Or actually, moving week. The past couple of days, Xander, Willow and Tara had spent the majority of their days making their new home fixed up and habitable. Xander was working on making the staircase more sturdy by shoring it up with an extra railing on the side, while Willow was on the loft putting their bed together. In the end, Tara and Willow had chosen to use Tara's bed for their new home, since it was larger than Willow's and capable of being disassembled.
Their new home was coming together quite nicely. The new paint made it seem all the more vibrant. Tara was sitting down, painting the last bits of the side-wall near the now open window, putting a finishing touch to it all. Finally, she finished and was relieved to be able to put down the roller and take off the breather-mask she was wearing.
"Lord Tara," Xander spoke in a raspy low voice. "Riiiisssseeee..."
"You're nuts, you know that, Xander?" Tara smiled. "But in a good way."
"You know, this is the perfect place for video nights," Xander said while putting away his nailgun. "Accoustic is perfect horror-movie screams. Particularly for The Thing 'Oh, my god, he's changing'-screams or Dawn of the Dead zombie moans."
Tara bit her lip for a moment. "Xander," she started. "You know I don't like zombie-movies." And she didn't. Philosophically, the subject was a no-go area for her. Zombies, as portrayed, in the movies, had hit exactly on one of the greatest worries of the Reaper community: what would happen if the humans would a way to revive the dead after the soul had risen from it. Medical technology was continuing to develop at an enormous rate, after all. There were two schools of thought among Reapers. One was that the revived body simply would have the guise of life; like a car without an engine, a body wouldn't run without a soul. The second school of thought was that the body would rise, but as an instinct driven machine, without thought, memory or conscience. For all intents and purposes, a zombie, like in the movies, but not exactly... they'd probably be dangerous, but they wouldn't be rotting corpses spreading an infection. The Reaper community was keeping a really good eye on medical development, regardless of the debate that was raging in Reaper academic circles.
In any case, the subject always made Tara feel really uncomfortable.
"Alright, alright, no zombie-movie conversations... which leaves me free to tell you some embarrassing stories about Willow," Xander winked. "Now Willow must have told you about her uncle Hershel, he's a rabbi in Seattle and one of the most Jewish men that ever lived. Seriously, this guy's composed entirely out of dredels. He's also one of the nicest men that ever lived. I'm pretty sure he knows that Willow's parents were sorta neglecting her, and he always invites her to Seattle each year for hannukkah to make sure she has a nice relaxing vacation. Usually, it's me, Buffy and Dawn who go with her these days, but I'm sure you'll get an invite too this year. Anyway, the first time she went was when she was five. And uncle Hershel asked if she'd like to bring a friend, which was me."
"He sounds like a nice man," Tara said while closing up the paint-cans and putting down the roller. "So, how is this an embarrassing story, Xander?"
"I was getting to that," Xander said. "Now, imagine Willow as a five year old girl in Seattle where it's snowing. The first snow Willow ever saw."
"Xander?" Willow called from the loft, with some concern in her voice. "Which story are you telling?"
"Now," Xander continued quickly. "She was dancing around in the snow like a mad hamster, loving every minute of it and then..."
"XANDER! DON'T YOU DARE!" Willow called from the loft.
"This big bird comes flying over," Xander continued with smirk. "I'm serious, it was big. Must have been an albatros. Poor Wills... Well, she got bombarded."
"Oh, my goddess," Tara giggled.
Xander laughed briefly. "Though if you'd heard Willow scream while she was running back inside, you'd think it'd been the planet's last Pteradactyl that had dropped his bombs and..." at that moment, a pillow flew from the loft and hit Xander in the head. Willow burst from the loft onto the stairs, almost tripping over her own two feet.
"... she was afraid to leave the house for two days after that," Xander chuckled as he lay on the floor while Willow hit him over the head with the pillow time and again and Tara collapsed on the floor from laughter.
The door opened and in came Anya. She took one look at the scene and put her hands on her hips. "See?" she called back to her companion, who was struggling to carry Willow's fishtank up the stairs and to the apartment. "I'm not feeling threatened at all. If Xander wants to play around with his lesbian friends, I feel comfortable enough to let him. I am such a good tolerant libertarian girlfriend."
