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 Post subject: Re: New Fic: Inevitable [AU] (Jan 10th 2020)
PostPosted: Fri Jan 10, 2020 5:46 pm 
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20. Not one Much for the Timber
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Hi JMT-

*Sighs* Per usual, inconsistency prevails with me and feedback. To be honest, I haven't been online much, my eyes have been sore and kinda red. No idea what that's all about. :glasses

I really enjoyed the last several chapters and how you subtly wove them together. So, here are some of my favorite cohesive parts...

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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.
This cracked me up and I loved how it tied into Willow's purchase in the very next chapter.

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“Have you ever tried it?” They passed by a coffee shop 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.”
This is such an innoxious conversation, yet speaks volumes about the previous 14 years and how they stayed close but somehow managed to live completely separate lives at the same time.

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“…you wanna look inside?”

“Me?” Willow feigned innocence, before darting her eyes back and forth and leaning into Tara, “Kinda?”
HA! Closet perv and why I love Willow so much.

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“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.”
Poor little closet perv... :lol

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“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.
Willow getting a little 'gay schooling' was awesome. I think we all could've benefited from some sage advice at that age. Especially those of us who grew up internetless.

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“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 Tara didn't realize is that the seed has was already planted in Willow's brain back in London. See, I've thought a lot about how this fic will end and one of my theories is they take a detour to Vegas on the way home and secretly get married. College housing problem solved! Kinda. At least I think it will get Willow out of having to live in the freshmen dorms and also with her parents. Far fetched, yes, but plausible.

When I got to the end of the Iceland chapter, I couldn't help but smile remembering what I sent you weeks ago. :smug I've always wanted to go, but seriously doubt it'll ever happen, so getting to live it through Willow and Tara was really nice. Traveling with your love can be stressful but when everything clicks and you realize how special the experience is...truly magical.

Thank you for this lovely journey:)

ps. I also vote for a sequel or maybe a series of short stories covering little chunks of time in their adult lives.

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 Post subject: Re: New Fic: Inevitable [AU] (Jan 7th 2020)
PostPosted: Sat Jan 11, 2020 6:29 am 
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3. Flaming O

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I haven't posted for a while Laragh. Rest assured I continue to read and follow this excellent story that is part travelogue and part romance, and also very hot and sexy in places! Hungary was poignant. London was fun and touristy. The 'airport incident' was hilarious. It's lovely to see how much Willow grows during this story and while her quirky nerdness endures, she is more confident and at peace in her relationship with Tara, but more importantly with herself.


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 Post subject: Re: New Fic: Inevitable [AU] (Jan 10th 2020)
PostPosted: Sat Jan 11, 2020 12:43 pm 
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3. Flaming O

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Dibs! Go DJ Tarot! That's just so Tara to use her money to do something for Willow.


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 Post subject: Re: New Fic: Inevitable [AU] (Jan 10th 2020)
PostPosted: Sun Jan 12, 2020 12:17 pm 
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4. Extra Flamey
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Quote:
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.


Oh I have no qualms with Warren being killed- gruesomely even, it was more jarring tonally- going from the sweetness of the bar to the sexiness of the room with semi-graphic violence in the middle. And I absolutely felt for April (more than Katrina tbh) but she still wasn't human

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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.


It's probably just my guttery mind- :-p

Iceland sounds like a dream!! The Northern Lights are tops on my bucket list (if I had a Tara to watch it with I would be booking a flight to one of those igloos stat- pretty much the most romantic thing ever)

I loved Tara being with the DJ! Just dipping her toes and expanding her horizon

Frozen boogers are totally a thing

Quote:
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.


such an important realization for Willow, it tells her exactly want is essential to Tara, I am really glad she said something to Tara about it


Quote:
“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.”
:laugh Oh Willow- too cute

the little insight into Tara's relationship (lack of) with her father said so much in just a few words

Quote:
“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?”


AWWW Tara

Tara's gift to Willow was sweet- the whole update had a wonderful flirty-ness

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 Post subject: Re: New Fic: Inevitable [AU] (Jan 10th 2020)
PostPosted: Mon Jan 13, 2020 12:33 am 
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5. Willowhand

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When you mentioned the next destination would be really expensive Iceland was indeed my first guess. I'm so envious! My boyfriend made a 2-weeks-roundtrip in Iceland a few years ago - without me because that was way out of my price-range. He went in the summer though so he saw no northern lights.
Spending the night in a transparant iglu, seeing more stars than everywhere else and the northern lights on top...wow! Definitely an experience they'll never forget and one of the highlights of their entire trip.
I hope Tara will start working as a DJ when they get home and will earn enough money with her gigs so she won't have to take a second job as a waitress. If so, going to Iceland instead of Paris will once again prove as the right choice because I think even if she had the opportunity Tara would never have dared to try "DJ-ing" (I don't know if this is a real word :wink ) in some club in Paris.
Quote:
“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

Aw Tara, thinking about marriage? :flower I expect when they get married Willow still won't use the name Kimberly but hopefully will call her mom instead.

Quote:
“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.”

Please do! :flirt

Quote:
“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.”

That passage had me teary-eyed. I really feel for little kid-Willow and love how good Tara understands her girlfriend.
Quote:
“I want to make all of your dreams come true.”

Awww! :bigkiss :flower That sentence alone is a gift! The gift of the safari-trip is great too, of course.
So now they'll go from Iceland straight to South Africa? Talk about a drastic change in climate!


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 Post subject: Re: New Fic: Inevitable [AU] (Jan 10th 2020)
PostPosted: Mon Jan 13, 2020 11:26 am 
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10. Troll Hammer

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Just a brief reply to you questions (as I'ven't properly covered the Iceland chapter yet;) I'd heard the name Ani DiFrnaco a nd knew she was singer but not hat she was openly bisexual (also looked up the Bisexual Flag.) And yes, I've heard of Alanis Morrisette, even seen pictures of her at times, some of them without shoes, I just wanted to see if searching for her name combined with "gay audiences" brought up anything specific, a nd it really didn't:-).

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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 10th 2020)
PostPosted: Tue Jan 14, 2020 8:00 am 
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Ms. Moderator Fantastico
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Finey_McFine

Quote:
Hi JMT-


:bigwave

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*Sighs* Per usual, inconsistency prevails with me and feedback. To be honest, I haven't been online much, my eyes have been sore and kinda red. No idea what that's all about. :glasses


:laugh :laugh

Quote:
I really enjoyed the last several chapters and how you subtly wove them together. So, here are some of my favorite cohesive parts...

This cracked me up and I loved how it tied into Willow's purchase in the very next chapter.


Dropping them breadcrumbs

Quote:
This is such an innoxious conversation, yet speaks volumes about the previous 14 years and how they stayed close but somehow managed to live completely separate lives at the same time.


They don't really talk about it but Willow really pulled away when she became friends with Buffy because it was suddenly very honking obvious to Willow how you're supposed to feel about a female friend and that was not how she felt about Tara. So those high school years there was no doubt separation and they just hung out for Friday night pizza.

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HA! Closet perv and why I love Willow so much.

Poor little closet perv... :lol


HA! I love closet perv Willow. I also love how open closet perv is with Tara!

Quote:
Willow getting a little 'gay schooling' was awesome. I think we all could've benefited from some sage advice at that age. Especially those of us who grew up internetless.


My 'gay schooling' was so imperitive to my growing up, I can't imagine what those coming out years would have been like without it. We really do need some Come To My Window Cats & Cheese Socials and Subaru Test Drive Parties in the Shameless by Ani DiFranco halls around the world!

Quote:
What Tara didn't realize is that the seed has was already planted in Willow's brain back in London. See, I've thought a lot about how this fic will end and one of my theories is they take a detour to Vegas on the way home and secretly get married. College housing problem solved! Kinda. At least I think it will get Willow out of having to live in the freshmen dorms and also with her parents. Far fetched, yes, but plausible.


Okay, so I'll straight out tell you this doesn't happen and they will have to figure out that first year in the dorms themselves and make an effort to see each other and sustain their relationship. I think it'll be good for them! They are still very young and having to fight for themselves a little bit while working towards a common future together is a good way to learn how to live together in one place and during the minutiae of life as well as living together on the run. It's easy to make time on a constant vacation, it's not so easy to make time when you have to work and study and travel in traffic just to see the other person. They've learned A LOT but they haven't figured it all out.

In saying all of this, I'm going to tell you how we're still JMT-ing on this because this was totally something that happened in the original plans! So, I think like most fics, this one is an amalgamation of a bunch of ideas/headcanons/universes playing out in my head that I shoved together and one of those universes involved them getting married on a whim during the first year of college. I was going to do it and everything but both they and I grew in the length of time it took this fic to become a thing (they because I just couldn't picture them doing it any longer, particularly to Kimberly and me because one idea I had was for them to 'accidentally' get married by completing some foreign ritual they had no idea they were completing but, uh, yeah, thankfully I grew up and realized that that is horribly offensive! :blush)

The other thing is, this fic doesn't really end with a big explosive bang...because these trips don't end with a big explosive bag. They just end. You go home. So the end will be what the whole fic is about: them. Together. In the same spot but in a much better place than where they started.

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When I got to the end of the Iceland chapter, I couldn't help but smile remembering what I sent you weeks ago. :smug I've always wanted to go, but seriously doubt it'll ever happen, so getting to live it through Willow and Tara was really nice.


It's bucket list stuff for me too, my best friend has gone a few times. I have no one to go with though :(

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Traveling with your love can be stressful but when everything clicks and you realize how special the experience is...truly magical.


Stop and take a breath right?

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Thank you for this lovely journey:)


Thank you for being with me on this journey! Knowing I have such amazing people along from the ride is really what makes this all so meaningful for me!

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ps. I also vote for a sequel or maybe a series of short stories covering little chunks of time in their adult lives.


I need no convincing. I'm writing the next little installment of Family Conf. right now and when I'm done I have definite ideas. I'm not sure the exact format yet, something like you suggest most likely in little chunks of time given (particularly the time between when the fic ends and where the epilogue is set) but I definitely want to live in this verse again. I've truly loved it.

Thanks so much for your feedback!

NorthernLass

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I haven't posted for a while Laragh. Rest assured I continue to read and follow this excellent story that is part travelogue and part romance, and also very hot and sexy in places!


Hi there! Thanks for checking in, though just knowing you're still reading is definitely enough and I'm thrilled to still have you along for the ride!

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Hungary was poignant. London was fun and touristy. The 'airport incident' was hilarious. It's lovely to see how much Willow grows during this story and while her quirky nerdness endures, she is more confident and at peace in her relationship with Tara, but more importantly with herself.


Willow just becomes more of herself as she grows, otherwise it's not growth, right? It's a tumor.

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Dibs! Go DJ Tarot! That's just so Tara to use her money to do something for Willow.


She really doesn’t get that kind of opportunity often, if someone is gifting some big romantic treat, it’s usually Willow. So Tara is definitely getting just as much out of the joy of giving (as well as also going on the safari!)

Thanks for commenting!

shirrey

Quote:
Oh I have no qualms with Warren being killed- gruesomely even, it was more jarring tonally- going from the sweetest of the bar to the sexiness of the room with that in the middle. And I absolutely felt for April (more than Katrina tbh) but she still wasn't human


I get that, and actually the jarring tonality was kind of intention because it was supposed to be purposely irreverent to Warren's gruesome end. But April was collateral damage, both in Warren's demise and the way I chose to tell it. She deserved better and maybe this is an instance where my tendency to try and play things close to canon didn't work out. But introducing her meant needing to give her a definite end, or she would have been a loose end that was left untied up. In the context of how I wrote it, it’s hard to show her having a positive end because if she ran away, where did she go? If she went off with the police, what happened? It all leaves questions and it wasn’t really something I intended to bring up again.

I mentioned to someone else that one of the possible scenarios that played out was that April faked a reaction to get away with pushing Warren. I can totally see it as plausible that she faked her death just to plain get away if you’d like to think of it like that... :wink

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It's probably just my guttery mind- :-p


And long may you have it!

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Iceland sounds like a dream!! The Northern Lights are tops on my bucket list (if I had a Tara to watch it with I would be booking a flight to one of those igloos stat- pretty much the most romantic thing ever)


Not to dissuade or less any single person's experience, but it really feels like just a couple thing to watch that together. The igloo just makes it a million times more romantic.

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I loved Tara being with the DJ! Just dipping her toes and expanding her horizon


Seeing what's what and what could be what

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Frozen boogers are totally a thing


Image

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such an important realization for Willow, it tells her exactly want is essential to Tara, I am really glad she said something to Tara about it


There was only one way for Willow to truly get this and it was to live with Tara...what's great is that when they do live together again, a lot of that big stuff will already be worked out.

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the little insight into Tara's relationship (lack of) with her father said so much in just a few words


I've never been happier to write so little about him! Normally it's just to recount trauma.

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Tara's gift to Willow was sweet- the whole update had a wonderful flirty-ness


What can I say, I love that they're in love :)

Thanks so much for your feedback and making me think about some things!

Will's redemption

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When you mentioned the next destination would be really expensive Iceland was indeed my first guess. I'm so envious! My boyfriend made a 2-weeks-roundtrip in Iceland a few years ago - without me because that was way out of my price-range. He went in the summer though so he saw no northern lights.


I was pushing it with this timeline because it's definitely around the tail end of when you might see the lights but it is still in the realm of possibility so I figure they deserve that gift. Hopefully next time you and your guy can go together!

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Spending the night in a transparant iglu, seeing more stars than everywhere else and the northern lights on top...wow! Definitely an experience they'll never forget and one of the highlights of their entire trip.


Oh, no doubt. Once-in-a-lifetime stuff!

Quote:
I hope Tara will start working as a DJ when they get home and will earn enough money with her gigs so she won't have to take a second job as a waitress. If so, going to Iceland instead of Paris will once again prove as the right choice because I think even if she had the opportunity Tara would never have dared to try "DJ-ing" (I don't know if this is a real word :wink ) in some club in Paris.


DJ-ing is definitely a word! And I agree with you completely, about all of it :wink

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Aw Tara, thinking about marriage? :flower I expect when they get married Willow still won't use the name Kimberly but hopefully will call her mom instead.


I dunno, I'm into the idea of Willow being 60 years old visiting Kimberly in the nursing home with their latest grandbaby and still being all 'Say hello to to great grandma Ms. Maclay' :laugh

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Please do! :flirt


:wink

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That passage had me teary-eyed. I really feel for little kid-Willow and love how good Tara understands her girlfriend.


Poor little Willow went through an awful lot of emotional trauma and neglect and a lot of people don't see it because she still comes from privilege but it's there, under the surface always. Slowly but surely Tara is helping bringing it to the fore so they can work through it together :)

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Awww! :bigkiss :flower That sentence alone is a gift! The gift of the safari-trip is great too, of course.


It packs a one-two punch

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So now they'll go from Iceland straight to South Africa? Talk about a drastic change in climate!


To their sheer delight!

Thanks so much for your feedback :)

DaddyCatALSO

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Just a brief reply to you questions (as I'ven't properly covered the Iceland chapter yet;) I'd heard the name Ani DiFrnaco a nd knew she was singer but not hat she was openly bisexual (also looked up the Bisexual Flag.)


It's a pretty flag and I've seen it pulled off in hair the best of all of the flags. I hope you listened to some Ani, she's awesome :)

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And yes, I've heard of Alanis Morrisette, even seen pictures of her at times, some of them without shoes, I just wanted to see if searching for her name combined with "gay audiences" brought up anything specific, a nd it really didn't:-).


Might be a 'you have to be there' kinda thing.

Thanks for your comment and hope you ended up enjoying the chapter!



Update Directly Below

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 Post subject: Re: New Fic: Inevitable [AU] (Jan 10th 2020)
PostPosted: Tue Jan 14, 2020 8:00 am 
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Ms. Moderator Fantastico
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CHAPTER RATING: PG-13

Chapter 47



South Africa



Take It Hip To Hip, Rocket Through The Wilderness



Willow lurched forward as the coach went over another speed bump as they hurtled through the Gauteng province.


Tara instinctively reached out to catch her and steadied her back into the seat.


“If we get another bump like that you’ll end up in my lap.”


Willow rubbed the heel of her hand against her left eye. She had been sleeping while Tara was enjoying looking out at the countryside but she was very much awake after nearly being thrown from her seat.


“I’ve never prayed so hard for bumps before,” Willow mumbled with a sleepy smile, “How long do we have left?”


“Not long,” Tara answered, putting her arm around Willow, “We turned onto this dirt road a little while ago. It’s really starting to feel like the wilderness.”


Willow leaned her head in against Tara but turned it enough that she could see out the window. The green grass was starting to bleed into brown and she spotted an umbrella thorn tree in the distance, a real sign of the remoteness.


After a few more minutes of terrain-spotting, an antelope-type creature skipped by and Willow slapped the back of her hand against Tara’s stomach.


“I think that’s a springbok,” she whispered as if her voice might disturb it despite them being in a bus and already out of sight.


The bus continued along the dirt path before finally arriving in a clearing where a handful of large safari tents were pitched. They were big beige tents over a wooden frame with the frame extended outside to have a little patio. In the back, a rectangular enclosure with tall wooden fencing housed a toilet and rain shower.


They disembarked from the bus and took their bags from underneath along with the rest of the passengers. Nobody was really paying attention to each other yet, they were just focused on being back on their feet after the long coach ride and finding their lodgings.


“Phew, it's hot,” Willow said, wiping her brow.


“I don't know if it's hot-hot or it's just because we just came from Iceland,” Tara replied, coming up to stand beside Willow.


“More like being in proximity to you,” Willow grinned and bumped Tara's hip, who blushed.


Each couple or group were directed to a different tent by a greeter and Willow and Tara were sent to one that lay on the edge of the little community, which was closest to the actual park area of the reserve. They had real grass on their doorstep and nearby trees where the birds were chirping.


They stepped up onto the wooden patio and through the door flaps of the tent where two twin beds were neatly made.


“This is really comfortable,” Tara said as she sat on the bed nearest her.


Willow sat on the opposite bed and reached both arms out, pouting when they just swung in the empty space.


“So close yet so far.”


Tara stood up and came to sit by Willow on the other bed.


“It’s closer than a bunk. We can hold hands.”


Willow leaned in and kissed Tara’s cheek then slipped their hands together.


“Always look on the bright side of life…”


They shared a smile and squeezed their fingers together at the same time.


Leaving their bags safely tucked away, they walked back out of their tent to the reserve.


The resort was set up like a mini-town with a small 'tuck shop' style store, a lake for any brave animal to drink from, and a restaurant for those who wanted a step up from the rustic food that was included in the price.


After a quick walk around to see the lay of the land, they walked to the guest lodge where they were to meet up as a group and eat the provided meals during their stay.


It was a wooden lodge that seemed quaint on the outside but was big and modern inside. There was a living room area filled with seating of all kinds, a TV, a pool table, selection of books on the area and a laptop table for anyone who needed to plug in.


There was a real fireplace and art all over the walls of the native animals. There was also a small kitchenette with tea and coffee facilities and larger dining room area with a table for 12 (the same amount of people on their tour group).


Tara swore the wood glowed with warmth as they walked through to check everything out, and not just because it was hot outside. They wandered back to the lounge area where everyone was supposed to meet up for some drinks and snacks before they set out on the first safari that afternoon.


They were the first ones there but decided to hang around. Tara went over to look through the wildlife books while Willow called first dibs on some of the snacks.


Tara looked up as Willow came over to her and put the book in her hand back in its spot.


“What’s that?”


“Vetkoek,” Willow answered in her best approximation of a South African accent, wiping her thumb against the corner of her mouth, “The translator app said it means fat cakes, which is not very appetizing but these are delicious. Want some?”


Tara awkwardly took a bite of the slightly messy sandwich/pie combination of fried bread filled with spicy ground beef. She caught the bits that spilled out of it with her hand and got it all in her mouth.


“That is really nice,” she agreed, “Do you want a drink?”


Before Willow could answer another couple walked through the doorway.


The man made a point of ducking his head under the frame even though he could have walked straight in without issue. His upper half was huge; his arms and chest rippling with strained muscle and was in complete disproportion to his lower half which stood beneath him like he was a top-heavy bowl about to topple.


He flicked his coiffed, brown hair a few times to reset it after the unnecessary duck then adjusted his shoulders so his pecs danced visibly under his white shirt with an arrow saying 'hers'.


The woman next to him was half his size, shorter than even Tara or Willow and so lithe she looked the same width as one of her boyfriend’s arms. She had a balayage hair-do which was tied in a ponytail, make-up that was so heavy it was starting to melt in the heat and she was also wearing a white shirt to match except the arrow pointed in the opposite direction and was notated with 'his'.


Upon further inspection, both of their shirts had an arrow pointing to the other and said ‘his’ and ‘hers’ respectively.


“Hi,” Tara greeted politely, lifting her hand in a wave.


“Alright,” the woman greeted in a strong English accent which Tara thought she might recognize as being from Essex from the kind of reality TV that had played on the televisions in London and had that kind of car crash effect where she couldn’t look away, “Here for the safari?”


Willow blinked several times wondering how they could think anything else when they all had to be bussed here together.


“Uh yeah,” she answered, wiping her hand against her pants, “I’m, ah, Willow. And this is Tara.”


No hands were offered as the woman turned to cling out of the man, her leg popping up behind her.


“Bobby and Carla.”


She patted his abs and gazed up at him, while he looked straight ahead at what Willow finally figured out was the window he was trying to see his reflection in.


“I-I like your t-shirts,” Tara offered kindly when no conversation came forward.


Carla laughed though it was more like a screech.


“We consider ourselves couple goals, don’t we Bobby?” she asked even though Bobby had yet to say a single word, “We’re like Jay-Z and Beyoncé.”


“Not the best idols,” Tara joked with a crooked smile.


Willow smiled at her but Carla’s face hardened.


“What are you getting at?”


Tara suddenly gulped.


“J-Jay-Z cheated,” she explained quietly, reaching across her body to hold her opposite arm, “She w-wrote a whole album about it?”


Carla’s eyes narrowed.


“Well they didn’t split up, did they?”


Willow tugged on Tara’s sleeve.


“Excuse me, I see some plantain chips with my name on them,” she excused herself and turned to Tara pointedly, “Didn’t you say you needed a drink?”


Tara nodded swiftly and let Willow tug her away back to the snack table.


“She thinks she’s Beyoncé but she’s really Becky with the good hair,” Willow murmured to Tara as she popped a plantain chip into her mouth, “And at least half of it is fake.”


“Don’t be mean,” Tara replied softly.


Willow gave her a sidelong glance.


“She deemed herself Beyoncé!”


Tara’s lip twitched.


“Okay, just do it quietly.”


Willow looked over her shoulder at them and rolled her eyes. Tara glanced between them and Willow and then at the drinks table. She slowly walked over, took two of the glasses and brought them over to the other couple.


“Lemonade?” she offered sweetly.


Carla looked at her suspiciously but wasn’t smart enough to realize she was being made fun of and took both glasses. Tara returned to Willow who was grinning from ear to ear.


“That was stone cold amazing. I love you.”


“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” Tara replied innocently, taking a lemonade for herself and sipping through the little straw, “I was just being nice.”


Willow chuckled and picked up a glass to clink with Tara.


“Welcome to safari.”


More people filled the room in the next thirty minutes; a retired couple from France, a few sets of friends from Poland and Norway and another gay male couple that they clocked and gave each other the gay nod.


It was Willow’s first experience of such a nod and Tara had to tell her to stop doing it or they would think she had a tic.


After a while, when everyone had made introductions and were just waiting to be brought out on the reserve, a man walked in wearing camouflage gear.


He was striking; dark skin and bright blue eyes with tight twists sitting atop his head but most noticeably was his smile — his bright white teeth worked better than any bulb at lighting up the room.


“Hello to you all,” he greeted, clapping his hands together in a prayer pose and slightly bowing his head to the group, “My name is Jabulani but you may call me Jabu. I am your safari guide for this weekend. I would like to welcome you all out here to the veld. Before we set off on our amazing adventure I will go through a few rules and I do ask that you follow them while you are here. We want everyone to have a fun time so let us get started and let’s have a lekker time today, hey?”


He brought them outside to show them the terrain vehicle and how to best sit inside it. He went over the rules, which Willow listened to diligently and got annoyed when not everyone else did too. She moved closer to Tara.


Tara’s arm settled over Willow's waist and Willow smiled; that was all she needed to feel safe again.


The vehicle was a converted pick-up truck with staggered seating locked in by roll bars and a canopy overhead.


“Roll up, roll up,” Jabu said as he opened the entrances onto the vehicle, “And do remember to keep hands and feet and your whole entire body inside at all times. You want the animals to have to work for their lunch, yah?”


Tara stepped up to the back and Willow followed, shifting about in the seat excitedly.


“I’m a back of the bus kid,” she said, stretching her fingers out in front of her, “I was never a back of the bus kid. I was a sit-up-with-the-teacher kid.”


“Well now we get to ride together,” Tara replied with an undeniable, if not coy, sultry undertone, “I guarantee safety and fun.”


“Well…” Willow replied in the same tone, “If you promise you'll look after me.”


She put her hand on Tara’s knee and Tara put her hand on top, holding her there.


They set off down a new dirt path and Jabu began animatedly telling them about the terrain and the kinds of flora they saw as they rode through the bush.


They didn’t see many animals other than birds for a while but what they saw were colorful and sometimes majestic.


But then the vehicle slowed and Jabu crouched down and lowered his voice.


“If we look to our right you’ll see a pack of wildebeest grazing. The wildebeest is also called a gnu and is a member of the antelope family. Unusually, both males and females have horns. You can see that their body looks disproportionate, as the front end is heavily built and the hindquarters are slender with spindly legs.”


“Like looking in a mirror for Jay-Z,” Willow muttered to Tara, who nudged her but was struggling to withhold a smile.


When everyone had gotten good pictures, they moved on from the wildebeest toward a swampy lake. It seemed pretty motionless until Jabu pointed out a set of nostrils sitting just atop the water.


“If we stay quiet she might appear for her afternoon graze,” Jabu advised, “These animals were once called ‘river horses’ but the hippo is more closely related to the pig than the horse. The hippo relies on water or mud to keep it cool and that is why it stays underneath the water until it is ready to spend the night roaming to satisfy its enormous appetite.”


Sure enough, after a few quiet minutes, the hippo began to rise; its enormous girth making the swampy water reverberate throughout the whole lake. It was slow and languid but Jabu assured them it could outrun a human given half a chance.


“We will leave her now to her grazing,” Jabu said as the vehicle began to move off again, “She will eat over forty kilograms of grass tonight to fill her big belly and return to rest as the sun rises.”


As the sky turned orange they drove to a cliff’s edge that had been pruned to offer a perfect view of the sun’s descent whilst still being surrounded by the magnificent tall trees that studded the area.


“This is what we here in South Africa call a sundowner,” Jabu announced as he jumped from the vehicle onto the land, “You might know it as a happy hour! Please, select a cocktail and enjoy this beautiful African sunset.”


Everyone got out of the vehicle and spent a moment stretching their legs before going off to get a cocktail from the small bar, built in-between two trees.


Carla and Bobby were taking endless selfies while the rest of the groups just settled down to watch the sunset.


Willow and Tara stood as close to the edge as they were comfortable and looked out at the vastness below.


“Go on,” Tara encouraged.


Willow frowned.


“What?”


Tara just grinned.


“I know you want to.”


She started to hum the opening call to The Lion King and Willow grinned back.


“Nants ingonyama… bagithi baba,” Willow spoke in a deep, melodic voice, “Sithi uhm ingonyama.”


She took a knee not quite all the way to the ground and held up her water bottle to the sky. They both burst into laughter as Willow straightened up again and leaned into each other.


