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 Post subject: Coulda. Woulda. Shoulda - Chapter 176 - 01/27/14 - COMPLETE
PostPosted: Sun Sep 16, 2012 2:57 am 
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Joined: Sun Apr 24, 2005 12:23 pm
Posts: 3794
Topics: 5
Tara and Willow – Coulda, Woulda, Shoulda…

An all new missing scenes/AU fic in 176 chapters

“Hands, hands in interesting places.”


Foreword: Out of the box then… let’s get this clear before I lose any readers daunted by the size of what went before, this is not Sidestep (which for the uninitiated was the massive fic I wrote over 7 to 8 years)

This is all new. All different. It is a story that will post over more than a year due to its length, even when we’re averaging a post every 3 days or so which is my standard (I’ll leave the division to you!). So yeah, you’re in for the long haul if you’re with me on this.

It was February 29th 2012 (but nothing to do with being a leap year) and I was suddenly very aware that the last serious writing I did on Tara and Willow was almost exactly a year ago. We usually head away for a break in March and I recall very clearly that last year I was writing what became the first draft of Sidestep 3 while we were out in foreign places, chilling…

It seemed to me that there was a need to do something again. I’m a writer, I want to write, I write therefore I exist (or the other way around) but as a writer Pens is my spiritual home and I want to support it.

Oh, and it’s the girls. I love to write the girls.

(Course it was nothing to do with being one of those feedback whores you hear about. Nope. No Ma’am.)

This story is set in a world that starts from the start of season 4 (though there’s an ‘epilogue’ as the first chapter which comes from post-S5.)

Things up to the start of S4 are as they were in canon and we’ll branch out into new territory from there and – as per my last big fiction – we’ll be looking at ‘what if things were a little different.’ I’ve labelled this both a missing scene fic and also an AU fic. Only one thing is really changing, that just has quite profound ripples across the story, most of the ‘external’ events that were not changed by the AU initiating event, will still happen and – especially in S5 – the episode progression will be as per canon.

Having said that it’s obviously not Sidestep, I was writing that for ten years on and off with the consequence that my visions of Tara and Willow are coloured by Sidestep and I tend to make them stronger, more confident than they were back at the time I’m starting from now so my apologies if that bleeds through into the characters as they’re written here. But looking at the timeframe we start from… I should be getting away from that and have taken active steps to prevent the girls getting that way this time. No more Mary Sues.

This story holds a lot of appeal to me. Most of all it’s taking me back to my roots, I started writing in 2000 with a T/W season 4 missing scenes fic. By my current standards it’s not great (and you may not think much of my current standards!), but I loved the process of doing it and it got me into writing. With the timeframe in this story, I get to go back there and tell another story besides… (The observant may notice a theme here…)

Mistakes, I will make a few. When dealing with things like Wicca and other such beliefs I’m using as much dramatic licence as I need and as much research as is convenient (most of my writing is done without internet access). Don’t hate me… I figure the show was no more accurate in some of its portrayals.

I should also note that this story starts with – and then departs from – S4 canon. This means that at the beginning Willow is with Oz (I’ll take care of that and you MUST read the disclaimer below if you think that means anything at all to what you enjoy or what you want to write/read. It’s a big disclaimer, you can’t miss it, but I promised the mods I would include it).

Being S4 it also means all the gang are pretty much here. It wasn’t my intention to include many of them for long, but the story has a will of its own and short of pulling a major natural disaster there was no way to limit the cast. I couldn’t quite zero in on the girls to the exclusion of all others as easily as I thought even though all but a couple of parts are from either Tara or Willow’s points of view.

There are characters I just don’t enjoy writing much, especially in light of the show and as such they will be… removed from the action quite quickly. Disclaimer – when I say ‘quickly’ it means something different to most other people. In fact it could be my motto – ‘It takes a while.’ Consider that - apart from a bout of medical problems - I’ve maintained about a post every 3 days in all my fics and they still took a while… This is no different. Surely they’ll carve it on my tombstone.

Finally, on that (sort of) subject I can’t watch the show anymore. I haven’t watched the show since Entropy was originally aired. I won’t watch the show (which is why having so many canon characters running around, who turned out not to even care, bothers me…) I have Tara and Willow and I’m kind of working from memory and what I can look up through a script summary if I really need it…

So if things don’t gel perfectly with what you remember then just run with it… You should see a flavour of a lot of elements of S4 but the precise match with canon really doesn’t matter for where we’re going and I can just put it down to changing events. Right at the very start (in Chapter 2) some vampires die that took longer in canon and… well, that’s what changes things. That and how they died.

More than half a million words written, only the very end – ‘Weight of the World’ – remains to be written and that’s more than 160 parts down the line. Like I said… long haul. Kittens will be cats before we get there.

And with that said… here we go.

Katharyn


Story wide acknowledgements: Most importantly, this is a story that follows the canon quite closely and involves a lot of scenes from canon. I’ve taken situations and lines from there, moved them, changed them, given them to other characters or used them as is. All credit for those elements goes to the original writers. I’m not familiar enough anymore to give specific credit for every line or scene so consider it all done here.
Also I’ll beg, borrow and steal from anywhere I need to tell a good story, but I might as well admit up front to some things. I was, once upon a time, a casual Xena fan (and I do mean casual as I understood that a lot of that show was just… poorly done around some great ideas) and there are some elements in this that are styled in a similar way. If you spot something and wonder, it’s true. In one particular case it’s very true and you can call it tribute and homage.
A few specifics though. I reference Big Bang Theory and How I Met Your Mother a few times in tribute. I’m also taking – much later – an ongoing element I won’t spoil here and now from the wonderful ‘Effing Dykes’ website (LINK - http://effingdykes.blogspot.co.uk/) Krista is about the funniest woman on the internet whether you’re gay, straight, bi, female or male… It struck me that something she does as a throwaway would be perfect for one of our characters. I’ll just be using a few words of hers in various parts. You’ll see much more down the line, but all kudos to her for that. Talk about reclaiming words…

Feedback: Oh, come on. Why are we here? On Pens? Because we love the Kittens and the feedback. More than that, I love to interact with readers. There are no stupid questions. There are no stupid comments. I’ll answer pretty much anything you have to say/ask/wonder… I reserve the right to be mysterious though – even if we’re following the broad strokes of canon. There’s nothing worse for a writer than silence. So… be vocal. Get involved. Speculate and help shape this story – and you can do just that. Even though it’s written in draft, the redrafting process has – in the past – added up to 50% to some chapters and created whole new ones just because someone made a comment or asked a question. It’s why I post here, I love where Kittens take me. Wait… that sounds bad. Or… good.

So, thanks for reading this. I'd ask that you read the disclaimer in the next post, or skip it if you can see where it's going. But come back for the third post because there’s no clothes in chapter one. None at all. Seriously.

Yeah, I know what motivates kittens.

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

_________________
-------------------------
If I wanted a little pussy, I've got my own to play with.

Chance in *Chance*
-------------------------


Last edited by Katharyn on Wed Jan 29, 2014 9:00 am, edited 189 times in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Coulda. Woulda. Shoulda - NEW FIC 09/16/12
PostPosted: Sun Sep 16, 2012 5:22 am 
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Joined: Sun Apr 24, 2005 12:23 pm
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Topics: 5
Thanks to the mods for approving the thread creation.


The unfortunate but necessary disclaimer – if you’re not a (prospective) writer then you can skip this post and go to the Tara and Willow nakedness in Chapter One:

Okay, I don’t like the fact that I need to do this but… it’s necessary. I’m going to try and keep this light hearted, but it’s a subject I get quite… het up about and so here it is:

1) This fic is being posted with the whole story being complete. This is the Kitten Board. I am spoiling nothing when I say Tara and Willow will be together in the end (in fact they’ll be together from the point of Hush. I am spoiling nothing when I say that there’s no way and no how that either of the girls will be ‘with’ another person during the course of this fic.
2) This fic is written firmly with Pens FAQ rule 2 in mind.


That said, the posting approval rules for Pens put a slightly different stance on Pens FAQ which I fully support. However they offer slight wiggle room which concerns and creates work for moderators but are necessary when you’re dealing with creative people as writers tend to be.

I was more than a hundred thousand words into this fic before I even stopped to think about what I might be doing in the very beginning of it, from a certain point of view.

Because of that I’ve added a scene at the very beginning (Chapter One) which is set after the rest of the story and proves that the girls will be together.

However I still need to also say…

3) Moderators were involved in this fic months before it was posted on the basis that the fic would be complete when posted and understanding all of the above. This is the case. This entire story exists in at least first draft form.

But…

This story starts at the very beginning of Season 4 (characters from Episode 1 are present and engaged in the early chapters.) And to this point things are canon. This has an obvious implication. Oz is still around. He’s not a major character, even as a canon Scooby, but… he exists .

So…

4) In no way, shape or form is a start from S4 Episode 1 (i.e. when Willow is still with Oz) any justification for showing Willow/Tara and A N Other person together in any other fic. I'm deliberately minimising Willow and Oz’s involvement with each other in the fic. You'll rarely even see him mentioned even considering 50% is written from Willow's PoV (the other half being Tara’s) and they are supposed to be involved. I worked hard to make this the case.

5) Try to use this fic to justify something more involved, intimate with him, the nameless one or any other character but Tara on Pens and bad karma will surely beat you around the head. It’s NOT okay. In this fic Oz is background scenery from canon. He won't stay around a minute longer than he does in canon. Period. I will not glory, revel in or sell their relationship in the slightest. In fact from the very beginning there's the hint of problems between them (which I think is in the canon BTW and not something I’d say was just his fault, Willow’s changed just as much as he has and so they grow apart.)

6) If I could have killed Oz or got rid of him earlier than I surely would... (I have previous form for that... in my last big fic I strung his guts from a flag pole. Seriously. Go look it up in Sidestep.) That’s not what this story is though…

7) Obviously, if you're a Willow/Oz or a Willow or Tara/Other fan... you're not going to find any joy here...

8) Neither you nor I have any right to free speech or to 'post what we like without censorship or moderation' on this board. Get over it. This is a private playground we're invited into. Xita's house, Xita's rules. I intend to stick to them. That’s why I ask the moderators.

9) If you don't like the disclaimer then, yes, it was probably aimed at you. Me, I don’t like the need for it, but this is what people apparently do. They point to other fics and say ‘but they did it so I should be allowed to.’ You know what?

No.

There are plenty of places where I encourage every creative person to go express themselves and write, it's a great thing. Everyone should write the story or novel they have in them and tell their story without restriction or censorship. However that is the WRITING. If you want to POST it here, then you do so according to the rules (See FAQ) and shape the story accordingly.
So if you feel that you need to write a story about Willow and a random Kardashian sister... Fine. Yeah, have fun with that, I hope it’s a great story and works really well, but I’ll see you around because I feel that strongly about what is a small, background element of this story NOT being abused as fodder or an excuse for anything that makes moderator lives difficult. Or anything that threatens the integrity of the board and its W&T Goodness 24/7 mission that I'd rather lose you as a reader before we even start.

But… please don’t go! I really want you to stay. And…

10) If you have a story that you *think* should be on Pens and meets the spirit but not the letter of the rules, say so. Ask the moderators. They realise that there are always decisions to be made, they know that creativity is never cut and dried. So give them information, reassure them about having already written the story or knowing where it will go. Don't abuse the trust they will surely give you if you do that. Everyone will be happier, including you.

But it riles me when people feel entitled to do what they like. I get it, I do, you write stories and you get close to them, defensive, you want them to be seen. I’m the same. But this is Pens. W/T. 24/7. Often kind of naked… Sometime involving sweet foodstuffs. (That is not a spoiler. Yet. But it has possibilities…)


Right, so I’ve gotten all that out of the way. Now, if there’s anyone actually left to read this after I drove so many of you away, lets actually get to the story shall we? It’s more fun than me and my opinions… 

The very next post will strip Tara and Willow naked.

Seriously. No clothes were involved in the first chapter of this fic.

Katharyn.

