Willow gave a satisfied sigh as she surveyed the living room arrangements. Most of the furniture had been delivered the day before, and everything seemed to be in order. She walked over to the glass top desk next to the front window and picked up the phone. Her line was supposed to have been activated the day before, which was confirmed when Willow heard the dial tone. She dialed Xander's number and waited for him to pick up.
From where she stood she had a clear view of Tara and Buffy talking. Buffy looked like she was seriously contemplating the contents of the truck bed but Tara didn't look like she was paying attention.
In fact, Tara was looking straight at Willow. Willow smiled as Tara gave her a wave. She waved back just as Xander answered his cell phone.
"Hey Wills, what's up?"
"Just wanted to see where you guys were, and let you know we're at the condo." Willow spoke as she continued to watch Buffy and Tara talking. Xander and Faith had helped to load Willow's truck before driving over to pick up Willow's dining set from their Uncle Rory's house. Xander had designed it and he and Faith had built it themselves as a housewarming gift.
"We're on our way. Faith wanted to stop and get food, but we should be there in a little while."
In the background Willow could hear Faith swat Xander and yell into the receiver.
"Don't listen to him Red. He's the punk that kept pointing out all the pizza joints."
"That's fine. We stopped for coffee, but I'm sure Buffy will be grumbling about food sometime soon anyway. I don't know where she puts it."
Willow told them the guard at the gate was expecting them, and then hung up the phone. As she did she saw Buffy and Tara pick up a few bags and make their way back towards the building. Satisfied that the move was progressing more or less as planned, she went in search of her bag and measuring tape, wanting to make sure one more time that the table Xander was bringing would fit in the empty space between the loveseat and kitchen pass through.
Tara's eyes drifted up the brick building and to the third floor window as she half-listened to Buffy debate with herself which of Willow's belongings they should bring up first. Willow had yet to put up curtains, so Tara could see Willow standing in the window, phone to her ear.
She caught Willow's eye and gave the redhead a wave before returning her attention to Buffy.
"Um, sorry, w-what?"
Buffy looked up and shook her head when she saw where Tara had been staring.
"What should we bring up now?" Buffy asked, choosing to keep her thoughts to herself.
"Oh." Tara scanned the writing on the boxes before replying. "Computer and gadgety stuff last. Otherwise she'll want to start hooking it all up and forget about the rest of it."
"Right, good idea. Then we'll be stuck bringing all this stuff up by ourselves." Buffy nodded to emphasize her agreement while picking a few bags to carry up.
As they made their way back towards the building Tara gave a last glance at the window, but Willow was no longer in sight.
It wasn't the best of situations to be in, but Tara wasn't a stranger to being in love with someone who was unattainable. No, that would have described a major part of her high school life. But none of the girls she had ever liked back then were people she would consider friends, or acquaintances even. She had never been as close to anyone as she had become to Willow, so that part, being in love with her best friend, that was new.
And all Tara had to do was look at the picture on Willow's desk to remind herself exactly how unattainable her best friend was. Sitting on the hutch was a picture of Willow at her high school graduation, posing with Buffy, Xander, Faith, and Oz.
Oz. Willow's first and only boyfriend. Tara's heart ached for the Willow in that picture. She knew that Willow and Oz had split up before they started college. The break-up had been a bad one, and Willow had been devastated.
Tara had often wondered why Willow kept that picture out, when it should have brought such unpleasant memories.
Buffy caught Tara gazing at the picture once, and Tara couldn't hide her curiosity from Buffy, so she asked about it and Buffy explained.
Willow's parents hadn't been planning to attend the ceremony, and had said as much to their daughter on the phone just a few days before. So they had all been surprised when they marched to their seats and saw Ira and Sheila Rosenberg sitting in the first row of parents, next to Buffy's mom, Dawn, and Giles.
After the ceremony, Sheila had surprised Willow even more. She pulled out a camera and insisted they all pose for picture after picture. Then she put the camera away, pulled her daughter into a hug, and gave Willow her blessing to attend whatever university she wanted.
"That was a good day." Buffy had said.
So when the picture didn't make a reappearance on their mantle once the girls had moved into their new apartment, Tara assumed that Willow decided to keep the picture in her bedroom.
It wasn't until a few months later that Tara found out she was partially right. She was in Willow's room looking for a book Willow had borrowed and saw the frame sitting on Willow's nightstand. But when she moved closer to look, Tara saw that the picture was different.
She picked the frame up and found herself looking at a photo of Willow leaning against her as they sat on the back steps of the Summers' house. Buffy and Dawn were in the picture too, but they were further off to the side and slightly out of focus. They were all looking up at something off camera.
Mrs. Summers had taken that picture on the night of a lunar eclipse. Tara remembered it with a melancholy smile. She had frozen when Willow sat in front of her. It wasn't as though they hadn't touched or sat next to each other in the affectionate way that friends often do. But this was different. Willow had insisted on sitting on the next step down, between Tara's knees. When Willow leaned back to point out the constellations, Tara could've sworn she would explode from the feel of Willow's body against hers. And Tara repeatedly considered holding her breath so she wouldn't have to inhale the scent that was distinctly Willow with a hint of strawberry.
Eventually she had found a way to distract herself, or more accurately, Willow had distracted her. After Willow had gone through a few constellations, Tara had sheepishly admitted she had never been able to see the regular ones, so she had made up her own, and Willow had insisted that Tara teach them to her.
As the night wore on, Tara managed to relax and just enjoy Willow's closeness while she could.
That was a good night.
Seeing the picture of that night on Willow's nightstand, Tara knew that Willow had thought so too. And though Tara's head insisted that all evidence pointed to Willow being straight, well...that picture gave Tara's heart a glimmer of hope.