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

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 Post subject: 21+ (sequel to Two For Joy) [Happy 40th Birthday Tara!]
PostPosted: Thu Oct 15, 2020 11:00 pm 
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Ms. Moderator Fantastico
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Joined: Sat Feb 21, 2009 1:22 pm
Posts: 4499
Topics: 40
TITLE: 21+

WRITER: Laragh

STORY RATING: PG-13

DISCLAIMER: Willow, Tara, and any other characters from the Buffy the Vampire Slayer franchise belong to Joss Whedon, FOX, ME, and a whole host of other entities, none of which are me.

SUMMARY: “And I swear if you show up in another ten years…” (sequel to Two For Joy)

NOTE: Happy 40th birthday Tara! (Also by virtue of Tara being alive, the pandemic didn’t happen…let's say they have some contact with a coven in China or something)

FEEDBACK: Go for it.



21+




Tara woke with a gasp; her last memory of…


Oh, quite pleasant actually.


Willow’s lips above her bellybutton as she fell asleep in an exhausted state of post-coital bliss.


Yes, there was nothing quite like the satisfaction of passing out from the intensity of your orgasm before your wife had even managed to make her way back up your body.


As the sharp breath of air entered her mouth, Tara felt that pull under her stomach as if her body had paused at that moment and was letting her relive the last pulsating seconds as she woke.


Well, it was her birthday. She deserved a gift from the Goddesses.


Thanks, Aphrodite.


She stretched her arms above her head and looked to the side, expecting to see Willow.


But she wasn’t there.


She checked the time and it wasn’t late. The alarm hadn’t even gone off yet.


She blinked heavily and sat up, stretching her back again.


40 years old.


Willow called it 21+.


With their checkered history, it felt like an achievement.


She felt much older and much younger all at once.


Her twenties had been so full of apocalypses and vanquishings and magically-addicted-girlfriends that she felt she’d packed at least two decades into one. But her thirties, filled with raising hers and Willow’s daughter, being a wife and running the abandoned ice-cream store they’d taken over on a bit of a whim when they busted a kitten poker ring from the back of it, had been far more sedate.


She knew which life she wanted to keep living.


She swung her legs over the bed and smirked to herself as she felt the delicious ache from the night before. She stood and rocked on her toes, feeling light.


Today would be a good day.


Willow always had a surprise for her on her birthday.


She covered her body with the short, silk robe Willow loved on her and tied her hair up into a messy bun. They’d probably go back to bed after Joy went off to school, so there was no point getting dressed.


It was one of the benefits of running a business that opened later in the day.


A benefit they took advantage of regularly.


She slipped her foot into her slippers and turned the alarm off before it could ring throughout the house and break this tranquility she was feeling.


She skipped down the stairs and turned into the kitchen, where Willow had her back to her, hunched over the sink.


On the burner, eggs sizzled and Tara could smell the buttery scent of frying mushrooms.


“Mmm, do I smell your famous breakfast bruschetta?”


Willow spun around in a flash and gasped.


“Tara.”


“I’m sorry, did I ruin the surprise?” Tara asked coquettishly, “I wonder how I can make it up to you…”


She approached Willow and pulled her in by the string of her pajama bottoms. She kissed Willow under her ear then brushed their noses together before kissing her softly on the mouth.


After two seconds, her eyes opened. She pulled away slowly and looked Willow in the eye, then took a step back angrily.


“Are you freaking kidding me?” she asked, throwing her hands up, “When are you from this time?”


Willow gulped deeply.


“10 years,” she said, her eyes clouded with something Tara had never seen in her wife before, “In the future.”


Tara felt her blood run cold.


She knew her Willow would never attempt something as dangerous as this.


So what had happened that this Willow would?


“Why are you here?” she asked with the fear tinging the edges of her voice, “And why am I always in this tiny robe?”


She pulled down at herself uncomfortably despite thinking (hoping?) she was still married to this woman. Willow looked at her gravely.


“Because the world I came from is not one I’m willing to go back to. I’d rather die trying to fix it than live there another second.”


Tara gave the same look back.


“Nobody will be dying today.”


“One person will,” Willow replied with a steeliness in her eyes that Tara hadn’t seen in a long, long time, “A demon named Yuz'getan.”


Tara felt her stomach do a flop.


“What did he do?” she asked and frowned deeply, “What…will he do?”


There was a sudden smell of smoke and Tara was alerted to the burning skillet. She quickly grabbed it to transfer it to the sink and turned the tap on it.


So much for her breakfast bruschetta.


Instead, she was getting a mouthful of meta.


Her Willow would be pissed that this Willow didn’t at least let her finish off the eggs before coporealizing.


They prided themselves on their minimal waste.


And Willow was staring at her so intently.


It was unnerving; not a feeling she’d experienced from her wife anytime lately.


Tara watched the stream of water pierce an egg yolk and drip down the drain. Willow was eyeing it with that same piercing stare.


“That’s what his blood looks like.”


Tara looked up.


“Yuz'getan?”


Willow’s eyes were so glassy they looked like they might slip out.


“This time I won’t kill him too late.”


Tara put her hand on Willow’s arm, pulling her out of her reverie.


“Willow,” she said sternly, “You have to tell me what’s going on.”


Willow looked down at Tara’s hand. Her eyes closed.


Tara guided Willow over to the little circular table and had her take a seat. She poured two cups of coffee and placed one in front of Willow.


Willow drained it all in one go and made a face.


“Kinda weak,” she said as her tongue rolled around her mouth.


“Well, you made it,” Tara replied defensively.


Willow looked at the end of her cup and the milky residue left over.


