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

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 Post subject: April Challenge: The Anniversary Challenge
PostPosted: Wed Apr 05, 2017 11:28 am 
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4. Extra Flamey
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Joined: Wed Jun 30, 2010 12:34 pm
Posts: 176
Topics: 9
Location: PNW
Hello Kittens! Inspired by the 20th Anniversary of B:tVS, here is the April FIC CHALLENGE!

We are calling this: The Anniversary Challenge! (but you can title your story whatever)

Basic rules: Write a story containing the challenge requirements and obeying the board rules. Post it in this thread by the end of the day April 28th (end of the day counts as 11:59pm PT). The story may be any length that fits in a single post. You may submit as many entries as you like, as long as they are submitted by the deadline..

Challenge Requirements:

1. A 20th Anniversary for something must be celebrated or acknowledged

2. Willow and Tara should be middle-aged (this does not mean they must start off the story as a couple)

3. Being that this is April, a prank should be included or referenced

4. Must include either of the following elements:
a. Sneezing
b. Rainy weather

Sorry, no sweet prize this time, except the awesome prize of having written an awesome fic!

_________________
Visit my epic fic As You Wish and my shorts thread F*Series & Other Shorts But don't go visit my rarely updated Official Blog!


Last edited by dtburanek on Thu Apr 06, 2017 2:16 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: April Challenge: The Anniversary Challenge
PostPosted: Thu Apr 06, 2017 2:14 pm 
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Hey, I have an important Poll going on about voting and prizes. Please direct all comments regarding this matter over on the poll thread.

In other news, we've suspended voting and prizes for this current challenge. So feel free to get to writing. I know you'll do your best anyway (as we are want to do for our favorite couple) and be proud to share your story.

This will still be a limited time thing, so the deadline will remain.

Thanks!

Delayne

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Visit my epic fic As You Wish and my shorts thread F*Series & Other Shorts But don't go visit my rarely updated Official Blog!


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 Post subject: Re: April Challenge: The Anniversary Challenge
PostPosted: Sun Apr 09, 2017 9:02 pm 
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17. Mega-Witches
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So I have to confess to cheating a little bit, in that I had this fic planned out and partially written before the challenge was announced - which is why some of the challenge elements may seem a bit tangential (except the rain, that was there from the beginning). But hey, it's written, that's the main thing. Enjoy!

Drawn By Her


Author: Chris Cook
Email: alia@netspace.net.au
Rating: NC-17
Disclaimer: Buffy the Vampire Slayer characters are the property of Joss Whedon/Mutant Enemy, and for once I’m not borrowing anyone else’s IP at the same time.

Image


“E-excuse me? Hi.”

Willow looked up and-

“Hi!”

-came out automatically, as she found herself staring at the warmest, gentlest, loveliest face she had ever seen. Its owner was smiling, and gave a shy little nod in reply to her greeting.

“I’m sorry if I’m interrupting...?”

“Oh, no, not at all!” Willow pushed the laptop she had been working on to the back of the desk. “I’m just- nothing urgent, just fixing something for one of the teachers. You’ve got my full attention. I’m Willow, by the way.”

“Tara. Um, Buffy Summers said you could get me onto the wifi here. I’m in her evening art class.” She grinned, slightly sheepishly. “I know it’s just putting in a password, but she said come talk to you...”

“I am the tech lady,” Willow grinned back, for once thankful for Buffy’s inability to remember passwords by herself. “Do you want me to...?”

“Sure,” Tara nodded, handing over an iPad. Willow opened the soft case, went straight to settings - only a couple of the icons had been moved around from their factory-standard places - and typed in the password for SDH-afterhours.

“Sc00byDoo,” she said, handing the pad back. “One word, but capital ‘S’ and ‘D’, and zeroes instead of ohs in ‘scooby’. It’s kind of, not terribly obscure if you know me, but the wifi doesn’t reach outside the building anyway, and if someone’s in here they’re supposed to have access, the only reason there’s really a password anyway is that it’s just a good habit to have, you don’t want to get into bad IT habits. Um, all done.”

“Thank you Willow,” Tara nodded. “Sorry, I have to,” she gestured over her shoulder. “I don’t want to be late for my first class.”

“No of course not! Enjoy art.”

“Thanks.”

Enjoy art. And hey, I’m the ‘tech lady’. Also a massive dork, could you tell that? Willow felt her heart give a flutter as the woman walked away, and without quite meaning to let her gaze drop to the top of her long skirt. God. Damn. She shook herself and forced her eyes elsewhere. I’m a perv now apparently, where did that come from? But... damn.

She got back to work fixing the damage the english teacher had managed to inflict on his laptop which, as it turned out, had to do with not having with an antivirus while browsing sites Willow wished she didn’t now know he’d browsed, and since it was routine work her mind continued to find its own amusement.

Well okay, I got smitten by her face first - also her voice. And smile, et cetera. It’s allowable to be moderately interested, alright extremely, in how she’s got a lovely... shape, as well. Figure! Appreciating a fine figure sounds almost classy, let’s call it that and not looking at her bottom, which is totally what I did. But we’re confident vis-a-vis not being a horrible person, what with the smile and face and lovely-person-ness coming first, so, okay.

I totally made myself seem like a dork to her. Well that’s to be expected. It could have gone worse, at least? Honestly that wasn’t bad. Maybe I’ll see her again? I mean it’s not like she’s going to just do one class and then quit, right? I mean she could, there’s no law, but she didn’t seem like the type, her iPad had a lovely wallpaper of orchids, that’s an artistic-person-type thing. Right? She glanced at her watch. I’ll be out of here before Buffy’s lot finish their drawing-people stuff, but hey, see you next week, maybe? Same time, same channel. That’d be a nice.

Her face fell, as she remembered she had only been here because she had stayed late to finish setting up the school’s new server, and then since she had already been staying well after her usual volunteering time as Sunnydale High School’s IT department (all of its IT department) had finished, agreed to fix Giles’s personal laptop, because apparent browsing habits notwithstanding (I mean, everyone’s entitled to whatever they like, no condemnation, and I doubt he even knew anyone would be able to see the browsing history, there’s no way to gently let him know about clearing browsing history without the reason why becoming embarrassingly obvious is there? Damn) he was a nice man and a good teacher. Normally, unless there was some major e-mergency (she chuckled, even though she accepted that nobody else thought that was a particularly clever joke), she would be far and away by the time the adults started showing up for the various evening courses.

Damn. Maybe I could... Okay let’s be honest, hanging around for two hours doing nothing just to see someone you don’t actually know is a bit creepy-stalker. Rats and other exclamations. Maybe I could join the art class? Uh-huh, me doing art. Well it’s a thought. Not like I can realistically get any worse, so the only way is up, right? Feh. Ho-hum.

Food for thought though.

Image


I honestly could join the art class, Willow mused next Monday afternoon, when her schedule brought her back to the school, and an unexpected (and thoroughly lovestruck-teenager-ish, she felt) pang of nostalgia had hit her on seeing the desk in the corridor she had been sitting at when Tara had talked to her.

It’s not like I’d be dragging the whole team down by being rubbish at art. Buffy’s not putting together an Art Olympics team, it’s just... it’s open to anyone, I’m an anyone, I qualify. Is that creepy, doing a class just to maybe talk to someone? Gah, stop worrying everything is creepy, just have an immediate attraction and pursue it in a respectful but slightly loopy manner like a normal person does when they’re loopy. The sign-up sheet’s probably still on the noticeboard over by the admin desk, just go over, put your name on, show up on time and... whatever happens from there. Maybe I’ll enjoy art, even.

She set aside patching the student database for a moment, got up, and made it two steps towards the noticeboard before pausing.

Wait but her name will be there too, is that... if I read her surname, am I going to end up in some awkward situation where we’re talking, and I blurt out ‘You’re a nice person, Tara So-and-so,’ and she looks suspicious and says ‘I never told you my last name was So-and-so,’ and I have to admit that, okay, I looked at the sign-up list and got your full name from there, and she’ll be thinking, wow, crazy person, I bet she went home and googled me and looked at all my online activity and hacked my phone and downloaded all those private selfies I took of myself in my underwear. Play it cool, Rosenberg.

By way of very careful glances Willow ascertained which piece of paper on the noticeboard was the sign-up sheet for Buffy’s art class, then managed to look at it just long enough to see that it was full before looking away without having actually read any of the five names.

Whew, dodged that minefield! Oh... Her shoulders slumped slightly as she sat back down and got back to work. No vacant spots in the class, no art class for Willow. Well... Huh. She really hadn’t expected the slightly hollow feeling in her stomach. I kind of... I really wanted that, didn’t I? Even stripping away the neurotic babble. Which, BTW, yay that nobody saw me squinting at the noticeboard because my brain made me paranoid for no reason. Maybe I should just... have a word with Buffy? Would it be too rude to ask her to make room for one more aspiring artist? I mean I could always just say, hey, you remember the woman you told to get the wifi password from me, I think I kinda like her and would it be crazy for me to turn up for your class so I get the opportunity to maybe chat with her in a casual setting? That’s not ridiculous, is it? We don’t know each other that well but we’re mature adults, and kinda friendly, that’s not a crazy course of action. I could do that.

Image


By the time Friday had rolled around, Willow had convinced herself that asking Buffy was crazy, then indignantly told herself that no it wasn’t and she should stop over-thinking things, many, many times over. She had finally promised, with her pinky fingers looped around one another which made it a real promise, to buy herself a really nice mocha if she just quit obsessing and talked to Buffy, which had done the trick of quieting her overactive mind for most of the day.

Where’s she got to? she mused, looking about the main hall as the last of the students vanished on their way to whatever students did with themselves on a Friday evening nowadays, Willow was sure being forty-three put her extremely firmly in the ‘too old to understand kids’ bracket. Not that I knew what students did with themselves even when I was one. The evening courses wouldn’t start for a couple of hours, but Buffy was generally around somewhere, finishing up the day’s regular work and getting ready.

In the course of glancing around and wondering if she should poke her head into the empty classrooms to see if Buffy was still in one of them, Willow spotted her distinctive highlighter-circled handwriting on a notice on the evening courses board - half-hidden by yet another of the dozens of flyers the football team left on every noticeboard in town, seemingly, just in case anyone was unclear that the noisy activities on the football field were them playing football (I mean, look at that, ‘Sunnydale Demons 20th Anniversary Game’, they’ve been footballing for twenty years, don’t they at some point have enough results to decide which team is just better than the others, and they can stop having more games to work it out? It’s not like scientists ditch their results and start fresh every year just because the rats have so much fun running around their mazes. Hey check out all that proof I’m not a sporty person), but clearly Buffy’s writing, and the large text: ‘model needed’, along with a slightly smaller ‘please!!’, two hearts, and a smiley face.

Model needed! I could join the class as their model? It’s just sitting still, I can do that, that’s practically my job if you ignore the typing and mouse-moving, I don’t mind someone trying to draw me - even if they’re amateurs, it’ll probably look kind of weird, but who cares, this solves everything!

Willow had just taken hold of the bottom of the page to manoeuvre it out from beneath football-flyer-camouflage and see if she needed to start tonight when she heard footsteps approaching at speed, and half-turned to see Buffy, looking hopeful-slash-elated.

“Hi Will! Are you- do you want to do it?”

“Hi, what?”

“The model thing, for my- That Harmony woman quit on me, not even joking, today at lunchtime, she said she’d got a modelling job dressing up as someone from some video game for some big convention or something - how is that even a thing you can get paid for?”

“Uh, yeah, crazy world.” I never googled latex appliances and facepaint to see how difficult cosplaying Liara T’Soni would be, not me.

“Do you wanna do it? You would literally be saving my life - okay not literally, but appropriately understood to be used for emphasis. Sorry, I’m rushing you, I’ve just been going crazy-.”

“I’ll do it,” Willow said, a little bit to her own surprise.

“You will?”

“Sure!” Willow was taken aback as Buffy flung herself into a hug, but smiled and hugged her back, feeling like her life was all of a sudden a musical and this was the bit where everything went right.

“Okay so - look I gotta rush, I meant to pick up a backdrop cloth from across town for tonight’s class but I’ve been obsessing about Harmony all day, but... It’s no big drama, I promise, just get here five minutes early, there’s nothing to it, I promise everyone’s really cool and no pressure, I’ll see you then, okay? You’re a lifesaver! Figuratively. See you!”

“See you!” Willow called after Buffy as she hurried off. I am in the class. As a glorified bowl of fruit for everyone to practice drawing sure, but that’s fine. She pulled out the pin holding Buffy’s notice to the board, took it down, and froze as she read the now-unobscured: ‘nude model needed’.

Oh. Oh what.

Image


I feel like I’ve been pranked only it’s my fault. Is self-pranking a thing? How does it differ from regular old making-a-fool-of-yourself?

Willow fiddled with the loose bow holding her robe closed.

This is not that big of a deal. I’m not, like, waving my butt at the class, I’m just going to be sitting. Legs closed too, so basically, what’re they seeing, essentially it’s my hips, really not that much a skimpy bikini bottom wouldn’t show. I have a skimpy bikini, and, and you know what, I looked good in it the whole one time I wore it. And this’ll be [i]better because I won’t bake the colour of a lobster, so, go team Bikini Willow. Kind of bikini, revealing basically the same as a bikini. Except topless. That’s not so bad is it? It’s an art class, I’m not just waving my boobs at strangers, and... okay there will be strangers. And Tara! I-[/i]

“Hey, ready?”

“Yes!” Willow squeaked, spinning around to find Buffy peeking her head around the door into the classroom supply closet that was serving as a changing room.

“Nervous?” Buffy asked - not just for form’s sake, Willow felt, but out of genuine concern, and that actually settled her nerves somewhat.

“First time, so, yeah, but...” She squared her shoulders. “I’m good.”

“Okay, well everyone’s here, so when you’re ready.”

C’mon boobs, you and me have nothing to be ashamed of. Right? Right. Nervous but I’ll be fine. Let’s do this thing. Go go Power Rangers. Wait did I just name my boobs the Power Rangers? How’s that work, I mean obviously Kimberly and Trini, my boobs aren’t male, but which is which, how would you even do one of those online “which Power Ranger are you?” quizzes for each boob individually? Maybe they follow the left-brain right-brain thing. I’m babbling internally. But hey, it’s got me out in front of everyone without focusing on being nervous, that’s a plus.

“So everyone,” Buffy said, putting a friendly hand on her shoulder, “this is Willow, she’s very generously offered to help us out, at literally the last minute and out of the goodness of her heart because she’s the best person in the world. Willow - Cordelia, Tara, Riley, Drusilla, and Larry.”

“Hi,” Willow said, lifting a hand in a shy little wave, and trying not to look at Tara specifically while at the same time not not looking at her at all. She smiled back amid the general chorus of ‘hi’s, and Willow felt light-headed as she turned to the sturdy table Buffy had loaded up with cushions for her, while the aspiring artists busied themselves getting their boards and pencils and charcoal and whatnot ready.

