Still 17 days to go......
Willow stopped dancing suddenly as confusion spread over her. She walked slowly back into the kitchen where Tara was putting the replies into a drawer, along with the list and all the other wedding related paraphernalia. She looked up as Willow entered a frown taking place across her forehead. "Will, what's wrong?" she asked softly, crossing to her fiancées side and placing a hand on her forearm.
Willow was staring at the letter from Giles, reading each word carefully to ensure that she wasn't going crazy, well, any crazier. "Who is Dawn?" she asked, not expecting Tara to know any more than she did. Tara contemplated the question as her frown furrowed into a deeper, confusion loaded expression. Taking the letter from Willow she read aloud quickly.
"You can imagine how thrilled I was to receive your letter and good news, I actually danced, if you can imagine that?
I will be in America the week before your big day, Buffy has invited me to stay with her and Dawn so I will be there if you need any assistance at all."
Willow was digging through a bag that they had taken to Sunnydale and pulled out her planner. "We just stayed there and there was no Dawn, well there was a dawn in fact, there were a few, but no one called Dawn and why didn't Buffy say anything about someone else living there?" Willow babble was always so cute, and Tara couldn't help but smile.
Before Tara had a chance to respond, Willow had lifted the phone and was punching in Buffy's number. She waited while it rang and tapped her fingers impatiently on the counter.
Buffy's voice suddenly burst into her ears and made her jump slightly, "Hello?" the slayer said, she was breathing hard and Willow knew she had interrupted a training session.
"Hey Buffy," Willow began, "Who's Dawn?" At the question, she heard the Slayer sigh and flop heavily into a chair.
"I meant tell you." Buffy said, "It's a bit of a long story." her voice sounded heavy, almost regretful for not saying anything sooner. "She's my sister." Buffy blurted out. The confusion that Willow had felt was sidelined by laughter. "You don't have a sister!" Willow stated, glancing over at Tara who was rubbing her temples, the confusion giving her a headache.
"You remember at my mom's funeral?" Buffy said, her voice tinged with sadness, "The tall, dark haired girl who was with me?" Willow's mind flashed the memory into her consciousness and she had to fight the urge to cry. "That's Dawn, she was a world destroying key and almost got killed by a hell god, now she's human, no world destroying and the highest scoring student at UC Sunnydale..... ever!!" Buffy continued, the pride shone in her voice and Willow smiled. "Oh, right." Willow said, her mind trying hard to process the information she had just received.
"So, how come we didn't meet her when we came down?" she asked slowly.
"Dawnie's studying further, semester doesn't end for another two weeks and we couldn't tear her away from the book learning." Buffy told her, "Besides, it's a little weird to be explaining, especially as you said you were bringing someone with you." Buffy managed to sound very matter-of-fact yet apologetic at the same time.
"Oh, right. Ok, thanks Buff." Willow replied cheerily. Her recent time in Sunnydale, however short, had re-awoken the part of her brain that told her this was all possible, bizarre and really not normal, but possible all the same. She was just about to say her farewells when Buffy asked; "How do you know about Dawnie anyway?" To which Willow began dancing around the kitchen all over again, causing both Tara and Miss Kitty to run for safety into the living room where they cuddled up on the couch and waited for Willow to finish.
As Willow explained and sang to Buffy, Tara fetched her paint things and headed upstairs where a fresh canvas awaited her. She had been commissioned to paint a picture for one of Willow's business associates and figured she could get a head start while Willow burnt off some excess excitement.
As she set up the easel and pulled her paint chest over, she heard Willow hanging up the phone and bouncing up the stairs. "Awwww, Miss Kitty footprints!" Willow cheered as she ascended each step making Tara laugh out loud.
By the time the redhead emerged into the large, open loft area, Tara had tears running down her cheeks. The sing song tone of Willow's voice had tickled the blonde incredibly and the innocent look on Willow's face as she emerged into the loft did nothing to quell Tara's laughter. "What??" Willow asked, pouting a little. "What'd I do?" she adopted her best 'little girl' voice and Tara sat heavily on the hard wood floor, gasping for breath.
