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

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 Post subject: Re: New Fic: Inevitable [AU] (Oct 25th 2019)
PostPosted: Fri Oct 25, 2019 6:59 pm 
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3. Flaming O
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FEEDBACK!! :wink

Oh I am completely aware that you are not an angst person, Laragh. Thinking on it, I'm not even sure that angst is the right word. I am drawn to raw emotion and the delicacies of human interaction, particularly when they arise so organically.

The adventure has begun!! It is wonderful to see the girls so playful and free. I do wonder what is bothering Tara at the end though, maybe the money thing or the differences that keep coming up between she and Willow, but they are just that, differences, and differences are ok if both can compromise and empathize

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 Post subject: Re: New Fic: Inevitable [AU] (Oct 25th 2019)
PostPosted: Sun Oct 27, 2019 1:13 am 
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Finally caught up, they're going through so much so quickly, I worry about them! Can't wait for the next update

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 Post subject: Re: New Fic: Inevitable [AU] (Oct 25th 2019)
PostPosted: Tue Oct 29, 2019 6:00 am 
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Ms. Moderator Fantastico
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Finey_McFine

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DIBS!


Yay! :banana

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I really enjoyed this chapter...light, carefree and full of random adventures.


Can't all be deep conversations and realizations :)

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This had me laughing because all I could think of was that prank video that's been floating around for a few years where the guy attaches a rubber snake to people and they freak and they play that music..."RUN!" lol


Yes :lol :lol Some people react as badly as cats! (I would be one of those people)

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Nice use of canon:)


Thank you!

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And then this...

Such a huge moment for Willow and she didn't even realize!!!!


She will say it in a more 'formal' way eventually but I think we reveal ourselves when we're most relaxed/most stressed and Willow has definitely followed this pattern.

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This was a little ominous of things to come. Ugh, I just wish Tara would take Willow by the hands, sit her down and voice her concerns. So it doesn't turn into a total blowout.


Girl, so do I. It's a-coming though. It's a-coming. (Maybe even on Friday...)

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Anyway, as always, great chapter! Totally looking forward to more:)


Thank you so much for your support!

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Thanks for your feedback!

shirrey

FEEDBACK!! :wink

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Oh I am completely aware that you are not an angst person, Laragh. Thinking on it, I'm not even sure that angst is the right word. I am drawn to raw emotion and the delicacies of human interaction, particularly when they arise so organically.


I get that. I guess when I say I'm not into angst, I'm not into them being apart. But working it out, I can be there for the working it out part!

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The adventure has begun!! It is wonderful to see the girls so playful and free.


This is really what their trip should be and I think it was important (for both, for different reasons) to see what it can be.

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I do wonder what is bothering Tara at the end though, maybe the money thing or the differences that keep coming up between she and Willow, but they are just that, differences, and differences are ok if both can compromise and empathize


Agree 100%. They have to learn that though.

Soon.

Thanks so much for commenting!

leftindust

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Finally caught up, they're going through so much so quickly, I worry about them! Can't wait for the next update


They are, but they'll work it out, I promise! And it certainly won't be too drawn out. Everything is bubbling right now but it will come to a head very, very soon!

Thanks for your comment!



Update Directly Below

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The Love… Series ... Two For Joy ... Inevitable


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 Post subject: Re: New Fic: Inevitable [AU] (Oct 25th 2019)
PostPosted: Tue Oct 29, 2019 6:00 am 
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Ms. Moderator Fantastico
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CHAPTER RATING: PG-13

Chapter 24



The Slopes



And I Saw My Reflection In The Snow Covered Hills
'Til The Landslide Brought Me Down



When they arrived at their lodge accommodation, Willow was impressed with the authentic feel.


It had been too dark to see much but the outline of the slopes and a blanket of snow on the way in but the lodge had a real wood fire and plush rugs and felt very cozy.


Willow didn’t realize there was such a thing as ‘too cozy’ until they walked into their room.


There were eight single beds in four corners with a nightstand separating them and the only available space located under each bed. It was not what Willow was expecting when she’d walked into a warm log cabin. Visions of four poster beds and luxury thread counts were being quickly put to pasture.


“…really?” she asked, unable to hide her disappointment.


Tara walked to the bed in the nearest corner which backed onto a radiator. She hiked her bag up onto the bed and began taking out her necessities.


“What’s wrong?”


Willow walked over like she was being dragged, glancing at the other beds with eyes that almost looked wounded.


“Are other people in here too?”


“Yes, sweetie,” Tara replied with a reprieving smile, “It’s a backpackers’ lodge.”


Willow sank down onto the single next to Tara’s.


“And these are our beds?” she asked, emphasizing the plural.


“Well, yeah,” Tara nodded slowly, “Do you want to change to the room with the bunks? They’re mixed—”


“No!” Willow said quickly, placing a hand protectively on her spot, “I just…we don’t get to…snuggle?”


Tara winked slyly.


“We made out in a hotel bathroom, I’m sure we’ll figure it out.”


Willow blushed and stood up to turn her back to Tara and hide it.


“I meant actual snuggling. Gotten used to you hogging the blanket.”


Tara rolled her eyes playfully and came around the bed to wrap her arms around Willow’s middle.


“And I still think we’ll figure it out,” she whispered, leaving a kiss on Willow’s cheek from behind before releasing her again to return to her unpacking.


Willow smiled, feeling warm all over from where Tara had embraced her. That’s what had come to mind when she imagined them in a log cabin.


“I see you snagged the warm bed all for yourself,” she said in mock indignation.


“Only because I know you’re a toasty oven hot water bottle all on your own,” Tara teased.


Willow blushed some more but didn’t hide it this time.


“Only because your feet are like walking icicles in comparison,” she retorted, sticking out her tongue.


“I’ll find someone else to warm them up,” Tara suggested.


“No you will not,” Willow replied abruptly with the most adorable furrowed brow Tara had ever seen.


“Okay then,” Tara agreed heartily and it took Willow a moment to realize she’d been played.


By then, two more girls came into the room who had been on their bus with them.


“Hey there!” the one in front, a blonde woman a little bit older than them with an Australian accent greeted.


The brunette behind her waved as they took the beds opposite.


“Hi ladies.”


“Hi,” Tara welcomed, somewhat shyly, “Um, I’m Tara. This is Willow.”


“Americans yeah?” the blonde girl asked, “I’m Toni, this is Char. First time on the slopes?”


“It is,” Tara confirmed.


“It’s our fifth time, been coming since Year 10,” Toni professed excitedly, “10th grade for you yanks.”


“Yeah, kinda figured that one out,” Willow muttered and Tara shot her a momentary look.


“It’s nice to meet you both,” Tara returned kindly.


Three more women claimed beds in the room, a two-some of 40-something friends and a lone traveler in her late 20s. Everyone introduced themselves and it became obvious pretty quickly that Toni was the loudest of the bunch.


“Who wants to get smashed? I know all of the best bars with all of the hottest bartenders.”


There was a general murmur of agreement, apart from a hidden, pained look from Willow and an awkward but passable smile from Tara.


“Uh, I think I’m going to stay in,” Willow announced, sitting down on her bed definitely.


“You are?” Tara asked, tone unsure.


Willow nodded.


“Yeah, didn’t get much sleep last night, obviously. Wanna be fresh for the lessons tomorrow.”


Tara lifted her hand behind her own neck and massaged it.


“Oh, um, okay,” she said, glancing between Willow and the rest of the girls, “Um, you know, I’ll stay too. She’s right, could use the sleep catch-up.”


Toni shrugged one shoulder.


“More hunks for us!”


“No kidding,” Willow replied under her breath.


The group left and Willow grinned up at Tara.


“You can thank me for getting us out of that one when we’re in private.”


Tara’s hand slid down to grip her opposite arm.


“We didn’t have to get ‘smashed’ you know. Or drink at all if you didn’t feel like it.”


“I would have had to get more than ‘smashed’ to deal with that Toni and her ‘hunk’-chasing,” Willow said sarcastically, “Did you hear her call us yanks?”


“I don’t think she meant anything derogatory by it,” Tara replied through a soft sigh, “And thinking we might be into ‘hunks’ is a reasonable assumption…I suppose.”


Willow frowned.


“Hey, we’re not…I mean…” she paused, considering her words, “We’re not telling them we’re…”


Tara glanced at the floor.


“Not if you don’t want to.”


“I just don’t want them to get weird about it,” Willow replied quickly, “Have to share a room, don’t want it to be awkward.”


Tara nodded.


“Sure, Will,” she agreed without looking up, “Hey, I need to use the bathroom.”


She grabbed her towel and toiletry bag, deciding to shower now instead of standing in line in the morning. A few women were readying themselves for a night out in the bathroom, but the row of showers was completely free.


She released the curtain from where it was rolled up until it hit the ground and placed her toiletry bag on the little shelf. She took out the plastic bag she had tucked in its side pocket and hung it over her towel sitting on the little courtesy hook. She secured her clothes in there as she undressed and tied it at the top so they were safe from any stray water.


Willow had done the towel-dash in the motel but Tara was a bit more modest than that and preferred to keep her undressing behind closed doors, or curtains, especially without any private space.


It took a little dancing around to get a comfortable temperature if a little on the lukewarm side. It felt like weeks since her last shower, even though it had only been about 36 hours. But a lot of driving, a poor night’s sleep on a boat and a day of sightseeing followed by a bus journey had made her feel grimy.


It really felt like months since they’d left Sunnydale, in some ways, not just weeks. It was hard to imagine how long a stretch of time there still was left.


She used the opportunity of having no one waiting on her to enjoy her shower, give her hair a good wash and condition and top up where she needed with her razor. A fresh teeth brushing left her feeling like new.


She arrived back into the dorm room, where Willow was lying on her stomach on the bed, legs kicked up. She had her phone in her hands, which she waved at Tara.


“You know it’s only an extra twenty bucks a night to get a private double since we’re each paying for a single anyway. I checked.”


Tara sighed, feeling a weight reappear on her shoulders.


“I want to get to know people.”


“You’re not getting to know them in your sleep,” Willow countered in a sing-song voice.


“I’m not getting to know them at all,” Tara replied curtly under her breath, but immediately regretted it, especially when Willow looked at her unsurely for a moment. Tara never spoke to her like that.


“What?”


Tara looked at Willow apologetically.


It was only the first night and she’d really enjoyed the space to have a long shower. Plus she was exhausted and falling into bed sounded like heaven.


“I said get up for a second. Please.”


Willow cautiously stood up, holding her phone to her chest. Tara moved around to the other side of Willow’s bed and pushed it a few inches closer to her own.


“Close enough to hold hands until we fall asleep, not too close to be conspicuous.”


Willow looked between the two beds and then to Tara, eyes soft.


“Thank you.”


Tara came back around and cupped Willow’s cheek, rubbing her thumb over Willow’s jawbone.


“You’re welcome.”


She tilted Willow’s face up and pressed their lips together tenderly for a few moments.


“I’m going to turn in,” she said softly, “I’m more tired than I realized.”


Willow nodded, then caught Tara’s arm before she left the embrace.


“Hey?”


Her fingers brushed Tara’s upper arm.


“I love you.”


Tara covered Willow’s fingers with her hand and gave them an affectionate squeeze.


“I love you too.”


With no one else in the room, she quickly changed into pajamas and got under the covers.


Willow slowly got herself ready for bed and turned off the lights before getting into bed too.


She’d just settled when she saw a shadow off to the side and it took a moment for her eyes to focus and realize it was Tara’s hand held out in the space between their beds.


She smiled. Tara had waited.


She reached out and felt a sense of peace wash over her as their fingers linked.


They both fell asleep in minutes.



Tara brought a plate of toast over to Willow, who was sitting on her own in the communal kitchen while the other occupants of their room and people from other dorms gathered in clusters to eat breakfast.


“Can you believe how noisy they were coming in last night?” Willow asked quietly.


“It was only for a minute,” Tara reasoned softly.


“Long enough to wake us,” Willow muttered.


Tara offered the plate.


“Eat. We’ll need energy for the slopes.”


They ate up and made their way to the rental unit to get their gear ready for the day on the mountain.


“You look so cute,” Willow said when Tara appeared in white pants and red ski jacket.


“You’re adorable,” Tara returned as she took it Willow’s multi-colored spackled attire.


She reached forward and settled Willow’s goggles on her face.


“Actually, it’s kinda hot.”


Willow blushed, but it was thankfully hidden.


A car horn sounded indicating the shuttle up to the mountain was outside and there was a rush from all corners as people gathered their equipment and headed out of the lodge.


“Do you mind if I take the window seat?” Tara asked as Willow went to slide in, “I’ve never seen real snow before.”


Willow smiled softly.


“Sure thing.”


She shuffled back out so Tara could take the window seat and sat beside her. She lifted her goggles again so she could watch Tara watch the gentle dusting of snow on the ground grow as they picked up passengers from the other accommodations and made their way to the base of the mountain.


Willow felt an unfettered sense of joy when they were leaving the bus and Tara jumped down from the step into the snow and grinned as her boots sunk into it.


She remembered being small children and jumping in mud puddles, and her mom getting mad when she came home dirty. She thought that was the end of mud puddle fun for her but the next time Kimberly told her to just have fun and then had washed everything she was wearing before sending her home. That had been one of the first times Willow had wondered where ‘home’ really was.


As Tara crouched down to touch the snow and run it through her fingers, Willow couldn’t resist making a sneaky snowball in her hand and aiming it right at the back of Tara’s head.


Tara grabbed the back of her head like she’d been shot and spun around, shocked. When she saw that Willow was her assailant, she reached out and pushed her shoulder.


“Hey!”


Willow stuck her tongue between her teeth to contain the laughter.


“I would have been jealous if I wasn’t your first snowball fight.”


“Oh, it’s a fight is it?” Tara asked and promptly dropped to form her own snowball to launch at Willow.


They chased each other around in a small circle flinging hastily made and often just crumbling flecks of ice at each other until they went barreling into someone and nearly made him poke his ski pole through his own foot.


“So sorry,” Tara gulped as he shot them an entirely hidden yet undeniably pointed look from under his goggles.


“Very sorry,” Willow echoed, grabbing Tara’s arm and pulling her away.


They moved away from the angry man, desperately trying not to laugh.


Moments later, they heard his voice for the first time as they watched him walk up on the slope to see above everyone.


“Alright, ski beginners, gather ‘round! Let’s get you kitted out!”


Willow’s eyes widened and she turned to Tara.


“Switch to a snowboarding lesson?”


“We better hurry,” Tara replied quickly, already pushing Willow toward a different group of people.


The woman leading this group started handing out snowboards from a large mesh bag.


“How many people here already do board sports?”


All the other hands in the group shot up and Willow and Tara exchanged a wide-eyed look.


Many, many tumbles, slips, trips and flat out face-planting later, they both shoved the boards back into the mesh bag to the grateful look of the instructor and other group participants. They happily stumbled away from the mountain to the mini-lodge that stored their belongings and sold hot drinks.


Tara went to get them hot chocolate while Willow retrieved her bag with their phones and snacks she’d brought for lunch.


The few benches were already taken up, but they took advantage of their padded clothing and sat in the snow at the base of the mountain.


“So…” Willow said as she accepted the Styrofoam cup at Tara, “We suck at this.”


Tara just smiled.


“Yes. I know she said everyone falls at first but it felt like we fell a spectacular amount.”


“My bruises have bruises,” Willow agreed, tenderly rubbing her covered shin, “Oh, food!”


She unzipped the front pocket and took out the peanut butter sandwiches Tara had made for them earlier, opening the resealable bag to hand her one.


“These are so good,” Willow said as ate hers hungrily.


“I learned how to scrape the peanut butter across the bread from a Cordon Bleu chef,” Tara returned with a crooked smile.


Willow reached out and brushed some errant nut butter from the corner of Tara’s mouth.


“I love that smile.”


A gust of wind blew at her face and she rubbed her sleeve over her nose to take out the brunt of it. Tara reached over and rubbed the red spot on the tip.


“I love that frosty little nose.”


Willow smiled and tucked her chin into Tara’s palm but backed off when people from their room passed by and said hello. Tara waved and Willow was cordial but more than her nose was frosty.


“Willow,” Tara said quietly, swallowing, “I know it's morning but last night's on my mind.”


“Oh?” Willow asked, raising an eyebrow.


Tara’s heart hammered a little too fast and she looked down.


“Never mind. Let’s get back out there.”


At the end of the day, on the shuttle back to the town, a worn-out Willow snuggled into Tara’s side.


“I think I’ve had my fill of snowboarding,” she said, trying not to swing her legs so as not to hit her many bruises against anything, “What do you want to do for dinner? I’m starving.”


“We could get a cheap bite from one of the bars,” Tara suggested hopefully, “I bet we can get a good recommendation.”


When they got back to the lodge, Tara hurried off to use the bathroom and Willow dragged herself around, feeling every bruise that dotted her legs as she did so. Tara greeted the others in their room politely when she returned. They all returned a greeting politely as well but mostly talked amongst themselves and headed out to the kitchen together in their own little group.


Willow was sitting on her bed, head buried in her phone, but looked up when Tara came over.


“Hey, I asked at the desk like you said, one of the mountain bars will do pizza delivery to the lodges, cheap too,” she said, brow furrowing slightly when Tara didn’t respond, “That’s what you wanted right?”


Tara watched the backs of their roommates as they left and blinked several times.


“Yeah,” she responded eventually, shaking her head to herself, “Yeah, great. Will you order?”


“Yeah, sure,” Willow smiled, “If there’s one thing I know how to do it's ordering a pizza for us! We should really be watching a movie too.”


Tara looked blank and Willow’s eyebrows lifted.


“Pizza-and-movie Fridays? Our number one tradition for over a decade?”


“Sorry, yes,” Tara replied quickly.


“Are you okay?” Willow asked, concerned.


Tara nodded.


“Just hungry.”


Willow held her phone back up.


“I’ll make the call.”


The pizza came and they ate alone, sitting on Willow’s bed.


“That was…seriously cheesy,” Willow commented, leaning back with her hands over a full belly, “I can’t even think of a good pun. It’s fondued my brain.”


She stuck her tongue out between her teeth, grinning.


“Got there,” she said triumphantly, then frowned when she noticed a spot of grease on her collar, “Shit. This was like my last clean shirt.”


Tara, not quite as full and feeling like moving, jumped up first to crush the box, then to go back over to her own bed.


“You know, it’s a good time to finally get some laundry done. With everyone else…out.”


Willow nodded along.


“Yeah, I’ve been getting dangerously low on underwear too.”


Tara found her coin purse and put it in her pocket.


“I’ll go buy some detergent.”


“From where?” Willow asked, her brow creased.


Tara indicated over her shoulder.


“They sell it by the cup at the desk.”


“Oh,” Willow replied, “Will you get me some?”


“A cup will be plenty for us both,” Tara said, her voice rushed.


“I was always a ‘throw it all in together and hope for the best’ kinda gal,” Willow admitted bashfully, “But I probably need to rethink that what with only having a couple of weeks’ worth of clothes on my back.”


“Why don’t you gather up your stuff and I’ll just throw it in with mine?” Tara suggested.


Willow shook her head.


“I can’t ask you to do that.”


“You’re not, I’m offering,” Tara said, hiking her bag of laundry on her bed for Willow to add to, “It’s silly to do two extra loads, and not very environmentally friendly.”


“Thanks, that’s really sweet,” Willow replied, trying not to wince as she stood, “Let me help.”


Tara shook her head.


“You need to rest those legs. Get into your PJs so I can wash that shirt.”


Willow shrugged and changed and handed Tara her stained shirt.


“Are you sure you—”


“I got it,” Tara cut her off and hurried out with the bag of laundry.


She just had to get out of that room.


She bought a cup of detergent at the desk and was directed downstairs to the laundry room. It was predictably empty and Tara sighed. She didn’t know what else she was expecting.


Laundry had always been her job at home and she’d always found it relaxing, even when she’d had to sort Donny’s boxers. She’d even had an occasional flirt with passive-aggression and not used fabric softener on his clothes.


She realized as she sorted their clothes that neither had brought any whites with them, which lessened the job considerably.


She followed the instructions stuck to the machine and got their wash on, then just stood there as it started to rattle.


She looked around and decided to wait it out, so she pressed her back up against the wall and slowly slid down into sitting. She took her phone from her pocket and twirled it around in her hand, before unlocking it to pass the time.


She noticed her mother was active on the messenger app they used and sent her a quick message to ask if she was up.


Moments later her screen lit up with an incoming video call and then the comforting image of her mother’s face, excited to see her.


“Hey Momma,” Tara greeted softly.


“Hello my darling girl,” Kimberly returned, “Why are you so little? Use that thing I got you with the bigger screen.”


“Oh, it’s up in the room, sorry,” Tara replied, holding the phone further away to get more of herself on screen, “And the camera is the same size.”


Kimberly peered at her.


“Where are you?”


“Doing laundry,” Tara answered a bit flatly.


“Oh, has reality hit?” Kimberly teased, “Can’t stay out partying every night. I saw those pictures with those handsome young Maori men.”


Tara arched an eyebrow and Kimberly had the decency to blush.


“Though I don’t suppose you were admiring.”


Tara decided to move on quickly.


“Why are you still up? Isn't it 1 am there?”


“Just off nights. Adjusting,” Kimberly said with that ever-present tired smile of hers, “What time is it there?”


“About 8 o’clock,” Tara replied through a breath, “At night. On Friday.”


Kimberly looked at her encouragingly.


“Are you just in from a day of skiing?”


Tara shook her head.


“We did a last minute change to snowboarding.”


“And?” Kimberly prompted.


Tara smiled.


“And we fell over a lot. We’ll do some skiing next, probably. And there’s nature walks and stuff. We’ll fill our time, I hope.”


Kimberly looked through the screen, concerned.


“You don’t sound yourself. Are you tired?”


“No,” Tara shook her head, then frowned, “Maybe. I had an early night last night but it was a long day.”


“Well the mom in me says to get enough rest,” Kimberly said, though her eyes twitched with mirth, “But you also have the rest of your life to get enough sleep. Enjoy your adventures.”


Tara nodded slowly, eyes flicking to the side for a moment.


“How are you and Willow getting on?” Kimberly asked when there was no response.


“We’re good,” Tara answered evenly, “She seems to be enjoying things. How’s everything at home?”


“Oh you know, same old same old,” Kimberly sighed softly, then paused for a moment before continuing, “Donny is home. For good.”


Tara didn’t answer and Kimberly felt the need to fill the silence.


“He’s doing well. Got his job back at the auto shop. He’s hoping to save up for a deposit to get his own place in a few months.”


“Good,” Tara answered after another moment when it was obvious her response was wanted, “I’m glad things are working out.”


Kimberly’s brow creased slightly.


“Are you sure you’re okay?”


“Yeah,” Tara nodded quickly, “Hey, I need to go and switch the clothes out to the dryer.”


“Okay honey,” Kimberly replied, lifting her hand to her mouth to blow a kiss, “Thanks for squeezing me in. I miss you and I love you and I’m so happy you’re having the time of your life.”


Tara looked away again but recovered before her mother noticed.


“I’m here any time you need me,” Kimberly added in as she waved her fingers in a goodbye.


“Thank you, Mom,” Tara said sincerely, “I love you. Talk soon. I’ll try and hang out with more hot men for you to ogle at.”


“Behave, young lady,” Kimberly replied and threw Tara a wink.


Tara smiled and waved and the picture dropped from the screen. She looked up at the washing machine still whirring away and sighed, dragging up her knees and wrapping her arms around them in silence.


Finally, when the clothes were washed and dried, she hiked them back upstairs and found Willow snoring softly in the room.


She dropped the bag on her bed and sank down beside it to sit, wondering what to do.


She’d love to talk to the Scandinavian solo traveler they shared a room with, or the identical triplet brothers she’d seen at breakfast, or even just be a passive witness to any of the shared stories the unique group of people staying in the lodge on these same few days would tell.


She could go and find fellow travelers in one of the bars to hang out with. Everyone had been friendly, in the lodge and on the slopes; she had no reason to think she wouldn’t be welcome. She’d been asked earlier if she wanted to come out.


Willow wouldn’t mind, or even notice; she was fast asleep.


But she felt like that six-year-old who had waited too long to make friends again and couldn’t summon the courage to just go out and approach anyone.


She got up and began folding the laundry, just to busy her hands instead of her thoughts. As she finished up, she was contemplating changing into some of her new clean clothes and checking out a bar, even if she just soaked up the atmosphere, alone with a drink, when she felt a toe poke her leg.


“Hey.”


Tara looked over and Willow was smiling at her, sleepy and adorable.


“Hey,” she returned, feeling her heart speed up a little at Willow’s soft smile.


“I fell asleep,” Willow said, sitting up with a groan as she rubbed her eyes, “Did you fold it and everything? I was going to do that part at least.”


“It’s no big deal,” Tara shrugged, “I’m pretty fast at it.”


Willow tried to stand and hand to hold onto the bed.


“Oh god, it hurts to move,” she said, sighing, “I think I’m just one giant bruise.”


“Oh, baby,” Tara comforted gently, “The only thing I can’t rub better without making it worse.”


Willow took a step forward and pressed her lips to Tara’s happily.


“This always helps,” she said, nuzzling her nose off of Tara’s, then tilting her head at a small angle as she looked in Tara’s eyes, “Are you okay?”


Tara opened her mouth and let out a breath.


“Yeah,” she said, taking in a new breath to build herself up, “Do—”


“I think a shower is going to kill me but it will be worse if I don’t,” Willow unintentionally cut Tara off as she walked away, waddling like a penguin, “Hey do you think they sell earplugs at the front desk too? I don’t want to deal with the noisy homecoming again.”


Tara’s shoulders shrunk and she held her arms loosely across her chest. She had earplugs, plenty of them, but she actually found herself getting excited at the thought of strolling down to the front desk to see what was happening.


“I’ll check for you.”


“You’re the best,” Willow smiled over, sweet and true and it made Tara feel guilty.


She offered a weak smile, helped Willow gather her things for a shower, and sat back onto her bed, twiddling her thumbs.


She was starting to wonder if she and Willow had the same idea of ‘adventure’ and what that meant for the next year of their lives.

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 Post subject: Re: New Fic: Inevitable [AU] (Oct 29th 2019)
PostPosted: Tue Oct 29, 2019 10:37 am 
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As a genius at avoiding confrontation with those close to me, this hit home. Honesty-time is at among them but how long until they realize it, I have to wonder, on tentmaker's hooks!

Jumping back a chapter or so ( and sorry if I already said this somewhere) but Tara's reaction to Willow's leg between hers in the restroom reminded me a bit of the "patellar sex" I included in my own fic "Old Marrieds."

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Kim: (breaks off the kissing) I l... (Sue stops her with a hand)
Sue: We don't talk about things like that right after, you know that, no saying those things in The Moment.
Kim: (moves the hand aside) Screw The Moment. I *love* you.


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 Post subject: Re: New Fic: Inevitable [AU] (Oct 29th 2019)
PostPosted: Tue Oct 29, 2019 2:37 pm 
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Uh oh lol

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 Post subject: Re: New Fic: Inevitable [AU] (Oct 29th 2019)
PostPosted: Tue Oct 29, 2019 8:53 pm 
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Aw, I so understand Tara's pov , she loves Willow and recognizes that she's not doing anything wrong but Tara is letting her dictate their time, she's gotta speak up. It's a hard place to be in, I'm sure neither of them want any more conflict.

