her and promised a distraction later. Willow perked up at that and finished her meal with a smile again.
Willow helped clear the dishes, but Tara encouraged her to sit down.
“Go and relax, I want to hang out in the kitchen anyway.”
“You cooked,” Willow protested, but not too heartily.
Tara just patted Willow’s back, so she shrugged and went off to turn on the TV.
A while passed and Willow craned her neck back to see what Tara was up to, as more than enough time had passed to clean up after dinner.
“What are you doing?”
“Making soup,” Tara answered, stirring her broth as it defrosted in a pot.
“That last batch of tomato you made was delicious,” Willow complimented.
Tara just grinned to herself.
“I was going to ask you to teach me the finer particulars of soup once, but then I thought why risk it when yours is so good?” Willow continued, smiling and hugging a cushion to her chest.
Tara hummed to herself as she chopped the tomatoes and celery together.
“It’s okay, I like to make it.”
She did. She enjoyed having something to do.
An hour later she had numerous rectangular Tupperware ready to stack in the freezer, and more in portion-sized plastic cup-shaped containers she’d found in a dollar store that were perfect to take to work.
She wiped down the counters, washed her hands and joined Willow on the couch. Willow cuddled into her with her eyes remaining on the television.
Tara had her arm around Willow and was very comfortable, but also had an odd sensation of antsiness inside. As one TV show ended and another began, she let out a big sigh.
“We always watch the same shows.”
“That’s generally how TV works, hun. They show them in seasons,” Willow replied jokingly, then turned to offer Tara the remote, “Did you want to watch something else? I thought you liked these cop shows.”
Willow looked at a loss.
“So what’s the problem?”
Tara shrugged, then shook her head.
“Convincing,” Willow replied, pushing herself up, “You don’t want to watch TV?”
“I do,” Tara answered, unsure how to voice how she was feeling, “I just think we could do more.”
“More?” Willow asked, scratching her head, “Our DVR is pretty full and I have a bunch of boxsets.”
Tara made indistinguishable motions with her hands.
“We should do things.”
Willow blinked unsurely.
“Get out in the evening,” Tara clarified.
Willow tried to think, but was coming up blank.
“Tickets to shows are expensive and we already meet the gang at the bar.”
“We could do a pottery class or something,” Tara suggested.
Willow’s eyebrows rose up into her forehead.
“Are you going to repeat everything I say?” Tara asked, though not impatiently, “Pottery ‘or something’.”
“…we could watch movies instead,” Willow offered, but quickly backtracked after she saw the look on Tara’s face, “Okay, okay, we’ll do something.”
She started to settle back into the couch, but Tara continued to stare at her.
“We can at least see what’s around,” Tara reasoned.
Willow grudgingly got up to get her laptop.
“No exercise. It’s still winter. I’m in exercise hibernation.”
“That’s fine,” Tara replied easily.
“Or art,” Willow added, “I suck at art.”
“Okay, no art,” Tara agreed.
Willow tapped the touchpad while she waited for the laptop to load up.
“We could always stay in and have lots of sex.”
Tara put a finger under Willow’s chin and turned her head in.
“We do that anyway,” she replied with a sideways smile.
Willow smiled back.
“No such thing as too much.”
Tara brushed her thumb against Willow’s lips.
“Find something romantic to get my juices going.”
Willow’s eyes widened and she turned back to her computer much more eagerly.
“…now there’s an incentive I can work with.”
Willow waded through some tables that were arranged at odd angles with each other, making it difficult to carry their drinks without spilling.
They were in a jazz bar downtown, so while not quite the same as their usual quiet neighbourhood haunt, it was comfortable and the music was low enough to maintain a conversation.
Finally Willow completed the obstacle course of tables and set their drinks down on their own table. It was a small wooden square on a long black pole, with plush leather chairs that had a back but no arms, so you had to keep yourself upright.
Willow tried to sit and began to slide right off, but covered by jumping up before she tumbled down.
“I like the sax,” Willow commented to distract as she sat down properly this time, “Always did. Wanted to do it in band but I wasn’t musically talented enough to last more than one semester.”
“Band cost money,” Tara replied as she slid her wine glass towards her by the stem, “I did classes that were free.”
“What about field trips?” Willow asked, feeling sad for Tara’s schooling and general misfortune during those years.
“Missed out. I didn’t mind really. Gave me longer to get chores done.”
“Well aren’t you glad you have a helper-outer now?” Willow asked while flashing her teeth to lighten the mood.
“Very,” Tara replied emphatically, tilting her glass so it knocked gently on the neck of Willow’s bottle, “You are a machine with the vacuum.”
