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 Post subject: New Fic - Donegal Street (Completed 13th September 2011)
PostPosted: Wed Apr 06, 2011 1:09 pm 
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4. Extra Flamey

Joined: Tue Mar 23, 2010 2:02 pm
Posts: 220
Location: England
TITLE: Donegal Street

AUTHOR: Wayland

RATING: PG-13

DISCLAIMER: Willow, Tara and any other characters from the Buffy the Vampire Slayer franchise belong to Joss Whedon, FOX and ME.

SPOILERS: Up to and including Season Six.

SUMMARY: Tara left Willow after Tabula Rasa. It is now about a year later.

FEEDBACK: I would be grateful for your comments.

NOTES: Thanks to my beta, Vivienne for the encouragement I needed to get this far.



Chapter 1


Tara’s gaze drifted from the page in front of her and settled on the poster above her desk. Four young men with dazzling teeth. They were stripped to the waist, displaying hairless baby-oiled chests with improbably quilted abs. She really ought to redecorate. Really. The opposite wall bore a poster of the Grand Canyon. Tolerable enough. But this one . . . . For the hundreth time she vowed to remove the previous occupant’s dubious taste in wall art and replace it with something of her own. On the other hand, she could xerox the damn thing and market it as an appetite suppressant for dieting lesbians. It seemed to work for her. Eating had been a chore for a long time now. Tara returned to her book, leaving the poster in place. The prospect of blank walls frightened her somehow, and most of her own stuff was still at Buffy’s.

‘Tara! Someone here for you!’

The thump on her bedroom door interrupted her reading and she closed the Byron with relief. For some reason people always assumed that she would love poetry. She didn’t. It wasn’t that she couldn’t appreciate beautiful language, but when she read for pleasure it was with the aim of getting caught up in a story. She liked to lose herself in the lives of characters which were far removed from her own.

The relief of her unexpected delivery from the Romantic Poets lasted most of the descent downstairs and it was only when she neared the living room that she thought to wonder who was calling on her. The only friends who knew where she lived were Buffy and Dawn and neither of them had ever been here. She preferred to meet them in town and had only supplied the address at their insistence. Perhaps there was some kind of emergency, some apocalyptic event that was too urgent for a phone call.

She smiled wryly to herself, Well, anything’s better than Byron… The smile congealed on her face the instant a particular shade of red filled her vision.

Willow.

Tara jolted to a halt in the doorway like an uninvited vampire.

Willow. Here. Her…her ex-girlfriend. Former lover. Her no-longer significant other. The phrases rattled around Tara’s mind. Absurd, each one of them.

Just . . . Willow.

She felt a trembling, deep inside her body, while her arms and legs seemed locked rigid. Willow was facing the window, her back to Tara. She looks so small, was she always that small? The afternoon sun caught stray strands of red hair and made them sparkle with the illusion of movement, emphasizing that the young woman’s stance was uncharacteristically still. At that moment, Willow turned. She started a little, apparently caught by surprise.

Tara found herself drawn to Willow’s eyes. Green. A green like…nothing else she had ever seen. At the edge of her vision, she became aware of a flush spreading over Willow’s cheeks. She had noticed her staring. Tara felt heat in her own face. She wanted to explain…she wasn’t . . . but no words came.

‘Hey.’ Willow’s shoulders sagged, as if saying even that little had exhausted her. Then she seemed to brace herself and looked up.

‘Hey,’ she said again.

Tara replied quickly, a mixture of shame and anger sharpened her tone, ‘What’s happened? Are Buffy and Dawn…’

‘They’re fine. Good. Really, they’re fine,’

Willow delivered the explanation at break-neck speed, her hands raised defensively.

She’s frightened. The thought caused another wave of shame and anger to wash over Tara.

‘Oh. Well. That’s good.’ A silence followed, until finally Willow answered the unasked question.

‘I just, I wanted to . . . I was hoping to see you.’

She smiled awkwardly and paused, evidently hoping that Tara would say something in return. When she was met with more silence she appeared to steel herself, straightening her shoulders and breathing deeply.

‘Buffy gave me your address. She didn’t want to. Had to arm wrestle her for it.’ Tara acknowledged the lame attempt at a joke with a small nod.

‘Seriously. She said I should phone first, but I figured you might hang up on me.’ Willow waited again and then, receiving no response, she ploughed on.

‘You see there’s this woman I met at work, and . . . well really, that’s not important,’

Tara felt herself flinch, but she could see that Willow’s gaze was now fixed on the floor and she had not noticed. She continued to gabble, as if afraid she would not be allowed to finish speaking unless she rushed, allowing no chance for interruption.

‘. . . and anyway, the thing is, I wanted to say it, and you don’t have to reply, or do anything, or even listen, if you don’t want to, but I just wanted to say it . . . I’m sorry.’

Tara found it difficult to form words, as if her voice was atrophied from lack of use. She swallowed twice, then managed a stiff ‘Thank you.’

Willow nodded, her head jerking rhythmically. She licked her lips.

‘Well . . . thanks for listening.’

Still nodding, she stepped forward.

Tara shuffled aside so that Willow could pass through the doorway. Then she stood, unmoving, until she heard the quiet click of the front door closing and she was still standing when her roommate walked in and asked ‘Who was that?’ Tara simply shook her head in reply and slowly made her way to the stairs, and her room.

********************


Tara slammed shut her bedroom door and pressed her back into it, her eyes closed tight. She breathed rapidly, convulsively forcing air into her lungs. As her heart began to slow down, she opened her eyes and looked at her room, as if for the first time.

It was the third place she had rented since leaving Buffy’s, and by far the nicest. She had been lucky to get it. The previous tenant had dropped out of college unexpectedly and Tara had been quick to respond when the remaining roommates advertised for a replacement. The three women were friends of long-standing and they had welcomed her kindly, tried to include her in their plans, and then left her to her privacy when they realised that it was what she wanted. This place suited Tara well. The previous year, when Willow left for the city, Buffy had invited her to move back into the Summers’ house. The offer had moved Tara beyond words, but she turned it down without hesitation. Moving back to the home she had shared with Willow would be unbearable. And living amongst strangers was something she had always done well.

Her old dorm room came to mind; the place where she and Willow had spent so many precious hours. Decorated in dark colours, bestrewn with silky fabrics and illuminated by tiny fairy lights. Willow had called it her crystal cavern, a description which had delighted her. Only now did the thought occur to her - wasn’t a cave just a hole underground, meant for hiding out through the winter? But even if that room had been a refuge from the world, at least it had been hers.

Tara was still breathing quickly as her eyes darted around the room. Her school books were on the desk and the bed was covered in the single-sized linen she had bought from the discount store prior to moving in. Otherwise, there was nothing at all that could identify her as the occupant.

The boy band grinned inanely back at her. In a blur of movement she lurched forward, tore down the poster, and ripped it into pieces. Then she sank down onto the bed and with her hands still full of crumpled paper, she dragged her fists across her cheeks, smearing tears all over her face.

******************


Willow made her way slowly back up Revello Drive, habit keeping her watchful now that dusk was approaching. Her feet ached after hours of aimless walking. She was dry-eyed. Always. She still remembered her uncle’s funeral, when she was a child. She remembered her aunt at the graveside, blank-faced while those around her sobbed. In her innocence she had wondered why her aunt was not more upset. Now she understood. Some blows hurt, but the worst ones paralysed. She hadn’t cried since the night Tara left.

