Willow awoke calmly, despite the regret she felt at leaving the cocoon of her bed. Sitting up slowly, she fought off the last remnants of sleep and allowed her eyes to open. She smiled at the walls, a warm brown, allowed her right hand to run the length of the bed, the beautiful mahogany wood warm beneath her hand. The sheets beneath her were almost silky in their softness. A general feeling of peace pervaded her senses, and she inhaled deeply, the smell of cedar filled the air. She brought her legs over the side of the bed and stood, stretching her arms over her head. Unrelenting calm filled her limbs as she stretched out the sleep. She caught sight of herself in the mirror and was amazed to note the laugh lines on her face, the green lingerie that matched the color of her eyes. She noted with some sense of surprise that she looked sexy, sexy carved from comfort and ease and... is that happiness? She drew a deep breath into her lungs, testing it. Contentment. So that's what it feels like...
She startled when she felt two strong arms wrapping around her waist, but she felt safe. So right, these arms that grabbed her with a well tested knowledge. They were firm, and she was drawn back into softness unparalleled. A whimper escaped her mouth as she realized there were bare breasts against her back. She felt the nipples through the flimsy material of her night clothes. She closed her eyes and pushed back into the warmth.
Whispers filled her ear, hot breath trailing just moments behind them, and her knees nearly gave out. "You are enchanting in the morning, my love." She allowed herself to be turned in the arms, and met sapphire blue with emerald greens. Before she could register what was happening, lips were pressed to hers in a flimsy contact, not nearly close to what she wanted. As they began to pull away, she reached forward and pulled her lover close, pushing their lips together, her tongue seeking and gaining entrance into the other woman's mouth. Their tongues melded together, and she felt herself float away from her body, feeling whole, wholly connected to this beauty. As they pulled away, a melodic laugh filled her ears. "Well, every part of you except your morning breath is enchanting." A kiss followed the words at the nape of her neck, a tongue lathering attention to her pulse point and then finally lips wrapped around her earlobe and sucked with a gentle pressure she felt directly on her clit. She moaned. "Even with morning breath, you're irresistable. How do you do that?"
Her lover's impish grin was an arrow through her heart, and tears welled up in her eyes as she mouthed more than spoke the woman's name. "Tara." There was such reverence in her voice it almost sounded like a sob, a moment of silence passed between them and they stared at each other.
Tara cocked her head and regarded her love with quizzical eyes. "Baby, you haven't said my name like that in a long time."
"When was the last time?" She asked, sounding miles away.
"When you married me." Tara leaned forward and pressed their lips together again, her hand reaching up and settling on Willow's cheek. "Are you okay, love?" She looked at Willow with a worried expression. "You're not sick, are you?"
"Not sick." Willow shook her head, her usually busy mind still in Tara's arms. She grasped at the feelings that flooded her mind, adoration, love, respect. There were no words beautiful enough, no words big enough, no words grand enough to describe how deeply to her core she worshipped this woman. "Not totally right either."
"You're scaring me, Will, what are you thinking over there?" Tara took Willow's hand and pulled them back onto the bed. They laid facing each other, and Willow's eyes filled with tears as they trailed up Tara's form. Her hands grazed over the woman's hips, dragged slowly up the sides of her stomach, before resting on Tara's cheek the way Tara's hand had on hers moments before.
"I love you." She stared unblinking into Tara's eyes. "I look at you and all I can think is..." She trailed off, cursing her vocabulary for not having the perfect words to explain.
"Will. You think what, baby?" Willow still refused to answer, dropping her eyes to Tara's hand still linked in hers and the tears that had been unshed up to this moment began to flow openly out of her eyes. She shook her head against Tara's questions, still unsure of what to say. Tara followed Willow's eyes, and finally found herself smiling.
"Willow, my love, don't cry because we love each other. Don't cry because you love me too much!" Tara laughed that beautiful laugh again, and Willow's heart broke with how full it was. "Don't you see, baby? Don't you see that I know how you feel because I feel the same way? I'm yours. You're mine. Distance means nothing to us. Time means nothing to us. I'll be yours forver. You'll be mine forever. Nothing can take this away from us because we'll always be waiting for each other."
"You'll always find me?" Willow's voice was so small, and she choked back yet another sob.
"I will always find you, baby." Tara smiled. "Lighten up, love. Don't cry for our happiness, revel in it. And when it feels like too much, let it spill out in laughter." She grasped Willow's hand tighter. "And if I get lost, my Willow?"
"Then I'll find you." Willow answered, finally looking up at her love.
"Please do. I love you here and now. I loved you my entire life, and I'll love you in the afterlife or in the next all over again. You belong to me. So it's up to us to find each other, okay?"
"Okay." Tara smiled and held up their hands to show the redhead. "See?" She pointed at the ring on her hand and then the one on Willow's. "Our rings are just a symbol, my love, of the eternity we've promised to each other." They didn't speak again as their lips crushed down on each other, leaving little space for breathing, and no space for getting useless words out. Who needs words when everything important has already been said?
