"Whoever said that your wedding day is supposed to be the happiest day of your life should have their head examined," Faith thought while she paced up and down the aisle trying to appease the wedding-guests.
Granted, the location was wonderful, a the chapel was overlooking a wooded valley below and there wasn't a proper road in sight. The day was bright and sunny, and a lone bunny was hopping along on the lawn in front of the chapel. Needless to say, Faith ignored Anya's anguished shriek and went on with her business.
Of course, Willow had planned everything that had even remotely something to do with the wedding in minutiae, which only made things so much worse when something went wrong. And a lot had gone wrong today. First of all, the caterers had apparently read Willow's instructions to 'make sure you don't put shrimp in any dish' as 'make sure you put shrimp in EVERY dish', meaning that all the edibles in the house would be a one-way trip to the Afterlife for Tara.
Also, since there wasn't a proper road, many guests arrived late and complained about not being able to find parking space.
The pasty-chef apparently didn't grasp the concept of a lesbian wedding and had put a confectionary bride and male groom on top of the cake. Though saying that this invoked Willow's wrath would be an understatement, the sugar-crazed Dawn was only too eager to dispose of the evidence, thus solving at least one problem. Unfortunately, it created another problem of a sugared-up hyperactive Dawn flying up the walls of the chapel.
A bigger issue was that Tara's guests were all wearing Reaper dress-robes and carried ceremonial scythes, even though Tara had explicitly asked them not to on the invitation. Needless to say, that attracted a lot of attention and questions from Willow's guests, which included family, friends and co-workers. Faith, Buffy and Xander managed to keep things from getting out of hand, but just barely, and they didn't know how long the cover-story of 'Well, Tara's family are actually druids' would hold.
The biggest problem would be Donny. Despite not having been invited, he had shown up anyway and had been loudly protesting the entire wedding, which he claimed to be a farce. Though Tara was too much of a sweetheart to send him packing, Donald Maclay had some words with his son, which did help a bit. But Faith's no-so veiled threat about doing terrible things to his tender bits with a blunt rusty breadknife had finally managed to quiet him down. For now, at least.
On top of that, one bride was too nervous to come out of the dressing room and the other was stricken with grief. Faith and Xander, having to share the position of Best Person, had their hands full with it.
"Faith?" she heard her named and swiveled around to see Joyce and Mr. Maclay walking up to her. "We were wondering if you might check in on Tara."
"My daughter isn't listening to me," Donald sighed. "I can't persuade her to come out. Maybe you could...?"
"The poor thing," Joyce shook her head. "She's shaking all over."
"I'll take care of her, don't worry," Faith replied. "T. and I are thick as water. Very thick and close friendly-like water, that is. Or is that ice?"
"There goes a good friend," Joyce said as Faith immediately headed to the back room.
"Faith is... strange," Donald said. "But Tara is a good judge of character, so I suppose she can't be all bad..."
"Hm, did I mention she is dating my daughter? Buffy is always talking about her... Oh, did I introduce you to my boyfriend Rupert?"
"Hey, Wills," Xander spoke softly when he approached his best friend. The red-haired girl looked stunningly gorgeous in her white dress. Rather than the traditional long puffy dresses, the girls had decided to go from a more stylish and slightly revealing dresses. Certainly, Willow was showing a lot more leg than she had, well, ever. More arm as well. It was just amazing how wonderful that dressed wrapped around her body and...
Ah, bad brain. BAD! Xander told his brain. Stop having sexy thoughts about your best friend, you evil bastard! Must... only... use... brain-powers... for... GOOD! Whoa, Tara's a lucky girl, though. Oh, more bad thoughts. Must... not... think... about my lesbian friends in that... way. Must... stop... thinking... like... William... Shatner! Brain overload!
When Willow turned around, Xander's heart shattered, along with any erotic thoughts he had at the moment. Willow's face showed the pout to end all pouts, and was marred by the trails of fallen tears on her delicate cheeks. The girl flew into Xander's arms and sobbed quietly.
"They're not coming," Willow sniffed. "I can't believe they're not coming."
