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

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 Post subject: Therapy
PostPosted: Wed Dec 27, 2017 5:48 pm 
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3. Flaming O

Joined: Mon May 09, 2005 3:50 pm
Posts: 60
Topics: 1
Location: TX
Author: Darkwillow6 (Ashley Riegel)

Rating: NC-17 (overall)

Summary: Willow seeks the help of a therapist to understand her past and generate a clearer picture of her future.

Title: Therapy

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

"So, it's been what, eight years? Why am I still here? I haven't gone anywhere," Willow said, frustration dominating her tone.

"Maybe you don't have a clear idea of where you want to go. Don't you think you should start there?" Dr. Langdon asked.

The quiet, dimly lit room was conducive to the internal digging Willow found herself doing.

"Or maybe I don't want to go anywhere," Willow responded sitting back, defeated.

The room had various different types of seating options. There were high backed, padded chairs, there were cozy looking stuffed armchairs, there was the classic chaise lounge, and then there was the big leather couch where Willow always chose to sit. It was about 6 feet away from the armchair that Dr. Langdon occupied. She pulled the large throw pillow into her torso with both arms as she prepared for the response.

"That's interesting," she said, quickly scribbling some notes in her manila folder. She paused thoughtfully and pushed back her curly blondish-grey mane. "Does going somewhere scare you? Maybe because Tara won't be there?"

"I mean, that's a big part of it," Willow admitted.

"But she's not with you now, right? She's in another state. You haven't spoken to her in over four years. What are you expecting to happen?"

"There has to be a reason I can't forget about her, right? I mean, how long is it going to take?"

"Well, she was a very important part of your life. That's not just going to go away. And it shouldn't. But you can't stay living in that moment, either. You have to move past it somehow."

"That's why I'm here. I've tried. I've been trying," Willow said, looking up at the ceiling and letting out a long sigh.

"What do you think it is about her that's holding you back from moving on?"

"I don't know. Maybe this nagging feeling that there could still be a chance for us," Willow said.

Then, she paused to think about it some more until the silence in the room and Dr. Langdon's expectant gaze began to make her nervous.

"I mean, I know how that sounds. But we were so young then. And isn't this what life is all about? Understanding what makes you fulfilled and doing whatever you can to obtain it," Willow continued.

"So, you see her as something fulfilling? Something you need to obtain?" Dr. Langdon prodded.

"Well, I never felt unfulfilled with her. I was the one that screwed things up. I really hurt her. And all I want to do is say I'm sorry. And show her how much I mean it."

"But that doesn't mean she's going to take you back if you do," she replied pointedly.

"I know... But the possibility that she could has always been in the back of my mind."

"So it's been 8 years since you've been together, over four since you've talked... That seems like plenty of time to apologize."

"I don't know where she is," Willow replied simply. "And looking for her seems a bit on the stalker side."

"Where does that leave you, then? What's your plan?" Dr. Langdon asked.

"I don't really have one. I mean, if we're meant to be together, it will happen on its own, won't it? You know, fate?"

"It could. But it probably won't. Are you just going to wait and see for the rest of your life?"

"I guess I can't do that," Willow said, even less sure of what to do now than she had been at the start of her session.

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

Once her hour was up, Willow spent the 10 minute drive home processing her conversation with Dr. Langdon. What should she do? Maybe she was relying too heavily on fate. But, like she said, she couldn't just look Tara up out of the blue and expect to rehash everything from the past. Especially after how things ended between them.

She'd talked to Buffy about her situation vaguely and in the typical "a friend of mine" scenario, but there was so much that was just easier to unload on a stranger. And there was the little matter of her not having come out to Buffy as of yet. When she first started seeing Tara, the omission ate away at her, but when they went their separate ways, there had been no need to bring it up. She hadn't dated since Tara and, if she was honest with herself, didn't really have any plans to do so any time soon.

And now, so much time had passed that she wasn't even sure how she would bring it up to Buffy. She sighed heavily as she pulled into her driveway and sat in her car for a minute, head planted against the headrest, before getting out and heading inside. The inside of her house was a testament to her singlehood. The fridge was devoid of anything resembling food despite her enviable income. Her house was spotless thanks to the woman she hired to come in once a week.

There were large paintings hung on nearly every wall and sculptures placed here and there. Willow chose this moment to enjoy her sunken living room. She slowly descended the three steps to her large, plush couch and fell onto it with another loud sigh. She booted up her laptop that had been readily waiting on the nearby coffee table and idly surfed the web, trying to keep herself entertained.

As she was scrolling through Facebook, she tentatively moved her cursor to the search bar. She thought for a second, then started to type in Tara's name. She hesitated for a moment when she got to the last name. And that was when her analytic mind went into overdrive.

What if she's married and her last name is different? Or what if she's seeing someone and she gets a friend request from her ex? How would that look? Even if she's single, she might hate me. She has every reason to. I guess I could just... look at her page. Not send a friend request. Just, you know, see how she's doing.

When she typed in Maclay and hit enter, her heart pounded wildly in her chest. Her excitement heightened when the first profile populated and she immediately recognized the face of the woman she'd been in love with for nearly over a decade. Her last name was still the same and that gave Willow some small hope that there could be a chance someday. Never mind the fact that she still felt crazy for thinking it.

One of the first things Willow noticed was that she no longer lived in Washington, which was where she moved after their unpleasant break up. She was living in Soluna now. It was two hours from Sunnydale. They'd been there before on vacation and had even talked about moving there someday because it seemed nice, laid back, and less full of things that go bump in the night. It was a great place to raise children, Tara had pointed out once. But Willow couldn't think about that conversation now.

Tara's proximity was like dangling a carrot in front of a hungry horse. But, of course, Willow had to shift into research mode for a while to make sure that Tara was unattached before planning her next move. She clicked the photos link to take her into Tara's albums and noticed that there weren't many there. Willow recognized most of the people in the photos as Tara's friends and classmates. There were a few here and there that she did not recognize, though.

Of those, she was pretty sure none of the men were a romantic interest so she focused on the women she didn't know. Her profile said that she was single, but Willow figured that it was highly possible that maybe Tara was seeing someone and it just wasn't "Facebook official" yet. Willow sighed and closed her laptop. She rested her head on the back of the couch and stared up at the vaulted ceiling.

Not only was she trying to decide if her little investigation constituted stalking, but she also had to fight the urge to drive to Soluna and "run into" Tara at one of her few check-ins. That would definitely be stalking. Just as she began to throw herself a world class pity party, Buffy called.

"Hey, Buff," Willow said, practically monotone.

"What's wrong, Will? What's got you all bad moody?"

"Nothing... I'm just... Did you want to hang out or something?"

"Yeah. If you're in the mood, that is," Buffy said, trying to read her best friend.

"You want me to come pick you up? I can be there in 10 minutes," Willow replied.

"See you then," Buffy replied, hanging up the phone.

The truth was, Willow wasn't really in the mood for much of anything, but she couldn't just sit around all day moping like she'd done on multiple occasions. Tara was just a fantasy at this point as Dr. Langdon didn't hesitate to point out. And Willow wasn't under the impression her therapist would have thought it was the best course of action to look Tara up. But it was just something she'd wanted to do so badly. Just to see her photo. To trace the curve of Tara's face with her gaze. To make her more real than she'd been in her mind all these years.