Okay, untie robe, check. Make sure you haven’t already completely forgotten the pose from the art book Buffy showed you, check. Here goes. Keeping her attention firmly on the soft lilac cloth Buffy had fixed to the wall as a backdrop, Willow slipped the robe off her shoulders, caught one sleeve and draped it over the corner of the table, and in one reasonably not-awkward motion half-turned to seat herself, lifted her legs up, and leaned back slightly against the couch cushion propped up to support her. There were no catcalls or lewd comments from the audience, and she breathed a sigh of relief.

This is not so bad, she let herself think after a few minutes of patient sketching by the class. Looking off to one side she couldn’t really see half the class, although someone - she assumed Drusilla, unless either Larry or Riley had a high singing register - was quietly humming to themselves. Buffy’s voice sounded now and then, with a quiet comment or suggestion, as she moved around. Cordelia was nearest Willow’s line of sight, and seemed to be concentrating almost fiercely, pausing to inspect her sheet, and Willow, before each line drawn. Tara was just on the edge of her vision, and seemed to be moving more fluidly so far as Willow could tell; she imagined her sketch as one of those with stray lines everywhere, building up the actual drawing in the overall impression rather than clinically reproducing the model exactly. Hey that’s me, I’m the model. Tara’s drawing me. This is kind of... it’s actually fun.

Image


“Maybe I’m drawing the cushions,” Tara teased in the recesses of Willow’s mind.

“You’re cheeky to a nude model you’ve barely met,” Willow imagined grinning back at her.

“We met,” Tara pointed out. “A brief conversation but a good one, enough to get a good solid idea of you.”

“Oh, like what?”

“Like you checking out my backside.” Tara raised an eyebrow. “Maybe you’d rather switch places, and get another look at me?”

“Oh I couldn’t even begin to draw,” Willow shook her head, and then: “Besides as tempting as the offer is, this is... this has its benefits too, you know?”

“Does it?” Tara murmured. “You enjoy being immortalised in art? Or,” her voice dropped to a whisper, and suddenly her stool and easel were a lot closer to Willow, “do you just like me staring at your body?”

“W-well,” Willow replied, licking her suddenly-dry lips, “is that, such a bad thing? You’re not staring rudely or anything...”

“Admiring might be a better word.”

“Memorising?”

“Imagining.” Tara was sitting beside her now, leaning close, and Willow shivered as she lightly trailed her charcoal stick along her thigh.

“I-is this part of art class?” she whispered.

“You want it to be,” Tara breathed against her neck.

“Yeah I, god, I do...”

Image


I really do, Willow imagined her voice, and- oh hey, hey, nipples, no! Stop it, don’t- Okay fine, this is my fault. Nothing odd going on, class, it’s just slightly chilly in here, that’s all. Don’t look. Well, look, in the sense that that’s the whole point of the class, but don’t look look, just draw away like everything’s normal.

Except you Tara, you can look.

Is that kind of... inappropriate? Okay look at it this way, she’s here on purpose, it’s not like I’m jumping out from behind a tree in a trenchcoat and flashing her. I’m wearing the trenchcoat in this scenario, not the tree. She’s here to draw me, I’m sitting here motionless as per the lesson plan, what goes on in my head is my head’s business, and that’s fine.

Draw away, beautiful woman.

Willow took a deep breath and let her mind wander again.

Image


“Slightly chilly, hmm?” Tara smirked, lightly stroking her fingertips beneath Willow’s breasts, before quickly tapping her nipples, startling her.

“That... may not be the only reason,” she admitted breathlessly.

“What if I’d already drawn your nipples,” Tara said, smiling lazily as she drew Willow, captivated, off the table and onto her lap, “soft and unaroused, and now... I have to start all over again?” She shot a questioning look at Willow, then dropped her gaze, slowly and shamelessly gazing at her breasts.

“Well... hah... oh wow.” Willow shook her head gently, trying to think clearly through the fog of Tara’s breath tickling her skin. “Well, I-I think you ought to take some of the blame... for ever thinking I’d stay ‘unaroused’ around you.”

“Especially naked around me,” Tara chuckled, blowing a gentle stream of air over her nipples, leaning closer.

“...especially, yeah...”

“No chance you might... lose interest?” Tara teased. “I’d hate to have to start drawing them all over again a second time.”

“Not even the slightest chance,” Willow replied, surprising herself with the heat in her voice. Tara glanced up at her, her lips quirking up in a mischievous, triumphant grin, then lowered her head back down to cover a nipple with her mouth and lick, and suck, and ohgod ohgod ohgod...

Image


“Okay, time’s up gang, let’s get out of here before they kick us out. You all did great, see you next week - anyone can’t come, try to text me before to let me know? Thanks. And big thanks again to Willow, am I right?”

Willow smiled, hoping her cheeks weren’t too flushed, and nodded at the chorus of ‘thank you’s, before taking a deep, steadying breath as the relative silence of the session was broken by the sounds of paper sheets being taken down and rolled up and bags being gathered.

“Great stuff Will,” Buffy said, picking up the robe and holding it for her to get her arms into. “I’m serious, you were perfect. So hey, I’m grateful as heck for just today, but any chance I can talk you into sticking with us?”

“Uh, yeah,” Willow nodded, exhaling. “Yeah I can... Sure. I just need to, um... y’know, bathroom.”

“Oh right,” Buffy laughed, standing back as Willow dropped back to the floor, tightening her sash. “Go on, I’ll be tidying up a while longer, I’ll look after your stuff.”

“Thanks!” Willow called over her shoulder, already on her way to the door as not-panicky as she could manage. The main doors were just swinging closed as Willow crossed the corridor to the staff offices and swiftly ducked into the bathroom, sliding the latch as she closed the door behind her. For a moment she was still, holding her breath, wondering if she dared, then why not she whipped the robe off and hung it haphazardly over the hook on the back of the door, letting out a stifled gasp as her other hand went between her legs to feel ohhh the wetness she had been sure was going to escape any moment and glisten on her thighs for all to see.

With her mind’s eye still full of a swirl of Tara’s gaze on her it was barely a few hushed moments before she gasped and clenched her legs closed around her hand, digging her fingers in just as much as she could bear - and then gasped again as oh wow! her hips kept moving of their own volition, bringing her to another climax a few short panting breaths later. As her body finally stilled, one arm still braced on the door for support as her heartbeat slowed and her legs stopped trembling, she let a whispered ‘Tara’ escape her lips.

After splashing a handful of water on her face, she glanced down at her nipples - still hard and proud - and mock-scowled as she whispered: “Hey, you started this.”

Image


“Scoob old buddy,” Willow muttered, her head cradled on her crossed arms on her office desk, “what do I do?”

None of her three employees at Rosenberg Solutions were in the office with her - Fred was on site across town, Andrew was on the phone talking somebody through something, and Doyle had the day off - but, pursuant to the practice of rubber duck debugging, Willow always had her little Scooby Doo statuette on her desk to explain things to, or in this case, appeal to for help.

Two more weeks had passed - two more art classes, with friendly smiles from Tara (and the others, but mainly Tara) and slow, irresistible fantasies as she held herself still and imagined those blue eyes roaming all over her. She hadn’t let herself be taken so much by surprise again that she couldn’t wait until she was home to relieve the tension, but even then the results had been... exceptional.

“I mean,” she quietly explained to Scooby, “not that it’s ever not been good, but it hasn’t been that good since, well, since I found out about the whole my-body deal to begin with. You remember that, you were on my bedside table probably. And that was just it all being new, this is... this is something else. I want this to be something else, more, I want...”

She let out a sigh and leaned back in her chair, staring at the ceiling.

“I want to have a conversation with her,” she muttered. “I want to know if this, this whatever it is, if it’s just in my head or...” She shook her head. Or if it’s possible to pick up on something, in just the time it takes to smile and say a couple of dorky things and set up the wifi, that [i]means something, that means she’s the kind of person who deserves to look as gorgeous as she does, and... and the kind of person I want to open up to and... see where something could go...[/i]

“It’s like there’s this invisible barrier,” she said, looking back down at Scooby Doo. “In the class, I mean - between me and everyone else. Which I guess is how it’s supposed to be, the model gets to model without having aspiring artists just wandering up and trying to chat her up like it’s okay to just wander up and chat et cetera with someone who’s got their clothes off for the purposes of art. It’s, it’s respectful distance, that’s a sign of a properly run art course, I can only assume.” But it’s been three classes over two weeks now and, and she smiles and says ‘hi’ at the start, and I smile back, and again when time’s up, and it feels good but I can’t... I can’t just pop off my pedestal and whip on a robe and go chat to her, five seconds after she’s been studying my hot nakedness. “I mean, with artistic intent, but it’s still a thing.”

“What’s a thing?” Andrew asked, startling Willow who belatedly realised he’d knocked on the open door of her office a moment ago.

“Nothing,” she shook her head. “What’s up?”

“Uh, partly I finished talking Mr. Travers through his issue, so you’re in the clear when you have that meeting in a couple of days - I put the log in your dropbox if you want it - but mainly, I was walking past and I thought you were talking to me a second ago, sorry.”

“It’s fine,” Willow smiled. “Good work. Your boss is crazy is all.”

“Uh, yeah, well...” Andrew shrugged; he hadn’t been around quite long enough to joke back at ‘the boss’, but he was settling in and not walking on eggshells anymore, so that was progress.

“Hey Andrew,” Willow said, “unrelated non-work question: how do you talk to someone?” He thought about it a moment.

“I... um, open my mouth, words come out?”

“Go take lunch,” Willow grinned. “I’ll cover the hotline.”

“Thanks!”

Well what’s the worst that can happen? Willow mused as Andrew left her office with his head held high. End of class. Change back to regular clothes quickly. Catch up before she vanishes to her, wherever she lives, I assume some kind of wonderful temple, start a conversation... If she doesn’t seem like she’s feeling ooky at being talked to be a formerly-naked lady, proceed.

“Okay Scoob,” she said firmly, “Willow’s on a mission.”

“Ruh-roh,” she replied on Scooby’s behalf.

Image


Two days later, a determined Willow walked up to Sunnydale High School, to find it closed.

Well, I knew that was going to happen, she mused, standing glumly in front of the doors with her umbrella held as low over her as possible, shielding her from the torrential downpour. A couple of sections of town had been blacked out by the storm mid-afternoon, and Buffy had dutifully messaged all her evening students, plus Willow, to let them know that class was off for the week.

“And here I am anyway, because hey the power company might have finished their repairs early, and Buffy hadn’t left yet, and class was back on, and she messaged everyone specifically Tara to let them know, and I just didn’t get the message because, okay, I deliberately didn’t check my phone before I came out here in the rain because I’m nuts so I could keep telling myself maybe she’ll be here after all.”

She let out a sigh.

“Well... see you next week, I guess-”

“H-hi?”

Willow spun around at the voice cutting through the rain behind her, banged her umbrella behind her head on the door, fought briefly with it to keep it upright, and lifted it up again to see Tara before her, slightly damp owing to a far smaller umbrella, but smiling and impossibly here.

“Hi! Did- oh wait, come here! You’re wet!” Willow lifted her umbrella and beckoned Tara beneath it, which she accepted with a smile and visible relief; Willow’s umbrella was of the colossal golfing variety with reinforced everything.

“Thanks,” Tara nodded, closing her own umbrella - a small fold-up one. “I really shouldn’t thought this through better... you know, in terms of size of umbrella versus size of storm.”

“It’s a nasty one tonight, yeah,” Willow agreed, slightly light-headed as she realised how close Tara was. “Uh, do, do you have a big one? Umbrella - we’ve got spares I mean, like this, they’re from work and honestly it’d be no trouble...” Do people just offer recent acquaintances new umbrellas, where’s that on the scale of friendly to weird?

“It’s a good one,” Tara noted, staring up at the company logo, just visible through the fabric, and deciphered the reversed name. “You work at Rosenberg Solutions?”

“I am Rosenberg Solutions,” Willow said proudly. “Um, not entirely, there are other people - but I’m Willow Rosenberg, so...”

“Oh wow. You did our office network, a year ago. Uh, Winifred, I think? I work at The Initiative.”

“The landscaping firm?” Willow replied. “Maggie Walsh’s company?” Mental note: site visits will be handled by me from now on, no offence Fred.

“Uh-huh. I design playgrounds, small parks, nature reserves...” She gave a little shrug.

“That explains it, I thought the town was getting prettier,” Willow joked before she could stop herself; she breathed again when Tara laughed.

“My ‘work’ isn’t that widespread yet, but one day,” she said, with a slightly mischievous grin, gesturing around, “all this will be my domain.” She smiled as Willow laughed.

“More covered walkways perhaps?” she suggested.

Definitely.” Tara paused a moment, then: “H-how come you’re out here? Buffy sent a text to everyone...?”

“Oh, yeah, she did,” Willow nodded. “I just... Mad optimism?”

“Oh? Uh, likewise, I guess.” She hesitated. “I’ve been enjoying the classes, so, I hoped... Actually...” She looked at Willow, and there was something Willow couldn’t decipher going on behind her gaze, until she blinked, and seemed to have come to a decision. “Actually this works out because I was hoping to talk, to you, again.”

“Me? Did your wifi stop logging in?”

“My...? Oh, no.” Tara shook her head, chuckling. “No I... was hoping, you might want to, to maybe have a coffee? With me? Or...?”

Suddenly the rain seemed to have isolated their little haven of dryness under the umbrella from the rest of the world, and Willow’s heartbeat was drowning out the drumming on the fabric above their heads.

“Really?” was the first thing she could think of to say, followed by: “Like, a coffee date? Or, I mean, either way is fine, I’m not-”

“Yes,” Tara nodded. “A-a coffee date.” A blush was creeping up her cheeks. “I’ve been wanting to ask you for a, a while, but... Didn’t want to intrude? I’m not sure how to explain it, you know, with how it is in class, and... seemed like it might be, I don’t know, models probably have to deal with unwelcome attention, I’d guess, so...”

“I honestly have no idea, this is my first time, and kind of by accident,” Willow said. “And, and yes! Coffee date, yes. I’d love to. I kind of... Cards on the table, I didn’t come out here in the rain and hoping the power would be miraculously back on just for art’s sake.” Tara held her gaze, and for a long moment there was nothing in the world Willow wanted to do more than simply keep looking back into her eyes.

“That’s... kind of a relief,” Tara said, as Willow without a thought leant closer to hear her soft voice over the rain. “I’ve been a bit guilt-stricken having... you know, a crush on the model...?”

“Me too,” Willow admitted. “Um on... you... not me, obviously.” Tara took a deep breath, and - did she just glance at my lips, yes she did! - smiled.

“Not that I’ve not been enjoying drawing you,” she breathed.

“So have I,” Willow replied, keeping nothing of what she meant from her voice. Tara’s smile broadened, relief mixed with elation.

“Well, if our coffee date goes well...?” she said, raising an eyebrow.

“I think it’s going to go amazingly,” Willow said. “I know a place not far - not in the blacked out bit of town, obviously. I’ll drive, if you want?”

“Lead the way,” Tara nodded, venturing to slip an arm behind Willow’s back as they began to walk back to the street. “So what did you mean, by accident, the modelling?”

“Oh, funny story...”