"Oh, Wills," Xander whispered and did his best to console her. "You know, maybe they're just late because they can't find the road? Some of the other guests couldn't..."
"No," Willow spoke coldly. "They would have called ahead. All the others called ahead. They didn't... God, they've been letting me down all my life and now this. I... don't get it, I just don't get it. I... can understand mom not wanting to come... She still has problems with my gayness, but dad... Dad and I were getting so close again, and now..."
"It's okay, Will, it's okay," Xander said, but regretted his words as soon as they left his mouth. As someone having had an unhappy family-life himself, he knew what it was like to be betrayed by your own parents time and again. It would never, ever be 'okay'.
If Willow minded Xander's faux-pas, she didn't show it, and was only too happy to accept a hug from him.
"How's my little Willow?" asked Willow's uncle Hershel. Uncle Hershel, in full rabbi garb, gave Willow a warm hug. Willow babbled incoherently into her uncle's shoulder in response. "Oh, poor girl," he sighed. "The only tears a bride should let on her wedding day are tears of happiness."
Xander shook his head. "Willow's parents are good at making her cry," he sighed. "Worst thing is, most of the time they don't even realize it."
"Tell me about it. No parents in sight?" Hershel asked over Willow's shoulder.
Xander checked the road briefly and shook his head calmly. Uncle Hershel muttered something in Yiddish which Xander couldn't understand, but could guess wasn't very flattering.
"I swear, I'm going to tear them a new A. when they finally show up. The wedding's supposed to have started already, and they're still not here. Not even so much as a message."
"I want Tara," Willow sobbed. "I don't care if it's bad luck to see each other before the wedding, I really need Tara right now."
"Alright," Xander tried to contain his own sadness and gave Willow an encouraging smile. "Let's go see Tara."
"Alright," Faith said as she strolled into the back room. In the back of a chapel were private dressing rooms where the bride and groom, or both brides in this case, could prepare for the ceremony. They were sparsely decorated, but well lit and provided with plenty of fragrant flowers. Right now, Tara seemed like she couldn't care less about the flowers. In the short minute that Faith had entered the room, Tara had been alternating between pacing about, sitting down, fiddling with her dress, pacing again and finally sitting down again to fiddle with her dress.
"It's this dress," Tara sighed heavily and fiddled with it yet again, pulling it down a bit. "It... it doesn't fit."
"Funny," Faith crossed her arms. "You told me it fit perfectly when you tried it on at the bridal shop."
"Well, maybe it shrunk," Tara sighed. "Or maybe I gained some weight, I dunno."
Faith closed the door and sat down on the bench next to a very nervous Tara. So nervous, in fact, that Tara briefly recoiled when Faith put an arm around her shoulders to lend her some support. Tara relaxed slightly.
"All those people..." Tara whispered. "I... I'm going out there to bear my soul to the love of my life, but... those p-people... they're all going to be l-looking at me. And... I think I can handle that, b-but the moment I s-stand up to walk to the door, I... just f-freeze."
"Can't help it, T." Faith tried. "It's a wedding. The bride's sort of the center of attention by default."
"I know," Tara sighed. "But I don't have to like it."
Faith bit her lip for a moment as she thought about Tara's predicament. "Hm, you need to focus on something else. Hm, all you have to think about is your wedding night at the end of this. You. Willow. A bed. Door locked for two days. Sounds like a good deal to me, T."
Tara blushed slightly. "Is sex all you ever think about, Faith?" she chuckled uneasily.
"Lessee, what's up here," Faith felt her forehead. "Hm, sex, PlayStation 2, sex, creative Harvestings, more sex, naked Buffy... Yep, that's all there is. Not much room for anything else on my memory card. And don't change the subject! So come on, just think of doing the 'UH!' with Willow later on and you'll get through fine."
"You grunting is sort of disturbing," Tara replied.
"Okay, it's a cliche, but you could always imagine all the guests are in their underwear. I do that all the time, T. Did you know your brother wears pink panties that are three sizes too small?"