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

When she got to Buffy's she texted her that she was outside. A moment later, the blonde appeared and entered the passenger side.

"So, where to?" Buffy asked as she got in.

"Espresso Pump?" Willow suggested.

"Oh. Something new. I like it," Buffy replied.

"No need to be sarcastic," Willow replied, accelerating. "If you want to go somewhere else..."

"I'm just messing with you, Will. Espresso Pump is fine," Buffy replied before giving Willow a sideways glance. "Are you sure you're okay?"

"Yeah," Willow replied simply.

Buffy was not convinced, but it was clear that Willow didn't want to talk about it. So, she figured she'd do what any best friend would do. She'd keep nagging her until she found out what was going on.

Once they arrived, they ordered their usual drinks and sat at their usual table by the window. Willow sipped slowly and stayed quiet. Buffy kept glancing at the redhead for any hint about what was going on in that busy brain. When she couldn't take it anymore, Buffy set down her mug with a hard tap on the table. She was careful that the hot liquid didn't slosh out and make a mess. The broken silence snapped Willow out of her daze and she focused her attention on the Slayer.

"I'm being a bad friend, aren't I?" Willow asked, her brows furrowing and a frown forming on her lips.

"Never," Buffy said, pausing before continuing. "But, if there's something you want to talk about, you know you can, right? Anything."

"Yeah. I just... I don't think I'm ready, Buff," Willow replied.

"Okay. I'm here when you are, though," Buffy assured her noticeably depressed friend.

"Thanks," Willow said, somewhat regretting going out.

She knew that Buffy could read her emotions efficiently and she was in no mood to get into details with Buffy now. Especially not here. The Espresso Pump held mainly good memories for her and she wanted to keep it that way. She loved Buffy and Buffy loved her, but she had no idea how she'd react to it all. Willow knew it was a lot. There wasn't just the coming out. She'd have to tell her how she and Tara were together for three years.

They had always talked about their relationships freely, but when Willow felt herself falling in love with Tara she had no idea what to do and felt that she couldn't tell Buffy about it. Then, when they officially became a couple, she knew she should definitely say something. But the timing was just never right and she knew she was still afraid to lose her best friend.

They often kept to themselves anyway, locked away in Tara's room just talking. Then, kissing when things became more serious. Then, well, more than that when they felt they were ready. And practically nonstop after that. Nothing she and Tara did together ever felt wrong so she didn't understand her own fear of confiding in her best friend.

"Earth to Willow," Buffy said, interrupting Willow's analysis.

"Sorry."

"I'm worried about you, Willow," Buffy said, sincerely.

"Don't be. I'm just in a funk. Spending time with you helps. Really."

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

"So, it's been about a month since we talked. How do you feel? Any different?" Dr. Langdon asked.

"Different? Yes."

"Better?" she pressed.

"No. Not better. Worse, actually," Willow added.

"Why worse?" she asked, leaning forward a bit.

"I did something stupid." When the doctor cocked an eyebrow, Willow continued. "I looked her up on Facebook. I just wanted to... I don't even know. And then I found out that she's not in Washington anymore. She's closer. A lot closer."

"How much closer?"

"Soluna."

"So, she's gone from a fantasy to a temptation?" the doctor asked, almost rhetorically.

"I guess that is what happened, yes," Willow said, looking down at her hands that were fidgeting in her lap.

"Well, I see you took the opposite approach then. You were going to find a way to forget about her and move forward with your life, weren't you? Don't you think you've just made that exponentially harder to do?"

"I couldn't help it," Willow replied.

"Why do you feel that you couldn't help it?"

"It's just this feeling I have. This strong feeling that we could still have something. It's impossible to ignore. That's why I started coming to you in the first place. She's just constantly in there," she explained, pointing to her head.

"And what are you going to do now? I mean, you haven't made contact with her, right?"

"No. I haven't."

"That's good. Then you still have the option of getting back on track. That is, if that's what you want. Is that what you want?"

"No. That's never been what I wanted. Forgetting about her was just what I thought I had to do. But that little 'maybe' in my head would never allow that to happen," Willow responded.

"Then you need to make a choice. You're putting yourself in limbo again. That won't make you happy either," Dr. Langdon explained.

"But, I don't want her to think I'm a weirdo for sending her a friend request."

"Well, if she does, then she won't accept the request, right? Then, you'll know that she's completely moved on and then you can plan your next steps from there."

"But then it's really over."

"It seems like that might be what you're afraid of more than anything else, wouldn't you say? I mean, you looked her up after our last session, and you've yet to make any real contact with her. Eventually, you're going to have to find out if she feels the same or not."

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

Dr. Langdon was right. What scared Willow the most was that Tara wanted nothing to do with her. Tara hadn't made any attempt to contact her, after all. And Willow didn't think she'd ever be able to face that. But she had to. So, just like the last time, she plopped herself down on the couch and powered on her laptop.

Her breathing became a little more shallow as she entered the name again. She was afraid of what Tara's lack of response would do to her. Long seconds passed as her mouse hovered over the "Send Friend Request" button. A sick feeling suddenly took hold of her and she forcibly pushed the laptop aside.

"Damn it!" she said, sitting up.

She rested her elbows on her knees and put her head in her hands. Without warning, tears started forming in her eyes and for the first time in a long time she just let them out. Part of her felt stupid for crying. It wasn't like the break up was fresh. But she realized it was mostly frustration. The type of frustration that could only come from longing for something that is always out of reach. And what she was trying to do was minimize that distance so that maybe Tara wouldn't be out of reach anymore.

She knew very well, though, that it was probably an unlikely outcome. That made the tears continue to flow. Like she had done hundreds of times before, she thought about the past. When she knew Tara. Because she had to face the fact that she may not even be the same person with such a significant passage of time.

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

10 YEARS AGO...

"You introduced me as your friend," Tara said, crossing her arms in front of her chest.

"I know," Willow said, looking at the ground. "I'm sorry."

"Willow, I know you're not out. And that's okay. But, that really hurt. It's been a year. Are you ever going to tell them?" Tara asked, trying not to let her impending tears get the better of her.

She swallowed back the lump in her throat as she waited for Willow to say something. Willow just sighed deeply and furrowed her brows as if thinking very carefully about what to say next. Tara was right. It felt like a betrayal even as the introductions were happening. But it was too late and she could tell by the obvious shift in Tara's demeanor that things were not okay.

"Tara, I do want to tell them. I want them to know who you are to me. I just... need some time, okay? I'm afraid to lose them."

Tara dropped her arms to her sides. She felt for Willow, but she was also hurt.

"If they're really your friends, everything is going to be fine, Willow. I don't want to pressure you... but I don't want to be your 'friend' for the rest of my life, either."

Willow understood. And was even excited by the indication that Tara was really in this for the long haul. One of her fears had been assuaged, at least, but the other remained. It was always hovering there in the background.

