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

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 Post subject: Developing: The Longest Distance
PostPosted: Tue Jan 10, 2006 11:54 am 
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2. Floating Rose
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Joined: Wed Jun 29, 2005 12:44 pm
Posts: 20
Location: Spain
Author: grr in girl
Disclaimer: 'BtVS' and all its characters belong to Joss Whedon.
Rating: this bit is G.
Feedback: Any mistakes, anything you want to tell me. Is it boring? Is it too angsty? therefore, should I keep it to myself?


'The Longest Distance'

“Time is the longest distance between two places” (‘The Glass Menagerie’, Tennessee Williams)


Chapter 1

“Your heart won’t heal right if you keep tearing out the sutures” (‘Nothing Better’, The Postal Service)


Tara took a long breath and then sighed heavily, attempting to empty her body from air, hoping to exhale all the bad feelings with it. She was in bed, doing her best to relax her heart, which was thumping exaggeratedly for no reason.

But there was a reason, wasn’t it? Yes, she mentally answered, sighing again. Her heart was trying to move her into action, commanding her to do something she shouldn’t do. She turned to lie on her side, and focused her eyes on the barely-visible phone on her bedside table. It would be so easy, she mused. She wouldn’t have to think, just lift the receiver and dial. It could be done by instinct, without using the part of her brain that considered ups, downs, and, above all, consequences.

Yes, it would be so easy. Lift the receiver, dial the number, wait several insignificant seconds, and then… Then, Tara would hear her voice answering the phone: “Hello?”, and then Tara would say her name out loud; not “hello”, not “hi”, not “hey [comma] Will”. Just her name, just “Willow”, and Willow would understand the extent of her intentions with that simple call and the simple uttering of her name. It would mean so many things, and yet just the one: “Yes, Willow, I love you and I will come back to you”.

Her mind drifted away and imagined the call, imagined Willow’s happy tears, and her own. She imagined getting up, dressing, and going into her car. She imagined the songs that she would listen to and sing along while driving back to Sunnydale. And then, lastly, she imagined arriving to Willow’s place, stopping the car and glimpsing her silhouette behind the curtains. Willow waiting for her…

So easy, and so impossible. Tara didn’t reach out for the phone, she didn’t dial, she didn’t wait for Willow’s “hello?” and didn’t call Willow’s name. She refused all that and turned to face the other bedside table, which was empty. No one slept on the other side. There hadn’t been anyone else; not before, and not after. Maybe that was her problem. She was more or less sure that Willow would find someone else sooner or later –perhaps she had already done so-, because it had happened before. After all, Willow had met her when she was still in the aftermath of Oz’s departure. And she redid her life. But how could Tara?

There was no way. She could manage to survive, that was out of the question –she’d put up with terrible stuff all through her childhood and adolescence-, but it was still a grim and hopeless perspective. Like the one she had before meeting Willow. And, no matter how much time had passed and how much more would go by, it would feel exactly the same.

“Time cures everything,” she whispered, “they say.”

It seemed true, it seemed something that she would say, that she would tell someone else, considering that time had done a good job on her old wounds. It seemed true, it was true, except when she tried to apply it to Willow. Was Willow a permanent scar, a tattoo, an ever-open wound? Was Willow the love of her life, her soul-mate, her everything? Rhetorical questions, she thought, dryly; too obvious to be answered.

---------------------------------------------------------

Willow bit the pen that she was holding and examined the word-processor text before her. With her free hand, she scrolled down and found the mistake. A-ha! she mentally exclaimed, hitting the delete key in a pummeling but precise way, not unlike Norman-Bates-as-Mother stabbing Marion Crane. When she’d deleted the offensive sentence, Willow smiled proudly at her work and turned on the printer. She was anxious to have it in her hands, anxious to slip it into the awaiting violet plastic folder, and ecstatic to hand it to her teacher.

This, she thought, is it. This was the last project she would have to do for college. Someone was just an essay away from being a graduate. A college graduate. Imagine that!