Tara snickered in spite of herself.
"See?" Faith smirked. "Made you laugh."
Tara shook her head. "You always know how to make me feel better about myself, Faith."
"What's really the matter here, T? You think she's gonna say no?"
"No," Tara replied. "I mean, yes. Uh, no. No, no, no. Uh, yes, no, um, y-yes...." Tara paused a moment to take a deep breath.
"Okay, not helping here," Faith bit her lip. "Come on, T. You and Red have gotten this far, what can go wrong? I've seen you all over each other at movie-nights. The two of you are always together, so... Wait," Faith raised an eyebrow. "You're not planning to say 'no' to her, are you?"
"No!" Tara turned to Faith with a horrified expression on her face. "Uh, yes? Uh, no? I mean, no I'm not planning to say 'no' to her. God, I love her, I could never do that to her. And, I want to get married, it's just that... it's all h-happening now and... all those people out there... that s-scares me. Does that make any sense?"
Faith smiled and softly pressed her fist into Tara's shoulder. "I bet that if you would have let me take you into that strip-joint yesterday, you'd be more confident about yourself now. I swear, I would have bought you the steamiest lap-dance you could have imagined, T."
"Faith," Tara blushed deeply. "That movie you made me watch was embarrassing enough."
"Hey, it was your stag-party," Faith playfully raised an eyebrow. "Raunchy movies are a stag-party tradition. Besides, what's wrong with a crap exploitation-movie starring barely legal kung-fu fighting bikini-clad lesbian vampires?"
Tara's stag-party was a quiet one. It was just her and Faith, enjoying themselves in Faith and Buffy's new apartment while Buffy was off with Willow for her stag-party. Tara had declined Faith's offer to got to the Venus Lounge at the outskirts of Sunnydale, so instead the two stayed at home to enjoy each other's company, watch crap movies and playing games. It was far from the world's raunchiest stag-party, but it suited Tara fine. Besides, if Tara'd even want to be on the receiving end of a lap-dance, it'd have to be from Willow and nobody else.
Yep, Faith was right. I need to focus... Tara's thoughts drifted away to a dancing Willow. Willow moving her lithe, elfin-like body to the music, her long red hair whipping around her body, the light cascading off her beautiful soft skin, piercing green eyes that looked at her intently and practically whispered 'I love you'...
Whoa, I didn't think Willow could dance that good, Tara thought before her mind drifted back to reality and she found Faith smiling at her.
"You were miles away there, T," said Faith. "Getting ready to go out there?"
"Increasingly so," Tara blinked.
Faith leaned back slightly and reached for a water-bottle on the table next to the mirror. "Hmm," she said after taking a swig. "Seems only yesterday since we first met at our basic Collector graduation. "
Tara smiled. She and Faith had become good friends almost from the moment they had met. "And we became roommates when we got our Advanced Training."
"Yeah," Faith grinned. "I had to bribe a couple of flakes at the Head Office to get that done. Heh, you know how those pencil pushers are: if it's on paper and sighed by the high-ups, it's the truth. Even if it says America was founded by Martian Invaders."
"Oh, what a horrible room that was," Tara chuckled. "Top floor, corner room. Took ages to get up the stairs, half of the room had a ceiling too low to stand under, hot as hell in the summer, cold as ice in winter."
"Paper-thin walls," Faith reminisced, "terrible TV-reception, couldn't shower and cook at the same time, horrible electrics, fire hazard, crappy furniture. The beds collapsed when you looked at them."
"It was hell," Tara shook her head.
"But all the fun we had in that dorm, T," Faith laughed.
"Oh, yeah," Tara smiled to herself. "Three years of fun. It was so strange when we moved out and you didn't live with me anymore."
"Ditto," Faith smiled. "Why do you think I popped over so many times?"
"You still do," said Tara. "We were always taking care of each other, remember? You do have a talent for getting us into trouble, Faith."
Faith laugh and slapped Tara on the shoulder. "Well, since you are quite good at getting us OUT of trouble, that suited me fine."