"I mean, don't you think it's a little strange that they're meeting me for the first time after a whole year?" Tara continued.

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

Willow sighed and closed her eyes tightly so she could try to stop thinking about that fight. It was the first of many to follow. Always about the same thing. And the worst part was, things weren't any different now. And Willow felt even more stupid. Those fights happened for a reason. Everything Tara said was true. And Willow, in an effort to keep her friends, had lost her love. She saw it happening and yet she let her fear take it away from her.

That was when it became obvious that she didn't deserve Tara. But she wanted to deserve her. That meant doing something very difficult. But it was the least she could do. Even if she couldn't get Tara back, she needed to do this for herself and to validate the importance of what she had with Tara. Thinking about what she had to do now, her stomach tightened again. This time, she rushed to the bathroom. Her face was already pasty as she turned on the cold water with her right hand and clutched the rim of the sink with her left.

Leaning over it, she began to dry heave. After all of this time keeping her secret, she was barely able to handle the thought of everything being laid out in the open. She cupped some water in her hand and splashed it onto her face, wetting some of her hair and the collar of her shirt in the process. She needed to make a plan now. That was the only way her brain knew how to work through this.

She looked up into the mirror and saw her pale face. Now that she could see what this was doing to her physically, she knew it was finally going to be over. Because it had to be. She peeled her damp shirt off and set it on the edge of the sink along with the rest of her clothing and got in the shower. Letting the warm water soothe her tired muscles, she closed her eyes and tried to think about what she would say to Buffy. Would she be pissed? And if so, would it be because she kept it secret or because of the secret itself?

"I have to tell you something, Buffy," she started.

The muffled echo made the words sound even scarier. And she hadn't even gotten to the meat of it, yet. She swallowed hard and shook her head. This wasn't going to work. Preparing. It was her instinct, but her instinct hadn't gotten her very far in life. So, maybe it was best to do things differently this time. To be brave. For herself as much as for Tara.

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

A few days passed before she was able to work up the courage to meet with Buffy. The Slayer had anxiously been awaiting this moment. She didn't know what was coming, but she could see her friend was in pain. Every subtle movement and every word uttered were analyzed as Buffy tried her best to read the redhead.

They were at Buffy's apartment. Somewhere Willow felt comfortable, but could leave if she needed to. Or if she wanted to. And somewhere neither of them would cause a scene. Buffy sat on the couch and Willow paced. Buffy just followed her with her eyes from one corner of the living room to the other, waiting. She was trying to be patient, but the suspense was overwhelming.

"Willow," Buffy said softly. "Whatever it is, it will be okay. Okay?"

Willow stopped pacing and turned to face Buffy. She took a deep breath. Buffy could easily see the rise and fall of her chest. She then saw Willow open her mouth slightly, but she bit her lip instead and continued pacing.

"Okay," Willow said while still pacing.

Buffy sat up at attention, ready to receive every word.

"Do you, uh... Do you remember Tara?"

"Yeah. Your friend that moved to Washington?" Buffy asked, distracted by Willow's continued pacing. "Wait, Will. Before you continue, why don't you sit down? You're making me dizzy."

Willow took a seat on the recliner that was perpendicular to the couch that Buffy was perched on. She began tapping her foot, but waited for Buffy's cue to continue. Buffy just extended her hand, palm up, in response.

"Okay. Yeah. So, Tara. She, uh... She wasn't my friend."

"Okay," Buffy said, confusion written clearly on her face.

"It was a... a much different thing than what you and I have," she elaborated.

"Uh-huh," Buffy responded, still not clear on what Willow was trying to say.

"I'm going to have to spell it out, aren't I?" Willow asked, sighing. "Tara was my girlfriend, Buffy. And she left because of me. Because I wouldn't tell anyone about us."

Just as she'd finished speaking she was hit by the pregnant silence of the room. Buffy's face contorted into an unrecognizable expression and she stood up. Anger, Willow suddenly noticed. She hadn't seen it directed at her from the Slayer before and her heart started beating harder even as she thought that wasn't possible.

"Are you kidding me right now?!" Buffy said.

Willow didn't speak. She wasn't sure which part the Slayer was upset about so she decided to let her do the talking, or yelling, for now.

"How long, Willow?!"

"How... How long what?" Willow asked hesitantly.

"How long were you with Tara? Because you never said anything, Willow. I tell you everything. Because I thought that that was the kind of friendship we had. Am I wrong about that? Because...."

"Buffy. You're not wrong, okay?" Willow said, standing so she could make eye contact with her best friend. "It was hard for me. Really hard. There were so many times I wanted to tell you."

"And you didn't, because?" Buffy asked, still visibly upset.

Just then, Willow also got upset. She was so anxious for Buffy's reaction, she hadn't had time to be pissed off herself.

"You know what, Buffy?! I didn't tell you because I was afraid. I didn't know how you were going to react. You and Xander are my only friends. Don't you think I thought about this? Like, you really think I take this lightly?"

Buffy calmed down a little as she thought about it, but doubled down in her effort to find out the whole story.

"Does Xander know?" Buffy asked, preparing to get angrier.

"No."

"Okay, Will. But you still haven't answered my question. How long did this go on?" Buffy asked, placing her right hand on her hip and fully facing the redhead.

Willow cleared her throat and kicked the carpet with the tip of her left foot, not making eye contact.

"A while," she responded, quietly.

Buffy took a step toward Willow and didn't say anything until Willow lifted her gaze.

"How long is a while, Willow?"

There was a long pause just then. Willow hoped that Buffy would say something else, but she knew that she'd have to answer.

"Three years," she said finally.

In response, Buffy just scoffed and turned away from Willow, throwing her hands in the air. She sat down on the couch and leaned back. And there the Slayer stayed, staring at the wall in front of her and doing no more than pursing her lips.

"Aren't you going to say anything, Buffy?" Willow asked, afraid yet determined to get through it.

"I don't have anything to say to you right now, Willow. I mean, where would I start? With the fact that you thought I'd shun you for being gay? Or how about the fact that there are things that I really don't want to tell you sometimes because I know that you'll judge me. Even if you don't say it out loud. But I tell you anyway. Because I trust you to be there for me no matter what. I guess I'm not that for you. So, no. There really isn't anything else for me to say to you."

Buffy got up from the couch again and started walking to her bedroom. Without turning around she shut the door behind her, leaving her best friend standing awkwardly in the living room. Willow was stunned. She had expected that this outcome was a possibility, but she'd still hoped for the best. With the crushing silence surrounding her, she finally let the tears fall that had been gathering since she'd first started speaking.

When she was able to react again, she simply turned and left. Buffy was right in much, if not all of what she'd said and nothing Willow could say right now would change that.

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My parents said that I could be anything that I wanted to be... so I became a lesbian.


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 Post subject: Re: Therapy
PostPosted: Tue Jan 02, 2018 6:29 pm 
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11. Fish in the Bowl

Joined: Tue Sep 28, 2010 1:35 pm
Posts: 1487
Topics: 2
Location: California
Wow . . . this story really hits hard. I feel Tara's hurt, even within Willow's memory. I had that moment with my first girlfriend, where my father said she could come visit if we didn't hold hands or show how we felt. It took all my courage to tell him that he either saw us as us or I had to not visit.