Her mind worked sluggishly as she reviewed their meeting. She’d had a whole speech prepared, refined and polished during countless sleepless nights. A comprehensive acknowledgement of her behaviour in all its hideousness. A statement of sincere remorse, asking nothing. And all of it had disappeared the instant she saw Tara again. Every word, every agonisingly perfected phrase, had gone. And so she had babbled out an incoherent apology. And then she had bolted.

Outstanding, Rosenberg, just . . . outstanding. Willow stumbled a little, tripping over her own feet. She was so exhausted, she didn’t even have the energy to properly berate herself. No matter, she had plenty of time for that. Lots of time.

Just put one foot in front of the other…get back to Buffy’s, get through the evening, then the earliest possible bus home in the morning. Only the weekend to get through after that, and then the blessed distraction of work on Monday.

The prospect of her office seemed like a haven, or at least, it did, until another thought intruded.

Work…oh God, Julie…

She would have to face Julie and explain exactly what a mess she had made of the meeting with Tara. Willow pictured the gentle Irishwoman shaking her head in dismay.

It had taken a long time and great persistance from the older woman before Willow had begun to exchange pleasantries, let alone confide in her. Willow still wasn’t sure why Julie had bothered. It was only recently that Willow had realised how withdrawn and aloof she must have seemed when she first arrived in the city.

‘Too much time on my hands, now the kids are grown,’ had been Julie’s brisk explanation. ‘Besides, I’m nosy by nature.’ That was far from the truth. In fact, she had been endlessly patient, never pushing for details, until one day, over coffee in the staff canteen, Willow found herself recounting the circumstances that had driven her from home. Of course, she had not told her colleague all the peculiarly Sunnydale aspects of her behaviour, but she did not need to; a betrayal of trust was explanation enough.

Julie had listened sympathetically, without judgement, but on one point she had been firm.

‘You need to go back.’

Willow had been terrified at the idea. There was no doubting what the other woman meant. Not Buffy and Dawn. While she wouldn’t presume that she had earned their forgiveness, exactly, much of their anger seemed to have burned itself out during those awful last weeks in Sunnydale. Julie wasn’t talking about them. She was talking about Tara.

‘Remember, it isn’t about you, it’s about her. So, don’t be looking for forgiveness, because you mightn’t get it. And don’t expect to feel better, because you might feel worse. She deserves an apology and if she doesn’t want it, fine, but she still deserves it.’

Willow had finally admitted the truth of this. It was the least she owed Tara. So she had returned to Sunnydale, convinced a reluctant Buffy to part with her friend’s address, and then…

I’ve given better apologies to chairs I’ve bumped into.

As she walked up to the house, the prospect of facing her colleague faded from her mind, at the more immediate task of facing her best friend. For a split second, Willow considered her chances of sneaking upstairs to bed unnoticed. Then she shook off the childish notion and unlatched the back door.

In the Summers’ kitchen, Buffy was perched on a stool, apparently deeply absorbed in whittling a stake. Willow wasn’t fooled, partly because she knew the Slayer would have heard her footsteps from the driveway (at least), and partly because the piece of wood resting in her hands now looked more like a knitting needle than a stake.

‘Hey Buffy.’

Buffy looked up from her carving with a bright expression, which dulled immediately on seeing Willow’s face.

‘So…not so good, huh?’

Willow just shook her head, wincing inwardly at the change in mood she had caused. I really am a little ray of sunshine.

Buffy looked as if she was trying, and failing to think of something to say. Tossing aside the stake, she jumped off her seat.

‘Hey, we saved you dinner – don’t worry, Dawn cooked, so it’s real food!’

‘I’m not really hungry…’ Willow watched her friend’s face fall again ‘…but I could eat something.’

‘Great!’ Buffy was already rummaging in the fridge, a task which seemed to take her full attention. Willow felt relieved. Sometimes there really was nothing to say.

************


Last edited by wayland on Tue Sep 13, 2011 2:51 pm, edited 16 times in total.

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 Post subject: Re: New Fic - Donegal Street
PostPosted: Wed Apr 06, 2011 2:10 pm 
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6. Sassy Eggs

Joined: Sun Jul 27, 2008 9:43 am
Posts: 434
Dibs

Poor Willow. I think she still feels like she doesn't deserve to be forgiven. This probably played a major part in how she acted with Tara. Now she's kind of stuck: If she stops, nothing else will happen; but it will be really uncomfortable to show up a second time with no warning.

Can't wait to see what happens next.


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 Post subject: Re: New Fic - Donegal Street
PostPosted: Thu Apr 07, 2011 6:16 am 
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4. Extra Flamey
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Great start... It sets a very dark mood but then that was exactly what we felt like at the end of Tabula Rasa. Or well, I did, at least. Only manageable with the promise of a happy ending...!

Their story is obviously far from over. It seems like such a long time, a whole year, but that's going to make this process all that more important and heavy on the emotions. I'm curious to see who'll make the next move!

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 Post subject: Re: New Fic - Donegal Street
PostPosted: Thu Apr 07, 2011 7:27 am 
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20. Not one Much for the Timber
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Hey Wayland!

Great start:) I always feel so bad for Willow in post Tabula Rasa anything and Tara too. But on the bright said, you can go anywhere with the storyline and the possibilities are endless.

I am curious to see who makes contact next and if Willow will come back to Sunnydale or if Tara will go to her.

Keep writing...looking forward to reading more!!

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 Post subject: Re: New Fic - Donegal Street
PostPosted: Thu Apr 07, 2011 12:51 pm 
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32. Kisses and Gay Love
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Nice start. Very angsty. when willow said there was a woman at work. I thoughts she meant she was moving on. I wonder if tara thought that too. Please keep writing.

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 Post subject: Re: New Fic - Donegal Street
PostPosted: Thu Apr 07, 2011 1:05 pm 
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10. Troll Hammer

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I can imagine Tara felt much the same as Willow did when she saw Tara with "Kissing Girl" in "Normal Again." (That scene inpsired a whole verse of my song lyric. ;-) )

This part of the story is such a great jumping-off place. So many ways either Willow or Tara might have reacted differently to play with/ off of.

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 Post subject: Re: New Fic - Donegal Street
PostPosted: Fri Apr 08, 2011 1:20 pm 
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4. Extra Flamey

Joined: Tue Mar 23, 2010 2:02 pm
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BuffyFan4ever

Thank you for your feedback. This is my first story – apart from a Christmas bit o’ fluff – and it was rather nerve-wracking waiting to see if anyone would read it! Yes absolutely, Willow doesn’t feel that she deserves to be forgiven, it’s why she was reluctant to go back at all, and why she made a bad job of it.



sadie

It is a dark mood, but of course a happy ending is guaranteed! As for who makes the next move - coming right up. I thought a year was long enough for some things to change, and some ideas to become fixed (but not irrevocably so), if that makes sense. Thank you for feedbacking.


Finey McFine

Thanks!
I love this board for the way new writers are supported.
I’m so glad you want to see what happens next. At least you know on the kitten board that it will end happily.


JustSkipIt

Thanks so much. I worried that the start might be too angsty, so your reply was very reassuring. I really appreciate the encouragement. As for what Tara thought…please read on…


DaddyCatALSO

Of course, in that episode at least Willow knew she was going to see Tara. Here, poor Tara was completely blindsided. I agree, lots of possibilities.