Image

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Through the Looking-glass - Every world needs a Willow and Tara.


Last edited by Artemis on Sun Jul 16, 2017 6:39 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: April Challenge: The Anniversary Challenge
PostPosted: Mon Apr 10, 2017 2:01 am 
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So cool! :bounce

Thanks! :kiss1

R :flower

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That was lovely, thank you Artemis.

One question, I had a little difficulty imagining the pose Willow was in... do you have a reference image?

Floof


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Thanks! :grin

I didn't really have a specific image in mind for Willow's pose - a quick google just now turned up this (safe for work) which I think is kinda-sorta along the lines I was vaguely thinking, although for Willow I think she was sitting a bit more casual than the very upright pose there, she had something behind herself to rest against rather than just sitting up unsupported. But yeah, legs together, arms by her sides, nude but classy, something along those lines.

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Through the Looking-glass - Every world needs a Willow and Tara.


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Chris,

That was so adorable and sweet and .... Willow as a nude model... even by accident... drool worthy... very drool worthy. Thank you for that delectable image my friend!

Cheers
DW

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 Post subject: Re: April Challenge: The Anniversary Challenge
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Thanks! :grin The original concept for this one was really kind of porn-y (this is the source - safe for work - and I did all that so it's okay for me to rip off my own ideas) - when I started thinking about how it'd work as a Willow/Tara story the notion of Willow doing the modelling by accident popped up, and that kind of set the tone for the whole thing to be a lot more comedic, a sexy meet-cute. That actually led to the last scene changing entirely - it was going to be them ending up back at Willow's apartment (I hadn't nailed down all the details, but something like since the class wasn't on Tara was going to have to wait an hour for a bus in the rain and Willow's place was nearby so naturally she invited her just out of kindness, then realised Tara was in her home and smiling at her, and so on) revisiting Willow modelling to Tara as a flirty game, but writing all of Willow's mental meanderings kind of inevitably moved the story towards her affection for Tara, in addition to being turned on by her. So the connection between them draws them towards coffee and conversation first, rather than straight into bed - I felt happier about that, even though it did kind of shift the sexy-fantasies element of the story out of the spotlight by the end. (And I'm sure they'll get around to plenty more 'art sessions' anyway, so nothing lost really.)

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Through the Looking-glass - Every world needs a Willow and Tara.


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TITLE: Blind Date
AUTHOR: Delayne T. Buranek
RATING: PG-13
DISCLAIMER: Enter standard Disclaimer here. In Other Words, I don’t own it (Joss et. al. do) and I use it not for profit anyway.
SUMMARY: A blind date… sort of
SPOILER: Nope
NOTE: I'm impressed with the amount of lines from the show I was able to put in here (some modified). But then I'm not impressed as there are a few parts I think I could have done better, but I wanted to get this posted tonight.


Boise, Idaho - April 6th, 2017


“You did good baby girl.”

Tara grabbed at the girl and kissed her on the cheek. She had to pop up on her toes to do so.

“Geez, Mom. Stop.”

“What, can't a mother be proud? That was an excellent solo.”

“Yeah, so I'm going to the trumpet clinic now. And then there's the end of day concert which we'll either be in or watch.”

“You were the best, of course you'll be singing.”

The girl knew her mother was right but being 17, she had to roll her eyes.

“And then after I can drop you off at Flying M and take the car?”

“Are you asking me or telling me?”

“Please Mom? Can I take the car?”

“Do I have to go to the coffee shop?”

“Yes you do, you promised.”

“Then you don't need the car. I'll need an escape route.”

“I promise I won't be far and my phone will be charged and accessible and you can call me and I can come pick you up. Which you won't need to because she seems nice. In fact I plan to stay in the other side of the duplex tonight, you know just in case.”

‘Did my daughter just really imply I should invite a woman I've never met home with me after my blind date?’ Tara thought.

Her daughter really was an exceptional young woman. She got good grades, stayed out of trouble, was active in band and choir. Her major rebellion was that she picked brass instruments instead of woodwinds like Tara had played.

And the girl just did an awesome scat solo for the jazz choir and would be playing her trumpet for the jazz band tomorrow. It was the 20th annual Gene Harris Jazz Festival. And the festivities would spill out into the downtown area of Boise this evening where Tara agreed to meet up with some random woman she hadn't even talked to, or seen a picture of, and listen to some jazz on a Thursday evening.

“Okay, fine you can have the car when I go on my blind date.”

----

Willow debated leaving work a little early to freshen up or dress up or, hell she really didn't know.

And since she didn't know she decided it would be fine to just go as is. She was always dressed smart for work. And it was good enough for a blind date. Well, as close to blind date as you could get nowadays.

Willow had made a promise to herself to go on a date after she got settled in Idaho. She even went online and made a dating profile like two months ago. It was clear her attempt was half-hearted, as she never bothered to upload a picture. She rarely got any messages and the ones she did were clearly scammers or just plain off their rocker. I mean how many lesbians were there in Idaho? Much less ones interested in a 39 year old, recently single, transplant from California.

It was the end of March when Willow finally got a decently written response to her profile. Full of proper sentences and punctuation. They had a few messages back and forth and agreed to a meeting in the very public place of the gay friendly coffeehouse. And if they decided to continue after that, the woman named Tara would provide an extra ticket for some jazz downtown.

Willow felt she had made it clear in her profile that she wasn't necessarily looking for a lover, that making friends would be superb as well. So even though they did not exchange pictures, or even learn a whole lot about each other, going on this date would hopefully at least end in a friend.

----

Tara opened the door of Flying M and spotted the redhead sitting in the corner near the entrance. She was facing towards the counter but had turned at the sound of the door opening.

‘At least they remembered I like redheads.’ Tara thought. At first she was sure this was entirely set up by her ex, but when her daughter dropped her off and gave her the description of the redhead including what she'd be wearing, Tara suspected said daughter might have played a bigger role in this setup.

Tara, in order to stave off nerves, walked right over and introduced herself.

“Hi, I’m Tara.”

“Willow is uh me.”

They shook hands. Willow gestured at the seat opposite her as she sat back down in the one she had occupied. Tara sat down in it.

“Okay, so I'm just going to put it all out on the table. The person you've been messaging with was my ex and/or my daughter. I have no idea what they even told you about me but I'm 40 which frankly is too old for this dating shit. You certainly are cute, and I’m sure you are nice, but like I said I have a daughter, and an ex who is still very much around because of our daughter. And if anything about what I've said bothers you then we should just part ways now.”

With that Willow stood up and left the table.

Tara furiously dug for her cell phone in her purse, planning on sending her daughter a strongly worded text along with instructions to turn the damn car around NOW.

Willow had grabbed the two coffees and turned back around to see her date rather distressed, looking like she was about to break her phone, practically punching the screen with her index finger. Then she realized what exact words Tara had used just before she stood up.

“I'm sorry. I didn't mean to give you the impression that I was leaving. That was very dumb of me. I went to grab our order, which I took the liberty after whoever text me, saying you were on your way and what you liked to drink. But this is me, here. Staying. And your coffee, if you want it.”

When Tara first walked in, Willow awkwardly had to turn to see the door. Willow wondered why she sat in an inconvenient position. When she saw the coffee cups placed up on the counter and the coffee dude point to her, she admired her foresight. Then in her foolishness and autopilot went to grab the coffees.

Tara had not hit send yet on her phone. She was still red, the anger fading but some embarrassment creeping up after her jumped to conclusion. Not an unreasonable jump but luckily an incorrect one.

Willow hoped her move wouldn't put Tara out. She already knew she was drawn to the woman. Very much her type. A type she'd established back when she was 15 after the first girl she ever loved. One that she slowly deviated from when she got stuck in her last relationship. Plus she really enjoyed the upfront speech Tara gave, honesty having made it’s way to the top of the list of important qualities, especially after her last relationship.

“Here, I'll lay it all out too. My ex is a personal trainer who got very close and personal with a lot of her clients. For years I tried to pretend what I was seeing wasn't really what I had seen until a few months ago when I couldn't pretend anymore. So I ran away from her and California. I don't have kids myself, which is probably a good thing considering my ex. I've got nothing against kids in general and if your daughter was behind the messages I received then she is very intelligent and I'll be glad to meet her in the future. And if it was your ex, then that is fine too I guess, because either way it shows they care about you. But right now this is about you and me and us getting to know each other, wherever it leads. So I'll accept that you have important people in your life if you accept that I'm from California… and I have no one.” The last part she said quietly.

Tara understood the stigma of being a Californian in Idaho. She had lived in California as a youngster herself. As for the alone part, well she wouldn’t trade in her complicated family for anything, but there had been an emptiness for quite some time. Longer than the 5 years she’d officially been single if she were honest with herself.

“So start from the beginning or work our way backwards?”

“Backwards. Tell me about your daughter.”

It was easy to make proud mothers gush about their children.

“Her name is Danielle.”

“Good name.”

“She is 17.”

“Really? You must have been young.”

“I had just graduated college, that’s practically late around here.”

Tara proceeded to gush about Daniella, and especially about her musical talent that she had displayed earlier that day, including their choir participating in the best-in-show/end-of-day concert.

So they talked about music.

“I’m more of a pop music, listen to what is on the radio, kind of person. I mean I don’t even know if I like jazz music.”

“Then why did you agree to meet me and go listen to some jazz?”

“I mean I’m not opposed to jazz, it’s just not something I’ve actively sought out. I do watch a lot of YouTube and you can start out with a song you really want to listen to and if you just let it play or start clicking on the recommendations you really can end up in a very different place than you started from.”

The conversation wove its way to movies and television.

“Really?!” Willow said.

“Well, I mean I know a little about it because my ex, but I don’t believe I’ve actually seen an episode of Doctor Who.”

Willow looked a little disappointed but she also looked like she was trying really hard not to show it. It was too much to hope for, for this potential romantic partner to be hiding the inner geek.

“I have met Leonard Nimoy though.” Tara said. The smile she got from Willow, she knew it was the right thing to say.

“Really!” This time more excitement and less disbelief than her previous exclamation. “So you’ve been to a Con I’m guessing? Which one? Did you dress up?”

“Emerald City… It was what? Geez, 7 years ago now. And I went as Kahlan, The Mother Confessor.”

“Yeah? And your ex went as Cara? Cause that was a fun ship.”

“Uh, no, not quite.”

Willow just gave her a confused look, trying to think of other females with large enough roles in the show to cosplay as.

“He went as Richard.” Tara dropped it and just waited for Willow to process.

Willow had started to say something a few times before she finally got a thought out.

“I don’t want to be that lesbian, but I was under the impression you’ve done this before. I mean I’m not against anyone finally figuring out who they are and what they want, especially if it’s lady loving and I know we didn’t exchange a whole lot of information, actually I guess it wasn’t you who was messaging me… But if I'm going to be your first, why didn’t you at least mention this in your speech when you came in?”

“It's not like that. What I'm about to tell you, I guess, well, I tend to get a certain look when I reveal this information… Kinda like the one you’re wearing now.”

“Oh, no, I'm not ... I'm just trying to understand.”

“When I first met my ex, Steven, at the religious private school we went to, he went by Stephanie.”

“Oh… OH! Uh, wow.”

“I guess I’ll just lay it all out like before. That is, if you aren’t going to get up and wander off again.”

“I may need to get up and use the restroom at some point, so no promises.”

So Tara explained as succinctly as she could, how she met Steve in high school, they shared a dorm room together in college. Had a baby after that and moved into a duplex on the North End. Then some items in the media, like Max on the L Word and Thomas Beatie, made Steven realize a few things. Lots of conversations, and perhaps a lot of crying and Steve made the transition.

It was 2010 just after the Con, Steve got the final surgery there in Seattle. Two years later after lots more conversations and even more crying and a therapist, they split up. Steve moved back in with his very awesome and accepting family for a few months. Then when the neighbors lease was up and they decided not to renew, Steve moved into the other side of the duplex, the couple having purchased the plot when the previous owner wanted to sell and they continued to rent to the tenants already there.

“Okay really I've talked about myself enough. Please tell me more about you.”

“I pretty much did. My longest relationship was the one I just left and it lasted 5 years. So other than conversations that would show you just how much of a geek I am.”

“Nothing wrong with geeks.”

That didn't seem to encourage Willow so she had to be more direct. Ask specific questions.

“What do you spend your time doing after work?”

“I, uh, usually am on my playstation.”

And so they talked about video games. Willow more along the lines of MMORPG, and Tara more along the lines of singing and dancing games she liked to play with her daughter on their Wii.

It was hunger that finally brought them out of conversation and made them realize that downtown jazz was half over already.

“We could wander downtown, find some food, maybe check out what is left of the jazz? I mean you did pay for the tickets, wouldn't want them to go to waste.” Willow suggested, not really wanting the date to end. Tara decided not to tell Willow the tickets were free. But she didn't want the date to end either, so they headed downtown.

It was 10 p.m. when Tara's phone rang. She saw a notification that she had some missed texts.

“Hi baby girl.” Tara answered.

“It's going well. No need to worry.”

“I know. Yes, you do have to get up early.”

“I'll check. I can't imagine it would be a problem.”

“Goodnight, I love you.”

Tara was hanging up her phone when Willow asked, “Daughter checking up on you?”

“Yes, and to tell me she was going to bed so if I needed a way home that didn't involve walking, I would have to call someone else.”

“Or, I guess I could give you a ride.”

--------

“Do you… want to come in?”

“Yes, please. Not only because I would really like to spend more time with you, but also because I need to use your restroom.”

Willow exited the car and followed Tara up the path. It was lined with spring flowers, the tulips were closed in the darkness but the bright yellow daffodils seemed to glow in the moonlight.

Willow sneezed.

“Stupid allergies.”

“Do I need to remove my flowers? I'd like my place to be Willow friendly.”

Willow grinned at the gesture. It meant Tara would like Willow to be around in the future.

“I appreciate the offer but luckily it is a short lived season for me.

Tara opened the door to a very open floor plan of the kitchen and dining and living area. She pointed to the right. It was a short hall with three regular doors.

“It is the one in the middle, right back.”

Tara headed into the kitchen to put on some hot water for tea but she didn't make it that far when she heard Willow scream and something plastic bouncing on the floor.

Tara moved quickly towards the sound. She found Willow just standing still in shock and breathing heavy. Her hair and shirt were soaked and an empty ice cream bucket rolled back and forth on the bathroom floor.

Willow turned and looked at Tara wide eyed. She then just bust up laughing.

“You know, if you wanted to get me wet, there are better ways.”

Tara squeaked at the idea and tried to hide her grin by fetching a towel from the tall thin linen closet built into the wall in the small hallway.

“I'm so sorry... I'm sure that was meant for me. My otherwise perfect daughter can be quite the prankster.”

“And I apologize for my extremely inappropriate joke.” Willow was worried at Tara's reaction and avoidance, suspecting embarrassment.

“Uh, no, it was fine. It was funny.” Tara gave Willow just half of the smile she had hidden earlier, letting her know it really was okay. “I think I can find a shirt that will fit you.”

Willow had melted at Tara's smile and decided to test it more. “You know, if you are trying to get me naked, you just have to ask.”