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

_________________
-------------------------
If I wanted a little pussy, I've got my own to play with.

Chance in *Chance*
-------------------------


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 Post subject: Re: Coulda. Woulda. Shoulda - NEW FIC 09/16/12
PostPosted: Sun Sep 16, 2012 5:26 am 
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Joined: Sun Apr 24, 2005 12:23 pm
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Topics: 5
Title: Tara and Willow – Coulda, Woulda, Shoulda – Chapter One - Epilogue
Author: Katharyn Rosser
Feedback: Absolutely, yes please. That’s why I write for this place, to engage in the discussion about the story.
Spoiler warning: Not sure why I am bothering, really, but Season 4 and Season 5 of BTVS.
Distribution: This story was written for Pens. Pens is its home. No archiving off Different Coloured Pens and the Kitten Board please. No conversion to eBook or other formats please. Enjoy it here.
Summary: Tara and Willow get down with being lesbian witches and start to look back on earlier events…
Disclaimer: I don’t own any of the copyrights or anything else associated with BTVS. All rights lie with the production company, writers etc. I am making no money from this series of stories however all original characters and situations remain my property. As this is a missing scenes and alternate reality fiction lots of scenes are new versions of those seen in the show, as such dialogue and situations are taken from the show. I’m sure you can tell which. All credit for those aspects goes to the original writers.
Rating: Occasional, tasteful, adult situations and contextual bad language. However by and large equivalent to the show.
Couples: Tara and Willow forever, that’s all I’m bothered about.
Text convention: Use of italics denotes either special emphasis if used for a single or a few words in a sentence OR first person thoughts if used for a whole sentence.
Notes: Okay this whole part – now presented as the hook for a half million word story – was really just an afterthought with its genesis in two places.
One was that in about part 8 or 9 I referenced one of those things that lesbian witches are famous for and suddenly thought, ‘why the hell haven’t I ever written that?’ Inspired, I just went off and wrote it superfast and it became a nice little one shot that I thought I’d just slip in anywhere along the line, but then I remember the second factor…
Our Pens Moderator Fantastico - Kajun – long ago suggested to me that one way to get around the ‘Oz starts out being with Willow’ nature of a story starting in season 4 canon is to tag on a scene set much later to ‘prove’ that Tara and Willow are together at the end.
Frankly I didn’t think that I need to prove anything in that regard but not everyone who reads this will have read my other work so… she had a good point. And bearing in mind the potential for others to justify writing all sorts of pairing based on the fact that ‘Katharyn was allowed to…’ I thought this might be a nice scene to get us going so all I did was go and tag on the last few lines and voila! A new start for the story.
I personally don’t like the look back and remember style of writing, but it serves a purpose. So once we’re done with this part – which is set post-S5 – we’re going right back to the start of S4 when Tara and Willow have just arrived in college and don’t know each other.
It doesn’t spoil anything, all you can really tell from this part is that the two are alive, happy and together at the end. Oh, and that they really are lesbian witches. That’s very important. It might say something about the weather in South California too.
Thanks to: Kajun for the mechanism and for allowing me to pare back my Oz disclaimers by using this method of getting past it (seriously I had PAGES of ‘Don’t you dare use the fact Willow starts the season with Oz as a justification for anything else.’ In fact, I still have A LOT of that as you should all have seen, but not so much as before… Yeah. Really. I feel VERY strongly about this. I just realised too late that I’d left Oz in place for quite a while… Tara’s coming though 


Some point in time after the end of Season Five


“It’s actually cooler than I thought it’d be,” Willow said, hugging herself.

Tara nodded, she’d certainly noticed that too.

“And I don’t mean cool in a good way or even ‘yay, it’s not hot for once’,” her girlfriend clarified.

Again, Tara nodded. Her arms were also folded across her chest and she was just about as close to the fire as she thought was safe and prudent, what with having no clothes on.

Butt naked. Not just butt.

“Do you think the breeze will be a problem?” Willow wondered, watching warily as the flames licked towards the tree line when the wind blew.

She didn’t think that it was setting fire to the vegetation that Willow was worried about. There was more than one kind of bush fire that would be considered unfortunate here tonight.

“I don’t think so,” she said after watching it for half a minute or so, vowing to stay far enough from the fire – despite the cool night – to make sure that nothing else went up in flames.

“So… we should probably do this?” Willow asked. “I mean, it’s not getting any warmer.”

Her girlfriend was just as naked as she was and they’d been very careful to make absolutely certain that nothing any smarter than a deer or a rabbit was around for miles. No one would come blundering in, looking for a warm fire in the night. Vampires wouldn’t be this far out of town so that wasn’t going to be a problem either and there were no rangers to worry about them lighting a fire.

Bearing in mind the possibility of triggering a wildfire though they’d both worked on a spell that could – the shower room down at the swimming pool could attest – flood out a small space in a matter of seconds. Then they’d be cold, wet, fireless and have soaked clothes too.

But at least they were thinking safety first. That had been easier with clothes though, like everything else.

How…? She had to wonder whose idea it had been to come out here.

The research about the ideal place, that part had been Willow. Even though she was getting better at it, Willow had access - on her computer - to information way more quickly than she would’ve managed and it was Willow who’d decided that this was the perfect spot for them to ‘do the lesbian witch thing.’

Dancing around a fire.

Naked.

At night.

The trouble was that, in the movies and the books, it must have been warmer. Really, it must’ve been. Of course back then those girls hadn’t shaved, but really, was that going to make that much difference? She was shivering and she was showing the cold in every way, so was Willow. But now they’d driven out here in Ira’s car, they’d arrived and had the fire and everything…

“Maybe if we dance we’ll warm up,” she wondered. It was more hope than anything else. She really just wanted to be warm again.

It wasn’t supposed to be like this in California. It was supposed to be warm and nearly every time they went out at night and had reason to expect it to be warm, it wasn’t. A couple of years ago – before she’d arrived - it had snowed in Sunnydale, maybe it had been something to do with that? Climate change?

Or could it be a right wing conspiracy to make sure that lesbian witches dancing around fires just never caught on. At least not naked.

“I was comfortable in my clothes,” Willow pointed out.

“Me too.”

“Could we – I mean – I don’t think underwear’s going to make a difference, we’d really need to get dressed to make any difference. Maybe a jacket?”

“Lesbian witches,” Tara reminded her. “Naked dancing around fires. We wanted to know why they do it. Supposedly do it.”

“We should’ve asked when we had the chance,” Willow said.

“It didn’t seem important... even when the Wicca Group were all out there.”

“Do you think they’d have helped if they had to get naked?”

Tara considered that for all of a couple of seconds. “No.”

“Not even if it was the end of the world?”

Another couple of seconds. “Some, maybe…” She shrugged. They didn’t know though, whether it was even necessary or easier.

There’d been a theory as to why the presumption about naked dancing around fires had come about. Actually there’d been a few theories.

Theory number one had gone something like it being a back to nature thing, getting closer to the primal elements, air, earth and fire, with nothing to impede the flow of power. She could kind of see that, but were the primal elements so weak that some cotton, maybe a dash of lace and some leather shoes would really mess up the flow?

Theory number two had it that the act of the dancing stirred the witches in question to some state of awareness that improved their access to the power that was latent within them. And yeah, she could see that too… if it was a warm night. Otherwise all you were stirring was an understanding of how cold it really was when you took your clothes off.

Theory number three, the last of the realistic ones they’d discussed, was linked to the second but subtly different and that was that the dancing, the nudity and the fire – everything about it – just increased the witch’s belief that something should work. And so it did.

She was putting a lot of credence in that last theory. Magic was all about belief. If you didn’t believe in what you were trying to do it just wouldn’t happen. Period. Equally the more you believed in it, the more focused you could be on making it happen. That was where she’d have put her money if she’d been a betting lesbian witch.

But then she didn’t have any money on her because she was fricking naked.

“How badly do we want to know whether this is better in any way?” Willow asked. Were her teeth chattering? Or was that just for effect?

“It was you, sweetie, who wanted to do this. You said, ‘why don’t we try it’?”

“That was when we all snuggled up and it sounded like a fun idea. And you, you said ‘sure.’ I didn’t know my girlfriend was really a naked dancer.”

“You knew I was a lesbian and a witch,” Tara said, hopping from foot to foot, trying to keep herself warm and using her hands to keep everything under control while she jiggled.

“That’s a kind of circular argument, love,” Willow said. “I mean, you dance naked around fires because you’re a lesbian witch and you’re a lesbian witch because you dance naked around fires? Which witch came first? Which witch, did you hear what I did there?”

She smiled, “I heard. But… We’re here now. We came a long way and… what else are we going to do?”

Actually she could think of a few things, but… hey, they had come here for a reason. This reason - kind of.

“So… You first,” Willow said.

“Together,” Tara insisted.

“No, I… I want to see how you do it. I mean, you’ve been a lesbian longer than I have – and a witch. So… it makes sense you should be better at it than me.”

“Oh, come on!”

“Really, you know how I am with dancing. I… I really don’t know what to do unless you’re leading. Think of it like that, you’re just leading. And naked.”

Tara watched the fire crackle for a moment, judged her route in safety terms when the wind blew a little stronger and… “Really? That’s your best argument?”

“Please?”

Sighing, she dropped her hands and started to move around the fire.

“That’s walking and there’s not much dancing going on. I mean, you’re still hot and all but – not what we’re here for.”

“I’m trying to find the rhythm,” she pointed out. What? Did Willow think that dancing came naturally to her?

“Should we have brought music?” Willow wondered.

“Maybe.”

“I could always go to the car, crank up the stereo?”

“Don’t you move, missy!” Tara told her. She wasn’t having Willow wandering off and settling into the car with the heater on.

“You look hot,” Willow said. “You know… in the firelight. Definitely… hot.”

“Funny, because I’m freezing my b-butt off.”

“Not just your butt,” Willow said, reaching out and tweaking her cold-stiffened nipple as they passed each other.

“Hey!”

“Sorry, I just couldn’t help it… you’re just looking so… perky.”

“I’m perkier than I ever want to be,” Tara said, starting to move into some version of what a naked witch dance – for lesbians – might look like. It wasn’t exactly rhythm that she had but… who was she going to embarrass herself in front of?

“Maybe a little faster?” Willow asked, smacking her on the ass this time as she went past.

After yelping, Tara glared. “You’re not taking this seriously – ow – there’s something on the ground there!”

“It’s just a twig,” Willow said, kicking it towards the fire. “Don’t worry.”

“Watch you don’t get anything singed!” Tara worried.

“I am… there’s not going to be any burning bushes on this trip into the wilderness, I can promise you that much.”

Tara laughed. “I was thinking about that too.”

“Maybe we’re getting in synch,” Willow suggested.

“Maybe we would be if you were dancing?”

“Like that?”

“Or… whatever, but…” Tara paused in front of Willow, half expecting a mildly-intimate assault on her person but only half pleased that there wasn’t one. Instead she drew Willow towards her, moving backwards as she pulled her lover – her fellow lesbian witch – into motion. No more excuses.

“You’re all jiggly,” Willow said. “I like it.”

“You’re…”

“I don’t have much to jiggle. But I’m doing my best. See?”

Watching Willow trying to shake her chest, it was something Tara thought she’d ever be able to loose from her memory, but then she wouldn’t want to, would she? “I see.”

She turned, facing forwards again and knowing that Willow’s eyes were probably fastened on her butt much more than the possibilities of magic… Nope, it still couldn’t ever be a bad thing that her girlfriend loved her butt.

“Come on,” she said. “It does help you warm up.” Now she’d made a couple of circuits at speed, yeah… things were warming up..

“I have a theory,” Willow said, just a little breathless after they’d been going for a while.

“You think we should be chanting? Or know what spell we’re trying to do?” Tara suggested. Those were the things that had crossed her mind after all. They really had no idea what they were supposed to be achieving. Dancing naked around a fire had been the thing. That was what they'd read, anyway. Guided reading, but it was in books.

“Umm, maybe. But I think I have a fourth theory for you, another reason why this might’ve worked.”

“Go on?”

“Slow down, we’re not all as fit as you,” Willow said and then, when she did, “Slower…”

“How slow?”

“This slow,” Willow said, pulling her to a stop, turning her around and embracing her. Despite the cold, a light sheen of sweat covered them both by now and that was nothing new. Usually though, they were in bed and breathing hard for another reason, if they were feeling energetic. The open air and the crackle of the fire, sure it was attractive… That was the new part.

“What’s your theory?” she asked, pressed up against her girlfriend. Willow’s stiffened nipples brushing against her.

“I think, maybe, they were just girls who were into each other… because this is kind of hot and you’re all sexy and sweaty and if you were even more worked up and…”

“So you mean it’s because they were lesbians? And maybe they needed to get away from the eyes of the rest of their communities?” Okay, now she was messing with Willow’s head, trying to keep things vaguely intellectually even though her girlfriend’s intentions were pretty clear. They weren’t going to be dancing anymore.

“Because if you take a hot lesbian into the back end of nowhere, have her get all worked up dancing around a fire with you and then pull her down into your sleeping bag or under some skins or whatever they had, down by the fire…”

“Uhuh?” Tara asked, allowing herself to be drawn downwards in just that way.

“Then you’re probably going to get some pretty amazing sex out of it,” Willow went on.

“Oh.”

“I’d like to test the theory.”

“I think,” Tara said. “I think maybe we owe it to… academia. You know, in case we’re ever asked.”

“You’re absolutely right. This is snuggly, huh?” Willow’s questioned followed zipping themselves into the bag.

“You’re sure the sleeping bag won’t catch fire?” Tara asked.

“We’re fine. After everything we’ve been through…”

Tara kissed the tip of her girlfriend’s nose. “It’s been a lot.”

“And you still love me.”

“I still love you,” she agreed. “Do you love me?” She didn’t need to worry about the answer. But… the last couple of years had been a roller coaster ride and it was nice to just hear it all the same.

“You know I do.” Willow wriggled – which was all sorts of stimulating – until Tara found she was spooning her, pulling the sleeping bag tighter around both of them.

“Do you remember?” Tara asked, slipping her hand downwards and finding the bush that she’d really not wanted to get burned.