I keep forgetting to say that several updates ago, Tara describing her sexy playlist was so so hot.

Really enjoying this!

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 Post subject: Re: New Fic: Inevitable [AU] (Oct 29th 2019)
PostPosted: Fri Nov 01, 2019 7:00 am 
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Ms. Moderator Fantastico
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DaddyCatALSO

Quote:
As a genius at avoiding confrontation with those close to me, this hit home. Honesty-time is at among them but how long until they realize it, I have to wonder, on tentmaker's hooks!


Pretty soon, actually...

Quote:
Jumping back a chapter or so ( and sorry if I already said this somewhere) but Tara's reaction to Willow's leg between hers in the restroom reminded me a bit of the "patellar sex" I included in my own fic "Old Marrieds."


The whole 'thigh between the legs' thing is a pretty standard move...usually (in fanfic) unintentional to cause awkward and hilarious results :laugh

Thanks for your comment!

leftindust

Quote:
Uh oh lol


Well... yup lol

Thanks for commenting!

shirrey

Quote:
Aw, I so understand Tara's pov , she loves Willow and recognizes that she's not doing anything wrong but Tara is letting her dictate their time, she's gotta speak up. It's a hard place to be in, I'm sure neither of them want any more conflict.


They don't...that's what makes this so hard (to quote Tara)

Quote:
I keep forgetting to say that several updates ago, Tara describing her sexy playlist was so so hot.


You and Willow have the same thoughts on this.

Quote:
Really enjoying this!


Thanks so much!

Thanks for your feedback!





Update Directly Below

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 Post subject: Re: New Fic: Inevitable [AU] (Oct 29th 2019)
PostPosted: Fri Nov 01, 2019 7:00 am 
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Ms. Moderator Fantastico
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CHAPTER RATING: R

Chapter 25



Melbourne



Goodbye To You, Goodbye To Everything That I Knew



“I don’t think I want to eat kangaroo.”


Tara watched Willow flick through a leaflet as they sat on the shuttle bus from the airport. Her arms were settled tiredly on her chest and her head was held up by one giant knot instead of a neck.


“I don’t think it’s a requirement, sweetie.”


Willow rolled her eyes playfully at Tara and smiled.


“I know that. They just have a list of Aussie foods to try. Tim Tams look good though. I wanna do a Tim Tam Slam!”


The bus pulled up on the curb and Tara poked Willow in the arm.


“This is us.”


Willow jumped up and took her backpack with her as she hurried to get off before the bus closed the doors.


“Oh, watch your step hun.”


Tara grabbed onto Willow’s backpack to steady her as they stepped off the shuttle and onto the sidewalk outside their hostel.


Willow felt herself falling forward and then being whooshed back until her feet finally settled on the pavement.


She smiled bashfully over at Tara.


“Don’t know what I’d do if you weren’t around to keep me on my feet.”


Tara briefly squeezed Willow’s shoulder before they made their way into the hostel to check in. Willow navigated them to their room going by wall signage and dropped her bag on the floor with a look of unrepentant disgust.


“Bunk…beds?”


“Yes,” Tara replied slowly, leaving her bag down beneath the ladder to the top bunk, “I told you there would be bunk beds.”


Willow just stared at the wooden frame of the structure.


“I thought you were joking,” she said in disbelief, before adding on in a grumble, “Why does the accommodation keep getting worse?! It’s like the curious case of the lowering standards.”


Tara saw two other guests in the room, whom she hadn’t even had a chance to say hello to yet, roll their eyes behind Willow’s back. Her eyes averted, embarrassed, and she tried to sound optimistic for Willow.


“Remember how we always wanted bunk beds as kids? Now we have them.”


“We were six,” Willow answered flatly.


“Look, just try to settle in?” Tara requested quietly, “I’m going to go to that supermarket on the corner and pick us up some essentials, okay?”


She rubbed Willow’s back but didn’t linger before grabbing her purse with her wallet and reusable shopping bag she sourced in Auckland and left the room.


She returned thirty minutes later with new shampoo and shower gel and some drinks and snacks but found their designated bunk void of Willow or their belongings. She felt a tap on her shoulder and turned to see Willow standing behind her, grinning.


“Where are the bags?” Tara asked, her tone lowering as her eyes flashed uncertainly.


Willow curled her finger forward.


“Come with me. I have a surprise.”


Tara looked back at the room they were retreating from in confusion as Willow led her down the hallway, produced a new key from her pocket and let them into a new room.


It had with one queen bed with matching nightstands holding pretty little orange lamps. There was art on the walls and a door that led to an en-suite and a pretty decent view of the city from the large bay window with curtains that matched the soft orange of the lamps.


It was a very nice, pretty, private room and Tara felt like she was a house of cards being toppled over.


“What…?” she exhaled in confusion, her bag of groceries dropping to the ground by her feet.


“They said we could just switch because we hadn’t used the beds,” Willow said, sitting on the bed with a bounce and a smile, “It’s just a few more bucks. I’ll pay for it.”


Tara bristled and closed her eye.


“I don’t want you to pay for it,” she said sternly, her nostrils beginning to flare, “I want to pay my own way.”


Willow's eyes moved back and forth uncomfortably.


“Okay then…”


Tara’s breath grew more labored and she felt like actually stamping her feet, though did rein in the urge.


“I don’t want to pay for this room. I was happy in the other one.”


“You were happy in a bunk bed?” Willow asked in a derisive tone.


Tara threw her hands up, which had started to shake. Her body had anticipated where this was going while her mind still reeled with the surprise of it all.


“I was happy to…to meet people, to talk to them, find out where the good places in the city are to see and eat and hang out.”


Willow tilted her head downward.


“Have you heard of the internet?”


Tara’s jaw clenched.


“Do you know how condescending you sound right now?”


It was Willow’s turn to bristle; she wasn’t very used to Tara challenging her.


“I’m sorry, I’m not trying to sound condescending,” she said, slowly sliding off the bed into a stand, “I just don’t get why anyone would choose that room with strangers who snore and smell and give you no privacy over this one.”


“Well you don’t have to get it,” Tara snapped, but it immediately settled into a more calm and resolute tone, “You don’t have to get it, but I do. You get the room you want and I’ll get the room I want. It’s no big deal. We don’t have to do every single thing together.”


Willow was hurt that Tara didn’t want to share a bed with her but tried to hide it.


“Okay. You do that.”


“Okay,” Tara nodded, blowing out a last breath of tension, “Okay, I’ll go tell them I need a single bed before they fill up.”


Willow’s pretense dropped.


“Are you really going to needlessly pay for a shared room when I’m getting a private one anyway? You’re just cutting off your nose to spite your own face. You’re the one wasting money!”


Tara closed her eyes and shook her head.


“I knew you were just trying to trick me.”


“Trick you?!” Willow exclaimed in disbelief, “I’m trying to give us some time, some space together. Is it so wrong to want to share a bed with you, to have a little affection?”


“Well now you know how I felt for the past year,” Tara spat back and felt her stomach recoil as she watched her words hit Willow’s face.


She knew that wasn’t fair.


She didn’t like being this person.


She didn’t like what all of this inner and now outer conflict was doing to her.


Her head dropped and her voice followed.


“I don’t think this is gonna work.”


Willow’s brow furrowed as deep as it ever had.


“Hey. It is, i-it's working.”


Tara just looked at Willow but couldn’t take the look on her face and looked down again.


Willow took a step forward, wringing her hands.


“Tara, please. I need you, baby. I need you. I don't need all this, I-I don't, I…let me prove it to you, okay?”


“I don't know, I just…think we both need some…I don't know, space,” Tara swallowed unable to take Willow looking so upset, “Oh, I can't believe I'm saying this.”


Tara’s voice was an echo as she said out loud the niggling thought that had been in her back of her mind for a while but she’d refused to acknowledge before.


“I think we should do our own thing for a few weeks. Maybe meet up back in Sydney before we’re supposed to leave?”


“Are you serious?” Willow asked, her voice verging on breaking, “Are you saying you're gonna leave me?”


Tara’s head shot up.


“I’m leaving for a few weeks. I’m not leaving you,” she said, the definitive language of the statement not lost on either of them.


“Uh, if I’m not there, you are!” Willow protested angrily, her eyes becoming visibly glassy, “That’s exactly what that means!”


Her fists balled all her sides.


“Do it then! Pay, pay your own way! GO your own way! You can go your own way! Don’t pretty it up!”


Tara’s eyes started to shine with unshed tears too.


“Willow…” she said softly, pained, “You said in the park that day if I needed space you would give it to me.”


A single tear fell down Willow’s cheek as a wealth of guilt and pain and fear washed over her face. Her anger dropped, but the hurt was even worse to see.


“I thought we’d figured that stuff out, I thought we were doing better…I thought I was doing better. I’m really trying, Tara. I know I hushed up at the mountain but I really thought the others might be uncomfortable but I don’t care about them, I just care about you. I’ll do better, I promise, Tara!”


Tara felt her own lip start to tremble.


“I know, Willow, I know you’ve been trying. On that stuff, it’s great, it really is. I feel your heart opening and I love and appreciate every step you’ve made,” she said sincerely before her head dropped and she continued quietly, “That’s what makes this so hard.”


She furtively wiped at her eye because she couldn’t break down. Even at this moment, she had to stay strong for Willow. She inhaled deeply and raised her head, determined to speak clearly.


“This is a different problem. This is a clash we’ve never had. We rushed into this trip together, we had no idea what it was going to be like and I think I just need a few weeks to see what it’s like on my own so I can come back and we can figure out how to move forward together.”


Tara saw the moment Willow broke as her shoulders deflated and then began to wrack with silent sobs.


Every muscle in Tara’s body was tensed and strained as she fought to make Willow understand.


“I am not breaking up with you. I’m not, Willow. This is best for me but it’s for us too. Because I love you…because I love you too damn much to let this pull us apart when a little breathing space could keep us together.”


A tear escaped but Willow’s eyes were shut so tight Tara didn’t try to hide it.


“And if you don’t believe that, then…” she stopped and exhaled, “Then, I won’t go.”


She nodded definitively to herself.


“If you honestly don’t think that I love you and that I’ll come back to you, then I’m obviously doing something wrong and I’ll stay until you truly know deep in your heart how I feel about you.”


So many voices screamed at Willow to take the out, to make her stay.


But she couldn’t.


Because she did know.


And Tara had never asked anything of her, so if she was asking this then she had to let her—


“Go,” she pushed out the word like it was acid on her tongue.


She refused to open her eyes.


It almost startled Tara.


She really had to do it now.


She wordlessly grabbed her backpack and put it over her shoulders, then approached Willow to kiss her goodbye, but without opening her eyes Willow turned her cheek when she felt Tara’s breath get close and refused it.


“Just go.”


Tara blinked, then nodded despite Willow not being able to see her and backed off to head for the door.


With one look behind her, she walked through and left the room.


“I love you, Willow.”


Willow broke when she heard the click of the lock secure back into place and burst into the tears she’d so desperately held in.


She dropped right where she was on the floor, her feet connecting with the abandoned grocery bag that Tara had let fall.


Her eyes opened, pained and glassy, when she spotted a pack of Tim Tams falling out from the top of the bag that Tara must’ve bought for her when she’d been out.


With a gut-wrenching cry she picked up the pack and looked at it; all of Tara’s love for her represented in brown packaged confectionary.


Willow held the cookies to her chest and sobbed.



Willow was curled around a pillow with red eyes in the same room Tara had left her in.


The curtains were pulled, the lights were off and her saddest playlist was currently playing Death Cab for Cutie.


She hadn’t even left the room in the days since Tara left; had only sat under the spray of water in the shower without actually washing her hair or body because the hot water burned her skin and gave her something else to focus on.


She was just about surviving on the food Tara had bought for them before but was getting to the point of eating a tin of tuna with no utensils.


She’d never felt like this before.


So shut down.


The only thing that had come close was when Tara left for band camp after they’d fought last summer but she’d been so bogged down in the tentative first steps of actually acknowledging her feelings, the raw pain hadn’t felt quite so…well, raw.


Tara had said they weren’t breaking up, but that was surely just a line, Willow could only think. Tara’s natural inclination was to play down badness, to comfort. She’d realize how much fun she could have without a Willow-shaped-person attached and come back to say goodbye for good.


If she came back at all.


Her pillow was still wet with the tears that would rush from her eyes as she thought of everything she’d lost so quickly.


The rug was completely pulled from under her; she’d had no idea Tara had hated traveling with her so much.


She’d thought they were closer than ever.


It stung in her heart and rolled around in her stomach taunting her into feeling like she was going to throw up. Except she couldn’t, she’d tried, and she was stuck with the bile burning through her and reminding her of everything she’d done wrong.


Even trying my hardest…I’m not good enough. I’m never good enough.


As she stared off into space, her sniffles were interrupted by a new email notification on her laptop. She was going to ignore it, as she had the dozens of emails and other message notifications she’d received over the past few days, but the flash of a name caught her eye before it disappeared.


Image



She shot up and yanked her laptop into her lap, wondering if she’d imagined it, but she hadn’t.


The name was right there.


Image



She put her fingers over the trackpad but they were damp with her tears and the cursor wouldn’t move. With frustration, she slapped her hand against her thigh and dragged it along her pajama bottom to dry it. She quickly tried again to pull up the tab again.


She stared at Tara’s name, bold and confronting, and cast her eye to the subject line. Her brow knotted.


Mixtape?


Hovering for a moment, she finally clicked it open and found herself holding her breath in anticipation.


Image



The breath fell from her body as she took in the short message, or rather the lack of message.


“Huh?” she asked out loud, desperately scrolling for some more communication.


Did Tara forget to write anything? Had it been an accident? Her heart was beginning to sink.


On her third scroll, she realized the one word in the email was actually a link. She hovered over it and saw it linked to a playlist. Still confused but starting to put the mixtape connection together, she opened it in a new tab.


Image



Short she thought to herself but a soft smile bloomed when she noticed the title, She’s thinking of me.


She ran her cursor over the short list of songs and she flashed back to being in that beat-up car, cruising down the highway and laughing together. She suddenly gasped.


This is her sex playlist!


Her eyes widened considerably.


And she’s thinking about me!


She rolled off the bed in an urgent heap to attack her backpack and find the pouch where her earbuds were hiding. She practically ripped them from their holder and dived back onto the bed so she could start the playlist.


She heard the opening notes and smirked but after just a few seconds she felt the sensual beat blast between her ears in a way she’d never appreciated of the particular song before.


Imagining Tara’s ‘dance floor seduction’ she felt the beat thump through her whole body. The lyrics were lost, unimportant. The intention of this music was entirely centered around how those notes sunk deep under your skin.


She chuckled, low and slow.


Oh, she’s good.


Her eyes closed and the last unshed tears fell from them and into her smile.


“Suck it, Barry.”


She tried to remember what Tara had said at the time — when they talked about this. Something about rhythm and dancing mirroring the body’s reaction to sex and damn if she wasn’t getting exactly what Tara was talking about. The songs slowly lapped together, bringing her from one reaction to the next.


The last song came on, the one Tara had pretty much explicitly stated was the one she wanted to make sweet love to Willow to; the last thing she wanted to hear before Willow was moaning too hard for any music to be heard at all, and Willow found her hand lost underneath her pajama bottoms in a flurry of movement and emotion.


It was a reflex borne of years of anguish to relieve herself in this way; but she wasn’t trying to beat the emotion this time, she was embracing it.


It didn’t even take the whole length of the song; Tara was right, the rest of the playlist had set the mood and she was more than ready by the time she got going.


Her eyes opened as she finished and her body relaxed.


She breathed softly for the last few seconds of it and removed her earbuds with a soft sigh.


She stared up at the ceiling, one hand still on her thigh and felt a physical brain shift, like some part of it was actually clicking into place. Everything was clear.


Pity was doing nothing for her. She’d traveled this far to better herself, not wallow in thoughts of self-deprecation that were as old as she was.


The first thing she had to do was get up and showered and then out of that room.


Her fingertips brushed the sensitive skin of her inner thigh and her mind flashed with Tara.


She smiled.


It was time to have the faith in herself that Tara had always believed in.



Willow slowly walked down a hallway, her backpack large on her body and her fingers nervously playing with the strap.


Why did this feel like the first day of Kindergarten again?


At least she wasn't going to have to deal with a taunting Cordelia this time.


She found the dormitory she was looking for and stepped inside. All but one pair of bunk beds had belongings on them, but only one set had any actual people on it; a woman on the bottom playing on her phone as it charged and a man on top, snoring into his pillow.


Willow approached the empty bunk and set her backpack quietly onto the bottom bed.


The girl in the other bunk, a little older than Willow but similar in build, except with dark black hair, looked up curiously and regarded Willow for a few moments before speaking.


“New in the city?”


Willow was slightly startled and it took a second for her to recover and respond.


“Um, I’ve been here a few days. I just moved from another hostel,” she explained, tucking some hair behind her own ear and averting her gaze and adding on quietly, “Heard this place is good for solo travelers.”


The girl swung her legs over the side of her bed to sit up.


“American?”


Willow nodded.


“Yeah. California.”


“Brit,” the girl answered with a large smile, “Northumbria, but I don’t expect you to know where that is.”


Willow smiled, couldn’t help but at the level of friendliness and offered a small wave.


“I’m Willow.”


“Allie,” Allie introduced herself, then jabbed the mattress in the space between the slats on the upper bunk above her head, “This lug is David.”


David awoke with a sharp inhale that ended up a snort and looked out from over his pillow with a confused look on his face and mussed hair.


“Huh, what?”


“You were snoring,” Allie called up, loudly and pointedly though she continued to grin widely at Willow.


David blushed and cleared his throat.


“Sorry.”


He rolled himself up and slid down half the ladder then jumped down the last foot of space. He bent over to kiss Allie briefly, then made his way out of the room, presumably to the bathroom, smoothing out his hair with the palm of his hand.


“Love is not laughing at someone’s just-woke face,” Allie rolled her eyes playfully then shot a smirking nod in Willow’s direction, “Or their O-face, am I right?”


Willow smiled appeasingly but wasn’t sure she agreed.


She laid her hands in her lap and bit her bottom lip in thought.


“Can I ask you something?” she said, trying to sound nonchalant, “Do people mind sharing a room with a couple?”


Allie lifted her chin.


“If you’re uncomfortable—”


“No, no,” Willow interrupted quickly, holding up her hands, “God, no, sorry.”


She pushed out a breath before turning back toward her new roommate.


“I’ve been traveling with my girlfriend,” she said, only stumbling for a moment on the ‘g’ of girlfriend, “And I was worried about being open about it.”


She looked down and her voice quieted.


“But I have a history of that so maybe I was just telling myself other people would care as an excuse.”


Allie looked at Willow and her face took on an affectionate look that one might display toward a little, unworldly sister.


“Pick co-ed rooms. Coupling of some sort is always a possibility in co-ed rooms, so generally people who are more uptight about that kind of stuff won’t choose them.”


Willow considered it and felt her lips twitching.


“Thanks,” she said, smiling growing larger, “That really helps.”


“And don’t have ever have sex in a single,” Allie advised sagely.


Willow looked horrified.


“I would never.”


“Smarter than me,” Allie said with a grin and Willow blushed, “Learn from my mistakes.”


Willow looked away with wide eyes but Allie continued conversing.


“She’s not here?”


Willow frowned in confusion, but then realized what Allie was talking about.


“Oh, Tara.”


She paused.


It still hurt, even if she was trying to move forward.


She still missed her presence.


“She’s doing her own thing for a bit,” she answered, a bit aloof, “And so am I, I guess. I haven’t done the cheap, backpacking thing before. I can be a bit…insular. Trying to fix it. Learn how to do this right. And cheap. And fun.”


Allie nodded, clearly getting a good idea of the kind of situation she was dealing with.


“Always remember, DFS,” she advised, keeping Willow’s gaze as if to impart how important this was, “Do Free Shit.”


Willow laughed and Allie chuckled in return.


“Seriously, though. Obviously, free activities are great, but there’s everyday stuff too. Always get the free hostel breakfast, find bars with the best deals on alcohol, pre-drinking is even better. And always pick the place where you’ll need the least transport. Have a few cheap meals you can make quickly in these shitty kitchens and you’ll find you stretch your pound.”


Willow’s shoulders started to ease as she relaxed into the camaraderie.


“Been doing this a while?”


Allie nodded with a lot of weight that seemed experienced but not exhausted.


“Six months. Trekked through Asia. Definitely feeling the penny pinch here, but it’s a great city.”


David came back and sat to talk with Allie, so Willow turned away to busy herself with sorting her belongings.


After a while, the couple stood and started to leave, but Allie lingered at Willow’s bed.


“We’re going on a graffiti hunt. Checking out the street art and the laneway bars. You wanna come?”


Willow’s natural inclination was to politely refuse but she made herself shut her mouth before she did so.


“Yeah,” she found herself saying with a smile of not-entirely-forced enthusiasm.


She stood and held her shoulders proudly. A little forced but still firmly forward.


“Yeah. Okay. Thanks. I think that would be really cool.”

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 Post subject: Re: New Fic: Inevitable [AU] (Nov 1st 2019)
PostPosted: Fri Nov 01, 2019 9:09 am 
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10. Troll Hammer

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One breakthrough doesn't make a change of mind (as I know too well) but Willow dear, you've made some real progress here. Perhaps turned a corner or are at least *at* the corner.

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____________________________________________________________
Kim: (breaks off the kissing) I l... (Sue stops her with a hand)
Sue: We don't talk about things like that right after, you know that, no saying those things in The Moment.
Kim: (moves the hand aside) Screw The Moment. I *love* you.


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 Post subject: Re: New Fic: Inevitable [AU] (Nov 1st 2019)
PostPosted: Fri Nov 01, 2019 1:11 pm 
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7. Teeny Tinkerbell Light

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Daddy Cat did not dibs, so I am "dib'sing :applause

I am really frustrated and angry with Tara. I know that it is an unpopular view, but in my opinion bolting/running is something you do after no change has been made and you've given the person clear feedback. Seriously, tell Willow that you want to stay in the dorms so that you can meet new people. Tell her that you want to do things on your own, but don't bail on her for several weeks. Spend some alone time and meet back after a day or at the most two. I think leaving was cruel. I know that this gives Willow the kick in the ass that she needs to go off on her own and is probably good in the long run, but I have learned from experience, once a runner, always a runner. If I was Willow, I could never trust Tara again. I wouldn't trust any talk of the future. I would feel that one wrong move and she's going to bail on me again. This is the second time that Tara has run away rather than talking... this is BAD.

I am probably reacting from the place of having my biggest fear being abandoned. In my opinion that is what Tara has done and I could never forgive her. You don't abandon the people you love. But I guess, Tara was always planning to abandon Willow for this year... So why not abandon Willow in a strange country, I guess it could be worse, she could have done this to her in a non-English speaking country...However, Willow should never have offered this option to Tara. I guess I don't see this trip as Willow's dream. I think that Willow's dream is being with Tara wherever she is; whatever she is doing. I also suspect that there is a little horndog Willow. Once you have sex for the first time, you want to do it again, and this room provides the opportunity. :blush

This is the Kittenboard, and I know that they are going to end up all hugs and kisses, but Tara's behaviors if in real life; would scream "Warning...Warning Will Robinson...Warning."

I continue to wait for every Tuesday and Friday for this story to continue.
It is the highlight of my days.
Thanks for writing.

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 Post subject: Re: New Fic: Inevitable [AU] (Nov 1st 2019)
PostPosted: Fri Nov 01, 2019 4:42 pm 
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Tara made the right call, Willow had been pretty thoughtless and unwilling so far, she needs this

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 Post subject: Re: New Fic: Inevitable [AU] (Nov 1st 2019)
PostPosted: Fri Nov 01, 2019 6:03 pm 
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ok, me finally remembering to say how sexy Tara's sex mix was and then THERE IT IS IN THE UPDATE! Coincidence or Spooky Halloween Shenanigans???

But before the return of the super sexy play list, Oh God, my heart hurts. and doing it with the Tabula Rasa lines was a double ouch. :(( :((
What is so sad about Tara going is that, had they had a conversation before it may not have come to a point where Tara HAD to go- then again, Willow may have still needed this visceral punch to open her eyes, either way, I appreciate that you are letting them go there- because people do that, they don't communicate, with good excuses, and then things get too broken to fix with just words. I am really glad that Willow agreed to Tara going, it would have felt very wrong and a little unhealthy if Tara had stayed to try and make Willow realize that she loved her enough. Glad that Willow is taking chances.

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 Post subject: Re: New Fic: Inevitable [AU] (Nov 1st 2019)
PostPosted: Mon Nov 04, 2019 8:43 pm 
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JMT-

Sorry for the late feedback...busy weekend.

So, I'm not surprised by any of this and do not fault Tara one bit. I read through some of the previous comments and have to disagree. Just like in canon, if Tara stayed, nothing would change. Willow is the kind of person that needs a kick in the pants to get her full attention. She has a tendency to get self-righteous and a little full of herself, kind of like a wild horse that needs to be broken. Basic communication just doesn't seem to get through. Like I said before, this is Tara's trip, not Willow's and Willow is being a bit of a whiney little brat trying to get her way. However, in her defense, I don't think she conscientiously knows what she's doing. In her mind, she's just trying to make it better and have a little alone time with her girlfriend. I get that but it needs to be discussed and decided on as a couple, it's not her place to just change it up.

Quote:
“Trick you?!” Willow exclaimed in disbelief, “I’m trying to give us some time, some space together. Is it so wrong to want to share a bed with you, to have a little affection?”

“Well now you know how I felt for the past year,” Tara spat back and felt her stomach recoil as she watched her words hit Willow’s face.

She knew that wasn’t fair.
But all's fair in love and war, right? This was hard for Willow but she needs to understand how her lack of affection and being pushed away feels, so she'll stop doing it to Tara. All part of the growth process.

I'm so glad Tara sent the sex playlist, it was just the kick that Willow needed and a reminder that Tara is not gone for good and still loves her. Learning how to communicate is hard, it takes time and maturity, but they'll get there.

Loved it and as always...can't wait for more!!
-JMT

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 Post subject: Re: New Fic: Inevitable [AU] (Nov 1st 2019)
PostPosted: Tue Nov 05, 2019 6:00 am 
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DaddyCatALSO

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One breakthrough doesn't make a change of mind (as I know too well) but Willow dear, you've made some real progress here. Perhaps turned a corner or are at least *at* the corner.


A mindset takes a little while to settle in but guess what? She now has time now to pursue the full ‘change of mind’ (and she will — has in fact. I’m not going to get bogged down in the minutiae when we all just want to see them back together :) )

Thanks for commenting!

taranwillow4ever

Quote:
I am really frustrated and angry with Tara. I know that it is an unpopular view, but in my opinion bolting/running is something you do after no change has been made and you've given the person clear feedback. Seriously, tell Willow that you want to stay in the dorms so that you can meet new people. Tell her that you want to do things on your own, but don't bail on her for several weeks.


Okay but can you see she did all of that in the conversation and Willow rebuffed it? Tara didn’t just up and leave, she said she would go do all that and Willow tried to trick her way out of it. She was blind sighted, no doubt, but Tara didn’t just jump ship because her feet got a little wet. They had an exchange on the back of weeks more of exchanges and both acted rashly, resulting in this.

Quote:
Spend some alone time and meet back after a day or at the most two.