"Oh, you're wonderful," Faith groaned while putting the fishtank on the ground and wiped the sweat from her brow. Faith always made a striking appearence in her usual leather pants and sleeveless short tank-top. Tiny print across her chest said : 'If you can read this clearly, you're .5 seconds away from a knee-meets-groin-moment'. For good measure, she had her hair tied back, spilling out from under a baseball cap which read 'I'm Faith, who the hell are you?'.
Buffy pushed past Faith and Anya and started sniffing around the new apartment, seeing what interesting new smells she could discover. The beige-furred mastiff sniffed one of the paintcans, promptly coughed and sauntered back to the couch, sniffed it, and then decided to collapse in front of the fake fireplace, letting out a typical doglike grunt.
"Oh, Faith," Willow said, throwing the pillow on top of a prone Xander for good measure. "We'd like the tank on the loft, please. If you could just..."
Faith glanced at the tank, then the stairs leading up to the loft, then the tank again. "I hate you, Red," Faith muttered. Immediately, Faith went to the task of dragging the tank upstairs. "Yo, Xander," she grunted. "Pick yourself up from the floor and help me carry this fish motel upstairs."
"Whatever happened to 'All the ladies, Independent'?" Xander smirked.
"I'll independently park this fishtank on your foot if you don't help me, Xander!" Faith hissed.
"Hey," Willow pouted. "Careful with my poor babies, Faith! I don't want my fishies to end up traumatized."
Xander and Faith started the arduous task of dragging the fishtank upstairs, while Anya and Dawn came in dragging a few boxes behind them. They shifted one to the side of the room and heaved the second top of the other. Immediately, Willow grabbed her clipboard from the table and checked the numbers on the boxes. "14 and 3. Sets of clothing," Willow said. "I think we have all the small stuff now."
Unfortunately, when Dawn leaned on top of box 3 for a rest, the box slid from the other and toppled to the floor.
"Not box 3," Willow muttered when it fell open and spilled its contents.
Box 3? Tara wondered... until she saw just what had fallen out of the box. Right. Box 3!
Red as beets, Willow and Tara stood there frozen, mortified as a small red and lacey pair of panties and a velvet green bodice were amongst the articles of clothing now on the floor for everyone to see.
"Oh, lovely," Anya smirked. "Even your naughty underwear is mismatched."
A quick dash to the underwear, and making sure the box was secured with six layers of duct-tape, ensured somewhat less embarrassement for Willow and Tara. While Anya and Dawn were helping themselves to the snacks Tara had prepared, Willow and Tara started to unpack... giving box 3 a wide berth.
"Uhm, Faith?" Willow called up to the loft. "On second thought, uhm, I think the fishtank'd better be here, at the window. More light for my fishies."
Tara could hear Faith grumble somewhat from the loft. She couldn't hear exactly, but she was sure it wasn't flattering.
"Sorry," Willow pouted sightly. "I'll give you some of my chocolate chip cookies, Faith."
Faith muttered again from the loft, this time a lot more enthusiastically. It was followed by a groan when she lifted the fishtank all by herself, Xander having long since fled down the stairs to throw himself on Tara's snacks after a long day of hard work.
Tara had just unrolled the painting of her grandfather which she'd removed from the frame and started looking for a place to hang it, when she noticed Willow giving her an odd look.
"Baby," Willow started carefully. "Do you really want to hang that painting in our new home? It's... so evil and frightening."
"It's my granddad," Tara protested. "Sweetie, he's the only member of my family aside from my mother who I was really close to."
"I know that," Willow pouted slightly. "But that painting just gives me the wiggins, baby."
Tara crossed her arms. She hated to do this, but she had to be resolute in this case. "Sweetie," Tara said, trying to keep a straight face. "I loved my granddad. There's going to be something of him in my house."
"Okay," Willow replied quickly. "But... does it really have to be that scary painting? Don't you have picture of him standing in a flower filled meadow surrounded by smiling cows. I mean, red glowing eyes, serrated scythe, stormy background. It's sorta depressing. Don't you have anything of him that's more like... fluffy bunnies and flowers?"