“I forgot about the days when you could have your coffee however you like it,” she said as she felt her belly warm with the liquid, “These days we just live off shavings from giant blocks off congealed coffee beans.”


“Your days,” Tara replied softly, “Not these days.”


“Not yet,” Willow spat in response, “Not if I have anything to do about it.”


“Yuz'getan,” Tara repeated, her hands shaking around her coffee cup, “What happens? What does he do?”


Willow suddenly sat up straight, all business.


“In a few years from now, he’ll get hold of the slayer scythe.”


“And destroy all of the slayers?” Tara deduced.


Willow looked at Tara, sidelong.


“No,” she said with a heavy lump in her throat, “Make every girl in the world a slayer.”


Tara frowned slowly.


“You did that years ago.”


Willow chuckled; low and bitter.


“No, I made every potential slayer, a slayer. Eighteen hundred girls. Not four billion. Not us.”


She looked up shamefully.


“Not our daughter,” she said in an echoing whisper.


Tara felt a sharp pain in her heart.


She was so admirable of Buffy and everything she and all of her girls did.


But she did not want her daughter living that life.


They went to great lengths to teach their daughter the correct way to handle magic and encouraged her interests outside of it.


Their supernatural legacy was one they hoped died with them.


They saved the world a lot so that their daughter wouldn’t have to.


“Demons are everywhere,” Willow continued, her voice beginning to crack, “They can smell the slayer in the air. It’s like Woodstock for evil. And the women of the world cannot handle the sudden influx of powers. Babies are jumping out of their mothers’ arms, children are having disturbing dreams they can’t decipher, driving them insane. Minor disagreements are full-on blood baths. And the men? If you thought masculinity was fragile before…”


Her shoulders were so tense they looked like they might crack.


“If I'd never restored that damn thing…”


“Then a lot of lives we've saved wouldn't have been,” Tara replied softly.


“That's why I had to come here, to this time. The only other point of true metamorphosis,” Willow said, her fingers curling into her fist, “My world is the definition of chaos. And I'm not going back without something to go back to.”


Tara’s jaw set to try and stop the shudder she felt threatening to wrack through her body.


“Joy?”


“Is dead,” Willow replied harshly, then her whole body sagged as she glanced painfully at Tara, “And so are you.”


Her fist slammed on the table.


“And I will do anything to stop it from happening again.”


Tara reached over and closed her hand around Willow’s fist.


Willow’s lower lip started to wobble. Her thumb snaked out and caressed Tara’s skin.


“What happened?” Tara tried to make sense of this disruption to their lives, “Why now?”


“Because this day was the first day we fought Yuz'getan,” Willow answered with a clear determination in her voice, “He was small-time, sniffing around a kitten poker ring. We let him go because he gave up the kittens and said he was a friend of Clem’s. He actually went to London to live with Clem for a while. We think that’s when he started tracking the slayers to find the scythe. He killed Clem and used his relationship with Buffy to exploit the knowledge he needed.”


Tara frowned.


“I-I think—”


“Mama, what’s for breakfast?”


Tara’s head flew to the doorway as Joy appeared in the doorway, her red hair tied into a braid. Willow almost fell over in her haste to get over there.


“Joysie!”


Joy accepted the intense hug and looked at her mother strangely.


“Mom? Did you have a black-eyed dream again?”


“Something like that,” Willow replied softly as she cupped Joy’s cheeks and just stared.


“Joy, you’ll be late for the school,” Tara came up quietly behind, “Here, you can buy some doughnuts for breakfast.”


She handed Joy a few dollars. Joy took it giddily.


“Sweet,” she said, stuffing it into her pocket, “Do I still get ice-cream later?”


“Yes,” Tara answered, then added on quickly, “Don’t be late for school.”


“I’m not,” Joy rolled her eyes as she pulled away from Willow’s embrace, “I’m twelve. I know about things, you know. Don’t worry, I’m leaving before things get gross.”


Tara patted her cheek with one finger, which Joy kissed dutifully and then did the same to Willow. The front door had slammed closed before Willow pulled herself out of her trance. She straightened up with a sharp breath.


“I’m sorry. I just…”


“I understand,” Tara put her hand on Willow’s back, “Is my Willow safe?”


Willow nodded quickly.


“She’s in here, just asleep,” Willow reassured, then continued when Tara arched an eyebrow, “Sorry, but I know me and I would’ve fought me hard. Had to slip her a little psychic tranq. Just a little enhanced dematorin, nothing major. I wouldn’t be as reckless as the first time I did this. If anything happens to her, it happens to me. Happens to us. I might not care if I die, but I sure as hell won’t let you both go again.”


Tara stopped and swallowed. She would be lying if she wasn’t terrified of what a future Willow might feel compelled to do.


“Willow, how did you get here?”


Willow turned and faced Tara.


“Safely,” she enunciated clearly, “I promise. I need you to trust me. There’s no time to explain and you might not even understand. I’ve been trying to get here for a long time. I’ve used magicks you haven’t heard of yet. But I swear to you that I haven’t dabbled in the darkness. Not even when I wanted to more than anything.”


Tara looked deep into her wife’s eyes and no matter when she was from, she would always be Willow.


“I do,” she said finally, “I trust you.”


Willow swallowed deeply again. She’d missed those words.


“I knew I’d be getting a surprise today,” Tara said and stood up tall, “How do we stop Yuz'getan?”


Willow’s face was steely.


“We break up that kitten poker ring,” she said, her eyes hardening, “And this time, we don’t take any prisoners. Last time we arrived in the middle of it and we knew we couldn’t take on all five demons in a fight if it got to it and since we already knew the others, we let them go. This time, we arrive early and get Yuz'getan before anyone else shows. Kill him and let the kittens go and the other demons won’t have a reason to stay and a lot of reasons not to piss us off in the future.”