“What?” Willow gasped.

“All of it? How things were…”

“How could I forget? Mmm, right there.”


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

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Last edited by Katharyn on Fri Sep 20, 2013 10:14 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Coulda. Woulda. Shoulda - NEW FIC 09/16/12
PostPosted: Sun Sep 16, 2012 7:29 am 
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7. Teeny Tinkerbell Light
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Dibs!!!

Finally :banana :applause :eatme !

Naked Tara, jumping from foot to foot, while jiggling? :clap

Sooo, can't wait to find out what the girls have been through over the last few years. I'm curious about the reason that Tara asked Willow if she remembers.

I'm VERY happy that you have returned. I am a HUGE Sidestep fan and will be with you for the long haul.

Ps. If you don't wanna kill Oz, there is always Dawn!


Special thanks to the Spicey One (Kajun) for helping to make this happen.

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 Post subject: Re: Coulda. Woulda. Shoulda - NEW FIC 09/16/12
PostPosted: Sun Sep 16, 2012 8:35 am 
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Hey Grimm - Maybe it was that last pester that did it... LOL

I feel like a bit of a cheat with this opening, the old chapter one - now two - is very different. The girls aren't even in it. But it would've shown the real story that we will be following. This was fun though and serves a purpose ;)

It will be a long haul so glad to have a friend along for the ride!

Hmm, I could kill Dawn? Make it like she never existed? Surely that's just too much of a change for the reality? LOL. We're a long ways from even having to worry about her (though maybe if I dropped a bomb on a monastery? Hmm, that could work... a late, radical change in redraft?) LOL

And I never said I wanted to kill Oz... I just recognise he will go in the course of things. We'll be broadly following S4 canon in terms of timeframes.

So thank you for being first and thank you for the final kicks in the ass. You can stop prodding me, oh... for at least a year!

Katharyn

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 Post subject: Re: Coulda. Woulda. Shoulda - NEW FIC 09/16/12
PostPosted: Sun Sep 16, 2012 10:47 am 
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WHOOHOO!! I didn’t think you were going to start out this way but it sure makes a fun beginning. I can easily see Willow thinking of all kinds of logical reasoning to get Tara to be the first to start the naked dancing. Hilarious that they didn’t even have a specific spell in mind. I’m thrilled to see this on board --finally! :wink Stories based on the early stages of Willow and Tara’s relationship are my favorite and I can’t wait to read how it unfolds and changes from your perspective.

I couldn’t help but think the girls drove to the Wilderness in a yellow bug (referencing Amber’s W/T comic) LOL. Would Ira drive a bug though? Sheila.. not likely.. but I like to pretend Willow’s dad was actually cool.

Well done as always, Katharyn!! :grin

And to Grimm: You got first dibs fair and square! And any credit for helping make this happen goes to you and your unwavering support of Katharyn and SideStep. Thanks!


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 Post subject: Re: Coulda. Woulda. Shoulda - NEW FIC 09/16/12
PostPosted: Sun Sep 16, 2012 12:07 pm 
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Quote:
There was more than one kind of bush fire that would be considered unfortunate here tonight.


Thanks for making me laugh aloud at work first thing on a Monday morning when the weather is awful and I'm sick and at work (don't ask me why I am reading DCP rather than working!) - very much appreciated.

I am a big fan of your previous work so it gives me great pleasure to be along for the ride on this one right from inception. I am especially going to enjoy your take on all the missing scenes between our two girls for the simple fact that I know you will definitely do them justice.

Great start to whet our appetites. The image of a naked Willow and Tara dancing around a fire is an exceptionally pleasant one and their conversation was priceless!

:peace
Alcy

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 Post subject: Re: Coulda. Woulda. Shoulda - NEW FIC 09/16/12
PostPosted: Sun Sep 16, 2012 5:22 pm 
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Glad to see I wasn't the only one who cheered when they saw this! I'm always up for more fic from you.

I love the little monologue about the weather, because honestly, who hasn't wondered that while watching Buffy? Also, Willow is such a pervy dork, getting Tara to dance first and getting all grabby, I love it. Speaking as someone who has danced naked around a fire, you're pretty accurate about the apprehension. Still, these girls are brave. Neither spent the whole time going, "Ahh, fire! Ow, rocks!"

Also, seeing as how long this thing will go, I am tempted to post a pic of my pup now(currently 8 weeks), and another after this thing is done, just for funsies xD

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 Post subject: Re: Coulda. Woulda. Shoulda - NEW FIC 09/16/12
PostPosted: Sun Sep 16, 2012 5:38 pm 
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katharyn, i am in:)
snoopy chair dance in progress :applause :applause :applause


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 Post subject: Re: Coulda. Woulda. Shoulda - NEW FIC 09/16/12
PostPosted: Mon Sep 17, 2012 11:41 am 
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Very . . . prologuey, and it would be churlish of me to eleaborate too much. From what you've said of the future content, seems to cover soem subjects which itnerest me greatly, as well.

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 Post subject: Re: Coulda. Woulda. Shoulda - NEW FIC 09/16/12
PostPosted: Mon Sep 17, 2012 12:43 pm 
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Thanks so much to one and all. Always nice to get a good reception - even if I cheated. I mean, come on, Tara and Willow dancing naked round a fire? I couldn't really stuff that up now could I? (!?)

There's a little thing here in the UK called the 'Trade Description's Act' which is when you sell something by advertising something different. I won't say I fall foul of that but it may be a close run thing. What you will get from now on is 'in the style of' that part, building up to a relationship that lets them get to that part. Season 4 is very much about putting the girls together, that's almost exclusively what it's about in fact.

Season 5... that's a different spin on the canon, shifted by the events of season 4, but fundamentally dealing with the big canon stories. And there it will end, because I am firmly of the position that the WB had the right of it when they ended BTVS at the end of that season...

Kajun - You got me to start out this way, though I claim all the credit for making it naked! In my writing I tend to latch onto certain characteristics of the girls... and play them for all they're worth before shifting it in the next. This time, yeah, Willow logic for naked Tara jiggles... LOL

I love early days too and - in a way - even Sidestep (the original) was a twisted version of that. So I really am back to my roots. S4 as I mentioned is very much about that... loved writing it. S5 has been both more and less rewarding because the subject matter is hard, but we're a ways off that yet.

If I had remembered Amber's comic, maybe it would've been a big. Maybe Ira has one in the garage from the 60's... could be!

Alcy - Well, this is what the redraft process does to me. I see what I wrote before and I inevitably find the dirty version of it LOL. So... yeah, bush fire? Hmm... Not the last time bush will be mentioned either...

Thanks so much for the compliment, I hope this lives up to it. It's both nicely familiar but also risks being 'too' familiar... I'm trying to strike that balance. As for dialogue... I love it, but then I get all wordy and need to get in their heads for a while... so it comes in fits LOL

Hey faolan I remember you talking about a proportion of your young life reading Sidestep, can't believe you came back for more! LOL

Sometimes things just leap out at you about the show, the weather was one thing. Though - to be fair - I was less referencing the show and more my own need to have a chilly night from time to time. I have been messing with the weather all the way through and because this part was 'in the future' decided to play with my own version of South Cal weather. But hey, you're right, the show went there too. And first!

I just wish I had used the words 'pervy dork' and 'grabby'...

I shan't ask about naked fire dancing. I'm getting to be too old for that to be appropriate!! But yes, if you want to show the pooch off before and after... that would be as fitting as 'kittens become cats'!

edob - Great to see tigger back! So glad you are along for the ride. Thanks.

Daddycatalso - Welcome, welcome. I'll let you off from elaborating, though I would be very interested in knowing what the subjects that interest you are... hmm, I just had a Willow moment there. Purely because hearing stuff actually gives me ideas that I work in. Not to say I'd change everything, but definitely can and have been inspired by great ideas from the readership. That's why I bring my stories here over anywhere else (even when there were somewhere elses to be!)

Thanks for signing on.

As I mentioned, next part will post tomorrow. That will be the 'true' part one and doesn't feature Tara or Willow. It should introduce a little mystery... right off the bat. and we'll be right back at the very start of S4 with all that means...

See you then
Katharyn

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 Post subject: Re: Coulda. Woulda. Shoulda - NEW FIC 09/16/12
PostPosted: Tue Sep 18, 2012 10:21 am 
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Title: Tara and Willow – Coulda, Woulda, Shoulda – Chapter Two
Author: Katharyn Rosser
Feedback: Absolutely, yes please. That’s why I write for this place, to engage in the discussion about the story.
Spoiler warning: Not sure why I am bothering, really, but Season 4 and Season 5 of BTVS.
Distribution: This story was written for Pens. Pens is its home. No archiving off Different Coloured Pens and the Kitten Board please. No conversion to eBook or other formats please. Enjoy it here.
Summary: The set up for the rest of the story. One little thing that changes compared to canon… and here we go.
Disclaimer: I don’t own any of the copyrights or anything else associated with BTVS. All rights lie with the production company, writers etc. I am making no money from this series of stories however all original characters and situations remain my property. As this is a missing scenes and alternate reality fiction lots of scenes are new versions of those seen in the show, as such dialogue and situations are taken from the show. I’m sure you can tell which. All credit for those aspects go to the original writers.
Rating: Occasional, tasteful, adult situations and contextual bad language. However by and large equivalent to the show.
Couples: Tara and Willow forever, that’s all I’m bothered about.
Text convention: Use of italics denotes either special emphasis if used for a single or a few words in a sentence OR first person thoughts if used for a whole sentence.
Notes: Tara and Willow don’t actually appear in this chapter, it’s all set up for what will follow, however all but one of the chapters in the rest of the story will be in Tara and Willow’s point of view, usually alternating from one to the other between scenes. We’ll be with the girls in Chapter Three.
The title of the story was originally going to give much more away as some people I let into it will know… but this new one reflects that this COULD have been what happened, WOULD have been what happened if something had changed and caused ripples through the story and SHOULD have happened because you know I’m going to give you a happier version than we saw by the end.
This part is a little shorter than what will be the standard, about 3000-3500 words per chapter.
Thanks to: Those who put up with all of my disclaimers and notes and stuff. I’m wordy, okay… I’m just wordy. But now to the good stuff (least I think so).


September – 1999 – Start of Season 4 and a new college year.


“I don’t know, Mark, it just doesn’t seem all that… smart.” Darren said, sounding like the stoner he’d once been, as they walked through the woods. That it was dark was a given.

Dark was their time.

“Hey, you’re talking to the guy who got a damned scholarship to this place. An academic scholarship.” Mark said.

Mark didn’t look like a nerd. Tall, handsome and dark skinned, he looked like everyone’s idea of a jock and no one’s idea of a physics major and minor league genius. Everyone else in this little group was exactly what they appeared to be. Squat little Gavin who was every Chinese mother’s idea of a disappointment, Nicolai the Russian with the face to match his hockey scholarship and Tori his girlfriend – who Sunday just hated.

And him. He was what he appeared to be and Sunday pretty much hated him too. “Scholarship to UC Sunnydale, big whoop. It’s not exactly Harvard, you know.”

Nicolai grunted, scanning the trees. When he spoke - when you could understand his thickly accented ‘English’ - then he was usually worth listening to. He’d spent his childhood hunting wolves in Siberia or some such. His life sounded like one of those movie character backgrounds, the ones they ‘d showed you to explain all sorts of superhero shit that came along later.

And yeah, they had some superpowers going on right now. Nicolai most of all, he’d adapted better than any of them, except maybe Sunday. Their ‘leader’ revelled in what she was, but Nicolai was good at it.

Tori – who could’ve had any guy she wanted - seemed impressed enough with him despite the language barrier and the state of his face, sticking with him through all this. And they’d all seen what he could do to someone with the combination of a hockey stick, a face, a couple of legs and an asshole.

Not pretty. Not nearly as pretty as Tori.

“No, will you just listen? We shouldn’t be here, man.”

“What you want to do, head down to the beach? Oh no, we can’t do that can we?”

Actually, they could. At least at night. But that wasn’t what he meant. “No,” Darren said. “I mean here, in Sunnydale. We shouldn’t be here. It’s a dumb, fucking idea. I keep telling you.”

He looked to Nicolai hoping for some support that Mark couldn’t ignore. Gavin just followed his roommate around and did whatever he said. Tori was firmly with Nicolai and…

Me? I don’t want to branch out on my own, even though Sunday’s ambition didn’t seem to be much more than creating an anti-sorority of her own here on campus. We came into this together, we’re going out the same way. All for one and all that shit…

Besides, they hadn’t done badly so far. Blood. Free stuff. What was missing? But it was just luck, he was sure it was. They hadn’t attracted the wrong attention yet.

“Okay, fine. If it’ll shut you up then will you please tell me what the fucking problem is and then we can go eat?”

At mention of the word, Nicolai grunted, flicking his many times broken nose out towards the trees. Without any question they all turned, seeking whatever he’d latched onto. That there was something was in no doubt, Siberian wolf hunter, remember?

This was part of what worried him though…

“Look, we’ve already seen those military guys running around pulling all that commando shit,” he explained. “Why are we even out here? Just because some bitch who thinks she’s the boss of us wants us to bring home takeaway?”