"Jaws," Tara smiled.
"Uh, jaws?" Willow raised an eyebrow.
"For hanging on the wall," Tara added.
"You want to hang your grandfather's dentures from the wall?" Willow blinked. "Cause that's even weirder than the painting."
"No, no, sweetie," Tara laughed. "My granddad took me on a lot of fishing trips when he was still alive and we had so much fun. We went to the St. Lawrence river in Canada all the time, best carp fishing in the world. And this one time, he took me to the Skeleton Coast where we went shark fishing. We actually caught a huge lemon shark just when it was getting dusk. It took us three hours to reel him in, 6 feet long, 220 pounds."
"Wow," Willow said. "Skeleton coast. Your granddad must have had a lot of money to hire a boat and fly you two out of there."
Well, we just used his own boat and teleported there, Tara thought. "He had some resources, yes. But, sweetie, if you won't give me the painting, I want to have the jaws of the shark we caught."
"Okay, deal," Willow replied, and they both shook hands on it. "But I'm expecting lotsa snuggles later."
"Those are free," Tara winked.
Willow opened another box and removed some items from it, mainly her old C64 computer. She gently held it in her arms and placed it into the display case that Xander had build for them. "It's nice to hear something about your family," she said while placing some pictures in frames next to her C64. "You never mentioned them much."
"Neither did you, sweetie," Tara said. "But there's not much to tell. My mom d-died when I was very young. I'm not close to my dad and my brother, but my grandfather and me were really c-close."
"Oh, hey!" Dawn called from the kitchen, her cellphone still in hand. "Buffy just finished class and she'll bring over your new TV. That is, if the TV survives the car-trip."
Their new TV. Considering they had to pay two months rent in advance, combined with a rather high deposit, they didn't have much money left for anything else besides the basics for a while. So, they mostly recycled their old furniture: Tara's old glass coffee-table stood in the middle of the living room, surrounded by both their old couches and a chair from Tara's apartment. Old rugs. Tara's dresser up to the loft. Old curtains in front of the windows. Both their old bookcases were disassembeled and, together with some old concrete blocks, made a fine and cheap replacement for all their books. Tara's desk was in the living room, Willow's up on the loft, facing the light of the window. But both of them only had a small TV. Willow had placed one of them on the loft, on top of a small table they'd found in somebody's trash so they could watch TV in bed.
Joyce had offered to give them the old Summers TV. Ever since Buffy had talked her mother into buying a widescreen, their old TV was just gathering dust in the cellar. Of course, the girls didn't want to just take it, so Tara offered her some money for it. Only, after supplies, hiring the moving van, the rent, the deposit, all they had left was 20 dollars. Still, it was a good deal for a reasonably new big TV.
"Class?" Xander asked.
"Classical literature," Dawn replied.
"I've never seen someone as disappointed as Buffy was when she decided to take classes in classical literature only to find out that Hercules was nothing like the fun-loving good guy Kevin Sorbo made him out to be," Xander said.
"Hm, Buffy's on her way?" Faith grunted, "I, um, I got some things to take care of, T. I'll be back later for the housewarming party later tonight. Come, Buff."
Faith's pooch grunted in annoyance, then sauntered off towards her mistress.
What was that all about? Tara wondered.
And so Tara found herself standing in her empty home. Old home, that is. Strangely enough, though she'd only lived here for a few months and the apartment was uncomfortably small, she was somewhat sad to leave here. She had had some wonderful times with Willow in this apartment and she regretted having to leave that behind.
All that was left here now were some bags and a few empty boxes. Tomorrow, she'd hand over the keys to her old landlord. She slung two of the bags over her shoulder and zipped open a third. The third bag contained her prize: the jaws of the Lemon shark, mounted on a wooden plaque.
She let the bags slid off her shoulder again and held the plaque in both hands, smiling to herself while remembering the days she and her grandfather had caught it. Three hours of fighting, her grandfather strapped in the chair while she was keeping the boat steady. Her grandfather had reeled in the shark inch by inch, tiring it out. The line had been so tense... the smallest of false move and the line would have snapped. In the end, they had won the fight and hauled their catch on board. Later, her grandfather had the shark's jaws prepared, mounted it on a plaque and gave it to Tara as a birthday gift.