Tara had already turned and was heading out of the room. She turned back around.

“Willow, take your shirt off.” Then she left again.

Willow unbuttoned her shirt and peeled it off of her shoulders. She stood looking in the mirror, trying hard but failing not to over analyse what she saw there. Ugh, well at least she was wearing her nice bra and not her comfy one today.

Tara opened her dresser drawer. There was a shirt she knew would fit Willow. And she was hoping it would confirm or deny that suspicious nagging Tara had yet to bring up with the woman. She kept waiting for the right time but their conversation flowed well and she hadn't wanted to interrupt it.

Willow was still analysing herself in the mirror when Tara returned with the clothing item. Willow didn't notice her right away and Tara took the moment to enjoy the view.

Tara handed Willow the shirt.

“You know, I spent some of my childhood in California. Where abouts in Cali do you come from?”

Willow didn't even hear Tara as she unfolded the shirt and stared then mumbled...

“Your shirt?...”

~ flashback ~

The redhead liked chemistry enough, I mean it was a science and she was good at it, but she didn't care much for this activity. Besides this was just basic sophomore science class, she'd have to take the more in depth chemistry class later. This activity was just… sophomoric.

She grinned to herself at her pun.

She had taken her white shirt out and laid it out on the counter where rubber bands, gloves and dyes were placed along the counter in spots. It was the only plain white t-shirt she owned, having gotten it two months prior when she went on the school sponsored ski trip. It did have a small print on the left of the chest that said “Ski La Jolla” with a little skiing person.

‘Stupid tie-dye hippie crap.’ The redhead grumbled under her breath. She disliked her feel-good hippie parents and she especially disliked her stupid tree-hugging name. She had started going by her middle name since junior high.

“Hey, I didn't bring a shirt, can I help you with yours?”

“No. Go away. I don't share.” She watched as they boy continued down the counter asking only the female classmates the same question.

Her turn revealed there were a few students who had forgotten to bring t-shirts, still sitting at the desks in the center of the classroom. She then noticed the shy girl, the blonde who would stutter when asked questions in class. She seemed sad.

So she walked over to the blonde.

“Hey. Would you like to help me?”

The blonde looked up surprised.

“No, I c-c-couldn’t impose.”

“Seriously, I was planning on just dying the stupid thing black. But I think it would be better if you helped me, would make it more fun.”

She waited for the blonde to consider it and realized they hadn't been properly introduced. She tried to think of roll call but couldn’t recall the girl's name.

“I'm Danielle by the way.”

“T-t-tara.”

“So Tara, will you help me?”

“Okay.”

And so the two girls folded, twisted, banded and died the t-shirt together, taking turns with colors.

The rinsing the next day in class revealed a unique design, one they both felt they could not have replicated even if they tried. Danielle felt it was a sign.

“Please, you take it. It wouldn't have even been fun without you and besides it would look way better on you.”

“But it's yours.”

Tara finally won the argument that technically the shirt was not hers therefore she could not keep a shirt that wasn't hers. And the two became inseparable.

A few months later on the last day of school…

“Shit, did you forget to set the alarm on your watch?”

“No, I set it.” She tried to get back kissing her girlfriend but Tara was already making a retreat. When the redhead checked her watch however all she could say was “whoops.”

“Dani, I'm going to be in serious trouble if I'm not out there. My brother is picking me up and he's probably out there right now.” Tara started gathering her bag from the ground where it leaned against the red brick.

“Hey, I got you a present before you go.” Willow reached down to the poorly wrapped shoe box on the ground near her own bag.

Tara paused a moment as she took the package. “That's so sweet, you didn't have to…” but her hurry geared up again, “I'll have to open it later.”

“It's fine, go. I'll have to get my smoochies later… I know you said you'd be busy and it might be a few days but call tomorrow okay, if you can?”

“Yes.” Tara gave the redhead a quick kiss as she grabbed her things and slipped from their hidden alcove make out spot where the music and theater department building met with the main classrooms building.

When Tara got home she ripped the loose tissue paper taped onto a shoebox and opened it.

The first thing she picked up was three pages of college ruled notebook paper ripped from its metal spiraling. Tara glanced through the pages quickly knowing full well what it said. It was a flowy script full of love and adoration in a prose that can only be written by “head over heels in love” teenage girls. And Tara had felt the same.

She pulled the tie dyed shirt from the box. The pink heart (Tara's choice) was outlined by black (Dani’s choice). The other colors were more haphazard and random but complimented the heart nicely.

~ / flashback ~

Willow saw the black outlined pink heart with the Ski La Jolla print. The colors were faded and half of the a in ‘La’ was missing. It had definitely been worn.

The look on Willow's face confirmed it.

“Technically it's your shirt.”

Tara was trying to remain light hearted and humorous but Willow seemed stuck in an invisible pool of jello as reality sunk in.

“I can't… I thought…” Willow took a deep breath and tried again. “I knew Tara is a common name and I thought maybe you looked like her but it wasn't possible that you could be her. That you could be *my* Tara.” She spoke quietly, almost to herself.

“Well that's a bit presumptuous…” Tara tried again with the humor but it went lost on Willow.

Tara started to sink into herself, in that very sad way Willow had seen in class that day. “You didn't even tell me your real name.”

Willow smiled weakly. “Hi, I'm Willow Danielle Rosenberg.”

When she said it out loud though she realized something...

“Did you… did you name her after me?” her eyes were full of tears.

Tara's too as she nodded and said “yes.”

They just continued to stand there, stuck.

“Steph liked it because we could use Danielle or Daniel. We'd have a traditional Irish Danny-boy or a less traditional Dani-girl.”

There was a pregnant pause.

“Is this real? I feel like I'm dreaming.”

Tara defaulted back to humor. “Well you are half naked.”

Willow went wide eyed, and pulled the t-shirt over her head. It was ironic as a few moments before she was determined to stand there in her sexiest bra being bold and confident. It was like she was 15 again.

Actually no, as Willow remembered some of what her 15 year old self had written in that love letter. It included some of the things she wanted to do with Tara, things she thought of when she was alone at night, things she had to hold herself back from doing when they kissed. Much more bold and confident than her 39 year old self. She wrote it the night before the last day of school which was the last day she saw Tara.

The anger and sadness bubbled briefly and Willow wanted to yell, “Why did you leave me?” But luckily the feeling passed so all Willow could squeak was “What happened?”

“My father decided I needed a different environment and sent me here to live with my aunt and uncle.”

“Different environment?”

Tara sighed. The one thing she always feared in her hope to encounter the redhead again was telling her why she was sent to Idaho.

“Someone had seen us kissing and told my brother. He told my father. When they came into my room to confront me that evening, I couldn't deny it. So they sent me away, like the next day. They even packed for me. I was lucky I had just put the shirt in my dresser.”

Willow now looked down at herself to see the shirt. She had remained rooted there in front of the mirror and sink. Tara appeared to casually lean against the door frame but she was really clinging to it for dear life.

Another pause.

“Your hair got darker.”

“Yours is a brighter red.”

“Yeah well, it comes from a bottle and helps hide the gray.”

“I stopped dying mine when I got pregnant with Dani.”

“Wait, you have a 17 year old daughter and you aren't completely gray?”

“Good genes I guess…. And maybe that prescription for xanax.”

They remained rooted. Paused. Swirling with emotions.

“I tried looking for you. I even found your address and stopped by. Whoever was there only told me you didn't live there anymore.”

“I thought I had your number memorized, so I called it, even though I knew I'd get in trouble for calling long distance, but I had gotten it wrong and was too scared to keep trying.”

More pause.

Tara decided to take initiative on this start.

“Look, I know there is a lot. A lot to talk about and a lot to process. And it's overwhelming. But can we shelve it for tonight? Can you… can you just be kissing me now?”

And they came together as they should have.

It was a glorious reconnecting of souls and flesh. They finally paused for breath, foreheads touching, still in each other's arms.

“I am you know.”

“Hmm?”

“Your Tara. I always have been.”

And they continued to reconnect for the rest of the night and the rest of their lives.

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 Post subject: Re: April Challenge: The Anniversary Challenge
PostPosted: Fri Apr 21, 2017 11:31 pm 
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8. Vixen
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Excellent story!

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 Post subject: Re: April Challenge: The Anniversary Challenge
PostPosted: Sat Apr 22, 2017 9:56 am 
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:heart :heart :heart

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 Post subject: Re: April Challenge: The Anniversary Challenge
PostPosted: Sat Apr 22, 2017 10:44 am 
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So, I personally am not a fan of using lines from the show in stories, but that aside, I really loved your story. It was a very emotional reconnection and it really made me feel for them. All that time they lost with one another, all the confusion and resentment, all the realizations... I would love to see a continuation of this where Willow meets Tara's daughter and maybe Tara telling Danielle about how they already knew each other. Awesome story!

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 Post subject: Re: April Challenge: The Anniversary Challenge
PostPosted: Sat Apr 22, 2017 2:22 pm 
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Delayne!

That was a really fun, sweet, story. I had to stretch my "disbelief" muscles a little to get on board with the idea that the ladies didn't immediately recognize each other. I mean, who forgets their first love? Even so, their "re-discovery" was lovely and emotional and was written beautifully.

I'm with Darkwillow6! I wanna see what happens next!

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 Post subject: Re: April Challenge: The Anniversary Challenge
PostPosted: Sat Apr 22, 2017 7:44 pm 
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Wow - didn't see that twist coming at all, I really had to slow down and process it during the flashback in a proper "Oooooh" eyes-wide kind of moment. That really put me in Willow's place, so everything after that (which was very well written anyway) really had extra impact. Great work. Willow realising about Danielle's name was a standout moment, set up early (I figured at the time it was just a cute nod to canon, which I suppose was the point of the magic trick) and it really hit home when it came around at the end. And speaking of that, I got to thinking it was nice that Tara had put thought into giving her the name - besides just because of Willow, I mean, that she'd talked about it with her partner and they'd decided it was a good one - because that gave it a sense of grounded realism, which just made the emotion of the moment more powerful.

And yeah, like everyone else I'm insanely curious about Tara telling Danielle. "Okay, so at the risk of you being unbearably smug..."

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 Post subject: Re: April Challenge: The Anniversary Challenge
PostPosted: Sun Apr 23, 2017 8:40 am 
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Title: Graffiti

Author: DarkWiccan

Rating: NC-17 ... (just trying a little spicy talk)

Summary: Reflections on a night 20 years in the making.

Spoilers: None – totally AU

Disclaimer: Willow and Tara and other characters borrowed from the television show Buffy: the Vampire Slayer are the property of their creator, Joss Whedon, and his affiliates, Mutant Enemy, Warner Brothers and Dark Horse Comics.

Notes: Thoughts in italics
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _


Image




The glass of the window is cool against my forehead. I feel each spattered drop of rain strike against the outside – a scattered staccato – and try to calm the separate cacophony of rushing blood between my ears. I press my face harder against the glass, as if to will the chill of the pane to the rest of my body. My mind is racing, my heart is pounding. It feels as though a great, straining, high-pitched, squeal is seconds away from bursting from the knot in my throat. I swallow it back down and feel it settle at the top of my stomach – tight and forcibly restrained.


Beneath me the train swaps tracks, jostling me away from the glass.


This train. Why am I on this train? I should never have left the city. Not so soon after last night.


Last night. Last night. My god, last night.


This is ridiculous. I am ridiculous. I’m 38 years old but I’m sitting here, on this train, feeling like a giddy, love-struck, teenager. All over again.


I glance around to the other passengers, scattered here and there about the car, and double-check that none of them are looking my way. I’m certain that if they did, they’d be able to see me glowing and they’d know something about me I’m not ready to share. This glow is not for them. Not for their eyes. It’s for her. Her eyes only.


I close my eyes and press my lips together, as though the act of doing so will bring back the sensation of her mouth against mine: soft, sweet and wet. A low note thrums through the space below my belly-button and I push my hand into my stomach to stop the rush. Suddenly image on image like beads on a rosary race through my head as the memory takes hold and I’m in two worlds at once – the then and the now; I’m 18, I’m 38 - and the dual experiences of a life on hold and a life in progress mesh and spin and almost knock me out with intensity of the juxtaposition.


A fuzzy detachment wraps itself around me and outside the world slides by in slow-motion. I settle, cautiously, into my thoughts.


When I’d decided to come… to go… to the reunion, I didn’t think she’d be there. What could possibly have brought her back? I’d skipped the ten year, knowing the risk of seeing her would have been too high – after all, doesn’t everyone go to the ten year? Mostly? But the twentieth. Who goes to that? Why did I? Isn’t that why Facebook exists now - to avoid taking part in the antiquated tradition of high school reunions?


I shook my head, trying to clear it of confusion. I’d dealt with this years ago. Took a hammer to every memory… every memento. Yet here it all was again. Fresh as yesterday. Fresh as last night.


Last night.


I’d walked into the rented ballroom at the hotel. I’d stopped at the sign-in table for my name badge. My senior photo stared back at me through the plastic - shy, scared, alone; hiding behind a curtain of hair. Reluctantly, I’d pinned the stupid thing to my blouse and stepped passed the table to scan the room. Then I saw her, and the floor dropped out from beneath my feet.


There she was. Standing there in a room half-full. Looking gorgeous, radiant… the same. How could she look the same? Well… not entirely the same. Her face was a little more round and hints of crow’s feet tickled at the edges of her eyes. But otherwise. The same. Time-locked.


I stood perfectly still, fearful that if I took a step – in any direction – I’d fall away into nothingness. I could feel my knees trembling beneath my skirt. I worried they’d give out any second. I watched as she turned toward me, recognized my face, acknowledged my existence. She started toward me and I felt like a colt about to bolt. Somehow, I stood still, rooted to the spot.


“Tara. You came.”


My mouth was dry. Too dry to speak. Hesitantly, I nodded.


“I was hoping you’d be here. I…” She looked around, as though checking for spies. “Can we talk?”


I’d known she’d spoken. I’d seen her lips move, forming words, but I couldn’t hear them. The waves of panic crashing against the inside of my ears had made me deaf. I shook my head, a tiny action, to indicate I hadn’t heard what she’d said.


“Oh. Ok. I… I can’t blame you for not wanting to talk to me. After…everything. I’ll leave you alone. It’s… it’s so good to see you, Tare.”


She started to step away and stopped suddenly. She looked back at me curiously and then down to the space between us. I was holding her wrist. Grasping it tightly. I hadn’t even realized I’d done it. She gazed up at me questioningly; several ringlets of auburn hair fell forward, framing her face. I looked into the startling emerald pools of green that were her eyes and my heart stopped.


“There’s a café in the hotel lobby.”


I blinked. I nodded. She stepped passed me, tenderly pulling out of my grasp, and started for the door. I followed, like an obedient puppy. Just like I had so many years ago.