“Ladies,” they were greeted moments later as the other gay couple approached holding two cocktails each in their hands, one of which they each offered to the girls.


“Gentlemen,” Tara returned, bowing her head gratefully as she accepted the glass.


They introduced themselves as Michael and Nathan and Willow and Tara offered introductions back.


“We thought we’d be the only gays in the village,” Michael, the taller one with dark hair and just a bit of scruff, said to them, then frowned as he sipped on his cocktail, “Though you both look like babies.”


“Oh, I’m a baby gay,” Willow announced knowledgeably, then turned to Tara with a creased brow, “When do I know if I‘ve graduated from infant gay?”


“Oh honey going by those sandals you already have,” Michael said, looking Willow up and down, “Shot straight through adolescence and right to 40-year-old cat mom.”


Willow wasn’t sure if that was meant to be an insult, but she didn’t feel insulted.


“Cool,” she smiled, looking toward Tara, “I’m ready to be grown-up gay.”


“Cheers to that sweetie,” Nathan, small and blonde with glitter nail polish on, clinked his glass against Willow’s, then winked, “Though the adolescence is fun.”


Willow swung her hand into Tara’s.


“I’m having all the fun I can handle.”


They enjoyed their drink with the boys, learning about how they were on their honeymoon from Toronto and this was their last stop on their tour of the country.


As the sun dipped below the horizon, the entire place lapsed into silence to watch the natural beauty. All except Carla and Bobby who had to be yanked back by Jabu when they tried to get too close to the edge to catch their faces in the fading light.


It stayed quiet on the ride home; some people contemplative, others terrified of something sneaking up on them in the dark. When they got back to camp, one of the workers already had the grill going for a traditional South African braai.


The retired couple went to the restaurant but everyone found a place to sit on the extended patio of the lodge, the boma; a sunken seated area around a fire pit with plush cushions that stretched out enough to allow you to put your legs up.


While excitedly waiting for some boerewors sausage, chicken wings, short ribs and ostrich meat for the brave to be served up, everyone chatted about the favorite parts of the day. Someone bought a couple of six-packs from the store and handed them around. It made for a cozy camp enjoying the summer’s evening in the wilderness.


With full stomachs and slightly tipsy heads, Willow and Tara headed to bed and fell in ready to sleep, heads on the pillows and hands joined in-between.



“Happy birthday, happy birthday, happy birthday to you…”


Willow woke to a sweet, melodic voice crooning from behind and the accompanying warm breath on her ear.


Her eyes flickered open and she looked over her shoulder where Tara was teetering on the edge of the bed to lie in it with her. She scooted over the last inch on her side to give Tara more room and rolled onto her other side to face her.


“A beautiful angel sent down from on high to wish me birthday greetings,” she murmured sleepily.


Tara smiled at Willow’s adorable sleepy face and leaned down to offer her an Eskimo kiss.


“The little store did not have any cake so…” she said as she pulled back, holding up each hand with an item in it, “You can have a Nestlé peppermint crisp candy bar or these Flings corn snacks that they tell me are like cheese puffs if the cheese was spicy.”


Willow pouted deeply.


“I feel both of those have potential breath side effects that might prevent a birthday kiss.”


Tara leaned down again, smiling.


“Nothing will prevent a birthday kiss.”


She nuzzled Willow’s nose again for a moment then kissed her softly. At first, anyway, before slipping her tongue in after a long moment.


“Toothbrush be damned,” Willow murmured happily as her hands moved into Tara’s hair.


The confectionary fell from Tara’s hands as they wrapped around Willow’s body to pull her closer.


Willow dropped her hands lower to do the same and slowly turned them around so she was on top. She sat back on Tara’s lap and placed her hands gently under Tara’s neck.


“I know it’s my birthday but I have a surprise for you. You know, like how you surprised me on your birthday with that very sexy if not slightly colonial bikini?”


Tara raised an eyebrow and Willow rolled her fingertips over Tara’s collarbone.


“Don’t worry, the cops aren’t involved this time.”


Tara gave Willow a look, making her giggle.


“It’s just words, I promise,” she said softly, “Trust me?”


“Always,” Tara answered without hesitation.


Willow settled herself comfortably.


“South Africa has eleven official languages, did you know that?”


Tara shook her head.


“No, I didn’t.”


Willow nodded and held up one finger.


“Afrikaans,” she said and smiled confidently down at Tara adoringly, “Ek is lief vir jou or ek het jou lief.”


Tara’s breath caught as she realized what Willow was doing. That look Willow had was only given when expressing a particular sentiment, no matter the language of the words.


Willow noticed and her grinned just grew even more assured.


“Ndebele,” she continued in a clear voice like she was just listing her favorite flavors of ice-cream, “Niyakutanda.”


While Tara found it unendingly sweet that Willow went to the trouble to learn off so many words in difficult languages, she also couldn’t help but find it entirely arousing. Willow was popping each phrase word-perfect, at least to Tara’s ears, and the warmth of Willow’s voice made Tara warm somewhere else.


“Sepedi — Ke a go rata. Sesotho — Ke a go rata. Siswati — Ngiyakutsandza. Tshonga — Ndzakurhandza. Setswana — Ke a go rata. Venda — Ngiyakutsandza . Xhosa and Zulu — Ndiyakuthanda.”


Finally, Willow rolled her body atop Tara once and that adoring shine returned to her eye.


“And English,” she said in a softer, less provocative tone than before as she leaned down to press her lips against Tara’s repeatedly, “I. Love. You.


“I love you,” Tara breathed back, her insides swirling with desire and love and every other simple and complicated feeling Willow elicited from her.


Willow bumped her nose against Tara’s.


“I cheated and used the internet this time, but I thought you might forgive me. Call it a birthday pardon.”


Tara grinned and surprised Willow by rolling her onto her back again.


“I’ll give you a birthday something.”


“I will take it,” Willow giggled as Tara’s mouth found a ticklish point on her neck.


After a few minutes of rapt attention there, Willow started to hear a sound that wasn’t habitual of their normal canoodling.


She lifted her head in confusion.


Tara didn’t seem to mind and focused her attention in on Willow’s neck instead.


Willow’s eyes started to dart around because she was sure now that neither she nor Tara was grunting like that. She watched the tent flaps flutter with movement and saw a flash of something.


“Tara…” Willow asked, her voice slowly rising with concern, “Did you close the net properly last night?”


Tara’s head lifted, her eyebrows knotted together.


“What? Yes. Why?”


Willow watched a long bulbous face with two tusks stick its head in and scrambled up on the bed in alarm.


“Because there’s a great big honkin’ warthog and I think he wants my birthday Fling!”


Tara looked over her shoulder and screamed upon seeing the warthog burrowing his way in, which in turn made Willow scream as they both tried to climb the walls to get away.


After a few seconds, Jabu’s head popped in with both of his hands held up and didn’t seem at all alarmed that they were in bed together.


“It’s just Walter, hey? Likes to say good morning,” he reassured, patting his hand against the warthog’s side, “Good morning, my boy.”


Willow’s breath started to return from the breathless gasping.


“…good morning Walter.”


“Good morning Walter,” Tara echoed cautiously.


Jabu smiled at them and started to gently guide Walter away.


“Ag, let’s go, Walter. Brekkie is on up in the lodge.”


They left and Willow and Tara cleared their throats and blushed at their reaction even though it had been shared.


“So much for birthday snuggles,” Tara said softly into Willow’s neck.


“Baby, you're all that I want,” Willow reassured, nuzzling again, “When you're lying here in my arms? That’s the best gift ever.”


They embraced for another moment before starting to move.


“Go get some breakfast?” Willow suggested and Tara just nodded.


They got up and Tara picked up the snacks she’d bought to put them on the nightstand that sat between their two beds. She was already showered and dressed from her early morning jaunt to the store so Willow threw on the same pants and shirt from yesterday just to go to breakfast.


They got to the lodge and went into the dining area, where half of the group was already eating. They waved hello and Tara insisted on getting Willow her bagel with cream cheese, which she brought back to the table with her own eggs, sunny-side up.


Willow thanked Tara for getting her breakfast and grinned down at Tara’s plate.


“Your eggs are wiggling at me like little boobs again.”


“Still sassy,” Tara replied with a crooked smile and a shoulder-to-shoulder bump.


They both ate one-handed so they could keep the other set clasped under the table.


“I need to shower before we go out again,” Willow said as they cleared their dishes, “We’ll be out in the truck all day, I don’t want to be sweating on top of old sweat.”


“The shower is very refreshing,” Tara replied, “And quiet. You didn’t even stir when I had one this morning.”


“I wish I had,” Willow whispered as she passed Tara by.


Tara looked over her shoulder at Willow who raised her eyebrows suggestively. Tara began to follow when Nathan came up to her and lamented both of their partners taking forever to get ready.


Eventually, Tara tore herself away; not that he wasn’t pleasant but they had all day on the back of a truck to chat with one another. She went back to the tent where Willow was sitting on her bed in a leopard-print t-shirt and capri pants.


“…you’re all dressed,” she said, trying to hide her disappointment.


“Do you like the khakis? I was going for safari chic,” Willow said as she looked down at herself, “Well, that’s what Buffy called it when I texted her a picture. What do you think?”


Tara bit the corner of her lip.


“I think you might look like giant hyena prey.”


Willow looked down at her shirt, eyes wide.


“Right!”


She whipped her shirt off and went back to her bag to find another one.


Tara watched — and admittedly, enjoyed — until Willow looked back up in a fluster.


“Everything I have is too colorful! I already wore my green tank top yesterday! The only other green I have has Gumby on it!”


Tara drew her eyes away and found a tawny-colored t-shirt she often wore to bed but was clean.


“You can borrow this?”


Willow’s eyes lit up and she grabbed it.


“Thanks!” she said as she whipped it over her head and lifted the neckline to her nose, “Mmm and now I smell like you.”


Tara just smiled and nodded, then turned toward her bed.


“I got you something.”


“Tara,” Willow complained, “You already got me—oh my god!”


She leaped forward as Tara took out a camo bucket hat complete with drawstring from under her pillow.


“Happy Birthday.”


Willow grabbed it to fix atop her head.


“Now I really am Safari Willow!” she grinned, jumping about in a circle, “Comes complete with cute hat and cute girlfriend.”


She angled her hands above each thigh.


“Except I don’t just have a weird smooth bump between my legs, I have a real pussy.”


“Yes you do,” Tara whispered under her breath.


“Hmm?” Willow looked up.


“Hmm?” Tara gulped, sitting up straight.


Willow glanced down at her watch and grabbed her little backpack.


“Oh we should head out; we’re supposed to be meeting up in five minutes.”


“Right,” Tara breathed.


Willow approached and placed her hands on Tara’s waist.


“Are you okay?”


Tara put her arms around Willow’s neck and pressed a soft, sweet kiss to her lips.


“I’m excellent,” she said finally, “I hope we see an elephant.”


“Oh, me too!” Willow replied as they walked from the tent and over to the lodge to congregate.


At the lodge, Jabu reported that Bobby and Carla had decided to stay in bed which resulted in a collective eye roll but not another wasted second in getting on board the truck.


Willow and Tara snagged the back seat again, though it proved to be the least wanted (because it was the most exposed) and they got it by default.


The early morning ride proved much more bountiful for wildlife spotting and by the time they stopped for lunch they had spotted zebras and lions, thankfully not in too close proximity to each other, and Jabu had pointed out Buffalo charging in the distance.


There was so much to see and look out for; it made hours spent bumping along the road felt like minutes.


Sitting on a picnic bench with the mountains behind them, they shared a packed lunch.


“Hey, did you see the message from Ebba on the group chat?” Willow asked as she threw one of the Flings into her mouth and nodded agreeably at the packaging as she first tasted them.


Tara shook her head.


“No. You must have better signal than me. You always have better signal than me.”


“She was asking what dates we’re going to be in Brazil because she’s going to work over there for the summer,” Willow said, taking her phone out to bring up the message, “She’ll be in Rio when we are.”


“Oh my god, that’s great. We can catch up,” Tara replied with a big smile, “What about Amir?”


Willow handed over her phone for Tara to see.


“Well, she said South America was the only place she hadn’t seen yet when we were volunteering together. Reading between the lines I think she left so she can get a proper visa and can go back and work legitimately with him.”


“Oh I hope so,” Tara replied, holding her hand against her heart, “They were so sweet together.”


They, and everyone else, finished up lunch and got back into the truck for their afternoon portion of wildlife-watching.


They spotted some giraffes snacking on leaves in the distance and stopped for people to get pictures before continuing on with little sightings but birds. After a while, the truck slowed and nobody could see why at first.


Then they all heard a gentle pounding sound and a huge, grey elephant appeared.


Willow grabbed Tara’s arm and Tara clutched back, both of them looking on in awe.


“Elephants can be very friendly and approach much closer than the other animals we’ve seen but it is very, very important that you not try to touch in any way,” Jabu told them, his white teeth flashing in surprise when a little baby elephant peeked out from behind its mother’s back leg, “Especially with her young so close.”


Everyone gasped when seeing the baby and how the mother reached back with her trunk to reassure it.


“The trunk is a combination of the upper lip and nose and is extremely versatile,” Jabu told them softly, “They use their trunk for smelling, breathing, detecting vibrations, caressing their young, sucking up water, and grasping objects. The tip of their trunk is actually two fingers to allow for dexterity.”


The baby tried to swing from its mother’s trunk, making everyone laugh quietly.


“She can weigh up to six thousand kilograms and measure up to 3.5 meters at the shoulder. They are one of the world’s most intelligent animals and adapt to many habitats. She can make a sound in up to ten octaves but mostly communicate through what we call ‘rumbling’ with is a low-frequency sound.”


The mother elephant responded to the laugh, looking up and over directly at the truck. She pushed her baby back and started to walk over.


“And I think on that note we will say goodbye to baby and mama elephant,” Jabu said calmly, putting his hand on the shoulder of the driver.


Before the truck could be started up again the elephant passed a few feet from the back of the vehicle and a trunk waved its way in from the side to steal Willow’s hat.


Willow’s eye grew wide as she watched the flash of grey in her peripherals and then felt the gust of air on top of her head.


Everyone watched in stunned silence as the elephant pressed the hat upon its own head, holding it there with its trunk for a moment before swirling it around to look at it and finally trying to place it back on Willow’s head, though it just fell into her lap.


“And with that we say totsiens!” Jabu said, patting the driver’s shoulder harder this time.


They moved off quickly and after a minute or so the shock wore off and everyone turned around to talk to Willow and touch the hat.


Willow was overcome by the whole experience and the gentleness of the huge elephant, though she had no doubt they would have been crushed in a moment if she’d reacted in any way that seemed odd or threatening.


She had tears in her eyes as she recounted what the experience had been like for her and felt Tara hug her sidelong to comfort her.


The rest of the ride was mostly uneventful apart from a few spottings of antelope and everyone was on wobbling legs when they finally disembarked back at camp.


When they got back to their tent Willow burst into tears and Tara just gently gathered her up.


“I…”


“I know,” Tara comforted, holding Willow’s head into her neck, “I know.”


It was exhilarating. Engulfing. Overwhelming.


She sniffled into Tara’s chest and pulled away to swipe at her eyes.


“I’m so tired all of a sudden.”


Tara reached out and squeezed Willow’s upper arm.


“Have a little nap and I’ll bring you out to dinner at the restaurant for your birthday. We’ll try to get one of those balcony seats and watch the sun go down one more time.”


Willow threw her arms around Tara again.


“This was more than I could ever have asked for. I love you.”


“I love you, too,” Tara whispered into Willow’s ear and kissed just below it.


Willow got into bed as is, apart from taking her shoes off, even keeping the hat on.


Tara sat on her bed wondering if she might sleep too. She had been up earlier than Willow but she didn’t feel tired. She’d seen that majestic trunk swipe just inches away from her and she was still stuck on ‘exhilarating’.


She decided to go back to the lodge and have a cup of tea and unwind. They’d lit the fire inside, albeit a small one, for show mostly as it was warm outside and could be sweltering if it was built too high.


She curled up on a sofa with tea and made passing chatter with people as they came and went. She could vaguely hear Jabu dealing with an annoyed Carla for not ‘waiting for them’ to go out since it was ‘just another couple of hours’ and then aghast that he wouldn’t bring them out again by themselves.


That was just noise though, she preferred the crackle of the hearth and the birdsong coming in through the open window and the insects starting to bleat as the sun dipped lower in the sky.


Jabu came through after the difficult conversation but still had a smile for Tara.


“Is your companion with you?”


Tara didn’t mind Willow being referred to as such when there was obviously no malice to it. She’d made sure the particular reserve they came to was LGBT-friendly before she booked it. She wouldn’t put Willow through what she felt in Dubai again.


She shook her head at Jabu.


“She’s having a nap. The ride took it out of her and it’s her birthday.”


“Ah, the lady’s birthday,” Jabu replied excitedly, “Hip, hip, hurrah!”


Tara laughed at his exuberance and returned a thumbs up that he gave her as he left again.


She read all of the books on elephants, fascinated now from seeing such a wild creature so playful and yet so unyielding, perceptive, and protective.


Like the tour, she found a couple of hours passing just reading without her even noticing until Willow sent her a text asking her where she was.


She put the books back and cleaned her cup before making her way back toward the tent. Willow was up and had changed into her ‘upscale dress’ (she only had enough room to carry two dresses total so one was casual and one was 'fancy'). It was red with blue and gold floral designs. It had been bought in Thailand and hugged her small frame beautifully.


“Wow. You look amazing.”


“Not a new dress or anything,” Willow replied, the skirt twirling a little.


Tara tucked some hair behind her ear and smiled.


“You’re still gorgeous.”


Willow smiled softly and ducked her head, then sat on her bed.


“I talked to my parents. They wished me a happy birthday.”


“That’s great honey,” Tara replied as she hoisted up her bag to find something nicer for her to change into as well, “Did you tell them about the elephant?”


Willow nodded, eyes bright.


“My dad thought it was really funny,” she smiled and took in a deep breath, “And my mom told me about how the morphological characteristics in elephants suggest that neurons in the cortex may synthesize a wider variety of input than the cortical neurons in other mammals and thus make them capable of more sophisticated and contemplative thought.”


She finally exhaled on the last word and Tara laughed.


“That actually sounds pretty interesting.”


“Yeah, she’s gonna send me the studies,” Willow replied, folding her knees up to sit cross-legged, “I feel great after napping. What did you do?”


“Just read a bit,” Tara said, picking out a purple skirt and black polka dot blouse, “What do you think of this?”


“Beautiful,” Willow proclaimed, “Always.”


Tara smiled softly and started to change.


When they were both ready they walked across the camp to where the resort restaurant was. It was an old wood building and the upstairs was entirely carved out into a veranda with an angled thatched roof to keep the floor protected from the elements while still feeling entirely outdoors.


It was still early, just after five, so they were able to get a coveted upstairs table to watch the impending sunset over the reserve.


“You know, after today, I think I feel like vegetarian food tonight,” Willow said as she briefly perused the menu, “Do you want to get a bottle of wine?”


“Do you?” Tara asked, reaching across the table to rub her thumb over Willow’s hand, “It’s your birthday.”


“Seems like the done thing,” Willow replied, lifting her thumb up to caress Tara’s, “I don’t think I’ve ever had South African wine. My parents brought home a couple of bottles when I was a kid and Xander and Jesse tried to get me to steal them but I wouldn’t.”


“My good girl,” Tara teased lightly, then continued under her breath, “For boys, anyway.”


Willow’s leg jerked upward subconsciously and involuntarily kicked Tara right in the shin. Her eyes widened and her menu dropped into her lap.


“I didn’t mean that!”


Tara just arched an eyebrow and grinned down at her menu.


“You can pick the wine.”


Willow blushed to her roots and she wasn’t even sure why but she loved that Tara made her do it.


“We’ll try the house pinotage,” she said to the server when she came over to take their order, “Am I pronouncing that right?”


“Yes ma’am,” the server replied politely.


“Great,” Willow replied with a nervous chuckle, leaving the menus down again, “And I will have the peanut stew with the chakalaka please.”


“Yours sounds fun,” Tara replied, scrunching her brow with her smile, “I’ll have the roasted eggplant salad with yellow rice and black-eyed pea fritters. Thank you.”


The server cleared the table of their menus and Willow reached across the table with both hands, holding Tara’s arms either side.


Tara tilted her head and smiled.


“Stop with those eyes,” Willow said quietly, her teeth gnawing on her lower lip, “It makes me want to do stuff. And we can’t…do stuff here.”


Tara’s eyebrows rose and fell.


“Not after the way the last time we did birthday ‘stuff’ ended.”


“Oh no,” Willow replied quickly, eyes wide, “No, no, no. You’re not condemning birthday stuff for the rest of our lives. It just gets put on hold for when we have more…cover.”


Tara smirked.


“Visually and audibly.”


Willow felt her stomach swirl with warmth.


“Add ‘tone’ to ‘eyes’ in the ‘quit it!’ department.”


“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” Tara replied innocently.


“You know exactly what I’m talking about,” Willow returned but she wasn’t able to contain her own little smirk from making itself known.


The server returned with the bottle of wine, opened it and poured some into a glass for Willow to taste. Willow clearly enjoyed the whole spectacle of approving the wine as she swished it around her glass and inhaled before taking a sip.


She nodded and two full glasses were poured with the bottle left to breathe.


Tara lifted her glass toward Willow.


“Happy Birthday,” she said, smiling tenderly, “My love.”


Willow clinked her glass and sighed softly.


“It feels like so long ago since my last birthday…where I would have balked at you saying that. Or holding hands like this. Or even being seen out to dinner together.”


“You’ve come so far,” Tara lauded softly.


“Because you’ve never left my side,” Willow answered, swallowing deeply, “Not emotionally.”


Tara just smiled.


“I never wanted to be anywhere else.”


They enjoyed a leisurely meal with a colorful sky behind them in their own little world just the two of them, until the bill came and Willow tried to pay.


“You’re not paying for your own birthday dinner, Willow,” Tara objected firmly, “And we’re not fighting about it either.”


“You’re right,” Willow agreed easily, “My parents are paying.”


She put her card on top of the receipt for the server to take away and folded her arms on the table with a smile.


“My mom said, and I quote, ‘Enjoy a nice meal with Tara’.”


One of Tara’s eyebrows lifted.


“She said ‘Tara’?” she asked disbelievingly, “Not ‘Terri’ or ‘Tyra’?”


Willow nodded slowly, grinning.


“She said ‘Tara’.”


Tara accepted it and put her wallet away.


“Only took her fifteen years,” she said, amused, “Does that mean I’m approved?”


Willow threw her hands up.


“I don’t even know if it means I’m approved,” she said, settling her arms down again, “But it’s good.”


“It’s great,” Tara replied, putting her hand over Willow’s, “Want to go over to the lodge and have a cup of rooibos?”


Willow took Tara’s hand up and kissed her knuckles.


“That sounds lovely.”


They moved hand-in-hand the short walk across the resort back to their camp, enjoying the sounds of nature as they went. At the lodge, a few people were out sitting in the boma enjoying the balmy night so that was where Willow went to sit while Tara made them tea.


Just a minute after she’d taken a seat around the sunken fire pit, Jabu appeared with a plate, which he brought down to Willow.


“When we heard it was your birthday we had the cook make up a special snack,” he said with his huge, charming smile, “This is traditional South African koeksister. I hope you enjoy.”


Willow was blown away and held the plate up to Tara when she arrived right at the same moment.


“Tara, they made me special birthday…pastry things!”


“Oh wow,” Tara said, placing their mugs down on the wooden rim around the fire pit, “That’s so thoughtful.”


Jabu stepped back up into the patio area where there was more space and shouted over his shoulder.


“Mans!”


Out of the lodge appeared the various men who worked there as drivers or caterers or cleaners. They all stood amongst each other and started to sing whilst clapping their hands in rhythm.


It wasn’t English and it wasn’t a familiar tune, but Willow knew it was a birthday song. They sang for about thirty seconds after which everyone applauded for them and Willow jumped up to give a standing ovation.


“Thank you so much!” she said, trying to recall her phrasebook she’d read on the plane, “Um, dankie! Dankie!”


Jabu bowed and the other men smiled and clapped their hands together before leaving again.


Willow’s face hurt from smiling but she still managed to eat one of her special birthday treats after passing them around the pit.


“These are delicious,” Tara said as the pastry crunched in her mouth.


Willow moaned and pushed her fingers against the corner of her lips so she didn’t lose a single crumb.


“They would be great for Hanukkah.”


“Better than warthog-alluring corn snacks,” Tara agreed with an adorable, dorky smile.


Willow wiped her mouth on her arm.


“You know I saw Walt this afternoon and I really do think he was just saying hello. I swear he nodded at me. Do you think he’s gay too?!”


Tara smiled fondly.


“You did always love Pumbaa. And he was very close to Timon.”


“They get a bad rap for being unfortunately named,” Willow said sadly, “I think he’s kinda cute. In a wart-y kind of way.”


Tara’s eyebrows waggled once.


“Just as long as he’s not trying to steal your cheese puffs.”


Willow chuckled.


“Let no man or warthog come between me and cheese puffs.”


They sat closer together and Tara threw her arm over Willow’s shoulders.


“Good birthday?” Tara asked the same way she had been asked on her day all those months ago in Fiji.


She chose not to reminisce on what happened after.


Willow remembered and making the same internal pledge, smiled softly.


“Best birthday,” she answered, holding back a kiss amongst all of the others but she reached up to squeeze Tara’s hand to let her know she was thinking about it.


The quiet cuddling was somewhat disrupted by Carla shoving Bobby around to try and get a fire pit selfie. Willow threw an annoyed glance their way and looked up resolutely at Tara.


“And you know what else?”


“What?” Tara asked softly.


Willow threw caution to the wind and went in to kiss Tara right at the perfect moment and right at the perfect angle to photobomb the other couple. Just as she spotted their annoyed faces looking behind to them, she pulled away with an audible mwah.


“We’re the couple goals!”




Image


Image

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 Post subject: Re: New Fic: Inevitable [AU] (Jan 14th 2020)
PostPosted: Tue Jan 14, 2020 4:48 pm 
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I forgot to shout out the Ramones t-shirt and the red leather coat in the Iceland update- nice touches!!

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 Post subject: Re: New Fic: Inevitable [AU] (Jan 14th 2020)
PostPosted: Thu Jan 16, 2020 1:13 am 
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Carla and Bobby, what self-centered idiots!
Quote:
Tara glanced between them and Willow and then at the drinks table. She slowly walked over, took two of the glasses and brought them over to the other couple.


“Lemonade?” she offered sweetly.


Carla looked at her suspiciously but wasn’t smart enough to realize she was being made fun of and took both glasses. Tara returned to Willow who was grinning from ear to ear.


“That was stone cold amazing. I love you.”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” Tara replied innocently, taking a lemonade for herself and sipping through the little straw, “I was just being nice.”

I totally don't get the joke here… :blush

Quote:
More people filled the room in the next thirty minutes; a retired couple from France, a few sets of friends from Poland and Norway and another gay male couple that they clocked and gave each other the gay nod.

It was Willow’s first experience of such a nod and Tara had to tell her to stop doing it or they would think she had a tic.

:laugh So cute!

Quote:
“Well now we get to ride together,” Tara replied with an undeniable, if not coy, sultry undertone, “I guarantee safety and fun.”


“Well…” Willow replied in the same tone, “If you promise you'll look after me.”


She put her hand on Tara’s knee and Tara put her hand on top, holding her there.

Canon-easteregg - with a much better ending than in the show!

Quote:
Willow and Tara stood as close to the edge as they were comfortable and looked out at the vastness below.


“Go on,” Tara encouraged.


Willow frowned.


“What?”


Tara just grinned.


“I know you want to.”