That's not enough time for them both to have the kind of reflections they need to continue the relationship, though, that’s the thing. They need to experience traveling alone so they can come back together with a clear idea of what each of them wants from the trip. They're not just hanging around at home, Tara has worked every year of her teenage life to fund this. Wasting weeks or months for Willow to come around (as is her only experience with Willow and emotive issues) is money wasted and a surefire cesspool of resentment simmering away for down the line. Tara needs to know what she can get from the experience without having to take anyone else’s needs into account. It’s the only way to learn how to compromise.

Quote:
I think leaving was cruel. I know that this gives Willow the kick in the ass that she needs to go off on her own and is probably good in the long run, but I have learned from experience, once a runner, always a runner. If I was Willow, I could never trust Tara again. I wouldn't trust any talk of the future. I would feel that one wrong move and she's going to bail on me again. This is the second time that Tara has run away rather than talking... this is BAD.


Um…without being rude…are you for real? After everything Tara has stayed for, through; everything Willow has subjected Tara to? You’re labeling Tara as the runner? And I don't know what you're referring to as the 'first time', either band camp or when she went to get park after their fight in Auckland... Band camp, Tara was always leaving. Auckland, she just heard the love of her life say she was disgusted by her. She needed air. Sometimes you leave an argument if it’s getting too much. Everyone is entitled to ask for space. Tara told Willow she needed space and left. Willow is not entitled for Tara to stay wherever she damn pleases whenever she damn wants.

This notion of never trusting Tara again because of this reminds me of that thought experiment where if you do 99 things out of a 100 correctly but 1 incorrectly, everyone will point out the mistake. The amount of utter crap Willow has thrown at Tara, consciously and subconsciously and Tara put up with it and did her best to work things out. The completely unhealthy communication habits they’ve formed because of it is exactly what led to this big blow up because for once Tara wasn’t willing to ignore her own desires to cater to Willow.

I note you don't mention the dozens of times Willow has run from Tara emotionally, distanced herself physically, denied them etc., but I guess Tara's just supposed to forget all of that and not have trust issues or anything.

Quote:
I am probably reacting from the place of having my biggest fear being abandoned. In my opinion that is what Tara has done and I could never forgive her. You don't abandon the people you love. But I guess, Tara was always planning to abandon Willow for this year...


I'm actually kinda angry reading this. How can you put down Tara like this when she's done so much to keep them together. Disagreeing with her actions is one thing but what you’re saying about her is another. Abandon Willow? Do you forget she was going to give all of this up for Willow until Willow said she wanted to come too? I'm trying not to get personal but since you admit it yourself, you are seriously projecting and have a completely skewed perspective on what has actually happened.

You seem to think she walked out the door because it was the easy decision. The easy decision would be to stay, to push down her feelings like she always had. But she didn’t, because she cares too much for the relationship they’ve fought so damn hard for to throw it away for trivial things like clashing over traveling decisions. They need to learn about themselves in this arena so they can communicate, otherwise they’re just hopping along on a wish and a prayer.

And she didn’t just disappear, that would be abandonment. She said she’d stay for god sake, she was willing to once again push her own feelings away if Willow decided hers was more important. I’m really glad Willow was cognizant enough to realize that wouldn’t be fair to either of them.

I’m utterly flabbergasted that you could speak of Tara so disparagingly with this line:

“Tara was always planning to abandon Willow for this year” do you think Tara owes Willow her unlimited presence regardless of what Willow decides she’s going to do for herself? Would Willow have been abandoning Tara by going to college? Tara is her own person with her own hopes and dreams and desires and Willow is a big part of that but she’s not all of it and Tara is perfectly entitled to her own pursuit of happiness. That is not abandonment. A mature relationship respects that there’s two individuals involved and not just a singular coupledom or a singular person who somehow deserves to be catered to more.

Quote:
So why not abandon Willow in a strange country, I guess it could be worse, she could have done this to her in a non-English speaking country...


Willow is an adult with means far beyond Tara (and has been to Australia before, unlike Tara). Tara isn't her mother. Willow is perfectly capable of fending for herself. Given her internet savvy, more so in fact. They still have phones. They can even be in contact if or when they need to. Tara hasn’t just ‘done’ something to Willow, she’s ‘done’ it to herself.

Quote:
However, Willow should never have offered this option to Tara. I guess I don't see this trip as Willow's dream. I think that Willow's dream is being with Tara wherever she is; whatever she is doing. I also suspect that there is a little horndog Willow. Once you have sex for the first time, you want to do it again, and this room provides the opportunity. :blush


Willow wanted to learn who she is when she's not being who she's expected to be. That why she said she would do the trip alone if Tara wanted to do hers alone too. Tara is a bonus. Obviously she doesn't have the same attachment as Tara because she hasn't been planning it as long but that doesn't change that it was something she decided to do with or without her.

Quote:
This is the Kittenboard, and I know that they are going to end up all hugs and kisses, but Tara's behaviors if in real life; would scream "Warning...Warning Will Robinson...Warning."


This is horrendously unfair and a complete misjudgment of Tara's character. I’m at a total loss as to how this is the overall impression you’ve come away with. I don’t mind if someone disagrees that Tara leaving was the best choice, it was one of many and the one she ultimately chose and I stand by it, but I won’t have her entire character assassinated or it being alluded that she’s somehow neglectful or abusive because she made a difficult decision in a difficult situation.

Quote:
I continue to wait for every Tuesday and Friday for this story to continue.
It is the highlight of my days.
Thanks for writing.


Well, thank you and I do appreciate your continued viewership.

leftindust

Quote:
Tara made the right call, Willow had been pretty thoughtless and unwilling so far, she needs this


Tara made the call she felt she needed to make and maybe there could have been other calls, but I think you're right, this is what she needed.

Thanks for commenting!

shirrey

Quote:
ok, me finally remembering to say how sexy Tara's sex mix was and then THERE IT IS IN THE UPDATE! Coincidence or Spooky Halloween Shenanigans???


A spooky coincidence :laugh (if you click the picture of the playlist btw, it will bring you to the actual playlist)

Quote:
But before the return of the super sexy play list, Oh God, my heart hurts. and doing it with the Tabula Rasa lines was a double ouch. :(( :((


I hated myself a little bit for it, I gotta admit.

Quote:
What is so sad about Tara going is that, had they had a conversation before it may not have come to a point where Tara HAD to go-


There are a bunch of ways this could have played out. All with different outcomes, timeframes. Tara did what she thought was best. People can agree or disagree, but Tara did what she thought she had to do to save their relationship. She’s aware enough to know that they aren’t just in a moment in time, they’re in a situation with different equity as to their desires going forward and their hopes coming in.

Quote:
then again, Willow may have still needed this visceral punch to open her eyes, either way, I appreciate that you are letting them go there- because people do that, they don't communicate, with good excuses, and then things get too broken to fix with just words.


This is oh so painfully true. Things fall apart...and maybe you can’t put them back the way they were, but sometimes, if you’re careful and willing to put in the time, you can put them back way better.

Quote:
I am really glad that Willow agreed to Tara going, it would have felt very wrong and a little unhealthy if Tara had stayed to try and make Willow realize that she loved her enough. Glad that Willow is taking chances.


It would have been hugely unhealthy. It would have been a relationship I couldn't stand behind. You know, for a loooooong time I thought Tara (in the show) should have, WOULD have (with better writing, grumble grumble) stayed with Willow and helped her through the addiction but then I grew up and I was like oh damn, no. Tara had to go and I love her character because of it, not in spite of it. I hope to never betray Tara's strength by thinking like that again.

Thanks for your feedback!

Finey_McFine

Quote:
Sorry for the late feedback...busy weekend.


No apology needed, I hope it was good-busy!

Quote:
So, I'm not surprised by any of this and do not fault Tara one bit. I read through some of the previous comments and have to disagree. Just like in canon, if Tara stayed, nothing would change.


And as someone who took a while to come to that conclusion myself (about canon), trust me, it wasn't easy to write!

Quote:
Willow is the kind of person that needs a kick in the pants to get her full attention. She has a tendency to get self-righteous and a little full of herself, kind of like a wild horse that needs to be broken. Basic communication just doesn't seem to get through. Like I said before, this is Tara's trip, not Willow's and Willow is being a bit of a whiney little brat trying to get her way.


A wild horse or stubborn mule, both maybe :laugh She's lived her life so alone, she's never really had anyone to challenge her.

Quote:
However, in her defense, I don't think she conscientiously knows what she's doing. In her mind, she's just trying to make it better and have a little alone time with her girlfriend. I get that but it needs to be discussed and decided on as a couple, it's not her place to just change it up.


Oh 100%, she was completely unaware of how Tara was feeling and Tara should have been a lot more honest a lot sooner. This is a communication blunder on both of their parts.

Quote:
But all's fair in love and war, right? This was hard for Willow but she needs to understand how her lack of affection and being pushed away feels, so she'll stop doing it to Tara. All part of the growth process.


Yes! And I think she'll really get that wake-up call through all of this

Quote:
I'm so glad Tara sent the sex playlist, it was just the kick that Willow needed and a reminder that Tara is not gone for good and still loves her. Learning how to communicate is hard, it takes time and maturity, but they'll get there.


They're still babies, they need the chance to learn. God, I remember how I was with relationship complications at 18/19...I would not have survived this kind of trip with anyone, even a friend! Their strong, long bond will stand to them

Quote:
Loved it and as always...can't wait for more!!


I hope you continue to enjoy it, your support means so much :flower

Thanks so much for your feedback!



Update Directly Below

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 Post subject: Re: New Fic: Inevitable [AU] (Nov 1st 2019)
PostPosted: Tue Nov 05, 2019 6:00 am 
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CHAPTER RATING: PG-13

NOTE: This is an itsy bitsy teenie weenie yellow polka-dot chapt-ini. To make up, the next chapter is really long AND I’m gonna post it early :D So you can expect another chapter Wednesday and then Friday’s as scheduled. I humbly hope that will make up for this little ‘un.

Chapter 26



Adelaide



I'll Spread My Wings And I'll Learn How To Fly
I'll Do What It Takes Till I Touch The Sky



Willow rocked out of her dormitory with a smile on her face and a spring in her step.


“Hey Ricardo,” she greeted the man sitting behind the hostel desk, concentrating hard on the phone sitting in his lap, “How are the Crows doing?”


“All even, Madam Willow,” Ricardo replied with an uneasy tone.


“Better not jinx ‘em!” Willow called back as she skipped out onto the street.


She rounded the corner and she was right on the doorstep of the central market, a huge building packed with stalls of local produce.


She enjoyed a leisurely stroll through and bought some seasonal apples and mandarins, a pack of caramelized almonds that she’d become obsessed with and then headed right through to one of the small cafés located within the market.


As she walked in there was a rousing cheer from the majority of people who were watching the local AFL team play on the television affixed to the wall. Willow swung up onto a free stool at the café’s bar, still smiling.


“I’ll pretend the cheer was for me,” she said to the barista behind the counter, “Can I get a flat white and a lamington please?”


As she waited for her coffee she overheard two people, a guy and a girl, nearby talking about heading out to Ayers Rock.


“I just came back from Uluru,” she interjected politely in a break between their conversation, “Make sure you check out the camel train!”


“Cheers,” the woman replied, lifting her cup of tea as a toast and sending a smile across the bar.


Willow’s mug and plate were placed in front of her and she tipped her cup up toward the woman.


“Cheers.”


She took a sip and licked some of the errant foam from the corner of her mouth. She reached for her cake but before she could dust her mouth with its coconutty goodness, her phone started ringing. She took a very swift bite, wiped her lips free of the flakes and took her phone out.


She thought it might be one of her dormies hitting her up for where they were going to go for dinner in Chinatown that night and so her eyes nearly bugged when she saw the name flash up on the screen. She couldn’t answer it quick enough.


“Tara?!” she asked in a rush, but another cheer went up in the café and she couldn’t hear a thing.


She pushed herself off the stool and ran out back into the main shopping area where it was still noisy but she could make out the call if she stuck her finger in her ear.


“Tara?” she repeated, heart beating in her chest, which only increased as she processed the panicked, garbled voice on the other end, “Whoa, whoa, calm down. What’s wrong, what’s happening?”


She closed her eyes to try and hyper focus so she could make sense of what Tara was saying.


“Baby, breath. I can find you, okay? I can always find you. Just stay put right where you are and stay on your phone. I won’t leave you. Do you have water? Take a long breath and then a long drink.”


Abandoning — completely forgetting, in fact — her coffee, cake, and purchases, she broke out into a run, dodging customers and merchandise and every annoyed glance shot her way in the process.


She sped back around the corner and into the hostel where Ricardo was visibly celebrating behind the desk.


“No jinx! We win! We win!”


“Sorry Ricardo, emergency!” Willow called back as she hurried into her room, “Tara, I’m getting my computer right now. I can track your phone. It’s gonna be okay.”


There was only one other person in the room, a man sleeping in the corner whom Willow hadn’t really interacted with and knew almost nothing about. He was American going by his accent and he was hanging out with two other guys he liked to boss around. He fell so far outside of Willow’s radar; she hadn’t given him more than a passing glance.


He started to mumble annoyances at Willow, but she had bigger fish to fry.


She took her laptop out from the locked nightstand and impatiently bashed the internet connection button to get it to load. She could only get up one bar that wouldn’t even load her email. She searched desperately through the other open signals and connected to the college which the hostel backed onto. It stabilized but still not enough for the programs she wanted to run, so she unhooked her laptop and walked around until the bars started to fill.


It picked up a full signal right outside the men’s restroom, which had the connecting wall to the school. Willow grimaced for a whole second before holding her breath and pushing herself through the door.


It was empty, most of the hostel was during the day, so she locked the door behind her and sought out the area of the floor that looked the least defiled.


“You still there, baby?” Willow asked as her programs finally popped up, fully connected, “How far into the bush are you? Did you follow a trail? Tell me what happened.”


She listened as Tara’s voice evened out a bit, though still with a scared undertone brimming beneath. She brought up the phone tracking app and tried to get it to find where Tara’s phone was broadcasting from.


“The active tracking isn’t working but I should still be able to isolate your coordinates…” she said, biting her lip as she tried to keep Tara talking, “Tell me where you started walking from, how far you’ve gone. Or how long you’ve been walking, even. Anything that helps pinpoint you.”


Willow was able to grab Tara’s coordinates but it put her in the middle of nowhere.


“Ugh, the main map doesn’t place you anywhere discernable, goddammit…” she blew out in frustration under her breath but tried to keep her voice positive, “I’m overlaying as many maps as I can find. I’ll find you, baby…”


Finally, Willow was able to generate enough data to find a path out of the area.


“Okay, okay, I think I’ve got you! I don’t know if I can guide you back onto a trail, so I’m just going to get you out of the bush and onto the main road. You need to head directly east. The terrain shouldn’t be too bad.”


She paused to listen to Tara for a moment.


“Use your compass app. You do have it, I installed it before we left California. Look in your travel folder.”


She waited a few minutes, repeating reassurances to Tara until the little red cursor on her screen suddenly started to bounce.


“Hey, hey, the tracking just activated! I can see you moving, you’re going the right way. I know it all looks the same but you’ll break through onto the road soon.”


Finally, after what seemed like forever to her and must have felt an age to Tara, she heard a relieved noise that might have even been a cry. Willow tried to keep her voice even.


“There’s a gas station a quarter mile away, a little less even, on the opposite side of the road. You can see it? Okay, head there. I’m going to send a car to pick you up.”


She heard the shuffle of faster walking as Tara headed to the gas station.


“It’s two minutes away. A Nissan Patrol. His name is Charles and he’ll take you wherever you want to go.”


There was silence but after a bit, Willow noted the cursor was moving on the map again at a greater speed this time.


“Are you in the car?”


There was nothing for a moment, then Tara’s voice came clearly on the other end.


“Willow, where are you? I want to come home.”


“Home?” Willow questioned softly.


The answer came without hesitation.


“To you.”


Willow swallowed several times.


“I’m heading to Sydney tomorrow.”


“Okay,” Tara replied through a shaken breath, “Text me where you’re staying. I’ll try and get a flight to get there quicker.”


Willow clutched her phone to her ear, emotion pouring out of her voice.


"I don't care how you get here, just get here. If you can."


Willow heard two sweet words that made her heartache and leap for joy all at once.


“I’m coming.”


The line went dead but Willow could see Tara was being brought safely back to the main town area where she must be staying. She didn’t know whether to laugh or cry or some ugly combination of both but didn’t get a chance to do either as someone started to push and shove at the door, trying to open it.


Remembering she was sitting in god knows what in the men’s room, Willow quickly jumped up and unlocked the door. Her sleeping roommate fell through the threshold and gave her an odd look.


“Weirdo,” he said with a sneer that turned into a leer, “Bet you’re a firecracker in the sack.”


Willow pushed past him and headed back to her room.


“All you women are the same,” he called after her.


He pushed into the bathroom, mumbling.


“How could you say you loved me and do that to me?” he said in a mocking effeminate voice before scoffing, “Because you deserved it, bitch!”


Willow heard the last line and assumed it was directed at her but Dickie Babcock had been good training in how to deal with a doofus: ignore as much as possible. She'd utilized this often since traveling from co-ed dorm to co-ed dorm and usually at least 90% of assholes would just give up if you ignored them.


She sat down on her bed, holding her laptop to her chest as her heart finally started to calm.


Not even a creep could ruin this.


Tara was coming home.

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 Post subject: Re: New Fic: Inevitable [AU] (Nov 5th 2019)
PostPosted: Tue Nov 05, 2019 11:29 am 
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Short but scary, although I can sympathize with getting lost. Shows me again how unusually cheap and materialistic I can be; no way could I have just forgotten things I had purchased, regardless of the urgency of the situation. "I'll always find you" was a good callback to "The Gift," although this reminds me more of Willow sending the light after Tara and Anya in "Bargaining." Shows the power of tech :)
While I'll be 64 this month I have not travelled much and all in this country; I'm picking up quite a few terms I've never had a reason to know before, and a lamington sounds like something I'd like to try.
Tara regards 'with Willow" as the definition of "home." A realization many signers and songwriters have had, and so rewarding at this point, and what Willow needed to hear, and Tara needed to be able to say.

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____________________________________________________________
Kim: (breaks off the kissing) I l... (Sue stops her with a hand)
Sue: We don't talk about things like that right after, you know that, no saying those things in The Moment.
Kim: (moves the hand aside) Screw The Moment. I *love* you.


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 Post subject: Re: New Fic: Inevitable [AU] (Nov 5th 2019)
PostPosted: Tue Nov 05, 2019 3:24 pm 
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Aw man, glad to see there was some time apart and Willow got a handle on going solo!

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 Post subject: Re: New Fic: Inevitable [AU] (Nov 5th 2019)
PostPosted: Tue Nov 05, 2019 3:55 pm 
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Well, well, well. Our little Willow is FINALLY getting her shit together. :applause

I think the separation has been great for both Willow and Tara. Hopefully, they'll be better suited to functioning as an 'US' from this point forward. They don't say absence makes the heart grow fonder for nothing. I know that even when my wife goes to visit her Mom for 3-4 days, I still miss her like crazy and vice versa. I could go, but to be honest...I just don't want to, LOL.

Ok, back to business... Tara getting lost and needing Willow to digitally rescue her was actually a good thing. I think it made them both realize they need each other equally and it was definitely time to go "home." Plus, they worked great together as a team. By the way, how much time has passed? 2-3 weeks?

Anyway, short chapter but worth it. I thought we were gonna have a week or two chronicling their time apart. So glad you're not gonna make us wait :luv Anxiously awaiting the reunion!!


-JMT

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 Post subject: Re: New Fic: Inevitable [AU] (Nov 5th 2019)
PostPosted: Tue Nov 05, 2019 4:05 pm 
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DaddyCat didn't Dibs, so once again I will. Dibs :banana

Wow, thank goodness for modern technology and Willow's computer skills. Tara must be pretty far away if she is thinking of getting a plane. Adelaide to Sydney is pretty far. What is the mode of transportation they are using? Bus? Train? Plane? Glad that Tara wants to 'come home'. They will always find each other...
.

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 Post subject: Re: New Fic: Inevitable [AU] (Nov 5th 2019)
PostPosted: Tue Nov 05, 2019 6:47 pm 
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Willow has gotten some of Tara's free spiritedness and Tara is getting how Wills preparedness can really help. I hope we get to hear a little of how Tara's time was. That Warren in the co-Ed is gross and scary. I hope he leaves Willow alone or she moves rooms.

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 Post subject: Re: New Fic: Inevitable [AU] (Nov 5th 2019)
PostPosted: Wed Nov 06, 2019 8:00 am 
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Ms. Moderator Fantastico
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DaddyCatALSO

Quote:
Short but scary, although I can sympathize with getting lost.


And getting lost in the outback is a whole other ball game!

Quote:
Shows me again how unusually cheap and materialistic I can be; no way could I have just forgotten things I had purchased, regardless of the urgency of the situation.


Me too, probably, but mostly because I'm poor and couldn't afford to lose purchases!

Quote:
"I'll always find you" was a good callback to "The Gift," although this reminds me more of Willow sending the light after Tara and Anya in "Bargaining." Shows the power of tech :)


Tinkerbell Light! There's actually a reference made to the tinkerbell light down the line, but it's slightly obscure as it's in an image.

Quote:
While I'll be 64 this month I have not travelled much and all in this country; I'm picking up quite a few terms I've never had a reason to know before, and a lamington sounds like something I'd like to try.


If you like coconut, you'll love a lamington.

Quote:
Tara regards 'with Willow" as the definition of "home." A realization many signers and songwriters have had, and so rewarding at this point, and what Willow needed to hear, and Tara needed to be able to say.


So, it would be fair to say I'm bitter about a lot of things that happened in the show, but one of the things I most resent is this line being taken out of 'Blood Ties':

WILLOW
Where would you go? If you felt lost
and alone? Where would you go?

TARA
(a beat)
To you.


And was the direct inspiration for including it here

Thanks for commenting!

leftindust

Quote:
Aw man, glad to see there was some time apart and Willow got a handle on going solo!


She could do it once she believed in herself!

Thanks for your comment :)

Finey_McFine

Quote:
Well, well, well. Our little Willow is FINALLY getting her shit together. :applause


Oh, you gotta give her a little break, she is still a young 'un (we can't all be as mature as your kid :laugh )

Quote:
I think the separation has been great for both Willow and Tara. Hopefully, they'll be better suited to functioning as an 'US' from this point forward. They don't say absence makes the heart grow fonder for nothing. I know that even when my wife goes to visit her Mom for 3-4 days, I still miss her like crazy and vice versa. I could go, but to be honest...I just don't want to, LOL.


Aww that's really sweet! But I agree, I think you're 100% right!

Quote:
Ok, back to business... Tara getting lost and needing Willow to digitally rescue her was actually a good thing. I think it made them both realize they need each other equally and it was definitely time to go "home." Plus, they worked great together as a team. By the way, how much time has passed? 2-3 weeks?


Yes I think it was definitely time and it would have been soon even if this hadn't happened.

Also there you go questioning my purposely vague timeline :lol but I would say double that!

Quote:
Anyway, short chapter but worth it. I thought we were gonna have a week or two chronicling their time apart. So glad you're not gonna make us wait :luv Anxiously awaiting the reunion!!


Who wants them to be apart? Them being apart sucks. I am ALL about the togetherness!

Thanks for your feedback :)

taranwillow4ever

Quote:
DaddyCat didn't Dibs, so once again I will. Dibs :banana


All is fair in love and dibs.

Quote:
Wow, thank goodness for modern technology and Willow's computer skills.


It's a scary prospect being lost!

Quote:
Tara must be pretty far away if she is thinking of getting a plane. Adelaide to Sydney is pretty far. What is the mode of transportation they are using? Bus? Train? Plane?


All of the above depending on what country they're in, how far they're going, cost, etc. Tara was in Darwin, for reference.

Quote:
Glad that Tara wants to 'come home'. They will always find each other...


Always.

Thanks for your feedback!

shirrey

Quote:
Willow has gotten some of Tara's free spiritedness and Tara is getting how Wills preparedness can really help.


It's almost like they're perfectly balanced for each other :)

Quote:
I hope we get to hear a little of how Tara's time was.


I think some of it will come up in natural conversation.

Quote:
That Warren in the co-Ed is gross and scary. I hope he leaves Willow alone or she moves rooms.


Willow is out of there, thankfully, but that doesn't mean he's gone forever...

Thanks for your feedback!



Update Directly Below

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 Post subject: Re: New Fic: Inevitable [AU] (Nov 5th 2019)
PostPosted: Wed Nov 06, 2019 8:00 am 
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Ms. Moderator Fantastico
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CHAPTER RATING: NC-17

NOTE: Please note that ole ^ rating change

Chapter 27



Sydney

(Part 1)



I Was A Fool To Ever Leave Your Side
Me Minus You Is Such A Lonely Ride



Willow’s fingers moved around the trackpad on her laptop, following nothing in particular on screen.


She lay sideways on her bed, pressing refresh on webpages she wasn’t reading just to have something to occupy herself. Having a private room again actually felt weird after the last few weeks of sharing. Everything was so quiet.


A knock at the door disturbed the silence and Willow jumped. She slid off the bed and approached the door cautiously.


Tara hadn’t been in touch with her since that phone call and Willow had no idea when she planned to arrive.


Willow had already been faked out once by a maintenance man coming to fix the curtain rod. The poor guy had no idea why a surly teenager was sitting on the bed throwing daggers at him the entire time he was there.


Her hand closed around the doorknob and she felt butterflies start to flutter in her belly. She slowly turned it and opened the door.


Despite wishing and hoping and even anticipating it to be Tara on the other side, she still gasped when she saw it was really her.


Tara held the strap on her backpack over her shoulder and smiled softly. She waited for a moment and when Willow remained frozen, she shrugged one shoulder softly to distribute the weight of her backpack.


“Can I come in?”


Willow shook herself out of her stupor.


“God, yes, of course,” she said, stepping aside, “Sorry.”


Tara walked into the room and set her bag down by the foot of the bed. Willow closed the door and backed up against it.


There was pause which Willow accredited to herself because she just couldn’t stop staring.


Tara’s skin was glowing and Willow thought she must have been outdoors a lot to pick up the kind of tan she had in winter. Her hair was up in a messy bun that just looked so effortlessly sexy to Willow and the smile on her face was bright and assured.


Willow opened her mouth—


“You look great,” Tara interjected before Willow could say the exact same words.


“Huh?” Willow asked, startled.


She looked down at herself; her clothes were clean and neatly tucked but it was nothing special.


She didn’t consider that Tara was seeing the weight lifted from her shoulders or the lightness in her step or how her eyes were full of unreserved adoration; the ‘unreserved’ part new to see.


“You look beautiful,” Tara repeated softly, “It’s so good to see you.”


Willow pushed herself off the door.


“It’s so good to see you too.”


They both stayed where they were, a bit of an awkward lull between them.


“I don’t think I said thank you,” Tara said after a moment, “For saving me that day.”


Willow shrugged one shoulder bashfully.


“I didn’t…”


“You did,” Tara insisted, “I was…terrified. I don’t know how I would have gotten out on my own. I’d already been wandering around for an hour. If I hadn’t had good battery life and you…”


She looked down and Willow saw a quiver in Tara’s hand as she balled it by her side.


Willow felt her heart clench. She’d never actually pondered the danger Tara had been in lost in the bush; she’d been too focused on finding her and then excited about seeing her.


