Tara straightened her skirt as she approached the entrance. She was feeling nervous, like, like a girl going on a first date, she had even taken special care to dress up.
Yeah right, as if she'd notice you. She won't recognize you even if you walked up and did a fan dance in front of her. This is stupid.
The Bronze was crowded and it took her a while to fight through the throngs of people to get a drink. She found a secluded, dark spot and a lone chair. A teenage band was playing garage grunge, people were dancing away on the dance floor or chatting away in groups. She felt like a farm girl trying to fit in, to be a big city girl, out of place, again.
Then the lights dimmed and she saw her. Willow. Small and perfect, delicate yet strong, and what red hair! She found herself edging toward the stage, she could not stop staring, and her heart did a backflip when she heard her voice for the first time.
"Like a lot of you here, I grew up at the Bronze, and as long as there's been a Bronze, there's always been the Dingoes," she started.
Someone in the crowd yelled out, "too right!" Another voice chimed in, "Devon's a cutie!"
She smiled and continued, "May be you're thinking, geez these boys are gonna be here till they're 50 and their hair's all gone and their skin's all wrinkled and still they'll play and play. Well I can tell you on good authority that they're going places, that's something I know all too well. Personally I'd prefer if they don't travel as much, but that's just me being selfish.
"Anyway, I'm here because tonight marks the 300th appearance of the Dingoes here at the Bronze. And the Management asked me to present a small token of their appreciation to the band on their behalf, so when they are rich and famous they won't forget where they started out. Now please put your hands together and welcome Sunnydale's very own - Dingoes Ate My Baby!"
The crowd gave the band a resounding welcome while Willow presented a small plague to Devon, whom she gave a hug and a small peck on the cheek. The other boys she hugged warmly. Oz she kissed.
Tara swallowed hard, sighed heavily and took a sip of her water.
Willow had been feeling wiggy and on edge all day. At first she thought it was stage fright, but having taken drama classes all year, she had long conquered that fear.
It could not have been nerves about the band's award. Even though she had hung out with the Dingoes for as long as she and Oz had been dating, she never felt like she was a full fledged member. She was friendly with the boys, but had very little in common with them, Oz kind of kept that part of his life separate from the WillowOz part and the Scooby part.
In any case the feeling should have dissipated after the award, but if anything, it grew more intense. Her spidey sense were at Defcon 2, 3 at least (oh my god, I'm channeling Xander, she thought, amused and alarmed at the same time).
All she felt was, someone was coming, someone who would bring big changes to her life. It was not the usual wiggins about demons or apocalypses, this feeling was exciting, positive, and Extremely of the Good.
When she came off the stage she was overwhelmed with a huge feeling of familiarity that was so real that she thought she could see it. If she unfocused and let her mind move above the realms of consciousness, at the corner of her eyes she glimpsed - blonde hair? - she was not sure.
She wanted to reach out and touch this familiarity, this bond, but it was just beyond her grasp. Almost bordering on desperation she turned around and searched through the crowd for a sign.
While Willow was giving her speech, Tara had been helplessly drawn to the redhead and found herself staring at her friend? - future friend? - from the bottom of the stage.
Willow stepped off the stage as the band started playing, and almost stepped into Tara. They were so close Tara could smell her perfume, she wanted so much to touch her, her own arms were moving at their own accord, closer, closer. She could see goose pimples developing on Willow's arms.
The other girl stopped and spun around as if she was searching for something. Or someone. Tara quickly ducked behind a nearby pillar.
That was close, she sighed in relief as Willow walked away, still obviously deep in thought. Whatever physical reaction the redhead was eliciting in Tara appeared to be reciprocated. Or may be it was her wishful thinking.
She watched intently as Willow joined up with her friends. From her Willow's description she was able to easily identify Buffy, Xander and Anya. They talked, occasionally danced and generally had a good night out. When the Dingoes set finished, they were joined by Oz.
She felt like a voyeur, watching the gang together. A pang of melancholy hit her, as she remembered that she never had friends growing up, she was the freak who was taunted and bullied at school, ignored and humiliated at home.
How she ached to be part of this family, this group of people she already felt closer to than her own blood kin, even though none of them knew of her existence.
Tara seldom swore but this time she really felt that she had been royally fucked over by the fates.
She was shaking. Without reading the letter, she crumbled it and threw it vehemently in the dustbin.
She took out another piece of paper.
It was going to be a long night.