Tara, those first days we had together during the storm were more than magical to me. We talked and we made love, all encapsulated in our own little realm. In a way, the storm was a blessing. It gave us days to just be with one another detached from the “real world” of work and family and responsibilities. So soon into a new relationship I think most couples would have been petrified of being forcibly stuck together for so many days continuously. Not us though, it was easy to be with one another even then; it was always the being apart that was hardest for us.
It snowed all the next day and most of the day after too, stopping late in the evening. By the time it had settled and roads were clear to drive it was New Year’s Eve. We had been together at my house for five solid days. I packed a bag for a few days this time, after what was an extremely brief conversation about whether or not I wanted to stay with you, and we went back to Joyce’s house. As we made our way up the walk, the door flew open as an overjoyed little boy darted down the steps and launched himself at you.
“Tante! Tante!” Robby squealed happily wrapping himself around you. “I missed you, Tante!”
“Ooo, I missed you too, my little man!” You replied smiling broadly, as you kissed his cheeks repeatedly while hugging him tight.
I tightened the hold I had on my backpack strap as I watched the two of you with unguarded fascination. Your face had lit up so brightly when Robby came running out to greet you. There was still a bit of novelty in that kind of open, “hands-on” familial relationship for me and I felt a bit like a voyeur. I was also reminded of what an important role touch played in your lives, especially for Robby.
Being so openly affectionate was also just an added perk of you being who you are naturally. Having now been on the receiving end of your attentions, I knew just how wonderful it could be to bask in that warmth.
The sight of the two of you was very sweet; both of your faces shining with love and affection. I was struck again by the heavy resemblance between you. From the shape of your faces and color of your eyes along with the identical oh-so endearing crooked grins mirrored perfectly on each of your faces. It struck me then that Robby could easily have passed for your child instead of your nephew, just based on looks alone.
I knew you had adopted him, and all the love any parent has for their child was there shining through your eyes so plainly for me to see. I realized that it had stopped mattering for you both a long time ago – if it ever really had for Robby – just like you had said that cold night you came to my door with an apology. He’s yours regardless of who had actually given birth to him.
“Willow!” Robby yelped with just as much enthusiasm as he had greeted you with when you put him back on his own two feet. Once he let go of you he threw himself at me giggling.
I smiled bashfully as he hugged me tightly around the waist. When I looked down, I noticed he was only in his socks. “Buddy, you don’t have on any shoes,” I said softly. I dropped my backpack and kneeled down. “How ‘bout I give you a piggyback ride?”
“Okay!” Robby said excitedly as he hopped on my back.
You took my pack from my hand, you made sure to brush our fingers together smiling tenderly at me, making my stomach flutter giddily. As we turned to go inside, I could see Buffy standing in the doorway smiling knowingly.
“How’s it going guys?” She asked innocently enough, but I couldn’t stop myself from blushing furiously.
I didn’t think your grin could have been any brighter when you saw Robby, but I swear the voltage went up several more watts in reply. I didn’t miss the sly wink you gave her either, and I don’t think you meant for me to either. The wink more than anything, made it hard for me to look Buffy in the eye as I carried Robby inside.
“Good, Buff,” I mumbled trying to move quickly through the door.
“I bet,” Buffy replied just loud enough for me to hear as I passed her.
I shot Buffy a look as I let Robby slide down my back and scurry away into the living room. I could hear the sounds of a video game welcoming the player back and Robby cackling happily. My eyes darted nervously between you and Buffy as we hung up our coats. You were still wearing that telling smile and Buffy leaned against the wall smirking with her arms crossed over her chest.
“Sweetie, I’m going to take your bag upstairs,” You said and kissed me softly before skipping off up the stairs.
I had been rubbing my hands together warding off the cold, but now it was my turn to grin toothily. This only made Buffy burst into laughter and shake her head as she watched us. She threw her arm around my shoulder and pulled me along with her.
“C’mon Romeo, let’s get you something warm to drink,” Buffy teased.
I was still trying to watch you go as she led me out of view and into the kitchen. I plopped down on one of the stools, and rested my chin on my hands. Buffy sat down on a stool next to me.
