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 Post subject: Re: New Fic: Inevitable [AU] (Dec 20th 2019)
PostPosted: Sat Dec 21, 2019 2:31 pm 
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8. Vixen

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DIBS. :banana Perfect compromise, definitely experiences that will last forever and make this trip more of a life experience than just a trip. I liked the Easter Egg Tinkerbell Lights. Kinda sad that they are missing Greece. It is definitely a place that I have wanted to go and was hoping to get some info from your research.

As usual, I look forward to every Tuesday and Friday. Only 13 more chapters, kinda makes me sad. I love this story and will be sad to see it end.

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 Post subject: Re: New Fic: Inevitable [AU] (Dec 20th 2019)
PostPosted: Mon Dec 23, 2019 1:37 pm 
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20. Not one Much for the Timber
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Per usual I'm a few chapters behind...no "tuna butt" pun intended. Ok, maybe there was just a hint of intent. :grin

So, I'm going to attempt to catch up. First, the tuna butt chapter, for which it will forever be known, was pretty funny. A little scary waking up naked in a strange room with other people but thankfully they were ok and nothing truly horrible happened. Them trying to piece everything together and Willow's tattoo...hilarious. Willow should have known better than to take something given to her by a stranger at a wild party, but she is incredibly clueless sometimes and I guess this was one of those times. Live and learn!

Then, after this fun and crazy chapter...DISASTER! I guess Ralphie got it right in A Christmas Story: "Oh, life is like that. Sometimes, at the height of our revelries, when our joy is at its zenith, when all is most right with the world, the most unthinkable disasters descend upon us." I think earthquakes and tornados are the absolute scariest of natural disasters because there is zero warning. You did a great job of describing the initial impact on Tara and the destruction and chaos that came after; magnified a thousand percent when you can't find a loved one. Willow was lucky she was actually taken to a hospital and Tara was lucky to find her.

Thankfully neither of our girls suffered life-threatening injuries. Having a broken foot on vacation sucks, but at least it's doable. I love, love, loved when they decided to stay and help. I think it would have been a very different story for them had the hostel been destroyed. It was also nice to see them make decisions together and not be so awkward as to cause a dumb misunderstanding. Had this happened towards the beginning of the trip, I think they may have ended up going home. Your character development has been perfect!

Hopefully, it'll be a bit smoother from this point forward. Hopefully?

-JMT

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 Post subject: Re: New Fic: Inevitable [AU] (Dec 20th 2019)
PostPosted: Mon Dec 23, 2019 11:28 pm 
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4. Extra Flamey
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So much good going on in this chapter! I appreciate how you are keeping things real- there are still relationship/ life balances and needs they are working out but both have gotten so much better at saying what they need and listening to the other's needs.

Also very impressed at how you have weaved in canon dialogue! Tara always wants to feel useful, even when she is down and out.

And yay for reconnecting physically - sometimes we just need that intimacy. And I love that Tara wrote Willows parents, but I mean, of course she would!

Happy holidays!!

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 Post subject: Re: New Fic: Inevitable [AU] (Dec 20th 2019)
PostPosted: Tue Dec 24, 2019 4:00 am 
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Ms. Moderator Fantastico
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taranwillow4ever

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DIBS. :banana


:eatme

Quote:
Perfect compromise, definitely experiences that will last forever and make this trip more of a life experience than just a trip.


A life-altering experience even.

Quote:
I liked the Easter Egg Tinkerbell Lights.


Yay!

Quote:
Kinda sad that they are missing Greece. It is definitely a place that I have wanted to go and was hoping to get some info from your research.


I've never been but I know a lot of people who've gone. My only nugget of info would be to pick the islands carefully because some are total party islands (hey, maybe that's your thing!)

Quote:
As usual, I look forward to every Tuesday and Friday. Only 13 more chapters, kinda makes me sad. I love this story and will be sad to see it end.


You're telling me! I've been writing and posting this thing for years! I'll be so sad to press the final submit button but also so proud because as I said, years of work went into it and I'm proud.

Thanks for your feedback!

Finey_McFine

Quote:
Per usual I'm a few chapters behind...no "tuna butt" pun intended. Ok, maybe there was just a hint of intent. :grin


You know I love a good butt pun!

Quote:
So, I'm going to attempt to catch up. First, the tuna butt chapter, for which it will forever be known, was pretty funny. A little scary waking up naked in a strange room with other people but thankfully they were ok and nothing truly horrible happened. Them trying to piece everything together and Willow's tattoo...hilarious. Willow should have known better than to take something given to her by a stranger at a wild party, but she is incredibly clueless sometimes and I guess this was one of those times. Live and learn!


She is very sheltered sometimes for sure but she'll never make that mistake again :laugh

Quote:
Then, after this fun and crazy chapter...DISASTER! I guess Ralphie got it right in A Chrismas Story: "Oh, life is like that. Sometimes, at the height of our revelries, when our joy is at its zenith, when all is most right with the world, the most unthinkable disasters descend upon us." I think earthquakes and tornados are the absolute scariest of natural disasters because there is zero warning.


I totally agree with you there. You get completely blindsided and have no time to prepare even basic tasks to get you/loved ones to some kind of safety. I always remember those poor people during the tsunami...how do you even process that that is happening?

Quote:
You did a great job of describing the initial impact on Tara and the destruction and chaos that came after; magnified a thousand percent when you can't find a loved one. Willow was lucky she was actually taken to a hospital and Tara was lucky to find her.


Incredibly lucky. So many people in those situations never do, and never know what happened. That is seriously traumatic, I don't know how you would ever recover.

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Thankfully neither of our girls suffered life-threatening injuries. Having a broken foot on vacation sucks, but at least it's doable. I love, love, loved when they decided to stay and help.


It's manageable, especially when she was able to stay in her chair for those few weeks.

Quote:
I think it would have been a very different story for them had the hostel been destroyed.


It would have been trauma on top of trauma. They wouldn't have passports for one, so even if they decided to cut their losses and go home it would have been a bureaucratic nightmare.

Quote:
It was also nice to see them make decisions together and not be so awkward as to cause a dumb misunderstanding. Had this happened towards the beginning of the trip, I think they may have ended up going home. Your character development has been perfect!


Thank you! This is really where I think the benefit of completing the story before I post has helped - it's way easier to track the pacing and development. I still make edits right up until the time of posting, of course, but it definitely helps if you realize a line of dialogue gives away something too soon or something like that and you can remove it or place it later.

Quote:
Hopefully, it'll be a bit smoother from this point forward. Hopefully?


You know, I think I can just about manage that :)

Thanks so much for your feedback!

shirrey

Quote:
So much good going on in this chapter! I appreciate how you are keeping things real- there are still relationship/ life balances and needs they are working out but both have gotten so much better at saying what they need and listening to the other's needs.


Life doesn't stop even when we'd like it too for a moment to let us catch our breath! I love how well they know their relationship now, it's really such an amazing launch pad for their life together to learn as teenagers.

Quote:
Also very impressed at how you have weaved in canon dialogue! Tara always wants to feel useful, even when she is down and out.


She likes having a purpose and she loves to know she's helping, thrives on it, on that energy of seeing herself making a difference.

Quote:
And yay for reconnecting physically - sometimes we just need that intimacy.


Connection is healing...in all kinds of ways.

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And I love that Tara wrote Willows parents, but I mean, of course she would!


Her Momma raised her right. (I also suspect Kimberly has been delivering (kosher!) baked goods to their doorstep near daily)

Quote:
Happy holidays!!


Happy Holidays!

Thanks for your comment :)



Update Directly Below

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 Post subject: Re: New Fic: Inevitable [AU] (Dec 20th 2019)
PostPosted: Tue Dec 24, 2019 4:00 am 
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Ms. Moderator Fantastico
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CHAPTER RATING: PG-13

NOTE: Warning for discussion of the the Holocaust

Happy Holidays!

Chapter 41



Budapest



They Aren't Lost, You See; The Truth Will Live In Me
Believe Me
Never Again



“Hey, how long can you keep that thing on for? Getting priority boarding is great!”


Tara shot Willow a withering look as she stepped forward down the aisle of the plane on her moderately unsightly — but hugely easier to manage — short walking boot that only rose to above her ankle.


“I only have to wear it when I’m going to be standing on it and believe me I’ll be taking it off any minute I don’t. The bootless shower I had yesterday was the best shower of my life.”


“For me too,” Willow grinned over her shoulder, “You left the door open.”


Tara gently pushed Willow’s shoulder from behind, eliciting a devilish giggle and a skip up the aisle to their row. Willow hoisted their bags up into the overhead compartment and let Tara take the window seat so there was no bashing against her healed, but still delicate, foot.


“At least keep it for plane journeys,” she said as she sat into the aisle seat beside Tara.


“Willow,” Tara replied in exasperation, “I’ll kick your butt with it in a second.”


“I could be into that,” Willow grinned and Tara could only shake her head while returning the grin right back.


Tara took out her phone out of her pocket to turn on flight mode but before she pressed it, it beeped with a new email notification.


She pulled down the notification and her body visibly stiffened.


“What is it?” Willow asked, noticing how quickly Tara’s demeanor changed all of a sudden.


“Nothing,” Tara replied quickly, turning on flight mode and shoving the phone back in her pocket again, “Can I have some of your water?”


Willow took out her water bottle from the seat pocket and handed it over to Tara.


Tara took a long drink from it and handed it back with a grateful smile before putting her earphones in her ears and plugging into the airline-supplied radio. She always liked to listen to local stations and hear what the popular music was.


The flight filled and took off as normal and about halfway through the journey Willow got up to use the bathroom.


Tara watched her go down the aisle and lock herself into the cubicle, then slowly pulled her phone out from her sweater pocket.


The notification was still sitting there, unopened. With her hand trembling in a way she hadn’t expected, she pressed it to open. The screen went white for a moment and Tara wondered if it would load with her flight mode on but then it filled with text, showing the pre-downloaded message.


Her breath caught after reading just the first few words.


“Oh.”


Willow returned from the bathroom a few minutes later and settled back into her seat.


“Not to be all Jerry Seinfeld but seriously, what is the deal with airplane toilets? Is it so hard to keep a soap dispenser working in a big flying tube of germs? To use tissues that don’t break if the air blows too hard against it?”


Tara was holding her phone face-down in her lap and kept it there firmly in her grip for a moment before turning to Willow.


“I want to show you something.”


“Okay,” Willow agreed, turning her shoulder into the chair to give Tara her attention.


Tara lifted her phone from her lap and offered it to Willow.


Willow took it and looked at the dark screen. She turned it around and then held it up to Tara a bit helplessly about what she was supposed to do.


“Right,” Tara said, taking the phone back to unlock it before handing it back.


Willow took it again and started to read the email. She scrolled up and down before looking to Tara, just as confused as before.


“I don’t get it,” she said, eyebrows knitting together, “Is it an April Fool’s Day joke?”


Tara looked down at that.


“Another person might take offense to that.”


“No, I’m sorry,” Willow replied quickly, reaching out to grasp Tara’s arm, “I just don’t understand?”


Tara raised her gaze and tucked some hair behind her own ear shyly.


“I applied. I got in.”


Willow’s eyes visibly got brighter as she pieced together all the information.


“Wait. Are you saying…are you saying this is a real email? You got accepted into college?”


“Yeah. I did,” Tara replied, trying very hard to read Willow’s reaction as surprise and not shock.


Willow seemed dumbfounded.


“When?”


“Just now,” Tara replied, gesturing at the phone.


“No, when did you apply?” Willow corrected.


“Mom helped me gather the documents and sent them off by the deadline,” Tara said, pulling her sleeve over her hand and gently pulling at the ends, “It was a while back. China-ish.”


Willow started to frown.


“Why didn’t you tell me?”


Tara shrugged one shoulder.


“I guess I was scared to disappoint you if it didn’t work out.”


Willow rubbed Tara’s arm in the same spot she’d grasped.


“You could never disappoint me,” she said emphatically as she broke out into a huge smile, “Tara, this is amazing. I’m so proud of you. Are you gonna do a music program?”


Tara slowly shook her head.


“No. I-I thought a lot about it, but I don’t know if I want what I love so much turned into a job. And well, I got most of the function back in my hand after it broke but it’s not perfect. Too much strain could cause a lot of problems down the line.”


Willow frowned; she hadn’t realized the was any lingering damage.


“I didn’t know.”


“It’s not serious,” Tara replied quickly, “I don’t even notice it when I’m playing for fun. But if I had to do it for hours and hours, day after day, year after year…”


Willow paused.


“So what then?”


Tara shrugged one shoulder shyly.


“I was thinking about something like graphic design…or marketing. There’s a combined program.”


“Marketing?” Willow asked in surprise, “Wow. I guess I just always assumed whatever you did, however you did it…it would be music.”


Tara swallowed.


“I guess that wasn’t meant to be.”


Willow sighed softly.


“All the kids in Vietnam and in Nepal and how you connected and helped them…I just…I guess I thought…”


“I want to keep doing all of that,” Tara said with a calm sureness in her voice, “In fact, this is the only way to keep doing that. To do it for love and not overwork my body into losing it completely.”


Willow looked at Tara’s sweet, earnest face and fell in love all over again.


“You’re so creative, you’d be great at designing campaigns. And you can use your music and your artistic knowledge in those roles. Okay, I’m getting it,” she nodded encouragingly and smiled, “Hey, you already named a whole store! Or branded? Is that the right word? You branded The Magic Box! My gal the marketeer! That’s great. You’re great. You’re so great, Tara.”


She threw her arms around Tara and hugged her tightly.


“SO great!”


She felt Tara smile against her neck and just never wanted to let go. Her arm dropped to hold Tara by the waist and the phone still sitting in her palm went with it. Her thumb hit the screen and it lit up again. Willow’s eyes naturally fell in that direction and she took in the college logo on top of the email.


“Cal State,” she said, lifting the phone closer to read from it, “Cal State LA.”


Her face slowly bloomed into a gigantic smile.


“Cal State LA is only like 30 miles from Claremont.”


Tara just smiled demurely.


“I know.”


Willow’s eyes suddenly filled with tears and she dropped her chin to try and hide it.


It didn’t work.


“Oh Willow,” Tara comforted softly, trying her best to not draw any attention to them from fellow passengers.


Willow dug her hand into her pocket and dug out some tissue, which she tried to wipe her eyes with but they only held for a quick swipe.


“Stupid airplane tissues,” she said, using her sleeve instead, “I’m sorry. I’ve just been trying not to think about it… about what would happen when we go back.”


Tara rubbed her knuckles against Willow’s arm.


“Oh honey, I should have filled you in sooner. I didn’t know you were worried.”


Willow took both of Tara’s hands between them.


“Being with you every day has been the best time of my life. I couldn’t imagine…” she started but the tears dried up as she began to bubble with excitement, “We’ll be able to see each other all the time. I mean, there’s buses and trains.”


“You have a car,” Tara added.


Willow laughed.


“I actually forgot.”


“And I’d ride my bike if I had to, to see you,” Tara said with a tender smile, “I’d walk. I’d crawl on coals.”


“I’d crawl on Legos,” Willow counterpointed.


Tara put a hand over her heart then placed it over Willow’s and dropped it again to retake Willow’s hand. She mouthed ‘I love you’ and Willow tried to mouth something back.


Tara shook her head.


“You’re going to have to say that one.”


“Szeretlek,” Willow replied with a knowledgeable smile.


“That is…succinct,” Tara mused thoughtfully.


“Efficient, these Hungarians,” Willow replied and they both laughed, “Is it cheating considering we’re not even in Hungarian air space yet? I asked the check-in girl at the airport.”


“I’ve always liked a bit of a rebel,” Tara grinned and Willow grinned bashfully.


They hugged again briefly but meaningfully.


When they parted, Willow put the rest up between them and put her arm around Tara.


There were still quite a few hours of flight time to go, but no amount of arm ache could pull her from that spot and no amount of face ache could stop her smile.



Willow jumped down from the top bunk and swung around to face Tara, sitting on the bottom and locking some things away.


“I greatly miss a private room already,” she sighed as she spun in and sat beside Tara, “Also it’s weird being on the top bunk. I know you can’t climb up the ladder but…”


“It’s more the jumping down that catches me,” Tara replied, locking her nightstand up again, “Besides, it’ll get you used to the loft beds in college.”


“College,” Willow replied in an echoing tone, “Sorta forgot this isn’t going to be our lives forever.”


“We get to be froshes again,” Tara replied with mock enthusiasm and a sarcastic victory fist pump.


Willow smiled at Tara’s goofy smile.


“Will you be staying in dorms on campus?”


Tara shook her head.


“No, I’ll have to find something off-campus.”


“They make freshman live on campus in HMU,” Willow replied with the beginning of a pout, “I was never too fond of the idea of a roommate but hey, I guess I’ve lived with a bunch of strangers at this point. At least it won’t be some pervy, sweaty guy.”


“Sweaty men,” a woman’s voice with an unusual accent preceded her before she walked into the room.


Tall with rich, brown skin and corkscrew curls, her whole presence lit up the room as she walked into her. Her companion, with pale pink skin and wavy multi-colored locks, seemed diminutive beside her.


“You’ve brought up one of my favorite subjects already. Welcome.”


She put her purse down on what was presumably her bed across the room, then bounded over to offer her hand.


“Howzit?”


“Uh, good?” Willow replied, standing courteously, “I’m Willow.”


“Tara,” Tara offered, using Willow to help her stand too.


The woman shook both of their hands and gestured between herself and the other girl. The other girl waved silently, but still friendly, and sat in on her bed to change shoes.


“Dane and Janella. South African. Canadians?”


“The stupid southern sister,” Willow admitted in an apologetic tone.


“Hey, nobody’s perfect,” Dane laughed, “Have you just arrived in Hungary? Come from afar?”


Willow and Tara exchanged a glance.


They had discussed this; how much to say. They couldn’t just forget about the experience of the earthquake but they also didn’t want to relive it every time they moved onto a new place. People were curious, it was unavoidable and Willow sometimes still felt Tara tapping herself to sleep with some silent tune only she could hear.


They could only move on by moving forward and not continuing to look back at what had happened. They wouldn’t, couldn’t, erase it but they didn’t have to get bogged down in it either.


Their glance was only two seconds but it communicated that they still agreed with each other.


“Yeah, we just arrived,” Willow answered after just a slight hesitation, “Have you been here long?”


“Justa ‘bout a week,” Dane replied, crossing back over the room, “We came for the weekend but we loved it here.”


“If you have any tips on places to see, let us know,” Tara asked with a smile, “We’re sort of doing a short hop so we’d like to get in as much as we can.”


Janella stood back up alongside Dane, who took her purse back up on her shoulder.


“We’re heading to a sausage fest. Want to tag along?”


Tara and Willow exchanged a slightly wide-eyed look for a moment, then Willow just shrugged agreeably.


“There’s a first time for everything!”



Willow moved her legs gently as she floated in the water lapping at her back.


The water was gloriously hot and the sun was shining brightly overhead, only enhancing the outdoor bath experience for her.


It didn’t hurt that the huge pool was sitting in the middle of a plaza, surrounded by old Hungarian buildings that looked like it could have been a palace once upon a time.


Not even all of the other people sharing the space made the whole thing feel anything less than bliss.


She waded over to the ledge where Tara was sitting with her pants rolled up and her lower legs dipped in the pool. She was turning her ankles and stretching her feet up and down.


“It’s really nice in here,” she said, letting her feet settle on the floor so she could stand with Tara, “Just missing something gorgeous and Tara-shaped.”


Tara kicked her legs gently.


“I’m good here.”


Willow grinned; her tongue sticking out between her teeth.


“Still too full of sausage?”


Tara dipped her fingers into the pool and flicked some water in Willow’s face. Willow giggled and dodged but didn’t move away.


“Are you worried about all the people and their yucky germs? Because they chlorinate.”


Tara shook her head.


“Just letting my foot get the benefits. I’m not very confident with it out of the boot still. I don’t want to get kicked under there.”


Willow nodded understandingly.


“I’m gonna go play chess. Sit with me?”


“Of course,” Tara nodded and folded her legs under herself to stand and follow Willow around the pool on foot.


They headed to the floating chess tables sitting within the baths. It was the main reason they’d come to visit in the first place as Willow found it too intriguing to miss, especially knowing some of the best grandmasters had played there before.


Tara sat nearby and dipped her feet in the water again. She watched Willow wade up to an older gentleman sitting at the only free table in the row. Willow gestured asking if it was okay to approach and he chuckled and nodded.


No names were exchanged, they just got down to business.


He smirked at Willow’s first move but it began to slowly fall off his face as the game continued. He swore in Hungarian under his breath when Willow made an unexpected and ballsy move and grudgingly looked up at her.


“You are good for girl.”


“Yeah, turns out girls can have problem-solving and abstract reasoning skills as well,” Willow replied, her sunny smile concealing her sarcastic tone, “How’d you know I spoke English?”


He made some vague gesture that Willow wasn’t sure was toward her hair or her body and honestly didn’t want to know what his reasoning was after that. He turned his head to look at Tara.


“You play too, girl?”


Tara shook her head.


“I never had the knack for it. Willow tried to teach me when we were kids, but I would always lose. It was too confusing.”


Willow averted her eyes and focused very heavily on the chessboard despite knowing her next exact three moves already.


“Willow?” Tara asked suspiciously, quite familiar with her girlfriend’s guilty face.


Willow cautiously lifted her gaze and scrunched up her face.


“Ikindataughtyouwrongonpurpose.”


“Willow!” Tara exclaimed, kicking her foot out but she only ended up splashing another woman near her and blushed deeply while gesturing an apology.


“I was six! I liked impressing you by winning!” Willow protested, then continued quickly off Tara’s look, “Which I see now with adult reasoning and introspection is horrifically self-centered but did I mention I was six?”


Tara rolled her eyes and shook her head but ducked her it to hide a smile because that was so Willow and she couldn’t help but find it endearing.


She watched the two exchange moves in the game with no idea of what plays were being played or pieces were being moved but could judge the progression by how much redder and redder Willow’s opponent’s cheeks were getting.


Right when Tara was sure steam was about to blow out of his ears, Willow moved her piece into position and smiled winningly.


“Checkmate.”


She offered her hand across the table but her opponent just grumbled and flicked it out of the way, making some of the pieces fall.


Willow rolled her eyes and swam away and over to Tara.


“We should leave patriarchal bullshit land before a precious male ego gets shriveled to oblivion.”


Tara held her hand out for Willow to take as she walked up the steps and out of the pool.


“I knew you’d like that show.”


“I take all your recommendations seriously,” Willow replied, gently bumping Tara’s hip.


They went to their lounge chairs to towel off and redress and Tara attached her boot to her foot again as they prepared to stroll around the city for the afternoon.


“You’re going to teach me for real someday,” she said to Willow in a voice that tried to be stern but couldn’t hide the mirth.


“You know there’s such a thing as strip chess…” Willow teased with a sly wink, “Now there’s a game where there’s no losing.”


They giggled together and Willow rolled up their towels back into her backpack.


“Thanks for indulging me today.”


“I had fun,” Tara replied sweetly, “I love your concentration face. It’s like a pout but I see those eyes shining and then you start to smile when you know you’ve got it. It’s very cute.”


“You’re very cute,” Willow returned with pink cheeks that she didn’t try to hide.


They finished redressing and walked out of the bath and to the nearest tram stop to get to where they were going next.


“You sure you don’t mind?” Willow asked as they stepped off and back onto the street.


“Willow,” Tara replied softly, “I’m honored. Really.”


Willow used her phone to follow a map guiding them through some small streets in a vibrant neighborhood. Tara enjoyed seeing the street art and colorful displays on the buildings.


Finally, they arrived outside a tall structure with two onion-shaped domes and ornate stained glass above the entrance.


“This is it,” Willow said, craning her head back to look up at it in its entirety, “This is the synagogue my ancestors helped build.”


Tara took a step back to regard it in all its wonder.


“Wow. It’s beautiful.”


They walked into the gate and inside of the building, both of them stopping at the back row of benches to take in the lavish interior.


The ark was golden and ornate and drew your eye to it as soon as you walked inside, but when you blinked you suddenly saw all of the other artwork adorning the walls.


Willow was fascinated by the geometric shapes and Tara loved how the colors lit up the temple in perfect synchronicity as you walked along. Neither rushed their pace as everywhere they turned was a new decoration or play of light that stopped them in their tracks.


Outside was a garden dedicated to Holocaust remembrance and while the area was louder with chatter than inside, they both remained silent as they walked around. Tara didn’t want to disturb Willow’s thoughts and was taking in all of the information plaques. She knew, of course, the history but it was different when you were actually standing in its shadow.


“My great-grandparents died in Auschwitz,” Willow said out of nowhere as they followed the circular path around the courtyard.


Tara nodded softly, quietly. She knew that.


“And they didn’t fight when they were rounded up.”


Tara frowned but stayed silent. This was not her moment to interrupt.


Willow stared ahead as the story played out in her mind in images rather than thoughts. She’d heard it often and it had never been just words, always reality playing in her mind like she was watching it on screen.


“They didn’t fight because their little girl was with a Christian friend of theirs that day. Getting fánk. Donuts, basically. And they knew if they caused a commotion they’d be looked into further and the soldiers would seek her out. So they just…went. And hoped their friend would keep their girl safe for them. And she did. She was a Hungarian doctor named Nora and the day after she found out my great-grandparents were gone she smuggled the child out of the country. Eventually, they got to California.”


Willow stopped and swallowed.


“They died so my Bubbe could live.”


Her voice wobbled but she just paused for a moment and steadied herself. The story deserved to be told with the same conviction of the people starring in it.


“And my Bubbe says she was lucky because she always knew she had three parents who loved her more than anything. All that and she still considered herself lucky. I guess she was. She survived,” she nodded to herself as if reaffirming to herself that it was true, “And Aunty Nora — that’s what my Dad always called her — she was great. She moved to San Francisco so my Bubbe could grow up in a Jewish community. That’s where she got her strong roots from. And all of the above is why my Dad is so staunch about our faith, I guess.”


“What were their names?” Tara asked quietly, reverently.


“Ráhel and Daniel Rosenberg,” Willow answered proudly, “My Bubbe had her name changed to Nora’s surname as a child to hide her and make the move easier, but she changed it back as an adult. Actually, she kept Nora’s name as her middle name as a sign of respect. Gizella Gabor Rosenberg.”


“GG,” Tara recalled from childhood.


Willow smiled fondly, having a sudden memory of her Bubbe coming to visit and how Willow had shown off Tara as her best friend so proudly. Her Bubbe had shooed all the parents away and brought them to get ice-cream and it was one of her favorite memories of her entire life.


“Yeah. GG.”


“Is Daniel where Danielle comes from?” Tara asked softly.


Willow nodded.


“My older cousin was named Rahel so I got the Daniel incorporated instead. Then my Uncle named his son, who’s a year younger than me, Daniel anyway…now he and my Dad don’t talk anymore.”


“My mom gave me her mom’s name as my middle name and her dad’s as Donny’s,” Tara replied softly, “She didn’t have a sibling to fight with it over.”


“I always thought Rochelle was very pretty,” Willow complimented softly, “Close to Rahel now that I think about it. I kind of resented having a boy’s name forced on me but that was before I knew how cool my great grandfather was.”


They continued around the path until they got to a large, unique sculpture that ran feet in every direction. It was a memorial tree in the shape of a Weeping Willow with intricate leaves overhanging in their thousands.


“And this is why they named me Willow. To honor them both. To honor them all.”


Tara’s eyes widened. She didn’t know that.


“It’s beautiful,” she said, holding her hands in front of her, clasped together humbly.


“It has the names of all 400,000 Hungarians who were murdered,” she said quietly, before taking a moment of silence, “You know, I always knew why my name was my name but I never…I never even looked up this sculpture before. Can you believe that?”


Tara placed her hand on Willow’s shoulder and squeezed gently.


“You were waiting to see it with your own eyes.”


Willow smiled at Tara gratefully and bowed her head again.


“It goes deeper, of course. The Aravah, the branch of a willow tree is used during Sukkot. See, it’s part of the Four Species, the branches that get bound together and it's waved in all directions to symbolize that god is everywhere. Then on the seventh day we hit the willow branches against the floor five times which is…well, honestly it’s kinda like a rain dance.”


Tara arched an eyebrow and Willow smiled in amusement.


“Yeah, I know. The different branches are meant to represent different body parts and the willow represents the mouth. Dad always said that’s where I got the babbling from.”


Tara moved her hand down to the small of Willow’s back and held it there.


“Do you need a picture for your Dad?”


Willow took a deep breath and exhaled it out again.


“No,” she said finally, “No. I know coming here was a compromise with him so I could learn about my roots but…I’m not having this fight with him anymore. He doesn’t get to dictate my spirituality. And I should stop fighting it just to spite him. I think that ole concussion knocked something into place.”


She turned and held herself up proudly.


“But I’ll take a picture for me. And if sharing it with him brings him happiness, then that’s great for him too. Maybe if we both stop thinking the other is wrong we’ll find some middle ground. I don’t want him to talk about me a decade down the line like he talks about Uncle Eli.”


Tara took the picture and she thought it might have been one of the most real snaps she’d ever seen of Willow.


Willow stepped forward, took a look and smiled at the picture then up at Tara.


“I’m just so ready to stop fighting myself and everyone else and the world. I want to feel true to me.”


“Am I a part of that?” Tara asked softly.


“You’re the biggest part of that,” Willow replied tenderly, “You were the light for me to find my truth.”


She took Tara’s hand and brought it to her mouth, kissing it briefly before letting it go.


After taking in one more deep breath and nodding respectfully at the monument, she turned to Tara.


“I think I’m going to pray.”


“Can I pray with you?” Tara asked, her eyebrows lifting for a moment, “Is that allowed?”


Willow smiled.


