The Kitten, the Witches and the Bad Wardrobe - Willow & Tara Forever

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 Post subject: Unparalleled Love
PostPosted: Tue Nov 25, 2003 10:17 pm 
Unparalleled Love

Author : Lovers4Ever

Feedback: Sure, why not?

Distribution: I guess it’s okay, just let me know first.

Spoilers: This story takes place shortly after the conclusion of the last season of BtVS, season 7. There’s an ever so slight crossover with Angel.

Rating: R

Pairing: W/T

Disclaimer: I do not own any of these characters. They belong to someone who, by all rights, should be periodically applying palm to forehead while uttering the phrase, “What were we thinking?”

Summary: This is a highly angsty story of reunion and healing. It starts a few months after the last season of Buffy. This story was written as a cathartic exercise to help me deal with the Tara and Willow storyline. Tara’s resurrection has been done many times and by far more capable writers than I; so I brought her back a different way. There’s a lot of emotional bloodletting, as it were, but there will be warm fuzzies in the end. Really. Also, there’s a slight diversion from canon: for purposes of this story (and my own psyche.)



A special thank you goes to TKOLove, Beta Reader Extraordinaire, for her encouragement and expertise.

I could not have done this without you.



UNPARALLELED LOVE



Chapter One



Los Angeles, California

Fall, 2003



Angel and Buffy stood near Angel’s desk staring at the phone. They’d been in these positions for a good while.



“I so do not want to make this call,” said Buffy.



“We can wait, but...” Angel offered, trying not to force any issues or sway her decision.



“She’d want to know. If it were me, I’d want to know... and I’d want her there to help me through it.”



Angel nodded wordlessly as both sets of eyes traveled back to the phone. He gave Buffy a brief, comforting smile before leaving the office.



--



In a town near San Diego, California . . .



Willow leaned against the kitchen counter in Xander’s house making sandwiches, while Xander sat at the table reliving his most recent cabinet making adventure.



“…and then she asks if I could make cabinets out of bamboo. Bamboo? What kind of a person wants bamboo kitchen cabinets?”



“Gilligan and the Skipper?” Willow offered. “Do you have any mustard? I couldn’t find any in the fridge.”



“I think so,” he replied. “Just let me check the pantry – which , by the way, is constructed out of boring old oak.”



The phone rang as he handed the mustard to Willow and he went to answer it.



“Hello. Buffy, hey! How’s tricks? Nothin’ much. Willow’s visiting and I’m just regaling her with stories from the wide world of cabinetry.”



Without stopping her sandwich construction, Willow craned her neck toward Xander and shouted, “Hi Buffy! I can’t wait to hear about your visit with Giles!”



“She says ‘hey’ right back at ya Will,” relayed Xander as he walked around the kitchen with the phone to his ear. As Buffy talked to Xander, his relaxed expression gradually gave way to one of distress, which was picked up by Willow before he had the presence of mind to turn away. Xander quickly forced his features into a relaxed grin as he sidled out of the kitchen and into the living room.



"Okay," Willow thought as she put the final touches on the sandwiches. "This is weird. What would Xander hear from Buffy that I can’t know about? I should respect his private conversation but I need to know if he wants provolone or cheddar…"



Willow followed Xander's voice into the living room. She didn’t want to know things she’s not supposed to know, but she was starting to worry about Buffy just a little.



“ …so you’re at Angel’s offices now?” Willow heard a concerned Xander ask.



“Xander,” Willow asked hurriedly and timidly, “provolone or cheddar?”



“Just a minute, Buff,” Xander said into the phone before he gave his full attention to Willow. The look on Xander’s face made Willow step back and then forward again. His face was pained and he moved to answer her but stopped himself. He stared at her for a moment as if considering a question far heavier than choices of cheese. Finally he said, “Cheddar is fine, thanks.”



“Xander, what’s wrong? Is it Buffy? Giles? Please tell me,” Willow pleaded as she stood in the living room holding a mayonnaise-smeared butter knife in her hand.



“Everyone’s fine. Promise,” he answered in an unconvincingly casual voice.



Willow didn’t move. She didn’t think he was lying about everyone being fine, but something was up.



“Cheddar’s the cheese for me, Will,” Xander said in a friendly but dismissive tone. “I’ll be off the phone in a sec and I’ll give you the whole Buffy update.”



Will grudgingly left the living room to return to the kitchen. "I’ve got to trust Xander," she kept chanting to herself. "He said everyone’s fine. So, everyone’s fine. End of story. We’re all fine. This is probably nothing, just dangerous muck that has everything to do with the baddies Angel battles and nothing to do with me." She prodded the butter knife through the air in a fashion that punctuated her agitated state.



She finished making Xander’s sandwich and carried it and a glass of milk into the living room. "I’m just delivering a sandwich," she told herself. "I’m not trying to horn in on his phone conversation. Any minute now he’ll pass the phone to me and it’ll be my opportunity to be all ‘secretive gal’ about whatever it is Buffy has to say."