Tara lifted her gaze again and exhaled a breath.


“And all I could think about…it was ‘not you’.”


Willow felt like her stomach dropped right out of her. She barely managed to hold in a whimper.


She didn’t manage to hide her facial reaction though and Tara quickly reached a hand out into the air.


“Not ‘not…’” she started, quickly stopping herself when she realized she needed to be clearer, “I’m not explaining myself well. It was the absence of you.”


Willow looked unsure, and still a little hurt, as Tara’s hand fell back. She held both hands clasped in front of her.


“It was every amazing piece of nature that I saw and you weren’t there to share it with me. It was every joke someone told when I would look over to see your reaction…but you weren’t there. It was all the sights that just weren’t as awe-inducing when I couldn’t see the awe in your eyes too.”


Willow frowned for a moment, then started breathing normally again as her brow lines evened out again.


Tara bit her lip for a moment then searched her pockets for her phone.


“I kept thinking about the comic book you made me,” she said, flicking through photos to find the digital copies of the pages she had stored, “I would read what you wrote and I realized you were right all along.”


She held up the picture of the back page with Willow’s lovingly drawn doodle.


“It sure would be prettier with you.”


Willow’s face broke out in a slow smile.


“I have to admit,” she said, barely holding in a grin, “I stole that from a song.”


Tara just laughed.


“I know you did.”


She put her phone down again.


“I just kept thinking about how we could have figured all this other stuff out if we just talked. I know we have different ideas but I want to try and make it work.”


Willow took a tentative step forward.


“I don’t think our ideas are that different.”


“You said about how you wanted to have traveled the world the other way?” Tara asked unsurely, particularly since that was probably the one thing they couldn’t change, their basic directional flights were booked.


Willow frowned again. It took her a moment to even remember saying that.


“No, Tara, you misunderstood,” she said, shaking her head, “I said that’s what I would have done. What I guess I forgot to say was how glad I was that I had you and your plans because this way is so much better! Following summer around the globe would be crazy, do you know how hot it gets?”


Tara laughed again and it fed Willow’s soul.


“Following off-peak is cheaper and less touristy and I was so on board with your plans from the beginning,” Willow continued softly, “I’m so sorry I didn’t make that clear.”


Tara raised her hand to her face and looked contrite.


“I think maybe it was my ears that were clogged.”


Willow shook her head.


“No, you definitely had reason to object to how I was…being. I didn’t realize it, Tara. I was acting like we’re still just chilling out at home and I was so insensitive to how big a deal this is. Getting to travel like this is such a huge, amazing experience and I was being a child. Taking it for granted. Taking the fact that I have money to fall back on for granted. You were so clear with me before we left, we even made up that budget together and then I’m like oh look at me so important I’m just going to ignore all of that.”


Tara’s mouth opened in surprise but Willow was quick to continue.


“I hate that we’ve been fighting, I hate it,” she said emphatically, “But I figured out…it’s because we’re actually being real with each other. We’ve always had this…thing…us…but now we’re being honest. It’s the same path but new ground and we’re figuring out where the new bumps in the road are.”


She smiled easily.


“And I say bring it on, even when it sucks, because that’s how we’ll figure out the best way to fit with each other,” she said, biting the corner of her lip shyly, “And we’ll always fit, even if we have to adjust from time to time.”


Tara seemed a little stunned so Willow took advantage of the opportunity to speak and finally get out everything she’d been processing over the past few weeks.


“You said we don’t have to do every single thing together and that’s true. If I wanna do a certain tour or you wanna go out on your own or stay somewhere else or…whatever. Doing this together doesn’t mean every last thing. That’s not healthy,” she paused to take a breath but wasn’t anywhere near done, “And as for the room situation…I was being a snob.”


Tara turned her head.


“Well…”


“I was being a snob,” Willow repeated with a certain nod, “I get it now. I didn’t. At first. But I tried to push myself and I did, I pushed myself, Tara. I stayed in dorms and I talked to people and I made myself be social. And after a while, not even a long while…it wasn’t scary anymore. It was fun. I felt fun, like I was fun.”


Tara could only blink several times.


“Wow.”


Willow nodded softly to herself.


“I met this nice couple in Melbourne and they kinda took me under their wing. I guess I was major third wheeling but after a few days, I got more comfortable talking to people at breakfast and stuff. They went on to Perth and I decided to move on too and it was…freeing. Just being open to conversation, being friendly. Everyone knows people will move on so it’s not weird or sad. Each person who leaves brings in a new person with new experiences to share…”


She stopped for a moment and her tone grew more introspective.


“I’ve only ever had friendships that fell into my lap. You moved in across the street and I colored next to Xander in Kindergarten and Buffy wanted help with homework. I never really worked at it. I accepted loneliness, a lot of loneliness…I mean that time last year when I lost all three of you for those few weeks…I literally talked to no one but the delivery guys for over a month. And even though it sucked, that’s what felt comfortable. So I didn’t know I was doing it here too. I was just clinging to you because you’re what I knew.”


She met Tara’s eye.


“Thing is, during all the great conversations and fun experiences…what I wanted more than anything was for you to be there too. I just kept thinking man, this is so great…but imagine how spectacular it would be with her,” she said, beginning to turn her fingers over each other in front of her as they fidgeted, “That’s what I want. To be my own person…who also just happens to belong to you.”


Tara had begun to feel a little bombarded by everything but that last line hit her right in the heart.


“That’s what I want too,” she said, ducking her head for a moment, “Wow, Willow, you’ve really…you’ve really thought a lot about all this.”


Willow shrugged self-deprecatingly.


“Daughter of shrinks, I’m not completely clueless on the emotional intelligence front. Just had to get a little over myself first.”


“I never thought you had to get over yourself,” Tara interjected quickly, “Honestly Willow, I didn’t expect…I hoped we could make the trip work but you’re really laying it all on the table. And I’m so proud. A-And I hope that you—”


“Realize my insecurities are not a reflection of your actual feelings?” Willow guessed intuitively, then held a hand up apologetically, “Sorry, I didn’t mean to interrupt.”


Tara’s eyes flickered with surprise.


“No, that’s…”


Willow nodded.


“I know. I hate myself but I’m selfish and egocentric. An impressive trifecta of contradiction.”


“No, Willow,” Tara shook her head sadly at that summation, “We just need to talk better. This isn’t all on you.”


Willow closed her eyes and smiled almost sadly.


“It’s a process but I promise to listen better without a Willow-filter,” she said, then swallowed a little nervous lump in her throat, “And Tara…I really, really need you to be honest with me. You’ve always cushioned my feelings, I’m seeing that now. You held back to make me feel better about myself.”


She kept Tara’s gaze as much as her insides were screaming to look away.


“You’ve talked about how I hurt myself and put myself down and berate myself with my own thoughts…but you hurt yourself too when you value your emotions less than mine,” her voice started to break a little bit, “And I really think we could both stop hurting ourselves if we just keep each other in check.”


A tear escaped but it accompanied a shaken laugh.


“‘Cause you’re the only one I want kicking my ass.”


Tara’s hand covered her eyes and her thumb and index finger swiped inward to gather a few stray tears.


“You’re the only one I want kicking my ass too.”


She blew out a breath and smiled at Willow through watery eyes.


“I figured out this great word as I was traveling. Compromise. Have you heard it?”


Willow laughed and Tara flicked the corner of her eye dry with her sleeve.


“It’s this crazy thing where two people work together to come up with a solution that works for both of them. I’ll give you an example. A compromise to our room problem might be that each time we go somewhere new we compare private rooms versus shared rooms and decide what works best based on cost and itinerary and how social we’re feeling.”


“Really, Tara, I’ll do the dorms with you,” Willow replied with a shrug. It felt like such a minor issue now, “I mean it, I’m not just saying it. What did I think college was going to be like? We don’t even have to stay in this room, I just thought some space…I just thought it would be good to—”


“Talk?” Tara asked softly.


“Yeah,” Willow smiled easily, “Just talk. Figure this out. That’s all I want.”


Tara reached up and gently brushed her loose hair back behind her ear, pensively.


“This is all so great, Willow. I wasn’t expecting it. I thought…”


Willow felt her throat start to close. Tara shook her head downward.


“Things fall apart. They fall apart so hard,” she stopped and sighed, “You can't ever…”


She paused for a breath and to look at Willow.


“Put them back the way they were.”


“Tara?” Willow asked helplessly and with concern at the change in Tara’s tone.


Tara looked solemn and contemplative.


“I'm sorry, it's just…” another deep sigh left her mouth, “You know, it takes time. You can't just…have a phone call and expect—”


Willow’s face flashed with guilt.


“I know.”


Tara’s brow creased.


“There's just so much to work through. Trust has to be built again, on both sides…”


Willow’s face bore the same fall into distress as it had on the day Tara left.


“You have to learn if…if we're even the same people we were, if you can fit in each other's lives.”


Willow continued to look at Tara, resigned. Tara’s eyes were glassy as she tried to express everything she’d been feeling since the phone call.


“It's a long…important process, and…”


Finally it culminated in what she was truly trying to say.


“Can we just skip it? Can-can you just be kissing me now?”


Willow’s eyes widened and her whole face lit up.


It took her about 0.7 of a second to stride across the space between them. Her hands tangled in Tara’s hair and she claimed the kiss she’d been so bitterly regretting rejecting when Tara had left.


Tara’s hands pulled at Willow’s waist and she quickly started pushing Willow back toward the bed.


Willow fell onto the mattress and happily welcomed Tara’s weight on top of her. As she scooted back she felt her laptop still sitting there from earlier and did her best to guide it to the floor without breaking the kiss.


“Wait,” she said suddenly, already breathless, but Tara didn’t mind waiting because Willow was leaning over the bed toward her laptop on the floor and Tara was getting a pretty good view of her behind.


Music started to play as Willow returned fully to the bed and Tara recognized the song immediately.


She smirked.


“So you did get my email.”


Willow smiled bashfully.


“Sorry I didn’t reply. I was going to but I wanted to respect your need for space and I didn’t want you to feel obligated to reply back to me.”


Tara reached out and took a handful from the end of Willow’s shirt, pulling them together.


“Willow I have to tell you,” she said, licking her lips when their breath hit each other’s mouths, “Your personal growth is really turning me on.”


She tugged Willow in the last quarter-inch and immediately sucked Willow’s bottom lip into her mouth.


They both moaned softly and Willow found herself on her back again but Tara’s thigh was sliding between her legs this time. She felt warmth roll over in her stomach and grabbed Tara’s cheeks to pull her in closer.


Tara sat back in Willow’s lap and released her hair.


Willow watched her, enthralled.


She could see Tara’s body almost imperceptibly grinding with the music and her arousal spiked.


“Do do doop do doop da dum,” Tara sang along softly, her body bouncing on top of Willow’s lap, “You get it now?”


“Oh, I so get it,” Willow breathed erratically.


This had been exactly how she imagined Tara, alone that day back in Melbourne. Listening to this music. Wanting this so badly.


One hand fell behind Tara’s back and Willow couldn’t get enough. She clawed at Tara’s shirt and Tara quickly moved to lift it over her head.


Willow felt her mouth go dry watching Tara reveal her upper half. Every inch of abdomen sent a new wave of excitement through her and when Tara’s breasts bounced into view behind the pale pink bra she was adorning she let out a quiet moan.


“You’re so hot,” Willow said, a little mesmerized.


Her hands went for Tara’s belt, snapping it open in a flurry of movement and Tara pushed her hips forward encouragingly. Her pants were bundled away from her, whooshed past her legs without even touching them. Willow’s palms pressed against Tara’s thighs and she felt them melt into Tara’s skin, her muscles twitching and reminding Willow what it felt like to be between them.


Tara’s hands slid over the fabric of Willow’s shirt, smoothing it out as her fingers found the top button.


She popped it and worked the rest of the way down.


She pushed it away from Willow’s shoulders and was surprised with a fully bare chest.


Two fingertips trailed down either side of Willow’s collarbone and rolled over her nipples, instantly inviting them to stiffen. Willow’s chest thrust up and Tara gladly cupped both her breasts and gave a generous squeeze. Her lips dropped into Willow’s neck and peppered her sensitive skin with quick kisses until she moaned.


One hand fell down between their bodies and worked the button on Willow’s pants free. She slid her hand under the fabric. Her fingers pressed against the cotton of Willow’s panties and easily seeped into the wetness there.


Willow felt the slight abrasion of the material of her panties push into her lips and then against her clit with the added pressure of Tara’s fingers. She gasped and pushed her hips up for more friction. Tara’s fingers slipped past Willow’s panties and took direct contact, rolling her fingers over Willow’s clit.


She used the music as a guide, letting it flow through from her body to Willow’s and echo the sensual thump they were creating between them.


She felt Willow squirm and feeling equally keen, she grabbed Willow’s pants and tore them from her legs. Willow aided this by kicking her legs whilst giggling and watched with darkening eyes as her panties were lost over Tara’s shoulder.


Her legs closed shyly and Tara immediately reached behind herself to unsnap her bra. She brushed it aside as it fell from her arms and gently scooted between Willow’s legs again. Her hands rested on Willow’s knees and slid down her thighs where she parted them enough to cup her between her legs as she laid on top of her.


Willow breathlessly and impatiently waited for Tara to find her footing on top of her but could only wait so long with Tara’s lips hovering so close to her. Her heartbeat was thumping so palpably in Tara’s palm, she didn’t know how it didn’t beat right through.


Tara melted into the kiss for a moment, moaning as her thighs slid against Willow’s thighs and she felt the heat pour out of her girlfriend. She felt Willow’s hand cup her cheeks and she opened her mouth to tease Willow’s tongue with her own.


Her other hand took Willow’s breast in her hand and rolled her thumb around the nipple again. When it grew so taut she could feel Willow’s abdominal muscles straining, she brought her mouth down and offered some warm, wet relief. Her tongue was hot on Willow’s straining flesh, turning her puckering areola a deep pink.


The song changed to the final track and Willow didn’t know how time had passed that fast.


She felt first the emotional swell of the music and then the physical swell between her legs as Tara kissed her and kissed her and kissed her. Now she knew why time had passed that fast. Lost in Tara’s kisses.


Tara’s lips smacked hungrily against Willow’s skin, taking in her breasts and abdomen and right down to the end tine of the V where Willow’s hipbones met. Her hands followed the curves and lines of Willow’s body until she was once again opening Willow’s thighs and lowering her mouth to taste where she glistened.


Willow’s thighs quivered as Tara’s tongue dipped between her lips and she thrust her hips up wantonly.


A few months ago, she had barely been able to imagine this.


She would gift herself flashes in the dark for a momentary relief followed by deep shame but the thought of being open like this, touched like this, even just naked with Tara made her want to shrivel away with embarrassment and fear.


Even with her hand lost in Tara’s panties or Tara’s in hers as they’d started to explore, she’d shut her eyes tight and focused only on sensation.


Vulnerability had seemed so terrifying, but it wasn’t. It was empowering to trust and be trusted.


Also, Tara sure knew how to use her mouth.


This wasn’t a surprise to Willow, but boy did she love the dependability.


She felt Tara’s finger push against her opening and groaned with the immediate throb of need. This feeling; allowing herself to embrace this feeling of humming desire was so overwhelmingly delicious. She could barely stand it when Tara tried to enter her so delicately, still a little gun-shy about hurting her.


Her inner muscles squeezed around her to pull her further inside and Willow let out a momentary sigh of relief when Tara began to stroke her more deeply.


She felt herself losing control quickly, too quickly, but she was powerless to stop it. A jolt of pleasure shot up her spine and then spread out over her middle and she was lost.


When her thighs stopped jerking, she took in a new breath and her eyelids opened, searching, but Tara was already anticipating her need and was pulling her close.


“I’m here, I’m here.”


Willow relaxed again and curled herself around Tara’s side, her arm thrown against Tara’s waist and her leg tangled between Tara’s legs.


She smiled and her eyes closed again softly. All she could hear was both of them breathing.


“Hey, I didn’t even notice the music stop. And I was super into it.”


“Told you,” Tara replied and Willow could see the crooked little smirk that was on her lips without even looking.


She lightly tickled Tara’s side and giggled as Tara screamed and squirmed.


“Hey, hey, okay!”


Tara threw her legs off the bed and Willow looked alarmed for a moment before Tara glanced at her over her shoulder.


“Where’s the bathroom?”


Willow's eyes blinked with relief and she pointed.


“Turn left and down the hall.”


Tara stood up and found her pants and then quickly looked around for her shirt.


“My hoodie is just there,” Willow offered, “Key is in the pocket.”


Tara pulled the hoodie over her head and left the room, turning around before the door closed to smile at Willow and wiggle her fingers in a wave.


Willow blew out a long breath, then immediately bent over and out of the bed to hike up her laptop and pull up a webpage. Her eyes moved back and forth over the page right up until she heard the key in the door and swiftly put the laptop back on the floor and pulled the sheet over herself inconspicuously.


“The locks actually work on the toilets here,” Tara said as she walked back in, “That’s a step up from where I’ve been staying.”


Willow laughed a little too loudly and Tara looked at her fondly, if not also a little strangely. She sat back on the side of the bed.


When she didn’t immediately begin to strip off again, Willow bounced impatiently.


“Aren’t you going to take your clothes off?”


Tara looked back with that same smile that only Willow could elicit.


“I just got back in the room,” she protested with little conviction, “But if you insist.”


She threw a quick wink in Willow’s direction and quickly threw off the pants and hoodie again. She slid back under the sheet with Willow and pressed their bodies together as she went in for a kiss.


Willow pulled Tara in by the back of her head and rolled them slightly so she was hovering half on top of her. She kissed down Tara’s jaw and into her neck while her hand closed over Tara’s breast, fingers splaying to take as much as she could. She pressed her body further into Tara as Tara’s hands touched her cheeks and cupped her ears and wound in her hair in a never-ending quest to touch more of her.


Willow’s four fingers curved under the waistband of Tara’s panties at her hip and she dragged them down Tara’s thigh. Tara’s knees bent together and lifted to help get them off and they ended up hanging around her ankle and falling down her foot to the floor.


Willow slowly kissed her way down Tara’s body. She could feel her heat before seeing it but when her eyes landed it was more than obvious how aroused Tara was. Still lying on Tara’s side, she slid two fingers between Tara’s lips, wetting them and finding her clit to give it a rub and offer Tara some relief.


“Mmmm,” Tara moaned through a vibration of her pursed lips.


While she’d spent years quietly pining for Willow, the last few weeks without her had brought new yearnings born of new experiences and more than one morning she’d had to go off for a cold shower after an active dream.


Willow had always been a little tentative with her so Tara tried not to audibly react when Willow’s hand moved away. She watched Willow move to kneel between her legs and opened her knees to give her space.


She waited patiently and with a sweet smile that put no pressure on anyone, but her face became wide eyes and a lightly gasping mouth when Willow grabbed her by the hips and tugged her down.


Willow was smirking and something had changed, Tara knew, but she had no idea what.


The look of surprise and arousal mixed on Tara’s face made Willow feel confident. She dropped her hand a little lower and easily slid two fingers inside Tara, going right up to the knuckle without hesitation. She watched Tara’s eyelids flicker and grow lidded.


Her other hand lay palm-down over Tara’s stomach and stayed still for the moment as her fingers dragged themselves in and out of her. When she had Tara warmed up, though it was a lot hotter than warm, she started to curl her fingers inside on each upward thrust.


Tara’s body writhed with Willow’s slow, confident strokes, her hips rising faster for each and every one until—


“Holy sh—” she gasped in surprise, her whole body jerking forward as her g-spot was stimulated for the first time, “Oh my god.”


Willow did it again and Tara fell flat on her back and really started to grind into Willow’s hand.


“Yes, yes…yes!”


Willow was enthralled watching Tara truly lose control, more than anything she’d offered her before. Tara’s body was strained and her knuckles were white from clenching the sheets. She’d thought Tara felt hot inside before, but she was really molten now and so slick Willow could only just keep up the friction.


She listened as the sounds coming from Tara’s mouth grew less and less coherent until finally, Tara’s neck strained back into the pillows, her lower jaw quivered and her whole body tilted upward.


Willow started to move the hand on Tara’s stomach, massaging it lightly and hearing verbal confirmation of enjoyment when Tara’s orgasmic moans elongated over several seconds.


“Wow,” Tara breathed, placing a hand in the middle of her chest as the flush died down.


Willow’s fingers fell out of Tara, not able to hold onto their spot with the results of Tara’s orgasm evident right out to her thighs. Willow looked down between Tara’s open legs, so pink and swollen she wouldn’t be able to close them. She felt a desire take hold inside her somewhere deep and primal.


Her knees popped out from under her so she was lying instead of kneeling and her arms moved around Tara’s thighs to rest either side of her waist. With her face close and only her own nerves keeping her away, she swallowed her own anxieties and allowed her face to get up close and personal.


“Whoa!” Tara yelped.


She hadn’t noticed Willow moving into position.


It was almost too much, almost, but Willow was delicate and attentive and moving her tongue in ways Tara couldn’t discern but felt amazing and honestly, Tara thought she might cry if Willow stopped.


“Yes, yes, yes…” she called encouragingly, though her voice was growing hoarse, “Oh, Willow, that feels so good.”


She felt Willow’s hands squeeze her thighs for more leverage to bring her tongue further down and her head started to roll back and forth on the pillow. Willow seemed to be having fun exploring her so Tara's clit wasn’t the focus of attention, but every time her tongue rolled over it, Tara was brought right to the edge of a second orgasm.


When Willow’s tongue lingered for more than just a second, rolling a second time over where she was throbbing so needily; that was the moment Tara broke and came again in waves and waves from top to toe. It was unlike anything she’d ever experienced.


Tara didn’t think she could find a single point on her person where pleasure wasn’t tingling under her skin. Like a phantom limb, satisfaction extended beyond where her physical body ended.


She couldn’t move; she was completely molded to the bed but she was aware of Willow’s presence moving up her body. Finally, her face was hovering close and Tara could see she was hesitating in kissing her. Tara bridged the uncertainty and lifted her head enough to bring their lips together. It was a whole new wave of satisfaction.


Willow relaxed immediately and Tara was able to bring a limp hand up to press against her cheek. Willow broke the kiss to take in a breath and Tara used her thumb to gently wipe the corner of Willow’s mouth.


Willow licked her lips instinctively and looked down shyly.


“I’m sorry I didn’t do that before now.”


Tara’s hand froze with her fingertips brushing hair behind Willow’s ear.


“You didn’t…you didn’t feel obligated did you?”


“Oh, no, no,” Willow replied quickly, “I wanted to. Before, when we first…”


She wanted to continue avoiding Tara’s gaze but tried her best to keep it.


“I was intimidated. I just…didn’t know what to do. I felt like that time at the science fair when the judges asked me about the difference between app design and web design and I blanked and didn’t know the answer.”


Tara frowned slightly.


“But you did know the answer. You won. You finally beat that guy’s butt.”


Willow shook her head.


“They circled back to me. I checked my notes. On the app. What with it being a note-taking app,” she explained with a small shrug, “But I mostly remember the moment of floundering…not the moment of winning.”


Tara lifted her head enough to peck Willow’s lips.


“Do you know how many people I bragged to that my best friend built her own app?” she asked, her lips curling sideways affectionately, “Plus I used it all the time for taking notes and doing homework. Your different colored pen options were inspired and much easier than doing it by hand.”


“I only thought of it when you pointed out to me that that's, you know, insane,” Willow admitted with a sheepish smile.


“I said ‘quirky’,” Tara amended, then paused to slowly grin at Willow as her fingertips tickled the nape of Willow’s neck, “You were amazing.”


Willow shrugged again.


“The standard was pretty low that year and—”


“No,” Tara interrupted through an exhaled laugh as she raised an eyebrow pointedly and let her palms slide down over Willow’s collarbone, “You. Were. Amazing.”


It took a moment, but then Willow realized all at once that she was still very much naked atop Tara.


“Oh,” she said with a blush rising in her cheeks, “Really?”


Tara nodded slowly.


“Oh yes.”


Willow dragged her upper teeth over the corner of her bottom lip.


“Well you know it takes 10,000 hours to become an expert in something. So I’ll have to keep putting the time in. If you’re available.”


Her eyelashes fluttered and Tara clearly found it arousing by the way her pupils enlarged. She trailed a finger down the side of Willow’s face and placed it on Willow’s chin to tilt it down to kiss her.


“I’ve always been taken.”


Willow relaxed against Tara’s body and returned the kiss slowly before gradually falling off alongside her.


“I wanted to make you feel as good as you made me feel.”


Tara chuckled.


“I think you went above and beyond.”


Willow smoothed her palms out over the sheet half-strewn across her stomach.


“I read some things,” she admitted, voice rising an octave higher, “Watched a video or two.”


She stopped and frowned.


“Those weren’t so helpful.”


Tara’s head turned on the pillow, her lips holding in a grin and her eyes a mix of sympathy and amusement.


“Oh honey, did you watch lesbian porn?”


“I don’t think those girls are even real lesbians!” Willow whispered in a shocked tone.


Tara stroked Willow’s hair comfortingly and kissed her temple. She twirled the front strands of Willow’s hair between her fingers and let them glide down to curl the ends.


“I wanna see,” she said after a minute or so of affectionate silence.


“Huh?” Willow asked, her brow wrinkling on one side.


“Whatever you read,” Tara clarified with a curious smile, “I want to see it.”


Willow’s lips moved from side to side dubiously for a moment, then hesitantly reached over to pick her laptop up again off the ground.


“I mean, I-I looked around, y’know, but…this mostly.”


She passed it off to Tara self-consciously and continued to watch her face as Tara scrolled through the webpage she had up. Tara kindly made no mention of the fact that Willow already had the page open.


Tara’s face gave nothing away as she read and Willow started to tap the sheet nervously. Right when she thought she couldn’t take another second of the uncertainty, Tara closed the laptop.


“Okay, I think I’ve got it.”


“Huh?” Willow asked again, then her eyes widened with both realization and surprise as Tara climbed back over her and kissed down her body, “Oh!”


Tara’s hand moved between her legs and Willow exhaled softly.


“Oh.”


That was the last whole word that left Willow’s mouth for a while.


By the time Tara was returning to the spot beside her, Willow’s mouth just hung open while her hair spread across the whole pillow as if she’d ionized the atmosphere with her moans.


As Tara’s shoulders settled with what one could call a hint of a swagger, Willow remained breathless and staring at the ceiling.


“You added in some moves of your own.”


Tara shrugged softly and made her fingers walk up Willow’s arm.


“You researched…I imagined.”


“You always did have an amazing imagination,” Willow complimented, then giggled under her breath, “Yabba And Dabba Doo… It.”


She giggled again, which in turn set Tara off.


“You made yourself laugh so hard,” Tara said, smiling at Willow with unadulterated affection, “C’mere.”


She gently gathered Willow up to spoon her, closing her arm around Willow’s waist and resting her chin on Willow’s shoulder.


Everything was quiet for a long time, so quiet Willow thought Tara may have fallen asleep. She couldn’t quite check without jostling them both and everything was just so comfortable and peaceful and right again that she didn’t dare.


“Tara?” she whispered quietly enough that it wouldn’t wake her if she was.


There was an immediate tightening around her waist and a soft kiss on her shoulder blade.


“Yeah?”


Willow slid her palm down Tara’s arm and linked their fingers where her hand rested over her stomach. She held Tara’s hand there for a moment and closed her eyes.


“I think I’m kinda gay.”