When Willow actually woke up alone in her bed, all she could remember from her dream was a snippet... thankfully, it was the most important part. With Tara's question in her mind, as well as her answer, she flipped open her laptop and got to work. It was time. It was time to do what her heart had been telling her to do.
"And if I get lost, my Willow?"
"Then I'll find you."
Tara wandered down the main strip of the town, her eyes shooting back and forth between all of the shops and people wandering. She ducked out of the way of the crowds, and stood back ducked into the doorway of one of the many shops. People wandered by, and she was amazed how many people there were in Sunnydale, considering how little she had ever heard about it. Portland gets all kinds of crazy Californian refugees, and yet none that she'd ever met spoke of Sunnydale. Whatever that was about, she liked the town, with its Spanish influenced architecture and its general bustle lacking hustle for the most part.
Which is why she had backed into this corner, her moleskin in hand as she stared out into the street and people hurrying by. She smiled at the sight of a man with brown shaggy hair, a red checkered shirt and jeans swing an arm companionably around the petite blond beside him dressed fashionably in lighter jeans, a white shirt, and a leather jacket. They smiled at each other, and she touched his arm in a familiar way. They continued to talk as they walked past her and Tara imagined who they were and what their relationship was. It didn't seem romantic in nature, not from the way his head turned as if looking for someone else, or the way they playfully punched each other in the arm. There was something about them that she couldn't place, something that drew her eyes to them even as they moved out of her sight range, drawing her a few steps forward from her hiding place and watching as they disappeared into a coffee shop down the street.
She closed her eyes, and settled back into the recessed area, leaning her back against the brick wall behind her. She tried to fight it, but the dream she had had the night before came back to her with stunning clarity. The dream of married life, of a soul mate, of the girl who had kissed her so many years ago. It's probably just because I'm in California. Why else would Willow have popped into my mind? She sighed. Because Willow is always on your mind. Well, it's not like this is where she's from. You don't know anything about her! Only that her name is Willow and she's from California. This is so stupid, four years later and you still can't forget one girl. Just because she saved your life doesn't mean she's the one. It just felt that way. She opened her eyes, forcing the thoughts away. She spied an empty bench across the street and decided to sit down and try to write something. New town, new work. That's the rule. She opened her notebook and began to sketch out impressions of this place, of the people she had seen, and of worlds she created for them.
She hadn't mean to work so long that she caught sight of the friends as they left the coffee shop, but she had. She glanced up when the sound of their familiar voices had passed her, and dropped her notebook. A head full of red hair the color of Willow's traipsed just ahead of the man and woman she'd taken note of before. She refused to allow herself to look again, feeling her breath begin to quicken, her pulse begin to race. Could it be? No, it obviously couldn't be. Don't do this to yourself, Maclay. Don't pretend it's her again just to find someone else's face. It's gone far enough. You're never going to find her again. Angry with herself, she stood and walked off in the other direction, back towards her hotel, not allowing herself a glance back.
If she had, she would have seen one Willow Rosenberg stop dead in her tracks and flash a look back towards when Tara had just been sitting, nearly knocking Buffy and Xander over by stopping dead in front of them. "Whatcha lookin' at Willster?" Buffy asked, her eyes following her friends and finding empty space.
"I'm not sure, I thought I saw someone..." Willow looked back towards the empty bench before shaking her head. "It was nothing." She flashed her friends a reassuring smile and slid her arms between theirs, and kept walking. Wishful thinking. It couldn't be that easy that she would just appear in Sunnydale. Not with my luck. Willow sighed, pushing thoughts of Tara out of her head for as long as she could.
"Where have you been? I've been trying to call you guys all day!" Dawn stood in the hallway as the front door opened, talking to them before they could see here.
"Where's the fire?" Xander asked, seeing Dawn in full resolve mode, something she had clearly picked up from Willow over the years.
"I was calling to tell Willow that the poet she likes, y'know, the book I bought her for her birthday? Is reading tonight at the Espresso Pump. I wanted to go with you, but now it's too late!"
Buffy shot Willow a look before settling her eyes back on Dawn. "I'm not sure I would have wanted you going to that reading anyway, Dawnie. Don't you think you're a little young for erotic poetry?"
Dawn rolled her eyes as she threw her arms into the sky. "Don't you think there are worse things I could be interested, Buffy? I could be taking drugs, or staying out late, or getting pregnant..."
"She's got a point there, Buff." Willow smiled at the girl. "I'm sorry, Dawnie, I would have loved to go, but I have work to do anyway, and we" she gestured to Buffy and Xander, "had made plans for the day already. Y'know, kind of, let's hang out before we forget what each other looks like kind of plans."
Dawn snorted. "All you three do is spend time together! There's talk of polyamory all over the neighborhood!"