“I’d like that.”


They walked back into the synagogue and shuffled into one of the benches. They both stood facing the ark, closed their eyes and bowed their heads.


After a minute or two of quiet contemplation and still with their eyes closed, their pinkies somehow found each other and linked together to see each other through their prayers.


They opened their eyes at the same time, looked at each other with clear eyes and serene faces and quietly walked back out through the gate to the main street again.


Not needing to say anything else and knowing it was all understood, Willow slapped her hand gently against her thigh.


“Let’s go grab a slice from that kosher pizzeria on the corner. I’m starving.”


Tara smiled in agreement and they went back the way they came to the pizza place Willow had spotted. They ordered a veggie pizza and shared it telling jokes and making each other giggle.


Afterward, they walked around the area of the Jewish community to embrace the local culture and art. Willow took more photos of Tara as she wanted to take one with each new picturesque art piece but Willow would never complain at having to capture Tara’s image.


They passed many buildings that looked half-demolished but it took passing several, wondering why people were walking into them, for Willow to realize what they were.


“I think this is one of those ruin bars Dane told us about. You know the ones they make out of a ruined building,” she said to Tara, stopping to look inside, “Want a drink?”


“Love one,” Tara agreed and they walked through the doorway that looked like it might crumble upon them at any minute.


They walked through plastic sheeting and were met with a bustling bar built out of old wooden pallets. Chalkboards behind it were scratched with drink options and doodles, which Willow admired.


They walked back and out to a beer garden they would have never guessed was there with all kinds of different seating; chairs, stools, benches, concrete blocks, all of which looked like they’d been rescued from a landfill and were tossed around a truck a few times before getting there.


Tara sat at a high table with a stool that was decades old at a minimum yet somehow remained steady while Willow went off to get drinks. She came back with two shot glasses and had to speak over the music that had been turned up a notch.


“They told me we should try this. It’s local. Called pálinka.”


Tara just shrugged and took her shot glass. Willow held hers up to Tara’s and clinked it before downing it back in one shot.


Immediately her stomach jumped into her throat, her throat heaved into her mouth and her tongue fell out, gagging.


She had never tasted anything like it but the closest approximation she could come to was Satan’s urine.


“Beer?” she choked out as she pushed the empty glass as far away as possible.


“Beer,” Tara confirmed, her face still scrunched up as the flavor lingered.


Willow scurried off to get something, anything, to get the taste out of her mouth and downed a shot of vodka when she got to the bar just because it was what the bartender was holding the bottle at that moment.


“Yuck,” she spat, wiping her mouth on her sleeve before ordering a couple of bottles of beer she was familiar with.


As she waited she noticed people practically pushing each other to get inside and realized they must have stumbled inside a popular place. She inquired with the bartender who told her they had parties at the weekend as he served her the beers.


She returned to Tara and sat up with her, hiding a smile when Tara did the same thing she had done and took a big glug of beer to hide the taste of the previous mistake in ordering.


“It’s getting pretty busy out there. Looks like it’s turning into a club.”


“Do you want to leave?” Tara called back, though seemed relaxed in her seat.


Willow looked around at the clientele congregated together with the youthful energy of a party about to start. She thought of no better way to honor her ancestors than by living her life to the full in the place they too had once lived and loved.


She turned back to Tara and extended her hand.


“I want to stay and dance with my girl all night long.”


She moved closer to Tara so she wouldn't have to stand on her foot. She cupped Tara's cheeks, quite intimately for being so public, but it didn't stop her kissing Tara's lips softly for a brief moment.


“This is it. You are it for me. I will never hide this.”


She placed her forehead on Tara's forehead and let her hands drop to rub down Tara's thighs.


“Never again.”




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 Post subject: Re: New Fic: Inevitable [AU] (Dec 24th 2019)
PostPosted: Fri Dec 27, 2019 4:00 am 
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Topics: 42
CHAPTER RATING: PG-13

Chapter 42



Rome



You've Given Me The Thrill Of A Lifetime
And Made Me Believe You've Got More Thrills To Spare, Oh



“It’s crazy how different places look different, doesn’t it?”


Tara looked down self-deprecatingly and focused on the little cobblestone street before continuing.


“T-That sounded stupid.”


“No baby,” Willow encouraged, “I get what you mean. All of these countries so close together but everything has such different architecture, structure…it's crazy really how influential even just one person in history can be to how a city still functions.”


Tara smiled and tilted her head to share it with Willow. She lifted her hand and gestured around.


“We’ve seen ancient but never quite like this. Each new place is never quite like before. There’s a new depth. Like the ruin bars in Budapest were so old but this…”


Willow nodded and pressed a hand against a nearby wall.


“These buildings…these streets…so much history,” she said, then looked down at the path, “Are these cobblestones too much for you?”


Tara shook her head.


“No, I just can’t walk too far on them but one street is okay. And I’m okay on the flat streets, mostly, but grass is my friend.”


They walked from the side street onto the main stretch of road and paused there.


“What do you feel like for lunch?” Tara asked, “Has to be pasta, right?”


“Can we go somewhere close by?” Willow replied, lifting her hand to scratch her neck and take a glance at her watch.


“Are you starving sweetie?” Tara asked softly.


Willow nodded.


“Yeah, kinda.”


“It definitely feels like a long time since breakfast,” Tara agreed with a smile, “I saw a trattoria at the end of the street when we were coming in. Does that sound good?”


Willow nodded again and they turned down the uneven street to the little restaurant at the corner.


It smelled like warm butter when they walked in and there was an atmospheric chatter from the other people eating and drinking. There was a mix of locals and tourists and multiple languages being spoken. The tables were set in twos around the restaurant with some pushed together to accommodate more.


The walls had shelving with different jugs and lanterns sitting on them while there was a clear counter with cheeses and olives and another cabinet with wine stacked high. It felt like a perfect introduction to the city of Rome.


They took the last table by the window and Willow held Tara’s chair out for her before taking her own. A server brought fresh, crusty bread to the table with a carafe of water and offered them menus to read. He offered them a wine list but Willow gave a resounding ‘no’ and Tara didn’t want to pay for an expensive glass so they stuck with water.


“I can taste the calories already,” Tara smiled over her menu, “Will you love me with a food baby?”


“More Tara always sounds good to me,” Willow quipped, her eyes scanning the menu items with speed, “I will love that food baby as if it were my own.”


She set it down and Tara copied, bringing their server back to them promptly.


“I’ll have the cacio e pepe per favore,” Tara said with a shy smile at her pronunciation.


“Um, I’ll get the same,” Willow added, handing her menu over, “Grazie.”


Tara watched Willow shift in her seat and looked across the table with concern.


“You okay?”


Willow looked up and nodded.


“Yeah.”


“Jet lag catching up with you?” Tara guessed.


“Something like that,” Willow answered, laying her palms flat in front of her for a moment.


Tara laid her hand over Willow’s.


“It feels funny being on a whole different continent again, doesn’t it?” she said, playfully tapping her fingers against Willow’s, “And don’t worry, I’m not going to drag you around to all the museums. I’ll do my own little art tour tomorrow while you do that pizza crawl you were talking about.”


“I love you despite your inability to embrace the breakfast pizza,” Willow replied nobly, “But are you prepared to rub the inevitable ache from the tummy that consumes pizza for breakfast, lunch and dinner”


Tara’s foot lifted and brushed Willow’s calf.


“You don’t need a reason but I’ll oblige any time.”


Willow smiled and bit her lip, a look Tara found almost too cute to handle.


A cart wheeled up to their table with a pan full of creamy pasta still steaming. A bowl was placed in both of their place settings and they were served straight from the pan.


“Oh wow,” Tara said as the cheese was grated generously over her bowl, “Grazie. This is great.”


They were left to eat and Tara smiled giddily as she picked up her fork.


“Wasn’t that cool?”


“Uh-huh,” Willow agreed, stuffing a forkful of pasta into her mouth, “Oh, it’s good too.”


Tara twirled her noodles delicately onto her spoon and had to hold back a moan as she took her first bite. It was creamy and buttery and cheesy and peppery and each bite melted in her mouth. It was like a stripped-down mac’n’cheese but in a way only an authentic Roman chef could deliver (and would probably break your hand for even suggesting it.)


Tara took a sip of water and began to watch in alarm as Willow practically shoveled her pasta into her mouth. She wasn’t being rude but the fork didn’t pause for a second.


“Willow, slow down, you’ll choke.”


Willow suddenly cleared her throat, proving Tara right and had to hide her gaze.


Tara reached across the table again.


“Honey, are you hurting or something? Is it cramps?”


“Sorry,” Willow replied quickly, “No, sorry. I guess I was just hungry.”


She looked down at her watch that Tara was slightly obscuring. Tara saw.


“Why do you keep checking your watch?”


Willow took her arm back and folded it in her lap.


“I was making sure I set it to local time,” she replied defensively.


Tara was an expert on de-escalation when it came to Willow so just met her gaze and did a silent breath with her.


“Can you relax a little bit?”


Willow nodded guiltily.


“Yeah,” she replied, squeezing Tara’s hand for a moment, “I’m just still stressed from the train being delayed.”


“We’re here now,” Tara replied with a calm smile, “So it’s all okay.”


Willow just nodded and returned to eating at a more reasonable pace.


When they’d finished and their plates had been cleared, Tara sat back with a satisfied stance, her hands across her stomach.


“I am getting an espresso. I’ve been dying for one all day,” she said with a happy sigh, “Do you want one?”


“Um, maybe later?” Willow replied cagily, her face scrunching up uncomfortably, “I kinda have to go.”


Tara held her hands out with slight frustration.


“Where do we have to go?”


“You don’t,” Willow replied, pushing her chair back to stand up, “Have your coffee.”


“Where are you going?” Tara questioned, utterly confused.


“I just gotta go, okay?” Willow replied, whipping around to kiss Tara’s cheek before throwing her jacket back over her shoulders, “Meet me back outside the hostel in an hour yeah?”


Tara didn’t really have a chance to respond as Willow dropped some euros and dashed out in seconds. She pursed her lips in annoyance but tried not to let it linger and ordered her espresso to enjoy, alone if she had to.


Sometimes Willow was strange, she knew this.


She was in a great city, after a great meal and about to have a great coffee. She would take her own advice and chill out.


She people-watched as she enjoyed the espresso, analyzing the fashions and body language of passers-by through the window.


She thought about making Willow wait but she wasn’t that kind of person and anyway, there were much more fun ways to punish her.


Smirking a little as she drained her cup, she paid the check and slowly made her way back to the entrance of their hostel. She was boot-free all the time now but still working up her strength so there was no rushing unless necessary.


Outside the hostel, she leaned back against a large planter and waited.


An hour and fifteen minutes after Willow had left her, she hadn’t returned and Tara’s foot was tapping.


She wasn’t going to make this a fight but she sure hoped Willow had a good reason for bailing on her and now being late.


Someone zipped by in a pink Vespa, almost clipping her feet and Tara cast a cursory annoyed in their direction. She became slightly alarmed when it did a sharp turn and started riding back toward her, wondering how they’d seen the look from behind them.


Her heart began to pound a little; she really disliked confrontation and confrontation with strangers in a different language was even worse but her heart began to skid in a different way when the rider stopped and popped their helmet off.


“Willow?” she asked in surprise, captivated by how Willow’s hair waved from side to side as it was released from the helmet.


“Hey good lookin’,” Willow greeted with a big grin on her face, “Whaddya think?”


“I think…” Tara started to stumble over her words, “I think…Wow. Is this where you were?”


Willow nodded sheepishly.


“I had a reservation. I didn’t want them to give it away to someone else,” she said and grabbed a second helmet from the hook, holding it out, “So are you gonna let me take you for a ride?”


“Most definitely,” Tara replied, surprising even herself at her complete lack of hesitance.


Willow, too, seemed surprised.


“You mean you actually trust me on a vehicle?”


Tara had the grace to look contrite, though New Zealand and that whole exchange seemed so long ago.


“That was very unfair of me and I’m sorry,” she apologized, taking a step forward, “And yes I trust you implicitly.”


She reached out a curled a piece of Willow’s hair.


“Plus that helmet hair is kinda sexy.”


Willow shook her hair out some more and giggled.


“Hop on, gorgeous.”


Tara fixed the helmet over her head and climbed on the back of the scooter.


“Gotta hold me,” Willow advised over her shoulder, which Tara gladly rested her chin on and wrapped her arms around Willow’s middle.


“Ready?” Willow called back.


“Ready,” Tara replied with only a smidge of trepidation that could equally be categorized as excitement.


Willow started the scooter again and drove back toward the road with Tara’s legs fanning out with glee.


She was promptly reminded of how ill-advised that was when a car skidded past and splashed her pants with muddy water whilst only marginally missing hitting her at all. From then on, she kept her legs clamped firmly by her sides.


She swore she heard Willow giggle though and offered retribution by tickling her tummy just until she turned onto the street and joined traffic.


As soon as they were out on the road, Tara suddenly became very aware of herself and Willow and their exposed proximity to the many speeding vehicles around them. Yet as soon as she felt that, she also felt completely at peace holding onto Willow as she weaved in and out of traffic, following the little line on the map on her phone attached to the scooter.


It wasn't surprising Tara felt like this; Willow meant safety, and honestly, she was really good at this. Tara had no idea how, but she moved fluidly with the vehicle like all three of them were one and she sped them as skillfully along as if she was making a continuous play on a chessboard.


Though that didn’t stop Tara holding on for dear life.


Willow took them on a route around the Trevi Fountain, to the Spanish Steps, up to see the columns of the Pantheon and gave them a glimpse at Piazza Navona which they could explore later on foot. She then brought them on a cruise down the River Tiber to admire all of the architecture on its banks. They rode right around the outskirts of the Circus Maximus in a full circle with a symphony of car horns acting as a soundtrack.


Finally, Willow pulled up at an entrance to a park and Tara had absolutely no idea where they were or how long they’d been riding but the sun was lower and the temperature had dropped a bit.


She lifted herself off the bike but had to put a hand on the handle to steady herself again as her legs got used to solid ground. She popped her helmet off and smiled giddily as Willow did the same.


“Willow, that was amazing,” she gushed, “I wouldn’t even have been brave enough to drive a car through all of that, never mind this. How did you do that?”


Willow hopped down and hung her helmet on the handle, shaking her hair out and making Tara swoon.


“I did an MTC in Driver’s Ed because I finished the regular course before everyone else and the instructor couldn’t dismiss me early,” Willow explained, her cheeks red and her dimples showing from the smile taking over her face, “But I never thought I’d get to use it for anything. The wind in your face, the views, even all the beeping was exhilarating!”


“It was incredible,” Tara said, leaning in to touch Willow’s shoulder, feeling electricity pass between them, “What’s an MTC?”


“Motorcycle Training Course,” Willow replied and as soon as she said it Tara remembered Donny stomping around the house when he failed his the first time around, “The name is a technicality really; I never actually got on a motorcycle. They’re all big and chunky and scary. I just liked scooting around on one of these in the training grounds. But they never had a pink one there! Isn’t it so pretty?!”


Tara just smiled in fond awe.


“You are full of surprises.”


Willow’s eyes lit up.


“I have another one.”


“Oh you do, do you?” Tara asked with a crooked smile and pulled at the arm of Willow’s jacket, “What else have you up your sleeve?”


Willow just smiled mysteriously.


“Find me in an hour.”


Tara did a double-take.


“F-Find you?”


“You’re good at that,” Willow winked as she sat back fully on the scooter, “I’ll be in this park somewhere.”


“You’re leaving me again?” Tara asked in something close to a whine but much more graceful.


“I gotta drop this back,” Willow explained, hooking her feet back up on the pedals, “And pick up a couple of things. You’ll be good on the grass, right?”


She donned the helmet again and started the scooter, riding off as she called back over her shoulder.


“It’ll be worth it, I promise!”


Tara was left with some dirt skidded against her feet and watched Willow retreat with her butt zigzagging away on that electric pink Vespa. Her mind formed a new fantasy she didn’t even know she was into.


A woman walked by and Tara was so focused ahead she didn’t even see her and ended up bumping against her. She blushed and cleared her throat, gesturing an apology and moved away from the main entrance thoroughfare. Apparently, she had an hour to kill.


There was an unusual fountain at the entrance of a giant, almost grotesque mask of a man spitting the water back into the pool. Tara was fascinated by the lines and sculpture. It was clearly old, very old, and she made a note to look up its history later as she assumed it must be rich, like everything else in this city.


She continued to wander, taking her time. There were multiple tall trees with unusually slender branches but it took her passing by several of them to notice the oranges blended in amongst the leaves. As soon as she saw one, she saw them all and they burst in vibrancy as they lined her walk around the area.


She noticed a certain symmetry to the grounds as she strolled, which was impressive considering the way the park was centered around some old ruins. You couldn’t even tell you were still firmly in the middle of the city.


She kept an eye on her watch and decided she would be that person this time. It was her turn to let Willow sweat a little.


She tried anyway, but only managed to wait about seven minutes past the hour deadline. What could she say; she wanted to see her lady too much.


Having canvassed the area she thought about where she might find Willow.


The mask at the fountain was too ugly and too easy to find. Willow was more creative than that.


She was also deathly afraid of standing under fruit trees after being bonked on the head by an oroblanco on a field trip in fourth grade.


She would be too anxious for Tara to walk amongst the ruins in case the uneven terrain strained her foot (Tara knew this from Budapest when Willow didn’t allow her to stand for too long and had made her dance in her stool for a period of time at the ruin bar before Tara told her she was being ridiculous.)


And so she wandered the hilly area that happened to offer a perfect panoramic view of the ancient city.


Sure enough right in the center sitting directly opposite the sinking sun, Willow was perched on a blanket with an old wicker basket at her feet in a new pink and grey blouse and pink jeans.


Tara approached with her hands up, laughing.


“There you are.”


“Here I am,” Willow replied jovially, then gave a knowing smirk, “You made me wait, didn’t ya?”


Tara blushed lightly as she dropped down to her knees on the blanket beside Willow.


“And why did I have to wander this beautiful park to find you? Why couldn’t you just tell me you were here?”


“Keepin’ the excitement alive,” Willow replied, waggling her eyebrows.


“Oh there is no problem in that department,” Tara replied in a murmur as she leaned in to offer Willow a greatly received kiss. It was only a moment given how public they were but they both smiled as they parted and Tara gently tugged on the lapel of Willow’s blouse, “When did you change clothes?”


“I brought spares in my backpack,” Willow explained, tapping the little backpack sitting alongside her, “I used the bathroom in the Vespa rental place.”


Tara looked down at her clothes; a stripy dress with a comfortable purple sweater that she’d worn for the train with plain leggings which was also now stained with mud and dust from the ride around the city.


“I look a mess.”


Willow just shook her head with her mouth still near Tara’s ear.


“Darling,” she said underneath her breath, “You look perfect tonight.”


Tara smiled and brushed her nose against Willow’s. She looked down at the basket and back at Willow.


“What’s all this?”


Willow grinned and brought the basket up between them. She opened it and took out little pre-packed containers of salads, some cheese and meats, and chocolate-covered strawberries.


“This looks really good,” Tara said as her finger followed the Italian script describing the contents of each plastic container.


“Oh this stuff is all for me,” Willow replied with a serious nod, “I wanted to get you your absolute favorites.”


Tara looked on curiously as Willow reached into her own backpack and produced a homemade tuna sandwich in a ziplock that they usually used to pack liquids at the airport and an applesauce cup that had an American flag printed on the foil lid under origin.


Tara covered her hand to conceal the laugh but that just made Willow laugh even more.


“Seriously, don’t eat these,” Willow said through the laughter as Tara picked up the sandwich to look at it, “They’ve been in my bag forever.”


Tara dropped the bag and her face scrunched up in disgust.


“You had a tuna sandwich at the bottom of your bag for weeks?”


“No,” Willow giggled, “Just the can. I made the sandwich earlier today. But the applesauce has been there…since I don’t even remember when. It must be from the first flight from LA. I found it last week and it got me thinking about all of this.”


Tara pressed two fingers against Willow’s cheek and let it fall off her jaw.


“You have serious commitment to a joke.”


“I like to think my commitment issues are behind me,” Willow replied with an awkward chuckle.


Tara just nodded softly and shared an affectionate look with Willow only breaking it when her eyes cast downward.


Tara lifted the nearest container to her and held it up.


“This quinoa salad looks so fresh.”


“Dig in,” Willow offered, taking their travel utensil packs out for them to eat with.


They started to eat and reined any intense affection by feeding each other or the like considering the number of people still walking around or enjoying the sunset like they were. When they got to the strawberries, Willow did offer one to Tara, who ate it shyly, covering her mouth when it turned out to be a bit too big to handle in one bite.


As she finished, she dropped her hand and linked her fingers with Willow’s.


“Why’d you do all this?”


“What do you mean?” Willow asked, her brow creasing for a moment.


Tara gestured around with her other hand.


“All the romance today. Is it a special day I’ve forgotten?”


Willow’s face slowly fell.


“That makes me sad.”


Tara’s eyes creased at the forlorn look on Willow’s face.


“Oh honey, I’m sorry. Why?”


“Romance shouldn’t be the exception,” Willow replied sadly, “It should be the norm. I guess you still don’t expect that of me… yet.”


“I didn’t mean…” Tara replied quickly but stopped to gather herself, “You’re very romantic, Willow.”


“I owe you a whole heap of it,” Willow said, glancing downward.


Tara shook her head.


“Willow, no—”


“I know what you’re going to say,” Willow interrupted, “That I’m still beating myself up for everything that happened before. That’s not it. I’ve been working on that.”


She met Tara’s eye and kept her gaze.


“Even if none of that had happened, I would still owe you. I owe you everything. You make me so happy,” she gushed with glassy eyes that she quickly blinked away, “And sometimes I’m still not sure about…you know what’s our friendship and what’s our relationship and what’s romance and what’s…you know, sex and what’s…everything else. Like all these roads merged and I’m not as great at navigating it as I am on a zippy Vespa.”


“I think that’s the point. The merging,” Tara replied with a reassuring nod, “But the lines did get very blurred over the years. It’s hard to straighten them out.”


“Oh nothing about them was ever straight,” Willow chuckled and Tara smiled too. Willow paused and played with Tara’s fingers, “I’m sorry if I’ve been lacking in the romance department. I know just telling you I love you isn’t enough.”


Tara pressed their palms together and rubbed them off each other.


“Willow…I know how much it took for you to say those words. So it is. It is enough,” she said with an unwavering voice, “But you’re so much more romantic than you think. You pull my chair out at every meal and you give me your sweater when it’s cold and you take the pillow with the questionable stains on the case every time.”


Willow ducked her head and Tara lifted her chin for her.


“Plus you got up early to get me flowers on Valentine’s Day and you plan sunset picnics and you compliment me every day. You say I love you in every language of every new place we visit and I wake up every morning looking forward to seeing your face,” she said ardently with eyes filled with love, “I think I need some romance lessons from you.”


Willow’s face bloomed.


“That last thing you just said? Yeah, that’s why you definitely don’t need lessons,” she said tenderly, “If anything I’ve learned from you. You were the one who taught me how to be a good girlfriend from leading by example. I mean, I hope…I hope that’s what I am now.”


Tara leaned in and pressed her lips lightly to Willow’s lips.


“You are the best girlfriend.”


She brushed her lips on Willow’s cheek before seeking her gaze again.


“Willow, I always had faith in us. Even when it seemed impossible something told me it wasn’t,” she said, nodding along with herself, “But I have my fair share of insecurities too. And what I said earlier, that’s on me, not on you. I’m so unbelievably happy with how far our relationship has come over the last year and there’s not a single area where I’m not satisfied.”


She leaned in close to Willow’s ear.


“Not a single one.”


Willow blushed as Tara pulled back and stopped for a moment to clear her throat.


“Thanks for sharing your insecurity. Sometimes I get a crushing attack and it feels like I’m the only one who feels like that.”


“No, darling, you and me and the whole world,” Tara replied honestly, “But it helps to share. I have to remind myself of that too.”


Willow swallowed several times.


“For a long time, I thought it was you and me against the world. It took me traveling it to realize that fighting against a nonexistent force just tires me out for no reason.”


“You were always smart, Willow,” Tara replied with a soft sigh, “But these last few months I’ve really seen you become wise.”


She paused to share a look with Willow to reinforce what she said.


“And it’s so beautiful to see you learn to love yourself,” she said with deeply emotional pull on her voice, “You’re finally catching up on how much I’ve loved you for years.”


Willow blinked away another tear.


“I love you too Tara,” she said without a quiver and smiled happily, “Or should I say…”


Her eyes creased affectionately the same way Tara’s lips did as it pulled into a crooked smile.


“Ti amo.”


“You didn't even have to learn that one,” Tara teased.


“I still get points though, right?” Willow asked eagerly.


Tara pretended to consider it, then nodded.


“Only because you didn't confuse it with 'te amo’.”


Willow grinned.


“Nope. I'd be getting ahead of myself. So how can I redeem all of these points?”


Tara's lips lifted in a crooked smile and danced her fingers along Willow's thigh.


“Any way you want.”


Willow took in a soft inhalation of breath.


“Mamma mia…”


Tara pursed her lips but she couldn't contain the laugh and started convulsing toward Willow. Willow joined in on the giggling and they ended up lying down alongside each other, watching the moon rise where the sun had once set, catching their breath through a shared grin.


“When the moon hits your eye like a big pizza pie, that's amore…” Willow sang joyfully with another stretch of smile taking up real estate on her face, “When the world seems to shine like you've had too much wine, that's amore…”


“Bells will ring ting-a-ling-a-ling, ting-a-ling-a-ling,” Tara answered in a sweet trill, “And you'll sing 'Vita bella'.”


Willow linked their fingers together between their bodies.


“Hearts will play tippy-tippy-tay, tippy-tippy-tay.”


They looked at each other and sang the last line together.


“Like a gay tarantella!”


The laughter bubbled up again and Willow turned on her side for a brief moment to cup Tara's cheek and peck her lips.


She rolled onto her back again and kept their hands clasped between them as she rested her head on Tara's shoulder.


“Different cities…Different histories…” she intoned thoughtfully, “Same moon. Same stars. Same big ole' pineapple.”


Tara squeezed Willow's fingers and Willow squeezed back.


“I always loved looking up because they made me feel like… like I was in space… part of the stars,” she said softly while adjusting her gaze over at Tara, “The only thing that could come close to comparing how I felt when I looked at you.”


She chuckled.


“Except a spacewalk would have been a lot less scary than admitting that at the time,” she said as she lifted Tara's hand and kissed the back of it, “My moon and my stars.”


Tara looked at Willow tenderly for a moment before her crooked smile came out again.


“So many points.”


Willow cackled with sweet, free laughter.


“I love you, Tare-bear.”


“Ti amo, Willow,” Tara replied, eyes creased with affection.


Willow turned her head and frowned.


“That's my thing.”


“We can share it,” Tara suggested easily.


“No, it's mine,” Willow replied incredulously, “You can't just wade in on the easiest one and claim credit!”


Tara's eyes shone with mirth and she threw a sly wink across the blanket.


“Guess I'll have to come up with some other way to show you.”


Willow's smile softened and she briefly nuzzled her nose on Tara's cheek.


“You do. Every day.”


Tara smiled and eased her gaze back upward.


“Lay here a while?”


Willow kissed under Tara's ear.


“As long as you're with me, I'd lay here forever.”

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 Post subject: Re: New Fic: Inevitable [AU] (Dec 27th 2019)
PostPosted: Fri Dec 27, 2019 7:54 am 
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Double dibs!

Lots of sweet moments in both the last two chapters. I enjoyed hearing Willow’s family backstory, weaving everything together with the Weeping Willow memorial was brilliant. It’s beautiful and a powerful sculpture for sure.

I’m glad to see the girls slowly working out their future together. I was wondering how you were going to keep them together. When Kimberly reminded Tara about signing those papers, at first I thought maybe she sold some music rights and was about to make some serious money; giving her the ability to move with Willow and be in the same city. So, the college admission was surprising...at least to me, lol.

The last chapter in Rome May have been my favorite thus far. They are truly connecting and growing as a couple and it’s lovely to watch it unfold. I’m also glad to not have any injuries or major drama in this chapter, I think we all needed a respite, lol.

Looking forward to more:)

-S.

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Last edited by Finey_McFine on Mon Dec 30, 2019 6:36 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: New Fic: Inevitable [AU] (Dec 27th 2019)
PostPosted: Fri Dec 27, 2019 5:37 pm 
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Budapest

Awww. Cal State LA is my Alma Mater (go Eagles??? I wasn't into sports lol) that tickled me

First off I am So impressed at the research you must have done writing this story!

Willow has grown so much! Tara too but it's more pronounced with Willow. I love how you wove in the origin of her name and the reverence of sharing her past

Rome

Just precious

"willow was strange. She knew this". Yes, Tara does know and love her girl.

The rest was just a perfect blend of romance (and Willow is SO romantic always) and them being on their own with perfect trust and no worries. Loved it!!

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 Post subject: Re: New Fic: Inevitable [AU] (Dec 27th 2019)
PostPosted: Tue Dec 31, 2019 5:00 am 
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Finey_McFine

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Double dibs!


Double banana! :banana :eatme

Quote:
Lots of sweet moments in both the last two chapters. I enjoyed hearing Willow’s family backstory, weaving everything together with the Weeping Willow memorial was brilliant. It’s beautiful and a powerful sculpture for sure.


It's a bit of a dark hole to go down, research wise, but I really wanted to get it right and be respectful - so I really appreciate this comment!!

Quote:
I’m glad to see the girls slowly working out their future together. I was wondering how you were going to keep them together. When Kimberly reminded Tara about signing those papers, at first I thought maybe she sold some music rights and was about to make some serious money; giving her the ability to move with Willow and be in the same city. So, the college admission was surprising...at least to me, lol.