Watching the soldier guys bring down all those creatures… It’d been like a proper military operation and the weapons looked like something out of Apocalypse Now crossed with Star Trek. Weird, weird, weird. Was he the only one that got it?

“And – thanks to your idea – we’re sticking together. It’s kept them off our backs, there are easier targets than us. So what’s your problem?” Mark asked.

“Yeah, what’s your problem?” Gavin added.

“There won’t always be easier targets,” he explained, “and besides, there’s something else. Seems like there’s some sort of vampire killer out here too. Some girl.”

“Here? Here where? Out here in the woods with us?”

“Maybe,” he said, even though he didn’t know that.

“Really?”

“Could be. I heard about - ”

“Maybe we’re following her right now?” Mark taunted his paranoia and his caution. They were strong enough to take the edge off his hunger, but that was quite considerable. “The scary little girl? Wooooh.”

“We might be, but that’s not what I mean,” Darren said. Seemed like a vampire killer would be wherever there were vampires and that – naturally – would be where there were more people. They’d come out here into the woods to try and avoid notice, but they’d also avoided people… This sniff of prey they had now was the first in a couple of days of avoiding the army guys around campus. With all the tasty freshmen… this were missing out on prime rib in a bid to pick up some roadkill no one would notice.

“Okay, Darren,” Mark stopped. “What do you mean? Perhaps you’d like to tell us all before you scare off our dinner?” His face shifted, adopting the vampire visage. A not very subtle threat.

Darren could only imagine what he looked like when he changed… No mirrors anymore. That was what had first convinced him of what he really was now… That and the blood hunger.

“We should get out of here man,” he said. “Split, get out of town and go somewhere with easier pickings. Fuck Sunday.” And her plans for campus domination.

“That’s what I’m trying to do.”

Nicolai said something in Russian, none of them got it, but he was in his vampire face as well and the teeth didn’t make him any easier to understand. He was easy to read though, frustrated with the talk and hungry. Leading them towards dinner, that was his only plan. And if the Russian wasn’t worrying then…?

“Well,” Mark said, moving off again. “Let’s at least talk about it on a full stomach. If that’s alright with you?” He didn’t wait for an answer.

“Full stomach,” Gavin said, rolling his eyes.

Darren gave the little guy a dirty look and it sent the natural coward scurrying, not that he’d ever been a big, scary guy. Not until he stopped for the hitcher who tore through all of them in the car. Sunday had fed better that night than the rest of them ever had. Tori had turned her boyfriend later… Good job, otherwise they might be going hungry tonight.

“Little shit,” he murmured past his teeth, running his tongue over the tip of his fangs. Mmm, yes… he did enjoy these though. It was difficult for him to remember now how he’d ever done without hot blood sluicing down his throat.

“First bite to the one who grabs her,” Mark said. Nicolai had loped off into a run through the trees, mimicking the animals he claimed to once have hunted.

So now they had to get there before him or there’d be nothing except for Tori. He never gave up his kills, even if he would share willingly enough if someone else grabbed the target. But if it was his… Three of them – two really as Gavin was as likely to stumble and break his ankle as to actually help – versus the Russian and his girl.

Thankfully Sunday wasn’t about to make her claim.

They hooted as they ran, appreciating the fear that it… should have inspired. Mark had it tagged right, it was clearly a woman. A young woman. His favourite, sometimes he liked to play with his food. But wasn’t that vampire killer – the ‘Slayer’ supposed to be a girl too?

The one who’d taken down the old Mayor and a bunch of badass vamps for hire at the start of the summer.

Word had it she – the Slayer - was blonde, a natural if it could be believed. This girl wasn’t blonde though so at least that wasn’t going to be a problem.

Even if the hair wasn’t the same, the brunette wasn’t running from them. She was simply stood, in a small clearing amongst the trees. Her immobility made him slow down, approach more slowly. The others were the same, until they’d formed a box around her – Gavin was still trying to catch up, of course, But even the dweeb recognised that something unusual was happening here.

Did the Slayer have to be blonde? Couldn’t she have dyed her hair? Chicks did that. Tori had done it twice since they’d all died, even though it’d never grow out.

The girl wasn’t short, but she was definitely in shape. It was easy to tell since she seemed to be wearing… Well, he didn’t know much about these things, but it was like a dress that wasn’t a dress. It only came to the middle of her thighs and wouldn’t be easy to sit down in without giving a lot away, but it was obvious that she was fit and could’ve darted off and given them quite the chase.

Nicolai would probably have preferred it.

The other thing was that young women, at least the ones who weren’t vampire slayers, didn’t generally carry bows with quivers of arrows strapped to their backs. Least he’d never run into that before.

Nor were they… well, she looked to be naked under the tunic or robe or whatever you wanted to call it. It was a cool night after all and these things could be obvious even in the shadows.

“Guys…” he said, halting.

She looked up as he spoke, meeting his eyes and they were green, so green… Green like those frogs you saw on rainforest posters. Unnaturally green… They didn’t fit her skin and hair at all. Contacts then?

Green

“You’re a fucking vampire now, man,” Mark called to him, his example making them all start to circle her, even him, with his doubts. “Grow a pair and act like it. It’s no wonder Sunday keeps threatening to hack off your balls.”

“Fuck you,” he swore easily. “This is – this is wrong.”

“Wrong now? This is life! This is death. This is what we are!”

“Isn’t it now?” Sunday asked, stepping into the clearing between them.

“Sunday?”

“Oh yes, I’ve been waiting for you clowns to make a kill. God, except for Nicky here, I have no idea what I saw in any of you. God!”

“This is our kill,” he said, knowing he’d earn himself a beating if the others didn’t back him up – and she had a good memory for shit he’d done. She’d pay out weeks or months down the line if she had to – but he was hungry now. He needed the blood now.

“Have at it boys. I already ate.”

So it was okay for her to hunt on campus then? Or had she taken someone out here too?

It was Mark who leapt first, not willing to let the bigger and stronger Nicolai claim the kill again.

It was Mark who was flung backwards without the woman even seeming to move.

Mark who was impaled on the broken branches of one of the nearby trees.

His friend who’d flown past him, close enough that Darren felt the air moving, screaming as he was propelled backwards by an unseen force.

And he wasn’t dead…

At least he wasn’t deader than he had been a moment ago… If it wasn’t the heart or the head, then there wasn’t real danger. Just pain and annoyance… A lot of pain by his groans.

It was a creaking he’d only heard in movies before that alerted Darren to the danger. Looking up he noticed the way that the woman had drawn the bow back and he was incredulous to see not one, but two arrows notched on it.

How much muscle did she need to do that?How much strength to pull back that string as she aimed and… held. Long moments passed and he knew the target was Mark.

What was she waiting for?

Gavin…

The little man was late to the party, again, but not late enough to have the sense to stay away… Darren realised what she was doing, couldn’t believe it but understood it, just as she let fly with the arrows, both in the same moment.

One pinned Gavin to another tree, entering through his shoulder and holding him there.

The other – the one that was expected to hit the point of aim - sent Mark up in a whoosh of final death combustion, his ashes smouldering as they fell to the ground.

And then those eyes turned on him and Sunday. He was about to say that they should get out of here, but… She wasn’t having that. His sire, the vampire who’d drunk his life and then brought him back, flung herself towards the woman with the bow and… she was gone before she even got halfway across the space. Another arrow drawn, notched and loosed in a split second.

With perfect accuracy at a moving target, right in the heart.

At least they were free of that bitch, though he regretted never getting his hands on her body. He could regret it later. Now if they could just make that freedom stick for long enough to get out of here.

“Run!” he cried to the others, but it was too late to influence them. They were pack and he was its most reluctant member.

Tori and Nicolai attacked at the same moment, coming at the woman from different sides.

He wasn’t sure how he knew, since he’d never laid eyes on either of them, but somehow he knew this wasn’t even the vampire killer that they’d heard about. No, they’d stumbled across something… else.

Tori fell to the ground, pushed aside with barely any effort even though the woman was smaller than her, massed less and didn’t have a demon inside her… or did she? Because this bitch was clearly just as unnatural as they were.

Nicolai… She wrapped her hand around his throat, lifting him bodily off the ground and kept walking forwards towards where she’d impaled the screaming Gavin. When a vampire screams and thrashes, when the inner demon gives voice to its rage, it was a terrible sound. One that inspired him, pulled him in.

Instinct.

What could destroy one of them could destroy any of them and though there was no such thing as an altruistic vampire, that instinct would lead them to fight alongside each other.

These were the things he knew from the classes he no longer attended now that blood and death were the only things he needed. Oh, and whatever they could loot off of the weak, lonely suckers that fell into their traps.

It shouldn’t have been possible that she could lift Nicolai, let alone hold him off the ground, but she seemed greater in size now than she had been when they first found her.

Or was it the other way around? Had she found them?

Who’d been hunting whom?

She let out a piercing whistle, just at the moment she looked Nicolai in the eye and caused the Russian to utter a blistering invective. A saliva laden litany of curse words. Darren could tell they were curses just by the way Nicolai spat them at her, even if he couldn’t understand them.

The woman did though, speaking flawless sounding Russian she calmly said… something to him, stunning Nicolai into silence.

And that was when the reasons for the whistle emerged from the undergrowth.

Not so much ‘emerged’ as appeared.

Nothing as large as either of the two hounds which stepped up to the woman’s side should’ve been able to hide in the undergrowth, or move so stealthily as to elude any of their hearing.

But he hadn’t heard them coming and Gavin’s pained, wild screams shouldn’t have been any restriction on that. They were better than that now, better than human…

Which was fine, because these weren’t just dogs.

At her side were the two hounds – large, shaggy and utterly under control as they waited. But then she gave them what they wanted, throwing Nicolai aside and jerking her head. The pair of them bounded after him, excited like he was a fresh, squeaky chew toy and Darren watched, horrified as they treated him that way. One stood with its paws on his legs, gripping Nicolai’s arm and jerking it one way and then the other while the other went for the back of his neck.

Bit.

And that was all she wrote…

The end of the big Russian in the jaws of a big dog. Even when they became vampires, who could have ever seen that coming?

The dogs looked remotely offended that their play-thing had disintegrated on them, jaws snapping at the floating ashes as those too faded away and vanished.

Silence reined for a moment, everyone was shocked. Everyone who was left… Then Gavin started struggling, trying to pull the arrow from his shoulder but it must’ve been buried deep in the tree behind him, meanwhile Tori screamed in pure rage.

Only for a bear, a fricking bear, to rear up from nowhere behind her and rip her head off in one easy move. He saw her spine, dragged up out of her torso before all of it disintegrated into ashes.

The young woman smiled munificently at the creature which returned to all four paws and rubbed up against her, seeking a scratch. Which she gave it… She was scratching a grizzly behind the ears.

What was this?

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

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 Post subject: Re: Coulda. Woulda. Shoulda - CHAPTER TWO - 09/18/12
PostPosted: Tue Sep 18, 2012 10:43 am 
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5. Willowhand
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Was that mislead at the start intentional? I thought it was just a group of Sunnydale college kids, heading out to where they shouldn't be, and that they were gonna end up on the wrong end of a pair of fangs. I was ready to feel a little bad for them, but then you revealed that they were vampires, and the whole mood shifted.

The way you described the not-quite pack mentality of a...what do we call them? A Nest? Family? House? Well, whatever is decided upon, the group dynamic was an interesting read.

There's a new player on the field, and I'm more than ready to go on this journey with you to find out more.

I've got to say, your writing of action scenes has improved since 'Sidestep'. The one isn't as descriptive or in-depth as we're used to from you, but there's this...minor shift in tone and prose that's vaguely different than the one found in your Decade Long Behemoth, and I love it. Just...guh.

Kittens will be cats, and pups will be dogs right? Meet Nicolai. A new photo will be put up when this fic's over :D

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 Post subject: Re: Coulda. Woulda. Shoulda - CHAPTER TWO - 09/18/12
PostPosted: Tue Sep 18, 2012 10:57 am 
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Faolan - Hee... Love Nicolai!! So cute. He'll probably still be cute in a year's time, but not AS cute as that. You know, someone may have to get a dog if I can work it into the fic. He may become a story mascot though Miss Kitty will be mad. Oooh, just realised I haven't accounted for Miss Kitty for a while... Hmm, a dog and a cat to deal with. Noted!

The mislead - especially when it was going to be the first chapter - would've lasted a bit longer. I actually added the reveal in during redraft otherwise it would've gone on until he prodded his fangs with his tongue.

I actually wrote this scene having forgotten all about Sunday's gang of vampires. So I had this and then... Duh, why not make them into some of the same bunch. Sunday herself was a late addition too, but it works better sometimes to minimise the role of the one character you think should be more important.

The pack mentality stuff is really credited to nature shows and Cesar Milan's Dog Whisperer especially. It's much more fun to write that way rather than 'Got to beat him to the food' and more in tune with the style of vampires I prefer from wider genre fiction and films etc. As you will recall, I refuse to accept these things can be cuddly, sparkly or anything but monsters so if they're going to be in a pack together then it has to work on some level.