Tara nodded quickly; feeling the adrenaline of the fight-to-come start to soar through her veins.


Their sedate, ice-cream sundae life was everything she ever wanted but she needed the blood-pumping terror to face this.


Besides, this demon had killed her daughter.


He deserved pain.


That much she could agree with Willow about.


“I’ll get something from the potion closet. Is a Star Cassia brew strong enough?”


“Just about,” Willow nodded, all business.


“I’ll bump it up with some twice-blessed sage,” Tara suggested and ran a hand back over her hair.


Willow rolled up on her toes.


“Is my bag of knives in the usual place?”


“As long as you haven’t moved it from the chest under the floorboards,” Tara answered with a wry smile and suddenly found herself attacked with a hug.


Willow nuzzled into Tara’s neck, then seemed to realize what she was doing and pulled away, looking down.


“I’ve just missed you so much,” she said, her voice raw and evocative.


Tara cupped Willow’s cheek softly.


“Then let’s go make sure you don’t have to anymore.”


Willow’s eyes shone with gratitude and love and a lot of other things she hadn’t felt for a long time.


Tara went up to get out of her skimpy robe and returned in some of her good old-fashioned demon-fighting jeans.


She was quite proud that they still fit her, even if they had a goo stain or two on them.


Willow had always said they added character.


Tara liked to think she had all the character she needed.


“You changed,” Willow said a bit dumbly.


“You didn’t,” Tara replied with a crooked smile.


Willow looked down sheepishly.


“I’ve fought demons in my jammies before,” she defended, then shook her head, “Okay, I’ll go throw something better on. I, uh, remember the way.”


Tara watched Willow go and brought her hands up to massage her temples.


A surprise, indeed.


Minutes ticked by while Tara combined a few different vanquishing potions to give some extra oomph to killing this egg-yolk-inhabiting creature, but with no sign of Willow. Tara decided to go upstairs and find her wife — she had to think about that one for a second, but yes, this Willow was definitely still her wife.


‘Til death do us part’ had not been part of their vows as it would have been a lie.


As Willow was well proving.


She found Willow standing, dressed, in front of the mirror, admiring her reflection.


“I wish I appreciated this face before I got crow’s feet,” she said, pulling around her eyes before swishing from side-to-side, “And I loved this shirt before the Thozrullek sneeze-died all over me.”


Tara stepped foot into the room.


“Willow.”


“Yeah?” Willow replied without looking up.


“We should go,” Tara said softly.


Willow looked over and blinked heavily.


“Right,” she said, dropping her hands by her side, “Right. Yes.”


She dropped to the floor and found the loose floorboard. She rooted around and lifted out a leather bag. She opened it up and spread the contents out.


“Pretty daggers,” she whispered reverently, then quick as a flash grabbed six of them and threw them at Tara, making an outline of her in the door behind her.


Tara glanced at a shaking blade to her left.


“…when do you learn to do that?”


Willow smirked smugly.


“You’ll see.”


Tara pulled one of the knives.


“Will I see without needing to buy a new door?”


Willow rose sheepishly.


“Sorry. Forgot the protective mat isn’t on there yet.”


Tara retrieved all of the knives and put them back in their bag, which Willow threw over her shoulder. They started to make their way downstairs when two phone notification sounds went off.


“That’s Shannon telling us about the poker ring,” Willow said without even needing to look, but scoffed when she did, “Low priority my ass.”


“They do their best,” Tara defended softly, “We all do our best.”


Willow just looked at Tara with unending grief and guilt.


“I sure as hell am going to now.”


Before getting out the door, Tara put a hand on Willow’s shoulder.


“Don’t forget what you told me earlier,” she said and when Willow looked confused, she continued, “If something happens to my Willow, it happens to you. That includes something happening to her body.”


Willow nodded once.


“Like you said. Nobody will die today,” she said and let her knives swish over her shoulder, “Except Yuz'getan.”


Tara gave the same nod back.


“Reply to Shannon. Tell her to activate protocol seven if they don’t hear from us by the time school is out.”


Willow didn’t need to be told what protocol seven was.


It was the one she’d failed most of all.


Her biggest regret.


‘Protect Joy’.


She replied to the email without a word.


“What’s the address?” Tara asked as they pulled out of the driveway.


Willow almost didn’t reply as she looked out the window at the old streets.


Everything looked so full.


So pristine.


So normal.


What ‘normal’ had been.


“Cuyahoga Heights,” Willow answered in a daze, “Just off the freeway. There’s an old abandoned warehouse he’s staying in.”


Tara drove in that direction silently. At a stoplight, she put her hand on Willow’s thigh, who jumped.


Tara squeezed lightly.


“Are you up for this?”


Willow’s eyes clouded with determination.


“I’ve been up for this for a long time.”


She turned her face forward and closed her eyes while her fingers did what looked like coin exercises on her thighs but without the coin. As she put her left hand down it connected with Tara’s hand already there. She looked up and Tara linked their pinkies.


“We’ve got this.”


Willow slowly smiled.


“You know the game plan?”


“A traditional ‘stun and stab’?” Tara asked with a smirk tugging one side of her lips up.


“The same way you got me,” Willow crooned softly, “Stunned me with your beauty and stabbed me in the heart with your love.”


Tara automatically brought a hand to the back of Willow’s head and squeezed it affectionately.


“Sorry,” she said, dropping her hand.


“No,” Willow was quick to protest, “No, that’s…that’s nice.”


