"Remember," Tara said. "This is my cellphone number. You can call me whenever you need help, but, uh, don't call me too much. I'm on leave, after all."
Her temporary replacement, a young slip of a girl, freshly out of her apprenticeship, nodded meekly. "Y-yes, ma'am."
"Hey," Tara laid her hand on the girl's shoulder and squeezed slightly. "You're going to do fine. Your hotel-room is booked for the next 10 days. Sunnydale is a quiet place, much less hectic than LA. You'll like it here/"
The girl smiled briefly and nodded again, apparently somewhat calmed down. Tara said her goodbyes, and left the girl in the expresso-pump to join Faith outside.
"That's your temp replacement?" Faith asked while the two of them hit the pavement and made their way to Revello Drive underneath the morning sun. "How old is she?"
"15," Tara replied. "Barely out of her training cloak. Poor thing, she's so nervous. This is her first unsupervised assignment."
"I talked to Gunn, he'll be taking care of my duties here while we're gone," Faith replied. "He's pretty laid-back, so I doubt he'll give her any problems."
Tara and Faith rounded around the corner, already having reached Revello Drive. Casa de Summers was still a few minutes away, but a walk was invigorating. The neighborhood was slowly waking up. Two joggers passed them, a few people came out to fetch their newspapers and one terrified mail-man was being chased by a snarling german shepard. "Hm, were we ever that young, Faith?"
"Yep," Faith grinned when the Summers SUV came into view. Xander, Buffy and Dawn were loading in the luggage while Anya was giving (seemingly useless) directions.
"Hey," Faith greeted, and handed her backpack to Xander to have it loaded into the trunk. "Are we ready to go?"
"Just a minute!" Willow called over before turning back to Joyce. "Thanks for taking care of my fish while I'm away."
"Not a problem, though... why you handed me a twelve page feeding schedule is beyond me. I take care of your fish every year, and nothing ever goes wrong, Willow," Joyce raised an eyebrow.
Willow smiled at her and then pointed at the schedule. "It's not so much for the fish as for me. Gives me peace of mind, you know. I know my fishies are safe with you."
"Thanks for taking care of Buffy, too," Faith said while kneeling down in front of her mastiff. She petted and hugged her dog, while she licked Faith's face enthusiastically. "Ew, dogbreath." Faith giggled.
Tara and Faith were the last ones to enter the car. This year, Willow would be driving the car to Seattle. Officially, because it would be a good way for Willow to gain some on-the-road driving experience. Unofficially, it was because Buffy scared the bejesus out of everyone the last time she drove to Seattle.
And so the friends started their road trip from Sunnydale to Seattle. And, as Tara quickly found out, Willow having a driver's license was not 100% a good thing. For one thing, it meant no more backseat hugs and/or smoochies, because she was in the backseat and Willow was allllll the way in the driver's seat, so close and yet so far away. And since Xander traditionally rode shotgun, there wouldn't be any illicit front-seat smoochies while driving either.
Tara jealously regarded the neatly intertwined Buffy and Faith and decided to focus her attention on helping Dawn, who was using Willow's laptop to work on her latest story.
Looking at Willow, she could still see that her girlfriend was giddy. Two weeks back, Willow had been chosen to participate in a highly coveted university sponsored internship at a computer company of her choice. Thanks to her dedication and, let's face it, undoubted brilliance, Willow had been approached by head-hunters of a few major international companies, but between the many offered portfolios, Willow had found a relatively small, but local company. Though they weren't able to offer her as much money as, well, basically all the other companies, they were the ones who offered her the most freedom, both personal and creative. Besides, all the time she would otherwise lose to commuting, she could now spend as extra Tara-time. A good thing.
Halfway through the trip, the gang decided to stop over in the least dingy looking roadside motel to spend the night. After enjoying a quick bite in the nearest truck-stop, the gang made use of the motel pool before turning in to the mind.
Unfortunately, Dawn didn't end up having a good night. Though she was eager to have her own private room, the motel actually had very, very thin walls and her neighbors didn't exactly have sleep on their minds. And, as Dawn found out, the combination of being in a motel with thin walls and having the room sandwiched in between Xander and Anya's and Buffy and Faith's, was not a very good one.
At some point during the night, Dawn had decided to take her revenge: if she wouldn't be able to sleep, nobody could. She waited until the couples next to her were reasonably spent, locked her door and then turned up her favorite CD to the highest volume. And thus her friends had spent 15 minutes banging on the door until Dawn turned down the music. The entire happening left Willow to wonder when Dawn had stopped listening to sugary 'My Little Pony' soundtracks and swapped those for hardcore scandinavian death metal.