But Willow never had the opportunity to talk on the phone. As she entered the living room, she heard Xander say, “All bets are off. This isn’t just anyone, Buff, this is Tara.”



Willow stopped all forward movement. Xander still didn’t know she was in the room. Her mind raced to replay what she just heard. It replayed and replayed like a stuck record. All this happened in the blink of an eye. Willow had been exhaling slowly and with the last bit of breath left in her lungs, she uttered one word.



“Tara?”



Xander heard Willow’s voice and pivoted quickly, wondering how much Willow overheard. But Willow was no longer in the room.



She was no longer in Xander’s house.



**



In Angel’s office, Buffy was pacing the floor with the phone to her ear. She wanted to blurt out everything at once to Xander, but there was just too much to tell and it was very important that she do this right. Xander was going to have to give the news to Willow and, Willow being Willow, she would have questions. Ask any professor in Willow’s wake. There would be questions.



“…We’re talking about a different dimension, a different world. It’s not my world or Willow’s world. Are we doing the right thing Xander?”



“Most definitely. Probably. God, I hope so,” he replied. Then, with far more resolve, he added, “All bets are off. This isn’t just anyone, Buff, this is Tara.”



“I know,” Buffy agreed in a sad voice. Neither of them spoke for a moment.



And in that moment Willow abruptly appeared before Buffy, still holding a turkey sandwich and a glass of milk. Without explanation or hesitation, Willow blurted out the question she figured Buffy – her best friend in all the world – had to answer, “What about Tara?”



**



Most anyone else would have been completely unnerved by the sudden appearance of a person out of thin air. Buffy wasn’t all that surprised that Willow would react this way; she just wasn’t expecting her so soon. She took a moment to size up Willow and her prepared meal before deciding how to react.



“Will, I thought you stopped teleporting…you know, turning down the volume on your magic since you don’t live on a Hellmouth anymore, etc.,” Buffy admonished, trying desperately to keep the conversation light until the obvious, anvil-weighted subject had to be broached.



In her defense, Willow looked as stunned to be in a different location as Buffy. “Something yanked me over here. It was probably just a visceral reaction to hearing you and Xander talk about Tara.” Her voice grew more and more terse as she continued. “And correct me if I’m wrong, but didn’t he use the present tense?”



Buffy gave Willow a melancholy smile while trying to figure out how to start. Willow looked down at the food still in her hands and quickly put the sandwich and milk on Angel’s desk. She wanted to look as no-nonsense as possible right now, and she didn’t think that was possible while still holding Xander’s teleported lunch. The slayer opened her mouth to speak but stopped when she heard Xander yelling her name from the phone still in her hand.



“Xander…Xander, stop yelling. Willow’s here. She’s okay. Well, she’s in one piece, anyway…and we’re gonna talk.”



Willow looked down, feeling slightly guilty about how she might have frightened Xander by disappearing like that. “Tell him he can have my sandwich.”



“She says you can have her sandwich.”



Quickly, Willow mumbled, “But tell him he’ll have to switch cheeses; mine has provolone.”



Buffy sighed and relayed the message, adding that he’d better hurry on up to LA.



Thinking about how to proceed, Buffy quickly gathered Willow up into a hug. “It’s good to see you.”



Willow wasn’t sure if the hug was a stalling device or something to give them strength for the impending discussion. Sometimes a hug is just a hug, she told herself as she returned the embrace.



Buffy went on to say, “You realize, of course, I’ll be cracking jokes for a while about you 'popping in' and just 'turning up.'"



“Please stop,” Willow said, removing any possibility for levity in the conversation. She didn’t know where this conversation about Tara would lead, but she knew her own capacity to blow things out of proportion given just a little bit of time. She could feel her heart race and emotions welling to the surface.



“Okay, Will. I’m just going to jump right in,” said Buffy, trying to keep eye contact and a steady voice. “Yesterday, Angel and some of his people tracked down a demon who was bee-boppin’ through dimensions, slaughtering humans. He was hard to track, but they nailed him in a dimension that appeared to be some sort of parallel universe or something.”



“You mean identical to ours?” Willow asked.



“Pretty much. Same time frame and everything. It’s spooky. Anyway, this demon was in the process of creating some major havoc when they destroyed it. A human from this parallel dimension thingy was injured during the fight and they had to bring her back with them through the dimension portal.”



Willow listened to all of this, trying to figure out where Tara fit in. “If this dimension is truly parallel, then Tara’s dead. What does this have to do with her?” Willow had a fleeting thought of Tara dying again, in another dimension, and pushed it away.



“I said it was ‘pretty much’ identical.” Buffy could think of no way to say it but to just say it. “The human they rescued…it was Tara.” She watched for Willow’s reaction once the words sunk in.