Tara's evolution of her future is one that's really only made itself known as I wrote the story (keeping in mind in the original version of the fic, Willow wasn't coming on the trip at all! The trip was something I wrote as a throwaway line from Tara and then...) I thought a lot like Willow, that whatever Tara did, it would be music. And I even spent time researching music careers that I thought she might take and nothing fit like I wanted. Then I plotted out their lives for a period of time so I could write the epilogue and everything started to come together as to how music would be part of Tara's life and how it would allow her (and them!) to have the life I envisioned for them. There's not many chapters left, so you'll see soon :)

Quote:
The last chapter in Rome May have been my favorite thus far. They are truly connecting and growing as a couple and it’s lovely to watch it unfold. I’m also glad to not have any injuries or major drama in this chapter, I think we all needed a respite, lol.


I agree! Have some more chillaxing in Spain for that very reason!

Quote:
Looking forward to more:)

-S.


Thanks for your feedback!

shirrey

Quote:
Budapest

Awww. Cal State LA is my Alma Mater (go Eagles??? I wasn't into sports lol) that tickled me


That is awesome! (although if/when I ever write those years you will have to forgive horrible inaccuracies I'm sure I'll produce :P)

Quote:
First off I am So impressed at the research you must have done writing this story!


I probably spent more hours researching than actually writing, but it was a lot of fun!

Quote:
Willow has grown so much! Tara too but it's more pronounced with Willow. I love how you wove in the origin of her name and the reverence of sharing her past


Willow HAS grown so much and I love that Willow's growth has also made Tara grow so together they're building this healthier, happier relationship that actually feels equal and open. Feelings are my favorite thing to explore in fics so I'm just so happy to see them grow like this.

Quote:
Rome

Just precious


:blush

Quote:
"willow was strange. She knew this". Yes, Tara does know and love her girl.


No one could ever deny that!

Quote:
The rest was just a perfect blend of romance and them being on their own with perfect trust and no worries. Loved it!!


Thank you! I think when you travel like that sometimes you just need some time out to enjoy the moment as well as all of the cultural exploration.

Quote:
(and Willow is SO romantic always)


Totally agree.

Thanks for your feedback!



Update Directly Below

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 Post subject: Re: New Fic: Inevitable [AU] (Dec 27th 2019)
PostPosted: Tue Dec 31, 2019 5:00 am 
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CHAPTER RATING: PG-13

NOTE: Happy New Year :)

Chapter 43



Barcelona



Te Amo, Te Amo…
Don't It Mean I Love You?



Willow finished buttering some toast and quickly left the hostel kitchen she was in packed in with other hungry travelers making their breakfast.


She went back to the room where Tara was sitting on her lower bunk putting shoes on.


“Oh,” she said, standing when Willow walked into the room, “I was just about to join you.”


“There’s so many people in there,” Willow replied, wiping her brow on her arm, “It’s sweltering. I thought you’d prefer it in here.”


Tara nodded and took the yogurt Willow offered her along with the toast.


“Yeah, I heard it’s going to be a scorcher out there today. It’s the first day the hot water hasn’t run out because everyone is having cold showers.”


They sat back together on the bed and pushed themselves back against the wall to eat their breakfast.


“You know, I think we need a rest day,” Willow said as she nibbled at her crust, “I don’t want to walk around all day if it’s going to be that hot. Especially not if we do another Antoni Gaudí building hunt.”


“I told you to go home if you were bored yesterday,” Tara replied softly, “You wanna just hang out here?”


Willow shrugged one shoulder.


“Unless you wanted to do something else? Though I have to admit I might just stick around here even if you do…”


Tara shook her head.


“No, I’m with you.”


Willow smiled softly and pecked Tara’s cheek.


“Well, there’s A/C and outlets, vending machines here…we could watch some movies or listen to music or something. At least until the sun starts to go down.”


“Just chilling out sounds pretty good actually,” Tara smiled easily, “We’ve been so busy getting everything done in the shortened time. It’s been great but yeah, I’d like to beat the sun instead of it beating us.”


“Great,” Willow replied chirpily, “In that case—”


Just then the speaker in the corner of the room started to crackle and both of them looked at it unexpectedly. They’d been in plenty of rooms with a PA system installed but in all their travels they’d never actually heard it being used.


A voice started speaking in rapid Spanish and then in slower broken English with only a word every so often that was actually coherent.


“…air conditioning…shut down…unavailable…hydrate…”


The collective groan from the whole building was so loud that the walls shook, so much so that Willow and Tara had a split second of feeling triggered and grabbed each other’s hands.


A guy in their room stamped his foot like a child, grabbed his water bottle and walked out of there, leaving them alone but not for long as the others started filtering in from breakfast.


Willow looked at Tara with a pained face.


“It’s gonna get hot in here fast.”


“Go to the beach?” Tara suggested.


“There’s not going to be an inch of space,” Willow shook her head, “Pool?”


“Won’t they be packed too?” Tara asked with a frown.


“Public ones, yeah,” Willow nodded, “But if we get a day pass to a resort it should be capped. It’ll cost but we’ll get free snacks and maybe even drinks if I can find one that does a deal.”


Tara could see the spotlight from the sun through the window inch ever closer.


“Work your magic, hun.”


Willow got on her iPad and looked up local resorts that offered day passes.


“Grab your towel baby, we got a couple of lounge chairs with our names on them,” she said, then frowned momentarily, “Well not literally. It’ll probably just say ‘reserved’. But they’re ours!”


“Where are we going?” Tara inquired, looking over Willow’s shoulder.


Willow showed Tara the pictures on her phone.


“A place on the coastline, overlooking the beach. Free soft drinks and whatever snacks the bar sells. Forty bucks!”


“We’re gonna have to eat enough snacks to cover dinner,” Tara replied with a small grin.


“Duh,” Willow said with an answering grin, “You’ve seen me demolish a family bag of pretzels.”


They jumped up to gather their things and Tara left momentarily to drop their dishes back to the kitchen. When she returned she went to pick up her swimsuit to change into beneath her clothes but it wasn’t where she’d last seen it.


“Where’d my swimsuit go?” she asked, picking up her towel and folded tank top and shorts, peering through each item to look for it.


“Hmm?” Willow asked, averting her eyes from where Tara was searching.


Tara placed her stuff back down with her brow creased in confusion.


“My swimsuit was right here on top of my stuff.”


“Haven’t seen it,” Willow dismissed, shaking her head downward, “…don’t you still have that bikini you got in Fiji?”


Tara’s eyebrows rose in realization and then one immediately arched in annoyance.


“No, Willow,” she replied pointedly, “It got left on the beach when we were busted for ‘topless sunbathing’.”


Willow’s face scrunched up, pained.


“Crap, really?”


“What did you do with my swimsuit?” Tara demanded, her hands folding on her hips.


Willow looked both busted and contrite and reached over to the underside of the mattress to pull Tara’s swimsuit back out. On the way, it snagged on something and by the time she’d pulled it back to them the entire crotch had ripped in two.


Willow smiled awkwardly.


“Oops?”


“Willow,” Tara complained, taking the garment and examining the new rip, “It’s completely ruined. I can’t even sew it, I couldn’t trust it would hold in that area.”


“I’ll go to that little store down the street and get you a new one!” Willow replied and started to run out before Tara could protest, “I’ll be right back!”


Tara sighed and sat back down on the bed. She rolled her eyes to herself and picked out some sunscreen and sandals and rooted out her sunglasses.


Willow returned after several minutes, sweating and carrying a plastic bag on her wrist. She held it out to Tara who took it and emptied it onto the bed. She picked up the contents, a red with white polka dot bikini with a halter-neck bustier-style top and high waist bottoms.


“I swear this is all they had,” Willow said when Tara gave her a look, “There must have been a run on swimwear because of the heat. I’m not lying to you. The only other option was a kid’s wetsuit.”


Tara offered a relenting look; at least it had a bit more coverage and support than the tiny little thing she’d bought in Fiji.


Willow looked relieved as she dropped down onto the bed.


“Also we made the right decision because it’s hot as balls out there.”


She fanned herself off for a moment then plucked her own red bikini top up and held it against her.


“We kinda match,” she said, smiling over at Tara sweetly, “Yours is much cuter but that’s nothing new.”


“You can stop buttering me up, I’ll wear the bikini,” Tara replied plainly and Willow grinned from ear-to-ear.


Tara was smiling too, inside, but she tortured Willow a little longer with some withering looks. If Willow minded being tortured she didn’t show it and just encouraged Tara to change so she could check for any tags or snags.


Tara came out from the bathroom tying the bikini straps around the back of her neck and Willow’s eyes widened considerably.


“You look really hot. Like a pin-up model.”


Tara just blushed.


“I am really hot. It’s sweltering,” she dodged, fanning herself with her hand, “Can we go to the pool?”


“Yes!” Willow answered promptly, throwing her backpack on her back, “All ready.”


Tara threw on her tank top and shorts, slipped on her sandals and she was ready to go too. Their hostel was right on the steps of a metro but being underground did nothing to hamper the baking heat.


“When I anticipated there would be so many people at the beach I didn’t take into account that we were going to have to share the transport on the way to the beach-side resort,” Willow grumbled at Tara, who couldn’t really respond because she was trying not to breathe and inhale the sweat of the people standing right next to her.


“We’re getting a ride home,” Tara gasped through her first full breath when they were finally able to squeeze off the train.


“Absolutely,” Willow agreed, turning them in the right direction of the resort. Tara didn’t often suggest they pay for a premium so she would take advantage where she could.


The resort was another half-mile away from the closest station and neither of them had packed water bottles with the promise of free drinks at the pool.


“Sit,” Willow said insistently when they finally got to the hotel and through reception to the poolside.


They had two full lounge chairs where they were able to lay their towels with the deep shimmering blue pool right by their feet. Palm trees provided shade from the side but you could see for miles directly out over the ocean.


The beach looked like some kind of odd embroidery pattern with all the different towels covering up every inch of sand out there and they were grateful to have booked this spot away from it all.


The bar was through a few sets of open French doors and it was infinitely cooler just by stepping over the threshold. Willow had no problem sitting there and waiting for the bartender’s attention.


She ordered two Sprites and a bowl of olives and only the thought of Tara in her bikini gave her the strength to get off the stool when she was served to carry them back outside.


“Here you go,” she said to Tara as she handed off her glass and put the olives on the little table between them, “Jackpot, by the way. They have like a whole little tapas bar menu. I saw some chicharrones with my name on it for later. It’s nuts how excited I’ve become about free food.”


Tara chuckled.


“Remember that place with the free Belgian waffles? The only time I’ve seen you more excited was when you got to teach that computer class in high school.”


Willow smiled but it didn’t quite reach her eyes.


“That ended really sadly. The teacher who asked me, she was killed.”


Tara reached over and put her hand over Willow’s.


“Oh sweetie, I didn’t know. I’m so sorry.”


“Thanks,” Willow smiled genuinely, “You know, I’m sure she and the librarian had a thing.”


“Mr. Giles?” Tara asked with an arched eyebrow, “Mrs. Summers’s Mr. Giles?”


Willow shrugged her shoulder.


“I don’t know if that’s still happening or not, but yeah. He sure gets around for a stuffy old English guy.”


Tara poked Willow in the side.


“And we thought we were the most illicit couple in Sunnydale.”


Willow giggled and held her glass against her forehead to cool the beads of sweat.


“Let me know when you need another drink. Really. No problem at all.”


“Thanks,” Tara replied gratefully as she lifted her tank top over her head and lay back in her bikini top and shorts.


Willow watched as the sun hit Tara’s skin, lighting her up with an ethereal glow. The red was so rich against her creamy skin and the black lines etched into her ribs contrasted so sexily that Willow was very glad she had a pool to jump into.


So she stripped off and did just that.


Tara watched as Willow dropped down into her red bikini, but she had the sense to wear her sunglasses so she wouldn’t be caught.


When Willow climbed back up the steps, her body wet and the bikini clinging to her, Tara knew she wasn’t the only one looking but took great pride in being the only one being walked back to.


Willow threw herself on her towel over the chair and let her body soak up the rays.


“Hey, you have to warm me when I’m turning from not-entirely-ghost-white to giant Jewish tomato. It’s a very fine line when you’re blessed with this fine, pasty complexion.”


“Have you sun-screened?” Tara checked, gesturing to the bottle she’d brought on the little table.


“Yep—” Willow started to say, then suddenly shook her head vigorously, “Nope!”


Tara looked over her sunglasses.


“Want me—”


“Yep!” Willow answered quickly before Tara could even finish.


Tara smirked and threw her legs over the side of her chair. She squirted some cream into her hands and started rubbing it into Willow’s neck and back.


“Is the pool nice?”


“Water’s cool,” Willow answered, holding the back of her hair up to help, “Not too crowded. Avoid those missiles shaped like kid’s toys though.”


“I think that little boy was trying to get your attention,” Tara teased.


I think he was distracted because you took your shorts off,” Willow returned, “I mean, probably. Not that I was watching you do it or anything.”


She took a quick look around at the various women sitting out enjoying the sun in various swimwear.


“Actually I think he’s like a pre-pubescent boy in a candy shop.”


Tara started to rub the cream down Willow’s arms.


“I’m sure he’ll grow out of trickery to get attention.”


Willow could not see but could 100% hear Tara’s grin but what did she care? She was getting rubbed all over in public and didn’t care one bit. A year ago she would have had a panic attack over the prospect.


Tara finished up and squeezed the tops of Willow’s arms affectionately.


“All good?”


“Uh-huh, thanks,” Willow nodded, laying back down on her chair, “You are very obliging.”


“I try my best,” Tara smiled.


She lay back down as well and enjoyed some of her cool drink. The trees offered a pleasant breeze and they both enjoyed sunbathing in comfort. Truth be told, the lounge chairs were even comfier than the bunk beds in the hostel, but they’d gotten used to rough bedding.


After a while, during which time Tara made sure to make Willow do a burn-avoiding-turn, Willow offered to get them another round of drinks.


“Do you want to have some lunch too?” Tara asked, taking the last olive and popping it into her mouth.


“Yeah, I’ll get us some snacks for a little platter,” Willow agreed, “Any requests?”


Tara shook her head.


“Whatever you think looks good. Want me to go?”


“No, I got it,” Willow smiled, already standing up.


Tara reached out and squeezed Willow’s fingers, then folded her arms back under her head.


Willow threw her shorts and top back on to go to the bar. She looked over the menu and ordered a few things she knew they’d like as well as more drinks. As she waited, the boy from the pool started to play on the piano sitting up against the wall beside the semi-circle bar.


Willow didn’t pay much attention until she realized her foot was tapping along with the same repetitive tune.


She turned her head and watched him press the same keys in a pattern and felt a pull inside her head like a memory was trying to push itself forward.


“Hey kid,” she called out curiously, “What are you playing? It sounds familiar.”


The kid looked flustered at being talked to and accidentally pressed a bunch of keys together as his whole hand smashed against them.


He pulled his hand back and keyed the tune in again, slower.


“D-A,” he sang under his breath like he was at a lesson, “B-B-A.”


The sense of elusive memory just plagued Willow harder.


“Where’d you hear it?”


The boy looked concerned, then shakily pointed a finger out the window. When Willow followed it, she saw he was pointing directly at Tara.


“Huh?” she said out loud, but quickly put two and two together, “Oh, you mean her tattoo.”


D-A-B-B-A


A woman approached and slapped the boy’s hand downward.


“Connor, don’t point!”


D-A-B-B-A


“Holy shit!” Willow said suddenly, only to get the stink eye from the mother. Willow cleared her throat and held up a hand apologetically, “Sorry. Sorry.”


The mother brought her son off and Willow was left sitting there dumbfounded as the tune now played in her mind with the image of tiny Tara practicing on her keyboard.


Willow’s Theme.


The first song Tara had written for her and Willow hadn’t even appreciated at the time that Tara had used the notes of her corresponding nickname to compose it. She could hear the whole thing in her mind and though she didn’t have the same ear for music that Tara did she was pretty sure the entire tune used variations of the same three notes, starting and ending with D-A-B-B-A.


They had so many other nicknames for each other now, pet names really, and hadn’t used Yabba and Dabba for over a decade except to joke or reference their childhood. Though, Willow thought to herself, when she was asking Tara to come with her on this journey, that’s where she’d defaulted to; where their adventures had started as two little girls playing make-believe with no idea how much they’d explore together for real.


They were names that were uniquely theirs; a name that could only ever be for Willow, even more than Willow’s own name. There were lots of other Willows out there. She was the only Dabba.


That was her and their entire history embossed on Tara’s skin permanently.


Her thoughts were rudely interrupted when a tray was pushed at her and Willow had to blink several times to remember where she was.


She carried the tray back to Tara, who sat up and centered the table between them.


“Ooh, this looks good.”


“Yeah,” Willow replied, her eyes transfixed on Tara’s tattoo, “There’s uh…food.”


Tara awkwardly covered her cleavage.


“Honey I’m flattered but not so obvious, please.”


Willow glanced away quickly.


“Right. Uh, sorry.”


She sat down and took her glass of soda, taking a long, slow sip. She realized Tara was chatting with her and shook her thoughts from her head to chat back.


Though she couldn’t stop them lingering at the back of her mind.


They enjoyed some food and took a dip in the pool and Tara meticulously ensured Willow never stayed still long enough to burn.


For some reason that Willow just couldn’t possibly imagine, that level of caring almost made her burst into tears.


When the sun began to change its position in the sky, Willow nudged Tara’s arm.


“Hey, you wanna go back to the room and hang a sheet?”


Tara glanced over and lifted her sunglasses, revealing her eyebrows to be raised.


“I think it’s too hot for a fumble.”


Willow ducked her head, hiding a smile.


“No, not for that,” she said, lifting her gaze to look at Tara again, “Just for a chat. I have that little mini-fan we use on planes I can hang if the A/C is still out.”


Tara smiled softly.


“Sure, that’d be nice,” she said, sitting up and stretching her back out, “They were probably going to kick us out soon anyway.”


“We did get three rounds of ‘lunch’,” Willow giggled.


They threw their clothes back on and rolled their towels back into Willow’s backpack. They would have to walk down to the beach to meet the car and it had turned into such a nice evening that they decided just to walk home instead.


It was silent but hand-in-hand, just enjoying the balmy evening and feeling safe in each other’s presence.


“Thanks for suggesting this today,” Tara broke the silence when they arrived back in the room, “It was just what I needed.”


“I had a great day,” Willow replied earnestly, pushing Tara back gently against the bed frame to give her a chaste kiss before pulling away to find light pajamas to change into and to hang the sheet up over the lower bunk to give them some privacy.


Tara changed into almost identical clothing to what she was wearing before; a new tank top and some sleep shorts since the A/C had most definitely not been fixed.


She slipped in behind the sheet where Willow was using a shoelace to hang her little battery-powered mini-fan off of the inner ladder so it blew cool air down on them.


“You’re so smart,” she whispered affectionately.


Willow smiled bashfully and secured the fan before settling down on her side with her head on the pillow. Tara faced her directly in the same position and brought a hand up to caress Willow’s cheek.


“So what’s on your mind?”


“Hmm?” Willow asked, her eyes fluttering closed at the pleasant sensation of Tara’s caress.


“You wanted to chat,” Tara prompted softly.


Willow gently pushed Tara’s shoulder down so she was lying on her back and let her fingers fall down to push up the hem of Tara’s tank up under her breast.


Tara didn’t stop her but did smirk.


“I knew you spinning a line.”


“No,” Willow replied quickly, “I wasn’t, I swear.”


Her hand remained where it was.


“I wanted to see your tattoo.”


“Did you not have enough opportunity all day?” Tara teased lightly but Willow didn’t smile back.


Her gaze was too focused on the blank ink imprinted on Tara’s skin. She followed the curve of each note from beginning to end and slowly lifted her eyes to Tara’s.


“Sing me the tune.”


Tara blinked several times.


“Sorry?”


“Sing me the tune,” Willow prompted again, soft but insistent, “The tune you decided you wanted part of you forever. Sing it for me.”


Tara’s eyes slowly clouded over.


“You figured it out, didn’t you?”


Willow felt her stomach drop at how pained Tara looked for her having ‘figured it out’.


“Why didn’t you tell me?” she asked gently.


Tara’s eyes fell downward.


“Willow you freaked out because someone saw us sitting on a balcony together. You wouldn’t kiss me unless the door was locked and you’d triple checked. I thought you’d run and never stop if you knew I’d gotten a tattoo about you. I-I didn’t want to lose you.”


Willow felt her heart clench at Tara’s tiny little voice; a tone she hadn’t heard in a long time.


“Okay. I get that,” she replied with an understanding nod, “Completely. But since then? I mean after I got freakin’ tuna and applesauce on my butt? Why didn’t you tell me then?”


Tara bit inside her lip.


“I was going to.”


She made herself drag her gaze up to Willow.


“But you hated yours. You wanted to get it lasered off,” she continued, her jaw tightening visibly as her cheekbones shifted on her face, “I thought you’d hate mine too. And I couldn’t bear the thought of you hating my skin every time you looked at me.”


“Tara,” Willow replied softly, “I could never hate you. I am so unbelievably touched.”


She put her hand on Tara’s cheek and directed their gazes together.


“That we’re both such stupid-in-love dorks who got a memory of each other drawn on them for life when they were out of their minds,” she smiled warmly, “And of course even when you’re drunk you got a beautiful musical score and I got a, a… tuna butt.”


Tara laughed, a little shaken as she’d been close to tears and Willow returned it before leaning in to press a long, soft kiss on Tara’s lips.


“I’m gonna make you proud to wear my name,” she promised, blinking away a tear and kissing Tara again.


The tension left Tara’s shoulders as the pace of the kiss sped up, though it remained chaste.


After a minute or so Willow had to pull away because she was laughing.


“Dabba,” she said through quiet laughter that began to grow more out of control, though she was able to keep it between them, “I’m sorry, I’m sorry. It’s just…I just remembered the Flintstones theme song.”


She bit her lip long enough to hold down the giggles.


We’ll have a gay old time,” she sang joyfully as laughter snorted out her nose.


They began to laugh together in quiet convulsions until finally, Willow rested her forehead against Tara’s.


“Meant to be.”


“Or God has a sense of humor,” Tara replied, wiping away a tear from laughing.


“I bet she does,” Willow agreed, nodding and then brushing the hair from Tara’s eyes tenderly, “You’ll never lose me. I promise. Even if we fight, but I hope we don’t. But I meant it in Rome. I am committed to you, wherever that brings us. I knew that the moment I realized I wanted to do all of this with you.”


Tara returned the affectionate gesture.


“I’m committed to you too.”


Willow playfully poked Tara’s shoulder.


“I’m gonna get ‘TARA’ in big rainbow letters all up my spine, whaddya think?”


Tara rested her mouth above Willow’s ear to whisper.


“I think I’ll mark your spine in another way…”


Her tongue followed the curve of Willow's ear and her fingers danced on Willow’s thigh before falling away softly.


They breathed together for several moments, looking into each other’s eyes to silently affirm their words.


“Be with me when you sleep?” Willow suggested as if either of them planned to move an inch away from each other.


Tara just nodded and whispered ‘I love you’. Willow returned a ‘Te Amo’ and they snuggled together.


They wouldn’t sleep for a while but they would enjoy the closeness and another affirmation of their shared bond with cool air blowing on their faces.


They would never know why their roommates kept looking at them uncomfortably the next morning because no one was brave enough to mention the buzzing going on their bed.


All


Night


Long.

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 Post subject: Re: New Fic: Inevitable [AU] (Dec 31st 2019)
PostPosted: Tue Dec 31, 2019 11:05 am 
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10. Troll Hammer

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I enjoyed Budapest (I have a small amount of Hungarian ancestry; I'm told it's where the family nose comes from; I once posted to Amber she has *almost* enough up front herself to fit in with my bunch) (also, I've studied alittle about he Holocaust so the whole story w as very powerful) and Rome (my ex is half-Italian but I can't in good conscience hold that against them.) I liked the *unintentional* callback you had in there to t he Angel ep. where they're on a motorcycle and Wesley tells him "Hop on, gorgeous."

Spain; I figured it was inevitable they'd get there -in "Snapshots" I had them elope to Valencia, I mean, same language, courtesy of a rich relative of Willow's, for a quick civil ceremony and honeymoon- and, well, I don't *blame* Willow for wanting the most of Tara she can get poolside but she was sure a sneak about hiding the suit and the "accidental" tearing of its crotch (I know it's wrong to be that way but I incline in that direction myself so I enjoyed it.) I'm glad they found a way to beat the heat.
I'm a bit troubled about "Connor"'s knowing Willow's Theme; am I correct in assuming he actually read it off Tara's cleavage? I'm no stranger to ogling myself but that shows a level of attention which could be called disturbing. (I wonder, is this Tara as clueless as canon-Tara seemed to be about just how attractive she is to men?)

I guess this is sort of the homeward slope of t he trip, been quite the ride.

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Snapshots:http://thekittenboard.com/board/viewtopic.php?f=5&t=10210 a Love Story
____________________________________________________________
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] (Dec 31st 2019)
PostPosted: Wed Jan 01, 2020 10:10 pm 
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Quote:
Grab your towel baby, we got a couple of lounge chairs with our names on them,” she said, then frowned momentarily, “Well not literally. It’ll probably just say ‘reserved’. But they’re ours!”


what a perfectly Willow line!

Naughty Willow was working her charm all through this- Tara's new suit sounds delicious though


The music notes were the sweetest things! I love how you unraveled that too. There are still lingering worries from Tara that are being kissed away one by one- I have said this before but I like so much that you keep these doubts and misunderstandings with them- it makes them three dimensional.

Quote:
“I’m committed to you too.”


:luv :wtkiss

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 Post subject: Re: New Fic: Inevitable [AU] (Dec 31st 2019)
PostPosted: Thu Jan 02, 2020 12:13 am 
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6. Sassy Eggs

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Happy new year to you all! :bounce

I was at my parents house over the holidays so I had no opportunity to comment on the last 4 chapters until now.
I loved that they stayed in Nepal to help in the rebuilding-process, it obviously also helped them in overcoming their own traumas caused by the earthquake and its aftermath.
I was overjoyed to learn that they will go to college so close to each other. That Tara won't have a musical career will probably be good for their future relationship because as a professional musician Tara certainly would have had to travel a lot what would have meant long seperations for our beloved couple.
The scene at the holocaust-memorial in Budapest was very powerful. That Willow's great-grandparents died in Auschwitz and her grandmother escaped the Holocaust by a hair made their visit much more meaningful. I loved that they prayed together.
The Rome-chapter was wonderful. I could picture them racing around on this pink scooter together so vividly in my mind. Yay for Willow totally embracing the romance now!
And the mistery of the meaning of Tara's tattoo is finally lifted. I always guessed it had something to do with Willow, the first notes of al lovesong she wrote secretly for her or something. That it turns out to be a song she wrote for Willow when they were little kids and spelling out her kid-nickname in notes is so cute.


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 Post subject: Re: New Fic: Inevitable [AU] (Dec 31st 2019)
PostPosted: Thu Jan 02, 2020 12:14 am 
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6. Sassy Eggs

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First time I accidentaly double-posted. Turns out I don't know how to cancel the second post, sorry! :blush


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 Post subject: Re: New Fic: Inevitable [AU] (Dec 31st 2019)
PostPosted: Fri Jan 03, 2020 7:00 am 
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Ms. Moderator Fantastico
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DaddyCatALSO

Quote:
I enjoyed Budapest (I have a small amount of Hungarian ancestry; I'm told it's where the family nose comes from; I once posted to Amber she has *almost* enough up front herself to fit in with my bunch)


Wow, that is...brave?

Quote:
(also, I've studied alittle about he Holocaust so the whole story w as very powerful)


It's a hard topic to read about, but so important too.

Quote:
and Rome (my ex is half-Italian but I can't in good conscience hold that against them.)


The country thanks you.

Quote:
I liked the *unintentional* callback you had in there to t he Angel ep. where they're on a motorcycle and Wesley tells him "Hop on, gorgeous."


Never seen it, so certainly unintentional.

Quote:
Spain; I figured it was inevitable they'd get there -in "Snapshots" I had them elope to Valencia, I mean, same language, courtesy of a rich relative of Willow's, for a quick civil ceremony and honeymoon- and, well, I don't *blame* Willow for wanting the most of Tara she can get poolside but she was sure a sneak about hiding the suit and the "accidental" tearing of its crotch (I know it's wrong to be that way but I incline in that direction myself so I enjoyed it.) I'm glad they found a way to beat the heat.


Legal sunbathing this time...definitely a better time.

Quote:
I'm a bit troubled about "Connor"'s knowing Willow's Theme; am I correct in assuming he actually read it off Tara's cleavage? I'm no stranger to ogling myself but that shows a level of attention which could be called disturbing.


You're....troubled? That a tween boy stared at an older woman's bared skin long enough to recognize a few notes on her torso (not cleavage?) It's about as noticible to someone who reads music as a basic word like 'hello' would be.

Quote:
(I wonder, is this Tara as clueless as canon-Tara seemed to be about just how attractive she is to men?)


Yes.

Quote:
I guess this is sort of the homeward slope of t he trip, been quite the ride.


It is certainly getting there!

Thanks for commenting!

shirrey

Quote:
what a perfectly Willow line!


Does it have her name on it? :wink

Quote:
Naughty Willow was working her charm all through this- Tara's new suit sounds delicious though


I, uh, may have sought out a picture to give a better idea as I was writing it so, sharing is caring :blush

Image

Quote:
The music notes were the sweetest things! I love how you unraveled that too. There are still lingering worries from Tara that are being kissed away one by one- I have said this before but I like so much that you keep these doubts and misunderstandings with them- it makes them three dimensional.