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 Post subject: Re: New Fic - Donegal Street
PostPosted: Fri Apr 08, 2011 1:42 pm 
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4. Extra Flamey

Joined: Tue Mar 23, 2010 2:02 pm
Posts: 220
Location: England
TITLE: Donegal Street

AUTHOR: Wayland

RATING: PG-13

DISCLAIMER: Willow, Tara and any other characters from the Buffy the Vampire Slayer franchise belong to Joss Whedon, FOX and ME.

SPOILERS: Up to and including Season Six.

SUMMARY: Tara left Willow after Tabula Rasa. It is now about a year later.

FEEDBACK: I would be grateful for your comments.

NOTES: Thanks to my beta, Vivienne, for the encouragement I needed to get this far.


Chapter 2


Tara slammed shut The Collected Works of Lord Byron. Trying to study had been a ridiculous idea. She dropped the heavy volume onto the floor by her bed. Only a deeply ingrained reverence for books prevented her from throwing it across the room. That and the fact that it was just before 5am and she didn’t want to wake the house. Drawing attention to herself in that way was a thought that made her shudder. One of her roommates had actually tapped on her door at dinner time, asking softly if she was ok. She had pretended not to hear. She still felt guilty about that. Feeling guilty seemed to reignite her anger. It was unfair of Willow to turn up with no warning, completely unfair. Especially here. This place was…was what exactly? Her sanctuary, her bolthole? Tara stared at the blank wall above her desk.

She looked pale…I didn’t offer her coffee, or even ask her to sit down...but she was gone so quickly…was she thinner? Her face seemed a little thinner.

Tara slumped back onto her bed, rubbing her eyes. They felt gritty. She had been doing this all night - bouncing between a dozen different emotions, some of which she could barely even name. If only she hadn’t been so unprepared.

A memory itched at the back of her brain. Sitting in her dorm room in the dark, waiting for Willow. She had known that Willow would come and that Willow would tell her about Oz. And Tara had been ready, her reaction rehearsed, her speech prepared. In some ways that particular speech had been ready all her life. Because Willow had been a dream. Being with Willow was beyond a dream, something she literally could not imagine. Even in her fantasies, the Tara she pictured was far removed from the woman she saw in the mirror. So, she had rewritten Willow’s every word, reinterpreted her every action until the previous weeks had been a passing phase for the woman she loved, a period of consolation before her return to the real world. Alone in that dorm room she had crumbled the substance of their time together into dust, and waited for Willow to say goodbye.

And then Oz was gone, and Willow had declared herself. To Tara, and to her friends. And Tara still waited. She had good reason, certainly. It was a brief reprieve, not a future.

Then her father had come. And gone. Leaving no trace behind.

One blow had shattered her. One casual blow. She was undone, completely. And remade. And that was good. They were good. As it should be. Willow and Tara. Together. For weeks and months and years. A couple. Partners. Parents even, after a fashion. It was going to be forever.

Tara twisted in the bed. The early morning light revealed tape marks and a ghostly rectangle on the blank wall.

Did I ever really stop waiting?

She felt her forehead prickle with a chill sweat.

Did I ever believe in us?

************


Instinct told her that the alarm clock had been ringing for some time. Tara struggled out of the bedcovers which were twisted around her body and slammed it into silence. She rubbed one hand over her face and traced the creases her pillow had imprinted on her cheek. Her head felt heavy and her body ached. But even after so little sleep, she knew her thinking was clearer. Last night she had been overwrought. Nothing terrible had happened. Willow had caught her by surprise and she had been less friendly than she’d intended. That was all. There was no need to be melodramatic about it. It was just like her grandma used to say, ‘Too much thinking never did a body good.’

As soon as she was washed and dressed she would head over to the Summers’ house and say hi to Willow. She knew from the little that Buffy and Dawn had told her, the little she had allowed them to tell her, that Willow was doing well. She would ask about her job, about her new friends…

A wave of queasiness washed through her, but she refused to let the feeling build. She didn’t hate her ex-girlfriend. Far from it. She still cared for her, she still…she still cared for her. The idea that Willow might be under a different impression was painful.

Tara swung her legs out of bed. Get washed, get dressed, go to Buffy’s. In a couple of hours she would be back home and everything would be normal again.

************


Buffy dropped the stack of dishes into the sink with a crash that boded ill for those on the bottom of the pile. Yet again, yet again, Dawn had rushed off to school and left a trail of devastation in her wake. To be precise, two sticky glasses, a bowl with remains of oatmeal now firmly dried on, one sideplate, knife and spoon, (also sticky), and a swath of crumbs across the breakfast bar. Was it too much to ask of her to take a couple of steps to the sink, turn on the tap and place the rinsed dishes on the side?

Dawn wasn’t a child anymore but she still seemed to believe in fairies. Or at least one, housekeeper fairy who arrived while she was out and was responsible for the clean dishes in the cupboard, the food in the fridge and the laundered clothes by her bed.

And then Xander had arrived to take Willow to the bus station on his way to work. Of course he had helped himself to breakfast too, and apparently he was similarly ignorant of the location of the sink. And as for Willow… well, Willow had added precisely one coffee cup to the mess, because obviously the few mouthfuls of dinner she had eaten last night were more than sufficient to sustain her for the day.

As soon as breakfast was finished, all three had run out the door, in a flurry of hugs, leaving her with no one to shout at.

Buffy glanced at the clock, rolled up her sleeves and gave the faucet a savage twist. If she washed these dishes now, she’d have time to get some grocery shopping done before getting to work to wash more dishes. The running water almost drowned out the sound of a tentative knock at the open backdoor, and she looked up, surprised to see Tara just inside the kitchen.

‘Hi,’ said Tara softly, then, taking in the state of the kitchen, ‘Wow.’

Buffy smiled, glad to see her friend and glad of the opportunity to rant to someone other than herself.

‘Welcome to the Summers’ Hotel. The pay’s non-existent and the tips are worse, but hey, at least the guests really appreciate you.’

‘Dawn,’ said Tara.

‘Dawn,’ Buffy confirmed. ‘With a special appearance from Xander Harris.’

‘Um, you need a hand with that?’ Tara came further into the room and swiped a cloth from the side.

‘Nah, there’s coffee in the pot. Take a seat, try and find a clear space and I’ll bring you a cup.’

Tara neatly stacked the remaining dirty dishes and wiped the counter down.

‘So… is Willow still in bed?’

Buffy had her back to her, busy filling two mugs with coffee.

‘Nope, she got the early bus. Xander took her.’

‘Oh.’

Buffy turned and set down the mugs in front of Tara.

‘You saw her yesterday.’ Buffy’s tone of voice was deliberately even, but when she saw a flush creep over the other woman’s face, she felt a twinge of irritation.

Great. Just great. What exactly did she say to her?

‘Yes. I did. She…she surprised me a little.’ Tara reached for her mug, turning it to grasp the handle.

‘My fault, I guess,’ Buffy replied breezily. ‘But she had that resolve look going on, hard to resist, you know.’

Tara took a sip of coffee and kept her face down, gazing into the cup.

‘I just…I just wish you’d warned me.’

Buffy waved a hand in the air in a nonchalant gesture.

‘Didn’t think you’d mind. It’s not like you hate her or anything.’

Tara’s head shot up.

‘Of course I don’t hate her!’

‘Well, that’s ok then.’

Both women drank their coffee silently for a few minutes. Buffy looked around the kitchen, then up at the clock.

‘Oh joy. Another shift at my dream job awaits.’

Tara frowned in confusion.

‘I thought you didn’t work Fridays.’