When the printer began its rhythmical spitting out of pages, Willow rose from the chair, stretched, and let her body drop on the bed, like a dead weight. She rolled on her stomach to glance at the alarm clock, which gleamed at her with its red digits. Three AM. It was well time to go to sleep, but she felt too hyper for that, even if that same clock would blare out its alarm four hours and a half from now.

She felt like singing, like doing her Brave Little Toaster-y dance. Like doing something. But what could she do, sing and dance at three o’clock in the morning? No. Also, she couldn’t study more, even if she wanted. There was nothing to learn. Even if she studied the parts that she hadn’t been tested on, what would be the use if she wasn’t going to be graded?

Willow thought about what she had said the first day of college. She had told her friend Buffy that, in high school, knowledge was frowned upon, but that college was filled with spurt-y knowledge waiting for you to absorb it. That was true, up until now. Now, it was over, and what could she look up to? Work, yes, but still she felt old, and finished, and panicky. Her life, as she knew it, with its comfortable routines, was over.

It’s not over, she thought, shaking her head furiously. I’ll work. Yeah, I’ll work, and work, and work. And have new routines. She was reminded of something that had happened two years ago, a discussion between Buffy and Xander, a private conversation she shouldn’t have heard, but which she had caught when they thought that she was still in the bathroom.

“I’m worried about her,” Xander had said.
“Why? She’s being our old Willow again, studying for her finals.”
“Are you sure? I mean, that’s what it seems, what she wants us to think.”
“You think she’s not better?” Buffy had asked, worriedly.
“I think she wants us to believe that she’s better, but she’s just closing up on us. I mean, yeah, Willow: hard studier. But I’ve never seen her studying this hard.”
“Maybe she’s just concentrating on her studies to stop thinking about Tara. It’s still normal, she needs space.”
“Yeah, space, sure, we all do that, but I don’t want her to block us away, you know.”

Had she blocked them away in the last two years? Yes. Consciously or unconsciously? She’d been more conscious than what she liked to admit. The memory of the conversation made her heart beat faster, just at the (remembered) mention of Tara. Had she dared to talk about her in all this time? No. She hadn’t even uttered her name out loud. Mentally yes, lots of times; she’d had full conversations with Tara in her imagination. However, Willow knew that the utterance of her name out loud would be enough to make her tremble, and trembling would lead to tears. And tears would just lead to… more tears.

Her friends knew that too. In the scarce occasions that she saw them now, they never mentioned Tara. They didn’t have any reason to do so, either; Tara had disappeared from everyone’s lives three years ago. Too long ago. Yes, there were still collective memories, but they were perfectly evitable in Willow’s presence. Willow didn’t know if her friends talked about Tara when she wasn’t there, but she guessed that not in many occasions. Maybe just Dawn, Buffy’s little sister. Not so little now, Willow thought, thinking about the eighteen-year-old.

She thought about what time had done to her, to all of them, and wondered what it had done to Tara. Three years older. Almost four. Almost four years: another year without being able to turn the page, to get over it… different words to express the same concepts. She would not be healed; she would not be anything. She was, and always would be, an incomplete Willow; and it hurt so much precisely because she knew how complete she could feel.


Chapter 2

“I keep running behind but I know your meaning, you love to fall” (‘Perfect Time Of Day’, Howie Day)


Tara thumbed through the volume before her and placed her finger on one of the photographs.

“This is what I was describing,” she told the boy, turning the catalog around so that he could see it better. “This sofa.”

The boy frowned at the picture as if he was seeing a camel-colored sofa for the first time and then went back to the computer.

“Yes, it’s in the catalog, but I can’t seem to find it here…” he muttered, typing with his two index fingers.