"Remember the time we were practising our ethereal abilities, and you were trying to phase through a wall and got stuck, then panicked?" Tara asked.
"I'm trying to forget," Faith sighed. "I was too embarrassed to let you go and get help, so I asked you to yank me free. Compassion was always your strong suit, T. Remember that old granny? You sat at her deathbed for hours so she wouldn't die alone. You knew she couldn't see or hear you, but you stayed anyway. Hell, I'd have been bored stiff."
"And what about your morbid creativity?" Tara gave her a half-smile. "Like Harvesting that Egyptologist by animating a mummy which gave him a heart attack."
"I agree I went a little too far there," Faith sighed. "And if any of the high-ups found out about that, I'd be thrown out of the Harvester corps so quickly I'd break the sound barrier. Point being that, well, things are moving fast, T. You're getting married, life of your own. I'm dating Buffy, life of my own. Weird."
"I know," Tara smiled wistfully for a moment. "I t-think I'm ready to go out there now."
"Good," Faith smiled. "Go out there, get married, get laid. In that order. Oh, and try to get into the hotel-room first, T."
Tara chuckled for a moment before she rose from her seat, took a deep breath and got ready to step up to the altar. "I'll try..."
"Tara," Faith remained seated and spoke softly, carefully avoiding Tara's questioning look. "I, uh, I never really, um... So, um, what I wanted to say..." she paused for a moment. "Thank you... for being my friend and all. I mean, I don't know what I'd have ended up being like if I'd never have met you."
Tara blushed sightly and smiled. "I, uh, well, I'm sure I would have been a whole lot lonelier without having you around."
The two friends shared a silent smile for a moment. And just as Tara was about to walk to the door to face the music, a knock sounded.
"Tara?" said Willow's aunt Jennifer from the other side of the door. "Tara, are you decent?"
"No!" Faith joked.
"Don't mind Faith," Tara chuckled. "Come on in."
Tara never expected to see the bride -the other bride- before the wedding. And Willow looked so stunningly gorgeous... until Tara noticed the tears. Immediately, Willow flung herself in Tara's arms.
"Faith, I think the brides need to talk for a moment," Jennifer said softly. "And, um, I think we could use some extra crowd control."
"What's the situation, Faith?" Buffy asked when she returned from solving a nasty dispute between the caterers and one of the guests on the nature of vegetarian delights.
"Xander's dying out there," Faith sighed. "Maybe literally if he strays too close to some of the Reapers."
The crowd was getting somewhat rowdy. The wedding should have been well underway and some of the guests couldn't understand why there was a delay in the first place. Willow's family, some of which she hadn't seen since she was two months old, was the largest and rowdiest group. While most of them were patient and respectful, a small yet vocal minority had been complaining about everything and was now concentrating on the 'black robed freaks' sitting on the opposite side of the aisle.
The Reapers were stoic about everything, but the tension emanating from them was very tangible. Some Reapers looked ready to leap into the other group and Harvest at their heart's content. Certainly Spike and Drusilla wouldn't need much convincing to viciously slaughter some of Willow's annoying cousins. To make sure that didn't happen, Xander had lent Drusilla his Gameboy. As long as Drusilla was occupied with making Mario jump, she would not make people die.
So far the most well-behaved group were Willow's friends and co-workers. Larry and his boyfriend ignored the rowdiness, as did Laska and Phaere. Of course, they had heard ignorance of the type Willow's cousins displayed many times before.
And Xander was standing in the middle, trying to keep the crowd occupied by performing silly magic tricks and juggling a couple of tennisballs he found in the trunk of his uncle's car.
"OH MY GOD! SHE'S GOT A GUN!"
Faith and Buffy whipped around to find Anya coming out of the back-office carrying a shotgun. Willow's family duck-and-covered while the Reapers remained in their seats, patiently waiting for that which might come. Willow's friends and co-workers, having heard enough stories about Anya from Willow, weren't surprised at all and continued chatting amongst themselves.
"Anya!" Xander shouted just before two tennis-balls dropped on his head. "What are you doing?!"