The new player is one thing, but don't lose track of what just happened in this part... it has implications if you think it through (though I will spell it out later)

Action scenes... well, thanks! The main action I remember in Sidestep was the first scene like that I ever wrote and I liked it then (Tara in the club in SS1) but since then I've done a lot of stories that were less wordy than Sidestep was and become a little more efficient and concious of pacing. You will see I am still very in-depth in character moments (which is why we spend half a million words doing 44 episodes that probably equaled a 10th of that on paper when they were written LOL)

I'm off to look at that picture and make a note to work a dog in somewhere... it will happen!!

Thanks so much

Katharyn

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 Post subject: Re: Coulda. Woulda. Shoulda - CHAPTER TWO - 09/18/12
PostPosted: Tue Sep 18, 2012 2:50 pm 
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Katharyn, Don’t get me wrong.. I loved the first chapter, but this.. this was fantastic and intense. I just recently finished all three Hunger Games books (LOVED them) so I started to wonder if this was a training ground set up by the Initiative --Until the call of the wild happened. That was awesome. I’m very intrigued with the new girl. If it turns out to be who I suspect.. OMG and Hell yeah! If not, that’s cool too. I love that the characters have a little meat to them even if they get dusted in short order. LOL Excellent!!

Faolan, Nicolai is adorable!! Siberian Husky or another breed? Thanks for sharing the photo.. sooo cute!


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 Post subject: Re: Coulda. Woulda. Shoulda - CHAPTER TWO - 09/18/12
PostPosted: Tue Sep 18, 2012 7:20 pm 
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Kajun - Oh Bugger.

Yes, Brits really say that.

I got to 'Fantastic and intense' in part one? That means it's all downhill! And it's a loooooong way down the hill. LOL

Thank you though, in all seriousness! I've not actually read Hunger Games so I can't comment on the similarities that you may have spotted, though I know the premise. I also hadn't anticipated wondering about the Initiative. Cool idea, I could've spin it that way if I'd thought of it!

The question then is... What do you suspect? Of course you had a leg up on some other people because you knew something they didn't!

And yes, I need to go look at the puppy again too...

Thanks

Katharyn

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 Post subject: Re: Coulda. Woulda. Shoulda - CHAPTER TWO - 09/18/12
PostPosted: Wed Sep 19, 2012 5:24 pm 
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Wow!!!

Sorry I'm late to the party on this update. My teacher had the AUDACITY to insist that I actually pay attention in class!!!

Okay, Isn't Sunday the chick that Bitch slapped Buffy all over campus in the Freshman? If so, will the Buffster still be able to find her mojo and not be so overwhelmed? Will her prize umbrella remain unscathed?

WHO IS THIS CHICK?????

At first I thought it was Faith. Then I thought it was Dark Willow...now?....Who in the blue hell knows!!! She sounds like Xena...lol

Great Update!!!

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 Post subject: Re: Coulda. Woulda. Shoulda - CHAPTER TWO - 09/18/12
PostPosted: Wed Sep 19, 2012 5:26 pm 
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Faolan, he is sooooooooooooooooo adorable!

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 Post subject: Re: Coulda. Woulda. Shoulda - CHAPTER TWO - 09/18/12
PostPosted: Thu Sep 20, 2012 8:28 am 
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Hey Grimm - You were paying attention to something else? *shakes head*

Absolutely, you have Sunday pegged. That's who it was. The umbrella is probably safe, that's true. It's interesting how you phrase the question about the mojo though... Sounds like you're wondering if, maybe, she NEEDED to be beaten up to get into the college life and still be the Slayer. Interesting, I kind of thought maybe she needed time to get there. Both, I think, are valid but yours would've been harder to write! I guess that might reveal which way I went, but that's okay it wasn't the point... That's not the biggest thing that's changed though LOL

So who is this chick? Needless to say that is a question that will go on for a little while.

She's brunette, I mentioned that much. Which meant it COULD have been Faith (I didn't steal Xena! Even though I acknowledged the show in the foreword!) There is no Willow other than our Willow and Vamp Willow though (and it's not VW either!) This story ends in S5. I don't touch S6 or anything from it with a bargepole unless it comes up in S4/5 directly. So... not her either.

Guess you don't know who she is yet - but you don't have the info so that's fine :)

In terms of description, I forget how much you've had already and what I am remembering from redrafting later parts, but in general she's slight of build even though she appears bigger at certain points to those about to become a victim LOL. It's my fault for using 'Amazonian' at one point...

Not Xena!

Thanks for letting me tease... you're great at that LOL

Next part tomorrow.

Katharyn

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 Post subject: Re: Coulda. Woulda. Shoulda - CHAPTER TWO - 09/18/12
PostPosted: Thu Sep 20, 2012 2:20 pm 
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Hmmmmmmm.

So, is it an original character? If not, You have me stumped ( nothing new).

Unless.....is it the soul sucking roomate?...lol

ps. It's tomorrow somewhere. Update!!!!

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 Post subject: Re: Coulda. Woulda. Shoulda - CHAPTER TWO - 09/18/12
PostPosted: Fri Sep 21, 2012 7:23 am 
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I wouldn't say 'Original' exactly...

You're likely stumped... and no, it's not Kathy. Cher and hunting vampires with bows? Eeek.

And yes, it's tomorrow somewhere so I'm actually late for the Aussies and Kiwis... damn.

New part coming up in the next few minutes.

Thanks
Katharyn

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 Post subject: Re: Coulda. Woulda. Shoulda - CHAPTER THREE - 09/21/12
PostPosted: Fri Sep 21, 2012 7:28 am 
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Title: Tara and Willow – Coulda, Woulda, Shoulda – Chapter Three
Author: Katharyn Rosser
Feedback: Absolutely, yes please. That’s why I write for this place, to engage in the discussion about the story.
Spoiler warning: Not sure why I am bothering, really, but Season 4 and Season 5 of BTVS.
Distribution: This story was written for Pens. Pens is its home. No archiving off Different Coloured Pens and the Kitten Board please. No conversion to eBook or other formats please. Enjoy it here.
Summary: Our first introductions to Tara and – separately – to Willow and Buffy up at the start of season 4 and the first semester of college. This part occurs just after the events of Chapter 2.
Disclaimer: I don’t own any of the copyrights or anything else associated with BTVS. All rights lie with the production company, writers etc. I am making no money from this series of stories however all original characters and situations remain my property. As this is a missing scenes and alternate reality fiction lots of scenes are new versions of those seen in the show, as such dialogue and situations are taken from the show. I’m sure you can tell which. All credit for those aspects go to the original writers.
Rating: Occasional, tasteful, adult situations and contextual bad language. However by and large equivalent to the show.
Couples: Tara and Willow forever, that’s all I’m bothered about.
Text convention: Use of italics denotes either special emphasis if used for a single or a few words in a sentence OR first person thoughts if used for a whole sentence.
Notes: So I already screwed up my numbering… This was originally chapter 2 and 3 but thankfully I wised up and realised that a chapter of only 900 words would equal Chapter LOTS by the end… Hopefully I remember to make a minus one adjustment all the way through!
We’re back with Tara and Willow, but they’ve not yet met. Nor are they even aware of each other. They’re just arrived in college and are getting used to that. Tara – being alone – is branching out into societies and the like much earlier than Willow so, as we open, this is the first Wicca Group of the year. I make no further apology for having no idea how a Wicca Group should operate.
Oh and this is not long after the events of Chapter Two.



“Welcome, one. Welcome, all.”

A few of the others returned the greeting and exchanged them with their neighbours, but the girls sitting next to Tara seemed distracted so she didn’t bother them by speaking. Or trying to.

Clearly they hadn’t expected to be sitting on the floor either. One was tugging at the back of her jeans which were riding embarrassingly low while the other had a skirt that wasn’t exactly made for the pose she needed to adopt with her legs crossed.

Tara didn’t mind it, she’d been sitting on the floor for what seemed like her whole life. It was good down here, you could look up and no one minded if you shifted around. There was no chair to squeak and it didn’t have to be dirty if you’d done your chores right and kept the floor clean…

Looking around though, this place could’ve done with a bit of a clean. But she wasn’t going to say anything. It’d just be… rude.

“Welcome, sisters,” Eliza added, putting great emphasis on that last word.

Tara beamed even if no one could see it behind her hair, she’d always wanted a ‘sister’. Always, as long as she could remember, a sister was what she’d wanted. Of course she - somewhat dutifully - loved Donny but… Now she was away, she could admit that her brother had spent most of their childhoods as her bully who loved nothing more than getting her into trouble.

He’d have loved catching her here too. He’d have been half way home to Daddy by now, to tell on her. Even though they hadn’t done anything yet. The name was enough.

A sister would’ve been different, she was sure.

Later, after Momma had passed, she’d looked to girlfriends to be her sisters only to find that she needed to redefine the term ‘girlfriend’… Self-awareness, and an uptick in her speech problem had – unfortunately – combined with the start of High School and made her even more shy and awkward than she already had been. Knowing what lurked within her.

There’d been no ‘sisters’ at High School, though to witness what went on there she had to wonder whether sisters could still be as spiteful as brothers?

Now though, here, she was free. Here she was able to make her own mistakes, win her own successes. Donny couldn’t sabotage her friendships. Daddy couldn’t keep people at bay when he was worried that maybe she’d be an early bloomer in her heritage as much as she had been in ‘becoming a woman.’ She really did understand his concerns – had done even back then - but it’d hurt her too… He hadn’t liked anyone to get too close, even if it was for her own good.

But he had let her come to college and she clung to that. Even when she – whisper it – felt like hating him, she clung to the fact that if he hadn’t loved her he’d never have let her come here. Never in a million years. Grandpa would’ve died before letting her leave town, let alone come to California.

Daddy wanted her to have what Mamma never had, a chance at a life before… Well, just before.

And – right now – she chose to think of that as a chance at sisters.

He’d be aghast, of course, to know she was here but this was one, minor act of rebellion that Tara thought perhaps Momma would’ve approved of. Lillian Maclay had been a powerful woman, though that had been the problem really, what with the source of that power and all… But what she’d believed?

It’d be good to pick that heritage up where Mamma had left off.

All in all, this was one of the things she’d been looking forward to the most about coming here. Even if she had ripped the page which mentioned the Wicca Group out of the college handbook they’d sent her before Daddy saw it.

And the leader, Eliza, was a senior, so she was looking forwards to what the girl was going to be able to teach her. After a couple of years of meetings she must have something to share.

“First of all, I’m so sorry that we took this long to meet. You wouldn’t believe the problems I had getting some candles the right colour, but aren’t they just wonderful?” Eliza swept her hand, gesturing to the light sources that seemed to be gently scented.

In the face of that enthusiasm, everyone had to agree that they were wonderful and Tara said so too, finding it awkward when it was her voice that was left as quiet descended again and Eliza was ready to carry on. “S-sorry,” she whispered.

“Well, everyone, we can’t very well go on not knowing each other’s names! Some of you might already know each other, but I want you to break into twos. We’re going to introduce each other to the circle after a five minute conversation with each other. So if you could just break into pairs and get on with that? I’ll pass around a signing in sheet too, if you can leave your hall and room number I’ll get you all added to the database and we’ll see about sending you some of those electronic mails as well…”

People had already started to split into pairs. There was one obvious couple in the group, they’d come in all over each other and sat all but holding hands too. Tara had been sneaking appreciative glimpses at their togetherness, but had gotten caught doing it and then been scowled at.

Maybe the girl whose eyes she’d met had though she was checking her girlfriend out… Not at all. Neither of them was really her type – even though ‘her type’ had been a strictly theoretical thing for the last couple of years – but they hadn’t actually made it seem like she’d be welcome to chat so… she hadn’t.

Maybe I get to have a type now too?

Another pair weren’t girlfriends like that, but definitely had turned up together as friends. They sat facing each other too. Tara did wonder, briefly, about suggesting to either of those pairs that maybe they should talk to someone else – not her if they didn’t want to – so that they got to start to know another member of the group. But… I’d seemed a bit presumptuous and that wasn’t really who she was.

What she realised as the other eight people – including Eliza – merged into pairs was that there was actually an odd number of people here – thirteen of all the luck – and that she was the odd one out.

Nothing new there then…

Eliza could count too and looked over to her, smiling. Tara returned it, thinking it was nice of her to smile like that. “What’s your name?”

“T-Tara,” she said. “M-my name’s Tara.”

And the smile flickered, faded and was replaced one that wasn’t quite so genuine. A momentary lapse before a mask slipped into place. It seemed like, in that moment, Eliza had decided not to come over to her to go through the exercise, but instead to find another way.

Just because my voice let me down? Again?

“You won’t mind just introducing yourself, will you, Tara? What with their being an odd number and all?”

“N-no… I d-don’t mind at all.”

She lowered her head, thankful for the long hair, and tried to think about what she should say to the group.

Her sisters.

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

“You know, you do know, right?”

“I know, Will,” Buffy promised her.

“How do you know?” Willow wondered. “You’re an only child, like me. How do you know? How can any of us know?”