I am unfortunately quite familiar with those ole lingering insecurities and like most encapsulating feelings, they don't just go away at the drop of a hat. But you can get there, little by little and that's always important to remember.

Quote:
:luv :wtkiss


After everything, how could they not? :)

Thanks for your feedback!

Will's redemption

Quote:
Happy new year to you all! :bounce


Happy New Year!

Quote:
I was at my parents house over the holidays so I had no opportunity to comment on the last 4 chapters until now.


I hope you had a wonderful holiday!

Quote:
I loved that they stayed in Nepal to help in the rebuilding-process, it obviously also helped them in overcoming their own traumas caused by the earthquake and its aftermath.


I think so. I think they would have floundered if they just left, especially to go 'home' and have to try and adjust back to that life and concerned parents all in one go. Rebuilding the city helped rebuild themselves.

Quote:
I was overjoyed to learn that they will go to college so close to each other. That Tara won't have a musical career will probably be good for their future relationship because as a professional musician Tara certainly would have had to travel a lot what would have meant long seperations for our beloved couple.


You know, this is very true and while I do believe they would have made it work, it would have been incredibly difficult. They really both just want a happy, quiet, and ultimately family life and this avenue will let them have a lot of fun in their youth and build towards a really happy life when it's time to settle down. This will all become apparent by the end :kdevil

Quote:
The scene at the holocaust-memorial in Budapest was very powerful. That Willow's great-grandparents died in Auschwitz and her grandmother escaped the Holocaust by a hair made their visit much more meaningful. I loved that they prayed together.


I think it was so important for Willow to get some clarity for herself on what her faith means to her life. That just because it's not the same as her father's, doesn't mean it's not as strong, just in a different way.

Quote:
The Rome-chapter was wonderful. I could picture them racing around on this pink scooter together so vividly in my mind. Yay for Willow totally embracing the romance now!


It's a cliche, but I love the idea of them zipping around like that!

Quote:
And the mistery of the meaning of Tara's tattoo is finally lifted. I always guessed it had something to do with Willow, the first notes of al lovesong she wrote secretly for her or something. That it turns out to be a song she wrote for Willow when they were little kids and spelling out her kid-nickname in notes is so cute.


It's such a relief I think for Tara for it to be finally known...and loved for it! That's a huge 'aha' moment for her.

Quote:
First time I accidentaly double-posted. Turns out I don't know how to cancel the second post, sorry! :blush


No need to apologize! You can't actually delete as a user I don't think, so if you ever need anything deleted just ask me or another mod (we'll move it out of public view) but it's no big deal, editing it like you did is usually the easiest way to mitigate a double post!

Thanks so much for your feedback :)



Update Directly Below

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 Post subject: Re: New Fic: Inevitable [AU] (Dec 31st 2019)
PostPosted: Fri Jan 03, 2020 7:00 am 
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CHAPTER RATING: PG-13

Chapter 44



Amsterdam



But You’ll Look Sweet Upon The Seat
On A Bicycle Built For Two



“Have you ever tried it?”


They passed by a coffeeshop on the banks of the Amstel river where they could see people partaking in the local weed supply inside.


“I have not,” Willow replied promptly.


“Are you curious?” Tara asked, raising an eyebrow playfully.


“After Nepal, I’m nervous about even eating a poppy seed bagel…” Willow admitted cagily before turning her head to look at Tara, “Have you?”


Tara nodded.


“A little. At shows. Nate would always have some. But I don’t like being too baked. It changes how I hear music and I like how I hear it.”


Willow’s nose scrunched distastefully.


“I think I’m gonna give it a hard pass.”


“I heard it’s mostly geared toward tourists anyway,” Tara replied, rubbing Willow’s shoulder for a moment, “Probably not the best stuff.”


Willow didn’t seem too bothered.


“It’ll be legal soon if I change my mind.”


“I’ll be your chaperone,” Tara offered and Willow leaned into her for a moment before straightening up to walk again.


“I wouldn’t mind a real coffee though. Are there coffee shops for actual coffee?”


“I think they’re called cafés,” Tara replied knowledgeably.


Willow frowned.


“How do we know the difference?”


Tara smirked.


“The smell.”


“Right!” Willow nodded quickly with some false confidence, “Of course.”


They went into the next café they came across and sat at a little table for two. Tara told Willow her coffee order and excused herself to the restroom.


A young woman came over and did a mini-assessment of Willow before deciding to speak in English.


“What can I get for you today?”


“Um, a latte macchiato,” Willow requested, “And uh…do you have like…half coffee, half hot chocolate? Is that a thing here?”


“A mocha for you?” the server asked kindly.


“That’s the one!” Willow replied, relieved to be understood, then feeling stupid for the assumption that she wouldn't be, “Um, can I get a couple of biscotti too?”


The server smiled apologetically.


“I’m afraid we are all out of biscotti but we do offer a selection of other baked goods. Do you enjoy ladyfingers?”


Somehow, Willow kept an entirely straight face.


“I’ve been known to.”


The server smiled and nodded politely and went off to get the order. Moments later, Tara returned and took her seat opposite Willow.


“Speak of the angel,” Willow said, leaning forward with her chin resting on her hands.


“Hmm?” Tara asked as she scooted her chair back into the table.


“Hmm?” Willow returned breezily, “Coffee is coming.”


“Thanks, honey,” Tara smiled.


Their coffees were served to them and Tara regarded the cookie for a moment but paid it no heed and started to nibble on it. Willow smiled to herself and just sipped her sweet, sweet mocha.


“So how are you liking Amsterdam?”


They chatted until they finished their coffees and then paid and walked back onto the street to continue to explore the city. They passed many a coffeeshop, which Willow could now most definitely identify and laughed at her own such recent naivety. Amongst the modern displays of hedonistic enjoyment, the city was full of beautiful old houses with colorful flower beds at their feet which brightened everything up vibrantly.


They walked through parks and over sweet little bridges that reminded them of home and out the other side right back into a new part of the town.


The areas of the city blended so well into each other than they didn’t realize they had wandered into a certain section of a specific nature until they’d passed their third adult entertainment store.


It was hard to tell in the daylight; they literally had to be assaulted-by-eye with a giant purple penis to recognize where they were.


It was a mutual realization, a meeting of their slowly-widening eyes as they both became rooted to the spot. They both opened and closed their mouths, turned away and back to each other and were speechless until finally, Tara was brave enough to talk.


“…you wanna look inside?”


“Me?” Willow feigned innocence, before darting her eyes back and forth and leaning into Tara, “Kinda?”


There was another minute or so of unsure shuffling before they both made a step toward the door and then very quickly bounded inside, both of them looking over their shoulder on the way in.


Tara had always felt open in herself about her own sexuality and had certainly gotten almost to the same point of openness with Willow, but she wasn’t sure she was 12-inch purple penis kinda open.


Willow definitely wasn’t.


But she was intrigued.


Neither was sure what they expected inside, but it was a fairly ordinary store. Sure, a sex swing was hanging from the ceiling instead of stacks of clothes and the mannequins were donning a lot more PVC but there were marked aisles and sale signs and it smelled clean.


Very, very clean.


Sterile.


They wandered the aisles quietly, their reactions playing out entirely on their faces. Willow moved from confusion to disgust to horror all in the one aisle with a good smattering of fascination in there too.


She caught up with Tara who was peering in a glass of case of various curved objects in a variety of colors.


“Are they…vibrators?”


Tara just nodded slowly.


“I-I like that they’re less…” she started and paused to consider her words, “Lifelike.”


Willow grimaced and shook her head quickly to get rid of any images.


“Did you see the religious line?”


Tara frowned deeply.


“I don’t think I want to.”


Willow leaned in to hiss in Tara’s ear.


“If I have to see the baby Jesus butt plug so do you!”


Tara was sure she’d regret it but she went to look anyway. She saw Buddha’s face fashioned in a way she never wanted to see again and decided that was most certainly not a souvenir she would bring back to her mother.


After being in the store for a good thirty minutes of titillation, education, and abomination, they met back at the entrance.


“You finished?” Tara asked, gnawing on her bottom lip and securing her purse to her side with her arm.


“Yep!” Willow replied a little too quickly, holding the straps of her backpack tightly, “Let’s leave now. My mind has been sufficiently blown.”


They walked back out together and promptly turned up and away from the street at a fast pace. When they were back walking along a canal, they looked at each other and shared a blushing smile.


“So, um, what else do you want to do?” Tara asked, tucking some hair behind her ear.


“I want to see the Anne Frank house,” Willow replied, glancing up at Tara, “You don’t have to come if you don’t want to.”


Tara brushed her hand against Willow’s.


“Honey.”


She smiled assuredly.


“I belong with you, you belong with me,” she answered softly, “You're my sweetheart.”


Willow’s face brightened.


“We should go tomorrow, early,” Tara suggested easily, “There’ll be fewer crowds.”


“Good idea,” Willow nodded with a smile.


Tara linked their pinkies.


“Did you know in her diary, before it was edited, Anne wrote about her attraction to girls as well as boys?”


Willow’s head reeled back.


“Wait, what? Really? I…I never knew that.”


“The full thing is a very interesting read,” Tara replied, “You’d enjoy it even more, I think.”


Willow nodded in agreement.


“That may have helped, oh, a whole hell of a lot growing up.”


Tara squeezed Willow’s pinky a bit tighter.


“You can borrow my copy.”


Willow smiled gratefully and they lapsed into silence again as they enjoyed the walk and considered what to do.


“What about a bike tour?” she suggested when a couple rode by, “I’ve always wanted to try one of those tandem bikes.”


“That sounds like a lot of fun,” Tara returned, smiling, “I think I saw a rental place by the water earlier. Check that they do tandems?”


Willow double-checked and got an exact address of a bike rental shop just a few blocks from where they were. They walked there and paid to rent the bike for a couple of hours.


“Who should lead?” Willow asked as they held it up between them.


“Well we usually take turns,” Tara replied with a sultry smirk, “And you rode the Vespa…”


Willow gestured forward with one hand, grinning.


“By all means.”


Tara took the front seat and Willow threw her leg over the back one. They didn’t coordinate lifting their feet to the pedals and thus almost fell over within seconds.


“Okay, let’s try that again,” Willow said with a laugh as they tried again with a little more carefulness and were able to push off the path, “There we go!”


Tara smirked over her shoulder.


“We always find our rhythm pretty quick.”


Willow’s lips pursed, badly hiding a smile.


“That store did things to you.”


Tara winked.


“Maybe you bring it out in me.”


“Usually not quite so publically,” Willow replied with a nervous chuckle.


“I’ll stop,” Tara replied, scrunching up her nose.


“I didn’t say that,” Willow returned just to coax a smile, “But pay attention!”


They nearly skidded into a lamp-post and Tara cleared her throat and kept her eyes firmly focused ahead.


Willow realized pretty quick she’d won the best seat in the house when it came to the view, especially when Tara’s body would rise off the seat to peddle a little faster.


They found the bike lanes a little insane but did get to ride along a few beautiful canals and bask in the scenery.


When they went back to their hostel they made some dinner where they interacted with other travelers and got some recommendations for the nightlife. Tara liked the sound of the jazz club and Willow was happy to go along so they changed into more suitable attire, laughing with each other about how they didn’t have any of the same clothes they’d started the trip with.


They made their way downtown to the jazz club and only had to wait in the line outside for a couple of minutes before the bouncers let them in. It was all low lighting and old leather furniture, everything one would expect from a jazz club. They found a little half-circle booth with a table facing the stage that had a small oil lamp offering enough light for them to consider the drinks menu.


“Let’s do cocktails,” Willow suggested eagerly, “My treat. They look so fancy.”


They discussed their options and Willow went to the bar to order. She got a Clover Club for Tara and Sidecar for herself and felt very suave bringing them back to the table as the band started.


It was Willow’s first experience of free jazz and it made her want to don a beret and smoke a cigarette. Tara apparently agreed as when the band took a break, she leaned over to Willow to whisper.


“I would have loved to have been alive in the 20s when jazz was just starting up.”


“You would have been center stage wooing all the girls with your saxophone,” Willow teased, rubbing Tara’s arm gently, “Though I guess the wooing of girls was pretty hard back then.”


Tara gave Willow a look, smiling and shaking her head.


“You say that like I woo girls now.”


Willow leaned in and pressed a soft kiss to Tara’s cheek.


“You wooed me.”


Tara blushed lightly though thankfully it was hidden under the dark lighting.


“We’re everywhere, you know. We’ve always been here,” she said, playing with Willow’s sleeve at the base of her wrist, “Back then, women used flowers to symbolize to one another that they were looking for the love of another lady.”


“Really?” Willow asked, moving closer to hear better and, well, just to be closer.


Tara smiled and pressed two fingers above her breast.


“They’d wear a violet. It comes from a poem by Sappho who talks about a lover wearing a crown of violets. There was a play with a lesbian couple in New York in the 20s that used violets as a symbolism of their relationship. It was considered utterly obscene and dramatically stopped in true flamboyant fashion,” Tara smiled bashfully, “The word spread to Paris and Europe and that’s when they would start wearing violets or something violet-colored as a protest and a safe divulgence, I suppose.”


Willow pursed her lips for a moment.


“A crown of violets huh?” she asked, unsure if she was annoyed or amused, “One might even say…a tiara?”


Tara shrugged unsurely.


“I suppose though I don’t think it’s ever been translated that way. Why?”


Willow looked at Tara sitting by her side; their hands openly entangled as they sat in a club together on the other side of the world and realized she wasn’t the least bit jealous of Nate anymore.


“Nothing,” she replied, smiling and squeezing Tara’s hand, “Nothing at all.”


She leaned in and pecked Tara’s cheek.


“You’re my girl.”


“Yes I am,” Tara replied with a knowing smile, “And you’re mine.”


Willow cuddled into Tara’s body as an arm was wrapped around her shoulders. She loved when Tara held her like that.


“You should get up there and show them how to really wrangle a saxophone.”


“I’d love to play,” Tara admitted, “But I have a very firm rule. Never use another man's mouthpiece.”


Willow's nose scrunched.


“That is a wise rule,” she agreed and squeezed Tara’s thigh, “Can you scat?”


Tara just shook her head.


“I don’t think it’s an open mic night honey.”


“I just know how much music means to you,” Willow sighed softly, “I know you miss playing regularly.”


Tara reached out to the table and her fingers began to tap discreetly.


“I scribble lyrics and there’s this app on the iPad that lets you compose on a synth or create DJ tracks. It scratches the itch.”


“DJ tracks?” Willow asked with a curious smile.


“Nate got me onto it,” Tara replied, lifting her fingers for a moment before they started tapping faster; the beat in her mind clearly having moved on.


Willow sat up more fully.


“How’s Nate doing?”


Tara smiled softly.


“Oh, he’s out there every night with new tunes, playing the clubs. Has a new girlfriend. Seems to be loving New York life.”


“Good for him,” Willow replied sincerely, “I’m glad you stay in touch. He was a real friend to you.”


“I’d ask about Buffy and Xander but Anya keeps me well informed,” Tara replied, her lips pursing for a moment, “Sometimes a little too informed.”


“Oh please never tell me,” Willow begged, revulsion rolling over her face.


Tara blew a kiss toward Willow.


“My promise to you.”


Willow smiled, ducked her head and then met Tara’s gaze again.


“For that, I will refresh our drinks.”


She skipped out of the booth and headed up to the bar, getting the bartender’s attention straight away and smiling at other patrons as they approached.


This was a nice feeling.


Maybe she was starting to realize what confidence felt like.


Maybe she was just in love.


Maybe, she slowly realized, that one begat the other.



“You need to calm down on the jumpiness. Airport security will think you’re suspicious.”


“Sorry, I’m excited,” Tara replied to Willow as they shuffled forward in the security line, “A trip to England sounds so exciting and exotic.”


Willow raised an eyebrow.


“We’ve been all over Oceania and Asia and Europe and England is what you consider exotic?”


Tara slowly frowned.


“Unless you’re English,” she replied, her frown blooming back into a smile, “You won’t remember but its first place you ever told me about. The story that sparked the travel bug.”


Willow lips pursed into a grimace.


“So now I have to tell you the truth,” she said, sighing softly, “We went to Cambridge. I saw the university grounds and sat in on a Latin class. Not the fantastical tale of whatever I told you back then.”


Tara looked at Willow holding up her hands and waving them self-deprecatingly and felt sad for the little girl she remembered.


“That’s exactly what you told me then,” she said brightly but her eyes were badly hiding some woe, “You were so excited to have attended a lecture at Cambridge. You spent an hour telling me about how it felt like being at Hogwarts and that the library was even bigger than the airport and that they had classes on the lawn and you wished your math teacher would teach you outside so you could learn about the math in nature. You heard someone say ‘no looksies downsies, only thinksies aboutsies’ to a group they were teaching and you thought it was the best thing ever. You said it so much I started hearing it like a tune.”


She sang the little tune bashfully and it made Willow break out into an unending smile.


“You remember all of that?”


“I remember your smile,” Tara replied tenderly, then closed her eyes for a moment and looked down, “It started to fade after that.”


Willow smiled sadly.


She remembered now.


Her Dad had brought her around to explore the campus but her parents had fought later that he spent too much time away from his duties. Willow heard them from her adjoining room. He never showed her around anywhere after that. She would just sit around the hotel room and he’d tease her that she had every kid’s dream being able to watch TV and order room service but Willow could see now it was guilt.


It hadn’t been long before her first kiss with Tara and everything started to feel out of control for her. When she’d started lying about…everything.


They got to the metal table at security and began sorting their bags and clothing that needed to be removed. It was old hat at this point; they could do it in their sleep.


“Plus I’ve always had a bit of a crush on Emma Watson,” Tara admitted and it took Willow a moment to re-enter the conversation after being lost in her own reminiscence.


“Well,” she huffed, “That explains why you were always so eager to watch Harry Potter with me.”


She smiled but hid it from Tara by walking toward the body scanner.


She went through without issue and Tara followed them to the end of the scanner to collect their bags.


Tara’s came down the metal chute but they were waiting a minute for Willow’s. When it came through the scanner a security agent grabbed it and brought it down to them.


It the bottom right corner, there was a slight flicker in the bag but nothing couldn’t be heard with all of the other noise in the area.


“Madam is this your bag?” he asked Willow, who was clearly without one.


Willow visibly paled.


“Y-yeah, yes. Yes.”


“Follow me, please,” the agent instructed.


“I think your fan turned itself on,” Tara said to Willow as they shuffled over to the side desk where the agent was headed.


He set the bag down and unzipped it, slowly removing and checking the contents until there was a clear line of sight to the bottom. He peered down, then looked back up at Willow.


“Madam, can you remove that item from your luggage, please?”


Willow’s whole body stiffened and Tara looked at her oddly. Willow reached a shaken hand in and brought up the object to the top of the bag.


Its silky pink material did nothing to calm its vigorous shake or multiple moving parts.


“What is that?” Tara asked, but it only took another half a second to figure it out and for her eyes to widen as wide as saucers, “Oh.”


With it still vibrating in Willow’s palm, the agent reached into a box of latex gloves and snapped them onto his hands.


“It’s never been—jeez!” Willow groaned as her eyes shut tight.


The agent turned it over in his hands a few times and finally presented it back to Willow.


“Just take it!” Willow said through gritted teeth.


“You can return it to your bag madam,” the agent replied stoically.


Willow was just waiting for her cheeks to get hot enough for her to spontaneously burst into flames. She was sure a crowd had formed but she couldn’t bear to look and check.


“I don’t, I, I…just…can you just dispose of it?”


The agent flicked a button to turn the item off and reached out to drop it into a disposal unit beside him. His face was neutral but Willow could just tell he wanted to smirk.


“Very well madam. You are free to leave.”


Willow started to throw all of her things back into her bag but they both packed economically and not everything would fit that way. Tara stepped over and took over silently while Willow just dropped her head into her hand and kept her other arm folded across her chest.


Finally, Tara finished repacking the bag and handed it off to Willow, who stamped ahead. Tara had to pick up the pace to follow her.


They walked for about a minute before Willow raised her head just enough to not meet Tara’s gaze.


“I don’t want to talk about it.”


“Okay,” Tara agreed softly.


They got another few steps forward before Willow threw her arms up.


“It was supposed to be a surprise, okay! I just…” she stopped and looked down, “I saw you looking in the store.”


“I was just looking. You looked too,” Tara explained gently, “But if it’s something—”


“No,” Willow interrupted glumly, “I was getting it for you.”


“I’m very happy without,” Tara replied honestly, “But I’m not closed off. I also want you to be happy.”


Willow held a hand up definitively.


“I am.”


“Okay,” Tara nodded, “Good.”


“Great,” Willow replied, still terse.


They walked to their gate in silence and Willow fell into the first seat that was there. She dropped her head into her hands as she hunched over to hide her face.


Tara placed a hand between Willow’s shoulder blades and rubbed there gently. She coaxed Willow up and gave her a hug. She mouthed ‘it’s okay’ and rubbed Willow’s knee.


“It’s touching you wanted to do that for me,” she said quietly in a comforting tone, “And you can always talk to—”


“Can we have this conversation when I don’t want the ground to open and swallow me up?” Willow cut her off sharply, her eyes roaming around the gate area at all of the people waiting for their flights, “Why are there so many people here so early in the morning?!”


“Commuting, I suppose,” Tara posited, her hands clasped between her knees.


Willow kept throwing her eyes toward a guy opposite them, who would look back confused as to why he kept being stared at.


“That guy is looking at me,” she said cagily.


“He was here when we sat down. He couldn’t have seen,” Tara reassured softly, “I really don’t think anyone saw. It was very discreet.”


“That’s why I bought it!” Willow hissed.


Tara pursed her lips together, trying desperately not to laugh. She managed to contain herself and remain collected.


“I meant the whole incident.”


“Yeah, right,” Willow scoffed under her breath.


Her head dropped again and Tara sighed softly. She waited a minute and then stood, grabbed her bag with one hand and Willow’s hand with the other.


“Okay. Come on.”


Willow frowned.


“Where are we going?”


“Come on,” Tara insisted in a gentle but adamant tone.


Willow snatched her bag and followed Tara as she was pulled along to the nearest bathroom. Tara brought them to a far wall and dropped Willow’s hand. Willow looked at her expectantly.


“Why are we in here? You don’t need my supervision to go.”


Tara bit her tongue and inhaled a deep breath.


“Just take a breather.”


Willow knocked her head back against the wall and allowed herself to take part in Tara’s guided breaths. Her arms loosened though remained locked across her chest and her eyes still roamed anywhere but forward.


“I still don’t think it’s funny.”


Tara looked down to hold her laugh back and looked up again, biting her lip.


“Why did you put the batteries in?”


“To make sure it worked!” Willow replied with frustration but it all started to bubble into hysteria, “Why did it have to work so well?!”


Tara’s grin started to break.


“It looked very versatile.”


Willow’s eyes grew wide.


“The revolving head kind of freaked me out!”


Just then a toilet flushed and a woman came out of a stall. Her eyes darted toward them as she made quick work of washing her hands.


“…Halloween toy,” Willow explained with a gulp, “Head kinda…spins…”


The woman flicked her hands into the sink and didn’t bother with drying them as she hurried from the restroom. Willow turned and threw her arm over her mouth to contain the onslaught of giggles.


“Okay, it’s funny,” she admitted breathlessly after a solid two minutes of laughing, “Totally and completely embarrassing but funny.”


Tara lifted her hand to Willow’s arm and squeezed gently.


“I just want you to be okay. We only have a few days in London, I’d hate for you to feel it was ruined.”


Willow looked down and took a deep breath.


“Wish we’d gotten the train now. Why didn’t we get the train?”


“The flights were cheaper,” Tara replied needlessly, letting her fingers slide down Willow’s arm, “Can I have a hug?”


Willow fell into Tara’s arms without hesitation.


“I love you, Tara,” she said as she nuzzled her head against Tara’s chest, “Scratch that. You know what’s coming. I almost forgot. Ik hou van jou. That’s a big emphasis on the YOU by the way.”


“I love you, Willow,” Tara returned softly, holding Willow up with a big squeeze, “Only you. Always you.”


The PA system crackled and a boarding announcement was made. Tara pointed up with one finger.


“That’s us.”


Willow nodded and straightened up but kept her hand linked in Tara’s.


“Thanks, for…everything.”


Tara lifted Willow’s hand to her mouth and kissed it before leading her back out to board their flight.


“Only you,” she repeated.


Willow squeezed their fingers together tightly.


“Always you.”

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 Post subject: Re: New Fic: Inevitable [AU] (Jan 3rd 2020)
PostPosted: Fri Jan 03, 2020 11:32 am 
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Sorry I misunderstood just how young Connor was and where Tara had the notes tattooed. I've never been involved with music so have never had anyone to set my lyrics to tunes, but I recall the one I wrote about their S-6 breakup on the show, "Blinded By the Ashes." My feelings about them reached fever pitch after "Normal Again." Then cashing my paycheck at the pawn shop and buying 2 Marty Robbins cassettes, it just jump started me and in the time it took to walk to my car I had the first two verses written in my head

P oor Willow; we've all made impulse buys and regretted them. I liked how the Dutch waitress sized Wil up as an English speaker, the cocktails, sound interesting, although in the cafes I'd likely stick with all-chocolate

The flashback to little Willow comparing Cambridge to Hogwarts reminds me of Rajesh on Big Bang Theory doing the same.

Amazing all the things I've had to look up to follow this fic; bushturkey, thumb rings, paneer, Clover Club, *The Captive*; Fandom can be truly educational. (Re the thumb rings, even if I'd known about them when I wrote "The Opal and the Pearl," I think I still would have gone with emerald-sapphire tennis-style commitment bracelets with birthstones because 1- I like the idea 2- Willow's great-aunt Ida isn't likely to know about gay jewelry culture:-).)

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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] (Jan 3rd 2020)
PostPosted: Fri Jan 03, 2020 11:47 am 
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8. Vixen

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Second Dibs :eatme

Another lovely chapter. I thought that they both purchased something from the shop, so I was expecting both of them to get caught. I loved the chapter.

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 Post subject: Re: New Fic: Inevitable [AU] (Jan 3rd 2020)
PostPosted: Mon Jan 06, 2020 12:23 am 
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6. Sassy Eggs

Joined: Sun Jan 19, 2014 6:01 am
Posts: 420
Quote:
I hope you had a wonderful holiday!

Yes, thank you. I had a full schedule with lots of meetings with family and friends.

Quote:
Do you enjoy ladyfingers?”


Somehow, Willow kept an entirely straight face.


“I’ve been known to.”

:laugh I actually had to google what ladyfingers are. The german name "Löffelbiscuits" (Löffel = spoon) is pretty boring in comparison.

That Willow dared to enter a sexshop, stay there for 30 minutes (quite a long time for just browsing, how big is this store supposed to be?) and actually buy a vibrator proves that she really has come a long way since the beginning of their trip.
The tandem-ride sounds like fun.
Quote:
Willow realized pretty quick she’d won the best seat in the house when it came to the view, especially when Tara’s body would rise off the seat to peddle a little faster.

:laugh

Quote:
“A crown of violets huh?” she asked, unsure if she was annoyed or amused, “One might even say…a tiara?”

That explains the lyrics of Nate's song.

Quote:
Willow looked at Tara sitting by her side; their hands openly entangled as they sat in a club together on the other side of the world and realized she wasn’t the least bit jealous of Nate anymore.


“Nothing,” she replied, smiling and squeezing Tara’s hand, “Nothing at all.”


She leaned in and pecked Tara’s cheek.

Aww! :flower

Quote:
“A trip to England sounds so exciting and exotic.”

Quote:
Tara slowly frowned.


“Unless you’re English,” she replied

Canon-easteregg!

Quote:
Her Dad had brought her around to explore the campus but her parents had fought later that he spent too much time away from his duties. Willow heard them from her adjoining room. He never showed her around anywhere after that. She would just sit around the hotel room and he’d tease her that she had every kid’s dream being able to watch TV and order room service but Willow could see now it was guilt.

It's really sad that Ira let himself get nagged into spending even less time with his only child.

The security-incident was funny from the outsider-perspective but I also felt for Willow for whom it was a mortifying experience.
I'm glad that with Tara's help Willow overcame the embarrassment pretty quickly and saw the funny side, another proof for her character-development.

I'm looking forward to their stay in London but also wondering if they will skip Paris / France alltogether. That would strike me as a bit odd, seeing that Paris is considered the "City of love", the french cuisine maybe the best of the world and all that. Also "Je t'aime" is a beautiful way of saying I love you...


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 Post subject: Re: New Fic: Inevitable [AU] (Jan 3rd 2020)
PostPosted: Mon Jan 06, 2020 6:41 pm 
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I had thought Tara had picked something up at the sex shop, poor Willow can't get a break but she is handling embarrassment much better. I like seeing that Tara's music is always there in some form. On to exotic London! I hear they are a kindler, gentler people

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 Post subject: Re: New Fic: Inevitable [AU] (Jan 3rd 2020)
PostPosted: Tue Jan 07, 2020 7:00 am 
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Ms. Moderator Fantastico
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DaddyCatALSO

Quote:
Sorry I misunderstood just how young Connor was and where Tara had the notes tattooed. I've never been involved with music so have never had anyone to set my lyrics to tunes, but I recall the one I wrote about their S-6 breakup on the show, "Blinded By the Ashes." My feelings about them reached fever pitch after "Normal Again." Then cashing my paycheck at the pawn shop and buying 2 Marty Robbins cassettes, it just jump started me and in the time it took to walk to my car I had the first two verses written in my head


It's great when inspiration hits like that!

Quote:
P oor Willow; we've all made impulse buys and regretted them.


Haven't we just!

Quote:
I liked how the Dutch waitress sized Wil up as an English speaker, the cocktails, sound interesting, although in the cafes I'd likely stick with all-chocolate


I think it's a skill many, many service providers in tourist areas learn early on!