This isn't literary critique but I'm bummed that Willow's therapist has closed her mind on Willow's options. As a shrink, she stinks. I'm also disappointed in Buffy. Willow finally gets up the courage to share something vulnerable and difficult and Buffy shuts her out for not doing it sooner. I get it but I don't like it.

Again, this isn't literary critique; you're a good writer. This is me feeling the characters and being moved by your story. If any writing insights come up, I'll PM you.

In the meantime, I hope you see this through and remember the KB rule about happy endings for our girls.


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 Post subject: Re: Therapy
PostPosted: Wed Jan 03, 2018 9:55 am 
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3. Flaming O

Joined: Mon May 09, 2005 3:50 pm
Posts: 60
Topics: 1
Location: TX
Thank you so much for your feedback Ariel. I'm glad that you're liking the story. I am working on the update and will post within the next few days. And of course our girls will end up where they belong so no worries there. :)

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My parents said that I could be anything that I wanted to be... so I became a lesbian.


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 Post subject: Re: Therapy
PostPosted: Sat Jan 06, 2018 8:35 pm 
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20. Not one Much for the Timber
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Topics: 14
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Hey Darkwillow,

I really love this and what a great start! I totally get where Tara was coming from with Willow's lack of candidness with her friends. I mean, she had to draw the line somewhere. I can also understand Buffy's irritation and anger with Willow. Her best friend, her confidant...lied to her for years. It's going to take her some time to work through those hurt feelings. Buffy would have told Willow and trusted her, the fact that Willow didn't trust Buffy enough to tell her...big wedge in the friendship.

Anyway, I hope you continue and I look forward to reading future chapters!

Happy New Year!

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Shelby - Racing The Rain (IN PROGRESS) / Baby Makes Three (IN PROGRESS) / The Santa Line / Everything She Does...Is Beautiful / Calfornia Grass

"Transform your pain. Release your past. And ... uh ... get over it."
~Willow, Where The Wild Things Are


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 Post subject: Re: Therapy
PostPosted: Mon Jan 08, 2018 12:22 am 
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3. Flaming O

Joined: Sun Jan 19, 2014 6:01 am
Posts: 83
Oh my, Willow's situation seems pretty hopeless at the beginning of this fic! That she tangled herself in a web of lies for 11 years (!) is painfull. I'm impressed that she finally had the courage to come out to Buffy, even though she was scared it could lead to the end of this friendship and has no reason to hope that Tara would take her back after all this years even if she comes out now. I'm sad about Buffy's reaction, even though it's understandable. I don't think she has the right to condemn Willow, considerimg that she didn't tell Willow about her "relationship" with Spike (although of course I don't know if that happened in this Buffy-verse...). It's easy to say "if I were gay and in a relationship with a girl I would have told you!" if you aren't. Hopefully Buffy will realise soon that Willow needs her as a friend now more than ever and that she especially needs her forgiveness.

I'm wondering if Willow will have the courage to come out to Xander too or if Buffy's reaction scared her of...I really hope for the first alternative.

As you see I'm definitely hooked and eager for more!


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 Post subject: Re: Therapy
PostPosted: Mon Jan 08, 2018 8:46 am 
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3. Flaming O

Joined: Mon May 09, 2005 3:50 pm
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Finey_McFine and Will's redemption:
I truly appreciate your feedback and am really enjoying writing this story despite the angst. There will be resolutions all around, so no worries. We're getting there, slowly but surely. The continuation is in the works and should be posted today, but I wanted to take the time to say how much your input means and how valuable that is for me.

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 Post subject: Re: Therapy
PostPosted: Mon Jan 08, 2018 12:38 pm 
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3. Flaming O

Joined: Mon May 09, 2005 3:50 pm
Posts: 60
Topics: 1
Location: TX
Author: Darkwillow6 (Ashley Riegel)

Rating: NC-17 (overall)

Summary: Willow seeks the help of a therapist to understand her past and generate a clearer picture of her future.

Title: Therapy

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

When Willow got home, all she could do was crawl into bed and wrap herself in fluffy blankets, but not before changing into an old pair of UC Sunnydale sweatpants and a plain grey t-shirt. While some tears still escaped, she really didn't have much of them left. Missing Tara. Buffy's reaction. It had all caught up with her and she prepared to stay locked in her room, under these covers, indefinitely.

She should have been happy. At least it was out now and she didn't have to live in hiding. Even though she was technically hiding from the world now. And she knew it would be hard. She tried to focus on what she'd done it for, but did not find solace there. Because, yes, this was something that she needed to do. But her biggest regret or fear, or whatever it was she was feeling now, was that it was all for nothing. She'd taken the first step to getting Tara back, but the harsh reality was, as Dr. Langdon pointed out, Tara may not take her back.

Willow groaned and burrowed deeper into her blanket cocoon. Her phone on the side table sat silent all day. A small part of her expected Buffy to call. Or text. Or something. She thought with a little time to cool down and think about things, she'd come around. She would see how hard it was for Willow to keep the secret and how much harder it had been to tell her after all this time. She thought about it for so long that she drifted off at some point during her wallowing.

Her heavy breathing almost echoed in the mostly empty room. Every now and then, the air conditioner would kick on and provide a bit of rhythmic, ambient sound. There were large windows on two out of the four walls and it wasn't until every last ray of sunshine dissipated that she finally awoke, groggy and disoriented. She was no longer tired, but had no motivation to do anything besides lie there and stare up at where the ceiling would be if she could see it.

When she turned to look at her alarm clock, she saw that she'd slept about four hours. Her stomach growled just then despite the nauseated feeling she'd been experiencing since before going to Buffy's house. She picked up her phone from the side table. Still nothing. She sighed, put the phone back down, and turned over onto her left side facing away from it. Should she be the one to call or text?

She wanted to give Buffy her space, but she wasn't used to this. Not having her best friend to talk to about hard things. And this was the hardest thing ever. But the worst part, by far, was that Willow knew this could have been prevented. All of this was her own fault. If she'd been honest from the beginning, Buffy wouldn't have felt so betrayed. Of course, Willow didn't know that Buffy wouldn't hate her for being gay, but deep down she should have known Buffy well enough to know she'd understand.

And even if Buffy didn't understand, at least she'd have Tara who would have truly known how Willow felt about her which was way more than she had now. How could she help throwing herself a pity party? She felt like she could no longer trust herself to make decisions. This was the worst outcome she could have imagined. No Buffy, no Tara, no reason to get out of bed. She reached across for her body pillow and wrapped a leg and an arm tightly around it, trying not to think about anything else.

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

"What's going on?" Xander asked, bursting into Buffy's apartment.

He was confused and alert. All he had to go on was a phone call from Buffy that was vague and nearly unintelligible due to her sobbing. His fight or flight reaction kicked in and he found himself face to face with the Slayer minutes after she hung up on him. He saw the redness in her eyes and the crumpled tissues strewn about the living room.

"What happened?" he asked again, becoming desperate for her to say something.