Tara resumed the action and Willow slowly seemed to relax.


When the car slowed outside of the abandoned warehouse, Willow’s eyes sprung open.


Ready.


Tara reached into her pocket to make sure everything she needed was there, then got out of the car to follow Willow.


The abandoned warehouse looked, well, abandoned.


And warehouse-y.


Inside, there were lots of old rusted metal shelving on wheels that rattled just from footsteps.


So when Willow tripped over one, you can be sure it made a bang.


In a far corner, lying on a bed of broken down pizza boxes, lay a creature the color of the grease of what once lay inside its bed.


He looked like a reddish-orange golem would if he’d been lifting at the gym and taken some dubious growth hormones. That was without mentioning the…horns in various places that spiked to full attention when his full attention was drawn.


Like right now.


“Hey, Yuz'getan!” Willow called out, snarling as she faced this beast head-on, “Yuz'getan your ass kicked!”


Tara was on her toes ready to pounce. She glanced over at Willow.


“How long ago did you think up that one?”


“Fourteen months,” Willow admitted, then added on sheepishly, “Ish.”


Tara started to smile a crooked smile and it gave the demon a split-second advantage.


Willow felt her whole body freeze as Yuz'getan’s deformed and disfigured body flew towards her love.


“Tara!” she screamed.


And Tara heard.


Just in time.


This wasn’t her first rodeo.


She threw herself on the floor stop, drop, and roll style, and landed under a shelving unit which provided temporary cover with the spaces between the metal too small to allow one of Yuz'getan’s claws (or horns) in.


In these few seconds, Willow snapped to attention.


She was not going to watch her wife die again.


That had happened too many times for one lifetime.


Taking advantage of the lack of arthritic joints in the body she left, she leaped onto the back of Yuz'getan, narrowly avoiding a horn right under the ribs. She threw her hands around his eyes from behind and twisted. Not enough to snap his neck but enough to disorientate him.


Man, she wished she had her slayer strength back now.


She pulled again and they went stumbling into another shelving unit, making them both crash down to the floor.


Yuz'getan was grunting and making noises of irritation but didn’t seem to think much of his attackers.


Moving quickly, Willow grabbed two daggers from over her shoulder and used magic to send them flying into Yuz'getan’s back.


He cried out, but it was more in annoyance than pain.


Willow flicked her hand again and another dagger hit Yuz'getan in the eye.


The sound that left his mouth this time told of a knife well struck.


Willow rolled onto her knees and quickly onto her feet. She charged at Yuz'getan with fury in her eyes.


“Why. Won’t. You. Die,” she said as she stabbed him repeatedly in his stomach. His body was so hard that all it did was blunt her knife.


Suddenly a sound broke through the rustle of demon grunts and her own blood rushing past her ears.


“Willow!”


Willow blinked and looked over to where Tara was reaching over with her hand out.


Willow didn’t hesitate to take it.


As soon as she was pulled away, Tara threw a potion bottle and Yuz'getan began to have a frozen seizure; just twitching in place and completely stunned by a green mist.


Tara began to incant.


“Aphrodite, I beg you, hear my plea, this demon is not kin to thee. Casis brew and lovers three, have this beast be gone to me!”


Willow gave Tara a slightly strange look but joined in on the second round.


The mist turned golden in color as they continued to chant and then a beam of light seemed to come from the ceiling and pierced Yuz'getan heart-horn. Willow saw her opportunity and skidded over, lifting something above her head which she then slammed right down in the middle of where the light shone.


It took a very tense second, but then Yuz'getan exploded in a mesmerizing splash of egg yolk. The kind that smelled like it had already gone through your body.


“Yuck,” Willow wiped her face and tongue, then frowned looking down herself, “Aww. I ruined this shirt even sooner.”


She stood over the mess left behind and her shoulders slowly sagged.


Relief.


Mission accomplished.


She looked over her shoulder and grinned victoriously at Tara.


“Twice-blessed sage,” she gave Tara a wry, knowing smile, “Work’s every time.”


Tara caught her breath and reached into her pocket, holding a shiny crystal in her palm.


“I had the Doll’s Eye Crystal on me.”


Willow opened her hand, for the first time revealing what she had killed Yuz'getan with.


“Me too.”


Tara looked down at the two crystals. She could hardly believe they were the same.


Hers was impeccably taken care of and always had been, even once she’d gifted it to Willow.


The other one was chipped and discolored and now had orange demon goo on it. It looked like it had been through a lot.


Clearly, this Willow had been through a lot.


But when Tara looked into her eyes, she saw the same girl she’d fallen in love with.


Even now, she was smiling and bumping Tara’s shoulder playfully.


“But Aphrodite? Seriously? Of all of the goddesses to call on? We weren’t trying to bang the guy. Talk about a devil’s threesome.”


“I know she’s on my side today,” Tara answered simply and was lifting her hand to Willow’s cheek when they both heard miaowing, “The kittens.”


They walked around the warehouse until they found a box with two fluffy, white kittens with some light brown markings.


“Oh,” Tara said softly as she plucked one up and scratched it between the ears.


Willow read the label on the front of the box.


“They were imported from Cyrus,” she said and her eyes widened at the customs declaration. Both at the price and that a demon had engaged with customs, “Looks like, in the kitten poker world, these are the black chips.”


Tara read the information too.


“Willow,” she said softly and pointed, “Look at the breed name.”


Willow broke out into a slow grin.


“Aphrodite Giants,” she read and chuckled, low, “I guess we’re stopping by the shelter on the way home. Can’t let Joysie see.”