The next day, Dawn was the most self-satisfied of the lot sitting in the back of the car, while the others seemed a bit more tired than usual.
"Dawn?" Willow asked from behind the wheel, while Faith, Buffy and Xander were fast asleep. "It's rapture, it's pain, it's bodies bleeding in the rain? I'm the god of loss and pain?"
Dawn shrugged. "I like the beat."
It was almost evening when the gang hit Seattle. Tara had never been here before, but she felt the city had a different, more welcoming atmosphere than L.A. The Space Needle was looming in the distance while Willow drove along Elliot Bay and headed towards a coastal strip.
"You'll love it here, Tara," Willow said. "Uncle Hershel lives near the Aquarium and the Pike Place Marketplace. I look forward to this trip all year, you know? Oh, we're almost there?"
"Are we there yet?" Dawn yawned on cue, shaking the others awake.
Willow pulled the car into the driveway in front of a big two-story house with a big lawn and what looked like a large yard filled with trees and shrubs, giving the house a peaceful and serene look to it. A light turned on in the vestibule, and out stepped a portly man with oversized glasses and a friendly, welcoming smile.
"How's my favorite niece?" the man greeted and took the red-head in a massive bear-hug.
"I'm your only niece, uncle Hershel," Willow hugged him back. "Aunt Jennifer!" Willow squealed and fell into the arms of a raven haired lady with an equally welcoming smile.
"Hey, there!" Xander greeted while he and the girls came carrying their luggage.
"Xander, Buffy, Dawn good to see you again," Hershel chuckled. "Oh, and two new visitors I see," he said as Faith and Tara walked up to the porch. While Jennifer helped the others get to their rooms to get rid of their luggage, Willow took Tara by the hand.
"Uncle Hershel, this is my Tara," Willow said. "Tara, this is my uncle Hershel."
"Ah, so this is Tara," he said. Tara flinched when the kindly man actually hugged, but she feel quite welcome. "Willow told me a lot about you."
A window opened on the second floor. "Tara denies everything!" Dawn called down.
"Hey!" Willow pouted. "I resent that!"
"Come on inside," Hershel wrapped an arm around Willow's shoulder. "Dinner's on the table."
Tara, like the others, were hanging on Hershel's lips as he was telling his stories over dinner. He was a warm, kind man with a great sense of humor, and had set out to make Willow and her friends feel right at home.
Willow had told her that Hershel had found out quite early on that his brother's daughter was often left alone to the point of neglect, and had offered Willow to spent Hanukkah with him so she could receive the attention she deserved. Young Willow quite enjoyed her time and soon it had turned into an annual tradition. Eventually, two years in a row, Willow had spent all summer with her uncle Hershel and aunt Jennifer, until her mother had put a stop to it, claiming it was bad for Willow psyche. The tradition of celebrating Hanukka in Seattle stood, however. In fact, Hershel never minded that Willow brought along friends. Xander was the first to join Willow on their trip, and so did Buffy and Dawn after Willow and Buffy had become friends in highschool. And now, Anya, Tara and Faith were the newcomers.
Hershel, a rabbi active for the Reform Judaism movement and a professional political activist, had millions of funny stories to tell, and he was well into a fifth tale while Tara was tasting one of Jennifer's latka's.
"... and so that skinhead just stood there looking angry... which was easy for him because he was bald, stupid and only had one eyebrow," Hershel regaled.
"Oh, yeah, sure sign of stupidity," Xander confirmed. "What kind of person thinks it's a good idea to tattoo a swastika on his own cheek with some ink and a stiletto?"
"Well, tattoos are expensive," Anya said. "Maybe he was just trying to save some money... which is a noble thing in itself, mind you."
"I suppose," Hershel shrugged. "But then that skinhead just shook his fist and called me an F-word Jew."
"Whoa," Dawn blinked. "Did you call the police?"
"Are you kidding? I punched his lights out with an impressing F-word uppercut," Hershel shook with laughter. "I swear, he rocked around like a tree about to fall down. So he hits the pavement face-first. Luckily for him, his fall was broken by fresh dog droppings, so his forehead wasn't all that hurt."
Faith applauded briefly. She was, after all, a fan of poetic justice.