"Willow," Buffy replied, sniffling.

"Willow? Is she okay?" he said fidgeting.

When Buffy noticed Xander starting to freak out, she took a deep breath and calmed herself for his benefit as much as her own. After what had happened, she'd briefly forgotten that they lived on the hellmouth, full of danger and the constant threat of injury or death.

"Willow's fine, Xander," Buffy said, softly as she took a seat on the middle of the couch.

She noticed his shoulders relax and he took a seat in front of her on the coffee table.

"Okay. So what was with the crying and lack of human speech when you called?" Xander asked.

Buffy sighed and looked around the room. Xander thinking someone was in danger kind of made the whole thing with Willow seem like less of a big deal and so she hesitated to tell him.

"Buffy, spit it out," he said.

"Okay. Okay," she said, readying herself. "Xander, Willow came over a few days ago. And, you know, I could tell something has been bothering her for a while now, but she didn't want to talk about it. But, I had no idea what to expect."

"Okay," he said in a 'go on' kind of tone.

"Willow's gay," Buffy blurted.

"Alright.," Xander said, raising both eyebrows. "So, why the big freak out? I mean, does it bother you?" Xander asked, not missing a beat.

"No! Xander, of course not. That wasn't... everything. And also, I want to go back to why you're not as shocked about this as I was... She had a girlfriend. For three years Xander. She didn't say anything to me."

This bit of information did prove to surprise Xander. And he started to feel a little of what he assumed Buffy was feeling. It was confirmed when he saw tears cascading quickly down her cheeks.

"Who?" he asked, trying to remember a constantly present female in Willow's life besides Buffy.

"Tara. Her friend that moved away. I don't know any more than that. I kind of didn't let her say much else. Why wouldn't she tell me, Xander?," she asked, her voice shaky. "Does she not trust me? Am I not a good friend? Does she really think I'm the kind of person that..."

She trailed off there. Xander put his hand on her shoulder as she wiped away her tears with her sleeve.

"She doesn't think that, Buffy," he replied, sounding certain.

"How do you know?" she asked, needing a good answer.

"She didn't tell me either, Buff. I mean, I don't know her reasons. I don't think she thought we would hate her. But I mean, she told you and it seems like something happened," Xander said.

"I got mad at her. I'm still mad at her. I don't know. Maybe mad is not the right word. I'm hurt. And I don't know how to talk to her now. Or if I can."

"Of course you can. Is this the first fight you've ever had with Willow?" he asked.

"No."

"Then go make up. Tell her you're sorry. You are sorry, aren't you?"

"Sort of. But, I don't think I can talk to her yet. I wouldn't even know what to say, Xander. I need time," Buffy replied.

"Time to what, Buffy? Let her go crazy wondering if you're ever going to talk to her again? I mean, how was she when she left here? Was she... okay? Do you think she'll... do anything?"

"I don't know."

"Well, I'm going to go check on her then," he said, standing.

When he was about halfway to the door, he turned around and saw that Buffy was looking at the ground, not sure what to do with herself.

"Look," he said. "I get that you're hurt. But you're not the only one. I've known Will a lot longer than you and she still told you first. And, yeah, it hurts. But this isn't about either one of us. I hope you get that," he said softly, before continuing the rest of the way out of the apartment.

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

Xander's knock on Willow's door remained unanswered. He put his ear to the door and didn't hear anything so he wasn't even sure she was there. He knocked again and when he still was not greeted by the redhead, he used his spare key to cautiously let himself in.

"Will?" he said, tentatively stepping inside. "It's Xander."

He didn't have a plan. He came to talk to her and he wasn't going to leave until he'd done that. But he hoped she'd do more of the talking. It was the only way he could help her. He prepared himself, not knowing which version of Willow he'd be seeing. She was usually a bright beacon of happiness and positivity, but he couldn't see any reason she'd be that way right now. After looking into the kitchen and living room and seeing no sign of Willow, he walked toward the bedroom, again announcing his presence.

"Are you here, Will? I just want to talk to you."

When he put his ear up to the bedroom door he heard a sniffle and breathed a sigh of relief. At least she was here and safe. He knocked on the door.

"I don't want to talk, Xand," came the weak reply.

"I'm coming in," he said, slowly turning the knob. "I hope you're decent."

"I'm far from decent," he heard her say as he slowly approached.

"Like, you're naked or are you talking about in a broader sense? Because I'm not looking."

He couldn't tell if she was smiling or not because she had yet to emerge from her blanket fortress, but he was willing to bet he hadn't made a dent in her sorrow. Slowly, so as not to startle her, he sat down on the foot of the bed on the same side that she was occupying.

"Are you mad at me?" she asked.

If it hadn't been so quiet, he would have had difficulty understanding her muffled question.

"Why would I be mad at you? Just because you told Buffy a life-altering secret before me with possibly no intention of ever telling me? Pfft."

At this, Willow started to pull the comforter off of her face slowly.

"I'm sorry," Willow said, not making eye contact.

Instead, she nervously picked at a thread on her blanket and readied herself for Xander's response. He put his hand gently on hers, stopping her movement. He didn't speak until she was looking at him. She knew what he was waiting for and very slowly lifted her gaze.

"I get it, Will. But, you know we don't care about you being gay, right? That's not why Buffy is upset."

"Are you upset?"

"I'm trying not to be," he replied honestly.

"So what should I do?" she pleaded.

"I'm not here for that, Will. I'm here to let you know that I love you and that I support you, but what happens now is up to you. I mean, why now? Are you seeing someone else? Because, if so, I'm happy for you."

"I'm not. I just... Keeping this secret, this is what caused everything to end with Tara and I. And I miss her. And I don't want to live like this anymore. But I realized nothing had changed. I still hadn't told anyone," she paused, unsure if she should tell Xander the rest, but decided that not saying anything had been a horrible course of action thus far. "I want to try to get her back Xander. I know it sounds crazy, or stupid, or both, but I haven't been able to even look at anyone else in all this time."

Xander shook his head. He couldn't believe that someone could have this kind of an effect on his best friend and she still kept it a secret, even at the cost of losing that.

"I think you should," he answered.

"So you talked to Buffy, then," Willow said, changing the subject. "Is she okay?"

"She's okay. Are you okay? Why didn't you call me when all this happened? I don't hear from either one of you when this big thing is going down and I gotta say, it doesn't feel great. But I'm not trying to make this about me," he clarified.

"I don't know, Xand. After how it went with Buffy, I wasn't ecstatic to go for round two."

Xander just nodded his head in understanding. When the room fell silent, Xander took in the surroundings. There were take out cartons strewn about and even more crumpled tissues than he had seen at Buffy's place.

"Uh, Will, have you left the room at all in the last few days?"

"Well, I had to go to the door to get the food," she replied sheepishly.

Xander stood up and held his hand out to the disheveled redhead.

"Come on," he said.

"What? Where are we going?" she asked, furrowing her eyebrows.

"You, my dear, are going to take a shower. Because, no offense, but you reek."

"And I'm not supposed to take offense to that how?" Willow said, even as she felt herself being dragged toward her en suite bathroom.