There was a silence for a minute, then Willow felt Tara’s smile on her neck.


“That’s okay, I still love you.”


A laugh bubbled past Willow’s lips and the bats in her stomach settled back into butterflies.


“Stop,” she laughed as she turned onto her back but remaining entwined with Tara at the legs.


She’d been so afraid of saying those words for so long, she was sure she’d sputter and falter but they came out easily.


“It’s not the perfect description…that would be more like ‘Tarasexual’,” she reasoned, touching Tara’s cheek for a moment, “But it’s close enough. And I’m okay with it.”


Her soft yet determined smile nearly made Tara cry. She’d helplessly watched Willow struggle for so long but she knew the journey of acceptance was ultimately a solo one.


“I’m so proud of you sweetie.”


It took everything not to let her voice shake, but she did it. Willow was being strong and deserved for Tara to be too.


Willow began drawing idle circles on Tara’s shoulder.


“I realized the ‘not being okay with the gay’ part was never about liking boys or girls. It was about hating myself. And the only antidote to that is to accept yourself. I’m not like ‘oh yay, self, we’re awesome’ or anything but…it’s a start.”


“Oh honey,” Tara said, pressing a hand over Willow’s heart, “That’s twice you’ve said you hate yourself.”


“Yeah, but isn’t it better to say it out loud than bury it deep?” Willow asked, holding Tara’s hand there and rubbing Tara’s fingers with her thumb, “That’s what I’m finally starting to get. That… air is negativity’s kryptonite and keeping it inside leaves it in a nice warm, moisture-laden, perfectly pH-balanced swamp of growth.”


Tara kissed the spot under Willow’s ear.


“Stop trying to turn me on. I haven’t recovered yet.”


Willow laughed again and Tara thought it might have the most real and the freest sound she’d ever hear come from her girlfriend. She kept her hand on Willow’s heart and brushed her fingers over Willow’s collarbone.


“Thank you for trusting me.”


Willow dropped her hand to Tara’s waist, pulling her leg in to further entwine with hers. Her hand stayed curved at Tara’s hip, fingers splaying out over her butt.


“Thank you for waiting.”


Tara nuzzled her head into the crook of Willow’s neck.


“I would have waited forever.”


Willow’s brow lines furrowed into a v shape as she stared contemplatively toward the ceiling.


“Why? I’m not fishing for a compliment, I just…everything I put you through. I wouldn’t have stayed with me. You deserved better.”


Tara inhaled a long, soft breath, not even noticing they were breathing in sync.


“I guess that’s a two-parter,” she replied, taking time to be careful with her words, “The first, because… I believed we were…fated. I know that sounds lame, maybe. But that’s what I felt. That I just had to have patience. Even if you were with other people…you’d see what I saw between us eventually. Of course, there was a huge chance I was just infatuated and setting myself up to have my heart broken. That’s what I thought when I went off to band camp that time. I hadn’t blown my chance, my chance was never there.”


She paused and Willow began to feel the familiar push of guilt start to push in from the corner of her mind.


”The second part was…faith,” Tara continued and smiled to herself, “I knew how much it took for you to admit there was anything at all there, so when I came home and you did and you kissed me…I just kept reminding myself of what I knew before. Have patience. We’ll get there.”


“We’ll get there,” Willow repeated softly to herself, very aware of the use of the plural pronoun.


Tara never placed the blame on her. They’d gone through everything to get to this point together.


“Wow.”


That felt like an anchor to pull her from her old self-deprecation. Something shifted in her mind and she felt like she had alone in the private room; it just clicked into place.


“Hey,” she said, squeezing Tara’s hip, reaffirming the connection, “You’ve said that before. You believed we were meant to be…even when I didn’t. Wouldn’t.”


Her mouth scrunched to the side as she paused for a moment in thought.


“Did you always…?” she started, then stopped and changed her wording, “When did you…?”


Her eyes widened and she suddenly sat up straight, jostling Tara off to the side.


“Wait. Whoa.”


She clutched the sheet to her chest and turned her wide-eyed stare over her shoulder to Tara, who was kindly pretending she hadn’t just been accidentally shoved away.


“I never asked you anything about all of this. I-I just acted like this all started the night you came out to me but…you had a whole journey before that…I never once asked what it was like for you. Wait, did I just push you?”


“It’s okay,” Tara replied to the last part first, but before she could say it hadn’t hurt, Willow had taken her hand and was looking at her with a deeper gaze than befitting a clumsy body movement.


“It’s not,” Willow said, closing her other hand around Tara’s too so she was holding it enclosed in both of hers, “You deserve to be heard too.”


Tara breathed softly and pecked Willow’s lips.


“We talked about it a bit once. I told you about seeking out gay media but that wasn’t really the full story, just one aspect of it.”


Willow carried Tara’s hand to her face and kissed it.


“Tell me? Tell me your story. I wanna hear it.”


Tara's eyebrows rose just a tad on her brow, conveying her quiet surprise.


“Oh.”


She slid her back up against the wall and brought her knees to her chest, wrapping her arms around them. She smiled softly, to herself at first, then shyly at Willow.


“Okay.”


She rested her chin on her folded arms and considered her thoughts for a minute before starting.


“I knew I was gay that time we were 14 and you wanted to watch every Bring It On movie back to back.”


Willow head physically reeled back a little bit.


“Wow, there’s an interesting memory to replay with hindsight.”


Tara chuckled as her eyes shone with a range of memories playing behind them.


“I knew that I didn’t like boys. When you would talk about Xander…when you wanted to practice kissing for him…I just knew I didn’t feel the same way about any boy.”


“Neither did I,” Willow said through a little laugh.


“You were pretty convincing,” Tara replied and for the first time, Willow recognized a little bit of bite in her tone.


She didn’t interrupt and Tara visibly exhaled before continuing on, voice soft again.


“It wasn’t just that movie. Being so fascinated with how all of those girls moved together just kind of cemented a lot of other moments together.”


She stopped again. This felt a little weird, not because she didn’t want to open up, she just never had. A lot of thoughts and memories rolled around at once as she tried to make sense of them in an easier to explain linear manner.


“About a year before that, we were having a sleepover and we fell asleep with the TV on. I woke up in the middle of the night and this movie was playing. I kept watching instead of just turning it off and going back to sleep for some reason. It was about these two girls, teenagers and it just showed them being together and kissing for real and… it was difficult, but also so easy. The feelings were just natural. I watched it right through to the end, where they’re happy and hugging despite all the crap in their lives. The credits played and I saw it was called ‘The Incredibly True Adventure of Two Girls in Love’ and that was honestly the first time I ever realized two girls could be in love like that. I knew what gay meant I just…didn’t realize girls could be in love like girls and guys are in the movies. I’d never seen it.”


She smiled.


“That was when I started to write my own songs. I’d dabbled in short little melodies but I picked up the pen one day and I just felt myself become a conduit for the lyrics. Like my muse was awakened,” she explained, then tilted her head gently as she looked at Willow, “And you know, I called you my muse but I don’t think that you were necessarily my muse in that sense. I think…my own truth was my muse. But my truth was that I loved you.”


Willow’s expression started with slight disappointed but slowly brightened into a much fuller sense of connection and understanding. She scooted closer to Tara and offered her silent presence to continue listening.


Tara held her hand out to find Willow’s again, finding comfort and courage in the embrace.


“I think I probably should have come to it quicker, and maybe I even did but just deep down denied it so I wouldn’t have to deal with it. I would get these little flashbacks as I was trying to go to sleep, like when we would have our Barbies marry each other. I guess I was more scared of confronting what was going on between us than who I was,” she paused again and shifted her recollection, “That day, before the cheerleading movie… we kissed. For…quite a while. So my tummy was warm and my lips were tingly and you put the first movie on. Skin was showing and limbs were flying and I believe there was even some thrusting. It was the first time I’d really been…stimulated. You know, it actually wasn’t until a few weeks after that when we had a sex ed class and I learned how women get turned on that I finally put it all together. So it was all a bit like a slap in the face but also one I knew was coming if that makes sense.”


Tara held up her other hand in a partial shrug.


“So then came the big gay dive.”


Willow’s head jerked forward.


“I’m sorry, the what?”


Tara smiled but ducked her head to hide it.


“Well, it’s kind of like how you sought out that stuff earlier, except for… everything even remotely suggestive or indicative of lesbianism. It’s what I talked to you about before, seeking media.”


“Like…?” Willow prompted a bit cluelessly.


Tara blinked several times; there was a lot of information she’d learned in that time, too much to impart all at once.


“Well, see, there’s more to being gay than…”


She gestured between them.


“Screwing a girl?” Willow offered, reading a bit too much into the fact they were still both naked.


Tara’s lips pursed, but they couldn’t help falling into a smile despite the brashness.


“I was going to say falling in love with your best friend.”


“Is that a unique gay experience?” Willow wondered, mostly sarcastically.


“It kind of is, actually,” Tara laughed.


“Really?” Willow asked, eyebrows rising together sharply.


Tara nodded.


“Little bit.”


Willow frowned a little bit, then sat up straighter.


“Teach me how to be gay.”


“Oh, it’s not like that, there’s not just one way to be gay,” Tara clarified quickly, “There’s just…a community. A culture.”


Willow just shrugged so Tara did her best to condense her experience.


“I sought out movies and TV shows. Found community boards online. Not all of them had awful spelling,” she added quickly, “I loved finding music where women were singing about other women. I’d always changed the pronoun in my head and I hadn’t even realized it. I even snuck out to a gay bar when I was 16 to see a band I knew of play a show.”


“In Sunnydale?!” Willow asked incredulously.


“No, in Brujas,” Tara replied, chuckling to herself at the idea of a gay bar in Sunnydale.


Willow nodded slowly.


“And you got in?”


“I think they knew I was…a newbie,” Tara replied with a fondness in her voice, “The bouncer got a nod from the barman and I wasn’t going to risk being kicked out by trying to order a drink. They just let me enjoy the show.”


“Did you?” Willow asked softly, enraptured in Tara’s tale.


Tara nodded, still smiling with a faraway look in her eye.


“I think my eyes must have been bugging out of my head. The crowd kind of parted to let me up to the front, or maybe I just remember it that way. I’d never seen so many women just being open with their girlfriends. Hugging and dancing and swaying and kissing and laughing and just…being normal. That was my real moment of acceptance. That’s when I knew I was really okay.”


“Did you get hit on?” Willow asked, her tone rising with curiosity and her chin lifting in something akin to a challenge.


Tara shook her head.


“Like I said, I think there was an understanding. I think everyone probably recognized themselves a little and let me process in my own little way,” she explained, rising and dropping a shoulder, “Not that anyone would hit on me anyway.”


“Uh, wrong,” Willow dismissed, “Patently wrong. The wrongest you’ve ever been. More wrong than that time I thought boobs wouldn’t be that great.”


Tara’s eyebrow arched and Willow quickly averted her eyes.


“Nothing.”


Tara shook off a frown and looked away bashfully.


“It didn’t matter anyway.”


She raised her gaze to meet Willow’s.


“I was totally head over heels for the girl across the street and it was becoming harder and harder to deny it,” she explained, squeezing Willow’s hand as she spoke, “You were the person I was singing about. You were the person I wanted to hug and dance and sway with and laugh with and kiss.”


Willow turned Tara’s palm over and drew shapes in it.


“Well, we were kissing. Until you said we should stop. Rejection City, by the way. Do you know how hard it is to feel rejected but you won’t even admit why in the first place?”


Tara looked at Willow sympathetically that was nothing if not sincere. She’d felt like she was rejecting herself when she stopped it too.


“It felt wrong when I knew what I was getting from it, but wasn’t sure what you were. I never wanted you to feel used.”


Willow didn’t need to be told it was a kindness to them both; she knew that Tara was kindness personified. But to finally voice it between them went a long way to covering the memory of that sting with a layer of emotional Neosporin and finally allow it to start to heal.


“Did you know I really did like you?”


Tara’s lips vibrated as she puffed a breath past them. That was a complicated and loaded question.


“I always felt what we have,” she answered honestly, “But you were adamantly in love with someone else and I just wanted you to be happy. But of course, I had some hope. I never would have told you if I didn’t. I guess that night when you sort of dismissed your feelings for him I thought maybe…I dunno, honey, I didn’t plan to come out to you that night. I certainly didn’t plan to tell you I liked you. I had a moment of bravery or stupidity maybe. I was so pent up and you were so important to me, even beyond my romantic feelings. It felt wrong to lie to you. Everything just sort of tumbled out.”


Willow didn’t like this memory. She didn’t like to be reminded of how cruel she’d been. She didn’t like to remember the look on Tara’s face or the word she’d used or how that night had been the closest she’d ever come to physically hurting herself. But for the first time ever, she didn’t bury it; she looked at Tara’s eyes and let it replay between them and offered her a silent apology that words could never convey.


Tara reached out and caught her hand behind Willow’s neck, rubbing there gently.


“I loved you. I love you. And sometimes love hurts.”


She leaned in to rest their foreheads together.


“And sometimes love heals.”


She sighed softly and pecked Willow’s lips.


“And ultimately it is embracing that we’re different, but still the same soul.”


Willow felt Tara’s forgiveness heavy in the air and was completely stunned to find she actually forgave herself too. She kissed Tara’s lips again, a gentle promise.


“Always.”


Tara smiled and went in for another soft kiss. They naturally shifted back down to lying together, Tara on her back with Willow curled into her side. They quietly cuddled for quite a while until Willow turned her head back up toward Tara.


“Did you have anyone to talk to about all of this…stuff? You just…you handled it so…well, you handled it. Unlike me.”


“I talked to people online,” Tara replied evenly, “They were very helpful. They understood. Taught me the jokes.”


“There’s jokes?” Willow asked with the start of a pout, beginning to feel very left out.


Tara smiled and squeezed Willow’s shoulder.


“I’ll teach you about the U-Haul in our second lesson.”


Willow snuggled her head back on Tara’s chest.


“I always knew I could talk to you…even though I didn’t, I knew someone else knew and didn’t hate me for it. And then I told Buffy and then Xander and they were okay with it too. Well, maybe a little odd at first, but things were pretty odd before I told them anyway.”


Her brow gradually furrowed as she continued to think.


“You know what’s weird?”


“Japanese commercials are weird,” Tara answered reasonably.


“Yes,” Willow agreed with a single resolute nod of her head, “And also…how I got asked—even asked myself—if I could just be mixing up friendship feelings for you. No one ever questioned that I liked Xander even though I’ve known him almost as long.”


Tara stroked Willow’s back; a soothing comfort for her words.


“You’ve reached the heteronormativity realization portion of your gay awakening.”


Willow’s head popped up, frowning.


“It sounds horrible. When does it stop?”


Tara balled a fist and offered it to bump.


“When we smash the patriarchy.”


Willow couldn’t help but smile and tried to return the fist-bump but awkwardly hit Tara on top, and then Tara tried to go in again and Willow got her on the bottom. They finally connected at the knuckles and laughed.


“Can we smash it before dinner maybe?”


Tara smiled back, then brushed a hand over her middle.


“Actually, dinner would be really good right now. I came straight from the airport.”


“Me!” Willow suddenly squealed, making Tara jump in place, which made Willow blush, “I mean, let me! Please?”


Startled but hungry and feeling in a very trusting place, Tara held her hands up.


“Okay. Sure. Thanks.”


Willow threw the blanket off and started running around to throw some clothes on.


“I’ll be right back,” she promised with a kiss before speeding out the door, “I love you!”


Tara felt the reverberation of the door shake the mattress and threw her arms over her head and across the pillows.


“Wow,” she whispered to herself as she started to process the last few hours.


She hadn’t expected all of this.


She glanced down at her naked self.


Well, okay, she’d certainly hoped it might end up this way, but not the rest of it. That kind of conversation between them had been such a long time coming and she could physically feel the glow that was emanating from her body. She’d always known Willow’s love was there, but to be given it so freely and honestly was everything she’d waited for yet it still caught her by surprise.


“Wow,” she repeated, grinning and for the first time identified what it must feel like to have a ‘partner’.


She’d spent her life alongside Willow but really felt like now she was with her. It was an ending and a beginning all at once but she’d been ready and was ready now to step into whatever they discovered they were when truly together.


Her hands settled on her stomach, forming a heart shape and it let out a discontent rumble. Tara tried to recall where Willow might have run out to, to get food but she had been a little nervous on the shuttle bus and hadn’t paid enough attention to the neighborhood to remember.


She hoped it would be carby; she was starving. She’d had an apple before leaving for the airport and a snack pack of Brazil nuts she was given on the plane and now her stomach was really starting to protest.


Thankfully, Willow was only gone another 10 minutes and Tara was alerted to her return by hearing her bump against the door from the other side and then swear loudly.


Tara slid out of the bed, pulled her panties and shirt back on and opened the door whilst hiding behind it in case anyone else passed by outside.


“Thanks,” Willow said sheepishly as she came into the room.


Tara was surprised to see her carrying two bowls and not a pizza box.


Willow put the bowls down on top of the locker and opened the drawer, pulling out a resealable bag with a brightly colored pouch inside.


“Do you want some ice tea?” she asked, holding up the bag to show her, “You can get these powder mixes cheap in the Asian supermarkets. I just add it into my water bottle. Easy to seal up and carry around.”


Tara nodded, impressed.


“That’s a great idea. I’d love some,” she said, going to her own bag to take the water bottle from the side pocket, “Thank you. Dinner smells great.”


Willow mixed up their drinks and shyly handed Tara over one of the bowls. Tara recognized it as tuna casserole.


“Okay, it’s nothing special,” Willow admitted, sitting cross-legged on the bed, “But it’s cheap and easy to make in a hostel kitchen and the ingredients are easy to find so it’s a good traveling meal…”


Tara’s eyebrows lifted in surprise.


“You cooked this? I’ve watched you burn pop tarts.”


Willow stirred her food around the bowl to avoid Tara’s gaze bashfully.


“That was more laziness than lack of skill.”


Tara looked down at the wonderfully creamy looking dish, so familiar to her.


“My mom makes this.”


Willow nodded.


“I know, she showed me how one day,” she explained, “When my parents started leaving me alone. I guess she felt sorry for me. She taught me this and grilled cheese and pita pizza one afternoon.”


Tara was slightly blown away.


“She never told me.”


“She dropped over casseroles and stuff all the time too. I never asked, she would just leave it at the door for me,” Willow said, then smiled softly, “Your mom is the best.”


“Yeah, she is,” Tara agreed, then took her first spoonful of the casserole, lifting her hand to wipe the sauce from the corner of her mouth, “Willow, this is really good.”


Willow shrugged one shoulder.


“It’s not your mom’s.”


“It’s different,” Tara deduced, immediately going in for more, “Did you add something?”


“Just a little mustard,” Willow replied casually.


Tara reached across to squeeze Willow’s knee.


“It’s really good.”


Willow’s face lit up and she sat up a bit straighter.


“I usually put peas in it…you know, some easy green that I could keep in the freezer. But I remembered when your mom taught me she used green onions so I went to the market early this morning to get some.”


Tara dragged the spoon from her mouth, taking every last bit from it hungrily.


“I’m very impressed. You’ve been holding out on me.”


Willow caught Tara’s gaze and held it for a moment.


“Not anymore,” she stopped and smiled, “I will make you the best pita pizza you’ve ever had. You wanna know the secret?”


Tara looked at her curiously and Willow grinned wider.


“A can of chili.”


Tara’s face scrunched up and she shook her head.


“Oh, Willow, no.”


“Sweet chili sauce base, can of chili, sliced jalapeños and top with cheese. It’s a revelation,” Willow replied, laughing, “You just wait, Maclay. I’ll turn you over to the dark side. We have chili. In a can.”


Tara snorted with laughter and held her hand over her mouth to cover it but failed miserably. Willow laughed harder at Tara laughing until they were both just in convulsions with each other.


“Oh my god,” Tara breathed as she finally regained control of it enough to start eating again, “Oh, I missed you.”


Willow smiled softly and rubbed her shoulder next to Tara’s.


“What did you get up to? Did you stick around Melbourne at all? I stuck around for a week and then went onto Adelaide. I went to a few more places but I really liked it there, I kept going back. Did you go to Philip Island? I saw the kangaroos and koalas. I loved the koalas so much I went to a wildlife park so I could hold one. That’s what made me go to Adelaide in the first place, it wasn’t really on my radar before that,” she babbled happily.


Tara smiled too; she missed that babble.


“I spent some time farming.”


Willow's head spun around.


“Huh?!”


Tara caressed Willow's little shocked face.


“In exchange for room and board. It was actually pretty fun.”


They spent the next hour catching up on their travels and finishing their meal and just breathing easy again to be back in each other’s presence.


“That is not a real thing!” Willow exclaimed in disbelief as Tara recounted her latest tale.


“It is!” Tara protested adamantly.


“No way,” Willow dismissed, shaking her head.


“Look it up!” Tara demanded, arms folded over her chest and chin raised in challenge.


Willow looked at Tara skeptically and reached for her phone. She unlocked it, launched the browser and started typing into it. Her fingers swiped a few times and then she raised one hand.


“Okay, I will concede that a bush turkey is a real thing,” she replied reasonably, but the grin started to spill out all over her face as she turned her phone to show Tara the picture she’d loaded, “But you’re telling me that THIS is what chased you out into the bush?!”


“Yes!” Tara replied indignantly, “He was vicious!”


Willow broke out in fresh laughter, her arm repeatedly thumping the bed.


“Tara, it says it’s the world’s dumbest bird!” she said, cackling, “A seagull would be more threatening!”


“Shut up, Willow,” Tara replied, rolling her eyes, but it was getting more and more difficult to hide the obvious mirth.


Willow dropped her phone but not her smirk and climbed over Tara.


“Make me.”


Tara balled her fists in Willow’s shirt and pulled Willow on top of her, lying down fully to enjoy the press of her body.


Their lips found each other and Tara’s hands smoothed out between them and found their way to the small of Willow’s back. She easily lifted Willow’s shirt back over her head and rolled them over so she was back on top.


Willow’s hand slid down Tara’s front, popping the buttons and getting it over her shoulders. Tara popped Willow’s jeans and she hadn’t even bothered to put panties back on so one quick tug left her nude again. Willow’s fingers were in the waistband of Tara’s underwear before the last bit of fabric even swiped her ankle and Tara lay down again beside her to kick them off.


She rolled onto her side and pulled Willow to her, moaning from her core when their bare skin touched everywhere. It felt just as electric as the moment she’d first walked in the door.


“Come closer,” she whispered, pulling Willow in by her ass.


“I don’t think that’s possible,” Willow whispered back.


Tara took Willow’s hand and pressed it between her legs.


“It’s possible.”


Willow’s fingers found their place and she heard Tara moan in her ear. Tara’s hand pressed on her thigh and she allowed her legs to open to be taken in the same way.


They’d never tried to do this together this way, and their arms got into a bit of a tangle, but this wasn’t their first game of Twister.


They worked it out wordlessly and moved their bodies against each other slightly clumsily.


“Sorry,” Willow said quietly when her hip bumped Tara’s and her fingers dragged themselves further out.


“I liked it,” Tara returned, smiling against Willow’s lips and feeling an answering smile back.


She purposefully bumped their hips and Willow giggled. Tara’s other hand touched Willow’s face and brought her in to kiss her with the thirst rising in her throat. It slid around to the back of Willow’s neck and held them together, not that Willow had any intention of moving away.


Willow felt Tara’s hips start to really grind into her hand and then that burst of swelling heat she was becoming addicted to. She felt her own thighs become wet with spillage and her eyes shut tight as her stomach knotted.


Tara watched Willow’s chin tremble and how the shaking muscles rose into a nostril flare then a brow lift and finally her whole neck tilted back so sharply she could almost see the moans quiver upward.


She bit inside her lip to try and control the tension but she was too far gone. Her back was arching in seconds as Willow fell into her, panting.


It took Tara another few seconds, but she finally managed to put a lazy arm around Willow and pull her closer.


Willow happily threw her limbs over Tara’s body and rested her cheek on the pillow beside her. She watched Tara’s face, eyes closed and breathing softening, for several minutes; following the few beads of sweat as they faced their journey of oblivion down her brow.

When they’d relaxed completely again, she brought her hand up and curled her fingers around Tara’s hair.


“Hey,” she broached after a few close starts, thankful Tara’s eyes were closed, “We’re… putting it all out there tonight, right?”


“And then some,” Tara chuckled, the laugh reverberating softly through her whole body.


Willow was distracted for a moment as her eyes followed the length of Tara’s body and she quickly pulled the sheet over them. It felt safer somehow like they were in one of the forts they’d built as children.


“Um, can I ask a weird and totally embarrassing question that I’m only asking while I have the feelin’-good nerve?”


Tara glanced over with a curious wrinkle of her forehead and nodded. Willow stalled for a moment, then threw herself onto her back, looking toward the top of the sheet.


“I can’t look you in the eye when I ask this.”


“Oh boy,” Tara replied, her shoulders shifting in an anticipatory brace.


There was another lapse into silence except for the almost audible tension of Willow’s jaw clenching.


“Do I…do I pull a weird face when…” she started her face turning a fresh beet red, “When we’re…”


Her body squirmed uncomfortably.


“WhenIcome,” she rushed out in one breath.


Tara blinked slowly.


“Oh.”


Willow rolled her hands around on top of her stomach, desperately trying not to jump up and hide.


“Someone said I pull a weird face and I’m trying not to be all insecure-y about it, but…”


Tara did a double-take.


“S-Someone said…?” she started, turning her face fully toward Willow, “Wh-Who was watching you…?”


Willow actually returned her gaze to Tara, confused by the question until suddenly her eyebrows popped in surprise.


“Oh, no, god no!” she spluttered quickly, “It was a general discussion, not even a discussion, just a sentence. A joke, really. It was like ‘love is not laughing at your partner’s o-face’ or something. But…well, yours isn’t funny. It’s sexy. So I didn’t get it.”


She closed her eyes and looked away again.


“You know what, never mind,” she said, sitting up and reaching for her water bottle, “Do you want more tea?”


She went about chugging from the bottle until she felt Tara’s hand press up along her spine and curl over her shoulder. She heard Tara’s body scooting up behind her and then felt a kiss on her neck from behind.


“You look hot. You…”


Tara paused and Willow felt hot breath on her ear.


“You coming makes me come.”


Willow felt her mouth go dry and jumped in place when Tara popped a quick kiss on her cheek and fell away back under the covers.


“And anyway, funny can be sexy.”


Willow took a moment to calm herself, smiling widely and finally lay back down beside Tara.


“You’ll have to fill me in on those trailer jokes so I can really try to turn you on.”


Tara turned herself on her side and slid her hand over Willow’s stomach.


“You don’t have to try.”


Willow drew little circles on Tara’s hand.


“Did you get turned on when we were close but before we were ‘close-close’?”


“Did I get turned on when we would touch before we started dating?” Tara translated.


Willow nodded.


“Yes.”


“Of course,” Tara answered honestly.


Willow pursed her lips for a moment.


“Can I ask you something else?”


“Uh oh,” Tara replied with a teasing grin, “Go ahead.”


Willow danced her fingers between Tara’s on her stomach.


“When I was trying to research how to…make you happy,” she said, rolling her eyes at herself and her own coyness, “Um, well, it was really hard to find good information, y’know? And it made me wonder how we…you… define…‘it’.”


She looked over at Tara.


“I feel like we had sex for the first time in Auckland, but we did stuff before. We…got each other off. Does that count?”