“She’ll want to keep them,” Tara murmured in agreement. “I have considered getting her one. But I guess I better talk about that with my Willow.”


Willow looked over to Tara slowly.


“I was wrong before. About the twice-blessed sage,” she said lovingly, “It’s the team that works.”


Tara answered the gaze and offered her hand. Willow hesitated.


“Would your Willow mind?”


“You tell me,” Tara replied with a small tug on her lips.


Willow smiled demurely.


“You always knew me better than I know myself.”


Tara arched an eyebrow.


“I think she owes me one for putting me through this twice.”


Willow grinned and took Tara’s hand. She plucked the other kitten up and they walked out hand-in-hand.


If anyone saw them walking out of that alleyway in the state they were in they might be inclined to cross the street, but thankfully there was nobody else there.


Except for three loose-skinned demons, who came in at the same time Willow and Tara were coming out and looked embarrassed to be caught.


Willow narrowed her eyes.


“Boys, I’m going to be super clear with you,” she said in a peppy but firm tone, “Unless you also want to end up as remnants on the bottom of my washing machine like your friend in there, you’re going to stop using kittens as poker chips and you’re going to help me or my wife or any of the slayers that come to you for help. Capiche?”


The three demons went off in a huddle, then looked back to Willow hopefully. One stepped forward.


“One kitten?”


“No!” Willow replied with an angry furrow of her brow.


The demons all shuffled uncomfortably.


“We’ll be good,” their spokesperson agreed and they all walked away sheepishly.


“You should try strip poker,” Tara said with a knowing glance at Willow, “It’s much more fun.”


The demons all looked at each other unsurely.


Willow and Tara put the kittens in a smaller box they had in the trunk of the car and covered it to keep them safe.


They got back into the front seats, sitting on trash bags kept in the trunk for this exact reason, and Tara looked out the windscreen unsurely.


“Can we trust them?”


“They’re non-violent species,” Willow reasoned with a single nod, “But never ever trust a demon who claims to be reformed.”


She smiled self-deprecatingly.


“A witch on the other hand… totally reliable. And sometimes vampires. But anything with those kind of…appendages? Kill on sight.”


Tara smiled softly too and checked the time on the dash.


“The shelter will be closed for lunch. We’ll just have to take them home until later.”


Willow just nodded and closed her eyes.


She couldn’t believe she’d finally, really, done it.


She wanted to cry but no tears came.


Back at the house, Tara brought the kittens up to the bedroom to keep an eye on them and closed the bedroom door behind Willow. She caught sight of herself in the mirror and frowned.


“These jeans are officially going in the trash.”


Willow was suddenly striding across the room and opening the drawer of the nightstand.


“Tara, I have to give you something,” she said as she ruffled through, “I hid it earlier in case anything happened to me.”


She closed her palm around a vial with a piece of paper tied around it.


“I've spent years working on this. Buffy can use it so the scythe, or any weapon, can only be wielded for light magic. So no matter whose hands it falls into…”


Tara’s eyes widened and her mouth dropped open as she accepted it.


“You gave an inanimate object fealty to more than one line? How? How did you get it to understand intent?”


Willow’s jaw quivered.


“I made it with something made from pure light magic,” she replied, the tears finally coming, “I imbued a piece of Joy. Her heart.”


Tara’s eyes were wet too. She reached out and cupped Willow’s cheek.


“I will make sure that you never have to do that again.”


Willow leaned into Tara’s hand.


“I trust you,” she sniffed loudly and swiped at her eyes, “The instructions are all there and ingredients to make more. If it has even a drop of the original, it will hold.”


She blew out some air.


“Kinda like…magical sourdough.”


She laughed and closed her eyes.


“And um, your Willow is starting to wake up. Mega with the annoyed. Like I said.”


Tara tucked some hair behind her own ear.


“As…interesting a prospect as that proposes, I think that means that it’s time for you to go.”


She swallowed deeply at the idea.


Willow had lost her and Joy and resisted the dark magic. Not gone ‘black-eyed’ as Joy called of her time addicted to such, what she knew of it. Willow had fought for her family in the right way this time.


Even though it almost broke her.


That was the Willow Tara was going to grow old with.


She knew it.


“Go home to us,” she insisted, then leaned right into Willow, “And give me one of these.”


She pressed a long, wet, intense kiss on Willow’s lips until they popped off audibly.


“It will be the first thing I do,” Willow replied reverently, then rolled her eyes, “God, I’m annoying. Do I really sound like this in real life?”


Tara could only laugh.


Together they made up a sacred circle and put some pillows behind it. Willow sat cross-legged in the middle as Tara lit the candle. Finally, Tara kneeled in front of Willow as the woman Willow remembered.


“Goodbye, Tara,” she said softly.


“See you soon, Willow,” Tara replied in the same tone.


Tara moved far enough back to not encroach on the circle.


“Oh and Tara?” Willow spoke up, then threw a wink, “Happy Birthday.”


Tara arched a playful eyebrow.


“You’re going to make this up to me.”


“I am,” Willow agreed with a soft nod, “Starting right now.”


Tara blew out the candle.


”Taqadam lil'amam.”


The circle rose and crashed back down and this time Willow arched up from the pillows while throwing weak punches.


“…get out of me you bitch!”


She blinked rapidly as she looked all around, then settled on Tara.


She frowned.


“Who was I this time?”


“50-year-old,” Tara answered easily.


“You know, I’ve been possessed by myself more than anything else,” Willow pouted, then her eyes turned cagey, “How bad?”


“Bad,” Tara answered honestly and leaned in to press their foreheads together, “I love you so much.”


Willow pressed three fingers against Tara’s cheek.