"Then," he began, ignoring her question. "I am going to take you out for a nice lunch and we're going to talk some more and you're going to have some food that wasn't fried in grease. Now, go on," he said.

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

_________________
My parents said that I could be anything that I wanted to be... so I became a lesbian.


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 Post subject: Re: Therapy
PostPosted: Fri Jan 12, 2018 3:36 am 
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3. Flaming O

Joined: Sun Jan 19, 2014 6:01 am
Posts: 83
DIBS! :whip

I really want to hug your Xander for beeing the friend Willow so desperately needs right now! Hopefully Buffy will heed his advice and stretch her hand out to Willow soon.
Now I'm really curious how Willow will try to contact Tara. Just putting out a friendship-request on Facebook is not the way (in my opinion) - it seems so impersonal, almost empty. On the other hand finding out her adress and visiting her at home seems inappropriate too... Maybe a personal letter (if Tara's adress is findable without hacking)? Well, I just have to wait and see what you come up with.


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 Post subject: Re: Therapy
PostPosted: Fri Jan 12, 2018 5:02 am 
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3. Flaming O

Joined: Mon May 09, 2005 3:50 pm
Posts: 60
Topics: 1
Location: TX
Will’s redemption:
I’ve been working on the next portion for a few days now and was also feeling that Facebook was not the way to go. I think I’ve found a way that seems pretty organic and it seems like it will work nicely. Thank you for reading. The next part has a lot going on.

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My parents said that I could be anything that I wanted to be... so I became a lesbian.


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 Post subject: Re: Therapy
PostPosted: Mon Jan 15, 2018 7:27 am 
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3. Flaming O

Joined: Mon May 09, 2005 3:50 pm
Posts: 60
Topics: 1
Location: TX
Author: Darkwillow6 (Ashley Riegel)

Rating: NC-17 (overall)

Summary: Willow seeks the help of a therapist to understand her past and generate a clearer picture of her future.

Title: Therapy

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

"How you doin', champ?" Xander asked as Willow poked at a piece of chicken on her plate with her fork.

"I don't know... Depressed. Did I do the wrong thing telling Buffy now? Should I have just kept quiet?"

"You had to, Willow. I mean, what's the alternative?"

"Nunhood?" Willow offered, allowing a weak smile to surface.

"It will be okay. You're just going to have to go with the flow on this one, Will," he reasoned.

"I don't do that. I don't know how to do that."

"I know. But you have to."

Willow sighed heavily and put down her fork. This wasn't what she wanted to hear, but she was sure there would be a lot of that in the coming days. Her life was completely changing and she was finding she didn't know how to deal with that.

"Can you just take me back home?" she asked.

"So you can crawl into bed for another week? Why would I do that?"

"Because it's what I want," Willow stated simply.

Xander shook his head, but got up from the table and headed for the hostess stand to pay the bill. Willow got up and readied herself to leave. Rather than returning to the table, Xander left the restaurant and headed to his car. Willow followed quickly.

"Hey, wait up," Willow said sharply.

Xander opened the driver side door and got in, not saying anything. Willow got in and turned her head fully to look at him.

"What? What did I say?"

"I'm trying to help you, Willow. You can't just hide in your room until this goes away."

"You think I don't know that?" she asked, eyes reddening in preparation for the tears that were sure to follow. "This is a lot, Xander. I can't just get over it. I feel like that's what you're expecting of me so I'm telling you right now that's not going to happen."

"That's not... Willow, I know it's a lot. That's why I'm here for you. I will always be here for you. Just tell me what you need."

"I did. It just wasn't what you wanted to hear," she replied. "Look, I know you're trying to help. And you are very good at it. But I need to figure out what I should do now and you said that you couldn't help me decide that. So, I need to do that. I'm not going to go get in bed, but I'm not okay to go out and pretend to feel like myself again either."

"I get it. It was too soon. I shouldn't have..."

"It's fine, Xander. I needed you to get me out of bed. I couldn't have done it on my own," she said sniffling as a few tears fell.

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

"You know, there's a question I've been asked a lot lately since this whole thing. And I've asked myself this question as well," Willow said.

"And what's that?" Dr. Langdon asked.

"Why now? I've been dealing with these feelings for years. I can't remember a time in my life when I didn't love her. And now I've let all of this time pass. And shouldn't I have done this much sooner? I mean, really... why now?" she asked.

"Has anything changed in your life? Has she been on your mind more than usual? It's seems like this is something that you've gradually become more distressed about."

"I tried to think about that. I mean, I don't know. I've been alone for a really long time. I haven't felt close to anyone like I did to Tara once."

"So then you think you're craving that romantic attention at this point in your life?" Dr. Langdon asked.

Willow scrunched her face up in thought. Truth be told, she hadn't even given anyone else a chance to get close to her. It was an admission she had hesitated to tell Dr. Langdon when she first started coming to therapy, but the more time that passed, she knew it would become apparent that she wasn't making attempts to date other people. She feared it would be seen by Dr. Langdon as an unwillingness to move past Tara. Although, that is exactly what it was.

"I just feel like, what do I have to lose at this point? We're not kids anymore. It could work now. But even if it doesn't, I can't spend my whole life wondering if we could have it. I've done that for too long already."

"Why do you think you were unable to do this when you were with Tara? You were losing her. And you knew you were losing her. Why wasn't it enough, at that time, to say something?"

"I was just so terrified of losing my friends. And, looking back, it makes no sense. That's what's different. I know now that all that fear was for nothing. Yes, Buffy's upset at me. She still hasn't called. But if I had done this years ago, that wouldn't even be the case. I wouldn't have lost my friends. I'd still have Tara. But it's done. And that's why I can't let go. It was the wrong decision and it's my biggest regret in my life," Willow explained.

"Well, last time we discussed the need for you to find out if she feels the same way. Have you taken any steps toward doing that?"

"I haven't. I'm still... I don't even know where to start. I mean, is a Facebook friend request the best way? Should I write her a letter? I wouldn't know where to send it. Like I said, I don't want to come off like a creep or something. That's kind of hard."

"Do you have any way of contacting her otherwise?" Dr. Langdon asked.

"I know a friend of hers who lives here in town. I guess I could try to talk to her. And maybe that will give me a feel for how she's doing and, you know, if she's involved or not."

"Great. Then, why don't you set a timeline for contacting this friend? Because if you don't set that goal you may find yourself putting it off until you feel more comfortable. But you're not ever going to feel comfortable enough. Either way, it is going to change everything."

"Okay. I'll give it a month. Next time I see you, I should have already spoken to her," Willow said, tentatively.

"You will have spoken to her. We use words like "can't" and "maybe" and "should" a lot. Being more certain with your words generates a greater feeling of intention. You know that you have to do this. You know that it's not going to leave you alone until you do. So, the sooner the better, right?"

Willow rubbed the back of her neck with her hand and sighed. She knew Dr. Langdon was right. She was still conflicted because she had no idea what her chances even were.

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

11 YEARS AGO:

"Wow. I didn't realize how late it was. I'm sorry. I didn't mean to overstay my welcome," Willow said.