"I didn't do nothin'!" Willow continued, the sing song quality going up half an octave and almost killing Tara with laughter.
"Oh, Will." she panted, tears pouring down her cheeks, "Stop." By this point, Willow was skipping around the huge loft. "Need... to... breathe!"
Seeing the desperation in her lover's eyes, Willow stopped skipping and crossed back to Tara, sitting down heavily next to her with a huge grin over her face, the delight dancing in her perfect green eyes.
She wrapped her arms around the blonde, who was inhaling deeply, trying to stop her head spinning from lack of oxygen. With a cheeky grin, Willow nuzzled into Tara's neck and began kissing and nibbling the areas where she had left her mark earlier that morning. Tara moaned softly, leaning back into the firm grip and enjoying the sensation of her lovers lips on her skin.
As Tara regained control of her breathing, she closed her eyes. Never in her entire life had she felt this happy, every fibre of her being sang in celebration, every touch from Willow's slender fingers sent lines of fire burning across her skin, every last syllable she spoke filled her with warmth and safety and she knew that they would be together forever.
"So, who is Dawn?" Tara asked after about a half hour. Time always passed so quickly when she was in Willow's arms, and it seemed that today was no exception. "Buffy's sister." Willow told her, she had managed to adopt the same matter-of-fact tone that Buffy had displayed earlier. "Oh, obviously!" Tara replied, her confusion rising once again. Willow giggled, "It's a long story."
Before Willow had a chance to get into the unbelievable tale of Dawn's beginning, a knock on the door made them both jump. Looking at each other with another confused expression, the unspoken question of who would be visiting flowed between them. As they reached the front door, they heard muffled giggles on the other side and automatically knew who they belonged to. Willow pulled the door open to reveal a shock of pink hair, its owner crouching on the ground, playing with Miss Kitty.
"Hey Blaze!" Tara giggled causing Blaze to stumble forward in surprise and send the startled cat running for cover. As Blaze got to her feet and brushed herself down, she fixed Willow and Tara with a mock glare before erupting into giggles of her own.
After embracing both women in a bear hug, Blaze pushed her way into the living room, leaving Willow and Tara to bring in the huge box she had, somehow, managed to conceal on the doorstep.
As the pair dragged the huge box into the hallway, they turned to regard their pink haired friend with curiosity. "Oooh, what's in the box?" Willow asked, trying to work the tape loose and peer inside. Blaze's hand came down firmly against the tape that Willow had managed to wiggle free. "Nothing for you Miss Rosenberg!" she told her firmly. "It's for Tara!" Blaze fixed the blonde with a huge grin, her delight and excitement highlighting her face and dancing in her eyes.
Tara, seeing the jubilation on her friends face, begins dancing in the living room. "Ooooh, is it? Really?" she asks, receiving a nod from Blaze, she swept the pink haired DJ off her feet and swung her around and around in a mixture of excited rambling and giggles.
With the now dizzy DJ firmly back on solid ground, Tara turned to Willow and beamed as she danced circles around the ever increasingly confused redhead. "It's my dress! It's my dress!" she sang.
Willow grinned and returned to trying to peek inside the large box on the ground. "Lemme see?!" she demanded playfully. This time it was Tara who slapped at her fingers.
"No! It's bad luck!" Tara replied, her voice adopting as stern a tone as she can manage amidst her excitement.
Adopting her best pout and disgruntled look, Willow pretended to sulk, much to the amusement of both Blaze and Tara who carry the large box into the bedroom, leaving Willow to continue her mock upset alone.