“Is everyone okay?”


Tara nodded.


“I think so. Thanks to you.”


Willow started to frown then her ears twitched as she heard mewing sounds.


“…are those kittens?”


Tara looked over at the box and brought it over to show Willow.


“We sprung them from a poker ring. The shelter is closed for lunch.”


Willow arched an eyebrow.


“50-year-old me came back to save some kittens from a poker ring?”


“No,” Tara said softly, shaking her head, “It’s a lot. But we fixed it. Together.”


Willow looked in at the two tiny kittens, barely able to jump enough to lick her finger, and plucked one of them up.


She scratched its ears and smiled softly at Tara.


“Tara, what would you think if I said…Happy Birthday?”


She thrust the kitten forward earnestly.


Tara’s eyebrows raised softly.


“Both of them?”


Willow looked into the box and had to admit, it would be cruel to break them up what with them having almost being eaten by a demon together.


It wasn’t unlike how she and Tara had gotten together.


“I think it’s time. Miss Kitty Fantastico has been gone a long time and Joy is old enough to help care for them properly,” she said with some sad reverence for their previous pet, “And maybe I’m not in my right mind what with just being roofied by my future self and my body being taken over but… I don’t know why. It feels right.”


Tara’s smile spread on her face.


“We should let Joy name one,” Tara replied reasonably as she petted the one in Willow’s hands, “But I want to call this one Aphrodite.”


“Aphrodite, it is,” Willow grinned and let the kitten lick her cheek, “Hey, does this mean I can return the fancy necklace I got you and buy a new iPad?”


Tara’s eyes widened.


“How much was the necklace?!”


Willow just chuckled, then winked.


And I’ll get an early night since I’ve technically already given you some pussy.”


“Don’t count on it,” Tara replied with a sultry crooked smile.


Willow blushed slightly then suddenly snapped her head around.


“Oh my god, what time is it?”


Tara quickly checked her watch. She sighed.


“Like an hour before we have to open up. Meaning we’re at least an hour behind already.”


“So much for my leisurely birthday breakfast plans. I was in the middle of the eggs!” Willow blew out a breath of annoyed air, “I can’t even give you your birthday kiss because you cheated on me with me again, didn’t you?”


“Oh, just a kiss,” Tara reassured with a crooked smile, then leaned in and pressed a smoldering, lingering kiss on her wife’s lips, “Yours was better.”


Willow slowly frowned.


“Does that mean I…become a worse kisser?”


“Don’t question it, my love,” Tara encouraged with a wink.


Willow put Aphrodite back into the box and let her shoulders slump.


“Big birthday.”


Tara nodded with a wry smile.


“It’s certainly been more than the ice-cream party I expected.”


“That’s what happens when you turn 21+,” Willow replied in the same tone with some matching adoration for her wife, “All hell breaks loose.”


“Willow,” Tara chided gently.


“What?” Willow asked defensively.


“Don’t. Tempt. Fate,” Tara replied, but undermined her point by kissing Willow with each word, “We don’t even have time to shower before we have to get to work. And we stink!”


Willow suddenly grinned.


“We don’t have time for two showers.”


She linked her fingers with Tara’s and pulled her toward the bathroom.


“But we do have time for one.”



Tara woke with a gasp; her last memory of…


Getting in the car.


She looked up gruffly.


“Did I fall asleep?”


“You looked like you needed the nap,” Willow replied as she turned onto a new street, then added with a roll of her eyes, “Technically I’ve been asleep all day, so…”


She looked to Tara from the side.


“Do you want to just keep the store closed today?”


“No way,” Tara objected, closing her eyes again despite her protestations, “Friday afternoon is our best weekday revenue.”


Willow smirked.


“It’s really sexy when you speak all business-like.”


“Wait until I tell you about how receivable my accounts are,” Tara murmured.


Willow looked across the car adoringly.


She parked up behind the ice-cream shop in her little spot beside the trash cans. She had to park there so there was room for deliveries.


The glamorous life of a small business owner.


Willow gave that same look as before toward Tara.


And she wouldn’t change a thing about it.


“Baby, we’re here,” she called softly.


She put her hand on Tara’s upper arm and rubbed gently.


Tara’s eyes flickered opened easily. She smiled and lifted Willow’s palm to her mouth and kissed it.


“I love you, Willow. All of you.”


Willow cupped Tara’s cheek gently.


“I think you’re the only person in the world who can say that and mean it. Who knows when I’ll pop up from next?”


Tara arched an eyebrow.


“Next time, we’re getting a divorce.”


Willow grinned.


“I’ll do my best to avoid another jump through time.”


Tara held Willow’s hand on her cheek for a moment before pulling away.


“Let’s go sell some Butter Pecan,” she said, stretching her body as she exited the car, “Because somebody over-ordered.”


Willow held her hands up defensively, then went into the back seat to get the kittens.


“Take these into the back for me, baby?” Willow requested as she handed the box over to open the door.


Tara veered into the office once they went inside and Willow walked into the main shop area after a very speedy detour by the freezer.


“Willow?” Tara called a few moments later, “Did you come out here? Why aren’t the lights on?”


She flicked on the lights and heard a loud, celebratory sound as Willow blew a party blower.


“Surprise!”


All around Willow, there were balloons and banners and streamers all with ‘21’ themed decorations.


Beside Willow, on the metal counter where they served from, lay a giant ice-cream cake.


“I ordered extra Butter Pecan because it’s your favorite, doofus.”


Tara’s smile lit up her face.


“Is this what you were doing last night?” she asked as she came over and wrapped her arms around Willow’s waist, “I thought you had a fancy woman.”