As hard as she tried, Willow couldn’t or wouldn’t allow herself to immediately process Buffy’s statement. And just as suddenly, her mind was sent reeling.



Ohgodohgodohgodohgod. That means somewhere nearby, possibly in this building, there’s a Tara. Not my Tara, but a Tara. An animated, undead Tara.



Sliding to the floor, Willow sat slumped against the desk, and stared at nothing in particular.



“Will?” Buffy asked, bending over her and touching her arm. “Are you okay?” Willow whipped her head in Buffy’s direction with a lost yet intense look. “Okay," Buffy said, "I get the Stupid Question Award for the day."



Willow wanted to stay in the moment. She really did, but she was getting lost in a flood of Tara moments. Then there was the whole idea that another Willow was experiencing the same Tara moments in some parallel world.



Slowing standing up, Willow launched an emotional verbal assault on Buffy. “So why even tell me about this? I mean…there must be a duplicate Willow in this other, parallel world going nuts because her Tara was snatched out of nowhere. You need to send her back!” Willow began to cry at the injustice of it all. “Buffy, I can’t be doomed to lose Tara in every dimension, can I? What kind of crappy cosmic joke would that be?”



Willow considered her outburst for a moment and cautiously continued, “There is another Willow, right? In this other dimensional copy, or whatever…we find each other, right?”



Buffy was stunned by Willow’s question. Not because she found it arrogant in the slightest, but because she didn’t know until that moment how cognizant her best friend was that she and Tara were soul mates, bound together throughout eternity and in other dimensions. Now it was Buffy’s eyes that held tears.



“Yes,” she replied, “you and Tara are together in this other dimension as well.”



“We talked about this once.” Willow said. “Remember when that demon was created with you when we performed your resurrection spell? Well, that night we talked about the probability of our finding each other in any world where we co-existed.”



Everyone was sleeping in the Summers' household, relieved at defeating the wispy but lethal demon who had been created by Buffy’s resurrection spell. Willow, however, was the lone exception to the sleepyheads. She was standing and staring out of Tara’s and her bedroom window contemplating different universes and dimensions. Willow’s absence was discovered by Tara’s sleeping form when her body reached across to her lover’s side of the bed only to discover it empty. Sensing Willow’s reverie and uneasiness, Tara stood up, snuggled behind her girlfriend, and snaked her arms around Willow’s waist. She sighed into Willow’s hair and waited. Before long Willow asked, “Do you think you and I exist anywhere else? Like in a different dimension or parallel universe?”



“I hope so.”



“Me too. I think…I think we probably exist in other worlds and I think we definitely find each other every time, don’t you?”



Tara took her eyes off the night sky to nuzzle Willow’s neck and pull her closer. “I like to think of our love like the double mirror effect. You look into a mirror reflected into another mirror, you know? It looks like the image is repeated forever. Does that make sense?” Tara asked.



“No, I get it,” Willow nodded. “It makes me all warm inside to think of you and me in various stages of finding each other in possibly other life forms. Somewhere out there we could be calling out to each other.”



“I don’t know about that, but I do know that certain parts of my body are calling out for certain parts of yours… “



Willow turned her body towards Tara without releasing the embrace. She saw that Tara’s flirty comment belied the deep need for connection that was smoldering in her eyes. The same need was in Willow, too, as she ran her hands slowly up and then down Tara’s arms. “I always considered myself a pretty imaginative person and I guess it could happen, but I just can’t allow for the possibility that there’s a more beautiful being in any universe than the one in my arms right now.” Willow slid her palms over each side of Tara’s face, feeling the soft contours of her cheeks rising to majestic cheekbones. They gazed at each other for a small eternity, thinking the same thoughts, sharing the same destiny. Willow opened her mouth to profess her love in every linguistic way she knew, only to have Tara place a finger over her lips. “I know,” she said. “I know.”



And she did.




Can something that incredibly special happen in more than one world? Willow had obsessed over questions like this since Tara was murdered. Sometimes, in the voids that envelop her in the middle of the night, she almost doubts that it actually happened in this one.



“So why tell me about this? This is just great!” she barked in a sarcastic tone, “‘Hey Will, we have a copy of the love of your life right here. Wanna meet her? Wanna compare notes? Wanna give her tips on how to spot those times when the other Willow is getting ready to put a spell on her?’ Or maybe I should tell her which windows to avoid standing near.” Willow had been pacing the floor, gesticulating wildly, but at this last comment, she wrapped her arms around herself and stood perfectly still. “This is almost cruel in a way. Yes, it’s great knowing that somewhere in the vast universe there’s a version of me who gets to live the happy life with the most wonderful woman --“ Willow stopped and looked at Buffy with the look of someone haunted. “I didn’t need to come here to see Tara, or any version of Tara.” Willow stood stoic and fragile as she spoke. “I see her every time I close my eyes…and for that I consider myself lucky.” At this admission, Willow sat down in the desk chair and stared out the window.