‘I don’t usually, but my shift supervisor is getting married today, so it’s all hands to the pump, or all monkeys to the grease, or whatever.’

‘Oh, well…that’s nice, I guess.’ Tara shifted on her seat.

‘Yeah, it’s a beautiful thing. For better, for worse, in sickness and in health - all that good stuff.’ Buffy gave an exaggerated shrug. ‘I give it a month.’

Tara abruptly stood up.

‘I-I really should get going.’

Buffy scrambled to her feet, one hand reaching out to Tara, but the other woman stepped back.

‘Look Tara…I didn’t mean…She treated you badly. Beyond badly. You left her. I get that. I’m just…’

Tara cut across her. ‘I’d like Willow’s address please.’

Buffy took a stride backwards, startled.

‘Is that a good idea?’ The look she saw on her friend’s face wasn’t one she was used to.

‘The address. Please.’

Buffy took in the unwavering gaze, the slightly raised chin and the clenched jaw. After a moment, she nodded. She went to the counter, dragged over a pen and notebook and quickly scribbled down a few lines. She looked up at Tara. When the other woman didn’t look away, Buffy handed her the scrap of paper.

Tara glanced at it then folded it into her hand.

‘Thank you.’

She was already heading for the door when Buffy called her name. She turned, her expression set. Buffy hesitated and then said simply,

‘Take care.’

Tara nodded and walked out.

Buffy stared after her, unmoving, until she noticed the pen, still in her hand and threw it down on the counter. Contrary to popular opinion, Buffy was quite capable of introspection. She just didn’t like it. The see-a-problem-slay-it ethos of her calling suited her well. But sometimes even she couldn’t avoid a moment of reflection; she knew exactly who she was really angry with.

Buffy slammed her palms down on the counter, causing a mug near the edge to bounce off and hit the floor with a crash. She observed the wreckage for a moment, then stepped delicately over the shards of china, avoided the splashes of coffee, and headed for the stairs. Let the housekeeper fairy clean it up.

************


The stabbing pain in her side finally registered and Tara realised how fast she had been walking. She slowed down abruptly, taking in her surroundings. She was already almost home. She wiped a thin sheen of sweat from her forehead with the back of her hand, her fingers still clutching a small piece of paper. As her breathing evened out, she tried to sort through the jumbled mess of her thoughts.

Buffy had…what exactly had Buffy just done? ‘For better for worse, in sickness and in health.’ Did Buffy think that she’d abandoned Willow? Did she blame her for leaving? Had she always thought that and never said?

No. Buffy had understood better than anyone why Tara had needed to move out, why she had to get away. Tara would never forget hearing Buffy explain how her little sister had broken her arm. By the time she told Tara the story her voice was calm, the rage was banked. In the Slayer’s eyes Tara had seen something else. Loss. Buffy protected people. It was her job and her nature. She kept the ones she loved safe from the forces of darkness. The two were distinct and separate. They had to be. How could she fight otherwise? Who could she fight? It was a mockery. It could not happen. Not on her watch. Not again. Tara had never felt closer to Buffy than in that moment.

The memory settled her as she walked, slowly now, towards the house she shared.

Tara tugged her keys out with her free hand. She pushed open the door and was grateful for the silence which greeted her. At this time of day her roommates were likely to be in class and if she hurried she could be gone before they got back. A note stuck to the fridge would suffice as an explanation for her absence. Tara glanced at the clock in the hallway as she briskly made her way to the stairs. The next bus was not due to leave til early evening, but there was a lunchtime train she could catch if she left right now.

Once in her room, Tara’s movements were quick and decisive. From the back of the closet she pulled out a light canvas bag. She threw in her wash things, a handful of clothing and a paperback novel. It was only when the task was complete that she realised she was still holding the folded scrap of paper in one hand. Tara sank onto the bed and carefully smoothed out the note. The address was still there, in Buffy’s neat handwriting. She refolded the paper and pushed it deep into the pocket of her jeans.

Buffy was feeling the strain lately. That lousy job, the slaying, looking after Dawn – the pressure rarely let up. People lashed out when they were stressed, said things they didn’t really mean.

‘You left her.’

She had. She knew that. And yet those words had hit her with the force of a revelation. An instinctive denial had come to her lips. Separating herself from Willow was an impossibility, how could Buffy say that?
She had said it because it was true. A simple fact.

I left Willow.

With a final glance around the room, she picked up her bag. On her way out she hesitated, then grabbed her winter coat off the back of the door. It would be colder in the city.

************


Last edited by wayland on Sun Apr 17, 2011 1:59 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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 Post subject: Re: New Fic - Donegal Street (updated 8th April 2011)
PostPosted: Fri Apr 08, 2011 2:59 pm 
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6. Sassy Eggs

Joined: Sun Jul 27, 2008 9:43 am
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Dibs

I think the problem isn't that Tara left Willow, but that they stayed away from each other. Tara has gotten comfortable trying to remember not to think about Willow. Then Willow shows up, mumbles/babbles a bit, then leaves before Tara can adjust. I know how hard it is when someone invades my comfort zone.

I find it ironic that Tara criticizes Buffy for not warning her about Willow coming, but she is now going to do the same thing where Willow works.

Can't wait to read more.


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 Post subject: Re: New Fic - Donegal Street (updated 8th April 2011)
PostPosted: Fri Apr 08, 2011 6:00 pm 
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Wow...fast update! Thanks!! ;-)

Oh the angst! Breakup fics are always so emotionally draining! But I love them because W/T get to fall in love all over again. :wtkiss

So anyway...I really like the way you are showing things from Tara's POV, the way she went through the whole spectrum of emotions before realizing that she is the one that left. I was glad that she figured out that it's up to her to try and make things right. Let's just hope that Willow actually got on the bus to the city and they didn't miss each other yet again!

Great job!! Keep 'em coming:)

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"Transform your pain. Release your past. And ... uh ... get over it."
~Willow, Where The Wild Things Are


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 Post subject: Re: New Fic - Donegal Street (updated 8th April 2011)
PostPosted: Fri Apr 08, 2011 6:00 pm 
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Wow...fast update! Thanks!! ;-)

Oh the angst! Breakup fics are always so emotionally draining! But I love them because W/T get to fall in love all over again. :wtkiss

So anyway...I really like the way you are showing things from Tara's POV, the way she went through the whole spectrum of emotions before realizing that she is the one that left. I was glad that she figured out that it's up to her to try and make things right. Let's just hope that Willow actually got on the bus to the city and they didn't miss each other yet again!

Great job!! Keep 'em coming:)

_________________
Shelby - Racing The Rain (IN PROGRESS) / Baby Makes Three (IN PROGRESS) / The Santa Line / Everything She Does...Is Beautiful / Calfornia Grass

"Transform your pain. Release your past. And ... uh ... get over it."
~Willow, Where The Wild Things Are


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 Post subject: Re: New Fic - Donegal Street (updated 8th April 2011)
PostPosted: Fri Apr 08, 2011 11:06 pm 
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3. Flaming O

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great update...I like where this story is going cant wait for more.

:pinky :pinky and of course cant wait for :wtkiss :wtkiss


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 Post subject: Re: New Fic - Donegal Street (updated 8th April 2011)
PostPosted: Fri Apr 08, 2011 11:08 pm 
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3. Flaming O

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Awesome...I can't wait for the next update...Love where this story is going. Can't wait for more

:pinky :pinky and of course can't wait for :wtkiss :wtkiss


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 Post subject: Re: New Fic - Donegal Street (updated 8th April 2011)
PostPosted: Sat Apr 09, 2011 9:07 am 
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It looks like a really nice story, I'm waiting for the next part!

