"I did not!" Roberta yelled. She slapped her hand down on the sand to emphasize her protest against being accused of playing a teapot in the junior school production.
"I was there. I saw it - you - in all your teapot glory!" Sam teased, jabbing Roberta in the ribs first. Roberta huffed and sulked, with her arms crossed firmly against her chest.
"Okay, as much as I'm loving this, please let's move onto the juicy stuff," Buffy suggested to the now silent but smirking group.
"Yeah, I have to agree. As much as I love hearing these traumatic childhood stories, I'm sure there are a few more interesting things we could know about each other," Willow added, cocking her eyebrow.
Tara gave her a small smile and a slight blush before lowering her head. Xander spoke up with panic in his voice.
"I'm not sure this is such a good idea. I'm sure guys have a much larger proportion of embarrassing stories than girls, and I'm just totally outnumbered here. Maybe I should sit this one out and, uh, just listen?" He gave a flash of a hopeful and desperate smile.
"No chance, bud, you're in for the long haul. You're one of the girls now." Roberta patted him on the back and the rest of the group laughed at his defeated sigh.
Tara got up and grabbed a few more sticks for the fire that was vastly decreasing. The group positioned themselves into a small circle around the fire that Tara was turning into a beautiful heated lamp. A few fireflies spun around, and ash flickered in the flames, rising up towards the sky. The group shared a few glances, looking nervous, as if a horror story was about to be told.
Roberta was reminded of just a few years before, sitting in a cold and dark grave yard not so far from home. Sam had lit three large candles and instructed the group to hold hands before reciting a blessing. A cold wind had brushed past them, instilling fear over the act they were about to perform. Chrissy always showed the most fear. Roberta had refused to look so weak, despite the turning of her stomach that pleaded with her to stand up and run back to her warm bed, away from the danger of powerful spiritual forces.
"I'm not fat!" She remembered Chrissy's words as she pulled on Roberta's small jacket after being insulted. She felt guilty at how harsh she had been back then to the girl.
Roberta pulled herself back into reality. This night was definitely nothing like back then. Then they were innocent, playing with things that scared them beyond anything they would dare tell, but still they had had the childish quality. Now, well, now here she was feeling the safest she had ever experienced before. Tonight was warm and cozy. Nothing like the days of...
"Roberta..." Teeny bumped her friend with her elbow, pulling the girl out of her trance. "Penny for your thoughts?" she asked with genuine concern. The lines forming on Roberta's forehead led her to believe the girl wasn't concerning herself with pleasant images.
"Dear Johnny" Roberta said in an almost whisper. The three other girls fell silent across the fire and looked up apprehensively. "I'm sorry," Roberta stumbled.
She shouldn't have said anything, the night was going fine. Why did she have to ruin it? She waited for a reply but there was nothing. She looked up around the circle. Buffy, Xander and Willow were looking confused, even concerned by the glum looks of the others. She looked at Tara, Sam and Chrissy. Sam coughed and threw another stick on the fire.
"It's okay, it was a long time ago," Tara said softly, and attempted to form a smile.
"Sorry to break the nostalgic moment, but... huh?" Willow said with a blank expression.
"Never mind, Will. We were kids, we did a few silly things."
Tara grabbed hold of Willow's hand and looked her in the eye. "On a full moon we used to try to talk to the dead. It sounds stupid, I guess it was just one of those teenage things that you do."
Willow was a little frightened but Tara's continuing smile comforted her.
Roberta finished off from where Tara had stopped. "Yeah, we used to go down to the grave yard. There was this kid, Dear Johnny, and we thought we'd give him a try instead of, like..."
"Marilyn Monroe." Teeny giggled.
"Yeah, we did all this research about him and found out some stuff I don't think we were ready for. But that's life for you, it's not all teddies and shit."
The girls smiled at the classic Roberta way of speaking, all remembering their own images of the night that they found Dear Johnny's broken grave.
"But that stuff is over now, it was just... just a thing. And on that note, can we move on to a lighter topic, please?" Chrissy begged.
"I think that's a good idea," Tara answered.
Teeny squeezed Roberta's hand to make sure she was okay.
Roberta gave her a smile and moved on. "So, Chrissy, that guy on camp last year..."
"You mean that god-awful campsite in the woods, where they expected us to bond whilst climbing death trap obstacle courses?" Chrissy retorted.