“There was no penetration or oral copulation so it was legally ambiguous,” Tara rattled off quickly.


Willow’s brow knotted.


“That’s a…weird answer,” she said, rolling the words around in her head, “Legally ambiguous? Oral copulation?”


Tara bit her lip.


“I may have checked it out,” she replied quietly, “Just…in case.”


“In case?” Willow prompted, at a loss.


Tara swallowed deeply.


“I-I was 18. You were 17. I worried if your parents found out they might…”


Willow’s eyebrows lifted as far as they could on her forehead.


“Try to have you arrested?!”


Her head sprung back on the pillow.


“Wow.”


Tara started to tense up and avert her gaze guiltily until Willow’s fingers linked with hers.


“You were scared too. Maybe not for the exact same reasons but…”


Willow held their palms together and looked at Tara with regret.


“I’m sorry.”


She lifted Tara’s hand to her mouth to kiss it and Tara pulled her hand back with Willow with it to kiss her properly.


Willow’s hand curved around Tara’s rear and pulled her closer.


“Would you?” she asked, keeping Tara’s gaze the whole time now, “Have had legally unambiguous sex with me? If I hadn’t been so…”


Tara smirked as she went in for another kiss.


“I figured it would probably be worth the misdemeanor.”


Willow giggled as Tara messily kissed her neck. After a moment Tara’s lips fell off at her shoulder and they were both lying there, content.


Willow found Tara’s hand again, just completely addicted to the feeling of their linked fingers, holding each other strongly.


“What was the gay bar like? Is it like The Bronze with rainbows?”


“Not exactly,” Tara laughed softly, “Bright lights. Eccentric art. Lots of poles.”


“Polish people?” Willow asked, confused.


Tara hid her smile in Willow’s neck so as not to seem mocking.


“No, like stripper poles.”


“Oh,” Willow replied, not trying very hard at all to stop the images suddenly flashing through her mind, “I want to go to one. Can we go to one?”


“Sure,” Tara agreed easily, “We could go tonight if you wanted.”


“Do you think they have one here?” Willow asked excitedly.


“A gay bar in Sydney?” Tara asked, smiling kindly, “Yeah, I think so.”


Willow sat right up.


“Let’s do it!”


“Okay,” Tara replied with a chuckle, throwing her legs off the bed, “I need to grab a shower.”


Willow stretched out her legs before standing.


“Okay. I’ll bring our bowls back to the kitchen and get ready. Do you have shampoo and stuff? My little caddy is right there if you want to use it.”


“Thanks, honey,” Tara replied as she got herself ready to head to the showers.


Willow dressed, brought their bowls back to the kitchen, cleaned up and skipped back to the room. She smoothed out the sheet on the bed and hiked her bag up to look through her clothes and what to change into for going out.


She didn’t have a whole wardrobe to choose from like at home but she’d packed with as much variety as possible to suit her for any situation. This, however, was not a situation she’d been in before.


Tara returned in the sweats and t-shirt she’d headed to the showers in with her towel wrapped around her hair.


Willow looked up helplessly from where she had every item of clothing laid out on the bed.


“Help.”


Tara quickly brought the towel from her head while giving her hair a quick shake through it and hung it on one of the three coat hooks on the wall.


She came over to the bed and surveyed the options.


“Okay, strip.”


Willow chuckled goofily.


“Yes, ma’am.”


She undressed down to her underwear and Tara held a few items of clothing in front of her before picking out a pair of dark jeans and a deep purple long-sleeved top with a diamante front.


“Try this?”


Willow put the clothes on and Tara accessorized her with a bright white belt for contrast and a deep silver chain that hung well past her chest. She found the mirror in the closet door and held it open for Willow to check herself in.


Willow looked at her reflection and adjusted the shoulders on her top a little.


“I look okay?”


“I’ll be fighting them off,” Tara promised with a wink and a smile.


Willow ducked her head for a moment and rose it again, smiling softly.


“Should I straighten my hair?”


“If you want to,” Tara agreed readily.


Willow looked in the mirror and her recently-brushed but slightly wavy hair.


“How do you prefer it?”


“I prefer it how you prefer it,” Tara replied, watching Willow watch her own reflection.


Willow glanced at Tara.


“Do we have to play this game? Your opinion is important to me.”


Tara looked a little surprised at Willow not beating around the bush. It wasn’t what she was used to but she appreciated what it meant.


“I like it a little rugged,” she admitted, smiling bashfully, “That kinda sexy bedhead look.”


Willow grinned and threw her head down, shaking her hands through it and then throwing it back.


“Like this?”


Tara laughed and reached out to calm Willow’s hair just slightly, still leaving it tousled and fluffy on her shoulders.


“Yeah, exactly like that.”


Willow looked in the mirror, then at Tara grinning and stuck out her tongue as she grabbed her hairbrush to tame it back down smoothly.


“Hey, I liked it.”


“Well, I prefer to not resemble a lion’s mane,” Willow retorted, sliding the handle of the brush into her pocket.


She secured it so it wouldn’t fall and stepped toward Tara.


“Want me to dry your hair?”


“That’d be nice,” Tara replied softly.


Willow got out the travel-sized blow dryer that she’d picked up in Melbourne when the reality of hostel life really set in.


“Sit here,” Willow guided when she found a suitable outlet near the bed, “Please.”


Tara gathered any hair hidden under the collar of her t-shirt out and brought her hairbrush over to Willow. She sat in front of her at an angle on the bed so her full head was available.


She expected to hear the blow dryer fill the room with white noise, but instead felt Willow’s arm close around her chest from behind and kiss her neck.


“It’s so good to have you back.”


Tara held Willow’s overlapping hands over her collarbone.


“It is so good to be back,” she replied, then threw a warm smile over her shoulder, “With my girl.”


Willow beamed and started kissing Tara’s neck again, who couldn’t help but tilt her neck into it.


“You better stop or we’re never getting out of here…”


“Not the worst fate in the world,” Willow murmured.


Tara angled her neck back enough for Willow to kiss her lips and Willow slowly moved her hands back to Tara’s shoulders, giving them a squeeze before getting back to business and sliding the dial up on the blowdryer.


She ran her fingers through Tara’s hair as she dried it enough to brush through.


They used to do this, a lot. Play around with hairstyles and make-up once they were allowed. Tara had always liked any expression of color and Willow had loved how she made all of her mother’s clothing choices feel unique and fun.


“Tara?” Willow asked as she started to part Tara’s hair in the zigzag pattern Tara had taught her when they were 11.


“Yeah?” Tara replied, enjoying the inadvertent massage she was getting.


Willow noted Tara leaning into her and added some pressure for a real massage.


“Did I ever make you feel excluded when I became friends with Buffy?”


Tara was silent, unreactive at all as she considered her words.


“I was glad you had a friend in school.”


“That’s not what I asked,” Willow replied firmly though her tone was gentle, “A lot of the stuff we used to do together I started doing with her. This kinda stuff. Girly stuff.”


Tara again said nothing for several moments.


“I didn’t feel excluded because you were doing stuff with Buffy,” she answered finally, “I guess I felt a little excluded that you never asked me to hang out with you guys, or even introduced me…but I understand now.”


Willow bent her head down and pressed her cheek to Tara from behind.


“I’m sorry,” she said sincerely, “I’m not just giving you lip service— hey, lip service would be a good name for a lesbian rock band.”


Tara chuckled and Willow smiled at her laugh.


“I’m not trying to beat myself up. I’m just recognizing how I’ve hurt you so I know not to do it again.”


Tara reached behind and stroked Willow’s head.


“I don’t mind you doing girly things with other people,” she said, turning her eye line enough to catch Willow’s gaze, “As long as I’m the only one you do girlfriendy stuff with.”


Willow pecked Tara’s lips sidelong.


“My one and only. Always.”


Tara turned and held Willow in her lap. She kissed her again, smiling into it.


“How should I do my hair?”


Willow brought Tara’s hair forward and ran her fingers through the silken ends. The zigzag had turned into a weird spiral so she shook it out and did a normal part in the middle.


“What are you wearing?”


“You mean you don’t like the sweats and old t-shirt look?” Tara mock-protested.


“I’d love the garbage bag look on you,” Willow replied sweetly.


Tara dropped a kiss on Willow’s cheek and moved them apart so she could pick an outfit. She finally settled on a patterned backless dress with dark oranges and greens with bright yellow tights to contrast; three colors that should probably only ever be seen together on a flag but Tara seemed to own the clash and wear it proudly.


“Those are funky,” Willow complimented the tights, “Hey, together we kinda make a rainbow.”


“Oh, do we?” Tara asked coyly as she pulled on some beat-up sneaks to complete her outfit.


Willow pulled Tara to her by the waist.


“Sneaky, Maclay, sneaky,” she grinned, “You look gorgeous just like that. Don’t change a thing.”


Tara spread both sets of fingers behind Willow’s neck and pulled her in for a kiss. She planned to make up for each and every one she missed. And then some.


“But we have to add a little sparkle.”


A while later they emerged from the room together embellished with some light make-up and a little glitter balm on their cheeks. Willow had opted to give her hair a quick straighten in the end because she thought it looked better with the long sleeves — Tara didn’t try to break down the logic of that one; she still thought Willow looked great.


They approached the hostel desk where two male workers were tossing paper balls into the wastebasket. They stopped when they saw people approaching and one guy stood to help them.


“Hello there. How can I help?” he asked in a Nordic accent.


Willow looked at Tara and then back at him.


“We were wondering…”


She looked at Tara again, who nodded encouragingly.


“If you had a suggestion for a good bar?”


She paused, smiling nervously.


“Of the rainbow persuasion?” she finished with a squeak in her voice.


The worker tossed his gaze to the other very well-groomed guy who slid over in his place. He had a Mexican flag pin on his shirt above a hastily scribbled name tag that said ‘Rafael’.


“I can give you a recommendation but it’s not always like the straight girls expect.”


Willow linked her fingers with Tara’s and brought their combined hands on top of the desk. Rafael smirked.


“Well alright then.”


Primed with a trustworthy rec from someone in the know, they headed out together to walk the city. They were staying near Circular Quay and their route took to the water’s edge, where they could see the Opera House across the harbor.


“God this city is stunning,” Tara commented in awe.


“I hadn’t seen this area yet,” Willow replied in a similar awed tone, “Wow…those angles.”


Tara placed her palm on the small of Willow’s back.


“Are you getting excited by geometry again?” she asked, brushing her fingers at the base of Willow’s spine and making her shiver even through her top, “How did that song we made up go?”


Willow swallowed to get some moisture back on her lips.


“All sides connect, the polygon effect; place your compass on the vertex before you bisect,” Willow half-sang in a very quiet voice so as not to be overheard by anyone else passing by.


Tara brought her hand around to hold onto Willow’s waist.


Willow noticed her casting furtive glances in her direction and realized she was checking for a reaction.


Tara had only put an arm around her shoulders or waist like this in public if it was dark and no one else was around. It was dark, but they were under the bright lights of the city with a lot of people milling about.


To commit to everything had been said, and just because it felt good and she was sick of holding herself back, she leaned her head down on Tara’s shoulder and put an arm around her waist too.


She couldn’t see but could sense Tara’s smile, especially when a kiss was placed on the top of her head.


They strolled down and picked up the buzz of the city, getting a little lost on the way but they hopped on a train to get downtown. Tara had so rarely left Sunnydale growing up, it was so exciting to hop on a tram and be catapulted into such an apex of culture and activity so quickly.


“There it is,” Willow nodded ahead when she saw the name they’d been given lit up in neon against a building across the road.


They hurried across a crosswalk at a break in traffic and joined the line against the red brick wall.


As they shuffled along the line, security signs started to show up adorned along the wall. Willow lifted a finger against one in particular that said ‘No Thongs’.


“Let me tell you, that sign seriously confused me the first few times I saw it. I was doing a mental catalog of all my underwear!”


Tara bit on her bottom lip to stop from laughing too loudly.


“I first saw it at the beach and was alarmed by quite how many people were blatantly disregarding it.”


“Oh, you were scoping out the women in skimpy underwear, huh?” Willow teased.


Tara’s nose scrunched.


“It was mostly men, actually.”


Willow’s nose did similarly and they laughed quietly together.


When they got to the front of the line, the bouncer checked their IDs, gave them the once-over and nodded for them to go inside.


Willow clutched Tara’s arm as if they were entering a haunted house as they passed the coat check and walked through a curtain into the bar.


The décor was purple, the lighting was red and the bar sat in the middle of the floor in an oval shape to serve customers coming in from the dance floor on the right and the various seating areas on the left. Willow only had The Bronze as a reference but it didn’t seem that different, apart from the darker lighting.


That was until a drag queen passed her in six-inch heels adjusting her breasts and Willow started to get a feel for the colorful clientele.


“Excuse me,” she said when Willow stood rooted to the spot.


“Sorry, ma’am,” Willow replied, almost falling off to the side as she tried to jump out of the way.


She realized Tara had moved ahead toward the bar and hurried behind her. She was fascinated as she looked around and saw couples of all descriptions being openly affectionate. There were friend groups and even solo people enjoying a drink but her eyes were hyper-focused to find the female couples. She realized she’d never even seen a gay couple kiss outside of television before.


Amidst her careful but pointed glances, she didn’t notice Tara trying to get her attention until her sleeve was pulled on.


“They have 2-for-1 cocktails, do you want one?”


Willow drew her gaze back to Tara and processed what she said.


“Sure,” she agreed quickly, “Whatever you’re having.”


Tara pointed to a red sofa with a low table in front of it that a group had just vacated.


“Go nab us that couch.”


Willow wandered over and sat on one side of the loveseat. It was soft and had high arms that she could relax back against. She was barely in place when a woman approached from the other side and folded herself effortlessly into the empty half of the sofa.


“Hey there,” she said, tossing her short, dark curls behind her head.


Willow sat up a little straighter.


“Oh, hi.”


While she wondered what the etiquette was on saving seats in Australian gay bars, the other woman rested her head on her palm and smiled at Willow like she’d known her forever.


“I’m Dusk.”


“Dusk?” Willow questioned uncertainly.


“Family name,” Dusk dismissed, “New here?”


“Yeah, uh huh,” Willow replied, adding on sheepishly, “It’s my first time.”


Dusk glanced what looked like toward Willow’s chest but was apparently her empty hand.


“No drink?”


She clicked her fingers which startled Willow for a moment before she could reply.


“Oh, my gir—” she started, but then she stopped short with her eyes widening as another young woman hurried over and handed Dusk a glass of sparkling rosé, “That was…speedy.”


Dusk handed the glass out for Willow to take.


“I believe you should treat a lady like a princess,” she replied with a smirk that Willow had no idea how to place, “And I certainly have no problem with princesses.”


“She’s definitely not a princess.”


Both Dusk and Willow looked up where Tara was standing with a smile on her face and two tall glasses of something red and pretty.


Dusk cocked her head at Tara with a raised eyebrow.


“And you are?”


Tara lifted one finger from her glass and pointed it at Willow.


“Hers.”


Dusk pursed her lips.


“No offense meant.”


“No offense taken,” Tara replied, cordially but pointedly, “She, however, is.”


Dusk stood and flicked her curls again.


“Go shopping in a bargain basket this weekend?”


She moved away while Tara took her rightful seat and handed Willow one of the glasses. Willow looked at Tara expectantly.


“What just happened?”


Tara’s mouth found the small black straw and took a sip from her drink.


“You just got hit on. And I think my fashion sense was insulted.”


Willow’s eyes widened again.


“Me?! I never got hit on in The Bronze.”


“Or maybe you just didn’t notice,” Tara replied and before Willow could reply she leaned over, lifted Willow’s chin with her finger and planted a kiss on her lips.


This was definitely the most populated place and most unambiguous display of affection they’d ever engaged in but all Willow felt was a tingle at the base of her spine that rose through the back of her neck and made their kiss quiver.


Willow felt the air hit her lips as Tara parted from her and only had eyes for her and not to any reaction around them (or non-reaction had she actually looked.)


“That was kinda possessive but totally hot.”


“Mission accomplished,” Tara grinned and sipped on her drink again.


Willow blushed and looked down for a moment before settling back into the sofa. She brought her glass up and pinched the straw to guide it to her mouth.


“She’s nuts if she doesn’t think you’re gorgeous. You even look good in thongs!”


Tara smiled sideways.


“The underwear or the flip-flops?”


Willow giggled under her breath and looked up through her eyelashes.


“Well both but I know which one I’d vote for you to wear,” she bit the corner of her lip and placed a hand on Tara’s thigh, “What’s a princess? I’m sensing it’s not good.”


“It’s short for pillow princess,” Tara explained, putting an arm over the back of the sofa so her hand neared Willow’s head and she could play with the occasional strand of hair, “It’s not necessarily bad, depending on everyone’s expectations. It means you don’t…return the favor. Your head stays on the pillow.”


“And miss out on all the fun?” Willow asked, aghast and Tara laughed.


Willow smiled.


“What is this? It’s good.”


“It’s a Tight Snatch,” Tara replied, deadpan.


Willow choked but covered under the drape of the neon lights and twirled the straw around the glass.


“Dangerously good,” she said, lightly licking her lips and throwing some teasing side-eye in Tara’s direction, “But, then again, you knew that.”


Tara seemed a little shocked and Willow continued to grin.


“You did order them.”


Tara had spent years hiding her blush around Willow; it was still a thrill to be made blush on purpose. She scooted intentionally closer so she could drag her foot along Willow’s lower leg.


“I know what my girl likes.”


Willow leaned back, smiling and had another look around the bar. She saw art and flags and portraits and realized she really did have a lot to learn about this community. She’d always rejected herself so much she’d rejected this too and it sat in her oddly, like if she knew she was Jewish but nothing about the history.


She closed her eyes for a second and had a moment of recognition.


“I know this song. I’ve known a few of the songs that have played. Where have I heard them?”


Tara smirked over her straw.


“I’ve been indoctrinating you in secret for a while now.”


Willow’s mouth dropped in amused shock and she lightly pushed on Tara’s shoulder. Tara laughed and Willow smiled; god how she loved that laugh.


Because I know you're too good to be true I must have done something good to meet you.



“Who is this?”


“The Veronicas,” Tara replied, a pink light hitting her and highlighting her sparkly cheeks, “They’re Australian. Twin sisters. One of them is queer.”


Willow lowered her voice with concern.


“Can we say that? I read that we can but it still feels weird.”


Tara squeezed Willow’s arm softly.


“You don’t have to if you’re not comfortable with it.”


The music coming over the speakers stopped and behind the dancefloor, a guy rocked up to a microphone at the top of the stage while three girls with guitars stood behind him in a triangle formation.


“We’re continuing our locals night with some live music for you all here tonight. Please welcome to the stage our resident band of todger dodgers, Lip Service.”


The bar broke out in applause and the guy left the stage and returned behind the bar while the three ladies started up a high-tempo rock song.


Willow squealed and nearly sloshed her drink everywhere.


“Hey! Hey, I just said there should be a lesbian rock band called Lip Service! And there is!” she exclaimed in thrilled disbelief, “Did you know?”


Tara shook her head, smiling.


“I hadn’t heard of them.”


Willow rocked her shoulders triumphantly.


“I’m getting the hang of this gay thing without even knowing it!”


Exhilarated, she threw the rest of her drink back and offered Tara her hand.


“Wanna dance?”


“I’d love to,” Tara replied without hesitation and sucked the dredges of her glass through the straw before standing with Willow and heading over to the dance floor.


They found a spot and joined hands and started to bop and twirl each other around with the rest of the crowd.


Several songs in as Willow threw her head back in another laugh, she noticed Tara looking down to hide tears that were pricking her eyes. Willow stopped and moved closer, keeping both sets of hands locked.


“Tara?” she asked softly, close enough to communicate despite the loud music.


Tara lifted her gaze and sniffled, her eyes clearly glassy.


“It’s just so nice to see you let yourself be happy.”


Willow squeezed Tara’s hands tight to stop her own sudden burning of tears.


“It’s nice to let myself be happy.”


Her eyes closed and she fought them back, laughing.


“What’s wrong with us; crying at a concert?”


Tara returned the laugh and dropped her hands to Willow’s waist, pulling her in close.


“No more crying.”


She pecked Willow’s lips and took her hand to give her a twirl.


“Shut up and dance with me.”

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 Post subject: Re: New Fic: Inevitable [AU] (Nov 6th 2019)
PostPosted: Wed Nov 06, 2019 11:17 am 
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7. Teeny Tinkerbell Light

Joined: Fri Aug 07, 2009 5:33 pm
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Topics: 2
Location: North Carolina, USA
DIBS :banana

Great use of the lines from when Willow and Tara get back together in the show. Those lines always make me feel teary.
Is the last line a music lyric? I think it is from a song I know. So hot, you write great love scenes. I need to look at the map of Australia and find out where Darwin is located.
Thanks for the long chapter.
TW4E

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 Post subject: Re: New Fic: Inevitable [AU] (Nov 6th 2019)
PostPosted: Wed Nov 06, 2019 2:37 pm 
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4. Extra Flamey

Joined: Sun Jan 19, 2014 6:01 am
Posts: 227
I just read the last five chapters in a row after returning from a vacation in Portugal. I'm thrilled they are back together and that their time apart really helped both of them (especially Willow) to find their place as equal partners in their trip and their relationship. The compromise they agreed on to decide on their accomodation together from now on is good.

I loved that you inserted their "can you just be kissing me now?"-dialogue from canon. The love scenes afterwards were super hot, yay for research! :drool
The "Japanese commercials are weird" is another canon-easteregg I love.

Quote:
Willow slid her palm down Tara’s arm and linked their fingers where her hand rested over her stomach. She held Tara’s hand there for a moment and closed her eyes.


“I think I’m kinda gay.”


There was a silence for a minute, then Willow felt Tara’s smile on her neck.


“That’s okay, I still love you.”


A laugh bubbled past Willow’s lips and the bats in her stomach settled back into butterflies.

So sweet and funny, perfect! :flower :laugh

Their first visit together in a gay bar is a great experience. Yay for Tara stopping the advances of the other woman on Willow and making clear that she is her girlfriend - "possessive" Tara is hot!
I agree with TW4E that "Shut up and dance with me" is a song-easteregg.

I'm looking forward to the next chapter on Friday.


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 Post subject: Re: New Fic: Inevitable [AU] (Nov 6th 2019)
PostPosted: Wed Nov 06, 2019 5:03 pm 
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7. Teeny Tinkerbell Light

Joined: Fri Aug 07, 2009 5:33 pm
Posts: 676
Topics: 2
Location: North Carolina, USA
DIBS :banana
Quote:
“It was every amazing piece of nature that I saw and you weren’t there to share it with me. It was every joke someone told when I would look over to see your reaction…but you weren’t there. It was all the sights that just weren’t as awe-inducing when I couldn’t see the awe in your eyes too.”
Sweet

Quote:
“I just kept thinking about how we could have figured all this other stuff out if we just talked. I know we have different ideas but I want to try and make it work.”

FINALLY

Quote:
And I say bring it on, even when it sucks, because that’s how we’ll figure out the best way to fit with each other,” she said, biting the corner of her lip shyly, “And we’ll always fit, even if we have to adjust from time to time.”
“That’s what I want. To be my own person…who also just happens to belong to you.”
I was just clinging to you because you’re what I knew.”
Great insight!

Quote:
“No, Willow,” Tara shook her head sadly at that summation, “We just need to talk better. This isn’t all on you.”
I am glad that Tara said this. Willow was taking too much of the 'blame'.

Quote:
“There's just so much to work through. Trust has to be built again, on both sides…”

Willow’s face bore the same fall into distress as it had on the day Tara left.

“You have to learn if…if we're even the same people we were, if you can fit in each other's lives.”

Willow continued to look at Tara, resigned. Tara’s eyes were glassy as she tried to express everything she’d been feeling since the phone call.

“It's a long…important process, and…”“Can we just skip it? Can-can you just be kissing me now?”

Great use of this scene from the show. These words before the "can you just be"...always makes me teary eyed.

Quote:
“Willow I have to tell you,” she said, licking her lips when their breath hit each other’s mouths, “Your personal growth is really turning me on.”

HUBBA HUBBA :blush :blush

Quote:
Willow blew out a long breath, then immediately bent over and out of the bed to hike up her laptop and pull up a webpage. Her eyes moved back and forth over the page right up until she heard the key in the door and swiftly put the laptop back on the floor and pulled the sheet over herself inconspicuously.
I laughed out loud when you explained what she was doing.

Quote:
“I was intimidated. I just…didn’t know what to do. I felt like that time at the science fair when the judges asked me about the difference between app design and web design and I blanked and didn’t know the answer.”

“I read some things,” she admitted, voice rising an octave higher, “Watched a video or two.”
She stopped and frowned.
“Those weren’t so helpful.”
“I don’t think those girls are even real lesbians!” Willow whispered in a shocked tone.

Tara’s head turned on the pillow, her lips holding in a grin and her eyes a mix of sympathy and amusement.

Great scene

Quote:
“I realized the ‘not being okay with the gay’ part was never about liking boys or girls. It was about hating myself. And the only antidote to that is to accept yourself. I’m not like ‘oh yay, self, we’re awesome’ or anything but…it’s a start.”

“That’s what I’m finally starting to get. That… air is negativity’s kryptonite and keeping it inside leaves it in a nice warm, moisture-laden, perfectly pH-balanced swamp of growth.”
Great insight.

Quote:
‘The Incredibly True Adventure of Two Girls in Love’ and that was honestly the first time I ever realized two girls could be in love like that. I knew what gay meant I just…didn’t realize girls could be in love like girls and guys are in the movies. I’d never seen it.”
That movie rocks. Can't imagine it being on TV, but I am glad it was for Tara. The movie should be available for all teen girls so they can determine whether they belong to the tribe.



Quote:
Willow didn’t need to be told it was a kindness to them both; she knew that Tara was kindness personified. But to finally voice it between them went a long way to covering the memory of that sting with a layer of emotional Neosporin and finally allow it to start to heal.
EXCELLENT Metaphor :bow

Quote:
“You’ve reached the heteronormativity realization portion of your gay awakening.”

Willow’s head popped up, frowning.

“It sounds horrible. When does it stop?”

Tara balled a fist and offered it to bump.

“When we smash the patriarchy.”
Another laugh out loud moment.

Quote:
They’d never tried to do this together this way, and their arms got into a bit of a tangle, but this wasn’t their first game of Twister.
Great tie in.

Quote:
Would you?” she asked, keeping Tara’s gaze the whole time now, “Have had legally unambiguous sex with me? If I hadn’t been so…”

Tara smirked as she went in for another kiss.

“I figured it would probably be worth the misdemeanor.”

What is the age of consent in CA. In NC it is 16. So 18/17 would have been totally legal.

Is the last line a music lyric? I think it is from a song I know.

So hot, you write great love scenes.

I need to look at the map of Australia and find out where Darwin is located (wow, it is definitely very far away from where Willow was...)

Thanks for the long chapter.
TW4E

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 Post subject: Re: New Fic: Inevitable [AU] (Nov 6th 2019)
PostPosted: Thu Nov 07, 2019 6:00 pm 
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3. Flaming O
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Topics: 6
Location: Pacific Northwest
So Warren will be back and you just did the Entropy lines. Gulp. I know they'll be ok cuz it's Pens and you but no Warren is good Warren

That was lovely and hot. I love getting some of the backstory. And the eye opening (and heart opening) effect of media is so true.