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 Post subject: Re: New Fic - Donegal Street (updated 8th April 2011)
PostPosted: Sun Apr 10, 2011 10:33 am 
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11. Fish in the Bowl

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Hi Clare,

Wow! So much to be excited about in this story.

Quote:
They were stripped to the waist, displaying hairless baby-oiled chests with improbably quilted abs.

Love the humor and the “improbably quilted abs” vivid way of describing their muscles that added to the humor.

Quote:
On the other hand, she could xerox the damn thing and market it as an appetite suppressant for dieting lesbians. It seemed to work for her. Eating had been a chore for a long time now. Tara returned to her book, leaving the poster in place. The prospect of blank walls frightened her somehow, and most of her own stuff was still at Buffy’s.

Rich! The humor, then the sadness, frightening blank walls . . . great metaphor for Tara’s future alone.

Quote:
For some reason people always assumed that she would love poetry. She didn’t. It wasn’t that she couldn’t appreciate beautiful language, but when she read for pleasure it was with the aim of getting caught up in a story. She liked to lose herself in the lives of characters which were far removed from her own.

Love that you make Tara your own. Your take is perfectly logical, reminds me of the character of Fosca in Sondheim’s musical “Passion” and her saying, “I read to live.”

Quote:
Tara found herself drawn to Willow’s eyes. Green. A green like…nothing else she had ever seen.

Powerful that you DON’T describe the color; makes it special

Quote:
At the edge of her vision, she became aware of a flush spreading over Willow’s cheeks. She had noticed her staring. Tara felt heat in her own face. She wanted to explain…she wasn’t...but no words came.

‘Hey.’ Willow’s shoulders sagged, as if saying even that little had exhausted her. Then she seemed to brace herself and looked up.

‘Hey,’ she said again.

Tara replied quickly, a mixture of shame and anger sharpened her tone,

‘What’s happened? Are Buffy and Dawn…’

Painful, awkward, real – so well done!

Quote:
A memory itched at the back of her brain. Sitting in her dorm room in the dark, waiting for Willow. She had known that Willow would come and that Willow would tell her about Oz. And Tara had been ready, her reaction rehearsed, her speech prepared. In some ways that particular speech had been ready all her life. Because Willow had been a dream. Being with Willow was beyond a dream, something she literally could not imagine. Even in her fantasies, the Tara she pictured was far removed from the woman she saw in the mirror. So, she had rewritten Willow’s every word, reinterpreted her every action until the previous weeks had been a passing phase for the woman she loved, a period of consolation before her return to the real world. Alone in that dorm room she had crumbled the substance of their time together into dust, and waited for Willow to say goodbye.

:love This hit me hard. So powerfully written. The shy girl, the quiet girl, who always expected rejection, always prepared for it. Very touching. Thank you! :flower

Quote:
Buffy stared after her, unmoving, until she noticed the pen, still in her hand and threw it down on the counter. Contrary to popular opinion, Buffy was quite capable of introspection. She just didn’t like it. The see-a-problem-slay-it ethos of her calling suited her well. But sometimes even she couldn’t avoid a moment of reflection; she knew exactly who she was really angry with.

Again, thought about the characters is solid and grounded on canon yet fresh and insightful. :clap :clap :applause :applause :clap :clap

You are writing something wonderful!

Keep writing! :kgeek :kgeek :kgeek

Ariel


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 Post subject: Re: New Fic - Donegal Street (updated 8th April 2011)
PostPosted: Sun Apr 10, 2011 12:52 pm 
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I love this fic. Break-up stories always twist me in knots. But, I'm with Finey..I can't w8 to see them falling in love again :wtkiss !


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 Post subject: Re: New Fic - Donegal Street (updated 8th April 2011)
PostPosted: Mon Apr 11, 2011 1:43 am 
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Wow, fantastic update! I wasn't sure what to expect but I really like your angle - Tara's guilt about it all being good to be true, that she'd just been 'living a dream' and never really believed in them... which absolutely makes sense in a way.

Can't wait for their next meeting...!!!

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 Post subject: Re: New Fic - Donegal Street (updated 8th April 2011)
PostPosted: Fri Apr 15, 2011 9:03 am 
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Posts: 220
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BuffyFan4ever

Quote:
I think the problem isn't that Tara left Willow, but that they stayed away from each other.

Exactly. I’m so glad you think that.
As for Tara doing exactly the same thing as Willow did to her – that hadn’t occurred to me, but of course you’re right. In general I see them as mirroring eachother, in action and motivation, despite the surface differences. Thank you for the great feedback.

Finey McFine

Thank you so much for the encouragement!
I like a bit of angst myself, before a happy ending, of course. As for if they miss eachother again…read on.

WR/TM

Thank you very much. Great to know that people are reading.

Agilufa

Tante grazie. The next part coming up. I hope you enjoy it.

Ariel

Thank you so much for the detailed feedback. It’s a thrill when people comment because you know they’ve really thought about the story.
I love the way that writers on the kittenboard manage to interpret the characters in their own way, while staying true to canon. I’m so glad that you think I’ve achieved that. Thanks again.


SMGOVAN

I like break up fics too. Have you read Darkest Before Dawn by Tiredsoul? It is terrific, but sadly unfinished. Thanks so much for the feedback.


sadie

Thank you. I had to find a way to justify, in my mind, why she stayed away, without diverging too much from canon. This seemed to make sense. Hope you like the next part.


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 Post subject: Re: New Fic - Donegal Street (updated 8th April 2011)
PostPosted: Fri Apr 15, 2011 9:15 am 
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4. Extra Flamey

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Location: England
TITLE: Donegal Street

AUTHOR: Wayland

RATING: PG-13

DISCLAIMER: Willow, Tara and any other characters from the Buffy the Vampire Slayer franchise belong to Joss Whedon, FOX and ME.

SPOILERS: Up to and including Season Six.

SUMMARY: Tara left Willow after Tabula Rasa. It is now about a year later.

FEEDBACK: I would be grateful for your comments.

NOTES: Thanks to my beta, Vivienne, for the encouragement I needed to get this far.


Chapter 3


The bus had broken down just outside Sunnydale limits and the mechanic had taken an hour to arrive. It took another hour for him to declare that it was unfixable, at least by the roadside. At that point Willow had contemplated phoning Xander and asking him to take her back to Buffy’s. The thought didn’t last long. Making disgruntled smalltalk with her fellow passengers was hard enough. Another evening of self- consciously upbeat banter at the Summers’ house was too exhausting a prospect. The awareness that she could hardly bear the company of her oldest friends depressed her. A crackle of static interrupted her circling thoughts and Willow looked up. The bus driver had levered himself up from his seat and was announcing that a replacement service would be arriving ‘soon.’

Willow pulled her bag from the overhead luggage rack and shuffled along the aisle, towards the exit. She had hardly slept the night before. If she kept herself from dozing during the journey, she might actually fall into bed and not wake til morning. The thought produced a trace of a smile.


*************


Tara jumped onto the train just as it was pulling away from Sunnydale. The line at the ticket office had been long and she had been forced to run to the platform. She hated the way she got flustered when she was rushed and made a habit of arriving early whenever she could. Willow was just the same. Dawn liked to tease them about it, especially when they arrived at their cinema seats and faced a curtained screen, not just early for the movie but for the trailers too.

