The blonde paced the living room nervously, wringing her hands then balling them into fists before dropping them to her side and repeating the process all over again. She had received a phone call two days before with some hugely unexpected news. It had been almost 15 years since she had last seen Willow Rosenberg and so much had happened in that time, she imaged that they had both changed considerably in that time.
Her mind wandered back to a time when they had laughed and joked at Sunnydale High - on one of the rare occasions that they weren't being attacked by some creature of the darkness or fighting one of 'themselves' in some incarnation or the other.
The sun had been shining and they were sitting in the courtyard of the school campus drinking sodas and discussing their futures. Willow had always known that she was destined for higher things and life in Sunnydale was far too risky for her, what with the vampires and demons that leapt out in the night. She had briefly paddled in the pool of witchcraft but had found it almost impossible to progress without guidance and had given it up to follow her dream and be successful.
As the blonde completed her 7th circuit of the downstairs of her home, the front door crashed open to reveal a young man, his ever present grin forcing her to momentarily forget her nerves and smile. "Buffy?" he called, "Is she here yet??" The young man bounced on the balls of his feet, his delight in being reunited with his oldest and dearest friend was clearly written over his face. Buffy shook her head and began wringing her hands again. "Oh Xander, what if it's weird and she doesn't remember us or we've changed so much we can't all get on again...." Xander Harris raised his hand in a submissive gesture, putting a halt to the barrage of words that assaulted his ears. "It's Willow, Buff!" he stated simply, "She'll always be Willow and we'll always get on!!" His tone left no argument in the blondes mind and she grinned. "Shame Dawn's not here to meet her!" she said finally.
Xander looked confused, "And how exactly were you planning on explaining her to Willow?" he asked. "Hey Willow, nice to see you again. This is Dawn, she's my sister but she used to be a big ball of world destroying energy, how've ya been?" he played the entire seen out in front of the Slayer, before slapping himself in the end to punctuate the final words. Buffy laughed despite herself, "Yeah, I guess you're right, she has been out of the loop for a while!" she giggled as Xander headed into the kitchen, apparently his excitement hadn't killed his appetite and he returned a few minutes later with a sandwich large enough to feed a small country and a large blob of peanut butter on his cheek. "So," he began through the mouthful of sandwich, "When's she arriving?" His question forced Buffy's nerves back to the foreground and she began pacing again. "She said she'd be here about five, depending on how things went with her parents." Buffy replied, casting a glance at the clock that told her that Willow was due in about fifteen minutes. Xander's gaze also settled on the timepiece and he grinned, dropping bits of his sandwich from his lips onto his shoe as he began bouncing around again.
"Wow!" Tara breathed as she wrapped her arm around Willow's waist, "That was intense!" she smiled sweetly at her fiancée as they walked slowly down the path to Willows convertible that was parked in the street. Willow hung her head, the meeting with her parents had gone more or less as she'd expected. Her father demanding that she have a full and proper Jewish ceremony while her mother sat and cried into her brandy. She remained silent as the got into the car; Tara reached over and caught her hands between her own. "Baby? Are you ok?" she asked, her voice soft and velvety and caressing the senses and soul of the redhead. Willow looked up at her slowly, "Yeah, I guess." she replied, "it's just, well, my folks have a tendency to take over and I don't want them to make this all about them and why did we even have to tell them? I knew it would be a bad idea and......" Tara cut her off, while she found Willow babbling one of the cutest things in the world, this bout was heading for tears. "You'd only have regretted not telling them. They are your parents after all!" Tara told her softly before leaning in and placing a small kiss on the soft lips of her partner.
The contact immediately calmed Willow and as they parted she felt as though everything in her life had resumed its correct place. "You're right!" she said, flashing Tara her best smile, as she started the car and pulled away "You always are!"
After a brief tour of where Willow had grown up, the car came to a stop outside a large house with a carefully kept front yard and a large tree that provided a welcome shade from the sunshine. Willow took a few deep breaths and stared up at the house.
She hadn't been here in 15 years and when she left she had promised to keep in touch, as happens after high school, but she had gotten so involved in her work and her new life that she had neglected to maintain her friendships with both Buffy and Xander. She fought to remember the last time she had been here before the memory filled her mind; it had been 12 years ago for Joyce Summers' funeral. The day's events still brought a tear to her eye and she wiped at it softly. Since that day she had sworn to herself that she would keep in contact and call her old friends at least once a week, which she had for almost a whole year, then the calls became fewer and farther between before they had dried up altogether. When was the last time she had spoken to Buffy before she called to tell her about her trip to Sunnydale? Willow couldn't remember.
"Are you sure you want to do this today?" Tara asked as she read the expression on Willow's face. Her voice broke into Willows thoughts and she smiled weakly, "We're here now," she said, trying to sound upbeat and cheerful, "We should strike while the iron's hot!" With that she swung open the door and stepped from the car, meeting Tara on the pavement.
As they were halfway up the path, the front door crashed open and the familiar figure of Xander Harris stood briefly in the doorway before he came charging down the path and swept Willow off her feet, swinging her around and laughing. As he allowed her feet to touch terra firma once again, his goofy grin made Tara giggle. "Hey Willow!" he grinned, "Don't mean to sound grandma, but you don't call, you don't write, where's the love??" She grinned back at him, despite having not seen the man for over a decade, he hadn't change in the slightest. "I missed you too, Xander." she told him as she reached up on tip toes to give him a kiss. They walked up to the house in a flurry of giggles and gentle pokes in the ribs, leaving Tara bemused and laughing to follow on behind.
As the women arrived in the house, Buffy emerged from the kitchen with a jug of lemonade and some glasses on a tray. After setting it down she wrapped Willow in a bear hug and grinned at her friend. "Oh Willow, how are you?" she said eventually, although it was clear from the redheads appearance that she was doing just great. Tara stood in the doorway, feeling suddenly nervous and uninvited. Hanging on the threshold, she cleared her throat noisily, drawing the attention of the group who were sinking back into a pattern that had been formed by true and everlasting friendship. Willow had never really spoken about her life before L.A and Tara had been unsure of what to expect from her old friends and Willow's family.
Willow rushed to her and entwined her fingers around the blondes, pulling her into the house in the process. "Guys," she said as she followed them into the living room, "This is Tara, Tara, this is Buffy and Xander!" she gestured to each one in turn. Tara shook hands with both Buffy and Xander and smiled sweetly. "We're getting married!" Willow blurted out once everyone had been introduced and taken a seat. Xander spat out the mouthful of lemonade in a fine mist in front of him. "Married?" he asked, his face bearing the surprise and astonishment that both he and Buffy were feeling, "To each other?" he finished, wiping his mouth with a napkin.
Tara giggled, even though his reaction was pretty intense, it was clear that he wasn't against the idea. Buffy's reaction was harder to gage, she sat in silence, staring at the women before her. "Wow, Will, that's... Wow!" she said finally as she rose to her feet and crossed the small expanse between them to stand before Willow. A huge grin spread warmly over her face and Willow got to her feet, "Congratulations!" Buffy beamed, wrapping Willow in yet another bear hug before dragging Tara to her feet and hugging her too. "Yeah, well obviously, congratulations!" Xander said following Buffy's lead and hugging the women affectionately.
Both sighing a relieved sigh, Willow and Tara sat back down and began retelling the story of how they met and the plans they had for the wedding.