“Will, seriously, you’re not being unreasonable to ask your roommate to keep the noise down after, I don’t know… say, ten?”

“One would be good,” Willow said. “I could live with one, if it was one I’d be all happy clappy in the morning and say ‘thank you for only playing your music until one a.m.’. It’s only years of hanging out in graveyards with you that’s allowing me to function at all.”

One would be really, really good…

“Even fifty percent functional Willow is better than one hundred percent moi,” Buffy pointed out.

“Fifty percent functional was a few days ago,” Willow said, stifling a yawn. She’d finally reached that point, just before they came out walking, that she’d almost been reduced to tears. The frustration of not being able to close her eyes and just sleep was strangely intense.

So a call to the Buffster and a late night walk out into the wilds of Sunnydale seemed positively appealing. It was like… it was like old times. Even if old times hadn’t been that long ago.

Old times had been just last week.

Everything just felt… different now. Up until graduation – and nobody else’s’ graduation was quite like a Sunnydale High graduation - she’d understood what and who they all were. Now… Summer had been one of those times when everything seemed to change. And until her roommate had been proven to be able to exist on three hours of sleep from five to eight a.m. – and lots of caffeine - it’d been tough to see how any of college life was bad.

Just… different.

“Poor Willow, reduced to Buffy standards.”

“Hey!” Was it really that bad?

“Hey yourself,” Buffy said, grinning. “I missed you during the summer, you know?”

“I missed you too, but it’s good to know that some things never change. There’ll always be a need for us to do this right?”

“Escape your insomniac roommate? I do mean insomniac, don’t I?”

“You do, but I’m the insomniac, she’s the one who’s keeping me awake. Like a dripping tap. But louder. And not so wet. Well, usually not so wet.”

“That’s college for you. Bet you never thought a girl would be keeping you up all night?”

“It’s a phase, I hope. Experimentation.”

“Experimentation with sleep deprivation, you could probably find someone here to write a paper. Maybe you’ll turn out to be an insomniac until graduation?”

“I don’t know if Debbie will survive the week if she doesn’t – AHH! I wasn’t going to say her name or anything and you made me do it anyway!”

Buffy shook her head, denying it absolutely. “I can’t make the Willster do anything she doesn’t want to, this is a well-known fact. I think it may even be in books.”

“More than one book?” Willow checked.

“You’re worth more than one.”

Willow rolled her eyes. and slipped her arm through her friends, knowing full well that Buffy was going to get a little shy about it and need to be led. “So, talking of books… What about you and this TA you ran into from psych?”

“Nothing to tell. Except, you know, that he likes books. He wants me to have read books too. Books that are on a list and… wasn’t this course supposed to be a ‘buy one book, get the credit free’ sort of thing? Didn’t you tell me that?”

“I hate to burst your bubble there, academia girl, I don’t think it works that way anymore,” Willow revealed. “I just said it’d be fun.”

“Not even if the book was written by the Professor?”

“Not even…”

“Gah!” Buffy’s cry disturbed something in the undergrowth, but since it didn’t have a lust for blood and pointy teeth they really weren’t too bothered. “This was supposed to be my sure fire credit, you know? The one-oh-one that put the one-oh-oh into my grades?”

“You should stop putting yourself down,” Willow said. “You, Buffy Summers, got into college. And now here you are.”

“You make it sound like a miracle,” Buffy said, pulling her closer and keeping her tone light.

“Well, when most people were studying, you were off saving the world and blowing up our high school. I think that’s pretty special. Not like scholarship special, but… special.”

“I blew up the school – no, we blew up the school – after I’d already graduated,” Buffy pointed out.

Willow waved it off. Buffy did have a right to be proud of getting through high school. Doing so alive was a miracle in itself, she was – Giles said – the longest lived Slayer in… well, practically forever. So when you looked at it from that point of view, was it such a bad thing to have maybe struggled a little with your grades for college?

“Right now you could’ve been flipping burgers for an ungrateful world,” Willow said. “Instead you’re here.”

“We’re here,” Buffy reminded her. “All of us.”

“It’s…It’s not the same though,” Willow said as they walked. She’d let that last point hang for a good few paces, thinking about it.

“What’s not?”

“Anything.”

“Well, you found some fashion sense somewhere,” Buffy said. “That’s different.”

“Hey!” Willow was secretly pleased to be told that though. It was like… Once she stopped letting her Mom shop for her, once she just applied herself to digging through the bargains and – yes – some full price stores, then Willow Rosenberg could be a pretty hip chick. That and the hair… People who’d not known her before would never know what they’d missed.

“Look at me,” Buffy said. “I’m practically the same girl I was in high school.”

“We’re calling it ‘the smouldering hole in the ground’ now… Or SHIG for short. We were looking for a ‘T’ to end on, but ‘G’ was the best we could come up with.”

“You’re never going to let me live that down, are you?”

“No matter what you do with your life,” Willow said, “you’ll always be the girl who blew up her High School on graduation. Even if there was a good reason, that will be what everyone there remembers.

“And – you know – that you saved them more times than they know how to count. But mostly the explosion, that’s just how people are. I bet someone said that about you in the year book. ‘Girl most likely to come back and blow the school up.’”

“Willow Rosenberg, student of the people.”

“It’s what I do,” Willow said then broke off as she realised that there was a vampire running towards them. It seemed kind of odd, but not unusual. “You want I should - ”

“I got it,” Buffy said, brushing the occurrence off. They were patrolling after all. “You can think of a quip if you like though.”

“You’re quipless?”

“I don’t know… I’m just not feeling them like I used to.”

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

The vampire who had once been Darren Carpenter had been running for what seemed like forever.

And that was exactly what she wanted.

Having watched her, her dogs and a bear – a fricking bear – rip his friends apart there’d only been him and Gavin left. Okay, Gavin had never really been his friend and they were vampires now… But he remembered being friends with Mark at least and they’d all hunted together.

Killed together…

Been virtual slaves to the late – and unmissed - Sunday since she’d turned them.

Now he was the one who was being hunted.

“I would have you run”, the strange woman had said, not in any language he knew, but somehow the words just… made sense in his head.

By that point he’d been more than happy to oblige, but perhaps he should’ve stood his ground because she’d been following and hunting him for miles now.

Sounds went through his head. Not his breathe – which was unnecessary anyway – not the breaking of the twigs and branches under his feet. Not his own moans of protest as he was cut and grazed by the undergrowth and the falls he’d made along the way.

Three, four miles. At least. If he hadn’t already been dead he’d never have made it this far. But as a vampire he didn’t tire…

And she appreciated it that way, he could tell. He was being guided, led and prevented from going anywhere but where she wanted him to. Every so often an arrow would graze him, his ear had been split by just such an event when he’d stopped, paused to consider his options.

The point had been simple enough. He had no options. He had to run.

She hadn’t missed him with those arrows, she’d achieved exactly what she wanted to.

The sounds though…

Wild animals beyond those on his heels, shepherding him by nipping at him. Not the bear… Cries of apes and the whinny of horses. The sounds of horns and packs of dogs, not just these two. The roar of terrible things and the screech of eagles. Everything he’d ever seen on TV and more that had never been seen there… In his head, not going away. Chasing him down as surely as she was.

I should’ve stood my ground…

But he’d watched her butcher Gavin, slicing pieces off him with a worn knife without threatening his final death. Tossing the pieces to the hungry hounds while the most unworthy member of Sunday’s nest cried in his pain and fear. Some fucking vampire he was... Snapping at her, unable to reach her. Unable to hurt her, Gavin had finally – towards the end – found the demon inside…

Too late.

All she’d done to finish him was to pluck the arrow free, returning it to her quiver and then shoving him against the tree he’d been secured to. A stump pierced his heart and… that was that.

It was then she’d told him to run…

I should’ve stayed, I should’ve fought her.

At least then she wouldn’t be getting what she wanted. It was that which really stuck in his craw, giving her what she wanted.

He looked back at her when he had chance, when she let him change direction and those hounds didn’t correct him like an errant member of their pack…

Dying was one thing, he’d already done that. But being eaten alive by those things… It was horrific, even after all the things they’d done to others. To their prey.

He crashed through the brush, his clothes had been shredded, his skin too. Her… she moved easily, faster than he was but not even appearing to be trying. The undergrowth never touched her, she moved so fluidly and with such awareness that she didn’t have a scratch on her despite bare arms, feet and legs. Her robe or tunic, whatever that was, wasn’t marked at all either...

Just as he emerged out of the woodland and into what looked like a park, it finally crossed his mind that she couldn’t be human. She wasn’t even sweating…

The dogs and the bear should’ve been an earlier clue.

What the hell was she – it? And what did she want with him?

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

“Will, come on! Quip me!”

The vampire was bearing down on them, but it seemed more worried about whatever was behind it than the Slayer that was actually in front of it. Strange behaviour, even if they thought they were no more than a meal.

“Buffy - ”

“Willow, you’re going to leave me… unfulfilled?” Buffy had her stake in hand and, with the vampire running unheedingly in their direction, there was little she needed to do other than wait…

Meanwhile Willow was looking off into the distance, trying to spot whatever the demon was running away from. Most of them didn’t even get the chance to run away from Buffy, but this one had come out of the woods and looked… a mess already.

“Umm, ‘it’s a far better thing I do than I have ever done before’?”

“What the hell is that?”

“It just popped into my head.”

“Try again?” Buffy pleaded, sounding quite disturbed by the fact that she couldn’t come with anything herself.

“Try… ‘You look like you need a break!’”

“Kinda lame,” Buffy said, but by that point the vampire was right there. And it didn’t stop for anything.

Still Willow couldn’t see anything back there, it was convinced there was something chasing it, so there must’ve been. Right? Just look at the way it was running.

“I’m sorry, you know how I am with off the cuff speeches. I’m not the quippy type – watch out!”

By sheer luck the vampire took Buffy out, changing direction at the last second and barrelling into her. More nimbly than she usually managed, Willow managed to avoid the flailing limbs of the Buffampire combo.

“Out of the – oof – way,” it demanded.

It wasn’t even going to try and bite them? It might’ve forgotten how to behave like a spawn of Hell, but – summer notwithstanding – Buffy had remembered her part in all this. Only briefly wrestling with the creature, she quickly had the upper hand and lifted the stake only to hesitate.

“What?” Willow wondered when she realised Buffy was waiting for her.

“Last chance…”

“Okay, okay… ‘I stab therefore you aren’t’.”

“Very academic,” Buffy said. “I like it. You hear that dead-boy? I stab therefore you… aren’t.”

Helping Buffy up, Willow was still paying attention to the treeline while her friend dusted herself off.

“Not bad.”

“Sorry it took me a while.”

“I know, that’s not your thing. Spontaneity and all,” Buffy said.

“I can be spontaneous.” She felt like she ought to defend herself. “What do you think he was running away from?”

Buffy shrugged. “Whatever. And anyway you and spontaneity? Tell me, Will, just how long did you spend deciding on your new wardrobe before you got to the store?”

“That’s not fair.”

“You had it all researched didn’t you? Come on, admit it. It’s nothing to be ashamed of. You’re a planner and it’s got us out of plenty of scrapes. It’s good that you’re a planner, you’re a planner and I just… do stuff. It works. We like, average each other out.”

“There you go again, sounding like my girlfriend.”

“I wonder what Oz would have to say about that?” Buffy asked, linking arms with her again.

“Probably not much, you might not have noticed, but he’s not prone to stringing many words together.”

“I had noticed that. It’s a great guy quality when you’re a talker,” Buffy said.

“Or a babbler.”

“Definitely, now come on, how much research for the clothes?”

“Total or elapsed time?” Willow asked, making her friend groan.


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

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 Post subject: Re: Coulda. Woulda. Shoulda - CHAPTER THREE - 09/21/12
PostPosted: Fri Sep 21, 2012 10:25 am 
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I've told you before I think, but your dialogue is fantastic. It's very easy to venture too far into the wacky, Sunnydale-esque vernacular, and it's also way too easy for dialogue to come off as stiff, too serious, and without the fun bounct undertone that we all know and love. You don't have this problem. For instance, your Buffy and Willow, you can actually feel the friendship between them.

My brain is twisting itself to try and figure out what's up with beast mistress over there. Like, Buffyverse mythos and real world stuff too. Is it Fred, who has tanked her way out of Pylea? Is it some sort of hunt goddess? Is she one of the Fairie folk? The large hounds and trumpets make me feel like it's one of the latter two.

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 Post subject: Re: Coulda. Woulda. Shoulda - CHAPTER THREE - 09/21/12
PostPosted: Fri Sep 21, 2012 11:47 am 
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Katharyn, Grr.. those wicca-wannabes really piss me off. It’s sad that Tara is so desperate for a connection with someone (a sister) that she would put up with being treated like she didn’t matter. Sadder still.. that she is used to it.

Quote:
“That’s college for you. Bet you never thought a girl would be keeping you up all night?”