"Seriously, kids," Hershel took both Willow and Tara's hand. "Don't ever let them tell you that your relationship is wrong. Remember the word of God : If thou speaketh and spread hatred in my Name, I shallt come down from the very Heavens and personally kick thine dumb arse from here to Milan!"
"I don't remember that from the Bible," Buffy scratched her head. "But I did only have the illustrated version. The one where Gabriel has the fold-out wings."
"Ach," Hershel smirked. "God's a busy man, you know? And he can't be expected to get all the details right. But I'm sure he would have put that in every holy book there is, if he had gotten around to it."
"I feel so welcome here," Tara said sincerely. "Thanks for having us over."
"Not a problem," Hershel smiled. "I'm just happy that Willow has wonderful friends... and that my idiot brother's finally seen the light and decided to spend some of his precious time with his daughter. And, Sheila, well..."
Tara heard Hershel mutter something in Yiddish. Though Tara couldn't make out much of it, she could clearly hear the word 'meshuggener'.
A few hours later, most people had gone to bed, leaving only Willow, Faith and Tara sitting on the porch, chatting softly before going to bed. However, the peaceful ambiance was disturbed by Tara's cellphone.
"Okay, Rosella, calm down," Tara spoke softly into her phone. "Take a few deep breaths, alright? It's gonna be okay."
Willow watched Tara listening to the girl on the phone for a moment, but even from a distance, it was obvious the girl was quite distraught.
"What happened?" Faith asked.
Tara covered her phone with her hand. "Shotgun Divorce," she whispered.
"On her first day?" Faith replied. "Ouch."
"Shotgun Divorce?" Willow asked.
"Yeah," Faith shrugged. "Man killing wife or woman killing husband. Murder always leaves a strong emotional imprint on the environment. Can really mess up an unprepared Reaper."
"Okay, Rosella," Tara whispered. "You have to calm down. You can't help the soul if you're not calmed down. That'll make the feelings you're having go away. Sssssh, just sit down, take a few deep breaths. You'll be fine," she told her replacement, and covered her phone again. "Guys, I'll be back in a bit. I'll have to talk her through this.
"Ah, time to turn in," Faith shrugged while Tara whispered into her phone. "B's probably waiting for me."
After a long, relaxing night's sleep, the gang was ready to do what every visitor to Seattle does : playing tourist. While Hershel and Jennifer took Xander, Anya and Dawn to the aquarium, Willow had opted for the recently opened Computer Museum.
Located in a large hall, the museum housed all manner of ancient and new computers, often in working condition. Faith and Buffy had tagged along for the ride. Even before they had entered the museum, Willow was glued to the display window outside the ticketbooth, intent on studying the ancient computer within. Tara wrapped her arms around Willow's waist and gently pulled her free... the word 'velcro' came to mind.
"Oh... my... god..." Willow gasped when they entered nerd-heaven. "Look at that! Look at that! It's a MITS Altair 8800! It even has the original 8 inch floppy drive! God, I want one! OOOH! It's an IBM portable 5100! That one cost 20000 dollars, weighs 55 pounds and had all of 1.9 Mhz of CPU speed and 16K ram. Just check out that built-in 5 inch screen! Look! It's a Radio Shack Pocket Computer! Oh, and there's a Commodore VIC-20."
"I think we broke her," Faith scratched her head. "I'm gonna check out the gaming consoles later."
Tara was happy that her girlfriend was... deliriously happy, in fact, but Buffy already looked bored.
The computers in the museum were mostly behind glass, but some were set up for use by the visitors. And in one wing of the museum gaming consoles of yesteryear were set up for immediate play. Tara decided to keep Buffy company in the restaurant, and Willow was off.
Willow roamed from display case to display case, making sure to take everything in. She was convinced that, if there was a heaven, this is what it must look like. Faith was always one step behind her, giving the computers an interested, yet more cursory glance.
"Ahum," she heard behind her. Willow frowned and turned around.
In front of her stood a stereotypical nerd, complete with taped glasses, pocket-protector, overbite and greasy black hair. "Well, hello there, little lady," he grinned, making Willow feel slightly uncomfortable when his eyes roamed across her body... and not exactly looking her in the eye when he talked to her. "So, like this little machine, ey? Well, I know all about it. Allow me to..."
"Actually, I already know," Willow crossed her arms in front of her chest, blocking the nerd's view. "This is an Apple Lisa, with a 5 Mhz Motorola 68000 CPU core, 1 megabyte of ram and a twelve inch monochrome monitor built in. Check out the 5 meg external harddrive, same size as the whole computer. This is known to be the first commercially available computer with a Graphic User Interface, and the first to make proper use of a mouse. Should I go on, fellah?"