Buffy wiped her eyes and walked over to where she could look right at Willow before she continued speaking.



Making sure she had Willow’s attention, Buffy said, “You’re right, this is all kinds of cruel. Since this technically doesn’t involve our world, we wouldn’t normally be told about it. But this Tara is different in two big ways.”



Buffy blew out a tension-relieving breath to steel herself for what she was about to say. “For starters, obviously, she’s alive.”



This statement made Willow sob inwardly. Buffy gently took Willow’s hands in her own as she held Willow’s intense gaze. “And second, this Tara is broken --“ Seeing Willow’s distress, Buffy quickly continued, “Not broken, like she has a broken back or broken bones. Well, she did suffer a concussion and some cuts on her legs that required stitches…but what I mean is, she’s broken inside. She’s…beyond despair.”



Willow considered this last bit of information and racked her brain to see what Buffy was getting at.



“It’s because of me, isn’t it?” Willow stood up abruptly and started pacing the room. “This other me screwed things up horribly for me, er, her and Tara. Oh god, I bet she did a spell on Tara. A spell Tara could never forgive. This stupid Willow, OTHER WILLOW, let’s just call her O-W. That’s just swell! Ow! My name spells pain for Tara in all dimensions.”



“Willow!” Buffy cut in before Willow could invent any more ways to beat herself up or acronyms that would result in making Buffy a feminine hygiene product or Xander a large, dumb animal. “You’re right, in a way, about being the cause of this Tara’s sad state. Well, not you, of course, but the other Willow.”



“I knew it!” Willow said, with an odd sense of misplaced smugness.



“But Willow,” Buffy continued, “you’ve got the scenario all wrong. This other Willow didn’t do anything horrible to Tara.”



“Then I don’t get it,” Willow said defeatedly.



Speaking as softly and gently as she could, Buffy said, “Willow, honey…the dimension-hopping demon…it killed you.”





TBC



Edited by: Warduke at: 4/18/04 10:02 am


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 Post subject: Re: Unparalleled Love
PostPosted: Tue Nov 25, 2003 10:33 pm 
Wonderful start! :clap

Poor Willow, the way she's beating herself up. Ow...:sob



OB and OX...:lol



Liking this a lot!:bounce







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 Post subject: Niiiiiiiiice!
PostPosted: Tue Nov 25, 2003 10:34 pm 
Hey Lovers4ever, that was a really good start, and I liked the way you decided to bring back Tara. More please? Soon?

A dose of Amber makes my day.

jess



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 Post subject: Great fic!
PostPosted: Tue Nov 25, 2003 10:57 pm 
I really, really like this, I can't wait to read more...please update soon! I'm not too proud to beg...



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 Post subject: Re: Great fic!
PostPosted: Tue Nov 25, 2003 11:14 pm 
I'll second that! Great fic!!!!!!!



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 Post subject: Re: Great fic!
PostPosted: Tue Nov 25, 2003 11:17 pm 
WOW:applause :applause :applause :applause :applause

a most wonderful start...and a new way to bring Tara back.....I hope the next chapters are ready soon !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!:smash



:bounce :bounce :bounce :bounce :bounce :bounce :bounce :bounce :bounce :bounce :bounce :bounce







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 Post subject: Great fic!
PostPosted: Tue Nov 25, 2003 11:19 pm 
Wow, this is great! PLEASE update soon!



Elise



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 Post subject: Re: Great fic!
PostPosted: Tue Nov 25, 2003 11:40 pm 
Oooh... cross-dimensional Willow and Taralove! How totally cool is that?

I believe in the madness called "now."



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 Post subject: Re: Great fic!
PostPosted: Tue Nov 25, 2003 11:51 pm 
I'm happy to see a story that accepts canon S7 and goes on from there to make things right. This is very well-written, with a good grasp of the Scooby style of dialogue. Your "slight diversion from canon" will be good for the mental health of us all.



While Willow has had a year and a half to recover from the immediacy of her grief, she is obviously still mourning Tara. Nevertheless, her first reaction is to send Other Tara back to be reunited with Other Willow. Then, when learning of OT's brokenness, she blames her (other) self, with a typically Willowlike rant.



OT, however, is at the place of immediate pain where Willow was at the end of S6; the death of her love is fresh, the wounds still bleeding.



This is a really good beginning, and I'm looking forward to the rest of the story.



Russ





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 Post subject: Re: Unparalleled Love
PostPosted: Wed Nov 26, 2003 12:16 am 
I would be a complete goober if I didn't get on here and tell you how much I love this story. Ok, so you already know this, but I feel the need to stand on something tall and shout it to total strangers. Since it's cold outside and the neighbors already think I'm odd, I'll just post this little message and try to control myself. :p



Willow's rant about telling OT which windows to avoid standing in front of...Holy Pulled Heartstrings, Catwoman! :sob



And then there's this:



Quote:
“I didn’t need to come here to see Tara, or any version of Tara.” Willow stood stoic and fragile as she spoke. “I see her every time I close my eyes…and for that I consider myself lucky.”
:thud



You get it. You really do. :clap :clap :bow :bow :clap :clap

...when we find That Kind of Love...