I was there again. Trailing behind her in the school halls. Always staying the appropriate distance away - so as not to arise suspicion from our classmates. We’d meet in the storage attic above the drama classroom, where some enterprising technical theater students had managed to shove a small love seat and easy chair, creating a sort of secret clubhouse for those in the know. I’d sit on the left side of the little sofa, sketching or reading. She’d stretch out, her head in my lap. Typically, she’d nap. Occasionally, we’d talk and share secrets, our fingers dancing with each other, tickling palms. Then, that day, twenty years ago, as we reclined in our usual positions, she slowly turned her face toward my body and kissed the button of my jeans. I remember freezing. Afraid to move. Afraid to breathe. My heart clanging around the inside of my rib cage like the hammer of a violently rung bell. I watched, enthralled, as she glanced up at me from the corner of her eye, then nosed the hem of my shirt up above the band of my pants and pressed her lips into my skin there. I dropped my notebook off the side of the armrest, and carefully rested my hand against the back of her head; impossibly soft red hair sifting through my fingers. She looked up at me and smiled: beatific and sweet, her tongue poking out slightly between her teeth. Propping up on an elbow, she reached up with her free hand, cradling my neck at the base of my skull and drawing me to her. I watched her eyes darken as I closed my own, and felt her lips brush against mine for the first time.


“Where would you like to sit?”


I blinked again. We were standing at the entrance to the hotel café. Back in the present. Twenty years older. Not teenagers anymore. I peered into the dimly lit space, seeing several tables for two, little tea-lights glowed inside the transparent globes dotting the tabletops. I looked back to her, and shrugged.


“Ok, um, over there?” She gestured to an empty table near the center of the café. I nodded and followed her. Again.


We sat down and for what seemed like ages of minutes said nothing, each fidgeting in our seats. A waiter came by. She ordered Grey Goose and soda over rocks. I stuck with water. My head was swimming enough already. We stayed there, in silence, waiting for the drinks to be delivered. I could feel her looking at me intently; examining…remembering…perhaps even judging. My looks had changed, unlike hers. Compared to her I felt old and haggard. I kept my eyes trained to a spot on the edge of the table… an imperfection in the wood. Finally, the drinks delivered, she reached quickly for her glass, and took a steadying sip.


“You, um… you look the same.”


I looked at her disbelievingly. This was how she was going to start? With a flattering lie?


“Except…brunette now. It’s pretty.” She took another drink. Setting down her glass, she rubbed her thighs with the palms of her hands. “I’m so nervous. I can’t believe how nervous I am. You know the kind of nervous you feel when you meet someone famous?”


I shook my head. I’d never met anyone famous. Nor had I ever sought anyone famous. But I understood what she meant by feeling nervous. I was sitting across from her, a jangled bag of nerves in a new outfit, terrified to move for fear of shattering into a million pieces.


“Well, um… that kind of nervous.” She looked to her glass, as though willing it to be full again and then puzzled her fingers together in her lap. “You’re… you’ve been… this big thing in my mind… kind of like a celebrity, I guess. Anyway, you know... just… big…and important… and, um… special. You know?”


I just looked at her. The way we’d left things so long ago hadn’t made me feel very special.


“I’ve been waiting twenty years to apologize.”


I felt the world close in around me… black at the edges.


Her lips were sweet and tasted like the Dr. Pepper lip-gloss she liked to buy at the Target near her house. And they were soft, and insistent and everything I’d ever dreamed they would be. She pushed herself up on the love seat, our lips separating only by necessity, and then coming together again, once she’d settled herself – seated in my lap, her arms wrapped around my neck, her hands tangling into my hair. I folded my arms around her back, my palms flat against her lithe frame; cradling her as our mouths danced. I couldn’t believe this was happening. This was joy. This was perfection. This was everything I’d ever wanted in my life… from her… for me. I felt a profound throbbing in my most private place, a level of arousal bordering on painful that I’d never experienced. This was her effect on me. On its own, my hand started to slide under the back of her shirt. I felt her whimper softly as she opened her mouth against my lips and our tongues touched. She tasted like electricity. A surge of wetness rushed between my legs. This, I knew, was heaven. This, I knew, was right.


We were so caught up in each other we didn't hear the hatch door open. Didn't hear the footsteps on the ladder. Didn't hear a thing until the half-scream, half-gasp, that startled us apart.


"Oh, my god, you guys are total lesbos!" It was the unmistakable voice of Cordelia Chase, senior drama diva. "Holy shit, Harm, check this out."


Suddenly, my lap was empty as she scrambled off me, as though I had some disease she could catch. The hot place on my thighs where she had been began to cool rapidly, like vapor-breath disappearing from a window pane.


"No, Cord, wait. It's not what you think." Her voice was desperate and terrified.


"Oh yeah? 'Cause it seems pretty obvious to me."


"No... no it was... it was a joke. A prank."


I felt my heart cave through my chest and into the cushion at my back. A prank?


"A prank?" Clearly, Cordelia didn't believe it either.


"Yeah, um..." she glanced at me, her green eyes wild with fear, waiting for me to back her up. Too shocked and hurt to speak, I said nothing. "A prank. You know to mess with... Xander and Jesse?"


"Really." Cordelia crossed her arms, not buying it.


"Yeah. They normally come up here after lunch and we thought it would be funny to mess with them. We only started...um... faking the whole thing when we heard the hatch start to open...."


From behind the safety of my hair, I watched Cordelia's face as she scrutinized the lame explanation.


"Okay." She shrugged, seemingly mollified. Whether she really believed it or not, I didn’t care. It’s not like I had a reputation to ruin. There were only a few weeks left until graduation, anyway.


A blonde head poked up through the hatch. "What's happening?"


"Nothing, Harm. Just an April Fool's Joke gone wrong, apparently."


"But it's May?"


"Exactly. Now can you two lame-brains clear out? We need the room."


I clumsily grabbed for my notebook and book-bag and rushed passed them all, practically falling down the ladder in my haste to get away. I couldn’t let them watch me go to pieces. Wouldn’t let them see the tears of rejection spilling down my face.


“I’ve been waiting twenty years to apologize.”


I regarded her across the table.


“The only reason I even came here tonight was because I’d hoped that you’d be here.”

“I’d hoped that you wouldn’t.” They were the first words I’d spoken to her in twenty years, and I’d surprised myself with the cruelty of them. But it was true. I’d said the words softly, almost to myself, and I’d watched her curl in on herself at the utterance.


“Oh.”


I should have just stayed silent. Speaking my mind was never my forte.


“No, it’s ok. It’s fair. I’d not want to see me, too.”


She’d chased after me down the hall, passed the color-coded lockers, catching me before I ducked into the first available empty classroom.


“Tara, wait.” I felt her tug on my arm. I stopped and turned to her, keeping my head down.


“Was it a j-joke?” I willed my eyes to look up at her.


A horribly long, breathless, silence filled the air between us. I could hear the gears turning in her head. It shouldn’t have taken this long to answer a simple question. My stomach churned. I felt like I was going to be sick.


“No. No…joke.”


“Was it r-real?”


I watched her eyes grow sad. Knew I wasn’t going to like the answer.


“It was… a test.”


“T-test?”


“Like an experiment.”


“An exp-p-peri--…” I felt the world tilt sideways, and leaned against the lockers for support. Bile churned up into my throat. “I h-have to--” I slapped my hand over my mouth and ran, bolting for the nearest bathroom.


“Tara!”


I focused. Tuned my ears to the present tense: the soft instrumental jazz of the café’s soundtrack, the sounds of utensils on plates, murmured conversations.


“Tara?”


I looked up at her again. She was so beautiful. It’s almost unfair how beautiful she still was. How could someone who had hurt me so badly, still look so lovely?


“I feel awful for everything I put you through. I’m sure you’ve moved on with your life by now. But, I haven’t. I mean… every day… not a day goes by that don’t…” She bit her lip. “Can we start over? Like, completely over?”


I didn’t know what to say. She wanted to start over. How? Why? What was the purpose? Had she really been dwelling on what had happened all this time? Was I some sort of reparation she felt she needed to make for her own reasons?


She thrust her hand toward me, her expression open and unguarded. “Hi. I’m Willow.”


I felt my mouth pull to the left, unbidden, into an amused smirk. I stared at her hand, hovering in the space between us: patient and hopeful. My right hand twitched in my lap; it wanted to join hers. I clenched it into a fist. I wasn’t ready yet.


I closed my eyes and felt the cool of the tile under my jean-clad knees as I grasped the porcelain bowl, retching into it violently. Tears and snot mingled together off the tip of my nose, and the sensation and the taste as they coalesced with the remains of my lunch made me heave that much more.


“Tara?” Her voice came from behind me, bouncing off the tiled walls and plaster. “Tara, are you okay?” I sensed her come up to me, standing at the stall door.


“G-go.” I coughed the word out between retches. I so desperately wanted to be unseen.


“I’m not gonna leave you like this. This is my fault, I--”


“Don’t.” I managed to catch my breath. I grasped at the toilet paper roll, tore off several sheets and hastily wiped my mouth. Dropping the used tissues into the bowl I flushed everything away, trying frantically to forget the whole terrible situation. I refused to turn my head to look at her, keeping my eyes locked on the polished metal hardware of the plumbing. “Go away. P-please.” The final word came out almost like a keening cry of mourning. It sounded awful and raw, a perfect demonstration of exactly how I felt. The sound of her footsteps, followed by the open and shut of the bathroom door, and I had what I’d begged for. I was alone. I curled around my backpack as I leaned up against the stall wall and wept until I’d run out of tears.


I looked up at her across the table, her eyes dashed back and forth between her hand, good-naturedly waiting, and my face, which I kept as neutral as I could manage. Her features wavered briefly, from hope to disappointment. Her arm slowly started to lower itself in defeat.


I made my decision then. I gradually reached forward, and took her hand in my own. “Tara.”


She beamed at my acceptance, her face momentarily lighting up the dark café.


“But, we can’t start over. Not completely.”


Her expression darkened slightly at my statement. “No…no, you’re right. Not completely. But… we can get to know each other again? Even just as friends?”


Friends? I felt my brow crinkle at her phrasing. ‘Even just as friends’ and it was a question. As if to just be friends was only the beginning. But the beginning of what?


“So, what have you been up to the last twenty years?” She winced even as she asked the question, recognizing immediately how lame it was.


“Tell me something.” Much as I hated to admit it, I was insanely curious. I also wasn’t ready to talk about myself. “Why have I been ‘big’ in your mind for so long?”


Her eyebrows rose up into her hairline. “Cutting right to the chase? That’s definitely not the Tara I remember.”


“I’ve had a long time to learn new skills.”


She shifted in her seat again and appeared to gulp. “I’m gay… now. Have been for a while.”


I tried very hard not to visibly react to her news. Inside my chest my heart started beating triple-time. It was definitely an odd place to start from as far as personal biographies went. There were only a few reasons I could think of that would cause her to start there, and I didn’t dare to even hope.


“I mean, I guess I’ve been gay always, but… you know…. Well, sometimes things can be confusing and it can take longer to figure stuff out.” She looked up at me, trying to gauge my reaction. Apparently, my attempt at implacability was working as she seemed unsatisfied by whatever she found on my features. “Anyway… that’s why you’ve been ‘big’ on my mind.”


My eyebrow quirked. “Because you’re gay?”


“Because I used you to figure myself out... because… I knew how you felt about me... back then… and…”


“And you knew you could take advantage--”


“No!” She blurted in protest and then blushed. “Um… well… yes. I mean… sort of.” She twisted her fingers together and apart repetitively. “I didn’t really understand what I was doing. I mean… I knew what I was doing, but I didn’t understand it. Does that make sense?”


I nodded, allowing her that much. The folly of youth. We were all guilty of it in some way or another.


“Are you still…?”


I smirked a little. “Still… what? Gay?” Or still in love with you?


“Yeah. I mean… yeah.”


I finally started to relax and allowed the tiniest bit of wall to come down. “A lot has changed over the past twenty years. But not that.”


She grinned, her classic child-like grin, and I felt my stomach flip inside my belly. The giddy sensation of twitterpation tickled at the edges of my emotions and I had to focus hard to keep the feeling at bay. I would not allow myself to be swept up until I really understood what was going on.


"When did you come out?" Definitely after high school. I knew that much.


"College."


I nodded. It was the standard story. "Met a girl...fell in love..."


"Not exactly."


I looked at her curiously, waiting for her to explain.


"More like... met a boy who called my bluff." She continued off my look. "I kept trying really hard to be straight, and I wasn't good at it. Apparently. He told me I was going to leave him for a woman."


"Did you?"


"Eventually."


"Was it serious?"


"At first. But... ultimately...not a good match." She sat back in her seat and crossed her legs. "What about you?"


"What about me what?"


"See... some things don't change. You made me do all the talking in high school, too."


"I let you do all the talking. Key difference."


"Well, you have the floor now, Miss Maclay. Or... is it?"


"Is it what?"


"Still 'Miss'... still 'Maclay'?"


"Are you asking me if I'm single?"


“Are you?”


“Why?”


She exhaled a soft chuckle. “Ok, are you a psychologist or a lawyer now or something?”


I laughed lightly, too. "I'm sorry, you're right. I'm really giving you a hard time, aren't I?"


"I guess it's only fair." She shrugged, and then leaned forward, her forearms pressing into her thigh. "I am... single, that is. Not a lawyer or psychologist or anything like that. I'm a computer programmer. I know - big surprise there, right?"


"I thought you'd wanted to become a lighting designer, for live theater."


"I did. Or, I thought I did. But, really what I loved about it was the gadgetry - not so much the 'painting with light' part. Plus... turns out... not a very good painter."


"I remember really liking your design for 'Brigadoon'."


Her brow knit in surprise. "You... you saw it? I didn't figure you for going after... everything."


"I stood in the back. It was the last production of our senior year. I wasn't going to miss it - even though I'd quit the drama club."


"Because of me."


I decided to sidestep the statement. "It was a really lovely design."


"Yeah, well... they don't exactly scout for the next Broadway lighting designers in Rockaway high schools." She sighed and picked at something invisible on her skirt. "Anyway, I started at NYU and quickly realized I was out of my league as far as artsy creativity went, so I switched majors."


"Where are you living now?"


"Brooklyn, I've got a place in Bay Ridge."


"Fancy. You must be doing well."


She shrugged. "I do OK." She rapped her knuckle on the table. "Now come on, you've got to give me something about yourself. Come on, anything."


I smiled. "I'm an occupational therapist."


"Is that like a psychologist for businesses?"


I laughed. I was pretty sure she knew better and was just pulling my leg to get me to smile. It worked. "No. I help people who've suffered an injury relearn skills that have been impaired."


She smiled sweetly. "That sounds like you." I felt myself blush and looked away - her penetrating gaze a little too intense. She fidgeted a little, as though hesitant to ask her next question. "So do you do that locally, or..."


"West Long Branch." I took a drink of water. I could feel myself warming to her more and more and it scared me a little.


Her face dropped. "Jersey? Oh god, how did that happen?"


I chuckled. "It's not that bad. It's a cute little community."


"Yeah, but Jersey. And... and isn't West Long Branch part of the shore? Snookie country?"


I couldn't help but laugh at how genuinely appalled she was. "Yes and no. Yes, it's technically part of the shore - sort of. No, I don't see many 'Snookie' types."