She started to hum the opening call to The Lion King and Willow grinned back.


“Nants ingonyama… bagithi baba,” Willow spoke in a deep, melodic voice, “Sithi uhm ingonyama.”


She took a knee not quite all the way to the ground and held up her water bottle to the sky. They both burst into laughter as Willow straightened up again and leaned into each other.

:laugh So dorky and absolutely adorable! And I LOVE that Tara knows her girl so well!
Willow really has a great memory that she can cite the african passage (I couldn't although I watched the film pretty often) and later all eleven south-african ways of saying "I love you" plus Sheila's complicated lecture about elephants after having heard it only once.

I love Walter the warthog!

Quote:
“Baby, you're all that I want,” Willow reassured, nuzzling again, “When you're lying here in my arms?

Song-easteregg! I don't spot them often, but I love this Bryan Adams-song (reminds me of the chapter in HC where you had Tara and Angel sing this song together on open-mic-night).

Quote:
The only other green I have has Gumby on it!”

I had to google what / who Gumby is - I found out this series was only once aired in germany long before I was born and practically forgotten afterwards. So once again your story has educational value for me. :wink

Quote:
Before the truck could be started up again the elephant passed a few feet from the back of the vehicle and a trunk waved its way in from the side to steal Willow’s hat.


Willow’s eye grew wide as she watched the flash of grey in her peripherals and then felt the gust of air on top of her head.


Everyone watched in stunned silence as the elephant pressed the hat upon its own head, holding it there with its trunk for a moment before swirling it around to look at it and finally trying to place it back on Willow’s head, though it just fell into her lap.


“And with that we say totsiens!” Jabu said, patting the driver’s shoulder harder this time.


They moved off quickly and after a minute or so the shock wore off and everyone turned around to talk to Willow and touch the hat.


Willow was overcome by the whole experience and the gentleness of the huge elephant, though she had no doubt they would have been crushed in a moment if she’d reacted in any way that seemed odd or threatening.


She had tears in her eyes as she recounted what the experience had been like for her and felt Tara hug her sidelong to comfort her.


Wow, what an experience for Willow! I understand she was emotionally overwhelmed by it. Thank goodness Carla and Bobby were absent because they might have done something really stupid in this moment which could have endangered them all.

Quote:
“Happy Birthday,” she said, smiling tenderly, “My love.”


Willow clinked her glass and sighed softly.


“It feels like so long ago since my last birthday…where I would have balked at you saying that. Or holding hands like this. Or even being seen out to dinner together.”


“You’ve come so far,” Tara lauded softly.


“Because you’ve never left my side,” Willow answered, swallowing deeply, “Not emotionally.”


Tara just smiled.


“I never wanted to be anywhere else.”

Awww! :flower

Yay for Sheila finally using Tara's correct name.

I love that Jabu had birthday-pastries made for Willow and organized the african birthday serenade for her.

Quote:
“You know I saw Walt this afternoon and I really do think he was just saying hello. I swear he nodded at me. Do you think he’s gay too?!”


Tara smiled fondly.


“You did always love Pumbaa. And he was very close to Timon.”


“They get a bad rap for being unfortunately named,” Willow said sadly, “I think he’s kinda cute. In a wart-y kind of way.”

Aw again! I love that Willow "adopted" Walter later (with a financial donation I suppose?). Is the elephant that Tara adopted the one they encountered who "borrowed" Willow's hat?

Quote:
The quiet cuddling was somewhat disrupted by Carla shoving Bobby around to try and get a fire pit selfie. Willow threw an annoyed glance their way and looked up resolutely at Tara.


“And you know what else?”


“What?” Tara asked softly.


Willow threw caution to the wind and went in to kiss Tara right at the perfect moment and right at the perfect angle to photobomb the other couple. Just as she spotted their annoyed faces looking behind to them, she pulled away with an audible mwah.


“We’re the couple goals!”

Darn tootin'! :applause I just imagine Jabu gave it another
Quote:
“Hip, hip, hurrah!”


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 Post subject: Re: New Fic: Inevitable [AU] (Jan 14th 2020)
PostPosted: Thu Jan 16, 2020 9:22 am 
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Such a wonderful experience. It's a joy to be along for the ride!


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 Post subject: Re: New Fic: Inevitable [AU] (Jan 14th 2020)
PostPosted: Thu Jan 16, 2020 9:59 pm 
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short reply because bedtime but I wanted to leave something before the update

its just lovely all around. I was so into Willow's encounter wit the elephants- all big eyed and mouth open when I read it - what an experience!- and how Willow reacted was perfect, so powerful

I LOVE that they adopted animals!!! The Beyonce jokes were hilarious. Its so cool they are keeping in touch with the folks they are meeting

Gotta love the gay fam- and Willow overdoing the nod :laugh so adorably spazy

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 Post subject: Re: New Fic: Inevitable [AU] (Jan 14th 2020)
PostPosted: Fri Jan 17, 2020 8:00 am 
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shirrey

Quote:
I forgot to shout out the Ramones t-shirt and the red leather coat in the Iceland update- nice touches!!


Thank you! I love that badass look on Tara.

Quote:
short reply because bedtime but I wanted to leave something before the update


Any and all replies are very much appreciated :)

Quote:
its just lovely all around. I was so into Willow's encounter wit the elephants- all big eyed and mouth open when I read it - what an experience!- and how Willow reacted was perfect, so powerful


An experience like that with an animal, particular when you can be certain they're not being trained or coached or abused in any way, I think is just a whole other elevation from a connection with a human.

Quote:
I LOVE that they adopted animals!!!


A little keepsake to bring with them forever!

Quote:
The Beyonce jokes were hilarious. Its so cool they are keeping in touch with the folks they are meeting


I feel like with the people from Nepal, specially Ebba and Amir who were with them every day and continued to show they such hospitality after, how could they not? It's just a huge bonding experience to face something like that. The whole kind of nature of hostels is that the connections are fleeting but sometimes they endure.

Quote:
Gotta love the gay fam- and Willow overdoing the nod :laugh so adorably spazy


If this isn't the perfect description of Willow, I don't know what is :lol

Thanks for commenting!

Will's redemption

Quote:
Carla and Bobby, what self-centered idiots!


Rich ones, apparently (or maybe, of course)

Quote:
I totally don't get the joke here… :blush


Lemonade was the name of the album Beyoncé put out about Jay-Z cheating on her

Quote:
:laugh So cute!


Willow's getting so into all her new gay learnings :laugh

Quote:
Canon-easteregg - with a much better ending than in the show!


Definitely!

Quote:
:laugh So dorky and absolutely adorable! And I LOVE that Tara knows her girl so well!


All those years of friendships has its benefits!

Quote:
Willow really has a great memory that she can cite the african passage (I couldn't although I watched the film pretty often) and later all eleven south-african ways of saying "I love you" plus Sheila's complicated lecture about elephants after having heard it only once.


I definitely picture her having an eidetic/echoic memory. The kind of person who does so well in school like Willow usually does.

Quote:
I love Walter the warthog!


He is a character!

Quote:
Song-easteregg! I don't spot them often, but I love this Bryan Adams-song (reminds me of the chapter in HC where you had Tara and Angel sing this song together on open-mic-night).


Yes! Good memory!! For years (as a kid) I only knew it as a dance remix by DJ Sammy but I heard it as an adult and also fell in love with it.

Quote:
I had to google what / who Gumby is - I found out this series was only once aired in germany long before I was born and practically forgotten afterwards. So once again your story has educational value for me. :wink


I have also never seen it but it seemed like the kind of t-shirt Willow would have :lol

Quote:
Wow, what an experience for Willow! I understand she was emotionally overwhelmed by it. Thank goodness Carla and Bobby were absent because they might have done something really stupid in this moment which could have endangered them all.


I think you're exactly right!

Quote:
Yay for Sheila finally using Tara's correct name.


Finally, right? But it's a good sign.

Quote:
I love that Jabu had birthday-pastries made for Willow and organized the african birthday serenade for her.


That was a real highlight for Willow, a real blast of culture.

Quote:
Aw again! I love that Willow "adopted" Walter later (with a financial donation I suppose?). Is the elephant that Tara adopted the one they encountered who "borrowed" Willow's hat?


It was! (and yes, a financial donation)

Quote:
Darn tootin'! :applause I just imagine Jabu gave it another

“Hip, hip, hurrah!”


It may have been conveyed in a silent, secret grin but one he and Willow certainly shared!

Thanks so much for your feedback!

NorthernLass

Quote:
Such a wonderful experience. It's a joy to be along for the ride!


It's a joy to have you along for the ride! Thank you so much!

Thanks for your comment!



Update Directly Below

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 Post subject: Re: New Fic: Inevitable [AU] (Jan 17th 2020)
PostPosted: Fri Jan 17, 2020 9:00 am 
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CHAPTER RATING: PG-13

NOTES: Warning for some confrontation in this chapter

Chapter 48



Brazil



There's A Battle Ahead
Many Battles Are Lost
But You'll Never See The End Of The Road While You're Traveling With Me



“Immigration control is the worst.”


Willow dragged her tired feet the inch and a half the line moved forward.


“It’s like, how do we make the last twenty hours of traveling worse? Oh, hey, I know — a gigantic line full of the sweaty people traveling for those twenty hours now extra sweaty and nervous surrounded by police and dogs. That’s just a swell idea.”


Tara put her hand over Willow’s shoulder from behind her, giving it a gentle squeeze.


“It’ll be over soon. We’ll check into Ebba’s hostel and then spend the day at the Copacabana beach…”


Willow closed her eyes and leaned back into Tara.


“Will you wear the bikini I got you in Spain?”


Tara’s lips sloped up on one side.


“You’re utterly shameless.”


“Better than shameful,” Willow said with a tired sigh.


Tara continued to smile.


“Yes it is,” she said and discreetly linked their pinkies together by their sides, “So yes I will.”


They shuffled forward until finally, they were first in line for the immigration officer. Willow walked up to the agent and Tara waited behind the prescribed yellow line for her turn.


She shrugged her bag on her shoulder jadedly when it took more than the usual minute or so to move on but she didn’t think anything was wrong until Willow turned her head with wide eyes and a pained smile on her face.


Before Tara could even react, a security guard appeared and gripped her arm.


“Venha comigo, senhora.”


Tara stumbled out a few aborted words as she was marched out of the immigration area and to a private room in the back. She was told to sit, at least that was what she guessed to have been said by the accompanying strict point at the chair.


Her butt hadn’t even fully hit the plastic when Willow was brought in in the same way and was actually pushed into the chair.


Tara started to stand again to defend her but the guard stared her down and they both got into their seats quietly while he stood outside the door.


“Willow, what did you do?” Tara hissed as her heart began to hammer in her chest.


“I don’t know!” Willow replied in a similar fashion, “He said we didn’t pay some fee!”


“I thought we didn’t need visas?” Tara asked, her voice starting to tremble.


Willow threw her hands out in frustration.


“That’s what it said online!”


Tara’s jaw clenched.


“You mustn’t have read enough!”


“You weren’t exactly double-checking either!” Willow snapped back.


Before Tara could say something she’d regret, the door swung open and a tall, middle-aged Brazilian man with white hair and glasses walked in and moved behind the desk.


They both looked at him doe-eyed and he stared back before taking his seat and folding his hands together. He introduced himself but neither of them heard as the blood began to rush between their ears.


They only registered words were being spoken to them again when the hardback of his notebook suddenly hit against the desk.


“Can you tell me why you are traveling to Brazil?”


“Sightseeing—”


“Meeting a friend—”


They both stiffened and looked away in various directions.


“You have a host?” the officer asked, leaning forward.


Tara was quiet as a mouse this time so after a moment Willow realized she’d have to answer.


“Um, yes?”


The officer flicked open a new page on his notebook and plucked a pen from the holder.


“We have a few questions.”


Willow gulped.


“Questions, great.”


“Well, we can answer questions,” Tara added, trying her best not to sound nervous.


The officer started to write.


“Good. I need to know a little bit more about the host, and about the both of you. Your relationship, whatever you can tell me.”


Tara tensed.


“O-o-our relationship?”


“We're friends,” Willow cut in.


Tara nodded.


“Good friends.”


Willow glanced over to Tara and back at the officer.


“Girlfriends, actually.”


Tara couldn’t help the smallest of smiles despite the situation they were in; it was still a thrill to hear Willow call them that.


“Yes, we're girlfriends.”


Willow noticed the smile and it empowered her. Her chest puffed out a bit.


“We're in love. We're… lovers,” she reached out and put a hand on Tara’s knee, “We're lesbian, gay-type lovers.”


The officer looked at Willow’s hand on Tara’s knee and back up, bored.


“I meant your relationship with the host.”


Both Willow and Tara flushed with embarrassment. Willow removed her hand from Tara’s knee.


“Um, just good friends,” Tara answered finally, quietly, “We met her in Nepal. We volunteered together after the earthquake.”


“She is Brazilian?” the officer asked, “And what is her name?”


Tara shook her head.


“She’s Swedish. And, um, her name is Ebba. Ebba Lundgren.”


Tara frowned deeply and the officer wrote that down.


“And she is working here?”


Willow made a squeaking noise.


“Just volunteering again! Serial volunteer that woman. Very helpful. One time she had to help me when I staple-gunned myself to the wall of a house we just built and—” she gulped as the officer arched an eyebrow, “She’s helpful.”


The officer looked at them suspiciously.


“She is hosting you but she does not reside here?”


“Showing us around,” Willow replied quickly, “She’s seen the sights so she’ll help us…sightsee.”


The officer considered it.


“And you will stay with her?”


Tara’s hands curled under the chair, her knuckles white with tension.


“Nope,” Willow answered eventually, somehow making it sound blasé.


“Where will you be staying?” the officer inquired.


Willow’s eyes darted back and forth like her brain was conjuring something.


“Oh, um, I can find the name for you,” she said, reaching into her pocket and feeling around for her phone despite it being right there, “Got an email confirmation earlier. It’s a hostel. Near the beach. Reviews said it’s a beautiful little place and even though it’s so near the beach it’s quiet at night which is a real plus when you’re living with a bunch of people y’know because it’s bad enough with everyone coming and going and—”


The officer grew stern and held out his hand.


“Senhora please show me your telephone.”


“There you go,” Willow handed it over without suggestion of anything, “The first email at the top there.”


He opened the email and read it, wrote something down, then put the phone in his top drawer.


“Um momento,” he said before getting up and leaving.


Tara was about to open her mouth but Willow caught her eye and employed their years-long friendship and relationship to silently communicate that everything would be okay, but they both needed to shut the fuck up.


Sure enough a few tough minutes later, the officer returned, took the phone back out of the drawer and handed it to Willow.


“Our agent was mistaken about your paperwork. We are working on new system. You are free to leave.”


“Thank you, por favor!” Willow practically shrieked as she yanked Tara’s hand as hard as she ever had and ‘casually’ walked them back to get their passports stamped and go through customs.


When they finally broke out through to the welcome hall, not having said a single word to each other, Willow grabbed Tara’s hand again and dodged them through waiting families and porters trying to sell their services over to a private corner to take a breath.


“Oh my god, I hope we haven’t just gotten Ebba in huge trouble,” Tara exhaled quickly on that first breath before covering her face with her hands.


Willow waved a hand in front of them.


“I texted her told her to let someone else answer the phone if it rang.”


Tara’s head swung toward Willow, eyes wide.


“Are you crazy Willow?! We could have been arrested if he saw that! I’ve been arrested or nearly-arrested enough times for my entire life!”


“I deleted it and told her not to reply!” Willow protested, “What was I supposed to do?!”


Tara lifted her hand to her forehead to massage her temples.


“You took an insane risk.”


“It worked, didn’t it?” Willow shot back.


“It better have,” Tara replied, sighing, “How do we get out of here?”


She started to fan her face as she tried to ignore the adrenaline rushing through her body.


Willow wasn’t on top of things, for once.


“I think we go down here for the bus?” she said, looking left and doing her best to translate the signs.


The thought of being packed into a bus as they had been in the immigration line, but even more enclosed, made Tara want to hurl.


“Do they have ride-sharing here? Is it cheap? Can we just get a car?”


“I think so, yeah,” Willow nodded, “Do you have any water?”


Tara looked up at Willow’s pale face and her still-trembling hands and sighed softly.


“Come here.”


She gathered Willow in a hug.


Willow swung her arms over Tara’s neck and embraced her back.


“I’m sorry.”


“You didn’t do anything wrong,” Tara soothed, “You heard him, their agent messed up. Everything is okay.”


Willow sniffled against Tara’s chest and eventually pulled away, smoothing her hand back over her head.


“You still want to get a car?”


“If it’s not too expensive,” Tara replied, “I don’t think the city is too far. Is that okay with you?”


Willow could only nod.


“I really would get arrested if I had to get on a bus right now. I just want to relax.”


Tara put her hand between Willow’s shoulders and rubbed gently.


Willow took her phone out and figured out where they needed to go. It helped; focusing her mind back on where they were and not what had happened.


She got them to the meeting point for the car and they didn’t, nor did they have to, exchange a single word with their driver as they got their bags in the trunk and took the back seat together.


As they drove out of the airport a big overhead sign welcomed them to Rio and they both looked at each other and smiled. They clasped hands and began to look forward to seeing this new place together.


Most of the journey was just road, the same kind of road they’d seen a hundred times before coming or going from a dozen different airports, but there were pretty mango trees and the sun was scattering light in every direction.


When they started to get into the city things really brightened up.


The first thing they spotted was the Sugarloaf mountain with speckled cloud behind it; mere blips in the otherwise ethereally blue sky.


They were holding onto each other excitedly as they cruised down the Copacabana with all of the tall hotels on its shores.


They turned down a side street and right on the corner with a diagonal beach view still on offer, they were dropped at the door of the hostel.


They walked into the upscale lobby; more upscale than they were used to but they were getting the friends and family rate thanks to Ebba.


Walking in, Willow laughed to herself for a moment that a year ago she wouldn’t have considered this place in the least bit fancy; in fact, she probably would have considered it cheap since it was a hostel.


Her parents would.


She was so glad she wasn’t that person anymore.


“What?” Tara asked with a smile as they headed toward the check-in desk.


Willow shrugged, grinning.


“Just glad to be who I am now.”


Tara’s nose scrunched adorably.


“Me too. You’re cute.”


Willow blushed lightly as they got to the desk and saw a familiar face behind it, glowing with happiness.


Ebba threw her hands up happily and scurried out from behind the desk.


“All on your feet again!” she exclaimed at Tara before giving her a warm hug and offering the same to Willow, “It is a joy to see you.”


“Did you get my message?” Willow asked nervously as they parted.


“Yes,” Ebba nodded easily, “All is okay. They are used here to calls sometimes. It was handled.”


Willow put her hand against her heart.


“We thought we’d gotten you deported!”


“No, no,” Ebba laughed, waving her hands, “I am fine. And in fact, as it has turned out I am leaving here early anyway.”


Willow and Tara glanced at each other in confusion and Ebba cradled her stomach shyly.


“I have learned in recent times that I am to have a baby.”


“Oh my god,” Willow said, eyes widening.


“Is that…good?” Tara prompted nervously before reacting.


Ebba laid her palms flat over her belly button with a wide smile.


“It is unexpected. Very unexpected,” she laughed, “But good.”


“Congratulations,” Willow wished.


“That’s amazing,” Tara added, holding Ebba again in a short hug, “You’re going back to Nepal?”


“Yes,” Ebba nodded definitively, “We may apply for marriage visa. It is soon yes, but…after earthquake…”


“We get it,” Willow replied, casting a long glance in Tara’s direction, “Totally.”


“Completely,” Tara confirmed, linking her pinky with Willow’s, “That’s wonderful. We’re so happy for you. How is everything back there?”


“As well as could hope,” Ebba nodded with a sad smile, “The people, they are strong. And I still see shirts you make on people.”


Willow rubbed Tara’s shoulder and smiled softly at her. Ebba folded her hands over her belly.


“It is still difficult but I am most happy to return. Maybe that is all that needs to be said.”


Tara smiled.


“You’re going home.”


Ebba smiled back and did a little happy sway from side to side.


“You should be putting your feet up!” Willow said, gesturing at Ebba’s stomach.


“You sound like Amir,” Ebba chuckled, leaning her hands down on the wooden desk, “I just work until I am replaced and then I return…”


She smiled dreamily.


“Then I go home.”


Willow and Tara shared the same look that originated that kind of smile. Ebba had her moment, then slapped her hands together.


“Now I check you in and later we go for dinner. I find restaurant. I have heard it called hidden gem. I think this means good, yes?”


Ebba moved about efficiently, handing them a key and a fold-out leaflet of the area.


They walked through the hostel and passed by the kitchen area, fully equipped with individual stands so multiple people could cook at once. It even had a menu option for people to order from the private kitchen in the back. They hadn't seen that in a hostel before. The best of places had only had a few bagels thrown out in the morning for people to fight over.


“If we have our own access to an oven and burner I could make tarragon chicken one night,” Tara offered as they got into an elevator — an actual elevator so they didn’t need to hike up the stairs, “I got a real taste for it when we went to that French restaurant in London.”


“I hate tarragon,” Willow replied, shaking her head.


“Oh, you do?” Tara asked with a frown.


Willow nodded solemnly and then bumped Tara’s shoulder with a grin.


“I like Tara right here beside me.”


Tara pursed her lips and gave Willow a look but the smile was fighting to break out.


Art adorned the walls of the corridor to their room and even inside it, there were fresh flowers. Two sets of bunk beds were built into the wall with a retractable, padded ladder.


“Score,” Willow said as she went to the empty set of beds and pulled the ladder down, “No sore feet.”


“My feet have developed permanent callouses at this stage,” Tara replied, running her fingers along the soft, fluffy padding, “But this does feel nice.”


“If it was pink it would be like handcuff padding,” Willow said off-the-cuff, then swallowed when Tara arched an eyebrow at her, “Um, I saw some in that store in Amsterdam. Looked…soft.”


She quickly looked away and threw her bag on the bottom bunk.


“Beach! We should get changed for the beach. It’s good checking in at this time, hmm? Other occupants are already out for the name. Get some…privacy.”


She cleared her throat and her eyes darted toward Tara who was quietly smirking as she unpacked from her bag.


They changed into their swimwear and Willow threw a tank top and shorts over hers but all of Tara’s tanks were in her bag to be washed so she just put shorts on and let the bikini act as her top, much to Willow’s delight. The bustier shape lent itself to a fuller covering to make it seem like a short top, albeit a revealing one.


“Almost as good,” Tara said, dipping a finger along the round neck of Willow’s tank and then letting her hand fall down to grip the back of Willow’s thigh where her tiny jean shorts cut off, “As what’s underneath.”


The door handle rustled and they sprang apart as two young, well-groomed gentlemen walked in, both just wearing towels around their waists. Neither man seemed too perturbed to see them or felt a need to cover themselves further.


One was dark-haired and one was light-haired but they both had the same quaffed cut with a goatee beard.


“Olá,” one of the men, the dark-haired one, greeted warmly if not a little jadedly while the other just waved but with a smile and similar tired eyes.


“Olá,” Willow and Tara both greeted with flushing cheeks and kept their heads down as they snuck out of the room.


The men shared an amused glance while Willow and Tara headed for the elevator with flushing cheeks.


Going through the lobby again, Ebba called out.


“Tara, I have not seen this before.”


Tara looked a little self-consciously down at her breasts, then realized Ebba’s eye line was a little lower.


“Oh, my tattoo?” she said, slapping her hand against her ribs before letting it fall away, “I guess I wasn’t wearing many bathing suits in Nepal.”


“It is new?” Ebba asked.


Tara glanced over at Willow with a smirk.


“No, I’m not the one who got a tattoo over there.”


“It says Dabba,” Willow cut in curtly before Ebba could process what she said.


Ebba looked lost.


“Excuse me?”


“D-A-B-B-A,” Willow spelled out, tapping each note on Tara’s ribs, who looked unamused, “It was my name when we were little.”


“Dabba, a nickname?” Ebba asked again, brow furrowing in confusion.


“Kind of like an alter ego, stage name kinda th…” Willow started to explain, then just nodded quickly, “Yeah, a nickname.”


Ebba laughed.


“Only thing more permanent is baby,” she said, holding her stomach for a moment before smiling again, “It is very pretty.”


“Thank you,” Tara replied, shooting Willow a look, “We’ll see you later?”


“Yes!” Ebba agreed, “I made reservation for 6 o’clock.”


“See you then,” Willow said, catching up in step with Tara, “No fair! She knows the language of my ichthyologic themed bad decision! If she saw it she could guess what it means.”


Tara held her hands up.


“I said nothing.”


Willow just looked at her sideways but it was broken when Tara gently slapped right over where the mark in question lay. She giggled and reached back to rub the spot herself.


Their walk to the beach was about 90 seconds from street to soft sand.


The view was spectacular; deep blue water with green hues picked up the surrounding vegetation-rich mountains and a shore full of people enjoying themselves in the sun. Some were sunbathing, some were playing volleyball, some were strolling the promenade and some were in the water swimming or even out on jet skis.


It was busy but not overcrowded and they found a comfortable spot to lay their towels on. Willow spotted a stall selling freshly cracked coconuts with straws and brought them back one to share.


“This is heavenly,” Tara said as she stretched her legs out in front of her and applied sunscreen, “The temperature is great. Not too hot.”


“Proving yet again that all of your binder research was spot on,” Willow complimented, “And that I wouldn’t be here without you.”


She smiled at Tara to emphasize the layered meaning and Tara offered a quick cheek kiss to relay that she understood.


Tara spent the rest of the morning sunbathing and Willow spent it watching her and the other people milling about. If she’d learned anything in their travels it was that she needn’t even try to tan and just hope if she emptied bottle after bottle of sunscreen on her skin that she wouldn’t burn — what was another few freckles?


She watched people jump off the pier and play various other games they had set up and one thing, in particular, caught her eye.


“Hey,” she said, nodding in that direction when Tara lifted her head, “You wanna do that?”


“What?” Tara asked, sitting up to get a better view.


Willow pointed specifically at the people running around in the water in giant transparent balls.


“I think it’s called zorbing.”


“Looks like fun,” Tara agreed.


“Yeah?” Willow asked, a smile blooming.


“Yeah, let’s go,” Tara answered her smile and together they stood and gathered their stuff.


They walked down to the pier to where the activity was happening and the organizer had enough English for them to understand each other. An area of the ocean had been cordoned off like a little pool and when it was their turn they each climbed inside a giant see-through ball and were pushed out to roll around on the water together.


They both shrieked and laughed as they purposefully ran into each and were thrown about. Watching each other trying to run on the water kept cracking each other up and they ended up just trying to do somersaults and the like just to make each other laugh.


They both emerged rosy-faced and grinning when it was over and were practically falling into each other as they collected their stuff and got steady on their feet.


“That was so much fun,” Tara gushed, dropping her head for a moment to catch her breath.


Willow was in much the same predicament.


“Oh my god, I’m so thirsty.”


Tara offered her water bottle to Willow.


“Let’s go get some lunch,” she said and lightly tugged Willow’s hand onto the path before dropping it again.


They stopped at the first place they found and ordered two acai berry bowls that they could eat while walking along the prom.


As they ate they discussed whether to stay at the beach or venture out a bit further and finally decided they would go to see the Christ the Redeemer statue since it was such a nice day.


Tara figured she might need to cover up for that visit so bought a novelty t-shirt with an 80’s style sunset and Copacabana written on it from a seller on the prom, impressing Willow with her ability to communicate and lack of self-conscious haggling.


Hell, Tara wouldn’t have even answered the front door in that kind of bikini top before. Even her Honkerburger uniform had a lot more coverage.


It was nice to see how Tara had grown as she reflected on her own growth and how they’d grown together.


Plus the blue hue of the shirt really made her eyes sparkle.