Wow willow really did some soul searching.

Lastly, go away Dusk, Willows got her girl.

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 Post subject: Re: New Fic: Inevitable [AU] (Nov 6th 2019)
PostPosted: Fri Nov 08, 2019 4:00 am 
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Ms. Moderator Fantastico
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Joined: Sat Feb 21, 2009 1:22 pm
Posts: 4181
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Location: Ireland
taranwillow4ever

Quote:
DIBS :banana


:eatme

Quote:
FINALLY


YUP

Quote:
Great insight!


Willow's had plenty to think about!

Quote:
I am glad that Tara said this. Willow was taking too much of the 'blame'.


I don't think either of them thought of it as 'blame' as such...just owning their own shit.

Quote:
Great use of this scene from the show. These words before the "can you just be"...always makes me teary eyed.


Tara's voice is so soft and evocative and Willow's face is so expressive. It's a great scene.

Quote:
HUBBA HUBBA :blush :blush


:laugh

Quote:
I laughed out loud when you explained what she was doing.


Willow is research-gal, I would expect nothing less! :D

Quote:
Great scene...Great insight.


Thanks!

Quote:
That movie rocks. Can't imagine it being on TV, but I am glad it was for Tara. The movie should be available for all teen girls so they can determine whether they belong to the tribe.


I actually checked this out when I was deciding what movie it would be that opened Tara's eyes, and it did air late night on Pay-TV sometimes (something Willow would have had but Tara wouldn't)!

Quote:
EXCELLENT Metaphor :bow


Thank you :)

Quote:
Another laugh out loud moment.


The patriarchy needs to be a laugh sometimes :lol

Quote:
Great tie in.


:wink

Quote:
What is the age of consent in CA. In NC it is 16. So 18/17 would have been totally legal.


18 in California, with no Romeo & Juliet laws.

Quote:
Is the last line a music lyric? I think it is from a song I know.


Yep!

Quote:
So hot, you write great love scenes.


:blush Thank you!

Quote:
I need to look at the map of Australia and find out where Darwin is located (wow, it is definitely very far away from where Willow was...)


Australia is pretty damn huge!

Quote:
Thanks for the long chapter.


Thanks for your feedback!

Will's redemption

Quote:
I just read the last five chapters in a row after returning from a vacation in Portugal.


Wow I hope you had an amazing time!

Quote:
I'm thrilled they are back together and that their time apart really helped both of them (especially Willow) to find their place as equal partners in their trip and their relationship. The compromise they agreed on to decide on their accomodation together from now on is good.


I think so/hope so. I think more importantly they they're both willing to say it, not just have a compromise in place. To be able to communicate, hey actually, I need/want this is so important and goes beyond what kinda bedroom they sleep in.

Quote:
I loved that you inserted their "can you just be kissing me now?"-dialogue from canon. The love scenes afterwards were super hot, yay for research! :drool


I just love that reunion scene in the show so much!

Quote:
The "Japanese commercials are weird" is another canon-easteregg I love.


I annoy the fuck out of my friends because anytime they say 'Do you know what's weird?' I answer with that line :laugh Every. Single. Damn. Time :lol

Quote:
So sweet and funny, perfect! :flower :laugh


:D

Quote:
Their first visit together in a gay bar is a great experience.


A unique experience to the recently out and I'm glad it's something Willow didn't end up doing alone or with others before Tara came back!

Quote:
Yay for Tara stopping the advances of the other woman on Willow and making clear that she is her girlfriend - "possessive" Tara is hot!


We all love a little Take Charge Tara.

Quote:
I agree with TW4E that "Shut up and dance with me" is a song-easteregg.


It absolutely is.

Quote:
I'm looking forward to the next chapter on Friday.


Hope you enjoy it!

Thanks for commenting :)

shirrey

Quote:
So Warren will be back and you just did the Entropy lines. Gulp. I know they'll be ok cuz it's Pens and you but no Warren is good Warren


Don't worry about Warren. Ultimately he is only included so he can get his comeuppance. Nothing dramatic to worry about (NOBODY IS SHOT!)

Quote:
That was lovely and hot. I love getting some of the backstory.


Thank you!

Quote:
And the eye opening (and heart opening) effect of media is so true.


This entire board is proof of it!

Quote:
Wow willow really did some soul searching.


She did! She's going to show Tara she'll fight for her this time.

Quote:
Lastly, go away Dusk, Willows got her girl.


You know it!

Thanks for your feedback :)



Update Directly Below

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 Post subject: Re: New Fic: Inevitable [AU] (Nov 6th 2019)
PostPosted: Fri Nov 08, 2019 4:00 am 
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Ms. Moderator Fantastico
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CHAPTER RATING: R

Chapter 28



Sydney

(Part 2)



I Want The World To Know, Got To Let It Show



Willow woke with her face pressed into her pillow.


She pulled her head away sharply when she got a mouthful of cotton and felt her breathing become obstructed.


She just about avoided turning into a spluttering mess by quickly covering her mouth to cough. After scrunching her face up sleepily for a moment, she settled her cheek back on the pillow.


Her eyes focused on Tara sleeping soundly beside her and her hand crept up from where it was thrown around Tara’s waist to play with the hair falling down her back.


She didn’t mean to wake her but moments later Tara’s eyelids fluttered open anyway.


“Hey,” Willow greeted softly, lifting her hand to brush some hair from Tara’s cheek and behind her ear.


“Hey,” Tara returned with a little sleep gruff Willow found adorable, “What time is it?”


Willow looked over Tara’s head to the clock and saw bright light streaming in from behind the blinds.


“We missed breakfast,” she deduced, then looked back at Tara, “Did you know they call Rice Krispies ‘Rice Bubbles’ over here?”


Tara’s eyebrow arched and Willow smiled sheepishly.


“I’ve been eating a lot of free cereal.”


Tara nuzzled against the pillow and smiled sleepily.


“I’ll give you a free smooch but you have to claim it in the next five seconds.”


Willow shuffled over a couple of inches on her belly and pressed her lips against Tara’s.


“Good morning,” Tara murmured as she kissed Willow several times, slowly.


Willow settled her head on the pillow beside Tara.


“Good morning.”


Her palm brushed more hair from Tara’s neck and she tried to toss her leg over Tara’s leg but was stopped by a sharp ache in her hamstring.


“Oof, what did you do to me last night? My legs are killing me.”


“You don’t remember the wild time we had?” Tara asked, half of her grin visible poking up from her mouth.


Willow looked slightly alarmed and Tara reached up and squeezed Willow’s shoulder playfully.


“We danced, you goof.”


Willow’s eyebrows rose and looked to Tara as if to say ‘really?’ as she lifted the blanket, confirming their nudity.


Tara blushed slightly under the streams of sunlight.


“Okay we danced a little more when we got back but you can’t blame that on your cramp — you barely moved your legs.”


Willow frowned something close to a pout.


“Oh no, was I a pillow princess?”


Tara leaned in and whispered in Willow’s ear, who felt herself waking up everywhere.


“Oh, now I remember,” she replied as her eyes settled back on Tara, as if she’d forgotten in the first place, “I remember everything, baby.”


She stole another kiss and let it linger.


“Last night was the best night of my life.”


Tara’s eyebrows lifted in soft surprise and she pressed her palm to Willow’s cheek, who turned her head to kiss it. Tara brushed her thumb over Willow’s lips then leaned in and kissed her again.


“I love you.”


Willow smiled softly in return.


“I love you too.”


Tara dropped her hand down Willow’s back and off at her hip before closing her eyes again, still smiling.


Willow closed her eyes for a moment too then turned her head in the other direction and reached for her phone, hanging out of the back pocket of her jeans which were strewn over the nightstand. She unlocked it and saw it hanging on in single-digit battery territory so looped the cable of her charger out from around the nightstand and plugged it in.


It lit up with brightness and Willow held it over her chest as she checked out her new activity.


After a few minutes, she let her arm fall gently onto Tara’s back to get her attention.


“Look, we took cute selfies.”


Tara’s brow creased in the middle.


“We haven’t taken selfies in…” one of her eyes popped open, “I don’t think we’ve ever taken selfies. You never wanted to take photos together.”


Willow’s jaw clenched guiltily for a moment while Tara pulled herself close enough to look at one of the pictures Willow pulled up.


“They’re blurry. Is that your thumb?”


Willow nudged Tara’s shoulder playfully.


“Hey, I did the best I could with so much tight snatch in me.”


Tara smirked and tilted Willow’s hand to get more light on the screen.


“Your pretty purple top looks completely black.”


“Everyone’s a critic,” Willow muttered dryly.


Tara cuddled into Willow’s side.


“I’m sorry,” she said sincerely, “All I see is your gorgeous smile.”


“You’re lying but I’ll take it,” Willow replied, kissing the top of Tara’s forehead, “What do you wanna do today?”


“We should go get some brunch,” Tara suggested.


Willow pouted.


“I don’t wanna move.”


Tara bent her elbow and rested her head on her upturned palm.


“If you think I’m letting you stay in bed every time we’re hungover…”


Willow smiled to herself and didn’t protest.


“We have to check out of the room soon if we’re not staying…”


Tara glanced down at Willow’s hidden chest rising and falling below the sheet and then between them and their close proximity. It was too tantalizing to let go.


“One more night?”


Willow smiled even wider and pressed a lightning-fast kiss to Tara’s cheek before throwing the sheet off.


“I gotta go to the bathroom.”


“Okay,” Tara replied softly, stretching her arms out behind her head.


Willow got her robe from her bag and unrolled it to throw over her. As she was leaving, Tara sought out her own phone and almost as soon as opening the first social media app, there was a message in from her mother requesting a video call.


Tara briefly got out of bed to throw on a tank top and fish out her iPad. She tossed the lamp on for some light and sat back in bed with her legs under the sheet to hide the fact she wasn’t wearing anything below the waist.


She put the call through and waited for the screen to change to video.


“Hey, mom,” she greeted, angling the tablet upward, “Are you stalking my online status again?”


Kimberly let out a huff through the screen.


“Well, you never told me if you got to Sydney safely.”


Tara waved the hand not holding the iPad about in front of it.


“All limbs attached.”


Kimberly pursed her lips; she knew when she was being made fun of.


“So you’ve met up with Willow again?”


“Mmhm,” Tara nodded.


Kimberly tried and failed to hide her exasperation at the lack of information.


“And everything is okay?”


“I never said it wasn’t,” Tara countered, but relented under her mother’s stare, “Everything is good. Great.”


“Okay, okay,” Kimberly replied, smiling finally, “Well I am very glad to hear that. I’m much happier knowing you’re with someone on your travels.”


“Well—”


The door opened again and Willow pouted at Tara for a split second before making a jump for the bed and on top of her.


“Aww, why’d you put a shirt on; I much prefer the unobstructed vi—”


“Mymomisonskype!” Tara squealed as she tried to shove the iPad screen-down to avoid any view of Willow’s body starting to pop out from her robe.


Willow’s mouth hung open and they both stared at each other in shock for a moment.


“Hello Willow,” Kimberly’s slightly muffled voice came from the obstructed speaker.


Tara yanked the iPad up close to her face.


“Mom, I gotta go.”


“Goodbye, girls,” Kimberly replied hurriedly and the call ended abruptly.


Willow stumbled off the bed and back against the wall, sinking down as she contemplated what just happened and what it meant.


“Shit. Shitshitshitshitshitshitshit. Did she hear me properly? Would she guess? Can we tell her I was joking around?!”


Tara’s head dropped into her hands.


“Willow—”


“Oh god, what did I do?!” Willow straightened up to pace while she panicked, “Why didn’t you tell me she was right there!”


Tara jaw was clenched, her shoulders rigid with tension.


“It just—”


“Oh my god!” Willow interrupted as she took in a sharp inhalation on the way to hyperventilating, “Oh my god Tara I just outed you too! I’m so sorry, I’m so, so sorr—”


“Willow, she already knew,” Tara cut her off, loud and short.


Willow stopped and spun to face her.


“What?”


Tara couldn’t keep Willow’s gaze and glanced down at her lap.


“She already knew about me,” she repeated, her voice turning into a hollow echo, “…about us.”


A slight v formed in Willow’s brow.


“You told her but you didn’t tell me you told her?” she asked, the words heavy on her tongue.


“Donny—”


“DONNY knows?!” Willow exploded, her eyes bugging out of her head.


Tara looked down again to hide the tears springing to her eyes.


“He guessed, okay? He found lyrics I wrote about you and he guessed and he told my mom but she already suspected anyway.”


“When?!” Willow asked, pushing her hands down on the end of the bed.


“A few months back. Before I broke my arm,” Tara replied weakly.


Willow had to turn her back when she heard the tremble running through Tara’s voice.


“So you’ve been lying to me all this time. Allllll this time, even after yesterday?”


Tara sobbed silently but Willow could hear the ragged breath through the eerie silence in the room.


“I would have told you but—”


“But what?” Willow asked, the hurt in her voice mirroring Tara’s.


Tara’s hands covered her face and when words came, they were dripping with shame.


“I was scared. I thought…I thought if you knew you would run. I was being selfish. I’m so sorry, Willow.”


Willow slowly sunk to sit on the end of her bed, her back still to Tara. She could feel the mattress shaking with Tara’s cries but still couldn’t hear it at all as Tara tried to conceal it completely. Willow knew she wasn’t crying to elicit sympathy or tug on Willow’s heartstrings; she was crying because it hurt her to hurt Willow. And Willow got that, truly.


“You’re right,” she said quietly, slowly twisting her body and turning her head to look at Tara, “I would have run. Back then, if I knew Donny knew especially…I would have shut you out. I would have…pretended we weren’t anything. If I got scared enough I might have even gone off to college early. I had the credits. I would have run.”


Her hand crept across the sheet and found Tara’s, letting their fingers link together. Tara looked up, hair falling into her red-rimmed eyes and Willow cemented the embrace by pressing their palms together.


“Will we add it to the list of times you’ve saved me from myself?”


Tara’s eyes crinkled and Willow scooted over the few inches to gather her and hold her. One arm wrapped around Tara’s back and the other held Tara’s head against her collarbone. The affection was too much for Tara, who cried louder into Willow’s neck.


“I’m so sorry, Willow.”


“It’s okay,” Willow replied softly, grateful to be on this side of the situation where she could extend some of the patience and understanding Tara had always offered her, “I forgive you.”


She felt a fresh spring of tears fall onto her shoulder and rubbed Tara’s back soothingly.


“No more secrets?”


Tara lifted her head and nodded quickly while swiping at her eyes.


“I’m sorry,” she said again, sniffling deeply as she pulled herself together, “They won’t tell anyone. Donny; he hasn’t so far and he’s been keeping his head down, getting sober. And my mom won’t either, she would never.”


“It’s okay,” Willow repeated securely, meaning it, “It’s okay.”


She cupped Tara’s face, wiping the last tears away with her thumbs and pressed her lips to Tara’s sweetly. She felt Tara relax under her and lingered so their breath trapped between them and evened out.


“Still wanna get some brunch?”


Tara laughed, releasing whatever was left caught between her shoulders.


“Yeah, that’d be nice,” she agreed, then gestured with embarrassment toward her face, “I think I need to…”


Willow nodded and smiled.


“Yeah, of course. Go ahead. No hurry.”


Tara slipped off the bed and headed across the room.


“Hey,” Willow called softly, “I love you.”


Tara inhaled softly. She felt that more than ever before at that moment. She smiled back, grabbed her toiletry bag and headed for the bathroom.


Willow stared at the closed door for a few moments, then nodded once definitively.


She knew she needed to get dressed, but first, she grabbed her laptop and pulled up a tab to compose an email.


Image




The next morning, Tara returned to their room from her morning teeth cleaning and smiled at Willow checking her reflection in the mirror.


She was wearing a pair of black slacks and a blouse with a collar perfectly starched out at a Sheila Rosenberg-approved angle.


“You look very poised,” she complimented, though thought the nicest part of the outfit was how the pants curved around Willow’s ass.


“I actually scheduled a call with my parents,” Willow admitted in a casual tone.


“Ah,” Tara replied.


That explained the collar, though Tara was a bit surprised.


Willow hadn’t mentioned anything the day before when they’d had brunch at the beach, gone on a cliff walk and had an impromptu surf lesson as the sun set over the water, but then again, they hadn’t been on their phones much.


“That’s great.”


“Yeah I didn’t expect them to get back to me so quickly,” Willow replied and Tara was starting to recognize the nerves Willow was clearly trying to conceal, “I only emailed yesterday, but they’re both home right now before they head on a circuit tomorrow so they basically only had this evening. Their evening, our… now. Anyway, it’s a take it or leave it kind of situation. You don’t mind, do you? It won’t take up our whole day or anything.”


Tara shook her head. She was glad Willow was staying in touch with her parents considering how everything had been when they left, but she also had no interest in sticking around to hear it. It drove her crazy how they dismissed their daughter so much.


“I will give you some space and go out and get us coffee.”


“Will you make mine a flat white?” Willow asked as she experimented with a few different types of tucks.


“Moved on from mochas?” Tara asked with a curious and bordering-on-teasing smile.


“Embracing the local culture,” Willow returned with a smile through the mirror.


Tara walked over and hugged Willow from behind.


“I’m proud of you,” she said, planting a kiss on Willow’s cheek and taking Willow’s hands away from her clothing, “And you don’t owe any part of yourself to their expectations. You look perfect when you look like yourself.”


Willow craned her neck back and kissed Tara’s jawline.


“Thank you, baby.”


She believed her, but she still fixed her collar again once Tara had left.


When she was certain it was as stiff as it could be and realized that her tuck would be lost as soon as she sat on the bed anyway, she opened her laptop and opened Skype to await the call.


As her fingers tapped nervously against the casing, she kept hearing notifications that weren’t coming up on her screen. She finally realized it was Tara’s iPad hidden under the pillow and pulled it out to silence it.


Before she could, she noticed Tara’s mom’s name pop up as online. Her eyes cast over to the time on the clock. Her parents were punctual, but she was even more so and had a few minutes until their scheduled time.


Her finger hesitated over the name for a moment, before she bit the bullet and sent the call request.


It was answered, quickly, and Willow immediately lifted a hand to wave once Kimberly’s image popped up on the screen.


“Hi, Ms. Maclay.”


Kimberly’s eyebrows lifted in surprise but she just smiled kindly. Willow had never known her to do anything but.


“Oh, Willow. Hi.”


“Sorry for the switcheroo…I just saw your name pop up on Tara’s iPad and…” Willow started to explain, feeling the words tumble out of her mouth as she tried to rationalize her spur of the moment decision, “I…well…I felt like I owed you an explanation for yesterday.”


Kimberly cleared her throat.


“Really, Willow, there’s no need.”


“Tara told me,” Willow continued, just as uncomfortable but pushing through, “That you’ve been keeping our…my…secret. I just wanted to say thanks.”


Kimberly’s brow knitted together and her chin lifted to indicate she was listening. Willow swallowed to keep some moisture in her mouth.


“And I wanted to tell you that I don’t expect you to keep the secret anymore. I don’t wanna keep the secret anymore. I’m done with the secret,” she said, very aware of how many times she was saying ‘secret’, “It doesn’t feel so scary any more. Well, it does. But I’m ready to step up to it. In a way, I know my heart is waking up. Or, I guess, it’s been awake but it’s finally throwing back the curtains and seeing the light.”


She rubbed her palm over her thigh.


“Plus, well, I don’t know how much you saw but I was kinda, uh, naked yesterday and see, I don’t want you to think I just—”


“Willow,” Kimberly interrupted loudly.


Willow sucked in a breath and grimaced.


“Stop explaining things.”


Kimberly pursed her lips in the exact same way Tara did when she didn’t want to be seen to be agreeing with something negative (but definitely did agree). Willow exhaled slowly and got her mind back on track.


“I love Tara. I’m in love with Tara. And this has not been an easy road for either of us. Since I decided that I was sick of hiding I keep thinking about what the best way is to do this for Tara…but I think I need to do it the best way for me. So that I can be my best self for her.”


She finally smiled, soft yet nervous.


“And I think we're gonna be okay.”


Kimberly’s smile settled on her face. She closed her eyes for one extended second and opened them to a widening smile.


“I think so too,” she agreed.


Willow felt unexpectedly overcome at that admission but didn’t have much time to process it as her laptop started to play the incoming call tone.


“I-I better go Ms. Maclay, there’s a call from my parents coming in.”


“Goodbye, Willow,” Kimberly replied softly, “Thanks for calling.”


“Bye Ms. Maclay,” Willow answered quickly, knocking off that call and turning to center herself at her laptop before swiftly answering the other one, “Hi mom. Hi dad.”


Sheila was the first to come on screen, or an up-close view of her chest did anyway and Willow waited patiently for them to fix the camera before trying again.


“Hi mom, hi dad.”


“Hello, Willow,” Sheila greeted first and even though her gaze was quite neutral, Willow felt an urge to smooth out her hair, “It’s good to see you, dear.”


“Hello sweetheart,” Ira added, offering a slightly jaded smile, “You look well. How have you been?”


They spent a few minutes catching up while Willow worked up the nerve to discuss the reason she’d asked them to call in the first place.


“So, I kinda wanted to talk to you guys about something,” she blurted during an opportunistic lull in the conversation, “I wanted to say, well, to tell you really, to let you know, y’know, be in on the—”


She was interrupted by a familiar click of her mother’s tongue.


“Willow, how many times have I told you, verbosity leads to unclear, inarticulate communication.”


Willow’s jaw clenched. Why did she let her mother do this to her?


“Be sincere, be brief, be seated; right mom?” she almost spat, her cheeks turning red as an anger rose in her voice, “Well I’m sitting down and I’m probably the most sincere I’ve ever been, so here’s the shortest way I can say it: I’m gay.”


She let out a few short exhales and started to feel panic rise in place of the anger, though recognized she may never have gotten the words out at all if it weren’t for it.


Willow thought the screen might have frozen by the sheer look of shock on Ira’s face, but Sheila cocked her head at Willow with that look of concern of hers that had always felt like pity.


“Well, Willow, despite your brusque manner of delivery, I have to say, I’m quite proud that you’re making such a strong political statement.”


Willow blinked several times, slowly. She was tempted to just toss the laptop in the air and let the screen crack and remove them from her sight.


“I’m not making a political statement,” she instead replied, calmly.


“Well, whatever you’d like to call it,” Sheila dismissed but with a smile that was nothing but placating and missed an eye roll to seem complete.


“The truth,” Willow replied, her palms holding the casing of the laptop so tightly her knuckles were white, “My truth. That I’ve fought against for a long time but I refuse to anymore.”


Ira remained motionless. Sheila looked at Willow like she was three years old and missed the potty.


“Willow, darling, it is quite common for girls your age to experiment—”


“That isn’t what this is,” Willow interrupted, and saw the flash of anger in her mother’s eyes at being spoken over.


“Oh, how can you even think you know something as prodigious and profound as this? You’re a child.”


“I don’t think you’d like the answer to that question,” Willow replied, her tone mocking and smug and way, way, way too much like her mother.


“Well I can see what this traveling is doing to your manner and it’s nothing good,” Sheila retorted without a trace of irony.


Willow felt the anger tremble down her spine and then poof, it disappeared. This wasn’t what she was here for. She wouldn’t be under their thumb and she wouldn’t sink herself to their level either.


“You know what? I can’t blame you for thinking this is experimenting. I tried to convince myself the same thing for a very long time too. I just hope that you come to realize that this is what it is and won’t change. And that it doesn’t hurt you as much as it hurt me…and I hope you don’t have to carry any guilt about hurting someone along the way.”


She paused and exhaled. Her shoulders slumped, her collar dislodged and she didn’t give a damn. It had been uncomfortable anyway.


“I don’t know if this is obvious or not, but Tara and I are together. We have been for a while and no, she didn’t tempt me away from college like a voyaging serpent, I decided I was doing it before I ever even asked her if I could come with her.”


“It’s entirely normal for intense female friendships to go through a period of transference—” Sheila tried but Willow raised her voice, not angrily, but with an authority she’d always had to suppress before.


“This ‘period’ has been going on since we were four years old. We’ve gone through so much together and it’s just kept bringing us closer together. Even separation just brought us closer. I’m not infatuated or desperate or misinterpreting feelings. We have a real, strong, passionate, romantic, intimate love that has ripped my heart out and put it back together. And yes, I’m young, but that doesn’t take away from everything we’ve experienced and everything we’ve built. I’m crazy about her but being willing to actually build our relationship is the only time I’ve felt sane. I’m not naïve. I’m learning how to be the other half of a whole. It’s not all rainbows and butterflies. It’s compromise. We’re gonna keep growing with each other and I won’t hold me or us back just to be palatable. I won’t deny it anymore but it’s entirely up to you how you take it. That’s all I have to say so if that’s all you have to say too then I guess that’s it ‘til next time. Sorry if that wasn’t brief enough for you, mother.”


It was Sheila’s turn to be frozen, looking like she’d been slapped and Willow was set to lower the lid and shut this down completely when Ira flickered into action.


“Is this…do you…are you happy?”


Willow paused and smiled sadly.


“Do you know that’s the first time you’ve ever asked me that?” she asked and saw the concern etch across her father’s face before she continued, “I’m ecstatic. I am the happiest I’ve ever been and I plan to continue to be so. 'Cause I have found someone that I think is beautiful. And I have fallen in love. And I'm telling you, she means everything to me. She makes me feel nothing else matters. Not even what the world thinks of me.”


Ira’s brow just knotted some more and Sheila sighed in that martyred, derisive way she knew so well.


“To think we thought she was calling for a contact at the University of Sydney to audit classes.”


Willow decided that she’d offered enough discussion on her end. Anything else could only come in time.


“Thanks for taking the time to talk to me. I hope your lectures go well. Bye.”


She closed the laptop without waiting for a response and slowly, very slowly, exhaled.


She felt a weight lift off her shoulders and started to laugh as she held the laptop to her chest and her legs kicked out with joyous relief.


When Tara crept back in a while later, Willow was lying on the bed with her hands clasped over her stomach, thumbs rounding around each other and feet rolling around off the bed.


She shot up into a sitting position as Tara walked in, putting a cardboard cup holder with two Styrofoam cups down and continued to hold a brown paper bag.


“Hey!”


“Oh, you look happy,” Tara replied, her voice exhaling with relief, “I was worried. I got you the extra-sprinkled donut with a side of chocolate croissant to make up for…”


“My shitty parents?” Willow asked with a disconcerting grin.


“Oh, well—” Tara started but Willow waved it off.


“I don’t care. I have the best girlfriend and she makes up for everything else.”


She scooted off the end of the bed and yanked Tara forward by the hips, making the bag tumble to the floor as she was pulled right on top of Willow.


“Oh, okay!” Tara said with an uneasy tone but darkening eyes, “Are you high?”


“Just on life,” Willow replied before muting them both by taking Tara’s lips in a hungry kiss.


Tara held herself up on her palms above Willow’s shoulders and broke the kiss breathlessly for a moment.


“Are you okay?”


Willow breathed out the buzz she felt under her skin but it prickled right back in with arousal when she saw Tara’s large pupils staring back down at her.


“I just want you really bad,” she replied, hoisting herself up on her elbows, “Is that okay?”


Tara pressed her hips down against Willow’s.


“Very okay.”


Their lips met again in a more certain rhythm and Tara took great pleasure in popping that collar and flinging it off of Willow.


“Why did you even bring that thing? It’s so not you.”