Smiling to herself, Willow headed out into the kitchen to fix drinks for everyone, her mind wandered to Tara and her dress. They had briefly discussed whether or not one, or both of them would wear a dress and had finally decided that they would make their own minds up. Willow already knew she wanted something simple, flowing and elegant. She had assumed that Tara, who normally opted for trousers or jeans over a skirt, would want to wear a suit, now with this revelation that she was wearing a dress, Willow was torn. Part of her said she should go with the dress she had her heart set on. A long silk gown, sparsely decorated with a few ornate roses which pooled perfectly at her feet. The rational and in love part told her she was wearing a suit. Despite her own wish to wear the stunning gown, she wanted nothing more than to bathe in the radiant beauty of Tara, to know that every single pair of eyes would be admiring, and falling in love with the goddess they would be seeing before them on the day.
In her mind, Willow pictured the day right down to the last detail. The ceremony was being held in the grounds of an idyllic hotel, the altar would be near a stunning lake. The sun would shine down on the rows of guests who would be seated on wooden garden chairs, each end seat decorated with a simple arrangement of white, pink and yellow roses, a long red carpet leading her and Tara from the hotel and up the aisle. The vicar would be stood under a white terraced archway, also decorated in roses. Willow had volunteered to be the first to walk down the aisle, she would be waiting with baited breath for her angel. As the wedding march began anew, Willow and the rest of the congregation would turn and Tara would be stood at the end of the aisle, the sunlight framing her perfectly. She would be a vision to take your breath away and no one would be able to speak as she made her way towards Willow and the rest of her life.
"Willow!!!" Tara's voice cut into her daydream and she jumped.
"Uh, what? Why are you yelling?" Tara had arrived in the kitchen and found Willow staring off into space, her eyes slightly glazed and a soppy look upon her face. In one hand she held a glass, in the other a bottle of orange juice that she had been pouring before fantasy took over. The juice had now formed a large puddle on the counter and was dripping into a steady puddle on the floor.
As Willow snapped back to reality, she realised what she had done and smiled sheepishly. "Sorry, miles away." she said, placing the bottle down and taking a large slurp from the glass before setting it on the counter. As she went about cleaning, Willow noticed Tara pacing nervously. "Baby?" she asked as she began the clean up, "Is everything ok?" Tara nodded although it was perfectly clear that everything was far from ok. Off Willow's look, Tara sat down heavily on one of the stools. "Blaze just asked me if she could throw you a bachelorette party." Tara said suddenly.
Willow's brow furrowed and she regarded the blonde woman quizzically. "I know what she can be like!" Tara added quickly, not wanting Willow to think that trust was an issue in their relationship. "I don't want to have to ship you back from Outer Mongolia or something!" Despite the obvious worry etched across the face of her lover, Willow giggled. "What did you tell her?" she gasped between giggles.
"Well, I don't mind, if you'd like one then great, just so long as you don't go getting shipped to foreign places that I can't pronounce or anything horrible." Tara told her, her voice demonstrating a firmer edge than she meant.
Blaze appeared in the kitchen doorway, her brow immediately furrowing as she took in the sight before her. Willow trying in vain to stifle giggles, while Tara stood with her hands on her hips much like an old English school matron. Just the sight of Willow giggling was enough to set Blaze off, but she managed to control herself long enough to ask; "So, can I get her drunk, strip her off and post her somewhere or not?" her tone betrayed her eavesdropping before both she and Willow collapsed into fits of laughter, with Tara following close behind them.
As the three friends laughed away any concerns they had about Blaze's intentions, both Willow and Tara realised that they hadn't even considered bachelorette parties and now Willow was feeling nervous.
Standing bolt upright, she inhaled deeply, her laughter lost to her. Fixing Blaze with a semi terrified look the redhead realised the gravity of her having a party. "Is Vince organising Tara's then?" she asked the DJ. A huge, cheeky grin spread slowly over Tara's face and she turned to regard Blaze with excitement. "Well, is he?" the blonde asked suddenly.
With two pairs of eyes almost burning her into the ground, Blaze backed up slightly, nodding as she went.