When Willow had finished her story, the nerd stared at her with open mouth while Willow smirked in victory. The nerd blinked... and blinked again.
"Red," Faith chuckled. "I think you just gave this dude an orgasm."
"Ewwww," Willow made a face.
Soon enough, the nerd was joined by two equally nerdy boys. "Hey," spoke the first nerd. "This red-haired girl's in the zone, guys. She's one of us!"
"Not bloody likely," Faith snickered.
"So, uh," grinned the head-nerd. "Uh, how'd you come over to our flat. We've got a whole room filled with the latest and most impressive hardware. Heh, do you like that baby? That we have hardware?" his eyebrows moved suggestively. "The lastest and most impressive hardware."
"Hard!" giggled one of the nerds.
"Yeah," said the first nerd. "Maybe she'd like it if we run her software on our big oversized hardware."
Willow sighed heavily and turned to Faith. "Ugh, you see, this is why I always pretend to be a guy when I post on the hardware forums."
"Come on, sweetie," slurred the head nerd. "I've got Nvidia sized hardware, babe! You'll need TWO molex connectors to keep us going!"
"Hey!" Willow retorted angrily. "There's only one person in the world who can call me sweetie, and you ain't her, fellah! So you might as well quit while you're ahead or I'll get really angry and you won't like me when I get really angry."
"Her?!" the lead nerd blinked.
"Whoa! So you're a..."
"That is so HOT!"
"Does your girlfriend like to configure your software? I bet she does..."
Willow fumed for a moment, then turned around. "That's it, I'm leaving."
"And I'm laughing at the silly virgins," Faith chuckled while she joined Willow.
"HEY!" called the head nerd after them. "Send us naked pictures!"
"Ah, an Amiga 2000," sounded a voice next to Willow. Glancing over her shoulder, she could see it was another guy. He didn't seem to be a nerd, but then again, everybody inside the museum was a nerd by default. "Brings back memories."
"Never had one," Willow replied. "I made the switch to PC after my Commodore 64."
"Call me a romantic, but I fondly remember my Amiga," he grinned. "Hi, name's Grant."
"Hi, I'm Willow."
He was tall, wore glasses, but seemed to be more respectful than the guys she had just met.
"I had a 386 after my Commodore 64," Willow replied. "Moved on to a 486 a year later."
"Heh, I tried to run Doom on my old 386," Grant replied. "I had to overclock my memory and CPU to make it run respectably, though."
"Me too!" Willow grinned. "Ah, back in the days before jumperless mainboards and failsafes."
"I know," Grant smirked. "You haven't lived until you've fried at least one mainboard in your life."
"Oh, too true."
"Say, would like to join me for lunch at the restaurant? We could share some more anecdotes."
"Thanks, but I'm already spoken for," Willow replied.
"Too bad. It was worth a shot," Grant shrugged.
Sitting in the restaurant, looking over the museum's floor below, Tara and Buffy were looking for their girlfriends. Sitting in a chair with a seat shaped like an old 5 1/4 inch floppy disk and at a table shaped like an oversized CD-rom, they were certainly in the computer mood.
"We're not loving this, are we?" Buffy asked.
"Nope," Tara smiled. "Computers intimidate me. And being in a building filled to the brim with computers... Well..."
"I gotcha," Buffy replied. "I just hope the food is good. Just what the hell is Intel-flavored icecream?"
"I'm more worried about the Microsoft Goulash," Tara said. "Buffy, can I ask you a question?"
"Does Willow seem... jittery to you?"
Buffy frowned. "What do you mean?"
"I mean... she just seems really nervous. She has been all week before we left. Now, there's the internship, the whole trip, driving across country... visiting this museum, so I understand her being nervous but... I know Willow and she's... Is there something wrong? Is there something going on that I should know about?"
Buffy seemed stricken... and actually gulped. "Well, uh, Tare, I, uh, she's probably nervous because of all those reasons you said and... well, she's Willow, so she gets nervous easily. So, uh, I shouldn't worry about it. There's nothing going on at all, nothing. Nope. Nada. Absolutely zilch."
Tara was even more worried now.
"You know, I never expected Faith to be a tech-head," Buffy said, changing the subject in a most spectacular way. Tara however, was grateful to avoid an awkward moment.
"Oh, Faith is more into gadgetry and game consoles and there are plenty of those down there. Did you know that Faith was one of the first people in the US to own a tamagotchi?"