Priceless.. Glad I wasn’t drinking anything while reading this. LOL

So the mystery chick is driving the vampires to Buffy? Or was that just a happy coincidence and she was actually steering him toward the dudes in camouflage? I’m leaning towards Buffy. Not gonna say who my guess is. I remember the vast number of wrong theories I had during your last fic! This time, I can claim to be right all along and no one will be the wiser -Hahaha!

Oh, also digging that we get into the vampires head a bit. I really like that added layer. Well done.

It feels like this is a real BTVS episode.. back when the show was really good, you know? Love it and anxious for the next part!!


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 Post subject: Re: Coulda. Woulda. Shoulda - CHAPTER THREE - 09/21/12
PostPosted: Fri Sep 21, 2012 7:32 pm 
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I hate the Wicca-biyatches already.

MY poor Tara. Soon enough, she will realize that she doesn't need that pack of silly little girls. It will be soon right?...lol

Okay, the plot thickens with Grizzly-etta Adams. Why wasn't Willow able to see her or her wild kingdom? Why is she forcing the Vamps in to Buffy's (or is it Willow's?) path?

Quite a bit of innuendo in the banter between Willow and Buffy. Is your Willow blissfully ignorant about the variation in her orientation?

Bless Tara's heart. She will find that she most DEFINITELY has a type.

More, more, more!!!!!!

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 Post subject: Re: Coulda. Woulda. Shoulda - CHAPTER THREE - 09/21/12
PostPosted: Sat Sep 22, 2012 4:44 am 
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Hey, thank you all for your support. Makes me glad that there's some people commenting, it'd be a long, lonely haul through the end without you!

Faolan - Well, thanks for the compliment. Dialogue is something I enjoy, I naturally come by innuendo (more on that below) but the dialogue tends to take me a while to get to. Mostly the first draft covers the point I want it to. The redraft moves it towards the right kind of voice and makes it a little less 'English' (I must write Giles okay, because he is my default!). The final read through before posting is when I think I just touch up the dialogue to make it just feel right.

You're definitely correct on what can go wrong. Like I said, I default to grammatically correct English (or my own bad English) but this show was ten years ago. It'd be easy to look very dated (or incorrect) trying to go back to that time.

As for the beast mistress, (good name!)... It's certainly not Fred. Though... cool idea :)

Did I mention trumpets? Oh, I remember now... Umm, yeah... that was me getting a bit over excited LOL

Thanks

Kajun - The Wicca Group will certainly change, I can promise you that... It's interesting, as I said many times, what readers take from the story versus what was intended. In part I think it's because we're all so protective of Tara (especially) but I wasn't really trying to make you sorry for her. Honestly, I was just looking at contrasting who she is versus who she can be. But, totally get it.

Everyone's talking about the innuendo and you quote one line there and there's that whole 'wet' reference too. I think that I would explain it away as a little foreshadowing. I think, also, Buffy is probably aware of Willow's thoughts regarding her vampire self from when they met. She'd be more bothered about the evil and the skanky parts (Willow I mean) but since she'd not evil or skanky, there's probably a little good natured ribbing about the gay part.

The mystery chick... I can't say, it's a mystery. But one that doesn't run for too long. Something you have to be aware of in this fic (due to limiting the perspective to T/W without making them the 'driving force of the plot') is that sometimes things happen that's nothing to do with them. They may also only find things out later. So... I wasn't intending for the vampire to be 'driven towards them.' Just... driven. Hunted. A good run for her.

It feels like a BTVS episode? Hmm. See, shortly we'll slow down and get more into the girls and lose some of that. Though the episode focus will definitely resume later on.

But so glad you're enjoying it. Thanks.

Grimm - LOL, yeah, okay, I made you all hate the Wicca bitches... They'll get better though - as a group.

When you say 'My poor Tara' you're definitely proving what I said above. We all are so sensitive about her. But she'll still be in Wicca Group through Hush at least... because, umm, Hush. It's how they meet!! Not changing that.

Grizzly-etta Adams? LOL. Okay... I can see I need to give this character a name. But... I can't, you'd all start out-thinking me! See above for what I said about the 'driving towards them' though... The rest of the world does still happen around them :)

Innuendo? Oh. I know. Isn't it fun? And I haven't even brought in Anya yet. Oh, wait, Anya doesn't do innuendo.

More is coming, of course... Probably tomorrow - a day early...

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 Post subject: Re: Coulda. Woulda. Shoulda - CHAPTER THREE - 09/21/12
PostPosted: Sat Sep 22, 2012 12:31 pm 
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Quote:
"average each other out" ... "sound like my girlfriend"


This Buffy-Willow chit-chat reminds me of how I once described Willow and Tara's personalities, "One goes out where the other goes in." (Well, then I made a dumb rhyme but still....)

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 Post subject: Re: Coulda. Woulda. Shoulda - CHAPTER THREE - 09/21/12
PostPosted: Sat Sep 22, 2012 2:31 pm 
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Quote:
sometimes things happen that's nothing to do with them.


Haha, one of my favorite fics did this. It was an AU where Buffy died season 1, starting at S4 where Faith and Willow are best friends/dorm mates. Many things different, including Willow's easier time coming out about Tara, etc. But my favorite moments was at the end of the 'season', they come across the flattened Lowell house and go, "....I think we missed something huge this year."

In the meantime, I'm going to keep tossing out weirdo theories, so whatever you can come up with won't suprise me as much xD

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 Post subject: Re: Coulda. Woulda. Shoulda - CHAPTER THREE - 09/21/12
PostPosted: Sat Sep 22, 2012 8:01 pm 
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Daddycatalso - Doesn't mean I'll be consistent or do it all the way through, but I like to this is just how people get to be when they've been around each other long enough (though I may just be weird.) Also, I don't like admitting it but... I had fun writing Buffy and Willow. Or Willow and Anya. Or Anya and just about anyone else.

I didn't want to - I'd spent years writing a story where I killed or wiped them out of existence to focus on the girls and other character (often I created) but... There is definitely something nice about returning home to these guys. On the other hand it's also a huge challenge having them all here and all needing some sort of story attention. Quite often I would find myself writing a scene, needing a line from Anya and then just adding it, not realising I hadn't even mentioned if she was there! Kind of works in the Magic Box, but not many other places!

Anyway, I'm rambling... thanks for reading on :)

Faolan - Please keep going with the wild theories. Not only are they fun and give me time to tease, but actually I end up stealing ideas and changing the future LOL

There's something else - aside from 'sometimes things happen that aren't to do with them' - that will come into play in this fic. And that's:

Sometimes you just leave well enough alone.

Not every so-called problem needs an immediate solution. Not if it's not really a problem...

They'll just have trouble deciding what's a problem. Or what to do about it if it is.

Thanks.

Another post later today

Katharyn

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 Post subject: Re: Coulda. Woulda. Shoulda - CHAPTER FOUR - 09/23/12
PostPosted: Sun Sep 23, 2012 9:27 am 
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Title: Tara and Willow – Coulda, Woulda, Shoulda – Chapter Four
Author: Katharyn Rosser
Feedback: Absolutely, yes please. That’s why I write for this place, to engage in the discussion about the story.
Spoiler warning: Not sure why I am bothering, really, but Season 4 and Season 5 of BTVS.
Distribution: This story was written for Pens. Pens is its home. No archiving off Different Coloured Pens and the Kitten Board please. No conversion to eBook or other formats please. Enjoy it here.
Summary: Still the same night… Introducing another character… This is the way this story goes, we’re just working through the season so while some events – especially at the start – are familiar – who Tara was back at the start of the season interests me a lot and I wanted to get this in early.
Disclaimer: I don’t own any of the copyrights or anything else associated with BTVS. All rights lie with the production company, writers etc. I am making no money from this series of stories however all original characters and situations remain my property. As this is a missing scenes and alternate reality fiction lots of scenes are new versions of those seen in the show, as such dialogue and situations are taken from the show. I’m sure you can tell which. All credit for those aspects goes to the original writers.
Rating: Occasional, tasteful, adult situations and contextual bad language. However by and large equivalent to the show.
Couples: Tara and Willow forever, that’s all I’m bothered about.
Text convention: Use of italics denotes either special emphasis if used for a single or a few words in a sentence OR first person thoughts if used for a whole sentence.
Notes: Yup, more short parts I’ve consolidated into one longer one, which affects how they flow just a little and we might have some mini-climaxes along the way when that happened (no, nothing dirty!)
Once I got a little deeper into the fic this stopped happening, I only chaptered after about 2500 to 3500 words. But at the start, I wasn’t sure how I’d be structuring it so apologies for that.
Yes, as in the last chapter Oz is mentioned here as Willow’s current boyfriend. Don’t even tell me about it. Please see the lengthy disclaimer at the start of the thread and the events of Chapter One which establish that by the end this will not be the case.
Oh, Tara and the Wicca Bi-yatches (as someone put it), yeah, they’re not that welcoming but what I am trying to get to here too is that some of this Tara does to herself. I know that I do, in real life. You have a clean slate with people and you often bring your history to the table and spoil it before it starts. Also though, it’s just Tara’s perspective, not an objective truth…
Thanks to: If something in this story sounds cool, especially dialogue, then the chances are I lifted it (or just sub-consciously brought it over) from the canon episodes. So thanks to the talented people who wrote those. Basically we’ve all been copying that style since the episodes aired and what I hate about that – after 10 years not watching the show – is that I really can’t say where it’s happening and where it isn’t so I can’t be specific about it. This was why original writing was just so much easier LOL.



“So once again everyone, thank you, thank you all for coming. Blessings on all of us. I know we didn’t get around to much at the last meeting, but we’ve always run this group primarily as friends and I think it’s important to get to know each other. And when we next get together, we’ll start to explore what it is to be a Wiccan in the modern world.”

Eliza’s blessing rounded off the meeting and then – as often happened – people formed little clusters.

Tara had seen that sort of thing plenty of times before, from the outside. By now she was quite adept at judging where it was going to happen and avoiding getting in the way. Who wanted an awkward girl getting in the way, it wasn’t exactly fair was it?

Awkward girls should just keep to themselves, it was what they were good at. Her too.

The two girls who were obviously together, they’d been sneering their way through everything after the introductions. They wouldn’t be back, actually they looked like they had better things to be doing – with each other - right now. They didn’t hang around any longer than it took to chat to the two friends who’d also arrived together, spreading their negative feelings and promising to meet up later. Somewhere else. So there wasn’t much chance those two would come back either.

That left another eight, a group of three and one of five. Eliza, clearly, was at the heart of the larger group and the other three, realising they were out in the cold moved to get closer to her. Nothing new there then.

She supposed that there’d be new people coming along in the coming weeks as people found their feet in college and started to look around at what was on offer. Though there’d been a delay at the start of the semester, it was only now that people in her dorm were really looking around at what else they could do but study.

Not that she thought any of them would come here.

But it’d be nice, when the numbers went up. And once they were out of the introductions, then they’d get meetings where the existing members from the last couple of years intake came along too.

Reassured by those thoughts she pushed her notebook into her bag, ready to leave. She’d only brought the book because she’d thought that maybe there’d be some spells to write down. Maybe next time though, maybe she’d want to take notes about being a Wiccan in the modern world. That sounded like it might be interesting too – she wasn’t here just for the magic.

It didn’t really bother her that no one really said anything, though there were a couple of half-hearted waves. No one was going to talk to her, not unless she went up to them and she was hardly going to do that. Not that she blamed them, introducing herself had been a little disaster all of its own. Better, perhaps, than introducing someone else and messing that up but…

Maybe they’d understood that actually she didn’t do the talking thing all that much. A couple of people had looked like they were taking pity on her and she wasn’t the only one who’d stumbled on her words but… She could tell that most of the others talked all the time. Most people did. It just wasn’t her thing. She was comfortable in silence.

Plus she liked to think that when she had something really important to say then everything would just come together and the words would no longer elude her. It was often the way. Until then though, quietly was the way to move through life.

“Bye, Lara,” Eliza said as she walked past the group, leaving the rest of them there to finish off. Okay, she felt a little guilty leaving them to clean up, but she didn’t want anyone to feel like that had to make small talk to her either.

“B-bye.”

Okay, so Eliza hadn’t quite remembered her name but, it was close and her handwriting on the badge wasn’t the best and she had made a mess of her introduction last time. So it really wasn’t Eliza’s fault. Just because she wished it was different, didn’t mean that it should be.

The worst thing ever was when she couldn’t quite get her own name out. Soooo embarrassing.

Not living in the past though was something she’d gotten good at. She’d wallowed in her grief over Momma for so long that she’d lost some of those friends who’d still been with her. It’d been mostly her own fault when they just stopped calling. Now… she was looking forwards.

New people, new opportunities and new friends.

She’d worked towards college when it was something that the family couldn’t really afford. Especially given what was going to happen down the line…

Now she was here and this was one more chance to get out, meet new people and… have them laugh at her?

Not out loud - at least not many of them - and she tried very hard not to show that she’d even noticed when she’d faltered for the third time, but of course she was used to spotting the signs of her own vocal irregularities.

People could be cruel, but it only hurt the most if you let it get to you and – at the end of the day – they were mostly showing themselves up for what they were. Pretty girls, many of them, who’d never quite fitted in at school and now they were in college, excluded from the sororities, started to behave like the girls who’d looked down at them had.