“Sooo,” Buffy drawled. “How have things been?” She asked wiggling her eyebrows comically. “I don’t need or want details, because this is you and Tara, who is like my sister,” Buffy made a face. “A whole world of “eeeww” to that one, and definitely a big “no” to the details. But you both seem nice and couple-y.”
I just looked at Buffy. “Buff, you know when we met it was all… zowy!” I said mimicking an explosion with my hands. “Then after the way everything went down in flames at dinner that night, I thought for sure she was gonna hate me forever, and well, all my hugs and kittens took the next train out of Dodge.”
Buffy laughed at my explanation. “But now?”
“All the rules changed again. She showed up on my doorstep – to apologize – to me!” I squeaked poking myself a little too hard in the chest. “This last week has been the craziest and the absolute best of my life.” I shook my head unable to finish my thoughts. “I don’t know where to start from there, Buffy. I don’t know if I can even put it all into words…” I looked up at Buffy and said softly, “She’s everything, Buff… she’s just… my everything.”
“Wow, I love how you put things, Will,” Buffy smiled warmly and squeezing my shoulder. “There’s no one quite like you.”
“The best of mine too, sweetheart,” You said from the doorway smiling.
We both turned when you spoke; I opened my arms and in an instance you were in them. Like I just wished it and you were immediately there. We both sighed happily, and Buffy started to giggle. She had one hand resting over her heart and her eyes glistened with tears.
“I knew you two would be good for each other,” She said her voice thick with tears. “You guys glow… it’s so… cool.”
You held your arm out to her and we pulled her into a hug with us. Soon the three of us were giggling like schoolchildren. Buffy pulled away with the intent of making hot coco, and I laid my head on your shoulder as I pulled you into my lap.
“Ooo, we should let Willow make the coco, Buffy, hers is excellent,” You bragged.
Buffy turned to look at me with a raised eyebrow, and I was just smiling up at you. “That’s because it’s made with love, baby,” I said sappily.
“Yes, and mine is only made with “like”,” Buffy snarked back making us all giggle again.
“I’d like coco too, please!” Robby yelled from the living room.
We all turned to look in the direction of the living room. “How did he hear us?” I asked.
“Oh, you said the magic word – “coco”,” Buffy replied with a knowing smile. “That child would have heard anything to do with chocolate whispered at two hundred paces.”
“It’s true, watch,” You said, then whispered in my ear. “I have some chocolate, would you like a piece?”
“Can I have some too?” Robby yelled again.
I looked towards the living room again, slack-jawed with surprise.
“See?” You said
“How does he do that?” I asked in awe.
“We have no idea,” Buffy replied, then eyed you carefully. “I hope you weren’t teasing and actually have some chocolate somewhere to give him.”
You nodded and pointed to a cabinet above the refrigerator. With more stealth than I had ever seen her use, Buffy hopped up on the counter to reach above the refrigerator. She carefully opened the cabinet and retrieved the bag of candy while she kept talking.
“We noticed it when he was what, about six?” She looked at you, and you nodded in agreement. “No matter where in the house you were, if you mentioned something about chocolate he heard it,” she said.
“Does it work with any other candy?” I asked.
“Nope, just chocolate,” You replied. “Donny was the same way as a kid, though.” You smiled softly.
“So he’s just like his dad then?” I said with a smile.
“Yeah, he is,” Your words were faintly proud, and I knew what it meant to you that Robby showed any similarities to his dad.
“Kinda cool, huh?” Buffy said, and we all nodded in agreement.
I gave you a squeeze and looked at Buffy. “I can make the coco if you want, it’s no biggie.”
Buffy hopped off the counter. “Go right ahead since “yours is the best”,” she teased fluttering her eyelashes as she tossed you the bag of candy.
“Hey, I take my coco very seriously,” I said solemnly, with a stern look that made you both giggle. “Now where’s your spice rack?”
The afternoon ebbed away into evening, and Robby was excited about being able to stay up for the first time to watch the ball drop and ring in the New Year. We had hats and noise makers, and instead of champagne, there was a bottle of sparkling cider for us all to toast with at midnight. Erik called from his parents in Denver so he could share ringing in the New Year even if it was only by phone. Brenda had been not exactly drunk texting but not entirely sober either and we had several laughs at her antics and a few racy photos. And Buffy kept sneaking off with her phone smirking.