Her expression washed with relief on my behalf. I found it adorable. She was adorable. Some things never change.


A lull fell over us. We had so much to talk about and so little at the same time. After so many years we were as good as strangers to each other. Our paths had taken us in very different directions and the conversational distance between us wasn't helped by my forced stoicism. I realized that, unless I wanted everything to stop right there, I needed to relax and trust in the fact that I was now a mature adult woman with agency and not a scared, heartbroken, teenage girl.


I didn't know where this was going. Wasn't sure what she wanted. What I wanted. I kept finding myself staring at her lips and, if I was honest with myself, at her chest. Her dress had a slightly plunging neckline and whenever she leaned forward it... It was distracting. I felt a strange ache start to form in my chest and had to quickly remind myself that this entire chat was most likely her making amends and nothing more. But I slowly realized that, even after everything, even after twenty years, a part of me still wanted more.


"We should get out of here."


She'd spoken suddenly and I was startled at the implication of her words.


"Excuse me?"


"Just to get some fresh air. Go for a walk?"


"Fresh air in New York City?"


"Ha ha." She rolled her eyes. "I just think we should get out of here before any of our classmates filter out of the reunion and interrupt us."


"Isn't the point of these things to talk to old classmates?"


She captured and held my gaze. "The only person I came to see tonight is you."


She'd spoken with such intense sincerity I felt the guts below my stomach drop and twist. I grasped at my belly to steady the feeling.


"Are you alright?"


I swallowed and tried to regain my composure. “Fine. Yeah, let’s, um…” I exhaled nervously. “Let’s go for a walk.”


She paid for her drink and I busied myself pretending to brush away lint from my blouse and skirt. After a moment, we stepped out of the café into the lobby and then exited the hotel onto 8th Avenue. I remember thinking it was odd that the reunion committee opted to book a hotel ballroom in Manhattan, rather than arrange something closer to the home of our alma mater in Queens. I supposed it was to make travel easier on those who lived or worked nearer to the heart of the city. Whatever the reason, I was grateful for the decision now. There was no risk of getting caught up in or by personal landmarks of the old neighborhood. We could keep ourselves almost completely separate from the past.


It was only a little after 9pm and the sidewalks and streets were still crammed with people. Locals and tourists wending their way through midtown. We were walking distance to Times Square and even Rockefeller Center – if we decided to play tourist. She started north on 8th and I kept pace at her elbow. After several blocks she guided us east down W. 40th Street, and I began to have an idea of where we were headed.


“A little late for a walk in the park, don’t you think?” They were the first words either of us had spoken since leaving the hotel.


She shrugged and attempted to ooze nonchalance. “For Central Park, definitely yes. But Bryant is made for nighttime.”


I couldn’t help but agree with her. The tiny park (only 4 acres compared to Central Park’s 843) was gorgeously well-lit by a border of triple-globe-topped street lamps. The inner lawn, about the size of a football field, glowed under high-powered flood lights. The New York Public Library main branch (made famous by countless films) stood in pride-of-place at the edge of the lawn, up-lit along the base to show off its beautiful, beaux arts-style architecture. Park-goers strolled through the trees under the golden glow of the lamps, and reclined in seats and on blankets scattered around the lawn. A large, inflatable, movie screen was set up at a dark corner of the lawn, near to the library, and a small crowd of viewers picnicked nearby, watching. It looked like a classic film, black and white, the audio muffled from the distance where we stood.


“It Happened One Night.”


My brow quirked, confused by the statement. “What did?”


“The movie… the one that’s playing over there? It Happened One Night is the title. Sorry, I should have prefaced.”


“No, it’s ok. It’s cool that you know that.” I watched her smile a little at the praise. “What’s it about?”


“Oh, you know… the usual romantic comedy stuff. Two people who are meant for each other keep messing up. Miscommunications, misunderstandings, missed connections… you know…” She made an indefinable gesture, waving her hand loosely back and forth between us. “The main girl thinks that the main guy has deserted her when in fact he’s trying to fix everything, but maybe does it in the wrong way…”


“Uh-huh.” I was eyeing her closely. “So… are you a fan of classic cinema?”


“Um, not really. This is just a super famous one. One of my ‘Easy A’ courses in college was a film studies class. It was really more of a ‘movie-appreciation-slash-history’ type thing.” She looked away, as though eager to shift subjects again. “Are you hungry? I haven’t eaten. I think the waffle place is open late?”


“Um, sure… that sounds great.”


We started to head for the corner of the park at 6th and 42nd. Again, our walk was silent, until she decided to broach a subject.


“Is it okay… can I say something… that I’ve noticed?”


“I don’t know. What are you going to say?”


She blushed, recognizing the silliness of her question. “Um… your… your stammer. It’s gone. Did you grow out of it, or…?”


“Why? Do you miss it?” I elbowed her playfully. I remembered her saying in high school that she thought my stutter was “cute”. I was just grateful to have finally put the impediment behind me.


“No…” She’d answered unconvincingly. “It was just a feature. Like, remembering someone’s eyes as blue and hair as blonde…”


“And here I am a brunette with no stammer. Are you sure you’re talking to the right Tara Maclay?”


She grinned. “Fairly sure… unless you grabbed the wrong name badge.” She pointed to the thing on my chest.


“Oh god!” I grasped at the offending article still pinned to my clothing. “I forgot I had it on.” I undid the clasp and pulled it off, looking for a waste bin to throw it in.


“Here.” She took it from my hand and tucked it into the side of her dress. “I’ve got pockets.”


“Handy.” I made a mental note to see if she ultimately threw away the badge or kept it.


“Very. It’s my favorite thing about this dress.” She pulled a different badge out to display. “I wasn’t too thrilled with my nametag either.”


I placed my hand behind hers, in order to take a closer look at her badge, and found myself breathless at the feeling of the soft skin of her fingers and the undeniable energy crackling through the connection. I dropped my hand and took a small step away. “Um, yeah… I think they picked the worst photos on purpose.”


She glanced at it again and then returned it to her pocket. “Yeah.” She scuffed her shoes against the sidewalk, toeing a small pebble in her path. “So… you’ll have to give me your secret.”


“My secret?”


“Yeah… you know… the one for eternal youth.” She gazed at me appreciatively, not bothering to disguise the meaning in her glance. “You really do look incredible.”


I still didn’t believe her, but if she wanted to flatter me, I wasn’t going to argue. This time. “Well, it’s nice to know the virgin sacrifices have been paying off.” She chuckled and swatted at my upper arm. “Anyway, you’re one to talk. Look at you, you’re…” I stopped myself before I could say “gorgeous”. “Um… standing there looking like a teenager.”


She rolled her eyes and scoffed. “Hardly. I’ve got jowels.”


“You do not.”


“I do so! See?” She pointed along her jaw-line. I genuinely couldn’t see what she was talking about.


“I think you need to get your mirror fixed. You definitely don’t.”


“That’s the sweetest thing anyone has said to me in ages.” She looped her arm through mine and I tried not to stagger as my knees went weak at her sudden closeness. Her eyes lit up as we approached the Wafels & Dinges food kiosk. “Oh, hey! Here it is. What would you like? My treat.”



“You don’t have to…”



“I insist. Please?”


I chuckled at her persistence. “Alright. Just a waffle.”


“What toppings?”


“No toppings.”


“No toppings?! That’s like… against the law, I think.”


I adopted a faux-somber expression. “You’ve found me out. Since we last saw each other, I’ve become a hardened criminal – refusing waffle toppings up and down the east coast.”


“Despicable.” She shook her head in mock-disgust. “Well, there’s always a chance for reform. How about whipped cream?”


I rolled my eyes and laughed a little. “Ok, fine. But just a dollop.”


“One waffle with a conservative dollop of whipped cream, coming up.”


She stepped up to get in line while I meandered over to a vacant park bench. I dusted off a few bits of organic detritus – fallen leaves, a few twigs – and sat down. I took the time to observe her as she waited her turn. She clasped her hands in front of her body below her waist and bobbed up and down on her toes a little impatiently. She used to do the same thing when we were kids waiting for the ice cream van. I grinned in spite of myself. She looked over her shoulder at me and gave a little wave. I lifted my hand subtly in response, and relaxed into the boards of the bench’s back rest. I took a deep breath and let it out.


Glancing over my shoulder I looked back to the far corner of the park where the film was playing. Two characters, male and female, were in a small room. The man was finishing hanging up a blanket down the center of the room, I assumed to create some sort of privacy screen. He turned to the woman and started talking, apparently trying to convince her of something. Then he started disrobing one piece of clothing at a time until he threatened to drop his pants, and the woman scurried to the other side of the blanket. I giggled to myself at the scene. I recognized it a little, recalling that I must have seen it somewhere before. Probably some film retrospective or something.


“Here you go, milady.” I turned toward her voice as she spoke. “One waffle with whipped cream.” My eyes went wide as I took in the site of the little cardboard tray with a small, hand-sized, waffle topped with what could modestly be called a mountain of whipped cream on top.


“Um…”


“I know.” She winced. “I did say ‘conservative dollop’ and I guess this is their version of that. I can try to scrape some off if—”


“No, it’s fine… I, um, I’m always saying I need to up the whipped cream quotient of my diet.” I reached up and took the dessert from her outstretched hand. “Thanks.”


She sat down next me, close enough that our knees touched, and hummed happily over her own treat.


“Wow, that is impressive. How many toppings is that?”


“Just three: strawberries, whipped cream and chocolate.” She eyed the confectionary bounty in her hands. “Gotta say this about the Belgians… they’re a generous people.”


I laughed. It was getting easier to laugh openly. She was charming and attentive and her proximity caused my head to start to swim again; made it impossible for me to ignore that the long-dormant feelings I’d worked so hard to bury were coming alive again within me. I felt my skin flush as our knees pressed against each other. Felt my ears burn and my tummy flutter. The closest thing I could compare it to was an alcoholic having their first sip of wine after twenty years sobriety. Only… I wasn’t sure if falling off the wagon in my case was a bad thing or not. Too many uncertainties. My mind screamed to my heart to center itself, calm down, and try to focus on something else. Purposefully, I redirected my attention to the little tray in my hands, searching for a utensil.


“Fork?”


Her cheeks flushed like a child who’d been caught mid-plot. “Belgian street waffles are technically a finger-food…” My eyebrow arched critically. “I mean… I could go back and grab forks. They do have them. I just thought, ‘why not be authentic’?” She revealed a stack of paper napkins from beneath her tray. “I brought napkins?” She grinned sheepishly.


I snickered through my nose and shook my head, taking a few of the proffered sheets. I stared at the squat tower of whipped cream before me and started to devise an approach. I was about to carefully lift the dessert to my lips when I looked at her and let out a blurting yelp of amused shock. She’d apparently decided to ‘dive right in’, taking a bite from the base of the waffle and ending up with whipped cream smeared across her cheeks, nose and upper lip. She looked back at me owlishly, aware that she’d made a mess of herself.


“How bad is it?”


I pursed my lips together in a tight grin, trying very hard not to completely fall out into laughter. I raised my hand in front of my face and made an all-encompassing motion. “It’s sort of… all over.”


“Oh god.” She set her tray on her knees and broadly wiped across her face a few times with a napkin. “Did I get it all?”


I smirked. “There’s a little, um…” I tentatively reached up with my hand and gently caressed her cheek with my thumb, removing the last little trace of cream there. She leaned into my touch and toward my face. We hovered there for a moment, our lips centimeters apart, the air crackling between us. I could feel the magnetic pull; it would be so easy to give in to it. But then, my wits came back to me and I drew away, resting my hand back in my lap against the cardboard dessert tray there. “What are we doing?”
My voice was soft and laced with apprehension. “What are you doing? What is this?”


She blinked, caught off-guard by the questions. “What? I… I don’—”


“What do you want from me, Willow?” It was the first time I’d spoken her name aloud, not just that night, but in years. “What am I…to you?”


She let out a long slow breath, and looked up into my eyes. “Everything.”


I felt my heart squeeze tightly in my chest. The strange, dull, ache that had been isolated there spread over my body and I felt hot and cold all at once. My scalp tingled as I felt the blood drain from my face and once again the world tilted on its axis. “Wh-what?”


“Tara, using you like I did was the worst mistake of my life. I don’t think it’s possible to have a bigger regret than how I hurt you. Somehow, at the time, knowing you had such deep feelings for me made it… I don’t know… easier, somehow?, to ignore my own. I was caught up in the labelling of things and not the meaning of them.” She was speaking quickly, almost rapid-fire; as though if she didn’t get everything out at once it would never be said. “I thought that to be a thing was to do a thing. I was testing myself that day. Not you. But... it took getting older to understand how horrible I was to you. And to realize that I was… had been…” She drifted into a short silence and then seemed to gather her courage again. “Still am… in love with you.” She took another quick breath and continued. “I’ve had a few girlfriends over the years but none of them…. There wasn’t a good fit. Because there’s only one person in this world I think I’m meant to be with. And yeah, I did know that ‘It Happened One Night’ would be playing here tonight and I did sort of scheme to get you here. And the waffles and whipped cream was on purpose too. Only I’d pictured you getting it on your nose and me wiping it off and it would be sweet and romantic and…. I… I still don’t even know if you’re single. I could be sitting here pouring my guts out and you could be dating or engaged or even married and she took your last name and—”


“Stop.” She stopped. “I’m not… any of those things. I’m…alone… Single.” A massive wave of tension seemed to drain from her shoulders. “But, we don’t know each other. Not anymore. You’ve obviously built me up to be this…mythic…figure in your mind. The answer to some great question. But what if I’m not her?” I’d spoken with as much care and tenderness as I could manage given the maelstrom of emotion pounding through me. “You’ve spent the past 20 years building me up and I’ve spent it trying to…break…this hold you and… that day… have had on me.”


Her eyes were watery. Her lower jaw jutted slightly forward as she breathed shallow breaths into her chest. I watched as her nose started to pink with embarrassment and sadness. “So… you’ve been trying to…forget me?”


“I could never forget you. You’re like…graffiti…on my heart. No matter how many coats of paint I try to cover you up… you’re still there.” I felt myself on the verge of tears and suddenly I realized I’d made the choice to interrupt her spell. I’d known what she was doing the whole time, and I could have just let it happen and might have been happy with the outcome. But I couldn’t let her drive the narrative a second time. I needed things to be on my terms. Maybe she was right. Maybe we were meant to be together. It could be why neither of us had had a serious long-term relationship. Why neither of us had been able to let go of the other. I handed her one of my napkins; she dabbed at her eyes.


I stayed still for a moment, watching her collect herself, and felt another realization wash over me. “It’s all down to you, isn’t it?” She gazed at me through wounded, red-rimmed, eyes – not understanding what I meant. “It’s always been down to you.”


Even as I said the words, I knew what I needed to do; and it would be for me this time. I reached up and placed my hands on either side of her face, drawing her to me. I leaned up slightly and pressed my lips to her forehead, and then dropped them to within millimeters of her mouth and whispered against them. “This is a test.” I made the connection then, her lips to mine, and the world exploded in electric light.