"I guess that makes me the stud." Xander said, grinning. He lost his smile when Buffy punched him in the arm. "You're really stronger than you think you are, Buffy." He rubbed his arm as he sat down, knowing a bruise was forming.
"That's not fair, Dawn. We've all been busy working and doing grown up stuff, there's been no time for mocha goodness and gossip." Buffy sounded exasperated.
"Gossip about what? You three don't have anything going on to gossip about!" Dawn sighed. "Well, this just sucks."
"I'm sorry, Dawnie, I'll make it up to you. Next time she comes here, we'll go, okay?" Willow said with a hopeful smile, stepping forward to wrap Dawn in a hug.
Tara smiled at the assorted group of fans sitting in the audience. "I would like to do something I almost never do." She made eye contact with a few of the people in the front, noting with amusement her book in their hands. "I'd like to read something I wrote today. Would you mind that?" The audience cheered their consent. "Excellent. This is called 'After The Discovery of Us'".
after the discovery, my love,
Willow reread the email again, her eyes scanning every line so as not to miss a word. Her mind reeled as she tried to make sense of what was actually being said. Job offer. Web design. Portland, Oregon. She stood up from her computer, and flopped her body back down on her bed staring at the ceiling. Maybe she'll be there. Maybe I can find her. She groaned, tired of the same riff of mental thought that had been in her brain for four years. "She won't be there! You're not gonna find her, so just get over it already!" She screamed at herself.
"Willow, are you okay?" Buffy's voice was muffled behind the door.
"I'm fine!" She called through the door, praying Buffy would accept that and go away.
"Can I come in?" She sighed, chucking her pillow at the door. Of course it can't be that easy.
"Sure." Willow answered, and she kept her eyes trained above as the door opened. She felt the bed shift as Buffy sat down.
"What's going on?"
Willow turned her eyes to look at her friend, who was staring back at her with a mixture of amusement and worry. "I just got a job offer."
"That's great. What's the job?" Buffy settled herself back on the bed, crossing her legs in front of her.
"It's web design. It's an increase in salary. It would be a move, though, and I don't know, I just... I don't think I'm ready to leave Sunnydale."
Buffy's face betrayed the emotions that played across her face. Sure, she didn't want Willow to move away, but if this would advance her career... "Why don't you think you're ready to leave?"
"Life is good here. I have you, and Dawn, and Xander, and I love being around you guys. You keep me sane." Willow smiled, reaching her hands palm up towards Buffy. Without second thought, Buffy slid her hands on top of Willow's, palms down. It was something they did whenever they started to have a serious conversation, a way of comfort, something about sharing energies that Willow had read years ago and had just become habit.
"How far away are we talking, Will? Can't we still be friends if you move away?" Buffy's tone was teasing, but her intention was serious.
"Of course! We'll always be friends. That's not even a question." Willow started to pull away, but something in Buffy's eyes stopped her. "The job's in Portland."
"Oh." Buffy let her eyes roam over her friend's face. "Maybe that would be a good thing, Will, maybe... you could find her." Her last words were spoken softly.
"She's probably not even there, anymore. And why would I move there? For a woman I met once? I feel so psychotic for even thinking about her the way I do."
Buffy shrugged. "Willow, I can't lie to you and tell you that you've having a typical experience. But why is that important? You found a girl that you really liked, and no one has measured up since. Now you have a chance to do and see if you can find that woman and make something happen. Why wouldn't you take it?"
Willow sat for a moment in silence, staring at her friend and wondering at how she ever got such amazing friends. They were incredibly supportive, even with how truly crazy she was. "I'm not ready to go there and never be able to find her." Willow's voice was small. "If I knew for sure she was there..." She trailed off, looking past Buffy, searching for words. "I just think... if it's supposed to happen, then it will. Does that make sense?"
Buffy noded. "It does. I just don't want to see you sabotage a chance for happiness."
"And if I knew that's what I was missing out on, I'd go in a heartbeat. But I don't know that, and right now... I'd rather stay here with you. Where I know I'm loved." Willow sighed. "I could have gone to college anywhere, right?" Again, Buffy nodded. "And I chose to stay here."
"Right, you did, which is what I'm talk..."
"Buffy, I stayed because I knew what was important to me. You. Xander. Dawn. This family, our family. I stayed because I knew this is where I needed to be then. And nothing about that has changed. At least not yet. Maybe someday. Maybe never. I'm okay with where I am now. Really, if you think about it, I'm blessed." Willow smiled at Buffy. "I've got more love in my life than most people ever get."
"Alright, Will, but you have to promise me... promise me that if the chance ever comes for happiness, that you're going to take it. I mean it. I want you to be happy."
"I am." Willow smiled, even as she felt her heart ache from loneliness and her brain ache from her lie. She was happy, if just a little bit sad for a chance she was never sure she'd have.