He died peacefully in his sleep two days later. Tara had personally collected his soul and tearfully delivered it to the Head Office herself. It had been the second most painful moment of her life. Even though her mind knew that her grandfather wasn't really gone, her heart felt that something very important to her had been torn away forever.
Tara was disturbed in her thoughts when she felt a tingle across her spine. Someone was about to teleport in. And, sure enough, a few seconds later a man appeared in the middle of the room. After removing his hood, he was revealed to be somebody Tara hadn't seen since starting Harvester training.
"Dad," Tara greeted.
"Tara," the middle-aged and thin graying man responded gravely. "Your hair is longer," he stated matter-of-factly.
"Yours is g-grayer."
"You've lost weight."
"So did you."
"I got your card," Tara's father fished it from his cloak. Tara recognized it as one of the change-of-address cards she'd been sending out a few days back. "Moving twice within a few months. Your new posting must be working out well for you."
"It is," Tara replied. "Has Donny gotten his own posting yet?"
It was a jab. But she didn't feel guilty about it. Donny had made her life miserable when they were younger and she felt she owned him nothing now that she'd finally gained the upper hand.
"No," Donald Maclay sighed. "He's a tad too ruthless these days." Tara nodded in response.
"To the heart of the matter, Tara," Donald paced towards his only daughter. "Why did I have to hear from Mort that you are in a relationship?"
Tara figured the surprise on her face must have been noticed when her father continued. "Oh, don't think too harshly of him. I sort of swindled it out of him. I already suspected you met someone in your jurisdiction. Why else would you be moving to a different apartment?"
"You know about Willow?" Tara asked. Thank Death, he just thinks I met Willow while I lived here. If he'd known that Willow had actually been targeted for harvesting...
"Willow, is that her name?" Tara's father paced around in the name. "Let me put it bluntly, Tara, I don't approve of this relationship with her."
"I don't r-remember asking for your a-approval," Tara replied coldly. "If this is because Willow is a girl, I..."
"Her gender is not an issue," Donald broke in. "Nor is your sexuality. That was never an issue for me, Tara. What I am worried about is that fact that she's a mortal."
"We're all m-mortals, dad," Tara crossed her arms, staring sadly at the jaws in her hands.
"You know what I mean, so don't change the subject," Donald retorted. "Fact remains that this Willow is not a Reaper. There are so many perspective girls to pick from. Reaper girls. What about Kathy? Kathy was a Reaper."
"Kathy was insane," Tara shook her head.
Donald sighed. "But she's from a good, prominent Reaper family. Marrying her would have been good for your career. Just like that nice girl from the Hamptons... What was her name again? Called afted a Dead President.... Who... Ah, I remember. Van Buren!"
"She's not called Van Buren, dad. Nobody calls their kid Van Buren," Tara retorted. "Besides, she's mean... And she's a walking STD!"
"But she's a Reaper. From a good family."
"I suppose you'd like fetch a good bride-price for me too, dad," Tara scoffed. "I don't love her. I love Willow."
"Stubborn as always," Donald sighed. "Even your rude friend Faith would be preferable over a mortal."
Faith?! For a moment, Tara had a very, very weird mental image of she and Faith getting married in the traditional Reaper manner. But Faith, being her usual irreverant self, had hired Peter Falk to perform the ceremony and started flipping off the guests halfway through the ceremony. The bridal bouquet literally knocked someone unconscious, and the cutting of the cake ended up as a massive food fight. And when it was time to kiss the bride... No, no, no, eugh... Just too damn weird. Kissing Faith would be like kissing a sister.
"Don't be so old-fashioned, dad," Tara started after shaking off the mental image. "Reapers date non-Reapers all the time. It's no l-longer an i-issue."
"Tara," Donald sighed. "You belong with your own kind. We live in the world, but should keep to our own."
Tara realized she was still holding the jaws and put it down. "Granddad never thought like you do."
"My father," Donald started, "was one of the most vicious, ruthless and efficient Harvesters that ever lived. His handling of the JFK, Anwar Sadat and Buddy Holly harvestings will always be legendary within our society. Mortal society too."