They talked about figuring out the public transport system but ride-sharing apps were so cheap it wasn’t much of a discussion when there was a time constraint and very little cost difference. They did like to get a local feel for the public transport in cities they visited but they decided to leave that experience for another day at an off-peak time where they had time to explore, so Willow called up a car for them.


In the backseat, Tara grasped Willow’s hand between their seats.


“I’m glad you’ve taught me it’s okay to splash out sometimes.”


“I’m glad too,” Willow smiled sincerely, “But it’s honestly not. I just did the math, it’s like 2 dollars extra each way to get a ride instead of a bus. The rate is strong for us right now so we get to take advantage.”


“I love that little math brain,” Tara smiled back, “I know you’re no good with the real coins but you’re great at working out the digital stuff for us.”


“Some of them don’t even put the number on the coin! It’s so confusing!” Willow protested her ineptitude, “I’ll be glad to get back to nickels and dimes.”


Tara smirked.


“You mean the ones that don’t put the number on the coin?”


Willow made a face.


“Oh I’m one of those Americans, aren’t I?”


Tara just chuckled and squeezed Willow’s hand reassuringly.


They arrived at their location and stood back to admire the street they were on.


There were colorful buildings with backdrops of hills that seemed never-ending. The neighborhood was full of vibrant, square-shaped buildings that were indistinguishable whether they were houses or cafés or stores. One even looked like a small church. Everywhere just seemed bustling with people and activity.


They bought their tickets for the train that would bring them to the top of the Corcovado mountain and then just had to walk to the end of the block to where the little station where they would board the train was.


It was like an old-fashioned tram; red and linked together in different carts. They got seats in the front cart and sat together by the window to look out.


The tram creaked into movement and almost immediately they were slowly jaunting through forestland. It crept upward on the tall hill and there was a bit of falling about and holding onto things to stay on their seats but they got the best views of the forest, even if the clattering and steepness was a bit nerve-wracking at times.


They kept checking in with each other with eye contact and both stumbled out close together when they got to the top.


“That was like a rollercoaster,” Willow said, pressing down hard in her sneakers to orient herself back on solid ground, “I kept waiting for the drop.”


They had to take a short van ride because the tram terminated in the parking lot but it wasn’t that cramped, a lot less so than when they actually got to the stairs up to the statue and people were clambering and shoving with their requisite selfie sticks trying to get a good photo.


“Want to admire from afar?” Tara suggested.


“I think so,” Willow smiled in agreement, “Not in the mood for a stampede.”


They both walked off to the side of the crowds near a little café that was set up and also had a mile-long line. They found the sweet spot between both where they could look up at the statue and get a full view.


“It’s big,” Tara commented.


“Very,” Willow agreed.


They lapsed into silence as they stared up at the brooding figure and the multiple camera flashes reflecting off of it.


“Maybe it means more if you’re Christian,” Willow speculated, “What with being a giant Jesus and all.”


“Maybe,” Tara replied, frowning on one side of her mouth, “It is an amazing feat of art.”


“Oh, definitely,” Willow said with a resolute nod of her head that slowed very quickly.


They stood a bit awkwardly in their spot until Willow glanced over at the steps which had cleared a bit since the rush of people off the van.


“Crowd is waning a bit. Wanna sneak up?”


Tara nodded.


“Sure.”


They began climbing the flights of stairs that would bring them to the base of the statue. As they ascended, it became more clear as to why people were fighting for photographs because they had an entire 360 degree view of the entire city.


Beaches, hills, houses; each unique neighborhood stood out.


“Okay, these views?” Willow asked as she did a full turn, “I am definitely here for these views.”


Tara caught a picture of the awe on Willow’s face as she looked on, which happened to look like she was looking up at the statue of Jesus with the angle Tara got. Tara showed Willow, who laughed.


“How to kill my father with one picture.”


They stayed for a while enjoying the views until the next hoard of visitors started fighting their way up for their turn and they decided to let them at it.


The returning tram wasn’t so nail-biting with its downward trajectory but Willow found herself still waiting for the rollercoaster effect and was a bit dizzy stepping off.


It was a bit too far to walk all the way back to their hostel, so they got a car to drop them at the start of the beach and decided to walk their way back from there.


On their way, they came across a self-proclaimed Hippie Market with a bunch of stalls which sold all kinds of leather bags, hand-carved wooden furniture, jewelry, clothes, ornaments, food, and paintings. Willow picked up a couple of small souvenirs and found Tara in the middle of purchasing a new blue and white floaty dress, a burgundy gypsy tee and leather stiletto boots.


“Whoa! You got a haul!”


“It’s all so cheap,” Tara said quietly, “I almost feel bad.”


“Don’t, it’s great,” Willow smiled, curling her fingers over Tara’s shoulders, “You’ll look amazing.”


They got back to the hostel to change for dinner and found their room empty again with the other bunk beds neatly made, which made a welcome change to the state the beds would be left in when they had roomed with guys before.


“Hey, Tara, look,” Willow said as she opened a door across the room and found a private en suite with two showers, “How did we not notice this earlier? Those guys must have come out from here.”


Tara came over to have a look.


“You know what this means.”


Willow grinned.


“Long, hot showers!”


They both claimed a shower and luxuriated under its spray; spending considerably longer than the four minutes or so they usually gifted in communal showers.


“Can you believe the hot water hasn’t shut off yet?” Willow called over the partition as she happily rubbed her shampoo into her sudsy hair.


“Enjoy it while it lasts, we won’t have an ‘in’ at the next place,” Tara called back.


“Stop ruining it,” Willow replied in a sing-song voice.


Tara finished up first and walked back into the room to lotion up. Willow came out a few minutes later and stared a little bit.


“You could live in a towel, you know,” she said graciously, “I’d be fine with it.”


Tara lifted her bag of new purchases.


“Don’t you wanna see these clothes on me?”


“I’d rather see them off you,” Willow admitted and walked further in to bump Tara’s shoulder playfully.


Tara decided to wear her new dress since they were going out to a restaurant and teamed it with her new boots. She zipped up the sides and lifted one leg up onto the bottom bunk where Willow was sitting, moisturizing her face.


“What do you think?”


And that was the moment Willow realized she had a thing for stilettos.


Or Tara in stilettos, at least.


“I…mm…I…gummbb…woop…what?”


Tara smirked and twirled her ankle a bit.


“Do you like them?”


Willow gulped.


“They’re…very nice.”


“Don’t you know, Willow,” Tara replied, putting her foot down on floor loudly, “A girl's just as hot as the shoes she choose.”


Willow took in a sharp breath.


“Then you are the moment gold particles smash together in the Large Hadron Collider,” she replied with a slight pant, “That’s hotter than a supernova explosion by the way. Which is…”


She looked down at Tara’s feet.


“Hot.”


Tara smiled at Willow sweetly.


“I just wanna keep up with you.”


Willow smiled back tenderly.


“That is a bald-faced lie, but you're sweet.”


They both finished getting ready and headed down to the lobby to wait for Ebba.


A few minutes ticked past the hour and then both of their phones beeped at the same time with a new message.


“Ebba has morning sickness,” Willow read first, “I guess her belly is still on Nepal time.”


Tara checked her phone and brought up the message to reply with her sympathies.


“Poor thing. It can hit at any time.”


“Do you still want to go for dinner?” Willow asked, holding her phone up to flash the screen, “She sent directions.”


Tara smiled and nodded.


“Yeah, let’s do it. We got all dressed up.”


The sky was all oranges and blush pinks as they rode to the other side of the city and they got a much better look at the neighborhoods as they zigzagged through the streets.


“There’s a really obvious wealth disparity,” Tara commented softly when they passed right through a shanty town and out to the other side with expensive hotels lining the street.


“It’s like India…but without the caste system,” Willow replied, frowning, “I guess it’s like everywhere really…just more obvious.”


They were dropped on the corner of a street that was obviously the heart of one of the city’s favelas. All of the houses were short buildings of brick built over wood, all on top of each other in a sprawling mass. It was dirty and people were selling things on street corners or out of their homes.


As two white ladies walking down the street all dressed up, they stood out noticeably.


“It says we walk to the end of this street,” Willow said, reading off her phone without noticing the stares.


Tara gently put her hand over Willow’s phone and lowered it to their sides. Willow looked at her sidelong in confusion but didn’t question it as they arrived at an entrance to a park that sat on a hill. It was so vibrantly green next to the grubby make-up of the surrounding area. It was just another stark contrast that seemed to trouble this city.


They started to walk the path up the hill, following Ebba’s instructions up several steep steps and round a large stretch of land.


“This is like a treasure hunt,” Willow said excitedly.


“I wore the wrong shoes,” Tara replied jadedly.


“I think we’re almost there,” Willow said, consulting the map alongside the instructions, “I don’t know how considering we’re on the side of a hill but it says so here.”


It was another five minutes when they were on the verge of turning back when they rounded a corner and saw an all-glass building built into the side of the hill.


“Wow,” they said simultaneously, stopped in their tracks for a moment.


They followed a little dirt road, which felt a bit precarious in Tara’s heels, right into the restaurant. It was single level, all-glass as they’d noted before, with an open sliding door that led to a fenced-in patio overlooking the water.


For such a tucked-away place it was buzzing with people and atmosphere with nearly every table full.


They gave Ebba’s name as she had made the booking and were led to a corner table inside. It felt like they were suspended between hill and water and gave them a great cross-section view out into the ocean.


“Ebba said to order a couple of Caipirinhas and enjoy them since she can’t,” Willow said, waving her screen about again.


“Put your phone away honey,” Tara advised softly.


“Oh, sorry,” Willow replied, misinterpreting the reasoning as she shoved it into her jeans pocket, “I am fully yours.”


Tara smiled and Willow returned it. The waitress came to take their drinks order and provide a menu, which they could see was dated daily.


“Looks like it’s all seafood,” Willow read through quickly, “Is that okay?”


Tara nodded.


“As long as I stay away from shrimp.”


“Maybe one of the few things you and my dad have in common,” Willow replied with a laugh.


“We both love you,” Tara said, squeezing Willow’s hand on top of the table.


Willow smiled and squeezed back.


“You know, the Portuguese for ‘I love you’ is the same as Spanish — te amo,” she said with a fond look in her eye, “So now we’re in South America, I’m going to have to get creative.”


She bumped Tara’s foot under the table affectionately and they both hid a smile behind their menus, which thankfully had English descriptions opposite the Portuguese.


The waitress returned with their drinks and got her writing pad out, the universal sign that she could take their order.


“Moqueca, por favor,” Tara said, lifting her glass up to take a drink.


“Casquinha de siri,” Willow read carefully off the menu, “With, I mean, um, com… bolinhos de bacalhau?”


The waitress nodded kindly and took their menus again.


“I hope I ordered that right,” Willow said nervously, “I don’t want to end up with a whole fish looking up its beady little eyes at me.”


“It sounded fine,” Tara reassured and held her glass out, “Saúde.”


“Oh, you prepared,” Willow grinned and lifted her glass to clink and repeated the greeting, “Saúde.”


Samba music played in the background as they enjoyed their drink and waited on the food. When it arrived, beady eyes completely absent, they both eyed it hungrily haven eaten nothing since their noon acai bowls.


“This is so good,” Tara said as they started to eat, sharing bites from each other’s plates, “I think this fish was swimming this morning.”


“Poor little fishy,” Willow replied, frowning, “But poor little fishy tastes really good-y.”


Tara giggled, her nose scrunching up in the process and Willow smiled softly, appreciating that sound and that she was the one to produce it.


“The seafood is amazing here,” Tara agreed, “And that fresh guava we had earlier was to die for.”


The sun set fully as they ate, offering a shimmering reflection of the full moon on the prussian blue sea below.


“It’s a shame Ebba missed this,” Tara said after their plates were cleared, resting her chin on her overlapping hands, “But it was nice to have a little date.”


“You wanna get some gelato on the way home?” Willow asked, brushing the back of her finger against Tara’s arm.


Tara nodded and smiled.


“Yeah, that sounds really nice.”


They paid their check, about the same they would pay for a plate of mediocre orange chicken with an egg roll on the side at home, and started the more careful descent back down the hill. Tara wasn’t comfortable taking her shoes off so she had to hold onto Willow’s shoulder the whole way down.


They exited at a different place to where they had entered the first time and got a little disorientated figuring out where they were. Willow started marching down a small alley that was a thoroughfare to a street on the other side she was sure they’d been dropped off at.


“We go down here.”


“Are you sure?” Tara asked in confusion, following close behind and looking around her as she did so.


“Well, I can double-check,” Willow replied and started to lift her phone up from her side when suddenly a man wearing a red bandana around his face pounced on them from nowhere.


“Telefone,” he rasped, his eyes boring in on them threateningly.


The alley suddenly felt incredibly long and incredibly deserted.


“W-W-W-What?” Willow asked, her hand just clenching her phone tighter in her palm.


She took a step back.


“Give me phone,” he repeated, then got up close in Willow’s face when he thought he saw her mouth open slightly, “You scream, I kill. Compreendo?”


Tara snapped to attention after being stuck in shock for a moment and put her arm out in front of Willow.


“The brave one,” he said, his grin obvious despite his whole mouth being covered, “Will not help you here.”


He glanced down and spotted that their others hands had clasped together and his eyes danced with deviant mirth as he dragged his gaze back up their bodies.


“Caminhoneirao.”


He spat the word and yanked down his bandana to reveal his seedy and toothless grin.


“Dykes,” he said in the same tone, indicating it was the same message, and angled his head up close to them, “Kiss kiss lésbicas.”


He made kissing sounds and took another step forward, making them both gasp, their only movement in what felt like an age. He laughed loudly and then seemed to get exceptionally angry in a microsecond and tore a knife from his inner pocket, holding it above them.


“You kiss kiss or you get hurt hurt, yah?”


He leaned in close enough for both of them to smell his rancid breath.


“Kiss.”


Willow and Tara shared a terrified glance of eyes but before they could even begin to try and communicate there was a sound of a loud revving and then a bright light rounded the corner, blinding enough to make them all spring back.


A motorcycle came into view, speeding down the alley and aiming right for their now unmasked attacker. He tried to act the hard man but it didn’t stop and sped forward like it would plow right into him, making him fall on his ass and then scamper to get away, yelling.


“Dykes!”


Tara was the one to take the first breath and then turned to Willow to check on her while the motorcycle swung back around to them. The rider opened the visor on the helmet.


“Estás bem?” a male voice asked, then continued in accented English, “Are you okay?”


“Thank you,” Willow blurted, the first words she’d uttered since they’d been at knifepoint.


“De nada,” the rider replied coolly, “You should—”


Suddenly a mosquito flew right into his open visor and he started shrieking, in stark contrast to his cool demeanor before. He hopped off his bike and tore his helmet off to get it out, dodging it until it flew away without incident. He shook out his hair and Willow realized she recognized him.


“Hey, we know you! You were in the room earlier! We’re… roomies.”


The man stopped, looked over at them and considered them for a moment.


“So we are,” he said finally, then swung his leg back over his bike, “You should leave here. It is not safe. Can we give you a ride?”


“W-We?” Tara asked, her knuckles still white from how tight hers and Willow’s hands were clasped together.


“Me and him,” the rider replied easily, nodding ahead where they noticed another man waiting on another bike, presumably the other man from this morning, “We will take you back to the room.”


Willow and Tara glanced at each other unsurely.


“We don’t even know your names,” Willow said, her heart still hammering in her chest.


The rider was silent for a second before fixing his helmet back on his head.


“Gabriel,” he said finally, then gestured at the other bike, “Lucas. You do not need to take ride but you must get out of here.”


“We’ll take the ride,” Willow answered quickly.


Spending another moment in that alley was enough to make her want to rip her own skin off.


Gabriel retrieved a helmet from some netting on the side and handed it out to them. Tara gave it to Willow and Lucas drove down on the other bike to collect Tara.


It was a little awkward getting themselves fixed up and hanging on the back of the bike but once they were ready the boys sped away and brought them back quickly and safely to the hostel.


Once they’d gotten off and handed back the helmets, Tara moved to stand behind Willow, gently massaging her shoulders.


“Thank you so much,” Willow said, fighting back tears, “We were so scared. I was so scared.”


The boys both popped their helmets off and they saw for the first time that Lucas was indeed the other man from this morning.


“It is what we do,” Gabriel answered, holding his hand around the bar handle on the bike, “We come to the city on weekends to watch out for people like us in places we know there to be bad people.”


Willow raised an eyebrow softly.


“People like us?”


Gabriel popped the collar on his shirt open and revealed a rainbow pin stuck to it. Willow’s second eyebrow joined the first.


“Are you part of an organization?”


“That I cannot say,” Gabriel replied with some reticence, “There are bad people who would like to hurt us and those like us. So it is wise to stay close to here at night. It is a big city.”


“How did you know we needed help?” Tara asked quietly, timid.


“We didn’t,” Gabriel replied pointedly, “It was luck to see you. So stay close, yes?”


“We will,” Willow promised, “Will we see you later?”


Gabriel grinned as he popped his helmet back on.


“We ride all night.”


He started the bike but Willow suddenly waved her hands.


“Wait!”


Gabriel seemed startled but lifted the visor on his helmet so he could see her. Willow moved further beside him and then conversed closely for a moment before he shut the visor, hiding a mirthful grin.


He started his bike again and Lucas pushed up behind him. Before he put his helmet back on he smiled softly at Tara and uttered the first words they’d heard him speak. His voice was as soft as his smile.


“Nice shoes.”


He covered his head with his helmet and lined up beside Gabriel; both of them riding away together and out of view.


Willow and Tara watched them until a car with drunk girls screeching sped by and they realized they were standing out in the cold.


They silently made their way back up to the room and both of them stood motionless there for another minute as the shock weaved its way out of their bodies.


Finally, Willow went to splash her face and Tara sat on Willow’s bottom bunk to take her shoes off.


There was a message from Ebba asking if they had a nice meal and she texted back something friendly but brief so she wouldn’t have to worry about maintaining a conversation.


Willow returned from the bathroom, having also taken her shoes off and sat beside Tara. They had another quiet minute, then looked at each other at the exact same time.


“Are you okay?” Tara asked softly.


“Yeah…yeah, I am,” Willow answered, happy to realize her stomach wasn’t swirling with anxiety like it had been just a few minutes ago and her heart had calmed, “Are you?”


“Worried about you,” Tara admitted, her eyes wide with concern, “I would hate…I would hate to see you have a setback.”


Willow's eyes were tender in return.


“You mean like in Dubai?”


Tara nodded slowly and Willow looked ahead, thoughtful for a few moments.


“Y’know, I've been called dork in my life way more than I've been called… that other word and I haven't let it stop me geeking out. What just happened was terrifying but it just…it just makes me want to be louder about who I am. It makes me want to fight for the… people here and in Dubai and other places where it’s not as accepted. And those guys, how they fight for the people here. They speak in actions.”


She stopped to nod and Tara smiled, reaching behind Willow to squeeze her shoulders again, relieved with everything she was hearing coming from Willow’s mouth.


Willow turned to Tara and took Tara’s hand in her lap.


“I remember you joking that ‘we’re everywhere’ but yeah…we are. The gay guy scared off the gang guy. Maybe now he’ll think twice before hassling someone again,” she said, feeling a blooming feeling of peace mingled with the will to fight, “What he did back there, our attacker… it wasn't about me or you or us. It was about him. You don't stop that by hiding. You stop that by being seen.”


Tara could see the clarity in Willow’s eyes, as clear as she’d ever seen them before. She cupped Willow’s cheek and placed a soft kiss on Willow’s lips.


“You're so wonderful.”


Willow held Tara’s hand to her cheek.


“I wish I'd seen years ago that being yours was what I needed to finally feel whole,” she said, her voice starting to tremble, ”I thought I needed the world to see me but I just needed me to see me through your eyes.”


“If only you could see yourself in my eyes, you'd see you shine,” Tara replied emphatically, closing her eyes and opening them glassy, “You shine.”


“I do,” Willow said resolutely, swallowing a lump, “I hope you see that reflected back.”


“I do,” Tara repeated softly.


They both fell back together so their heads landed on the pillow. Their bodies naturally gravitated toward each other so they ended up in a small heart shape.


Willow followed the neck of Tara’s dress with her finger up onto her shoulder and met Tara’s eyes with a soft breath.


“We never got dessert.”


Tara followed Willow’s playful finger, finding the motion soothing.


“My appetite for ice-cream waned.”


Willow smiled softly.


“I’d kill for a slice of your mom’s peach cobbler.”


They both exhaled at the same time and after a moment Willow looked up vulnerably.


“I’m still reeling a little bit.”


“I know,” Tara breathed, placing her hand gently on Willow’s neck, “Me too.”


“Hey, Gabriel helped me out with my creativity,” Willow whispered and rested her forehead on Tara’s, “Você é o mundo para mim.”


She pressed a gentle kiss on Tara’s lips.


“You are my whole world.”


They breathed together and then Willow closed her eyes for a moment.


“Those guys are amazing. They must be in real danger if they can’t even talk about what they do but they still go out and do it,” she said, starting to grin in awe, “And he was just… not stopping. He would have run into that guy if he had to.”


She laughed.


“That was the most badass ‘move, I’m gay’ moment ever.”


Tara started to smile and nod, but then her brow began to furrow.


“Wait, what do you mean?”


Willow gestured with her hand.


“You know, ‘move, I’m—”


She suddenly stopped and slowly looked up.


“Tara…”


She stared for a moment, her whole face gradually erupting in elation.


“…do you not know about gay twitter?”


“Um…” Tara stopped, swallowing uncomfortably, “No?”


Willow started laughing, throwing her hands up in the air.


“Hah!”


She reached her hand deep into her pocket to take out her phone, touching it for the first time since the alleyway but without thinking of that at all.


She turned it over, barely able to keep it in hand with all of the excitement.


“Now it’s my turn to teach you!”




Image


Image


Image


Image

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 Post subject: Re: New Fic: Inevitable [AU] (Jan 17th 2020)
PostPosted: Mon Jan 20, 2020 1:53 am 
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5. Willowhand

Joined: Sun Jan 19, 2014 6:01 am
Posts: 346
Dibs! :whip

The incident at the airport was scary. Thank god that Willow is able to secretly write text-messages while babbling.
I love the "we need to know more about your relationship"-canon-easteregg, especially the proud conclusion:
Quote:
“Girlfriends, actually.”


Tara couldn’t help the smallest of smiles despite the situation they were in; it was still a thrill to hear Willow call them that.


“Yes, we're girlfriends.”


Willow noticed the smile and it empowered her. Her chest puffed out a bit.


“We're in love. We're… lovers,” she reached out and put a hand on Tara’s knee, “We're lesbian, gay-type lovers.”


Yay for Ebba and Amir having a baby together!

Quote:
“I hate tarragon,” Willow replied, shaking her head.


“Oh, you do?” Tara asked with a frown.


Willow nodded solemnly and then bumped Tara’s shoulder with a grin.


“I like Tara right here beside me.”

:laugh

Quote:
Tara caught a picture of the awe on Willow’s face as she looked on, which happened to look like she was looking up at the statue of Jesus with the angle Tara got. Tara showed Willow, who laughed.


“How to kill my father with one picture.”

Poor Ira! :laugh

Our girls almost getting robbed and attacked with a knife was terrifying, yay for Gabriel and Lucas coming to the rescue!

Quote:
“Worried about you,” Tara admitted, her eyes wide with concern, “I would hate…I would hate to see you have a setback.”


Willow's eyes were tender in return.


“You mean like in Dubai?”


Tara nodded slowly and Willow looked ahead, thoughtful for a few moments.


“Y’know, I've been called dork in my life way more than I've been called… that other word and I haven't let it stop me geeking out. What just happened was terrifying but it just…it just makes me want to be louder about who I am. It makes me want to fight for the… people here and in Dubai and other places where it’s not as accepted. And those guys, how they fight for the people here. They speak in actions.”


She stopped to nod and Tara smiled, reaching behind Willow to squeeze her shoulders again, relieved with everything she was hearing coming from Willow’s mouth.


Willow turned to Tara and took Tara’s hand in her lap.


“I remember you joking that ‘we’re everywhere’ but yeah…we are. The gay guy scared off the gang guy. Maybe now he’ll think twice before hassling someone again,” she said, feeling a blooming feeling of peace mingled with the will to fight, “What he did back there, our attacker… it wasn't about me or you or us. It was about him. You don't stop that by hiding. You stop that by being seen.”

I'm glad about Willow's reaction, defying the hate and standing tall and proud of who she loves!

Quote:
“I wish I'd seen years ago that being yours was what I needed to finally feel whole,” she said, her voice starting to tremble, ”I thought I needed the world to see me but I just needed me to see me through your eyes.”


“If only you could see yourself in my eyes, you'd see you shine,” Tara replied emphatically, closing her eyes and opening them glassy, “You shine.”


“I do,” Willow said resolutely, swallowing a lump, “I hope you see that reflected back.”


“I do,” Tara repeated softly.

Aw! :flower :wtkiss

I loved Willow's elation in the end that for once she has more knowledge than Tara about "the gay scene". Their memes are cute. :kitty


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 Post subject: Re: New Fic: Inevitable [AU] (Jan 17th 2020)
PostPosted: Mon Jan 20, 2020 8:57 pm 
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4. Extra Flamey
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Joined: Sun Feb 28, 2016 9:37 am
Posts: 174
Topics: 7
Location: Pacific Northwest
This update reminded me a bit of my own travels in Central America- nothing quite as extreme but definitely some parallels. Thinking you are going to get in trouble with border police is terrifying. Poor girls, thank goodness for their hostel mates. Fighting is dangerous and necessary. Plus they are conveniently gone at night.

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 Post subject: Re: New Fic: Inevitable [AU] (Jan 17th 2020)
PostPosted: Tue Jan 21, 2020 7:00 am 
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Ms. Moderator Fantastico
Ms. Moderator Fantastico
User avatar

Joined: Sat Feb 21, 2009 1:22 pm
Posts: 4380
Topics: 38
Will's redemption

Quote:
Dibs! :whip


Woop!

Quote:
The incident at the airport was scary. Thank god that Willow is able to secretly write text-messages while babbling.
I love the "we need to know more about your relationship"-canon-easteregg, especially the proud conclusion:


Those speedy fingers come in handy...

Quote:
Yay for Ebba and Amir having a baby together!


I'm trying to figure out what half Nepali/half Swedish is...Swedali? Nepadish?

Quote:
:laugh


Willow always comes through with the jokes :laugh

Quote:
Poor Ira! :laugh


Yeah, I think they might keep that photo in the 'personal' pile!

Quote:
Our girls almost getting robbed and attacked with a knife was terrifying, yay for Gabriel and Lucas coming to the rescue!


It was a close call!

Quote:
I'm glad about Willow's reaction, defying the hate and standing tall and proud of who she loves!


It's been a journey!

Quote:
Aw! :flower :wtkiss


Those words will become pointed...

Quote:
I loved Willow's elation in the end that for once she has more knowledge than Tara about "the gay scene". Their memes are cute. :kitty


Oh she was so giddy about it. I think she rubbed it so much in Tara's face that Tara decided to get her back with the meme :laugh

Thanks so much for your feedback!

shirrey

Quote:
This update reminded me a bit of my own travels in Central America- nothing quite as extreme but definitely some parallels.


I think they're lucky in that they've done the continent hopping for a while now but it is particularly scary when you're trying to get through a country that 1/ doesn't speak the language and 2/maybe has a reputation for not being the best with human rights issues.

Quote:
Thinking you are going to get in trouble with border police is terrifying. Poor girls, thank goodness for their hostel mates. Fighting is dangerous and necessary.


And hard to accept but when you do you realize the importance.

Quote:
Plus they are conveniently gone at night.