A sparking fire ignited in my belly as time stopped around us. I felt her wrap her arms around my body, pressing her hands into my back as she pulled me toward her. Absently, I felt the cardboard plate slip from my lap and fall to the ground and imagined hers had met a similar fate. My hands slipped up into her hair as I opened my mouth against hers, inviting her inside. The floodgates were open. This was proof of concept in its brilliant, most-glorious, form. I’d never dreamed it was possible to hear music while caught up in an embrace and yet, now I would swear under oath, it was there. A swelling of strings like violins rose up around us, wrapping us in the privacy of sound. Even if it was only in my head, it felt as though the rest of the world was locked outside. My heart raged with elation. My mind was void of anything but the sensation of her lips on mine, her body held close and my skin turning to goose-flesh as her soft tongue explored my mouth. This was a kiss of our own invention. If love and lust combined were like rocket fuel, this was lift-off.


We pulled apart, for no other reason than air. Our foreheads rested against each other as we gasped in each other’s faces.


“Are you staying in town?” Her question bounced hot and breathy against my cheek.


I nodded. “At the hotel.”


And then we were there. Logically, I knew we must have walked the six blocks or so back, gotten in the elevator and travelled up to my floor. But somehow the entire journey was washed from my memory as we made it inside and she pushed my body back against the door - her mouth greedily seeking out my own. Her kiss was rapacious; it chewed at my lips and lapped at my tongue and made me burn with hunger for her. I pulled myself against her, forcing us back into the small room, our knees knocking together as we stumbled and bumbled unwilling to stop our mouths for even a moment.


Her hands slid to the waist of my skirt, wantonly slipping inside and untucking my blouse. Her fingers inked lusty messages into the skin of my low back. “Is this alright? Is this what you want?” She murmured the words, as though speaking them any louder would snap me back to my senses.


“We’ve waited long enough.” I claimed her mouth again with my own and thrust my hands under the neckline of her dress, pushing it insistently off her shoulders, the material falling and bunching at her elbows. She dropped her arms, allowing the sheer fabric to slide from them, the dress stayed clinging to her waist. My hands flew to the buttons of my blouse, hastily undoing them and flinging the thing off to the floor. We stood, topless, in front of each other; our chests heaving, straining at the material of our bras – mine white, hers black. I stared at her breasts, watched them rise and fall unevenly as she panted with excitement. I studied her eyes, and the warmth of her darkening emerald gaze spread through my body like kneading fingers. The air crackled between us – sparkled with the electricity of want, the current of need.


Slowly, she reached behind her back and undid the clasp of her bra, the lacy material fell forward, revealing the pale hillocks of her breasts. My mouth went dry, my eyes traced the dusting of freckles that dipped into the shallow valley of her chest. Her skin was like cream speckled with cinnamon. Lifting my gaze to hers, a silent agreement passed between us, and we finished undressing; presenting ourselves to each other. Every uncertainty that was left in my mind fell with the fabric to the floor.


I leaned forward and caressed her lips with my own. She sighed into my mouth, wrapped her arms around my body, pulling me to her. I realized with full clarity as our skin pressed against each other soft like velvet, firm like wanting: this was happening. After twenty years, this would be our first time.


Starting right now.


I shifted my weight, pushing us down onto the bed, still tangled together. She giggled against my lips and rolled us to the center of the mattress – her body hovering over mine. She kissed me hotly, her ravenous hands traveling up and down my body, libidinal and curious, mapping my flesh. I allowed her to explore. My hands clutched at her shoulder blades, nails raked gently across her skin. She bent her head to my breasts and I arched into her mouth, gasping; pops of yellow and white bursting in front of my eyes. I squeezed them shut and saw the remnant spots of ghost red against my eyelids. She’d made me see stars. I pulled her face back up to mine and crushed our lips together. Pressed my hands against her back and pushed her down, properly on top of me, our chests mashing together, and maneuvered us onto our sides.


I slid my hand up, cupping her small breasts, running my thumb over their peaks; delicately pinching and caressing; relishing her gasps and whimpers as she reacted to my licentious touch. She clutched at my hips and squeezed at my bottom; I sighed and drew my knee up, wrapping my thigh over her waist. I felt her hand slide between my legs, felt her fingers curl into me, and I gasped wetly.


I clutched at her back, clung to her shoulders, our sweat-slicked skin sticking together as my hips rocked against her hand – taking her in again and again; deeper and deeper. I buried my face into her neck and inhaled the salty tang of sweat, tasted the sweet cream of flesh. Finally, I let my own passion lead me, and slid my hand down, across the silky expanse of her belly, through downy auburn curls and into wetness – into her. A bleat-like cry came from the back of her throat as my fingers were encircled in her warmth. I pressed into her softness, imprinting her with my touch. If she was graffiti on my heart, I would be a tattoo on her soul.


She rolled her hips in time to the thrust of my hand, the rock of my hips; the flat of her palm rubbing the source of my want, her fingers inside me, shaping and fluttering. We moaned, and sighed, and breathed each other’s hot breath and suckled each other’s lips swollen from wanton kisses. My body hummed as the ultimate sensation built and rose within my core, felt the precipice approaching closer and closer. Our rocking became frantic, our hands thrusting wildly, our rhythm faltering into chaos. I felt her body go rigid against mine, felt the word rise up from her chest and onto her tongue; and the word was my name, and I held it on her lips with my mouth.


She was still for a moment, save for a few involuntary shudders, and then I felt her start to move again – inside me, against me. She suckled on my neck and the rush of sensation that had momentarily stalled on the cusp resumed course and moments later; a yawning of energy, an electric fire, an explosion of everything and for a moment the world went white and then a cry I didn’t recognize as my own voice ripped from my throat.


We lay quietly for several long moments, trembling and panting. And I thought about her and I thought about me and I thought about sex and how, when you’re a single adult, it doesn’t necessarily mean as much. How sometimes it can just be something you do for fun, because it feels good. I thought about how taking her to bed had started as a test; a trial on my terms. But this, what we’d just shared, hadn’t been sex. It was something greater, deeper; profound and beautiful. It had been love. I wondered if she had managed to write our story after all. And, if she had, I was grateful.


She reached up with a shaky finger and traced the outline of my jaw, the curve of my lips, and I smelled the sharp tang of my lust on her skin. I swallowed, trying to steady my racing heart; trying to slow my heaving breath. Her gaze darted from my eyes to my lips and back again. “I love you.” The words passed over her lips unsteadily, but in earnest. She waited for my reply. I kissed her deeply instead, for now.


We snuggled down under the bed sheets. The soft cotton cool against our over-heated skin. Our hands roamed up and down each other’s bodies, tracing lazy patterns. We kissed again, slowly and sleepily. Eventually, emotionally and physically exhausted, we drifted to sleep.


The next morning – this morning – I left her sleeping in my hotel bed. I quietly dressed, wrote her a quick note explaining I had to catch a train, and left my phone number under my name next to a cartoon heart. I kissed her temple tenderly, soft enough so as not to wake her and slipped out into the hall.


I walked the short distance to Penn Station feeling the pavement rise to meet my feet as I pulled my small overnight bag behind me. The morning sun stretched my shadow to a length that matched how tall I felt. The city was just waking up. It never truly slept – but the mornings were still quiet. I purchased my ticket and made it to the platform in plenty of time to catch the NJT 7221 back to Long Branch.


Why had I done that? Why had I left? It’s not like there weren’t other trains running, every hour. I’d left her alone. The person I didn’t know I’d been waiting for for twenty years…and I’d left her alone. What is she going to think of me? I left her my phone number, but I didn’t get hers. I’d been so high on love and her and the after-glow this morning I may as well have been drunk. Maybe I kept to my original schedule because it felt sturdy, and familiar, and…planned.


I’ve shed the fuzzy blanket of detachment I’d enjoyed reliving the previous night in my mind and now I glance around the train car, once again clear-eyed. The seats are occupied with different faces – riders who had gotten on replacing those who had gotten off at earlier stops.


We’re getting close to home. We just pulled away from Middletown station, which means only Red Bank and Little Silver remain before the train reaches my destination. I shake my head and rub at my face with my hands. I am so stupid. I’d wanted to control the narrative this time, but I’d written it out of my hands and back into hers. I can only hope that she’ll call me. I can only hope that she’ll forgive me and I can only hope it takes her less than twenty years to do so.


I turn my gaze back to the window. The rain that had started somewhere around Rahway has subsided as we’ve traveled further south. I watch the rooftops of old houses race by as the train rolls on, trying with little luck to settle my thoughts. Everything has changed. I was looking for someone to complete me and hadn’t realized she’d always been a part of my life.


The train pulls into Long Branch station as my mind continues to swirl with panic and mixed emotions. I stand from my seat and pull my overnight bag from the luggage rack overhead. I move purposefully, trying to calm my inner turmoil with a steady gate. Leaving the platform, I take the stairs down into in the pedestrian underpass leading from the tracks to the parking lot beyond.


As I summit the steps up to the other side, the mid-morning sun filters down into my eyes, momentarily dazzling me. As I reach the top step, my vision clears, and for a long moment I wonder if my eyes are deceiving me.


“Tara?”


I can only gape at her. Here she is standing in front of me. A redheaded miracle.


“Oh my god, Tara. We… we must have been on the same train.”


“How?”


She reaches into her pocket and pulls out the note I’d left back at the hotel. “When I woke up and saw this… I wasn’t sure how early you’d left. I figured you must have already been gone for hours.” She tugs at her wrinkled dress. “I threw on my clothes and raced to Penn Station and barely caught this train…” She looks at me, sheepish and worried. “I… I hope you don’t think I’m some weird stalker-person now or something….”


I race to her, closing the distance between us in an instant, and throw my arms around her shoulders, pressing my lips against her mouth. At first she’s startled, but then I feel her relax against me and my kissing becomes less frantic as I realize that she is real… and she is here… and she is mine.


We pull apart and I rest my forehead against hers, just as I had last night. “Thank you for being a weird stalker-person.”


She giggles and pecks at my lips. “So…um… I didn’t actually have a plan beyond just getting here.”


“How about breakfast?”


She smiles, open and child-like. “Will there be waffles?” She grins cheekily and pokes her tongue between her teeth.


“Definitely. With toppings.”


She bounces happily and I can’t help but laugh like a giddy fool. I take her hand and lead her to my car, onward to breakfast and then into the future.




End.

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Last edited by DarkWiccan on Mon Apr 24, 2017 8:51 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: April Challenge: The Anniversary Challenge
PostPosted: Sun Apr 23, 2017 10:39 am 
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Ms. Moderator Fantastico
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Argh, Jen. You destroyed me.

At first, for some reason, my brain assumed we were in a Willow POV and I had to turn myself around and start again when I realised it was Tara.

This was before I realised you were about to crush me.

Quote:
Her skin was like cream speckled with cinnamon.


This is probably one of the most magnificent lines I’ve seen written about Tara’s perception of Willow’s body. So simple, but so rich in imagery. I read it about 12 times.

I’ve called you a wordsmith before, but you are. Everything so perfectly placed in its own lyrical poise. So vivid and almost painfully visceral at times. I felt it in the gut. That was not smut, that was art.
Quote:
If she was graffiti on my heart, I would be a tattoo on her soul.


And this, this is like a deep, resonating cage on my heart because this is them, this is how their effect on each other affected me.

From reading the opening I was dreading where it might end but I should have known I can trust you, and the spirit of this wonderful community, to make sure they found each other. As we all well know, they’ll always find each other.

Also dress pockets :D Willow and I have the same wants when it comes to dresses. Nothing better than a dress pocket. < I needed something light-hearted to end this because this story emotionally moved me and that is just how I cope with such things.

But wow.

That’s all I really have to say,

Wow.

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 Post subject: Re: April Challenge: The Anniversary Challenge
PostPosted: Sun Apr 23, 2017 3:51 pm 
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Wow, that was intense! And perfectly crafted - it genuinely had the feeling that this short story really was the topmost layer of 20+ years of life for our gals, that all that time did exist in 'reality', not just a background for the purposes of these scenes. I'm not sure exactly what the word count was, but every one of them must have been darn near chosen and placed perfectly, so go you :bow While I'm on flattery, I have to say I got so swept up in the conversation that every time it went into a flashback I was immediately there, until the scene switched back to the 'present' and I remembered it was a flashback - and that extends to the bulk of the story being flashback from Tara on the train, when it caught up to that point that was when I remembered, oh yeah, that's where we started. And then them meeting again at the end, it had a proper romance-film quality, but everything made logical sense, there was nothing 'staged' about it, so the joy of the moment really shone. Bravo.

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 Post subject: Re: April Challenge: The Anniversary Challenge
PostPosted: Sun Apr 23, 2017 9:50 pm 
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Feedback For The Writers

Artemis

I wouldn’t consider your fic cheating, I’d just consider you lucky. Happy coincidence that it fit well enough into the challenge requirements. The idea of Willow posing as a nude model is very intriguing but yes I think it works best as it being an accident. “Is self-pranking a thing?” I’d say yes because I’m sure I do it to myself all the time.

And the scene with Willow in the bathroom… :blush You’ve always had a knack for going from sexy to hilarious so expertly that it works. It just, it works. “Hey, you started this.”

Uh, so you said they’d be getting around to more ‘art sessions’… You do plan on sharing some of those right?


DarkWiccan

Laragh used destroyed. I’m using devastated.

Quote:
…I was now a mature adult woman with agency and not a scared, heartbroken, teenage girl.


But *I AM* a scared, heartbroken, teenage girl. Devastated, destroyed, crushed…. Reading this fic made me feel all of it. And even though I knew there would be nothing less than a happy ending, the break-down before the build-up was intense.

Quote:
If she was graffiti on my heart, I would be a tattoo on her soul.


I’ve considered the occasional song lyric or inspirational quote to become a tattoo someday…. This is now at the top of my list. Just FYI. :bow


Replies to Feedback for my fic

Zampsa: Glad you liked it!

Laragh: I’ll consider my story so awesome, I just left you speechless. Just kidding, you must be busy, but glad you took moment.

darkwillow6: Honestly, using the lines from the show was not my intended purpose to start out with. I originally planned for Willow to say “My shirt.” but then more and more of it started to sneak in and I just had to go with it. Glad you liked it still anyway. I also had considered ending it with daughter some how but it wasn’t working. I have actually started to write more to the story, but so far it is just a smut scene as they continue into the bedroom. So we will see, I will definitely keep it in mind….

DarkWiccan: Okay Okay so I guess I could have changed some things to make it more believable that they wouldn’t automatically recognize each other and just fall into each other’s arms (bad joke, see, because yours didn’t do that either, at least not right away, and for very good reason). I could have made them younger, but then I would have to give up so much for that. So I considered myself at 15/16. If I were to run into the person I used to make out with when I was 15 would I recognize them? Maybe? But then again I’m a fairly oblivious person, as well as skeptical, so I tend to dismiss a lot. Which is where I took Willow with that. And as for Tara, well I think I indicated that she’d been more suspicious but I don’t think I give her any more reasons. I may revisit and sort of smooth this out went I follow the story into the bedroom. Because you are right, I clearly indicated that they were each other’s first love and that makes it a bit more difficult to dismiss.