"Granddad also told me to always follow my h-heart no matter what anyone says," Tara retorted.
"Ah," Donald sighed heavily and leaned into the windowsill next to Tara. "Good old loose cannon maverick dad. I knew him well."
"Dad, if you'd only meet her... I know you'll like Willow," Tara tried. "It's impossible not to like Willow. She's beautiful, smart, cute as a button and..."
Donald cut her off. "I don't want to know her, Tara."
Tara snapped her head towards her father and glared coldly at him. "Dad. Just for once... Just once, can't you just be h-happy for me?"
There was a moment of silence between father and daughter.
"I assume the girl was checked out by the Head Office..."
"Well, uh..." Tara gulped. "Uhm... not... as... such..."
Donald stared harshly at her. "But she knows about your calling? She... does... know about us?"
Tara just couldn't meet her father's eyes. She looked past him, staring outside the window into infinity.
"Oh, Tara," Donald sighed. "This'll only end in pain. Mark my words."
"Dad," Tara said softly. "Just go."
Donald shook his head. "Sweet Dahaka," he said. "You're digging your own grave here, Tara."
And so Tara's father donned his cloak again. "I'll be in touch, Tara," he said before teleporting away, leaving Tara staring into an empty room.
The jaws were hanging on a prominent place, above Willow's fish-tank. The housewarming party was going splendidly, or so Tara thought. All their friends were here, and they had brought wonderful gifts. Not gifts that were expensive in any way, but gifts that had true meaning behind the giving.
Xander had given them his prized McFarlane figurine of Ash. The wonderfully sculpted figure of Bruce Campbell, chainsaw poised in a striking position, had been placed in their new display case.
Considering Willow had a tendency of unwittingly killing all her own plants, Faith had given them the very thoughtful gift of a big plastic potted plant. Though Willow was a bit miffed about the implication, at least one plant in their home wouldn't turn into a sickly brown color.
Dawn had given them a project she had made in art-class. It was a painting she had done on a canvas and written a poem of her own making over it. Willow had decided to give it a prominent place above their bed on the loft.
Buffy had given them a dreamcatcher she had made herself, as a ways of keeping bad thoughts and despair of her friend's house. It was to be placed next to Dawn's poem.
Anya had given them fifty bucks. But from Anya, that was a gift from the heart. And, for Willow and Tara, it meant they could actually buy food until their paychecks would clear the next week.
The party was progessing nicely. Great music from Tara's stereo, and Xander was setting up the portable DVD player that Faith had lend them for movie-watching later. But Tara couldn't help but notice that Buffy and Faith were avoiding each other.
"DVD player should be hooked up and ready to go," Xander said. "In about five years. Somebody forgot to bring an S-video cable. I swear, some people don't know the first thing about AV hookups, unless it involves Kevin Sorbo in some way," he said, intending it as a playful jab at Buffy.
"Well, some people just don't realize that if they're told up front that it'll be just sex, they shouldn't expect anything," Faith said.
"Huh?" Xander replied. "Where the hell did that come from?"
Buffy shot her a look. "Well, then some people shouldn't have gone to dinners and movies and have long walks in the moonlight or talk and hug all night."
"Some people just don't realize that that's all just pillow talk and it doesn't entitle some people to anything," Faith retorted, crossing her arms and shifting away to avoid Buffy's poisonous gaze.
"Some people," Buffy started to tremble, "just don't realize when someone is willing to go against everything she knows, because she thinks some person is worth the effort."
"Some people," Faith bit her lip, "should know to quit when they're ahead."
"Some people," Buffy gritted her teeth, "are probably only interested in anything resembling a relationship if her significant other is wearing a raincoat, smoking cigars, driving in an old Renault and solve murders."
"Some people," Faith retorted, "should stop trying to change others, because they don't like it!"
"Some people," Buffy's eyes started to water, "are too dense to see that they are loved by someone."
"Some people," Faith replied, with a trembling lip, "should find someone who cares."
Buffy's tears started to run across her cheeks while sobs wracked her body. "Some people," Buffy said through her tears, "should run out on the streets and get hit by a bus!" That said, Buffy ran to the door and could be heard storming down the stairs.