That certainly didn't hurt! (and I like to think the girls stayed clear of the room during the day to give them the same courtesy.

Thanks for your feedback!



Update Directly Below

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 Post subject: Re: New Fic: Inevitable [AU] (Jan 17th 2020)
PostPosted: Tue Jan 21, 2020 7:00 am 
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Ms. Moderator Fantastico
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CHAPTER RATING: PG-13

Chapter 49



Peru



Oh, As Long As I Know How To Love, I Know I'll Stay Alive



“This plane is tiny.”


Willow shuffled along the narrow aisle and stuffed her bag into the even narrower overhead compartment.


“It’s a short internal flight,” Tara replied, sitting in beside Willow when Willow got herself into the window seat, “They don’t need one of the big birds.”


Willow pulled her seatbelt over her waist.


“When our ticket said row 9 I didn’t think we’d be at the back!”


“But we don’t have to share,” Tara smiled, since they had the two seats on their side of the aisle to themselves with no awkward middle.


“That is a bonus,” Willow agreed, pushing the armrest up to get closer, then smiled sheepishly, “I guess that needs to go down for take-off. But I am cuddling the heck into that shoulder mid-flight.”


“It’s only a 70-minute flight,” Tara replied wryly.


“Oh, that’s at least 40 minutes of solid head-to-shoulder canoodliation opportunity,” Willow replied seriously, though her tongue did start to stick out between her teeth indicating otherwise.


She lifted her hand to push the armrest back down but as soon as she took the pressure away it flopped back with an audible creak.


“Guess we’re driving in an Old Bessie,” Willow said, settling back in her seat, “Reminds me of the car Xander claims to be continuously fixing up. It goes for a week or two then…”


She mimicked exploding with her hands.


“It blew up?” Tara asked, concerned.


“Bits of it,” Willow clarified, “He got a crash course in what engine parts are essential though.”


Tara frowned.


“Yeah,” Willow made much the same face, “No wonder he only got to Oxnard last summer.”


The small plane took almost no time to fill and so it was only mere minutes until the captain was crackling through the intercom in Spanish and then accented English detailing their route.


It was an unusual feeling taking off in the light aircraft and both of them, along with most of the others on the plane, were lunged forward as the wheels went up and they leveled out.


“Bumpy ride,” Willow murmured as she tried to settle her shoulders back on the seat.


It was quite noisy with the engines so close and the single open cabin made the passenger conversations lump together. Even the single flight attendant was up chatting to the travelers; seemingly too bored to just sit and wait between duties.


They chatted about their impending trek to Machu Picchu and their excitement about catching first light over the ruins.


About 45 minutes into the flight, the plane rocked for a moment; nothing more than usual turbulence, until it hurtled again, this time aggressive enough for Tara’s small cup of water to spill right into her lap.


Tara threw her hands up at being soaked and Willow started to dab her with the little napkin.


“You okay?”


“Yeah,” Tara replied, her tone clipped and nostrils flaring in mild irritation at the liquid soaking through her thighs.


She shoved her tray up and took the napkin from Willow to continue drying herself.


There was another sudden jerk and Tara’s head, already forward, collided directly with the seatback in front of her.


“Oh my god,” Willow gasped, twisting herself in her seat to hold Tara’s head, “Baby!”


The next jolt was far more than just a jolt and this time it didn’t stop. The fasten seatbelt signed flashed several times and the flight attendant started hurriedly moving down the aisle to check on everyone.


Somewhere around aisle six, she was thrown to the floor.


And that was when people started to scream.


Every person was being flung about their seats; jostling around from side to side as the cabin shook violently. People scrambled to fasten their seatbelts with an ever-increasing urgency and were gripping the backs of the seats to stay in place.


The flight attendant had crawled back to the jump seat and strapped herself in and was trying to call for calmness but her voice was drowned out by the screaming and the praying.


Seconds ticked by into minutes with no reprieve and both Willow and Tara were sitting in the brace position; the one that had been drilled into them so many times on the dozens of flights they’d taken together the past year.


For Willow, everything became white noise to all but her own heartbeat steadily thumping between her ears.


Without moving her head, her eyes slowly glanced over to the seat beside her where Tara was entirely still.


They’d been in some precarious situations on their travels; some moments where she’d been frozen in fear or where she’d thought her heart would come right out of her chest.


But it didn’t feel like this.


Not when their mugger had whipped out his blade, not when they learned Warren had tried to buy a gun. Not even the earthquake had felt like this— Willow had been knocked out so quickly she hadn’t even felt it happen and Tara, though so determined to find Willow, had had her feet on the ground and felt lucky compared to others she had seen on the way.


But this, this was something new entirely.


The overwhelming certainty that they were throttling toward death.


Amidst all of the fraught and gut-churning terror, it was surprising to Willow how clear her mind was.


How just one thought seemed to matter at all.


And it wasn’t her parents or her friends or college or even god like so many others on the plane seemed to be trying to reach out to.


Her last thought was Tara.


If this was it, the last thing she wanted to do was give Tara her heart.


The half-heart charm on her bracelet caught her gaze with her arm bent in front of her and she suddenly sat back and tore it from her right wrist.


She put her hand on Tara’s shoulder, who looked up and Willow could see her eyes were a lot less still than her body. Silently, Willow took Tara’s bare left hand and slipped the bracelet over it.


“With this ring, I thee wed,” she said with a quiet tremble in her voice, yet it was all Tara heard over the deafening chaos.


With one pulsating beat of fear, Tara’s eyes filled with tears.


She understood.


Still trembling, she took her bracelet from her right hand and slipped it onto Willow’s left. A single tear ran down her cheek.


“With this ring, I thee wed.”


The armrest was flapping between them so Willow shoved it back as far as it would go and just flung herself around Tara.


They held onto each other with a force that could crush a car; too scared to cry or do anything but have the memory of their embrace burned into their minds.


After another minute of throttling terror, the plane suddenly started to even out again. With a few almost derisively gentle wave-like movements they were steady again with only the bedlam of the cabin giving any indication that anything had happened at all.


The intercom bell rang twice and the captain’s voice came on in babbling fast Spanish and then broken English, though most people’s ears were still ringing and only heard snippets.


“…unusual area of severe turbulence…begin descent shortly…keep seatbelts fastened…”


No one said a word.


Not one single word until that plane touched down and the doors opened to let people out.


Some people bolted while others stayed rooted to the spot until they had to leave, holding their belongings close to their chest as they stepped over puddles of vomit to leave the aircraft.


When the first hit of cool air hit them outside, Willow started gasping repeatedly like it was burning her lungs and Tara just about managed to keep pushing herself forward with silent tears streaming down her face.


They didn’t speak about their exchange of rings.


They didn’t give them back either.



“How are you doing up there?”


Willow rooted her walking stick in the dry earth and looked back over her shoulder at Tara following her up at the rear.


“Easy like Sunday morning,” she called back cockily.


“Isn’t the river incredible?” Tara shouted, loud enough to be heard over the rushing water running just inches away from them.


“We get to cross it up here!” Willow said, stopping quickly when the person in front of her paused to take a photo.


Tara stopped behind Willow and thankfully there was no one else behind them to cause a traffic jam.


“It really feels like being in the undergrowth, doesn’t it?”


Willow pointed to an area of greenery near them.


“These are all air plants. They don’t need soil to grow! Isn’t that cool?”


They started moving again along the dirt path, protected from the galloping river only by a man-made wood carved railing. The trail was so narrow they could only go one-by-one and so there was a lot of stopping and starting, but no one was complaining. It was nice to stop and really take in the wonders nature had to offer in this region.


After a bit more of a hike, their group of ten or so gathered on a short cliff’s edge with the river beneath. A cable ran from it to the other side of the river and a metal cable car sat on the line with a rope and pulley system to move it along.


There was a young Peruvian man on the other side with huge arms that could be seen even across the water. The reason why was obvious pretty quickly when the first brave person of their group sat into the cable car and he tugged her over seamlessly on that rope all on his own.


With one person safely over, everyone else was eager to try. The car moved faster and faster as more people landed the other side to help pull.


Tara went first of the two of them, gripping the handles tight as her pants slid against the metal seat. The water really felt like the deadly rapid it was when your feet were dangling precipitously above it.


She jumped off onto the side of the rock at the other side with a rush from the few seconds of danger. Willow was last to get into the car and Tara could see she was hesitant.


“Maybe get her over quick,” Tara advised to the group in a soft tone so she didn’t seem like she was ordering them.


Tara watched as Willow tried not to look down, right until the very last moment when her eyes fell to the galloping water and they turned as wide as chasm itself. She jumped off just a split second too soon when the cable car had reached the rock but her body hadn’t quite gotten there yet.


Tara literally had to jump and grab her to stop Willow’s foot from slipping off.


Willow gasped and looked behind her in horror, then up to Tara.


“I got you,” Tara soothed gently, “It’s okay.”


They stood up and Willow gave an embarrassed wave to the group but they were all kind and just patted her back, congratulating her for getting over. Their guide didn’t dawdle and continued to bring them along the trail. After rounding the next corner they found themselves smack bang in the middle of a basin surrounded by mountains from every angle; disappearing up into the clouds.


It really rammed home that they were lost in this ancient sunken valley with no modern civilization for miles.


Willow slipped her hand into Tara’s and despite it being quite sweaty from the continuous hiking, Tara didn’t think of letting go for a second.


They journeyed for several more hours over all kinds of terrain; flat land, hills, little wooden boards stuck together to get over downstream rivulets and even a suspension bridge that was missing a plank or two and faced them with another precarious jump.


By the time they got to their campsite for the night, they were well and truly ready to rest but they still had the task of setting up their tent.


Their campsite was beautiful, nestled in the V between two overarching mountains, perched high enough to see the cloud cover on the mountain directly opposite.


Willow hammered the stakes of the tent into the ground while Tara set about assembling the poles.


“It’s so nuts that this is the trail that humans have been using for hundreds and hundreds of years,” Willow said, standing up and wiping her hands together to free them of dirt, “They could have even set up camp right here like we are.”


“It’s bewildering,” Tara replied, laying her connected poles down carefully on the ground, “And astonishing. And even after all of this time I still sometimes think I’m dreaming or living on a postcard.”


“It doesn’t even look real,” Willow agreed as she looked out onto their breathtaking view, “We’re hiking to Machu Picchu right now. Who are we?!”


Tara just smiled and they continued to set up the tent together. They had a few missteps with bonding the poles through and by the time it was finally erect, they were both dead on their feet. They were also the last people still working; everyone else was sitting around the campfire helping prep dinner.


Tara started to gather the tent bag up and noticed the tarp still sitting on the bottom of it.


“Oh Willow, you didn’t lay down the tarp?” she asked with a sad sigh as she bent down to pluck it up to confirm it was what she thought it was.


Willow immediately felt stricken.


She didn’t like to make a mistake and she really didn’t like that brokenhearted tone of voice of Tara’s.


“I didn’t know I was supposed to!” she said defensively.


Tara sighed again and looked over her shoulder.


“You were nailing it down—”


“Okay, I missed it!” Willow cut her off, the tension in her body shooting from 0 to 100 in a second, “I’m sorry!”


Tara started to frown at the reaction but before she could reply, the rainfly which Tara had attached went flying when there was a gust of wind.


“Guess you’re not Little Miss Perfect yourself, huh?” Willow said callously.


Tara looked stung and dropped the tarp, then just walked off over to the rest of the group to help with dinner.


Willow knew she was wrong to talk to Tara like that. She had a flash to that night in her room when Tara told her she liked her. She’d lashed out then too. Taken the fear and released it as anger. She knew it was wrong and yet it was all she could feel soaring through her bones.


She snatched up both the tarp and rainfly and started to assemble them correctly to the tent; smacking the poles down bitterly.


Her hands were almost bloodied by the time she’d finished and she slunk over sheepishly to the campfire. The guide gave her the little metal container with her meal and told her it was steamed trout and a Peruvian version of refried beans and rice called Tacu Tacu.


It was cold by now but she was hungry and there was no delivery at 5,000 feet so she ate it glumly without interacting with anyone else and avoiding Tara’s gaze at all costs.


After dinner, the sun was setting and it was getting cold. Everyone was exhausted and anticipating an early start so there was a collective movement toward bed.


Tara changed in the tent and waited a good ten minutes but there was so sign of Willow, so she popped back out.


“Are you coming to bed?” she called softly, hoping they could just drop whatever the petty squabble even had been.


Willow was still for a moment, then stood up from the stone she was sitting on, warmed her hands on the fire and came over to the tent.


Tara again waited for any recognition at all, but Willow just changed into her sleepwear and turned her back in her sleeping bag.


So Tara threw up her hands and did the exact same thing.



“Aaaah! Aaaah! Aaaah!”


Tara was startled awake by the loud screaming coming from inches away. She sat up sharply in alarm and found Willow was in much the same position, holding her head in her hands and panting.


Tara reached out, stopped to steady her hand, then let it fall gently on Willow’s shoulder.


“Willow, what’s wrong?” she asked softly.


Willow started to cry and let out a quiet, vulnerable wail that broke Tara’s heart in two.


“I-I had a nightmare, I had a nightmare. We were on the plane but it wasn’t just turbulence, we were going down, we were going down!” she sobbed, the heels of her hands rubbing into her eyes, before she turned and threw herself into Tara’s arms, “I thought we were going down!”


Tara gathered Willow in gently.


It had only been a couple of days, and though they hadn’t really talked about it, it was obvious Willow had been on edge since their flight.


“I know,” she comforted softly. It had been a shock for her too but she’d been reassured by the fact that they’d never actually been in any danger and had processed it all differently, “I know.”


She felt Willow’s back start to heave harder and faster and pulled Willow back, holding her upper arms on either side.


“Sweetie, you’re having a panic attack. Everything will be okay. I want you to breathe with me.”


She sought Willow’s frenzied gaze and eventually locked her down, seeing Willow’s eyes calm just to have something to focus on.


“Breathe, honey,” she said on an exhale and tried to guide Willow through the next one, “Sssh. Ssssssh.”


Willow’s lower lip started to tremble.


“Tara…”


“Darling,” Tara replied, lifting her hand into Willow’s neck to rub it gently.


Willow felt everything getting tight, tight, tight in her stomach and her face grew pained.


“I can’t do this.”


Tara saw Willow struggling to take in a breath. She kissed Willow’s forehead and then gently lifted Willow’s head to kiss her on the lips, making Willow take a breath through Tara's mouth.


She pulled away and felt Willow take another breath on the last one’s heels. She rested her forehead on Willow’s forehead and let her hands fall gently around Willow’s neck.


“We can do this,” she assured clearly.


“Okay,” Willow nodded through a sniffle, feeling a little calmed from Tara’s efforts.


Tara pulled back to look her in the eye.


“We can be strong.”


Willow gulped a couple of times, a look of comfort and familiarity spreading across her face.


“Strong like an Amazon?”


Tara smiled tenderly and nodded quickly.


“Strong like an Amazon, right.”


Willow nodded once.


“Okay.”


They took a few breaths together and when Willow was breathing at a more normal pace, Tara brought Willow’s head down to tuck under her chin.


“Hear that?” she said softly as her heart thumped beneath Willow’s ear, “It beats for you.”


Willow calmed completely after just a few seconds. Tara continued to tenderly stroke hair.


“That’s my girl.”


After a few minutes, Willow lifted her head, eyes fraught with something else.


“I’m so sorry, Tara,” she said, looking down shamefully, “You sounded so hurt when I forgot the tarp and I imagined you being hurt and it all came back and I took it out on you and I’m sorry.”


“Ssssh,” Tara soothed again, “I understand. It’s okay. We got a really bad scare. But everything is okay. We don’t need to fight.”


Willow swallowed a deep lump.


“No, it’s not okay. I-I can’t lash out when I’m afraid. I’m sorry Tara. I’m so sorry.”


Tara cupped Willow’s cheek and rested their foreheads together.


“I forgive you.”


Willow sniffled again.


“Can we get the train back to Lima?” she asked tearfully, “The plane is just so tiny and old and…”


“Of course we can,” Tara replied easily.


Willow bit on her lip.


“It’ll be long. Overnight.”


“Who cares?” Tara replied, holding her hands up, “It’s never been about the destination.”


She reached out and massaged Willow’s shoulders.


“It’ll probably be more comfortable than the bus to Bogotá anyway. And it’s not the first days-long train or bus ride we’ve done.”


Willow smiled a watery smile.


“You mean like the one with the ‘shower bucket’ that lived under the toilet?” she asked, laughing through the remaining tears, “And the ‘provided dinner’ that was like one of those baby rusk things?”


Tara’s eyes creased affectionately.


“We’ll survive. We have so far.”


She pulled Willow back into a hug and when everything had been still for a minute or two, she guided them back lying down and spooned Willow through their sleeping bags.


She breathed into Willow’s ear for a second, then started to sing; so low only Willow and the earth could hear.


“I found a love… for me,” she sang in a quiet, melodious voice, “Oh darling, just dive right in and follow my lead. Well, I found a girl, beautiful and sweet. Oh, I never knew you were the someone waiting for me…”


She closed her eyes and inhaled from Willow’s neck.


“'Cause we were just kids when we fell in love, not knowing what it was. I will not give you up this time. But darling, just kiss me slow, your heart is all I own and in your eyes, you're holding mine…”


She trailed off into silence and thought Willow might have fallen asleep but a moment later, a teasing if not still a little sniffly voice whispered back to her.


“Cheat. You didn't even write those words.”


Tara smiled against Willow’s neck and held her tighter at the middle.


“I meant them though.”


“I love you,” Willow whispered.


“I love you too,” Tara whispered right back.


Willow’s hand found Tara’s over the sleeping bag, pressed against her stomach, and she held it there.


“Will you be here when I wake up?”


Tara was almost asleep again too.


“I'll be here forever.”



“Much easier going down.”


Tara looked over to Willow with an arched eyebrow. Willow blushed profusely and gestured ahead of her.


“T-the tent.”


“Right,” Tara smirked.


They finished packing the tent bag into the bag with only the waning moonlight to guide them. They brought it back to the guide who was packing them away for the next tour and where the rest of their group were gathering before their sunrise trek for their first glimpse of Machu Picchu.


One of the men, a tall guy in his fifties who seemed permanently attached to his cowboy hat and spoke with an exaggerated Texan drawl, bent his knee on a stone used for seating.


“Y'all hear that alpaca screeching last night?”


There was a murmur of agreement and Willow’s eyes bugged.


“Do I sound like an alpaca?” she hissed to Tara.


“No sweetie,” Tara soothed softly, “A baby alpaca at most.”


Willow pouted and cast a derisive look at the Texan.


“He probably sleeps in that stupid hat.”


Tara placed a hand on the back of Willow’s shoulder blade and rubbed it in circles to comfort her silently.


They set off on their trek under the indigo sky and it was eerily quiet without the guide having much to point out while still under the cover of darkness.


Willow caught Tara’s eyes shining in the gradually brightening sky and just heaved a long, grateful sigh.


“Tara?” she called out softly and when Tara looked back Willow was floored by how much love she continued to feel for this woman.


She caught up so they could speak quietly.


“They speak an Amerindian language here called Quechua,” she said with a quick nod of her head, “It’s the most widely known language of the Inca Empire.”


“I know honey,” Tara replied with a soft smile, “I listened to the guide too.”


Willow blushed.


“Right,” she nodded, “But did you ask the guide how to tell the love of your life that you’re utterly besotted with her in said language?”


Tara looked at Willow softly, who returned the exact same look back.


“Kuyayki,” Willow whispered.


“Kuyayki,” Tara returned, considering where they were standing right at that very moment.


They joined hands and continued just a little bit behind behind the rest of the group.


The sky turned to a lighter shade of purple and slowly to orange as they ascended the hill with nothing but the sound of walking sticks penetrating the earth and the occasional soft groan.


That was until everyone started to hear a quiet humming sound in the distance.


When they got a little further ahead, the noise became obvious when they saw a fluffy animal roaming around a clifftop.


“Hey, maybe it’s our whining alpaca!” the Texan called out, to an eruption of laughter from the others.


Most of the others.


“That’s a llama!” Willow yelled, indignant, as the top of her ears turned red, “And maybe it was having a bad night, okay?!”


Everyone looked at her like she was, justifiably, crazy and Willow looked down, embarrassed. The Texan approached the llama and put his cowboy hat on its head, resulting in more laughter and lots of photographs.


As everyone finished taking pictures, Willow turned to Tara.


“Will you take a picture of me with my voice twin?”


“Of course,” Tara replied with a soft smile.


Willow stepped up to about a foot away from the llama to be in the shot with it and it came closer to approach her.


“Hey, it likes me,” Willow smiled and began to raise her hand cautiously, only for the llama to butt it aggressively and begin to make chase, “Aaaah!”


Tara watched as Willow started to run and the llama followed belligerently.


“Oh, shit!”


She ran over and caught Willow, pulling her up a dirt path to a higher ledge which the llama couldn’t get to easily.


Willow lay on the ground, panting and wiping the dirt from her shirt.


“Stay away from the llama honey,” Tara advised, bent over with her hands on her knees.


Willow stood in a huff.


“You don’t have to tell me twice. Stupid llama. Stupid hat.”


Tara put her palm on the top of Willow’s back and pushed her in a forward direction.


“C’mon, let’s catch up. We don’t want to miss first light. Or get lost.”


They hurried to meet with the group who had marched ahead quickly in search of sunrise.


Finally, they summited at a plateau and after going over a short hill were suddenly met with an area of grassy ruins; stone walls and steps that led to a perfect overlook of the even more famous ruins.


They climbed to the very top where a stone gate offered a direct view down to the ancient city — well, all that was left of it — and its many mountainous peaks behind it.


“Wow,” Tara said softly as they all stood and watched the first rays from the sun bathe the area in light.


Everyone — their group and the small number of other groups who had converged together for this moment — grew silent again and just watched as mother nature painted them a memory.


“Do you believe in reincarnation?” Willow asked quietly after a few minutes.


Tara considered her answer for a few moments.


“Wiccans do,” she answered eventually, “Why?”


Willow inhaled and exhaled softly.


“Just sometimes it feels like I’ve been here before,” she said, slowly pulling her gaze over to Tara, “With you. It feels like I’ve lived a million lives…with you.”


Tara’s hand swung and brushed Willow’s hand.


“And you’re not sick of me yet?”


Willow’s pinky found Tara’s pinky and curled around it. She smiled a smile that had graced her face a thousand times before but which Tara still hadn’t figured out was just for her.


“Never have, never will.”



“This one?”


Willow double-checked their carriage number as they held up a line of people behind them in the train aisle.


“This one!” she confirmed, sliding the door open so they could squeeze in.


There were four small beds attached to the wall; two either side, high and low with a small plastic bag that contained a sheet and pillow for each bed hanging off each of them.


“More comfortable than that night on the train in India, that’s for sure,” Willow said as she opened the closet to throw their bags in, “Then again, a newspaper on the floor isn’t hard to beat. Little cold though.”


Tara sat on the lower bunk on the left side. It was about as comfortable as any other train seat with padding an inch or so thick. She glanced up at the bed jutting out overhead and wasn’t looking forward to having to inevitably climb up there.


Willow did a quick tour that involved standing in place and doing a 360 degree turn.


“No electricals but a nifty little trash compartment,” she said, taking an old piece of paper from her pocket to attempt a basketball throw into the metal container attached to the wall that led down to a chute.


She missed.


“Oh honey, you tried,” Tara comforted as Willow picked it up with a grumble and threw it in properly.


As Willow sat down by Tara, a guy walked by the door, paused and then walked in. He sat down on the bed opposite without a word and just looked at them.


He was young and handsome and had a smile that tried to be charming but came across unnerving when his gaze didn’t let up after seconds or minutes, or even as he opened a bag of pistachios to snack on.


“Hi,” Willow greeted eventually, unsurely, “Um, hola.”


“Hola,” Tara added and placed her hand protectively over Willow’s hand.


The man just smiled wider and Willow instinctively scooted closer to Tara.


“Guess we won’t be changing for bed,” Tara murmured close to Willow’s ear.


“Pajamas are a western indulgence, anyway,” Willow whispered back but her eyes were also fixed on their carriage mate in horror as he just tossed the pistachio shells on the floor despite the trash chute being right there beside him.


It was even open already from Willow’s failed three-point shot.


She looked at Tara, pained.


She knew what it was like to feel like a weirdo and she really didn’t want to impart it onto others but this guy really was super weird.


“…you wanna listen to some music?” she asked Tara to give them a reason to break the awkwardness settling in the cabin.


“Yes,” Tara answered quickly and ripped her earbuds from her purse which she promptly placed behind her back for safety.


They took one earbud each, as was their custom, but also to keep an ear out for anything, just in case.


The train started to move and all three of them remained in that exact position for an extremely uncomfortable hour until they arrived at their next stop.


The only thing that changed was the sheer number of shells littering the floor. At this point it wasn’t even a floor, it was just a sea of shells that could be used a torture technique if you forced someone to walk around in bare feet.


There wasn’t an inch of space between Willow and Tara anymore as they bundled impossibly closer together every time one of them caught sight of that disturbing, unrelenting stare. Willow was deciding whether to try and say something or at least start to clean up those damn shells when suddenly their cabin door was aggressively slid open and a bunch of men in police uniforms charged in and grabbed the man. He just laughed and spilled the rest of his nuts as he was carted off.


“What the frilly heck?!” Willow screamed, jumping back against the window of the train.


An ashen-faced porter stood outside the cabin and shakily handed in a piece of paper. Tara frowned and took it and Willow hurried back over to her side. It was all in Spanish but completely recognizable.


“This is a wanted poster,” Willow said, her breath starting to labor as she pointed to a particularly large word, “Doesn’t this mean dead? As in dead person? As in MURDER!?”


They looked to the porter, who did his best to seem like he wasn't also crapping himself. He pointed to the words.


“This mean…seek, want… dead or alive, no matter.”


Willow heaved a sigh of relief.


“So he's not a murderer?”


“Oh yes, he is a murder man,” the porter confirmed, seemingly cheery at his own English ability, but then remembered the situation and looked uneasy, “You are… safe? He no hurt?”


“We’re okay,” Tara reassured him and he nodded once and rushed away, “Oh my god.”


“He was a MURDERER?!” Willow said loudly, pistachio shells crunching underfoot, leading her to shriek in frustration and bend her knees to gather them all, “I should have known. Only a frickin’ psychopath throws the shells on the floor like that when there’s a trash can right exactly there.”


Tara covered her face with both her hands and huffed out a long breath.


“At least we have the place to ourselves?” she said a bit dumbly, her face still stretched in shock.


“Who needs sleep anyway?” Willow tossed a handful of shells into the trash.


Someone opened the door again and they both jumped.


“Aaaah!”


It was a new guard this time, in a different uniform.


“Control de pasaporte.”


“Passports,” Tara said, again a bit unnecessarily but her brain was still clearing the fog.


“I should hope they’re checking passports for any more stray murderers!” Willow said as she snatched her passport from her bag.


They showed their passports and were left alone again. The guard closed the door and Tara reached up to the bolt.


“I’m gonna lock the door.”


“Lock! Great! Lock,” Willow replied, relieved as she leaned back against the wall. There was a beat and then she looked up, grimacing, “Do you think he had a gun? Do you think he killed someone with his bare hands? Do you think that’s why he was so good at shelling pistachios?? Do you think he pistachio shelled someone’s neck?!”


Tara curled her hands under the seat.


“I think we shouldn’t think about it.”


Willow glanced over at the space the murderer had vacated.


“I can’t sit there.”


“You don’t have to,” Tara replied, holding a hand out, “Sit with me again.”


Willow sat and they both lapsed into silence again.


“I could murder an Inca Kola,” Willow sighed, then sat up with a gasp, “I didn’t mean it like that!”


