Tara awoke to the sound of two fat blackbirds squabbling noisily in the tree; she rolled over and found the bed next to her to be empty. She sat up and rubbed the sleep from her eyes, turning to regard the noisy birds as she slid her legs over the edge of the bed and reluctantly got up. Grabbing her wash things, she headed for the bathroom humming softly.
As she emerged into the bright hallway after her morning ablutions, Tara smelt breakfast, pancakes, eggs, bacon and sausages were definitely on the menu. Dressing quickly, she descended the stairs and arrived in the kitchen almost unnoticed, Willow was sat at the breakfast bar, a glass of orange juice in her hand and an empty plate before her. Buffy was cheerfully flipping pancakes and laughing at something Willow had said.
"Morning." Tara said cheerfully as she slipped an arm around Willows waist and kissed the red head softly before smiling at Buffy.
"Tara! You're up!" Buffy said, immediately realising how stupidly obvious her statement was. "Did you sleep well?" she added, trying to cover the crimson hue that filled her cheeks. Tara stole a brief glance at Willow before answering, "Yes, thank you." Buffy smiled sweetly at the blonde and offered her a large plate of pancakes, bacon and sausages.
"So, what are you ladies up to today then?" Buffy asked, filling the silence that hung uncomfortably in the air. Willow smiled and shrugged at her before turning to Tara. "What do you fancy doing?" she asked her quietly. Tara contemplated the question as she tucked in to her breakfast. She hadn't realised quite how hungry she was until she began eating, as she washed down the first pancake with a few swigs of orange juice she turned back to Willow, "Maybe a picnic or some sightseeing?" Willow offered her a half smile and Buffy had to fight to suppress the laughter bubbling inside her.
It wasn't Tara's fault that she didn't know there were no real sights to see in Sunnydale and the whole idea was a little absurd. Buffy imagined a tour guide like the ones she'd seen on the television in London, her mind played out the tour they would give. "If you'd all like to look to the left, you will see the only nightspot in town, 'The Bronze', founded in 1992 the Bronze has been the site of many important battles between our local 'vampire slayer' and many creatures of the night. In 1997, our hero managed to stop an apocalypse right here by destroying the 'Anointed One', a follower of a powerful vampire." In Buffy's mind, the tour continued. "To both your left and right you will see two of the 42 churches to be found here in Sunnydale and coming up on your right hand side is the burnt out remains of the high school which was blown up in order to defeat the mayor, who tried killing the entire student body when he transformed into a snake-like demon on the graduation day of the class of 1999." Buffy laughed out loud at the final thought and the faces of all the stunned tourists filled her minds eye. Both Tara and Willow jumped at her sudden laughter and stared at the Slayer with confusion.
"Sorry." Buffy said between giggles as she excused herself and disappeared towards the living room.
"A picnic will be good." Willow said after Buffy had left, "I have something I need to talk to you about anyway."
Buffy left the house half an hour after Tara had gotten up and walked slowly towards the office block in which she worked, her mind buzzing with all the things she wished she'd had taken the time to ask Willow before Tara had awoken.
Back at the Summers' house, Tara and Willow were preparing both a shopping list and a picnic simultaneously with Tara writing down the things they had used so that they could replace them on the way back home. Willow had been unusually quiet since she had got up and Tara was confused and concerned as to what could have happened to make her usually chatty fiancée so quiet. Rather than push Willow to tell her, she hung back, assuming that whatever it was would be revealed on their picnic.
Willow disappeared upstairs as Tara finished filling a basket with fruits and some baguettes they had found, she returned with a blanket and their sunglasses. "Ready?" Willow asked quietly. Tara nodded and picked up the basket in one hand, her other entwining with the redheads. They walked in comfortable silence to a small park that had a beautiful clear stream running through it and found a peaceful spot away from the groups of young adolescents that were playing football, throwing a Frisbee or generally enjoying the summer. Picking a spot under a large oak tree, Willow spread the blanket and she and Tara sat down and began unpacking their lunch. "Tara." Willow said suddenly, "I have to tell you about my past, more specifically, my time in Sunnydale and the reasons I left." Tara's face filled with concern when she realised that her lover was physically shaking, whatever had happened her obviously hadn't been good and she felt a sudden pang of guilt for making Willow return.