"Taking out that monster on the lawn before it disturbs the wedding!" Anya replied and cocked the shotgun. "It's wabbit-season!"
"Anya, put the gun away before your hurt yourself!" Buffy shouted, while Faith raised an eyebrow in amusement.
"Well, that's no ordinary rabbit!" Anya retorted. "That's the most foul, cruel, and bad-tempered rodent you ever set eyes on!"
"It's just a bunny, leave it alone!" Xander said.
"Look, that rabbit's got a vicious streak a mile wide! It's a killer! He'll do you up a treat, mate," Anya crossed her arms, and by doing so, accidentally pointed the shotgun right at the band. The lead singer shrieked like a cheerleader and ran out the door, followed by the rest of the band.
"What's he do, nibble your bum?" Spike called from the audience.
"He's got huge, sharp-- eh-- he can leap about-- look at the bones!" Anya spoke. "You can't see them, because he buried them all!"
Joyce finally stepped in and wrenched the shotgun from Anya's hands. "Okay, that's quite enough of that, young lady," she spoke. "You come to Willow's wedding and try to do murder? Where'd you get that thing anyway?"
"This is America," Anya shrugged. "You can find those things lying around in trunks. Ah, god bless this country. Sure, all those Europeans have their gun-laws, pffft... But if there's ever a zombie-holocaust, the US will be the safest place to be, because there's guns everywhere! And Europeans? All zombie-chow."
"Alright!" Xander addressed Willow's frightened family. "Calm down, it's all over now. No more guns and, uhm, excuse Anya, she's, um, certifiable."
"HEY!" replied Anya before Buffy dragged her away. "I'm just looking out for everybody's well-being!"
"Great, the band's run away now," Faith sighed. "That's another problem to deal with. If I had known that being a best person would be so much work, I'd have told Tara to pick Buffy instead."
"I can play the flute!" Dawn piped up. "Can I play the flute? I really wanna play the flute. You let me play the flute?"
Faith snorted. "You can be the entire band, pip-squeak."
"I just can't believe it," Willow sniffed while she had lain her head in Tara's lap and her love was stroking her long red hair. "Everything is going wrong."
Tara smiled softly, but felt very sorry for Willow. Willow has a tendancy to over-plan everything, and when things didn't work out as expected, this often led to deep disappointment. And Willow had wanted their wedding to be absolutely perfect.
"Sweetie, let it all out," Tara whispered. "I'm here for you."
"I mean, first the cake, then the road... The band doesn't know our song, there weren't enough seats for the guests, Anya yelling and screaming about that rabbit, your brother showing up... Oh, god, why did I ever let my mother talk me into inviting my entire family? I mean, a lot of them think gay people are sinners and then those awful comments about your guests being 'pagan druid freaks'. I'm so embarrassed."
"Well," Tara shrugged. "It's their own fault. The invitations said that they shouldn't bring robes, but I guess Reapers are suckers for tradition."
"It's no excuse for my family being rude," Willow sniffed. "But the worst..." she managed to say before starting to sob again.
And Tara was angry. Angry at Willow's parents. Tara realized that Willow's mother had problems with Willow's sexuality, but that was no excuse for dodging the wedding after promising she would come. And she didn't even call to say she would not come. She also found it surprising that Willow's dad was a no-show. Maybe Sheila had something to do with that.
Tara supposed she should give them the benefit of the doubt, though reluctantly, because they had not called ahead. But the tears of her beloved left very little room for that kind of tolerance.
"M-maybe we should call the whole thing off," Willow sniffed. "We could try again. With only our friends and uncle Hershel and aunt Jennifer there."
"Why?" Tara asked. "You're here. I'm here. Our friends are here. And, admit it, this is a wedding day we'll never forget."
Willow smiled in spite of herself. "I got to see you before the wedding," Willow whispered. "That's supposed to be bad luck, isn't it? But you do look so beautiful."
The two lovers watched each other intently for a moment. "Do you mean it? Do you want to go through with the wedding despite that it's a complete mess?" said Willow.