Quote:
The flashback to little Willow comparing Cambridge to Hogwarts reminds me of Rajesh on Big Bang Theory doing the same.


I don't think I've seen that episode, but I think anyone who looks at those photos would think the same! It's amazing!

Quote:
Amazing all the things I've had to look up to follow this fic; bushturkey, thumb rings, paneer, Clover Club, *The Captive*; Fandom can be truly educational.


Oh it's crazy the things I've learned from fandom over the years. Not just facts, but emotion and psychological growth and just all kinds of things that have changed me as a person.

Quote:
(Re the thumb rings, even if I'd known about them when I wrote "The Opal and the Pearl," I think I still would have gone with emerald-sapphire tennis-style commitment bracelets with birthstones because 1- I like the idea 2- Willow's great-aunt Ida isn't likely to know about gay jewelry culture:-).)


Hey, you gotta do what feels right for you and your fic :)

Thanks for commenting!

taranwillow4ever

Quote:
Second Dibs :eatme


Woo!

Quote:
Another lovely chapter. I thought that they both purchased something from the shop, so I was expecting both of them to get caught. I loved the chapter.


Maybe they did :wink

Thanks for your comment!

Will's redemption

Quote:
Yes, thank you. I had a full schedule with lots of meetings with family and friends.


That sounds lovely :)

Quote:
:laugh I actually had to google what ladyfingers are. The german name "Löffelbiscuits" (Löffel = spoon) is pretty boring in comparison.


I have to admit, in the Netherlands they're called lange vingers ("long fingers") which is equally boring, but wouldn't have made my joke work quite as well :laugh

Quote:
That Willow dared to enter a sexshop, stay there for 30 minutes (quite a long time for just browsing, how big is this store supposed to be?) and actually buy a vibrator proves that she really has come a long way since the beginning of their trip.


30 minutes isn't so long when you're stopping every second to be horrified/fascinated/etc :laugh And yes, that Willow actually did it is a huge indicator of where she is and how far she's come!

Quote:
The tandem-ride sounds like fun.


:laugh


Like a lot of things, once you find your rhythm you're in your stride!

Quote:
That explains the lyrics of Nate's song.


It does, finally.

Quote:
It's really sad that Ira let himself get nagged into spending even less time with his only child.


It's the saddest. And you can heal, but you can never go back.

Quote:
The security-incident was funny from the outsider-perspective but I also felt for Willow for whom it was a mortifying experience.
I'm glad that with Tara's help Willow overcame the embarrassment pretty quickly and saw the funny side, another proof for her character-development.


It is a ridiculously mortifying experience but what can you do but laugh?

Quote:
I'm looking forward to their stay in London but also wondering if they will skip Paris / France alltogether. That would strike me as a bit odd, seeing that Paris is considered the "City of love", the french cuisine maybe the best of the world and all that. Also "Je t'aime" is a beautiful way of saying I love you...


Okay, so there's a few reasons for this. 1) I've been warned that my fics tend to be repeatative, and I know this, so I've been trying to limit that where possible. And I've done W/T in Paris before.

Another reason is Paris is hella expensive and I wanted to send them to a different hella expensive place after London and I figured that might be a choice they have to make. I'll try and clarify this in-chapter so their reasons are clearer.

The last reason is that I like the idea of leaving them places that they can still go back to and still have the kind of experiences they're having now but five, ten, fifty years down the line :)

Thanks for your feedback!

shirrey

Quote:
I had thought Tara had picked something up at the sex shop


She may have...

Quote:
poor Willow can't get a break but she is handling embarrassment much better.


I've always thought the fleeting nature of their connections with other people around the world has been a really important part of that journey for her (and it was the reason I made it one of the things she noticed way back in Sydney that 'wveryone knows people will move on so it’s not weird or sad. Each person who leaves brings in a new person...') because she's always lived such a sheltered life with, as she says, friends that have just fallen into her lap. That really makes you feel like if something goes wrong, your whole world is going to fall apart. Hence her entire neuroses about being gay. But when you're living a life where people come and go, where your physical presence comes and goes from different places...it's a lot easier to take a step back and realize that while things feel horrible in the moment, you're moving on soon anyway. Literally in this case, as they're about to jump on a plane.

Quote:
I like seeing that Tara's music is always there in some form. On to exotic London!


That was important, I think, because it's always been a big part of her life. And the ability to perform has kind of just been taken from her because of the restraints of travel so it had to come out in different ways.

Quote:
I hear they are a kindler, gentler people


I hear so too :laugh

Thanks for your feedback!



Update Directly Below

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

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 Post subject: Re: New Fic: Inevitable [AU] (Jan 3rd 2020)
PostPosted: Tue Jan 07, 2020 7:00 am 
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Ms. Moderator Fantastico
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CHAPTER RATING: NC-17

NOTE: Note that rating change ^ Also warning for references to violence and death

Chapter 45



London



And I Believe In You And I Believe In Love



“The Honey Pot.”


Willow read the name of the hostel before they entered through the doors into the lobby.


“Unusual name.”


It was a small place, more like a guest house than the usual large, backpacker-driven hostels they had stayed in before. Tara had booked it, which Willow didn’t mind at all. But she’d also been secretive about it, which had made Willow wonder.


“There’s lots of pictures of women in here,” she commented unsurely as they approached the desk.


The walls were adorned with several pictures of women, some Willow recognized and some she didn’t. Some of the drawings seemed distinctly…flowery.


“Tara…” Willow whispered suspiciously, “Did you choose this place for a particular reason?”


Tara turned to Willow. Her lips lifted into a coy, hopeful smile.


“It’s a lesbi-inn.”


Willow looked around; there was no one else there but she could believe it of some of the pictures on the wall.


“Who’s a lesbian?”


“No. It’s a lesbi-inn,” Tara repeated, placing more emphasis on the end, “Like an inn that caters to lesbians?”


Willow’s eyes widened in realization.


“Oh!” she paused, grinned and then giggled, “I knew you were up to something when you wouldn’t tell me where we were going. Wow. A lesbi-inn.”


Tara reached up and pulled at her own hair nervously.


“Do you hate it?”


“No, I love it!” Willow replied eagerly, looking all around for clues she could recognize, “I love you! Hey, I don’t even have to learn it here! Give the old noggin a love-language break.”


Tara rang the bell at the desk and Willow sidled up beside her. She noticed behind the desk was a huge six-foot painting of a pendulous pair of breasts.


“That’s a…pair of boobs.”


“Yes, it is,” a voice came from the side as a friendly middle-aged woman in a pantsuit appeared with a welcoming smile, “Welcome to The Honey Pot. I’m Ellen and yes that really is my name. Can I check you in?”


Willow blushed furiously and stepped behind Tara to hide as Tara checked them in.


“Please find a complimentary flannel scented candle in your room and we have a fanny pack sharing program if you require it for your day's events,” Ellen said as she secured a room key and handed it over to Tara, “We’ve put you in the Indigo Girls room. We hope you find it Closer To Fine.”


“Thank you,” Tara replied with a smirk as she took the key.


They were directed up the staircase and Tara walked in front with Willow trailing behind.


“Was that a gay joke?” Willow whispered when they were a few steps up.


“Yes,” Tara whispered back, “I’ll explain later.”


At the top of the stairs were Venus symbols pointing in the direction of each room and they turned a corner to follow the hallway to theirs. Along the hallway was a display case embedded into the wall with a series of different sex toys showing their progression with materials ranging from wood and bone to glass and silicone. There was even a wax banana stuck in there.


Willow’s brow furrowed deeply as they passed it.


“Are you making fun of me?”


“I didn’t know they had this, Willow,” Tara defended herself, “I booked it a week ago.”


Willow looked apologetic.


“Okay. Sorry.”


She reached out and squeezed Tara’s shoulder, who lifted her hand and squeezed back briefly.


Tara let them into their room when they got to the end of the hall. It was a quaint room with walls painted indigo, of course, and white and the wall opposite the bed made into a feature wall with a motif of the Rites Of Passage album. The bedlinen matched in purple and white colors and had throw pillows with lyrics stitched into them.


There was a lot to take in but most of all for Willow she realized they were all alone.


“Ooh, private room!” she said excitedly, dropping her bag, “That’s an unexpected surprise.”


“They only do private rooms,” Tara answered, leaning her bag up in a corner and sitting on the edge of the bed to take a good look around. She watched Willow do the same and a crooked smirk pulled at her lips, “But there’s a Come To My Window Cats & Cheese Social and Subaru Test Drive Party in the Shameless by Ani DiFranco hall later if we want to socialize.”


Willow’s eyes slowly landed on Tara and she looked a little overwhelmed.


“…is there a dress code?”


“No,” Tara shook her head easily, “Any style of flannel is perfectly acceptable.”


Willow kneeled down to open her bag and started looking through it.


“I have some plaid skinny jeans, is that okay?” she asked, a mixture of earnest and worry, “I have a lot of rainbows if that helps at all.”


Tara’s smile broke and Willow grabbed a pair of socks and launched them at her.


“You jerk, you are making fun of me!”


She couldn’t help but smile as well and shuffled over to Tara when she held her arms open.


“Okay, that time, yes,” Tara admitted, kissing the side of Willow’s head, “But they do have a drinks hour in the evenings at the pub next door.”


“That could be fun,” Willow agreed with a hint of nerves, “I’ve only ever talked to other women when we go to bars. Gay women, I mean. And it’s not usually for that long once they realize one or both of us are taken.”


“You won’t be quizzed,” Tara reassured, bumping Willow’s shoulder, “It’s up to me to prove I’ve earned my toaster oven.”


Willow’s whole face lit up.


“I know that one! That’s Ellen! Ellen-Ellen not downstairs Ellen. And Degeneres-Ellen, not Page-Ellen. Ooh, yeah, I see why that can be confusing.”


Tara leaned over to peck that winning smile.


“Look at you getting my gay jokes,” she said, cupping Willow’s cheek, “I’m so proud.”


Willow giggled as Tara pecked her lips a few more times playfully. Tara jumped up to walk over to her bag and look through it and Willow sat back into the bed. She picked up a pillow and ran her hand over the words.


And if we ever leave a legacy it's that we loved each other well.


“I’ve heard of The Indigo Girls, you know,” she said, hugging the pillow to her chest, “I think my mom might actually have some of their CDs.”


“They were children when they met too,” Tara replied as she brought her toiletry bag into the bathroom and continued to call out from there, “They’re not a couple but they did form the band.”


“We could be a band,” Willow called back cheerily, “Except I don’t play anything or sing all that well. I only sound okay when you’re doing all the work. Is there a word for that?”


Tara came back out and leaned against the door frame.


“A duo.”


Willow smiled softly.


“That’s right, you called us a dueting dyad duo. Still sounds I’m getting more credit than I deserve but hey I’ll take it,” she said, flashing her teeth, “I could learn the tambourine and add a whole new complexity to Geology Rocks.”


Tara’s brow scrunched up with mock-seriousness.


“Quartz can come from lightning, you can touch without shocks,” she rattled off a line from one of their very first homework songs as middle-schoolers and then rolled her eyes at herself, “God I’ve been blaming Nate all these years for getting me to rap when it’s your fault.”


Willow looked at Tara with utter adoration.


“You should put those songs on YouTube. Maybe it would help people study.”


“I think they only made sense to us,” Tara replied, shaking her head to herself.


Willow frowned a little.


“Well, what about those great songs you made up for all the kids in Vietnam and Nepal? The happy songs? You made some solid mental health points in some very pretty language. I say this as a daughter of shrinks.”


Tara shrugged bashfully.


“I don’t even remember them that well.”


Willow arched an eyebrow.


“You’re telling me you don’t have then jotted down anywhere? You of the closet full of song notebooks and papers and…napkins even?” she asked wryly, then shrugged too, “It’s just an idea. You could even make up some new ones.”


Tara pushed herself off the wall and sat back next to Willow.


“Would you do them with me?”


It surprised Willow how little she had to consider it.


“Yeah,” she nodded, “Yeah I would. I think they could really help people.”


Tara smiled and held her hand out.


“Let’s go check out the city.”


Willow nodded and took Tara’s hand, briefly letting go to use the bathroom before they left.


“They have hers and hers sinks!” she said excitedly as she came back out, “And did you see the size of that tub?”


“I did,” Tara replied, slightly under her breath.


Willow crossed her messenger bag over her chest and jumped a little in place with excitement.


“Let’s go!”


Tara joined her and they headed back out into the city.


The nearest Tube station was deceptive, an all-red-brick building that blended into the surrounding architecture but there were a lot of people coming and going and Willow spotted the little circular logo that told them this was where they needed to go.


They’d navigated a difficult subway map or two in their travels but this one was the most perplexing of all. Even with Willow’s eyes for lines and graphs and Tara’s ability to see sequences where there were none, they still had to use additional apps to be confident they knew where they were going.


Getting a couple of sits on the not-too-busy mid-morning line, Tara started to explain the joke from earlier.


“Oh, I get it!” Willow said as Tara showed her a song on her phone, “It’s the Indigo Girls room and one of their songs is Closer To Fine!”


“And it’s a like, a big one,” Tara said, gesturing bashfully with her hands, “Like, um, a-a sort of culturally iconic one.”


Willow was frowning a little in confusion and Tara offered one of her ear buds.


“Let me play it for you.”


Their first stop, since it completely dominated their entire view, was The London Eye; the gigantic Ferris Wheel that was slowly spinning around offering the best panoramic views of the city.


They waited in line to join an enclosed capsule which looked almost futuristic from the inside with its clear glass held up by steel and aluminum. It had a bench in the middle but everyone, them and the other 20+ guests that fit into the huge pod, all navigated toward the sides to get a good spot for viewing.


The door was closed and they began to move, creeping ever so slowly that it didn’t even feel like they were moving at all. As they got higher more and more of the city came into view.


Willow was the first to point out Big Ben and soon they recognized a lot more; the attached Houses of Parliament, The Shard Building, Buckingham Palace. They saw bursts of green from all of the parks, an endless meandering of The Thames and skyline for miles and miles and miles.


Forty minutes after first entering the capsule, they walked out again giddy and found their way back to the street.


“That sure beat the Ferris Wheel at the traveling carnival that came through Sunnydale,” Willow said with a big grin, “And not just because back then I was jealous of everyone getting their first kiss and now I get to smooch my girl whenever I want.”


She pulled Tara into an unexpected and transient kiss that made Tara stumble slightly and blush when their parting produced an audible pop and a few people looked over.


“I’ll go get us some coffee!” Willow announced and was speeding over to the crosswalk before Tara had even steadied herself again.


Tara cleared her throat and rubbed her palms against her waist as she went to lean against a street light to wait. She hadn’t even seen which way Willow had gone and there were options for coffee everywhere the eye could see. It didn’t stop her being any less surprised or her yelp any less high-pitched when she felt someone poke her side from behind.


“Sorry, baby,” Willow said with a grimace.


Tara turned and ducked her head, brushing some hair behind her ear. She noticed Willow’s hands and what was distinctly lacking.


“Doesn’t look like coffee.”


“Something better,” Willow replied keenly, “I found it parked just up there.”


She handed Tara two tickets to something. Tara turned one over to read it.


“A bus tour?”


Willow nodded repeatedly.


“It does a tour of London and guess what?! It serves afternoon tea on board! Real afternoon tea!”


Tara smiled, lopsided.


“That sounds like a lot of fun.”


Willow took Tara’s hand and tugged on it.


“Come on, it leaves in fifteen minutes.”


The bus was a classic red double-decker that looked like it had appeared straight from the 60s. They were welcomed by a plump man in full Britannia vestment and another in a waiter’s tux holding a tray of pink champagne.


They took a flute each and sipped as they took in the interior. It had been refitted with table seats; two plush leather two-seater benches with a table between them lining each side beside the windows. It was a quick discussion to decide to go upstairs and they got the last booth available up there so clearly it was a popular choice.


They sat opposite each other and clinked their glasses together, smiling.


Shortly after there was a short crackle of interference as a microphone was turned on and then a very British voice boomed throughout the whole bus.


“Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen and welcome to this fantastic tour of London by bus. My name’s Arnold and I’m your guide this afternoon on our tour of London. John-Luc will be serving your afternoon tea this lovely post meridian hour as we take you around to see Buckingham Palace, The Tower of London, Tower Bridge, London Bridge, The London Eye, the Houses of Parliament, Big Ben, Trafalgar Square, Nelson’s Column, Westminster Abbey, St Paul’s Cathedral, Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, 10 Downing Street, Covent Garden, Leicester Square, the River Thames and much, much more!”


The bus pulled out onto the road pretty seamlessly and they both excitedly started looking around to see what they might see. John-Luc, whose mustache looked suspiciously fake but played the part of a haughty but attentive waiter to a T, came around first with cucumber sandwiches and quiche on a mini serving tray.


They were pretty inoffensive if not the tastiest treat in the world to nibble on while Tudor architecture passed you by, but that all changed when the dessert tray came out. Mini macaroons, cupcakes, lemon meringue pie, strawberries-and-cream cakes, and some particularly delightful scones were scarfed happily. What they couldn’t possibly fit into their stomachs was snagged in a napkin for later.


They spent the last twenty minutes sipping on a cup of English breakfast tea with plenty of milk and sugar.


Full and with a bit of a sugar high settling in, not that Willow needed it, they got off the bus with gushing praise for their hosts and started wandering aimlessly around the city.


They talked about going to London Zoo but apparently, a lot of other people had the same idea and it was so crowded they decided to try another day. They walked around the area and ended up in Madame Tussauds instead.


The wax figures were impressive and Tara had Willow take a photo of her with almost all of them. Willow lovingly obliged and stepped up to Tara to show her the latest one with the Queen. She wandered a little ahead and smirked when she found a particular figure. She nudged Tara with her elbow.


“Oh look, baby, it’s your other girlfriend.”


Tara looked up at the figure of Emma Watson and smiled back at Willow.


“Are you jealous of a wax figure?”


“Me? No,” Willow feigned innocence and held up her phone for a photo, but then shouted loudly when Tara stood beside it, “Hands where I can see them, Maclay!”


A few other museum-goers looked over and Tara turned bright red. Willow started laughing and snapped a shot.


“Willow,” Tara hissed as she hurried back.


Willow winked.


“Payback’s a bitch.”


Tara shook her head but had to admit, Willow had gotten her pretty good.


They started to head back to the inn but decided to avoid the Tube if they could, though it would be a few miles walk. Still, it was nice to work up an appetite for later.


As they found their way back to the right area, Willow suddenly stopped outside a closed nightclub.


“Tara! Look!” she said, pointing at a poster hung behind a case on the wall, “String Cheese Incident is playing! Remember they used to play the Bronze?”


“I do,” Tara replied, smiling softly, “We almost danced once or twice.”


“It’s tomorrow night,” Willow read from the flyer.


“We can go for old time’s sake if you want,” Tara offered, bumping Willow’s shoulder, “Maybe you’ll even dance with me this time.”


Willow looked over at Tara sincerely. She knew they both remembered her rejections when Tara had tried to dance with her before they were officially together and then the even bigger rejection when Willow rebuffed Tara completely when Tara asked her to go see the band as a couple, even a clandestine one at that point.


She hoped her gaze told Tara that those experiences would never be repeated.


“I will dance with you every time. Proudly.”


She took Tara’s hand and squeezed.


“It’s a date,” Tara promised.


“It’s a date,” Willow promised back.


They shared a smiled and then they continued on their way home.


Not far from the street that housed their lodgings, they came across a gathering crowd and stopped to have a look at what was going on. They shuffled into the front of the crowd and saw a magician doing some card magic.


He predictably revealed the right card and the crowd clapped for him but it was a bit muted and the magician obviously felt it. He moved back to a small fold-up table with a crate beneath it and lifted out a little tray with five brown paper bags sitting in it.


He held up one and turned it around.


“I have here five bags and in each of these bags I have…” he reached in and pulled out what was inside before continuing mysteriously, “A wooden block.”


He held it up in front.


“These blocks stop the bags from blowing away in lovely windy Hampstead today,” he said, smirking when it elicited a small laugh, “And inside of one of these blocks I’m going to put…”


His hands flicked and he was showing off a long piece of metal.


“A nail.”


There were suitable ‘oohs’ and ‘ahhs’ from the crowd.


“I’m going to place it inside the wooden block just like this,” he said, slowly screwing the nail into place.


He gave it a final twist and approached a man in the front of the crowd.


“You sir, can you touch this for me, confirm it’s a real nail, that it’s really sharp? Yes?”


The man poked his palm against the nail and promptly retracted it, nodding.


“Yeah, mate.”


The people around him laughed and the magician skipped backward to his table. He made a show of putting the nailed block back into the bag he’d taken it from.


“Now I’m going to take the bags and I’m just going to…”


He started to mix them up at speed and set them back on the tray.


“Now I’m going to turn around and I’m going to get…you…you please sir,” he called someone else over, “To switch these bags around a few more times for me.”


He turned his back and the man cautiously approached and carefully switched some of the bags around. The magician turned back around with a small ball in his hands and held it up.


“A normal juggling ball,” he announced, then threw it at the man, “Catch.”


He nodded toward him.


“Throw that back into the crowd for me.”


The ball was tossed and someone else caught it.


“Name a number!” the magician called out.


“3!” came from the crowd.


The magician held his hand over the third bag and hovered there, mimicking taking some deep breaths before dropping his hand straight down, squashing the bag and incurring no injury.


There was a small cheer in the crowd and the ball got passed on again for someone else to call a number. The magician consequently revealed no nail until finally there were just two bags left.


The juggling ball was launched into the air and somehow landed straight at Willow’s chest, who instinctively put her hands out to catch it.


“The lucky one,” the magician smirked, curling his finger at Willow, “Come forward please.”


Willow looked over at Tara, who looked nervous but nodded her forward encouragingly. Willow stepped out of the crowd and over to the middle of the circle, feeling a bit awkward with all those eyes on her. She handed the ball back and was brought behind the table to hold a hand over each of the bags.


“There are two bags left. One of these bags has a real nail lying inside.”


The magician looked at Willow with a mysterious gaze.


“Pick a hand to save.”


“I think my girlfriend would want me to say my right,” Willow quipped with an impish smile.


There was a beat, but then a laugh rose in the crowd and even the magician almost broke.


Tara almost died on the spot.


“Right it is,” the magician smirked and hovered his hand over Willow’s left hand after having her put her right behind her back.


After waiting for another tense-filled moment he slammed his hand on top of Willow’s so it went straight down and crushed the bag.


A cheer erupted from the crowd followed by clapping and the magician plucked up the final bag. He took out the wooden block with nail screwed in.


“I’ve very glad you didn’t save the left as the right is the bag with the nail in it,” he produced an apple and stuck it straight down on the sharp nail, “And that would have been our hands.”


He gestured broadly toward Willow.


“Thank you, ladies and gentlemen, a cheer for my lovely brave assistant.”


Willow did a little shy bow and hurried back to Tara who was still blushing but offered a big smile nonetheless. The crowd was dissipating so they were able to sneak back off together.


“You were so good,” Tara complimented, brushing her hands down Willow’s arm to link their fingers.


Willow shrugged bashfully.


“It helped that I knew how the trick works,” she said, then smiled at Tara’s enquiring look, “What? I’ve read some magic books.”


“Don’t ruin it,” Tara advised and offered a sly wink as she squeezed their hands together, “I’m very glad both of your hands are okay.”


Willow started to smirk.


“Well—”


Before she could get out whatever she was going to say, a couple on a motorbike suddenly skidded into their path and nearly crashed into the nearest wall. They were both covered in leather and all over each other as they stumbled off the bike.


“Hey!” Willow yelled, holding onto Tara, whom they had almost driven straight into.


The man put his hand up to block the sun and stepped off the street into the ally. He looked at Willow challengingly when she looked at him strangely.


“What? I like the shade.”


Willow’s mouth dropped open.


“You nearly hit my girlfriend! Why the heck were you driving like that?”


The guy pulled on the lapels of his jacket.


“I had…a…muscle cramp.”


“A muscle cramp?” Tara asked, glancing down to where the man’s zipper was half-pulled down and his pants were sagging in a very specific area, “In your…pants?”


“What?” the man shot back, “It's a thing.”


“Right,” Tara replied with an eyebrow arch so small it was almost unnoticeable.


He noticed it though and shot her a dirty look.


His companion walked up to them and looked at them strangely.


“Do you like daisies? Hmm? I plant them, but they always die. Everything I put in the ground withers and dies,” she stopped and looked off into space, “Spike? I'm cold.”


Spike took his jacket off and put it around her.


“I've got you.”


She held the jacket close to herself.


“I'm a princess.”


“That's what you are,” Spike soothed then scoffed when Willow continued to scowl, “Oh piss off with the face will you, no one was hurt.”


He put his arm around his companion.


“Come on, love.”


“Yeah, come on love,” Willow retorted, tugging on Tara’s hand to pull her down the street but stopping when they were safely away again, “Are you okay?”


Tara swallowed and looked down.


“I-I thought English people were, um, gentler, then, uh, normal people…”


Willow rolled her eyes as the bike sped down the street past them again.


“If we’ve learned anything on this trip it’s that assholes are universal.”


Tara smiled softly.


“And that goodness is too.”


Willow saw all of that goodness spread across Tara’s face.


“Yeah. That too,” she agreed, rubbing Tara’s arm, “Let’s get you back to our room. What kind of a name is Spike anyway? And why was that chick talking about daises?”


They were in the right neighborhood so it was only a short walk back to the inn, after a quick consultation with a map from being turned around like that.


They got back to their room and Tara went straight to sit on the bed and kick her shoes off.


“It’s nice to get off my feet,” she said, lifting her legs up onto the bed and flexing her toes, “We must have walked 10 miles today. That’s the longest I’ve gone since the surgery.”


Willow sat beside her, concerned.


“Did we overdo it?”


Tara shook her head.


“No, there’s no pain. Just a little weary. It was good to be able to do that much.”


Willow plucked the sock from Tara’s injured foot and didn’t hesitate to begin a gentle rub.


Tara closed her eyes and sighed softly.


“That feels nice.”


Willow pushed her thumbs into Tara’s sole and smiled as her toes wiggled in satisfaction.


“Want me to run the tub for you? Soak your feet?”


Tara’s eyes blinked open and she looked down the end of the bed at Willow.


“W-would you like to have a bath?”


“It looks nice but I don’t mind waiting,” Willow replied easily, still generously applying pressure to Tara’s foot.


Tara tensed for a moment and released it to try again.


“Or we could…” she started, looking down at Willow pointedly, “H-Have a bath together?”


Willow’s thumbs came to an abrupt stop.


“Oh!”


Tara frowned awkwardly.


“No?”


“No!” Willow replied quickly, “Yes!”


“Y-Yes?” Tara clarified.


Willow nodded swiftly, eyes wide and bright.


“Yes!”


“Okay,” Tara smiled slowly, “Um—”


“I’ll do it!” Willow jumped up quick, “What temperature do you like the water?”


“Whatever you like is good,” Tara replied, folding her knees back under herself.


“So, like, hot but not burn-your-nips-off hot?” Willow asked earnestly.


“That sounds around about right,” Tara replied, withholding a snicker.


“On it!” Willow called back as she hurried into the bathroom.


Tara heard the faucet start and spun her legs back around off the bed. She got her hairbrush out and brushed her hair through. She wasn’t sure why she felt nervous.


She looked down and noted her single sock so she sat on the bed again to take that off. Her pants seemed cumbersome so she took those off too and her shirt naturally followed. She wasn’t going to bathe in her underwear so she freed herself of those too and tidied them away neatly before just standing there for a moment wondering what to do.


It felt weird to just walk in naked so she took her robe out and unrolled it to put over her.


“Tara?” Willow’s voice came from the bathroom.


“Coming!” Tara called back.


She slipped it over her shoulders and tied it loosely at the waist, flipping her hair out the back. She walked into the bathroom, where Willow was already sitting in the big heart-shaped tub filled to the brim with foamy bubbles.


“I wasn’t sure how you felt about bubble baths but I took a shot.”


A crooked smile played on one side of Tara’s lips.


“I like bubbles.”


Her feet pressed across the cold tile until she stood at the edge of the bathtub. With a little flush in her cheeks, she dropped her robe and stepped in, sitting opposite Willow.


“Truth be told I haven’t taken a bath in a long, long time.”


Willow tried and failed to not make it obvious that she was staring from the moment Tara’s hand pulled the tie on her robe free. After a moment of realizing she was being addressed, she looked up sharply and said the first thing that came to mind.


“We used to tub together.”


“We did,” Tara nodded, smiling softly as the warm water embraced all of her tired muscles, “Which is probably the last time I was in one.”


Willow had flashes of memory of Kimberly looking at them covered head to toe in mud and grass and other things and obligingly coaxing them into a bath.


“Your mom hated when Yabba and Dabba did a special adventure episode and came back covered in anything and everything.”


Tara nodded slowly.


“She never stopped us though.”


Willow smiled sadly.


“I’m glad I had your mom to raise me,” she said, looking down for a moment then back up abruptly, “Not in a weird that-makes-us-siblings kinda way.”


Tara’s brain short-circuited for a moment.


“Please don’t say that ever again.”


“Yup, firmly rollin’ back on that one,” Willow replied quickly, her eyes moving desperately around the tub looking for a distraction, “My boobs float more than yours. I guess it’s a heaviness thing. We could do an experiment on water displacement to figure out their volume but it would be difficult to measure accurately what with the whole being-attached-to-the-body thing.”


Tara watched Willow grow redder and redder until she finally just sputtered out.


“Nice jump,” she commended.


“Doing my best,” Willow laughed nervously.