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 Post subject: Re: Unparalleled Love
PostPosted: Wed Nov 26, 2003 1:27 am 
:bigwave Lovers4Ever



:applause :clap :applause Great Start!! :applause :clap :applause



:pray :pray :pray More Soon?? :pray :pray :pray

Gina



----------

"I've developed a new philosophy... I only dread one day at a time." ~~~ Charlie Brown



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 Post subject: Re: Unparalleled Love
PostPosted: Wed Nov 26, 2003 1:42 am 
Hi :wave



I love stories that deal with the events of season six and I think that this was a very promising start :applause



I think this will be a very interesting story to read and I’m looking forward to see it unfold :bounce






"I know I was born and I know that I'll die.

The in between is mine.

I am mine!" - Pearl Jam

Edited by: Warduke at: 4/18/04 10:12 am


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 Post subject: Re: Unparalleled Love
PostPosted: Wed Nov 26, 2003 5:15 am 
Wowie!!! This is really, really, good!!

I like how you capture Willow's character very well!!



"OW" made me chuckle (Other Willow--causing pain)--very funny!



Keep this up-I'm looking forward to more.::bounce



Thanks!!!! Marie



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 Post subject: Re: Unparalleled Love
PostPosted: Wed Nov 26, 2003 6:42 am 
Amazing premise! Please update soon.



Thanks,

Mai



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 Post subject: Re: Unparalleled Love
PostPosted: Wed Nov 26, 2003 8:30 am 
ohhhhhhhh I like this alot.



Good story and well written - more please.