"Yes, I seem to vaguely remembering you spending a long time on the bungee ramp," Roberta suggested, giving her a knowing look.
"Are you kidding me?! You think I would be flirting on top of that death dive!"
"I certainly do!" Roberta shot back again; she could see Chrissy's cheeks from across the fire, increasing in shades of pinkish-red.
"Yeah, well... I was really scared! He was the one who did the flirting, that is, before pushing me over. Like he has a chance now!"
"Aha! I knew it!" Sam was listening with wide eyes, hanging on to every word. She had known the rumors were true, but wanted Chrissy to admit it. She knew Roberta would be able to get it out of her, which was why she had tipped her off earlier on. Roberta gave Sam a wink and they both started laughing.
"Stop it! How do you do that?! How do you ALWAYS get me to confess?" Chrissy was trying to pout but really she was laughing with them inside. After all, the boy was kind of cute.
"It's my talent, girl," Roberta said and waited for the next question.
Chrissy took a moment to think, and finally she thought of a question. "Willow, your first kiss. Tell all."
"Oh..." Willow looked between Chrissy, who was desperate to hear the answer, and Tara, who was also turning a darker shade. She was a bit torn, it wasn't like she could drag Tara off or consider how much to tell. She realized that the others didn't even know that Tara was her first.
Willow looked back and forth awkwardly a few more times before Tara ended up giving her a nudge. She looked up quizzically, and Tara just nodded, giving her the okay.
"Well, okay, it was Tara," she said quickly. There was a harmony of "Aww" and "That's so cute" around the circle. This made them both laugh.
"Mom was away again, and the brats were at a friend's place. I was just pacing around this empty house doing nothing, it was just one of those nights. So I grabbed a towel and headed out. I think the lake has become our trade mark spot." She giggled.
"It was so beautiful, and such a hot night, I dived in the water as soon as I got there, well, here. And it turns out that Tara had had a fight with her Dad and had the same idea as me."
The girls looked sadly at Tara, not knowing she and her father were still having problems. She had stopped talking about it a while ago and they gave up asking.
"I guess we were both in the water, and fairly near to each other. I felt the water starting to move around me when I was still and I panicked. But then I turned around and saw this beautiful blonde hair glowing, and these piercing blue eyes looking straight at mine. And for some reason, I wasn't scared." Willow paused for a second to look at Tara and once again she was trapped in her gaze. She clasped Tara's hand, making small delicate circles with her thumb on her smooth skin, and continued.
"It was an odd moment, but definitely not a bad one, I think we were staring at each other for like five minutes before one of us looked away. It felt like that long, anyway, and I'd never take it back." She felt Tara squeeze her hand and she smiled.
"Yeah, yeah, get to the good stuff," Teeny teased.
"Well, there was this moment where I think I finally breathed for the first time since I had laid eyes on her, and we both sort of instinctively moved towards each other, and... that was my first kiss," Willow finished with a whisper, feeling a little embarrassed and moved as she remembered the night.
"That's when reality came back to both of us. We were sitting in a lake, at probably 2am, kissing a total stranger, not to mention she was a girl. I swam away," Tara said.
"I was totally dazed. I thought you were a mermaid." Willow giggled. "Or that I had been knocked out and was dreaming or something. But no, it was real. I watched her disappear into the woods. But being the persistent thing I am, I went there every night from then on, hoping she would come back, and she did." Willow glanced at Tara and her eyes were immediately trapped by an intense gaze. She had never seen Tara look at her like that before, with such... lust? No...
The group looked on, watching one of the sickliest sweet moments before their eyes.
Tara stood up, feeling the eyes laid on both of them, and pulled on Willow's hand to encourage her to do the same.
"We are going to go for a few minutes and... talk." Tara practically ran off with Willow tailing her, looking baffled.
"Yeah, talk..." Willow said as she was pulled into the darkness of the trees.
"Wow, I wonder what they need to talk about," Chrissy said innocently.
The group looked at Chrissy in disbelief. A few seconds passed.
"There it is," Buffy said as Chrissy's eyes grew two times their size in revelation.
"They can't do that! It's dark and scary! And..."
Roberta interrupted her, ignoring the horrified look on her friend's face. "Next question! Xander, you go."