Willow's eyes blinked downward.


“My mom made me bring one professional outfit.”


“Do you like it?” Tara asked, patient and considerate.


Willow hooked her thumb into the belt loop.


“The pants are fine.”


“But…” Tara prompted softly.


Willow raised her eyes to Tara.


“I hate this shirt.”


Tara very casually placed her hands on either side of the Willow’s shirt, under the swell of her breasts near where the buttons met in the middle. Willow thought she might bunch it up to kiss her stomach and so gasped in surprise when Tara just ripped that shirt apart.


Willow had always known Tara to have strong arms — she’d seen her hoist around enough bulky instruments — but she’d never seen quite a blatant display. It was pretty hot.


“Oh no. Your mom will have to blame me,” Tara said in a mock-contrite tone followed by a steady look downward, “You are too good to be in anything that doesn’t make you feel as amazing as you are.”


Willow was overcome, body and mind, but luckily Tara was ready to keep the conversation going.


“Your butt looks great in these. They’re coming off safely,” she said as she unzipped Willow and started tugging them off.


Willow burst into giggles which were aimed toward the back wall as her head tilted back under the strength of her laughter.


When they were off, Tara brought herself back up Willow’s body and hovered over her. Willow could see her eyes had grown slightly unsure about what she had done and so wiggled her shoulders insistently.


“You need to get me out of this thing properly so I never have to see it again.”


Tara smiled and happily helped Willow pull herself out of the destroyed shirt.


Tara found Willow bouncing again as soon as the last finger fell from her sleeve and she’d barely taken a breath before they were both naked again. Almost immediately, Willow was kissing toward the V of her pubic bone, making her squirm at an increasingly erratic pace.


Her hand grabbed the back of Willow’s neck and pulled her up into a searing kiss; its heat matched only by the slow flow between their legs which bundled toward each other in search of friction.


Tara grabbed Willow’s butt first but Willow was quick behind, following Tara’s movements as they pressed together as close as possible. She let their hands come together and disappear between each other’s legs.


Neither were very subtle about it; Tara understood Willow was twitchy and needed a bodily release and Willow understood that Tara loved being tactile with her.


They’d been playing this game for far longer than they’d ever been having sex; with shoulder rubs or elongated hugs or even kissing, practice or otherwise, but this was definitely the most fun way of expressing themselves to each other.


Tara had always known the right muscle to dig or the right place to squeeze or the right swipe of her tongue to make Willow fall apart before, so it was no surprise all of those skills had transferred to this arena. And yet, every movement felt like a revelation.


Tara had always been a bit of a passive receiver of affection in their relationship. It had never bothered her but she had to admit being an object of affection and in particular Willow’s attentive and perfectly angled hand made the music swell and the fireworks pop off and made her experience that perfect moment where she wholly felt the divinity of their enduring connection.


And even when it was over, Willow was still there, holding her even closer, if that was possible.


Tara loved that Willow liked to cling to her after; that in her most vulnerable moment Willow would attach to her like she never wanted to let go.


Willow placed messy kisses on Tara’s neck as she finally stopped clenching inside.


“Did you?” she asked, quiet and unsure.


“Yeah,” Tara nodded breathlessly.


“Yeah?” Willow confirmed, raising her gaze and smiling.


“Oh yeah,” Tara breathed, resting her sweaty forehead on Willow’s, “Have you ever seen fireworks go off behind your eyes even though your eyes are open?”


“Well, yes,” Willow answered matter-of-fact, “At a fireworks display.”


Tara bumped her nose playfully against Willow’s.


“You’re such a meanie,” she said, her tone indicating she didn’t mean a word of it, “Why did I fall in love with you?”


Willow nuzzled back and stole a quietly gasping kiss.


“I guess you saw something in me.”


“I see a lot in you,” Tara replied, going in for a last lingering kiss before settling her head back down on the bed, only realizing now they were completely sideways with no pillow in sight, “Do you want to eat now?”


“Oh,” Willow giggled through a huge smile, “Just give me one minute for my legs to work.”


Tara rolled her upper half just enough to pick up the dropped bag of pastries, holding it to Willow with a grin.


“Food.”


Willow would have gone bright red if she wasn’t already.


“Food would be nice,” she squeaked, clearing her throat repeatedly to try to return her voice to normal.


She gladly accepted the florescent pink donut to shove in her gob and swallow her embarrassment.


Tara reached for the cups and brought the holder between them.


“Coffee is cold,” she said as she took a sip and threw the sheet over their legs as the lukewarm liquid dropped into her stomach.


“Still caffeine,” Willow replied, taking a large chug from her cup anyway. She grimaced, “Okay, the mochas definitely go down easier cold.”


“You are obsessed with going down today,” Tara returned innocently, causing Willow to choke.


Tara just lovingly rubbed Willow’s back and all Willow could do was bask in the affection and acceptance and rest her cheek just under Tara’s chin.


When they finished their breakfast, Tara had moved on to stroking Willow’s hair.


“I guess we better go check out. If it was a cheaper city we might be able to justify a private room. Part of me just wants to say screw it,” she said, her lips curling up in a crooked smile, “I think you know which part.”


Willow giggled.


“Hey, we gave it one last hurrah,” she replied smugly, turning her face in to kiss Tara’s collarbone.


She kissed up Tara’s neck and along her jaw to finally meet her lips. They both savored it for a long minute before naturally parting with a peck and separating to get dressed again. Willow found a much more comfortable, much more ‘her’ outfit with a signature pop of color, and Tara just redressed in what she’d been in before.


“You go switch rooms, I’ll make sure all our stuff is packed,” Tara suggested, a little muffled as she held a hair tie in her mouth while pulling her hair up into a ponytail.


“Okay,” Willow agreed cheerily, stretching her arms high above her body as she walked out, feeling a satisfying pull on all of her relaxed muscles.


She headed out to the front desk and swapped their room booking, then found Tara waiting in the hallway with their luggage when she circled back around.


“We’re just across the hall,” Willow said as she read the number on the room key and spotted its twin on a nearby door.


She grabbed her own luggage and they walked diagonally across to their 12-person, 6-bunk dormitory; the cheapest room in the hostel to make up for their additional night luxuriating in the private room. There was just one set of bunks available and only one other person, an older woman, still in the room; packing her things up, ready to check-out.


The five occupied set of bunks were messily made which made the corner set they were set to move in to stand out.


“Bottom or top?” Tara asked as they walked across the room.


“Bottom, I guess,” Willow replied and threw her bag into the bottom bunk, “You seem more like a top.”


Tara paused and glanced over.


“I do?”


Willow looked back at her and nodded.


“Yeah, you get claustrophobic.”


“Right,” Tara replied and walked up two of the steps on the ladder.


She sat in the space where it hung so she could unpack as she needed to.


Willow secured her belongings and stood up on the frame of the bed so she was somewhat in height line with Tara.


“Hey, I saw a brochure for The Blue Mountains out at the desk. Looks like some great views. Do you want to go today?”


“It’s a sight to see, being out and about,” the departing traveler two bunks yonder offered with a Canadian twang as she settled two backpack straps on her shoulders, “Even the train ride up there is a beauty. Visited just yesterday myself and if it wasn’t for my old hip I’d be back again today. Can’t walk as far as I used to.”


“Thanks for the tip,” Willow replied with a smile, “We don’t mind walking.”


She returned a smile to them and headed out of the room. Willow turned her smile to Tara.


“I hope we’re still adventuring when we’re her age.”


Tara leaned over and pressed a quick kiss to Willow’s lips before hopping down.


“If we’re going, we should go and not waste the morning.”


“Mmhh,” Willow agreed with a nod.


Tara let her hand rest on Willow’s hip.


“Find a spot to come back to when we’re 60.”


She kissed Willow again, who felt her heart start to flutter at all of that soft promise.


“Um, gimme a sec?” she asked, a little dazed.


Tara nodded.


“Yeah, sure. I’ll use the bathroom before we go.”


Tara used the bathroom, checked herself in the mirror for a minute and fixed her hair a little. She smiled at her reflection when she was done.


When she got back to the room, Willow was sitting on her bunk, fumbling awkwardly at her phone.


“Are you okay?” she asked, concerned.


Willow looked up, briefly back down at her phone where her thumb tapped on it once before she shoved it deep in her pocket.


“Uh-huh,” she replied, taking Tara’s drawstring bag hanging from the post and tossing it to her, “We have to catch the train to the mountains from central. We can get there for the next one if we hurry. And we kinda need to or we won’t have long up at the mountains at all.”


“Let’s go,” Tara replied with appropriate hurry.


Willow grabbed her small purse, threw it over her shoulder so it lay across her chest and joined Tara to make their way to the local train station. They caught their first, short inter-city train to the main hub and bought their tickets onward to the mountains.


It was a bit of a rush but they finally got to the right platform with a minute or so to spare.


“Hey, check it out. It has two levels, like those double-decker buses they have in London,” Willow said as she caught her breath from running, “Wanna go upstairs?”


Tara just nodded silently, her chest obviously heaving as her lungs burned from the run. Her cheeks were red and Willow really wanted to kiss them. People were bundling past and even bumping into them to get on board, so she had to bank the thought for later.


They walked up the small set of twisting stairs and got the last set of seats together on the side facing the platform.


“This is great, we’ll have a view the whole way,” Willow said as she stepped aside to let Tara have the window seat.


She linked her arm with Tara’s and cuddled into her side. Tara glanced over in surprise.


She still had to get used to Willow being so openly affectionate too, or more specifically that she wasn’t dreaming and it was okay to feel this happy.


Being in New Zealand felt like a year ago; being in Sunnydale felt like a lifetime.


She brushed her fingers against Willow’s arm and looked out the window while the A/C cooled her cheeks back to a normal color.


The journey brought them through city and suburbs and past a few more stations until they were rocketing through so many trees and bushes and stone cliffs it was like their own private park tour that stretched on for miles and miles.


They were quiet for the journey, saving energy for their day of exploring, but Willow’s phone repeatedly pinged with notifications.


“Your phone is blowing up,” Tara commented, breaking her gaze away from the landscape for the first time.


Willow fished her phone from her pocket quickly.


“Probably stupid updates,” she dismissed, long-pressing the off button without checking, “Doesn’t need to be on right now.”


She returned it to her pocket on vibrate and gently tugged on Tara’s arm.


“I think we’re getting close. I’m gonna use the restroom quickly.”


She headed down the carriage but less than a minute later Tara realized they were pulling into the station. Panicked, she hurried down to follow Willow but didn’t know which direction the restroom was. Thankfully Willow came bundling down the hall toward her, still buttoning her pants with wet hands.


“It came up so quickly!” she gasped at Tara when she got to her, “It was all trees then wham!”


“Come on!” Tara laughed as they jumped out onto the platform milliseconds before the doors closed again.


Willow fell into Tara’s arms, giggling and then scrunching up her nose as she inadvertently wiped her hands on Tara’s shirt.


“Sorry.”


“Just tell me it was water,” Tara replied, holding back a grin.


“Gross,” Willow returned, though through a smile, “Of course it was.”


There was a bunch of little shops and cafés right off the track in the little town that would be their base to all of the sights the mountains had to offer. Tara went into a small store to get them some snacks to make a picnic lunch and Willow went into a café to get them some fresh, hot coffee. There was a line, so Tara finished first and joined Willow to order.


The barista was of aboriginal descent, tall with unblemished skin the color of the coffee she was making and perfect rivulets of brown curls cascading down past her shoulders. As she pushed the cups at the collection point, Willow suddenly turned flustered.


“Oh, um…” she fumbled with her wallet and then just grabbed the handful of coins that were weighing it down to leave in the tip jar, “Have a nice day.”


The barista smirked and Tara was 90% sure she saw her eyes glance up and down Willow’s body.


Tara kept her gaze on the ground as they walked back outside.


“You just tipped her like twenty dollars,” she said eventually, fingers tapping the cup nervously.


Willow’s eyes bugged.


“I did?!”


“Yeah,” Tara replied through an exhale, “Must’ve really liked her.”


“Huh?” she asked, frowning for a moment before her eyes also became wayward.


They lapsed into silence as Willow tried to figure that out.


“Oh!”


She shook her head repeatedly.


“Oh, no. Not—no.”


She paused and sighed.


“…I can’t work out their coins,” she admitted after a long moment.


Tara blinked once.


“I’m sorry?”


Willow scuffed her shoe on the ground.


“I’m supposed to be a math genius…can spot a wayward semicolon in endless lines of code…” she said in a low, chiding voice, “CanNOT remember which coin is which without staring at them and counting it out in my head, at which point the person waiting for the money or in line behind me is getting impatient and I get flustered. I’d barely gotten used to the New Zealand coinage and then…”


She looked up at Tara apologetically.


“I’m sorry I’m such a dork.”


Tara’s shoulders visibly relaxed.


“You’re my dork,” she claimed proudly, “Why don’t you let me carry cash for tips and things if it’s bothering you. We’ll work it out.”


Willow smiled gratefully.


“I can do the currency exchange rates in my head like a champ though.”


Tara threw her arm around Willow’s shoulders.


“We’re a math made in heaven. Get it?” she smiled, then brought her bag over her shoulder so it was in front of her, “I got you a present.”


She reached in and produced a koala stuffed toy holding a little rainbow flag on a keychain.


“He’s for e-koala-ty,” she said with a silly grin, “You said you loved the koalas so…”


Willow was completely touched and took her new little buddy, holding him to her chest before quickly attaching him to her wallet for safety.


“Thank you so much.”


Tara shrugged one shoulder bashfully but was smiling.


“We should catch the bus. Do you want to do the cable car ride? I don’t think we’ll get to do everything but that looked fun.”


“Uh-huh, yeah!” Willow agreed eagerly, “I’m in.”


They found the stop for the hop-on-hop-off bus that would ferry them around to whatever feature they decided to visit and finished their coffees while they waited.


The bus drove them into the heart of the mountains and left them at a look-out point, which they walked through to get to a cliff ledge. There, a large gondola lift was sitting ready to fill. They took seats near the front where they already had a pretty open view of the wide rocky terrain.


“Glad I’m not scared of heights,” Willow commented wryly.


“Aw, I would have held your hand,” Tara replied with a soft smile.


Willow suddenly grabbed Tara’s hand and held it between hers.


“I’m terrified.”


Tara felt her heart swell and she thought she maybe felt one of the little dents that had formed over the years that she never acknowledged pop back into place.


The car moved off and began a slow descent down the cable line.


“Tara,” Willow whispered after a few moments, staring wide-eyed downward.


The floor had turned transparent and they had a completely unobstructed view of the surrounding valley with its cliffs and iconic rock formations as well as the dense and still vibrant rainforest below.


“Wow,” Tara repeated, feeling giddy and a little nauseous all at once.


It reminded her of how she felt in the moments after Willow kissed her on the swing.


She looked down at how high they were.


She saw how far they’d come.


She clung to Willow and watched as she pointed out all of the different peaks and troughs of beauty they were immersed in. She slowly scooted so she was standing behind Willow with one hand splayed on Willow’s hip. Willow just leaned back against her and enjoyed the view while her body got used to what it felt like to accept support.


“That was amazing,” Willow gushed when they arrived back on the mountain, “Did you see those waterfalls?”


Tara nodded.


“I did. I was gonna ask if you wanted to walk the trail down there?”


“Are you sure?” Willow grinned, “With your history of bushwalks?”


Tara pursed her lips and Willow giggled.


“We better bring a stick to beat the turkeys off.”


Tara accepted her teasing with a smile and let Willow get it out of her system.


They went to the information board to figure out the route they needed to take and eventually decided on the best one.


It was an hour’s walk, but they could go out the other side and catch a bus back so they set off in that direction. It didn’t take long for them to feel completely lost in the wilderness of overhanging trees and rainforest bush yet the trail was completely defined and they knew they were safe. They could even still hear the hustle and bustle from the look-out.


After a brief narrowing of the path where they had to go one-by-one, they fell back in step with one another and Willow swung her hand to connect with Tara’s. They smiled at each other and Willow continued to take sneaky glances until she was ready to speak.


“I have a question,” she said and saw Tara look over with an encouraging look to continue, “You said the other day ‘when we started dating’ and it stuck with me. I realized…we never actually dated. We never went out on a first date, or any date really. I know that’s—”


She paused and stopped before she blamed herself.


“I know nothing about us has ever been traditional,” she amended instead, “And I don’t feel like we’re less than just because of it. But I also want to be that person with you. I mean, I know how to kiss you…I know how to love you… I’ve done those things for years. But I don't know how to date you.”


Tara was quiet and contemplative for a while, but it didn’t panic Willow; she felt peaceful on this walk together.


“We’re on a date right now,” Tara said eventually, surprising Willow.


“We are?”


“Sure, why not?” Tara smiled, “And what’s to say cuddled up listening to music or watching a movie isn’t a date? Just because we didn’t make a big deal of it doesn’t mean it doesn’t count. We’ve had date nights since we were kids.”


Willow slowly matched Tara’s smile.


“I like that. Why make it more difficult than it needs to be?”


“Exactly,” Tara replied with a squeeze of Willow’s hand.


Willow looked ahead as she rolled that around in her mind and found more questions forming.


“So when is our anniversary?”


“There’s a question,” Tara exhaled softly, “If I had to define it, I would say the night I came back from band camp and we decided we were trying it for real. Even though it took us a year to say the words, I think that’s the night we became girlfriends.”


Willow noted the use of ‘we’ despite knowing the delay was all on ‘her’ and learned a lesson in her heart about the responsibility and accountability of being in a relationship; problems were not her sole burden to bear. Tara’s answer still did make her a little sad.


“But that means…we missed it.”


“Yeah, we did,” Tara acknowledged in a similar sad tone, “I was thinking of you on that day though.”


Willow remembered something.


“That’s the day you sent me the playlist.”


She smiled and leaned against Tara.


“Tare-bear?”


“‘Tare-bear’?” Tara questioned, her lips curling up in amusement, “That’s a new one.”


“You came up with it really, when you gave me those matching bears on my birthday,” Willow replied, leaning her head on Tara’s shoulder for a moment, “And you’re just as cuddly as a koala bear.”


“Does that make you my Willow-Pillow?” Tara questioned playfully.


Willow’s face scrunched.


“I think that crosses the ‘too cheesy’ line.”


“And Tare-bear doesn’t?” Tara asked with a booming laugh.


“No, because you cross the ‘cutie’ axis and it remains steady,” Willow reasoned assuredly.


Tara shook her head affectionately.


“What was your question?”


“It wasn’t a question,” Willow said, smacking a long kiss on Tara’s cheek, “I’ve just wanted to do that all day.”


Tara dropped Willow’s hand, only to wrap an arm around her shoulder so they could walk even closer together. They reached one of the small falls and found a spot to eat their late picnic lunch with a soundtrack of kookaburras and running water.


When they were finished, they walked through to the other side of the trail and were at a new look-out to take some pictures from. After an afternoon of smaller walks to different landmarks to really pack in as much scenery as possible, they fell into the train home together on weary legs.


“Sorry,” Willow said as her lolling head bumped into Tara’s shoulder.


“It’s okay. I’m exhausted too,” Tara replied softly, cradling Willow’s head for a moment and kissing the top, “Want to just head back to our room and crash? We should miss the dinner crowd and have some quiet for a while.”


“Yeah, if you’re okay with that,” Willow replied sleepily.


“We’ve had a big few days,” Tara replied in a soothing voice.


Willow sat up straighter and stretched her neck back, breathing slowly.


The rode the train from day into night and arrived back to their hostel as everyone else was leaving for the evening.


“Bunk beds have never looked so good,” Willow commented, sitting on her bottom bunk and slipping her feet out of her shoes.


Tara left for the bathroom to change and brush her teeth and Willow just changed right there in the room since it was empty. Tara returned with her hair free from her ponytail and hanging off her shoulders. She stuffed her clothes into her laundry bag and bent her knees to look into Willow’s bunk, where Willow was lying with the blanket loose over her waist, staring upward.


“Hey.”


“Hey,” Willow replied, turning her gaze and smiling softly.


Tara looked over her shoulder, then leaned in to press a kiss to Willow’s lips.


“I had a great day. Thank you,” she said, pulling back for just a moment before going back in for three quick pecks, “Goodnight.”


“Goodnight baby,” Willow echoed, running her hand down Tara’s arms as she straightened back up and ascended the ladder to her bunk.


Tara slipped under the covers and found the prong of the phone charger she’d snaked up to plug her phone in to charge. She rested her head on the pillow and closed her eyes for a moment to rest them. She realized too late that the light was on and she was elevated enough for it to be a constant nuisance.


Too lazy to move for another few minutes, and not wanting to disturb Willow to ask her to turn it off, she pulled her phone toward her to catch up on whatever she’d missed for the day. She’d never been one to check her phone every five seconds but she was even less attentive these days. Life happening outside a screen was so much more exciting.


She opened her messaging app and responded to the messages her mother had sent her, confirming she was in fact still alive and unharmed but was a tad confused when she saw a message asking if Willow was okay. She switched apps and mindlessly scrolled to catch up on the lives of her peers.


Nate seemed to be Mr. Popular at college already even though he’d just started, which was hardly surprising to Tara. Anya was posting endless pictures about about having to rescue Xander in Oxnard and she could see Donny had bought a new bike.


She was glad for him. She was too happy to hold onto any anger.


She almost missed Willow’s post completely but for the picture attached that made her stop and scroll back up to read. Her eyes scanned the words, slowly widening until she suddenly sat up straight and brought the screen close to her face to confirm she was really reading what she was reading.


After reading it three times, she brought herself to the edge of her bed and hung her upper half upside down over it so she could look into Willow’s bunk.


Willow looked at Tara expectantly as to why she’d appeared like Batwoman. Tara just held her phone up (or down, depending on how you looked at it) with the post open.


Willow gathered what was going on and swallowed deeply.


“Oh. Yeah,” she said, fixing a nervous smile on her face, “I came out.”


Tara remained still, her mouth parted in surprise and eyes fixed on Willow.


“Your parents,” she said in an echoing, stunned voice.


“I told them,” Willow replied, gnawing on the corner of her lip, “On the call this morning.”


Tara’s brow knotted together.


“Why didn’t you tell me?”


Willow reached back to massage her own neck; her gaze not quite meeting Tara’s.


“At first I kinda felt like…euphoric that I finally did it. And then we…well, did it,” she said with a small grin tugging her lips, “And we were having a nice day and…”


She lifted her eyes to Tara’s face.


“And I didn’t want you to think I did it for…props o-or something.”


Tara suddenly disappeared back up into her bunk and Willow grew concerned that she’d done something wrong, but Tara returned a moment later when she jumped right down off the bed frame and sat in on Willow’s bed. She reached for Willow's hand and held it enclosed in both of hers.


“I would never have thought that.”


Willow smiled apologetically and they just looked at each other in silence for a moment until Tara jumped up again. This time, she pulled her own sheet from her bed and tucked it around the bed frame so it shielded the bottom bunk completely.


“Um…what are you doing?” Willow asked in confusion when she saw Tara fighting the sheet into a corner.


Tara’s head appeared from behind the newly-made privacy screen.


“I need to hold you. Can I hold you?”


Willow exhaled softly.


“You don’t need to ask,” she replied, her voice low and harboring the tiniest tremble of emotion, “You don’t need to ask that ever again. No matter where we are or who we’re with.”


Tara came in from behind the sheet and crawled into bed with Willow. She wrapped her arms around Willow’s body to hold her in the little cocoon she’d made for them. It was a whole step up from their childhood forts.


Willow hadn’t realized she’d been shaking, but did feel it all settle as Tara’s arm held her waist and the other stroked her hair; enveloping her completely.


“I’m so proud of you.”


Willow cuddled into Tara’s side and kissed her shoulder blade.


“When I realized your mom and Donny had known all this time… And Buffy and Xander, they know, even Anya…Hell, even Xander’s dad and Dickie freakin’ Babcock have known for months now and the world didn’t implode.”


Tara curled the ends of Willow’s hair in her fingers, lightly tickling her neck in the process.


“How did it go with your parents?”


Willow could only smile at the wisps of fingertips at her skin.


“Probably as well as can be expected. My mom thinks it’s a politically-motivated phase. My dad seemed shocked but didn’t dismiss it. It definitely was nothing like the thousand and one scenarios I always played out in my head.”


Tara kissed the top of Willow’s head and moved both arms down to squeeze her middle.


“I’m so proud of you,” she repeated in an even more emphatic voice, “Have you looked at the comments?”


Willow shook her head against Tara’s chest.


“I’ve been too scared,” she admitted sheepishly.


Tara lifted her phone up for Willow to see and after looking at Tara for a few moments for courage, she took it and expanded the comments.


She inhaled sharply as she saw the volume and started to laugh with relief when they were all positive; congratulating her and expressing support. Even Cordelia had commented something not-entirely-hateful about her at least not jumping on anyone else’s man again.


Willow had heard she was in Los Angeles now, persuing acting.


Like Tara with Donny, she wished her well.


The smile on Willow’s face gave untold joy to Tara. This was the reward for all of her patience.


“Look at the last one.”


Willow scrolled to the end of the post.


Image



Willow took in what it meant for Tara to be able to post that publically and added a heart to the comment to acknowledge it back. She put the phone down next to her own and leaned in to kiss Tara’s lips.


“I love you.”


They shared several long, slow kisses and settled back into snuggling.


“Wanna have a music date?” Willow suggested.


Tara nodded softly and Willow got her phone and earbuds, offering one to Tara.


She let Tara pick the music and they just listened together; mostly silent and occasionally changing cuddling position. Generally just processing big emotion with quiet affection.


“Can I pick one?” Willow asked softly and Tara handed over the phone.


“Of course.”


Willow pulled up a particular playlist she’d listened to when she had missed Tara when they were apart. She picked one and smiled shyly at Tara.


“I can’t write songs like you can. But…”


Tara returned a curious smile and secured the earbud more firmly in her ear. They both turned on their sides to face each other and Tara’s eyes closed so she could listen properly to what song Willow had chosen to express herself with.


Well you’re not what I was looking for
But your arms were open at my door
And you taught me what a life is for
To see that ordinary, isn’t



Tara’s eyes flickered open and Willow was already staring back at her.


And you don’t hold back
So I won’t hold back
And you don’t look back
So I won’t look back



Willow rested her forehead gently on Tara’s forehead and silently linked one set of fingers together at their waists.


We are, we are, we are tonight
We are, we are, we are forever



“That was beautiful,” Tara said as the song played out, “Thank you for playing it for me.”


She put a finger under Willow’s chin and tilted it up to kiss her tenderly.


“It’s hard to be open,” Willow sighed softly, “But I want to be. Even if it risks you not liking who I really am.”


Tara shook her head from side to side.


“I’ve always known all of you. I’ve just never had all of you.”


“I’m yours,” Willow breathed and suddenly her face softened, “And I never knew ‘til just now that it feels just as good to say that as it does to hear it.”


They kissed again and cuddled closer so that they were touching at almost every point. They didn’t bother separating to go to sleep, leaving the top bunk barren and the bottom bunk filled entirely by their two bodies in the small bed.


They both slept right through the rambunctious return of their razzled roommates and without moving from each other’s arms.


Willow was right.


Never had a bunk bed felt so good.




Image

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 Post subject: Re: New Fic: Inevitable [AU] (Nov 8th 2019)
PostPosted: Fri Nov 08, 2019 10:21 am 
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7. Teeny Tinkerbell Light

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