"I don't need to have a perfect wedding," Tara smiled and brushed away Willow's tears. "Just as long as I have you when it's over."
"I want to be your wife, Tara," Willow said resolutely, resolve-face and everything. "You're right, nothing else matters."
"Let's go out there, then," Tara took a few deep breaths and stood up, taking her fiancee by the hand. Together they stepped towards the door. Only to have it fly open to reveal uncle Hershel... and Willow's parents.
"Oh, honey," Ira said before taking her flabbergasted daughter in a massive hug. "I'm so very sorry. Don't tell me we've missed it. I'll never forgive myself if we've missed it. I'm so very sorry."
"D-dad," Willow gasped. "Lungs... need... air!"
"Sorry," Ira replied, loosening his grip somewhat but still not letting go. "This is all our fault, I'm so sorry. I swear, Willow, one day, I'll make this up to you."
"I... I'm just glad you're here, dad," Willow finally returned the hug. Tara stood by the side and saw the relief wash over Willow's face. She looked really comfortable being hugged by her father... actually, Tara considered that this might actually be one of the first hugs her father had ever given her.
Behind the father and daughter, next to an increasingly irate uncle Hershel, stood Sheila Rosenberg. "Look, I don't see how this is our fault. There wouldn't have been any trouble if you had just held the wedding in the synagogue in Sunnydale."
"I've told you before, Sheila," Hershel spoke through gritted teeth. "Three reasons. One: that particular synagogue isn't exactly gay friendly. Two: Willow isn't a practising Jew. Three: Tara isn't Jewish at all! Conclusion: they can have the wedding wherever they feel comfortable to hold it. For a smart woman, you certainly are stupid."
"It isn't my fault!" Sheila replied sharply. "It's this mountain road. The GPS system couldn't cope with it, and our cellphone doesn't roam in this area."
"Ah, Willow's mom has arrived," Buffy spoke up as she and her mother came walking into the room. "Good. Find your seat, plop your butt down and shut up."
Sheila blinked, then turned to Joyce. "Did you just hear what your daughter Bunny said to me? How rude!"
"For the last time, Sheila, her name is Buffy. And I believe my daughter told me to find your seat, sit your ass down and shut up," Joyce replied sharply. "Now if you'll excuse us, Buffy and I need to fix up Willow's make-up."
"Sheila," Hershel growled. "If you know what's good for you, you'll find your seat, sit down and keep your mouth shut until the wedding's over!"
And finally, the wedding started like it was supposed to. It had been a real challenge to mix the traditions of a Jewish wedding with a Reaper wedding, but they had managed to cobble together a ceremony which would do justice to both and without revealing the truth about the Reapers to uncle Hershel.
Uncle Hershel and Darla, in the capacity of Tara's superior, stood behind the altar. After giving a sign to the band, now being Dawn, started to play the song. Dawn did surprisingly well to play a convincing wedding march, even though the only song she knew was the 'Washington Post March'.
Finally, a very nervous Tara was led across the aisle, hand in hand with her father, who slowly led her towards the altar. When they arrived, Tara stood in front of Darla while her father moved to stand next to the altar. All eyes turned to the aisle yet again when the second bride stepped up, arm-in-arm with her father. Willow was smiling radiantly as she was led up to the altar.
The two brides finally stood next to each other. Willow gently took Tara's hand and squeezed slightly, drawing a weak smile from the nervous Tara. But as soon as their eyes met, Tara blushed slightly and looked away again.
"Ahum," Tara's father spoke up. "I, Donald Maclay, as oldest living member of the Maclay line, formally welcome Willow Rosenberg to our family. All that is ours is yours. I recognize Tara's judgment in choosing a life-partner and wish you both the best of happiness."
"I, Darla Cook," spoke Darla, "acting as Tara's superior, will preside over the ceremony, along with Hershel Rosenberg in this case. I will speak of Tara's record. As Senior Collector, Tara's performance has been exemplary and worthy of nothing but praise. I am without a doubt that Tara stands at the beginning of a fine career that will be worthy of you, Willow Rosenberg."