"You're always welcome here, Willow. You know that," Tara replied sincerely.

This made Willow smile contentedly. She loved being in Tara's apartment. It was small. She'd just barely saved up enough money to move off campus. There were thick curtains on every window and the smell of incense was ever-present. They spent a majority of their time in Tara's bedroom. Willow couldn't describe the intimacy of it and she attributed her growing feelings toward blonde witch to the calming warmth she constantly exuded.

"I know you have class in the morning. I should let you get to bed," Willow replied, standing from the bed where they'd both sitting and sharing stories.

"You can stay if you want. It's dangerous out there, you know," Tara offered.

Willow's heart pounded in her chest. This wasn't the first time Tara had offered, but she was still very unfamiliar with these feelings of attraction and often had to forcefully steer her gaze from the various areas of Tara's body she found most appealing. Especially in the light blue tank top she now wore.

"I uh... I'll be okay heading home," Willow said, trying to fight against the shallowness of her breath to sound normal.

She picked up her bag from the floor and Tara got up off of the bed and placed her hand on Willow's shoulder, beckoning her to turn around to face her.

"Is everything okay, Willow?"

Willow's head started to cloud with the contact.

"Yeah. Why do you ask?"

Tara crossed her arms over her chest and spoke softly.

"It's just, it seems like you like hanging out with me but..."

"Tara, I love spending time with you."

"Then why don't you ever want to sleep over? I mean, is it me?" Tara asked, looking at the ground.

Willow felt her eyes water slightly at the question. She hadn't realized how she'd been making Tara feel. She didn't think Tara noticed or cared that she always declined the invitation.

"No. Tara, no. It's me. This is a me thing. I promise," Willow replied.

"Okay," Tara responded, not seeming entirely convinced.

A flood of expletives collided in Willow's head because she knew that this was it. Since she'd started having feelings for Tara, she knew there'd come a time where she'd have to tell her. Keeping it from Tara felt too much like a lie. Although, she didn't think it would have to happen so soon and the possibility, however slight, that Tara might stop speaking to her right then and there didn't exactly make the task any easier. She dropped her bag back down onto the floor.

"Look, Tara... I'm going to tell you something. Because I don't want you to think... I just, I want you to know that your friendship means so much to me. I don't want to lose that."

"Hey. It's okay. You can tell me, okay?" Tara said, visibly worried.

Willow returned to her seat at the foot of the bed and Tara sat near the middle, facing the fidgeting redhead. But once they were both seated, and Willow looked into the bluest eyes she'd ever seen in her life, she began to lose her nerve. A tightness invaded her chest and stomach and her vision blurred behind a wall of unshed tears. And when she looked down, they began to fall. It startled her a bit when she felt Tara's hand on her knee. She looked up and saw Tara's concerned expression.

"This is really hard, Tara," she said with a shaky voice.

"You don't have to," she assured her.

"I need to," Willow replied, taking a deep breath. "This wasn't... I don't know how this happened, Tara. It's been like, since I met you. Just... getting stronger every day. And I don't know what do to," Willow said, barely coherent.

"Getting stronger? What? Magic?" Tara asked, confused.

"These... feelings. Damn it! I can't!" Willow said, standing and grabbing her bag again.

Tara stood quickly and followed as Willow rushed toward the exit.

"Willow, wait!" Tara called.

Willow stopped just before reaching the door and turned around. She could see Tara's pained expression and it broke her heart.

"I'm sorry, Tara. I can't," Willow said, crying more freely now.

"That's okay, Willow. It's okay. Just, I don't think you should go. We can talk about something else, or we can just go to sleep. I don't want you to get hurt. Whatever it is, it's not worth risking it," Tara said, softly. "I just want you to know that you-"

"Tara, I'm falling in love with you," she blurted out suddenly. "And I'm sorry if that freaks you out or upsets you, but it's getting harder to be around you and I hate that. Because you're such a source of happiness in my life and I don't want to lose that. I've really tried not having these feelings, Tara. You have to believe me. I don't want to ruin anything. It would kill me if you hated me. I just, it felt like lying, keeping this from you and I-"

"Okay, Will. It's alright," Tara said, sniffling as her own tears surfaced.

She stretched out her arms and Willow rushed into them, clinging tightly to the blonde. Tara just stroked her hair and held her as her whole body shook with heavy sobs.

"Please don't hate me," Willow said, barely intelligible.

At this, Tara backed up out of the embrace to look Willow in the eyes and noted that the redhead seemed surprised to see the plentiful tears shimmering on Tara's cheeks.

"Hate you? Why? Why would I hate you?" Tara said, shaking her head.

"I don't know. Because..." Willow began, struggling to find a reason.

"Maybe..." Tara hesitated. "Maybe there's a reason why you haven't been able to make that feeling go away," she finished, suddenly shy.

She looked down at the ground and Willow took a small step toward her.

"What do you mean?" Willow asked, trying to hush the sound of her heart pounding in her head at least long enough to hear Tara's reply.

She wasn't sure if Tara was saying what she thought she was saying and desperately needed clarification. Rather than voicing what she meant, Tara tentatively looked up and met Willow's eyes. She found the confidence to lean in closer. Knowing how Willow felt about her erased all the doubt she'd always felt.

When Willow realized what was about to happen, she couldn't believe it. She took a sharp breath in and hesitated just long enough to commit every single detail to memory. Then, she met Tara's awaiting lips with her own and practically passed out at the purely pleasurable sensations she felt everywhere.

She didn't think it was possible for skin to be this soft. Or for a kiss to be so perfect. Like her lips were made only to kiss Tara's. She backed away only to prevent herself from going far beyond what she thought Tara would want in that moment. When they separated, the sound of their combined heavy breathing was in sharp contrast to the silence of the rest of the room.

"Please be real," Willow whispered as she stroked Tara's cheek with her thumb while the rest of her palm perfectly held the side of Tara's reddened face.

To emphasize the reality of the moment, Tara leaned in and this time, didn't wait for Willow to close the minimal space between them. When their lips came together again, the rest of Willow's body began to react more noticeably to the contact. Her skin flushed, the tiny hairs on her arms raised, and her breathing lost its natural rhythm, instead taking in small gasps when she could.

"I told you you had nothing to worry about," Tara said quietly, her mouth still only inches from Willow's.

"But you didn't know what I was going to tell you," Willow responded.

"I hoped. I really hoped, Willow," Tara said closing her eyes.

"Why didn't you say something earlier?"

"Probably for the same reasons you didn't. I didn't think that you'd feel the same and I'd rather keep my friendship with you than nothing at all," Tara revealed.

"So, we could have had this sooner?" Willow asked.

Tara shook her head.

"It happened when it was supposed to happen. Everything in its time, Willow," Tara said, taking Willow's hand in hers. "Ready for bed?"

Willow cleared her throat.

"Uh, just to be clear..."

"To sleep," Tara responded with a soft giggle.

When they made it to Tara's bedroom again, Tara's bed suddenly seemed different. It felt a bit like foreign territory. It had always been where they spent time together, but now that they were going to be spending their time a little differently, it caused her to hesitate.