Willow smugly motioned vacuuming.
“It’s all about the angles.”
Tara’s head tilted back with laughter, and in the process she spotted Becky arriving. She wiggled her fingers in a wave and Willow held up the second bottle of beer to indicate she’d gotten her a drink already.
Becky spotted them and weaved her way over to them. She almost slipped out of the chair too, but gripped the table and kept herself up.
“Thanks,” she said when Willow handed her the beer and leaned each way to offer brief hugs, “Good to see you two.”
“You too,” Willow replied.
“Nice to see you,” Tara added softly, “We haven’t seen you since we bumped into you on New Year’s.”
“You guys bumped into me on New Year’s?” Becky asked, confused, “Man I really was wasted that night.”
“I gave you Avery’s number…” Willow prompted, “Tara said Alice said you were going out with him.”
“Oh,” Becky replied, trying to think back, “I didn’t recognise the name the next day so I rang the number and he mentioned Alice and we started talking. I didn’t really think about how it got there.”
Willow rolled her eyes and Tara just smiled affectionately at their friend’s antics.
“How is the dating going?”
Becky let out a long sigh.
“He’s amazing in bed, but he’s soooo annoying. Always quipping and quoting.”
Willow’s eyebrow quirked.
“You do realise he’s basically the male version of you, right?”
Becky’s brow creased in thought for a moment.
“…ohhh,” she said, then shrugged and took a swig of beer, “Yeah, that sounds about right.”
Willow just shook her head, but Becky didn’t seem too perturbed by the revelation.
“What are you guys doing this side of town anyway? I was surprised when you said you wanted to meet here.”
“We’re doing a candle making class and we needed to kill an hour before it starts,” Tara explained, “It’s on in the education centre down the street.”
“You two sure are adrenaline junkies,” Becky commented wryly.
“What are you doing that’s so exciting?” Willow asked.
Becky smiled to herself.
“You just said he was annoying!” Willow countered huffily.
“I also said he was good in the sack.”
Tara laughed and Willow shot them both a ‘seriously’ look, but there was a grin tugging at her lips too.
“You are unbelievable, but that’s why we love you.”
“I am…what I am…” Becky sang, swishing her long hair from side to side and getting annoyed glances from the other patrons in the bar trying to enjoy the jazz.
“Well, you always entertain, Beck, I’ll give you that,” Willow said, shifting uncomfortably in the chair, “These feel like one of those therapist chairs was cut in three and arranged around a table. And this was the least trendy bar we could find in the area!”
“You haven’t seen uncomfortable chairs until you’ve sat on a giant ice cube,” Becky advised, “I put my hand down for a sec and it froze on! Lost a layer of skin getting it off.”
“Why would you even go to a place like that?” Willow asked with a shudder.
“Because it was super cool,” Becky replied casually, then smirked, “Get it? Super–ow!”
“Willow, don’t kick Becky under the table,” Tara interjected, like she might with two toddlers.
“I slipped, I swear!” Willow said genuinely, pulling herself up again, “Sorry.”
Becky waved it off and Willow kept one hand gripping the table for the rest of their time there.
They all stood to leave when their drinks were finished and Willow and Tara said goodbye to Becky, who was on her way to Avery’s place, probably only for long enough to get what she wanted and leave again. It wouldn't be long before that fizzled out; that much was obvious already. Becky hadn't been serious with anyone since Jack, and appeared not to have an interest in it either.
Willow and Tara made a stop off at the bathroom on their way out. Whilst Willow was in the bathroom, Tara patted some powder on her cheeks in the mirror, though it was hard to gauge her complexion under the ‘cool’ blue lighting.
She fixed her hair instead, which had become a little windswept on the way over. Her comb lightly grazed her hair back into submission and she fixed her parting so it fell into the zigzag she liked to do for some pizazz. She had a hair tie ready on her wrist should her hair become an obstruction during the candle-making.
Willow came out to wash her hands and requested Tara’s comb to get out little knots she could feel at her ends. She was an on-the-hour kind of brusher when she could help it, otherwise her hair became a mane of knots, especially when she wasn’t bothered straightening it.
“Let me,” Tara offered, standing behind Willow and gently de-knotting her, “You get so aggressive with your hair sometimes.”
“I have to or it won’t brush through!” Willow defended, “Sometimes when I go down on you under the covers, I wake up the next morning with Fort Knot happening.”
“Willow!” Tara hissed, right as the flusher in another cubicle sounded.