Tara rubbed Willow’s thigh gently.


“I can go to the dining car for you.”


“I-I’ll come with you,” Willow replied nervously.


Tara frowned.


“Someone needs to stay with our stuff.”


Willow gulped.


“You stay,” she said after a moment, “I can be brave.”


“You sure?” Tara asked and Willow nodded quickly.


“Yeah, yeah. I can do it.”


Willow unlocked the door and stuck her head out to look up and down. The train was moving again so it was reasonable to assume the checks had yielded nothing, she told herself.


Tara was about to suggest she go again but then Willow slipped out the door and left of her own accord.


Ten or so minutes later, Tara heard skidding before she saw Willow slide in front of the door with her arms full of drinks and snacks, desperately kicking the base of it.


“Let me in, let me in, let me in!”


Tara threw the door open in alarm.


“What happened?!”


Willow dropped her haul on the bed.


“Nothing,” she said with a relieved sigh, placing her hands on both of her hips, “I just wanted it to stay that way.”


Tara placed a hand over her hammering heart and closed her eyes to stop them from rolling.


“You scared me.”


Willow scowled.


“Whose stupid idea was it to get a sleeper train?”


“Yours,” Tara replied pointedly.


Willow spun around, her hands thrown up.


“I didn’t know my options were die in a fiery plane crash or at the hands of a South American pistachio assassin! Is there no safe way to travel around here?!”


Tara breathed a soft breath and took Willow’s hands.


“We’re safe,” she said, reaching back to reinforce the bolt, “All locked in. Okay?”


Willow closed her eyes and did a long breath too.


“Okay,” she agreed finally, her face a bit calmer, “I’m keeping that poster. No one will believe this when we tell them.”


Tara shook her head and looked down at the snacks.


“What’d you get?”


Willow smiled sheepishly.


“Everything they had. Avoiding a second trip.”


Tara sat on the side of the bed and picked out a package.


“Churros. Yum.”


“I know you like the chocolate dipped ones,” Willow replied, sinking down on the other side with the snacks between them.


Tara held the churros to her chest.


“You remembered that even though you were running for your life?”


Willow giggled at Tara’s teasing and dramatization.


“Meanie.”


Willow picked out a bag of chips and the drink she’d wanted and they both ate silently for a little while, processing everything.


When they finished they came together in a hug and released enough tension to feel somewhat normal again.


“Why don’t we try to get some sleep?” Tara suggested, suddenly very exhausted after their hectic days of hiking and all of the drama.


Willow looked down at the tiny bed they were sitting on.


“Think we’d both fit in one of these?”


Tara placed her palm down on the bed and looked up to Willow.


“We have four beds and you want to cram into one?”


Willow’s nose scrunched awkwardly.


“Yeah?”


Tara could only smile.


“Okay.”


They got the pillows and sheets from all four beds and did their best to make their one as comfortable as possible. They both had to lie on their sides to even have a hope of fitting but they did, just about.


They faced each other with Willow’s back to the wall and Tara’s back to the cabin.


“Are you comfortable?” Tara asked as she brushed some hair from Willow’s eyes, her arm over Willow because it had nowhere else to go (and she liked it there.)


Willow closed her eyes and enjoyed Tara’s touch.


“Emotionally or physically?”


“Both,” Tara answered softly.


Willow opened her eyes again with a sigh.


“Mostly and barely.”


“I think that’s as good as we’ll get on this thing,” Tara replied, kissing Willow’s forehead, “You’re sweet to take the inside. It must not be too comfortable pressed up against the wall.”


Willow looked at Tara with frozen, guilty eyes.


“Yeah, but if another murderer gets on board at least he’ll get you first!”




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 Post subject: Re: New Fic: Inevitable [AU] (Jan 21st 2020)
PostPosted: Wed Jan 22, 2020 12:23 am 
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5. Willowhand

Joined: Sun Jan 19, 2014 6:01 am
Posts: 346
Dibs! :whip
Wow, this chapter really was a turbulent ride for our girls (pardon the bad pun).
Quote:
Her last thought was Tara.


If this was it, the last thing she wanted to do was give Tara her heart.


The half-heart charm on her bracelet caught her gaze with her arm bent in front of her and she suddenly sat back and tore it from her right wrist.


She put her hand on Tara’s shoulder, who looked up and Willow could see her eyes were a lot less still than her body. Silently, Willow took Tara’s bare left hand and slipped the bracelet over it.


“With this ring, I thee wed,” she said with a quiet tremble in her voice, yet it was all Tara heard over the deafening chaos.


With one pulsating beat of fear, Tara’s eyes filled with tears.


She understood.


Still trembling, she took her bracelet from her right hand and slipped it onto Willow’s left. A single tear ran down her cheek.


“With this ring, I thee wed.”


The armrest was flapping between them so Willow shoved it back as far as it would go and just flung herself around Tara.


They held onto each other with a force that could crush a car; too scared to cry or do anything but have the memory of their embrace burned into their minds.

This part had me teary-eyed. I loved that being certain she had to die all Willow wanted was to feel as close as she could to Tara, leading to their impromptu "wedding" and rather embracing her than keeping in brace position.

I was sad that Wilow lashed out to Tara when the trauma of the near plane crash was awakened in her and that she didn't reach out and open up to Tara before they went to sleep. I'm glad she was able to do so after Tara had helped her through her panic attack - great use of the "strong like amazons"-conversation (and kiss).

I love the song "Perfect" from Ed Sheeran that Tara sings for Willow here. Actually since I started reading this story I always think of your Willow and Tara when I hear that song because of the line
Quote:
'Cause we were just kids when we fell in love, not knowing what it was.


Quote:
Willow’s hand found Tara’s over the sleeping bag, pressed against her stomach, and she held it there.


“Will you be here when I wake up?”


Tara was almost asleep again too.


“I'll be here forever.”

Aww! :flower

Quote:
“Y'all hear that alpaca screeching last night?”

:laugh I had been wondering why on earth neither their guide nor one of the other hikers woke up from Willow's screams and asked our girls if they were ok...

Poor Willow, first being mistaken with an Alpaka and then chased by a Ilama… :laugh

Their encounter with the pistachio-munching psychopath surely was very scary for our girls but hilarious for us readers. I was wondering why they didn't try to leave the cabin under the pretense of having to go to the bathroom together or something, but obviously they were kind of hypnotized…

Quote:
“I should have known. Only a frickin’ psychopath throws the shells on the floor like that when there’s a trash can right exactly there.”

:rofl Brilliantly combined! Maybe Willow should become a profiler! :wink
Quote:
Do you think he pistachio shelled someone’s neck?!”

So cute! :laugh
Quote:
“I know you like the chocolate dipped ones,” Willow replied, sinking down on the other side with the snacks between them.


Tara held the churros to her chest.


“You remembered that even though you were running for your life?”

Even cuter! :kitty

Quote:
“You’re sweet to take the inside. It must not be too comfortable pressed up against the wall.”


Willow looked at Tara with frozen, guilty eyes.


“Yeah, but if another murderer gets on board at least he’ll get you first!”

:laugh Aww, I don't think Willow really means that, I'm sure she would rather die protecting Tara than hiding behind her!


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 Post subject: Re: New Fic: Inevitable [AU] (Jan 21st 2020)
PostPosted: Thu Jan 23, 2020 1:35 pm 
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20. Not one Much for the Timber
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Joined: Tue Sep 21, 2010 6:32 pm
Posts: 3186
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Hi Laragh!

Some very sweet, very funny and very scary moments in the last few chapters.

South Africa: Bobby and Carla were so incredibly extra and I think I may have seen them at the grocery store taking selfies with celery last week. Not kidding. Doppelgangers? The safari was wonderful and I loved every minute. Especially Tara and the passive-aggressive Beyonce jab. I love her for that. Their experience with Walter and the elephant, who I'm naming Phil, were equal doses sweet and funny. :love

Brazil: That confusion at immigration was definitely scary, just the thought of going to jail there...yikes!
Quote:
I’ve been arrested or nearly-arrested enough times for my entire life!”
I know Tara was being serious, but this made me lol. Thankfully everything worked out, I really didn't want to be reading: Inevitable, The South American Prison Years. After that, things seemed to improve, but I couldn't help thinking the entire time...GET OFF THE DAMN STREET AND TAKE A CAB OR SOMETHING!! They are entirely too trusting and naive sometimes. I'm gonna go off-topic for a sec: Some years ago, A friend of mine took a job in Mexico City. During the year he was there he was mugged twice, kidnapped once and nearly kidnapped a second time by a machine gun armed gang. He had to move to a secure building and hire personal bodyguards. So I can see where those guys on the motorcycles really make a difference.

Peru: As soon as Willow said, “This plane is tiny.” I knew we were in for a rocky ride, literally. I’ve never been in a small place like that, but have been on flights like theirs and it’s terrifying. I was kinda surprised the residual feelings took so long to catch up with them. They thought they could just keep it all bottled up and let it go, not so much. There’s always something more behind those stupid petty little squabbles. Tara was so incredibly sweet comforting Willow after the nightmare. :love Unfortunately, the train compromise wasn’t the greatest plan either...gotta say, I'm with Willow on this.

Quote:
“I didn’t know my options were die in a fiery plane crash or at the hands of a South American pistachio assassin! Is there no safe way to travel around here?!”


Quote:
Someone opened the door again and they both jumped. “Aaaah!”
:lol :lol :lol

Quote:
“Lock! Great! Lock,” Willow replied, relieved as she leaned back against the wall. There was a beat and then she looked up, grimacing, “Do you think he had a gun? Do you think he killed someone with his bare hands? Do you think that’s why he was so good at shelling pistachios?? Do you think he pistachio shelled someone’s neck?!”
:rofl

So, getting ever closer to home and the end of this amazing journey. :cry I'm hoping the rest is smooth sailing, but with these two... :?:

-JMT

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 Post subject: Re: New Fic: Inevitable [AU] (Jan 21st 2020)
PostPosted: Fri Jan 24, 2020 5:00 am 
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Ms. Moderator Fantastico
Ms. Moderator Fantastico
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Will’s redemption

Quote:
Dibs! :whip


Yay! :D

Quote:
Wow, this chapter really was a turbulent ride for our girls (pardon the bad pun).


Never apologize for a pun :)

Quote:
This part had me teary-eyed. I loved that being certain she had to die all Willow wanted was to feel as close as she could to Tara, leading to their impromptu "wedding" and rather embracing her than keeping in brace position.


It's those moments that really show us who we are!

Quote:
I was sad that Wilow lashed out to Tara when the trauma of the near plane crash was awakened in her and that she didn't reach out and open up to Tara before they went to sleep. I'm glad she was able to do so after Tara had helped her through her panic attack - great use of the "strong like amazons"-conversation (and kiss).


Willow was sad too, and Tara. But I think Willow really recognized something in herself she could work on and that's always a good thing!

Quote:
I love the song "Perfect" from Ed Sheeran that Tara sings for Willow here. Actually since I started reading this story I always think of your Willow and Tara when I hear that song because of the line


That song was a huge inspiration for this fic.

Quote:
:laugh I had been wondering why on earth neither their guide nor one of the other hikers woke up from Willow's screams and asked our girls if they were ok...


She's just too alpaca-like :laugh

Quote:
Poor Willow, first being mistaken with an Alpaka and then chased by a Ilama… :laugh


On a clifftop, too! The single worst place to be chased by anything!

Quote:
Their encounter with the pistachio-munching psychopath surely was very scary for our girls but hilarious for us readers. I was wondering why they didn't try to leave the cabin under the pretense of having to go to the bathroom together or something, but obviously they were kind of hypnotized…


Because they didn't want to leave all of their stuff!

Quote:
:rofl Brilliantly combined! Maybe Willow should become a profiler! :wink


:rofl :rofl in another world...

Quote:
:laugh Aww, I don't think Willow really means that, I'm sure she would rather die protecting Tara than hiding behind her!


If it came down to it I have zero doubt Willow would lay down her life for Tara.

Thanks so much for your feedback!

Finey_McFine

Quote:
Hi Laragh!


Hi! :bigwave

Quote:
Some very sweet, very funny and very scary moments in the last few chapters.


Gotta pack it into these last few weeks :lol

Quote:
South Africa: Bobby and Carla were so incredibly extra and I think I may have seen them at the grocery store taking selfies with celery last week. Not kidding. Doppelgangers? The safari was wonderful and I loved every minute. Especially Tara and the passive-aggressive Beyonce jab. I love her for that.


I love a little passive-aggressive Tara. Not mean-spirited, because she's not like that, but subtle teasing. Also I think every town, city and nation has a Carla and Bobby unfortunately.

Quote:
Their experience with Walter and the elephant, who I'm naming Phil, were equal doses sweet and funny. :love


:rofl :rofl I had named the elephant already but I love the randomness of Phil!

Quote:
Brazil: That confusion at immigration was definitely scary, just the thought of going to jail there...yikes! I know Tara was being serious, but this made me lol. Thankfully everything worked out, I really didn't want to be reading: Inevitable, The South American Prison Years.


Oof, no way! I watch a show called Banged Up Abroad sometimes and...yikes...yeah, no, even I couldn't put them through that!

Quote:
After that, things seemed to improve, but I couldn't help thinking the entire time...GET OFF THE DAMN STREET AND TAKE A CAB OR SOMETHING!! They are entirely too trusting and naive sometimes.


Tara was a bit more conscious of it and did want them to find their way out quickly but I think Willow forgot that not everywhere is safe to wander around!

Quote:
I'm gonna go off-topic for a sec: Some years ago, A friend of mine took a job in Mexico City. During the year he was there he was mugged twice, kidnapped once and nearly kidnapped a second time by a machine gun armed gang. He had to move to a secure building and hire personal bodyguards. So I can see where those guys on the motorcycles really make a difference.


Jesus f'ing christ. Any one of those experiences would end me.

Quote:
Peru: As soon as Willow said, “This plane is tiny.” I knew we were in for a rocky ride, literally. I’ve never been in a small place like that, but have been on flights like theirs and it’s terrifying.


I've been in some bad turbulence but their experience comes from tales from a cousin of mind who were in really bad turbulence and even the stories are terrifying to hear!

Quote:
I was kinda surprised the residual feelings took so long to catch up with them.


I think it was more of a being too busy to think about it situation.

Quote:
They thought they could just keep it all bottled up and let it go, not so much. There’s always something more behind those stupid petty little squabbles. Tara was so incredibly sweet comforting Willow after the nightmare. :love


Everything comes out, eventually. And of course, sweetness runs through Tara's blood.

Quote:
Unfortunately, the train compromise wasn’t the greatest plan either...gotta say, I'm with Willow on this.


Hopefully their bus doesn't break down :laugh

Quote:
So, getting ever closer to home and the end of this amazing journey. :cry I'm hoping the rest is smooth sailing, but with these two... :?:


They deserve an easy ride the rest of the way out :wink

Thanks so much for your feedback!



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 Post subject: Re: New Fic: Inevitable [AU] (Jan 21st 2020)
PostPosted: Fri Jan 24, 2020 5:00 am 
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CHAPTER RATING: NC-17

NOTE: Spot that last little rating change ^ of the fic!

Chapter 50



Colombia



Quiero Respirar Tu Cuello Despacito
Deja Que Te Diga Cosas Al Oído
Para Que Te Acuerdes Si No Estás Conmigo



Tara navigated down the aisle of the bus, holding a chair either side for balance, as it drove down a quiet road in the middle of nowhere.


She’d been lying on the empty back row to try and get some sleep but had woken up when the bus stopped at a port. Willow was sitting up front to try and abate some motion sickness. Tara sat in the aisle seat right across from her.


“Hey,” she said softly when she found Willow with her eyes closed, just in case she was actually asleep.


Willow’s eyes opened and her head turned against the backrest.


“Hey,” she said, reaching out for Tara’s hand.


Tara met Willow’s hand and squeezed it before letting go.


“You feeling any better up here?”


“Kinda?” Willow replied, grimacing slightly.


Tara frowned sympathetically.


“Want me to rub your tummy?”


The side of Willow’s lips curled up in a smile.


“Yeah, but I don’t want to get kicked off the bus,” she chuckled but her face grew fraught again, “It’s not my tummy.”


Tara remained respectfully quiet and nodded for Willow to continue.


Willow looked over forlornly.


“That lady who was in your seat,” she started, pausing for a moment and frowning sadly, “She had almost no English. And my Spanish is only so-so bueno. But we were talking and she was telling me how she’s coming from Venezuela and trying to get to the US border. The government shot her husband. Can you believe that, the actual government? She’s getting on a boat and she doesn’t even know where it’s going. She’s just hoping she’ll get eventually. It’s…nuts.”


Her eyes met Tara’s.


“They're crossing for their lives. We're crossing for a vacation. It’s not fair.”


“It’s terrible,” Tara agreed, her gaze falling downward for a moment, “I don’t even know what to say.”


Willow’s chin lifted toward the roof.


“There’s nothing to say. It just sucks. Especially when god knows what will happen to her even if she does get to the border. I tried to tell her but she has her plan and she just…went. It’s worth the risk. And that… sucks.”


She closed her eyes and dropped her head again.


“I’m definitely ready to be off this bus,” she said, stretching her arms up over her head, “Halfway there. But this new driver stinks like fish.”


Tara pursed her lips to stop a smile and put a finger against them, craning her neck to make sure said driver didn’t hear.


She looked back at the seat in front and blinked several times.


“I can’t even see straight anymore, all I see is this awful fabric pattern.”


“I can’t see straight when I think about you,” Willow replied with a tired smile.


Tara arched an eyebrow playfully.


“Did you ever think straight?”


“Tried to,” Willow replied wearily, “Truth is I could have been straight as an arrow but as soon as I met you that arrow would have started spinning.”


She twirled her finger accordingly.


Tara reached across the aisle and booped Willow’s nose.


“Rainbow connection.”


Willow smiled.


“And you say I’m the one who jumps topics.”


“No,” Tara replied, then shook her head, “No, it’s stupid.”


Willow brushed her fingers over Tara’s hand.


“It’s not. Tell me.”


Tara threw a hand up flippantly and ducked her head.


“It’s just what I call the person who made you realize you liked the same sex. The one who made you make the connection,” she tapped the side of her head, “Make your…”


“Rainbow connection,” Willow finished with a grin, “I think you said that to me once. When you broke your arm. You were high as hell.”


She covered Tara’s hand completely.


“I like it.”


“I like you,” Tara returned sweetly.


Willow pouted.


“Have I been demoted?”


Tara shook her head and mouthed ‘I love you’.


Willow smiled softly.


“Me too.”


Tara nodded toward the back of the bus.


“Do you want to come back with me and get some sleep? There’s um…less of a stench.”


Willow leaned forward and stretched her legs out in front of her.


“It’s going to feel like the Ritz when we get to be in our normal bunk beds again.”


“Something to look forward to,” Tara replied as she stood and waited for Willow to go ahead of her.


The bus was only half full and most people were dozing with the armrests up between two seats but Tara liked the unobstructed back row even if there was a little more chance of being thrown on the floor when you went over a speed bump.


“We should sleep head to head,” she advised when they got up there.


“To sneaky smooch?” Willow grinned, pressing herself against Tara’s side.


“To stop from being kicked in the head,” Tara answered, rubbing Willow’s hip for a moment.


“Oh,” Willow said, imagining it in her mind, “Good idea.”


She lay down with her feet toward the end and felt Tara do the same on the other side. But before she could say goodnight she felt Tara kiss her lips upside-down.


“But you never know when I might be sneaky too.”



Tara woke and stretched out luxuriously in the full length of her top bunk.


Willow was right — it really did feel like the Ritz.


She briefly checked the time; it was late morning but they had agreed — when they dragged themselves into the room disheveled with every muscle under their skin taut and wailing from being curled up in various modes of transport — that they would just sleep as long as their bodies needed.


She spent a few minutes waking up and enjoying that warm feeling of consciousness dawning over her. Her fingers and toes wiggled to elongate the satisfaction from stretching and she finally let out a long indrawn breath.


Only when she was entirely ready did she sit up and slide down the ladder to the floor.


Willow was awake too, sitting up in her bed and looking at her phone.


On closer inspection, Tara noticed Willow was looking at a photo from Brazil while she’d been wearing that bikini that generously showed off her cleavage. Which happened to be the exact spot Willow’s thumb and forefinger were trying to enlarge.


“I don’t think you can zoom in anymore,” she offered softly and Willow promptly banged her head off the top of the bed frame.


She dropped her phone and looked at Tara like a deer caught in headlights. A deer who was blushing profusely and rubbing her head.


“I was just um…admiring the print.”


Tara’s lips curled up in a sideways grin.


“You can borrow it sometime if you’d like.”


Willow’s mouth opened and closed.


“Don’t know if it would…” she stopped and gulped, “Fit.”


Tara tucked a piece of hair behind her ear.


“You normally fit quite nicely inside me,” she said, then smiled innocently, “I mean my clothes, of course. Though maybe that one is a bit too…fitted.”


Willow scrambled up and off the bed.


“Shower!” she announced, scratching around for her toiletries bag, “I’m gonna go shower. While there’s no line, probably. So. Um. Yeah. Shower.”


She swiped her toiletry bag from the end of her bed with her towel and rushed out of there like the bus driver had come to stay and there was a bad smell.


Tara smirked to herself and watched her go.


After a moment, she changed into her robe and followed.


Predictably for the time of day, the row of showers in the bathroom was free apart from one. Tara glanced around at the people coming and going from the toilets and when she had her chance she slipped behind the curtain of the occupied shower.


Willow was standing under the spray with her head tilted back, rubbing the shampoo into her hair vigorously. She made no motion to indicate she had heard Tara come in.


Tara thought she looked absolutely delectable with the water running down her body and it was all she could do not to grab her at once. Instead, she quickly shrugged off her robe off and hung it on the hook over Willow’s.


Still, Willow was too busy with her hair to notice.


Tara took a step off the little raised ledge stopping the water from escaping. Her feet situated themselves on the wet tile and she felt little spurts of water escaping from the sides of the showerhead.


One small step left her right behind Willow and she lifted her hands to take over the massaging of shampoo.


Willow jumped but thankfully didn’t scream.


She spun around and put a hand against her heart; breathing in relief when she saw it was Tara.


Tara smirked and put a finger against her lips.


Willow could only stand there and look stunned.


Stun turned to arousal pretty quick as her eyes moved down Tara’s body and the water that was now dripping off of her. When her gaze returned to Tara’s face, Tara promptly stepped forward and took Willow’s face in her hands. She kissed her until Willow’s knees grew weak and then moved her tongue down to lick Willow’s curve of Willow’s ear.


It made her wetter on so many levels.


“I’m going to give you a memory you’ll never forget,” Tara whispered, so quiet Willow wouldn’t have heard unless her mouth was right at her ear.


She nibbled Willow’s lobe and nearly felt Willow’s knees actually give way, prompting Tara to grab her by the waist and whisper again.


“So that you remember if you’re not with me.”


Willow’s jaw was trembling as she caught another glimpse of that smirk.


Then Tara was sinking to her knees and Willow would be on the floor but for that strong grip on her hips and…


She let out a whimper, swallowed by the water.


As soon as Tara’s tongue announced itself between her legs, Willow knew Tara was right. This memory would be burned into her skin and Tara’s tongue was the branding iron.


Her hands found the top of Tara’s head and settled there gently, just for something to hold onto.


Her neck bent back again and the warm water washed the last of the shampoo down her back and through Tara’s fingertips gripping her buttocks.


Her head moved from side to side and her fingers tightened in Tara’s hair as she tried so desperately not to make noise and risk even a moment of this.


Her hips throttled forward faster as she got closer and closer to orgasm and she looked down to make sure it really imprinted.


That was Tara’s desire, after all.


It was the least she could do when Tara was fulfilling her desires so thoroughly.


Willow felt dizzy watching Tara down on her knees like that.


Tara seemed to sense a gaze and glanced upward.


If eyes could smirk that was exactly what they did making Willow start to tumble into the homestretch.


She bit her lip so hard it turned white as she tried to remain soundless. Her fingers wound so much tighter in Tara’s head that it would be impossible to part without pulling some hair out, but it just seemed to egg Tara on. That made it all the more difficult for Willow to control herself.


Part of her thought she might still be dreaming.


She felt a little flutter in her belly that became a hot punch and then all of a sudden all of the breath rushed from her lungs.


Her toes curled as she came, giving her even less traction against the slippery floor and she got dangerously close to wrapping herself in the curtain. She managed to just about keep upright as her sweat washed away before it even had a chance to form.


Tara rose back up seamlessly like her knees were made of steel, spun a still-stunned Willow around and pressed her front into Willow’s back. She lifted her hands to Willow’s breasts, massaged them once and continued downward.


Willow just leaned back breathlessly and enjoyed the caresses as her legs found themselves again.


She turned around and pressed herself into Tara.


“I heard some guys talking about Colombian slang they’d learned,” she whispered right in Tara’s ear, “One said he was crazy about a girl he’d met. He said…ella me tragó. “


Her lips trailed around Tara’s neck.


“Literally, it means…”


She ended up at the other ear and pulled the lobe gently between her teeth.


“She’s swallowed me,” both of their chest heaved toward each other, “And I think if that’s not love, what is?”


She kissed Tara on the both and did to Tara’s lower lip what she’d done with her ear.


“Creative enough for you?”


“I fucking love you too,” Tara breathed and Willow was sure there was more liquid between her legs than what was coming out of the wall because while a swear or two had escaped while they were getting down, she’d never heard Tara say it quite so authoritatively.


Just as she was about to reach down to see if she could properly return the favor they started to get blasted with cold water. They both jumped and grabbed the faucet at the same time to turn the water off.


Willow looked at Tara, glanced down and up again but Tara just smiled and leaned in to peck Willow’s lips as she tried not to shiver.


“Guess we’re putting that on pause.”


She tied her robe back around her body and handed Willow hers.


Willow tied it around her, still in a little world of her own.


They strolled out of the shower without thinking about it and ran straight into two guys in tank tops and board shorts despite there not being a beach for hundreds of miles.


Willow and Tara stopped, caught. Their eyes widened.


The guys glanced at each other then back at them and one of them gave the hang ten sign.


“Water conservation, right on,” he said, looking back over to his friend, “You wanna shower together bro?”


“Yeah man,” the friend agreed, “Prevents greenhouse gases.”


“For the penguins, man,” the first guy said as they wandered toward the showers, stripping.


Willow and Tara chose their moment to scurry off.


“Who knew being gay was good for the environment?” Willow giggle-whispered as they hurried down the corridor, “And how the heck did a couple of California surfer dudes end up here?!”


“The same way a couple of California small town girls have,” Tara replied with a smile.


They dressed in their room whilst exchanging flirting looked and discussed what to do for the day.


They decided to go for lunch and just have a walk around; generally take it easy so they were relaxed for the rest of their stay.


They could see the eastern mountains as they walked down the bustling streets, making it unique to all of the other city streets they’d walked down. The Andes were lush and green and flanked the beautiful modern and colonial architecture; rich with plenty of red brick buildings.


“What do you want to eat?” Tara asked as they took their first good look around.


“Porkour!” Willow replied eagerly, then looked sheepish at the look Tara returned to her, “Uh, that’s what I call it when I want to sneak behind my Dad’s back and stuff my face with pork products.”


“You know, we’re on a whole different continent to him…so you don’t have to sneak,” Tara replied with a conspiring wink, “I won’t tell if you don’t.”


Willow smiled sadly.


“I don’t know if my father would be more disappointed to learn I’m not kosher than that I’m a lesbian but it’s a hard one to call. Knowing both might be heart attack territory.”


Tara rubbed shoulders with Willow, offering some discreet affection.


“I think none of you give each other enough credit. Maybe if you embrace them even when they make missteps they’ll be able to do the same.”