Tara watched Willow’s head duck. She waited a moment, then pushed herself off the back of the tub and knee-walked over until she was pretty much in Willow’s lap. Willow looked up and Tara pressed her body against Willow’s under the water.


“Hi,” she greeted, leaning her forehead in against Willow’s.


“Hi,” Willow returned in an echoing tone, only just getting the word out before Tara’s lips were on hers.


She moaned into Tara’s mouth and let her hands wrap around Tara’s hips beneath the water. The foam jostled about, dabbing against their skin, leaving dissolving evidence of their bodies’ natural attraction to each other.


Tara’s hands moved up to rest on the lip of the tub, holding her in place as she started to grind a little harder. She pushed her hips down and let her arms slide forward to have more give and—


“WHOA!”


Tara jumped back at Willow’s exclamation and noticed the water had started to effervesce with bubbles of air. She looked over Willow’s head and reached back out to flip a switch.


“Sorry,” she said, still breathless from their contact, “I turned on the jets.”


Willow’s legs were closed rigidly, her knees protruding up from the water.


“Mmhm. Yep. Felt ‘em.”


Tara’s lips sloped up on one side.


“Was it nice?”


Willow’s lips pursed, then she looked down and giggled.


Tara swam back over to Willow’s side and sat beside her. She raised Willow’s chin with a finger, then reached down and flicked some foam in her face.


Willow giggled again and returned the gesture until they were grabbing handfuls of foam and smushing them into each other’s faces.


They settled back down side-by-side and Tara threw her arm over Willow’s waist under the water.


“Do you want to go to this pub thing tonight?”


Willow nodded.


“Yeah, I’d love to go to a proper British pub,” she said, blowing out when she felt a little piece of foam on the end of her nose, “Do you think we can get real fish and chips?”


“I’m sure they have it,” Tara said with a single nod, “We’ll just go a little early and get dinner beforehand.”


Willow felt a little rumble in her belly at the talk of dinner.


“I’m pretty hungry actually. Afternoon tea feels like a long time and many miles ago. Ooh, but we have free dessert!”


Tara concealed a smile but it showed in her brightening eyes.


“Let’s get ready and head down there.”


“Okay,” Willow agreed with a smile, “Let’s do it.”


They shared another soft kiss and mutual bubble flick that elicited a common smile before getting out of the bathtub. Tara put her robe back on and Willow wrapped herself in a towel after pulling the drain.


They walked back into the room and gathered their clothes back up again. Tara went back into the bathroom to get changed which wasn’t all that unusual and Willow dried off there in the room and changed back into her clothes.


When they were ready they walked back downstairs and right next door to The Auburn Vixen pub. It was as traditional as they could hope for with its Victorian style; lots of wood and exposed stone. There were stools at the bar or booths lining the walls so they decided to sit at the bar to get the full experience and get a good look around.


The bartender approached them once they were seated, throwing a dishcloth over his shoulder.


“Alright, what can I get you?”


Willow tapped her fingertips against the wooden bar.


“Do you have any pale ale?”


“Pint of bitter?” the bartender asked, already pulling a pint glass down.


“Uhhh…” Willow started to reply unsurely, “Not too bitter? Two, please? And two fish and chips.”


The bartender started to pull as he talked.


“With mushy peas or tartar sauce?”


Again they had to exchange a look that led to no solid conclusion.


“One of each?” Willow answered finally.


Two pints were dropped in front of them and Tara’s head reeled back.


“Oh, that is a big glass of beer.”


Willow frowned.


“Should I have gotten you a bottle of something?”


Tara took a sip from the top of the glass.


“This is nice actually. Warm, but nice and mellow,” she wiped her mouth shyly and held her glass out, “Cheers.”


Willow clinked her glass against Tara’s softly to avoid spillage.


“Hey, it’s not bitter at all!” she smiled as she took her first taste.


They sipped on their beer slowly and were still only half-way through when two large plates arrived; both identical apart from a green mush on one side, which was served to Willow and a little ramekin of thick, white lumpy sauce on the other, which was served to Tara.


Tara used her fork to tear off a piece of the battered cod and dipped it into the sauce. She put it in her mouth and swallowed but not without clearing her throat several times.


“That is… sharp.”


Willow poked at her mushy peas unsurely.


“These are kinda…mushy,” she said with disappointed redundancy, “Hence the name…I guess.”


They each turned to try the other’s side and immediately exchanged yummy faces. They laughed at themselves and swapped plates, enjoying their new sides with the rest of the fish and chips.


“That was sooooo good,” Willow complimented as they finished up.


“It was good,” Tara agreed, wiping her mouth with her napkin and leaving it on her plate, “I want to try to recreate that at home sometime.”


Willow clung out of Tara’s arm for a moment.


“Please invite me over.”


“You have an open invite,” Tara promised with a smile.


Their plates were cleared and pints refreshed and both were just starting to get slightly tipsy.


Admittedly, they were lightweights.


Tara cast her eye over a gathering in a corner and leaned over to Willow.


“I think that’s our crowd.”


Willow tried to look over inconspicuously.


“How can you tell?”


Tara looked over the crowd of only women, some with undercuts, some with vibrant colored hair, some with sharp collars on their shirts and all with very, very short nails.


“I just can.”


Willow looked at Tara in awe.


“Can you teach me that?”


“You’ll tap into it yourself,” Tara reassured as she slid off the stool and grabbed her drink, “Let’s go say hello.”


Willow smiled at Tara’s eagerness and stepped down to follow her. They moved toward the group of ladies, some of whom seemed coupled and some on their own, all chatting in little groups.


They crept forward like mice approaching cheese, hovering on the sidelines until a woman who was a bit older than them with a blue faux hawk and a kind smile turned her attention to them and nodded welcomingly.


“Hiya.”


“Hi,” Tara squeaked.


“Hi!” Willow added a little over-enthusiastically,


She extended her hand and shook with them both.


“Karen. Nice to meet you.”


Tara shook for too long before suddenly dropping her hand and gesturing between them.


“Oh, I’m Tara. This is Willow,” she gestured between them and began gnawing on the corner of her lip, “Um, are we in the right place?”


“That depends,” Karen replied, smirking and flicking her hair confidently, “What’s the order of the things Alanis Morissette is doing with her other hand?”


Willow looked like she’d just been asked to solve the Riemann Hypothesis on the spot but after blinking for a moment, Tara started counting out things on her fingers.


“Giving a high five, flicking a cigarette, giving the peace sign, playing a piano, and, and… hailing a taxi cab?”


Karen held her hand out for a high five, which Tara gladly gave.


“Nicely done. You’re in the right place. Let me introduce you around.”


Karen made introductions all around to the friendly bunch and they started to fit into some conversations.


One girl, Ali, with hair colored like the bisexual flag and a self-painted pair of converse in the same scheme, stopped talking about the cinematography of lesbian sex scenes in film to nod to a short-haired brunette woman who was wandering in the doors.


“It's that girl again. She’s still looking for her boyfriend. I told her she was looking in the wrong place.”


“Oh,” Tara replied sympathetically, “I just hope she finds him.”


Ali raised her eyebrows.


“Somehow I don't think a girl that looks like that's gonna be lonely for too long.”


“Definitely not,” Willow agreed with a grin and a nod.


Tara frowned and folded her arms over her chest. Willow noticed and grew wide-eyed.


“Oh, not me, I, I was just saying, a pretty girl like that, there's always someone lurking around, looking for some action.”


Tara looked unamused but mollified. Willow looked down at her drink, embarrassed and excused herself politely to go sit in the nearest booth.


After a few minutes, a woman in her 40s with blonde hair to her shoulders and a tailored white blouse and black slacks sat beside her but with a comfortable distance.


“You here alone, sweetheart?”


Willow looked up and shook her head shyly.


“Oh, no, not alone,” she said, nodding toward Tara who was making the group she was with laugh, “With my girlfriend. She’s mingling. It’s nice for her. She wasn’t always a mingler.”


“Just don’t call her a minger,” the other woman chuckled.


“A who?” Willow asked, brow creasing in confusion.


The woman smiled and shook her head, indicating it wasn’t important. She offered her hand easily.


“Beth. Karen’s other half.”


“Willow,” Willow replied, shaking it, “Tara’s other half. Nice to meet you.”


“Student exchange?” Beth guessed.


Willow shook her head.


“Gap year,” she clarified, “We just got here today. We’ve been all over since last summer.”


Beth relaxed back, holding her gin and tonic in her hand.


“What I wouldn’t give to travel around with my wife.”


Willow stared for a moment and Beth arched her eyebrow in question, making Willow look away quickly, embarrassed.


“Sorry, I’ve just…I’ve never actually heard a woman call another woman her wife like, in person,” she said, adding on under her breath, “It’s pretty cool.”


“Oh, sweetheart, you’re a baby gay,” Beth said, waving her hand indicatively.


“Um…I guess so?” Willow replied unsurely, “I don’t really get all the references and stuff yet. I…tried to deny it for a long time. And it’s always just been me and her, so…”


Beth patted Willow’s shoulder but it wasn’t condescending; Willow actually found it quite comforting.


“You’ll learn your Mary Lambert from your Melissa Etheridge in time. Being part of the community is fun, and important for a lot of people,” she nodded sagely, “But what you have there with your missus is what really matters.”


Willow chuckled.


“I know that but how do you know that? You haven’t even met her.”


“Don’t need to,” Beth shrugged, “Me and Karen? We killed each other during our first holiday together. Didn’t speak for a week after we got home. Doing what you’ve done makes you or breaks you. And by the way she keeps looking at you, I don’t think it broke you.”


Willow looked up and noticed Tara just look away and smile softly. Willow returned the smile even though Tara couldn’t see.


“There’s been some ups and downs,” she admitted, “But we always find our way back to each other.”


She had a little shiver to herself and turned back to Beth.


“Honestly, I’m more out of the loop conversation wise because she’s arty and I’m nerdy. I don’t feel intimidated by the gay stuff, really. It’s never been something she pushed, just something she enjoyed and shared with me. And I like it too. You know I was so, so scared about how being gay would make the world turn its back on me but it’s actually this whole embracing culture. It’s just really, really…cool.”


She nodded as if realizing that herself for the first time. She took a sip of her beer but the glass was definitely starting to feel too big. She put it on the table then smiled bashfully at Beth.


“But…while you’re here…any tips for a baby gay?”


Beth squared her shoulders importantly.


“Don’t bother with The L Word,” she said with the utmost seriousness, “I just saved you 60 hours of your life. Jenny sucks, Dana dies and you’ll ship Tibette and hate yourself for it. And don't get me started on this reboot…”


Willow tried very hard to process all of that.


“Um, ship Tibet where? Isn’t it landlocked?”


Beth chuckled.


“Don’t even worry about it, kid,” she advised, waving a hand, “Listen to some old school Phranc and make out with your girlfriend instead. That’s all the lesbian culture you’ll ever truly need.”


Willow nodded.


“Okay. I’ll do that,” she agreed cheerily, smirking a little, “I’ve gotten pretty good at that second part.”


She looked down and giggled and Beth looked at her fondly, remembering the first swells of love. She looked up when someone caught her eye and started to stand.


“My wife is beckoning.”


“Thanks for the chat,” Willow replied, lifting her drink in gratitude.


Beth tapped her glass against Willow’s as she passed and went over to Karen, while Tara sauntered over and sat in next to Willow.


“Good talk?”


Willow nodded.


“I was getting some lesbian education.”


“Did you learn anything?” Tara asked, leaning in conspiringly.


“That there’s no single experience and I’ll learn my place in the community as I learn about myself,” Willow replied in a wise tone but it faltered as she started to frown in confusion, “And that I need to review my knowledge of inner Asian countries.”


Tara frowned too, not able to work that one out, but before she could even try, Willow’s hand crept onto Tara’s knee.


“Tara I’m sorry—”


“It’s okay,” Tara cut her off softly, and it was, “Do you want to go upstairs?”


Willow’s eyebrows rose.


“Are you not having fun?”


“Yes,” Tara answered honestly, “But I’d like you to have fun too.”


“No, Tara,” Willow shook her head, “I’m so happy to see you talk to people who get… lesbian cinematography and stuff like that.”


Tara discreetly pointed out a shorter girl with raven hair down to her butt and a t-shirt with a rainbow-hued 20-sided dice.


“I heard, um, Sarah? I think is her name. Talking about D&D,” she said before her brow wrinkled, “Or else a very strange dream she had.”


She looked at Willow, who nodded shyly and Tara brought her over to say hello.


They both flittered in and out of different conversations, sometimes together and sometimes not.


As people started to leave, and just on the brink of going from merry to drunk, Tara slipped her arms around Willow from behind.


“Hey you,” she said softly, “I wanna go and listen to some music, what do you think?”


“They’re playing music here,” Willow said as she giggled from Tara’s fingertips lightly tickling her through her shirt.


Tara brought her mouth to Willow’s ear to whisper.


“But I can’t rip your clothes off here.”


Willow immediately spun around to waved to the group.


“Bye, everyone! Nice to meet ya!”


They made a semi-proper goodbye and clasped hands to leave the pub.


“Do you know who Frank is?” Willow asked, opening the door for Tara, “I didn’t get his surname but I’m supposed to play his music.”


“I’ve got you covered baby,” Tara reassured, “She’s a Jewish lesbian folk-punk singer. I think you’ll really like her actually.”


“Oh, that makes more sense!” Willow replied, looking over at Tara hopefully, “Do you have a lesbian playlist we can listen to?”


Tara smirked.


“I have many.”


Willow looked at Tara curiously.


“I feel like you’ve been preparing for this day.”


Tara tugged Willow’s hand to bring her next-door faster.


“Only for the past several years.”


As they hurried off together, their scurrying selves went unnoticed by a man searching for the only real girl he’d ever gotten to date him, and that was only after he convinced her to bail him out after his so-called friends were two big of a cowards to come back for him. Lost in her own way, she’d become robotic in her obedience to him and his quest to track down ‘those bitches’ that wronged him.


Without knowing how close he’d come, he would drag her out of the pub that night, threateningly waving a champagne bottle about. His intention would be to take her back to their room for thirty seconds of his own satisfaction, then to probably just abandon her as she was getting boring now, but he’d never get there.


The next morning the media would report of an American tourist killed by a motorcycle rider driving erratically with his girlfriend on the back, mauled so badly it looked like his skin was ripped clean off his face. His girlfriend, whom no one had seen pushing him into the street, would remain distraught for the final few minutes of her life, even shoving the suspect threw a window before the police could arrive.


The woman on the bike subsequently attacked her and she would succumb to damage she sustained in the fight with her last words mumbled about lemonade and darkness lost forever.


The last known footage of the couple on the bike would come from a nearby security camera, speeding off with the man proclaiming it was time to get out of this bleedin’ town.


Willow and Tara would sleep through the coverage and never give a flying fuck about any of it; as was appropriate for the kind of insignificant vermin that centered the story.


Tonight, they had much more important business to attend to.


They got back to their room and Tara tripped onto the bed when she tried to get there a little too quickly. She giggled as she sat herself up and Willow felt a deep clench watching her sweet face light up.


“Do you need some help?”


“Mmhm,” Tara nodded, “I need your speaker.”


“On it,” Willow replied, skipping over to her bag to take out her electronics pouch.


She brought the speaker over to Tara and placed it on the windowpane just above their bed. Tara plugged it into her phone and found the playlist she wanted. Phranc’s ‘Amazons’ began to play.


Tara turned back to Willow, dragging a finger down from Willow’s neck to where her cleavage first started to dip, then lifted it up to indicate she’d be one minute.


Willow nodded through a shaken exhale and fell back to lie against the bed as Tara moved off and hurried into the bathroom.


She closed her eyes and listened to the music, tapping her fingers against her ribs as she waited.


After a few minutes, the bathroom door handle jostled and Willow’s eyes popped open. Tara leaned against the doorframe in her robe, loosely tied and somehow the lazy knot seemed sexier than when Tara had worn her robe earlier like it had been pulled with the intention to tease.


“I bought something in that store too, you know.”


‘Store’ ran through Willow’s mind several times until she finally realized what she thought Tara might mean but…


“You wanna see?” Tara interrupted Willow’s pontificating.


Willow could only nod, wide-eyed as Tara strolled across the room in no hurry.


Willow didn’t know what was under there but she had already decided she was 100% in, no questions asked.


Tara climbed on top of Willow, holding herself over Willow’s body. Their eyes locked intensely and both inhaled a short breath.


Tara’s eyes suddenly sobered but her gaze remained the same, fixed on Willow and confidently steady. They turned a whole new kind of glassy as their thighs brushed, even with Willow still clothed, and the first shudder of desire went up through her spine.


“You wanna unwrap?”


It took Willow a moment to process that Tara meant unwrap her.


She gulped.


Her hands lifted shakily to that naughty knot and she pulled it free with a quick tug. The sides of Tara’s robe hung there, still obscuring whatever it was that was underneath.


Willow saw a flash of red.


She gently pushed the shoulders off and the robe naturally fell away once Tara sat back enough to let it flow down her arms. It left her in just a soft red chemise with black trim around the cleavage and hemline.


Willow gulped.


Again.


“Whoa.”


Truth be told, she had maybe been 1 or 2% question before, but this was entirely unscary and very, very sexy.


“Y-you liked me in red so much by the pool,” Tara said, her voice betraying her first hint of nerves.


Willow was touched that Tara had picked something out just for her.


She let her gaze run from the little black lace frill brushing Tara’s thighs, up to the cascading red material hugging her shapely hips and to the swell of her breasts with just the right amount of bulge offering a tantalizing glimpse beneath.


“This is… beautiful,” Willow gushed, lifting her eyes to Tara’s, “You are beautiful.”


Tara smiled shyly and almost imperceptibly swayed.


Willow linked both sets of hands, lifted their joined fingers up between them and broke their palms to curl her finger toward herself.


“C’mere.”


Tara started to lean down and as soon as she was close enough, Willow grabbed her and rolled her over so she was on top.


Tara looked a little stunned and her eyes dripped with desire.


It wasn’t the only place starting to drip.


She clutched at Willow’s back, fighting the layers to get her hands on skin and felt a burn as soon as she connected.


She leaned up to take Willow’s lips and was met halfway by an eager mouth claiming her own. Her arms crossed behind Willow’s neck and roughly yanked her sweater off by the cuff. Willow’s cami came next with greater ease and Tara seemed calmed for a bit to have skin to roam free on.


They rolled around on the bed, leaving each other’s mouths only to tease with a nip or lick on the neck. Willow’s pants found their way to the floor and she just loved how silky Tara’s lingerie felt as it brushed up against her.


Tara brushed the strap of Willow’s bra from her shoulder and kissed where the fabric had once sat. Her lips continued downward into Willow’s breasts and her tongue slipped under the material to tease a nipple.


Willow gasped and placed her hand on Tara’s cheek, raising her head up to press their lips together in a smoldering kiss. She nipped at Tara’s bottom lip and pulled away only far enough to speak.


“If we’re, um…” she smiled softly, indicatively, “Can I switch to your, uh, other playlist?”


Tara raised an eyebrow with permission in a move that was both charming and erotic.


Willow cleared her throat and spun around on her hips to reach across to the speaker.


While she was turned, Tara leaned in and pressed kisses to Willow’s back where her muscles rippled with movement. She hooked a finger under Willow’s bra and slid it along until she got to the snaps. Her other hand reached up and pushed them open.


The new playlist started and Willow turned back around, letting her bra shrug off her body.


Tara’s eyes fell down to take a look and she reached out to cup a breast. She leaned in and captured Willow’s lips before the moan even had a chance to vocalize and threw her leg over Willow’s hips to straddle her.


She kissed Willow until they were both breathless and when they broke for air she placed her palm square on Willow’s chest and pushed her down onto her back. Keeping their eyes locked, she reached up and caught either side of Willow’s panties, slowly pulling them down off her legs and over her shoulder.


Willow felt a huge internal gush at the little smirk on Tara’s face as she tossed the panties away and promptly sat up to launch an attack on Tara’s lips. She spread her legs so Tara could throw her legs over, leaving them both exposed and open to each other.


Tara knew where she was needed and didn’t hesitate to dip a finger right below Willow’s clit; just enough room to let it get wet before it rolled over the little jumping ball of nerves. Willow’s jaw trembled and she grinded into Tara’s hand, silently begging for more contact against her hot, hot skin.


Tara slid a second finger down almost to Willow’s opening and back up, gaining fluidity and friction as she repeated the move.


Willow felt the pressure in her belly squeezing tighter and tighter and began to eagerly palm Tara’s thigh to offset some of the tension. Her hand crept closer inward and as soon as she realized Tara wasn’t wearing any panties under that thing she was massaging her between her legs without a moment’s pause.


Feeling Tara so slick with desire only made hers all the more heightened and she felt her sensitivity start to peak. She threw her head back as the first wave started to quake low in her belly and shoot out to all sides.


It rippled quickly then shattered through her body as she clenched and clenched and clenched all through one long breath.


Tara let her hand stay cupped around Willow, feeling the evidence of her pleasure spilling out past her fingers as she touched Willow’s opening with just enough of a light touch to it out for every last tingling micro-second she could.


When the stars had stopped flashing behind Willow’s eyelids, her head fell back to its normal position and her eyes opened slowly.


She looked at Tara and let out a soft groan.


Tara was patient but her eyes were lidded and her lips were trembling and Willow just had to feel her close, as close as she could possibly be, right that second.


She lifted herself up and threw herself at Tara, pinning her back so that Tara’s head fell off the end of the bed. Her hands rounded around Tara’s hips and tugged her forward, where they naturally fell open so her head could slip under the skirt of her chemise.


Tara’s first moan was so loud Willow felt it in her toes and she repeated the same motion with her tongue to get her worked up nice and quick.


Tara’s whole body moved with Willow’s tongue; her hips banging off the sheets, her head banging back off the end of the bed. She was almost hoarse from the endless stream of intense moans passing her lips but Willow was so keen and perceptive to her every need that all she could do was moan and moan and moan.


Willow was trying really, really hard to stay in the moment but there was one, big glaring anomaly that was really wrecking her mood and it came in the form of the giant feature wall directly opposite them.


She knew she’d already had ‘her turn’ but she loved watching Tara and she particularly loved this vantage point and seeing other people’s eyes, even just wallpaper ones, was very, very disconcerting.


“Tara?” she asked as her head popped up, the first break in contact in quite a while giving her a moment to stretch out her jaw.


Tara’s eyes went from shut tight to wide open in surprise and her head lifted back over the bed.


“Huh?”


“Could we turn around?” Willow blurted, feeling extremely dumb and grimacing as she spoke.


Tara’s eyes widened.


That was interesting.


“I keep looking up and you and seeing…” Willow continued, gesturing awkwardly behind them, “Not you.”


Tara looked behind her at the wall and figured out a basic version of what Willow was trying to say.


“Right,” she breathed, doing the biggest sit up of her life to get herself upright again, “Right.”


She heaved out a soft breath and looked at Willow, earnestly waiting for her with wild hair and a smeared mouth. Her stomach rolled with desire and she pressed her lips against Willow’s, slow and long until she just couldn’t take it anymore.


Her hand cupped Willow’s cheek and her thumb rolled over Willow’s lips, still wet with her lingering taste.


“If I didn’t need you kissing me down there so badly I’d kiss you like this all night.”


Willow was panting with renewed arousal and nipped Tara’s thumb as it passed. Tara bit her teeth evocatively and promptly rolled on her back with her head lost in the pillows.


Admittedly, this was a lot comfier.


Willow lay back down between Tara’s legs and flicked the skirt up. She pulled Tara down to her again and grinned.


This was a much better view.


Her mouth landed between Tara’s legs again and Willow could easily see how Tara’s body writhed and her face contorted with pleasure while still keeping her eye on the prize.


She ate like she was starving, which she was because no amount of Tara could ever sate her. Her tongue played a teasing game with Tara’s clit until Tara’s hands fell onto her head and insisted on more. She gave Tara exactly what she needed to get right where she needed to go and thoroughly enjoyed how Tara’s thighs clamped on her ears and held her right there to take the sweet honey as her reward.


When Tara’s legs relaxed again, Willow lifted her head and wiped her hand over her mouth before falling in beside Tara and curling into her side.


Tara was spent but still managed to wrap an arm around Willow, holding her there.


It still surprised her how close Willow liked to be after, from someone who’d spent so long pushing her away.


She placed a lazy kiss on Willow’s forehead with her eyes closed and sighed contentedly.


Willow’s tongue escaped her mouth to lick her lips and she chuckled.


“What?” Tara asked languidly, smiling just at the sound of Willow’s cute little laugh.


Willow flicked the side of her mouth with her thumb in a way that could only be described as smug.


“I just got why this place is called The Honey Pot.”

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 Post subject: Re: New Fic: Inevitable [AU] (Jan 7th 2020)
PostPosted: Wed Jan 08, 2020 12:22 am 
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6. Sassy Eggs

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Dibs! :whip

Quote:
Okay, so there's a few reasons for this. 1) I've been warned that my fics tend to be repeatative, and I know this, so I've been trying to limit that where possible. And I've done W/T in Paris before.

Another reason is Paris is hella expensive and I wanted to send them to a different hella expensive place after London and I figured that might be a choice they have to make. I'll try and clarify this in-chapter so their reasons are clearer.

The last reason is that I like the idea of leaving them places that they can still go back to and still have the kind of experiences they're having now but five, ten, fifty years down the line :)


I already thought it might be reason No. 1. Personally I trust you could have written about new experiences for our couple you didn't write about in "Hacker Confidential" (like roming the streets of Montmartre together f.e.) and it wouldn't have felt repetitive at all. When my boyfriend and I visited Paris a few years ago we did find a moderately priced accomodation and also places with pretty cheap yet tasty food (Crêpes/Galettes f.e., yummy!). But admittedly that was in winter (over New Year's Eve), it might be worse accomodation-wise in summer and if you are looking "last-minute" like Tara and Willow would have. Your last reason gives me hope that they will still get to experience this wonderful city later in their lives (although we won't get to read about it probably unless your planning a sequel - which would be awesome!).

The "Lesbi-inn" sounds nice and yay for the private room they put to good use at the end of the chapter.

Quote:
Tara explained the joke from earlier

Could you also explain it to me and other readers who don't know the "lesbian language" already?

I loved the Canon-Eastereggs with Spike and Dru, especially
Quote:
“A muscle cramp?” Tara asked, glancing down to where the man’s zipper was half-pulled down and his pants were sagging in a very specific area, “In your…pants?”

as one of my favourite (non-romantic) Tara-quotes and of Willow backpedalling after agreeing to the compliment about April's good looks.

Quote:
“Um, ship Tibet where? Isn’t it landlocked?”
(…)
“And that I need to review my knowledge of inner Asian countries.”

:laugh

I have to admit I'm relieved that Warren got killed so there isn't the slightest chance he could ever hurt our girls in the future, but a bit sad that April died too considering she is a human being in your story and might have turned her life around after being free of Warren's influence.
Quote:
His girlfriend, whom no one had seen pushing him into the street, would remain distraught for the final few minutes of her life, even shoving the suspect threw a window before the police could arrive.

I'm a little confused, did April push Warren in front of the motorcycle intentionally and then freaked out when he really was hit and killed?

Quote:
She gently pushed the shoulders off and the robe naturally fell away once Tara sat back enough to let it flow down her arms. It left her in just a soft red chemise with black trim around the cleavage and hemline.

:drool Very good purchase, Tara!
Their lovemaking was wonderful as ever and I loved the comical interlude with Willow's need to change the background behind Tara.

Quote:
Willow’s tongue escaped her mouth to lick her lips and she chuckled.


“What?” Tara asked languidly, smiling just at the sound of Willow’s cute little laugh.


Willow flicked the side of her mouth with her thumb in a way that could only be described as smug.


“I just got why this place is called The Honey Pot.”

:laugh Vixen!


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 Post subject: Re: New Fic: Inevitable [AU] (Jan 7th 2020)
PostPosted: Wed Jan 08, 2020 8:52 am 
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Ms. Moderator Fantastico
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Just to note:

Will's redemption wrote:
Could you also explain it to me and other readers who don't know the "lesbian language" already?


You are entirely correct on this, I shouldn't have assumed and have updated the chapter to reflect this!

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 Post subject: Re: New Fic: Inevitable [AU] (Jan 7th 2020)
PostPosted: Thu Jan 09, 2020 5:30 am 
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6. Sassy Eggs

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Great, thanks! I recommend to delete the old sentence:
Quote:
Tara explained the joke from earlier and played the song for Willow from her phone after they negotiated the map system for the Tube to figure out how to get into central London.


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 Post subject: Re: New Fic: Inevitable [AU] (Jan 7th 2020)
PostPosted: Thu Jan 09, 2020 5:34 am 
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Will's redemption wrote:
Great, thanks! I recommend to delete the old sentence:
Quote:
Tara explained the joke from earlier and played the song for Willow from her phone after they negotiated the map system for the Tube to figure out how to get into central London.


:blush thank you!

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 Post subject: Re: New Fic: Inevitable [AU] (Jan 7th 2020)
PostPosted: Thu Jan 09, 2020 8:10 am 
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This really feels to me like two people just plain enjoying both each other's company and the setting they are in, with no devaluing of either one.

I also like that Warren is not to be worried about ever again in this 'verse as well as other Buffyverse alternates. And the little , "little" meaning here "insignificant but very real", bits of jealousy over April are also how W&T have always been depicted.

More things to look up: Shard Building, Ani DiFranco, Phrank, ALanis Morrissette and gay audiences. I better stop before I begin talking about either cigarette fetishization or the significance of the word "other" in that lyric.

Toaster oven; a step up from a toaster, I guess. I've always wanted to slipa joke about hat in my own fics, but I've never had occasion to bring a wiseacre into their kitchen.