Willow’s eyes widened and stayed fixed ahead as a woman in a trilby sauntered out with a smirk on her face, winked at them and left again with a very apparent swaying ass.
Willow looked at Tara in the mirror apologetically.
Tara’s red cheeks were thankfully hidden in the lighting, so she stroked out the last of the knots and went to splash her face.
“Willow, Willow, Willow…what will I do with you?”
Willow looked sheepish.
“Love me forever?”
Tara sighed with a smile and offered her hand.
“I think I might have to.”
Willow accepted Tara’s hand with a smile and linked their fingers. They walked back through the bar, passing their pal from the restroom on the way, who tipped her drink towards them.
More blushing ensued, but it was easily hidden as a result of the cold once they got outside. The centre was just at the other end of the street, and when they got in there was a list of classes pinned to a board, showing which room they were taking part in.
Candle-making was listed as being in one of the art rooms and Willow got a chill down her spine. She hadn’t considered it would be thought of as ‘art’.
“…is this art?”
“You chose it, Will,” Tara replied with a tone obviously trying not to sound clipped, “I gave you full control and you chose this.”
“I thought it would be like a science experiment,” Willow grumbled, “Come on.”
Tara stayed on the spot and crossed her arms across her chest.
“Willow, if you’re going to be grumpy we may as well just leave.”
Willow turned back around and took Tara’s hands.
“I’m not,” she said softly, “I promise. Just help me out if there’s sketching or something involved.
Tara squeezed Willow’s hands gently.
“Of course I will. We’ll do it together.”
Willow perked up again, linked her arm into Tara’s and they found their way to the appointed room. It was a sculpting room with plenty of stains on the floor and tables. They chose a table at the back.
“Like being in high school again,” Willow whispered, running her hands along the wood, “Look, there’s even graffiti.”
Other people milled in, some obvious couples, some looking more like friends and one almost certain mother and daughter. The instructor was at the top of the class and when it hit the hour, she closed the door and introduced herself.
She explained they’d be starting with basic candles and working their way up through the length of the course. She wrote down the different types on the board, which Willow diligently took down in the notebook she’d brought.
They were all invited to come and pick out scents they wanted for their first try, and to collect equipment.
To Willow’s delight, there was measuring, melting and even a Bunsen burner involved.
“It IS like a science experiment!” she whispered to Tara, who smiled back, sharing her joy.
“Lilac or jasmine?” Tara asked, taking sniffs from each.
Willow did the same.
They brought everything back to their table and Willow set it up with delight. Tara set the wick in the small circle candle tins they were using to mould.
Together they measured the wax and purple dye chips and began to melt it. Willow kept a careful eye on the thermometer as they had strict instructions not to let it go past a certain point.
“You’re sexy when you’re being a scientist,” Tara whispered in her ear, “Maybe we could find you a white coat to wear at home…”
Willow’s cheeks flamed.
“My cheeks will be hotter than the wax if you keep this up,” she said, though she did seem intrigued.
Tara just smiled and measured out the fragrance. They mixed it all together thoroughly so it was well-distributed. Together they poured it into the tin until just below the line.
It needed to set before they trimmed the wick properly, so they had fun washing up the bowls together; so much fun that they got a look once or twice from the instructor to quieten down.
Willow reverted to her high school self and shut up immediately, though did swap mischievous smiles with Tara.
They packed away the equipment and finished off their candle, then waited for the instructor to come around and inspect their work.
When she got to them, she picked it up and sniffed it.
“Very nice. Good balance with the scent and nice colouring.”
Willow bounced on her seat and beamed at Tara, who gave her a pat on the back.
The instructor finished up the class and advised what they would be doing next week.
Willow wrote down what she said so she could research ahead of time. Tara waited patiently for her to finish and when Willow did, she grabbed their handle and practically cradled it the whole way home.
“I had fun, did you?” Tara asked while she let them into the apartment.
“I did!” Willow replied happily, “You’re right, it’s nice to get out in the evenings.”
“And even nicer to get home again,” Tara replied sweetly.
Willow got on her laptop when they went in and browsed for a while, and Tara got her lunch and other things prepared for the next day. Tara was in bed first, but Willow wasn’t far behind her.
As Willow slid under the sheet, Tara held their candle between them.
“What do you say to trying it out?”
Willow’s eyes grew wide.
“You can’t burn it! We made this. It’s our baby.”
Tara put the candle back on her nightstand, next to a little box of matches.
“Shame. Jasmine kinda turns me on.”
She looked at Tara for a long second, then immediately rolled over her and struck the match.
“Burn, baby, burn.”
- Adult Confidential (Chapter 33)