"Is this not okay?" Tara asked, when she saw Willow standing at the foot of the bed.

"No, no. It's definitely okay. Just... Should we maybe set some ground rules or something? Like, like what's okay and what's not okay, you know? Can we cuddle or is that-"

"How about..." Tara started, walking closer to the redhead and placing a hand on either shoulder. "We just don't think so much about it, okay?"

"But... I think a lot. About everything," Willow said.

"I know," Tara replied smiling. "Now go get changed," she added.

Tara walked to her dresser and got out some pajamas for Willow to wear. She went into the bathroom and quickly changed, not wanting to waste precious seconds away from the barely covered blonde in the next room. When she emerged, Tara was already in bed. She had the flat sheet up to her waist and was lying on her right side facing the emptiness of the left side of the bed.

Willow had realized she hadn't taken in a breath since she saw this and inhaled deeply. She never thought she'd find herself in a moment like this where looking at Tara this way didn't make her feel guilty. Tara knew how she was looking at her now and this excited Willow more than she thought it would. And she'd thought about it more than she'd ever admit out loud.

Before crawling into bed next to Tara, she tried to calm her rapidly beating heart, with no success. She felt the softness of Tara's sheets on her palms as she crawled forward. And she was certain that Tara heard her swallow hard.

"Come here," Tara said so softly Willow barely heard.

Willow relaxed fully onto her left side, facing Tara. Tara gently placed her hand on Willow's cheek and hinted for her to come closer. Willow easily perceived the hint and leaned in close. This time, her arousal was even more overpowering and she was sure it had to do with being in Tara's bed. Just the idea of being here, like she'd imagined so many times, was a lot to take in. And, at the same time, it was nothing like she imagined because the experience of touching Tara's bare skin was something she wasn't able to wrap her head around before, even now.

Willow only pulled away when oxygen started to seriously become necessary. She wasn't sure she'd actually be able to get any sleep tonight, but at least she'd get to enjoy every second. Tara pulled Willow closer to her and put a leg over Willow's hip. The sensation of the warm skin of Tara's inner thigh, even through the fabric of Willow's borrowed pajama bottoms, was enough to force all coherent thought from her mind. Tara pushed Willow's hair back and just looked into her eyes.

"I'm so happy you stayed," she said to Willow.

"Me too," Willow replied.

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

Those were the moments and memories that created such conflict in Willow. She was certain no one else in the world could make her feel what Tara did. It was like something sparked within her and created a fire that she never wanted to extinguish. And it wasn't completely out just yet. In fact, she felt it growing just a tiny bit every day. And that was what cemented Tara's presence in her life.

The pull to see Tara again was finally beginning to outweigh the fear. And was even transforming into a feeling of excitement at the possibility of seeing her again despite the fact that a negative outcome was likely. It had been a few days since her visit with Dr. Langdon and she thought it was time to talk to Tara's friend and gauge her next move from there.

She readied herself and then got into her car. Sandra met Tara in their freshman year of college and had remained close despite the distance. Although, now there was less distance between them. She had always been friendly to Willow, but she hadn't seen her since the break up and was sure she may have some ill-will toward her now. But none of that mattered at this point. Willow had decided that she had to do this.

Sandra worked at a nearby daycare, at least a decade ago she did. Willow wasn't even certain she'd recognize the woman depending how much she'd changed. But she headed to the daycare anyway, hopeful.

When she arrived, she became much more anxious and took a few minutes in her car, trying to calm down. Then, she finally made her way toward the entrance and walked inside.

"Good morning. How can we help you?" asked the woman just inside they entrance.

"Uh, hi. I'm looking for someone who works here... or used to work here maybe. Her name-"

"Willow?" a surprised voice said as she approached.

"Hey Sandra," Willow said, trying to decipher whether the woman was pleased or upset at her presence.

"How are you?" she asked, seemingly excited.

"Pretty good. I, uh, I came to see you, actually. I wasn't even sure you still worked here. Do you mind if I take you to lunch or something? Catch up?"

"Sure," Sandra replied, thrown off by Willow's request. "Rosie, do you mind if I take my lunch now?"

"Go for it. Janie will be here soon anyway," Rosie replied.

"Awesome. Be back in a while," Sandra said.

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

"I've never been here before," Willow said as they took a seat at a table in the restaurant Sandra suggested.

"I probably never would have thought to come here either if it wasn't so close to the daycare. It's easy to miss, but they have great food," Sandra replied.

A waiter quickly appeared to take their drink orders. When he left, Willow picked up the menu and started browsing.

"So, is this a social visit or do you have some kids that you want to enroll and want to skip the wait list?" Sandra asked.

"I... I uh, don't have any kids. I'm still single, actually," Willow replied, a little thrown by the question.

The waiter returned with their drinks and Willow ordered a chicken Panini with some fries per Sandra's suggestion on the drive over. Though, the way the conversation was headed, and so quickly, she wasn't sure she'd be able to touch it.

"Still?" Sandra asked in shock. "Surely you mean again."

"Uh, no. I haven't, I haven't seen anyone else since. And it's kind of why I'm here. I mean, I was hoping to ease into it, but it looks like it's too late for that. Do you still keep in touch with her?"

"Yeah. I do," Sandra said, unsure how much information to volunteer.

"Look, I know how this must seem, Sandra. But you don't have to tell me anything. I know you don't owe me anything and neither does she," Willow said.

She then reached into her bag and pulled out a sealed envelope that was somewhat thick.

"I wrote her a letter," Willow said. "Do you think you could just give it to her next time you see her? But only... only if she's not with someone. If she's happy, I don't want to ruin that for her, you know."

"Wow," Sandra said, taking the letter.

"What?"

"Nothing, just... You really haven't dated anyone since her?" Sandra asked.

"No," Willow replied, looking at the table cloth. "How could I? She was everything to me, Sandra. And I'm sorry to put you in the middle of this. It's just that I don't have any other way to reach her besides Facebook and that just didn't seem like a great idea."

"Willow, I'll give this to her, but I need to ask... I know it was a long time ago, but she was pretty devastated after things ended. I don't want that to happen to her again. How do I know things will be different this time?"

"I've started to come out. I told Buffy. And Buffy told Xander. And I don't care anymore if people know. In fact, I want people to know. Because it's been hard seeing how much keeping this secret has ruined my life. I would do anything just for her to know that I am well aware that I made the wrong choice. Even if she doesn't want anything to do with me after that," Willow said, sitting back in her chair.

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My parents said that I could be anything that I wanted to be... so I became a lesbian.


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 Post subject: Re: Therapy
PostPosted: Mon Jan 15, 2018 3:10 pm 
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20. Not one Much for the Timber
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Location: H-Town, Texas
Great last couple of chapters! I'm glad that Xander was there for Willow when Buffy was not. She needed someone to get her up and out of the house. It's been a long, hard process, but she appears to be coming out on the plus side of things. She's made some huge strides and I believe that will go a long way with Tara when she finally gets the letter.

I can't wait to see what happens and get a little perspective from Tara's point of view.

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"Transform your pain. Release your past. And ... uh ... get over it."
~Willow, Where The Wild Things Are


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