After all, cheerleader types didn’t end up at Wicca Group.

It made them feel better about themselves and their empty little lives and she wasn’t about to take that away from them.

Hmm, where had all that come from?

“I-I’m sorry,” Tara said, just avoiding walking into someone. Daddy would’ve told her not to look at her feet. But Daddy wouldn’t have wanted in this room at all.

“I’d consider it a favour if you’d hold for a moment?”

The voice was… strange, female and young but… not quite what it should’ve been. It was like there was some sort of buzzing in her head when… “Umm – hold what – I m-mean, yes?”

“Would you know if this is the temple of Diana?”

“N-no,” Tara replied, surprised at the question. “It’s a school, a college.”

“A place of learning,” the young woman said. “I know these words.”

Finally looking up, she noted the bare feet and the long, taut and bare legs. “Are-are you alright? Are you a student here?” she asked. If there was a problem with security then she ought to say something to someone, but if this girl was in trouble – mostly you were in trouble if you’d lost your shoes – but…

Meeting her eyes though, they were so green that you could lose yourself in them and not in a good way. Not in a way you’d ever want to. It’d be more like… drowning.

“I seek the temple of Diana.”

“There’s no temple here,” Tara said. “This was the Wicca Group – but it’s finished now – Wait. D-Diana? Do you mean the Goddess? That Diana?” It’d suddenly occurred to what the girl might’ve meant.

“The Goddess… yes. Do you worship her?”

The buzzing was still there and it seemed more excited, like bees that had been aggravated. Something just felt… Something felt ‘off’ about all this. Off enough that she knew she ought to listen to her instincts which were to admit everything. Say whatever you have to. But tell the truth.

“I’m a believer,” Tara found herself saying.

“And your mother before you and hers before that…” the woman said, looking into her eyes.

“H-How did you know?” Were those green eyes sucking the truth from her somehow?

“A guess, no more. Do you leave immediately?”

“Yes, I – I have to go. Now.” It wasn’t the buzzing that was making her feel uncomfortable.

“The others, in there. Do they also believe?” the woman asked.

“Are you sure you’re okay?” This girl was behaving very strangely and speaking… oddly too. She looked like she’d lost most of her clothes and her shoes, could she have been attacked? “Would you like me to get someone?”

She didn’t look like she’d let herself be attacked. So where were her shoes? The rest of her clothes?

The girl smiled, running one hand around the door Tara had just come through. “Thanks to you, but no. I am quite well. It might be that we will meet again.”

“I – That would be n-nice,” she said as the woman slipped by her into the meeting room.

Okay, so if she’d not been hurt then perhaps maybe this was someone who was into those re-enactments? There’d been a group down the road in Shelbyville when she’d been growing up, every so often on a weekend you’d hear the boom of replica cannon and the shooting of rifles.

Except, generally, they weren’t looking for the Wicca Group. They’d been pretty firmly opposed to anything of that kind, most of them would’ve cheerfully participated in a re-enactment of burning witches too. If they’d known about them.

Tara hesitated, reaching out with the senses that Momma had shown her but Daddy had always said she should keep under wraps. Laying her hand against the wall, letting the sensations flow through her…

It was less obvious than listening at the door and attuned to the things that couldn’t be seen or heard. Once Momma had taught her the trick, one of many, the chief use for it had been for gauging just how bad it was, that time when Momma had to be confined for her own good.

To stop the demon from getting out.

And that was the last time that she’d felt the buzzing… Around another person like herself, someone who had access to these tricks and – in Momma’s case – someone who was just as possessed.

Of course, Momma had – sometimes – touched her in the same way. Stretching out with senses that no one else possessed. And, somehow, they’d felt a little less lonely in those moments. It’d helped both of them to do that.

Because Tara knew that one day her demon would emerge and then all the tricks, all of the education and the sniggers at the way she talked wouldn’t matter. Then she’d just have to do what was for the best… go home and make sure that she didn’t hurt anyone.

Until then though… Life was for living. Right?

Reassured that there was nothing wrong in the meeting room, Tara slipped out into the cool night air, wondering whether she should be surprised that the buzzing had returned? After all, she’d been to Wicca Group and even though there’d been some awkwardness and a strange, barefoot woman turning up towards the end… generally it’d been a success.

She’d be coming back next time.

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

“Willow, you do understand, don’t you, that I’m no longer a Watcher?”

“Just because they replaced you with a younger model, they took your away your secret decoder ring?”

Ha! So who couldn’t manage a quip?

Even if it was something that she’d heard Buffy say earlier in the night. Recollection was an underestimated part of producing a quippy quip though.

The stuffy Englishman and the valley girl Slayer… They were worried about each other, even though they might make a great play of the fact that they were moving on with their lives. It was natural, she supposed. The end of high school – especially in an explosive manner – had been a big change for both of them. Giles didn’t even have a job at the moment, outside being a Watcher – or not being, which was his point.

“No, but when my Slayer doesn’t need me anymore – a fact she’s made quite plain and I happen to agree with – I can consider myself… officially and unofficially retired. It’s a natural process. A cycle, if you like.”

“Birth, life, decrepitude, death?” she wondered.

“That’s not quite how I’d have put it, but if you like… yes. This game belongs to the young.”

“Like Wesley?” Wesley who’d rolled in, failed, rolled out and now was… who knows where?

“The Council really did take away his decoder ring,” Giles said, showing her inside since – obviously – she had no intention of leaving his doorstep until she’d discussed what was on her mind.

She was quite proud of that, the old Willow would just have buckled and let him get back to… “You weren’t doing anything were you?”

“Ah, only sleeping – it is what is traditionally considered the middle of the night. In some cultures – including this one – it’s also considered the time for sleeping.”

“That’s it! Exactly!”

“What’s it?”

“My roommate, she’s clearly from another culture where night isn’t for sleeping.”

“Ah, you’re still having problems then?”

“Problems would imply there was a solution,” she replied, doing her best imitation of him.

“You know, in my own day, I too had a difficult roommate.”

“What did you do?”

He looked just the tiniest bit sheepish. “I’m not sure my solution is really what you need right now.”

“No, come on, lay that English wisdom on me. At this point I’m ready to try anything. Even tea and crumpets.”

“Actually, I gave him one of my spliffs. We didn’t have any more problems after that.”

Willow sighed. It was all too easy to forget – mercifully given that incident with the band candy – that Giles had once upon a time been the party guy. Full time rebel and only part time college student. Oh and part time black magic practitioner, which was really too many parts for one person, but… He’d made it through and become the man he was today. He didn’t wear tweed pyjamas, which was unexpected. “You think I’m too uptight?”

It was something she’d wondered about.

“Not at all. From the perspective of a gentleman of my generation, I’m entirely sympathetic.”

“But if you were you when you were you back then and I was me and your roommate – not that I’m sure they had co-ed roommates even back then in England – you’d be giving me some of your drugs wouldn’t you?”

Which led her to uncomfortable consideration of what else he might have been giving her in those circumstances. Ewwww. Puppies. Kittens. Chocolate. Nice things!

“If it had been called for,” he said. “But I’m not proud of it. Drugs, after all, are bad.”

“Don’t worry, you convinced me,” she reassured him.

“Why are you here, Willow? Lovely as it is to see you, of course at… one in the morning, but if Buffy needed something then I’m sure she’d have come herself.”

“Buffy’s gone back to her nice, quiet room to sleep,” Willow said. “Even if she’s got an interesting roommate, it’s not one that keeps her up at night and makes her cry because all you really want is more than two hours of sleep before class.”

“While you come here to plague me – I’m sorry, I mean, consult with me over…?”

“Look, I can go if you like?” She was half convinced that he might say ‘yes’ and, in all honesty, what she had to say could wait. Going back to the dorm was just…

It was ‘just’.

Considering what someone might be doing on her bed too – even though it’d been there for years already – took her back to that ‘eww’ place. It wouldn’t be the first time…

“No, not at all. I… couldn’t sleep anyway. Not after the doorbell rang. Tea?”

“Tea won’t help you sleep either,” Willow pointed out. “The caffeine – “ Then she shut her mouth.

“What happened tonight then? I assumed you and Buffy were out patrolling?” he asked while he busied himself with making his tea.

“She was patrolling,” Willow said. “I was along for quips.”

“Kicks?” he asked as he put water into the tea kettle.

“Quips – humorous comments made at opportune moments - ”

“I’m well aware of what a quip is, I just couldn’t hear you very well. So did you come up with any?”

“What?”

“Quips?”

“Oh… a few, it was one of those too much to say, too little time things. Buffy was happy in the end. She stabbed something, you know how she always feels better when she stabs something.”

“I’d noticed but I’m sure you came here for some other reason than to confirm that you can, in fact, quip adequately?”

Or inadequately actually, but a girl had her pride. Not much right now, but some.

“Well… here’s a question for you, what makes a vampire run away?” Willow asked.

“I don’t think it’s that surprising that a vampire would run away from Buffy, after all she has quite the reputation locally - ”

“No,” Willow corrected. “He ran into us, he didn’t even see us until he was already falling over Buffy. Seemed like he was running scared of something. Something else. Not us. Not Buffy anyway.”

“Well, if there’s one thing that giant snakes have taught us, it’s that there’s always someone or something that’s bigger and scarier than you are,” Giles replied, but he’d given it a few moments thought.

“So you don’t know?”

“Well, no… as a rule the demon shapes the behaviour of your average vampire. They remember who they were, it might influence their behaviour to some extent, but generally they want to inflict fear, to strike terror into the hearts of their victims in order to savour the taste all the more when they feed - ”

“That’s more information than I needed,” Willow told him firmly, it wasn’t something she’d really considered. Or needed to.

“That’s not the only influence, of course, the hunger drives them and we’ve seen many times that there’s a fierce streak of self-preservation which runs through even the most inept vampire. Perhaps you merely came across one who was more skittish than the others?”

Willow considered that possibility. She’d seen enough vampires over the years and few enough of them running away… “No, he was absolutely terrified of something.”

“Well, I assume you didn’t see anything to explain his reaction?”

“No,” Willow confirmed, “and Buffy had staked him before I could ask anything so…” Shrugging she had to admit there wasn’t anything else she could really add. “Seems little enough to have gotten you up for, right?”

“No, no… not at all. I mean, I wish you had shown a little more consideration, but since you didn’t I think it’s a good enough reason. If there is something out there that makes vampires flee in abject terror it’s something we need to be aware of. One way or another.”

“It could be good for us, you mean?” Willow checked.

“The enemy of my enemy is, quite often, my friend.”

“Or the enemy of my enemy is a bigger, scarier monster-type enemy?” Experience pointed in that direction, after all.

“Quite. I’ve been thinking about your problem,” he said when she didn’t make any effort to get up and leave, even though the conversation was pretty much over and the night wasn’t getting any younger. Except for how it was because it was, you know, morning.

Leaving though… back to her dorm? Nah.

So actually she was glad to have something else to talk about. “Problem?”

“Your roommate?”

“Oh. Her.”

“It seems to me that you already have a – what do they call it? Exit strategy? Surely you could go and spend some time with Oz? He lives quite close to campus doesn’t he?”

“Yeah…”

“Or have I struck a nerve?” he wondered.

“No, not really it’s just… He’s being a guy.”

“Oh.”

“You’re supposed to ask what I mean,” Willow prompted.

“I may not be married, but I’ve learned enough over the not inconsiderable number of years that ‘He’s being a guy’ should be explanation enough in its own right, even though it might cover a multitude of sins – real or imagined.”

Willow shook her head. “There’s no sinning, especially not in the multitudes. It’s just… he has this really cool house with the guys…”

“Ah, it’s too guyish?”

“They’re just… cool. I mean, it’s my boyfriend who is cool too, but the more I’m around there, the more I realise that no matter what I do to my hair - ”

“Oh, you cut your hair! Yes, very nice.”

“Way to go Mister Watcher, but no matter what I do, I’m always going to be the one who’s less cool than they are. And until they all put on fifty pounds, work dead end jobs and lose their hair while they cling to their youthful best years that’s probably going be the way it is. Not that, you know, I want that to happen because I like Oz with hair. Not like – hair hair, werewolf hair, but his hair. Oz hair. I like that. He does too – and I should just stop now.”

“It’s probably for the best,” Giles agreed. “So you don’t go round there?”

“Of course I do, but… I don’t want to be always hanging around. I came to college to be me, not to be…”

“A groupie?”

“Exactly. I’m not the band’s girlfriend… and that sounds different than I meant it to.”

“But it remains a denial, which is the important part,” he pointed out after sipping.

“Absolutely!”

“Do you want my advice, Willow?”

“Yes…” Even though she wasn’t sure she wanted to hear it. Giles had a nasty habit of telling truths that weren’t easy to swallow.

“Stop worrying about what other people think, Willow,” he said. “Your friends and your family know who you are and I’m proud to count myself amongst both.”

Easier said than done but… if he could say that, he was right.

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

_________________
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If I wanted a little pussy, I've got my own to play with.

Chance in *Chance*
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