"No," Buffy replied.
"Oh, yeah. She got the first Furby too. She actually punched and kicked her way through kids and their parents at the toyshop to get one of those things for herself. Faith always had the most fun with the tamagotchi, though. She was always coming up with new ways to kill it."
A waitress, dressed in a weird hat shaped like a CPU cooler, stepped up to them. "May I take your order?"
"Yeah, uhm, I'll have the Macintosh steak with a side order of Vista fries. Oh, and a small coffee," Tara replied.
"Oh, I'm feeling lucky. I'll just go with the Linux surprise."
Ironically, the part of the museum that Buffy liked the most was the souvernir-shop. She spent a long time browsing through the T-shirt and picked out a few gifts for her friends. She had bought a pacman travel-chess set for Dawn, a Crash Bandicoot T-shirt for Xander and a Micro$oft shirt for Anya.
Faith had bought a few tacky Playstation related gadgets for herself, while Willow was checking out the mousepads.
"Oh, just look at that, how tacky," Willow scoffed at a gelpack mousepad. On the mousepad, a scantily clad 3-d animated girl winked at the user, while the wrist-supporting gel was located on her chest, divided into two impressive breast-shaped mounts. "That's just demeaning to women, that is."
"Really?" Tara half-smiled. "Then why did you bring one of those home from Jenny's shop a few months back, sweetie?"
Willow's face flashed as red as her hair. "Uh, well, I, uh... I... It's not really, uh..."
"Hm?" Tara playfully raised an eyebrow, while Buffy and Faith had a good laugh at Willow's expense.
"Traitor!" Willow smirked and treated Tara to a soft swat against the arm.
That evening, Willow had taken Tara apart from the others and told her she was going to surprise her. Willow drove Tara to a small restaurant at the beach, overlooking Elliot bay at the night. Willow took her to a more secluded part of the restaurant, where food was already waiting for them. Nice freshly baked bread, mushroom soup and a bed of oysters on a silver tray.
"This is so nice," Tara smiled while she took in the atmosphere. Nice scented candles, good food, a nice secluded booth and a man playing the violin within earshot. And, best of all, Willow. Still, it worried Tara that Willow was very jittery.
"Tara?" Willow started nervously. "I, uh, wanted to tell you something. I love you Tara, it's that simple. I love you so very much that no words can ever do it justice."
"Oh, sweetie, I..."
"No, wait, let me finish before I get too nervous to talk," Willow took a few deep breaths. "We've only known each other for almost a year, but you've changed my life and so much for the better. Whenever I'm in pain, you're there for me. Whenever I need you the most, you are there for me. We laugh together, we cry together, we love together. And you make the best pancakes I've ever eaten... Tara, you're the kindest and gentlest person I have ever known, and I count my lucky stars that you have chosen to be with someone like me. I never expected that someone, least of all someone as wonderful as you, would ever fall in love with geeky, awkward Willow. Look, what I want to say is.... have an oyster!"
"Uh... okay," Tara frowned, her cheeks still red from the blush.
Willow took one of Tara's hands, picked an oyster from the tray in front of them and handed it to Tara. Tara noticed that Willow was at the edge of her seat, with sheer intensity in her eyes, when she picked up the oyster, which was soon replaced with devastating disappointment after the oyster slipped into her mouth.
"So, uh... Tara, when we first met in the coffee shop, I was so wowed. You were the most beautiful woman I have ever seen. To this day, I believe our meeting was no coincidence, you know? It's as if we were destined to meet and be together. I'm an agnostic, so I'm not supposed to believe in fate, but there's no other way I can explain it. Tara, I... have another oyster!" Willow finished and fed Tara another oyster.
And again there was disappointment in Willow's eyes after Tara had eaten it. Oddly enough, Tara heard whispers from the other booth behind her. "Willow?" Tara asked. "Is something wrong? You know you can tell me everything, sweetie."
"Tara?" Willow asked. "You're my world. My everything. Now, I know we might both be young and I'm still in school, but... I just can't imagine spending the rest of my life with any other person than you, Tara. Have another oyster!"
"Willow, what is this about?" Tara frowned as she ate another oyster. "I love you too, sweetie. So very, very much. But there's no need to make me blush like this."
"I know it's going to be a big step, but we already live together, and I'm still in school. But I'm starting my internship soon and I'll be getting my masters one year earlier, probably, so... Another oyster?" Willow tried and gave her another shell.