“Parenting the parents,” Willow grinned, “You’re wise, Maclay. I think I could try that. It can’t hurt.”


She smiled wider, defiantly.


“I’m a lesbian who eats bacon. I’m lesbacon and proud!”


Tara’s nose scrunched and Willow pouted.


“That one was funny!”


“Of course it was, sweetie,” Tara comforted softly, “Look, there’s a lechón stand. Think that will satisfy your pork debauchery?”


Willow swung her arm through Tara’s arm.


“Lechón on my plate and a hot tamale on my arm…consider me entirely satisfied.”



“Do you want me to find you a big stick?”


Tara frowned at Willow’s question.


They were trekking through the jungle but she didn’t need a walking aid; it was flat and the only obstacles were low hanging leaves that they sometimes had to walk through. Add in the mud sticking the soles of her shoes to the ground and she found herself pretty firmly rooted without help.


“No, I’m fine. Why?”


Willow grinned, her tongue sticking out between her teeth.


“Who knows how many kinds of native turkeys could terrorize you here?”


Tara looked unamused.


“You’re so hilarious.”


“I think so,” Willow agreed smugly.


Tara walked ahead, stopping as she passed a lot of sticky leaves, which she let go free as soon as Willow approached.


“Hey!” Willow grumbled as she fought past it.


Tara smiled sweetly over her shoulder.


“I can be funny too.”


Willow stuck out her tongue.


“The funniest girl since Babs.”


The people ahead of them made calling motions back to them and Tara picked up the pace.


“I think we’re slowing them down.”


Willow blew a piece of hair from her face.


“It’s not a race. We’re in the freakin’ Amazon! Stop and smell the coffee plant.”


“We’ve been walking a while and it’s hot,” Tara replied, feeling another little bug whoosh past her skin, “I think everyone just wants to get to the river at this point.”


Willow linked her arm in Tara’s and smiled upward.


“I guess they don’t all have someone to give them a foot rub at the end of the day.”


Above their heads, there was a rustle. They looked up just in time to get a quick glance of a few capuchin monkeys passing by.


People stopped to take photos and Willow and Tara were able to catch up. The guide leading them was pointing out the various insects and occasional animal that would pop up but Willow wasn’t listening as much as during other excursions. She was fascinated just being in the thick of this amazing, swampy ecosystem.


She didn’t even mind the endless bugs laying claim to her bare limbs or the overpowering heat with muggy bursts that felt like they were about to be drowned in tropical rain.


It was the Amazon. The freakin’ Amazon.


The closest she’d ever gotten to the Amazon before was two-day shipping.


She heard an unusual sound and started to look around to see if she could spot the critter responsible, but it made itself known first by leaping right onto her chest. Before Willow could even freeze, a second landed right bang smack on her neck.


Willow screamed like she was being murdered.


“Frogs! Frogs! Get 'em off of me!”


Everyone turned in alarm as Willow swatted at herself.


“Get 'em off! FROGS! Frogs! Oh my God, horrible frogs!”


Tara stepped back to her and the movement made both frogs leap away again, much to Willow’s relief. She wiped her face and neck with her arm and patted herself down.


“No more frogs!”


“No more frogs,” Tara confirmed soothingly, then looked back to the group who were looking at them like they were insane, “She has frog fear.”


Willow noted the intent stares she was getting and blushed through already red cheeks.


“I’m ready to hurry now,” she said, awkwardly holding her hands by her side as her she wiped her neck again and grimaced.


They started moving and Tara was silent.


Too silent.


“Okay. Fine,” Willow threw up her arms after a whole minute of nothing, “Do it. I deserve it.”


“Do what?” Tara asked but that innocent tone was not fooling Willow.


“I made fun of you about the bush turkey and then freaked out about the jungle frogs,” Willow rolled her eyes self-deprecatingly, “So give it to me.”


Tara opened her mouth and rubbed a finger in the spot above the waistband of Willow’s shorts.


“I’d like to give it to you but maybe not here.”


She threw a wink and walked forward.


Willow paused for a moment, grinned and then caught up.


Thankfully it wasn’t much more of a trek to the river as even Willow was starting to feel the need for a little break.


The river was another reminder of the beauty of nature. It had rapids of water lapping at the shores with boulders and rocks framed by more of that lush green foliage that they’d just walked through.


Waiting there was an inflatable raft they would all board soon to fight their way down that majestic waterway. There was a small lodge where everyone could get fresh water and fit themselves with a lifejacket. Most people took the opportunity to take a seat and rest their legs.


Willow plonked the biggest lifejacket they had over her shoulders and did a spin for Tara.


“Trying to turn me on?” Tara asked with a crooked smile.


Willow arched an eyebrow playfully.


“I have to try now?”


Tara laughed and rubbed Willow’s arm for a moment before finding them both a better fit. Willow got a helmet and when Tara returned with their life jackets, she put her hands on her hips.


“Now you really are trying.”


“It’s a requirement,” Willow replied, fixing the helmet better over her head, “It’s not my fault you have a weird kink for helmet hair.”


“It’s the windswept thing,” Tara replied in a low tone, “It reminds me of your hair after other activities…”


Willow blushed as she fixed the chin strap.


“Well, it’s just going to be wet and squashed after this, if it’s any consolation. You won’t have to fight back the desire unless you’d also be attracted to a wet Irish setter.”


Tara reached over and took the sides Willow was struggling with.


“I might just be able to resist,” she said, smiling as she locked it in place, making her nose scrunch, “Just about.”


She took a second helmet and put it over her head.


“Sooo sexy,” Willow grinned, “You could bang against the wall and it wouldn’t hurt.”


Tara’s eyebrows rose, not that they could be seen, but Willow’s eyes still widened.


“Y-Your head, I mean.”


She knocked the side of her head indicatively but was saved from any further embarrassment as they were all gathered together to be briefed and piled into the raft.


Willow and Tara were the lightest and were placed on opposite sides at the front while everyone backed in behind them and their guide sat right at the back ready to steer them.


Everything was quite still as they pushed away from the shore and fully onto the water. Everyone was getting used to the feel of sitting in the water and were just gently paddling to see how it all worked.


There were a few smacking paddles as people went the wrong way and an overenthusiastic pull or two that had people wobbling around on the raft, but their guide was seasoned and had them in sync and in shape in just a minute or two.


They approached more difficult water quickly and could hear it before they saw it. It was loud, rushing and made an audible splash again the rocky terrain.


It was intense traversing their way through it and Willow wondered why on earth they’d decided to do this. It had all sounded so cool when a fellow traveler described it over breakfast one of the mornings, especially because white water rafting was one of the things on Tara's must-do list, but now all she could see was one of them meeting a harsh, jagged end.


When they navigated back to an area of stiller water, Willow glanced over to Tara to make sure she was okay. Tara seemed better than okay and was exhilarated by the whole thing; smiling under her helmet.


She couldn’t help but smile back and felt her own adrenaline start to pump. She waited for Tara to look back over to her so they could share in it together but something near the banks of the river over Tara’s shoulder caught her eye.


It was hard to see from this vantage point and whatever movement she had seen was a flash of grey and nothing more.


She shook her head to herself; she was in the jungle, of course there were things moving about.


It was only as they started to move off again that she saw a long arm swipe upward and now, knowing exactly where to look, she spotted him almost instantly — a sloth almost completely submerged under the water and trying to grab onto whatever he could to pull himself up.


Willow gasped and swung her paddle over as a pointing device, nearly catching Tara square in the face.


“Hey!” she screamed to be heard over the water, while the rest of the group looked at her like she was nuts for the second time that day, “Hey! Over there! Over there! ¡Mira! Look!”


Tara looked immediately and saw what Willow saw.


“He’s drowning!”


That got enough attention for everyone else to seek out the event and almost immediately the guide began steering them toward the riverbank.


Willow jumped out without hesitation but the guide shouted to her as he rolled out of the back into the water to keep the raft in place. His body took a battering but he remained firm in his stance to keep the rest of the people from going overboard.


“Do not touch! El perezoso is a scared of man. He let go. Get stick!”


Tara crawled up the bank to help; her knees scraping and covering in mud in the process. Two men who had been sitting in the back of the raft were at her heels. They found a branch hanging low on a nearby tree and snapped it off to bring over.


Willow had slid halfway down the bank right where the sloth was and Tara lay on her stomach to lean over it and thread the branch down to her.


Willow felt Tara grab her ankle as soon as the branch was passed and used the support to slowly guide it over the struggling sloth.


There was no reaction at first and Willow’s heart started to sink.


“Come on little guy, you can do it!” she called quietly, not wanting to scare him any further.


She poked the branch lower in the water to show it him was there and lifted it above his head.


It must have taken a minute, a whole agonizing minute where Willow tried not to think about the merciless rapids below her or the fact that if she went in then Tara was going in with her because she knew that woman wasn’t letting go of her for love nor money nor avoidance of rocky death.


But then a talon emerged and an arm snaked out and folded over the branch, slowly as if he was just doing a leisurely sit-up.


Willow’s heart was hammering and she could barely keep her arm up but she didn’t dare move an inch in case he was scared off and lost that last tiny bit of traction he had before his head went under.


The second arm came quicker, though still characteristically slow, and wrapped itself around the branch. Willow immediately secured her second hand on the branch to give her extra leverage and lifted the sloth straight from the water; moving as slowly as if she were of the species herself.


One of the two men came down far enough to take it from her and he passed it off to the other to take it to the tree. Tara pulled Willow back up just as the sloth transferred himself back into the tree.


The whole raft clapped.


Tara put her hands on Willow’s shoulders from behind and kissed the back of her head.


“You are amazing,” she said softly.


“It was teamwork,” Willow replied, bending her arms at her hips to stretch them out a bit, then smiled, “But yeah, you know what? I’m proud that we just did that.”


“You should be,” Tara replied encouragingly, “And I’m glad to hear you say it.”


She watched Willow watch the sloth disappear into the jungle, then back over to the raft where the guide looked slightly horrified that all of that had just happened under his watch.


“I think he wants us all to get back in the raft,” Tara murmured softly.


“Unanticipated sloth rescue was not on the agenda,” Willow sighed, moving forward but slowly, still regaining her breath, “If anything I thought I would end up in the water.”


Tara’s nose scrunched.


“There’s eels in there.”


Willow grimaced.


“Consider me officially deterred. The giant head-smashing boulders weren’t enough, you see.”


Tara ducked her head and smiled and then looked back up at Willow. Willow caught the look and smiled shyly.


“What?”


Tara bumped Willow’s shoulder.


“Just love you so damn much.”


Willow joined their hands between them, even if it would only be for the few seconds until they climbed back into the raft.


“You know what? I know. I truly know that.”


Tara bumped Willow’s shoulder.


“And not just because you’re a hero to the local sloth population,” she grinned and wiggled her fingers in Willow’s grip, “Ready to continue this adventure?”


Willow could see that question extending to so much more than getting back onto the raft. She had no hesitation in answering.


“Ready.”

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 Post subject: Re: New Fic: Inevitable [AU] (Jan 24th 2020)
PostPosted: Sun Jan 26, 2020 12:51 pm 
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7. Teeny Tinkerbell Light

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Location: North Carolina, USA
Loved the environmental saving shower and the sloth rescue. I haven't commented in a while, but I continue to love this story. I am sad that February is approaching and I won't have this story to look forward to read regularly. Thanks for the story. Dibs et al. :applause

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 Post subject: Re: New Fic: Inevitable [AU] (Jan 24th 2020)
PostPosted: Sun Jan 26, 2020 8:19 pm 
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4. Extra Flamey
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first: can you explain gay twitter to me?? how does it work? how do find people?

Peru: airplanes= tin cans of doom. I like how you show the aftermath of that horrific experience in Willow's actions, that would shake a person to the core (which is an understatement). and adorable Willow with her alpaca/ llama indignation

ugh, that guy on the train made my skin crawl (and I keep thinking- who's picture did you use for the wanted poster? poor guy lol) thank god he was caught.

Columbia: they are adventuring!!! So exciting!

Tara is deliciously saucy in Columbia- lucky lucky Willow

Quote:
“Water conservation, right on,” he said, looking back over to his friend, “You wanna shower together bro?”


“Yeah man,” the friend agreed, “Prevents greenhouse gases.”


“For the penguins, man,” the first guy said as they wandered toward the showers, stripping.


Willow and Tara chose their moment to scurry off.


“Who knew being gay was good for the environment?” Willow giggle-whispered


OMVG! :rofl I've been wanting to be more involved in eco-justice!!

Quote:
“I don’t know if my father would be more disappointed to learn I’m not kosher than that I’m a lesbian but it’s a hard one to call. Knowing both might be heart attack territory.”

Tara rubbed shoulders with Willow, offering some discreet affection.

“I think none of you give each other enough credit. Maybe if you embrace them even when they make missteps they’ll be able to do the same.”

“Parenting the parents,” Willow grinned, “You’re wise, Maclay. I think I could try that. It can’t hurt.”


:luv Tara sees with a compassionate heart

Poor, poor Willow and the frogs but yay a sloth save!!!

Your Willow and Tara are precious.

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 Post subject: Re: New Fic: Inevitable [AU] (Jan 24th 2020)
PostPosted: Mon Jan 27, 2020 12:10 am 
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5. Willowhand

Joined: Sun Jan 19, 2014 6:01 am
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Quote:
On closer inspection, Tara noticed Willow was looking at a photo from Brazil while she’d been wearing that bikini that generously showed off her cleavage. Which happened to be the exact spot Willow’s thumb and forefinger were trying to enlarge.


“I don’t think you can zoom in anymore,” she offered softly and Willow promptly banged her head off the top of the bed frame.


She dropped her phone and looked at Tara like a deer caught in headlights. A deer who was blushing profusely and rubbing her head.


“I was just um…admiring the print.”

:lol

The shower-loving was hot, yay for Tara giving Willow this unforgettable memory - and doing good for the environment to boot… :wink

From the start of the jungle-trek section I was certain there would be a frog-encounter and you didn't disappoint!
Quote:
Willow screamed like she was being murdered.


“Frogs! Frogs! Get 'em off of me!”


Everyone turned in alarm as Willow swatted at herself.


“Get 'em off! FROGS! Frogs! Oh my God, horrible frogs!”


Tara stepped back to her and the movement made both frogs leap away again, much to Willow’s relief. She wiped her face and neck with her arm and patted herself down.


“No more frogs!”


“No more frogs,” Tara confirmed soothingly, then looked back to the group who were looking at them like they were insane, “She has frog fear.”

:rofl Great canon-easteregg!

Quote:
“I made fun of you about the bush turkey and then freaked out about the jungle frogs,” Willow rolled her eyes self-deprecatingly, “So give it to me.”


Tara opened her mouth and rubbed a finger in the spot above the waistband of Willow’s shorts.


“I’d like to give it to you but maybe not here.”


She threw a wink and walked forward.


Willow paused for a moment, grinned and then caught up.

:bigkiss I love Tara for choosing to flirt with Willow instead of making fun of her.

Quote:
“Trying to turn me on?” Tara asked with a crooked smile.


Willow arched an eyebrow playfully.


“I have to try now?”

Another beloved canon-easteregg.

Yay for the successfull sloth-rescue mission! :applause

Quote:
Tara put her hands on Willow’s shoulders from behind and kissed the back of her head.


“You are amazing,” she said softly.


“It was teamwork,” Willow replied, bending her arms at her hips to stretch them out a bit, then smiled, “But yeah, you know what? I’m proud that we just did that.”


“You should be,” Tara replied encouragingly, “And I’m glad to hear you say it.”

I second that. Go Willow! :banana :applause :eatme

Quote:
“If anything I thought I would end up in the water.”


Tara’s nose scrunched.


“There’s eels in there.”


Willow grimaced.


“Consider me officially deterred. The giant head-smashing boulders weren’t enough, you see.”

:lol

Quote:
“Just love you so damn much.”


Willow joined their hands between them, even if it would only be for the few seconds until they climbed back into the raft.


“You know what? I know. I truly know that.”

Awww! :flower


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 Post subject: Re: New Fic: Inevitable [AU] (Jan 24th 2020)
PostPosted: Mon Jan 27, 2020 2:24 am 
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3. Flaming O

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More great updates but I'm sad to realise that you're almost running out of countries to visit. I've thoroughly enjoyed this story, and a round the world trip is a perfect backdrop. If anyone can survive the trials, tribulations and stresses of travel it's Tara and Willow. One observation though, they haven't talked about the almost proposal........


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 Post subject: Re: New Fic: Inevitable [AU] (Jan 24th 2020)
PostPosted: Mon Jan 27, 2020 9:25 am 
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These last few chapters have been just a bit too e perfect for me to generate any comments beyond what as already been said, and I don't want to just post a bunch of personal anecdotes, so I'll leave it at marvelous

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 Post subject: Re: New Fic: Inevitable [AU] (Jan 24th 2020)
PostPosted: Tue Jan 28, 2020 7:00 am 
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Ms. Moderator Fantastico
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taranwillow4ever

Quote:
Loved the environmental saving shower and the sloth rescue.


Well I'm all about environmental conservatism :wink

Quote:
I haven't commented in a while, but I continue to love this story. I am sad that February is approaching and I won't have this story to look forward to read regularly. Thanks for the story. Dibs et al. :applause


Thank you so much! I am also sad that it's ending, I think I'm gonna feel a little lost!

Thanks so much for your feedback and support!

shirrey

Quote:
first: can you explain gay twitter to me?? how does it work? how do find people?


Sort of like other gay spaces, it's not necessarily one particular set place but just where gay people are. Following gay people/accounts or fandoms that are heavily involved in gay ships/storylines etc is a good way to start. It's kind of like how the club scene is a subgenre of gay culture, online gay culture has its own quirks and memes etc

Here's some buzzfeed articles that might give you an idea/find accounts to follow:

https://www.buzzfeed.com/ajanibazile/gay-tweets-2010s

https://www.buzzfeed.com/ajanibazile/funny-gay-tweets

And this guy does a weekly round-up, here's the latest:

https://www.buzzfeed.com/ryanschocket2/ ... wentyseven

Quote:
Peru: airplanes= tin cans of doom. I like how you show the aftermath of that horrific experience in Willow's actions, that would shake a person to the core (which is an understatement). and adorable Willow with her alpaca/ llama indignation


It's certainly traumatic and may be something that stays with her but these two definitely won't be shy in seeking help in the future. Poor Willow did not appreciate that comparison :laugh

Quote:
ugh, that guy on the train made my skin crawl (and I keep thinking- who's picture did you use for the wanted poster? poor guy lol) thank god he was caught.


Like you, I could not suggest some poor guy's fate to being on my wanted poster! It's not a real person, I just used https://www.thispersondoesnotexist.com/ until I got one that looked like how I wanted.

Quote:
Columbia: they are adventuring!!! So exciting!

Tara is deliciously saucy in Columbia- lucky lucky Willow


It is one of the 'sauciest' countries in South America...I guess it's rubbing off on her!

Quote:
OMVG! :rofl I've been wanting to be more involved in eco-justice!!


Now is your chance!

Quote:
:luv Tara sees with a compassionate heart


She really does, and she wants everything good for Willow.

Quote:
Poor, poor Willow and the frogs but yay a sloth save!!!


She'll go out with better memories than going in!

Quote:
Your Willow and Tara are precious.


They're still babies! I think they're just cuties. Gosh, I love them so much.

Thanks for your feedback!

Will's redemption

Quote:
:lol


Willow is just not good at hiding her hots for Tara anymore :lol

Quote:
The shower-loving was hot, yay for Tara giving Willow this unforgettable memory - and doing good for the environment to boot… :wink


It's for the penguins :wink

Quote:
From the start of the jungle-trek section I was certain there would be a frog-encounter and you didn't disappoint!


She's lucky she's gotten this far with no other encounters!

Quote:
Yay for the successfull sloth-rescue mission! :applause


Such a cool memory to have, I think, real wilderness/jungle stuff.

Quote:
:rofl Great canon-easteregg!


Probably the only opportunity I'd get to play out such a scenario!

Quote:
:bigkiss I love Tara for choosing to flirt with Willow instead of making fun of her.


Teasing can come in so many different forms...

Quote:
Another beloved canon-easteregg.


I was always kinda bitter how that exchange was 'ruined' by what came after...but then I just thought, nah, just take it on its own merits! It's a lovely, flirty exchange and a rare glimpse into that side of the relationship that we we didn't really see. So I love your use of 'beloved' here because it really has become that for me.

Quote:
I second that. Go Willow! :banana :applause


She's come so far!

Thanks so much for your comments!

NorthernLass

Quote:
More great updates but I'm sad to realise that you're almost running out of countries to visit.


I am. In fact, as of this chapter, I officially have. I am also sad :(

Quote:
I've thoroughly enjoyed this story, and a round the world trip is a perfect backdrop. If anyone can survive the trials, tribulations and stresses of travel it's Tara and Willow.


So true. They had to go far to come so far and they have. It's been a life-changing experience, individually and for their relationship.

Quote:
One observation though, they haven't talked about the almost proposal........


They haven't, and they won't. Here's the thing about that: they meant it. In that moment, they absolutely meant it. But they're also not about to get engaged without even starting college and they've matured enough on this trip to recognize that. So if they talk about it, they have to have a weird conversation about not being ready but also really meaning it and it puts them both in an odd position when really, they don't need to have the conversation because they both understand exactly what they meant. So that's why they're not going to bring it up, but also why they didn't exchange the bracelets back.

Thanks so much for your feedback!

DaddyCatAlso

Quote:
These last few chapters have been just a bit too e perfect for me to generate any comments beyond what as already been said, and I don't want to just post a bunch of personal anecdotes, so I'll leave it at marvelous


Thanks so much, so glad you enjoyed them! :D

Thanks for your comment!



Update Directly Below

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 Post subject: Re: New Fic: Inevitable [AU] (Jan 24th 2020)
PostPosted: Tue Jan 28, 2020 7:00 am 
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CHAPTER RATING: PG-13

Chapter 51



Mexico



Just Love Yourself And You're Set



“Tijuana…”


Tara looked over at Willow sitting on the airport shuttle bus beside her.


“Hmm?”


Willow looked back as they passed under a ‘Bienvenidos a Tijuana’ sign.


“Oh, nothing,” she said quickly, resting her chin on her bag sitting in her lap, “I’m just still kinda surprised you wanted this to be our last stop.”


Tara’s gaze dropped toward Willow pointedly.


“You more than anyone should know by now not to judge a city by its reputation.”


Willow lifted just her thumbs outward since her hands were stuck under her chin.


“I’m not saying it’s bad! I’m looking forward to it. I’m especially looking forward to our big, fancy hotel room. I’m so glad you insisted we save all of our points to really get somewhere luxurious for our final destination. Hey, do we have a hot tub? I forgot to ask when you booked.”


“I don’t think so honey,” Tara replied and moved her gaze out the window.


Willow shrugged.


“That’s okay. It’ll still be ‘suite’, get it? Like sweet? I bet I can walk around with socks off and my feet will still be clean AND toasty! Oh and linens! Beautiful, soft, unstained linens! No using a t-shirt as a buffer between my head and the pillowcase!”


“I wish our plane hadn’t been delayed,” Tara sighed to herself, listening but looking out the window.


The shuttle dropped them outside of their hotel and Willow paused to look around. It was on a pretty regular road, easily mistaken for a town over the border as if they were already back in the good ole’ US of A.


Not exactly in the thick of urban Mexican culture like Willow thought they might be, though she could hear music and commotion so she figured they mustn’t be that far away from the downtown area.


It was a small-ish hotel building; red, baroque-esque in style, six stories high with large semi-circle balconies at each window of which there was about eight across on each floor. It, at least, felt more indicative of the country they were in than the street it resided on.


There was a tiled water feature right outside the main entrance. Willow started to reach out to run her fingers through it but Tara quickly pushed it away.


“Remember what happened in India?”


“Ooh,” Willow replied, grimacing as her stomach churned just at the memory, “Right.”


They walked into the lobby to check-in and then through a courtyard where there were beautiful, unique gumbo-limbo trees hanging over a pool with a small footbridge built right over it. Kids were playing in the pool and using the bridge as a 'net' to play volleyball.


There was a bar with neat tables set up where, presumably, the parents were enjoying a cocktail under the parasols and lounge chairs around the pool where others were soaking up some rays.


Across the quad area was a second building that was attached to the front by sidewalls, enclosing the courtyard inside. Overlooking balconies on either building had the occasional person enjoying an early glass of wine with lunch or snoozing in private.


It was quaint and pretty and certainly had a traditional vibe that was nice to experience but again, not exactly what Willow was expecting.


They walked across the courtyard, avoiding the eager splashes of the playing children, and walked through the entrance to the elevator. They rode it up to the fourth floor and walked down the hallway to their room.


Tara opened the door and let Willow walk in first.


There was a huge king bed, the biggest they’d seen in a year, which took up most of the room. A chair, a small table, a television, decent linen. Art on the walls, heavy curtains pulled back against sliding doors that led out to their balcony which had padded seating provided outside.


It was the nicest room they’d had since the resort in Fiji and it was also a pretty standard, if not perfectly adequate, hotel room.


“I’m going to take a shower after the flight. I’m all sweaty,” Tara said, sighing gratefully to leave her bag on the floor, “If that’s okay with you?”


“Oh, sure,” Willow agreed, nodding dumbly in the middle of the room, “Yeah, go ahead.”


Tara disappeared into the bathroom and Willow sat at the end of the bed, looking around, trying very, very hard not to be disappointed.


She slid the balcony door open and walked out.


They had a nice view over the pool, considerably better than it would have been at the front of the building over the drab street with only a Domino's in sight.


She heard Tara get out of the shower and returned to sit on the, admittedly very comfortable, bed.


“You were quick.”


“It’s a great shower,” Tara replied as she came out wrapped in a towel and using another to dry her hair. She saw the door open and walked over to close it while she changed, “Is the balcony nice?”


Willow pursed her lips together.


“I gotta admit…” she said cautiously, cognizant of the fact that Tara had been insistent on booking their final hurrah for them, “…I thought we’d be able to get a real suite with all the points we built up. I did some comparisons before you booked, y’know and I thought we could have gotten like… three rooms like this with our haul. Or, like I said…a suite. Really go out with a bang?”


Tara got out her hairbrush and turned to the mirror to brush it.


“I think this is really nice,” she said, her back turned so Willow couldn’t gauge her reaction, “It’s four-star.”


“Oh, compared to what we’ve been staying in, for sure,” Willow replied quickly, “Just doesn’t have a hot tub…or a separate living room…or under-floor heating.”


Tara put the brush on the bed and leaned in to press a kiss against Willow’s lips.


“I’ll heat up your under-floor if you want.”


Willow started to grin as her gaze dropped to Tara’s lips.


“Maybe we’ll go out with a bang after all.”


Tara kissed Willow again and pulled back.


“I look forward to it.”


Willow felt the rush of absence and quickly pushed herself off so she was standing again behind Tara. She brushed some hair from Tara’s neck and placed a kiss there.


“I’ve been thinking about that morning in the shower back in Bogotá all day,” she whispered into Tara’s ear, “You know Oscar Wilde said love is a sacrament that should be taken kneeling. And I didn’t get to do the kneeling yet…”


Tara felt a shiver go up through her spine and had to breathe for a few moments to calm herself enough to smile over her shoulder.


“Later, I promise.”


Willow kissed Tara’s neck again.


“I could take you right here,” she continued to whisper, “I think they call it a quickie if you’re so eager to get going.”


Tara had to physically extract herself.


“Later.”


Willow backed off, dejected.


“Yeah, of course.”


Tara hurried back to her bag to take out some clothing.


“You should get changed,” she said as she picked out her own outfit; a multicolored dress with pink flats.


“Changed?” Willow asked in confusion.