Artemis: Glad I was able to catch someone good with my twist. I always think I’m being so gosh darn clever so it’s nice to hear it works sometimes. Glad you liked the whole name game. I put great deal of thought into names, because I really think they have a deep and profound impact on people. Myself, having a unique name and very significant reasons why I was named as I was, has impacted me. And the day that I finally realized that names in shows, they either have to be ridiculously common or ridiculously unique (hence Buffy and Willow for example). You can’t share a name with someone, unless there are just tonnes of people who also have that name so you can’t point and say “hey were you the inspiration?” I really research names before I choose them. The irony of the unique names is when a show becomes popular so do certain names! And yes, when I was considering where to end my story I did picture Danielle being really smug about the success of Tara’s date.

And here is the part where I beg

We’ve got until Friday peeps. I’ve just been ecstatic about seeing old and new people on the board and I’m really hoping to bring more people out of the shadows. We plan to take at least a month break before we issue a new challenge so get it done!

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 Post subject: Re: April Challenge: The Anniversary Challenge
PostPosted: Mon Apr 24, 2017 10:11 am 
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Replies:

Laragh -
Quote:
Argh, Jen. You destroyed me.

I'm sorry, I didn't mean to!

Quote:
At first, for some reason, my brain assumed we were in a Willow POV and I had to turn myself around and start again when I realised it was Tara.

Good! I wanted there to be some degree uncertainty as to who our narrator was at first. As my past 1st Person POV has almost always been from Willow's perspective (Special, The Giles Series) I knew that it was likely that readers would initially be misled. I was really working to get a "Oh! It's Tara!" reaction from readers once the identity of the narrator was revealed.

Quote:
Quote: "Her skin was like cream speckled with cinnamon."

This is probably one of the most magnificent lines I’ve seen written about Tara’s perception of Willow’s body. So simple, but so rich in imagery. I read it about 12 times.

Wow, thanks!! I actually really struggled with this description. I thought it was a little too... I dunno... something. I almost cut and replaced it... glad I didn't now!

Quote:
That was not smut, that was art.

:blush Thank you! I really wanted to make sure that I wasn't writing anything overtly graphic. I tried to avoid clinical terms or rough slang. I wasn't exactly going for "art", but I am glad it at least didn't read as "smut".

Quote:
Quote: "If she was graffiti on my heart, I would be a tattoo on her soul."

And this, this is like a deep, resonating cage on my heart because this is them, this is how their effect on each other affected me.

So clearly I need to stop listening to my initial reactions to my own writing when they tell me something is too "artsy" or too "cheesy" because obviously they work fine. This is another line I almost cut... and am glad I ignored the impulse.

Quote:
From reading the opening I was dreading where it might end but I should have known I can trust you, and the spirit of this wonderful community, to make sure they found each other. As we all well know, they’ll always find each other.

Too, bloody, right! :smash

And finally:
Quote:
Nothing better than a dress pocket.

So I've been told :grin

Thank you!!



Artemis -
Quote:
Wow, that was intense! And perfectly crafted
:flirt Thank you!

Quote:
I'm not sure exactly what the word count was, but every one of them must have been darn near chosen and placed perfectly, so go you

LOL, the final word count was just shy of 10,000. Which seems tiny! The funny thing is, I proof my stories up to 6 times before posting them... and then - of course - I go back through after it's posted and find mistakes left and right. So much for perfection :lol

Quote:
And then them meeting again at the end, it had a proper romance-film quality, but everything made logical sense, there was nothing 'staged' about it, so the joy of the moment really shone.

Phew!! I was so worried that it would read as "a little too perfect", and maybe it still is, as long it's also a logical chain of events that got them there.

Thank you!!



dtburanek -
Quote:
Laragh used destroyed. I’m using devastated.

Oh jeez... I wasn't trying to cut that deeply. I wanted to affect people... wanted a reaction... but not devastation. Forgive me? :flirt

Quote:
Quote: "…I was now a mature adult woman with agency and not a scared, heartbroken, teenage girl."

But *I AM* a scared, heartbroken, teenage girl.

But I thought we were about the same age? :geek Seriously, though. I get what you mean. And so is Tara, to an extent. When I wrote that line, it was with the thought that she was working to convince herself.

Quote:
Quote: "If she was graffiti on my heart, I would be a tattoo on her soul."

I’ve considered the occasional song lyric or inspirational quote to become a tattoo someday…. This is now at the top of my list. Just FYI.

:shock Yes, definitely glad I didn't cut or change that line, then. WOW.

Thank you for your kind words!!



Ok, now, Everybody. Listen up.


There are only a few days left in this challenge. I'd love to see a new story every day until Friday! It can be done! Just put pen to paper (or finger tip to keyboard) and write!
Cheers
DW

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Check out some of my most popular works: Special ... Leave It to Giles ... The Inimitable Giles ... Giles at Christmas

Challenge Fics!: You Could Be Her ... Glasses ... Graffiti ... Pizza Day

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Oops, I made a mythtake... wt4ever


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 Post subject: Re: April Challenge: The Anniversary Challenge
PostPosted: Mon Apr 24, 2017 11:08 am 
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Delayne - I was on my phone when I read yours and had to leave something. Heart-swell emojis were pretty apt to how I was feeling.

I came back to edit more but Jen had posted, and well, I had to take a moment. Or ten.

But I loved yours. I don't mind some suspension of disbelief in a fic. And I've met people I knew at 15 now that I don't recognize, and it was only 10, not 20 years ago. Okay, I wasn't making out with them, but still. It was a lovely, emotional and just warming reunion.

PS I'm a big fan of using show lines in fics! The more the better, if you can make it fit! It shows there's a W/T in any and every world because their love and connection is just so wonderfully universal and generally omnipresent.

Also did I not leave Chris feedback??? I have been a bad kitten on this challenge.

I snort-laughed at least three times on this one! I can see Willow awkwardly posing so vividly. I love that they were secretly watching each other. Sweet, sweet, sweet and I love that it captured how they can be drawn to each other at any age.

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 Post subject: Re: April Challenge: The Anniversary Challenge
PostPosted: Mon Apr 24, 2017 12:34 pm 
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Thanks for the link to the reference picture, Artemis, that really helped me to picture the modeling scenes more clearly.

Hi dtburanek, this is the first of your stories that I've read. I really liked it. I love it when writers use show dialogue because I'm able to hear the lines in the actors' voices. It's sort of like a vector to help me hear all of the written dialogue in their voices... if that makes sense. I did find it a little weird that they didn't recognize each other right away, but not so weird that it was unbelievable. When they did figure it out it was really sweet. Also, thanks for bringing in an element of the trans experience to your story. My ex is trans and we also broke up because of his transition... not because we didn't care about each other, we just didn't work as a couple anymore. That's all I feel comfortable saying about it, but it was really cool to see an aspect of my life reflected in your story.

Hi DW, I remember reading a few of your stories several years ago. I'm glad to see you doing more AU stuff (it's my favorite fic-style) because you're really good at it. Your story left me breathless. I felt like I was experiencing everything Tara was. I liked how you had her point out that sex doesn't have to mean anything all that deep but in the case with Willow it did. I think for me it made it more believable that they would end up in bed so quickly if Tara was going into it thinking it was just going to be casual, and then it ended up being serious.


Floof


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 Post subject: Re: April Challenge: The Anniversary Challenge
PostPosted: Thu Apr 27, 2017 9:10 am 
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Floof wrote:
Your story left me breathless. I felt like I was experiencing everything Tara was. I liked how you had her point out that sex doesn't have to mean anything all that deep but in the case with Willow it did. I think for me it made it more believable that they would end up in bed so quickly if Tara was going into it thinking it was just going to be casual, and then it ended up being serious.


Thank you so much for your response! I'm glad you enjoyed my little trifle. I'm also pleased that you liked the element of Tara pointing out that not all sex is this deep, profound, thing. But I don't know that she went to bed with Willow casually... I think there was always deeper meaning to it, but that she was trying to set that aside at first, but then had no choice but to give into it.

Thanks for your thoughtful feedback!

Cheers
DW

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Check out some of my most popular works: Special ... Leave It to Giles ... The Inimitable Giles ... Giles at Christmas

Challenge Fics!: You Could Be Her ... Glasses ... Graffiti ... Pizza Day

Forbidden Fics?: Check out the Litterbox!

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 Post subject: Re: April Challenge: The Anniversary Challenge
PostPosted: Fri Apr 28, 2017 8:47 pm 
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So I am a little disappointed that there are currently 3 entries. And it is from our usual three….

I understand there have been a few “technical difficulties” otherwise we might have had a few more.

I just want to remind everyone that we post and participate in the challenges for fun. And actually it is less about the fun and more about the inspiration. Because even if, for whatever reason, a story can't make it onto the board or posted in this thread, I am happy. I am happy to have gotten people to think and try and just write….

Physics explains it best. Bodies in motion, stay in motion.

See if we got you writing, even if it isn't towards the board, you are at least moving and you can always circle back around.

For myself, even though I have yet to really work on my long lost abandoned fics, I am happy that I am writing.

So, I'm willing to give a few more days, since it is the April challenge and April isn't over yet.

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 Post subject: Re: April Challenge: The Anniversary Challenge
PostPosted: Sat Apr 29, 2017 12:28 pm 
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So I wrote a thing for this challenge. And it turned out to be just a little more than would fit in a single post. So I made a thread: Witches of Gramercy Park


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 Post subject: Re: April Challenge: The Anniversary Challenge
PostPosted: Sun Apr 30, 2017 10:50 pm 
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thespian - Yay! Even though it is too long, I'm glad you finally got it posted.

I've had a busy week....

I'd like to thank all of our participants again. I'm glad people are writing. I'm impressed with the quality and the quantity of feedback on this challenge. I'm just happy to have this board.

Gentle reminder, there will be no challenge for the month of May, I personally need some time to work on other stuff, plus my reading and feedback of other fics has slacked a bit lately, partly because of the focus on completing challenges (and partly because I get lazy sometimes, sorry).

But on the off-chance you still might be inspired by this challenge, feel free to link it here like thespian has done, at least until Laragh or another mod decides it is complete and moves it to the completed section of the board.

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 Post subject: Re: April Challenge: The Anniversary Challenge
PostPosted: Sat May 06, 2017 10:42 pm 
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Oops! Meant to drop this in the thread a few days ago. Sorry for tardiness.

DRAWN BY HER: Good god. I can still think of all the little things I did when I first started seeing the SO. Like miraculously end up at a bar close to her work just when she happened to be done. And I was all, sorry I'm out with friends way across town . . . oh is that by where you work, do you want to meet me for a quick pint to wind down and then let me walk you home? So, loving the dedicated let me find a way to see and be seen business. But having attended art class . . . Oof! Crushing on the life model? Awkward.

BLIND DATE: just to pitch in on all the would they-wouldn't they re recognising each other after 20 years. God knows I wouldn't, if I ran into the one I was super gone on in HS. Especially as context is everything. And I spent months hanging out with her at her place after classes.

The bit about the ex helping set up the date only reminded me of the one about the longest most important relationships a lesbian has in her life being the one with her exes.And that Dykes To Watch Out For strip where Mo talks about how most lesbians meet their gf's through their exes. Or maybe it reminded me of my life, idk.

GRAFFITI: so I basically sleep walked through high school being the over achieving nerd, which meant I didn't really experience my adolescence until undergrad. Whoo doggy, what a doozy that was. But if I had this shit go down with pubescent brain, I'd be a 20-year long melancholic too. That kind of stuff really does echo through life doesn't it? I really did feel for your characters, especially having to take the NJT so early in the a.m lulz. Also, W. Long Branch vs Bayside? Choose Bayside.

Interesting though that 2 of the stories are about a second shot at getting it right. I don't believe we get those, but gosh is it a powerful fantasy! Just the idea alone has the power to change behaviour.

Also, I'm going to second Delayne: it's really neat to see people writing and talking.


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 Post subject: Re: April Challenge: The Anniversary Challenge
PostPosted: Mon May 08, 2017 9:06 am 
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thespian_phryne wrote:
I really did feel for your characters, especially having to take the NJT so early in the a.m lulz. Also, W. Long Branch vs Bayside? Choose Bayside.


LOL, well... I chose W. Long Branch because I have spent a great deal of time there and I still have friends who live there. I've also taken that NJT to and from the city many, many, times. So I was pulling from experience. Psssh... Bayside. Whatevs. :wink

Also, I find it kinda sad that you don't believe in second chances. I absolutely do... especially on the smaller scale. But, once in a blue moon, the opportunity to correct a decade's old mistake can arise. Not everyone is lucky, of course, but we can always hope. :)

Cheers
DW

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Challenge Fics!: You Could Be Her ... Glasses ... Graffiti ... Pizza Day

Forbidden Fics?: Check out the Litterbox!

Oops, I made a mythtake... wt4ever


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 Post subject: Re: April Challenge: The Anniversary Challenge
PostPosted: Wed Jun 14, 2017 9:56 am 
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In Reply to the fic 'Graffiti' by DarkWiccan:


*Takes a deep breath*

First off, when something works... it just works. This definitely works. See? Words, they're hard sometimes. What I mean to say is, writing - like any form of art, works when it's evocative. When it touches something inside you, and makes you feel.

This piece made me feel all kinds of things. I found myself physically responding to Tara's anguish. I felt the butterflies, I could feel the bricks and mortar in the protective wall she'd built around herself. I cried when she was crushed, I cried when Willow failed her. I hoped it was not all for naught, but at the same time felt fiercely protective of Tara.

At times I found myself saying out loud "You can do this, girl." Supporting her in staying strong in defense for herself. At other times, I felt myself crumbling in my own resolve... felt like telling her to give Will a shot. You took me on a roller-coaster ride of emotions - this was Art.

The wording, the lyrical flow of the sentences - beautiful. Absolutely beautiful. It's easy to go overboard, get too flowery. Take if from a frenchie, I know flowery. You managed the balance like a master painter handles a brush. I'm... out of words.

DW, I'm extremely impressed. :bow

Now I'm having to discipline myself so I don't go reading all your work in one go. I have a fic to write and, admittedly, some actual work to be done. :kgeek

Bravo.

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 Post subject: Re: April Challenge: The Anniversary Challenge
PostPosted: Thu Jun 15, 2017 9:45 am 
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CopperAndGold-

I'm so grateful that you found my little trifle so affecting. Your praise has left me (mostly) speechless. I'm relieved that my writing didn't come off as too flower-y. This was my greatest concern with this piece. I cut, revised, replaced and worried over so many phrases, it's almost embarrassing to admit. As a writer my goal has always been (beyond just the telling of a story) to evoke a response. I'm glad to have succeeded here.

Thanks again!

Cheers,
DW

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Check out some of my most popular works: Special ... Leave It to Giles ... The Inimitable Giles ... Giles at Christmas

Challenge Fics!: You Could Be Her ... Glasses ... Graffiti ... Pizza Day

Forbidden Fics?: Check out the Litterbox!

Oops, I made a mythtake... wt4ever


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