"I... I'll be on the balcony," Faith said and made her way to the back door.
And so four confused friends were left sitting on the couch.
"Okay," Xander was the first to speak up. "What the hell just happened?"
Anya raised her hand. "I know," she said. "They're boinking." A simple statement that almost caused Xander to faint and make Dawn's eyes almost pop out of her skull.
"I, uh," Tara started, "think I should talk to Faith."
"Buffy," Willow said while making her way to the staircase.
Willow found Buffy sitting on the bench just outside of their apartment, crying quietly. She sat down next to her friend, putting her hand on her shoulder. Buffy put her own hand on Willow's and squeezed it, trying to help the other girl to regain some of her composure.
"I'm not gay," Buffy spoke softly while looking into Willow's eyes.
"It's okay if you are, Buff," Willow gave her a half-smile. "You never judged me. I'd never judge you."
"No, no, it's not that," Buffy sighed. "It's just that... I've always been into guys, you know? And I still think men are hot... well, except for Kevin Costner, obviously, but... it's different with Faith, you know? She," Buffy blushed slightly. "She gives me the fuzzies, you know?"
"The fuzzies are important, Buff," Willow smiled.
"She was right, you know?" Buffy sighed. "It started out just as sex, like she said. She just... completely seduced me. I admit, I was really curious, but I really don't know why I went for it. Maybe it was her attitude, or just something in her eyes. She has the most gorgeous eyes, Will. A-Are you freaked, Will?"
"No, Buff, not at all, Buff. In no way am I freaked, Buff... Don't mind me, I just keep saying Buff, Buff," Willow sighed and calmed herself for a moment. "You don't have to make excuses for my sake, Buffy. I kinda understand the girl-girl attraction."
"I just figured," Buffy smiled in spite of herself. "If it's good enough for Will, it's good enough for me. But, it wasn't sex, Will... Faith made love to me, it had to be. I mean, it was just incredible, Will. She was so gentle, so... attentitive and soft. I really felt like I was the center of her world. We... started out as a one-night stand, but... I wanted more, Will. And, I thought Faith wanted more too..." Buffy sniffed. "I think I love her."
Willow put her hand on Buffy's shoulder. "That's great, Buffy."
"Faith doesn't love me," Buffy sniffed. "To her I'm just a... notch in her bedpost."
Willow took Buffy in her hug, letting her cry on her shoulder. "Why does this always happen to me? First Angel, then Parker, then Riley and now Faith... I'm gonna be alone all my life and die as a lonely old lady surrounded by twenty cats."
"Faith?" Tara asked softly as she stepped on the balcony. She found Faith standing with her back to her, quietly hunched over the railing, watching the night-sky.
Is... Is she sobbing?!
"T," Faith took a few deep breath. "I, uh, I got something in my eyes. It's, um, all the woodshavings floating on the air. Be five-by-five in a minute."
Tara moved to stand next to her, leaning against the railing. "You and B-buffy?" she asked.
"She said she loved me," Faith retorted. "Here we having stupendously great sex, and out the blue she says 'I love you' to me. God, doesn't she realize what a mood-killer that is?!"
"If Willow tells me that she loves me while we're making love..."
Faith scoffed. "Yeah, well, that's different. Cause you're Tara and I'm Faith. One-night stand Faith."
"Buffy isn't a one-night s-stand to you, is she?" Tara offered.
Faith snapped her head towards her friend to look Tara in the eye, but her fierce expression softened. "I... enjoy having her near. I ache for her when she's not with me. When we have sex, it's like there's a fire burning inside of me."
"You're in love, Faith," Tara said matter-of-factly. "I happens to the best of us."
"I'm scared, Tara," Faith sobbed. "I always mess things up. I don't wanna do that with Buffy."
"Do you drive her off?" Tara replied. "Isn't that like driving the wolves away by herding the sheep off a cliff? Why not just try?"
Faith looked at her for a moment through tear-filled eyes.
"Y-you're lonely, Faith," Tara tried to smile encouragingly. "Admit it."
"Ah," Faith scoffed. "I only need you and my dog, T. That's it."