Tara blushed brightly, not being used to praised. Willow merely smiled at her soon-to-be-wife and squeeze her hand again.
Now, it was Tara's turn to act. She gently reached over to Willow's dress and covered Willow's face with a light veil. It pained Tara to do so, because it also partly obscure Willow's radiant smile. It was then that Willow truly wanted to be her wife, more than anything in the world. Though Tara found the idea to be wonderful, her confidence took a dent because of it. She took a few deep breaths before she and Willow stepped underneath the chuppah.
The chuppah, a sheet suspended above four poles, was meant to symbolize the home the two brides would build together. And it was underneath the chuppah that they would be wed.
The next few moments were spent listening to uncle Hershel reading choice bits from the Torah, and Darla holding a few short speeches on the nature of Death. Finally, Hershel moved on to the next phase of the wedding.
"And if any of those present have objections to this union, sp..."
"Don't even think about it, buddy-boy!" sounded Faith. Turning around, Willow and Tara saw Faith holding her scythe at the throat of Donny. Faith winked at the brides. "Carry on," she said.
"I'll take that as a no, then," Hershel chuckled.
"Alright," Darla said. "First of all, sign these marriage certificates in three-fold please. There are five of them."
"Five in threefold?" Willow asked.
"Five departments," Darla shrugged. "Five different files and file-systems. Don't ask me why."
After the girls had signed the contracts. Afterwards Darla put a small table forward. On the table was an object covered by a cloth. Removing the cloth revealed a live-sized golden skull. "Please place your right hands on the skull. This is the time to exchange your vows in the sight of Anubis. Willow?"
Willow took a deep breath and looked her lover right in the eyes. "Tara," Willow started. "I've looked for the words to say how much you mean to me, but... no mere words would do it justice. But since I'm good at talking, I'll try to. Tara, baby, the day I met you was the first day I truly felt alive. And from day one you've always been there for me. You were there to dry my tears when I was sad. You were there to listen to my babbles when I was upset. You were there whenever I needed you the most. You were always there to love me unconditionally. Tara, I don't know what I would do without you. I can't imagine life without you. I need you. You're my always. My everything. I want to marry you today, Tara. I want to share my life with you, grow old with you. Because I love you, now and forever."
"Tara?" Darla asked.
"Uhm," Tara said, still reeling from Willow proclamation of love. With her free hand, she fished a piece of paper from underneath the skull, which she had placed there because her dress didn't have any pockets. She scraped her throat to read it aloud, but found the letters swimming in front of her eyes. "I, uh. I... W-w-willow, I..." she stammered, feeling every single set of eyes boring straight into her skull. "I... uhm... I w...." Tara felt her vision starting to blur, her nerves giving away. She was almost reeling, ready to keen over backwards. "I, Willow, sweetie," she said, dropping the piece of paper. "C-can I just say that I love you so very, very much and that I want to be with you forever?"
"Sure, baby," Willow smiled, tears forming in her eyes.
"Right," Hershel grinned. "Let's move on to the good part. Best persons?"
Xander and Faith stepped up to the altar. Xander handed Tara her ring, and Faith handed Willow hers.
"Willow Danielle Rosenberg," said Darla. "Do you take Tamara Elizabeth Maclay to be your beloved wife?"
"Yes. Yes, definitely a yes!" Willow smiled warmly.
"Tamara Elizabeth Maclay," said Hershel. "Do you take Willow Danielle Rosenberg to be your beloved wife?"
"Oh, yes..." Tara whispered. The two brides gently put the rings on each other's finger, after which Hershel handed Willow a glass chalice filled with wine. Willow lifted her veil to take a small sip, then handed the chalice to Tara, who did the same. Together, the brides them smashed the chalice by dropping it to the ground.
"Very well," Hershel smiled brightly. "I now pronounce you, well, wife and wife, I suppose. You brides may kiss."