"You know you can tell me anything." Tara told her softly, pulling Willow closer to her and wrapping her arms around her as she nuzzled into her neck. Beneath her touch she could feel Willow shudder, her shoulders giving away the first signs of distress and tears. "You might not believe some of the things that I have to tell you," Willow began after a few deep breaths, "But you know that I have never lied to you before and I don't intend to start, not now, not ever." Tara opened her mouth to speak but realised the incredible strength and courage Willow must have summoned to tell her whatever it was she was about to tell her and so closed it again, not wanting to give Willow a chance to back out of the big revelation. "Vampires, demons, werewolves. They're all real, everything that you were scared of as a kid, the things that went bump in the night and that you told yourself were just figments of your imagination. Well, it's all true and it all vacations right here in Sunnydale!" Willow blurted out.
Tara pushed her forward and Willow turned to gage the reaction of the woman she loved. "Real? But Willow, its all fairy tales." Tara said incredulously after a long and stunned silence. Willow offered a small, bashful smile, "They're real too!" she said quietly. "Please, just let me tell you everything. You need to know if you're going to be safe here." The no nonsense tone and genuine fear in Willows eyes made Tara rethink her opinion. 'Monsters are real?' her mind questioned her as Willow opened a juice box and drank deeply.
Finally Willow continued; "I was dating a guy in high school, he was bitten by his cousin and became a werewolf." she told Tara who managed to look even more amazed than before. "We carried on dating until graduation when I told him I had to leave Sunnydale, that I couldn't cope with living on a Hellmouth and wanted to pursue a career." Willow paused to give Tara a moment to absorb the information she had given her. "I knew that he'd be upset, but he was enraged and totally freaked out. He lost his temper and subsequently control of himself, transforming into the wolf before us." Willow shuddered at the memory and tears filled her emerald eyes, spilling onto her cheeks as she cleared her throat. "He attacked me, pinning me to the floor and was about to kill me when Buffy leapt on him and pulled him off. That is how I got this...." she said, lifting her shirt to reveal a 9 inch scar on her rib cage. Tara sat in total amazement, her own eyes swimming with tears that threatened to spill from her eyes at any given moment. "I left town that night and vowed never to return." Willow finished between sobs. She knew that the revelation could quite easily be the end of their relationship, she knew she sounded crazy and that Tara had no real reason to believe this insane story. Had she been the one on the receiving end of this tale, she thought that she would probably have its teller thrown into a nice padded room at the nearest asylum, never to see the light of day again.
Tara sat back heavily against the ancient oak tree and inhaled deeply. Her mind swam with questions and doubts, most of which questioned the sanity of her partner but looking into the pools of green before her, she somehow knew that what Willow was telling her was the truth, no matter how far fetched it seemed.
After several minutes of silence, Tara looked up at Willow locking eyes with her as she crawled across the blanket and wrapped her in a hug, "I'm so sorry, I should never have made you some back." Tara whispered into her ear before pulling back and kissing the surprised redhead lovingly on the lips.
With her story finally off her chest, Willow relaxed into the kiss and on pulling back she knew that nothing could come between them. Never in all her life had she met someone so pure, genuine and open minded and she thanked whatever power it was that had brought them together. "Tara Maclay." she grinned into the pools of ocean before her, "I love you so very much!"
They passed the afternoon with no further discussion of Oz, or anything else that might be lurking in the alleys of Sunnydale after dark, eating, giggling and kissing they enjoyed the warm summer sunshine.
Once they had had their fill, Willow began packing up the plates and cutlery back into the basket. "Let's go!" she said as she put their rubbish in a bag for disposal later on.
Walking hand in hand through the park, Willow didn't notice the man sat on a bench a few feet away, she didn't see how his eyes shone as she kissed her lover and she didn't hear his low and menacing growl as she took Tara's hand and lead her back to the Summers' residence.
"So, you came back after all." the man said once she was out of earshot. "And your new 'friend' seems to know all about us!"