There was that time Dawn had refused to leave the house for a full thirty minutes because she said…Tara shook the thought away.

The lunchtime express was packed. Tara swayed along the aisle holding her bag to her chest with one hand and gripping the backs of seats with the other until she finally came to an empty space. The train lurched and she fell into the seat with a graceless thud. The businessman sitting next to her looked up and straightened his newspaper with a pointed flourish. Tara gave him an apologetic grimace and pushed her bag under the seat opposite with as little movement as possible. She sat back and closed her eyes, taking a deep breath. Slowly, her hearbeat returned to normal.


************


It was dark by the time her train arrived in the city. The journey had been a blur. Tara had intended to read or at least to observe the changing countryside as it passed her window. In fact, she had done nothing but loop through the same memories, over and over, and the hours had gone by, unnoticed. The station was busy as it filled with commuters. Tara pushed her way through the crowds, glad to be moving again.

Outside, the rain was light and refreshing, though judging by the deep puddles on the road, there had been quite a downpour earlier. Tara found a line of waiting cabs right in front of the station entrance and headed for the nearest. The driver was a small Sikh man who nodded at the name of Willow’s street and when Tara had settled in her seat, pulled away without comment. His gaze flicked up occasionally to his rear view mirror, but he evidently had no interest in engaging his passenger in conversation. Tara found her eyes fixed on the back of his deep blue turban. A string of wooden beads hung from the mirror, swaying back and forth with every bump of the road. She was grateful for his silence. She didn’t want to explain the purpose of her visit to anyone, not even a stranger. She wasn’t sure she could explain it to herself.

Ten minutes later, Tara was gazing through the rain-streaked cab window, hypnotised by the smeared lights of the city. A noise, soft and then louder, broke the spell. She realised, with a flush of embarrassment, that the driver was talking to her.

‘I’m sorry, what did you say?’

The driver repeated himself without taking his eyes off the road.

‘Donegal Street.’

Tara began to feel flustered. The words made no sense to her.

‘What number?’ The driver continued calmly. With a rush of relief, Tara belatedly recognised the name of the street where Willow lived.

‘Oh, um…here is fine. You can let me off here.’

With a nod he pulled over to the curb and announced the fare. Tara scrambled through her bag to find her wallet, then handed over a couple of bills. She shuffled across the seat to the door, dragging her bag with her. Stepping onto the street, the air felt cool and damp on her face. By the time she had straightened up and turned back to the road, the cab was gone, its tail lights merging into a stream of traffic.

Tara turned up her collar against the rain and took a moment to get her bearings. A long row of grey stone houses, four or five stories each, stretched in front of her. Iron railings and several steps led up to the front doors. Tara peered at the number on the gatepost nearest to her. The number was low, which meant that Willow’s apartment must be at the other end of the street. Good. A few minutes walk might help clear her head. She hefted her bag and set off, keeping to the edge of the sidewalk where the street lights were brightest. She had only taken a couple of steps when a speeding car sliced through a puddle and a tide of cold water soaked her. Tara staggered back in shock. Having turned at the noise of the over-revving engine, she had taken the full force of the deluge. Icy water dripped down her face and she could already feel it seeping through her clothes. This is an omen. I shouldn’t have come here. The wild thought came and went in a second. Tara shook herself vigorously then began to walk.

A few minutes later she stood in front of a tall grey house. The number on the post matched the one from Buffy’s note. Thank God I memorized it. Retrospective panic ran through her as she realised that the note itself was doubtless now a sodden lump in the pocket of her jeans. At the top of the steps, beside the shabby door, was a set of buttons, each labelled. Tara ran her finger across one of the names. She recognised the handwriting, ‘Rosenberg’ in spiky capitals. It seemed strange and remarkable. She had arrived. Willow lived here.

Tara pressed the bell.

************


There was someone in the kitchen. Not Dawn. She was over at Janice’s tonight. A school project was the excuse, getting away from her nagging sister was more likely the reason. Buffy stood absolutely still, straining her senses. Not a threat. She opened the door and stepped inside. Xander was sitting at the breakfast bar, hunched over a cup of coffee. She really wasn’t in the mood for this. She was bone-weary. She wanted a shower and then she wanted her bed.

‘Hey Buff, how you doing?’ Smiling brightly, cheerful as always.

Her only answer was to slump against the counter. The clean counter, she noticed belatedly, taking in the clean floor and the neat stack of washed dishes.

She threw Xander a questioning look. He shrugged in reply.

‘Well, I did figure a bunch of demons had made a house call to Casa Summers. Til I noticed the absence of major structural damage. And bloodstains.’

Buffy winced in apology and Xander made a ‘don’t worry about it’ gesture with his hands. She pushed herself off the counter and headed for the coffee pot.

‘So, did Willow get away alright?’

‘Yup, delivered to the bus station by your friendly neighbourhood chauffeur.’

Buffy poured herself a cup. From the look of it, the coffee had been stewing for quite a while.

‘I miss her.’

She hadn’t meant to say that, not out loud. Now Xander would make some smart remark and she would get angry and really, she was done fighting for the day. But he simply nodded, his head down, his eyes on the coffee cup. When he finally spoke, his tone was oddly reluctant.

‘I think…without Tara there is no Willow.’

Xander looked up and Buffy had to look away. She swallowed hard, past the constriction in her throat before speaking,

‘So, pizza?’

And big, goofy Xander was back. He grinned broadly.

‘Now you’re talking.’


************


Willow walked home from the bus station. The rain wasn’t too heavy and she was too tired to stand and wait for a cab. At least this way, each minute brought her closer to her bed. She suppressed the idea that as soon as she laid down her mind would start racing again with anxious thoughts. Right now, her weary body was in charge and she enjoyed the pleasantly numb feeling.

The house had seemed nice. Comfortable. Well, the hall and the living room had, at least. That meant that the rest was ok too, didn’t it? And the woman who’d answered the door – Tara’s roommate – she had seemed pleasant. That was something. Willow knew that Tara had very little money and the idea that she might be living in squalid circumstances had haunted her. When Buffy had mentioned that Tara was happy with her new place, Willow was desperate to bombard her friend with questions, but she forced herself to stay silent. She had lost the right to know the details of Tara’s life.

Willow turned into her street, absently noting that the rain had stopped. Tara had looked well. The image of her ex-girlfriend was like a snapshot, taken hurriedly during their brief meeting and developed later during the sleepless night at Buffy’s. Willow delicately teased out each detail from her memory. Tara’s hair was a little longer, perhaps a little darker, and tied back off her face. The jeans were new and well-fitting, showing off each curve of her figure. Very flattering. She wouldn’t have worn them before we got together, Willow thought, with a flicker of pride which she squashed instantly. The apartment would be cold. A cup of coffee to warm herself up, and then bed.

A hunched figure was huddled at the top of the steps next to her front door. Willow approached warily. It was an automatic response; she felt no fear, just an overwhelming exhaustion. She took hold of the keys in her pocket and placed her foot on the first step. Her boot rasped against the stone. The figure stirred. A white face emerged from behind damp strands of hair. Willow felt as if she were falling. She grabbed the iron railing and heard her own voice, as if from a distance.

‘Tara?’

************


Last edited by wayland on Sun Apr 17, 2011 1:58 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: New Fic - Donegal Street (updated 15th April 2011)
PostPosted: Fri Apr 15, 2011 10:15 am 
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3. Flaming O

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Dibs!! Great update and I can't wait to see what is coming!!!