She frowned slightly and looked at those fingers mistreating the keyboard. It was funny how the dumbest thing could remind her of Willow, but it was even funnier how something totally opposite to Willow could also remind her of the redhead. The rare occasions in which she entered a computer store were like a visual torture, and she found herself wondering which of those fancy, high-tech computers would Willow own now. But here, in the commonest of days, in a totally common store, trying to buy a piece of furniture, a clumsy clerk made her think of Willow. Did it make sense that the clerk’s inexperience with the keyboard reminded her of Willow’s swift typing?

Maybe “remind” was a too-light way to describe what she felt. Her memories of Willow weren’t just pictures in movement. They were like a sound surround experience; or, rather, like sitting in a sensorial cinema. How many times had she fallen asleep with the hum of Willow’s fingers against the keyboard? Or woken up to it?

The boy examined the catalog once more and scratched his head.

“Uh, we don’t have it here, I think we’ll have to order it.”

“Okay…” Tara sighed, snapping out of it.

She waited until the clerk filled in the ordering form, gave him her name, and then went out of the store. This was her big step, wasn’t it? Leaving her rented apartment and buying one, buying furniture to fill it up, and stuff to decorate it. It meant growing up, didn’t it? The definitive growing up, and not just the “I finished college and I have a job” one. It was a home, her home. Although she wasn’t sure about that last part.

Stop it, she commanded herself, driving away. What to buy now? She’d been toying with the idea of adopting a cat, but the idea hurt her more than it ought to. It was evident that she needed someone to keep her company and someone to care about. Besides, she missed having a cat; ever since she was little she’d been surrounded by them. But then, it reminded her of Miss Kitty, and those thoughts were never too far away from Willow. Miss Kitty was their cat, but she hadn’t taken her when she left because she didn’t know how stable her life would be, if she would be able to take care of a cat.

Now she could, but… There was always the word “but” in everything she did. But Willow this, but Willow that.

Tara didn’t stop at the pound, she kept on driving. No cat. She wasn’t going to have one until she was completely sure about it. After all, it would be a life that would depend on her, and she didn’t feel ready.

-----------------------------------------------

Willow buried her face in her hands to muffle her whimpers, since she could hear some girls chattering outside. She had locked herself up in one of the restrooms and was sitting on the toilet, tearing small pieces of toilet paper to dry her tears. But they were unstoppable, like a flow, and she could feel her eyes and nose swelling up with the congestion.

This is ridiculous, she told herself. She’d gone to class, given her paper to the teacher, and returned his smiles. What had done it, the teacher’s “Well, I’m sorry I won’t be reading anything more from you, Willow”? Maybe. It had all tumbled down on top of her. The last essay: the end of college. She couldn’t bear it.

And now, she was crying her eyes out in a college restroom, which was too familiar for comfort. She remembered the day that Xander told them that he had slept with Faith, thus losing his virginity to her. Back then, it had been such a big deal; it had hurt her deeply, in that part of her that had had a crush on Xander for years and years. Back then, she had locked herself up in a restroom too, to cry in private. Although maybe now she felt stupider.

Stop it. Now dry your eyes and get out of here. You can’t be this childish.

Willow did as she was told: she wiped her eyes, washed her face, dried her face, and left the bathroom. Then, she left the campus. Relax, this won’t be the last time you’ll be here. Still got your dorm room remember?

“I remember”, she muttered.

My dorm room, which I’ll have to clear out soon. The fact that she would have to go back home didn’t do the least to console her. Home, where Mom and Dad live. She found that she wouldn’t be able to bear that either: no college and back home. Part of her worried about the loss of her independence, but her mother wasn’t exactly big with the overbearance. It wasn’t that. What bothered her was… change, the enormous and scary change that was about to occur. Some called it freedom and exhaled a soft “at last”, but those people were obviously not Willow Rosenberg.

She found herself heading for Buffy’s house, even if she wasn’t certain that her best friend would be home. It was weird, walking towards the big colonial house. When had she seen Buffy last? Two weeks ago? It even felt strange to consider her her best friend, but Willow knew who was to blame.


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