Robby crashed a little after the New Year was rung in, and together we put him in bed. We said our goodnights to Joyce, and Buffy was sneaking off with her phone again. Hand in hand, we made our way quietly to your room. With the door locked, I watched you light a few candles that were had scattered around your room in different places from my spot on your bed. The soft light lent a warm glow to your skin and a twinkle to your gorgeous blue eyes when you turned to look at me.
I held up my hand to stop you when you turned to face me on the bed. Then I started a little show of slowly undressing for you. I could see your breathing grow labored with every piece of clothing I removed. Finally, I lay naked before you and let you look at me while I stretched and flexed for you. Touching here and there, dipping my fingers between my thighs so you could see my desire. See how turned on I was by you and my little show. I crawled down the bed to where you stood, to slither my way up against you and I couldn’t stop myself from smirking as you bit your lower lip.
With steady hands I slowly stripped you. Taking time to caress every bit of your warm and luminous flesh, as I continued revealed more and more of you to my very eager hands and lips. Kneeling before you, I slid your jeans down your thighs – the muscles twitched as I trailed wet open-mouthed kisses down the sweet silky skin of your legs. I looked up you, and the ghost of a smile that played at your lips took my breath away.
“You’re so beautiful, Tara,” I breathed. “I love you so much.”
“I love you, too, Willow, more than I can believe,” You replied, tugging playfully on a lock of my hair. “You captured my heart and made me yours from the first moment our hands touched.”
I cocked my head to the side and rubbed my cheek against your thigh. “I am, you know,” I said softly as I gazed up at you.
“What, love?” You asked.
“Yours,” I answered simply.
Your eyes shimmered as you looked down at me, stroking my cheek, and I nuzzled into your hand before I rose to my feet. I kissed you softly, pressing the lengths of our bodies together, just holding you for a moment, feeling how perfectly we fit together. Then I swiftly caught you up in my arms, and gently laid you down on the bed. I looked at you, your hair splayed over the pillow, and a slight flush to your cheeks.
“My angel,” I whispered. “I’ll love you for a thousand years.”
“And I’ll love you for a thousand more, my Valentine colored girl,” You replied, and I looked at your questioningly. “Your red hair, pink lips,” You licked at my mouth and tapped your fingers lightly against my mound, and raised your eyebrow seductively. “Your sweet nipples and I can’t forget your gorgeous pale skin.” You rubbed our noses together. “Red, white and pink… valentine colors.”
I smiled at you before I kissed you softly. Quickly our kisses became passionate and as fierce as our growing love for one another. We didn’t sleep that night, we made love until we were exhausted, and finally pulled from our little cocoon and forced back into the “real world” the next day.
It was the first of many such wonderful New Years we’ve shared together, Tara.
Darling, it’s hard to believe that was so many years ago. We waited what seemed like a torturous six months before we did the classic lesbian U-Haul thing and moved in together. We haven’t spent more than a few days here and there apart because of work, and eventually we got around that too. Things were peaceful, we found a cute little brownstone just a block over from Buffy and Joyce, and made our home there, the three of us. Nothing much really seemed to change except the sleeping arrangements. If we weren’t over there, they were at ours. I wouldn’t have it any other way and I know you wouldn’t either. Besides I think Robby enjoyed having two rooms he could fill with toys.
If I think about it now, it was almost nine years ago that Erik met and married Marie. I never knew Erik would love being a father so much, and I don’t think he did either, but he’s just the best with the boys. They’re both patient and kind but firm when they have to be. It looks like this time they’re finally getting the little girl Erik says has always wanted. Although Marie swears that number five is it regardless. That little girl is going to be so well loved. And God help any boy she brings home to meet her father and four older brothers. You know they’ll never be good enough for her.