This was the moment Tara had been waiting for. She no longer cared that so many people were watching her. She just wanted to kiss Willow like she had never been kissed before. She gently lifted Willow's veil and saw in her eyes that Willow had the same idea. The two lovers embraced each other gently before pressing theirs lips together. It started tentatively at first, but soon their kiss deepened. In that moment, only she and Willow existed, nothing else mattered.
"Well, ladies. Your... Uh, ladies?" Hershel raised an eyebrow as the two girls continued their kissage.
"Ladies?" he asked again.
"Somebody get a bucket of water!" Anya shouted over the crowd.
And in the first row, Joyce handed a hankerchief to Sheila. For she had finally seen the light.
"You're ready for band-camp, Dawn," Faith complemented Dawn while they followed the brides out to their car.
"No daughter of mine is going to any band-camp!" Joyce protested. "Bunch of teen perverts over there!"
Willow's red lovebug was waiting for them in the car park, complete with the traditional 'Just Married'-sign and plenty of empty cans tied to the bumper with bits of string. Tara sat down in the car, while Willow waited for a moment and tossed her bridal bouquet into the cheering crowd. As Willow entered the driver's seat, they noticed that the bouquet had hit Buffy square in the face. While a smiling Buffy made eyes at her own lover, Tara considered that she had never seen Faith turn quite as pale as quickly as that before.
Under loud cheers, the lovebug drove off into the sunset.
"Well, here we go," Willow pushed a cd into the car's stereo as they rounded about the corner and drove over the mountain road. Immediately, a loud industrial technobeat was regurgitated from the speakers. Willow quickly pressed 'eject' and blushed slightly. "Uh, sorry, that's the Command & Conquer soundtrack," she muttered before going through the stack of CD's while keeping one eye on the road.
"Geek," Tara joked, offering that wonderful half-smile of hers.
"Hey," Willow mock-pouted. "Don't call your wife a geek... Witch."
"Oh, I can't call you a geek, but you're allowed to call me a witch?" Tara crossed her arms.
"Yup," Willow smirked and put in another CD.
Get your motor runnin'
But before the song had even fully started, there was a loud bang from the front of their car, following by a metallic screech and a rubbery flapping sound. After the car came to a stop, the two women shared a look. After a quick inspection, Willow came to the startling conclusion that she had driven over a beer-bottle.
"I don't believe it," Willow sighed. "It's been one of those days. Probably only one beer bottle lying on the road in a 500 mile radius and I just had drive over it. Murphy did it again. Tara, can you look in the glovebox for the number of triple A while I try to see if my cell has reach here?"
Tara agreed and opened the glovebox... to find a sealed envelope with 'W+T' written on it. She opened the envelope and read it.
"What is it?" Willow asked.
"It reads 'Dear Red and T. You found this envelope just in time to make use of my wedding present. Through some creative bribing and swindling, I have managed to reserve the luxurious wedding suite in the expensive love hotel in Mexico City. Just in time for a very fun wedding night. Your room is booked up for two days. I took the liberty of stashing your cloak and scythe in the boot so you can get there quickly. Don't worry about your car, I've got you covered. Have fun... don't do any things I wouldn't do!
P.S. Sorry about the beer-bottle.'"
"Mexico City?" Willow asked. "How are we going to get... Oh, scythe power."
"Willow, sweetie," Tara smiled. "Let's not make any plans. After our wedding night, we'll just wing it for the next three weeks. We'll just see where the scythe bring us."
"No plans? But how do we know what to bring? How much we need? What we..." Willow thought for a moment. "Alright, no plans. I just need you."
"Only you, sweetie. Only you."
"Uh, are you sure we can't make any plans? Cause, you know, that's kinda... scary. I mean, what if we get there and we find out we desperately need something and can't get it anywhere and we'll panic and things go wrong and we'll get in trouble or we'll be arrested or we'll get hurt or we'll..."
"Alright," Tara shushed Willow by putting a finger to her lips. "We can make a few plans."
"Okay, okay," Willow nodded. "A few plans. I can handle that."
"Just a few."
"Oh, come on!"
"Just charts. Nothing more."
"Charts... I can handle that."
And so Willow and Tara started with the rest of their lives.