"Will," Tara smirked. "If this is about tonight, trust me, I won't need an aphrodesiac to..."
Suddenly, a terrible pain shot through every fiber Tara's being when she bit down on something very, very hard. After a short yelp, the offending object shot down her throat and directly into her windpipe. Tara grasped for her throat while gasping for air.
"Tara?" a stricken Willow whispered. "Oh, god, no, Tara! TARA!"
Tara was starting to see black spots in front of her eyes while she slid back in her seat. For a moment, she felt as if she was outside of her body, looking on what was happening around her. Suddenly, Buffy, Faith, Dawn, Anya, Xander, and even Hershel and Jennifer were standing around her.... two strong arms surrounded her chest.
Hold on, T, sounded Faith before she felt strong pressure around her midriff. And again... and again...
Finally, the offending object shot from her throat and hit her plate with a resounding 'ting'. She was free to breathe now, and took a few moments to recover. "S-sorry about that. I... I had an accident. W-what are you guys doing here? I..."
And then Tara saw the object that had almost choked her. On her plate lay a beautiful golden ring.
"Tara?" Willow trembled from nervousness. "Will you marry me?"
Tears sprang from Tara's eyes. "Oh, Willow, I..." Tara suddenly grasped at her cheek. "I think I broke a tooth."
As it turned out, Tara had broken four teeth. After the unlucky bite on the ring, four of her molars had been shattered, exposing the nerves and causing her a great deal of pain. In fact, Tara seemed to be in so much pain that Hershel drove her to the emergency room immediately.
During the ride there, Tara was in so much pain she was to the point of fainting when they were almost there. All the while, a very guilty Willow held on to her beloved Tara while crying her eyes out.
When Tara was rushed in, it was decided by the dentist on duty that Tara needed complex emergency oral surgery to have four crowns installed where the teeth had broken off. Several hours later, Tara was released to her beloved Willow and her waiting family. The honey-blonde, however, was resolutely incoherent due to being doped up and had her mouth stuffed with cotton.
When they arrived at Hershel's home, Jennifer immediately brought Tara to bed. It took mere seconds for Tara to fall into a deep slumber.
For Willow, her best-laid plan had turned into a nightmare. Not only had she hurt the person she loved most in the world, but the incredibly nervous Willow had never even received an answer. Tara had either been in too much pain, too much doped up or had her mouth stuffed with cotton to give her that much desired 'yes'. For all she knew, Tara would think they'd be too young to get married, or just simply not ready. The idea that Tara could say 'no' to her proposal was devastating to even think about.
Fresh tears kept rolling over Willow's cheeks as she sat with Tara for hours, holding and rubbing her hand. When she got tired herself, she laid down next to Tara, often running her hand through Tara's silky-soft hair. Willow promised herself she'd be baking her loved a tray of cookies every single day from now and to forever to make up for this.
Finally, when the sun came up and poured in through the window, Tara stirred, and her eyes fluttered open. Willow propped herself up and locked eyes with the love of her life. But before she could say anything, a single whispered word came out of Tara's mouth.
A very tired Willow was holding on to an equally tired Tara. Though they both decided to spend some time resting, they were too excited to sleep.
"We need a cake," Willow murmured.
"Oh, a really big one. Five layers at least," Tara grinned.
"Oh, and another cake. A kosher cake for uncle Hershel."
"All our friends'll be there," Tara said. "I can't wait to see you in a white gown."
"Huh?" Willow pouted. "I thought you'd be in the gown. A lovely long Tara-gown."
"We can both be in gowns. We're both brides."
"Both in a tux? Or would that be weird?"
"Well, it is tradition."
"But we're not..."
"Who is these days?"
"The computer museum!"
"Do that, and I'll file for divorce."
"Okay, okay, sheesh."
"Wanna snuggle? Naughty snuggles?"
"My mouth still hurts, sweetie. Not just yet."
"So sorry. I wanted to surprise you, be romantic... but the chef forgot to mark the oyster the ring was in and then..."
"Ssssh, sweetie, it's okay."
"Are we getting married in march? First day of spring?"
"I'd love that."
"I love you."
"I love you more."
Willow yawned. "Let's sleep a little, but..." Willow disentangled herself from her lover and staggered towards her computer. She called up the hotmail screen, clicked on her entire address book and typed : "SHE SAID YESSSSSSSSS!!!!!!!!!!!!!" before clicking send. Willow staggered back to her waiting girlfriend's arms and fell in a deep, blissful sleep.