Eight years ago, Brenda suddenly offered me a partnership in the gallery. She said wanted someone she could trust to keep it going the way her father would have wanted, and that was also when she told me she had a lump in her left breast. It was too far along, and there was no point in treating it. She said she didn’t want to spend her last day’s sick from being sick, and that was that. I spent the rest of that day locked away in the office crying. I was such a mess Brenda finally called you to come get me. Things went so fast after that, it seems. We lost Brenda eight and a half months later, and then I took over the gallery from top to bottom. I’ve often wondered if that wasn’t really why she offered me my first job there in the first place. Maybe she already knew she was sick and had made her choices. And in me, she hoped to find someone that would love all of the gallery just as much as she had. Well, she was right.
The year we lost Brenda was also Robby’s first year of high school, and we were celebrating four happy years together at that point. Robby had grown up so much – tall and gangly – all graceless elbows and knees as boys tend to be at fourteen. Grinning and mischievous, he was looking more and more like your brother every day, too. It’s hard to believe that it’s been only four years since he graduated from college with a degree in social work.
He’s become such an outstanding young man, so independent and strong. All the love and care that you, Buffy and Joyce have given him over the years have allowed him to overcome the majority of what could have been debilitating effects of his disease. He has a wonderful life. I am so proud to have been even a small part of it with you. I see you shining through him all of the time, you know, his wonderful Tante.
That was also the year you joined me at the gallery. Robby and I convinced you to start painting again, something you have said you never thought you would do again. Of course I think you’re incredibly talented and so do several of the patrons of the gallery so I’m not biased – much. I have to say seeing you covered in paint, skin flushed and eyes gleaming happily is incredibly sexy, but I think the piles of our paint-splattered, ruined clothes speak for themselves.
It’s been three and a half since Buffy and Roger got married. Now, beautiful little Carolyn is making her wobbly way around our world and talking up a storm just like her mom. I remember how you and Joyce cried when Buffy told you she was pregnant with a little girl and the name she and Roger had chosen for her. They were naming her after your mom. I don’t think I’ve ever loved my best friend more than at that moment.
All of that is to get to this part, and I’ll try not to carry on too long here.
The first wedding anniversary is traditionally paper, but this really isn’t our “first” anniversary is it? So for our first “legal” anniversary I decided to do something a little different, something only for you.
You’ve been my life for the last twelve years, baby, and nothing was more magical and you were never more radiant than the day when you became my wife – legally. Now all the world knows what our friends and family have know for so long. We are meant for each other.
About six months after we got married I was browsing in a book store in Old Colorado City, when I saw this journal and I just knew that I had to buy it. Something about the way embossed leather felt in my hands; it was a simple Celtic Tree of Life design. I’ve seen this design a thousand time but this particular one just spoke to me in a way journals just normally don’t. I talk enough without the need to write it all down – as you well know, sweetheart.
Then an idea came to me. I would fill it with my memories how my life was when I came back from Las Vegas – before there was a you in my life. Keep going right up to those crazy beautiful whirlwind days after we first met, and when we just knew this was meant to be forever. All of it through my eyes, and it would be my special gift to you.
The timing just seemed to fall into place. I tried to write it as a story, but I’m no writer, I’m just the simple fool who’s in love with you. So I’m not sure that worked quite like I planned the I got further into my memories. Besides, this is so I could tell you in my own way, what that time was like for me in a way that we don’t have to share with the world. Just for us… just for you, in case you ever forget how much you mean to me.
Since that cold day in December, when you put your hand in mine, it has always been you, my beautiful darling. You have always been my everything. I live for you, I dream only of you, and I simply cannot be without you.
So this is my gift to you, happy “first” legal anniversary, my darling, I hope you like it. The last twelve years have been magnificent. Full and rich in every way that you dream about them being, and I love you more than I could have ever imagined I would be able to love someone. You’ve given me some much, Tara. You taught me how to love, how to fight, and how to forgive. You gave me a warm, compassionate family, and they mean the world to me.
I can’t describe the joy and wonder I feel at the prospect of spending the next forty or so years together with you either. Giddy doesn’t cover it, lucky doesn’t either… I think perhaps blessed might be the best way to describe what I feel when I think of our future.
This is for you, my baby. My beloved wife, my beautiful lover, my greatest friend, my always, and most importantly, My Tara.