“I do,” Willow beamed, “She’s standing right beside me.”


Tara leaned in so their foreheads rested together.


“You know what’s really turning 21 soon?” she said and softly kissed Willow’s lips, “Our relationship.”


A balloon floated by with a big ‘+’ sign clearly drawn on in Sharpie next to the ‘21’.


“But what about the ‘plus’?”


“Still to come,” Willow promised and threw a sly wink in her wife’s direction, “Just like you later.”


“Saucy,” Tara murmured as she kissed Willow again.


“Mmm,” Willow agreed and reached across the counter for two of the nearest bottles, “Chocolate or caramel?”


“Depends what I’m licking it off of,” Tara replied with a smirk tugging one side of her lips.


They kissed again. Tara sighed into Willow’s mouth.


“I keep thinking about the other Willow.”


Willow looked unamused.


“Gee, thanks.”


Tara dropped her arms by her side.


“I just hope she went back to a world she can live in. Last time this happened…we knew everything had worked out. Because everything was the same.”


Willow took one of Tara’s hands.


“You want to know the best thing?” she asked softly.


“What?” Tara asked, searching for reassurance.


Willow pressed both palms on either side of Tara’s cheeks.


“We’re going to make sure she has.”


Tara slowly smiled.


“You’re right. We’re going to need to make a trip to see Buffy soon.”


“Okay,” Willow agreed without really knowing why.


Truthfully, she wasn’t sure she wanted to know all of the details.


She knew doing what she did was not something she would even attempt without it being dire circumstances.


“Joy will be here soon,” Tara said, pulling Willow’s thoughts in a new direction.


“Is it bad that we use our daughter to attract all of her classmates to buy our ice-cream?” she frowned and quickly looked over her shoulder at the ice-cream cake that would need cutting soon if they were going to serve it.


Give them the cake free and get them on the toppings.


Like giving candy to a pre-pubescent gaggle of schoolgirls (and taking their parents' hard-earned cash for it).


“Maybe,” Tara replied honestly, “But she gets all the ice-cream she wants, so I don’t think she’s complaining.”


She paused.


“I need to make sure I cook extra spinach with dinner tonight.”


“Right,” Willow nodded solemnly at Tara’s ‘rule’, “Gummy greens have to be balanced with leafy greens.”


Tara smiled.


“Plus she’ll get to show off the kittens.”


Willow chuckled.


“I sure hope the health inspector doesn’t show up.”


“We’ll bribe her with Butter Pecan…” Tara teased lightly and rubbed her hands on Willow’s hips, “Are we ready to open?”


Willow glanced at the clock on the wall.


“We have three minutes.”


Tara brushed her fingers above the waistline of Willow’s pants.


“Whatever will we do?”


Before they would have to hurry up to tie their hair back and don their aprons and make sure the scoops were all clean and on hand, Willow kissed her wife and enjoyed this calm moment in their sometimes less-than-calm lives.


Tara brushed her lips on Willow’s repeatedly.


“I can’t wait to spend my third decade with you.”


“And your fourth and fifth and sixth and…” Willow trailed off with a peaceful smile.


Tara arched an eyebrow.


“How long do I get to stay 21+?”


Willow landed one last kiss on Tara’s lips.


“The same amount of time that I’ll love you.”


She finished off the embrace with a hug.


“Forever.”



Tara woke with a gasp; her last memory of…


She wasn’t quite sure because all she could think of was the pair of lips attacking her mouth most pleasantly and delightfully.


She didn’t need to open her eyes to know who it was; her wife’s kiss was sacrosanct to her and she would know it anywhere.


When Willow finally pulled away, she was gasping too. Tara’s eyes flickered open. She put her fingers on Willow’s cheek.


“What was that for?”


Willow looked down at Tara in their bed, in their home, in their lives.


“Happy 50th birthday, my love.”

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Check out my finished fics

The Love… SeriesTwo For Joy/21+InevitableFC2: AOTHFC3: TBUFC4: ANB


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 Post subject: Re: 21+ (sequel to Two For Joy) [Happy 40th Birthday Tara!]
PostPosted: Fri Oct 16, 2020 1:05 pm 
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Hi! I haven't finished this yet (loving it so far. Thank you Aphrodite indeed) but I wanted to give you major kudos on your timing!! Happy 40th Tara Maclay! :wtkiss

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 Post subject: Re: 21+ (sequel to Two For Joy) [Happy 40th Birthday Tara!]
PostPosted: Sun Oct 18, 2020 9:37 am 
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Excellent!

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 Post subject: Re: 21+ (sequel to Two For Joy) [Happy 40th Birthday Tara!]
PostPosted: Sun Oct 18, 2020 1:41 pm 
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I love Two for Joy and was happy to see this sequel.
Poor Tara just wants to have a nice birthday! At least it started and ended well, and pretty worth it to get to have more of a life with Willow.
I like that when it comes to Tara, Willow still doesn't hold back on the tough magics, I like even more that she doesn't just come back and fix it on her own but includes Tara in the decision making and the action (even if Tara does mock threaten her with divorce if she does it again- we know it is out of concern, said in a cheeky way). They have both grown.

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 Post subject: Re: 21+ (sequel to Two For Joy) [Happy 40th Birthday Tara!]
PostPosted: Mon Oct 19, 2020 5:25 am 
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I love the sequel!
Poor future Willow, having suffered so much! I love that although she has lost her wife and only daughter and had to live in a quite apocalyptic world she did not fall into a dark magic vengeance trip but instead with fierce determination found the means to not only save Tara and Joy but the world. And I love that she knew that she needed to team up with Tara to kill the big bad (instead of trying to defeat it on her own).