Hopefully some :wtkiss :wtkiss in the future!! :)


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 Post subject: Re: New Fic - Donegal Street (updated 15th April 2011)
PostPosted: Fri Apr 15, 2011 4:18 pm 
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So they are both cold from the rain, how about a warm shower? And why not save water too? :) I know that its unlikely, but its fun to hope. The most I expect from the next update would be some laughter, maybe a hug or something, after much angsty discussion.

Its interesting that you say Tara didn't believe in them as a couple enough. I don't think I've ever seen it, yet it is completely believable. Its cool that Tara and Willow breaking hurts the whole Scoobie family. It makes the family seem closer, stronger.

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 Post subject: Re: New Fic - Donegal Street (updated 15th April 2011)
PostPosted: Fri Apr 15, 2011 5:15 pm 
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Hi Clare!

Today was looking bleak, but your update made all things better!! :pinky

I was very happy to see that they finally found each other and that Willow did not call Xander:) Thanks for not drawing that out! I really feel that getting them out of Sunnydale and away from everyone will help in the healing process. They're won't be any outside interference, so to speak.


Can't wait to see where you go from here! :peace

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"Transform your pain. Release your past. And ... uh ... get over it."
~Willow, Where The Wild Things Are


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 Post subject: Re: New Fic - Donegal Street (updated 15th April 2011)
PostPosted: Fri Apr 15, 2011 8:33 pm 
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Great update

I'm looking forward to their conversation. The sooner they talk, the sooner they can get together again. :)


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 Post subject: Re: New Fic - Donegal Street (updated 15th April 2011)
PostPosted: Fri Apr 15, 2011 11:01 pm 
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So I wonder.. how long is this fic meant to be? I could see it being over in one more chapter... or in ten. Or in 50, like Neverland, although it doesn't really feel... dunno, built up enough for that?

I really appreciate your writing & your style, the prose is great :) You're also really good at making us *feel* your characters. appreciation I rain down upon you.


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 Post subject: Re: New Fic - Donegal Street (updated 15th April 2011)
PostPosted: Sun Apr 17, 2011 8:39 am 
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So I guess train is a better way to get there than bus judging by their journeys. I wonder what they will say next...

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 Post subject: Re: New Fic - Donegal Street (updated 15th April 2011)
PostPosted: Sun Apr 17, 2011 7:15 pm 
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Nice update. I really enjoy the style and pacing of your writing- action and introspection is woven together nicely. Tara's reflections on her relationship with Willow are especially intriguing. A wonderful read and I'm excited to see how this next talk goes.

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 Post subject: Re: New Fic - Donegal Street (updated 15th April 2011)
PostPosted: Sun Apr 17, 2011 10:51 pm 
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Clare,

I am loving this fic. :flower

Lovely moments. Again the thought you put in to fully realize the characters, this time taking Tara forward to where she gained the confidence to wear more attractive clothes, the detail of Willow taking the mental picture of Tara and developing it in her mind - beautiful!

Agree with the post commenting on the nice weaving of action and introspection.

Also, you create atmosphere beautifully - felt the weather and the night. Also the details of traveling, enough to be vivid without the tedium of over-describing. :banana :banana :bounce :banana :banana

Keeping writing! :kgeek :kgeek :kgeek

Ariel
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 Post subject: Re: New Fic - Donegal Street (updated 15th April 2011)
PostPosted: Thu Apr 21, 2011 1:19 pm 
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WT/TM
Thanks so much for reading and leaving feedback. Hope you like the next chapter.

Promthea128

Quote:
Its cool that Tara and Willow breaking hurts the whole Scoobie family. It makes the family seem closer, stronger

I wanted to show that, so I’m very pleased you think it does. As for warm shared showers, well…
Thanks for reading!

Finey McFine

Hi Shel, I’m so glad my update improved your day. Racing the Rain has brightened many a miserable Sunday for me. No, no long drawing out. I get irritated when deus ex machina events – missed trains, lost letters etc – prolong a resolution. I much prefer misunderstandings and miscommunications that arise from character. Hope you like the next part.

BuffyFan4ever

Thank you. Yes, a conversation is much overdue, the trouble is, how to get them started!

KnightlyLove

To answer your question, it’s closer to 10 more chapters than 50 – novella length. I agree, the story isn’t built up to be a very long one. Thanks for the kind feedback about my prose, much appreciated!

JustSkipIt

Thank you for feedbacking. What they say next is coming up...

Silent_X

Thank you for your kind comments. Too much introspection was a concern, so I was particularly glad you think the balance is right.


Ariel

Your comments are a great boost to my confidence, thank you so much. It means a lot just to know that people are reading, but it’s even better when I get to hear which aspects of the story work best. Writing feedback takes time, I know, and it’s much appreciated. Thanks again.

Clare

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 Post subject: Re: New Fic - Donegal Street (updated 15th April 2011)
PostPosted: Thu Apr 21, 2011 1:36 pm 
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4. Extra Flamey

Joined: Tue Mar 23, 2010 2:02 pm
Posts: 220
Location: England
TITLE: Donegal Street

AUTHOR: Wayland

RATING: PG-13

DISCLAIMER: Willow, Tara and any other characters from the Buffy the Vampire Slayer franchise belong to Joss Whedon, FOX and ME.

SPOILERS: Up to and including Season Six.

SUMMARY: Tara left Willow after Tabula Rasa. It is now about a year later.

FEEDBACK: I would be grateful for your comments.

NOTES: Thanks to my beta, Vivienne, for the encouragement I needed to get this far.

Chapter 4


Tara had spent the last hour deciding to leave. Deciding to wait five minutes more and then leave. Willow must have arrived hours ago. Perhaps her new friend from work had met her at the bus station. They were probably having dinner somewhere. Curled up somewhere in the warm. Tara viciously put down the thought. It was none of her business. She should just leave, but it would be crazy to come all this way and not wait five more minutes.

The voice seemed to come from nowhere, high-pitched and breathless with panic.

Tara jerked her head around, hauling herself to her feet, one hand on the railing, the other pushing against the gritty step. She was stiff, her body chilled. Her jeans were clammy and cold, they pulled on her thighs as she stood. She wiped her face with her sleeve, uncertain if she could trust the evidence of her own eyes.

A white face creased in shock. Willow.

Tara cut in quickly, ‘Everything’s fine…everyone’s fine…I’m just…I’m just…’

Why exactly was she here? To apologise for failing to offer Willow a cup of coffee? All those blank hours on the train and she hadn’t thought of what she would say when she saw Willow. Hadn’t thought of anything beyond seeing Willow.

Willow blinked twice, then seemed to collect herself and took the remaining steps until she was level with the disheveled woman at her front door. Her eyes widened and she gestured wildly with both hands.

‘You’re soaked! We have to get you inside, now, like right now.’

She grabbed Tara’s sleeve and lurched forward, almost pulling them both off balance. She unlocked the outside door, the weight of her bag on her arm making it an awkward task, then dragged the unprotesting woman to the door of her own apartment. Only when they were both inside did she release her hold, her cheeks flushing a deep red at the same time. Willow abruptly stepped back, as far as her narrow hallway would allow.

‘Sorry! I mean, with the manhandling. Or womanhandling or…’

Willow trailed off as she took in the stunned expression of the other woman. She swallowed. When she spoke again, her voice was almost normal.

‘You must be very cold. Why don’t I run you a bath and find you some dry clothes?’