Jill

~~~~~~~~

Willow - Say, you all didn't happen to do a bunch of drugs did ya?



My Home Page | Amber Powered



“Bite me” - the general, all-purpose response suitable for all occasions.



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 Post subject: Re: Unparalleled Love
PostPosted: Wed Nov 26, 2003 9:18 am 
Excellent :) Such a good idea to follow on from S7....with the necessary amendment! ;)

The only way to have a friend is to be one



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 Post subject: simply amazing
PostPosted: Wed Nov 26, 2003 12:01 pm 
this is just wow!! i love the idea of willow and tara existing in another dimension....i hope :willow will meet :tara very soonish....update!!pleeeaassseee........and willlow...dying...in another dimension...thats :hmm ......:sob but then again, if it will get the two otherly-dimension-girls together, im:) :bounce great start!!hope to hear from ya soonishh...updatey goodness!!



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 Post subject: Re: Unparalleled Love
PostPosted: Wed Nov 26, 2003 1:46 pm 
this is so great i love this please please continue imfalling for it this soon







TARA:willow ....i got so lost

WILLOW: i found you i will always find you

thank you



Edited by: Warduke at: 12/22/03 9:23 am


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 Post subject: Re: Unparalleled Love
PostPosted: Wed Nov 26, 2003 5:32 pm 
This is such an excellent opening to a story

Can't wait for an update

Please update soon

:pray



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 Post subject: Re: Unparalleled Love
PostPosted: Wed Nov 26, 2003 5:52 pm 
Lovers4ever -



I must say, you have definitely got something great brewing. I like the set up. Also, nicely descriptive. You, definitely got something going. Keep them comin'. The other dimensional twist is something that I have always liked. And you just added another version of that to my liking. Once again, keep them coming, I think I can possibly speak for everyone on that, =). Great work!!! =)



Aaron

'TaraBaby77'



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 Post subject: Re: Unparalleled Love
PostPosted: Thu Nov 27, 2003 1:05 am 
My thanks to allykat, jadeo0, BFR from Paris, irishlassie101, thrilledbymaclay, Tempest Duer, sabina, chewy 19, screeminguitar, cinderlust, WillowPowered, JulesP600, amberfan87, peggy of sunnydale, Twiglet1, TaraBaby77 for posting such kind words of encouragement. You didn't have to, but you did. Thanks a bunch.



Blue Channel - Begging is not necessary, but it does my ego a world of good. Chapter Two coming right up.



russ - Thank you for the dialogue compliment. It's interesting that you're already anticipating OT's state of mind. I'd be curious to know, after subsequent chapters, whether you think her mental state was realistically written.



TKOLove - Even though I'm completely lost without you beta-ing these responses, I'll boldly venture forth and take this opportunity, and any other opportunity I can find, to thank you for being my advisor and pep squad.



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 Post subject: Re: Unparalleled Love
PostPosted: Thu Nov 27, 2003 1:36 am 
Very intriguing! I can't wait to read more!



Keep up the good work!



-FIRESIGN:glasses



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 Post subject: Re: Unparalleled Love
PostPosted: Thu Nov 27, 2003 2:10 am 
Unparalleled Love

Author : Lovers4Ever

Feedback: It's good for the soul

Distribution: Okay, just give me a "heads up" on where and when.

Spoilers: This story takes place shortly after the conclusion of the last season of BtVS, season 7. There’s an ever so slight crossover with Angel.

Rating: R

Pairing: W/T

Disclaimer: All previous disclaimers apply. I do not own these lovely lovers, but they most certainly own me.

Summary: This is a highly angsty story of reunion and healing. It starts a few months after the last season of Buffy. Also, there’s a slight diversion from canon: for purposes of this story (and my own psyche.)



Once again, I would like to thank TKOLove for bringing my little story in from the cold and showing it the error of its ways.







Unparalleled Love

Chapter Two



Willow backed away from Buffy and her statement until a wall stopped her momentum. “I’m dead?” She stared disbelievingly at Buffy. Willow floated her own hands before her eyes as if to certify that, in fact, she did exist in the here and now, but it wasn’t the here and now – or this world – they were talking about. “I died yesterday?”



Buffy nodded and threw her arms around Willow for mutual comfort. Willow was too stunned to return the hug.



It suddenly became crystal clear what Buffy meant when she said Tara was inconsolable. Willow could more easily forget her own name than ever forget the overwhelming feeling of loss that consumed her when Tara was ripped from this world. She didn’t even consider the rage and destruction that accompanied her own grief. These character traits barely existed in Tara. Where Willow exploded, Tara would more likely implode.



Willow pushed off the wall, her mind reeling and playing out all possible scenarios for fixing this horrible wrong and making sure she had all the facts right. “Okay,” she began, “so you’re going to send this Tara back to her own world as soon as possible, right? I mean she needs her family. And by ‘family’ I mean the other Scoobies, not the slime-ball reprobates she shares DNA with. She needs you guys bad – “ Willow wrung her hands and plead with Buffy. “God, why did this happen? She needs someone, Buffy.”



Willow became more and more perturbed when Buffy didn’t agree or respond in any fashion acceptable to her. Buffy just stood there looking pained and nearly, but not quite, condescending, which left Willow in a state of further disbelief. “Buffy, what’s going on? Tara, this Tara, needs to be put back and surrounded by everyone who loves her. She needs all you guys to scoop her up and deal with the pain! And don’t think for a minute I don’t see the weirdness of counseling you on how to help others deal with my death.”



Finally, Buffy couldn’t take it anymore. She put her hand on Willow’s shoulder and guided her to the nearby couch. She saw Willow’s imploring face looking up at her and wished Xander was there to lean on.