"Do you want to unwrap?" Another coincidence; in "You Can Almost Hear the Evening Fall," my version of their first time, Tar is also wearing a robe and says, "Come on baby, unwrap me." Which soon results in a naked Tara standing in f ront of a fully-dressed in street clothes Willow, which Tara fixes relatively quickly. My beta reader still asked me "Why are they still standing?"

As always, another good, solid chapter.

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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] (Jan 7th 2020)
PostPosted: Thu Jan 09, 2020 11:13 pm 
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first, I love that Tara booked them at the Honey Pot (when I was a baby gay I had a t-shirt that read: Dip me in honey and feed me to the lesbians i don't think i ever actually wore it but damn was i proud of it )

Quote:
“Please find a complimentary flannel scented candle in your room and we have a fanny pack sharing program if you require it for your day's events,” Ellen said as she secured a room key and handed it over to Tara, “We’ve put you in the Indigo Girls room. We hope you find it Closer To Fine.”


:laugh That is a THEME

Quote:
“Please invite me over.”


“You have an open invite,” Tara promised with a smile.


this does open up some questions of where do they go when this trip is over and mundane life resumes...plus, it was sweet

aw, yay for Beth for taking baby-gay Willow under her wing (also, I am glad, as a Beth, to see the name being put to better use than Tara's Stepford cousin)

they have grown so much! Being able to do your own thing and have your partner support even when its not theirs is wonderful

I have to admit, the Warren stuff was really jarring- I had to take a break before going back to the story after because I was carrying images of skinless bodies into it- and, it felt uncomfortable that 'april' was killed- I know what you were going for, but in your story she was human and reading her being killed was a little upsetting

but when i did go back, it was wonderful. I was expecting something more racy from Tara but actually really like that what she bought was lingerie. classy and sexy

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 Post subject: Re: New Fic: Inevitable [AU] (Jan 7th 2020)
PostPosted: Fri Jan 10, 2020 7:00 am 
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Will's redemption

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Dibs! :whip


:banana

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I already thought it might be reason No. 1. Personally I trust you could have written about new experiences for our couple you didn't write about in "Hacker Confidential" (like roming the streets of Montmartre together f.e.) and it wouldn't have felt repetitive at all. When my boyfriend and I visited Paris a few years ago we did find a moderately priced accomodation and also places with pretty cheap yet tasty food (Crêpes/Galettes f.e., yummy!). But admittedly that was in winter (over New Year's Eve), it might be worse accomodation-wise in summer and if you are looking "last-minute" like Tara and Willow would have


I've been to Paris over Halloween time and found it really expensive. Remember Tara in particular isn't seeking out moderate especially when they're also going to the above place and even in fact the place after that. So their choice was influenced by my choice to not go to a repeatative place, but also borne of their own decision making on missing out places like they've had to do the whole trip.

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Your last reason gives me hope that they will still get to experience this wonderful city later in their lives (although we won't get to read about it probably unless your planning a sequel - which would be awesome!).


See you're giving me all kinds of ideas, bringing the kids to Disneyland Paris, maybe Kimberley comes along and gives them a night or two off in the city...

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The "Lesbi-inn" sounds nice and yay for the private room they put to good use at the end of the chapter.


They were due some privacy!

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I loved the Canon-Eastereggs with Spike and Dru, especially

as one of my favourite (non-romantic) Tara-quotes and of Willow backpedalling after agreeing to the compliment about April's good looks.


The muscle cramp quote is just so good. Tara's smirk kills me every time. Also the utter disgust with Willow :laugh Peak Tara humor, I love it.

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I have to admit I'm relieved that Warren got killed so there isn't the slightest chance he could ever hurt our girls in the future, but a bit sad that April died too considering she is a human being in your story and might have turned her life around after being free of Warren's influence.


I spent a long time wondering about how to close off the Warren storyline and then I was like why the fuck am I giving that asshole so much headspace and then I realized...oh, yeah, that's how. It is extremely sad that April had to die but it is also a very common unfortunate outcome in an abusive situation.

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I'm a little confused, did April push Warren in front of the motorcycle intentionally and then freaked out when he really was hit and killed?


Yes, that's exactly what happened.

Here's the thing: I wanted to leave it up to the reader. So, the facts are as you presented them and then it's up to you to decide:

1) She had a complete psychotic break from the abuse and pushed him but didn't even register she'd done it and freaked out.
2) She pushed him and freaked out as a cover and it all went wrong
3) She wanted to die just as much as she wanted him dead and it was essentially a murder-suicide situation that she orchestrated not to look like so.

Which is it really? You decide. The long and short of it is that abuse kills in all kinds of ways.

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:drool Very good purchase, Tara!


In fairness, Tara could look good in a plastic bag.

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Their lovemaking was wonderful as ever and I loved the comical interlude with Willow's need to change the background behind Tara.


A little bit of laughter never hurts things, even if Tara was intriguingly misled for a moment :laugh

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:laugh Vixen!


Well they did just spend their night in the Auburn Vixen so it must have rubbed off :laugh

Thanks for your feedback!

DaddyCatALSO

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This really feels to me like two people just plain enjoying both each other's company and the setting they are in, with no devaluing of either one.


Almost like a real, healthy relationship.

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I also like that Warren is not to be worried about ever again in this 'verse as well as other Buffyverse alternates. And the little , "little" meaning here "insignificant but very real", bits of jealousy over April are also how W&T have always been depicted.


He wasn't worthy of worry and so I eliminated him.

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More things to look up: Shard Building, Ani DiFranco, Phrank, ALanis Morrissette and gay audiences. I better stop before I begin talking about either cigarette fetishization or the significance of the word "other" in that lyric.


Phranc :wink and you've never heard of Ani DiFrano or Alanis Morrissette??

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Toaster oven; a step up from a toaster, I guess. I've always wanted to slipa joke about hat in my own fics, but I've never had occasion to bring a wiseacre into their kitchen.


Well toaster wouldn't have made much sense since the media they're referencing specifies a toaster oven.

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"Do you want to unwrap?" Another coincidence; in "You Can Almost Hear the Evening Fall," my version of their first time, Tar is also wearing a robe and says, "Come on baby, unwrap me." Which soon results in a naked Tara standing in f ront of a fully-dressed in street clothes Willow, which Tara fixes relatively quickly. My beta reader still asked me "Why are they still standing?"


Yes, a common feature of smut in fanfic...when the hell did they get to the bed?! When did they take their shoes off??

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As always, another good, solid chapter.


Thank you.

And thanks for commenting!

shirrey

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first, I love that Tara booked them at the Honey Pot (when I was a baby gay I had a t-shirt that read: Dip me in honey and feed me to the lesbians i don't think i ever actually wore it but damn was i proud of it )


:laugh I think we all had shirts as baby gays that we never wore but felt giddy just for owning!

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:laugh That is a THEME


Oh they go all in, Hammer and Nail :wink

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this does open up some questions of where do they go when this trip is over and mundane life resumes...plus, it was sweet


It does, doesn't it? They have to go 'home'. What will that mean? They're so used to sleeping near each other. And then they go off to college. It's only 30 miles but they've been together constantly, essentially living together on the road and it will feel like a step back. It'll be real hard, especially trying to study on top. It will probably lead to a discussion on some off-campus places that are way cool for groups to, you know, go in on.

Quote:
aw, yay for Beth for taking baby-gay Willow under her wing (also, I am glad, as a Beth, to see the name being put to better use than Tara's Stepford cousin)


Though Cousin Beth does exist in this universe, I don't know that Tara even really knows she exists. Kimberley has mentioned it literally one time in her entire existence. So Tara definitely has a positive image of the name Beth, now even more so.

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they have grown so much! Being able to do your own thing and have your partner support even when its not theirs is wonderful


It IS! It's so important.

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I have to admit, the Warren stuff was really jarring- I had to take a break before going back to the story after because I was carrying images of skinless bodies into it- and, it felt uncomfortable that 'april' was killed- I know what you were going for, but in your story she was human and reading her being killed was a little upsetting


Yep. It's incredibly jarring and I'm sorry for that but not sorry for how it had to ultimately go down. Abusers like Warren never just take themselves down and while it's so important to show that people can escape that, all too often they never get the chance. I always thought that her being a robot in the show shouldn't trivialize the terror Warren inflicted on her.

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but when i did go back, it was wonderful. I was expecting something more racy from Tara but actually really like that what she bought was lingerie. classy and sexy


Do you think? I don't see Tara in quite the 'more racy' mindframe yet. She's blossomed but she was still pretty horrified/amazed/whatever word you want to use in the store. She wouldn't have been so shocked at what Willow bought if she'd bought something similar.

Thanks so much for your feedback!



Update Directly Below

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 Post subject: Re: New Fic: Inevitable [AU] (Jan 7th 2020)
PostPosted: Fri Jan 10, 2020 7:00 am 
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CHAPTER RATING: PG-13

Chapter 46



Iceland



We Can Dance Until We Die
You And I, We’ll Be Young Forever



Willow’s foot hit the ground off the descending stairs of an airport transfer bus and she looked around in wonder.


Everything was so eccentrically pretty with its colorful mishmash of buildings with bright rooftops and unusual shapes. She could see the water in the distance and through the right angle, a slope of a mountain that stood so still and peaceful it looked like a photograph placed there on purpose.


“It’s so colorful!”


“And cold,” Tara replied as she followed Willow out, stuffing her hands into her coat pockets, “I’m still overwhelmed by those mountain views on the way in.”


Willow stepped onto the sidewalk to stop them from blocking the stream of people exiting the bus behind them.


“I’m still not fully convinced we haven’t been flown to a secret movie set and that was all a giant green screen,” she said with a conspiring grin, “The lake was so blue…are your eyes made of it?”


She wiggled her eyebrows as Tara visibly withheld a groan and scrunched her nose up.


“Too cheesy?”


“Fondue,” Tara answered, rubbing her finger against the tip of Willow’s cold nose, “Can be good but not at 6 am.”


Willow held her hands up in defeat.


“I’ll try again at 10,” she joked, then rubbed her hands together to warm them up, “Let’s go drop our bags off and get some breakfast. Did you bring mittens?”


“I have gloves,” Tara answered as she followed Willow down the street to drop their bags at the hostel so they wouldn’t have to carry them around before they could check in later.


They left their luggage along with a group of others who had shared the bus with them and a conversation shifted around the area about good places to go for an early breakfast. Neither Willow nor Tara actually spoke to another person and yet received all of the information they needed.


They had found it to be the case with hostel living, whether crammed into the kitchen or dorm rooms or just the lobby, that conversation was communal unless you kept your tone low enough for it not to be.


They walked back out with their extremities covered a bit better and just generally followed the crowd. It was a quiet, sleepy morning so they didn’t feel the need to check exactly where they were going; they just listened out for noise.


They found themselves on a street name with letter combinations they were hard-pressed to even process let alone try to pronounce and went to a little café on the corner. They recognized some faces and saw some strangers who were having coffee and fast conversations in, presumably, Icelandic.


They took a table for two and slid two menus out from a holder. It was bilingual so they had no problems checking out what was on offer.


“I’m glad we’re only in Iceland for a couple of nights with these prices,” Willow muttered and glanced up at Tara, “Are we sure this was a better choice over Paris? We’d be having hot chocolate and croissants while people-watching on the banks of the Seine right now on a warm Spring day…”


“Tomorrow night,” Tara said plainly.


“Right,” Willow nodded assuredly, “Tomorrow night. You’re right.”


She paused.


“But this is still really expensive for a cup of coffee.”


“I know but we did have that little bit extra saved from staying in Nepal,” Tara replied easily, “We can find a supermarket and cook at the hostel tonight. That will make it cheaper.”


Willow suddenly smiled over her menu.


“I… think at some point our roles reversed. Since when am I getting crabby over prices and you're telling me to chill?”


Tara placed her menu down and folded her arms gently on top of the table.


“Well…I see it like this. I’ll probably have to work all summer when we get back to the US and I’ll have to work while going to school. LA is expensive. I may even need more than one job depending on what I can pick up. But right now I have everything for the next couple of months budgeted for and I get to be on a constant vacation with my lady and there’s even a little extra there for us to spoil ourselves. I’ve…I’ve never actually had that. Everything I’ve ever earned was to be able to do this. So I’m enjoying it while I can.”


Willow placed her menu down to look at Tara.


Even after all these months and the money discussions — arguments, even, almost-break-ups — they’d had, she’d never really contemplated what Tara had just said; that every penny she had ever earned had been earmarked for this year of her life.


She actually remembered being 12 years old and Tara not even buying a candy bar because she had started to save her allowance for it. She’d done this whole trip on a whim; Tara physically worked for years to make it possible.


She remembered how Tara had earned extra money just to take her to prom. Deemed the money for them to have that night more important than every single cent she’d saved before.


And she’d never actually thought about Tara having to pay her way through college; tuition, rent, textbooks, food. All things she had covered already for doing nothing but being born to a successful family.


They’d really gotten in sync about money matters on the trip since the first big blow up and Willow even enjoyed saving them money now. She’d just forgotten that it had taken so much effort to have the luxury of even trying to save money on a trip like this.


“You’re such a hard worker,” she said eventually, slowly, “I’m really glad that you’ve taught me the value of a dollar and I’m also really glad you feel you can splash out on yourself too.”


Tara smiled coyly.


“I like splashing together.”


She gently kicked her toes against Willow’s ankle. Willow ducked her head and leaned her cheek over against her palm.


“I’ll go up and order. Do you know what you want?”


Tara nodded.


“I’ll try some of the Skyr with berries.”


“Do you want some…” Willow scanned the menu to see if anything popped out and found herself pulling a face at one particular item, “…sheep head jelly with that?”


Tara tried not to frown in case it seemed disrespectful.


“I’m good with the berries,” she answered finally, “And tea please.”


Willow went up to the counter and got a tray, took two plates and silverware and picked out what Tara wanted plus some rye bread and butter for herself. She went to the register to pay and order hot drinks and finally returned to Tara.


“I got you some traditional Icelandic moss tea,” she said as she slid the tray between them on the table.


“Thank you,” Tara replied and lifted the cup up between her hands.


She lifted it to her mouth, smelled it and then took a sip. She cleared her throat; it was certainly pungent but she thought she could learn the acquired taste.


“Just tastes like a stronger green tea, really.”


Willow gestured to ask if she could taste it and Tara handed her the cup.


Willow took a sip and nearly choked on the acerbic, bitter taste.


“You big fat phony,” she spat, pushing the cup back toward Tara and taking a gulp from her hot chocolate instead.


“Willow,” Tara said quietly, “Don’t be rude.”


She took another sip and Willow looked at her like she was crazy.


“Why are you still drinking it?”


“I honestly don’t think it’s that bad,” Tara said, putting the cup down to start on her Skyr, “I refuse to eat Puffin so this might be as authentic as I get.”


Willow started to butter her bread.


“My hard nope is the fermented shark,” she said, trying to hold back a shiver, “I feel like I’ve broadened my horizons with food since we’ve been away but…”


“I think I’m with you on that one,” Tara agreed, “I liked the raw herring in Amsterdam though. I thought it would be nice sushi-style.”


“I might have tried it like that,” Willow mused, “I’m really not a fan of eating anything I have to hold up by the tail.”


“That’s not a bad life rule,” Tara smiled softly as she popped her spoon into her mouth, “This is really smooth. It’s delicious. Have some.”


She offered a spoon but Willow was dubious.


“I don’t trust you after that damp forest tea.”


Tara leaned inward, slowly swinging the spoon about.


“If you don’t trust me enough to eat this then I guess you can’t trust me enough to eat… anything else I offer.”


Willow matched her lean, eyes wide but with an impossible to hide the grin on her face.


“Are you threatening me?”


Tara just barely smirked.


“Do you want to find out?”


Willow’s lips pursed and she opened her mouth. Tara swooped the spoon in and Willow closed her lips over it.


When she swallowed, Tara popped the spoon out and Willow arched an eyebrow.


“Smooth.”


“I told you,” Tara teased with an innocent smile but not-so-innocent eyes, “Goes down easy.”


Willow couldn’t hold it and started to flush.


“Tara Maclay, we are at breakfast.”


She straightened up, grinning and Tara sat back with the same look on her face.


As they finished breakfast, the streets grew busier with people walking to work and businesses opening. They got some drinks to go (Tara opted for a more neutral latte this time) and wrapped up again to walk around for a while and get a feel for the place.


They tried their best but it really was so much colder than anywhere they’d been lately and they only lasted a couple of hours out in it and that was weaving in and out of shops every so often to feel their faces again.


On their way back, they had to call back into the first café and order more $9 coffees just to have a warm place to stand for a moment to figure out how to get some groceries before they checked into the hostel.


Mittens and a touch screen were not a good match.


“Okay, we can catch a bus and just use the one ticket if we’re quick enough,” Willow said as Tara held their coffee cups, “It’s exact change only but there’s an app I can buy tickets on. Let me download it. I hope they—okay good, they have an English version.”


She pulled up a bus map to figure out the best route.


Tara had to admit, she often left the ‘logistics’ planning to Willow just because she enjoyed how cute Willow’s concentration face was.


They zipped their coats back up to go back outside and though it had warmed up to a practically tropical 35°F, they were still shivering as they waited.


Willow rubbed her mittened hands together and smiled over at Tara.


“Hey, how do Icelanders flirt?”


Tara looked on, awaiting an answer and Willow sidled up to her with a mock-lascivious grin.


“I’m not wearing any thermal underwear.”


Tara dropped her head and chuckled. Willow watched the air leave Tara’s mouth, pulsing in time of her exhale.


“It’s so cold I can see your laugh,” she said, then looked down at her nose and scrunched it up, “It’s so cold I can feel my own boogers becoming icicles.”


“That is disgusting, Willow,” Tara grimaced but she did feel her own nose start to tickle in response, “Now you have me feeling it.”


She plugged her nose and wiggled it to stop the sensation.


“Does that help?” Willow asked, copying her, “Huh, kinda does.”


They stood around for a good thirty seconds holding their noses like that before realizing how stupid they looked when a kid skipping along with her mother laughed at them.


“Stupid kid probably had her own finger up her nose a few minutes ago,” Willow grumbled as her hand fell back down by her side, “She probably ate it too!”


Tara’s lips quirked up on one side.


“It’s a shame, you could have had a conversation on your own level for once.”


Willow’s mouth dropped as her head slowly turned to gape at Tara. After a few seconds, she dropped down and gathered a small snowball from the light dusting on the ground and flung it straight at Tara’s chest.


“Whose level am I on now?” she asked, giggling.


For the remainder of the time it took for the bus to arrive they ran up and down the street scooping up what snow they could to throw at each other or press into bare skin.


The bus driver didn’t pay any notice to their sprinkled clothes but they both became very aware of their cold skin once inside and the doors were closed. The ice evaporated from their skin in the warmth of the vehicle and made the hair stand as it tried to trap the heat. It was like that uncomfortable minute or so after you first step out of the shower on a winter’s day but times ten and in the presence of locals who were snickering at the tourists not able to handle the cold.


At some point, Willow took one of her hands from her mitten and stuck it between her knees instead. After a moment Tara removed her glove and reached over to pluck Willow’s hand out and link their fingers.


Willow looked over and smiled, feeling her whole body temperature go up at least a degree.


A little screen conveniently told them the next stop so Willow kept an eye on it and on the map on her phone since she couldn’t trust herself to remember the name of it.


When the right one popped up, she leaned over to Tara.


“Next stop is us.”


They turned a corner and they could both see the stop pole but as it grew closer the bus continued to sail along at the same pace.


“It’s not slowing down…” Willow commented, her brow furrowing.


There was a red button on the pole by Tara which said a word that sort of looked like ‘stop’. Willow glanced around and noticed the buttons were on all the seats so made a gesture in that direction.


“Press the button, press the button!”


Tara slammed her hand against the button and the bus pulled into the stop with a bit of a jerk that made the other passengers grumble and send them daggers.


“Shesh,” Willow said as they stepped off, “You okay?”


Tara nodded and quickly donned her gloves again.


The supermarket was right across the street and thankfully, very warm. They weren’t sure of all of the brands but they’d gotten good at picking out things by picture and using the translate app when they needed to.


Knowing they would be lugging it home, they just got what they needed for dinner and a few snacks. They caught a bus just a minute after they got back to the stop so they didn’t freeze their asses off this time but were still ready to get back to the hostel to check-in and layer up a bit better before venturing outside again.


They were a little early for check-in but the guy at the desk was charming and accommodating and fit them into a room that had been vacated early.


“It’s a four-person girls-only room,” Willow explained as they walked through the hostel, “I think I booked a six so kind of an upgrade?”


“Great,” Tara replied, sticking her hands in her pockets, “Are we open?”


“Huh?” Willow asked, shooting Tara a confused look before it dawned what she meant, “Oh. Us. Um, yes but play it by ear?”


Tara nodded and Willow turned the key over again to check the number. The door was closed so they gave a little knock before opening it.


It was a fairly small room but with two sets of bunk beds, the space was used well.


One set was empty and the other had the bottom bunk made up and on the top bunk, a lump was laying under the blanket. They could just about see the room through the light streaming in through the closed blinds.


They looked at each other and made a silent agreement to be quiet. They took their shoes off and walked over to the free bunk bed, quietly leaving everything on the bottom bunk. They had to unpack a couple of things and search for some extra clothes but thought they were being quiet. That was right up until suddenly the room burst with light, blinding them both for a moment.


They both looked to the other side of the room and saw the inhabitant of the top bunk had tugged the blind cord open and was now stretching her arms above her and rolling her head from side to side, making her shock of jet black curls tied up in a bun wobble.


“I’m so sorry, did we wake you?” Tara asked apologetically.


The woman shook her head.


“No, I am just being a lazy,” she announced, stretching her arms down to her toes, “I was working until 5 am.”


Her accent was pleasingly rhythmic with her Ws becoming Vs.


“That’s…late,” Willow replied unsurely.


“I do get to avoid the shower line,” the woman replied, exhaling a sigh as her stomach grumbled, “But miss the free breakfast.”


Willow reached out for their grocery bag.


“Oh, here. We just got lots of stuff,” she said as she picked out one of the snacks with a name she couldn’t pronounce, “Do you like…whatever the heck this is?”


She walked over and offered the bag, which was taken to look at.


“My favorite actually,” she said, nodding gratefully, “Kúlusúkk.”


Willow reached up and scratched her head.


“Bless you?”


“It’s chocolate-covered licorice,” Tara said with a small smile tugging on her lips.


“Oh!” Willow replied, then frowned, “Maybe not the best breakfast food.”


Their roommate waved her hand and popped open the bag.


“Meals are like men, enjoyed most only after a famine.”


Willow’s eyebrows rose and Tara turned away to hide her smile.


“Well, I’m making a ramen noodle stir fry for dinner later, we have extra if you’d like some.”


“It sounds weird but it’s really good,” Willow gushed excitedly, “Tara’s great at zhooshing things up.”


Tara shook her head.


“I just add a few things, it’s no big deal. I like to get local veggies so it’s fresh,” she explained demurely, “I’m Tara, by the way…like she said.”


“Willow,” Willow waved cheerily.


The woman nodded once in greeting.


“I am Iris,” she said and looked between them as she popped a candy into her mouth, “You two are couple, yes?”


Willow’s eyes widened and darted toward Tara.


“Uhhh…” she started, wondering what had given them away so quickly when sometimes people didn’t guess at all, “Yeah? How’d you know?”


Iris pointed a finger between them both.


“Bracelet.”


Willow looked down at the half-heart bracelet hanging from her wrist and its twin on Tara’s.


“Oh. Yeah, of course. Observant.”


Iris lifted both arms up and tilted her head back.


“And thank the god,” she said, falling back down onto the bed so her head hit the pillow, “I have been sharing this room all weekend with straight girls who do not stop talking about missing their boyfriend. Yap, yap, yap.”


A slow laugh bubbled out of Willow’s mouth.


“Straight people are the worst,” she agreed, not necessarily with total agreement with the sentiment but enjoying feeling part of the gossip, “I don’t know why I tried to be one for so long.”


Tara reached out and squeezed Willow’s shoulder, who looked over and smiled at her.


Tara sat on the bottom bunk and plugged her phone in to let it charge a bit but Willow stayed standing between the beds to converse with their roommate.


“Is there anyone else in the bed under yours?”


Iris shook her head.


“I pay for both. Cheapest way to get full closet space for myself and all of my equipment.”


Willow was brought back to Iris’s unusual job hours.


“Equipment?”


Iris nodded.


“Turntable, mixer, all those things.”


A light bulb went off over Willow’s head.


“Ohhhh, you’re a DJ!” she said, looking over at Tara as if to say ‘phew’ and back again, “That’s cool! You’re here to DJ? So where are you from?”


“Akureyri,” Iris answered, pointing up toward the ceiling, “Up north.”


“Oh you’re a native,” Willow replied, placing the accent among the few options she’d been contemplating, “We’re heading more north tomorrow. So you don’t live here?”


Irish shook her head.


“Travel where the work is.”


Willow walked back to sit beside Tara.


“Tara’s a musician,” she said, taking Tara’s hand and clasping it between them, “And she has DJ tracks!”


“No, no,” Tara shook her head, eyes wide, “No I don’t.”


“You said you do them on the app,” Willow said, a line forming on her brow.


“On an app, they’re not…” Tara started to reply, blushing profusely as she waved her hand back and forth, “They’re not real.”


Iris rolled onto her side, very comfortable in her own skin and messy bed-head. She bent her elbow and rested her head on her palm.


“You want to try for real?” she asked in a light tone that had a hint of tease, “Tonight. I play a set downtown. Come play with me, show me what you’ve got.”


“I’ve never done anything like that,” Tara replied shyly, “I just play music live sometimes. And not in a long time.”


Iris shrugged noncommittally, smiling.


“At the very least come to the club. I will put you both on the list. Yes?”


“Yes!” Willow agreed for them, “That would be amazing! We weren’t sure where to go to while we were here. We usually like to check out gay bars and see what the local scene is like.”


“Well then this is perfect for you,” Iris replied easily, “I will enjoy to see you there.”


Willow nudged Tara’s shoulder, who smiled gratefully if not still a little bashful.


Iris scooted down to the end of the bed and slid gracefully down the ladder.


“I must get ready for my day,” she said, reaching up into her head to pull her bun a little tighter.


“We’re going on a puffin tour soon,” Willow said, standing back up again, “But we’ll be back later for dinner and stuff.”


Iris went over to the closet on her side of the room, unlocked the little padlock she had there and got on her knees to unzip the side pocket of her bag sitting on the floor. She pulled out a bunch of papers and separated one, standing up again to hand the flyer over to Willow.


“DJ… Jæja,” Willow read, butchering the pronunciation but giving it her best shot, “What does it mean?”


“Lots of things,” Iris answered, “Depends on your tone. I am lots of things…depending on your tone.”


She winked and Willow still wasn’t sure she understood or ever would so just shrugged.


“Cool! Thanks!”


“Willow and Tara,” Iris repeated to remember the names as she grabbed a toiletry bag, “I will see you later.”


Tara waved her fingers and Willow waved enthusiastically until she gone, then skipped back to Tara.


“She said you could DJ!”


“Willow,” Tara chastised softly, “I don’t know anything about DJing. You very much oversold me.”


“Piffle,” Willow replied indignantly, leaning down to press quick kisses to Tara’s lips, “You. Are. Awesome.”


She pulled Tara up and let her arms fall around Tara’s waist, her hands meeting at the small of her back and down to cup each cheek.


Tara jumped slightly in surprise but didn’t leave the embrace.


“You’re giddy.”


“I think it’s…comfortableness,” Willow replied slowly, moving back and forth on the balls of her feet, “There is definitely a comfort being around other non-straight people that I’m starting to understand.”


Tara lifted her hands up to Willow’s face and brought her in for a soft kiss.


“Layers.”


Willow smiled and nodded.


“Yes. We need layers.”


Tara shook her head.


“No. You.”


Willow’s cheeks tinged pink and she put her arms around Tara in a hug. They hugged for a few moments before Willow pulled back again.


“Okay, but we need clothing layers too. Many, many layers!”


“Yes we do,” Tara agreed and they brought their bags up again to pick out some extra clothing.


Clothing became quite transient when you were on the kind of trip they were on; things were left behind and replaced according to the needs of wherever they were traveling but they really hadn’t been anywhere quite so cold.


They each put a hoodie on top of their sweaters, loaded up on some socks and wore leggings under their pants.


Better prepared for the elements they quickly ate the sandwiches they’d bought in the supermarket for lunch, refilled their water bottles and headed back out to the harbor.


There were lots of little fishing boats and then bigger passenger liners moving in and out of the port. They could see mountains in the distance with the cloud cover offering peeks of blue sky reflecting off the water.


There was a marine life center where they went to buy tickets for the tour and they browsed the artifacts and information plaques while they waited to be called onto the boat. Whilst getting on board, they were given huge fleece overalls and plastic ponchos; both of which, while not the most attractive things in the world, helped enormously in staying comfortable and warm.


They found a spot on the side where they would have a good view as they rounded around the islands in the harbor and shared a pair of binoculars hanging around Willow’s neck.


“Do you remember doing this in New Zealand?” Willow asked, putting her hand over Tara’s on the railing, “Doesn’t it feel like so long ago?”


“A different time,” Tara agreed softly.


Willow leaned her head on Tara’s shoulder and stayed like that until the guide on board directed them toward the first sighting of puffins. Willow looked through the binoculars then handed them off to Tara without talking them from around her neck which caused brief strangulation.


“Those are such beautiful beaks,” Tara commented as she handed the binoculars back, “Look, they’re diving.”


Willow took her phone out to take some pictures as they got closer to the puffin’s habitats.


The boat circled back to the harbor at a slow pace, giving them plenty of great city views in the process that they could just stand back and enjoy.


They returned to the hostel after disembarking from the boat and met up with Iris who had been planning a playlist on her laptop. She insisted Tara sit with her to show her the software so Willow offered to cook dinner.