Quote:
“Pretty daggers,” she whispered reverently, then quick as a flash grabbed six of them and threw them at Tara, making an outline of her in the door behind her.


Tara glanced at a shaking blade to her left.


“…when do you learn to do that?”


Willow smirked smugly.


“You’ll see.”

Knife-throwing Willow is pretty hot...


Quote:
“You know the game plan?”


“A traditional ‘stun and stab’?” Tara asked with a smirk tugging one side of her lips up.


“The same way you got me,” Willow crooned softly, “Stunned me with your beauty and stabbed me in the heart with your love.”

Awww! :flower :bigkiss

Yay that they not only killed the big bad and prevented the apocalypse (with the help of Aphrodite and a double version of the Doll's Eye Chrystal) but that they also saved the fluffy kittens - and that Willow and Tara from the present decided to keep them.

Quote:
“You should try strip poker,” Tara said with a knowing glance at Willow, “It’s much more fun.”


The demons all looked at each other unsurely.

:rofl

Quote:
“You gave an inanimate object fealty to more than one line? How? How did you get it to understand intent?”


Willow’s jaw quivered.


“I made it with something made from pure light magic,” she replied, the tears finally coming, “I imbued a piece of Joy. Her heart.”


Tara’s eyes were wet too. She reached out and cupped Willow’s cheek.


“I will make sure that you never have to do that again.”

Poor Willow, having to cut out the heart out of her daughters body. :cry

Quote:
“Go home to us,” she insisted, then leaned right into Willow, “And give me one of these.”


She pressed a long, wet, intense kiss on Willow’s lips until they popped off audibly.


“It will be the first thing I do,” Willow replied reverently

Quote:
She wasn’t quite sure because all she could think of was the pair of lips attacking her mouth most pleasantly and delightfully.


She didn’t need to open her eyes to know who it was; her wife’s kiss was sacrosanct to her and she would know it anywhere.


When Willow finally pulled away, she was gasping too. Tara’s eyes flickered open. She put her fingers on Willow’s cheek.


“What was that for?”


Willow looked down at Tara in their bed, in their home, in their lives.


“Happy 50th birthday, my love.”

The keeping of that promise certainly was a pleasure for Willow. But then again I kind of hope that she has no memory of the terrible future that never came to be and of her time travel - although Tara probably told her everything that happened while she was "asleep".

Anyway, happy birthday Tara (twice)!
(By the way, I am a bit disappointed that 12year old Joy obviously didn't remember that it was her mom's birthday and didn't congragulate her...)


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 Post subject: Re: 21+ (sequel to Two For Joy) [Happy 40th Birthday Tara!]
PostPosted: Mon Oct 19, 2020 5:40 am 
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Ms. Moderator Fantastico
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shirrey

Quote:
Hi! I haven't finished this yet (loving it so far. Thank you Aphrodite indeed) but I wanted to give you major kudos on your timing!! Happy 40th Tara Maclay! :wtkiss


I was so happy to get to honor the day!!

Quote:
I love Two for Joy and was happy to see this sequel.


Yay I'm so glad!!

Quote:
Poor Tara just wants to have a nice birthday! At least it started and ended well, and pretty worth it to get to have more of a life with Willow.


A lifetime of birthdays together, no doubt.

Quote:
I like that when it comes to Tara, Willow still doesn't hold back on the tough magics, I like even more that she doesn't just come back and fix it on her own but includes Tara in the decision making and the action (even if Tara does mock threaten her with divorce if she does it again- we know it is out of concern, said in a cheeky way). They have both grown.


And most importantly, they have grown together. And will continue!

Thanks so much for your feedback!

zampsa19752001

Quote:
Excellent!


Thanks so much, z!

Will's redemption

Quote:
I love the sequel!


Yay!!

Quote:
Poor future Willow, having suffered so much! I love that although she has lost her wife and only daughter and had to live in a quite apocalyptic world she did not fall into a dark magic vengeance trip but instead with fierce determination found the means to not only save Tara and Joy but the world. And I love that she knew that she needed to team up with Tara to kill the big bad (instead of trying to defeat it on her own).


That was really important for me that Willow actually took on all the lessons they learned at the coven together at the worst possible time - that's really the only time we can prove our growth, when we're shoved into horrible situations.

Quote:
Knife-throwing Willow is pretty hot...


Tara agrees :wink

Awww! :flower :bigkiss

Quote:
Yay that they not only killed the big bad and prevented the apocalypse (with the help of Aphrodite and a double version of the Doll's Eye Chrystal) but that they also saved the fluffy kittens - and that Willow and Tara from the present decided to keep them.


Fluffy kittens make everything better!

Quote:
:rofl


At least the demons can recognise their limitations :lol

Quote:
Poor Willow, having to cut out the heart out of her daughters body. :cry


Horrendous. But she did it. For her girls.

Quote:
The keeping of that promise certainly was a pleasure for Willow. But then again I kind of hope that she has no memory of the terrible future that never came to be and of her time travel - although Tara probably told her everything that happened while she was "asleep".


Time travel is complicated that way. I'm happy for the reader to interpret it either way!

Quote:
Anyway, happy birthday Tara (twice)!


She deserves a double birthday!

Quote:
(By the way, I am a bit disappointed that 12year old Joy obviously didn't remember that it was her mom's birthday and didn't congragulate her...)


She knew the party was happening later!

Thanks so much for your feedback :)

_________________
Amber Benson killed me once.

Check out my finished fics

The Love… SeriesTwo For Joy/21+InevitableFC2: AOTHFC3: TBUFC4: ANB


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