While Buffy was regrouping, a thought came to Willow. A thought that could possibly allay some of the sympathetic despair she was projecting on this other Tara. Maybe, she thought, maybe this other Tara is different from her Tara. Maybe she was stronger than an Amazon. Maybe she had Faith-like qualities and could toughen out anything. Willow didn’t like the thought of the other Willow being attracted to an amalgam of Faith and Tara, but it would make her feel better. So she asked Buffy, “How do we know this is Tara? No one in Angel’s group has met Tara. This could be an almost-Tara or a near-Tara. Or…or – “



“It’s Tara, Will. Spike saw her. You remember I told you his ghost lurks around Angel’s office? He was there when they all returned through the dimension portal. He was stunned. And that’s saying a lot for Spike.” Buffy wanted to sit next to Willow on the couch but she was too nervous and knew that Willow’s vulnerable state would weaken her resolve to complete the tale if she sat too close.



“Will,” Buffy began, “we’re not even sure her dimension still exists.”



“What?”



“Angel thinks the First was using this demon to destroy everything in his path, including this other Willow and Tara. They might have been coming to LA for Angel's help, as a last resort. We have every reason to believe the First was successful in destroying the human world as we know it in this other dimension.”



“I’m so sorry,” Buffy added, as she finally sat with Willow and looked into her teary eyes. “I wish none of this had ever happened. We agonized over calling you –“



“She has no one, Buffy,” Willow said in a tiny, choked voice. “My poor baby – no, not my poor baby. The other Willow’s poor baby has no one.” With these words, Willow felt all of her Amazonian qualities evaporate. She was a puddle of want and need and she felt her soul calling out for her dead mate. An image came unbeckoned into her head of Tara, huddled in a dark room surrounded in emptiness. This Tara was cut-off from everything and everyone, and Willow felt her own essence lurch and writhe in pain at the possibility that any Tara could be so alone.



Oh baby, are we doomed to love and lose each other throughout eternity, ad infinitum, like that mirror image? Your Willow cherished you, I’m sure. Please don’t forget that…



And in the next instant a voice was heard only by Willow, and only in her head.



“Willow?”



**



For the briefest of moments, Willow thought she ‘d finally crossed over the divide between earth and heaven. Her brain only processed that her lover’s voice was in her head. That angelic voice found it’s way back to her at last. Fresh tears flowed and mingled with those already spilled on her cheeks as she realized this voice belonged, not to her dead lover, but to another Willow’s lover.



“Willow? D-Don’t leave me. Don’t leave me again. I h-heard you. I know it’s you. You’re alive?”



“Oh god!” Willow sobbed. This Tara stutters, too. This is too much.



Buffy scrambled for a way to help her best friend. “Willow, what can I do?”



“She’s in my head, Buffy! She’s talking to me and she thinks I’m her, the other me.”



“Maybe I should go to her,” Buffy suggested. “Is someone with her?”



“I don’t know,” Willow answered, not sure what to do next.



“Sweetheart, are you still there? Am I dead, too? Why c-can’t I be with you?”



This was more than Willow could take. Tara’s pain was palpable and unbearable. A low, sorrowful moan was rent from Willow’s body. Buffy didn’t know what to do or how to act. She felt helpless watching Willow being torn apart from the inside.



“I’m going to answer her,” Willow finally said. Allowing for one calming breath that didn’t work at all, Willow closed her eyes and tried to clear her mind of everything but this moment. This Tara needed her. If situations were different and she was the Willow who died, she would want every earthly comfort afforded her lover.



“Tara? I’m here. I won’t leave you. You can talk to me. You’re not dead.”



No answer came right away. Buffy watched as Willow sat curled up on the couch sideways, softly stroking the back cushion with the knuckles of her hand.



“I’m not dead?”



“No. You’re definitely alive. It might help if you tell me what you remember.”



“I remember driving to Los Angeles with you to get Angel’s help. We w-were attacked by this demon almost immediately after we got here. You…It was h-h-horrible…”



“I know,”
Willow said. “Do you remember how you got where you are?”



“Some people just appeared. They stopped the demon and d-destroyed it, just as it was about to kill me. I think I passed out then. I w-woke up in this room. I don’t know this room. Did I dream your death? Is that why I can hear you? Are you alive?”



“No…and yes,”
Willow answered. “You didn’t dream of Willow’s death. Angel and his people rescued you, but they had no choice but to bring you here. You’re in LA, but you’re actually worlds away from where you were yesterday.” And to herself she thought, “Jeez, Willow, cryptic much?”



“You referred to yourself in the third person. Are you the First, pretending to be Willow?” At this, Tara’s voice dropped an octave until Willow could barely make out what she said. “You must already know my life is gone.” And in a resigned voice Tara added, “Just finish this. Just finish me.”



“No! No! No!”
Willow screamed in her own mind and, she hoped, into Tara’s head. “I’m not the First. I’m Willow. I’m just not your Willow. Angel had to yank you out of your dimension because you needed medical care after the attack. You’re in a parallel dimension. Well, almost parallel. Some stuff is different. They can try to put you back in your world. Do you want to go back? Don’t answer that! Don’t answer that. I’m throwing too much stuff at you. I’m sorry.”



Willow waited for a while. She figured Tara needed time to process all this information. Buffy stood by quietly, waiting for Willow to relay Tara’s thoughts out loud.



“She wants to die,” Willow stated bluntly, her eyes still closed.



“Oh god, Will,” Buffy blurted out. “Tell her to hang in there.”



At this, Willow's eyes flew open. “What kind of pep talk starts with ‘your lover and all your loved ones are dead and your world is crumbling, but hey, look on the bright side, we have SpongeBob in this dimension too’!?” Willow sagged against the couch and waited for Tara to respond. “Where is she, Buffy? Do you know?”



“Do you want to see her? Is that a good idea?”