She returned only slightly flustered holding three bowls close to her body and in a rush to pass them off before the heat bled through to her skin.


“Okay, I’ll be honest, I’m still not entirely sure what a rutabaga is but I sliced it and fried them in salt like you said Tara and I think it worked out pretty well.”


Tara came and sat next to Willow on her bottom bunk and Iris stayed where she was, opposite them, looking down at her bowl with curiosity. She tasted it and immediately went back for more.


“This is wonderful. What is this amazing spice you use?”


“Um…ramen flavoring?” Willow answered, glancing at Tara and back to Iris, “Little bit of extra chili flakes.”


“Genius,” Iris proclaimed, waving her fork like a scepter.


Willow and Tara exchanged amused smiles with each other and continued to eat their dinner. When they finished, Tara took Willow’s bowl and sat in with hers, then leaned over and kissed her cheek.


“That was really great, thank you.”


“I must go,” Iris announced, standing quickly and leaving her empty bowl on the top bunk, “You will come tonight and play with me.”


Tara stood up and gulped softly.


“Oh—”


“It is not question,” Iris interrupted with a smirk as she went over to the closet to take out the large hard case sitting inside.


“Do you need help?” Willow offered.


Iris lugged it out and held it up by a handle.


“It has wheels,” she said as she threw her laptop bag over her shoulder, “I will see you later.”


She left without another word or waiting for a response.


Tara turned back to Willow, holding her hands out at a loss.


“This is crazy, right? It’s—”


“Cool!” Willow interrupted, “It’s so cool!”


Tara’s brow scrunched up.


“I don’t know…”


“You should do it!” Willow encouraged.


Tara shook her head.


“Not me. But, but I'd love to, to watch and learn. From someone who's really good, you know?”


“You're really good,” Willow said, standing up.


Tara’s head ducked and Willow thought for a moment, then went to get Tara’s iPad. She found the app Tara liked to play on and attached the worst song she could think of: Barbie Girl.


“I'll prove it. Here, do this.”


She held it out on her palms for Tara to take.


Tara took a step forward.


“Hmm.”


Willow looked down at the editor and back up at Tara.


“What do you see?”


Tara reached out and caressed Willow’s hand instead, smirking.


“Willow-hand.”


Willow blushed and smiled but thrust the iPad out insistently.


“Okay then, what do you hear?”


Tara sighed and took the iPad. She winced as the first few seconds played but skipped to the chorus and spent a few minutes remixing just that part.


“See? That’s so good and that’s the worst song in the world!” Willow gushed encouragingly when Tara played the small sample back, “What’s your DJ name gonna be?”


Tara rolled her eyes to herself.


“Don’t be silly.”


“You’re being silly!” Willow protested, grinning, “Come on, you have to have a DJ name. I vote for DJ Cutie but you might not be taken seriously.”


She took both of Tara’s hands and looked her in the eye.


“DJ Maclay. It rhymes. Or DJ Yabba…hmmm. Too much context needed. It should be snappy. DJ…”


Tara sighed.


“Will…”


“Tare…” Willow replied mockingly, then her eyes lit up, “Tare-oh! You should be DJ Tarot! You could have a business card that’s like a tarot card design!”


Tara held her hands up in a ‘stop’ motion.


“You’re getting very ahead of yourself. I’m just sitting in a booth to observe.”


“I believe in you,” Willow replied sweetly, “I know you said you didn’t want to have a career in music, but wouldn’t it be cool to have a hobby that you could maybe make some money from?”


Tara smiled and pulled Willow into a grateful hug.


“I love how that brain works,” she said, pressing a kiss to Willow’s lips and lingering for a moment before pulling away, “Our bigger worry is how to dress for a night out in this cold.”


“Oh, I chatted with people in the kitchen,” Willow explained, moving away to start picking out clothing, “There’s just the one little neighborhood with all of the bars and shopping and stuff so everyone just congregates in the lobby and shares taxis. Shouldn’t be out in the cold for more than a minute or two. So wear what you want.”


“Oh great,” Tara replied, sitting on the bottom bunk to take her shoes off, “That makes it easier. I’m going to go have a shower.”


“Gotta smell nice for your debut,” Willow trilled teasingly as Tara grabbed her robe and toiletries to head for the bathroom.


A bath sponge was firmly launched at her head but Willow caught it and shot it back, seeing a smile flash on Tara’s face before she picked it up and was gone.


Willow picked out her pink jeans and a fuzzy fawn-colored sweater that she wore over a pink and green collared shirt. She dressed right there, enjoying the snugness and emptiness of the room allowing her to avoid an awkward under-the-covers fumble to get changed.


It was not the kind of under-the-covers fumble she had ever enjoyed.


Once she was dressed she sat back in her bunk and used her hand mirror to apply some make-up. She still enjoyed when Tara did it for her but she’d picked up a thing or two amongst her time living with other women who were mostly traveling to party.


She used a brown eye shadow that matched her sweater and experimented with a smokey eye to see if it popped like it promised. She used a make-up tutorial online and was quite pleased with her finished look as she wisped her lip gloss over her mouth.


Tara returned from the bathroom in her robe, brushing through her wet hair while her toiletry bag swung on her wrist.


She closed the door behind her again so it was like they had their own little private room. She was humming along to her own tune but abruptly stopped when Willow looked up at her. Her eyes popped in a much different way and she made a series of various squeaking noises while stumbling backward.


“Are you okay?” Willow asked, standing to grab Tara’s hand and help her steady.


“Mmhm,” Tara nodded with a shaken breath, her rosy color on her cheeks hidden under the sting still present from the hot water, “Y-you look…very pretty.”


“Oh, thanks!” Willow replied with a pleased grin, “Have you heard of blending? It’s a revelation.”


“I-I have,” Tara replied, looking down and clearing her throat. She slowly looked up again, a smile blooming over her face, “You’re gorgeous.”


Willow smiled and dragged her upper teeth over her bottom lip.


“Have to look good on the arm of the DJ.”


“Stop,” Tara said, hiding her face and busying herself with finding clothes.


After thinking back on what Iris was wearing when she left, Tara decided to stick with dark jeans and an old Ramones t-shirt but she was stuck on a jacket; the only one she had with her was a general rain jacket that could be stuffed into a ball if needed.


Willow watched Tara try some sweaters on but was clearly uncomfortable with how it looked.


“I’ll just wear a hoodie and unzip it once we get there,” she said finally but still not entirely happily.


She moved onto makeup, doing dark eyes to match the rest of her look. She dried her hair straight and let Willow brush it while she finished make-up. Finally, she dressed in her pre-picked outfit and added her combat boots. They along with sneakers and flats were the only shoes Tara carried around with her regularly but she hadn’t had much opportunity to use them.


“Do I look too harsh?”


“No, you look cool,” Willow replied, hooking a finger through Tara’s jean loop, “You could be my punk rock princess.”


Tara ducked her head and smiled.


“I wish I had a better jacket,” she said, looking with a frown.


Willow pressed a very soft kiss on Tara’s lips.


“You look fantastic.”


Tara brushed her fingers over Willow’s wrist and let them fall off.


“Thank you.”


They finished getting ready and walked out to the lobby where the first round of club-goers was gathering. It was mostly other younger people like them, who hadn’t quite hit Iceland’s legal drinking age of 20 but knew that getting there early was the best way to sneak into clubs.


They got into a cab with a group of girls who had clearly been pre-drinking and both Willow and Tara anticipated an ugly scene if they continued on at that pace at the end of the night.


One of them pawed at Tara’s chest, much to Willow’s chagrin.


“I looooove the danones!”


“They’re a band, not a yogurt,” Willow muttered and Tara gave her a ‘please don’t start a fight with the drunk people’ look.


The girl proceeded to start (badly) singing ‘Should I Stay or Should I Go’ and Willow shot Tara a ‘come on!’ look but somehow they both managed to bite their tongue at that level of musical disrespect.


They finally got dropped at on the top of a street in the shopping and nightlife district. They’d actually been there that morning but when they’d walked through earlier things were still just opening and it had none of the atmosphere that was there now.


It was still only twilight, what with the late sunset, but the sky was a beautiful indigo color and the street lights were on with additional large multi-colored string lights threaded along the roof edges to illuminate the already colorful city.


Bars were starting to get busy, stores were starting to close down after late-night shopping and the clubs were starting to open letting a faint but steady trickle of dance music thump through the streets.


Willow had the flyer in her pocket for the club Iris was playing, which she checked and figured out it was just on the next corner a block over. They walked in that general direction but it was actually considerably warmer under all those lights and they didn’t feel the need to hurry.


They passed by the window of a vintage store and something made Tara pause. Willow had kept walking but backed up when she realized she was talking to herself.


Inside the window on a headless black mannequin was a long, red leather jacket. It looked like it had been around for a while but the leather wasn’t worn or stretched in any way.


“You like it?” Willow asked, looking from it over to Tara.


“Yeah,” Tara said on an exhale, her eyes following the lapels downward.


Willow started to walk toward the entrance.


“They’re still open. Let’s go in and check it out.”


“Willow, no,” Tara followed quickly, “They’re probably closing up. And it’s a leather jacket, there’s no way I can afford it.”


Willow went to the window from the inside with Tara on her heels, looking apologetically at the one member of staff in the store.


Willow checked the price tag and showed it to Tara with a pleasant smile.


“You sure?”


It was thousands…of kroner.


Which worked out to less than $30.


They’d paid more for breakfast that morning.


“Why is it so cheap?” Tara asked suspiciously, wondering if it had been wrongly tagged.


“Because it probably provides no warmth in one of the coldest places in the world,” Willow answered, running a hand down the inside lining, or rather, lack of it, “But it’s super cool and we’re out of the cold in a couple of days so…try it on!”


She took it off the mannequin and held it up by the shoulders. Tara hesitated for a moment, then unzipped her hoodie and put it by her feet. She slid her arms through the jacket and held onto the sides to pull it over herself.


It fit like a glove.


Willow’s eyes shone as she looked Tara up and down.


“That is so badass. You have to get it.”


“Do you think?” Tara asked, turning in it and only finding it even more comfortable with movement, “It’s too much.”


“It’s exactly the right size of ‘much’!” Willow protested, reaching out to the lapels to smooth them out, “You look hot.”


Tara blushed lightly and looked down at herself. Willow plucked up Tara’s sweater and gently pushed Tara toward the front of the store.


“I’ll take your hoodie. Go get it.”


She nodded encouragingly and watched as Tara went up to the register and did the transaction without ever taking the jacket off. Willow put Tara’s hoodie over her body and left it unzipped as she waited by the door.


Willow swore she actually saw the confidence rise in Tara as she walked back, smiling.


“I asked why it was the price it was…she said they’ve been trying to get rid of this since last summer and I think she thought I was bargaining because she gave me an extra 20% off.”


“You’re so awesome!” Willow said, lifting her hand for a high five, “And you look amazing. You’re just the coolest. I love you so much.”


Tara completed the high five then dropped her hand to link her fingers with Willow’s. Willow reached out and pulled the price tag off of Tara’s new jacket and dropped it in the next trash can they passed once outside.


There was a very short line as they approached the club with their taxi-mates right at the very front already having a loud argument with the bouncer.


“Wait,” Tara said before they entered the line.


“Why?” Willow asked in confusion.


“Trust me,” Tara replied firmly.


Willow shrugged; she did trust Tara.


As the group argued, another group from the hostel tried to get in and the original group starting screaming that they knew them and they should all be let in together. The end result was that every one of them were kicked out before ever setting foot inside.


“They would have done that to us!” Willow said wide-eyed, slapping the back of her hand against Tara’s arm, “How’d you know?”


“I’ve seen a lot of drunk people trying to get into clubs I’ve played,” Tara replied wisely, “They all have the same tricks.”


“So cool,” Willow repeated again in awe, seeing a behind-the-scenes version of musician Tara she’d never quite known before, “Layers.”


Once the scene had cleared they joined the line and Willow realized as they got up front that she had no idea what to do, especially with the imposing Nordic giant with a beard almost touching the ground standing over them as a bouncer.


Tara did though, apparently.


“We’re on the list,” she said easily.


“Hvað heitir þú?” the bouncer asked, then nodded when he realized the language she’d spoken, “Name?”


“Tara,” Tara pointed at herself and then at Willow, “Willow. We’re with Iris.”


The bouncer seemed to consider Willow a few seconds longer than Tara, making Willow smile awkwardly. He glanced down at his clipboard and finally let them in.


Willow scurried in and Tara walked in behind her with a bit more grace.


“That beard is so long it could pluck someone from the line and throw them out all on its own,” Willow whispered as they walked past the lobby and coat check area, “I kept expecting it to speak all by itself.”


Tara shot Willow a smile but didn’t say anything out loud.


They walked through into the club which was still in its transition phase from evening bar to night club. The music playing was just an unmanned playlist and the lights were dimming from soft lamps to the more fluorescent lighting that would accompany the DJ.


It was a mostly seated club with plush material sofa-style seating with small, low tables and poufs opposite with fabric-covered short stools. The bar was long, made to accommodate a big crowd and had just one couple, two men, sitting at it while everyone else lounged around the sides.


They decided to take advantage of having their pick of seats and chose a corner spot.


“Start with a beer?” Willow asked, as was their usual custom while they settled into a place and had a better look at the drinks menu.


Tara nodded and sat back while Willow went up to the bar and returned with two bottles of beer.


“Did you know beer was illegal here until 1989?” Willow said as she slid in back beside Tara.


“Really?” Tara asked, wiping her napkin around the rim of the bottle, “Why?”


They clinked bottlenecks.


“They had a prohibition like us but beer was the last thing to be made lawful again,” Willow explained then smirked momentarily before taking a swig, “Technically we’re still drinking unlawfully.”


Tara let two fingers dance up Willow’s thigh.


“It can be fun to be naughty.”


Willow smiled and leaned in to kiss the spot right below Tara’s ear.


She may have whispered something naughty while she was there but they were the only two who would ever know.


There was a steady stream of people arriving in the club and there was standing room only by the time Iris came out to cheers for her name and flashing lights.


“Deeee-jayyyy yah-ee-yah.”


“Oh, that’s how you pronounce it,” Willow said, nudging Tara, “Wow I must have sounded like an idiot earlier.”


Tara couldn’t really hear but offered her hand.


“Want to dance?”


Willow sipped through the tiny black straw of her latest drink and took Tara’s hand to be brought out onto the dance floor.


They joined one set of hands and started to dance; their silly, twirling moves standing out amongst the crowd of drunken and occasional drug-fuelled ravers but they didn’t really care or notice.


After some time, Iris pressed a button on her decks, popped her earphones around her neck and sought them out in the crowd. When she spotted Tara she gestured for her to come up.


Tara looked uncertain and glanced at Willow.


“Go,” Willow pushed her gently, “Go on.”


Tara walked up to the steps to the DJ booth where another bouncer started to turn her away until Iris called down to let her in. Tara walked up and into the booth where Iris gave her a hug and handed her a second pair of chunky headphones.


Willow watched as Iris showed Tara a few things and then motioned turning a disk on the turnstile.


“That’s my girlfriend,” she shouted giddily to the nearest person to her, grinning through her straw and not caring an iota when he didn’t acknowledge her.


Her eyes were one place only.


She watched transfixed, happily swaying on her own even when others would bump into her until Iris caught her eye and motioned to Tara’s empty glass and then between them. Willow nearly tripped over herself to get to the bar.


She brought drinks back and climbed the steps in awe that she got to be in such a position. Tara spotted her and her face lit up.


“She said I have a very good ear,” she ‘whispered’ over the loud music in Willow’s ear as she took her new glass.


“You have a very good lots of things,” Willow returned with a naughty nose scrunch, biting her bottom lip.


She glanced over to Iris and offered the other glass in her hand.


“You’re really good! The set is great! I’m having a blast.”


Iris raised her glass as she pressed a button on her laptop that made a loud song full of energy book out and a pleased cheer go up in the crowd.


She leaned in and clinked all of their glasses together, smirking as she enjoyed having the whole room basking in her presence.


Tara understood the rush.


‘Skál!’ Iris said as she raised her glass again before downing the whole thing in one go.


Willow and Tara glanced at each other. They’d cheers’d in enough different country to know what it sounded like without translation. Their look turned to smiles and they raised their glasses too.


‘Skál!’



“No, see, they use a patronymic naming system here so the last name is derived from the father’s name.”


Tara left a boot print in the sparse snow as they took another step through the forest.


“So what would your name be?”


“I would be Willow Iradóttir,” Willow answered, her mittened hands clutching the straps of her backpack, “Daughter of Ira. Or Sheiladóttir if I wanted to usurp convention and be matronymic but I think this is one case where I’m for the patriarchy.”


She smiled widely and the pom-pom on top of her hat wobbled.


“What would you be?”


Tara stepped a little closer to Willow to hear better. Her slouched beanie was over her ears but she would take slight muffling over frozen auricles any day.


“Donald…dóttir,” she said eventually.


Willow looked over, surprised.


“That…makes a lot of sense actually.”


Tara shook her head to herself.


“You know, I didn’t actually know that until the past year when I was getting my passport. I never asked,” she said, watching their tracks for a moment before looking back at Willow, “Mom was enough. More than. And she never spoke about him either so I just…never asked.”


“Your mom is the best,” Willow smiled affectionately, “You’d be Tara…Ms.Maclydóttir.”


Tara’s lips sloped up on one side and she shook her head.


“Will you ever call her Kimberly?”


“Probably not,” Willow also shook her head and smiled, “Even if she got married I’d probably still call her Ms. Maclay.”


“What if—” Tara started but then promptly stopped.


“What?” Willow asked, nodding for her to continue.


“Nothing,” Tara said quickly and took in a deep breath of arctic air and felt her nose burn, “How far away are we?”


Willow consulted the pamphlet in her hand that had a small map on it.


It was the first physical map she’d used all trip. More than once she’d placed two fingers on it to try and zoom.


“We turned left at the service house so…should just be up here,” she said as she looked ahead and confirmed there was a turn up ahead where it should be, “They said they like to keep them far enough away from the service house that you won’t be disturbed by anyone else coming and going but close enough that it’s not too big a deal to run to the bathroom or heat up some coffee. Should be just a few feet once we go around those trees.”


“Okay, good, because I’m still a little hungover,” Tara admitted with another heavy step, “That bus ride didn’t help.”


“Tell me about it,” Willow muttered with a short, grumbling groan, “That’s what we get for staying out ‘til 5 am when we have to leave at 9.”


Tara’s shoulders adjusted uncomfortably as the bag weighed heavy on her back.


“It was amazing though.”


You were amazing,” Willow grinned, bumping Tara’s shoulder playfully, “I knew you’d be great. Is it something you’d want to keep doing?”


Tara flapped about a bit, ducking her head.


“That’s very beyond me right now. I’d have to do proper training and…” she trailed off, then smiled coyly at Willow, “I’d consider it. But as a hobby. There’s no way I could actually make it as a side hustle.”


Willow grinned.


“Ooh, say side hustle again. I liked it.”


“Funny,” Tara shook her head playfully.


“Very funny,” Willow agreed, smiling so that her tongue stuck out between her teeth, “DJ Tarot.”


Tara blushed but it was completely impossible to tell on her already windswept cheeks.


They rounded the corner and immediately knew they were exactly where they were supposed to be.


They were in a clearing of the sparse birch trees near a cliffside that showed active volcanoes on the horizon. Parked in the middle was their private lodgings for the night, an entirely inflated plastic igloo; transparent so you could look out at all angles from the double bed nestled inside.


The igloo was on top of a little wooden deck to keep it off the snow and they could see already it was way bigger than they’d ever imagined.


“This is like glamping,” Willow said excitedly as they approached, “But inside a pretty postcard.”


She bent down at the front of the igloo where a small combination padlock through the zipper top kept it secured. They’d been given the code when they checked in so Willow started to put it in but paused and smiled painfully over at Tara.


“High school flashbacks.”


Tara patted her shoulder sympathetically and Willow finished popping the lock. She unhooked it and unzipped the opening.


It had a twin door so the front part opened to a passageway that they zipped closed again and locked on their side before zipping open the second door through to the main igloo, thus not allowing any of the cold or snow or other people to get into their lodgings.


Willow went through first and they had to push their bags through each one at a time as they couldn’t fit through with them on their backs. They both left their snow-covered boots in the little entranceway and finally zipped themselves inside.


“It’s so cozy,” Tara said in surprise as she tugged her hat off and let her locks fall free.


As well as the bed, there was a small crate with a lamp on it and extra blankets. Directly opposite on the other side of the bed was a space heater keeping the ‘room’ very toasty.


“And there’s an electric blanket,” Willow said, spotting the wire coming out the side of the mattress. She jumped on the bed and lay her head back on the pillows, “It’s comfy too.”


Tara unzipped her jacket, not her cool new leather jacket that she was afraid of ruining in this climate, just her raincoat that had done its job admirably, leaving her in her dry sweater.


She lay down beside Willow and shuffled in close on the surprisingly big bed. She poked her burgundy-socked toes against Willow’s smiley face ones playfully and elicited a smile.


Willow turned lazily on her side, bending her knee over Tara’s leg and throwing an arm over her waist. She snuggled in with her head resting on Tara’s shoulder and sighed happily as they both looked up to the open sky starting to turn orange as the sun set.


Willow slipped her hand under Tara’s sweater, placing her palm on Tara’s belly to warm it up. Her thumb caressed the skin over Tara’s bellybutton gently.


“You wanna take a little nap?” Willow suggested after several minutes of them being completely still, “Wake up again for the big show, hopefully?”


“That would be nice,” Tara agreed softly.


They’d have to stay up into the wee hours on the off-chance of getting a natural light show courtesy of the Northern Lights anyway, and the synthetic light show from the night before was still nauseatingly present if they focused on something for too long. It had been a fun night but they really should have stopped after six drinks. Or at least counted when Iris kept getting free ones brought over.


They got out of bed to pull the blanket back and get back under it.


“Do you want more blankets baby?” Willow asked before lying down completely, “They left extras.”


Tara lifted her arm up.


“I’ll take a Willow blanket.”


Willow smiled and threw herself under the covers, lifting it up to their necks as she scooted in to spoon Tara.


“This is how every day should always end,” Tara murmured happily, “…and start. And all the stuff in the middle.”


Screw carb fests or hair of the dog — nestled together while they watched the snow fall onto them was the best hangover cure ever.


Willow slid her hand under Tara’s sweater again, gently tapping her fingertips against Tara’s abdomen and up to her ribs. She lingered there for a moment then grinned against Tara’s neck.


“You’re not wearing a bra,” she whispered, tracing the underside of Tara’s right breast with her finger, “I love it when you don’t wear a bra. Can—”


“Yes,” Tara mumbled before Willow could even ask the question.


Willow gently cupped Tara’s breast and settled her head down to sleep.


A few hours later, after a luxurious snooze and waking up to snack on some trail mix and chocolate, they were back lying on top of the covers admiring the beautiful and bountiful starry night.


“The Big Pineapple is being swallowed tonight,” Willow said in observation of the sky which looked like a tub of glitter had been spilled all over it, “Looks like a whole giant cosmic fruit bowl out there.”


Tara linked her fingers with Willow’s and held their hands between them.


“Show me the constellations. The real ones.”


“Well, Ursa Major is right there,” Willow pointed directly above them at the collection of bright stars shining back down on them, “But I can do better.”


She lifted their joined hands and pointed at a bright spark.


“That’s Mars,” she said and then adjusted their hands again, “And that…is Jupiter.”


She turned her head so it was closer to Tara’s.


“You know, Galileo first discovered four of the moons of Jupiter way back in like the 1600s. But when he realized they weren’t stationary objects, that was the first-ever proof of celestial bodies that didn’t orbit the earth. At the time, that was like…”


She used her free hand to imitate a mind-blown gesture.


“One discovery, eventually, changed how we viewed our whole universe. Specifically that we were not the center of it. Just with this one acknowledgment of something that was always there,” she said softly, looking sidelong at Tara with a pointed expression, “Once we stopped being self-obsessed assholes.”


Tara lifted their hands and extended a finger to tickle Willow’s cheek.


“It’s hard to see the moon when you can’t even see how much you shine.”


Willow leaned in and pressed a long kiss to Tara’s cheek. She settled her head against Tara’s shoulder.


“I don’t know if we’re going to see the lights tonight. We may have left it a little too late in the season.”


“It’s okay,” Tara comforted, leaning her head back on top of Willow’s, “I still had a lovely night. It was nice to have an excuse to just do nothing.”


They stayed like that for another little while, waiting but also just being together.


As time ticked on and sleep was threatening to overcome them before they wanted, Tara sat up to wake them up a bit.


“I want to give you something,” she said, looking down at Willow, “It’s an early birthday present.”


Willow’s eyes lit up as she sat up alongside Tara.


“Ooh. Is it a sister to that little red thing you bought before?”


Tara opened her mouth and closed it again.


“No,” she said finally but offered Willow a coy smile, “But I’ll keep that in mind.”


Willow smirked to herself and watched as Tara bent over to unzip something from the front pocket of her bag. Willow enjoyed the view until Tara turned back with a large white envelope, pressed down in her lap.


“When we were on our way to London we talked about how you’d told me about visiting there when you were younger,” Tara said, reaching out to place her hand on Willow’s knee, “And we mentioned how you’d…made up some stories about the other places.”


Willow bristled and looked down but Tara sought her gaze.


“Please don’t look ashamed. I don’t judge you for it. You were a little kid and you had so much going on,” she said, putting a finger under Willow’s chin to raise it, “But I do remember all your stories. And I think, I think they actually were kind of true. The desire was real, you talked about things you wish you had done. Is that right?”


Willow slowly nodded.


“Well, yeah. It was all the stuff I thought I’d get to do before I was lumped into a hotel room.”


Tara’s fingers traveled up to Willow’s cheek and she cupped it.


“I hope that our travels have made up for it somewhat. That you’ve gotten to do the things you wanted to do.”


Willow visibly did a double-take.


“Tara, ‘somewhat’?” she asked, reaching up to hold Tara’s wrist and nuzzle into her hand, “I’m glad I didn’t do all that shit with them because experiencing it with you has been the most incredible time in my life.”


Tara smiled softly at Willow’s affection.


“We had to give up South Africa to stay in Nepal.”


Willow nodded.


“Yeah, but that’s the choice we made. And it was worth it. Just like giving up Paris was worth this.”


Tara lifted up the envelope and spun it so the front faced Willow.


“I want to make all of your dreams come true.”


She presented it somewhat nervously.


“It’s not as long as we hoped to spend. But we’ll get to do the safari you always talked about. That girl from Budapest, Dane, she recommended it. Says it’s a good one.”


“Wait,” Willow said, brow knotting in confusion for a moment, “What?”


She spotted the sticker on the front first, exotic cartoon animals smiling with the name of a safari company. She ripped open the envelope and found details of weekend safari retreat outside of Johannesburg.


“Oh my god,” Willow breathed as she snatched through all the pages and leaflets before finally looking up with eyes shining with unshed tears, “Tara. How?”


Tara tucked some hair behind her own ear.


“There was a little bit of money left from the savings and, um, actually Nate sent me some money.”


Willow’s brow creased.


“Wait, Nate gave you money? Did you borrow from him? Because you know you can always come to me—”


“No, no,” Tara interrupted, putting a hand up, “No, he put out an album. And one of our old songs is on it. People seem to like it so he gave me a cut. It was an old agreement we made, I never thought it would ever come to anything but…he’s a good guy, he stuck to it. I had actually forgotten about it until he told me what he was doing.”


Willow started to frown.


“Why didn’t you tell me?”


“I wanted to get this for you first,” Tara explained, gesturing toward the envelope, “I knew you’d try to make me use the money to get something just for me but I really want to do this with you.”


Willow looked down at the colorful array of animal photographs featured in the documentation and couldn’t help but smile.


“Which song is it?” she asked curiously.


Tara hesitated for a moment.


“Secret Boo.”


“The one about me?!” Willow exclaimed, a lot more excited than the first time she’d heard the song, “So there’s a bunch of trendy New Yorker’s out there singing a song about me, dorky old Willow?”


She held her hands up, laughing.


“Well…thank you, Nate, I guess. We’re going on safari!”


She pushed herself over to throw her arms around Tara to hug her tight.


“But what about Paris?”


Tara winked.


“Next time.”


The promise of those words made Willow feel a big lump of emotion stick her throat.


“I love you so much, Tara.”


Tara waited for a moment pointedly and Willow’s eyes suddenly widened.


“Oh! Yes! Iris helped me! I’m so sorry I forgot,” she gushed, then caught her breath so she could put all of her effort into getting it correct with just the right upward inflection, “Ég elska þig.”


She wiped her hand over her brow.


“Phew. Got it right. My brain kept wanting to say ‘elsa’ not ‘elska’ because I watched Frozen on the plane even though that's set in Norway, not Iceland but I was reading this article about this archaeologist who believes that people of Sami origin may have been among a group that sailed to Iceland before…”


Tara smiled; Willow’s effort in this way always made her feel every bit as loved as the thought gone into it. She closed the hug while Willow babbled and opened her mouth to return the sentiment when something caught the corner of her eyes. She looked up as the sky suddenly illuminated with bright, dancing color.


“Willow,” she said in awe, gaze fixed upward, “Willow, look.”


Willow looked up and gasped.


Green and pink and white and grey and a mingled mix of all four swirled around in breathtaking glory.


Tara sought Willow’s hand to truly share the experience.


“There are no words for this.”


Willow reached up like she might touch the lights and let her hand fall back down again.


“There’s one.”


She inhaled a soft breath and squeezed Tara’s hand.


“Magic.”

_________________
Amber Benson killed me once.

Check out my finished fics

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

A Twisted Date


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