Tara mumbled her agreement and thanks, before following Willow down the hall. Tara found it difficult to think. Her head felt heavy, as if it too was weighed down by sodden clothing. But she noticed that Willow kept her arms by her sides as she indicated the direction with an inclination of her head and a soft, ‘This way.’ She was led to a small guest room. Willow pushed open the door and stepped aside.

‘I’ll just get that bath running and oh! …get the heating on. Brrr! It’s freezing!’

She rubbed her hands together in an exaggerated gesture as she backed away. Tara took a couple of steps forward into the room, her body moving without conscious instruction. A muffled clattering down the hall barely registered.

She dropped her bag on the floor, then tugged off her heavy coat and hung it over the half-open door. Tara stood for a moment, dully taking in the small, plain room, then sank onto the bed and began to untie her boots.

A few minutes later, a gentle knock roused her from the contemplation of the contents of her bag, now spread all over the bed. The thin canvas had provided little protection from the drenching.

‘Come in.’

It felt odd, having to give Willow permission to enter the room. Odd and unsettling.

Willow pushed the door open awkwardly with her elbow as her hands were full with a thick towel and a fluffy bathrobe. Tara quickly began to rise, but Willow had accomplished the manoeuvre and was already speaking.

‘The bath’s ready, feel free to help yourself to…your book!’ Tara followed Willow’s gaze to the paperback that sat on top of her crumpled clothing. Its pages were drying into a solid wavy lump. Tara smiled at the wounded tone of Willow’s outburst. They shared a reverence for books, whether Giles’ ancient texts or an airport bestseller. A scene flickered through her mind. A coffee shop, not long after they’d met. Willow leaning in, her expression scandalized.

‘And Buffy turns down corners.’

And Tara had dared to lean in too, her tone equally outraged, ‘…and when I got it back, she’d written this guy’s phone number on the inside cover!’

‘No!’

Tara smiled inwardly at the memory of Willow’s horrified response, and she felt the tightness in her chest ease a little. She waved a hand in the direction of the sodden paperback.

‘It doesn’t matter. Really, it’s a lousy book. Honestly. A bad book.’

Willow was still frowning, unconvinced. Tara got off the bed and walked over to Willow, who looked a little surprised until she realised that the tugging sensation was Tara, attempting to take the towel from her grasp.

‘Oh. Sorry.’ Willow blushed, and backing out of the room she pointed to the radiator under the window.

‘That’ll warm up soon, and your clothes will be nice and dry in no time. But your book…’ She frowned at it once more and disappeared into the hallway.

************


Tara laid back in the bath, the hot water up to her chin was warming her through to the bone. She really ought to get out soon. But it would be a waste, heating all that water just for a five minute dip. It was only right to make the most of it. She wasn’t hiding. She squinted through the steam, idly examining the row of toiletries which were neatly aligned along the edge of the bath. They were all supermarket brands.
From the little Buffy had said, Tara assumed that Willow’s job was well paid. The apartment seemed nice, certainly. This part of the city wasn’t very fashionable but it was safe. No, Willow couldn’t be worrying about money. She was fine.

Tara sank back into the bath, dismissing the thought. Willow hadn’t asked her why she was here. Was she expecting her to stay the night? It was much too late to head back to Sunnydale tonight, but perhaps Willow was assuming that Tara had booked herself into a hotel. She had directed her to the guestroom, but maybe that was just the obvious place for her to change her clothes. Tara knew she should have said something, she should have thought this through instead of rushing onto the first train. It was bad manners at the very least. She had no right to assume that Willow even wanted to see her. Willow might be looking at the clock right now, impatiently wondering how long the interruption to her evening would last.

With a loud splash Tara sat up and yanked out the bath plug. She was dried and wrapped in the robe before the water had drained away.

A neat pile of clothing rested on the floor by the guestroom door. A baggy t shirt, a hooded top, sweats and a pair of thick woolly socks. Tara bent and scooped them up. Once inside the room her urge to hurry vanished. She saw the pile of damp clothes on the bed. Willow had told her to dry them out and that would take a while, surely. Tara got dressed slowly and rubbed her hair dry with the towel, then she carefully arranged her clothes on the radiator, placing her boots a few inches away. She picked up the paperback and smiled. Definitely a goner.

************


Tara paused at the doorway of the kitchen. Willow’s head and shoulders were buried in the fridge and she appeared to be attempting to climb in. Tara noticed that she was still wearing her coat. The apartment was beginning to warm up and after her bath Tara felt comfortable, but she realised that the other woman was probably freezing. She felt awful, while she, the uninvited guest, had been wallowing, her host had doubtless been waiting for the chance to use her own bath.

At that moment Willow seemed to become aware of her presence. She spun round and greeted Tara with a huge grin.

‘Great news! I found a couple of lasagne in the freezer!’

Before Tara had a chance to respond, she continued excitedly, ‘I even found some garlic bread!’

Then her face fell comically as she held up a slimy-looking green lump. She examined it briefly. ‘Not so good on the salad front.’

Tara found herself smiling, and replied in a conspiratorial tone.

‘Greens are overrated, if you ask me.’

Willow raised her eyebrows in mock disbelief and seemed about to say something, then changed her mind and quickly moved across the kitchen and disposed of the expired lettuce in the trash.

Tara briefly wondered at that, then pushed the thought away.

‘So, anything I can do?’

‘Nope!’ Willow, looking cheerfully bedraggled, was leaning against the counter, watching her. Tara felt flustered. It was past time for explaining why she was here.

‘I’m s-sorry I didn’t call first.’

‘Not a problem.’ Willow was smiling warmly, but Tara had caught the flash of concern in those green eyes. Why do I have to stutter now, of all times?

She took a deep breath and willed herself to be calm.

‘I mean you’ve probably got plans. I’m interrupting you.’

‘Nope!’ But Willow’s smile was starting to waver a little. Just say it.

‘It’s just, you said…the woman at work…you’ve probably got plans.’

Tara watched in horror as Willow’s expression seemed to collapse in front of her.

She panicked, rushing the words out,

‘You came to see me…and I thought…’

Willow’s mouth was open, her face white and small. Tara frantically searched for something to say, something to undo whatever she had done. But Willow spoke first, in a voice Tara barely recognised.

‘You thought…you thought I’d come to tell you I had a new girlfriend?

************

_________________
Donegal Street * Home For Christmas * A Traditional New Year’s Eve


Last edited by wayland on Wed Apr 27, 2011 9:42 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: New Fic - Donegal Street (updated 21st April 2011)
PostPosted: Thu Apr 21, 2011 6:35 pm 
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20. Not one Much for the Timber
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Topics: 14
Location: H-Town, Texas
Dibs?????? YAY!

I'll have you know that I read this fic on my phone and in the dugout of a high school boys baseball game, lol. I was supposed to be photographing the game, but was much happier reading your update!

So glad that Tara waited and they are finally together. Even if it is awkward and a bit uncomfortable, they are together and now forced to talk things through.

I loved the ease in which Willow took care of Tara; it came so natural for her.

I kind of like jealous Tara, we don't get to see that very much...it's usually jealous Willow, lol.

Hopefully they get through the initial awkwardness soon and really start talking. They've been apart too long and enough wasted time I say!! lol

Looking forward to your next awesome update! ;-)

_________________
Shelby - Racing The Rain (IN PROGRESS) / Baby Makes Three (IN PROGRESS) / The Santa Line / Everything She Does...Is Beautiful / Calfornia Grass

"Transform your pain. Release your past. And ... uh ... get over it."
~Willow, Where The Wild Things Are


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