"You're the loneliest person I know, Faith," Tara sighed. "You hide it under your bravado, but I know how it feels. I know what loneliness is like. You deserve b-better. You deserve happiness too, Faith."
Faith sighed. "So you want me to go to Buffy and grovel?"
"It'd be a good start," Tara smirked. "You have a chance for happiness here, Faith. Don't let it slip away."
Together, Faith and Tara stepped inside the house and onto the stairs. At some points, Tara literally had to drag Faith along, until they reached the street. There, Willow stood up from the bench and walked to Tara, while Faith slowly made her way to Buffy sitting on the bench and sat down next to her.
Willow and Tara watched for a moment, while Faith spoke a few words to Buffy. In response, the feisty blonde shifted closer to Faith and actually laid her head on the dark-haired girl's shoulders. It was at that point that Willow and Tara decided to give the two other girls some privacy. They had a lot to discuss.
"Is it me?" Xander sighed. "Do I drive women to the girl-girl pursuasion purely by being near them?"
"I'm not gay," Dawn and Anya spoke at the same time.
"Good," Xander smiled. "Good... Ahn, don't sit so close to Dawnie. Just making sure here."
"This is so cool!" Dawn grinned and scribbled vigorously on a notepad. "Plotlines, plotlines, plotlines. I can build an entire subtext thingy in my stories now. Wicked!"
Tara couldn't resist but sneak a peek by looking out of the open window. She could see the bench from here, and from the look of things, their conversation was going well: Faith and Buffy were liplocked and in such a manner that it made Tara feel like a voyeur for looking in. She quickly withdrew from the window, right into the arms of Willow, who suggested a dance.
A few minutes later, Willow and Tara, and Xander and Anya were slowdancing to a timeless classic. Though Dawn had no dancepartner, she was only happy to be the DJ for the evening.
I've been waiting for a girl like you to come into my life
Tara closed her eyes and realized just how poignant these lyrics were. Everything in her life was going so well. A beautiful new home, which she shared with a beautiful girlfriend. A good job, good friends. She held Willow a little more tightly for good measure.
"Hey, Dawn," Xander called over. "What time did Joyce say she'd be coming over? I've got The Big Lebowski ready start spinning in the DVD player."
"Oh," Dawn replied. "Right about... Now, I think."
Tara realized she'd have to warn Buffy and Faith, but just then...
"BUFFY!" the sound of Joyce's horrified voice could be heard from the open window. "WHAT ARE YOU DOING?!"
"MOM!" Buffy replied. "I... I'm not gay!"
"Yes, you are," Faith could be heart, the humor evident in her voice.
"How about that, Faith and Buffy," Willow smiled while she crawled into bed after a long day and snuggled close to Tara. "Do you think Joyce'll recover?"
"Sure," Tara said while wrapping her arms around her Willow. "She's very open-minded. She'll live."
"Actually, I was thinking more of Joyce hitting her head on the pavement when she fainted."
"Oh, bit of a headache," Tara shrugged. "She'll live. She was more or less coherent when we were watching the Big Lebowski."
Willow and Tara stared through the skyline, into the clear star-filled sky. What had happened today with Faith, as well as her father, had made her think. Faith had almost thrown away a chance of happiness out of fear... and even though Faith had been rude to her, Buffy had forgiven her for it. Because she loved her. Tara was going through the same thing... she hadn't told Willow the truth because of fear. Fear that she wouldn't understand, fear that she would be disgusted, fear that she would be afraid of her. But she was starting to realize that she hadn't been giving Willow enough credit. Willow loved her... and she was sure Willow loved her enough to understand. She was so sure she'd understand.
And then she finally made the decision. She was going to tell Willow everything.
"We've never made love under the stars, have we?" Willow smirked, a naughty twinkle in her green eyes.
And as the giggling girls slid underneath the duvet, Tara's last coherent thought before beginning her descent into extasy was : Tomorrow. Tomorrow, I'll tell her everything.
End note: Alright, honestly time. The embarrassing story about Willow is actually true. Because it happened to me when I was five. And I swear, it was a seagull with a wingspan of 18ft at least! And I stayed inside for a week, not two days, so Willow is braver than I am