Tara looked up and nodded, tucking a piece of hair behind her own ear.


“Yeah, it’s hot out.”


Willow looked out at the sky through the balcony door.


“I guess,” she replied, though she was perfectly comfortable heat-wise in what she was wearing.


She lifted her bag onto the bed and unzipped it, taking out a few t-shirts to look through. Tara came over and rifled through everything with a lot more speed, picking out a white t-shirt with a rainbow embossed with a smiley face on it.


“Wear that,” she instructed.


“This?” Willow asking, lifting it up to look at it. It was a shirt she usually just wore to bed.


“And this,” Tara continued, finding pink shorts and a similarly colored cardigan light enough to wear outside, “And this.”


Willow took it all but looked confused. Tara never picked her clothes without being asked; she’d had enough of that from her mother.


“I didn’t know I needed a uniform for grabbing some lunch.”


Tara looked down nervously.


“Y-You don’t have to wear it.”


“No, I—” Willow said quickly, immediately regretting her tone when she saw Tara’s response. She reached out to touch Tara’s arm, “Of course I’ll wear it. I’m sorry, I’m being such a grump. I love this outfit. And this room! You did great.”


She kissed Tara’s cheek and started to change into the clothes. When she pulled the cardigan on, Tara approached with something in her hands.


“I made you something.”


Willow knew what it was without seeing it. She smiled, bittersweet.


“My last sweater clip.”


“I’ll keep making them if you like them so much,” Tara replied shyly, “But you have more than you could ever wear by now.”


“I love them,” Willow replied sincerely and held out the cardigan lapels for Tara to attach the latest one on, “Rainbows! Pretty!”


Willow wasn’t quite sure how they related to Mexico, as Tara’s country-themed clips usually did, but more than half her closet was bright colors so it was a good choice.


“Matches my outfit,” she said and cocked her head curiously at Tara, “Matches your outfit.”


“You look very pretty,” Tara said, then spotted the time on the alarm clock on the nightstand and tugged Willow’s hand, “C’mon, let’s go.”


“Alright, alright,” Willow giggled, “I’ve never seen you so eager for a taco.”


Tara grabbed the room key and hurried Willow out.


“Trust me, I’ve been more eager.”


She led them downstairs, back through the courtyard and out through the main building onto the street.


“Baby,” Willow panted after literally being dragged along, “What is up with you?”


Tara stopped and looked apologetic.


“I’m sorry. I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have had that extra espresso in the airport.”


“Yeah, no kidding,” Willow replied, shaking her head.


Tara’s cheeks blushed and she ran a hand back through her hair.


“I just don’t want to be late.”


“Late for what, baby?” Willow asked, taking a gentle fistful of Tara’s dress at the waist.


Tara ran her hand over one of Willow’s wrists and pulled it off her dress to hold.


“Just come with me?”


Willow exhaled.


In for a penny, in for a pound.


“Sure. I trust you. Lead the way.”


Tara consulted her phone secretly for a moment and then turned them left. They walked a couple of blocks and Willow noticed the music she’d heard earlier got louder and louder as they, presumably, moved closer to it.


Nothing looked out of place as they moved further downtown of the city; everything looked like every other thriving city they had visited just with some unique Mexican flair. It was busy, but it was also lunchtime and a Saturday so that wasn’t unexpected. There were street stands selling elote, people congregating on benches to enjoy a cold beer, and markets selling lots of colorful souvenirs, religious iconography, and flowers.


There didn’t seem to be many — if any — cars about.


Willow wondered if Tara had found some hip eatery or something that she was trying to get them to before it closed until they turned onto a particular street and were immediately hit with loud festivities that almost felt like it came from nowhere but for the music they’d heard on their journey.


There were people everywhere, way more than even the busy streets that preceded it.


“Wow, is this a block party?” Willow asked, looking all around and noticing a similar theme, “Everyone is dressed like us. And that guy is in gold speedos! Is there a pool party or something?”


There were balloons and colorful homemade signs in both Spanish and English and multi-colored flags and Lady Gaga was playing and—


Willow spun around to Tara, wide-eyed.


“This is Pride. The kind with a capital ‘P’.”


Tara nodded apprehensively.


Willow looked all around again, noting the very now-very-obvious same-sex couples holding hands and being affectionate. If she craned her neck she could see some floats up at the top of the street waiting and the speakers on top of them that was blaring the music.


As well as the couples there were friends and families and even people just passing by on their own stopping to celebrate for a moment.


“Well, now this makes sense!” Willow gestured up and down her clothing and then Tara’s before laughing, “Why didn’t you tell me?”


She bunched up Tara’s dress in the middle again and pulled her in.


“I wanted to surprise you,” Tara said softly.


Willow’s eyes filled and she swiped at them, laughing again.


“I’m sorry I’m just…” she threw her hands up, “I’m so happy to be here. And I’m so happy to be so happy!”


She threw her arms over Tara and kissed her repeatedly, feeling utterly safe to do so.


“Thankyouthankyouthankyou!”


Tara held Willow around the waist for a moment, then sought her gaze and smiled.


“I have one more surprise.”


“What could possibly top this?” Willow asked, her arms thrown around Tara’s neck.


Tara nuzzled Willow’s nose once, then nodded shyly behind her.


Willow glanced over her shoulder and saw nothing different amongst the throngs of people except a lot of different colorful items of clothing she’d love to own.


She started to look back to Tara to question further when out of the corner of her eye she spotted hands waving right at her.


When her gaze found their faces her arms fell by her side and she froze to the spot. She continued to stare as if seeing a mirage that might dissolve but Buffy, Xander and Anya’s faces remained static and smiling, wearing white t-shirts with homemade rainbows in marker drawn on. Pretty badly, honestly, but very much a solid attempt.


“I-Is that—”


Before she could even get the words out, they all turned and showed the words written unevenly, but undoubtedly lovingly, on the back in more multi-colored marker.


‘We Image Our Gay Best Friend’



A sob got stuck in Willow’s throat and she made a tearful choking sound.


“Go,” Tara encouraged softly, pushing Willow gently.


Willow stumbled over to the street corner they were all standing on and fresh tears filled her eyes when she saw her friends standing there waiting.


She launched into a tirade of hugs and stepped back, gesturing wildly.


“I-I can’t believe it,” she said, laughing through tears, “I’ve missed you so much! Buffy, you look amazing! That new military guy of yours must look good on you! Did you show him my text about the shovel?”


“I did not,” Buffy answered, grinning.


“Well, I’ll just have to tell him in person,” Willow countered, sticking out her tongue good-naturedly, “Oh, I got you Yummy Sushi pajamas in Japan! A-and Xander, oh, wonderful Xander! I got you a Kangaroo Spock action figure from Australia.”


“The one where he carries I-Chaya in his pouch?” Xander asked with his goofy smile.


“Yeah!” Willow giggled, throwing her arms around them again, “I can’t believe you guys are here!”


“Tara invited us,” Xander said happily.


“And paid for our hotel,” Buffy added.


Willow’s eyes closed for a moment.


Of course she did.


That’s where the extra points had gone.


“That sounds like that angel of mine,” she replied, looking over her shoulder to smile at Tara and gestured for her to come over.


She turned back and handed out more ecstatic hugs. She just couldn’t stop.


“How are you guys? And your mom and little Dawnie, Buff?”


“Dawn was ready to scratch my eyes out when I said she couldn’t come,” Buffy chuckled.


“Oh, poor Dawn,” Willow held her hands over her heart, “I got her a positivity journal in India! I’ve been doing the exercises too, they’re really great. I hope she’ll like it.”


She exhaled softly, her eyes creased.


“You guys really came here…for this?”


“We came for you,” Xander said, reached out to pat Willow’s upper arm.


“I came for Tara,” Anya corrected, looking pointedly at Tara as she approached them, “This t-shirt is for you only.”


Tara gave Anya a soft hug.


“Hi, Anya.”


“Did you get me a present?” Anya asked, raising her chin in the opposite direction, “Willow got presents for everyone but me.”


Willow did look guilty for excluding her but Tara was able to appease her.


“I got you a Bunny Repellant from Australia.”


Anya smiled smugly.


“The only country to recognize them for the vermin they are.”


Tara raised her hand in a shy wave.


“Hi everyone.”


They all offered Tara a hug who seemed pleased and returned the gesture.


“H-Hi, Hi Xander, Hi Buffy. How’s your mom doing Buffy? Is she still with your librarian? Mr. Giles?”


Buffy’s face fell.


“We don’t speak of it.”


“They banged on a car,” Anya supplied helpfully, “We overheard her book club talking. She said he was like a stevedore. I asked Xander if he wanted to do a stevedore roleplay but he wouldn’t commit.”


“O-oh,” Tara replied, immediately regretting the question, “That’s, um…”


“He left after the school blew up,” Anya kept going despite the many pointed looks in her direction, “Giles, not Xander. Xander wouldn't leave me, right Xander?”


“Right!” Xander replied with a quick nod.


“T-the school blew up?” Tara asked, her jaw dropping as she looked to Willow, “Did you know that?”


“Well, yeah. What? It wasn’t your school,” Willow shrugged, “We had so much more fun things going on than to keep you abreast of every little thing happening in Sunnydale. There was a gas leak. No one was hurt.”


“Principal Snyder was killed,” Buffy pointed out, “And the mayor.”


“He was colluding with that snake and that’s the only reason they were both there that night it went kablamo,” Willow countered and there were nods of agreement, “So no one innocent died.”


“Well then,” Tara swallowed, “Apparently I’ve missed a lot.”


Anya nodded quickly.


“Yes, so Giles and his stevedore penis returned to England.”


“But Mrs. Summers is dating a publisher now, right Buff?” Willow asked, quickly moving the topic on, “Leaving her bra in various unknown places…”


“Oh yes,” Anya added, smiling, “His name is Brian Cox. I asked him if he was aware his name meant dick. He was.”


Tara felt dizzy with all of this new information.


“I feel a little overwhelmed.”


“Baby,” Willow comforted, putting a hand on Tara’s back, “We have the whole summer to catch up on Sunnydale. I’m sorry I didn’t keep you in the loop. I didn’t know you wanted to be.”


Tara couldn’t help but smile at the open affection Willow was giving her in front of her friends.


“You’re right. We had better things to be doing.”


Anya’s eyes looked at them looking at each other.


“Do you enjoy stevedore roleplay?”


“Not much for steve-anything,” Tara replied with a slightly furrowed brow.


The silence hung between everyone, which was impressive considering how noisy it was.


“Anyone want to know about my parents’ sex life?” Xander asked and everyone pursed their lips as laughter started to escape, “They couldn’t be any more disappointed with me for going into construction and not the family business of being a drunk degenerate, so what the hey?”


A big horn sounded and Anya started to stride forward.


“Let’s go lesbians!” she yelled back to the rest of them, producing a gun-shaped toy from her pocket that popped out a rainbow flag when she pulled the trigger.


When no one followed her, she looked back in confusion.


“We’re marching in the parade, right?”


“God, Anya, you’ll get us arrested!” Willow said, running up to her hand slapping her hand with the toy gun down.


“It’s not like it would be your first time,” Anya scoffed and Willow’s hands balled by her sides.


Tara, Buffy, and Xander quickly joined and calmed the situation, letting Tara walk ahead with Anya while Buffy and Xander hung back with Willow.


After a minute or so of glancing at Willow oddly, Buffy leaned over to her.


“Are you wearing nipple clamps?”


“They’re sweater clips!” Willow screeched, closing her hand around the chain and holding it there for a moment until she calmed down.


Buffy held her hands up and Willow blushed profusely.


“Sorry. Just sick of people thinking that. Tara made them for me.”


“They’re pretty,” Xander offered sweetly, “A lot nicer than the ones that guy in the leather hot pants had.”


Buffy’s laugh burst through her teeth and Willow rolled her eyes and played along.


“Okay, okay, they have a certain resemblance,” she said, then rolled her eyes dramatically, “If you’re a total perve.”


She pushed both of their shoulders and then stood between them, beaming.


People were giving out whistles and mini pride flags and they each took one to wave about as they and hundreds of others marched in the parade.


Willow was literally skipping along, waving to strangers, singing along with the music and felt so full of love for everyone around her.


About halfway through, Willow pushed ahead and got between Tara and Anya.


“Tolerate me for a few minutes, please,” she requested of Anya and smiled adoringly up at Tara, “I wanna be proud with my girl.”


Anya grumbled but moved back to hang out of Xander and point out the men she’d enjoy having threesomes with him with. Xander was surprisingly amenable to this as long as he couldn't actually make out the sizes of their packages through their clothing.


Buffy opted to walk on her own and got talking to some drag queens on where they got their boots.


“Tara,” Willow said softly but loudly so she could be heard, “I. Love. You.”


She punctuated each word with a kiss and twirled Tara, grinning.


“Tell your friends to come up,” Tara said, nodding encouragingly.


Willow turned and gestured them forward and soon they were all marching and whistling and waving in a fivesome.


For Willow, there wasn’t a single activity or event or happenstance that had occurred to them in the last year that was more exhilarating than this; to openly show the world and her world who she was and who she loved and just be embraced right back.


Several times tears filled her eyes but she just let them fall and dried them with laughter.


The parade ended in the block party Willow originally thought the whole thing was. Bars opened out onto the street; BBQs were going from several different sources; people were doing street performances and art just for the love of it.


Willow had her face painted like a butterfly and walked around for the whole day as lightly as the flap of one’s wings.


There was relatively little catching up between anyone; there was just so much to say and it was not the time to say it. Instead, they all reacquainted in other ways; reminding each other of their friendship bonds and the joy of being around each other.


At some point after nightfall, they gravitated back to the hotel but stayed hanging out in the courtyard doing shots. At the bottom of a bottle of mezcal, they were offered the worm and there was a chant for Willow to swallow it.


Willow moved to pick it up several times but kept balking.


“I’ve never been so scared to put something in my mouth!”


“That’s not true,” Tara murmured tipsily.


Willow grimaced as she finally plucked up the worm, shut her eyes tight and downed it.


“Yuckyuckyuckyuck!” she squealed as it went down then lifted her hands in the air triumphantly, “Yeah!”


“Yeah!” everyone else cheered and Willow pranced around like the life of the party after quickly downing another shot to mask the taste.


Things actually became less rowdy as the night went on; they were aware they were in a hotel with kids and others sleeping around them. It had been an early start to festivities and an even earlier rising to travel, anyway.


Anya was trying to convince the bartender to keep serving her while Buffy and Xander sat on the side of the pool with their feet in the water watching Willow and Tara dancing near the speaker where there was still music playing just enough to fill the courtyard.


Buffy swished her feet under the water.


“Look how happy they are.”


“To be dancing like dorks?” Xander asked with a chuckling smile.


Buffy smiled softly.


“To be dancing together.”


Xander and Anya decided to crash first, for reasons Anya was explicit to specify, and Buffy stayed up chatting with Tara and Willow, sharing a bottle of wine, until the early start got the best of her too.


“You’re getting old, Buff,” Willow teased with a tipsy giggle.


“I’m getting wise,” Buffy countered with a grin, “Beer bad.”


“But wine good,” Willow giggled again.


“Enjoy it,” Buffy smiled and hugged them goodnight, “So great to see you guys again.”


Willow and Tara decided to bring the rest of the wine back up to their room and Tara brought it out to the balcony when they got up there. Willow joined her a few moments later with her face paint cleaned off and the bathroom glass in her hand.


“One glass,” she said, waving it.


“We’ll share it,” Tara replied, pulling the second chair close to her for Willow to sit on.


Willow poured the last bit of wine into the glass and placed it between them.


“I still can’t believe it,” she said, looking over at Tara with every bit of love in her heart shining in her eyes, “Can’t believe you.”


She reached over and traced a finger around the bridge of Tara’s nose.


“For so long I wished that I could I let you love me I didn’t even realize how amazing it would be to get to love you fully,” she paused for a moment, “I’m so glad we’ve been on this journey together.”


Tara knew Willow didn’t mean the miles they’d traveled.


“I love you too, Willow.”


Willow frowned.


“Oh no. I didn’t come up with a creative way to tell you while we were here.”


Tara took Willow’s hand securely in hers.


“This entire day has been just that.”


Willow slowly smiled and lifted the glass of wine.


“Cheers!”


She clinked the air and spilled a little, giggling.


“Oops.”


Tara glanced down at the small rivulets of red wine falling down the exposed part of Willow’s thigh. She ran a finger all over the spill pattern, gathering it on there before offering that finger to Willow.


Willow’s eyes moved from glassy and tipsy to dark and desire-filled as she sucked Tara’s finger into her mouth.


Tara let her hand fall away, down Willow’s chest and gave the chain of the sweater clip a little tug as she passed.


Willow glanced down at the moment, her breath becoming heady.


“You know people have been known to confuse these for nipple clamps…”


Tara arched an eyebrow, surprised.


“Really?”


Willow looked at Tara and gulped.


“Maybe we should put it to the test…”


Tara’s eyes darkened to the same degree as Willow.


A silent gulp said everything.


Willow started to smirk a little and decided to make good on her promise from earlier as she began to sink to her knees.


“Oh!” Tara replied, slamming her knees together quickly, “We’re a little bit wine drunk. I-I don't think we should be making any questionable alfresco decisions right now, given our history.”


Willow looked up from the floor then just smirked again as she rose up and made a beeline for the door.


“Race ya!”



Willow was still asleep when she first felt a hand on her face.


It was easy to stay asleep; the movement was soft and soothing and tickled her ear just so.


She giggled softly at the sensation and woke properly to the feel of tender lips on her own.


“Good morning,” Tara’s voice roused her and she opened her eyes sleepily.


In their fuzziness, Tara looked like she had an angelic glow.


“Morning,” she greeted groggily, shuffling closer to the warm body so she could nuzzle Tara’s neck, “What time is it?”


“Early,” Tara replied softly, “I thought it would be nice to have a few minutes before we have to start getting ready.”


Willow felt an arm stroke her naked back.


“Go back to sleep if you want.”


“Noooo,” Willow replied in a groan, kissing where Tara’s neck met her shoulder, “This is nice.”


She woke up slowly in that spot, enjoying caressing and being caressed. When she had woken up a bit more fully she pulled back to open her eyes and look at Tara.


She smiled and pressed their lips together.


“Thank you so much for yesterday.”


Tara splayed her finger out over Willow’s hip beneath the blanket.


“I hope you’re not too disappointed with the room.”


“I’m not disappointed at all,” Willow replied, bending her arm on Tara’s shoulder to play with Tara’s ear, “But I didn’t mean my friends. I meant Pride.”


She brought her thumb down to caress Tara’s lips.


“I know about Stonewall, you know. I’m not a total dunce anymore.”


“I never thought you were a dunce,” Tara replied softly.


Willow’s hand fell away and she threw it over Tara’s waist.


“I know that it’s a protest. A fight. As well as a celebration,” she said and smiled resolutely, “I know there’s still a lot to fight for. It's a good fight, Tara, and I want in.”


She held her hand up for a fist bump and Willow immediately bopped her top and bottom like she had lying in that bed in Sydney all those months ago.


They both giggled when she finally completed the bump head-on.


Tara cupped Willow’s cheek and kissed her. Willow pressed herself into Tara, making Tara arch her back and cover her breasts with her arm.


“Ow.”


“Ooh. Sorry,” Willow grimaced, looking down at Tara’s tender nipples, “That was an awful idea. Why do people do that for real?”


“I can’t believe you chickened out,” Tara replied accusingly.


“After I saw your reaction, yeah!” Willow said, looking pained, “Can I make it better?”


Tara arched an eyebrow and Willow looked affronted.


“I’m being genuine!”


“And how would you aid me?” Tara asked generously.


“Well we don’t have any cream or anything,” Willow shrugged nonchalantly, “So I guess I would have to nobly use my mouth to provide relief.”


Tara shook her head and Willow grinned.


“It was actually soothing when you did that last night,” Tara admitted.


Willow pursed her lips.


“Better than my first attempt?”


“You were always gooood,” Tara replied with a little throat in her tone, “At everything.”


“But I want to be great,” Willow replied quickly, a little too quickly, “At everything. For you. You deserve great.”


Tara settled her head on the pillow and ran a thumb over Willow’s eyebrow.


“Can I ask you something?”


“Anything,” Willow replied easily.


Tara tapped her fingertips on Willow’s jaw, feeling the gentle movement below.


“Is it great for you?”


“It's mind-blowing,” Willow replied without hesitation.


Tara smiled softly.


“The connection we have…there's no way it could be a one-way street. What you feel…I feel. Okay?”


Willow matched Tara’s smile.


“Okay.”


They leaned in together and pecked each other.


Willow kept her head close on Tara’s pillow and sighed.


“I don’t want to get out of this bed. I don’t want this to be…over.”


“Ending one adventure just means we get to start a new one,” Tara said softly and again all Willow could do was smile.


After a few minutes of quiet, just enjoying these last few moments, Tara slid her hand down Willow’s arm and linked their fingers.


“Let’s go get some chilaquiles. We need to eat and we should stretch our legs before the drive.”


Willow started to nod agreeably, then her brow creased.


“Wait.”


Her eyes started to fill with alarm.


“…what do you mean, drive?”



“This thing is supposed to get us back to Sunnydale?”


“It got us here yesterday,” Xander defended his car to Willow, patting the bonnet like it might have been offended by the words, “I’ve fixed her up.”


“That fills me with zero confidence,” Willow muttered, then looked pained over at Tara, “We’re going to be stuck in this car for hours.”


“It's actually faster than flying if you go by total travel time,” Tara replied, holding onto the strap of her purse over her shoulder.


Willow pointed toward the rest of them, standing around waiting to go.


“But I can't sit a whole plane away from Anya for four hours!”


Tara put her hand on Willow’s shoulder to calm her down.


“I think it’s a very nice car, Xander,” she said with a soft smile.


“Thank you, Tara,” Xander replied, grinning.


Willow was tense but tried to fix a smile on her face; that was until Anya tried to push her aside from getting in beside Tara.


“You’ve had her forever!” Anya said, frowning, “Just because you give her orgasms doesn’t mean you get to hog her. There are more important things you know.”


Willow’s jaw dropped.


“I don’t need YOU to tell me that!”


Tara quickly scooted into the middle seat.


“I can sit in the middle,” she called out, “Beside you both.”


Both Willow and Anya grudgingly got in either side of the backseat.


“Everyone buckled in?” Xander asked as he got ready to drive out of the hotel parking lot.


Everyone confirmed and they set off. After a minute Tara turned her body slightly to Willow to get her to get their passports out.


“Honey?”


“Yes?” both Willow and Anya answered at the same time.


Willow’s body lurched forward to stare at Anya.


“You're not her honey.”


“She calls me honey sometimes,” Anya replied defensively.


Willow’s eyes shot to Tara, who held her hands up.


“I call everyone honey sometimes.”


Willow flopped back into the seat, her arms folded petulantly across her chest.


It was awkwardly silent for a moment before Anya piped up again.


“We heard you having sex last night,” she said spitefully, “The whole complex heard you.”


“The door was left open by accident!” Willow replied in a similarly harsh tone.


Tara’s head dropped into her hands; regretting this already.


“We could have flown straight into Sunnydale from here,” she said quietly, almost to herself but Willow heard.


And shot her a sarcastic look.


“It would have cost hundreds of dollars.”


“Can you just get our passports out,” Tara replied tersely, reaching her hands behind her neck and holding on there.


Willow swiped her bag from the car floor and took them out of the pocket she’d stored them in.


It was only minutes before they were approaching the border and Tara rubbed her hand on Willow’s thigh. Willow was appeased and looked over.


“Ready to go home?” Tara said softly.


It hadn’t been the best of starts but Willow tried to remember that morning in bed. Of all of the mornings in bed her future promised.


She took Tara’s hand and squeezed tight.


“I am,” she said resolutely, knowing she already was home as long as Tara was near, “Go forth, good stead!”


Xander tapped the wheel with both hands.


“Kinda in a line here, Will.”


“Yeah, we’re at least twenty minutes out,” Buffy added, craning her neck to try and count the cars ahead of them.


“Great,” Willow replied, deflating back into her seat.


“We could play a car game,” Tara suggested helpfully, “I Spy is always fun.”


Anya sat up and cast her eyes around.


“I spy with my little eye something beginning with ‘X’.”


Everyone looked around the surrounding area, which wasn’t exactly bursting with possibilities.


“Xander?” Willow suggested eventually, bored.


“Close,” Anya smiled, then when no one guessed after another second, “Xander’s penis!”


There was a collective groan and Willow threw up her hands.


“You can’t even see it!”


“Oh and you know all about that,” Anya shot back with a derisive look across the car, “Xander told me about you looking at it!”


“No, I have not!” Willow recoiled in horror, then her face scrunched up, “Well, yes I have so, but… that was a long time ago. Do you think I'd do that again?”


Tara’s eyebrows shot up her face and Anya scowled.


“Why not?”


“Well, hello, gay now,” Willow returned petulantly, “AND I WAS FIVE!”


Tara’s face settled as she understood what this little exchange was about and not anything she cared to worry for.


“Okay, I Spy not so much,” she said easily, physically holding up a hand either side to separate Willow and Anya, “What about some music, Xander?”


“Coming at ya!” Xander replied quickly, his hand flying to the radio button.


Tara glanced over at Willow, whose face remained bunched.


“I WAS FIVE!”


Tara held her hands up defensively and tried not to cower under the heavy energy coming from either side of her.


And somehow, she couldn’t help but smile.


This was more than home.


This was family.

_________________
Amber Benson killed me once.

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The Love… Series ... Two For Joy ... Inevitable ... FC2: AOTH ... FC3: TBU


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 Post subject: Re: New Fic: Inevitable [AU] (Jan 28th 2020)
PostPosted: Tue Jan 28, 2020 8:12 pm 
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4. Extra Flamey
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Joined: Sun Feb 28, 2016 9:37 am
Posts: 174
Topics: 7
Location: Pacific Northwest
D'AWWWWWW!! I will miss this story when it's over- but what a beautiful journey they have both been on!

Quote:
“Tijuana…”


Tara looked over at Willow sitting on the airport shuttle bus beside her.

“Hmm?”

Willow looked back as they passed under a ‘Bienvenidos a Tijuana’ sign.

“Oh, nothing,” she said quickly, resting her chin on her bag sitting in her lap, “I’m just still kinda surprised you wanted this to be our last stop.”


I was right there with Willow- not Merida or Mexico City or Mazatlan??? To me, TJ is a place you drive to when you are looking for trouble (and are usually too young to know how to handle)- BUT what a perfect reason to choose Tijuana, and that made it possible for the gang to come !! Good thing Willow wasn't TOO tetchy (and that Tara is patient) Tara getting them a room was the sweetest.

Quote:
‘We Image Our Gay Best Friend’
Yay Scoobys!! those are good friends

Quote:
“His name is Brian Cox. I asked him if he was aware his name meant dick. He was.”

:laugh :laugh um, Anya, of course he was

Loved all the easter eggs- but sad that Joyce and Giles didn't make it

Quote:
“Are you wearing nipple clamps?”


“They’re sweater clips!” Willow screeched, closing her hand around the chain and holding it there for a moment until she calmed down.



Buffy held her hands up and Willow blushed profusely.


see, Buffy went there too!!

Quote:
“Okay, okay, they have a certain resemblance,” she said, then rolled her eyes dramatically, “If you’re a total perve.”


and....well..... yeah, fair.

You put so much in this- its sweet and silly and naughty and endearing- delightful!

Chilaquiles are so yummy!!

Quote:
And somehow, she couldn’t help but smile.

This was more than home.

This was family.


this is big for Tara - she barely knew them in the beginning and now they are family- I love that the separate circles joined and integrated, that Tara is fully a part of Willow (and vice versa of course)

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