Willow felt anger rising in her voice. She wasn’t angry at Buffy, but Buffy was the only one around at the moment. “Well, you must have considered the possibility when you decided to contact me. I don’t want to see her because I know she’ll be returning to wherever it is she needs to be. Nothing pummels your heart like saying hello and good-bye to your lover twice in one lifetime.” Thinking of Buffy’s experience with Angel, she added, “Sorry. I guess you know that better than I do.”



Buffy offered a soft smile to Willow and said, “This is different, Will. I always knew Angel was out there somewhere. I can come here and see him.”



“Maybe, but –“



“Willow?”



Willow closed her eyes again and concentrated hard on keeping her thoughts tethered to Tara.



“I’m right here. How are you holding up?”



“It feels like I don’t exist.”



“I know how you feel. The one person who can comfort you is gone and that’s why you need comforting,”
Willow hoped this was being helpful. She couldn’t be sure.



“Where are you? Is someone with you?"



"I'm in Angel's office with Buffy."



"Buffy…she's alive in this world? What about Xander and Dawn and –“



"They're alive, too,"
Willow responded in a hopeful tone.



"This is too incredible! She'll be so happy! Wait until I tell –“ Tara's connection fell away suddenly, like a boat that broke its moorings during a rough storm.



Just then, Buffy leaned over and whispered in Willow's ear, “I’ll go find out where she is.” Willow just nodded and watched Buffy leave the room.



"Tara?" Willow waited. "Tara, are you still there?"



"I-I-I want to be alone."



"Tara,"
Willow pushed gently.



"Please, just…"



And she was gone



**



As soon as he hung up the phone from his conversation with Buffy and recovered from Willow’s abrupt departure, Xander threw some clothes into a bag, grabbed Willow’s sandwich to snack on later, and headed out the door toward LA. Something was tickling the back of his thoughts as he headed out of town. Something he sort of remembered forgetting to remember. He couldn’t get his mind off everything Buffy had told him about Tara being alive. Okay, maybe it wasn’t their Tara or, more specifically, Willow’s Tara, but Tara was alive and in LA at this very minute. And so was Will. That little teleporting trick sure comes in handy. If he hurried, he could just miss the bulk of commuter traffic. He was stopped at a red light, watching school kids cross with a crossing guard. His mind wandered over memories of Tara, Tara and Will, Tara and Anya, Tara and Dawn. Dawn!



Holy Moley, what should we do about Dawn? She’s old enough to spend the night alone. It’s not like we live on a Hellmouth anymore. I need to go back and leave her a note. A note that says I had to leave town suddenly. A note that won’t send her straight to Panic City. When she finds out we’re all in LA with another Tara, no note on earth will keep her from killing us.



Xander turned his car around and headed toward Dawn’s school.



TBC



Edited by: Warduke at: 4/18/04 10:05 am


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 Post subject: Re: Unparalleled Love
PostPosted: Thu Nov 27, 2003 2:24 am 
Um, uh... wow. Just... wow... this is such a cool story. I love it. I totally love it. Uh... yeah. Cool. Good stuff-ness.



Shutting up now.

Willow: Hey Buff. One more thing.

Buffy: Yeah?

Willow: I’m gay.

Buffy: Okay, Will. Xander owes me ten bucks.



Remember to Breathe by Yellow Crayon



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 Post subject: Re: Unparalleled Love
PostPosted: Thu Nov 27, 2003 2:51 am 
Yay! Chapter two is here! :eatme :banana :eatme :banana



It's so sweet how :willow 's initial thoughts are for Other :tara 's comfort -- that OT should be sent back so she can be in the bosom of her family of Scoobies. Gotta love compassionate Willow.



Quote:
"Sweetheart, are you still there? Am I dead, too? Why c-can’t I be with you?”




:cry I think you have a true talent for making a reader feel the power and pull of Willow and Tara's connection. Any Willow and Tara. Amazing. :clap



Terrific chapter. Can't wait to see more. :wink



Oh, and Lovers4ever...

You keep complimenting my beta work, and I thank you from the bottom of my ego-inflated heart...but for the record, you need the help of a beta like Willow and Tara need directions on how to steal our hearts. I'm just thrilled you asked me to come along for the ride. It's been an absolute pleasure. :flower

...when we find That Kind of Love...



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 Post subject: Re: Unparalleled Love
PostPosted: Thu Nov 27, 2003 9:19 am 
another great chapter! i love where you're going with this.

please update soon!



thanks,

mai



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 Post subject: Re: Unparalleled Love
PostPosted: Thu Nov 27, 2003 9:35 am 
Oh wow!! This is so good. I love it :love



You do have a real talent.....thank you for sharing it! I can't wait for more ;) :flower

The only way to have a friend is to be one



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 Post subject: Re: Unparalleled Love
PostPosted: Thu Nov 27, 2003 11:16 pm 
Hey there :wave



This chapter was truly heart breaking but so beautifully written :applause



I'm looking forward to see more of this story.



Hum... Do you think that you could post on the update thread when you post new chapters of your fic?

That way I wouldn't miss the updates to this terrific fic :grin






"I know I was born and I know that I'll die.

The in between is mine.

I am mine!" - Pearl Jam



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 Post subject: Re: Unparalleled Love
PostPosted: Fri Nov 28, 2003 12:33 am 
I totally agree with the rest of the kitties, great fic:applause

I can't wait to :read how willow and Tara deal with everything



Keep up the great work!



O:D

Lead me not to temptation....I can find it myself



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 Post subject: Re: Unparalleled Love
PostPosted: Fri Nov 28, 2003 5:43 am 
Wowser! This is very powerful--and a lot for everyone to handle. I hope Tara calms down and doesn't do anything irrational.



And--I hope Willow realizes that she must be with Tara regardless of where she came from and how they are both different.

:spin

Hearts don't change ladies!!!:miff



OK, calming down now.

Great writing--this is so cool



Continue please, and rock on!!!!:peace

Thanks again!!!!! Marie:glasses



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